Race and Exclusion in State Socialism: African Students in Communist Albania

Encounters between Albanians and Africans in Western Europe accentuate the ethno-racial distinction between 'diasporic' communities as they struggle for recognition and resources.

But how, in the past, did communist ideology mediate relations between Albanians and Africans?

Albanian ties to anti-colonial figures

The note on the back of the pictures with Ndeh Ntumazah and his children. Photo: Archive photo.

Socialist Albania was a vocal supporter of anti-colonial struggles in Africa and established relations with several newly independent states. Symbols of the independence movements such as Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia visited Albania.

The end of colonial rule in the early 1960s coincided with the deterioration of Chinese and Soviet relations and the rupture of Albanian-Soviet relations. Albania strengthened its relations with China in an attempt to forge a front against Western capitalism and the Soviet 'revisionist' influence in Africa.

Through diplomats in Accra, the Albanian Labour Party established links with members of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon, UPC, Abel Kingue and Ndeh Ntumazah. In order to support their struggle against the neo-colonial regime in Cameroon, Albanians hosted Ntumazah's children and wife in 1964. Three years later, in 1967, Albania became the permanent residence of the children of Elise Osendé, who was most likely the wife of the Osendé Afana. Afana, also of the UPC, was killed in combat in 1966.

The Albanian embassy in Algeria served as a contact point with Congolese activists. After being told by a Cuban colleague about the exploits of Che Guevara in Congo, the Albanian ambassador in Algiers recommended that the government in Tirana...

Continue reading on: