Part of the message Boumedienne delivered from Algeria was that ‘Africa’ should assert itself. It was time, he said, to escape from a world which had been dominated by an East-West framework. Speaking in the UN in 1974 he spoke of millions of men leaving ‘the Southern hemisphere’ to go to ‘the Northern hemisphere’. They would go, he said, not as friends but to conquer it. They would conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women would bring victory. It was not a speech which was well received in the ‘Northern hemisphere’. Yet, despite this belligerence, North African states, whose populations were increasingly concentrated in their Mediterranean littoral cities, dubiously spoke for sub-Saharan Africa which lay at their frontiers. Africa in reality itself had its own distinct spheres. It was difficult to know where Africa began and who spoke for it. Most African states, settling down to their first decade or so of independence, still heavily carried the imprint of their particular former colonial rulers.
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