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Liberian Officials Welcome SRDC and the Library Project

Liberian Officials Welcome SRDC and the Library Project

This article originally appeared on the Web site http://kuumbareport.com.

This article gives some details of the agreement between the Liberian grassroots organization known as Sehwah, the African Union, and the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) to proceed with the planning and construction of what will be the first-ever Public Library in Liberia, located on a two-acre plot of land in the capital city of Monrovia. The new library will service the nation-states of Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry.

Statement from Sehwah Liberia on the Sehwah-SRDC Public Library Project in Monrovia, Liberia

In a 29 January 2019 consultative meeting with The National Arcade Director and full teams, the African Union Ambassador to Liberia and SRDC/Sehwah Liberia representatives held our first discussion to harmonize the public Library and the future sites for the library.

The National Arcade (GOL) and SRDC/Sehwah Liberia Incorporated, and in collaboration with the African Union Regional Office-Monrovia, Liberia organized the National project for Liberia which aimed at discussing the proposed sites for inclusion of the National Public Library Property. The project is to enhance capacity in implementing the education system in Liberia.

Based on the importance and a special need for the first National Public Library to be constructed in Liberia, the African Union ambassador welcomed this project and the plan to fund it from the African Union and the international partners of the AU for Liberia. Successful Finance Planning for the 2 acres of land is designated for the National Public Library in central Monrovia.

February 10, 2019: Mrs. Louise W. McMillian [Siaway], Founder of Sehwah Liberia Incorporated, visited the land for the proposed public library site in Monrovia and discussed a partnership agreement with The National Arcade of Liberia and based on the conversation, the decision was reached for the African Union Ambassador to Liberia to represent the AU for the library in regards to financing the projects for the first public library ever to be built in Liberia. The next step is property analysis for the architectural drafting technical team to design the library base on the land space, etc., associated with the project.

The mission of the National Public Library of Liberia is far reaching and deeply motivated. As a first repository for the Republic’s rich history, it will be a beacon of knowledge, unity and inspiration for all. This Library will be a state of the art complex.

“The historic Liberia Public Library will be vibrant community buildings for peace and security for the country and will embrace the opportunity to observe, interact, and consider human events in the realm of ideas that will empower the people to make a difference in their communities and socially impact the nation with the pride and self-esteem of a modern nation to contribute meaningfully to the development agenda. SRDC will provide technical support.” (Statement from the African Union Ambassador)

The African Union (AU) Ambassador to Liberia, Ibrahim M. Kamara, has said the Union is satisfied with the level of peace and security in the country since the end of the 14-year civil conflict. Kamara also said it is the responsibility of the AU to support the development agenda of Liberia, which is a founding member of the body, in the name of Pan-African solidarity.

The Ambassador recounted that the National Public Library will play a significant role in Liberia to ensure that the peace and security the country now enjoys is continued.

SRDC (Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus) is a 501 (C-3) legally registered civil society organization based in Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, California. The primary purpose of SRDC is to help bring the African Diaspora into a working partnership with the African Union, and individual African countries, which will be mutually beneficial to Africa and to the Diaspora. Examples of such partnerships include the current project to build a new public library in Liberia, on-going efforts to encourage and work with groups like AFRICARE and the ASI (African Scientific Institute) to provide free technical training to African youth, gaining Diaspora membership in the African Union, working with the Pan African Parliament, etc. The SRDC promotes diplomatic training and engagement among African-descendent youth, endorses and supports the accomplishment of the AU’s AGENDA 2063, and sees itself as a positive representative and spokesman for Pan African unification.

The SRDC believes that working collaboratively; we are stronger in our quest to restore dignity, respect and sustainable development on the African continent and in the Diaspora. This group with support from Partners intends to construct a National Public Library for the benefit of thousands of residents of Montserrado County, and other counties and locals within the territorial boundary of the Country.

The Liberian Delegation Officially Announces the Commencement of the Library Project

On Day Two of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) 12th Annual International Summit, held October 25-26, 2019 in Charleston, South Carolina, the crowning achievement of the weekend was realized: the official designation of the Sehwah-SRDC Liberia Library Project. With assistance from a cooperative arrangement between Sehwah, a grassroots Pan-Afrikan organization in Liberia; the African Union; and the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), the country’s first ever Public Library is now slated to be built on a two-acre tract of land in the capital city of Monrovia provided by the government of the Republic of Liberia.

Ms. Louise Siaway is Executive Director of Sehwah-Liberia. Over the last year, as Sehwah has solidified its cooperative arrangement with SRDC, Liberia is now home to the first SRDC organization on the Afrikan Continent, complete with an office space that has yet to be fully furnished and placed into operation. She is a former Assistant Minister of Cultural Affairs and Tourism in the administration of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Ms. Siaway has been negotiating with the African Union on the need to work cooperatively with SRDC to construct what will be the first public library in Liberia.

“The strengthening of the relationship between SRDC and Afrika is working. With an office in Liberia, it is now a topic of SRDC in the Continent. So, we would like to call on the [Liberian] government representative for land. The government of Liberia gave two acres of land to SRDC’s project for the public library in Liberia,” she said as she introduced the National Archive Director-General of Liberia, Mr. C. Neileh Daitouah.

Mr. Daitouah made the official presentation of a deed to two acres of land in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, to Ms. Siaway.

“I bring you greetings on behalf of His Excellency, George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and the government and the lovely people of Liberia. … We are delighted about the invitation extended to us to participate in the 12th Annual Conference of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus … to bring together the Afrikan Diaspora into a working partnership with the African Union. This endeavor of partnership is a laudable initiative toward regional integration and sustainable development. …

“As the 2019 Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus seeks to stimulate a constructive dialog, knowledge sharing, and formulation of a new social and cultural economy, and strategic efforts to bring the Afrikan Diaspora into a working partnership with the African Union and further highlights a part of its objective …

“And we underscore the importance of the objectives for this conference, that is to the sustainable development of individual Afrikan countries and further set the stage for the opportunity to share with you fellow participants, our initiative and exciting efforts to seek to promote and improve the educational center of Liberia, especially with what has to do with library development in Liberia.

“The lack of a modern library in Liberia is a serious impediment to the educational needs of the people in Liberia. As we have come to see, a public library is a powerhouse for acquiring knowledge. …

“We have been holding discussions with Ms. Louise Siaway, Executive Director of Sehwah-SRDC. She is a former Assistant Minister of Cultural Affairs and Tourism [in the administration of] Her Excellency, [former] President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and who has been negotiating with the African Union on our behalf, on the need to construct a worthy public library in Liberia and have as one component a Presidential Library that will profile the civic and vital accomplishments of past and present presidents of the Republic of Liberia for our present and future generations to know the role played and the accomplishments of their former and present presidents. …

“The African Union has agreed to construct the [national] library … and the government of Liberia will require that the land available is suitable land for said construction. …

“Subsequently, we received the letter of confirmation from the Liberian Land Authority about the availability of land for the construction of the public library in Liberia by the African Union in partnership with SRDC.

“On behalf of the government of Liberia, we are pleased to present that aforementioned letter of confirmation of land. …

“On this note, it is my honor to invite the Director of Sehwah to receive from us on behalf of the government of Liberia, the letter confirming the availability of two acres of land.

“As we conclude, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we look forward to the realization of a dream come true. The construction of a Public National Library in Liberia by Afrikans working in partnership with SRDC. Thank you and may God bless you all. Liberia is home for all Black Afrikans.”

Ms. Siaway then invited the Minister/Counselor for the Liberian Embassy and the SRDC leadership to the podium.

“I would like to call on our Assistant Ambassador, Dr. Horne and the leadership of SRDC. This is the official turning over of the deed to SRDC and to let you know that the government of Liberia and AU, African Union, welcome the Children of Afrika. And all of our delegation from Liberia, Sehwah-Liberia, are honored to present this, like we said last year: Bridging the Gap Between Us.”

Ms. Sophia Togba Mawle, Minister Counselor of the Liberian Embassy, representing the Liberian Ambassador to the United States, The Honorable George S. W. Patten Sr., officially presented the Land Deed to SRDC’s International Facilitator, Professor David L. Horne.

“Indeed, we need to come together as one. For the common good of our people. Indeed, we need to raise up our hands, in our collective, to raise up and run with this vision. We are here, and we are here in our capacity to support this effort. …

“Indeed, it is an honor, on behalf of the government of the Republic of Liberia to present at this time, to the leadership and members of Sehwah, to Dr. David L. Horne, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus in the Americas, we want to take this time to present to you this deed. … We want to raise our hand to say, We are one from the Motherland, and we are going to build the Motherland to our collective. We want to present this deed; even as you galvanize the resources, even as we go about this vision, we know that it will come to reality in the Republic of Liberia, this Library Project that will serve the sub-region – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea [Conakry], Ivory Coast. Yes, We Can!”

Discussion of the Liberia Library Project and the January 2019 Visit of SRDC to Monrovia, Liberia

Mr. Nvasekie Konneh, Public Relations Officer for Sehwah-Liberia, then made a more detailed presentation about the future public library, including photographs of the prospective building, the land that has been prepared for the construction, and the recent visit by Prof. Horne, Bro. Kumasi Palmer, Bro. Fred Lincoln and Sis. Deborah Wright as representatives of SRDC to Liberia to commemorate and celebrate this important new partnership.

“Today, I have come humble in my stance but progressive in my thoughts about a vision of unity and connectivity concerning our cause as Afrikan people. The SRDC must come together with us and accept the view that the continent of Africa is ours and not allow others to do more than us. This vision has already been casted and we must all own it so as to move forward as a people, united in progress.

“We must treat the continent of Afrika and its people just as the Jews from all over the world consider the state of Israel as their home.

“We should not sit on the sideline and complain about other groups of people investing on the continent and extracting the natural resources of this great continent. Today, everybody is talking about China, or Russia. Everybody’s coming to Afrika, right? To extract resources for, I guess they would say, our mutual benefit, but most likely it may benefit them more than us. But we, the sons and daughters of Afrika, those who have come from the Afrikan Continent, and the Afrikan Diaspora in America and the Caribbean, we must come together [for] building for our own benefit.

“We have to be part of those who will make history and not watch as history is written.

“Our contribution will be noted and generations yet unborn will see that we have provided them a cultural inheritance that has no monetary value. Let me say that as we gather here today, we have to take a seat at the African dinner table of development and cooperation amongst our brothers and sisters.

“Through this movement, we must go back and educate our children about our connection to the African continent and the Diaspora as a whole, meaning the partnership that exists between the native Afrikans and the Afrikan Diaspora must be taught to our children on both sides of the Atlantic so that the children of Afrika will know the connection and the children over here will understand the connection.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of misconception … particularly among young people. I remember years ago, when I was in the US Navy. I served many years in the US Navy, I served on two battleships, and I was stationed in Philadelphia, but I realized there’s a lot of misconception. Many times, when I come home around Afrikan people, I hear some thing they say about Afrikan Americans, and when I come among my Afrikan American Brothers and Sisters I hear them say something about native Afrikans. And it disturbs me. And I feel like there is a lot of communication that is needed for all of us to understand and to work together as one people for one common agenda.

“SEHWAH Liberia is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development, through building cultural heritages initiative and advocacy for women and children in Liberia. So, our partnership with SRDC is geared toward promoting this kind of development agenda for both our areas. Because I believe, for a lot of Afrikan Americans, you feel the deep connection to the land of your birth. There’s a lot of great people that have done a lot of great work, for this connectivity we are having today. I’m a writer. And I can go back to Accra or Johannesburg and … coming to today, we have to understand that there is a lot of good work that is being done; we are only building on the foundation that has been laid by other people before us. Whether it was Malcolm X, Kwame Ture, Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, their vision is the same one we are building today. I remember several years ago, when Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan organized the African and African American Summit; I was here when the first one was here. … So, that work has been going on for a while, and Sehwah is coming to continue the work that has been going on for all these many years.

“Last year Dr. Horne and a delegation from SRDC went to Liberia, and we attended the SRDC program last year in Baltimore to basically bring us together for one common purpose. And as you said here today, this library project must be brought to reality for future benefit.

“This is the land that is being demarcated for the library project in Liberia. That’s the land where the library is to be built in Monrovia.

“And this is the “blueprint” [a proposed version] of the library.

“As you can see here, Dr. Horne is being greeted by the joyous people of Liberia, celebrating the arrival of his delegation.

“Making reference to 1822. What some of you may not know, after the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, some Afrikan Americans decided to go back to Afrika to start a country. And though there might have been a lot of negative things about the coming together of the native Afrikans and the Afrikan Americans, but a good thing is that we have a nation called Liberia as a result of it. Coming together. And we will also have to understand it took a lot of sacrifices for the people to leave everything they had known for hundreds of years to go back to Afrika, to an unknown situation, When people who have been separated for hundreds of years come together, sometimes you can have some commotion, some misunderstanding, but at the end of the day, we have the Republic of Liberia today.

“This is more of the interaction between Dr. Horne and Liberians [enjoying] Sehwah’s program, which was a very elaborate program with government officials, the former vice president of Liberia was present, as you can see here.

“There’s a saying that a picture says a thousand words. So, for all of us here that are seeing the slide show here with all of these pictures, be assured that the relationship between Sehwah and SRDC is well cemented in our history. These are art and cultural artifacts that are on display at the occasion as well. Cultural dancers in Liberia serenading the delegates with beautiful Afrikan songs and dances.

“The wife of the late vice president of Liberia [center of the photo] was also in attendance at the program.

“It means that SRDC visited Liberia last year. It was a high profile event that was covered by the Liberian media. … And of course, there is a lot of enthusiasm in Liberia for this wonderful project. So we would like to extend great thanks to our Executive Director Ms. Louise Siaway for having the vision to initiate such a project, and we would also like to show our appreciation to the members and leadership of SRDC for deciding to partner with us to undertake such a wonderful project.

“SEHWAH Liberia and Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) initiated a partnership in Liberia for the purpose of strengthening engagements with stakeholders in Africa and Diaspora.

“2018, we had the honor to enter into partnership agreement for sustainable Development on the continent and Diasporas. Both agreed that there are ample opportunities in bringing the African Diaspora into a working partnership between Africa.’Bridging the gaps between ourselves’.

“We all have to be proactive in these endeavors because there is no time to standstill but to create financial, social and moral method to make this journey a success.

“Thank you.”

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Introduction to the 2019 SRDC International Summit, October 25-26, 2019, Charleston, South Carolina

Introduction to the 2019 SRDC International Summit, October 25-26, 2019, Charleston, South Carolina

The 12th International Summit of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) was held on Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26, 2019, at the International Longshoremen’s Association Hall in Charleston, South Carolina. This was the same location as the 2010 International Summit the last time it was held here. The weekend was ably organized by the South Carolina Organizing Committee of SRDC.

Members and organizational allies came from California, Washington State, Maryland, South Carolina, Central America (via New York), Belize and Liberia. We thank the South Carolina SRDC Organization for planning and organizing a course-defining conference and creating a welcoming environment for the attendees.

The theme for the Summit was a discussion of 21st Century Pan-Afrikanism. A panel discussion was held that featured several organizers from the United States, Central America and Afrika. Details about the panel discussion, including audio and video clips, are featured in the article “21st Century Pan-Afrikanism: The SRDC Summit Panel, October 26, 2019” on the web site http://kuumbareport.com.

The first day, Friday afternoon, began with a Tambiko or Libation ceremony, in which the attendees invoke the Creator, the different manifestations of the Creator (Orisha, Nsamamfo, Netcheru, and other subordinate Afrikan spiritual Ancestral deities analogous to the Archangels of Protestantism and the Patron Saints of Catholicism), and the Honored Ancestors of our families and of the global Black Struggle against oppression and toward the unity and uplift of Afrikan People. Names were invoked such as the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Steve Biko, Sojourner Truth, Henry Sylvester Williams, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Shirley Chisholm, Jomo Kenyatta, Amilcar Cabral, Fannie Oou Hamer, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Sankara, Malcolm X, Dr. Betty Shabazz, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Yvette Colvin, Rosa Parks and so many others. The purpose is for the positive energy and spirit that imbued these Honored Ancestors would continue to inspire us to carry on with their historic and mighty work on behalf of Afrikan People.

At the conclusion of the outdoor ceremony, the attendees took their seats inside the spacious hall of the International Longshoremen’s Association, a Black association of the longshoremen and dock workers who have helped make Charleston a valuable port on the east coast of the United States. The Charleston longshoremen had participated in the shipping of relief supplies to The Bahamas in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Dorian earlier in the year, and will figure prominently in efforts to ensure the safe transport of important goods and services to Afrika as the Diaspora’s connection to our ancestral home becomes stronger and stronger.

Once seated inside the International Longshoremen’s Hall, the Summit’s program officially began.

The theme of this year’s Summit was “21st Century Pan-Afrikanism”, and included a panel discussion on that topic on the second day. The signature achievement of the Summit, or as SRDC’s International Facilitator, Professor David L. Horne, defines our task now as “doing something and not just talking about it”, was the commencement of the process of planning and building the first public library in Liberia’s history. We have featured an introductory article about this project on this Web site, which can be read here. You can read about the concrete steps that were taken at the Summit to get the library project underway, to begin “doing something”, here.

This article will feature the opening remarks from SRDC’s South Carolina Facilitator, Bro. Kumasi Palmer; the Director of the Liberian advocacy organization Sehwah, Sis. Louise Siaway; and SRDC’s International Facilitator, Professor David L. Horne.

Kumasi Palmer, South Carolina Facilitator, SRDC

The SRDC South Carolina team consisted of Facilitator Bro. Kumasi Palmer and Organizing Committee members Bro. Fred Lincoln, Sis. Deborah Wright, Evangelist Patricia Wright and a number of local activists, with direct ties to the local Charleston community as well as the Geechie-Gullah communities that inhabit the coastal areas and the barrier islands of South Carolina. Bro. Kumasi introduced us to the weekend’s activities and stressed the on-the-ground emphasis of SRDC.

“Welcome to Charleston, a historical town. We are here, talking about us. We’re here from South Carolina, from North America, from South America, the Caribbean, Central America, and the Afrikan Continent. This whole program is revolving around us, and our work to reconnect to Afrika. We have a number of folk from the Continent of Afrika itself. We have on the program an organization called Sehwah, which is located in Liberia, being led by Ms. Louise Siaway.

“SRDC is … a Pan-Afrikan organization … that is where we are headed as a people worldwide, getting together globally. We need to become a global people. When we become a global people, then we develop power and influence. The problems in America, the problems in the Caribbean, the problems in Central America where our people are located, will never be resolved until Afrika is free, independent and powerful as a base. That’s been understood historically by Marcus Garvey, it was understood historically by Kwame Nkrumah, by and also Malcolm X. They were always saying we have to have a base. Afrika is our base, and after we become strong and independent, the world will respect us. It has to be [based on how] we see it. [For a lot of people] who are not here, they don’t understand this concept. We understand it as a strong moral concept, and it’s going to grow.

“Anyway, SRDC, we’ll get more into that as we move forward tonight and tomorrow. It is a Pan-Afrikan organization that has been working diligently to try to bring Afrikan people together worldwide. We do go to the Afrikan Continent. David Horne is our chief facilitator. We’ve been traveling to Brazil, we’ve traveled to Nicaragua, we’ve traveled to Honduras, we’ve connected to the CABO Organization, Central American Black Organization … we’ve been doing that for the last ten years, just hooking people up, and introducing them to Afrika and the concept of coming together as a people globally. … this is what we’ve been doing. And tonight, this is just an introduction to who we are and what we’re all about. And we have a special group of people here tonight, from Liberia, who we have invited. We are working diligently now with an organization called Sehwah, on the Afrikan Continent. And one of our major projects is to build a public library in Liberia. That’s what we’re doing. We’ll talk about that more, but it’s about work, practical Pan-Afrikanism, what can we do together to help build Afrika, and empower Afrikan people around the world.

“With that, I’m going to stop, and get this program going. I’m going to introduce to you the first person who is going to come up to speak to us. As I said there are a number of people with us here tonight. We won’t hear from all of them, but we’re from Seattle, we’re from California, we’re from Maryland, and we’ve got chapters in different parts of the country and we have affiliated organizations in other parts of the world.

“So, we’ve got our Sister right here from Central America, Honduras, Spanish-speaking Afrikan people, Sis. Mirtha Colon, who is here with us tonight, traveling all the way from New York City, where she now lives, but she’s representing the Central American Black Organization, which is the major Black organization in Central America. So we’re connected worldwide. You’re going to hear from some of these folks as we develop our panel discussions in our workshops tomorrow. But right now I want to introduce Sis. Louise Siaway, who is going to come up and give us a few words about who she is, what she’s doing. Louise is the former Minister of Culture in the Liberian government under the [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] administration. So now she’s working with an organization called Sehwah, and we’re working diligently with her to make this library project a reality. We have collected thousands of books already, and we will collect thousands more. Louise Siaway.”

Ms. Louise Siaway, Director of Sehwah-Liberia

“Thank you. Well, first of all, I would like to introduce my honorable Deputy Secretary of the Liberian Embassy, she is the Minister Counsel. She is the higher authority in the house. Next to her is the director of ACA, that is responsible for the public library in Liberia. We also have the Director for Projects at the National Archives. So, I want to give their names, not just giving their positions, the Honorable Madame Sophia Togba Mawle is our senior government official here in the US. Her reason for being here is that anything that we’re going to do in Liberia will go through her department, her office. It may be a public library. It may be an investment opportunity in Afrika. It begins in Liberia. Because, like Kumasi said, now, for SRDC to have an office on the Continent, it is historically placed in Liberia.

“And I want to say thank you to the SRDC members. We will go into more detail tomorrow, how we begin bridging the gap between us. You are Afrikan-American, I am an Afrikan. We are one.

“So, unity is what I’m going to talk about tomorrow. Unity and connectivity. You see, from here to Afrika is not that far. Afrika is right here, in your community. Your culture, what you eat, are what make you an Afrikan. So when I travel to other countries, from Liberia, into Europe, I’m an Afrikan. If you leave here and go to Europe, you’re an Afrikan. They’re not going to say, ‘Oh, Louise is an Afrikan-Liberian.’ Or, Afrikan-American. You are an Afrikan. So that makes us very unique, and this unity that we started last year, we shall say thank you again to the SRDC Family. The opening of the office in Liberia is the beginning of our relationship, this family and how we come together. And one of the most important things in Afrika is that, it isn’t to just criticize and say ‘Oh, why is it that other foreign people are coming in here and looting our wealth, our natural resources?’ But, it is not them, it’s us. We have one united role. We will be able to make it beneficial of the natural resources in Afrika. Afrika is very rich. It’s not poor. The minerals, the iron ore, the diamonds, the gold, the timber. Once upon a time, Liberia was exporting shrimp, seafood, because we are on the west coast of Afrika. So, business opportunity is huge. It only takes one step, and that’s the step we’ve already taken, last year, March, when we signed the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding], and the [SRDC] office was launched in Liberia. So tomorrow, I will give you mire detail, where we are. I have a responsibility, and my responsibility is to strengthen the relationship between the Diaspora and the African Union. And you will get the report tomorrow, how far we’ve come, and what we have done, on the Continent. Thank you.”

21st Century Pan-Afrikanism Must Be About Building: Remarks from Prof. David L. Horne, Lead Facilitator, SRDC

Prof. Horne was among the original founders of SRDC, and he has served as the organization’s leader since its beginnings in 2006. After years of pushing to establish a voice for the Pan-Afrikan Diaspora in the African Union, SRDC has included a number of practical strategies in our effort to connect the Diaspora to our ancestral home. The following were his comments to officially open the Summit on Friday evening, October 25.

“Good evening. …

“I’m not here to talk about problems. We’ve all got problems. What we don’t have enough of are solutions and projects to solve the problems. They start teaching us in grade school, here’s how to recognize the problems. And some of us even paid attention long enough to find out, after learning to recognize it, how to solve it. Black folk are great problem solvers. … Without having been great problem solvers, we would not be here. They would have taken us out. They have tried to take us out. They are still trying to take us out! We ain’t going nowhere. Whatever you throw at us, we get up, clean up, keep on moving.

“A few years ago, some people said, ‘You know, there are over eighteen thousand public libraries in a small country like Italy.’ Eighteen thousand! In America’s only official colony on the Afrikan Continent, the one that they dropped and now want to talk about, America’s only official colony, Liberia, there is not even one public library. Not one. Now think about what impact that’s having on the education of our children. Our children will take us into the future. And we will have a future. We can complain about what we don’t have in Liberia. Or we can start building. Start moving. So Louise came up with the idea, and I’m a typical Black man, I know how to follow a strong Black woman. She said, You know, we can work this out, cooperate, and do something really unique here. We can build our own library, not go and beg somebody else to do it for us. We can build our own.

“Part of what we’re going to talk about at this conference is building. Last week, as the other part of what we do, we had a Pan African Business and Trade Conference in northern California. It went very well. We had a number of Afrikan visitors, some from Uganda, some from Ghana, some from Nigeria. They wanted to talk about California making arrangements to trade with Afrika. Not just to wait until 45 or someone else says ‘We don’t want to talk to those people’. California has a larger economy than 95% of the countries in the world. And California said that it is ready to start trading directly with the Continent. So we were having this conference, cooperating and learning to engage with each other, and it occurred to me that our Global African comrades who were there — and we’re all Global Afrikans; there are Global Afrikans who live on the Continent and there are Global Afrikans who live right here in South Carolina; we’re all Afrikans; we were born Afrikans, we’ve been Afrikans and we are still Afrikans – but it occurred to me that our Nigerian friends, my South Afrikan friends … woke up every day, knowing that they were Afrikan. Knowing that they were part of a country, part of a land, part of a community. They knew they were Afrikan because they were raised to be Afrikan. I was not born in Afrika. Unfortunately, they took us away. But Afrika was born in me. And because of that connection, my life has a purpose. We are to reconnect each other, and with each other. That young child has to know, has to be taught, that there is nothing wrong with Afrika, because that’s you.

“We have some other practical issues that we have to talk about before the end of the conference. … One of the practical ideas that we’re going to talk about is this ideas of the African Union, the real Pan-Afrikan organization that is operating now, hooking up with the Diaspora. We’re supposed to be part of that, we’re supposed to be in the building. We’re supposed to be part of the discussions. Well, they have not really fully allowed that, so we’re going to take it anyway. We’re going to take our place. And one of the ways that we’re going to take our place, because we have to have something worth it, we’ve got to have something in the fight, and simply saying that we want to go back home to Ghana, or go back home to Niger, or go back home to Liberia, is not enough. So what we are demanding and what we are working on is something we call Dual Citizenship, because if these crazy people get too crazy, we’ve got to have someplace else to go. If we want to. There are 250 Diasporans living in Ghana right now who have just been made citizens of Ghana. Without giving up their American passports or Jamaican passports or Trinidadian passports. They’ve got two. They’ve got two. And the [US] State Department, even under 45, is not interfering in the idea of /Dual Citizenship. We now have that on the table, we’re going to win that battle.

“Again, we’re not just talking about what the problem is, but how to solve it. Thank you.”

After Professor Horne’s initial remarks that Friday evening, there were cultural presentations from several locally-connected Afrikan Drumming schools, who performed drum and dance routines for the assembled guests based on traditions from Afrikan and the nearby Geechie-Gullah communities.

On the morning of Saturday, October 26, Prof. Horne again called the Summit to order and introduced the topic for the panel discussion on 21st Century Pan-Afrikanism that would be taken up later that afternoon:

“Welcome to Charleston. This has been an agricultural community, a fishing community. It’s fine to get up in the morning and say that you’re going fishing and you plan to bring back stuff that you can sell at the market, but if you come back and your nets are empty, you have no fish to take to the community, then you’re just talking. You’re wishing. You’re hoping.

“Now, we’ve all been through personal situations, we’ve all been through very public, nasty situations as the forces of the world try to keep us back, and we’ve talked about we need to change stuff, we need to move beyond this, we need to do something.

“Black people have been talking about doing something longer than we’ve been here. And in Charleston, in South Carolina, even though we’ve done this big project, the 1619 Project, beautiful work, New York Times spent a lot of money on it, but part of it’s not true. Slavery did not begin in Jamestown in 1619. Those were not the first Afrikans brought to this country. They started in Charleston before they started in Jamestown. And they were already in Florida before the English ever brought anybody Black here. But again, that’s a way of trying to compact our history to show a kind of narrative that we’ve been here, we’ve survived, we have been able to overcome all of the things they’ve put on us and that’s fine. But it’s time to do something about where we are. We have to be able to show up with, ‘Here’s our project. Here’s how we’re going to change it. Here’s how we’re going to get something that’s not already here.’

“When the National African American Museum got produced, organized and put together, mainly by Lonnie Bunche, he started with an idea that most people told him would never work. You can’t get this done. Number one, it’s just you. You’re just one poor Black man who has some experience doing libraries, but you don’t; who are you? You’re not the president. You’re not a big bank. You’re not a big dog. What are you bringing to the table? How can you, a single Black man, create a museum that can speak for all Afrikan Americans? How can you even dream of doing that? But guess what? He did it. Against all odds, he did it, and White people fought him tooth and nail. They did not want him to use that land. That land was supposed to be special, for them only. And they fought him tooth and nail over that. But he got some support, even from some Southern racists, and some other people, and he got the museum built. Now, some people who did not participate in getting it built are trying to slowly tear it down, or bring some criticism to it which will make it no longer feel worthy. There are some of us who recognize Kwanzaa, the process that we celebrate towards the end of the year. There are some people in DC who said that the National African American Museum should have a special place for Kwanzaa. ‘You need to have an exhibit space, you need to make more of a presentation about how important it was. How dare you have a National Afrikan American Museum and not have Kwanzaa?’ Well, the people in charge if the museum said ‘well, that was not our idea, we’re not going to do it.’ So we now have some Black folk talking about doing a protest movement. Black folk protesting their own story. Talking about marching out in front of the Museum. Silly!

“I just got a call this morning from our representative in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Most of you know Line because she comes to most all of our Conferences. She said a French representative, somebody working in president Macron’s office, just came to visit Guadeloupe this week, and brought with him this young man called Louis Tin, who is now representing himself as the Prime Minister of the Diaspora, which means nothing. He can’t be the Prime Minister of air. He needs some territory, he needs some property. But he’s going around the world representing himself as the Prime Minister of us. He didn’t ask us, we didn’t elect him to anything, but he is putting his name out and his personage out, representing that. We had a quick discussion about that last night. Line was concerned that the French are coming up with an approach toward Pan-Afrikanism to make sure they keep it confused. To keep us fighting over non-issues. Sis. Maisha [Washington, Maryland Council of Elders] was telling me last night, we don’t need to fall for the hype. We don’t need to get distracted and go chase the mouse down the hole, down the rabbit hole. But we need to understand that Pan-Afrikanism is working in this world and in our countries, and there are people who will fight tooth and nail to kill it. They have no interest in Afrikan people uniting. None. Afrikan presidents, Afrikan countries, who we don’t always think of as being brilliant or being servants of the people, we sometimes think they are only in it for the money. Some of them are. But you have these 55 heads of Afrika who make decisions for the African Union. They, and us, were never taught that we were supposed to work together. That we are supposed to see other Afrikans and think that we can get something done, not just something to talk about but something done. These 55 Afrikan leaders were never supposed to be able to overcome their own selfishness and agree to a Continental Free Trade pact. That we are going to trade with each other first, before the Commonwealth, before the EU, before the French. We have come to, as Afrikans, grow, produce and trade together first, then with them. There is absolutely no love from those who are used to telling us what to do for that kind of agreement. ‘How dare you make that common agreement! How dare you come together. You all are not supposed to do that!’

“It’s doing, it’s moving forward, which is what we’re about. The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus was created in response to the invitation that the African Union made to the Diaspora to come back home, to come back and join this effort to build a union, to build a coming-back-together, to build something that the world has not seen. The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus has been at this for a few years. This is our twelfth annual conference. We’ve done a lot of talking. Had a lot of meetings. We are now on the road to Let’s Do Something! Let’s demonstrate what we mean by getting something tangible done. We need to see a building, we need to see a car, we need to see a boat, we need to see something! Touch something. The African American Museum, you can go knock on the wall. You can go and taste it and touch it, as some people do. They actually try to wrap their arms around the whole building and kiss it. We, as Fred has always said, need to do something. When the hurricane almost took out The Bahamas, there were a bunch of people talking about, ‘That’s so sad. That’s too bad.’ They didn’t need talk. They had had their lived devastated, their homes crushed. They needed help. So Fred said, I can start working on getting something done. Raise some money, get some food, get some stuff that will help them over their crisis.

“So going back to that quick discussion I had with Kumasi a few minutes ago, when it comes down to it, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. It’s not what you promise, it’s what you put on the table. So, S.R.D.C. in its twelfth year, started working with Sehwah of Liberia, and we opened a joint office in Liberia. You can actually go and see the office. No, it’s not well furnished yet. We’re getting there. We also went and made a presentation to the Liberian government. Liberia is very important to South Carolina. You have a long history of contact with that country. They have iron. They have substance. The agreement between SRDC and Sehwah was You know what? Liberia needs a library. Educational purposes. Have students show up, and have people learn how to read. Reading is a problem in Liberia, I hate to say it. It’s a problem right here too. The problem that we have in South Carolina, the problem that we have in California, the problem that we have in New York, with our folk learning how to read, is nothing, nothing compared to what they have in Liberia. You’re actually seeing fully grown people who cannot read. And it’s not because they’re dumb, they’re not. Nobody ever taught them how to read. A library is where you can go and learn how to read. Have people help you, have people train you. So the position was, we can connect with each other, Liberia back to the Afrikan Diaspora here, and we can build a library. We can do something that most people haven’t even thought about doing. We can and will build a library. And we’re in the process of getting that done now.

“This young lady, Louise Siaway, from Liberia who used to be in the Liberian government, has been a brilliant organizer of getting this done. A few months ago we were just talking about the idea, the she wrote Deborah and me into it and Kumasi into it in August. Now, today, in October, we already have a grant of land. The government has granted two acres of land. Not in the bushes, not in the trees where nobody will find us, but in the pricey part of Monrovia. We got 2 acres of land, the government is basically not going to try to control it. We are in the process of getting a GoFundMe page set up so we can raise our part of the money for the architects, the designers, etc.

“The issue is making sure we do our part, which means that we are going to train the young people in library science to run their own library. We’re not talking about putting up a building for White folks to come and make a showcase, ‘Look at what we did in Liberia, for them!’ No, this is not doing something for them it’s doing something with them. So we’re going to train young people to run their own library. Deborah’s going to be in charge of that, so we’ve got to raise some funds for that too.

“Again, we are doing something. Brother Kamau is working on a project our in Seattle that says you can go and get equipment, computers, ship those to the Afrikan areas that say they can be used for schooling, for teaching, for helping students. We will arrange it, we will ship it, you pay for the shipping, and then you distribute it in your own area. Doing something. Pan-Afrikanism, if it’s not about doing something, it’s not Pan-Afrikanism.

“This conference, starting with this vanguard, is about Pan-Afrikanism as a ‘doing-something’ concept. I can quote Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. I can quote Sekou Toure. I can quote George Padmore. We can talk all day about these leaders who have come and given us important statements and documents to move forward with. But again, that’s not getting it done. That’s talking about getting it done. This is 2019. They are going to impeach and remove a president of this country, not just talk about it, they’re going to do it. We have to show our seriousness in the same way, by moving with a Pan-Afrikanism that’s about doing. So this 12th Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus [Summit] is about doing.

“So we have, here in the vanguard, members of the Central American Black Organization. We have the Deputy Minister from Liberia here to talk about how they are doing. We are here to talk about what they are going to do to participate in the building, indeed, let’s identify projects and get stuff done. Let’s be known by what we do and not by what we say. We have a Brother here from Belize. Belize used to be very, very important and will be important again in Afrikan-American activities. They are not doing enough, yet, but with Brother Hodari, they are going to. We just have to sit down with him and plan and get some stuff done in that area.

“You have to understand, Afrikan people are not going to sit idle and let their land, their people, their culture be taken advantage of here. As I finish this brief introduction, within the next ten years, we have been told that if we don’t do something definitive about climate change, all of the talk is a waste of time. We cannot stop the sun, we cannot stop the change, we cannot stop the weather, it’s just going to get worse. There’ll be more fires in California, they’re going to burn the hell out of California just like they’re doing now, you all are going to be flooded out here. We have about ten years, to either do something, or else it’s just going to be all over. White people are not going to get to Mars in time to have a colony on Mars. They’re not planning on taking us anyway but I don’t think we want to go.

“Within ten years, 60% of the still available land resources on earth will be in Afrika. That means they’re coming back to try to take Afrika again. There’ll be this recolonization going on. They will have burned out their own places, so they’re going to try to come back to Afrika to take that again. Understand, that is already on the horizon, it is already in the planning stages. And the French have either been told or they have decided that they’re going to be the point of the arrow about doing something about that.

“We have to, we have to, we have to, count ourselves as part of the [group] to get stuff done to block any of the people who want to come and rake our land again. We have to be part of building what is necessary. And we’re starting with the library and moving forward to other things.

“As an introduction to the conference, welcome. Again, you are the vanguard, you are the folk who are going to plan what’s going to be happening. Congratulations on your new museum coming in to Charleston in a few months. Hopefully you will not let them tell you what your museum is supposed to be about. Hopefully you will take charge of your own story. Okay, the conference is now open!”

SRDC Local Organizing Committees

Several SRDC local organizations were present at the Summit, as we stated before above. At this time, the attending organizations made their reports on their activities and plans up to this point. Below are brief descriptions of the speakers and brief audio of the various local organizations’ reports.

Sis. Mirtha Colon is the current president of the Central American Black Organization or CABO (in Spanish, the name is Organizacion Negra Centroamericana or ONECA). Born in Honduras and living most of the last several decades in the New York area, Sis. Colon has been a guiding force in CABO for many years, and currently serves as the organization’s president.

These are her remarks as she introduced herself, described the mission of CABO and affirmed her support for SRDC’s work through this Summit:

      1. Mirtha-Colon-CABO-Report.mp3

Mama Maisha Washington is a member of the SRDC Maryland organizing committee as well as a member of the Maryland Council of Elders, which was officially seated at a December 2017 Maryland Pan Afrikan Town Hall Meeting. She is also a teacher and, as such, is helping spearhead the development of an Afrikan Centered Curriculum for Afrikan Diasporans.

Here, Mama Maisha discusses one of the priorities of the Maryland Organization, the building of an Afrikan-Centered Curriculum, which had been espoused at last year’s Summit in Baltimore, Maryland:

      2. Maisha-Washington-Maryland-Comments-1.mp3

Bro. Kamau Taplin is the Washington State SRDC Facilitator, based in Seattle. He has worked with The Gambia to arrange for the transport of surplus furniture and other goods to that Afrikan country. On the ground in Seattle, Bro. Kamau has also helped sponsor a number of cultural and business initiatives in the area.

Bro. Kamau gave an update on the SRDC Washington State organization’s activities:

      3. Bro-Kamau-Taplin-Washington-State-Comments.mp3

Bro. Demba Hydara is SRDC’s connection to The Gambia. He has been working with Bro. Kamau Taplin to facilitate and strengthen ties between SRDC and the government and communities in The Gambia. Bro. Demba has attended several SRDC Summits over the past three to four years.

Bro. Demba would also participate in the panel discussion later that afternoon. Here are his comments from the early session:

      4. Bro-Demba-Hydara-The-Gambia-Comments.mp3

Bro. Kumasi Palmer is the SRDC South Carolina Facilitator and our gracious host for this year’s Summit. He has been involved in sponsoring youth tours to Afrika, primarily Ghana, where he also owns property, and was the primary initial connection between SRDC and the Liberian organization Sehwah, which, in cooperation with SRDC, is launching the Liberian Library Project.

Bro. Kumasi, who also took part in the panel discussion later in the day, spoke briefly about the South Carolina organization’s activities:

      5. Kumasi-Palmer-South-Carolina-Report.mp3

Bro. Fred Lincoln is also from South Carolina, and has worked closely with Bro. Kumasi on SRDC projects. He also took many of the delegates to the Summit on a tour of the area, including a visit to a former plantation site and several settlements that sprang up in the countryside that had been founded by our Honored Ancestors who had endured and survived the horrors of enslavement, post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow to build vibrant, cooperative communities. Here, he gives a little background on that history, as well as efforts of the South Carolina organization to render aid to the communities in The Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian:

      6. Baba-Fred-Lincoln-South-Carolina-Comments.mp3

Later in the day, the Conference moved on to the specific items on its agenda: the Liberia Library Project and the panel discussion on 21st Century Pan-Afrikanism.

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21st Century Pan-Afrikanism: The SRDC Summit Panel, October 26, 2019

21st Century Pan-Afrikanism: The SRDC Summit Panel, October 26, 2019

The 12th International Summit of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), held in Charleston, South Carolina over the October 25-26 weekend, featured among its various agenda items a panel discussion on the state of Pan-Afrikanism in the 21st Century. The panel was held on the afternoon of the final day of the public Summit, October 26. The panelists who were invited to present their viewpoints were the following:

  • Professor David L. Horne, International Facilitator of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC). His experience with Pan-Afrikanism includes his status as a tenured professor of Afrikan History, a participant at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, his participation in a number of Pan-Afrikan conferences since that time, his membership in several Pan-Afrikan organizations from the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA) to the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).
  • Ms. Sophia Togba Mawle, Minister Counselor, Embassy of Liberia. She is the representative of the Liberian Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable George S.W, Patten Sr.
  • Ms. Mirtha Colon, president of the Central American Black Organization or CABO (in Spanish, the Organizacion Negra Centroamericana or ONECA). Born in Honduras, she now resides in New York, where she ably coordinates the activities of the premier Black organization in Central America.
  • Bro. Demba Hydara of The Gambia. He has been involved with SRDC since at least 2016, coordinating the provision of surplus goods and services to his home country through the SRDC office in Seattle, Washington State. A prolific traveler across at least North and West Afrika, he has opened doors for SRDC on the Continent through cooperative ventures on behalf of The Gambia.
  • Bro. Kumasi Palmer, South Carolina Facilitator, SRDC. He has worked alongside Professor Horne at least since 2001. He and the South Carolina SRDC have sponsored several trips to the Mother Continent for youth. He also owns property in Ghana, where he has participated in several economic development projects.
  • Sis. Victory Swift, founder of Our Victorious City and a member of the Maryland Organizing Committee. Sis. Victory has been involved with SRDC in Maryland since 2009, and has led several community projects over the years, from the Afrikan Heritage Walk-A-Thon to her current work with Our Victorious City, which she named after her son Victorious, who was a victim in a murder-robbery in 2017.
  • Bro. Malcolm Cash, educator and community activist. Bro. Cash was involved with SRDC through the Columbus, Ohio SRDC Organization, which went inactive after 2013.

The panel began with opening remarks from Professor David Horne:

      1. Pan-Af-Panel-Prof-Horne-Opening-Remarks.mp3

Ms. Sophia Togba Mawle of the Liberian Embassy then made her statement:

      2. Pan-Af-Panel-Sophia-Togba-Mawle.mp3

Next was Ms. Mirtha Colon of CABO:

      3. Pan-Af-Panel-Mirtha-Colon.mp3

Bro. Demba Hydara of The Gambia offered his perspective on 21st Century Pan-Afrikanism:

      4. Pan-Af-Panel-Demba-Hydara.mp3

Bro. Kumasi Palmer and Sis. Victory Swift then made their statements:

Finally, Bro. Malcolm Cash applied his experience as a father and a teacher to the issue.

      5. Pan-Af-Panel-Malcolm-Cash.mp3

The panel then discussed three questions from the audience: How do we involve our children in the push for Pan-Afrikanism and this new movement of change? How do we keep the fires of Pan-Afrikanism burning in the 21st Century? And do any of the panelists feel they are fighting a “losing cause”?

Professor Horne introduced these questions and gave his answer to the last one:

In the end, the struggle to “keep the fires burning”, awaken an awareness of Pan-Afrikanism in our children and avoid this struggle becoming a “losing cause” will depend on each of us. As a grassroots organization participating in what must be a grassroots-led movement, SRDC and those like us must show the resolve that we call for from the people. Pan-Afrikanism as a global movement will not succeed unless the activists and organizers consistently take it seriously and show the people the value of cooperative work by practicing it among themselves. Perhaps the cooperative effort of Sehwah Liberia and SRDC can provide one such model for the people to follow.

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SRDC Summit 2019 Charleston SC

2019 SRDC International Summit in Charleston, South Carolina October 25-26

The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) announces our 12th International Summit.

The Conference dates are Friday and Saturday, October 25th and 26th, 2019.

The SRDC International Summit is an annual opportunity for our local organizations to gather together to report on the year’s progress and plan toward our goal of building and organizing the voice of the Grassroots Pan-Afrikan Diaspora so we can take it to the World Stage. Our Summits are open to members of the grassroots Afrikan-Descendant community to come and learn more about our work. We also invite special guests from Pan-Afrikan organizations and delegations from Afrikan and Afro-Diasporan countries to make presentations and build coalitions to foster true unity among Afrikan People. This is what Ancestor Malcolm X told us to do back in 1964 when he urged us to stop blindly expecting the United States government and other oppressive regimes to honestly work on the behalf of their long-oppressed Afrikan and Afrikan-Descendant populations, a habit he described as “taking our case from the wolf to the fox”. Thus, we organize at the local, national and international levels to build awareness in our communities about the need for us to be able to raise our own independent voice, through the establishment of local and national Pan-Afrikan Agendas and the election of Councils of Elders and Representatives to take our case to global entities like the African Union, United Nations and independent Pan-Afrikan organizations like the Pan African Federalist Movement.

The International Summit has been held every year since our founding (except 2015) in one of the cities where local SRDC organizations have been established. Previous Summits have been held in Washington, DC (our inaugural Summit, in 2007); Columbus, Ohio (2008); Seattle, Washington (2009); Charleston, South Carolina (2010); Baltimore, Maryland (2011); Nashville, Tennessee (2012); Los Angeles, California (2013, 2014 and 2016); Nashville, Tennessee again (2017); and Baltimore, Maryland again (2018).

This year’s Summit will be held in Charleston, South Carolina, which had previously hosted the SRDC Summit in 2010.

The 2018 SRDC Summit, held in Baltimore, Maryland, featured presentations from SRDC local chapters, Pan-Afrikan organizations in the Baltimore area and our organizational allies from The Netherlands, Guadeloupe and Israel as well as delegations from Ohio, New York, Nigeria, Liberia and The Gambia. The 2019 Summit in Charleston, South Carolina promises to be an even bigger and better event!

Among the issues we hope to discuss this year are the continuing work on the establishment of Liberia’s first Public Library, a project being spearheaded by Sehwah-Liberia and the South Carolina chapter of SRDC; the continuing work toward establishing an Afrikan-Centered Curriculum; SRDC’s continuing work toward establishing our voice in the African Union and United Nations; the development of a Cooperative Coalition model to help bring our many and varied organizations together in a unified, comprehensive strategy; the economic platform of the Pan African Business and Trade Center (PABTC); and much, much more.

The SRDC International Summit: Conference Location

The Conference will be held at the International Longshoremen Association’s Building located at 1142 Morrison Drive, Charleston South Carolina 28403.

For those who will be attending from out of town and will need accommodations, there are several options available, but it will be important to book early, as rooms are limited. One hotel is the Sleep Inn, located at 299 Wingo Way, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464. The phone number for the hotel is 843-856-5000.

For more information, contact Joseph Palmer by phone at 843-452-4880 or by email at horojoe@aol.com.  SRDC’s Web site is http://www.srdcinternational.org.

 

 

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MCOE Town Hall on Violence Oct 12 2019

Important Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meetings in Maryland October 12 & 19

This is to announce two important Pan-Afrikan community meetings coming up in Maryland during the month of October.

October 12: Maryland Council of Elders Town Hall on Violence

The Maryland Council of Elders (MCOE) is holding a Town Hall on Violence in the Community on Saturday, October 12 at 6 PM. The location will be the Harlem Park Recreation Center, 700 North Calhoun Street, Baltimore, Maryland. Whether it is crime, domestic violence, self-destructive violence, economic violence or police violence, the one thing that remains constant is that the Pan-Afrikan Community is what suffers the most. The causes and consequences of violence in our community will be discussed, as well as ideas for solutions to help end the cycle of violence that seems to only benefit people outside of our community. An important theme will be the need for us to organize as a people if we are to solve the problem of violence in our community. For more information, contact marylandcouncilofelders@gmail.com or (443) 253-2643.

October 19: Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus Pan-Afrikan Town Hall and Cooperative Coalition Conference

The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) is holding the next in our series of Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meetings on Saturday. October 19 at 3 PM at the historic Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. The purpose of this meeting is to follow up on previous Pan-Afrikan Town Halls, as well as the October 12 MCOE Town Hall on Violence, and present and discuss a plan for organizing the various organizations, activists and citizens around a comprehensive, cooperative strategy for community self-help, local and national political pressure, and international advocacy for People of Afrikan Descent. Thus, at this meeting, we plan to (1) re-introduce the SRDC Plan to take the voice of the grassroots community to the World Stage; (2) review the Pan-Afrikan Agenda that was developed after the five Town Hall Meetings in 2017, bring in ideas from the platforms and agendas of other Pan-Afrikan organizations and update it as needed; and (3) begin to take concrete steps toward building a Pan-Afrikan Cooperative Coalition to promote real unity and cooperation among our people, a goal all of our many and varied organizations agree is critical to our liberation and uplift. For more information, contact Bro. Cliff at cliff@kuumbareport.com or (443) 865-2723.

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Dr Martin Okeke MIR France

Tribute to Dr. Chukwuma Martin Okeke, President of MIR France and Champion of Reparations

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, June 19th, Dr. Chukwuma Martin Okeke, President of the Mouvement International pour Reparation (MIR) in France, passed on to the Honored Ancestors.  While much has been made of the struggle for Reparations in the United States, with prominent writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates dressing down the United States Congress in a public hearing on the date of the celebration of the emancipation of the last enslaved Afrikans in Texas, known as “Juneteenth”, and with groups such as American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) advocating for Reparations for Afrikan-Americans, there has been an international movement for the cause as far away as the Caribbean, Europe and Afrika going on for many years.  One of the more prominent international organizations is MIR, and Dr. Okeke has been its driving force.  Below, we present tributes from two stalwart fighters for the cause from across the waters, Dr. Makeda Kandake of MIR from Guadeloupe in the Eastern Caribbean, and Dr. Barryl Biekman of the African Union African Diaspora Sixth Region (AUADS) Europe, a Pan-Afrikan Diaspora organization based primarily in The Netherlands.

Message of Tribute and Brief Biography from Dr. Makeda Kandake, MIR-Caribbean

HE WAS AND WILL REMAIN!
“Death is a garment that everyone will wear”

by Dr. Makeda Kandake
Mouvement International pour Reparation (MIR)-Guadeloupe

Hotep to All!

On this day of celebration June tenth (Freedom Day or Emancipation Day), all these words that celebrate FREEDOM, Dr. Chukwuma Martin Okeke, President of MIR France, faithfully departed from us, to a place of Eternal Honor with the Ancestors.

First-rate humanist, affable and combative at the same time, he presided over the destiny of MIR France, with conviction and force, so that Reparations be granted to the descendants of deported Africans. A Man of science that he was, he was the inventor of a process now widely used by the French industry.

We spoke at length during my stay in Paris in March 2019, and little by little, during our discussion, hope illuminated his face, bringing out with strength the goodness that lived in him. Although the intensity was short, at each recurrence, joy enameled him, his face.

He would not have liked us to be devastated, however my mind is numbed by sorrow. As far as I’m concerned, I lost a friend, an ear, a support.

Thank you, dear Brother Martin, for the trust you have shown in me, and the honor you have given me by making me the International Representative of MIR France in the 6th region of Africa, the Diaspora.

Dear Brother Martin, you have now returned to the very select courtyard of glorious and luminous Ancestors.

My organization SRDC in the USA is paying tribute to you on its website, and the presidents of sister organizations have almost all shown up to pay tribute to you.

THAT THE EARTH OF YOUR ANCESTORS BE SOFT AND LIGHT, TO YOU, FREE AT LAST, FLY, FLY, MY FRIEND

Brief Biography by Dr. Makeda Kandake

He was an engineer specializing in the analysis of wear and aging of materials. He was one of the founders of an engineering school in Lyon, the 3rd largest city in France (ENIS). He arrived at the age of 20 in France following the Biafra war that was raging in his home country of Nigeria without knowing a word of French. He worked tirelessly to catch up with others and continue his studies, in which he brilliantly succeeded. He was a very beautiful person with great humanity. Always listening attentively to others and with great humility. Rich in, and yet thirsty for knowledge. He was like all beautiful people — curious about the essentials. He fought to bring the issue of Reparations to the highest level in France, and was never stingy with advice on the issue. He dreamed of meeting all the good people who were fighting for Justice for Africans and African descendants.

He never failed to ask me to thank the sister organizations that had chosen to accept MIR France in their group and really hoped to meet the leaders of these organizations, such as the Professor David Horne from SRDC, David Commissiong from CPAN, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante and Professor Ama Mazama from Afrocentricity International. He enjoyed talking about Dr. Barryl Biekman, Malaak Shabazz, Dowoti Desir and many others. In short, he was a beautiful soul.

His transition is painful for us who stay here, but finally brought him rest from the ordeal of the illness that finally took him from us. June 19, International Day of Liberty (Juneteenth’s Day), is the date he has chosen for his ultimate trip to the Great Freedom to be with the Honored Ancestors. It only remains for us to thank him for his many contributions against the injustices towards our community and his sustained fight for the Reparations of the Trafficking and Slavery recognized as being Crimes against Humanity, and that we must tear up by all means the vestiges of slavery and exploitation. To his family we say to always cherish his memory and once again we bow respectfully to his memory. Thank you Friend, have a good trip to Honored Eternity and may the land where you rest be forever sweet and light.

Message of Tribute from Dr. Barryl Biekman, AUADS Europe

Dr. Barryl Biekman of African Union African Diaspora Sixth Region (AUADS) Europe, a Pan-Afrikan Diaspora organization operating out of The Netherlands, issued a brief message of condolence and tribute:

Indeed with the transition of Dr. Okeke we have lost a Great Pan African Hero.

In 2007 he was at the forefront of the setting up and organizational development of the AUADS Europe and a GREAT supporter of the SRDC.

With his transition we have lost a GREAT fighter for the implementation of the 20 AU ECOSOCC seats for the Diaspora.

Dr. Martin Okeke I applaud for you and thank for all of your dedication; all that has been achieved because of your empowerment and strong belief.

Sister Makeda, SRDC & MIR families please receive my deepest condolences.

May his soul rest in Peace.

Sister Barryl.

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Ambassador Quao 1

African Union Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao Discusses the Berlin Conference

Among the many public statements made by African Union Ambassador to the United States Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao was a very informative and spirited discussion of the lingering impact of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, in which the European colonial powers divided up the Continent of Afrika for their own purposes, at the expense of the people of Afrika. The obvious explanations for the disunity and confusion that still exist on the Mother Continent, as well as in the Global Afrikan Diaspora, can be found in the multiple languages, spiritualities and currency systems that continue to control much day-to-day life in the Afrikan World, none of which were created and developed by Afrikan people but were instead imposed on the Continent to reinforce the control of the colonial powers. Dr. Chihombori-Quao effectively dissects the original Berlin Conference, as well as many of the controls still imposed on the Continent by colonial forces, and discusses the need for Afrikan people of the Continent and the Diaspora to unify if we are to regain control of our ancestral home.  (Note that this video starts about four minutes into her discussion, so please rewind it to the beginning to see the entire video.)

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20190411_154343

African Union Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao on Building the “Afrika that We Want”

Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Dr. Liziwe Masiela; Dr. Kankoe Assiongbon; Dr. Chieke Ihejirika; AU Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao; Prof. Jamila White; Dr. Marikis Alvarez.

Delaware State University hosted the DSU-APRM Pan African Development Conference, “Mobilizing the 6th Region of Africa” on April 10-12 . Co-hosted by the African Peer Review Mechanism, known as “Africa’s self-assessment for good governance”, and the Center for Global Africa at Delaware State University, the Conference concentrated on topics ranging from reshaping Afrikan and Diaspora images, narratives and relationships to development opportunities with APRM member countries and the role of APRM in mobilizing the Sixth Region of Afrika, as the Diaspora was unofficially named in 2003 when the African Union initially launched its Diaspora Initiative.

Prof. Ezrah Aharone.

This first Pan Afrikan Development Conference at Delaware State University essentially announces the Center for Global Africa (CGA) to the public. This initiative was conceptualized by Delaware State University Professor Ezrah Aharone and was promoted in large part by Professor Aharone, Professor Akwasi Osei and Professor Leandra Casson Marshall.

“While Pan African gatherings are not unusual,” Prof. Aharone writes in his introduction to attendees,

“this conference uniquely coincides with the 400-year mark (1619-2019) of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the United States. Along with the importance of understanding our interlocking interests and the global complexities of this period, we at Delaware State University understand the subsequent 21st-century responsibility of Diasporan Africans to now structurally devise and apply our collective intellect and ideals toward institutional collaborations for global and sustainable African progress, as this conference aims to facilitate through our Center for Global Africa (CGA).

“Further unique, the CGA’s establishment aligns with the African Union’s (AU) policy to designate Africans in the Diaspora as the ‘Sixth Region.’ So to contribute to Africa’s ‘Renaissance and Revitalization’ as recently declared by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, the CGA’s mission is to mobilize Sixth Region resources and expertise through HBCU initiatives that are faculty and student-driven, solution-oriented, development-centered, and revenue-generating in ways that will be mutually beneficial to Africa and the Diaspora.

“To this end, we applaud and recognize the value of APRM which is a specialized agency of the AU, on whose behalf we largely gather today. The purpose is to exchange ideas that will productively contribute and expand APRM’s unparalleled work to evaluate the proficiencies of governance and socioeconomic conditions of African nations, with the objective to make recommendations for governments to implement as a means to catalyze 21st-century innovations and development of African nations.”

The full Conference consisted of an opening VIP reception on Wednesday, April 10; four panel discussions on Thursday, April 11, followed by an evening reception; and closed sessions on Friday, April 12. We were able to make the drive to Dover, Delaware, the location of Delaware State University, for the Thursday sessions, where most of the public discussion took place.

The Conference was notable for its varied selection of important speakers. Of course, being an Historically Black College/University (HBCU) and the institution at which the Center for Global Africa was founded, Delaware State professors served on the various panels. Prof. Ezrah Aharone, Dean Michael Casson, Prof. Leandra Casson-Marshall, Prof. Akwasi Osei, Dr. Vincent Fondong, Dr. Cherese Winstead, Dr. Kankoe Assiongbon and Dr. Maneesh Pandeya all made important contributions to the Thursday panels. Prof. Eddy Maloka and Prof. Ibrahim Gambari of APRM, Prof. Donna Patterson, Dr. Marshall Stevenson and Dr. Virginie Zoumenou of University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Dr. Chieke Ohejirika of Lincoln University and Prof. Jamila White of Morgan State University were among the academics from other institutions and organizations who provided key insights and analysis.

Mr. Thomas McClary; Dr. Marshall Stevenson; Mr. Milton Allimadi; Prof. Maneesh Pandeya.

South African attorney Tumi Dlamani, Zemenay Lakew of APRM and New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Liziwe Masiela of APRM, and His Excellency Khayar Ouman Defallah of APRM-Chad were among other important speakers.

Perhaps the best known panelists were former Major League Baseball manager Dusty Baker; Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & The Gang, who is partnering with Mr. Baker in Kool-Baker Energy to provide sustainable energy in Afrika; Thomas McClary, founder of the Commodores, who spoke about cultural exchanges between the Diaspora and the Mother Continent; and African Union Ambassador to the United States, The Honorable Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

Dean Michael Casson; Mr. Dusty Baker; Minister Khayar Oumar Defallah and his interpreter; Prof. Leandra Casson Marshall.

As perhaps the most prominent (and for many Afrikan Diasporans, the only) voice to consistently speak out on behalf of the unification of Afrika and her Scattered Children in the Diaspora, Madame Ambassador Quao’s comments on the key topic of mobilizing the Sixth Region of Afrika are included below, pretty much in their entirety.

One of the African Union’s major catch-phrases over the last several years has been “The Africa We Want”. Here, Ambassador Quao describes the AU’s current plan for how we in the Diaspora can help build it.

“Once again we are here to talk about matters of the village. There are issues in our village, and I appreciate the opportunity for us to come together as members of the village to address the issues together.

“With what I know of the issues that are keeping us together, difficulties that we are having as Afrikan Diaspora, Continental Diaspora, and Afrikan Diaspora as Afrikan Americans. I know many of us have tried to go home, to make a difference. And many of us have come back, because the conditions on the ground were not conducive to what we wanted to offer. I used to take doctors on medical missions, and you end up with a surgeon treating infections and sore throats. Because that’s all they could do. The country did not have the facilities they needed to do what they do best.

“Now, there are other reasons why some of us have gone home and come back. And I’m going to hit this nail by the head, because it’s something we must speak to. When we go to Afrika, as Continental Afrikans, who’ve been-to – in my husband’s country of Ghana, we call these people like me “been-to’s”; I’ve been to America, I’ve been to Britain, been-to’s – we’ve got issues. We go back home with an attitude. We think just because we’ve been-to, we know more than the ones at home. That attitude has got to change. And it’s one of the reasons that many people are not making it when the been-to’s go back.

“We also have Afrikan Americans, who go to Afrika thinking ‘I’m going to tell the Afrikans, I know more than the Afrikans.’ That’s where you are wrong, because Afrikans have a lot to teach you too. So there is a need for an attitude adjustment, a realization that we have something to offer. But they too have something to offer us. What is needed is for us to work together, because united, and understanding each other, that’s the only way we can come together in a meaningful way and build the Afrika that We Want.

“At the African Union Mission, that’s one of my mandates. Two main mandates, one to promote Afrika in the Americas, and the second one, to bring the Diaspora home by any means necessary.

“With that understanding, I sat down and asked myself, how do I go about taking this very diverse, interested group of people who don’t like each other, how do I go about bringing them together so we can go home?

Ambassador Quao at an October 2018 conference with [left] Mr. Melvin Foote of the Constituency for Africa and [right] Dr. Ron Daniels of the Institute of the Black World. (from https://ibw.21.org)

“Looking at the issues that we are dealing with on this side of the Atlantic as well as the opposite side, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way we can effectively go back home as Afrikan Diaspora to accomplish two things: 1) yes, to bring the expertise that is needed, but 2) I remember two years ago, president Trump was addressing the Afrikan heads of state and he said ‘I don’t know why you guys are poor. My friends go to Afrika poor, they come back rich.’ Are you with me? So for those of you who think the Afrikan heads of state are calling you to come home because they just want your money, wrong. We are saying, if you don’t show up, and you [don’t] stand up to be counted, next time the contracts go to the Chinese, shut up. How do we give you contracts when we don’t know where you are? How do we know about your business when you don’t stand up? And that is the challenge the Afrikan heads of state are running into. Next … Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, there is a conference going on in Nairobi. Former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, is now over infrastructure. His advisor called; one of his Afro Champion advisors called me and said, ‘Ambassador, we need you to put together a coalition of Afrikan Diaspora who can come in and be together with Afro Champions, be the first to know of the development of projects that are going on in Afrika.’ There is nothing wrong with Diaspora organizations building the next Cape to Cairo Highway. The next Cape to Cairo High Speed Train. You can only get those contracts when you’re on the table. You heard your sister [earlier in the conference] talk about [trying to find a] Pan Afrikan Chamber of Commerce, but [especially when she mentioned developing an Afrikan] single currency. These are all opportunities that are going to happen in Afrika at the continental level. You’ve got to realize, because of the Afrikan Continental Free Trade Area [CFTA], for the first time ever, in the development agenda for Afrika, we are looking at it as Afrika, not as 55 different countries.

“So this is a tremendous entry point, that if you Diaspora, if we don’t organize, we are going to miss out. The heads of state are saying the Diaspora must be in the front, along with the Afro Champions. They are wanting to create a space for us. We got our twenty-second ratification which is what we needed in order for implementation [of CFTA] to begin, two weeks ago. We are talking of a baby who has just been born. I want everybody to be clear about that. We are in a beautiful place to be on the drivers side, [in the] drivers seat of the developmental agenda for Afrika. So please, if you hear anything else from me, this is the time for us to organize, and stand up, and let’s take Afrika where Afrika belongs on the world stage. But in the process, we are also helping ourselves. There is nothing wrong with you investing your money in Afrika, coming back home to America, and play golf like they do. That’s what we want you to do, so don’t look at it any other way. It’s a win-win situation.

The Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers entertain the audience at a Reception on Thursday evening.

“So with that in mind, in Washington, we set out to then say, Where do we begin? Fortunately for us, first it was the President of Zambia who stood up and he gave us 135 hectares of land, which is about 300 acres. And when the President of Zimbabwe heard about the 135 hectares, he said … Zambia has a lot of money. You see, Victoria Falls – for those of you who don’t know Victoria Falls, Google it, it’s a beautiful place – is one of the best tourist destinations in Afrika. They say Victoria Falls is like a woman: when you look at her from the Zambian side you’re looking at her back. But when you’re looking at her from Zimbabwe the choice is yours which view you want. So he proceeded to give us 2,000 hectares. So we have been offered 2,000 hectares of land, on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, along the Zambezi River. Prime, prime, prime location. There, ladies and gentlemen, we, the Afrikan Diaspora, in collaboration with our Brothers and Sisters on the Continent, we are going to build our first, our very own, Wakanda.

“We are calling it, Afrikan Diaspora Centers of Excellence. Why are we building Wakanda? Money alone is not enough to bring change, sustainable change that Afrika needs. Capacity building is where it’s at. Most of you may not realize that Afrika today needs 1.2 million doctors. If all the Diaspora, Continental Afrikan and Afrikan American doctors, were to go home to Afrika today, they’re only going to meet about 30 percent of the need. Many heads of states thought building new hospitals, renovating old ones, was the way to address the issues of health care. Guess what? Most of those wards, half of them, are empty because there are no doctors.

“I’d like to talk about my husband’s country, my own country, Ghana. There are more Ghanaian doctors in New York City alone than in the entire country of Ghana. So when Diaspora starts complaining … I say ‘[that’s] because you are here.’ So our reality is , capacity is what Afrika needs. And where is that capacity? It’s in the Diaspora, thanks to the brain drain. At every level, every sector, the capacity Afrika needs is in the Diaspora, not on the Continent. Seven billion dollars is being spent every year paying salaries to expatriates going to Afrika to provide services. And when I ask why is it that you never get Diaspora to fill some of those jobs, they say ‘Where are they?’ … At every level, we are losing out because we are scattered.

“So, in Wakanda, there will be a thousand-bed teaching hospital to train all the capacity Afrika needs. There will be one Wakanda village in each region, which will be a developmental hub for the region. So for every hospital built, there will be supporting hospitals. Also, we will have a university, a technical college, to train, again, all the capacity Afrika needs. Agricultural farms and an agricultural college, hotels for hospitality. A country with some of the best tourist destinations, [but] we’re only realizing about 4 percent of the tourism dollars in the world. Agriculture – for a continent with over 65 percent of the arable land in the world, we are importing food. I am embarrassed to say that. Afrika should be, and will be, the breadbasket of the world.

“In addition, in our Wakanda, we are also going to have pharmaceutical manufacturing. Most of you are also not aware that in most of the Sub Saharan Afrikan countries, [of the] drugs going into those countries, close to 50 percent have zero bio-viability. That means they are not medication. They are chalk, in some cases poisonous substances. Millions of people are dying every year, thinking they are taking blood pressure medicines, diabetic medicines … when they are taking poison. Those are murderers, outside murderers, coming in. Millions of them, every day. And nobody is held accountable. We have got to stop that. …

“And of course, there will be a power plant, infrastructure, housing, supportive development. It’s going to be a very modern city, with roads that are ready for self-driving cars, monorails for easy transport around the village. It’s going to be how Afrika should be. We will build the Afrika that We Want.

Ambassador Quao at the Thursday evening reception.

“For everything that’s happening in Wakanda, there’s going to be downstream development. You can picture this: a team … whose job is to do nothing but to make sure, 15 to 20 years from now, [lack of] access to health care is a thing of the past. Educators who are saying, 15 to 20 years from now, [lack of] access to health care is a thing of the past, [lack of] access to power is a thing of the past, [lack of] access to water is a thing of the past. We’ll have teams from the Diaspora working on the various sectors. Can we not do that guys? Absolutely, yes we can. And all we’ve got to do is organize, because the brains we need are endless in the Diaspora. Then the question becomes, ‘Ambassador, how are we going to find them?’ That’s easy! We’ve got 50 million Black people in this country. 41 million Afrikan Americans and 9 million Continental Afrikans. If I just get a million of those to put aside a thousand dollars a year, that’s a billion dollars. Can we not do that? If I get 5 million, now we’re down to only 200 dollars a year, and we’ve got a billion dollars. And you take that money, you leverage it, and you keep it in there, just leveraging it, not doing another thing, we can get a billion dollars every year, out of that money, to build our Wakanda. Can we not do that? Can I get an ‘Amen’?

“We can do this! We want the NGOs out of our countries. We want no more aid. Aid is killing us. We don’t need aid, because we are very capable of taking care of ourselves. Especially you, us, Diaspora. To whom much is given, much is expected. We can do this. We live in this wonderful, great country. In my last conversation with [previous African Union Commission] Chairman [Nkosazana Dlamini-] Zuma, she said to me, ‘My sister, if sustainable development is to come to Afrika, it’s going to be brought by the Diaspora. But not just any Diaspora; the Diaspora in America. The Diaspora in America. Think about it. There’s something unique about being a Diaspora in this country. We already live as Americans. Not as Californians, not as Floridians, but Americans. Subconsciously, we are already integrated, so moving into Afrika is a piece of cake! So the Afrikan leaders, and my [current African Union Commission] Chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, they are very clear, that in order for Afrika to move forward, the Children of Afrika in the Diaspora must be front, middle and end of it all. So I look forward to our conversations, [and] I hope that we can all be in the right spirit and agree that we must speak as one Continent, one Afrika, one voice. Thank you.”

The Ambassador has also released an extremely informative video in which she quite emphatically breaks down the destructive legacy of the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference, in which the European powers at the time carved up the Afrikan Continent into colonial territories that led to the current map of Afrika we see today, as well as the colonial influence that persists in Afrika in the form of colonial languages, colonial spirituality, colonial names, colonial currency and the pillage of the Continent for the benefit of the colonial powers, and urges us all to work together as Afrikan People to break the colonial grip that still hampers the Mother Continent to this day.

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Selassie Statue 1

The African Union unveils a statue honoring Emperor Haile Selassie

EDITOR’s NOTE: The following articles were shared from pieces that originally appeared in the BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47172020), The Namibian (https://www.namibian.com.na/75591/read/Haile-Selassie-–-Why-the-African-Union-is-putting-up-a-statue) and the Daily Monitor (https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/World/Why-African-Union-putting-Haile-Selassie-statue-Rastafarian-god/688340-4976280-18pgqyz/index.html), among other sources. This also currently appears on the KUUMBAReport Online Web site (http://kuumbareport.com), and thus reflects the occasionally differing perspectives of a variety of news sources and organizations, which we present here unedited.

A statue of Ethiopia’s last emperor has been unveiled outside the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The likeness of Haile Selassie is being given pride of place outside the $200m (£154m) building in recognition for his role in establishing its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

But that might not be the first thing that springs to mind on hearing the name Haile Selassie. The name is perhaps more easily connected with Jamaican singer Bob Marley and Rastafarians.

So who exactly is Haile Selassie, and how did he come to be worshipped as a god by people living thousands of miles away?

First things first: why is he getting a statue?

Haile Selassie was more than 30 years into his reign when he helped establish the OAU. Its first meeting, in May 1963, was held in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia – which has never been colonized although it was subjected to a five-year military occupation by Mussolini’s Italy – had served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period.

Now other countries were finally gaining independence, and this was a chance to bring nations together to fight against colonization and white minority rule while also coordinating efforts to raise living standards and defend their sovereignty.

“May this convention of union last 1,000 years,” Selassie, who spent a year preparing the city for the meeting, told the gathered delegates.

As it happened, the OAU ceased to exist in its original form in 2002, replaced by the African Union (AU).
But his role in establishing the union has not been forgotten, and the statue is a way for the AU to recognize Selassie’s contribution.

So, how exactly did he come to be seen as a god?

It all comes down to his coronation in 1930, and a “prophecy” made by a Jamaican black rights campaigner, Marcus Garvey, a decade earlier.

Garvey had told his followers in 1920 they should “look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”.

So, when a black man called Ras Tafari was crowned in Ethiopia, many saw that as a sign the prophecy had come true.

In East Africa, Ras Tafari (“chief” Tafari) became Haile Selassie (“power of the trinity”). Almost 8,000 miles away in the West Indies, Haile Selassie became God (or Jah) incarnate – the redeeming messiah – and Ethiopia, the promised land.

In short, the Rastafari movement was born.

Did Selassie believe it himself? Well, he certainly didn’t try to dispel the belief when he visited Jamaica in 1966. The emperor was greeted by thousands, desperate to get a glimpse of their god. Among the devotees was the wife of a young Reggae musician, Bob Marley, who was away in the US.

Rita Marley would later describe how she saw nail marks on Selassie’s palm as he waved at her. It was a moment of religious awakening, and when her husband returned, they embraced the belief.

Three years earlier, Rastafarians had begun to move to Ethiopia and a piece of land Selassie had put aside for black people from the West in 1948. After the visit, the numbers grew larger. Today, the community numbers about 300 people.

But followers were presented with a conundrum after Selassie died in 1975, a year after he was deposed in a Marxist revolution. After all, gods cannot die.

This was resolved after it was argued Selassie’s body was just his earthly body.

Also, it should be noted, Garvey was never a believer. In fact, he was a critic of Selassie.

What was he really like?

Opinion is still split over whether Selassie was good for Ethiopia or not.

A Human Rights Watch report accuses him of acting with “official indifference” to famines in various regions of the country and attempting to conceal the famine of 1972-72, in which an estimated 200,000 people died.

He is also known to have violently cracked down on people who opposed him during his reign.

Marcus Garvey was unimpressed after he fled Ethiopia in 1936 following the invasion of Benito Mussolini’s troops a year earlier, describing Selassie as a “coward” and calling him out for “the terrors of slavery”. The practice was not outlawed in Ethiopia until 1942.

Academic Dr Yohannes Woldemariam has gone as far as to argue that Selassie should be remembered as a dictator. Indeed, he created a constitution which placed all the power in his hands and those of his descendants.

But his supporters argue he was a great leader and modernizer, who was one of the first African leaders to become a figure on the global stage.

His appeal to the League of Nations after his country was invaded is still remembered today – not least because it forms the basis of Bob Marley’s 1976 song, War.

What’s more, he was not made emperor through a chance of birth. Although born into a noble family in 1892, he was only named leader after impressing Menelik III with his intelligence.

And – as the AU’s statue to him reminds people – he was a great advocate for pan-African cooperation, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to have an effect on millions of people across the continent today.

African Union Unveils Haile Selassie Statue At Its Headquarters in Ethiopia


Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza
Sun, Feb 10, 2019


⦁ In paying respect to Haile Selassie’s role in the formation of the African Union, his statue has been unveiled at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

⦁ The African Union has paid reverence to one of the most iconic African revolutionaries, Haile Selassie I by⦁ unveiling a statue at the headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The statue was officially unveiled by the AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The artists who brought it to life are Bekele Mekonnen, Mesfin Tesfaye and Henock Azene, who are all Ethiopians.

Haile Selassie’s statue becomes the second one to be erected at the AU headquarters. In 2012, Kwame Nkrumah’s statue was unveiled. Kwame Nkrumah is respected for how he championed Pan-Africanism, especially at a time when colonial forces did not want to see any advancement being championed by African leaders.

The unveiling of Haile Selassie’s statue sends a very strong message of Pan-Africanism across Africa. Haile Selassie was one of the leaders who were instrumental in the formation of the continental body, when it was still called the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Haile Selassie was the leader of Ethiopia at the time (1963), being Emperor of the country. He was the last Emperor of the country. He was deposed in 1974 through a coup after some resentment had grown against him.

Selassie uttered some iconic words when the organization was formed. “May this convention of union last 1,000 years,” he said.

Ethiopia has long been viewed as a beacon of African independence. The country was never colonized – although it was subjected to a five-year military occupation by Mussolini’s Italy.

The African Exponent Weekly

Ethiopians have hailed this development from the African Union.

Header image credit: @terrefebiruk on Twitter

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SRDC Summit 2018: The Sisters Speak

SRDC Summit 2018: The Sisters Speak


Too often at Pan-Afrikan conferences, when the discussion turns to issues of activism and revolutionary principles, the Brothers take to the podium and fill the air with grand pronouncements and militant fervor. Most of these speeches are indeed quite relevant, necessary even, but in the process the Sisters often tend to be left out, sitting in the audience as though their only purpose is to listen and not to offer their own viewpoints. I have been told something similar on many occasions by the Queen of our personal castle. And on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at the conclusion of the public Summit, I was told this again by a Sister in the audience who noticed that many of the remarks were, again, male-dominated despite our (apparently less-than-adequate) efforts. If there was one oversight of the 2018 Summit that I would correct, it is that a conscious, intentional effort was not sufficiently made to ensure that more Sisters had an opportunity to address the audience.

And there were strong Sisters whose voices needed to be elevated more. Some, such as African Union Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, were unable to join us at the Summit because they were out of town (Ambassador Quao was in Ethiopia). Some were lost among the many voices who sought to address the audience that weekend. Sis. Makeda Kandake (pictured, below) of Guadeloupe has been a strong organizer for Reparations for Afrikan people, the ending of France’s political stranglehold on its colonies in the Eastern Caribbean (such as Guadeloupe and Martinique), and the organizing of the grassroots Afrikan communities there to force the international community to hear their voices. Having recently recovered from the devastation of the series of hurricanes that devastated her home as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, she is now organizing for conferences and collaborative efforts between Afrikan activists to be held and directed from her home country. More time should have been reserved for her to make formal presentations at the public Summit event, though she was able to be directly involved in discussions with other Pan-Afrikan activists as part of SRDC’s work to build international coalitions on the way to re-establishing the Pan African Diaspora Union (PADU) on the global level.

As it was, however, Sisters were not outright excluded from speaking at the Summit. Below, we include some of the statements made by Sister Activists from Afrika (Liberia), the United States (Maryland) and Europe (The Netherlands), as attendees at the Summit offered their suggestions and planned initiatives to help lift up and liberate Afrikan people. There were also statements made by Mother members of the Maryland Council of Elders, as well as Sisters who participated in State Presentations from Maryland and Washington State, which will be shared in a future article. Whether they were at the podium or speaking from the floor, Sisters and Mothers did indeed have important things to say, and we are honored to be able to share their words.

In this article, we feature the statements of Dr. Barryl Biekman of The Netherlands, Sis. Mouna of ECOWAS Women out of Liberia, and Mama Victory Swift of the Maryland Council of Elders, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus and Our Victorious City. These were some of the most powerful statements of the Summit, as they gave the rest of us important direction for recognizing, acknowledging and respecting the power of the Black Woman, reaching back home to our Sisters and Brothers in Afrika and ensuring that, when working on behalf of our Youth, that we “leave no one behind.”

Dr. Barryl Biekman on Women of Afrika at the United Nations

Dr. Barryl Biekman, founder and lead organizer for the African Union African Diaspora Council (AUADC) of Europe, has been organizing people of Afrikan descent from her home in The Netherlands for decades. She has been at the forefront of resistance to the racist Christmastime character known as Black Pete (“Swarte Piet”), known in fables as Santa’s black-skinned assistant who, instead of giving treats and toys to good little children, instead kidnaps “bad” little children and spirits them away from home, never to return. She works tirelessly to organize Afrikan populations in Europe to raise their collective voice in the African Union, as does Professor David Horne in the United States. She is in regular contact with Afrikan activists in Germany, the United Kingdom and Dimonas, Israel; indeed, Dr. Khazriel Ben Yehudah of the Afrikan Hebrew Israelites was also in attendance at the Summit, largely because she was there as well. She was among the Pan-Afrikan activists who participated in the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa. Born in Suriname, she has worked for well over a decade in cooperation with SRDC to organize Afrikan people in Europe to establish their voice in the African Union as well as in the United Nations. In January 2015, she gave the keynote address at the official launch of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, and has contributed to the efforts of the UN’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, which she has continued to champion in the years since.

Aside from participating in several key meetings during the Summit to forge organizational relationships with the Continental Afrikan delegates from organizations such as the African Diaspora Union (Afridu) and the diplomatic delegations from The Gambia and Liberia, she made important observations regarding the African Union, the United Nations and the status of women. “The African Union has declared, until 2020, the Decade of Afrikan Women. And in the Commission on the Status of Women, every year in March, at the United Nations, Afrikan Women [of the Diaspora] are together with Afrikan Women from the Continent. And they are doing amazing jobs. Amazing jobs. Because people must realize that women in some parts of Afrika don’t have access to land, not to finance. … And these women are doing incredible work.”

Sis. Mouna, ECOWAS Women (Liberia) on Bringing the Knowledge Back Home

One group that is participating in the March events at the United Nations on the status of women is the ECOWAS Women. Sis. Mouna, from Liberia, is the President of ECOWAS Women, an organization of Sisters from West Africa who are organizing in the area of the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS). “There’s a United Nations Commission on the Status of Women every year, where women from all walks of life come together, from all organizations, to put their case forward,” she said, echoing Dr. Biekman’s comments. “We were privileged to apply for a side event this year. The deadline was the 9th of this November. So we applied and they will get back to us on November 29. If we are selected, then we can form a synergy, come together and form something to present on that day, instead of us doing it alone. You can come with your plan, I can come with my plan, because we are from Liberia, we have people from Nigeria and other parts of Afrika. And the side event will be visited by everybody, and we’ll be on the United Nations Compound.

“So the Sheroes Sisterhood is doing it with us, the ECOWAS Women. And what we do is, anything that is in the interest of women, we look our for the protection of the Woman.”

She addressed issues faced by Afrikans in general and Afrikan women, in particular, in receiving the respect from Europeans and men that they deserve. “Afrikans don’t need to be coming here and looked down upon. … We need to believe in ourselves. … Whatever we see here in America, we can take it home and make it better. So, with this side event, we can encourage ourselves, and we [can] come together as one. …”

She also discussed Afrikans who move to the West and never return home to Afrika. “People come here and don’t want to go back, they want to stay here [but] at the end of the day, we have freedom back home! What we need is for our governments to understand that they can’t continue to look down on us [and should] give us the rights that we deserve. They say that America is getting our citizens. So, if everybody is leaving Afrika and coming to America to stay, what’s going to make a difference back home? Nobody’s going to be left back home who can make a difference. So, can we come together as one?

“I’m an Afrikan woman, who is proud to be an Afrikan, who is coming here to tell my people that we don’t have to abandon home. We can leave home, but not abandon home. We come, get experience, get the good things that we see, go back home and make an impact. Do not just leave everything there, come here and stay. I don’t see freedom here. I see freedom back home. Back home, I’m president of the ECOWAS Women. Liberian women. Strong women. Here I’m nothing. Here, I have to do everything for myself. Back home, we come together as people. We see one another. We don’t just get on the Internet and that’s it. … Back home, we interact. My brother, my mother, my family, we live together. We have to make people see these things. Why? Because leaving home to come to America, because of hunger, because of bad governance, people don’t want to see their children hungry. [Because] your children are hungry, your children cannot go to school, you cannot pay your children’s school fees, you have to come to find a greener pasture. But if we get our governments to see that these things must change, we will find ourselves coming back home. We will find people staying home. And coming here to just … get experience.

“So, we are open for partnership. We have applied for the side event in March, they will get back to us November 29, then we have to get our Concept Note, our Proposal. … We’ve got to come together and encourage one another and start from here.”

[The United Nations did reply and approved the application of the ECOWAS Women for the side event at the March UN conference — Editor.]

“Leave None Behind”: Mama Victory Swift (Maryland Council of Elders and Our Victorious City)

Mama Victory Swift is a member of the Maryland Council of Elders, as well as founder of the organization Our Victorious City, named for her youngest son, Victorious Swift, who was tragically murdered in March 2017. Mama Victory did a number of things behind the scenes throughout the weekend to help ensure the Summit ran smoothly, including financing the food for one day of the Summit so the attendees could eat for free, but she also made several important statements during the Summit that reflected the level of commitment that one would expect to see from a consistent community activist who is also a mother deeply touched by the senseless loss that threatens us all who live in an environment where so many struggle to survive. Her comments to the audience reflected the personal concern that should shake us out of our intellectual arrogance, laziness, fear and inertia, and make the struggle real for all of us.

“All roads lead to Afrika,” she told the audience on Saturday, much as Mama Tomiko also said. “We have to be able to see the forest for the trees. Everything we’re doing collectively and individually leads us all back to the Motherland, leads us all back to the Continent. Everything we’re doing in Baltimore, whatever we’re doing in Seattle, whatever’s being done in Detroit, Ghana, Liberia, whatever is being done, the purpose of those efforts is for us to come together as a people and to reclaim our name, our culture and our land back. That is our purpose, and I don’t think any of us in this room are dismissed from that agenda. Am I correct? That is our agenda. And … we do need a collective focus on how to get our land back, but I think that we are all collectively doing what we’re doing wherever we’re doing it, so that all roads will lead back to Afrika.”

The day before, speaking about connecting with Afrika and making that connection for the masses of the people, Mama Victory stressed the importance of making personal connections with the people, and most importantly, the children. “Is there any organization out here that works with youth? … It is absolutely possible for us to collaborate, from wherever we are, to make this a collaborative, so we in Baltimore and those in [places like] Seattle, we can set a date and all of us from different states can go together with children from our respective areas, together, to Ghana. So we can do that. That is something we can think about, that we should do, that if we just put our minds to it, we can do. … I want to communicate with everyone that signed that registration. …

“The one thing I wanted to take away is the assignment that we have. … We have to speak, for the next year, to every Afrikan we see. If you walk past an Afrikan, you speak. Everyone, even the ones of us who are lost. … Because that grows unity. That’s something that we’ve been indoctrinated to not do. And that keeps us separated. So when you see another human being that has the same melanated skin as you, you speak whether they speak or not … because that grows unity. That’s something that they’re not accustomed to. That’s something that we’re not accustomed to. I walked in this room today and there were people who didn’t speak to me and we know better. We know better than that. … And we’re then obligated and responsible to do better. Because, see, love is an action word. It’s ‘to love’. And because it’s an action word, we have to move on it, if we’re really serious about growing a nation of people who are waking up and arising from their sleep. The first part of that is having a human connection that we’ve been indoctrinated to discontinue, out of fear. So, speak. That’s one.

“Two is, it’s not enough for us to save our own selves. … My youngest child, Victorious Swift, was murdered last March. Now Victorious, from the age of five, was a founder of an organization. He was a warrior, he is a warrior. His spirit is so profound that the energy of his life force still exists, not only with me and mine, but nation-globally. He did more than I even knew he did. But it’s not enough for us to fight and save our own children. If we will not fight to save all children, then we’ve dropped the ball before we’ve even started. Because — I say this, I’ve said it for years — we can raise our children to be the most phenomenal human beings, the most phenomenal warriors, on this planet, but if we don’t reach the ones who didn’t get it, that’s the one who will meet ours in the middle of the night, in an afternoon going to their car, on their way home — and steal their lives. We have a responsibility, to raise all of our children … and , really, really, really — leave none behind.”

Next SRDC Summit Article: Words From The Elders

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Sehwah Liberia

KUUMBAReport Online

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