Archive | SRDC News

Seeds of Suspicion 1

Seeds of Suspicion: Feed the Future, Afrika and Genetically-Modified Foods

 (This article originally appeared on the KUUMBAReport Web Site, http://kuumbareport.com.)

Feed the Future, the current plan to combat hunger in Afrika, is being led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  It is based on the concept that hunger is a yield problem to be solved by increasing Food Security (the establishment of a secure food supply, often by US or corporate interests) as opposed to an access problem that should be solved by improving Food Sovereignty (the people’s right to access and control of their own food).  In its effort to increase food yields, USAID has historically worked closely with biotech agribusiness corporations such as Monsanto to push genetically modified, corporate-patented foods on farmers and an often unwitting populace.  Is this the future we all want for Afrika?

Seeds of Suspicion 1THE RABBIT HOLE: Seeds of Suspicion

On September 26, 2014, the Africa Braintrust event was held at the John Wilson Convention Center in Washington, DC.  The annual event, organized by United States Congress member Karen Bass (D-California), brings together a variety of speakers and panels to discuss issues of interest to Afrika and the Afrikan Diaspora.  This year’s event centered around the August USA-Africa Summit, in which President Barack Obama met with 50 Afrikan heads of state to discuss USA-Afrika relations.

In earlier posts, we reported on the keynote address by former US Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the first of three panels that were held at the session, and the keynote address by Dr. Rajiv “Raj” Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Dr. Shah began his address by commenting about the continuing Ebola crisis, then discussed two signature USAID programs: Feed the Future and Power Africa.  Last year, we attended a Congressional Policy Breakfast about Power Africa and the Electrify Africa Act, and we wrote about that session for this Web Site, including many of the concerns raised by community activists and concerned Afrikans about access to power in rural areas, questions of who primarily benefited from Power Africa and the potential environmental and human rights consequences.

Here, we will spend some time on USAID’s Feed the Future initiative.  The stated aims are laudable: increasing the crop yields of rural farmers so the populace can eat instead of starving, so that children can play and go to school instead of wasting away through malnutrition, and so that countries can effectively feed their people instead of waging oppression and war over scarce resources.  But the picture is far more complicated than that.  The journey we will undertake here will delve into USAID’s checkered past in Latin America, examine the agency’s ties with major multinational biotech and agribusiness corporations, take a look at the concerns surrounding genetically modified (GM) food, scrutinize the issue of patents and food sovereignty (which is different from “food security”), and ask the question: Is this the Future we want for Afrika?

What Dr. Rajiv Shah of USAID Says About Feed the Future

First, here are the words of Dr. Rajiv Shah at the 2014 Africa Braintrust event as he touted USAID’s Feed the Future initiative:

“The first [of USAID’s current signature programs] is Feed the Future, and when Rajiv Shah USAID 1President Obama took office, he really made this the top developmental priority.  The slide you’re looking at is a picture of an Ethiopian farmer and daughter collecting the harvest.  In Ethiopia today, through Feed the Future, we’re working with DuPont and a host of local farming cooperatives to increase the farm yields for 35,000 maize farmers and their families.  Today, as a part of our Feed the Future partnership, the government has liberalized its seed sector, has refined the way it protects private capital investments, has offered licenses and engaged foreign investors, and has built upon the innovation labs that were set up across American colleges and universities.  Now, we measure the results of these efforts through legitimate and widespread household surveys, and we now know that as a result of this program in Ethiopia, public and private, Ethiopia has driven down the rate of hunger, of poverty, of stunting, which is an expression of malnutrition in children that robs them of their future, and has increased the rate of reduction of poverty and malnutrition three times in just the last two and a half years.  That’s an extraordinary achievement, and as a result 160,000 children today who would have been hungry are now laughing, learning, playing, going to school, and not because we’re handing out more American food, but because we’re helping their farmers, mostly women, improve the productivity from their own labor and their own ingenuity.  That kind of story is playing out in Ethiopia, but also in 14 other countries in Sub Saharan Africa.  It’s playing out across more than 200 companies that have committed more than $10 billion of private investments.  It’s playing out in the African Union that has reaffirmed this year is the year of agriculture for Africa, and has put into place a set of leadership commitments and policy reforms, and it plays out at a global level in last week’s announcement of global hunger levels that have come down by more than 40 million individuals, almost all of whom are in Sub Saharan Africa over the last three or four years.

“Today, as a part of our Feed the Future partnership, the government has liberalized its seed sector, has refined the way it protects private capital investments, has offered licenses and engaged foreign investors, and has built upon the innovation labs that were set up across American colleges and universities.”
– Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID

“These are extraordinary successes and gains, and I just want to note and thank the United States Congress and its leaders, including Representative [Karen] Bass, for introducing, on a bipartisan basis in both the House and the Senate, Feed the Future legislation that will authorize this program into law and ensure that we can stick with it, using this model of development to continue to drive down hunger and poverty and drive up agricultural investment and growth for decades to come.  So I would like to take this moment to ask for your support for Feed the Future, and that you support Representative Bass and that you support the bipartisan members of the House and Senate that are going to try to make this happen, we hope, in the Lame Duck Session this year, because I think it’s telling that our political leaders, at a time that, sometimes, is a little fractured and a little partisan, can come together to support this kind of an effort, executed to this level of excellence.   So thank you for your leadership, Representative Bass. …”

We thank Rep. Bass for her continued commitment to bring information to her constituents and to concerned Afrikans and Afrikan Diasporans.  Her Africa Braintrust event provides an opportunity for us to learn about the analysis and plans of a number of activists, scholars and government officials from the United States and Afrika.  That being stated, it is necessary for us to now compare the words of Dr. Shah to what others around the world have said, what the corporate partners of USAID have said and done, the warnings of food activists and farmers’ advocates, and what the implications will be for Afrika as the next frontier (target?) of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative.  We will reference and quote a number of articles, statements and Web Sites during our journey, and we include the locations of these articles, analyses and statements so you can look them up for yourself, and perhaps dig even deeper down the rabbit hole.

What Latin American Activists Say: USAID’s influence in Latin America & The Caribbean

An article dated July 21, 2012, titled ALBA Expels USAID from Member Countries (http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/alba-expels-usaid-from-member-countries/), translated by Rachael Boothroyd for the Web Site http://venezuelaanalysis.com, reported on the Resolution from the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) for the immediate withdrawal of USAID from member countries of the alliance.  The Resolution goes as follows:

On behalf of the Chancellors of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Federal Republic of Brazil, on June 21st 2012.

Given the open interference of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the internal politics of the ALBA countries, under the excuse of “planning and administering economic and humanitarian assistance for the whole world outside of the United States,” financing non-governmental organizations and actions and projects designed to destabilise the legitimate governments which do not share their common interests.

Knowing the evidence brought to light by the declassified documents of the North American State Department in which the financing of organisations and political parties in opposition to ALBA countries is made evident, in a clear and shameless interference in the internal political processes of each nation.

Given that this intervention of a foreign country in the internal politics of a country is contrary to the internal legislation of each nation.

On the understanding that in the majority of ALBA countries, USAID, through its different organisations and disguises, acts in an illegal manner with impunity, without possessing a legal framework to support this action, and illegally financing the media, political leaders and non-governmental organisations, amongst others.

On the understanding that through these financing programmes they are supporting NGOs which promote all kind of fundamentalism in order to conspire and limit the legal authority of our states, and in many cases, widely loot our natural resources on territory which they claim to control at their own free will.

Conscious of the fact that our countries do not need any kind of external financing for the maintenance of our democracies, which are consolidated through the will of the Latin American and Caribbean people, in the same way that we do not need organisations in the charge of foreign powers which, in practice, usurp and weaken the presence of state organisms and prevent them from developing the role that corresponds to them in the economic and social arena of our populations.

We resolve to:

Request that the heads of state and the government of the states who are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, immediately expel USAID and its delegates or representatives from their countries, due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.

In the city of Rio de Janeiro, Federal Republic of Brazil, June 21st 2012.

Signed by: The government of the Pluri-national state of Bolivia, The government of the Republic of Cuba, The government of the Republic of Ecuador, The government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, The government of the Republic of Nicaragua, The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Why did ALBA make such a statement?  Surely, USAID doesn’t use its status as a global “humanitarian” agency (Isn’t “International Development” their last name?)USAID Logo 1 cannot be attempting to destabilize legitimate governments, can they?  Well, perhaps we need more information and testimony, such as the following article from the Web Site http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/ALBA-Strongly-Condemns-USAID-Plot-in-Cuba-20140808-0043.html, published August 8, 2014, titled The member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for Peoples of Our America (ALBA) demanded the United States cease its subversive actions against Cuba.  Here is an excerpt:

The statement released this Thursday follows revelations about the recruitment and employment of young Latin American people since 2009 in a bid to convert contemporary Cubans into “agents of change” and promote political dissent on the island.

The U.S. based agency Associated Press revealed on Sunday that the U.S. agency for International Development (USAID) sent a group of young people from Costa Rica, Venezuela and Peru to Cuba under the guise of carrying out health and social projects, when in reality their main goal was to find and encourage anti-government activists.

In the text, ALBA expressed its “indignation”, describing the project as “immoral”.

“The ALBA condemns this new plan against Cuba, and demands and end to the subversive, illegal actions partly covered by the U.S. government, that violate the sovereignty and right of the Cuban people to self-determination.” added the communiqué.

“The countries of ALBA express their deep solidarity with the Cuban Republic and demand the United States respect the Cuban people’s will in continuing to improve its economic and social model, as well as the consolidation of its democracy, without any external interferences.”

An analysis of USAID’s objectives in Latin America was presented last month in an article on the Web Site http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/USAIDin-Latin-America-More-Than-Just-Aid-20141027-0055.html, USAID in Latin America: More Than Just Aid, published 27 October 2014, which said, in part:

After being expelled from numerous Latin American countries for dubious activity, the United States organization USAID has developed a reputation of an organization that while providing aid is also developing ways to undermine governments in a number of the continent’s countries.

According to their website, USAID’s mission is “furthering America’s interests, while improving lives in the developing world.” However in practice, they may well be furthering the United States interests, but not by improving lives in the developing world but by supporting the activities of groups that are opposed to democratically elected governments.

The most recent damning revelations are that the agency not only had attempted to create a twitter style social media network in Cuba to undermine the government, but on top of this an Obama administration program secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change in order to overthrow Castro’s government, which the United States has been trying to do for over 50 years now, with no success.

After it was revealed that USAID had been interfering in Cuba, the House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz said, “That is not what USAID should be doing … USAID is flying the American flag and should be recognized around the globe as an honest broker of doing good. If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished.”

But USAID’s track record of engaging in subversive activities is a long one, and U.S. credibility as an “honest broker” was lost many years ago.

The USAID operations in Latin America, which are overseen by what is known as the “Office of Transition Initiatives” (OTI), is a way for the U.S. to promote its interests through soft power. The U.S. calls these projects aiding in “transition”, whereas in reality it is nothing but meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. They work with many different NGOs and private companies, all under the guise of providing aid to developing nations.

USAID have engaged in activities to undermine democratically elected governments in Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Haiti and interfered in Brazil, Ecuador and most likely other nations. …

But not only is USAID’s image tattered in many parts of Latin America, it is also held in suspicion among several activists in Ayiti (Haiti). A report critical of USAID, which was released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), was detailed in the April 3, 2013 article New Report on U.S. Aid to Haiti Finds “Troubling” Lack of Transparency, Effectiveness (http://www.cepr.net/index.php/press-releases/press-releases/new-report-on-us-aid-to-haiti-finds-troubling-lack-of-transparency-effectiveness).  Among the article’s revelations:

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) identifies significant problems with the delivery of U.S. aid in Haiti and finds an overall lack of transparency on how the billions of dollars obligated for U.S. assistance to Haiti are being used. The report, “Breaking Open the Black Box: Increasing Aid Transparency and Accountability in Haiti,” by CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston and Senior Associate for International Policy Alexander Main, examines the effectiveness of U.S. assistance to Haiti, how it is being administered, to what extent it is adhering to the “USAID Forward” reform agenda and what steps can be taken to ensure its more effective and transparent delivery.

“Billions in U.S. aid money are going to Haiti with little transparency to ensure that it is being used effectively,” paper co-author Jake Johnston said. “The situation for many people in post-quake Haiti is especially daunting, but for USAID it has been business as usual. No care has been taken to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being best utilized in Haiti.”

The report notes that the few audits and evaluations of USAID’s programs in Haiti since the earthquake present a “troubling picture of the manner in which U.S. relief and reconstruction efforts have been conducted so far.” Contractors have hired far fewer Haitians than promised, Haitian businesses were largely excluded, goals were not met, there was inadequate supervision of grantees, and USAID had not conducted internal financial reviews of contractors.

The paper shows that of the $1.15 billion in contracts and grants awarded since the 2010 earthquake, over half went to the top 10 recipients of global USAID awards, with the largest recipient being the for-profit company Chemonics International Inc., the single largest recipient of USAID funds worldwide aside from the World Bank and U.N. Meanwhile, just 0.7 percent of USAID awards have gone directly to Haitian businesses or organizations. …

The paper notes that despite USAID’s “Forward” reform agenda, the agency has blocked disclosure of additional information, including through Freedom of Information Act requests. …

“Without transparency, not only is it impossible for U.S. taxpayers to know what is being done with their money, but the Haitian government and the Haitian people have little opportunity to ensure that U.S.-funded projects actually assist Haiti in rebuilding and dealing with ongoing urgent humanitarian needs,” paper co-author Alex Main said.

So, there is evidence that USAID has acted, in the recent past, to undermine governments in Latin America, and that many of those governments have expelled USAID employees as a result.  There are also reports of a lack of transparency as to how funds are spent in countries, such as Ayiti (Haiti), where USAID has purportedly acted in a humanitarian capacity.  What has that to do with Feed the Future, and why should we assume that USAID will act in a similar fashion in Afrika?

What Food Activists Say: USAID’s Support of GMOs

Another troubling aspect of USAID’s practices over the years has been the agency’s consistent support of corporations that are engaged in the promotion of genetically modified (GM, or GMO for “genetically modified organism”) food, which goes back over a decade.  An October 2002 report by Greenpeace (http://greenpeace.co/uk) titled USAID and GM Food Aid, states, among other things:

In August 2002, Andrew Natsios of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) accused environmental groups of endangering the lives of millions of people in southern Africa by encouraging local governments to reject genetically modified (GM) food aid. Mr. Natsios said, “They can play these games with Europeans, who have full stomachs, but it is revolting and despicable to see them do so when the lives of Africans are at stake.” He added, “The Bush administration is not going to sit there and let these groups kill millions of poor people in southern Africa through their ideological campaign.”

In fact, the cynical manipulators of the famine in Africa are the US government, USAID and the GM industry. They are using the current situation to force the introduction of GM crops on countries desperate for food aid. There are numerous sources of non-GM aid available around the world, including the USA. Using these sources is the best way to both feed people and maintain their dignity, yet the US has made a clear policy decision to only supply GM contaminated aid from US suppliers. Aid agencies, the EU and UK Government all believe that best practice in emergency aid is to provide support to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in the form of cash, so that it can buy grain from the quickest and most cost effective sources. The only organisation that thinks otherwise is USAID. US policy thus impedes aid from generating maximum benefit.

It is clear that the current program of aid donation is the latest twist in a crude 10-year marketing campaign, led by USAID and designed to facilitate the introduction of US-developed GM crops into Africa. …

The simple fact is that USAID has chosen to supply GM maize as food aid, even though there are numerous grain companies in the USA from whom they could supply certified non-GM grain. …

During negotiations on the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, part of a UN sponsored international agreement to control the movement of GM crops around the world, African countries made it clear that they did not want to become a test site or dumping ground for unwanted GM food. Yet this now seems to be the case. Indeed, in comments largely ignored at the time, the UK Chief Scientist Professor David King said that the Bush Administration’s efforts to force GM foods into Africa in the form of food aid is “a massive human experiment.  Professor King questioned the morality of the Administration’s desire to introduce GM into African countries, where people are facing starvation in the coming months. …

USAID has become increasingly frustrated over countries not taking GM contaminated aid – a US official was quoted as saying, “beggars can’t be choosers.” USAID clearly states, however, that among other things its role is to “integrate GM into local food systems” and “spread agricultural technology through regions of Africa.” US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Johannesburg, “In the face of famine, several governments in southern Africa have prevented critical US food assistance from being distributed to the hungry by rejecting GM corn which has been eaten safely around the world since 1995.” …

There is much more to this article, including an analysis of how the US’s specific means of delivering aid makes this result not only possible, but likely, as well as USAID’s connections with global agribusiness and biotech corporations and its efforts to further the opening of markets (“trade liberalization”) and the enforcement of patents, hardly an aid imperative.  The whole article can be found at the Web Site www.greenpeace.co.uk.

There is more still to this part of the story, which we will cover in more detail when our journey takes us to India.  But now, we wish to share with you the words of an executive of Monsanto, one of the largest biotech and agribusiness corporations in the world and a major corporate partner of USAID.  Monsanto is quite proud of its role in pushing GMO food on the world, primarily through its proprietary hybridized seeds.  These seeds have been marketed to farmers in the United States, India and other parts of the world.  While Monsanto claims these “magic seeds” have brought nothing but benefit to farmers around the world, many of the farmers themselves have quite a different tale to tell.  But first, the words of this Monsanto executive, which makes it clear that USAID has been an enthusiastic backer of GMO food and biotechnology for quite some time, and that they enjoy a rather cozy relationship with USAID.

What Monsanto Says: The Promise of GMO Foods

Monsanto Logo 1Following are excerpts from a statement of Mr. Gerald Steiner, Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Monsanto Company, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 20, 2010, which was posted on Monsanto’s Web Site, http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/feed-the-future-initiative.aspx:

Thank you for inviting me to testify today on a vital new initiative, Feed the Future (www.feedthefuture.gov), which provides a framework for addressing one of our planet’s great needs, and great opportunities – the use of more productive and sustainable agricultural development to reduce hunger and poverty. 

Our company has made a three-pronged commitment to improve sustainable agriculture: We will do our part to help farmers double yields in our core crops of corn, cotton and soybeans between 2000 and 2030, while producing each bushel or bale with one-third fewer resources in aggregate (such as land, water and energy). And, just as importantly, in so doing we will help farmers to earn more and improve the lives of their families and rural communities. 

… Our cornerstone strategy is to actively engage and seek collaboration from a wide range of partners in the public sector, private sector, academia and civil society. 

… USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, when introducing Feed the Future to the Chicago Council Symposium on Agriculture and Security in May, asked for private-sector input. “Tell us what countries and donors can do to reduce constraints on business operations,” he said. “And please explore with us whether our tools to encourage investment . . . would help you make the commitment to invest greater resources in these specific value chains and countries.” …

… At Monsanto, we develop improved seed through advanced breeding as well as biotechnology. 

… Cutting-edge science and technology is built into the seed itself, which can be planted by an African farmer using a hoe, or an American farmer using sophisticated machinery. …

… These require systems approaches that begin with improved seeds, access to fertilizer and extension training, and end with functioning markets. What we need in order to effectively contribute – as noted in the Feed the Future Guide and implied in Dr. Shah’s question – are enabling business environments. 

That includes policies that provide predictability, such as reliable, science-based regulatory systems, as well as laws that protect the fruits of our research and development and the ability to fairly compete in the marketplace. … 

I am encouraged by Feed the Future’s endorsement of business- enabling policies, and by its support for public-private partnerships. … Monsanto is engaged in a variety of public- private partnerships in markets around the world. …

… we are equally focused on public- private partnerships that help farmers access and use agricultural technology to produce more abundant crops, while using fewer resources. One of these is Project Sunshine, a partnership with the government of the Indian state of Gujarat and local NGOs, which has helped thousands of subsistence farmers to increase corn yields and break the cycle of poverty. …

Farmers who planted hybrids doubled, or even tripled their corn yield – and, as a result, doubled or tripled their income. Those who accepted free seed and inputs in 2008 were able to purchase them at minimal cost the following year. By 2010, Project Sunshine generated additional farm income of $27 million, improving living standards and increasing spending power so that families can afford to educate their children. …

Again, these are Mr. Steiner’s own words.  Monsanto is clearly quite proud of its work in the development and promotion of GMO foods and its relationship with USAID.  Mr. Steiner’s mention of Project Sunshine is also important, for it is the subject of a case in the Gujarat State of India that we will examine in a few minutes.

What Food Activists Say: Monsanto’s Plans for Control of India’s Food and Farmer Suicides

Mr. Steiner’s statement above extols the benefits of GMO seeds for the farmers of India, but as we have already stated, numerous voices are saying something entirely different.  We will quote parts of some of the articles below and will simply refer to others, with their Web addresses included so you can read the articles in their entirety.

A Daily Mail article by Andrew Malone (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html) helped tell the world about The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops with this opening statement:

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.

Sourcewatch (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Monsanto_in_India) released a report, Monsanto in India, which goes into more detail about the crisis of farmer suicides.  Here is part of that article:

Farmers in India are finding that the “biotechnology revolution” is having a devastating effect on their crop lands and personal debt levels. “In 1998, the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies forced India to open up its seed sector to global corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Syngenta. The global corporations changed the input economy overnight. Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds which needed fertilizers and pesticides and could not be saved” says Vandana Shiva, leader of the movement to oust Monsanto from India in her 2004 article The Suicide Economy Of Corporate Globalisation. “As seed saving is prevented by patents as well as by the engineering of seeds with non-renewable traits, seed has to be bought for every planting season by poor peasants. A free resource available on farms became a commodity which farmers were forced to buy every year. This increases poverty and leads to indebtedness. As debts increase and become unpayable, farmers are compelled to sell kidneys or even commit suicide. …”

UPDATE: “Since 1997, 182,936 Indian farmers have taken their lives and the numbers continue to rise. According to a recent study by the National Crime Records Bureau, 46 Indian farmers kill themselves every day – that is roughly one suicide every 30 minutes – an alarming statistic in a country where agriculture is the economic mainstay“.

Yet even this number may be underestimated. According to P. Sainath, rural affairs editor of The Hindu, “the states where these [figures] are gathered leave out thousands from the definition of ‘farmer’ and, thus, massage the numbers downward. For instance, women farmers are not normally accepted as farmers (by custom, land is almost never in their names). They do the bulk of work in agriculture – but are just ‘farmers’ wives’.” This classification enables governments to exclude countless women farmer suicides. They will be recorded as suicide deaths – but not as ‘farmers’ suicides’. Likewise, many other groups, too, have been excluded from that list.”

This has been called a genocide. Says the Deccan Herald, “Bt cotton requiring more water than hybrid cotton, was knowingly promoted so as to allow the seed industry to make profits. What happens to the farmers as a result was nobody’s concern. And never was. … Strange, the country has already jumped into the second phase of green revolution without first drawing a balance sheet of the first phase of the technology era. Such an approach will only worsen the crisis, and force more farmers to commit suicide or abandon their farms. As a result, India is sure to witness the worst environmental displacement the world has known and this will be in the field of agriculture.”

Others have also written extensively on Monsanto’s GMO seeds and their implication in the wave of farmer suicides in India.  An article on Global Research (http://www.globalresearch.ca/killer-seeds-the-devastating-impacts-of-monsanto-s-genetically-modified-seeds-in-india/28629) titled KILLER SEEDS: The Devastating Impacts of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Seeds in India by Iqbal Ahmed, January 12, 2012, states:

Monsanto’s operation in India illustrates monopolization and manipulation of the market economy, tradition, technology, and misgovernance. The world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seeds has been selling genetically modified (GM) in India for the last decade to benefit the Indian farmers – or so the company claims.

Prominent physicist, food and farmers’ activist and 1993 Right Livelihood Award winner Dr. Vandana Shiva (founder of Navdanya http://www.navdanya.org/) has Vandana Shiva 1authored more than 20 books and 500 papers in leading scientific and technical journals.  One of them, available on http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-seeds-of-suicide-how-monsanto-destroys-farming/5329947, is The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming (Global Research, March 13, 2014 and Asian Age and Global Research, April 5, 2013), which goes into detail to allege that

Monsanto’s talk of ‘technology’ tries to hide its real objectives of control over seed where genetic engineering is a means to control seed.

Tony Cartalucci, a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”, wrote an article for Global Research on March 14, 2014 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-agribusiness-in-india-grassroots-action-against-monsanto-cargill-sygenta/5373420) titled GMO Agribusiness in India: Grassroots Action against Monsanto, Cargill, Sygenta, Grassroots Activism Builds Wall Against Western Imperialism.

Also from Global Research, Colin Todhunter wrote an article on June 20, 2014 titled Criminalising Dissent in India against GMOs and Monsanto (http://www.globalresearch.ca/criminalising-dissent-in-india-against-gmos-and-monsanto/5387779).

There have been some victories, however small, for farmers and food activists in Indian courts and government agencies.  The Project Sunshine seeds that Monsanto executive Steiner was touting in his statement above, for example, were withdrawn from the project in 2012, as the following article from DNA India, Sun no longer shines on GM maize seeds (http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sun-no-longer-shines-on-gm-maize-seeds-1681371, April 27, 2012) explains:

Gujarat government on Thursday withdrew propriety seeds of multinational company (MNC) Monsanto from ongoing Project Sunshine of the government. Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and anti-GM lobby hailed the move.

“We cannot let our food security be compromised by giving unusual leverages to MNCs,” said Prabhakar Kelkar, national president – Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS). Talking at a press meet in the city on Thursday, he said that the move is the first step towards ensuring food security in the country.

Popularly known after its brand name ‘Prabal’, Monsanto seeds are double-crossed hybrid of maize that was being distributed to tribal farmers of Gujarat under Project Sunshine. …

Speaking on the issue, agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani said that government was purchasing Monsanto seeds to be given to ‘Project Sunshine’ farmers, but it has now stopped doing so. …

Earlier, use of Prabal seeds by government in Project Sunshine invited criticism from BKS, scientists and NGOs. … It is also alleged that authorities selected the seeds despite adverse opinion of agriculture scientists.

Another article apparently sought to clarify the issue, however, by stating that the Gujarat government did not “ban” the seeds; it only ceased distributing them.  The article Gujarat says ‘no’ to ban on distribution of Monsanto hybrid maize seed (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/gujarat-says-no-to-ban-on-distribution-of-monsanto-hybrid-maize-seed/article3386089.ece) is excerpted below:

Despite opposition from various quarters, including the agricultural experts and the farmers’ organisations, the Gujarat government has refused to impose a total ban on distribution of the Monsanto hybrid maize seed named “Prabal” to the farmers in the State, particularly the tribal agriculturists. …

“The State government does not distribute seeds, it only certifies for distribution, and therefore there is no question of stopping the distribution,” the official said. He said the State government had not taken any decision to “ban” the distribution of Monsanto seeds, but it had only decided to allow distribution of other varieties of seeds also along with Prabal if farmers chose it.

The State government had been distributing Prabal, the hybrid maize seeds developed by the American multi-national company Monsanto, to the tribal farmers since 2008. The agricultural scientists and experts, however, maintain that Prabal, which required more water and fertilizers than other varieties and needed deep soil, was not suitable for the usually dry and rain-fed areas like Gujarat, and particularly for the poor tribal farmers.

Then, in July 2013, an appeals court and India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board rejected two patent applications from Monsanto for varieties of their GMO seed, as reported in the July 15, 2013 Nation of Change article Monsanto’s Patent Appeal Rejected by Indian Government, Saving Farmers, Food and Lives by Christina Sarich (http://www.nationofchange.org/monsanto-s-patent-appeal-rejected-indian-government-saving-farmers-food-and-lives-1373891665):

Part of the reason Monsanto was not able to pass their patents is because the 1970 Patent Act excluded patents in agriculture and medicine. The act had to be amended when India signed the World Trade Agreement (including sections covering Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights). Strong sections of the Act, like ‘what are not inventions’ in clause 3 and the especially 3d, ‘excludes as inventions the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance,’ were key in Monsanto’s refusal. It was this same clause that kept the Novartis pharmaceutical company from patenting a known cancer-curing drug. They tried to challenge this in the Supreme Court of India, but lost. Many are saying that what the Novartis case is to our global Right to Health, the new refusal of Monsanto’s patents are the same Right to Seed and Right to Livelihood for farmers.

There are supposedly 27,000 farmers who have committed acts similar to a farmer in Bhiwandi taluka, India, who consumed pesticide after his crops failed miserably due to draught and increased debts to companies like Monsanto. Farmers have been petitioning the Indian government to help lift them out of poverty. While not every farmer blames Monsanto directly, the majority of these farmer suicides happen in the cotton belt, where Monsanto controls 95% of the cotton seed supply with Bt cotton. The costs of the seeds jumped more than 8,000% with the introduction of Bt cotton. …

Monsanto’s attempts to patent further seeds and bankrupt entire generations of farmers and their families that have successfully farmed for centuries have been halted – at least in India – for now.

What Monsanto Says II: No Connection Between GMO and Indian Farmer Suicides

Monsanto, of course, denies any connection between their GMO seeds and the farmer suicides in India.  On the Monsanto Web Site (http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/india-farmer-suicides.aspx), a number of statements designed to give the corporation’s side of this and other controversies can be found.  In the piece titled Is Bt or GMO Cotton the Reason for Indian Farmer Suicides, Monsanto makes the following contentions (among others):

Farming in rural India brings with it a set of systemic and social issues that can lead to hopelessness among farmers and an unacceptably frequent occurrence of farmer suicides. Significant research has documented the problem is complex and disproved the claim that GMO crops are the leading cause. …

The international community has conducted several studies to identify the reasons for the unacceptably frequent occurrence of farmer suicides in India over the last three decades. For example:

A 2008 study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found indebtedness among Indian farmers can be linked to numerous causes, including a lack of reliable credit, changes in government policies, cropping patterns, plant and insect resistance to pesticides, and even shifts in the crops planted on the farm.

The Council for Social Development’s (CSD) June 2012 study, Socio-Economic Impact assessment of Bt Cotton in India, identified the key reasons leading to farmer suicides as lack of irrigation facilities, unavailability of timely credit and fluctuating cotton prices over the years. …

Despite claims by those who oppose GMO crops, research also demonstrates there is no link between Indian farmer suicides and the planting of GMO cotton.

Farmer suicides in India have been a problem for nearly three decades – starting well before the first GM crop (biotech or Bt cotton) was introduced in 2002. …

One contention that is not answered is that the problems with irrigation and resistance to pests might have been triggered by the need for larger volumes of water for Monsanto’s GMO crops in areas where irrigation was not available as well as increasing resistance of pests when they adapted to the GMO varieties and the new pesticides that were required to ensure their cultivation.  Also not mentioned was the “shifts in the crops planted” from cycling through different crops, as farmers have done for centuries before the advent of industrial farming, to “monocropping” to conform with the demands of factory (industrial) farming, as is promoted and practiced in many corporate agricultural environments.

“Terminator” Seeds and “Terminator” Courts: Threatening the Right to Save Seeds?

There has also been discussion about the several-thousand-year-old practice of seed saving, and the degree to which this age-old agricultural tradition is being threatened by the patenting of seeds by corporations like Monsanto.  Allegations of the development of a “Terminator” seed that produces sterile or non-viable offspring (to require farmers to buy seed every year instead of recycling the seeds from a previous planting) have been categorically denied by Monsanto (despite their acquisition in 2006 of a company that was conducting experiments in this very same technology), but Monsanto jealously guards its seed by patenting it, and then threatening farmers who try to save their seed (instead of buying it again from Monsanto) with lawsuits.  An article on the Web Site http://thirdworldtraveler.com, Terminator Seeds Threaten an End to Farming by Hope Shand and Pat Mooney (rafiusa@rafi.org, www.rafi.ca), Earth Island Journal, Fall, 1998, noted that

In March 1998, Delta & Pine Land Co. and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they had received a US patent on a new genetic technology designed to prevent unauthorized seed-saving by farmers.

The patented technology enables a seed company to genetically alter seed so that the plants that grow from it are sterile; farmers cannot use their seeds. The patent is broad applying to plants and seeds of all species including both transgenic (genetically engineered) and conventionally-bred seeds. The developers of the new technology say that their technique to prevent seed-saving is still in the product development stage, and is now being tested on cotton and tobacco. They hope to have a product on the market sometime after the year 2000.

Monsanto was implicated in this as well, based on its attempt to buy Delta & Pine Land in 1998 (which failed) and its ultimate success in acquiring that company around 2006.  Monsanto, however, has denied that it has any intentions to develop and market “Terminator” seed technology.  Again, from the Monsanto Web Site (http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/terminator-seeds.aspx), Myth: Monsanto Sells Terminator Seeds:

Fact: Monsanto has never commercialized a biotech trait that resulted in sterile – or “Terminator” – seeds. Sharing the concerns of small landholder farmers, Monsanto made a commitment in 1999 not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops. We stand firmly by this commitment, with no plans or research that would violate this commitment.

Perhaps this is true, and perhaps Monsanto has stood by the commitment it says it made to “smallholder farmers” in 1999 to not pursue “Terminator” technology in its seeds.  Monsanto does, however, publicly defend its practice of prosecuting farmers who attempt to save their seeds, again from their Web Site, http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/why-does-monsanto-sue-farmers-who-save-seeds.aspx, Why Does Monsanto Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds?

When farmers purchase a patented seed variety, they sign an agreement that they will not save and replant seeds produced from the seed they buy from us. More than 275,000 farmers a year buy seed under these agreements in the United States. Other seed companies sell their seed under similar provisions. They understand the basic simplicity of the agreement, which is that a business must be paid for its product. The vast majority of farmers understand and appreciate our research and are willing to pay for our inventions and the value they provide. They don’t think it’s fair that some farmers don’t pay.

A very small percentage of farmers do not honor this agreement. Monsanto does become aware, through our own actions or through third-parties, of individuals who are suspected of violating our patents and agreements. …

Whether the farmer settles right away, or the case settles during or through trial, the proceeds are donated to youth leadership initiatives including scholarship programs.

Also, from the Monsanto Web Site, http://www.monsanto.com/food-inc/pages/seed-saving-and-legal-activities.aspx, Seed Saving and Legal Activities:

In agriculture plants and seeds with enhanced traits or genetics may be patent protected. This is true in the U.S. for plant varieties as well as biotech innovations.  Monsanto is one of many seed companies that patent their innovations.  Growers who purchase our patented seeds sign a Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement — an agreement that specifically addresses the obligations of both the grower and Monsanto and governs the use of the harvested crop.  The agreement specifically states that the grower will not save or sell the seeds from their harvest for further planting, breeding or cultivation.

The United States Supreme Court seems to agree with Monsanto in this regard.  On the Web Site of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, GEN News Highlights, May 13, 2013 (http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/breaking-news-unanimous-supreme-court-upholds-monsanto-seed-rights/81248358/) appears the story Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Monsanto Seed Rights.  It reports on a case between Monsanto and an Indiana farmer over the saving of soybean seed.

The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously sided with Monsanto’s right to enforce its patents for genetically modified soybean seed beyond their initial sale, over objections from a 75-year-old Indiana farmer who used multiple generations of the seed.

So, we have established USAID’s links with Monsanto and other biotech agribusiness corporations.  We have seen how this alliance has been used to promote the use of GMO seeds in India.  We have seen how farmers in India have in many instances suffered because of the imposition of GMO seeds.  We have also read the words of Monsanto’s executives as they explained their denial of any connection between their GMO seed and farmer suicides, as well as their stated willingness to take legal action against farmers, even poor farmers, who rely upon time-honored practices such as saving seeds.  We have also taken a look at USAID’s record in Latin America and Ayiti, one which has inspired distrust in many corners of South America and the Caribbean.  And we have read the words of both Dr. Shah of USAID and of Mr. Steiner of Monsanto regarding the plans for Feed the Future, especially in Afrika.  So, what are the implications of all this?  Should Pan-Afrikanists, Afrikan Internationalists, Black Nationalists, progressives of all races and nationalities and people who just plain like to engage in such revolutionary acts as the eating of food be concerned, and why?

Implications for Afrika

Land Grab NC Black Farmer 1Paula Crossfield wrote a piece on http://civileats.com/2009/08/06/will-obama-let-the-usaid-genetically-modified-trojan-horse-ride-again/ (August 6, 2009) titled Food Security in Africa: Will Obama let USAID’s Genetically Modified Trojan Horse Ride Again?, which began with an August 5, 2009 visit to Kenya by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Representatives Donald M. Payne (D-NJ) and Nita M. Lowey (D-NY):

While the group was there on a broad platform to discuss economic development in Africa, including food security issues, the delegation took the opportunity yesterday afternoon to visit the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) lab, which is best known for unsuccessfully trying to produce a genetically modified, virus-resistant sweet potato under a US-led program. The trip to KARI highlights the poor vision the United States currently holds on furthering food security in Africa.

Historically, the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the US and other countries has primarily profited patent-holding companies, while creating farmer dependence on the chemical fertilizers and pesticides produced by a few US corporations, used to the detriment of human health, soil quality and the environment. The failed sweet potato project at the KARI lab was a product of a public-private partnership between Monsanto, KARI and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the federal organization responsible for most US non-military foreign aid. USAID is not shy about their desire to promote biotechnology, and have been working towards furthering a GMO agenda abroad since 1991, when it launched the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP). According to this in-depth research article by the organization GRAIN, the ABSP sought to “identify suitable crops in various countries and use them as Trojan Horses to provide a solid platform for the introduction of other GM crops.”

In Kenya, that crop was the sweet potato — the focus of the USAID-funded Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program, which sought for fourteen years at KARI, at a cost of $6 million, to create and bring it to market before the partnering groups abandoned the project. …

The point … is to show how a tangled consortium (these are just some of the groups), funded by taxpayer dollars via USAID, seeks to further the aims of biotech abroad, especially in Africa, where Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia were singled out and have been the testing grounds for this strategy.

The obvious beneficiaries of such international development are the handful of corporations which own the patents and the technology, and which produce the herbicides and pesticides required by the use of such seeds. … Africans … have a right to be worried — they can look to India to see what a future relying solely on biotech seeds could look like, where a depleted water table, poisoned waterways and farmer suicides have been the result of the first Green Revolution. …

After painting the picture of a corporate-influenced, GMO-friendly food aid regime being promoted by USAID, Ms. Crossfield goes on to suggest a better alternative based on a major report that was researched, compiled and released in 2009 by a team made up of hundreds of scientists and policymakers and which strongly recommended a locally-based, more sustainable means of fighting world hunger and improving food security (physical and economic access to food, whether self-determined or imposed upon a community) while maintaining a nation’s food sovereignty (the right of a community to control their own access to food and the standards their food must meet – more on that later):

But instead of tired solutions that are not working, we need a paradigm shift, says Dr. Hans Herren, who has worked in Nairobi for 27 years and was co-chair of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report. The IAASTD report [pdf] was sponsored by the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and represented four years of work by 400 scientists. …

Biotechnology is a reductionist pipe dream which is overly dependent on waning resources. By contrast, the IAASTD looked at agro-ecological solutions that focused on agricultural resilience. Agriculture according to the IAASTD requires multifaceted, local solutions. While biotechnology has been promising drought tolerance and higher yields for years without delivering, there are real answers available now — like drought tolerant varieties, suited to certain areas, which are naturally bred; science that focuses on building the quality of the soil and the capacity for that soil to hold more water; or push and pull solutions that deal with pests naturally by attracting beneficial insects or planting compatible species that act as decoys for those pests.

… In light of what we now know about USAID, and the fact that there are biotech friendly advisers like Technology and Science Advisor to [then-Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton Nina Fedoroff and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rajiv Shah in the administration, it is not hard to assume how those monies might be used. But President Obama should significantly change our policy if he wants to truly help the continent he says he cares so much about.

Obama administration: Study the IAASTD. If there is any hope for a better food system in Africa and the U.S., we must first accept that what is being practiced now is not sustainable, and begin to start the process of making it so. – See more at: http://civileats.com/2009/08/06/will-obama-let-the-usaid-genetically-modified-trojan-horse-ride-again/#sthash.ZWCaX21q.dpuf

Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, ETH Zurich, Institute of Integrative Biology, Zurich, Switzerland, wrote The IAASTD report and some of its fallout – a personal note (http://www.inesglobal.com/_News/iaastd.html), to describe her experience as part of the group that had put together the IAASTD report:

The paradigm of industrial agriculture was maximizing profits from land by focusing on one factor only: productivity – the increase of yields literally at any costs. With the help of chemicals and cheap oil, cheap food was brought to many in the industrialized world and has brought unimaginable profits to the chemical and oil companies. This came at the expense of the health of humans and the environment, the costs of which were never factored into the economic equation in any meaningful way. The price was paid by all, including those who never profited from cheap food in the first place which for most humans constitutes fundamental injustice in itself. With today’s world population split deeply into a very affluent part in the industrialized world where many people eat themselves to death and an impoverished part where many people starve to death and live under the most appalling conditions ever, a shift in the obviously dysfunctional agricultural and food production paradigm has become paramount for global peace and justice. Exactly what went wrong and how we can improve on it was to be learned from the biggest ever review of global agricultural food production and the underlying causes for continued and growing hunger and starvation: the International Assessment of Knowledge, Science and Technology, or IAASTD for short.

The IAASTD was a multi-stakeholder process consisting of governmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, producers, consumers, the science community and multiple international agencies involved in the agricultural and rural development sectors. The expected outputs were critical, in-depth global and sub-global assessments of local and institutional knowledge and experiences. The participants had to create plausible scenarios for the future based on the past events and existing trends in population growth, climate change to mention just a few. ‘What if’ questions had to be developed and answered to the best of the current existing knowledge that would allow the implications of different technological options to be explored and understood. The aim was to inform processes of future planning and thinking as to what may happen as the world continues to develop over the next 30-50 years. The process lasted 3 years and involved over 400 experts and over 100 countries. The intergovernmental process ensured ownership by governments, while the Integrated Bureau allowed the full range of stakeholders to meet as a single body for constructive exchanges and consensus building. More information on the details of the process can be found on the IAASTD website (http://inesglobal.com/_News/iaastd.html).  Now, from the above said, it was clear right from the start that this process would be hard, very hard – tough truths would have to be faced and it was to be expected that those who profited and continue to profit from the existing situation would have to swallow some bitter pills. Well, as it turned out too bitter for some.

Thus, those with vested interests were able to exert influence over even the IAASTD report, though not enough to significantly blunt the report’s conclusions.

A few paragraphs above, we mentioned two terms that are often confused with each other: food security and food sovereignty.  “Food security” is often used by officials like Dr. Shah of USAID when describing a “foreign-aid” process in which the US or its corporate partners deliver food aid to a starving populace, akin to “giving a man a fish” on a massive scale.  Seeds that are “owned” by major agribusinesses are given, or sold, to poor farmers, who then plant the seeds, sometimes without question, based on the promises of greater crop yields and a resultant easier life.  But these farmers do not decide what seeds to plant; the corporations make that decision, often in their laboratories, a decision that becomes clear when the farmers try to “save” their seeds and find themselves prosecuted for it in local or international courts.  What these officials will not talk about is “food soverignty”, in which the people in the community take ownership in decifing what seed will be planted, how it will be done, and whether they will save their seed or not.  Farmers’ rights afvocates and food activists will usually speak of “food sovereignty”, which is much more self-determinative, akin to a community “learning to fish”.

Here is how a couple of Web sites define the terms and explain the difference between food security and food sovereignty.  The first is from http://globalfoodpolitics.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/food-security-vs-food-sovereignty/.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Food sovereignty is a broader concept. According to the 2007 Declaration of Nyéléni, food sovereignty encompasses “The right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. Food sovereignty means the primacy of people’s and community’s rights to food and food production, over trade concerns.” Food sovereignty is thus embedded in larger questions of social justice and the rights of farmers and indigenous communities to control their own futures and make their own decisions.

From http://www.coffeekids.org/food-sovereignty-vs-food-security-is-there-a-difference/:

Food security and food sovereignty, although often used interchangeably, are considerably different concepts. Food security, a much more widely understood notion, refers to communities with access to food. NGOs that work with food security projects often work with a community to meet its food needs, denoting that it currently lacks the quantity and quality of food necessary to sustain community members. Food security does not necessarily stipulate what types of food are provided or whether or not that food is local or brought in from other regions, and it does not always require the direct involvement of the community to attain and administer that food (e.g., disaster-relief situations in which food arrives from outside sources). Food sovereignty, on the other hand, is slightly more specific and elicits certain guidelines that food security does not explicitly mention. Food sovereignty puts ownership of food systems into the hands of the communities themselves. It involves a sustainable, long-term process in which a community can establish its own food systems and produce its own local products without being subject to fluctuating international markets or dependent on external sources for the acquisition of seeds. Food sovereignty takes into account the cultural and social, political, geographical and environmental context of the community in order to develop an appropriate plan of action to address the community’s particular problems and needs.

So, what is at stake here is Afrika’s right to food sovereignty; whether it will be sacrificed so that corporations and superpowers can make the claim of having “saved the world” in the name of food security while fattening the pockets of the corporate CEO’s and shareholders.  What’s at stake is the ability of the farmers of Afrika to make decisions as to whether their food will be organic, conventional or GMO; whether they will control their own farming practices or whether they will be controlled by either foreign organizations like USAID or multinational corporations like Monsanto; whether traditional farming and agricultural practices that have sustained communities for centuries or millennia will be lost forever as corporations and their governmental allies work to bring into play yet another massive land grab based on the ruination of farmers through the economic pressures brought on by introduction of GMO food, that simple looking little “magic seed” which is really a Seed of Suspicion that might just raise the curtain on another disappearing act for the rights of the world’s peoples to feed themselves on their terms.  This battle has already played out in India, to disastrous effect for many poor farmers there.  Latin America and the Caribbean have perhaps avoided that Land Grab Ethiopia 4crisis but have suffered in other ways as their governments have been undermined and their leaders toppled.  Afrika suffered under a Scramble once before, at the time of the enslavement of millions of her Sons and Daughters in the Americas, Europe and Arabia.  Open your eyes and see the latest Scramble, this one for Afrika’s land and resources, one that has, in fact, already been going on for centuries through the extractive industries (gold, diamonds, coltan and other minerals) and more recently through the acquisition of farmers’ lands for the use by foreign and corporate interests for food export or for the growing of biofuels.  The latest theater is the Scramble for Control of Afrika’s Food, one that appears to be hiding behind initiatives like Feed the Future.

There is much more to look at here.  We won’t be able to do it in this article, which is already much longer than a “usual” blog piece.  We hope we have been able to keep your attention.  We hope we have been able to share some valuable information.  As stated above, the links to the articles should give you the opportunity to dig even deeper if you so choose.  One final link we’d like to share is to an article by Colkin Todhunter, GMO Agribusiness and the Destructive Nature of Global Capitalism (http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-agribusiness-and-the-destructive-nature-of-global-capitalism/5323232), which carries the discussion into a scathing critique of the entire capitalist system.  Perhaps that is a rabbit hole to be explored at a later time.
 

Posted in SRDC News0 Comments

Maryland SRDC Participates in PLM Kwanzaa Celebration

Maryland SRDC Participates in PLM Kwanzaa Celebration

The Maryland SRDC Organization hosted the “Night of Nia” (Tuesday, December 30) at the week-long Kwanzaa Celebration sponsored by the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement (PLM).  The event was held at the Maggie Quille Druid Heights Community Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

from LG camera 010Baba Ade Oba Tokunbo, founder of the Organization of All Afrikan Unity Black Panther Cadre and one of SRDC-Maryland’s Elders, gave the Libation to open the event and shared an Afrikan fable named “The Direction of the Heart”, a cautionary tale about how one is led to their purpose (Nia) by what exists in their heart and soul.

from LG camera 012Baba King Obadele, founder of the Souls of Life Society and SRDC-Maryland’s elected Representative for the state of Maryland, shared the fable “The Name of the Tree” and delighted the children (watoto) who were in attendance.

Bro. Cliff, SRDC’s Maryland State Facilitator and Editor of the Web Site KUUMBAReport Online (http://kuumbareport.com), explained SRDC’s purpose (Nia) in the context of the larger purpose of Pan-Afrikan organizers to reunite Afrikan people and to “reverse the effects of the Ma’afa” (a Twi word for the centuries of suffering endured by Afrikans due to the Slave Trade and the Scramble for Afrika).

from LG camera 016Finally, Bro Jabari “X”, son of SRDC-Maryland Elder Yahya Shabazz, gave a brief nut stirring drum-and-vocal performance that showed just how much melody and message can be delivered by one man with a djembe when he is a skilled artist and performer.

SRDC-Maryland thanks the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement’s visionary founders, Bro. Imhotep Fatiu and Sis. Ife Assata Fatiu, for organizing this annual celebration of Kwanzaa.  We also thank Sis. Harmony, daughter of Baba Ade, for giving the closing remarks, and Bro. Shaka Fatiu, Bro. Anani Kuku Fatiu and the rest of the members of PLM for their continued service to the grassroots Pan-Afrikan Diaspora.

Posted in SRDC News0 Comments

Spokes of the Wheel General Graphic

Why Are We Still Disorganized?

Spokes of the Wheel General GraphicThis piece originally appeared on the KUUMBAReport Online Web Site (http://kuumbareport.com) and was initially written as an email to two Elders who have often bemoaned the lack of unity that we as African people have demonstrated over these many generations since the Ma’afa (a Twi word meaning “great disaster”, used by Pan-Afrikan historians and activists to describe the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the Arab Slave Trade, the Scramble for Africa and the suffering African people have endured as a result).  I meant it as a helpful response to their question (which was probably rhetorical anyway) about why our people continue to act in such a self-destructive manner, refusing to hear the words of our knowledgeable Elders and instead preferring the siren song of the corporate interests who wish to keep us subjugated as compliant consumers and labor lackeys to keep the wheels of their industry moving.  When my email was returned to me with the message “the recipient is only accepting mail from specific email addresses”, it became clear to me that, while the message was meant to be distributed broadly so that all could hear the wisdom of their words, they did not themselves wish to hear the words of the rest of us.  In other words, this was to be a one-way discussion.  And, apparently (and unfortunately), the only answer they wished to see or hear was the rest of us unifying under their leadership.

I’ve encountered a number of wise and well-meaning activists and organizers, such as these respected Elders, who have taken this view, that they are the ones with the answers and all others should simply follow their banner.  The organization I belong to, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), is a coalition-based organization that realizes that such an approach will often fail to attract allies who already have ideas and organizations of their own.  SRDC has attempted to form cooperative partnerships with other organizations whose response was simply “join under us and then we will work together.”  These partnerships failed to materialize because we could not subordinate our mission to someone else’s, but we were willing to work side-by-side with other organizations in areas of shared interest, an offer which has often been refused.  Our various organizations’ utter failure to work together in such a unified and cooperative manner (despite our avowed reverence for the principles of Kwanzaa, specifically Unity–Umoja–and Collective Work and Responsibility–Ujima) actually underlines the primary reason why the words of our enemies carry so much more weight than do our own with our own people. 

I’m not saying that the Elder’s complaint was without merit; quite the contrary.  He is absolutely right: our grassroots communities easily and readily swallow the brainwashing and propaganda that is fed to them by the powers that be.  Where I differ with the Elder is in his seeming surprise and bewilderment as to the reason why this is happening.  It is not because of some magic spell that has been cast over our people.  It is not because of some myth of intellectual or moral inferiority that right-wingers try to sell us.  It is not even so much because of Western “tricknology”, though it is a tool that is used to deliver the poisonous messages our enemies feed us.  It is because, as much as anything else, of our own inability, or refusal, as self-styled “leaders”, to actively model the unity and cooperation we want the masses to practice to lift our communities up. 

The messages with which our communities are bombarded–Look out for Number One, Individual Freedom, Personal Responsibility, I Gotta Get Mine–have profoundly influenced us, and not for the better.  While it took military coups d’état and the imposition of military dictatorships to turn communities in Latin American countries and even villages against each other, the unraveling of the fabric of our Village was accomplished more through a coup d’esprit–the conquest of our spirit through a combination of drugs, deprivation, fear and propaganda.  The major entertainment media (which often masquerade as news) and the corporate interests that control them were able to pull off this stunt in a way that was well-coordinated and affected our collective psyche across the board.  This is largely because of the fact that they are well organized in spite of belonging to different organizations and corporations.  While they all have their specific organizational interests (mainly profit), they all agree on the basic narrative to feed to our people, and thus their message is well crafted, organized and unified.  They often sit on each others’ Boards of Directors and, though they may be competitors in many ways, they have learned to support each other in a variety of projects.  Even going back in history, we see this level of cooperation.  At the Berlin Conference, supposedly-competing countries “cooperated” to divide Mother Africa up so that each of them was given control of specific, resource-rich sectors of our ancestral home, knowing that they would all benefit at our collective expense.  This spirit of cooperation would ultimately serve them well in the two World Wars, when first Otto Von Bismarck, then Adolf Hitler and the Axis Powers, decided to attempt to conquer all of Europe for themselves.  The countries of Europe, including the United States and Russia in World War II, not only cooperated militarily, they also worked together to develop and implement the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.  Thus, our historical oppressors from the United States and Europe have been practicing “Ujima” (Collective Work and  Responsibility) and “Umoja” (Unity) for hundreds of years before we even mouthed the words. 

We as African people do no such thing.  With the exception of the occasional slave revolt, civil-rights march  or presidential election, we seem unable to truly come  together and cooperate on anything without our own self-interested aims derailing our efforts.  (The African Union is trying to provide an example of cooperation among member states, but that project, much like the Organization of African Unity which it replaced, is being challenged as well, from inside and from outside the organization.)  Our different organizations are still involved in the “me-first” game and no other strategy is acceptable.  To us, unity seems possible only through conquest and the absorption of other groups’ members.  If people do not join our organization and follow our specific organizational agenda, we assume that they do not wish to work with us and that they are against Pan-African Unity. 

This, our refusal to even work in cooperation with each other while our enemies have been doing so for generations, is the main reason why our message goes unheeded by the masses of our people.  We are so busy competing with, contradicting and fighting ourselves that our messages of liberation and uplift sound jumbled and self-contradictory; why should anyone listen to us talking about unity when we all fight amongst ourselves?  The corporations, while they do compete with each other for the biggest share of the profits, are at least selling us, by and large, the same thing, and have agreed to use their common media outlets
to send us the same basic message of what we should call ourselves and what dreams we should seek to attain.  Our ironically self-described Pan-Afrikan organizations, however, disagree on what we should call ourselves, what our relationship should be to Africa and what is best for us as a people, and they all seem to insist that they alone are the path to our psychological, economic and political freedom and that all others must join them and them alone.

The fact is that our different organizations are not going to join each other.  You may have no interest in “joining” my organization, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus or SRDC (not that I’m insisting that you do) because you want to continue to build your organization, and I don’t have the time or energy to join other organizations because I’m quite busy with more than enough unpaid work helping to build SRDC. 

However, this need not be a major problem or an impediment to our organizing efforts.  While we in SRDC are still focused on building our organization and establishing a means to bring the voice of the Grassroots Communities of the African Diaspora to the World Stage (be that through the African Union, World Social Forum or other vehicles), we also recognize that, while our different organizations are not ready to join each other, they can, and must, find a way to work together cooperatively for the education, mobilization and general uplift of African people, as the corporations of our adversaries do in their effort to strengthen their control over us.  
          
I have been reaching out, on behalf of SRDC, to other organizations that have shown an interest in working cooperatively.  I’ve concentrated my efforts in the area near where I live, and as a result I’ve gotten a few interested responses from some of the Continental African organizations in the Washington DC area, even though many of them would tell you that their perspective on who the African Diaspora is (that the Diaspora is primarily Continental Africans who emigrated from the Mother Continent to the West) are often quite different from that of SRDC and of African Descendants in general (that the Diaspora includes all people of African descent who live outside the African Continent).  Still, if there is a way for Continental Africans and African Descendants to engage in constructive planning so that we can eventually develop a narrative of Diaspora Unity instead of the individualistic disunity and thoughtless consumerism that our adversaries teach us, I hope to be a part of that planning process.  I don’t expect these organizations to join SRDC, but my hope is that they will agree to work alongside us to reach out to, organize and galvanize the African Diaspora so that the aims of all our organizations can be attained.  

If this sounds like an acceptable arrangement, I am prepared to hear from you so that we can make plans to move all of our people forward.  Just leave a comment here, or send an email to cliff@kuubareport.com.

Peace and Power,
Bro. Cliff

Posted in SRDC News0 Comments

Dr Barryl Biekman 1

Dr. Barryl Biekman Speaks at the Launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent

Dr Barryl Biekman 1On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the United Nations held a special event at UN Headquarters in New York City to officially launch the International Decade for People of African Descent.  The ten-year observance, from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2024, has been billed by the UN as an opportunity to concentrate on issues of racism and racial discrimination faced by people of Afrikan descent around the world under the theme of “People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development”.  Dr. Barryl Biekman, a Surinamese-born Afrikan Diaspora organizer living in The Netherlands, is the chairperson of the African Union-African Diaspora Sixth Region (AUADS), an Afrikan Diaspora Civil Society organization that is working to organize Afrikan Diasporans in Europe.  She was chosen by the President of the UN General Assembly, His Excellency Sam Kutesa, to give an introductory speech on behalf of Afrikan Diaspora Civil Society.  This is the text of her speech.

Statement by
Dr. Barryl A. Biekman, 
Civil Society Speaker
Launching the International Decade for People of African Descent
United Nations
New York
December 10, 2014

Mr. President, Excellencies, Honoured Guests, Representatives of the African Families and Civil Society,

I bring you greetings from the members of Tiye International, The African European Women’s Movement “Sophiedela”, the Platform of the Dutch Slavery Past, the Global Coalition for the International Decade for People of African Descent and the world wide Civil Society grassroots African families on this historical moment of the launching of the International Decade for People of African descent.International Decade for People of African Descent Logo

[The Global Coalition for the International Decade for People of African Descent is established to provide global peoples activism and support for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent as proclaimed by the United Nations for the period 2015-2024 based on the principles of Recognition, Justice and Development.]

Mr. President,

We support the International Decade for People of African descent and it’s Mandate to follow the recommendations pertaining to the DDPA [Durban Declaration and Plan of Action – Editor] from the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (WCAR), as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

It must be reminded here that the decision to have the International Decade did not come as a gift from heaven. It came only because of a long struggle by Pan Africanist supported by those civil society organizations who were committed to the implementation of the DDPA and finally because of the hard working involvement of the Working Group of Experts on People of African descent, not to forget the support of the African Group and the great majority of member states of the United Nations. A special thanks therefore goes to the African countries for their role in defending the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and to the African Union to declare African Diaspora worldwide family as their 6th region.

The launching of the Decade today is a great victory for the cause of justice with the strong reaffirmation of and call for the full and effective implementation of the DDPA. We hope that the implementation of the Decade should put a final end to the opposition against, undermining of and false promotion regarding the Durban follow-up process which we have regularly witnessed since the successful World Conference Against Racism in 2001.

At the center of the demands during the World Conference Against Racism, by African people and in diaspora under the leadership of the 12th December Reparation Movement and many other Pan African Reparation Coalitions, was the declaration of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery, colonialism and apartheid asDr Barryl Biekman 2 crimes against humanity. In fact it was the longest and most depraved crime against humanity ever.. which lasted for more than three centuries as had been declared by the United Nations including the republic Suriname by its Permanent Delegation, ambassador Udenhout in 2001. The trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery, colonialism and apartheid destroyed the development of Africa and enriched Europe and the European colonists in the Americas. It established the system of racism & racial discrimination, to be specific Afrophobia, that effects and has its impact what the African people and in diaspora experience until today.

Mr. President,

Really, we have reasons to be glad with the establishment of the Decade. But we have reasons to be disappointed too. Because despite of the adoption of the Programme of Activities by the General Assembly last month, powerful State actors, including those who boycotted the 2009 Durban Review Conference and the 2011 commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the DDPA, continue their efforts to render the DDPA impotent. We deplore the nine votes cast against and 42 abstentions cast, but salute the 121 votes in favor of the resolution on actions against racism and comprehensive implementation of the DDPA, which the third committee of the General Assembly approved on November 26th. At the same time we are bewildered that abstaining countries succeeded to delete a paragraph from the G77 draft resolution, which had the support of the majority of countries and which stated: “Commends the constructive role played by non-governmental organizations in participating in the Durban follow-up mechanisms and the Human Rights Council, which has greatly contributed to the development of the Programme of Activities and the preparation for the International Decade.”

Mr. President, Truth has the inherent power to produce the promised effects.

The full and irrevocable recognition by all countries that the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery, colonialism and apartheid was a crime against humanity is necessary for the credibility of the Decade. Without that we have reason to doubt the sincerity of states to restore the rights of people of African descent during the Decade. It is why I on behalf of the African descent worldwide families challenge all national state parliaments and governments to officially recognize and declare the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity as some countries have already done. We call on all the countries who organized, participated in and profited from the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the hard slave labour by the kidnapped African ancestors to present their sincere apologies as the first step and I challenge all governments and parliaments concerned, to act on this urgent matter.

“I on behalf of the African descent worldwide families challenge all national state parliaments and governments to officially recognize and declare the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity as some countries have already done.”

We strongly welcome the efforts by Caribbean governments & states to place the issue of Reparations on the International Agenda. For the African descendants families the adopted theme of the Decade, “Recognition, Justice, Development”, is Dr Barryl Biekman 4for us synonymous with the Repairing of the damage, which must become the overall concept of the Decade. Reparations is not limited to material repair, but something more fundamental relating to restoring every aspect of the rights of people of African descent.

Mr. President,

We therefore invite all Member States, as proposed by the Global Coalition for the International Decade for People of African Descent, to recognize and honour the Decade as the “Reparation Decade”.

We believe that the right of People of African descent to learn about their rights as enshrined in the DDPA and other Human Rights instruments must be assured during the Decade. The Decade must become a framework to address the concentration of misery and disadvantages which people of African descent face everywhere they live: poverty, racial discrimination and lack of access to human rights & their institutions, high rates of unemployment and imprisonment, vulnerability to violence and lack of access to justice, lack of access to good education, healthcare, housing, multiple forms of discrimination, and political and economic marginalization and stigmatization.

As educators and scholars across the racial divide agree that (a) the primary purpose of education is to uplift and enhance the lives of all individuals (b) it must be the right type of education that engenders positive identity, self-esteem, self-confidence including love, respect and appreciation for one’s history and culture. We therefore call for adapting both formal and informal education for students of African descent and others so that that it no longer marginalizes and relegates Africa and Africans to periphery of anything important, but for most that our next African generations can say: “I’m not afraid, because of the color of my skin, to be an African … I’m proud to be an African.”

Mr. President,

We have seen the situation faced by people of African descent around the world grow more and more precarious, and we seek urgent and concrete results from the International Decade. African Diaspora Civil Society grassroots organizations cannot afford to leave any members of the African Diaspora and African Civil Society around the world behind. Every forum, every workshop, every review and assessment, every planning session and every on-the-ground implementation project must closely involve representatives from Civil Society and the grassroots communities. And we cannot stress enough the importance of always including women, girls and young male adults, the future generation, on an equal basis. To leave them behind would be as to leave our hearts and souls, our very selves, behind as well.

“Every forum, every workshop, every review and assessment, every planning session and every on-the-ground implementation project must closely involve representatives from Civil Society and the grassroots communities.”

When an African American man is strangled to death by the police on the streets of New York we the people of African descent feel the same that we cannot breathe. We add our voices in solidarity with all those demonstrating to demand justice for the victims of racially based police brutality. This situation makes it clear that institutionalized racism is still alive and that the campaigns against all forms of multiple racism & racial profiling as well the symbolic & psychological violence

Protests of "Black Pete" in the Netherlands

Protests of “Black Pete” in the Netherlands

situation in different countries must be intensified. Whether the ‘Black Pete figure’ in the yearly Dutch Santa Claus culture historical tradition is just a problem in the Netherlands because of the revival of stereotype of African (black) people or interlinked to similar historical cultural tradition, stereotypical language like some people continue to call us ’nigger’ & racist situations in other parts of Europe and the rest of the world.

Mr. President

On behalf of the world wide African diaspora families I invite all of you to join hands with us for the implementation of the Programme of Activities in the spirit of “Recognition, Justice and Development.” Because this Decade requires the committed support and involvement of all: international, regional, national, sectors of society, stakeholders and people of good will in the world.

I invite you all to make this “Reparation Decade” a great success.

I thank you Mr. President

 

 

Posted in SRDC News0 Comments

Nova Scotia Town Hall

Nova Scotia Town Hall

“Remember the Ant”: Town Hall Meeting Makes History

North Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada
In recognition of the United Nations declaring 2011, the “International Year for People of African Descent”, on August 22, 2011 at the North Preston Recreation and Community Centre, the African Nova Scotian Community made history by being the first in Canada to elect a council of Elders and unanimously voted to form a Nova Scotia Chapter of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC).  “By being the first to form a Chapter of the SRDC in Canada and by extension, our province is the sole representative voice thus far to accept the African Union’s invitation to participate.”  Remarks Allen, the Nova Scotia SRDC Facilitator.  This particular town hall is the result of a series of “Remember the Ant” Town Halls that took place earlier. The first was held in Africville, during the annual Africville Reunion and festival, which each year honours the historic Black Community that was destroyed and displaced the residents through so-called “urban renewal” in the 1960’s.
The second Town Hall: “Remember the Ant” , was held during the annual Sydney Days of Action, Wednesday, August 3rd, at the Menelik Hall.  SRDC is a direct response to the African Union (AU) invitation to partipate collectively in the affairs of the AU.  The AU is an organization that links together 55 of 56 countries on the African continent and is intended to create a common voice for African people in international affairs. Until recently, representation in the African Union was limited to African people living on the continent. The estimated 350 million Africa-descended people living in the worldwide Diaspora were excluded. But the African Union now wants to reach further. In addition to the five regions of the continent, the Union aims to create a “sixth region”: the worldwide Diaspora. 
For Horne (the International Facilitator for SRDC) the creation of the sixth region is an acknowledgement of the affinities and commonalities that have endured among African people, wherever they happen to live in the present. “You aren’t an African because you were born in Africa,” he tells the town hall audience. “You’re African because Africa was born in you.” The sixth region initiative, is offering the Diaspora an official role in the African Union and promises to create a venue large and inclusive enough for African people to come together and plot a better, collective future.  At this point, the sixth region is only an invitation. It remains to be accepted, Horne explains, “And that means, organizing ourselves to present ourselves and represent ourselves.” Canada is one of many countries with a significant African Diaspora, and the sixth region initiative calls for African Canadians to decide if they want to be included.
Allen hopes that the African Nova Scotian community will play a leading role amid the Canadian-based Diaspora. Recognizing Nova Scotia as the one of the first homes of African People in the country now called Canada, and the African  residents of the province as the “elders” of the overall African Canadian population.

Posted in Nova Scotia Town Hall, SRDC News0 Comments

What is SRDC? Who is SRDC?

What is SRDC? Who is SRDC?

Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus wishes to thank all participants, speakers, organizations, naysayers and passersby for attending and eagerly taking part in the Jan. 30, 2010 Town Hall/Forum recently at White Rock Baptist Church, Harlem NY.

The following is the full text delivered by Sis. Iman Uqdah Hameen as the Welcoming Statement.

“ Many of you ask- What is SRDC? Who is SRDC? SRDC, SIXTH REGION DIASPORA CAUCUS (Coalition) is a Pan African organization consisting of members from six (6) states in the United States and that list is growing. We are a four (4) tiered organization. We have a national Secretariat and a Community Council of Elders in each of the six states. We have members and chapters  in Europe, Canada, and Central America.  We hold forums, Town Halls and  Elections for Representatives and an Annual Conference. We are people who are seriously committed to a UNITED States of Africa and a liberated Africa that we will have an INTEGRAL , DECISION-MAKING part in.  We honor our Ancestors and our Elders.

You have seen many of us in the community. We are supporters, members and sponsors of many veteran organizations, your organizations. You may have seen us at Rev. Sharpton’s NATL Action Network, African Nationalist Pioneer Movement, NAACP, Nation of Islam, All African People’s Revolutionary Party, or The Black Panther Party – Old and NEW, and even the National Black Theatre, BAM, Jazzmobile, Liberty Lounge and Brooklyn’s International Arts Festival and at lectures at UAM, First World, CEMOTAP, Dec. 12, African Poetry Theatre, or other places, not only in NY but across the country. We are Muslim, Christian, Akan, Fulani, Ewe, Ibo, Spiritualists, etc. We are Elders, Mothers, Fathers, Queen Mothers and Chiefs, professionals, students, social workers, professors, artists, architects, advisors, scientists, scholars, entrepreneurs, educators, consultants and laborers. We have protested with you, marched, attended lectures, forums, conferences, festivals, bus rides, parades, cruises and made trips to the Motherland. We have also been jailed! We’ve reached in our pockets, drained our bank accounts, retirement accounts and savings and donated to all of these causes without asking for receipts or a paycheck or your resumes.

We’ve added our voices to discussions and outrage, feeling the same barbs, jabs, stabs, gunshots, vicious attacks and deaths. We have cried the same tears as you, crying for Biafra, Malcolm X and Martin, Darfur, Sudan, the Congo, Elinor Bumpers, Rodney King, Thomas Sankara, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, his son Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, Michael Jackson, Michael Griffith, James Hill, Nicholas “Ashanti” Bartlett, Elder Adunni Tabasi, Dr. Clarke, the Panthers, Mumia, Rwanda, South Africa, Angola, Grenada, New Orleans, Katrina and now Ayiti (Haiti).

And we cry for our, Mother Africa and all Mothers, and we cry and grieve deeply for our children, yours and mine. We cry with you because we are a part of the community. We are you.

Through it all we have rolled up our sleeves, through it all we have worked in our communities for years, many for our entire lifetimes, some in the forefront, some behind the scenes but the bottom line is we have worked.

So today we come again, seriously committed and ready to work along with you. And again, you see our faces among you.  We love you and we welcome you.  Roll up your sleeves!”

Sister Iman Uqdah Hameen is Co-Facilitator, SRDC New York Chapter.

Posted in What is SRDC?0 Comments

Summer Youth Education-Seattle, WA

Summer Youth Education-Seattle, WA

SRDC – Washington State & Nu Black Arts West Theatre

SUMMER YOUTH EDUCATION PROGRAM

Class Schedule

Orientation: Monday June 27, 2011, 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m

Fridays:

(Life Sciences)
July 15th, 22nd, 29th August 5th and 12th
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Saturday Classes:
(Economics, History, Literary Arts, Math)

July 9th , 16th , 23rd , 30th August 6th , and 13th
9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.

Location
:
Hiawatha Arts Space (Community room)
843 Hiawatha Place,  South
Seattle WA 98144

_______________________________________________

ECONOMICS: Mr. T-West, Instructor

Objective:

Economic Awareness – Collective Self Interest

To provide a basic understanding of how the economic system locally and internationally works.  To learn how to bring economic benefit to themselves and others.  To learn and follow what is called the first law of nature, self preservation while building good relationship with others.  To bring all of this into the context of true Pan Africanism.

High Level Outline

·         Agricultural and the first law of nature

·         Mathematics and its importance

·         Strategic Resources

·         Importance of strategic skills

Some of the above will include special guests.

__________________________________________________

LIFE SCIENCES: Mrs. Deborah Vanderhorst, Instructor

This 5 week course will be a hands on introduction through experimentation to Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
Students will receive basic knowledge of Electricity,Molecular Structures, Photosynthesis,Toxins/common diseases, Our planet and the Universe we live in. All supplies will be provided by instructor. Requirements: Regular and Punctual attendance.

_____________________________________________________

HISTORY: Nana Kibibi Moni
é, Instructor

This six week history course is created to enhance the learning experience of World History for 5th – 8th grade students.  By coupling drama and history you’ll enjoy the hands on methods of re-enactments of ancient and modern day history.

•  Washington State History
•  United States History
•  World History
•  Important historical dates and times
•  Impact on significant periods of our history
•  What’s in store for us historically (without change)?
•  How will knowing our pass prepare us for the future?

Nana Kibibi Monie, is a native of Seattle and the Executive Director of Nu Black Arts West Theatre, the oldest African American Theater Company in the Pacific Northwest.  Ms Monié is the first African American to be President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (A.F.T.R.A.) Seattle local. She is an accomplished writer, actor, singer and director.  A graduate of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington with a BA in Communications, holds a Masters from the Seattle University in the Executive Director Masters Program and holds a diploma in cinematography from The New York Film Academy.  She’s written several one-act plays and her dynamic range of acting and singing has made her one of the most powerful talents to emerge from the West Coast.  Ms. Monié has been blessed with a captivating talent in storytelling and is legendary for capturing her audiences with grace and style.  Kibibi is the only woman that has had the privilege and honor of directing the double Pulitzer prize winner August Wilson in a reading of his play “The Homecoming” performed at Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre as a fund raiser for Nu Black Arts West Theatre in 1997.  She is also the only woman to be given permission by Mr. Wilson to portray “Hambone, a lead character in his award winning play”Two Trains Running’.  Kibibi is a Nana for the Cape Coast people in Ghana West Africa and has for several years been in partnership with The National Theatre of Ghana and the Twedaase Primary School in Tema, Ghana.    She’s developed a Cultural Heritage Program for the children of Ghana along with children here in the US.
___________________________________________________

LITERARY ARTS: Jamal Farr, Instructor

Objective: Poetry, music, thought, and emotions are the heartbeat of life. In this course there will be a safe and open space to build on these and other ideas. It will be 6 weeks of learning different styles of writing, poetry and discussing creativity ideas to present your thoughts. Using stories, fictional and non-fictional, of African history as the base to which this course will happen!!

Jamal “JACE” Farr is a veteran of the Northwest hip hop scene. He has established himself as an artist, half of the Legendary tandem, The Silent Lambs Project.  Now, has joined forces with Felicia Loud and Silent Lambs Project to create the soulful, conscious, inspiring and talented collective, Black Stax As an organizer, is the founder and voice of the Northwest hip hop festival, Dope Emporium. As well as an activist, works with youth in the inner city establishing programs and empowering them to use art as a creative expression.

____________________________________________________

MATH: Curriculum & Instructor To Be Announced

Additional information about the Math course TBA

_______________________________________________

Contact information:

• Nana Kibibi Monié, Executive and Artistic Director of the Nu Black Arts West Theatre
SRDC-WA Youth Leadership & Young Adults Committee
206-329-3328

•Mr Jamal “Jace” Farr, Producer and MC of Black Stax Music
Chairman of SRDC-WA Youth Leadership & Young Adults Committee
206-229-5825

•Ms. Linda Battles, SRDC Elder, SRDC-WA: Education Committee
206-323-0184

Posted in Summer Youth Education0 Comments

SRDC Chapter in Jamaica

SRDC Chapter in Jamaica

SRDC Chapter formed in Jamaica, WI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Six Region Diaspora Caucus
Ocho Rios, St Mary, Jamaica

Mr. Burchell James, Facilitator
srdcjamaica@gmail.com

The SRDC now has a chapter in Jamaica WI

As a part of the initial organizing team for the Jamaica SRDC Diaspora and International Trade Conference, and on behalf of the newly appointed SRDC Jamaica facilitator, Mr Burchell James, it gives me great pleasure to announce the formation of the SRDC International Jamaica Chapter.

The Six Region Diaspora Caucus, SRDC, a Pan African organization that is in the process of galvanizing people of African descent in the Diaspora, with the goal of having a representative group at the Africa Union, saw it fitting to have an event in Jamaica to bring awareness and to provide an opportunity for the island nation to participate in this historic process. Jamaica has affected the world with its Pan African efforts for decades, and  with the recent  United Nations General Assembly vote to approve 2011 as the International Year for the People of African Descent (including the African Diaspora), the timing was excellent to stage such an event.

The Conference which was held April 27th in Kingston, and April 29th in Ocho Rios – focused on introducing the SRDC to Jamaica; reminding the Jamaican community of the invitation from the Africa Union to the African Diaspora to participate in the AU; and to discuss and orchestrate international trade between the Diaspora and African countries.

The conference had informative presentations by – Dr. Ruth Love, SRDC International Facilitator; Mr. Al Washington, of the Africa-USA International Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Mrs. Folashade Farr, along with Sis. Deborah Wright, and Sis. Kibibi Monie, all three of the individuals representing the SRDC Team; with guest speakers – Herpw Bikbaye Inejnema from The Earth Center; Steven Golding, President of the UNIA-ACL Jamaica Chapter;  Mr. Ferdinand Nwonye of the Nigeria High Commission to Jamaica; and greetings from the Hon. RO Walters, Custos Rotolorum of St Ann.  – which led to the attendees been anxious and ready to create their own chapter.

The nominations were taken, and the community voted for their Community Council of Elders (CCOE) – forming the SRDC International Jamaica Chapter.

The SRDC Jamaica CCOE:

Mr. Rudolph Williams
Ms. Enid Courtney

Mr. Eustace Bloomfield
Mr. Norris Williams
Ms. Angela Aaron

Now begins the task of continuing the community outreach with informational meetings, participating in community events that are in line with the SRDC mandate, increasing our membership and eventually electing our Observer and two Representatives.

Jamaica, the birth place of the Hon. Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley, to mention a few of our Pan African leaders of the past – has now joined this coalition of Diasporan activists, working directly to further the dream of our ancestors. We are looking forward to participating at all levels to contribute to the goal of making African Unity a reality.  For additional information please visit www.srdcinternational.org

Abena Grace James, SRDC Facilitator

To view photos from the Jamaica events visit the gallery.

Posted in New Chapter in Jamaica, SRDC News0 Comments

All African/African Liberation Day in Seattle

All African/African Liberation Day in Seattle

ALL AFRICAN/AFRICAN LIBERATION DAY
IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

SRDC Washington State in collaboration with the Pacific
Northwest Diaspora Community, celebrated African Liberation Day
on Saturday, May 28, 2011.

All African/African Liberation Day Celebration Report
by Kamau Ron Taplin
Representative, Washington State Chapter
June, 2011

In Seattle, Washington, on a picturesque Saturday morning (May 28th), people of African descent began gathering at a local pre-K/elementary/middle school to participate in what was billed as the All African/African Liberation Day celebration. This event was hosted by the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus of Washington State (SRDC-WA) and the Pacific Northwest African Diaspora Community.

The event commemorated the successful movement for independence from European colonial rule which occurred on the African continent during the 1950’s and 60’s. Wikipedia provides us with this brief summary of the colonial period: “During the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century, European powers divided Africa and its resources into political partitions at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. By 1905, African soil was almost completely controlled by European governments, with the only exceptions being Liberia (which had been settled by African-American former slaves) and Ethiopia (which had successfully resisted colonization by Italy). Britain and France had the largest holdings, but Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal also had colonies. As a result of colonialism and imperialism, Africa suffered long term effects, such as the loss of important natural resources like gold and rubber, economic devastation, cultural confusion, geopolitical division, and political subjugation. Europeans often justified this using the concept of the White Man’s Burden, an obligation to “civilize” the peoples of Africa.”

The All African/African Liberation Day event was indeed a celebration and recognition of the many giants of the African soil who led the way out of darkness imposed by the European. Forever to be remembered are such names as Kenyatta (Kenya), Nkrumah (Gold Coast, now Ghana); Senghor (Senegal); and Houphouët-Boigny (Côte d’Ivoire), Patrice Lumumba (Zaire/Congo), Winnie and Nelson Mandela (Azania/South Africa) and the many lesser known African leaders who risked liberty and sometimes ultimately their lives to live as free, self-determining human beings in the age of European imperialism. In 2011 we now know that the freedom sought was never freely given. It was hard won on the blood of millions of African men, women and children. We also now know that freedom and independence carry an enormous responsibility to vision the future while living in present day reality, to lead where the path is seldom clear and to govern by African principles which have stood the test of time for thousands of years.

The schedule of events that day brought together the African Diaspora Community as one family to celebrate freedom in Africa by way of the Arts, Science & Technology, Literature, History, Crafts and Tradition. The program opened with Drum Talk by local drummers, M’Shenga A Babu (Ancestral Messengers), which was then followed by the Pouring of Libation. This was followed by a ‘Parade of the Flags of Africa’ by community youth representing the Six Regions  of the African Union (North, South, East, West, Central and The Diaspora).  Back and forth through the day, we heard from Griot Elders and “New Jack” Wordsmiths representing the Hip-Hop and Spoken Word communities. The theme for the day was “Self-Reliance.” There were presentations on economic self-sufficiency and health and wellness. The highlight for the day was a special guest presentation by Yao

Khepra Felix Wilson, SRDC Facilitator for the State of New York. Brother Khepra presented an original conception entitled “Crisis Preparedness of the African Diaspora is 21st Century Pan Africanism.” In his presentation, Brother Khepra introduced the P.A.S.S. System (Prepare Autonomous Sustainable Solutions). He challenged all African people to Prepare for the collective survival of OUR people, by creating an Autonomous infrastructure that will remain Sustainable indefinitely, and ensure that future generations are empowered so that they can develop appropriate Solutions of both predictable and unpredictable crises. As a witness, I can only assure you that the Brother created serious buzz in the room. Over a week later, and people are still talking about the presentation and event.

The success of this 1st Annual Event is credited to the State Facilitator for Washington, FolashadeFarr, the State Representatives, Aline Diakite and Kamau Ron Taplin, the Council of Elders led by Cal Spates, other SRDC-WA team members (Jamal, Sonya, Kibibi, Linda, Afua, Vicki, T West) and numerous Community volunteers working within the committee structure of SRDC. A special “Thanks” is due to Anita Mwamba for her efforts in securing a fabulous site for this event. Last, but certainly not least, we give “Thanks” to Keisha Scarlett, the Principal of the Southshore School, which was the site of the event.

As principal Keisha Scarlett has great vision for the children she serves and we cannot say thank you enough for her embrace of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus. She announced at the Event’s closing that she would like to become a community partner with SRDC!

_____________________________________________________

Message from the SRDC Washington State Facilitator

Greetings:

On behalf of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) of Washington State, we extend greetings and gratitude for your participation in this “All African/African Liberation Day Celebration”.  Our purpose is to highlight the many contributions people of African descent have made to the Pacific Northwest and the world. This year’s theme of “Self-Reliance” showcases the determination, ingenuity and perseverance with which the African Descendant Community has successfully demonstrated its ability to overcome tremendous obstacles and challenges time and time again.

Historically, again and again, physical domination was traded for psychological and economic dependence; and it is against this very dependence that the need for the African Diaspora to come together in the spirit of cooperation and community highlights this celebration. The United Nations’ resolution that marks year 2011 as the “International Year for People of African Descent” has helped focus attention on the many social and institutionalized systems of injustices and disparities to which African Descendants around the globe have been subjected. Today, we bear witness to the need for the world to address these problems and make an honest effort to involve Africa and its people toward a more just world society.

The African Union (AU) has invited descendants of Africa living throughout the Diaspora to organize among themselves as individual states, regions or countries as Diaspora delegates for future involvement in the work of the African Union. Complementing the African Union’s existing five regions (North, South, East, West, and Central) of the continent, the Diaspora represents Region Six.  The collective intellectual and economic capital of the Sixth Region strengthens the AU voice on critical global issues affecting the continent. The SRDC represents one of the many voices today, a sort of echo from the past, exhorting the African Diaspora to “Do for Self” and “Be the Change You Wish to See in the African World.”  Join us in creating this preferred future.

Corinne Folashade Farr, State of Washington SRDC Facilitator

Cal Spates – State of Washington, SRDC Community Council of Elders, Chair
Aline Diakite – SRDC State of Washington Representative
Kamau Ron Taplin – SRDC State of Washington Representative



Posted in All African/ALD2 Comments

Town Hall UPDATES

Town Hall UPDATES

Town Hall Meeting Updates…

Town Hall Meeting UPDATED LIST

Updated as of March 30, 2011 – Year 2010 marked the beginning of the ‘Decade of the African Diaspora.’ The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) has committed itself for Year 2011 to accelerating its grassroots organizing efforts. The methodology of hosting town halls and caucus-elections  has been quite successful.

During the course of this year we will host in the United States town halls in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia,  and Washington D.C.

Outside of the United States,  SRDC has upcoming town halls scheduled for:

Africa: Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania
Caribbean: Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad
Canada: Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia

~Submitted by Folashade, SRDC-WA


_______________________________________________________________________________________

The Tennessee Chapter of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus held a Town Hall Meeting and the chapter was implemented on November 13, 2010 under the leadership of Ms. Gloria B. Conley, newly elected Facilitator for the State of Tennessee. Dr. David Horne, Dr. Ruth Love and Mrs. Folashade Farr were the guest speakers and also assisted Ms. Gloria Conley with this event.

There were 22+ attendees of the Tennessee Community Town Hall meeting. The community attendees ranged from a retired grandmother to a community activist pastor. There were three elected Community Council of Elders, Mrs. Willa Doss, Evangelist Phyllis Smith and Mr. William Young. In the midst of the election the community counselors of elder’s election decided to nominate a Youth Community Council of Elders. According to Dr. Horne and Dr. Love and Mrs. Farr stated, “that this was the first of such a creation/nomination of a Youth Community Council of Elders ever during the election process”.

Tennessee Community Council of Elders is excited about the New Year of 2011, following the mission of the SRDC. Implementing new ideas and goals are definitely apart of bringing forth the ideas, task and programs to help make Tennessee a successful chapter.

~Report by Ms. Gloria B. Conley, Tennessee Chapter Facilitator

Posted in Town Hall Updates1 Comment

Translator

    Translate from:

    Translate to:

Archives