Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers.

Author:Magnarella, Paul J.

Mokhtefi, Elaine. Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers. London: Verso, 2018.

In Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers, Elaine Mokhtefi offers a fascinating memoir of her years as a young Jewish-American idealist who became intimately involved with early Algerian politics and that nations hosting of the Black Panther Party's International Section. In 1834, Algeria became a French colony. In 1954, the Front de Liberation Nationale (FNL), an Algerian revolutionary movement, broadcast calls to Algerian Muslims to join a fight to create a socialist state inspired by the principles of Islam. After years of struggle, Algeria gained independence in 1962. Ahmed Ben Bella became Algeria's first president. In June 1965, Houari Boumediene seized power in a coup and for the next decade pursued a policy of nonalignment but supported freedom fighters and gave assistance to anticolonial movements in the global South.

In 1960, at an international youth conference in Accra, Mokhtefi, who was still using her maiden name, struck up a friendship with Frantz Fanon, an ambassador for the provisional government of the Algerian Republic. Later, in New York City, she met Abdelkader Chanderli, the head of the unofficial Algerian mission at the United Nations. Chanderli invited Mokhtefi to join his team, which was lobbying UN member states to support Algerian independence. In 1962, after independence was achieved, she went to Algeria to work in Ben Bellas press and information office, staying on after the coup that brought Bou-mediene to power. Fluent in French, she established a wide range of contacts as a result of her translation services to various governments and revolutionary organizations.

Late one night, she received a phone call from the representative of the Zimbabwe African People's Union, who told her that Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver was in Algiers and needed help. She met with Cleaver and his wife, Kathleen, who was eight months pregnant. Mokhtefi convinced the Algerian government to allow Cleaver and his fellow Blank Panthers to remain in the country. From then on, she became Cleaver's confidant and aide. She did more than any other person to help the Black Panthers get established in Algiers. She arranged Cleaver's visits to the ambassadors of North Vietnam, China, and North Korea and to representatives of the Palestinian liberation movement and the Vietcong...

To continue reading