Training the Revolutions

Training the Revolutions

Groups like  uMkhonto we Sizwe and others struggling against colonialism and post-colonialism needed weapons for their struggles and, more importantly, training.  While a lot of this came from the Soviet bloc, many liberation movements were less-than-eager to jettison one colonial overlord in the west for one in the east.  

It was into this gap that Yugoslavia and the Non-Aligned nations neatly stepped.  

Non-Aligned Conference, Belgrade, Yugoslavia 1961

Marshal Tito and his generation of Partizans-turned-apparatchiks saw the struggles for independence in the Southern Hemisphere as equivalents to the World War II battles against the Axis occupation.  Tito’s realpolitik was also at play, noting that converts to the Non-Aligned cause would definitely add to the bloc’s power on the world stage.  

Marshal Tito and Kwame Nkrumah in Belgrade

And so Yugoslavia also threw their hat into the ring and began to contribute significantly; both sending trainers and weapons south and bringing students with greater talent and ambition north for education in the Yugoslav heartland.

This mission was effectively communicated to the Yugoslav people as well.  When word of the murder of Patrice Lumumba reached the larger cities in Yugoslavia, demonstrations erupted.  Yugoslav citizens joined the African exchange students on the streets chanting and waving signs.  In Belgrade, the demonstration in front of the Belgian Embassy got ugly quickly, with the crowd forcing its way in and destroying the inside of the compound.  

The Belgian Embassy in Belgrade, January 1961

It was an illustration of the power that the non-secret of a secret movement could hold.  

To read more about African history, please click here.

For more about Yugoslavia, please click here.


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