The Buffalo Soldier: A Hero or Disgrace to African Culture?
By Obi Egbuna and Devin Walker
Pan-African Student/Youth Movement (PASYM)
This article appeared in Howard University's Student Newspaper, the Hilltop, in the spring of 1999.
Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah said, "In the new African Renaissance, we place great emphasis on the presentation of history. Our history must be written as the history of our society, not as the history of European adventures." (See "Consciencism" by Nkrumah, page 63).
Through a dialectical analysis, we will always make a clear distinction between the positive and negative aspects of African culture. It has been all too often assumed that African peoples' political and military interests are synonymous with U.S. political and military interests throughout the world. However, they are not! This can be clearly seen when we look at the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.
In 1866, Congress approved legislation creating six all-African regiments, including the 24th and 25th Cavalry and the 9th and 10th Infantries, which would later be known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Approximately 12,000 Africans were part of the Buffalo Soldiers that fought against our Indian sisters and brothers to seize their land and to declare Indian land as a settler colony. They are responsible for the slaughter of thousands of Indians within at least seven Indian Nations, including the murder of Geronimo.
The construction of the Buffalo Soldiers was an act of desperation by the U.S. attempting to offset a principled alliance between Africans in the U.S. and Indians in North America both still fighting for their liberation and humanity. Understanding the role Indians played in providing refuge to Africans escaping slavery, the Buffalo Soldiers are a disgrace to Africans, and freedom loving peoples, throughout the world. They represent the negative aspect of African culture.
We are not only obligated to speak out against the Buffalo Soldiers of the past, but also we must speak out against today's modern day Buffalo Soldiers, led by former U.S. General Colin Powell. Mr. Powell served two tours of duty in South Vietnam, graduated from the National War College in 1976; was the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy of the Secretary of Defense under the Carter Administration; was a part of the Department of Defense Transition Team under the Reagan Administration where he contributed to the invasion of Grenada (which led to the murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop), directed the invasion of Panama (Operation Just Cause) in December 1989, the bombing of Libya (which led to the brutal death of the daughter of Libyan leader Moammar al-Qadhafi); and was appointed Joint Chief of Staff by George Bush in 1989.
Mr. Powell often refers to Dr. King as one of his heroes. We beg to differ. Dr. King on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference came out against the Vietnam War, while Mr. Powell, saw it as his moral and political duty to keep the Great Revolutionary Ho Chi Minh and the courageous people of Vietnam in bondage. With a life long career in the U.S. military, it appears that General Custer, General Oliver O. Howard, Mencahem Begin of Zionist Israel and Adolph Hitler of Nazi Germany had a more profound influence on Mr. Powell than Dr. King could ever have had because they too have the blood the oppressed dripping all over their hands.
The Buffalo Soldier phenomenon is not confined to the borders of the U.S. When we look at the merry-go-round of military regimes and mercenary outfits that have destroyed mother Africa and her scattered children throughout the world, we see that Mr. Powell has plenty of company. His name stands alongside of other Buffalo Soldiers, including Moi in Kenya, Conte in Guinee, Mubarak in Egypt, UNITA in Angola, and RENAMO in Mozambique.
We are calling on student organizations, progressive faculty and alumni to start a movement to remove Mr. Powell from your Board of Trustees. With an initiative of this magnitude, you will show the poor and oppressed worldwide that U.S. foreign and military policy does not have your approval. Remove the R.O.T.C. from your campus and drop your name from the list of HBCU's that have sponsored an academic scholarship in conjunction with U.S. Armed Forces. Do not let Mr. Powell, a blood thirsty tyrant, use Howard University to disguise himself as one who seeks to serve humanity through his organization, America's Promise. PASYM would like to challenge Mr. Powell to a debate on the role of Africans in the US and other European military outfits throughout the world.
One Unified African People!
One Unified Socialist Africa!