Decolonisation – Bandung 1955
25 July 2015
A recent commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Africa Asia Conference (Bandung) at the Al Ghazhali Sports Centre in Erasmia, Pretoria once again demonstrated the links between Indonesians and Africans.
In 1955 South African liberation icons Maulvi Cachalia and Moses Kotane undertook a harrowing journey to attend the first Africa Asia conference in Bandung, Indonesia. Their mission was to create greater awareness of the injustices of apartheid and to garner support for the liberation of South Africans from this crime against humanity.
History, it is often said, is written in the perspective of the victor. If Hitler’s Nazi Germany had been victorious what would the geo political picture of the world have been today?
At the behest of their colonial masters, many nations fought against the tyranny of Hitler’s lust for world domination. Ironically, it also brought about a realisation of freedom from the subjugation of the colonial yolk. In 1945, soon after the war, an opportunity to rid themselves of the colonialist presented itself. Although victorious against Hitler, they were left depleted after the war and were unable to crush the independence rebellions and many nations won their freedom and independence.
Former Indonesian Prime Minister Rusian Abdulgani was instrumental in organizing the African-Asian Conference together with his counterparts from Burma/Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Six African countries, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), Liberia, Libya, and Sudan also attended the Bandung Conference as it became generally known.
All in all representatives from 29 nations came together from April 18 to 24, 1955, in Bandung Indonesia to declare their opposition to colonialism and neo-colonialism. They pledged their support for countries still under colonial control and prioritized the need to forge economic coalitions and develop a path to decolonization. The conference also envisaged the divide that lead to an ideological cold war and chose to remain neutral. It marked the beginning of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM).
A mere 60 years later, as these nations begin to emerge from several centuries of colonial torment, a different perception is being formed and a new story is being told.
The families who paid tribute to Maulvi Cachalia and Moses Kotane can take comfort from the fact that their efforts have played a role in awakening South Africans to determine their own destiny and that their goal has been achieved. They will also be remembered for their participation in the historic Africa –Asia conference which laid the foundation for the new emerging nations as they rewrite history. - K Bhana