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Murtala Mohammed: ‘Africa has come of age’, Extraordinary meeting of OAU – 1976

11 January 1976, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This speech was a response to a letter from President Gerald Ford opposing the Soviet backed M.P.L.A. which had assumed power in Angola. The South Africans were fighting with the opposition factions to M.P.LA. General Murtala objected to Ford siding with the South Africans, and against African self determination. Concluding part of speech:

Mr. Chairman, when I contemplate the evils of apartheid, my heart bleeds and I am sure the heart of every true blooded African bleeds. . . Rather than join hands with the forces fighting for self-determination and against racism and apartheid, the United States policy makers clearly decided that it was in the best interests of their country to maintain white supremacy and minority regimes in Africa. . .

Africa has come of age. It’s no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power.
It should no longer take orders from any country, however powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or to mar. For too long have we been kicked around: for too long have we been treated like adolescents who cannot discern their interests and act accordingly.

For too long has it been presumed that the African needs outside ‘experts’ to tell him who are his friends and who are his enemies. The time has come when we should make it clear that we can decide for ourselves; that we know our own interests and how to protect those interests; that we are capable of resolving African problems without presumptuous lessons in ideological dangers which, more often than not, have no relevance for us, nor for the problem at hand.

Murtala Ramat Mohammed was killed 34 days after making this speech, OBJ became Supreme Military Head of State after his death.


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