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37 African-Caribbean Diasporans Granted Ghanaian Citizenship

We share here an article that appeared in The Graphic in a piece initially written by Doreen Andoh on December 29, 2016, and was reposted on December 31 on http://www.theafricandream.net by Oral Ofori.

ghanaian-citizenship-granted-to-31-diasporans-december-2016At a ceremony in the capital city of Ghana – Accra – to formalize the process of granting of Ghanaian citizenship, 37 people were made to swear an oath of allegiance to the country by Ghana president John Mahama.

Presenting certificates of citizenship to them, Mr Mahama said their naturalization made them entitled to every privilege deserving and due any Ghanaian. The event happened in the last quarter of December 2016.

The president said he was optimistic that the skills and knowledge acquired by the naturalised Ghanaians would contribute immensely to the development of the country.

“You have expressed so much gratitude to me and other stakeholders for the opportunity given you today, but I do not think you have to thank me because I have only restored to you what rightfully belongs to you and was painfully taken away” he said.

Mr. Mahama said in giving them the opportunity to obtain Ghanaian citizenship, he was only following the footsteps of forebears, including  Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther king, who led and gave a foundation to Pan-Africanism.

He said Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence, and had since become and would continue to be the headquarters for the fight for African liberation and the beacon of African emancipation.

He expressed the hope that the introduction of Africans applying for visa on arrival in Ghana would be extended to Africans in the diaspora to facilitate their visit and stay in Ghana to contribute to national development.

Oath of allegiance towards Ghanaian citizenship

In his remarks, the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Prosper Bani, said the naturalised Ghanaians were now free to acquire Ghanaian passports and any other national document that identified them as Ghanaians.

“I wish to assure you that the Ministry of the Interior will give you the needed assistance to acquire those documents,” he said.

Mr Bani expressed the hope that the naturalised Ghanaians would continue to owe allegiance to the country, particularly in their deeds and support the development of the country.

He, however, appealed to them to be law abiding because the acquisition of the Ghanaian citizenship has conditions, which included lawfully revoking the citizenship in accordance with section 18 of the citizenship act of 2000 (Act 591).

He said the President’s approval of the citizenship of these persons was a demonstration of the Pan-African spirit, following in the steps of Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore and Dr W.E. B Du Bois that Pan-Africanism remained an integral part of Ghana’s foreign policy.

Pacesetters praised

Mr. Bani applauded the efforts of all who had contributed to the successful emancipation and reintegration of Africans in the diaspora back to their roots, giving particular recognition to Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey.

Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, in 2004, as the then Minister of Tourism of Ghana, organised an international conference on the theme, International Conference on the Transatlantic slave-trade, Legacies and Expectations; which provided the inspiration to  envision the return of Africans in the Diaspora,” he said.

Mr. Bani said Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey also initiated a project dubbed the “Joseph Project” in 2007 which sought to practicalise the act of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and rapprochement between Africans in Africa and those in the diaspora.

He acknowledged that the efforts of Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey and other pan-Africanist were yielding the desired results.

On behalf of the persons who were granted Ghanaian citizenship, Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett expressed gratitude to the President, Mr. Mahama, for the honour done them, and pledged their commitment to remain responsible citizens of the country.

To show their appreciation, they presented a memento to president Mahama.

Source: Doreen Andoh/Graphic Online

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Statement for the Members of the Culture and Education for Black Survival and Development (CEBSD) Plenary Session

Statement for the Members of the Culture and Education for Black Survival and Development (CEBSD) Plenary Session

Kim Poole with Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) Fellows.

Kim Poole with Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) Fellows.

Greetings to the esteemed Cultural Curators, Teaching Artists, Connectors, Activists, Advocates and African-Centered Resource Developers of the “Culture & Education for Black Survival and Development” Plenary Session – Resource Focus; held during the State of the Black World Conference November 19th 2016 in Newark, Jersey.

As you know, we are currently in the process of summarizing what was discussed during our session and combing through our list serve to ensure that everyone that would like to build with us is aware of the steps we have taken toward developing the CEBDS Work Group. 

Below please find a list of attendees and those who responded to our request for introduction of their work in order to be acknowledged as members.

Please note that this “Get to know you” process is very important as we only spent a very short time being acquainted during the initial plenary session.

Though we are most appreciative of the space provided by IBW to convene with like-minds, the real work begins now!  No longer is the “meeting-about-the-meeting” fueled by emotion alone enough to nurture sustainable institutions in our communities.

As we decide what regions to focus our efforts and narrow the broad agenda into tangible action steps, understanding who we are and what we want is essential to our effectiveness.

A future article will discuss the summary of our brief time together and notice that these two questions set the tone for our discussions.

Attendees and confirmed members CEBSD Plenary Session Stakeholders:

Sis. Nabeelah – Yoga Instructor, Creator, Grant Writer – Based in Newark, NJ 

Bill Jones- PTA member, Community advocate, vested in Elementary schools, Planner of the International African American Festival in N.Y. – Based in Brooklyn, NY

Marion Pitts (Newark) – South Africa study abroad program participant, Scholar of Rutgers University, member of Peoples Organization for Progress (POP) affiliated with Larry Ham; Promoter, Based in Newark, NJ

Nadif Bracey – Junior Electrical Engineering major at Morgan State University, V.P. Student Government association, in search of 5,000 Baltimore based Black Owned businesses to hold accountable, willing to develop templates on behalf of the work group “Students Teachers, Freedom Schools…” – Based in Baltimore, MD

Bro. Louis (Pittsburgh) – Member of Colors Against Violent Police, focused on Accountability Law Corporate Equity – Based in Pittsburg, PA

Bro. Victor Gibson – Retired K-8 African Centered Teacher (23 years) Malcolm X Academy, BA…Sociology/Masters Education, Community Engager, Member of “Keep The Vote No TAKEOVER” resistance against State Control of DPS. (99′) Alliance with “Journey for Justice”, Former Social Worker, Former Mental Health Worker, interested in business reciprocity (Cash Mom Model) Connected to NBEA (National Black Educators Association– Based in Detroit, MI

Viva Now – Concerned Mother, Community Activist, Supporter of the Amistad Act – Based in Newark, NJ

Bro. William Payne – Philanthropist, Politician promoting the Amistad Act – Based in Newark, NJ

Bro. Kevin Baker – Appointed IBW Facilitator, Educator- Based in Virginia 

Dr. Patricia Newton – CEO & Medical Director of the Black Psychiatrists of America, Creator of the 7D’s of Development Model – Based in Baltimore, MD 

Emann Odufu – Arts Activist, Film Maker, Based in Newark NJ 

Nana Farika Berhane – Poet, Community activist, Nanny Town Jamaica Maroon, Teaching Artist, Vice President of the World Afrikan Diaspora Union (WADU) – Based in Washington D.C.

Sis. Kim Poole – Soul Fusion – Teaching Artist, Founding Fellow of Teaching Artist Institute Based in Washington D.C.

Plenary Discussion Points

Here are a few of the Plenary Discussion Points during the work group session.  More details will be shared in a future article.

Holding Public Institutions accountable while “Flying our plane and building it too”

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In order to begin addressing the need to both hold accountable parties that administer resources on behalf of our community as well as continually identify and address the needs of the Black Community, Family and Child from within (as a collective) we must answer to the following questions…

  1. Who Are We?

The Ethos of Black Community-

Cultural identity-

Universal standard for healthy family unit development

  1. What do we want and what do we need to define and protect the ethos of the Black Community?

Jobs, Business Loans, Grants, Safety, Identity, Food Security, Holistic Education, Communication outlets Etc (If I missed an important bullet point on this list please feel free to edit in your version of our notes)

  1. What are the first steps to regain control of our Power and Resources: Where do we begin?

Look for more updates from the Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) on this site.

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Teaching Artist Institute at the State of the Black World Conference 2016

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On November 16th-19th in New Jersey TAI was invited as a special guest of Nana Farika Berhane and Dr. Leonard Jeffries of Omega Media and the World African Diaspora Union-WADU to the State of the Black World Conference. 

During the conference, on behalf of TAI and our partners (Jah Kente International, The Institute of Financial Unity and the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus-SRDC), TAI Founding Fellow and Soul Fusion Teaching Artist Kim Poole led the Culture & Education for Black Survival and Development (CEBSD) Plenary Sessions-Resource Focus. 

“It was an amazing opportunity to not only share examples of the advocacy work TAI does for the Rhythm People Campaign with prospective TAI Fellows applicants in New Jersey, but It was also a time to learn from the likes of legendary Teaching Artists such as Louis Farrakhan, Susan Taylor, and Maulana Karenga. 

The CEBSD-Resource Focus quickly decided that the goal of the Plenary discussion should lead to an ongoing culture and education resource exchange, a support system across sectors and ultimately a formal work group dedicated to nurturing and implementing an agenda for African centered development. 

The group was joined by the likes of Legislators William D. Payne of New Jersey‘s Amistad Commission, and Edutainment Activists such as Bill Jones of New York‘s International African Arts Festival which takes place every 4th of July in Brooklyn N.Y. 

Stay tuned for more up dates from the CEBSD Resource Focus Work Group here on our site. 

The State of the Black World Conference is held on an annual basis and assembles a vast array of eminent Pan-Afrikan scholars to discuss the issues of the day and to work to build solutions to the ongoing struggle experienced by people of Afrikan Descent.  The SOBWC Declaration can be found at their website, http://sobwc.ibw21.org/declaration/, or by checking it out here. 

Dr. Ron Daniels and Sis. Kim Poole

Dr. Ron Daniels and Sis. Kim Poole

The Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) is dedicated to establishing, nurturing and supporting an international cadre of Teaching Artists (musicians, poets, visual artists and other creative performers) to entertain, educate and bring healing to communities around the world, particularly those of Afrikan descent.  Among the international organizations that have partnered with TAI are the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Jah Kente International, the Pan African Business and Trade Center (PABTC) and the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC).  Anyone who wishes to learn more about the Teaching Artist Institute or is interested in joining the State of the Black World CEBSD work group is encouraged to contact Sis. Kim Poole at kpoolepip@yahoo.com or Sis. Viva White at lavivanow@aim.com.

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State of the Black World Declaration of Intent and Call to Action

 

 

sobwc-2016-plenary-1from the State of the Black World website, http://sobwc.ibw21.org/declaration/

Print or download PDF version by clicking here

The Spirit, Power and Significance of an Historic Gathering 

They came by the hundreds, more than two thousand in all, from the greater Newark/New York region, Black America and the Pan African World, drawn by the urgent impulse to connect, network, bond, share and unite in the wake of one of the most hate-filled, demagogic and divisive presidential elections in decades; an election which produced a presidential regime, elected by less than a majority of the popular vote; a regime imbedded with racism, white nationalism and Islamophobia. It is one of the most threatening moments since the arrival of Africans on these hostile American shores. 

November 16-20, 2016, Africans from the far reaches of the U.S. and the Pan African World — South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada and Europe converged on Newark, New Jersey, one of the great historical epicenters of Black Freedom Struggle, for State of the Black World Conference IV — responding to the Call. It’s Nation Time Again! 

In yet another hour of grave crisis, people of African descent, Black people, came seeking to be inspired, revitalized, informed and armed to intensify the essential, continuing struggle to defend and promote the dignity, survival, development, interests and aspirations of Africans, Black people, in America and the Pan African World.  As the words “it’s nation time” reverberated throughout the gathering, a spirit of Black love, sharing, bonding, healing, collaboration, resistance, self-determination and renewed commitment to build and strengthen Black institutions, to control the politics and economics of Black communities, territories and nations permeated the deliberations. 

While it is impossible to capture the full meaning of the words of the formidable array of more than one hundred Speakers, Panelists and Resources People who shared their insights, knowledge and wisdom with this remarkable gathering, these paraphrased expressions are illustrative of the powerful tenor of the deliberations and proceedings: 

  • Prior to one of the Empowerment Plenary Sessions, Atty. Faya Rose Toure came to the stage and led the assembly in a rousing rendition of the Freedom Song, “Ain’t Going Let Nobody Turn Us Around.”
  • Paramount Chief Dr.  Leonard Jeffries spoke on the significance of the gathering and recited a roll call of courageous African leaders to whom we should look for inspiration in this time of crisis.  As he has taught so often, Dr. Jeffries stressed the urgency of using a “systems analysis” to successfully confront and defeat a U.S. and global system of white supremacy.
  • An impassioned Danny Glover expressed the feelings of many Participants when he said, we needed this conference, we needed to be together at this moment. He encouraged a spirit of constant struggle by Black people, people of color and the oppressed to resist White supremacy and neo-liberal schemes of domination, propagated by the U.S.
  • Rev. Waltrina Middleton graphically illustrated the contradictions and moral bankruptcy of the U.S. presidential election by pointing out that the Rev. Dr.  Jeremiah Wright was viciously denounced for simply condemning the hypocrisy of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, while Donald Trump waged a campaign of flagrant and inflammatory insults to people of African descent/Blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and women and could be elected President of the United States.
  • In discussing the shocking results of the U.S. presidential elections and the rise of white nationalist and xenophobic movements in the U.S. and Europe, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles firmly declared that we are not going back to the days of white supremacist domination; that the determined quest for reparatory justice will be the dominant movement of the 21st Century.
  • George Fraser sternly reminded the gathering that White folks will not save us; they are too busy taking care of their own; they aren’t even thinking about us; no one will save us but us!
  • South African Counsel General Mathula Nkosi was so moved by the spirit of the discussions that she spoke passionately about the similarity of our struggles.  She recounted the role that Africans in America played in shattering apartheid and spoke to the urgent need to finish the struggle for genuine self-determination by achieving economic independence.
  • Susan L. Taylor reminded us of the resilience of African people as the survivors of the holocaust of enslavement and shared an inspiring illustration of how love, compassion and culturally-relevant education and mentoring can rescue/save thousands of our youth/young people who have been marginalized under an oppressive system.
  • The brilliant poet Lady Brion brought the gathering to its feet with an inspiring spoken word oration on the vital, indispensable role of women, of sisters, as leaders and partners in the struggle for the liberation of Black people!
  • The Conscious Ones of the Lola Louis Creative and Performing Arts Studio treated the assembly with an inspiring, dramatic presentation of Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise!
  • Dowoti Desir opened the Closing Ndaba/Plenary with an inspiring traditional African religious Invocation in which she evoked the memory of Boukman, the Haitian spiritual leader whose prayer ignited the Haitian Revolution. That same spirit and power will arm this generation for the awesome battles ahead.
  • In an instructive and inspiring lecture Dr.  Maulana Karenga reaffirmed the value of the principles of the Nguzo Saba as a foundation and guide at this critical moment in our history and proclaimed that fundamental to the struggle for reparations is the repair and restoration of ourselves as African people, that when we repair ourselves, we repair the world!
  • Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan challenged and charged the assembled Participants to rededicate ourselves to building independent Black institutions to achieve social, economic and political control over the spaces and places where we live, to create national/international structures of self-governance and reach out to other people of color nationalities and ethnicities to build a new Nation, one so splendid in its humanity that people of all races will feel compelled to follow.

sobwc-2016-panel-1There was a spirit so strong, so pervasive among the Participants that you needed to be present as an eyewitness at this awesome assembly to feel the power of SOBWC IV.

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So … Are You Ready To Organize NOW?

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NOTE: This article first appeared on KUUMBAReport Online, http://kuumbareport.com.

Back in 2000, as Democrat Al Gore was facing off with Republican George W. Bush in the general election for the presidency of the United States, many in the African-American community were ambivalent.  Gore’s eight years as Bill Clinton’s vice president had been rather unremarkable, as vice presidents tend to be.  Earlier concerns regarding his perceived attitudes during the time of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s attempts at the presidency had been forgotten, and he was thus seen as a reasonable successor to the then-proclaimed “first Black president”.  Even Gore’s choice of conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman, while somewhat concerning, did not turn off African-American voters enough to consider George W. Bush, the Republican candidate and son of 41st president and Ronald Reagan successor George H. W. Bush.  “W”, or “Dubya”, as the son would soon be called, was the former Texas governor who had presided over more executions than any other governor in the country, many of them African-American men, yet he still called himself “the compassionate conservative”.

At a major march at the Lincoln Memorial shortly before the general election, Bishop George Stallings of the Imani Temple, an African-American Catholic church in Washington, DC, exhorted the crowd to oppose the Bush, pleading “Don’t let Texas become the United States!”  “We don’t need a miracle!  We’ll get our miracle when we elect Al Gore and Joe Lieberman,” he cried.

Others among us, unimpressed by the Democratic Party platform, dared America to elect Bush.  “Give us our worst fear,” they said.  “That will wake our people up and alert us that it’s time to organize.”

Of course, after a hotly contested election that came down to the last reporting state, Florida, the controversy erupted over the decision of the California Secretary of State, Catherine Harris, to throw out several ballots for reasons as varied as “hanging chads” and voters’ names having been deleted from the rolls due to (supposedly) criminal records and voter fraud, though these claims were later determined to be entirely baseless.  As a result, the presidency came down to a vote in the Supreme Court over whether or not to count these contested votes, a 5-4 decision in favor of throwing the votes out which won George W. Bush the state of Florida and its key electoral votes.  This directly led to the election of Bush as the 43rd US president.  This despite the fact that Gore had won the majority of the national popular vote.

Having been given “our worst fear”, what did many of our organizers do?  Did they mobilize in response as some of my good friends had expected?  No, many of our organizers chose to “lay low” because of fears that they might be targeted by the police state that was being mobilized in conjunction with the war machine of vice president Richard Cheney.  Unfettered by serious opposition, especially from organized Black groups, the US would walk out of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), terrorists would strike the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and Bush would lead the US into one questionable war (Afghanistan) and one entirely improper and illegal one (Iraq) as the Geneva Conventions were being dismissed as “quaint” and unworthy of consideration.

Fast forward to today.  Donald Trump, a man even former  presidents George H. W  and George W. Bush would refuse to publicly endorse, has been elected president, again as a result of several states that decided the contest late in the night, giving Trump the key electoral votes he needed to clinch the presidency, and again in spite of the fact that his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking to become the first elected woman president in US history, earned more of the national popular vote. 

Hillary Clinyon 6There has been much hand-wringing, commiserating and outright sobbing over this result.  The lost opportunity to break the “glass ceiling” for women and Clinton’s long list of qualifications (US Senator and Secretary of State after serving as First Lady during her husband’s eight years as president) obscured, for her supporters, the weaknesses of her candidacy.  The disrespect she has endured since she was First Lady can be explained in large part by the rampant sexism that still exists in the country, especially in political circles, and a rather effective 30-year smear campaign by Republicans that has in part caused her to be viewed as an untrustworthy, and even sinister, candidate.   Still, some of her “trust issues” were self-made, which included her initial support of the war in Iraq, her support of the war in Libya (which killed President Muammar Gadaffi at a time when he was being cooperative with the West and which has led to the financial crippling of the African Union) and her questionable use of a personal email server for government business, some of which appeared to include classified emails.  Her support as First Lady for her husband’s policies regarding Ayiti (Haiti), for which Bill Clinton has apologized but not fully atoned, earned her the ire of Ayiti activists, most notably Marguerite Laurent (“Ezili Danto”) of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, and her cheerleading of Bill Clinton’s Omnibus Crime Bill by touting the myth of the young Black “super-predator” led to numerous protests at her rallies over the last year by, among others, Black Lives Matter activists.

Despite all this, she still won the large majority of the Black vote, primarily because of the fear of a Trump presidency more than any specific enthusiasm for Clinton or her platform, which had been forced to the left by the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  It was the White vote which won Trump the presidency.  Apparently, a flawed candidate like Clinton was considered worse than a man whose own recorded remarks branded him as a sexist, racist xenophobe with a checkered business record littered with bankruptcies and lawsuits and little knowledge of world affairs or diplomacy.

So, now many Black people are upset about the election results.  And apparently many Whites are as well, judging by the protests which erupted in cities across the country almost immediately after the election results became official.  The terms most commonly used to describe people’s feelings, especially those of African-American citizens, Muslims and immigrants, tend to be some combination of fear, grief and anger.

My friends had dared America to elect another hard-right president with ties (in Trump’s case) to White nationalist right-wing groups, predicting that such a result would shake us out of the complacency we had willfully enjoyed (failing to pressure the most recent administration to deliver on the great promise of the last eight years) during the presidency of Barrack Obama.

When a similar situation had arisen in 2000, many of our activists failed to rise up and organize in opposition to the Bush-Cheney agenda.  Whites did more on a national scale with Occupy Wall Street and the anti-WTO protests that had been named the “Battle in Seattle” than we did to mobilize our community.  Of late, only Black Lives Matter (launched during the Obama Administration as a result of police–and police wannabe–killings of Black youth such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown) has reached the level of serious grassroots organizing among the Black community, and many of us have questioned BLM’s orientation toward gay rights and its alleged connections with George Soros.  Still, those critics have yet to birth a serious national Black movement of their own.

Meanwhile, the organization I belong to, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), a grassroots-oriented organization that seeks to galvanize and organize the aspirations as well as the needs and issues of people of Afrikan descent throughout the Pan-Afrikan Diaspora, has been struggling to light a spark in our community since 2006.  The effort has been going on in Maryland, where I live, since 2007.  SRDC and other organizations have been plugging away for years, searching for that spark that might ignite the fire of unity in our people.  Our search continues.  As of this writing, SRDC-Maryland is holding a Pan-Afrikan Town Hall on Saturday, November 12 at the Union Mill, 1500 Union Avenue in West Baltimore, and we hope to hold more such Town Hall Meetings to bring our community together, to craft a Pan-Afrikan Agenda that is developed by our grassroots community to champion at the national and international levels, and to build a Blackprint for us to follow to unite our many and varied “Pan-Afrikan Unity” organizations so we can help ourselves.

Will the ascendancy of Trump to the single most powerful political position on the planet serve as the spark for us to finally organize ourselves?  Or will many of our people once again retreat to the shadows, afraid of the repercussions of opposition to the latest Head of the Oppressor State?

Bro. Cliff
Editor, KUUMBAReport Online
http://kuumbareport.com

Maryland State Facilitator, Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)
http://www.srdcinternational.org

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The Kenyan Diaspora Conference in Atlanta: A Rewarding Experience

SRDC Kumasi 2Greetings to the Global African Community and a special greeting to our brothers and sisters in the SRDC network.

It is with great pleasure that we bring this report to you on our recent participation in the 2016 Kenya Diaspora Conference held in Atlanta Georgia June 24-25, 2016 at the Georgia Institute of Technology. This was an extraordinary meeting by educators, professionals and business persons from the Kenyan community in the Diaspora to discuss the issues facing developments in Kenya and Africa as a whole.

Navigating our way to the conference venue on Friday morning was a bit tedious but we finally found our way after a few phone calls. After arriving at the student center we met our contact person, Dr. Juliana Mwose, assistant professor of Nursing at St. Mary’s College in Indiana. She warmly greeted us as we settled down to listen to the agenda for the conference.

Friday’s conference was primarily focused on the contribution to Kenya by the Kenyan Diasporan community. It was reported that the Diasporan Kenyan communities contributed over one and a half billion dollars to the economy of Kenya in 2015. With this kind of contribution to the GNP, the Diasporan Kenyan communities feel that they should have a voice in the decision making process governing their society although they reside outside the country of Kenya in a foreign land. It was strongly stressed to the Kenyan government officials in attendance to take the message back that the Diasporan Kenyan communities want the right to vote in their homeland Kenya. Other issues such as health, education and the support for the youth were also discussed during Friday’s presentation.

Saturday’s session focused primarily on business opportunities in Kenya and business development by the Kenyans in the United States. One presenter explained how his real estate company has developed resort businesses in different parts of the United States where Kenyans can purchase their own land.

A young Kenyan by the name of Mr. Jacob Maaga laid out his plans to develop a Pan African Exchange that would empower economic growth throughout the whole of Africa. This would give African businesses some control over the price of their commodities on the world market. Investment in Africa’s future growth can take place electronically at the push of a button on one’s computer. This young businessman said they have already set up the exchange in Zambia with plans for expansion to different parts of Africa in the very near future. The machinery will be in place, he said, where the ordinary small investor can purchase stocks and bonds to propel the growth of African businesses.

The conference ended with a presentation on the African Union by Chief Tunde Adetunji of the Africa Heritage Foundation Inc. The theme of his presentation was bridging the gap between Africa and the Diaspora. His foundation is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. He emphasized the urgent need for Africans in Africa and the Diaspora to come together. He said that Africa needs not only the monetary contributions being made through remittances but also the technological and innovative talent that Africans, both indigenous and historical, have that can support Africa’s future independent growth. This call is urgently needed to avoid plans by the Chinese government to export large numbers of their population onto the African continent. The Constitutive Act established by the African Union circa 2005 established the Diaspora as the Sixth Region of Africa. Chief Adetunji said this act calling for the Sixth Region refers to all Africans living outside of Africa to be a part of the Sixth Region of Africa. This would include both indigenous and historical Africans in the Diaspora.

He said that any African that can contribute resources and capacity to Africa is a part of the Sixth Region of Africa. He said that he has been advocating the creation of the Sixth Region since 1996. The question of representation into the African Union by the Diasporan communities, he said, should be open to any African in the Diaspora since many Africans living outside Africa have become citizens of their newly adopted countries. There were no discussions on methodology on how this would be done, but it seems like more discussion between the two Diasporan communities would help move the Diaspora closer to realizing the Sixth Region of Africa.

This was a welcome experience to interact with fellow Africans from Kenya who express that we need more dialogue between those new arrivals from the Continent and those Africans who are descendants of the European Slave Trade.

Since many of the new arrivals are now raising children in their new home away from the African Continent, there is a need for information on how the historical Africans have coped with survival in America. It was gratifying to meet a number of Kenyans who see Kenya’s problems as a Pan African problem. The road map to the future looks brighter as we move to reclaim our identity as Global Africans to rebuild the African continent for the future for African people.

With undying love for Africa,
Kumasi Palmer
Fred Lincoln
SRDC- South Carolina

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Spokes of the Wheel: Building a Pan-Afrikan Cooperative Coalition in Maryland

Spokes 1On Friday, January 29, 2016, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) hosted a discussion designed to encourage a more cooperative atmosphere among the Pan-Afrikan organizations in Baltimore, Maryland.  The event was named “Spokes of the Wheel” to describe a pictorial representation of how a variety of organizations with different missions, specialties and personalities might bring those qualities together into a Cooperative Coalition and this help make their work more effective for the community.

The event was held at the downtown Baltimore building of The Real News Network (TRNN), a non-profit, viewer-supported daily video-news and documentary service based in Baltimore, Maryland and Toronto, Canada. The event sponsor who made the venue available to SRDC for the event was Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS), a Pan-Afrikan grassroots think-tank based in Baltimore which hosts monthly Malcolm X Talks such as this one on Thursday and Friday evenings.

In attendance were representatives of several organizations whose statements are included below: local grassroots organizations, think tanks, revolutionary organizations, arts collectives, organizations with financial plans, spiritual organizations, as well as international organizations such as SRDC. Each organization present introduced itself, described its mission and spoke about the need to develop a Cooperative Coalition such as the one being discussed this day.

“We do need to get past the point where we talk about how we need to come together but we don’t actually do it”, said Bro. Cliff, Maryland State Facilitator of SRDC.  “Too many times, we see that and we hear that, and we say it to each other.  ‘Black people have to come together.’  And yet, the next year, we’re just as fragmented as we were the year before.” The idea is to find ways in which these organizations can function in a spirit of teamwork to achieve the overall goal of freedom and uplift for Afrikan people.

Lady Brianne, resident poet and one of the Cultural Curators of LBS, welcomed the audience to the event: “We are a policy think tank here in Baltimore, and we’re doing a lot of work, particularly now with the legislative session, around reform of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR). … One of the things we always need is support, whether it’s phone banking or going out to Annapolis with us, so I’m hoping you all can stay connected with us.  So I just wanted to welcome you all here tonight. …”

Seba Heru-Ka Anu of spiritual organization Ta Nefer Ankh officiated a Libation/Tambiko ceremony.

A brief discussion was held on the definition of the Afrikan Diaspora and the need for people of Afrikan descent in Afrika and the Diaspora to come together and, more importantly, to organize. SRDC’s specific proposal is the establishment of a Pan-Afrikan Cooperative Coalition that would include a broad spectrum of organizations.

Organizational Introductory Statements

Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS)
Bro. Lawrence Grandpre, Director of Research

LBS Logo 1LBS is a think tank that does research and develops policies in service to the Pan-Afrikan struggle. Right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation Cato Institute and Rand Corporation do similar work in service to corporate and right-wing interests, providing talking points to political leaders.

LBS was developed primarily at Towson University with debate teams there along with community activists such as Dayvon Love, Adam Jackson and Debra Murray.  LVS has traveled across the country and introduced a debate style that developed from Afrikan-centered traditions, using that to help direct policy discourse and influenced by such historic intellectuals as Dr. Naim Akbar and Dr. Marimba Ani.  LBS sees itself as “a too, for a larger movement of liberation for Afrikan people”, and notes among its accomplishments several regular programs such as the Summer Debate Camps, held at Morgan State University and Coppin State University, and the Marshall Eddie Conway Liberation Institute.

LBS regularly travels to Annapolis to lobby for changes in Maryland state legislation such as the Law LBS Lawrence Grandpre Jan 29Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR), which us seen as granting unreasonable levels of protection for police against criminal prosecution for acts of misconduct, harassment, brutality and other forms of corruption and oppressive tactics.  LBS is challenging the structure that “allows them to have no accountability for any of their actions … to force them to respect us.”  LBS uses “the power of the community instead of waiting for the Department of Justice” to come and save us or for “the police to learn to respect us.”

Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP)
Bro. Obasi, co-founder and spokesperson

UPP Logo 1UPP is a political party that is working to obtain ballot status “to challenge the state apparatus in the streets as well as the ballot. … We know that voting doesn’t solve our problems. We know that Afrikan people never got anything from voting.  Everything we got, we got with blood and we got it in the streets.

“We cannot have this conversation without talking about capitalism. We can’t have this conversation without talking about White Power.  And we can’t have this discussion without talking about imperialism.  Because all of it is interconnected.

“How we got started was, myself and a couple of my comrades are Pan Afrikan Internationalists. We believe that Afrika should be free and everybody should know their history.  We believe in a united Afrika, under the leadership of the working class, because it’s the workers that produce the wealth.  Bankers don’t produce the wealth, no stockbrokers, it’s the workers that produce the wealth.  We believe Afrika should be free and all the resources should be kept among Afrikans.

“So we have to ask ourselves: how do we free Afrika when we’re not in Afrika?  How do we fight imperialism?  Organization is our best weapon.  We have to have organization.  At the same time, until we destroy capitalism – because capitalism has to be destroyed – you can’t truly practice your culture, you can’t truly practice your spirituality under the rule of another people.  Let’s just keep it real.  It’s time for all the other discussions that some people want us to have, it’s time to eliminate that.  Because you can’t do these things if you have no power.

“Our job [as UPP] is we have to create liberated territory wherever we find ourselves in the world. UPP Bro Obasi Jan 29Wherever we find ourselves in the world, our job is to control that ground … to reduce the influence of the state … the bureaucracy that’s causing all these atrocities.  We have to directly challenge the state.  We have to have all kinds of organizations.  We have to have these spiritual organizations.  We have to have these cultural and economic organizations. … Kwame Nkrumah said that neocolonialism is the last phase of imperialism. … White Power in Black Face, White Power in Business Face, the people who look like us, but serve the purpose of our enemies. … Barack Obama has us thinking that we’re making some progress, when we’re making no progress.  I think it was Malcolm X who said the Republicans put the knife in six inches, and the Democrats pull it out three and they talk about progress.  Well, Afrikans are free people, so when we talk about progress, we’ve got to talk about our progress in proximity to us getting free. … We’ve got to challenge them as well as in the streets; we’ve got to go to that electoral arena to challenge them.

“It’s cool to get voted in, but our job is to use that electoral process as an organizing and mobilizing tool, because all of us [here at this meeting] might have a little more awareness, but the masses of the people are at the polls. We have to create our own institutions to contend with the ruling class.  Our people’s loyalty to these [established] institutions is fickle.  We only have these institutions because we don’t have our own.

“We’ve got to get 10,000 registered voters to sign a petition so that we can get on the ballot. We want to go into our own communities.  Those people in Lexington Market are our people.  It’s going to be those young folks that are going to make that change.

“We’ve got to get 10,000 registered voters to sign the petition, get on the ballot and make history, and we can go in our own communities, run our own candidates and we can challenge these jokers and ‘shiny Negroes’ … because this is not a theoretical question. They’re murdering us.  We have a right to live just like everybody else.  And we’re not going to get it unless we get off our tails and fight.

“We have to create organizations, and this event right here, this is a real critical question right now. If organization is our best weapon, just imagine a bunch or organizations!

“They say it’s radical. We say it’s common sense to create your own institutions to assert your needs.  Even outside of elections, you’re going to see us in the streets, because politics is more than just voting.  You’ve got to be in the streets.  ‘Uhuru’ means ‘Freedom’.  It’s how we greet each other.  So I say ‘Uhuru Sasa.’  Freedom Now.”

Dr. Ken Morgan
UPP Faculty Advisor, Coppin State University

“Nnamdi Lumumba, State Coordinator for UPP, is running as an Independent in the Seventh Councilmanic District. We can’t affiliate as a Party [until UPP obtains the 10,000 signatures to get ballot access], but he is running as an Independent on the platform of the Ujima Peoples Progress Party. … We meet on Wednesdays.  We do mean business.  We have theory and we have practice, but the bottom line is, we must struggle to make it happen.”

Working, Organizing, Making A Nation (W.O.M.A.N.)
Prepared Statement

WOMAN Organization Logo 1The following statement comes from the written literature of W.O.M.A.N.: “On January 15, 2009 W.O.M.A.N. officially began functioning as an organizing body. The plan to unite kindred organizations has been a key component from its inception as well as keying in on the active social engagement of all participating organizations comprising W.O.M.A.N. From inception, W.O.M.A.N. has been on the move to display practical unity for our community and not be content with empty, intellectual sound-bites of unity.

“W.O.M.A.N. views its mission as an economic/social calling to address the economic disunity of Black Nationalist, Pan-Afrikanist, Afrikan-Centered groups and organizations. Being progressive, aggressive and practical, W.O.M.A.N. wills itself to foment a fresh model of economic and social organizing. Thus by leading the way for grassroots efforts into the 21st century we unite theory with practice for high achievement. Our mission includes the pooling of funds and energies designed to (1) Fundraise and solicit funds to carry forth our noble purpose; (2) Illustrate the practice of Ujamaa as the model to learn from; (3) Support or create informational services to schools, community organizations and other non profit entities; and (4) Support or create networking capacities for organizations that serve youth, seniors and those with special needs.”

Ta Nefer Ankh
Seba Heru-Ka Anu, Founder and Director

Ta Nefer Ankh Logo PNG1“Our organization is a national organization founded in 1992. We pattern ourselves after the Honorable Marcus Garvey and the Honorable Malcolm X as a nationalist Pan-Afrikanist organization, but following also, leaders like Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannon and others who also called for a cultural context in which we organize ourselves, and so our community as we define it in Ta Nefer Ankh is an Afrikan-centered community.  What we focus on is mainly creating community.  One of the things that I recognized over the years is that we have political organizations, and that politics ideology does not necessarily define how we do what we do in a cultural context.  In other words, even though we can be a Pan-Afrikanist and a nationalist it doesn’t define how you eat, how you interact with one another, how you engage in relationships with one another, and as Cheikh Anta Diop pointed out to us, that we really needed to connect with the cultural context.  So we’re an Afrikan-centered organization that expresses itself from the Kemetic perspective.  Why Kemet?  Kemet is the first writing Afrikan civilization.  It’s not the oldest.  It’s the third oldest Afrikan civilization.  But it was the first writing. And as the first writing civilization, we’re able to go to Kemet and actually read from our Ancestors exactly how they defined their society, how their society worked, and for me as a person whose background is in Cultural Anthropology, which I love, because it asks the question, why and how did you do it.  So, when you ask our Ancestors, for example, how did you come together and create the civilization that you did, how did you create community, they actually have a model.  And so, we base ourselves on the Kemetic model.  We’re not exclusive in the sense that we don’t promote anything else – we promote all Afrikan society – but we look at Kemet as the model upon which we build.  So we invite folks to come with us and actually do building.

“You asked this question about folks coming together and reasons to come together. Our primary reason to come together is to improve the way of life, improve our quality of life.  Not only should it improve your Ta Nefer Ankh Seba Heru Jan 29quality of life, but it should answer all of the challenges that you have.  So, by coming together as a community, [this] allows us to have unity.  It allows us to generate the kind of infrastructure that we need: organizations, institutions.  Out of these organizations and institutions we can promote programs and practices, protocols that we need, that a community needs in order to operate. …

“Our headquarters is here in Baltimore.  We have the Cultural Center on Liberty Road.  You can get some information on us at taneferankh.com.  I’m the national leader, so I teach our communities across the country.  I also travel across the country, recruiting folks to create community, because it’s important that we have community.  We’re talking about creating Afrika where we are.

“The Black Agenda Organization is similar to the wheel, the spoked wheel that you talk about. We have organizations across the country and around the world that actually espouse the Black Agenda, so that would be a common denominator upon which we can come together and organize with each other.  And therefore we see the Black Agenda as that nexus that will enable us to connect with each other.  So, essentially, we’re saying the same thing.

“Black Forum is a weekly event featuring presenters addressing topics relative to the Black Agenda and the Black Power Movement.”

Teaching Artist Institute (TAI)
Bro. Infinity Excalibur, TAI Fellow

“In the beginning was the Heart-Drum.
With this vibration we gave rhythm to the world.
On this beat we Sing Life.
We are the Rhythm People.”

Bro. Infinity will be teaching poetry and short-writings within the Fellowship. “We are going to travel the Diaspora, teaching various artistries and variations of each of our specialties. … We’re going to go to Black nations across the world, teaching, sharing, learning from them, they learn from us.  It’s going to be collective.  It’s going to be responsible.”

Sis. Kim Poole, Founder, TAI

TAI Logo 1“In a lot of ways, the Drum is the only thing that we can trust. We’ve been told so many things about who we are, what’s been stolen, what the history says, what it doesn’t, but the one thing that’s undeniable across every people, everywhere, that are melanated, is the beat of that Drum.  I don’t care if you go to the service on Sunday or over to Brazil, they’ve got Rhythm People.  Just start beating that Drum and you’ll see who you are.  You’ll see where your alliances run.  And so, we’ve used that as an opportunity to create a sense of unity that in a lot of ways has been lost through ideology.

“So I’m a Soul-Fusion Teaching Artist, and music is what I trust. Art and culture is what in a lot of ways re-Afrikanized me, even got me interested in what that would mean, what that would look like.  And I know that it’s the first pillar of societal development, culture.  And so we have to ask ourselves, what language are we speaking?  I don’t speak Igbo.  I don’t speak Yoruba.  I don’t speak Kiswahili.  But the one thing that we can speak is the beat of this Drum.  And if we can all use that as a tool to see eye to eye, I think, honestly, that that’s the best chance we have at creating a coalition that works.

“It means coming together on one accord, and being able to communicate in ways that both parties TAI Kim Poole Jan 29understand. And it’s the Rhythm Resolution.  That’s where the Teaching Artist Institute comes in.  Because we want to teach you how to use art as a way of knowing, as a pedagogy.  How can you be innovative?  How can you be creative?  We want to teach you how to use the traditional media of music, poetry, short-writing that Bro. Infinity talked about, that spoken-word, that call-and-response.  It’s the artist community that needs to be at the core of development.  The reason the artist needs to be at the center of the community is because they have that innovation, and they remember who we are, even if only inherently.

“The Teaching Artist Institute has four goals. The first is to train artists and artisans as educators of socially-engaged art.  So, making sure that you’re conscious of that responsibility and understand your influence.  The second goal is to establish and maintain a Teaching Artist Collective.  We don’t support each other enough. ‘I don’t believe what you believe; you’re not Black enough for me; Oh my God Sis, you look too “hood” for our collective over here, we’re a collective of fine things, we go to Afrika, we do trips and we’re Ambassadors.’ We allow classism, and it’s amazing how many ways we’ve learned to divide each other from each other and perpetuate that lesson.  So we need a Collective; people who say, ‘In spite of my class, in spite of my belief system, one thing I know for certain is that I am vested in the perpetual development of my people, and I am willing to use my way of knowing towards that goal, to support that goal.’

“Our third goal is advocating cross-cultural communication and mutual understanding through art. A lot of my art is the pages of my diary. … We need to find ways to express who we are. … Though I’ll [still occasionally] write those songs that help me to release [any emotional baggage], I know that it’s very important to use my art as a tool for development.

“And last, to create a platform for Teaching Artist expression. The fact is, the people that usually ‘get’ it, they never get a loud enough bullhorn to say what they get. Because they stop before they ever get started.  And it’s time for us to be more strategic about how we get into decision-making rooms.  It’s time for us to realize that art can get into any sector, and you need to use your art, whatever it may be, to bring those artists to the room, to bring them to the mic, to give them an opportunity to spread their message.

“So, what is a Teaching Artist? A Teaching Artist is one that recognizes and understands the influential nature of their art.  They use this to promote a value system or a subject matter as an entity in and of itself or as a tool integrated into another discipline.  So we’ll do that in many ways with all of our fellow Teaching Artists this year, but one way that the Teaching Artist Institute is going to do that this year is to support the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus.”

Organization of All Afrikan Unity-Black Panther Cadre
Statement from Baba Ade Oba Tokunbo, Founder and Chairman

OAAUBPC Ade Logo 1The following statement had been prepared by OAAU-BPC Founder Baba Ade Oba Tokunbo: “As of June of this year, the concept of Pan-Afrikanism will be celebrating its 116th anniversary since Henry Sylvester Williams coined the term.  Many Afrikan people in the Motherland, in the Western Hemisphere, in Asia, in Europe and in the South Pacific have an interest in or identify with each other as Black people, as Afrikan people.  They are paying attention to what is going on not only in Afrika, but also amongst Afrikans around the world and in the United States. They are in the Andaman Islands, they are in Papua New Guinea, they are in Vanuatu, they are in Conakry or New Caledonia, they are in Palau and elsewhere.  The idea and the sentiment of Pan Afrikanism is alive and strong in these communities.

“The African Union has taken the initiative to acknowledge the existence of the Diaspora and the role of the Diaspora in promoting the concept of Pan-Afrikanism. Sisters and Brothers throughout the Continent acknowledge this, and are mindful of us here.  We have to take advantage of this.  This is why the Town Hall initiative gives us the opportunity to build across the Black communities of this nation.  Then we will have the opportunity to be represented at the AU, and we can bring issues that the current generation of activists are concerned about.  This is why we have to come together to mobilize, educate and organize the masses of our people here, so we can have a representative voice.”

Souls of Life Society
Bro. King Obadele, Founder and Chairman

Souls of Life Society Full Logo E“Energy we are, and energy we shall return, when we depart from this which returns to dust. Each one of you, you’re a vessel.  Each one of you carries a spirit within you.

“We have connected with the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus for several years now, because of the vibration that they hold true, which is to recognize that it’s time for change and for us to take action. The Souls of Life Society as you see here, ‘through the power bestowed by God and man,’ a lot of people have a lot in mind of believing so many different things.  Souls of Life Society has come together so that we can come under the understanding that life and love is the most important thing that there is about our living.  So you can look at this and say ‘through the power bestowed from within to do what must be done.’  Our organization harmonizes the unity needed for Black organizations to thrive so that humanity can survive.  We are the original man and woman of the earth and the founders of civilization.  We are the melanated ones.  Within us [is] the true blueprint of humanity, but that would mean that you are more than human. The plan against your greater good was and is to dehumanize you.  Yet, this is the crux of an amazing truth you have yet to accept collectively, which is, you are more than human. Spirit you all are.

“I have been traveling since 1991 to different organizations throughout Baltimore City, observing Bro King 2organisms and organizations to see what causes them to tick.  What I’ve discovered is that we have common ground, which is life and love, but we have to identify that common ground of life and love through re-communing with spirit.  Living thought speaks to each and every one of us.  Your Ancestors are waiting for you to activate the love that has brought you to now.  Do not let religiosity and dogma continue to separate you from who you are.  Everything vibrates and everything has a frequency.  We must begin collectively to speak the same language.  That is truth, harmony, order, righteousness, reciprocity, balance, justice, compassion, propriety, respect and consideration.

“Malcolm said it best when he said that, and this is what I picked up from him, they do not speak a language that, when you come to them in peace, they understand you. That was his belief.  I understand that.  But the thing is for us to overstand that we are more than anybody could possibly imagine we are. But we have to accept that that is true.  We are the original man and woman of the earth and the founders of civilization which means that we are the leaders.  The blueprint is already within us.  The earth itself is awaiting us to awaken.

“My organization, the Souls of Life Society, the acronym is S-O-L-S. The only thing that’s missing is U.  So, if you would be so kind as to look up the website, soulsoflifesociety.org, click it and hook up with us.  Because it’s time for the change to come strong.  We have to understand that, in speaking the language amongst ourselves of what is known as the virtues of Ma’at, which is an ancient Kemet practice, we will better realign with ourselves and with what needs to be done in order to bring the transformation that is needed amongst us as a community, amongst us as a world.  I’ve been with the Brave Men’s Society, the Egbe. … They speak an Afrikan cosmology that speaks of Iwa Pele, which explains very clearly the issues which have happened with our Black community and why there is so much division amongst us.  Come to the website.  Come check us out at the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus so that we can make things happen.”

Pan Afrikan Liberation Movement (PLM)
Bro. Anani Kulu Fatiu

PLM Logo 1“I’m a part of the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement that’s located here in Baltimore.  My name is Anani Kulu Fatiu. …

“What we have here today, which I embrace, a lot of what was stated was, the Pan-Afrikan Coalition and coming together. This is not new for Afrikan people.  This is how we lived on the Continent.  We were always demonstrating what Pan-Afrikanism was and what it is.  And that’s how we were able to develop such great nations and civilizations that the Baba has mentioned.

“… We’re dealing with the harmful effects of [White Supremacy], and we’re trying to figure out how we can all come together and merge and make a dynamic push, to push us in our natural way of how we lived as Afrikan people, prior to any invasions, prior to anything.

“I also facilitate a study class, every Sunday from 2 to 4:30, which is the Beginning Study Class, which is PLM Bro Anani Jan 29everything that a lot of people have mentioned about what they know about their Afrikanity; some people have never even heard of this.  This is very new to a lot of people.  That being Black, and being from Baltimore, West Baltimore to be exact, is pretty much the only thing that they identify with, or being from New York, and so forth, all over the place, not knowing how to get to your center.  So I teach the Beginning Study Class, so we start all the way from the base level.  We’re going to start having a dialog, conversations and then we get into the great literature of our scholars to move us along.  We don’t [just] talk it, though.  We become it and we demonstrate it.

“So I love everything that was said. I’m enjoying everything that’s said.  I love it.  It’s good.  I love the energy that I see out here.  I love being part of my organization.”

The Earth Center
Bro. Nehez Meniooh, Director, Healer, Teacher, Initiate of the M’Tam Schools

“The message I’m here to deliver is a lot bigger than the young man you see in front of you. The Earth Center is the unified form of the temples and the norms of the existing Kemetic Culture.  Because like the Brother before me had just mentioned, a lot of people don’t understand about their identity as what we call Black People of the world.  And that’s because our enslaver has given us the education for what our identity is about.  And because of that misunderstanding, because of that miseducation, today we think that the greatness, the education, the profound wisdom that built these empires that we’re calling ancient today, that built the empires that the Elder introduced at the beginning of the lectures, we’re told today that they’re all dead.  We’re told today that the languages are dead, the hieroglyphs are just to be studied in books and for us to try to recover, but the truth of the matter is that those are still alive.  Those are still alive, being kept in secret societies throughout rural Afrika, throughout traditional Afrika.

“Three thousand years ago, when the priesthood and the pharaohnic throne made the decision that they Earth Center Bro Nehez Jan 29would change the way that they would keep the culture, instead of in its glory and in its greatness that we see in the Nile Valley, they decided, since the invaders were just not going to give up, to take it underground and keep it secret. And that’s when they took it into the huts and they took it into what, for us, with our education, we look at it and say those people need help, those people are hungry, those people are impoverished.  But those people are keeping the greatest knowledge that this world has known.  And the Earth Center is the first mission of those temples that has been sent out to the Diaspora, to the world, to give you a chance to reconnect with the identity that’s coursing through your veins.

“Because the blood in everyone’s veins in here is very, very old. It’s not yours.  You got it from your father, you got it from your mother.  They got it from their father, they got it from their mother.  And it goes all the way back to those same civilizations that we’re looking at and we’re talking about and we’re studying.  It’s all there inside of us, waiting to be awakened.

“The Earth Center represents that movement.  It’s an organization that was started by a Dogon High Priest.  His name is Prophet Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig.  He was originally born in the country of Burkina Faso, West Afrika.  I know a lot of our Pan-Afrikan students in the room know the Kingdom of Burkina Faso from Thomas Sankara.  He did a lot of very great work for us trying to reclaim our identity from what the French colonizers did in his country.

“The Prophet Naba started his education in the traditions. He is a Dogon, so he went through the Dogon Mystery Schools.  He is a Kemetic High Priest.  He continued to go through the initiations.  And when he had the chance, he pleaded with his Elders in the initiation and his royalty to come out into the Diaspora and let the Diaspora know we’re still here, that the traditions are still here.

“We have three branches in this organization. We have a publishing branch, which we call Firefly Productions.  We write books, we write magazines, journals; we have slowly been starting to distribute them around the Baltimore area.  You might see our free publication called The Sunnyside floating around.  We also present some of the treasures that have been kept in the Kemetic Culture, such as the Great Book of Divine Ordinances, which is the original set of commandments our Ancestors followed; the original Map of the Sky that you find on the ceiling of the Temple of [Hathor at] Dendera [Egypt]; the original calendar our Ancestors used of thirteen months and ten days; all of that we have available through the publishing company.

“We also have the M’Tam School of Initiation, M’Tam School of Kemetic Philosophy and Spirituality. Because if we are to recover, it’s going to have to start with education.  If we’ve only been educated by our enslavers, then we can’t wonder why we just seem to not be able to organize.  Because it’s values that put people together. … A good idea might get us all to run one way, but as soon as that chain behind us pulls us back, then we won’t be able to stay together.  So it has to start with our education, and it has to start with an education that comes specifically from our Ancestors and not from the ones who are enslaving the world.

“And the third branch of the organization is the Ankhasta Natural Healing. And that is the network of traditional healers and priests throughout Afrika, mainly West Afrika, who are preserving and protecting the traditional medicinal knowledge and making those recipes available to the Diaspora, who are suffering in our hell, because we’ve been educated by the destroyer.

“So, this organization is split into three branches but even beyond that we do a lot of work. … But one of the things we do that I do want to mention is, every year we take a trip home, so that what we teach the students in the class, what we’re telling the Diaspora – that this culture is still existing, that this culture is still your legacy to be reclaimed, your legacy to awaken in yourself – we take you into the culture so that you can see for yourself, because we don’t believe in belief. You have to know. You have to study. Whatever beliefs you have about the way the earth functions, that’s fine, that’s your business … but at some point, if you want to recover, you have to be educated.  You have to hold that belief loose enough that if common sense tells you that just doesn’t fit anymore, you have to be able to evolve.

“So once a year, we take our students, we take friends, we take guests on a spiritual pilgrimage to go into the culture. The last pilgrimage we took, the royalty in the city called Sia, which is in the western part of Burkina Faso, one of the kings there said ‘Please, take this message to the Diaspora.  Let them know, the way that we live, they see us living in huts, they see us living in dirty clothes, they see us living with nature, that’s a choice.  We don’t want to live in the machine.  We don’t want to live and be a part of the destruction.  We’d rather live and stay next to nature and stay next to the Divine.  Let them know that’s a choice.  But also let them know that everything they saw from the past, nothing has been lost, and it’s here if they’re willing to come and get it.’

“So that is what the Earth Center is representing.  We will have a lecture March 19 at Tehuti’s [Wisdom] Bookstore.  We will be opening up the doors of initiation at the end of March.  You can check our website, www.theearthinstitute.org, and I thank everybody for their ears.”

Black Running Organization
Bro. Isa Olufemi

BRO Logo“There’s a lot of talk about coming together but it never really happens, so the Black Running Organization is here to fill that void. The charge to everyone who’s standing is for you to come and join us at our Unity Run every Sunday at Druid Hill Park.  You don’t have to come every Sunday, but we expect to see you this year, before June. … And it’s not just for the Brothers; it’s for the Sisters too.  What we do is not about competition.  Competition is not part of it at all.  It’s for all skill levels and it’s all about unity.  It’s a practical illustration of unity.

“So if you ever come to Druid Hill Park or you ever come to one of our programs, and you see us, you’ll seeBRO Bro Isa Jan 29 a whole bunch of Black people together, unified, running.  And it’s very practical, it’s very simple.  That’s what we do.  If we’re all talking about culture, we’re all talking about this war that we’re in with our oppressors, then we must understand that we have to train physically.  Whether you’re a man, woman, child, Elder, whatever.  Baba Ade [founder and chairman of OAAU-BPC], who’s in his sixties, was out running with us.  We’re not about the lecture. … We just want to see you come out and run with us.  So if you do see us and you do have the ability and to run and you don’t come out, then we can’t organize because we’re not doing what we know we must do.  The program I’m inviting you all out to – Black people only – every Sunday, 10:00 in the morning, by the basketball courts in Druid Hill Park.  If you come to that event, then we’ll extend the invitation to our other events.  Our slogan is ‘Let’s Grow’, that means together we develop our natural processes.  Those natural processes are Black people being amongst Black people and using running as a platform to organize.  So, as always, Let’s Grow.”

The Need for a Cooperative Coalition
Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus
Bro. Cliff,
Maryland State Facilitator, SRDC

SRDC Logo Official 2013“There’s an old slogan that says, ‘Think globally, act locally.’ And essentially, what our organization is attempting to do is build a means to reach out to and harness the grassroots voice of our Diaspora on the local level, then move that to the national level, and then move that to the global level.  We start off with grassroots local organizations like ours right here.  I’m the Maryland State Facilitator, so the organization that we have here, essentially operates here in the state of Maryland.  We have Facilitators in other states – not every other state – but we want them in every state plus [Washington] DC.  We’ve got a long way to go before we get there.

“What would happen is, the local organizations would call public meetings, much like this, preferably much bigger, in which we ask you two things: What are the key issues that we need to take out of here to the national level and then to the international level, which is the first question; and the second question is Who would you want to have represent our voice from the state of Maryland on the national stage and on the world stage?

“I can explain all the details of that but it will probably have to be in our next event where we give you the details of what SRDC’s plan is. But the ultimate idea is to come up with a delegation of twenty elected representatives to essentially take the voice of 300 million people of Afrikan descent around the entire world to organizations like the African Union, the United Nations, the latest Pan-Afrikan Congress, the World Social Forum, what-have-you.

“How do you elect 20 people out of 300 million? The way we will do it is we will start at the local level.  We would elect two representatives from this state.  Those representatives would get together with the elected representatives from other states in a National Summit.  We hold them every year.  We’ve held them for [more than] the last seven years.  And at that National Summit, those representatives who were elected in their states would get together and they would essentially determine who is the Dream Team of, let’s say, three or four.  The three or four best of that group to take the combined agendas of all the states that sent representatives to the National Summit and to take that to the world stage.  In a nutshell, that’s basically how it works.  So it’s grassroots local organizations, community Town Hall Meetings.  We’re going to have one later this year.  We’ll have more informational sessions, maybe here, maybe a few other places to explain that further, then ultimately we’re going to have that community Town Hall Meeting [in Maryland].  Then we would have the National [Summit].  Then ultimately we’d have a Full Diaspora Summit [of all the National Summits around the world] which would determine what the overall Pan-Afrikan Agenda would be from the United States, from Canada, from Brazil, South America, Europe, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, on and on and on, and they would take that to the African Union.

“All of these plans [in Afrikan Diaspora communities around the world] aren’t fully developed yet, but then we aren’t fully developed yet.  But you’ve got to start somewhere.  And that’s what we’re doing.

“Now, if the African Union suddenly decided they don’t want to listen to us, we can take it to the United Nations, who are currently recognizing the International Decade for People of African Descent from 2015 to 2024.  So if they want to put some serious teeth into it, eventually we can put pressure on them to listen to us also.  So there are any number of ways that this can be applied; our current objective is to get that voice in the African Union, because, and I’ll explain this the next time we meet, they have invited us to do so. Some of them are trying to [renege] on it, but we’re not going to let them.

“So that’s basically what our organization does. Now, the reason we asked for this gathering is that we’ve recognized that we can’t do this just with our own organization all by itself.  We need to bring in the Earth Center, we need to bring in PLM, we need to bring in W.O.M.A.N., we need to bring in Teaching Artist Institute.  We need to bring in Black Running Organization, so when we’ve got to run from or after somebody, we can do it.  We need to bring in LBS because at some point or another, we’ve got to be able to march up to the halls of power and say, ‘Here’s what our Think Tank has come up with, here’s what our organizations have told us we need to put together, and dammit, we’re gonna get it.’  And we need to bring all of these organizations together in order to do that.

“So we’ve got people dating back hundreds of years [Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King] who have been telling us [that we need to organize]. And we need to find a way that we can finally organize our organizations so we can heed this call.  We need to understand the divisions in our community; [they] don’t need to become walls that we build up against each other.  We’re not all the same.  If we’re going to separate ourselves from each other because we’re not the same, then we’re never going to get organized.”
Spokes Jan 29 Audience

 

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Soul Fusion Teaching Artist Kim Poole and the Teaching Artist Institute: Bringing the Diaspora Together through the Arts

Soul Fusion Teaching Artist Kim Poole and the Teaching Artist Institute: Bringing the Diaspora Together through the Arts

 

Baltimore’s best kept secret has never been louder. The statuesque soul fusion teacher artist, Ms. Kim Poole, has emerged from Baltimore’s underground music scene with a commanding presence. Her powerful sultry vocals and soul stirring storylines empowers women globally to celebrate their resilience and engage in cross-cultural communication thru music. Influenced by the musical styles of Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, and Nina Simone and supported by her five piece band, her eclectic blend of Soul, R&B, Jazz, & the Blues together create what she refers to as soul fusion. Her professed “old soul” brings a refreshingly original, yet familiar energy to the stage in performances and a unique edu-tainment method to her “music is a tool” workshops. Promoting cultural heritage, self-awareness and love of community through interactive performances and workshops, Ms. Kim Poole is changing the face of music worldwide and leading the teacher artist movement in her own right.

–from the Kim Poole Music Website, http://www.kimpoolemusic.com/

Ms. Kim Poole has coined the term “Soul Fusion Teaching Artist” to describe her focus, and the term is most appropriate.  But she is not only a Teaching Artist, she is also a community activist who uses her art, music, as an organizing tool.  Through her Teaching Artist Workshops and the Teaching Artist Institute which was officially founded in 2015, she is spreading the understanding of the healing and empowering nature of the arts to established and aspiring artists to ensure that their craft enriches not only their careers but also the communities they serve.  Ms. Poole is affiliated with the Maryland Organization of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus.  Thanks to Ms. Kim Poole, the discipline we all know as “The Arts” is assuming its rightful place as one of the critical Spokes of the Wheel of Pan-Afrikan Unity and Uplift.

More from her website:

TEACHING ARTIST WORKSHOPS
MISSION: “Music saves lives, I’m singin’ for my life”

What is a Teaching Artist in the Kim Poole Experience?

A teaching artist is one that recognizes and understands the influential nature of their art and uses it to promote a value system or subject matter as an entity in and of itself or as tool integrated into another discipline. A teaching artist is a way of thinking, being and an approach to engaging others in expression.

Kim Poole, “A Teaching Artist”

“As a singer songwriter, I am just as passionate about live performance as I am composing a composition”, Ms. Poole says.  “However, it is the development of composition, melody and lyrics that has inspired me to become a Teaching Artist.  Many songs that I write are just the pages of my diary Kim Poole 1and personal artistic expression.  However, increasingly I use music as a more purposeful tool of empowerment and peacebuilding for a global audience.  Throughout my artistic development, I have learned from the lyrics of a musical lineage that serves as the soundtrack to my life.  These artists and their songs are the inspiration behind the teaching artist component of my craft today.

“With my art comes a level of responsibility because music is sublime. Through the Kim Poole Experience I realize that music is the most powerful tool for empowerment and peacebuilding because it’s the only force in existence that can teach or heal someone without their knowledge or consent.  Music is an education for the soul.  Walt Disney said ‘I would rather entertain and hope you learned something.’

“However, I would rather aim to teach and hope you were entertained because Music saves lives, I’m singin for my life.”

-Teaching Artist Workshop Offerings –

MUSIC AS A TOOL FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
MUSIC AS THERAPY
MUSIC AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT
MUSIC FOR PEACEBUILDING & CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Do you want music integrated into your lesson plan, professional development team building, or creative communication platform etc., Let’s Do it!

THE TEACHING ARTIST INSTITUTE 

In December of 2015, the Teaching Artist Institute was launched with a Retreat that was held at Coppin State University.  Artists and activists from Maryland and across the United States met for the two-day session that featured workshops, discussions, demonstrations and video links with artists in Nigeria.  With connections throughout the Afrikan Diaspora, the Teaching Artist Institute and Soul-Fusion Teaching Artist Kim Poole are poised to make their contribution and leave their mark on the global effort to bring healing, knowledge and uplift to Afrikan people and to the world at large.  For Ms. Kim Poole and her groundbreaking Teaching Artist Institute, the sky truly is the limit.

 

 

 

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GADS 2015 Chilengi and Delegation

The Global Africa Diaspora Convention 2015

GADS 2015 Chilengi and DelegationSetting the Stage for Increased Diaspora Cooperation with the African Union
November 27, 2015

“[T]he Economic, Social and Cultural Council [is] the organ that deals with civil society in the African Union.  They deal with non-state actors. … Your presence here is like a seat at the table, so I want to thank the Economic, Social and Cultural Council for making that happen.”  Dr. Jinmi Adisa, the Director of the Citizens and Diaspora Organizations Directorate (CIDO) of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) welcomed Pan-African activists from Africa, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia to the Global Africa Diaspora Convention that was held from November 19 – 22 in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Adisa and his immediate supervisor, Dr. Joseph Chilengi, the Presiding Officer of ECOSOCC, had come to the Baltimore-Washington area to participate in a series of meetings and discussions designed to introduce African Descendants and Continental Africans to the AU’s efforts to connect with the 300 million-plus people of African descent who live around the world outside the Continent of Africa.

After a Welcome Reception that was held on the evening of Thursday, November 19 at the African Union Mission in Washington, DC, the venue changed to the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in East Baltimore for two days of plenary sessions and breakout conferences that were centered around specific aspects of African Diaspora involvement with the AU, including women, youth, the nature of the African Diaspora, research, academics, business, economics, culture and the arts.

The weekend was capped by an Interfaith Service at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC on Sunday, November 22.  The weekend was organized by the African Union ECOSOCC Special Adviser on Relations with the Diaspora, Ms. Evelyn Joe.

For those who might have felt the African Union had no interest in engaging with the African Diaspora, including African-Americans and other African Descendants around the world, this Convention was a welcome reminder of the invitation the AU issued in 2006 for the Diaspora to become involved in “the building of the African Union.”  This weekend should serve as a springboard for several initiatives being promoted by African Diaspora organizations for economic development and grassroots representation for the Diaspora in the AU.  Dr. Chilengi stressed, “the Diaspora as a region needs to put in place your framework mechanisms for ensuring that you play your role insofar as The Africa We Want is concerned. … We need the skills and the resources of the Diaspora.”

Below,  we include the opening statements by Dr. Adisa and Dr. Chilengi.  The summary of this article appears on the website http://www.bmoreblack.com, and the full article also appears on the website KUUMBAReport Online (http://kuumbareport.com).

Friday, November 20, 2015
Morning Session

Dr. Jinmi Adisa
Director, Citizens Directorate (CIDO) of the African Union ECOSOCC

“The African Union says it’s people-centered.  But then, if it’s so, we must listen to them.  So actually, the whole purpose of this is to come and listen.  And then, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council and its various organs, that’s the organ that deals with civil society in the African Union.  They deal with non-state actors. … One of the fundamental things you can be assured is that whatever you say here, whatever you agree … will be taken directly. … It will go to ECOSOCC, they will examine it and make their recommendations. … Your presence here is like a seat at the table, so I want to thank the Economic, Social and Cultural Council for making that happen.  I want to thank Ms. Evelyn Joe.  She is the Special Adviser here and I think she has gone to a lot of effort. … In the process of doing it, of course, we clash, but that’s to come together and make something good, and I think in the end she’s got it right, and I want to commend her enterprise and zeal in making this happen.

Dr. Chilengi (left) and Dr. Adisa (right).

Dr. Chilengi (left) and Dr. Adisa (right).

“I’m also very glad to be here to see some very important people, like some of my icons like [President of the World African Diaspora Union] Professor [Leonard] Jeffries here. … There was a visit to Addis Ababa in which he gave us some documents that we’re trying to put together [for] a Diaspora Library so that those of us who are walking free and doing things and going to school and making noise can understand the sacrifice that people like Professor Jeffries have put in to get us where we are.  I want to acknowledge Professor Jeffries.  [He is] an inspiration to me.  I look up to people like him. 

“I get a lot of criticisms.  That’s the nature of my job.  I’m supposed to deal with the Diaspora.  And I say where is it coming from?  From our people, yes.  I could do better.  I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes, like everybody else.  Whenever I see a criticism coming from somebody like Professor Jeffries, I say ‘This is serious’. …

“Be rest assured that all your sacrifices and efforts [are appreciated].  In your family, you have to fight.  But that is because we are family.  We have a sating that if two brothers sit under a tree to discuss family matters and they come out laughing they are not telling the truth to themselves.”

Dr. Joseph Chilengi
Presiding Officer, African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

“I grew up in an African way and I spent a lot of time with my grandfather and grandmother, and they shared with me a lot of things.  And the poem and the ways that were expressed a few minutes ago [a very spiritual and emotional poetry, spoken-word and dance performance by Baltimore-based cultural artists], by our colleagues in front of us here … I’ve never known myself to be strong, but I made myself strong today.  I think that is a first step of courage, because such situations usually break me down.  I think that I need to ask you that we acknowledge and appreciate the message that was given today. …

GADS 2015 Friday Cultural Performance 1“I think also that it’s a great honor to come and sit with ourselves here as Africans and share our impressions, our potential direction and our potential challenges and out potential solutions to what Africa wants to be.  The slogan now on the Continent is ‘The Africa We Want’.  And the Africa we want shall be defined by ourselves, determined by ourselves, driven by ourselves and delivered to generations to come and to ourselves by ourselves.

“This, therefore, means that all of us here, including yourselves, are diplomats of the African Union, you are ambassadors of the Union in your own selves, individually, collectively, institutionally, and also through collaboration with other stakeholders.  Because you have to tell the African story of the Africa you want.  You need to determine the aspects of the Africa you want, you need to deliver to Africa and Africans the Africa You Want, and no one else can tell the story for us.  We have to tell the story.

“And this story is toward the Agenda 2063.  Agenda 2063 is a framework mechanism in which we are saying as Africans, fifty years from now, this is the Africa we want.  In terms of its transport network, in terms of its energy sufficiency and capacity, in terms of human resources movement, in terms of its operations in science, technology and space, in terms of a governance framework, in terms of human rights process, in terms of overall human rights and the Human Development Index of all Africa.  It is within this Agenda 2063 that the aspirations of the Diaspora are also situated.  In 2012, we met in Sandton [South Africa, for the 2012 Diaspora Summit], I recognize a few faces.  A colleague seated here, I can never forget your face.  And a few others.  We met in Sandton.  [Several of] our Ministers and our Heads of States joined us and came out with a Declaration, which legally recognizes the Diaspora as a region of the African Continent wherever every African is situated.  And that is the Declaration that brought into place the Sixth Region of Africa.  So the Sixth Region of Africa is the African Diaspora Region.  We are all aware we have ECOWAS, the West African Community, we have SADC, we have the East African Community, we have North African Community and … five [regions] constitute the African Continent in terms of political configuration.  But the Sixth Region of Africa is the Diaspora.

“… the Sixth Region of Africa is the African Diaspora Region.”
– Dr. Joseph Chilengi

“What does this entail?  It means the Diaspora as a region needs to put in place your framework mechanisms for ensuring that you play your role inasfar as The Africa We Want is concerned.  It’s not an Africa of criticism.  It’s an Africa of aspirations.  An Africa that has acknowledged, and that has identified the limitations we have now in all spheres of human endeavor, and decided to define in each sphere the direction we want to take and where we want to go, and you have to be part of this aspiration.  But most important and most critical is this: that you are not in Africa.  You are outside the boundaries of Africa.  And therefore, if you are outside the African boundaries, then you need to defend Africa’s interests.  You need to defend Africa’s interests.  You are the first frontline soldiers in Europe, in America, in Asia, in Australia, in the Middle East.  You are the first line soldiers.  If you get defeated here, we get defeated in Africa.  And hence, we travel kilometers. … [T]he reason we’re coming here, leaving everything behind, is because of the importance we attach to you. … You have an important role to define and influence [the] American Senate, to influence the American Administration, the Australian, the European Union, that their policies and programs, the way they see Africa is not the way you understand it.  You are the chief advisers in your spaces because you understand Africa better than they do.

GADS 2015 R Stevenson and Chilengi

Elder Rufus Stevenson and Dr. Chilengi.

“In order to be an effective diplomat, an ambassador of Africa, we then need to sharpen out engagement skills.  The way we engage will determine our results. Africa has been known to be a ‘Dark Continent’, but Africa is awakening.  In the Africa We Want, we make it very clear now.  Some of you are aware that Africa was in Valetta [the Summit on Migration in Valetta, Malta, November 11-12].  Before we were in Valetta, me, Dr. Adisa and others were in Brussels.  Before the heads of state were going to the Migration Summit in Valetta, we discussed with our European colleagues and we told them the truth of the situation and the challenges.  My country, Zambia, for example, hosted 1.2 million refugees.  We didn’t press a button or assignment yo get heads of state to come and discuss that.  We used our obligation within international law, human rights law and refugee law to respond to that. Kenya is currently hosting millions of refugees. Tanzania did more than a million refugees, as many other countries in Africa.  And we advised them.  We’ve got the experience.  We’ve gone through it.  Listen to us.  They didn’t listen.  The following policy of the Continent has officially changed: Anything that is not of interest to Africa, we say no.

“Heads of state went to Spain in numbers two weeks ago and they were told ‘We’ll give you so many billions of euros and you need to do this and this’ and we said ‘Keep your money.’  And our response at that Summit was a resounding ‘No’ to the proposals that were made by the European Union.  What we said was: ‘We’ve got the experience in dealing with refugees.  Come to us and we’ll give you guidance.  Don’t give us money.  We’ve got the brains, and our brain is our major resource.’  That is the way Africa is moving. Africa is moving in a direction that some of you may not know.  Our children have been crossing dangerous waters into European space, at all costs.  We don’t like it.  Because, and we have always told the Europeans and other West African countries, every day they sing like Europe is heaven, America is heaven.  I tell them, if it is heaven, I’d want to go to heaven at any cost.  There are pastors here.  And if it’s going to heaven, I’d do anything I can do to reach heaven, just like you aspire to reach heaven.  If you begin to indoctrinate our young children that Europe is heaven … tell them the hope that is in Africa.  That the train they are seeing here is also coming to Africa. Ethiopia is one such country I have seen. … Africa has signed an agreement with China to develop a fast train network from Cairo [Egypt] to Cape Town [South Africa].  It was signed last year in August.  And Ethiopia has come out. Egypt will soon come out. Nigeria will come out. Zambia will come out.  Everyone will come out. South Africa has already come out. Kenya will come out.  In the end, we will have a connectivity within Africa using the same train.  That’s what our children want.

“We are working within our Agenda 2063 to address our energy deficiencies.  The amount of development in Africa does not match our energy capacity.  We are working on the Inga Dam [actually two hydroelectric dams connected to one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Inga Falls, located in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo, 140 miles southwest of Kinshasa].  It produces two million milliliters of water per day.  And therefore it can [produce] sufficient energy capacity for Africa and the entire Europe and America.  We already signed an agreement to have that energy hub come up in Africa. 

“Within Agenda 2063, we have said ‘No’ to aid and conditionalities.  We have told all partners that want to engage with Africa that the issue of aid and conditionalities belongs in the dustbin.  If you want to engage with Africa, you go for mutual accountability.  Give us money if you so wish, but when you get natural resources also from Africa, we want to know what you are using them for.  If you get coltan from DRC, let’s make sure they’re not making the guns to send back to DRC [to kill us with].  If you’re getting our timber, make sure that that timber is not being used in order to come back and exterminate life in Africa.  So we have set the agenda straightforward.  And the message they’ll be getting is that Africa has become stubborn, and please accept we are now becoming stubborn.  Because we know what we are doing.

“We are finding it difficult for us in every space.  We have the minerals.  We have the natural resources.  We’ve been bossed.  They took it in the past.  We benefited nothing.  Now our eyes are open.  We know that our generation is [aware], our children and our grandchildren.  We are now saying, ‘These minerals are not for anyone else.  They are for us.  If you give us conditions … we go to China.’ China is a good buddy.  Yeah, we don’t talk for a long time. … We are not interested in sitting with people who tell us, ‘You know, your human rights, and wah, wah, wah, wah. …’  First, we know people need water.  When they have it, that is their right.  People need roads.  When they have it, that is their right.  And those of you that have been to Africa now, every country that you go to, every country in Africa is a construction site.  It is a construction site!  My son, who recently came to Lusaka [Zambian capital city] from school, when he arrived in Lusaka said ‘Wow, Daddy!  Wow!’  I said ‘This is what we are doing for you.  This is Africa.’  The roads are being done, everywhere. … This is Africa.  We are moving.

“… what needs to be done is to seek to achieve the Diaspora Initiative.”

“So all these are situated within Agenda 2063.  Now, there are five Legacy Projects that are made for you. … We are just coming from a [Zambian] Diaspora conference organized by my government in my country.  And they have just issued [a directive] – you know, we are a copper mining country – one of the biggest mines of the state, don’t sell shares to anyone outside of Africa.  So, all of those shares have been offered through the Stock Exchange only to be sold to Zambians and Zambians in the Diaspora. … 

“So that is the Africa we are working on.  And this Africa we have to work on cannot be done with us only inside the Continent.  You are critical players. … You know, we are changing. … We want to move.  Problem is we don’t have time.  We don’t have time.  I don’t have time myself to want to sit with the European leadership … for the whole day.  No, I want to go and sit with China for thirty minutes and … the road is being done in my country.  And therefore we need the skills and the resources of the Diaspora.  We need them.  There has been an argument that the remittances are more than the foreign direct investment.  Yes, but those are private remittances.  We need investment from the Diaspora.  Investment that will grow the economy.  You have grown your families.  You have built homes I know.  You have brought in vendors, I know.  Now, can you build their factories where they are going to work?  So we need the resources.  We need the skills.

“That is why Dr. Adisa is here. … Did he share about the Africa Diaspora Corps?  Volunteer Corps, focusing on the youth.  That the son of Professor Jeffries, who is here, if he’s studying medicine at Johns Hopkins University, when he stands for internship let him come to Africa, in a hospital in Africa.  And when they are in Africa, opportunities will come up.  They will love it.  They will love Africa, they won’t want to come back.  Let the new generation come and look after the Africa We Want.  Because it was meant for them.  The focus is on the youth.

“And therefore the resource base is on the youth.  The focus is on the youth.  I’ll be meeting some colleagues from the White House. … They do a Nelson Mandela Fellowship [here]. … So after their fellowship where do they go?  You send them to Africa, they go to sleep.  We don’t want that.  Can we discuss some way to use that talent?  When they learn those leadership skills, we want them to enter the African Union, ECOSOCC, Pan African Parliament, the Commission for Human Rights, CIDO. … So we want those skills, and several other things.

“If I wanted to talk, I’d talk for the whole day.  But since I came a long way, I have to throw a challenge to you, and to ourselves.  What is it that remains to be done?  Now, in order to enter you into the future of our Continent that we want.  Those of you who are following foreign policy, everywhere we go, we are taking all international positions, [and] we are defeating them.  That is our strategy. … We are fifty-some countries in the United Nations in New York.  When you add China there, and you add Russia there, we become a good strong voice.

“So what needs to be done is to seek to achieve the Diaspora Initiative.  We need to operationalize it.  It has been on paper, two-three years now.  We can’t be leaving things on paper for such a long time.  That is not the Africa approach we have now.  Now we are in a hurry.  Don’t slow us down.  This Africa Diaspora Initiative is your Initiative.  It is our Initiative.  It cannot be done by us alone.  We need to join forces with you.  Let’s move quickly and operationalize the African Diaspora Initiative. 

“And let’s shift the paradigm of African Diaspora participation in African economic growth.  Your politics are economic politics.  Economic politics, that’s what we want to hear from you.  So the paradigm shift remains with you.  But it requires a lot of organizational capacities. Africa is not a small country. Africa is diverse, from Arab to Francophone, to Anglophone, to Bantuphone, to Afrophone, to whatever phones we have, Africa is diverse.  And therefore it requires the organizational capacity.  These structures which you have … can we work to strengthen them, so that they can respond to the challenges of Agenda 2063?  And 10 to 15 years from now, 50 years from now, watch Africa, how it’s moving.  Forget about the negative stories you are hearing.  Just watch the development aspects of Africa.  You will be amazed, I’m telling you.  If you go to Ethiopia, there is no foreign bank in Ethiopia, you know that. … If you go to Kenya, same.  So we are slowly taking control of the situation.  And when we close the African space … where will the other banks go?  They have to [go] back to where they come from, or they play our game inside Africa.  I thank you so much.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa Braintrust 2015: The Keynote Speeches

Africa Braintrust 2015: The Keynote Speeches

Photos from Phone 481

This article originally appeared on the Website KUUMBAReport Online (http://kuumbareport.com).  Reprinted with permission from the Website Administrator.

The Africa Braintrust was held on Friday, September 18, the closing day of the 2015 Congressional Black Caucus week of meetings, addresses and panels. The annual Braintrust, sponsored by a variety of corporate and organizational donors and organized by US Congress Member Karen Bass (Democrat from Southern California), includes a variety of panel discussions that focus on US policy toward the Continent of Africa, as well as discussion of many of the challenges that still face the Continent. The discussions usually center on issues of economic development, peace and Security, the rule of law and health concerns on the Continent. In this article, we will share with you the remarks made by the two featured Keynote Speakers, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield (morning keynote) and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice (afternoon keynote).

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Morning Keynote

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a member of the Career Foreign Service, was sworn in on August 6, 2013 as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau on African Affairs. In this capacity, she leads the bureau in the Department of State focused on the development and management of US policy toward Sub Saharan Africa. Prior to this appointment, she served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (2012-2013) for the State Department.

Her 32-year Foreign Service career includes an ambassadorship to Liberia (2008-2010), and foreign postings in Switzerland (at the US Mission to the United Nations), Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. In addition to the Bureau of Human Resources, her Washington postings include the Bureau of African Affairs (2006-2008), where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (2004-2006) where she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary.

Prior to joining the Department of State, she taught Political Science at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. (from the brief bio in the Africa Braintrust Program)

Photos from Phone 480

We entered the hall while Ms. Greenfield (pictured, right) was already delivering her speech, but the following represent what we were able to hear of her statement. At the time of our arrival, she was remarking on President Obama’s trip to Kenya and to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which she said primarily served the important purpose of giving business people “the opportunity to see Africa at its best.”

He was the “first US President to address the African Union. … If you were in that room you felt the heartbeats of every person in that room as he walked onto that stage, and then the excitement as he delivered his historic speech.”

“I am very optimistic about Africa’s future and the opportunities that are being presented to us as we move forward. President Obama said while we were in Nairobi, ‘Africa is on the move.’ That’s my new motto. Africa is on the move. Now we must focus on what we must do, together, all of you, to keep Africa moving forward. … Africa’s population in the coming decades will double to 2 billion people, and many of them will be under the age of 18. This beings great opportunities but it also provides significant challenges that we will all have to face.”

She praised YALI (the Young African Leaders Initiative) for building leadership skills in young Africans. “If they are not encouraged to lead for good, they will lead for bad.” On charges that “we were brainwashing them to be supporters of the US”, she responded “Who was questioning what Boko Haram was doing to the young people across the Continent of Africa? Who was talking to ISIL to find out what they are doing to support young people across Africa to lead for bad? So we have to give young people the tools they need, the skills they require, the resources they require to lead for good on the Continent of Africa.”

She listed several goals the US has for sustaining progress and generating new opportunities in Afrika: Promote strong democratic institutions with free and fair elections; Increase economic growth and trade; and Build peace and security. She expounded on several more specific subjects:

Democratic institutions: She mentioned the “success” of Nigeria’s presidential election because people voted and candidates respected the results. “President Jonathan surprised us … and he will go down in history and leave a legacy across Africa for that decision.” Still, she pointed out that there are still presidents who refuse to leave office, such as in Burundi, and coups against elected leaders as happened in Burkina Faso. President Obama has stated that civil society organizations (CSOs) play “a critical role” in maintaining democracy, and that governments need to allow CSOs to function in Africa.

Health Infrastructure: “Not just to deal with Ebola … Malaria [and] HIV” but to deal with all the health issues the people struggle with. Much is not known about what happened to people aside from Ebola as the fight against Ebola was moving forward. She promoted the idea of “an African CDC”. Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia Ebola-free “but we have to remain ever vigilant.”

Economic growth, trade and development: “We want to diversify and expand US-Africa trade”, so Africans can get more of their goods to market. “AGOA [Africa Growth and Opportunity Act] is at the heart of our strategy for increasing US-Africa trade and investment.” She also promoted the Power Africa Initiative.

Peace and Security: Ambassador Greenfield made note of Al Shabbab (Somalia), the Lords Resistance Army (Uganda) And Boko Haram (Nigeria) as well as “millions of South Sudanese suffering from crises of their own leaders’ creation.” She expressed guarded hope that South Sudan’s leaders will abide by a recent peace agreement.

She concluded, “There’s a role for all of us, for all of you, in working for peace and prosperity for the Continent, and for enabling those young Africans to propel Africa forward, so that their children will have peace and prosperity in the future. Thank you very much.”

SUSAN E. RICE
National Security Advisor
Afternoon Keynote

From January 2009 until assuming the role of National Security Advisor in July 2013, Ambassador Rice served as the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet. Under Ambassador Rice’s leadership, the US Mission to the United Nations helped win the stiffest UN sanctions ever against Iran and North Korea to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, supported interventions in Libya and Cote D’Ivoire, helped build the referendum on the independence of South Sudan, worked to reform the UN Human Rights Council and helped rebuild a strong basis for international cooperation, among other accomplishments.

Prior to serving as US Permanent Representative to the UN, she served as Senior Advisor for National Security Affairs on the Obama for America Campaign. She later served on the Advisory Board for the Obama-Biden Transition and as co-chair of its policy working group on national security. From 2002-2009, she was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she focused on US foreign policy, transnational security threats, weak states, global poverty and development.

From 1997 to 2001, she was the US Assistant Secretary of State fort African Affairs, when she formulated and implemented US policy for 48 countries in Sub Saharan Africa and oversaw the development of 43 US Embassies and more than 5,000 US Foreign Service national employees. From 1995-1997, she served as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and as Senior Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council of the White House. From 1993-1995, she served as the Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping on the National Security Council staff. Previously, she was a management consultant with McKinsey and Company and also served on numerous boards, including the National Democratic Institute and the US Fund for UNICEF. (from the brief bio in the Africa Braintrust Program)Photos from Phone 532

Congress Member Karen Bass (pictured, left, at the table) introduced Ms. Rice (pictured, left, at the podium) as “a woman of distinction.” Ms. Rice’s talk concentrated on the issues of economic growth, peace and security, building the health infrastructure and training future African leaders. Her speech is detailed below.

Ms. Rice thanked Congress Member Bass, Rep. Butterfield and the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). She paid special tribute to the late Congressman Donald Payne, “Mr. Africa, [who] reinvent America’s relationship to the Continent.” Through his leadership, she “saw first-hand the power of the CBC’s unwavering insistence that Africa receive the same consideration as any other region of the world.” She credited Ms. Bass and the CBC for helping to build “a bipartisan consensus that gets things done for Africa, from fighting apartheid to supporting PEPFAR, from confronting the genocide in Darfur and easing the suffering of the people of South Sudan to tackling the Ebola crisis in West Africa. So when President Obama made his fourth visit to Sub Saharan Africa this summer, and a first ever by a sitting American President to Kenya, to Ethiopia and to the African Union, he was grateful to be joined by 16 members of the CBC.

“And everywhere he went, he met inspiring Africans working for change in their communities, sometimes against incredible odds. They were entrepreneurs bringing solar panels to villages not connected to the electrical grid, so the families have light to read by. They are women participating in the civic life of their country and fighting for the right of girls to be educated. They’re religions leaders opposing radical ideologies and standing up for the peaceful teachings of Islam. In President Obama the people of Africa and everyone here today have a leader who understands, in his words and I quote, ‘Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa. It’s important for the entire world.’ As he made clear, none of our major challenges globally, curbing climate change, promoting inclusive economic growth, ending violent extremism, can be met without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans. That’s why, when President Obama hosted the first ever African Leaders’ Summit, here in Washington last summer, he focused on strengthening our partnerships across the Continent to achieve our shared goals for the future. No longer do we view Africa through the prism of poverty and crisis. We see Africa for what it is, a dynamic diverse region, brimming with economic potential and boundless possibility. Africans are driving their own development, building their own capacity to feed and care for their people, and doing more to prevent and resolve African conflicts. Accordingly, the United States has stepped up our commitments to Africa across the board.

“Yet, at the same time as we all know, serious challenges threaten to undermine Africa’s progress. In his remarks to the African Union, President Obama said that, quite, ‘The most urgent task facing Africa today, and for decades ahead, is to create opportunity for this next generation.’ Today I’d like to speak about the steps we’re taking in partnership with Africa, to help create that opportunity by spurring economic growth that is inclusive, by fostering development, advancing peace and stability, and investing in Africa’s future.

Economic Growth

“First, we’re fully committed to driving economic growth across Africa. As President Obama declared in Kenya, ‘Africa is on the move.’ Poverty rates are going down. The middle class is growing. From Ethiopia to Cote D’Ivoire to Mozambique, Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. But we haven’t fully tapped this potential. Trade between Africa and the United States is far below where it should be. In 2013, total trade between the US and all 49 countries of Sub Saharan Africa was only a little larger than our trade with The Netherlands. So we’re taking steps to increase trade and investment with Africa, which supports jobs and growth in all of our countries. One of the most effective tools we have in this mission is AGOA, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. I confess this is a piece of legislation close to my heart. I was deeply involved in the original passage of AGOA and I want to thank Congress Member Bass and the CBC for backing the ten year renewal that Congress passed this summer. This strong evidence of America’s long term commitment to Africa will help spur sustained investment in the next ten years and well beyond. And American businesses are eager to invest in Africa. The first US-Africa Business Forum, held last year, was such a success, generating $33 billion in new commitments, that President Obama announced a second Forum to be held here next year. Through our Doing Business in Africa Campaign, we’re working across the government to make it easier for American companies to strengthen their commercial ties to Africa, and through Trade Africa, we’re working with African governments to improve the business environment and remove barriers to trade. With Power Africa, we’ve made a game changing commitment to double access to electricity across Sub Saharan Africa. Expanding access to power is one of the first ways we can support African businesses, which in turn unlocks more growth and more trade. Bit this isn’t like just flipping a switch. Power plants and electrical infrastructure take time to build and bring online. Like all bold ideas, successive administrations will have to carry this project forward. We’re well on our way with new Power Africa projects slated to generate more than 20,000 megawatts of electricity. We’re bringing down barriers to greater investment in Africa’s energy sector, and have already facilitated deals that will create an estimated four million new power connections. Entrepreneurship is the spark igniting Africa’s growth, and we’re directly supporting Africa’s dynamic entrepreneurs, nurturing their ideas, and connecting them to resources. At this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit, in Nairobi, President Obama announced more than $1 billion in new funding from the US government and the private sector to support entrepreneurs, much of it focused on Africa. Beyond that, we’re investing in women and young people, and entrepreneurs who have the hardest time accessing financing and business networks.

“Second, a commitment to maximizing commitment and delivery results is essential to this Administration’s approach to development. In Africa, too many people, as you well know, still live in extreme poverty, eking out meager livings with their bare hands and sheer determination. Empowering Africa’s most vulnerable is a cornerstone of our commitment to the region. President Obama’s consistent focus has been on helping our development partners become self-sufficient. Today, African countries are setting their own priorities. We build our programs around African plans.

“And even as we continue to provide generous humanitarian relief in Africa and around the world, we move far beyond simply responding to the latest crisis. For example, we’re helping more than 40 African countries build their resistance to climate change now, before vulnerable communities have to face its worst impacts. Through President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, we’re making sure smallholder farmers can both deed their families and sell their harvests at market. Since 2010, we’ve invested more than $5.5 billion to improve food security in Africa and other regions. In the past year, Feed the Future has helped nearly 2.5 million African farmers raise their incomes by using new technologies and mans management practices. Our nutrition programs have helped nearly 9 million African children get the nourishment they need to grow and thrive. And we hope to see Feed the Future institutionalized so that it continues to transform lives after President Obama leaves office.”

Health Systems

“Of course, no one can succeed if they’re too sick to work. So with our partners, we’ve developed country-led plans to build mobile health systems, and to reduce several preventable diseases. We’re helping mothers and children become healthier, and making labor and delivery safer. And we’ve been slowly making progress against HIV and AIDS, bringing us within striking distance of an AIDS-free generation. Together with more than 45 countries, we wrote a mobile health security agenda to improve our ability to prevent and contain … epidemics like Ebola. Think back to this time last year, when Ebola was spiraling out of control, weak health systems buckling under the strain. But thanks to the heroism of all the responders on the ground, the leadership of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the American support to galvanize a massive international response, we have brought the disease under control. As of last week, there were only five cases, and we will not stop until we get to zero.

Peace and Security

“In our interconnected age, outbreaks of diseases, or violence, or instability are no longer local concerns. They threaten entire regions, and undermine global economic security. So the third area I want to discuss is how we’re advancing peace and stability across Africa. I was honored to be President Obama’s personal representative at the joyous independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan just over four years ago. So for me, like so many of us, South Sudan’s return to violence has been heart-wrenching. That’s why President Obama convened an urgent summit with regional leaders in Ethiopia when he was there in July. And in no small part due to President Obama’s personal leadership, shortly after that meeting, regional leaders finally united behind a draft peace agreement. A few weeks later, South Sudan’s leaders signed the agreement. This is an essential first step. But the true test will bow be in how President Kiir, Riek Machar and their backers prove or disprove their commitment to peace. At long last, they must prioritize the needs of the South Sudanese people, almost half of whom are dependent on international aid for survival … and as they do, the United States stands ready to help the people of South Sudan achieve the lasting peace they deserve.

“In Darfur, the war crimes continue. We’re working to end the horrible conflict by strengthening our positioned parties and building a national dialog that could, if implemented, improve the way Sudan is governed.

“In Burundi, we’re working with our partners to dispense assistance, and supporting efforts by the East African Community, the African Union and the United Nations to broker an end to the crisis.

“The United States and the international community are uniting today in responding to the crisis in Burkina Faso. The junta should step aside and allow preparations for October elections to resume immediately. The United States stands squarely with the people of Burkina Faso, in rejecting this threat to their democratic progress for which they have worked so hard.  We are reviewing our assistance to Burkina Faso in light of evolving events.  [The junta in Burkina Faso recently vowed to pressure from the AU and announced it would relinquish power to allow the election process to continue — Ed.]

“Under President Obama the United States has significantly increased our efforts to bolster peacekeeping capacity in Africa. In the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, we’re committing more than $100 million a year, for the next several years, to help our partners with all their capabilities, including … medical expertise, to deploy rapid response forces to prevent conflicts and save lives. We are facing down the growing terrorist threat. In Somalia, we continue to provide training, equipment … to support the African Union’s mission to root our Al Shabbab and strengthen Somalia’s security institutions. In the fight against Boko Haram, we’re increasingly providing specialized advisers, training, equipment and intelligence support to Nigeria and its regional neighbors. We’re providing wildlife tracking, yes, to preserve Africa’s ecology, but also to shut down domestic flows of money to terrorist networks. And critically, we’re working with governments and community leaders to counter violent extremism before the radicalization to violence can occur.

“In Nigeria, Niger and Chad we’re increasing civilian security and building resilient communities targeted by Boko Haram. We’re supporting African civilians in Mali to support reconciliation and mitigate conflict, particularly in isolated communities. And we’re working with governments to responsibly address legitimate grievances that terrorists might exploit. As in Ethiopia, where American legal advisers are training police and lawyers to better uphold the rule of law.

Investing in Africa’s People

“Finally, I want to highlight our unprecedented investment in the future of Africa and its greatest asset, its people. Nothing captures our commitment better than President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI. YALI offers emerging leaders on government, business and civil society from across Africa, the chance to develop their skills, and connect with their peers, both in Africa and the United States. Since 2010, the YALI network had grown to more than 145,000 members, from every African nation. By the end of this year, YALI regional leadership centers will be open in Nairobi, Accra, Dakar, and Pretoria. We’ve established practical training tools, courses on public speaking, networking, how to launch a startup, that are accessible online. And next year, we’re expanding the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which brings young Africans to train at American universities. We’ll double the number of African fellows from 500 to 1,000, and begin sending young Americans to Africa, strengthening the connections between us.

“Even as we prepare the next generation to take up the mantle of leadership, we’re striving to ensure they inherit societies that are more free, more fair, and more just. Societies that provide opportunity for all of Africa’s people, So we champion democracy, good governance, peaceful and regular transfers of power, active civil societies, and a robust free press. Not because we have all the answers, but because healthy democracies are consistently more peaceful, and more stable. They are the strongest partners, and the best able to provide for their people. We highlight the damage corruption is inflicting on the Continent because Africa’s potential will never be fulfilled if the elites are skimming off the top or leaders cling to power while they rob the people for personal gain. And each time President Obama made that point on his latest trip, he was met with rousing applause.

“The United States speaks out on behalf of Africa’s daughters and their right to grow up without being forced into early marriages, without being mutilated, without being abused.

“We speak out for our African LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] brothers and sisters, and their right to equal treatment under the law.

“We speak out for Africa’s minorities, and the right to worship freely, and pursue their dreams. We make clear that every government has the responsibility to protect the human rights and the safety of all its people. And that when traditions say that some groups should be excluded, or targeted, or oppressed, then those traditions are wrong, and they have no place in the 21st Century. They do nothing but hold societies back.

“So our investment in Africa’s future is both immediate and enduring. We’re expanding our trade and investment, [laying] the groundwork for deeper cooperation for years to come. … [S]ustainable development solutions that reduce hunger and combat health challenges, while spurring the broad-based economic growth that can eradicate extreme poverty. We’re taking steps to bolster our shared security, today and tomorrow. We’re supporting Africa’s youth and challenging Africa’s leaders to govern with an eye to the future. ‘Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa. It’s important for the entire world.’ Those are President Obama’s words, and that’s something all of you have known for quite some time. Today, after four Presidential trips to the region, an historic summit with almost 50 African leaders here in Washington, signature economic and development initiatives, that are opening doors for more people across the Continent, many others now know it too.

“We have more work to do. More work to end old mindsets and address entrenched challenges, both in Africa and here at home. But this much is clear. Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States is redefining the way we engage with Africa. Not as a paternalistic nation, but as permanent, equal partners.

“And I know that partnership will continue to benefit from the support, the wisdom and the good will of everyone here, for many, many years to come. Thank you all.”

Overall Reflections on the Africa Braintrust Keynotes

Both Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and Ambassador Rice echoed predictably similar sentiments in their remarks. Since they both are academicians with ties to prestigious institutions such as Bucknell and think tanks such as McKinsey and Brookings, they both have had accomplished careers in international circles, especially through their shared experiences in the Foreign Service, and they both have been career diplomats in service to Presidents Clinton and Obama, this should not be surprising. This should also give us pause to acknowledge their accomplishments but also to view their perspectives with at least a reasonably critical eye because of the fact that they come from places of academic connection to the powers that be. In other words, we take much of their commentary as reflective of a true concern for Africa and her people, but at the same time recognize that their perspective remains centered on US interests as opposed to what is necessarily best for Afrikan people, particularly those at the level of the “grassroots”.

Both Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and Ambassador Rice extolled the virtues of YALI as an important tool for ensuring that, as Ms. Greenfield put it, “give young people the tools they need, the skills they require, the resources they require to lead for good on the Continent of Africa.” Her answer to suspicions that YALI would be used to “brainwash” Africa’s next generation of leaders was to ask, “Who was questioning what Boko Haram was doing to the young people across the Continent of Africa? Who was talking to ISIL to find out what they are doing to support young people across Africa to lead for bad?”, as though comparing US intentions to those of known terrorist organizations, as opposed to those of more people-centered revolutionary organizations, would be convincing. She had stated in her speech that African people will “lead for bad” if they are not encouraged (presumably by the US) to “lead for good”. This brings the question as to what is considered “good” in the eyes of a nation which has waged an unprovoked war in Iraq, a nation which has launched an attack on Libya under the cover of United Nations Resolutions (which, if one reads them, did not sanction the launching of NATO cruise missiles into Tripoli and Sirte), a nation which has with those two attacks on Iraq and Libya unleashed ISIL and Boko Haram on Asia and Africa. There are indeed those who are suspicious of the intentions behind YALI, and those suspicions will only be allayed through the example of a more altruistic attitude toward Africa from the US than has been demonstrated until now. YALI has the potential to develop truly representative, people-centered leaders in Afrika, but only if the commitment to true democracy is not trumped by self-serving US interests, as too often turns out to be the case. In short, the “jury is still out” on YALI; we will have to observe and analyze the results of this program as it proceeds and do what can be done from the civil society level to ensure that YALI itself is not used to “brainwash” the next generation of Afrikan leaders into “service to the West”, as many revolutionary Pan-Afrikanist activists and commentators already fear may be happening.

Both speakers strongly endorse AGOA and insist that it will lead to greater development for Africa, though the history of US trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP, or as columnist Thom Hartmann calls it, the Southern Hemisphere-Asia Free Trade Agreement or “SHAFTA”) makes one suspicious, and the fact that AGOA is not a trade agreement but is instead a unilateral trade policy of the US (in other words, “take it or leave it” to Afrika) makes one even more skeptical, especially in light of the concerns of environmentalists and labor activists about the facilitation of resource extraction and the corporate-friendly standards that could easily lead to the abuse of the rights of workers and are apparently built into AGOA. We’ve been researching and writing an article on AGOA (“Much Ado About AGOA”) which will, admittedly belatedly, appear on this site soon. And finally, there is the Feed the Future Initiative, which bears a disturbing resemblance to earlier programs in Latin America (which led to USAID being expelled from Bolivia) and India (which apparently has led to the corporatization of India’s cotton crop and tens of thousands of Indian farmer suicides). For our discussion of the history of similar efforts (that, like Feed the Future, also involved USAID and its partners in the biotech agribusiness industry, see our article Seeds of Suspicion).

We agree that the scourge of terrorism must be defeated in Afrika, but we also must recognize the role the United States itself played in facilitating the rise of organizations such as ISIL (the destabilization of Iraq and the resultant “liberation” of Iraq’s weapons which ultimately fell into the hands of ISIL) and Boko Haram (which obtained much of its weaponry as a result of the US-led NATO attack on Libya and the “liberation” of those weapons; see our story “Who Is Boko Haram?” on this web site). Amid the continuing effort to establish AFRICOM on Afrikan soil, and suspicions in some circles that anecdotes of terrorist organizational activity in North Africa may have been used as an excuse to establish more and more US military bases in Afrika and around the world under the “War On Terror”, we also must be watchful to ensure that US foreign policy does not involve a secret (or not-so-secret) plan to engage in a 21st Century “Scramble for Afrika” to counteract East Asian influence and to feed an increasingly hungry corporate power structure that still relies on the energy and land resources of others (especially Afrika) for its survival and continued growth.

We will also feature articles in the coming weeks from the panel discussions that were held during the Africa Braintrust, on Health and Healthcare Infrastructure in Africa, US-Africa Trade Relations, and Elections and Governance in Africa. At these panel discussions, participants occasionally voiced similar concerns, and members of the audience were provided the opportunity, though limited by time, to ask some pointed questions to the panelists, some of which were actually answered. Be sure to check this site for updates over the next few weeks from the Africa Braintrust.

 

 

 

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