Cape Verde, Togo, and the Continued Rectification of the Israel-Africa Relationship

Cape Verde, an island nation of half a million people off the coast of Western Africa who has traditionally voted against Israel at the UN announced a few days ago that they were “no longer going to vote against Israel at the UN.” Coupled with this, they announced separately that Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in the country would be considered national heritage sites and protected against any changes.

The intiative to push the Jewish aspect of Cape Verde’s history was spearheaded by the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project (CVJHP). The CVJHP  has been active since 2008 and together with donations from the King of Morocco, has identified and helped restore and protect Jewish sites throughout Cape Verde.

Cape Verde was the destination for thousands of hidden Jews, fleeing persecution in Portugal in the 1500’s. Many of the citizens of Cape Verde are actually aware of their hidden ancestry. Later the Jewish population increased due to immigration by Jews from Morocco and Gibraltar.

Cape Verde’s switch from antagonistic to Israel is part of a process that has seen many sub-Sahara African countries open their doors to Israel.  This movement has increased growth between the African continent and Israel in many sectors such as agritech, medtech, security, and more.

Last night’s visit and dinner hosted at the Prime Minister’s residence between the Togalese President and the Netanyahu’s is an example of the growing closeness between the Jewish State and Africa.

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, wrote in the guestbook:  “I dream of Israel’s return to Africa and Africa’s return to Israel.”

This return has been a product of not only politics, but an awareness that both the Jewish people and many countries in Africa have much in common.

I wrote the following last year:

The war against Judah morphed into a religious struggle as the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, a small Jewish sect and warped it, cutting it off from its root. The Jewish exile swung into full force and oppression as the Jews that had now been scattered became second class citizens under both Christian Europe and the Islamic Middle East.

Within a short time these two colonial forces borrowing religious motifs from the crushed Judean culture undertook a continuance of their expansion past Israel into the heartland of Africa itself. It is not surprising that expulsions and forced slavery ensued over the centuries in Africa much the same way it began in Israel since the latter was seemingly an extension of the former.

The clear connection between Israel’s suffering and African suffering at the hands of European Christians and Arab Muslims is made that much more powerful by the fact that Israel is actually part of the African continent.  The African plate’s Northernmost part ends in Northern Israel and runs along the Jordan River to the South.  Looking at Israel in this light makes the Judean expulsion the beginning of Africa’s colonial period.

The shift in mindset across Africa  towards Israel is a realization that the colonialism forced on the African continent was designed to not only exploit the natural resources of the colony, but to essentially subvert the indigenous culture that had grown within the continent itself.   Israel had not only suffered from the same sort of persecution, but remained away from the exploitation itself.

Israel’s return to Africa and many Africa’s embrace of Israel is the beginning of a rectification process that can and will reverse the millenia of colonization, exploitation, and neo-colonialism that has been carried out both in Africa and throughout the Middle East as well as the Indian sub-continent by Western imperialists and radical islamists.

President of Togo in Israel to Improve Ties

President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem as more and more African countries are opening up to Israel.  Togo may be one of the poorest countries in West Africa, but it offers Israel a lot of potential in it’s positioning on the Gold Coast next to Ghana.

Very little people know of Israel’s success story in Ghana through companies like STL who are heavily involved in building Ghana’s infrastructure.  With Israel’s potential partnership brewing just east of Ghana, Israel is set to do in West Africa, what it did in the East.

Togo is essentially an open slate, ripe for a country like Israel to step in and help propel it forward. With Ghana and Togo, and Benin itching to hop on the wagon, Israel is quickly building up a buffer zone in order to protect sub-Sahara Africa from Jihadists.

King Ayi: We Have a lot of Work Ahead

The first thing one notices when they meet King David Ayi, is a deep sense of personal humility.  It is this humility which caused him to shy away from his royal lineage after being sent to America in 1987. Despite his yearning to be left alone, destiny caught up to him. In 1994 he was crowned King of the Ayigbe people of the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin.  The seat of this Kingdom was in Togo, although most historians confirm it started in Accra, Ghana.

“We always refrained from foods deemed forbidden in the Torah,” the Kings says with his big eyes staring at me as I listened. Circumcisions were also performed on the 8th day, in addition to upholding the Laws of Niddah and celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.”

This has been a whirlwind eight weeks for King Ayi, his sixth trip to Israel.  He has dropped Christianity and embraced the religion of his forefathers. In the past he has met with Rav Kanievsky and Rav Shmuel Auerbach.  This trip he garnered the support of the Beit Din (Rabbinic Court) of Bnei Brak as well as the nascent Sanhedrin.

The three times I met with King Ayi, I witnessed countless people come and speak with him, seeking confirmation that there is in fact  a Jewish King from Africa. Some asked for blessings and others just wanted to feel part of something amazing.

Jews of the Gold Coast

Most Jewish history centers around Europe, North Africa, Ethiopia, and the Middle East. Most people have long disregarded Jewish Africa as a fairy tale.  However, more and more information keeps surfacing to support claims that Jews were in fact partly involved with all three famous West African Empires, the Songhai, Mali, and Ghana.  

More than this, there is ample evidence that many of the lost tribes as well as well as the Judean exiles that followed Jeremiah into Egypt made their way West across the Sahara and finally to the Gold Coast of Africa.  This applies to the Igbo nation of Biafra in South East Nigeria and seemingly the Ayigbe people.  Many of these tribes have various levels of parallel Jewish traditions and yet centuries after slave traders, colonialism, and war, have nearly erased direct traces of Israelite ancestry.


Targeted for Destruction

“The Europeans and Muslims purposely targeted our people in West Africa,”  King Ayi says. “They knew what they were doing and worked together with non-Jewish tribes to not only destroy the Jewish tribes of the Gold Coast, but force our people to adopt Christianity.”

Over 60% of African Americans have Igbo blood in them.  Many are descended from the Ayigbe as well. Ultimately history belongs to the conquerors. Any historical records have long been wiped out and yet echoes of the past remain.  From circumcision to reverence for the Shabbat, this past is now reawakening and King Ayi wants to help nurture the homecoming, transforming himself into its standard bearer.  

“We have a lot of work ahead of us.  I want to bring 400 Kings and Queens from Africa to Jerusalem during Succot and scream Shema Yisrael at the Western Wall,” the King exclaims. “We want to bring Jews from all over the world and proclaim to our Father in Heaven that his children have returned!”