YESTERDAY, July 5th ultimo, Algeria celebrated the 56th anniversary of its independence, ending more than a century of colonialism and immediately becoming a catalyst for the liberation of the rest of Africa from colonialism and apartheid.
This is qualified in the words quoted above written by Africa’s liberation icon, Madiba Nelson Mandela who received guerrilla warfare training to liberate his country from Algeria which marked its 56th independence anniversary yesterday.
In a communiqué, the Algeria Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Saad Belabed says: “Algeria is celebrating its 56th anniversary of its independence dedicated to its youths. It is also commemorating the renewal of Algerian people in freedom and sovereignty after more than a century of colonialism that cost the life of a million plus martyrs.
“With the founding of the Algerian state after liberation, the people of Algeria have been sensitised and mobilised to realise that political independence without economic independence was incomplete.
“Thus Algeria immediately after independence begun to edify a strong state resistant to hazards at national level and initiating modern stable structures responsive to forefront roles at international and continental levels”.
According to the Algerian envoy here, his country has made a “great leap forward” in human capital in selective sectors such as education, training and scientific research. But true to its own foundation stone as a free country, as seen at the launch of this perspective, Algeria had immediately after independence in 1962 became the front base of liberation movements from the rest of Africa, such as that one headed by one of the world’s most renowned freedom fighter Madiba Nelson Mandela.
Few people know this and if they know, it is via a book by Nelson Mandela himself: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. In his book, one sees Mandela leaving his country, South Africa to Algeria, via Tanzania in early sixties.
It was in Algeria where Mandela was trained as a soldier. Following is my researched reading: “During his lifetime, Mandela always maintained an intense and privileged relationship with Algeria. This special link was born in the early 1960s and stayed strong until his death in December 2013.
“Convinced that there was no other choice but to fight against apartheid at a time its viciousness was escalating in his country, Mandela chose to flee his country to go and learn guerrilla warfare somewhere to prepare himself for the struggle ahead.
“The country that came immediately to his mind was Algeria, qualified those days by the father of the independence of Guinea Bissau, Amilcar Cabral as the “Mecca of Revolutionaries.” “It was in Algeria that Mandela, come March 1962, received his initial military training from the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). He trained at FLN bases along the border with Morocco.”
In his book, Long Walk to Freedom Mandela says he was very much inspired by the Algerian Revolution. In 1990, visiting Algeria after 27 years in prison, Mandela declared: “It is the Algerian army which transformed me into a combatant, a real man”, going ahead to praise Algeria for standing up for the values of freedom and liberation movements all over the world.”
Indeed, it is in this context that we should view Algeria today in its contribution to African liberation - remembering its leaders, such as former Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the seventies, now President of his country, who stood up at the UN to demand the expulsion of apartheid South Africa from UN councils.
Now as Algeria is this week celebrating its independence or ‘Uhuru’ Day in our language here, we should join the country in celebration especially its achievements in social and economic development for its people without internal squabbles as is intermittent in other African countries.
In preserving the country’s stability, according to the Algerian ambassador here, there is consolidation of “pluralistic democracy and the rule of law” in his country. In the pursuit of dynamic diplomacy, Algeria intends to promote its place and role in the international community, affirming international peace and fraternity, according to Ambassador Belabed. Viva Algeria!