JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-While he speaks of
"a balm in Gilead, "in some respects, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's
World Friendship Tour III has had the effect of being "a bridge over troubled
waters," in the face of real danger in several African capitals.
In the Liberian capital city, Monrovia, a deathly smell
hung over Roberts Field airport when the Muslim leader arrived in that state, which was
founded in 1847 by freed Black slaves from America. After seven years of a bloody civil
war, Liberian President Charles Taylor is still in the process of consolidating the reins
of power, following his summer 1997 inauguration.
Similarly, in Kinshasa, capital city of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, the strain of the war which ousted 30-year ruler Mobutu Sese Seko
hung in the air, seven months after President Laurent Kabila marched into town, seizing
A battalion of soldiers is still encamped on the grounds
of the Presidential Palace-where Min. Farrakhan became the first official visitor-of Prime
Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia, the first Muslim to hold office in nearly four decades of
independence there. That figure is significant in the face of the startling news Min.
Farrakhan's delegation learned, that the 10 million Muslims in the former Zaire constitute
25 percent of the total population. And where there was no bloodshed, intrigue often
abounded. In Niamey, Niger, and in Abuja, Nigeria, coup d'état plots were foiled while
Minister Farrakhan and his delegation were traveling on the continent. The Muslim leader
from America met with the Muslim heads of state in the Gambia, in Niger, and in Nigeria.
Even in otherwise "cosmopolitan" South Africa,
the downtown section of Johannesburg is fast becoming a "ghost town," with
businesses abandoning the center-city as crime and violence have escalated to acute
proportions. In South Africa, Min. Farrakhan was received by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,
the "Mother" of the anti-apartheid movement and former wife of President Nelson
But as the Muslim leader and his entourage have entered
each troubled capital on a mission of peace, with a message of atonement and
reconciliation of differences, a sense of trepidation on arrival has been replaced by
sense of calm on the departure from some of Africa's most troubled locations.
"Africa needs help," Min. Farrakhan told
reporters in Monrovia, Liberia. "All those of us who are colonized by Europe and
America need assistance. But we must not degenerate into that people like the Bible's
Lazarus, who stay around the rich man's table begging for the crumbs that fall from
somebody else's table.
"There's the field! You've got a wheat seed? Plant
the seed! God will give you abundance of rain and your wheat will grow, then take your
wheat, grind it into flour, and instead of having crumbs you can have many loaves of
bread. "Africa does not need to be a beggar at the foot of America, or at the foot of
Europe," Min. Farrakhan said in response to a reporter's question. "We made
Europe, and we made America. Now it's time for us to make ourselves. If they don't give us
any assistance, with the help of God, with the rich land that we have under our feet, and
the intelligence we have, we don't need to be beggar of anybody for assistance, we've got
it all in our hands."
The United States and other industrialized nations have a
responsibility to aid African development, Min. Farrakhan reminded government officials
and citizens in capital after capital, at university after university. At the same time,
he said, Africans must "do for self."
"David the Psalmist said: 'I will lift up mine eyes
unto the hills. ... From whence cometh my help?' And the answer: 'My help cometh from the
Lord.' That's the problem. We're running, looking to the hills-the governments of the
world-(saying) Help me. Help me. Help me.
"You don't need to bow to the world and beg them.
What you need is at your feet!" he said, recalling the story of Hagar, the wife of
Prophet Abraham and the mother of Ishmael, whose running between two hills to find water
for her baby is re-enacted by each pilgrim to the Holy City of Mecca, where the Well of
Zam Zam still provides water, thousands of years from Hagar's time.
"Cultivate your earth and let the world see Africa as
Africa once was, the leader of the world in knowledge, wisdom, understanding," said
Min. Farrakhan, explaining how Africa can become a new "superpower" in the 21st
"Europeans came to Africa to study at your feet. Now
you are running to the feet of the Europeans to get knowledge. You have lost pride in
yourself. You have lost dignity in yourself, and you have been reduced to a continent of
beggars! You must stop it, and rise up, like your father, and come back to God, and God
will show you the way to develop yourselves as you should!
"Liberia is a new nation, now, coming up again,"
Min. Farrakhan continued later before a group of Muslims in Monrovia. "And the whole
thing is open to you. The gold is here. The diamonds are here. The timber is here. The
iron ore is here. The rubber is here. The water is here. The trees are here. The sun is
here. You are rich, rich, rich. Get up! Get up! Get up, and let's take this land!"
Photo: Min. Farrakhan receives a new flag of The Democratic Republic
of The Congo from Prime Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia. He is the first Muslim in the
Congolese government since independence, and it was his first day on the job, his first
official visitor was Min. Farrakhan.
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