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The Africa Policy Forum on Famine in Africa

The Africa Policy Forum on Famine in Africa

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally posted on KUUMBAReport Online (http://kuumbareport.com).

Africa Policy Forum on Famine
Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 8:30 AM
US Capitol Visitors Center
Washington, DC

Congress Member Karen Bass (Democrat from Southern California) holds regular Africa Policy Forum events during the Congressional Session.  At these events, experts in various fields important to the uplift of Afrika are assembled to discuss issues from war to famine to economic development.  Often, these events seem to reflect more of an “official Washington” viewpoint on US-Africa issues, but the access granted to regular citizens to these events creates opportunities for Pan-Afrikan activists to learn about the efforts to deal with crises on the Continent as well as the plans of business and governmental players to promote US, capitalist and other Western policies in Afrika that may or may not serve Afrikan interests.  At the very least, when one attends these events, an opportunity comes later in the discussion to participate in the question-and-answer session (the “Q & A”), which allows one to prepare and ask the occasional Impudent Question.  Often, the Impudent Question goes unanswered, but sometimes it gives the participants an opportunity to demonstrate their depth of understanding of the current and historical issues impacting upon Afrika and Afrikan People.

On Tuesday, April 4, forty-nine years to the day after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most prominent members of the Historical Afrikan Diaspora (descendants of Afrikans who had been captured from Afrika and kidnapped into slavery in the United States and around the world) in history, an Africa Policy Forum on Famine was held.  This was the second such Forum of the year; the Forum on Doing Business with the US for Africa, held February 28, may be the subject of a brief article in the near future.

The Forum Panelists
The Forum featured the following speakers [with information from the Africa Policy Forum Biographies of Participants]:

Dr. Monde Muyangwa
Director, Africa Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
At the Wilson Center, Dr. Muyangwa leads programs that analyze and offer practical, actionable policy options addressing some of Africa’s most critical issues.  Previously, she served as Academic Dean and Professor of Civil-Military Relations at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.  She served as Director of Research and Vice President for Research and Policy at the National Summit on Africa, and Director of International Education Programs at New Mexico Highlands University.  She serves on the Board of Trustees at Freedom House, and previously was an advisory Council member of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.  She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Economics from the University of Zambia.  She was a Rhodes Scholar, a Wingate Scholar, and the University of Zambia Valedictory Speaker for her class. 

General William E. “Kip” Ward
President, Sentel Corporation
Former Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)
A retired Army General Officer, General Ward was the inaugural Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), where he successfully established the nation’s newest and uniquely positioned interagency geographic command responsible for for all US defense and security activities on the African Continent and its Island Nations with staff representatives from State, Commerce, Treasury, Homeland Security and other US Cabinet Departments and Agencies.  Prior to commanding AFRICOM where his visionary leadership promoted the value of forging relationships, creating partnerships, enhancing regional cooperation and the importance of sustained security engagement in pursuing US national interests, he was the Deputy Commander, United States European Command, responsible for the Command’s day-to-day activities.

He is a decorated combat veteran and holds a B.A. Degree in Political Science from Morgan State University in Baltimore and a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University.  A Master Paratrooper, he is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Fort Benning, Georgia, the US Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and the US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.  General Ward was an assistant professor, Department of Social Sciences, teaching political science and public policy at the United States Military Academy, West Point.

Selected by then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to serve as the United States Security Coordinator, Israel-Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, General Ward was praised by Democrats and Republicans for bringing a degree of fairness and equity to his work.  He has held other Army, Joint and Combined command and staff assignments over a 40-plus year career including NATO Force Commander in Bosnia, Commander 25th Infantry Division and Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, during the September 2001 terror attacks.  In the Pentagon, he was at the center of determining and carrying out the US government’s defense and interagency response actions to the attack.  He has commanded every level from platoon as a Lieutenant to geographic command as a General.

John Prendergast
Founding Director, the Enough Project and Co-Founder, The Sentry
Mr. Prendergast is a human rights activist and New York Times best-selling author who has focused on peace in Africa for over thirty years.  He is the Founding Director of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity.  With actor George Clooney, he also founded The Sentry, a new investigative initiative focused on dismantling the networks financing conflict and atrocities.  He has worked for the Clinton White House, the State Department, two Members of Congress, the National Intelligence Council, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the US Institute of Peace.  He has been a Big Brother for three decades, as well as a youth counselor and a basketball coach.  He is the author or co-author of ten books.  He also co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project, which used satellite imagery to spotlight mass atrocities.  With several NBA stars, he launched the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program to fund schools in Darfuri refugee camps.  He also created Enough’s Raise Hope for Congo Campaign, highlighting the issue of conflict minerals, and its student arm the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative.  He also runs Not On Our Watch, the organization founded by actor-activists Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt and George Clooney.  Mr. Prendergast has been awarded six honorary doctorates.  He has been a visiting professor at Yale Law School, Stanford University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, and others.  He has appeared in five episodes of 60 Minutes, for which the team won an Emmy award, and helped create African stories for two episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.  He has also traveled to Africa with NBC’s Dateline, ABC’s Nightline, PBS’s NewsHour, CNN’s Inside Africa, and news outlets and magazines Newsweek and The Daily Beast.  He also appears in the motion picture “The Good Lie”, starring Reese Witherspoon and Emmanuel Jai, as well as documentaries including Merci Congo, When Elephants Fight, Blood in the Mobile, Sand and Sorrow, Darfur Now, 3 Points and War Child.

Jon C. Brause
Director, Washington Office, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
Jon Brause is the Director of the Washington Office of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).  In this role, he oversees WFP’s relationships with its major partners in the US government and represents WFP in dialog with US-based organizations interested in reducing hunger and poverty worldwide.  He came to WFP after  22-year career at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where he served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.  He has also served as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Relief, Stabilization, and Development in the National Security Council, and as the Director of the Office of Program, Policy and Management at USAID.  As Senior Policy Advisor to USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios, Mr. Brause monitored humanitarian and developmental policy with a focus on Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.  During his tenure in the Office of Food for Peace, Mr. Brause managed all aspects of US government food aid programming for humanitarian activities worldwide.

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The Africa Policy Forum on Famine

We include here most of the full transcript of the discussion (to the degree that we were able to successfully transcribe all of the comments), with some of the points of the speakers highlighted for emphasis.  The full comments of all the speakers will give an idea of their individual perspectives, however.  For example, General Ward, though he has had a distinguished career in military security, regularly spoke of the need for development as well as security based on his experience in northern Nigeria with AFRICOM.  Mr. Brause spoke much about the impact of the raw numbers of people at risk and seemed focused on ways to bring relief to suffering populations.  And Mr. Prendergast seemed keenly aware of how the legacy of colonialism and exploitation of Afrika, by corrupt leaders, neo-colonial interests and international opportunists such as weapons manufacturers and money-launderers, had escaped much-deserved culpability for the current state of affairs in Afrika’s crisis zones.  Meanwhile, Dr. Muyangwa was working the entire time to maintain control of the flow of conversation to ensure everyone had an opportunity to ask questions, and gave an in-depth summary of the discussion at the end of the event.  All of them acknowledged that it is the Afrikan people in the affected countries that are actually taking the lead in responding to the crisis, even as the international community seems to be often falling down on the job.

CONGRESS MEMBER KAREN BASS:
Karen Bass 2Good morning everyone.  I’m Congresswoman Karen Bass.  I want to welcome everyone here for the second Africa Policy Forum that we’ve had this year.  Normally when we have these Forums we’ve focused on looking at business and economic opportunities and how to promote US-Africa relations but this time we’re gathered for a topic that has become of increasing concern.  This is a critical topic in that it has been said in the United Nations that we have potentially the worst humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded.  The potential of 20 million people facing famine in four countries.  Today we’re going to talk about three of the countries, the countries on the Continent, which is not to ignore Yemen, but we are going to focus on the African Continent today.  And this is with the backdrop of a new Administration that is suggesting a 30% cut in foreign assistance.  I would think that, at this point in time, where we have the opportunity to prevent a horrible tragedy, we know that famine has already been declared in South Sudan, but it could obviously get far worse, but we have an opportunity for our country to step up like we did in the Ebola Crisis and rally the entire world, but unfortunately at this point in time, we seem to be going in the opposite direction.  I will tell you though, that from the point of view of Congress, last week we had a hearing in the House of Representatives of the full Foreign Affairs Committee, and Democrats and Republicans were both united in a concern that you can’t cut a foreign assistance budget by 30%.  Later today there will be a meeting amongst Democrats to discuss the famine, and it seems to me that the most critical thing that we could be doing at this point in time is to raise public awareness and public outcry at the beginning, before this crisis really expands.  So that is our topic today, and before I introduce our moderator, I would like to call up one of the leaders in the Democratic Caucus, one of the leaders in the House of Representatives, someone who everyone knows, who led the fight around HIV.  please welcome Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

CONGRESS MEMBER BARBARA LEE:
Well, good morning.  First of all, let me thank our ranking member, Congresswoman Karen Bass, for doing such a phenomenal job, on so many issues, such as relates to the continent.  Whether it’s training, whether it’s foreign assistance, whether it’s health care, education, whether it’s the AU, whether it’s the United Nations, she has been on point on each and every issue, and so I want to thank her for continuing to beat the drum to make sure that Africa is a priority in our foreign policy.  We thank all of our panelists for being here, and thank you for your vigilance, for your expertise and for sharing with us what you know, but also what we need to do, and finally I’ll just say I’m on the Subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee which funds our foreign assistance, and Congresswoman Bass, and Meeks, myself, and also Republicans, we have forwarded a letter to the Appropriations Committee for emergency funding for the famine, and we’ll see where that goes, but believe you me, we are working right now to make sure that we target resources so that we can mitigate against so many people dying of starvation.  So thank you again and thanks so much for your continuing support for the Continent and for your expertise and for being here, for supporting Congresswoman Karen Bass because these forums are extremely important in terms of public awareness and in terms of giving us strategies on where we need to go as Members of Congress.  Thank you again.

CONGRESS MEMBER KAREN BASS:
We’re very lucky to have Barbara Lee sit on the Foreign Ops Committee, as she mentioned, that’s Appropriations.  She’s got the purse strings and knowing that somebody of that leadership has the purse strings, I think we’re in a good position.  We also are circulating a letter amongst Members of Congress, to emphasize the significance of the funding.  So we’re going to begin our program now, and I’d like to introduce our Moderator for the morning, Dr. Monde Muyangwa, the Director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and I might mention that, in that budget, the Wilson Center was actually zeroed out.  So, one of many issues that we will push back hard on to make sure that does not happen.

General Discussions of the Crisis

DR. MONDE MUYANGWA:
Good morning everyone.  I want to thank Congress Member Bass for focusing on this very important issue.  It’s been neglected for quite a while now, so it’s good to see that we’re finally paying some attention to this issue.  And as you mentioned, what we hope to get out of the discussion this morning is increased awareness of the crisis.  But also, a better understanding of the problem, its nature, its scope, the causes and drivers of the crisis, government and other measures in response to the crisis, and what can be done in the short term to address the famine and to save lives and in the long term to better ensure food security and avert recurring drought and famine. 

We have three excellent speakers for this morning.  I’ll introduce them very briefly.  Our first speaker will be Mr. Jon Brause, who is the director of the World Food Programme, the Washington Liaison Office.  He will be followed by General William “Kip” Ward, who is the C.O.O. and President of Sentel Corporation, who will speak to us about Northeast Nigeria.  And he will be followed by Jon Prendergast, who is the Founding Director of Enough, who will speak to us on South Sudan.  We have asked each of our speakers to offer initial remarks of about five to six minutes.  Our kickoff speaker will be Mr. Jon Brause, who we’ve asked to give an overview of the crisis and to touch a little bit on Somalia.  Mr. Brause, your five minutes start now.

“So how is it now, less than 2 years after the world ratified the Sustainable Development Goals, that we have, in fact, the largest crisis since World War II, and maybe the largest humanitarian crisis in the last hundred years?”
–Jon Brause, World Food Programme

JON BRAUSE:
Thank you.  Thanks to Congresswoman Bass and Congresswoman Lee for their welcome and it’s a great pleasure to be here and to have the World Food Programme be able to speak to you today.  Just a little bit of background; the World Food Programme was founded on the vision of presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.  And they had a vision after World War II that the world needed help to be stabilized in areas that were struggling through weather related problems or other crises.  They knew that the United States and other countries had the capacity to help out.  So just as my founding comment, think that that was the vision back just after World War II.  And then I’ll take you to 2015 in September when the international community got together and finalized and ratified the Sustainable Development Goals, and those were the goals that stated ‘we can end poverty, we can end hunger, we can educate every child’.  These were all things that the world said we could do in 2015; we have the capabilities, we just need the will to get it done.  And that was that we could do those things by 2030. 

So how is it now, less than 2 years after the world ratified the Sustainable Development Goals, that we have, in fact, the largest crisis since World War II, and maybe the largest humanitarian crisis in the last hundred years?  We have over a hundred million people who are going to need emergency food assistance this year.  We have 60 to 70 million people who are displaced, either internally or refugees in other countries.  And as the Congresswoman said, we have 20 million people in the world today who are facing famine.  In four countries.  Three in Africa, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, and then of course there’s Yemen.  But that 20 million people, you have to put it in perspective.  That is more than the number of people in the state of Virginia, and the state of Maryland, and the District of Columbia combined.  Plenty more than that.  So it’s a huge number of people who are at risk, and we need to start to take action to do something about it. 

So then the issue is, what is famine?  Why do we need a declaration of famine?  Well, famine is actually a very late statement.  It means that we’ve missed the boat to a certain extent.  People have already started dying.  And the criteria technicians use, if you will, to determine when a famine is taking place are three.  Two people out of every 10,000 are dying every day.  That’s one criterion.  More than 30% of the children under 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition.  And then the third is that 20% of the households in any region are extremely food insecure, short of food and at risk of starvation.  So just to put that two deaths in 10,000 every day into perspective, if your kids go to a high school in Maryland or Virginia, the average population or student body is about 2,500 kids.  So that means, in that school, if it were having a famine, that one child, one student, every two days, would be dying.  So your kid would be coming home and saying ‘Billy died today’.  And then two days later, another child would die.  It’s a massive number of people.  Don’t let two in 10,000 throw you that it’s some abstract, it’s a real tangible number of people dying every day.  And of course, it’s not just food.  We have to be very clear that food is very important but if you don’t have clean water, if you don’t have medical care, if you don’t have sanitation facilities, disease will actually overtake hunger.  The people will die not from hunger necessarily but from vulnerability to disease.  So it will take on many different faces and it’s not just one of food.

“So how did we get here?  Why are we now facing this crisis?  Well, I have to say, to some extent, we watched it happen.”
–Jon Brause, World Food Programme

So how did we get here?  Why are we now facing this crisis?  Well, I have to say, to some extent, we watched it happen.  Last year, and John will probably talk about this, South Sudan was on the brink of a famine, but it wasn’t declared.  But it was terrible.  The situation was horrific even last year.  In Somalia, they’ve had three consecutive years of bad rains, so even though their governance has improved — and it’s one of the points we want to make, where there is governance, you have a much better chance of addressing the root causes of famine — but Somalia’s had three consecutive years of bad rain, so in may of the cases, in all of the cases, weather is a factor.  But unfortunately, the big driver for all of these famines is conflict.  And the difference for conflict, a drought will disrupt productivity, everybody can understand that, but if you’re not suffering from conflict, if it’s just a drought, then there are means for the international community, for the governments to engage and to help the people who are in the drought affected areas.  In the case of conflict, everything is disrupted.  Markets are disrupted, agriculture is [disrupted], trade is interrupted, jobs and livelihoods are all interrupted.  So the whole system fails.  And in the case of three of the countries, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen in particular, less so in Somalia, we in the World Food Programme have a tremendously difficult time, as does the rest of the international humanitarian community, to access the people in need. 

So the big issue for us now is how can we get access, how can we improve security for these three countries?  We need massive amounts of resources.  I’m almost hesitant to say how much we need.  For the four countries, just for food, until the end of the year, we need about 2.6 billion dollars.  It’s a massive amount of money, and then our colleagues in UNICEF, in the NGO’s, all of the other organizations that are doing great work, need additional resources as well, but in fact it is something that the world can do, that the world can provide if it wants to. 

So let me just summarize; I just want to say why does it matter to the U.S.?  We know that in the press these days, there has been some question as to whether or not it’s worthwhile investing in these things.  Why have foreign assistance?  It’s just doing things over there.  It’s not helping the United States.  And I think that’s wrong.  First of all, the United States has always been the leader in the provision of humanitarian assistance around the world.  It’s something we’ve done not just since World War II but we’ve done it even before that.  The United States just has it ingrained: we help people.  But we also have to realize that helping people stabilizes countries.  That’s what it does.  It’s good for the world economy if countries are stable.  When we saw the world food crisis in 2008, the world reacted because countries were being destabilized by a shortage of food.  And then of course, and this is something the General will probably talk about, three of the four countries are home to global terrorism organizations.  When you have countries that are destabilized, they in fact are a great environment for radicalism.  So it’s something we need; there are a variety of reasons it’s important for the United States.  And I’ll close by saying, I just don’t think President Eisenhower and President Kennedy were wrong when they established the World Food Programme.  The reasons why they did it then are just as valid today.  Thank you very much.

GENERAL WILLIAM “KIP” WARD:
Thank you Dr. Muyangwa.  And I’d also like to thank Congresswomen Bass and Lee for their support for these fora and for highlighting the importance of these issues to citizens of the United States.  I’m probably a strange bedfellow here with respect to being on this panel, talking about famine and food insecurity in my role as the first commander of the United States’ Africa Command.  But it is precisely that role that makes my being here, if not from an expert perspective, then from a perspective of what it means to the United States of America, what it means to our national interests, and what it means to local stability. 

“[W]e are in the scenario now, where on any given day, four out of six children malnourished, two out of 10 dying daily, those are examples of the inability to address such a devastating problem.”
–General William “Kip” Ward, former commander of AFRICOM

General William Kip WardAs Jon pointed out and as was mentioned in the opening remarks by Congresswoman Bass, famine, food insecurity, is probably the hugest driver to security issues in most countries.  And, as we look at Nigeria, the northeastern part of that great, great nation, up until about seven years ago, Borno could feed Nigeria.  And now, we see the huge level of devastation, famine, death, caused because of what has gone on with respect to the fight against Boko Haram.  as Jon pointed out, the drivers of famine can be controlled if you have an environment that allows other things to occur.  The delivery of aid, infrastructure that allows the movement of persons, the ability of organizations to come in and do things that will contribute to providing a degree of stability that would otherwise not be the case.  For the last seven years, northeast Nigeria has not been able to see those things occur, because of the efforts by the Nigerian government that began towards the end of the Jonathan Administration and have continued now with the Buhari Administration to address and defeat the Boko Haram that has been so devastating to northeast Nigeria.  And because of the activity in that part of the nation, it not only impacts Nigeria, it impacts the entire region.  And when you have the displacement of — the numbers vary, low side 2 million, up to 8 million people in various stages that have migrated to 140-plus displacement centers, with varied means of addressing the crises of 1-food, 2-water, 3-sanitation, but other drivers of instability, lack of education, I call it the lack of any hope, who are constantly being threatened by what goes on as the eradication efforts occur, or the efforts to defeat the terrorism go on, it then bodes ill for any progress to be made.  So therefore, we are in the scenario now, where on any given day, and as Jon pointed out, four out of six children malnourished, two out of 10 dying daily, those are examples of the inability to address such a devastating problem.  When the Nigerian armed forces mounted their sustained effort to defeat Boko Haram, going into the Zambezi Forest, disrupting the sanctuary if you will, that caused the surrounding environs in the northeast of Nigeria to then become even more threatened by the threat of the fighters of Boko Haram.  You then have that coupled with the dynamic of a split within Boko Haram, where they then begin to compete with each other to see who could become the most ruthless, brutal, as they ravaged the land there in the northeast and in the surrounding areas.  And the victims in all of that are the people.  And so, even as there are attempts being made, and to a substantial degree, successful attempts, to stop terrorism by Boko Haram, it is creating these other effects that have absolutely devastating impacts on the people.  And therein [I am here] today to address this notion of malnutrition, famine.  The biggest drivers of famine — insecurity and the inability to work the land that was once theirs, and to raise crops and livestock which are the lifeblood.  There are currently estimated to be 8.5 million people in Nigeria, northeast Nigeria, that require some type of assistance, and there are categories, phases that the IPC [Integrated Food Security Phase Classification–Editor] has put there, but when you get to category 3 [crisis], 4 [emergency] and 5 [famine] — 3 is severe level, and that regards 5 million people, and again, these displacement camps that are now spread in major cities, if you look at Borno [State], Maiduguri, and Aba, the two major cities, part of the problem lies in the fact that the folks who have been displaced, the internally displaced persons, don’t just go to those camps.  Even with their limited mobility, they are also amongst the population, which has virtually no ability to assist in providing food and other necessary resources to help combat the conditions that exist.  Lack of economic activity, inability of relief organizations to provide relief aid, inability of other organizations to promote activities that will help address the impacts of lack of water, and other things.  These are the factors that have contributed to what goes on in northeast Nigeria.  The root of it all is the fight against Boko Haram.  And I’ll stop there.

JOHN PRENDERGAST:
Thanks to all the organizers, Congresswoman Bass, Congresswoman Lee, Congressman Meeks, for your continuing leadership on African issues.  Your voices and those of your colleagues in these days are more needed than ever.  What seems like the big discovery these days is that famines are man-made, as opposed to nature-driven.  But this description, I think, is far too vague.  It lays no accountability at the feet of which men are making these famines.  And in the case of South Sudan, the most immediate cause lies in the tactics used by the senior officials in the South Sudan military and amongst the principal rebel movement in the way that they’re carrying out the current civil war.  Government and rebel forces attack civilian targets much more frequently than they attack each other.  They target the means of survival of civilian populations who are deemed to be unsupportive of those forces.  In particular and most damaging, and this is the case in a number of places where food insecurity is raging today, they raid cattle, in areas where cows represent the inherited savings, basically the 401(k)’s, basically the means of exchange, locally.  Massive cattle raids result in almost complete and utter impoverishment of entire communities, and they unleash cycles of revenge attacks that poison relations between neighbors and entire ethnic groups.  The government of South Sudan has also concentrated recent attacks on areas where agricultural production traditionally fed large parts of South Sudan, not only resulting in massive human displacement, but also devastating local grain production which leads to hyper-inflation of food prices, making food inaccessible to vast swaths of the civilian population.

“What seems like the big discovery these days is that famines are man-made, as opposed to nature-driven.”
–John Prendergast, Enough Project

But destroying the means of food production is only one part of the equation that causes famine.  Look, if the South Sudan government allowed humanitarian organizations unfettered access to the survivors of these attacks, which include at this point over 3 million people who have been rendered homeless by the kinds of war tactics that have occurred, then the aid agencies would be able to prevent a famine from occurring.  You wouldn’t see the 3, 4, 5 cycles John Prendergast Enough 2hammering the people of South Sudan today.  But instead, the government has obstructed access by these organizations in a number of ways, by learning some of the tactics from the Sudan government who they fought for decades, as have the rebels, thus resulting in these huge pockets of populations, including tens of thousands of children today, who have received little to no assistance at the very height of their need.
 
And let’s be clear: if the only response to the images we’re going to be seeing with increased frequency is the humanitarian one, and the structural causes of this cycle of famine in South Sudan and other places are not addressed, then the cycle of famine will begin again next year, and the year after that.  Yes, the world must do, and will do, because of the efforts of people in this room, all that it can to treat these humanitarian symptoms of the emergency, but there’s also an opportunity when there’s this kind of attention that has drawn all of you into this room this morning, to finally begin to address the root causes of some of these crises.  Now in South Sudan today, the war crimes that are committed that help lead directly to famine, these war crimes actually pay.  There’s no accountability for the atrocities and the looting of state resources and even of humanitarian assistance, and there’s no accountability for the famine that results from it.  Billions in our taxpayer dollars have supported peacekeeping forces and humanitarian assistance already.  We’ve got to keep doing that, and double down on it, in this time of need for the people of South Sudan.  And one peace process after another has tried to break the cycle of violence.

“Nothing attempts to thwart the driving force of the mayhem, which in our view is the kleptocrats who have hijacked the government for their personal enrichment, and have carried out war tactics that have led directly to the famine.”
–John Prendergast, Enough Project

But nothing, unfortunately — and this is a bizarre aspect of international policy — nothing attempts to thwart the driving force of the mayhem, which in our view is the kleptocrats who have hijacked the government in Juba [Sudan’s capital city–Editor] for their personal enrichment, and have carried out war tactics that have led directly to the famine.  Our new initiative — it’s called the Sentry — has conducted an investigation into the wealth accumulated by leading officials in South Sudan, who oversaw the military offensives in 2015 in Unity State that contributed directly to the current famine.  We found that immediate family members of these officials are enjoying luxurious lifestyles abroad, live in lavish estates, with millions and millions of dollars moving through the international financial system in US dollars, while the situation of the civilian population in South Sudan continues to deteriorate.  Essentially, we’re working on a series of follow-up reports to the one we did last September that connect the state looting directly to the famine and the ongoing conflict, and the perverse incentives that exist for these governments to commit these kinds of atrocities in order to stay in power, and without any consequence whatsoever for their actions.  The looting machine, in fact, continues apace, not slowed down even by the prospect of hundreds of thousands of people starving to death.  There’s been no meaningful effort to counter the networks that benefit financially and politically from conflict, from instability, from the absence of the rule of law, and even from famine.  The international community needs to help make war costlier than peace, for government and rebel leaders and their international facilitators, because it isn’t just folks on the ground; there are many people in the international and financial system who are benefiting from South Sudan’s misery.  Those facilitators and enablers need to be the subject of investigations as well.  Choking the illicit financial flows of those folks that are responsible for this famine is the key point of leverage for giving peace an actual chance in South Sudan, because these stolen assets are the one point of vulnerability that the leading officials have.  Their stolen assets are off-shored and laundered through the international financial system in us dollars.  That gives the United States Treasury Department jurisdiction over crimes committed with US currency.  And you see houses, you see cars, you see stuffed bank accounts, all of these manifestations of this criminal activity that is being moved through the international financial system.  So I think the most promising policy approach for creating accountability in context of war and famine would combine creative Anti-Money-Laundering measures that we have honed since 9-11, combine those AML measures with targeted sanctions aimed at freezing those willing to commit mass atrocities, including those that undertook these offensives in 2015 and 2016 that led directly to famine, so you focus on freezing those leading officials out of the international financial system.  That should be the objective.  That would provide leverage to the international community’s efforts to bring folks to the negotiating table to create a real environment for a peace deal.  A steep price needs to be paid for creating famine, and for benefiting from war.

“It’s the South Sudanese that are leading the efforts to respond to the famine.  It’s the South Sudanese, courageously, who are responding to the human rights abuses.  It’s the South Sudanese struggling for independent freedom of the press, freedom of association, all of the basic fundamental rights that they fought and died for, for decades, to have the newest country in the world.”
–John Prendergast, Enough Project

Even while the world responds to the famine, it’s time for us to address root causes and make those responsible pay for those crimes.  And let’s be clear about this; thousands and thousands of South Sudanese — a trip we just took confirmed this to me yet again — it’s the South Sudanese that are leading the efforts to respond to the famine.  It’s the South Sudanese, courageously, who are responding to the human rights abuses.  It’s the South Sudanese struggling for independent freedom of the press, freedom of association, all of the basic fundamental rights that they fought and died for, for decades, to have the newest country in the world. … The US Congress can, and should, take the lead in supporting solidarity and getting resources to those folks on the ground who are struggling to turn their situation around, just as many have in other countries around Africa.  the South Africans led the anti-apartheid effort, the Mozambicans rebuilt their country, the Sierra Leoneans, the Liberians, all these different countries have demonstrated that it is possible to turn things around.  South Sudan is literally at its low point right now.  It has hit rock-bottom.  But it’s the South Sudanese who can bring it back, just like we’ve seen in other places.  But it’s our role to provide solidarity and support to those efforts to turn things around.  Thank you.

DR. MUNYANGWA:
Jon, do you mind saying a few words about Somalia?

JON BRAUSE:
Sure.  I think Somalia is a really good country to look at because it had a famine back in 2011.  It was the last, actually, sort of documented famine the world faced.  And just looking over the reports, as many as 250,000 people died.  And if you look at the drivers at the time, which was, of course, conflict, but there was also an associated drought in the Horn of Africa, but it was a situation where really, the war and the lack of governance made it hard for the Jon Brause USAID 1international community to respond, so we had a situation where most of the NGO’s, most of the UN agencies couldn’t be permanently present in the country, and yet they had to plan and mobilize resources to try to get assistance to the people who needed it.  Today it’s a completely different story.  While there is still Al Shabab in parts of Somalia, the government — there is a government now, and the government has the capacity to represent its people.  It represents its people, it has a capital, it has security in parts of the country where there can now be a presence for the international community, so you have a situation where the government is leading the response to the crisis, and the government knows how it wants to respond and help its people.  And this is just a sea change from what it was in 2011.  Now I don’t want to take away from the fact that access is still hard to get in 25% of the country, or 25% of the population that need assistance, but it’s much, much different today than it was in 2011, and it’s all because, in contrast to what John was saying, when you have a government that really wants to help the people — and no government’s perfect, we all know that — but when you have a government that does want to help, and creates that environment, and leads — because it’s always the government that needs to lead — then the international community can step in behind, and provide the support that’s necessary.

How can we prevent more people from dying?

DR. MUYANGWA:
I think our three speakers touched on a number of issues, talking about the causes of the famine and the food insecurity in these countries, talking about root causes, talking about how conflict and insecurity have exacerbated the situation, but I think what we’re all left with from all three presentations is the sense of the scale and scope and the utter devastation that can result from this unless we come together, Africans and the international community, to address this challenge.  As I listened to the numbers, the need for urgent food assistance, 5.1 million in Nigeria, 5 million in South Sudan, and 2.9 million in Somalia.

Before I get to the causes, I’d like to ask each of our speakers to reflect on the current situations in their own countries.  Obviously, we need to begin the business of trying to save as many lives as possible.  I cannot even begin to imagine the millions of lives that are at stake.  So to each of you, as you look at South Sudan, as you look at Nigeria, and as you look at Somalia, what is the one intervention, that we could have right now, to stop the deaths from accumulating?  In the very immediate instance, what can we do to prevent more people from dying and prevent famine and the current insecurity from getting any worse than it is today?  So John, I’ll start with you first in South Sudan, and then I’ll come in to General Ward and then to Jon.

JOHN PRENDERGAST:
Well, I’m going to try to answer that question and pretend I’m only giving you one thing, but [that task is] too awesome.  Because you have to preface it by saying that [what is needed is] a total, full-court, 120-percent global effort to provide humanitarian assistance, to demand access in all three of these African countries, and press and push.  Shabab has openings now in Somalia, some would argue, to allow access that they didn’t before.  The reason why 250,000 people died in Somalia in 2011 was because Shabab didn’t provide access.  If there was access, they would have been able to receive assistance.  There is an uncertainty now, because they’ve lost a lot, internally within Somalia, Shabab did, because of how they dealt with populations under their control, and because a lot of their fighters now are from areas that are hardest hit, so there is a familial interest at some level, so we’ve got incredible opportunities on the humanitarian front that need to be pressed and pushed. 

In the context of counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia and Nigeria, one has to see that this humanitarian response is essential.  If our long-term counter-terrorism efforts are going to succeed, these basic human needs need to be first and foremost. … Even if you’re solely driven by national security interests, and you’re sitting somewhere in this town, let’s try 1600 Pennsylvania [Avenue], and you just are interested in national security, there is a national security argument for providing increased humanitarian assistance in Nigeria.

“Right now, the international peace efforts, region-led, internationally-supported peace efforts in South Sudan, are largely in shambles.”
–Jon Prendergast, Enough Project

Let’s get to South Sudan, then.  We’ve already said we’ve got to assert the humanitarian effort.  We support that, and I would refer to Jon on specifics about how to do it.  But I do believe, fundamentally, when we talk about conflict-driven famine, and then don’t have a credible international peace effort, then, what are we doing?  Because, right now, the international peace efforts, region-led, internationally-supported peace efforts in South Sudan, are largely in shambles.  There are all kind of competing possibilities that President [Salva] Kiir has announced, a national dialog that is completely inconclusive and controlled by the government — we’ve seen this in many places around Africa — it’s not a credible process, in the view of people who want to see an inclusive peace effort.  And the IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development–Editor] process, which has been driving peace efforts since 1993 in South Sudan, in [the] north-south [conflict] and to the present, that effort has really been compromised, including some countries within IGAD saying ‘I don’t know if we should even continue because we’re so divided’.  So, we need a coming-together, United Nations, African Union, IGAD, South Sudanese, on a revitalized peace effort.  The situation has changed dramatically since the war began in 2013; where it was basically a bi-polar, two-party war, we now have multiple entities who have joined the fray.  We don’t want to see it devolve into a Somalia-1991 sort of situation where you’ve got this internationally-resourced effort to save the elements of the peace effort that already exists that are very solid and address some of the things that are not dealt with in that peace deal. 

And then I would say, to give leverage to that.  Because it is meaningless to go and [try to influence] other people in the middle of a war when you have no leverage, when you cannot address their fundamental core interests.  We have spent far too much energy and time diplomatically in this country, going around the world, telling people what their interests are, but then not affecting [anything].  So I would say that, if you want to create some leverage from the United States and others who care about peace in South Sudan, then you’ve got to get at what the core vulnerabilities are of these leaders.  And as I’ve said, it is in the way that they are off-shoring the money that they’re looting from the fairly rich in natural resources state that South Sudan is, and then you start to go after that money, and then you start to get people’s attention.  So I’m sorry, that’s a multi-layered answer, but there are solutions, that’s what I really, really want to say, and it isn’t just sending food and medicine, no one would argue that; there are multiple aspects of a comprehensive approach that could, in fact, address the core problems in all three of the countries we’re dealing with here.

GENERAL WARD:
Thanks.  I probably won’t be as extensive as John was with respect to the ingredients.  To be sure, to say what single thing would cause an impact, positive impact on the scenario, is very difficult.  But there is something I think, and that is resources.  When I say ‘resources’, there’s a plethora of resources that I’m talking about.  To be sure, it includes the ‘stuff’ that the people need, and that’s an array of things, food, clean water, medicine, etc.  There is a requirement that the government takes its proper role to care for its people.  And in the case of Nigeria, to be sure, that’s happening today.  It’s happening the way it hadn’t happened [before].  For example, when you look at what’s going on in the northeast of Nigeria as this counter-insurgency, this fight, is now being waged, you see — it may not be at the level that will solve the problem — but it’s certainly addressing the problem, because you see military units, but also some civilian organizations, supported by international relief organizations, that are addressing the problem in ways that they had not before.  So, how to make the resources matter?  Well, you need more of them.  You talk about sovereignty.  Nations have to control their borders.  That’s done through security forces, some uniformed, [some] civilian, but nations have to control their borders.  So that’s a component of this.  And we see that being addressed in some pretty substantial ways in Nigeria. …

“There are over 180 displacement centers of various sorts, various categories, in northeast Nigeria.  Less than 10 percent of them have all they need to take care of the people that are in those locations.”
–General William “Kip” Ward

You will never erase all conflict.  But you have to cause conflict to be controlled such that other things can occur, other things have the ability to occur … the ability of local folks to do what makes sense for them where they live.  I mentioned there are over 180 displacement centers of various sorts, various categories, in northeast Nigeria.  Less than 10 percent of them have all they need to take care of the people that are in those locations.  And I talked about the fact that even many of the internally displaced persons aren’t in these centers; they are now mixed amongst the populations of the various towns, villages, etc., where they find some refuge.  There’s even one location, the Capital Nigeria map with provinces and capital citiesRoad, the Chinese built this road in northern Nigeria, a road that was going someplace, and I’m not certain where the road was going but it just stopped in the middle of the desert, because of the conflict.  But that road had become like a rallying ground, where folks would come together.  That road at least provides access for relief to occur.  And so you build infrastructure, infrastructure that will allow those things that need to be delivered to be delivered, you provide an environment that is more rather than less secure, a government that is paying attention with respect to what it’s doing to care for its people.  And then resources that are provided, and we all have a role in that, the international community to be sure, assets that can then allow the delivery of those resources where they’re required.  And [when] all those things come together, it will help provide for a more secure environment.  We all have a stake in it, including the United States of America, to increase that stability.  When you look at Nigeria, you look at the most populous nation on the Continent, up until a few years ago the largest GDP on the Continent, currently, the largest population of displaced persons, so we have a stake in that, in making it happen.  And so, resources is the thing.  It really has multiple components.

JON BRAUSE:
Thanks.  I’ll take a slightly different tack.  I think, if you look at the three countries in Africa that are facing famine, and you unpack it a bit, there’s not one of those countries, absent conflict, that would ever be in this situation.  So if you have to say ‘what is the number one issue’, it’s the fact that conflict is holding the countries back.  South Sudan, ironically, probably of the three, it has the greatest potential, I mean, it’s just [got] unimaginable natural wealth, including agriculture. There’s no end to what could be produced in South Sudan.

“There’s not one of those countries, absent conflict, that would ever be in this situation. … the people of Africa, the people of these three countries, are already the leaders in the response.  They’re not waiting.”
–Jon Brause, World Food Programme

So, it’s just the fact that the governance and therefore the conflict in those three countries needs to be constantly improved, focusing on the people, because the people of Africa, the people of these three countries, are already, as John said, the leaders in the response.  They’re not waiting.  They’re incredibly entrepreneurial, they’re communal, they take care of each other, but with conflict, it’s all pushed out the window.   So I have to say we need to address the conflict, as John said again, the general ‘but’, I think the international community needs to stand ready to assist where and when it can.  And right now, to the resource point, we don’t have that capacity.  So even where we can get in, even where access is available, we are cutting rations, we are not able to fully support the people, therefore we’re not fully able to support stability.  Where that little pocket of stability is, we can’t support it.  So I would say let’s do work on the conflict, but the international community should try to step forward and make sure that we can help where help can take place.

Questions from the Audience (the “Q & A”)

Q: [from an Ambassador from Mali] What is expected to be done, in this time of budget cuts, for countries outside the ones discussed today but are in the Sahel region that are also enduring potential crises requiring humanitarian assistance as acknowledged by the World Food Programme as representing over 8 million people who are under threat of famine such as The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Cameroon?  In Mali in particular [the questioner’s home country], conflict has displaced people inside and outside the country, and the north of Mali is generally difficult even in peacetime.

JON BRAUSE:
If I could address the Ambassador’s question, and thank you for asking because, as I mentioned at the beginning of my statement, there are 100 million people who are going to need emergency food assistance, not just 20 million in famine-stricken countries, and we see a bit of donor distraction.  They focus on what’s burning brightest.  And of course, we have Syria in the background right now.  There’s great resource drag going in certain directions.  And yet, Sahel Region Map 2when you think about it, [there are] opportunities in places like Mali and Niger, where you have governance, where you have the opportunity to invest, and actually those donor dollars go so much farther there than they do in the famine countries.  If you’re going through a famine, you’re spending huge money just to save lives.  You’re not building that capacity for better development, for empowering the people, all the things you say you want, or the donor community says it wants, we’re not investing in that.  And so we’re seeing a double-whammy.  The resources are going to the places where they’re needed of course, to the famines, but they’re not going, there’s no significant amount of money being invested at a time when these other countries can just do such great work.  So we continue to advocate for Mali, for Niger, for other countries throughout Africa, so that they’re not forgotten, but it’s a very tough battle these days.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: At this point, we were able to pose our Impudent Question.  In this instance, we were somewhat pleasantly surprised that the respondents, particularly Mr. Prendergast, showed an understanding of the “root causes” he had mentioned earlier, and which had inspired the question we posed.]

Q: Regarding root causes, are there enough people in positions of power who are willing to take a serious look at the real root causes from slavery, colonialism, imposition of language, religion, monetary systems and country boundaries that Africans did not choose, current resource extraction and Western-directed military incursions [such as the attack on Libya that led to the loss of the African Union’s main benefactor and freed up weapons now in the hands of Boko Haram] as causative factors in the current situation in these countries and in the Continent in general?  And will enough thought be given to current solutions [African-driven and -owned food sovereignty versus Western-imposed food security] to prevent situations such as the BT cotton crisis in India, that resulted from introduction by the US and the West of genetically-modified cotton in India and that led to thousands of Indian farmer suicides, so that agriculture ‘solutions’ for Africa do not lead to similarly-disastrous outcomes?

“In the midst of famine watch the scramble for the contracts and how the ugly underbelly, again, of international investing, how that fuels violence, and you see this replicated in a number of countries around Africa, still to this day.  And you see that the countries where conflict and violence is most endemic and most resistant to efforts to try to resolve those issues, at the core, I would argue, in most of those places, is unchecked greed.”
–John Prendergast, Enough Project

JOHN PRENDERGAST:
The historical context of the scramble for African resources — that we read in history books about the colonial era as if it all ended there — sort of like in this country, for some people, the perception is that, after slavery ended, what’s the problem?  Not understanding Jim Crow, lynching, all the rest of it that occurred as part of the legacy.  Similarly, there is a resounding legacy of that colonial era where violent, illegal extraction of Africa’s extraordinary wealth was a principal driver for the motivations of the European colonial powers.  Similarly today, in a number of African countries, South Sudan is a microcosm of that, that the scramble for resources — in the case of South Sudan it’s primarily oil but the next one is gold, watch this one unfold — in the midst of famine watch the scramble for the contracts and how the ugly underbelly, again, of international investing, how that fuels violence, and you see this replicated in a number of countries around Africa, still to this day.  And you see that the countries where conflict and violence is most endemic and most resistant to efforts, whether local or regional or international, efforts to try to resolve those issues, at the core, I would argue, in most of those places, is unchecked greed.  It’s that confluence of corruption and violence that is driving the emergencies, and I think we can make long, academic, well-sourced assessments of that statement for all three of our countries in Africa today, the underlying rot of corruption and the use of state violence to ensure the continuation of patterns of violent extraction of resources.  And the difficulty in addressing those patterns through peace processes and other approaches, counter-terrorism efforts and other things, if you’re not getting at the core issue of kleptocracy and the hijacking of state institutions so that the judicial systems are undermined, because having the rule of law would mean that the folks who are extracting those resources would actually be the ones being investigated and brought to justice.  Having proper security services that protect the borders, as General Ward said, and are responsible for human security, rather in some of these countries, those are the agents of this accord or policy of extraction of resources.  So, unless we address that fundamental issue, that root cause, we’re going to just keep seeing these emergencies in certain African countries.  Other African countries have figured it out.  They’ve worked through it.  It’s not impossible.  There’s good governance in many, many countries in Africa.  There are lots of extraordinary, positive success stories throughout Africa, of countries overcoming that colonial legacy and turning things around, politically, economically.  Works in progress all over, but dramatic, in my view.  But there are a subset of countries that are still in this cycle that is very similar to what that cycle was during the colonial period.  And it’s all about abject greed and the lack of any accountability for a small group of people in each of these countries who have hijacked the state institutions for their own personal benefit, with international collaborators — banks, lawyers, accountants, shipping companies, arms dealers — those are the kleptocratic networks that we’ve got to address if we want to stop these cycles from continuing.

GENERAL WARD:
I’ve been getting at the notion of those things that are sustainable, as well as those things that are done because you have a committed group of leaders that are looking at an overarching approach.  The landscape, I believe, is positive.  It’s not perfect but it’s positive.  If I go back ten years ago, as we stood up the United States Africa Command as an example, as an example, where it was very plain and apparent that decisions that were ever made, were made as they took into account a range of things that were important for taking care of people.  Including, to be sure, what was my primary focus, and I undertook that with the full understanding that that wasn’t enough in and of itself.  It also required a healthy dose of what I call development, across economic sectors, across agricultural sectors, that could lead to the things that the people needed for themselves that they participated in, from manufacturing to energy, that enabled a society to sustain itself, and a commitment to it as well as an investment in it.  And it also took what I used to term governance, good governance.  At least governance that was more effective as opposed to less effective, taking in all of the [issues] that we’ve talked about here.  From corruption to providing services in remote locations and those things.  And I say that the realization of the importance of that comingling of work, I think, is increasingly recognized by leaders.  People sure understand it.  And if the leaders are to remain in power, then they too have to do things that reflect their understanding of it so that they can demonstrate to their people that they are in fact working on their behalf.  And so, is it possible?  Is there a commitment?  Can it be sustainable?  Yes, but only when and if you have a secure environment, more or less — won’t be perfect but more or less — when you have things being developed in a way that the people who are living there see themselves as benefiting from what’s going on in their homeland, in their area, in their geography, and governance that’s more effective rather than less effective, representing the interests of its people.

“Is it possible?  Is there a commitment?  Can it be sustainable?  Yes, but only when and if you have a secure environment, more or less — won’t be perfect but more or less — when you have things being developed in a way that the people who are living there see themselves as benefiting from what’s going on in their homeland …”
–General William “Kip” Ward

Q: [from Dr. Malcolm Beech, president of the National Business League and the African Business League of America] How can the US encourage building capacity and capability in African businesses for in-country food processing, and how can the us HBCU’s [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] help?

JON BRAUSE:
I’m going to point you to the Feed the Future Initiative that the last Administration put so much effort into and it was really focused on doing just what you’re talking about.  It’s not the response, it’s not waiting until you have a problem, it’s how do you enhance the capacity of African nations to not only produce more food but to process more food, to develop their markets.  What are the key actions of each of those countries and regions where you tweak a little bit, with a little bit of resources, and actually have tremendous impact?  It’s a wonderful program, and I do hope it continues.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We noticed here that Mr. Brause made reference to Feed the Future, a program sponsored in large part by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.  While we liked the bulk of his analysis of famine in Afrika and the issues that needed to be considered, this was the one comment he made during the entire event with which we had some serious issues.  The fact that he worked for 22 years at USAID, in positions of increasing responsibility and policy influence, makes the comment unsurprising, especially as he demonstrates a real concern for the people on whose behalf he speaks, and he no doubt sees the programs promoted by USAID to be on the whole, if not in total, beneficial for struggling populations around the world.  Our research on the agency for KUUMBAReport Online, while certainly leading to a similar conclusion that those working for USAID share a commitment to improving the lot of disadvantaged communities, has also, however, led us to conclude that several of its initiatives are flawed at best, and at worst, have led to disastrous consequences for a number of the communities it was designed to help, largely due to the influence of some of the same corporate opportunists Mr. Prendergast refers to in his earlier comments.

Several years ago, when we first started attending the Africa Policy Forum events, we were introduced to the Feed the Future program and did some background research on the track record of USAID and its projects in different parts of the world.  Somewhat alarmingly for us, we found that USAID had assisted in the promotion of the very BT cotton that ultimately led to the Indian farmer suicides, and the agency had run into resistance from several Latin American countries who did not want genetically-modified crops from Monsanto and other agribusiness corporations introduced in their countries.  Feed the Future was reputed to be promoting Water Resistant Maize for Africa (WEMA), which was also connected to agribusiness corporations such as Cargill, Syngenta and Monsanto, as an answer to the problems of crop yields in northern Afrika, despite the assertions by food sovereignty activists that the real problem is not so much yields as it is access to the food that is available and is already being grown.  Monsanto and other agribusiness corporations’ insistence on selling farmers patented, genetically-modified seeds that cannot be recycled, either by science (so-called “terminator seed technology” which has not been verified) or by law (lawsuits by agribusiness against farmers who attempted to recycle their seeds instead of buying the next generation from them), helped lead to the inability of Indian farmers to raise their crops sustainably, and, combined with the unexpectedly-high amounts of water and pesticides needed (despite industry claims to the opposite), the Indian farmers largely went bankrupt and committed suicide because they could no longer pay their debts.

That these same corporations were again attempting to promote patented, genetically-modified seed, this time most notably maize (corn), in Afrika through USAID’s Feed the Future Program, has raised concerns that this same pattern would repeat itself as part of the age-old Scramble for Afrika’s Resources which many Pan-Afrikan and food activists have warned about for years and to which Mr. Prendergast referred in this very Forum.  Thus, we remain skeptical about the Feed the Future program and whether it will truly lead to sustainable agriculture in Afrika, controlled by Afrikans, or whether it will usher in another era of corporate control of food in the Mother Continent, which would sacrifice long-term food sovereignty with Afrikan farmer and grassroots control for short-term food security with Western and corporate control of Afrika’s food.  See the articles “USAID, According To USAID”, “Seeds of Suspicion”, “Is There A Plot To Take Over Afrika’s Food Supply?”, and related posts on the website KUUMBAReport Online, http://kuumbareport.com, which in turn will link you with source articles and documents, for more information.]

Q: [from Ms. Rosemary Segero, President of Segeros International Group, which focuses on agriculture]  Here we are talking about famine, the UN is talking about fighting poverty, World Bank is talking about end of poverty, and we are here talking about root of problems of famine.  Why is it that the conflicts are still in Africa, as much as people are fighting to eat, we have big companies there, doing mining, making money, there are big companies there, getting oil, selling oil.  Why can’t you tell these big companies, especially  to General Ward — happy to see you again — how can we work on this, to make sure there is no conflict in Africa … I’m into security like you, General, we go from head of state to head of state to fight the crime-fight, conflict, before we come to famine. … The head of states, they fight [and get into conflict], so, unless we fight that, we are going to be coming here every day, to the World Bank, the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals.  What can we do from here?  Don’t call us next year to talk about famine.  We want that answer now. 

GENERAL WARD:
Let me just briefly talk to the issue of minimizing vulnerability [to conflict] and how it could be addressed over time.  And what the long lasting guarantor of little conflict is.  And it comes with economic and social development.  And you may say that’s kind of strange, a general talking about the importance of development, but it’s exactly that.  When you have populations that are more or less satisfied where they are because they have the ability, mothers and fathers, can take care of their children, can feed them, can educate them, can house them, can be less afraid when they are out walking to the store and doing whatever … that society is less susceptible to conflict.  And so, when it comes to how we address that notion of international affairs, work, and, to the point of Congresswoman Lee, our international affairs budget, if you look at the programs administered by USAID, these are amounts of monies that aren’t a lot, but they produce huge returns on the investment over time.

“When you do things to invest in the well-being of a child, when you invest in the ability of a woman to raise her society, that has long lasting impacts in a positive way.  And it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference. … But you need to create the environment for that to happen.  And that’s why the security aspect of that is also important. “
–General William “Kip” Ward

To get to the question regarding women and children, when you do things to invest in the well-being of a child, when you invest in the ability of a woman to raise her society, that has long lasting impacts in a positive way.  And it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference.  And so I would say that this notion of the long-term guarantor of reduced conflict is when you have developed societies, that is a big contributor for [reduction of the risk of] conflict.  And you do it in a way that has meaning for a people where they are, in their geography, by doing things that matter to them, advancing their ability to care for themselves where they are, and that’s why this notion of development in its varying forms, from health to education to food, is so important when it comes to long-term stability.  But you need to create the environment for that to happen.  And that’s why the security aspect of that is also important.  But the long-term guarantor is, indeed, that development component.

Q: [from Bread for the World’s Office of Pan African Engagement and Spiritual Outreach] Can you speak more to the issues of women’s empowerment, and particularly to this vulnerable community of women and children, especially regarding the root causes of the lack of women’s empowerment?  Also, how could the faith community be more effective on the ground in terms of dealing with the root causes, addressing the famine and beyond?

JOHN PRENDERGAST:
Just a quick cherry-picking of a few things to talk about building peace capacities.  We have a confluence of events in which two of the major multilateral organizations in the world that have focused on peace in Africa, are partially or John Prendergast Enough 1fully focused on peace in Africa, have new leadership.  the United Nations has a new Secretary General, who has expressed a real commitment to investing UN resources into peacemaking, and mediation.  We have a new African Union leader who, as well, has said that peace is a fundamental priority, and can put a team together that makes that happen.  And then, the local level, so that’s the international and the continental level, then there’s the local level. … So, that question about the religious component, the faith component, of support for local peace efforts I think is really important. … In South Sudan today, and looking back at the legacy of conflict over the last 30 years, churches have played a fundamentally important role over time in reconciliation efforts between communities, sometimes very successfully, sometimes not successful at all.  But that effort to build local constituencies for peace should [include] a fundamental building block [which] ought to be the South Sudan Council of Churches and the church leaders at the grassroots level, who in most cases have an interest in peace and not conflict and who have an interest in reconciliation.  And I think that is true certainly of the cross-line efforts of some of the leaders.  Islamic and Christian leaders in Nigeria have been some of the bright spots over the last ten years in  northern Nigeria, and in Somalia, you have a number of the imams who have at the local level played a role at the community level in mediation and peacemaking.  So, supporting, highlighting, giving resources to and acting in solidarity with those kinds of efforts, combined with resource and capacity-building for the AU and UN peace efforts, is I think, the kind of strategy that is needed today.

Q: [from Baba Tamiru, Little Ethiopia Magazine] How do we deal with corrupt and selfish leaders who insist on clinging to power, and how much are the leaders in the US Congress involving the Diasporas, which are not very powerful but which are sending remittances to their home countries, sometimes in large numbers?

Q: [from a self-professed ‘pacifist’] would you consider the kleptocrats in South Sudan to be a legitimate government?  If not, what is the military capability of the South Sudanese and rebel forces, and could the UN make a case for removing the government from power as perhaps the most direct way of solving the problem?

JOHN PRENDERGAST:
I guess I would start with the principle that probably is subscribed to by most of the folks in here, which is that people have to decide their own leadership, and it really isn’t the role of outsiders to be determining the direction of who, in fact, is running other countries.  Gambia is a fascinating model now, it has pretty unique circumstances.  It’s not remotely what we have in South Sudan today.  And there are different sets of interests involved in that effort by the region to see a democratic transition in the country.  A remarkable success story, a positive story … but hard to see the parallels to South Sudan.  In terms of the UN taking a more assertive or proactive role in some form of alteration of the current governing structure, I just think, kind of being rooted in the present moment, and the realpolitik of the South Sudan states 1present moment where the US is pulling back from peacekeeping operations, I mean, I can’t wait to see how these debates and discussions unfold as to how the United States pulls the chair of the Security Council here in New York, where they say they’re going to have some kind of a debate about human rights, and I’m frightened to hear that.  And real fundamental questions about peacekeeping operations, which, of course, in the hands of a responsible discussion, is important.  You’ve got to keep trying to improve these peacekeeping operations so they can have some kind of relevance to the future of these countries but I think often, what we’re seeing now is questions that are designed to justify a massive pull-back.  So the idea that the UN is going to be the engine of what would be, in effect, an invasion, overthrowing the government, I just don’t think that’s in the realm of reality.  I think there are also a lot of ideas out there about building a trusteeship or other forms of that kind of an idea that there would be some kind of an internationalization of governance for some period of time in South Sudan.  I think those are completely unrealistic as well in this present moment.  Who’s going to shoot their way into that system?  And so, the real question, the responsible question, is, I think — reasonable people can differ — is how can you even the playing field in South Sudan a little more, so that guys with the biggest guns don’t dominate that place for the foreseeable future?  And I look at historical precedent, where in the South African situation, the apartheid situation, where international pressure, in the context of the anti-apartheid efforts and the extraordinary efforts on the ground that the South Africans waged was a critically important ingredient in the overall transformation, very similar to the blood diamonds wars in West Africa … [it] wasn’t the panacea in the early 2000’s, but it removed, or it dramatically reduced the gasoline.  International gasoline was being poured on those domestic fires, in three different countries within a couple of years in these places, those being Sierra Leone, Liberia and even in Angola you saw it, and led to these active wars.  And we were able to have some sort of active transformation in at least two of these countries.  Angola, lagging behind, is still an authoritarian state.  So, there are solutions that are short of some kind of international military response that is never going to come.  And I think, in this case, it’s addressing those economic roots of the problem which is one of the central parts of what outsiders can do to begin to create a situation where on the ground, negotiations between the relevant stakeholders in the future of countries like South Sudan can have a chance at determining their own future.

“The responsible question is … is how can you even the playing field in South Sudan a little more, so that guys with the biggest guns don’t dominate that place for the foreseeable future?”
–John Prendergast, Enough Project

Q: [from Sis. N’deye Ba of Senegal, from Act 4 Accountability, on the web at www.act4accountability.com] I pose this question not only to the panelists but also to anyone in the audience who is willing to have a larger conversation about it, perhaps after the event.  What can we as the Diaspora do?  What are some actionable items that we can do to assist in any way that we can, aside from just sending money back home as I’m sure a lot of us do?  There is a large population of recent college graduates who want to help but just don’t know how.  So I’d really appreciate any advice that you can share on that.

Q: [from Mr. Lawrence Friedman, economic development policy advocate for Africa over the last 25 years] I’d like to comment on economic development in providing long-term stability with mitigating enterprises.  And I don’t think we’ve done enough.  Maybe this humanitarian crisis that we’re in now will, maybe, lead to a change in policy.  If you look at where transformative pockets are active in Africa, you have to look at China, the Brits … they’re building railroads in Kenya, railroads in Ethiopia which I was on, railroads in Nigeria.  We’re not doing that.  This gives people jobs.  This gives people economic development.  This gives people hope for the future.  In northeast Nigeria, I remember the Lake Chop Basin Commission and I remember I’m advocating a program to refurbish the lake.  Bring water into the lake which would improve the economic development.  So I know everybody’s doing everything for the humanitarian crisis, but could this not be a period where we change the Western policy of the EU and the West and invest billions of dollars in infrastructure the way the Chinese are doing?  Long term loans, low interest.  The previous Administration didn’t want to have anything to do with that.  Maybe this Administration will change.  The president of our country and the president of China are meeting. … but I see this as an opportunity in the midst of a crisis to actually develop a positive, long-term policy which we have not done for many, many years.

GENERAL WARD:
I think without question, the activity that we’ve seen on the Continent of Africa by other nations, from China to Russia to Brazil to India, not classifying them one way or the other but the fact that they are there and involved in substantial ways with respect to infrastructure, major policies and programs that have implications for other things to occur, from energy to manufacturing, the involvement of our government in that is clearly not what we see by other governments.  Our models look different.  Our private enterprise, our private business sector has a role to play also.  And so I believe a part of that dynamic, and it is causing it such that our private business sector feels as if it too has a stake, a role, and, like any private business, it’s in their interest to be on the Continent to do these things as well.  And so, from my perspective, a policy and overarching long-term approach that is taken that promotes development, infrastructure, business, local entrepreneurship, investment are all things that would lead to an environment that would be less susceptible to conflict, and thus, obviously, I think in the best interests of the United States of America.  So, I agree, it makes sense, and we aren’t doing what other nations do, and not that we have to do exactly what other nations do.  It’s not my point.  But doing the things that America does do well, we grow business.  We know how to do that.  We have to have an environment on the Continent that is conducive to that.  And so, a degree of security is important.  So that has to be there as well.  But that’s not all that’s required, and so these other things, from infrastructure to empowering locals, business entrepreneurs, supporting those of various means, be it our various banking programs, be it our various programs that are traditionally sponsored by USAID.  We talk about the World Food Programme as an example.  There’s another program out there, I believe it’s called Markets Too, that’s operating in Nigeria, which is aligned with the 2010 Feed the Future program, about 60 million dollars.  Not a lot of money, but doing some fantastic work, that’s also potentially threatened.  And this is about protecting local Nigerian agricultural development, for themselves as well as export farming.  Those are things that will make a difference over the long term in my estimation.

Q: What can we do to support the widows in Africa?  reports from the UN are saying that in some areas of the Continent, 45-50% of the population are widows.

JOHN PRENDERGAST:
I’ll just quickly say that it’s not my area of expertise, but certainly I have seen over the course of 30 years including working in and visiting Africa, quite a progression in the international and local aid efforts, writ large, focusing more and more on vulnerable groups and, of course, women who have lost their spouses, children — unaccompanied minors they call them — children who have lost their parents, have been increasingly targeted in the responses, with not just humanitarian assistance but the kind of assistance that helps create potential livelihoods for their future, and so I think there’s been increasing investment, all of it, at least in the United States, put at risk by this new budget that’s been forwarded by the White House, but certainly, from where we were in the 80’s to where we are now, I think there’s been a great deal of better understanding, better targeting and more resources going to vulnerable communities in those local areas.  A very general comment, but I think it’s important to note that there has been some progress.

GENERAL WARD:
And I would certainly support that.  I don’t have the answer, but I know that whatever we do that supports widows and women in the society is a wise investment.  It’s something important to do.  We ought to be looking at ways that we can do more.  I’ve seen in too many places globally, from the Balkans to the middle east to the Continent of Africa, women who were empowered, either because they had been subject to some catastrophic event, loss of loved ones, their children, their spouses, who were then empowered to make a difference in their society, and they do it.

Summary of the Discussion

DR. MUYANGWA:
it really hits you in the face about the food insecurity situation that is unfolding globally and on the Continent: 20 million people impacted by famine, perhaps the largest crisis since the founding of the UN in 1945. 

Dr Monde Muyangwa 1One is also struck by the tepid response of the international community to the crisis, which is one of the reasons why I’m thankful to see all of you here. … We need to draw more attention to this issue.  As of today only 10% of the required 4.4 billion dollars has been raised to address this issue.  Now, one could say, maybe this is an awareness issue.  If it is let’s go on and keep raising that awareness.  One could argue that it’s a question of fatigue amongst those who provide the resources.  One could also argue that it is a continuing dialog, a debate that we’ve had for many, many years about just how important Africa is to all of us, and we see this playing out in the budget priorities that are being proposed. 

In terms of the immediate addressing of the situation to minimize the loss of lives, I heard the speakers address a number of issues, one of which was the issue of access, physical access to the people who need help the most.  That we need to do a better job of that.  But i think the second definition of that that was alluded to but not really addressed in depth has to do with the restrictions that some of these governments are placing on that access.  That issue needs to be addressed and we need to put more pressure on these governments to allow that access.  But also just to increase resources to allow us to reach the people who need the help the most.  I also heard from different quarters in the Q&A about tapping more and empowering more of the African respondents who are on the ground and actually working in their communities, identifying them, and seeing how we can give them a little bit more to be able to do more of the work they are already doing in their space. 

I thought that we really had a powerful discussion about the causes and drivers of this conflict, of the famine and the food insecurities in these countries.  And all of our speakers spoke to the fact that this crisis consists of man-made factors but also natural factors, a drought that’s overlaid with conflict, mostly a man-made problem, but also some of the choices that various African leaders have made that contributed to the crisis.  Amongst those, we’ve heard how governance and leadership matter.  And one of the things that I think we need to look squarely in the face, and for this I’ll look to my African Brothers and Sisters, is that … African governments and leaders have to take even more responsibilities for what their neighbors are doing on the governance front.  It’s the lack of inclusive governance as we’ve heard, the lack of government that’s accountable to its people, government that’s stealing resources blind from their people, even as these crises unfold.  That is something that, squarely, African leaders ought to address more, that’s part of the problem here.  Governance also matters, we’ve heard, in another way, in that, having a government in Somalia, the entry points for addressing the crisis in Somalia are very different than those that we have in South Sudan, than those that we had in Somalia in 2011 in part because we now have a government in place that’s trying to address the issues.  Unfortunately, the government in South Sudan, as we’ve heard, has not been very helpful in that space.

“Nine of 16 United Nations peacekeeping missions are in Africa.  that’s nine peacekeeping missions too many.”
–Dr. Monde Muyangwa, Wilson Center

On the long-term solutions on the governance front, I’m struck by the number of people who talked governance here and the number of times the governance issue came up in the audience.  From my perspective, I think that one of the issues that we need to look at from the Washington perspective has been the declining budgets for inclusive governance and democracy within the US budget.  And this is not to point the finger at any one Administration.  But this budget has been declining, starting in the Bush Administration years, coming through to the Obama years, and as I heard every single one of our speakers here touch on the issue of governance and why it’s important, and so investing in that space is clearly something that we’re going to have to look at, and directing more resources to that issue is something that we need to take a look at. 

We heard about all three African countries [discussed today], that the famine and food insecurity has been driven by conflict.  Nine of 16 United Nations peacekeeping missions are in Africa.  that’s nine peacekeeping missions too many.  And so, the point that was made earlier on, about [how] we need to figure out a way of minimizing Africa’s fragility, of minimizing Africa’s risk to conflict, that cannot be overstated.  Look at the three case studies that we have looked at today.  Underpinning those is the role that conflict has played in leading us to this situation that we are in today.  So that’s something else that we need to look at.

I was happy to hear the General talk about [how] security was important but we need to do more than just security.  We need to achieve a better balance between security and investment in development.  That’s what’s going to get us to the long-term picture that we’re looking at, of more food-secure African countries.

From a personal perspective, we haven’t yet articulated an Africa policy, the current Administration has not.  But what I hear from the speakers, and I hear from all of you, is that, even as we look at the budget of this country and our short-term or national interests, that we not lose sight of the long-term picture.  That we not let security dictate how we engage and invest and develop relationships with other parts of the world.  This is going to be an especially important thing to Africa, where we know that we have some serious security concerns, but as John said, security should not be the only lens through which we look at how we engage with Africa. … looking beyond security, and looking beyond the here-and-now, to focus on the long term of what we would like US-Africa relations to be like in another 20, 30 years or so, and how we get there.

There was a question that was raised about long-term food sustainability.  That has to be what we focus on.  Even as we address the famine here today, our long-term initiatives, our long-term objectives really ought to be about how do we engender long-term food security in Africa that’s African-owned and African-driven.  So, as we look at our programs, as we look at our policies, how are we embedding that into those policies to ensure that that’s exactly what we’re pushing for over the long term?

“[O]ur long-term objectives really ought to be about how do we engender long-term food security in Africa that’s African-owned and African-driven.”
–Dr. Monde Munyangwa, Wilson Center

And then, as I conclude my summary … two points.  One was made by our last question here on ensuring that vulnerable populations are accounted for, as we work on addressing the immediate famine and food insecurity by also trying to work on long-term food security and sustainability.  I think these are key issues that we need to interrogate as we build policies, as we build programs, as we build initiatives.  And then the final point was about the role of the African Diaspora.  Africa has one of the most active Diasporas in this country.  But I fear that we don’t take advantage of that Diaspora to the extent that we could, to actually do a whole lot more for and with the Continent.  I know a lot of organizations are already tapping into that Diaspora, but I think there is more that could be done, and so how do we put our heads together to figure out, how do we energize that Diaspora and include it and embed it even more in the work that we are doing, whether it’s at the policy level, whether it’s independent initiatives of their undertaking, or whether it’s engaging in official Africa here as represented in Washington?

So, some really, really good and powerful takeaways for all of us as we think more about how we can actually go from where we are today to more action that’s required to change and alleviate the situation in the countries that we’ve been talking about.

Please join me in thanking our speakers.

CLOSING REMARKS BY CONGRESS MEMBER KAREN BASS:
This was just very, very informative. … And I want everyone to know, this is not just a one time thing.  I don’t want anybody to think that we’re going to forget this and move on to another issue.  But I would like to ask the panel to continue to assist us as Congress to continue to figure out how to respond to this, and of course, most notable for me is understanding the role that conflict plays.  You added a whole other dimension … in terms of talking about the money that is leaving the country, resources, and Monde, you mentioned one of the last questions about the Karen Bass 1Diaspora, I do think that one of our next moves should be to have another event similar to this that focuses on the Diaspora, and I was speaking in the back with a representative from the Somalian Embassy, because I think, in terms of raising public awareness within Congress, it’s also about raising public awareness within our country, the fact that African immigrants are some of the most educated immigrants and the role they play, not just with remittances, but also conducting business in their home countries, and the significant leadership role that they should play now, as we address this crisis.  And so, I want everyone to know that we will continue, this will not be our last event, and we look for all of your input as to how we should proceed.  We just can’t sit back and say that 20 million people are at risk for starvation, and our country is not going to play a role that we have played historically.  Again, I go back to a comment that I made in the beginning.  I think that the role we played around Ebola, in terms of galvanizing and mobilizing the entire world to address the crisis, that at one point, the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] talked about a million people dying, and it was nowhere near that because … the world acted, the world responded, and stamped it out before it got completely out of control and I think that’s exactly what we need to do now.  But, again, one of the most significant points that each panelist made over and over again is that yes, we have to address the crisis today, but it would be extremely short-sighted if we didn’t have a more in-depth, long-term response, because, given our world, the level of technology, science, all of the advancement, we should not be sitting in the 21st Century, even talking about famine.  Thank you very much.

“We should not be sitting in the 21st Century, even talking about famine.”
–Congress Member Karen Bass

Posted in Diaspora News, SRDC News0 Comments

Strategy for Marrying the African Union and the African Diaspora for Agenda 2063

Strategy for Marrying the African Union and the African Diaspora for Agenda 2063

By David L. Horne, Ph.D.
for the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)

The AU Diaspora proposal was officially announced in 2003-2005.  The African Union, via its Constitutive Act (AU Constitution) amendment 3(q), said to the Diaspora, come on home, we want you back.  The AU Constitutive Act (AU constitution), as amended in 2003, declared that the AU shall invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union.  And to be sure, the Diaspora being invited back to the house by the AU was defined by the AU as people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.

All well and good.  However, over twelve years later, the Diaspora has still not been allowed to accept that invitation and build its participatory contribution to the AU’s mission.  The Statues of ECOSOCC, established to guide the establishment and the operations of the permanent civil society commission inside the African Union, including the membership from the Diaspora, called for 20 elected civil society members from the Diaspora alongside 130 continental African members.  To date there are and have been no elected Diaspora members.

Why?

  1. It has been noted that Article 3(q) of the Constitutive Act has not been ratified by the requisite percentage of AU members.  However, that is an irrelevancy.  Not only have virtually all of the other amendments approved along with Article 3(q) (none of them ratified either) been implemented into regular AU operations, the AU has continued to trumpet its commitment to the Diaspora, famously including the expensive, widely-promoted Global African Diaspora Summit in South Africa, 2012.  Regardless of the ratification issue, the AU has operated as if the Diaspora relationship is a fait accompli, when it is clearly not.
  2. The AU designated the Diaspora participation to begin in the AU’s ECOSOCC Commission.  There was a guide prepared and approved by the AU to instruct those interested in how to achieve that participation called the Statues of ECOSOCC.  In Article 3(3), those Statues state, ECOSOCC shall also include social and professional groups in the African Diaspora organizations in accordance with the definition (of the Diaspora) approved by the Executive Council.  In Article 5 (3), it is stated, African Diaspora organizations shall establish an appropriate process for determining modalities for elections and elect twenty (20) CSOs (civil society organizations) to the ECOSOCC General Assembly.  CIDO, the agency assigned by the AU to manage Diaspora relations, has, for over 12 years, ignored that ECOSOCC instruction.  Diaspora organizations which have offered such modalities have been routinely ignored or rebuffed, and all requests for a Technical Workshop sponsored by ECOSOCC or CIDO to arrive at an AU-approved method of electing Diaspora CSOs to ECOSOCC have gone unheeded.

    Instead, a highly ineffective strategy of appointing individual members of the Diaspora known to CIDO administrators (like a teacher’s pet) to represent the Diaspora in ECOSOCC (as done in 2008 and again in 2014-15) has yielded nothing of value in the effort to bring the Diaspora into the AU. Here is the truism: No one or two individuals nor one Diaspora organization is capable of representing the Africa Diaspora as a whole inside the AU. There are simply too many variable experiences and interests involved. The appointment of two individuals in 2008—one from Central America and one from the Caribbean—as ex-officio (supposedly non-voting) members of ECOSOCC, as allowed by the Statues, did nothing to move the Diaspora forward toward full participation in the AU. Like a house being built, the foundation must first be laid, and the AU-Diaspora relationship needs such a foundation.

    If the two Diaspora members appointed in 2008 had made regular, accurate reports to a Diaspora network of constituents that demonstrated the growing importance of the AU-Diaspora relationship, that would have helped begin the building of the necessary foundation. Unfortunately, only one of those ex-officio Diasporans—the one from the Caribbean Pan African Network (CPAN) did that. It was a start, but clearly not enough. The other appointed representative (from Costa Rica in Central America) simply hoarded whatever information she garnered, and did virtually nothing to build the idea of a meaningful relationship between the AU and the Diaspora even in her own country. That was an opportunity lost.

    The 2014-15 appointment of another individual “friend” of a CIDO executive to represent the Diaspora in ECOSOCC has already begun demonstrating the same results as the 2008 appointments. Why won’t CIDO and ECOSOCC follow the approved ECOSOCC Statues? Diasporans need to elect their own representatives and the community education required to do that will also help build a solid foundation for developing the AU-Diaspora relationship.

  3. There is a prevailing, mistaken view among the few thousand Diasporans already interested in this process that the Diasporans the AU invited are essentially the “modern” Diasporans — those recent migrants from African countries to North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, etc., rather than the “historical” Diaspora — those descendants of victims of the Transatlantic and Arab slave trades.  That rumor has been allowed to fester and grow within many Diasporan communities, and there have already been too many Internet comments, meetings, and conferences which have promoted this falsehood, with little attention being paid to correct it.  Thus, a toxic rivalry now exists between various groups within the few thousand Diasporans already committed to the AU-Diaspora process over this misunderstanding, and it has negatively affected the further development of that AU-Diaspora relationship.
  4. The vast majority of the African Diaspora do not feel that they have any meaningful stake (no “skin in the game”) in building the AU-Diaspora relationship.  What can or will such a relationship do to stop police shootings of unarmed African Americans, or daily racial discrimination in Canada, or continued government seizure of citizenship homes and property in Central America, or the annual celebrations of Swarte Peete in the Netherlands?  Of course, a well-laid out and marketed information campaign can correct that situation, but none is currently operating towards that goal (including the Legacy Projects).

Suggested Strategies to Move Forward 

 

**The overall goal of these combined activities is to build a very strong foundation for the AU-Diaspora relationship and to begin to build the whole house necessary for the Diaspora to evolve into its Sixth Region status and its rightful place within Agenda 2063.

 

  1. The AU, through CIDO or ECOSOCC, should immediately schedule and hold a Technical Workshop to Establish a Viable Plan to Elect 20 Diasporans to the AU.  This has been promised for several years, but continually postponed.  All Diasporan organizations with plan proposals should be heard and voted on at this gathering, and one general plan that can be adjusted for each of the various Diasporan communities should be adopted and promulgated.  Along with the AU, the Diaspora should be willing to support financially whatever plan proposal is adopted.
  2. Howard University annually hosts a Model African Union conference which draws upwards of 500 students from various colleges and universities.  Ambassador Amina Ali has provided the opening keynote address for this gathering for the last three years.  The AU should get even more involved in this annual conference, presenting a Kwame Nkrumah/Haile Selassie/N.D. Zuma award for the best diplomatic delegation.  The AU should encourage more regional Model AU conferences in different parts of the Diaspora.  One already occurs in Georgia/South Carolina during the fall, and a new one is presently being scheduled in California in November.  An international one regularly occurs in London.  These gatherings promote the idea of youth learning to represent different African members of the AU, immersing themselves in the histories and foreign policy positions of those countries, and using diplomacy to practice arriving at solutions to real issues the AU faces.  All of the African Studies Departments and Programs in the U.S.A., Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe will be asked to create teams, if they have not already done so, and to further support teams if already engaged.
  3. The Diaspora must be allowed to promote the real possibility of dual-citizenship opportunities becoming available to members of the Diaspora.  That is something to strive for within Diasporan communities.  Marcus Garvey’s UNIA-ACL, which is still a very viable entity, already has a well-developed dual citizenship process which should be further explored and possibly adopted.  The U.N.I.A. process requires Diasporans interested in dual citizenship to meet a criteria, including having at least the minimum resources on hand not to become a burden on the African country to which they migrate.  Every volunteer does not get to go—there are mutual obligations to be fulfilled.
  4. The Legacy Projects which are a result of the Global African Diaspora Summit, 2012, have thus far been a bust, with the World Bank seizing control of remittances and other elements.  Two ideas also agreed upon in the final Declaration document from the Global African Diaspora Summit need to be implemented at once — the Diaspora Consultation Forum, and the Diaspora Advisory Board.  There should be a public report provided to the various Diasporan networks each time there is a meeting of each of those entities.
  5. There should be a proliferation and re-energizing of regional annual Pan African cultural festivals in the Diaspora, including Pan African film festivals and inter-cultural activities such as those that occur annually in the Virgin Islands and other parts of the Caribbean.
  6. Eventually, the African Diaspora needs to become a Regional Economic Community in order to become an equal part of the AU.  Towards building that SREC, African Diaspora Chambers of Commerce need to be established in every part of the Diaspora in order to construct a network of economic support, trade and business activity among the various Diasporas.  Included in this would be legislative activity to aid economic development in Africa and the Diaspora, for example, the recent successful re-approval of an expanded African Growth and Opportunity Act ( AGOA) in the U.S.A., with the help of the Diaspora.  Currently, there is at least one annual Pan African Business and Trade Conference that occurs annually in California towards completing the building of this economic network throughout the Diaspora.  It should be supported and duplicated elsewhere.
  7. Based on one of the other decisions made at the Global African Diaspora Summit, elected Diasporans should have the opportunity to join the Pan African Parliament, at first as Observers, and later as full-fledged voting members.
  8. A Speaker’s Bureau specifically to schedule lectures on the viability of Agenda 2063 and the place of the Diaspora within that agenda should be established immediately.  Black History Month 2016 and beyond should see such presentations.
  9. There currently exists an African basketball team started by former NBA players Manute Bol (now an Honored Ancestor), Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo.  It is suggested that the AU negotiate with these players-owners to call the team the African Union basketball team, and to take that team on tour throughout the Diaspora, playing marketed games with Diasporan teams, similar to the lengthy tours of the Harlem Globetrotters, who traveled all over the world as cultural ambassadors.
  10. The AU should sign more Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Diasporan organizations willing to work hard to help build the AU and develop Africa, similar to the MOU the AU recently signed with the chief organizers of the so-called 8th PAC which met in Accra, Ghana in March, 2015.  There are several regional-level Diaspora organizations that are quite capable, prepared and quite ready to do this.

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Role of Reparations in Black World Development

Role of Reparations in Black World Development

Guadeloupe Symposium Explores Stratégies for the Role of Réparations in Black World Development

By: Al Washington, Executive Director
Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce

 

On 15, 16 July 2011 on the beautiful Caribbean island of Guadeloupe the International Committee of Black People (CIPN), the Roots Association (Association Racines) and the International Movement for Reparations (MIR) organized a successful 2-day symposium on the theme: “Black World Development Strategies Based on Reparations.”  The symposium was organized to analyze remedial issues associated with the legitimacy of reparations, the beneficiaries of reparations and the source of reparations.

Presentations and participants in this important ground breaking symposium included PADU représentatives and papers from Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, Africa and the United States.

 

The issue of legitimacy focused on reparations as an internationally recognized remedy for the institution of slavery and the slave trade as a crime against humanity. The issue of beneficiaries examined who should be deemed eligible to claim reparations either individually or collectively. In the event of receiving financial remedies the symposium examined and recommended the potential source of reparations. Potential sources included the nation States which have historically organized slave trade and commerce (Portugal, Spain, Holland, Great Britain, France, and the United States) and/or the economic and financial groups (shipowners, traders, banks, insurance companies, etc.) that have implemented their State’s mercantilist objectives on the West Coast of Africa and the colonies. Finally the symposium examined the modalities for calculating and quantifying reparations and recommended strategic approaches for black world economic development when they are acquired.

 

The essential theme of black world economic development and/or rehabilitation dominated the symposium as something that can and must be done with or without reparations. There was general consensus that reparations while justified would not be obtained without a protracted and strategic struggle. In the meantime the black world cannot afford to wait for reparations to create the institutions we need to further our cultural and economic development. We must seriously examine, identify and utilize the resources we currently possess to develop the foundational institutions needed for our economic development which can be in place and functioning when reparations are eventually obtained. Development strategies proposed to accomplish this objective highlighted implementation strategies for economic autonomy in which our black production capacity is controlled by black capital resources.

 

Guadeloupe and Martinique proposals presented by economists Jean Paul Eluther and Garcin Malsa emphasized building nationalist economic infrastructures that directly benefitted the people. The new economy should be based on local production of goods and services that are adaptive to their islands’ unique socio-economic context. Key high potential industry sectors that should be developed immediately included agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and business services (computer sciences, accounting etc.), that could potentially attract foreign markets.

 

Haitian proposals recommended by Professor Fritz Deshommes of the Universite D’Etate D’Haiti stressed the urgent need for economic development strategies that addressed both the political and financial reparations needed to rehabilitate a Haitian society which continues to be punished for “daring to show the path of freedom to other (black) peoples and countries”. Economic political reformation will require policies that bring about 1.) agrarian reforms oriented to the Haiti’s basic needs, 2.) universal education, 3.) the decentralization of political power and 3.) cultural reforms that beginwith the establishment of Creole as Haiti’s national language.

 

U.S. proposals presented by Dr. Sheila Walker, the Executive Director of Afrodiaspora Inc and Al Washington, the Executive Director of the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce focused on the problem of overcoming our negative self perceptions caused by the identities we have acquired and often continue to cultivate as a direct result of over 400 plus years of slavery, defacto segregation and racism in the U.S.

 

Recent and ongoing economic and social studies conducted by the National Urban League (1) often exacerbate this negative identity crisis by comparing our condition to the status of white people in America. It was noted that Randall Robinson has correctly observed that “…the wealth gap separating blacks from whites…has mushroomed beyond any ability of black earned income ever to close it. This too is the result of long-term structural racial discrimination….” (2) We must therefore use our local resources and anticipated reparations to acknowledge and develop black local economies that do not use white economical standards to determine their relative worth or success. Our history both internationally and in the U.S. provides successful examples and models we have used and are currently employing to build and sustain local black economies. In the U.S. communities called “Black Wall Streets” were established in North and South Carolina, Florida, and Oklahoma that provided historic and concrete examples of how successful black local economies have been and can be established in the midst of hostile segregated social and commercial environments. These models can and indeed must be recreated using capital provided by reparations and the resources we currently possess in the international African Diasporan community. Development should focus on the development of land trusts, investment funds, and the technology and labor needed to study, establish and sustain local black economies.

 

African development proposals presented by Georges Latevi Lawson Body recommended the creation of remittance based mutual credit trust funds that can be used to invest in economic development projects that build Africa’s local infrastructures and create jobs.  The symposium overall has laid the foundation of subsequent conferences that could potentially include all of the nations of the Caribbean. The Guadeloupe/Martinique collaboration provides the potential for two outstanding venues for future conference activities and development programs. In many ways I felt that both are in the process of initiating a new Caribbean based civil rights movement through which their black populations are collectively declaring their right to be free from the repression of their

French colonizers even as they begin to study and implement the socio-economic strategies needed to realize the economic and political freedom they desire and deserve. PADU must continue to support the development of this important program.

 

1 National Urban League Annual Report on “The State of Black America”
2 Randall Robinson, “The Debt, What America Owes to Blacks”

About the statue, La Mulatresse Solitude: in 1999 to commemorate the abolition of slavery, a sculpture in the memory of Guadeloupe’s legendary figure, Solitude was erected as homage and recognition of the victims of the slave-trade and anti-slavery resistance leaders. The statue was installed at the De la Croix roundabout intersection on the Boulevard des Héros, in Abymes, Guadeloupe. More about Solitude

Posted in Diaspora News, Guadeloupe Symposium2 Comments

Black  Canadians

Black Canadians

Black Canadians: A Brief History

Compiled by Ms. Sadie Kuehn, British Colombia, Canada.

Black slavery arrived in what is now Canada shortly after is brought to North America.
For 200 years, Black Canadian slaves were bought and sold at public auctions, whipped
publicly, and, in some instances, tortured.

So begins Colin Thomson’s (1979) book Blacks in deep snow: Black pioneers in Canada
which has a particular focus on Black people in Western Canada.

Today, the term ‘Black Canadian’ conceals the wide diversity of black people in Canada
who come from many different geographic regions. The earliest black settlers came in
the 1600s. Today, black immigrants come mostly from Africa and the Caribbean, and
from many different cultures within those regions. There is no typical Black Canadian,
but like the rest of Canadians, they reflect the exciting individual and group capabilities
and strengths we have come to expect from citizens of a pluralistic society.

The term black does not refer to biological race which is an unscientific and groundless
construct. What it represents is a range of skin colours and cultures that are socially
defined as ‘black’. As with members of any ‘race’ there is more within group differences
than between group differences.

A Historical Timeline

1492
First know black man to reach North America is Pedro Alonso Nino who sailed
with Columbus in 1492.

1608
Beginning of black settlement in Canada coincides with the establishment of Port
Royal, a French outpost in what is now Nova Scotia.

1628
In Montréal, the first known black man to be sold into slavery in Canada is a
black slave from Madagascar given the name of Olivier Le Jeune.

1685
French Law “Code Noir” regulates the practice of slavery in New France. Among
its statutes are that slaves are chattels to be owned by their masters.

1700’s
Most of the roughly 1200 black slaves in Canada are domestics.

1709
Slavery is declared legal in New France. Black slaves can be bought and sold (the
existing practice is now codified in law).

1734
A black woman named Angelique is arrested, tried, tortured, convicted and
hanged for allegedly setting fire to her owner’s house after she threatened to sell
her (see http://www.canadianmysteries.ca/sites/angelique/accueil/indexen.html for
more information). She was tortured and then hanged in public view near the
Place d’Armes, Montréal. Black men and women are routinely whipped for
misdemeanors such as entering an all-white public hall or petty theft.

1777
Canadian slaves escape to Vermont where slavery has been abolished.

1790
Underground Railroad begins operating.

1788-1792
Black people living in the Maritimes flee slavery and racism in Canada for the
Northern U.S. via a south-bound ‘underground railroad’. As many as 60% of
Black people in Ontario return to the U.S. after the civil war and 1200 free Blacks
leave for Sierra Leone, Africa.

1793
Slavery is abolished by the legislature of Upper Canada but continues in practice.

1797
A slave, Emmanuel Allen is old in Montréal.

1800
Slavery ends in Québec.

1833
Slavery is abolished within the British Empire. Black enslavement ends, but the
history of second-class citizenship begins. Black people in Canada receive
sporadic, badly financed and, in Ontario and Nova Scotia, segregated schools by
fact and by law (1850) until 1964 (no, not a typo!).

1839
Black Canadians are allowed to sit on juries.

Mid-1800s
Attempts are made to drive black people out of Canada by citing the climate as
being unsuitable and too harsh for them to endure (despite the fact that they had
been here for more than 2 centuries).

1840’s
Africville established in Halifax.

1907
Oklahoma adopts statehood. The movement of white settlers into the area forces
black people to flee persecution. About 1000 come to Western Canada
(Saskatchewan and Alberta) in 1911 while others go to Manitoba and Ontario.

1910
Life expectancy for Black North American males is 34 years (49 years for white
men), 38 for women (52 for white women).

1911
Protests around black immigration are circulated in Edmonton and the issue
becomes a political hot potato as noted by L.M. Fortier of Canadian Immigration
at the time:

There is nothing in the Canadian immigration law which bars any person on the
ground of colour, but, since coloured people are not considered as a class likely
to do well in this country, all other regulations respecting health, money, etc., are
strictly enforced and it is quite possible that a number will be rejected on such
grounds.

Actually, this was untrue as the 1910 immigration act gave the government
enormous discretionary power to regulate immigration through Orders in Council.
Section 38 allowed the government to prohibit landing of immigrants under the
“continuous journey” rule, and of immigrants “belonging to any race deemed
unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada, or of immigrants of any
specified class, occupation or character”.  The Act also extended the grounds on
which immigrants could be deported to include immorality and political offenses
(Section 41). The Act introduced the concept of “domicile” which was acquired
after three years of residence in Canada (later five years). In 1910 when Black
Oklahoman farmers developed an interest in moving to Canada to flee increased
racism at home, a number of boards of trade and the Edmonton Municipal
Council called on Ottawa to prevent black immigration. In 1911 an order in
council was drafted prohibiting the landing of “any immigrant belonging to the
Negro race, which race is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of
Canada”. The order was never proclaimed, but the movement was nevertheless
effectively stopped by agents hired by the Canadian government, who held public
meetings in Oklahoma to discourage people, and by “strict interpretation” of
medical and character examinations. Of more than 1 million Americans estimated
to have immigrated to Canada between 1896 and 1911, fewer than 1,000 were
African Americans.’’ The Canadian border was virtually closed to black people.

1920’s-1930’s
Court rulings allow black people to be legally refused service in Canadian
restaurants.

1920’s
Ku Klux Klan enters Canada.

1950
Order in council issued replacing previous measures on immigration selection.
The preference was maintained for British, Irish, French and U.S. immigrants.
The categories of admissible European immigrants were expanded to include
healthy applicants of good character with skills and who could readily integrate.
The order gave wide discretion for refusals and Blacks continued to be for the
most part excluded.

1951
Rosemary Brown, human rights activist, feminist and former MP (1972) arrives in
Canada from Trinidad to study at McGill University.

1952
A new Immigration Act was passed, less than a month after it was introduced in
the House (it came into effect 1 June 1953). This Act, which did not make
substantial changes to immigration policy, gave the Minister and officials
substantial powers over selection, admission and deportation. It provided for the
refusal of admission on the grounds of nationality, ethnic group, geographical
area of origin, peculiar customs, habits and modes of life, unsuitability with
regard to the climate, probable inability to become readily assimilated, etc.
Homosexuals, drug addicts and drug traffickers were added to the prohibited
classes. The Act provided for immigration appeal boards, made up of department
officials, to hear appeals from deportation.

1960
Significant numbers of immigrants from West Indies begin to arrive.

1962
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration implemented new Immigration
Regulations that removed most racial discrimination, although Europeans retained
the right to sponsor a wider range of relatives than others.’’

1964
Racially segregated schools in Ontario legally abolished.

1968
Bylaw cited in a Nova Scotia town prevents the burial of a black child in the
cemetery.

1970’s
Africville destroyed. Cited as one of the worst examples of Canadian racism. See
http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/waymac/African%20Canadian%20Studies/Unit%208.
%20Afro-Canada/africville.htm for the story.

1992
A group of black youth gather in Toronto to protest the ‘innocence’ of police
officers who shot a black youth in the back of his head. In another case, one of
“mistaken identity,” police shot and killed Marcellus Francois while he sat in his
car (Montreal).

2005
Michaëlle Jean becomes Governor General of Canada

Posted in Black Canadians, Diaspora News0 Comments

AU Diaspora Meeting

AU Diaspora Meeting

In February 2011, the African Union (AU) held the Technical Experts Meeting (TCEM) on the African Diaspora in Pretoria, South Africa.  Among the invited attendees were Pan African Elder Statesman Baba Dudley Thompson, SRDC’s International Facilitator Dr. David Horne, SRDC Representatives Oscar Braithwaite (Canada), Clariss Aline Diakite (Washington State),  Ron Kamau Taplin (Washington State) and Line Hilgros (Guadeloupe-SRDC affiliate).  Below is official  AU TCEM report.

REPORT OF THE TECHNICAL EXPERTS MEETING ON THE AFRICAN DIASPORA (TCEM), PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, 21-22 FEBRUARY 2011

Council will recall that the 16th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 31 January 2011 adopted Decision 354 (XVI) which, included a Roadmap for the Implementation of the Diaspora Initiative in the build up to the Global Diaspora Summit.  The Roadmap stipulated the need for a Technical Experts meeting (TCEM) on the African Diaspora in the second half of February 2011.  The Technical Experts meeting was held in Pretoria, South Africa from 21-22 February 2011.

Objectives

The meeting had four main objectives. First, it examined, reviewed and updated the Ministerial Outcome Documents prepared in 2007, with emphasis on seeking to remove bracketed areas in which consensus or agreements could not be reached previously.  Second, It also considered additional elements that could provide new inputs in view of the submissions of the Caribbean leaders to the AU Summit at its 15th Ordinary Session of the Assembly held in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2010 as well as developments that have arisen in the wider context of the AU’s Diaspora Initiative since the Ministerial meeting on the African Diaspora held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November 2007. Thirdly, it identified priority areas of intervention for action to implement the draft plan of action contained in the Ministerial Outcome Document of 2007. Finally, the meeting sought to develop proposals for “bankable projects” in the thematic areas of political, economic and social co-operation that can be translated into concrete or programmatic deliverables through appropriate and effective implementation plans or framework of action.

Agenda and Work Programme

The agenda and work programme are attached.  The meeting was conducted through a combination of plenary and breakaway working sessions.  It began with an opening session that highlighted the purpose and objectives of the meeting and its expected outcomes.  The design was to set the pace for the thematic discussions on political, economic and social cooperation that was conducted in three breakaway groups.  The meeting then reconvened in a plenary session that reviewed outcomes and set the tone for subsequent discussions.  A final plenary session reviewed and summarized the final outcome.

Attendance

The meeting was attended by about 100 participants comprising a mix of delegates and technical experts from Diaspora communities in Europe, the Caribbean, South and North America and the Middle East and Gulf regions as well as officials from CARICOM, the World Bank, Member States of the African Union and representatives of the African civil society covering the five main regions of the continent and the Diaspora.  It also included representatives of the South African Government, particularly the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) as well as the AUC.

Opening Session

The opening session included five main presentations. The first was a brief welcome note by Ambassador Rakwena, the focal point for the Technical Experts meeting within the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).  This was followed by a short address by Ambassador Kudjoe, the Deputy Director-General of the Department, who stood in for Dr. Ayanda Ntsabula, the Director-General of DIRCO.  In the address, Ambassador Kudjoe acknowledged the presence of the representatives of various states, international organizations as well as Diaspora communities as representing an effective stakeholder community that would enable its successful outcomes.  She outlined the purpose and objectives of the meeting as contained in the Roadmap approved by the Assembly of the Union and the organizational procedures and processes that had been taken to ensure that the meeting was convened in conformity with these objectives.  She then urged all the participants that were present to contribute effectively towards a meaningful outcome that can serve as the basis for a second Ministerial meeting that is tentatively scheduled to be held in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2011 in the lead up to the Global Diaspora Summit envisaged for 2012.

The third presentation by the Director, CIDO, AU Commission, Dr. Jinmi Adisa, was on behalf of the Chairperson of the Commission, His Excellency, Mr. Jean Ping.  The presentation situated the meeting in the wider context of the development of the AU’s Diaspora Initiative.  It traced the history of the initiative and its various benchmarks in order to locate the importance and orientation of the Technical Experts meeting (TCEM). It reiterated the objectives and expected outcomes of the TCEM and stressed its significance for the preparation of the Global Diaspora Summit.  He then provided details of activities and programmes that would be part of a follow-up process leading to the Summit and the ultimate implications and significance of the Summit itself.

The fourth presentation by Ambassador Dudley, who is widely acclaimed as the doyen in the Pan-African Movement was on the chronicles of the African Diaspora: Building Bridges between the Motherland and the African Diaspora.”  The presentation was a major contribution on the genealogy of the African Diaspora Movement and its various phases from the pre-colonial through the colonial to the post-colonial and contemporary periods.  Ambassador Dudley underlined the lessons learnt and accumulated through the process and emphasized that they should be condensed and enveloped within a progressive vision that would determine and establish the roadmap for the future.  The presentation was instructive particularly as the ninety-four year old veteran used his own participation and experience throughout the history and different phases of the Movement as a guide to establish the principles and objectives that must guide this roadmap for effective action in this context.

The final presentation was the keynote address by the Deputy Minister, Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the South Africa, Mr.  Marius Fransman.  His presentation went beyond the contextual premise of the preceding ones to focus on substantive issues and set the tone for the Experts Meeting.  The Minister traced the origins of the meeting to the 1st Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of the Union held in January 2003 in Addis Ababa, which adopted the Protocol on Amendment to the Constitutive Act of the Union.  In that Protocol, the AU declared that it shall “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union.”   The Minister added that the AU built upon this premise by adopting a definition of the Diaspora that would enable its participation in the affairs of the Union.  The AU defined “the African Diaspora as consisting of peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.”

The Minister saw this definition as derived from the primordial paradigm and ideological imperative of the Pan African project and established its roots in the successive waves of the African migration, particularly across the Atlantic, in the period of the Slave Trade.  He recognized that some elements of the African Diaspora have found issues with the definition but regarded it as encompassing and well-adapted to the requirements of the Union.  He, thus urged participants to look beyond procedural and definitional issues to focus on how the Diaspora Initiative would be translated to ensure structured and full integration of Diaspora actors and communities in structures and processes of the AU and its Member States.  Simultaneously, the discussions should also focus on how the African Diaspora would assist and contribute effectively to the development of national economic strategies and the integration and development efforts of the African continent as a whole.  He urged the Experts Meeting to tease out programmatic issues that would enable a framework of action through which Africa can assist the well-being of its Diaspora and in which the African Diaspora can play an effective and sustainable role in the economic advancement of Africa and enhance the pursuit of regional political and economic development of Member States of the Union and accelerate and consolidate the integration and development agenda of the African continent.

Summary of the outcomes of Discussions by Breakaway Thematic Groups on Political, Economic and Social Cooperation.

I. Political Cooperation

In the area of political cooperation, the Meeting identified the following priority areas of intervention as required to establish the effective framework of action to implement the Plan of Action contained in the Ministerial outcomes of 2007.

a) Ratification of Protocol of Amendment to the Constitutive Act

Urgent ratification of Protocol of Amendment to the Constitutive Act that enables the effective participation of the African Diaspora in the affairs of the African Union through its Article 3(q).

b) Strengthening relations between the AU and regional bodies and Diaspora Communities

Strengthening relations between the AU and regional bodies and governments of states in which significant Diaspora formations reside to promote a wider stakeholder community that supports this process.

c) Special Status for the Caribbean

Assigning special status to the States of the Caribbean Community which are closest to Africa in historical and spiritual terms, as “associate” Members of the African Union. Concurrently, the African Union should develop special ties with CARICOM as the regional body comprising all of these states through a Memorandum of Understanding.  The AU should establish a precise cooperation agenda with CARICOM that will support these objectives.

d) Enhanced opportunities for Diaspora Participation in AU Affairs

AU should provide enhanced opportunities for the closer involvement of Diaspora formations, communities and organizations as well entrepreneurs and investors in the affairs of the regional organization through appointment of Diaspora Experts, preferential dispositions and treatments of Diaspora populations. These would include invitation to Diaspora leaders and organizations and their close association with processes of policy formulation, implementation and evaluation across the broad range of the integration and development agenda of the AU. Such collaboration should also be leveraged for the promotion of a progressive global governance agenda, with pronounced emphasis on encouraging multilateralism and developmental approaches as well as the creation of a global Afrocentric movement.

e) Facilitation of Diaspora Inclusion in AU Structures and Processes

In the process of its institutional development, the AU must consolidate the ideal of the sixth region by urgent facilitation of direct involvement and participation of the Diaspora in AU structures and processes. Accordingly, there is the need to establish quickly and precisely the social and legal criteria that would facilitate such participation as well as organizational processes within Diaspora communities that would support such processes. This requirement should also be situated in the transformation of the AUC into an AU Authority.

f) Targeting the Needs of the Diaspora

The AU agenda of regional integration and development must also target the needs of the African Diaspora as the sixth region of Africa as well as Africa’s relationship with the rest of the World especially within the framework of it strategic partnerships.  It should also acknowledge the conditions and situations of African Diaspora populations, including the desire for reparations and the right of return.

II.   Economic Cooperation

The meeting identified eight key platforms of intervention as building blocks for a framework of action to implement the draft action plan on economic cooperation contained in the Ministerial Outcome Document of 2007 as follows:

a) Government Action to develop Integration Mechanisms

Government action is required to foster increased economic partnership by developing effective integration mechanisms to enhance close interaction between the AU and multilateral institutions of the South, especially those where the Diaspora reside. Such actions must include mechanisms that would facilitate or support the free movement of people, services and goods.

b) Mobilization of Capital to ensure sustained  economic cooperation and government and business entities in Africa and the Diaspora

Mobilization of capital was underlined as necessary to ensure sustained economic cooperation amongst government and business entities in African and regions where the Diaspora are resident.  Harnessing resources in this sphere should not be limited to remittances, which relate largely to recent migrants but should include finding mechanisms that would enable the Diaspora to invest in programmes arising out of this initiative.  The resources must be used to promote development, entrepreneurship and business opportunities in African and Diasporan regions.

c) The building of business linkages to associate the African Diaspora to the processes of social and economic development

It is essential to build business linkages between organized businesses in the African continent and the Diaspora on the basis of active collaboration, with a strong focus on small and medium size business as these promote entrepreneurship.

d) Use of Science and Technology

Premium must be placed on harnessing the opportunities offered by developments in the fields of science and technology to associate the Diaspora in developed countries with the processes of economic and social development in Africa.  This will require the coordination of centres of excellence in science and technology in Africa and the Diaspora to promote innovation that will enable Africa to respond to the challenges of modern economies including climate change.

e)     Prioritization of knowledge transfer and skills mobilization in areas of effective needs

Implementation plan would require focus on prioritization of knowledge transfer and skills mobilization in areas of Africa’s critical needs, particularly in regard of social development and economic rejuvenation.  In this respect, skills institutions in the Caribbean and Latin and South America should be engaged for exchange and knowledge.

f) Infrastructure Development

Priority must be assigned to enabling infrastructure development as an important catalyst for economic cooperation, with special emphasis on big projects and hard infrastructure like transport and communications that must also include the building of soft infrastructure.

g) Information Gathering and Dissemination Capacity

Priority should also be placed on the use of information gathering and dissemination capacity to produce accurate data that would inform policy development.  The provision of accurate and reliable data on demographics and economic profile of Diaspora communities as well as on Africa’s development needs will enable the implementation plans to match the supply of skills and asset to needs.

h) Climate Change

Economies in Africa and regions where the African Diaspora resides needs to adapt by adopting the new technologies for green economy cooperation between Africa and the rest of the global South towards a legally-binding climate change agreement that affirms the Kyoto Protocol and advance the principle of common, but differentiated responsibilities as a common goal.

III. Social Cooperation

The meeting identified six platforms of interventions as required for an effective framework of action to implement the draft plan of action contained in the Ministerial Outcome document of 2007 as follows:

a) Knowledge and Education

Emphasis must be placed on knowledge and education with special focus on the schooling of the girl child and universal primary education.  Such emphasis must assign priority to an inventory of Afrocentric educational institutions, adaptation of curriculum and textbooks, teacher certification, audio-visual equipment, the use of indigenous knowledge systems and existing special education programmes, with a focus on creating a common African educational platform on the basis of these data.

b) Coordinated Protection of Indigenous knowledge system to promote innovation

Concurrently, the use of indigenous knowledge require coordinated protection through international property and copyright mechanisms as well as a special AU Protocol on promotion and protection of indigenous knowledge systems.  The challenge in this context is to create a reliable single scientific portal containing information that would facilitate appropriate economically valuable and socially useable indigenous knowledge system as this will give Africa and the Diaspora an edge in respect of innovation.

c) Arts and Culture

Plans and interventions in this area should focus on broadening the definition of culture to include belief systems rather than the kind of culture that lends itself to comodification.  This approach would build on the factor of heritage to facilitate greater awareness and common purpose between continental and Diaspora Africans. Festival and cultural shows would be part of these endeavors but should focus not on their exotic nature but on the celebration of African civilization.

d) Media Outlets

Media outlets that exist in Africa and the Diaspora especially those that focus on citizens and their development issues must be brought together and linked in a structured fashion.  The creation of a single media portal for Africa and the Diaspora would be critical for Africa to respond to its image challenges, created by world media’s Afro-pessimistic coverage.  As special focus on new media technologies such as social networking portals is a necessary part of media reforms that should include promoting media freedoms on the whole.

e) Human and People’s Rights

Social cooperation must place premium on human and people’s rights representing a common heritage of Africans and the Diaspora given the history of slavery, colonialism and oppression after independence.  In this sphere, the Diaspora Initiative should not seek to re-invent the wheel, given the existence of the AU protocols and human rights institutions already in place. Rather the plan of action in the area of social cooperation must ensure that special attention, full respect and implementation of existing protocols and decisions should be placed on the international implementation of the outcomes of the World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, in 2002.

f) Migration

Migration should be underlined as a fundamental point of concern for the Diaspora with emphasis on urgent need to stem human trafficking, especially of children that were sent to work in the West and in Asia.  The plan of action should promote greater awareness of this problem and cooperation with Western and Asian regions to resolve it.  There is also a need for strategies to root out the causes of risky migration and to reverse the brain drain.

MECHANISMS FOR IMPLEMENTING MEASURES RECOMMENDED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF PRIORITY AREAS OF INTERVENTION

Based on these priority areas of intervention, the meeting put forward specific lines of action or recommendation that will serve as implementation tools as follows:

Political Cooperation

1)     The AU should formulate a plan of action that would facilitate the necessary signatures that are required to operationalize the Protocol of Amendment to the Constitutive Act by the end of the year 2012 in which the Global Diaspora Summit will take place.

2)     Increasing emphasis should be given to the establishment and consolidation of regional Diaspora networks. In particular, networks in Europe, the US, South American and Middle East should be established by 2012 while the Caribbean networks should be effectively consolidated in the same period.  The other networks in Asia, Oceana, and Australasia etc. should be established in 2013-2014, while the previous ones are being consolidated.

3)     The process of Regional Consultative Conferences should continue and be intensified particularly in areas where they have not yet taken place, with special focus on the Middle-East – and the Gulf regions.

4)     Legal and Social criteria for the participation of the Diaspora in the organs and institutions of AU should be finalized between 2011/2012. This would involve an AU framework document setting out the political and social criteria and differential access structures which would be complemented by set legal criteria for determining appropriate institutions and organizations that can take advantage on this process. This process would also involve a clearer definition of the obligations and responsibilities of members of the Sixth region as well as the 6th region itself within the wider African Community of the AU.

5)     The AU Commission and CARICOM should finalize and adopt a Memorandum of Understanding that will facilitate closer relationship between Africa and Caribbean and address issues considered earlier on in this context.

6)     Effective political measures should be taken to facilitate effective community relationship between continental Africans and its Diaspora. These would include the creation of a Diaspora webpage on the AU website in 2011, facilitation of movement of students and professionals of the African Diaspora to and within the African continent through improved visa arrangements and consideration of the implementation of a Schengen-type visa on the African continent based on agreement and collaboration among AU Member States.

7)     Harnessing Diaspora support for the integration and development agenda of AU and its Member States would involve creating effective synergies between national and continental Diaspora.  A meeting of Diaspora Desks and Ministries of Member States and the AU should be called as soon as possible to establish a foundation for this process.

8)     The AU should revive and strengthen the OAU initiative on Reparations as contained in the Abuja Declaration on Reparations that was championed by the Group of Eminent Persons. The Chairperson of the Commission should assume responsibility for reviving this initiative and serving as its champion in order to give it the necessary profile. Within this context, the AU should campaign for the implementation of all reparations oriented resolutions contained in the UN Durban Declaration and Programme of Action of 2011 and the Review conference of 2005.

9)     The AU should establish a Diaspora Advisory Board to support its policies, plans and programmes to address overarching issues of concern to Africa and its Diaspora. The Advisory Board should also assist the AU to create a Global Afrocentric movement dedicated towards the creation of a world order that would promote African empowerment and a related world order based on hope, equality and social justice.

Economic Cooperation

1)     An economic partnership arrangement should be established and fostered between the AU and CARICOM. All the States involved therein should promulgate preferential procurement policies that would enable the interlinkage of African and Diaspora organizations to support Africa’s development and integration agendas.

2)     Financial Instruments focusing on remittances and Investments should be established to facilitate the mobilization of capital that would strengthen links between Africa and the Diaspora.

3)     The AU should adopt and promote the “Development Market Place for the African Diaspora Model” DMADA as a framework for innovation and entrepreneurship that would facilitate development. Similarly, an African business portal should also be established as a source of information on resources and projects.

4)     A Research and Development fund should be established to promote science and technology partnerships and concrete support must be provided for the square kilometer away project.

5)     The AU should develop sector-specific data base to facilitate knowledge transfer and skills mobilization.

6)     Africa should establish an “Africa News Network” covering radio, television and online broadcasting to enable information gathering and dissemination capacity.

7)     The AU must develop a green corridors programme and a continental renewable energy initiative to promote a green agenda in the area of climate change.

Social Cooperation

1)     For the purpose of creating information accessibility and guidance the African Union should develop information hubs throughout Africa and the Diaspora regions with coordinated participation of relevant centers of Diaspora organizations such as the Diaspora African Forum.

2)     Ministries of Education of Member States of the Union and Diaspora government and communities all over the world should carry out an inventory of established African-centered educational institutions and use them to determine and recommend a common educational platform for Africans that would promote universal access to education.

3)     Similarly, there should be an inventory of best practices by governments and civil society on traditional knowledge systems.  This will facilitate the process of their harmonization and a special AU Protocol for the protection of indigenous knowledge systems and property rights.

4)     A framework that would enable Ministries of Culture of Member States of the Union and Diaspora formations to conduct mapping exercises of international arts and culture events, festivals and film expos should be established.  These should include festivals of traditional arts and culture and trade fairs.  The AU should formalize collaboration with the African Museum Association, the Caribbean Museum Association and the Southern African Museum Association for this purpose.

5)     AU Member States should convene a Media Summit in collaboration with African and Diaspora Media Organizations to identify best practices models and agree on a framework for the establishment of a new portal.  The Summit should also encourage AU Member States to enact legislation regarding freedom of information and develop internet access as a means of enhancing Africa’s image and popular participation in continental programmes.

OUTCOME, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Outcomes and Achievements

The process and outcome of the Technical Experts meeting was a significant and important step in the evolution of the Diaspora Initiative for a number of reasons. First, it revived and accelerated the momentum of the Diaspora Initiative that was stalled by the postponement of the Global Diaspora Summit in 2007.  Second, it was timely and held in accordance with the schedule set by the Roadmap that was adopted through Decision 354(XVI) of the 16th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on 31 January 2011.  Thus it not only fulfilled and implemented the Decision of the collective African leadership but also set the pace for the implementation of consequential and related aspects of the Roadmap.  Thirdly, the meeting afforded an important opportunity for a global engagement of Africans to refine and build on the agenda for rebuilding the global African family. The agenda of the Experts meeting was embracing and extensive providing the necessary context for updating, improving and elaborating the Ministerial Outcome documents of 2007.  Fourth and finally, the Technical Experts meeting added the extra-dimension of focusing on key platforms of interventions in the various sectors as well as mechanisms that can be used to implement the frameworks of action in such intervention platforms.  The design is to tease out bankable projects that could be accompanied by feasibility studies that would enable the Diaspora Programme to support processes of selecting projects that would help the AU extend the benefits of the Diaspora programme to its wider African populations within and outside the continent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Technical Experts Meeting offered a framework for a critical examination of the Ministerial Outcome Documents of 2007 in the light of current developments.  The outcome reaffirmed, in a broad sense, the validity of the Ministerial Outcome Document.  Improvements and elaborations were made in the context of the previous documents.  There were also innovative thrusts and nuances arising out of developments that have taken place overtime since 2007 but the broad texture and contents of the documents would remain largely the same.  The advantage of the Technical Workshop therefore, is that it establishes a framework for using all these elements to select specific projects that can enlarge the benefits of the Diaspora project in specific and small and general terms. Of course, the need for such specific projects, eventual choices and the derivation of resources to implement them must be subject to the political authority of the executive organs of the Union, namely the Executive Council and Assembly of the Union. The Technical Expert meeting has simply highlighted possibilities and prospects in this regard.

NEXT STEPS: RECOMMENDATION

The Technical Experts meeting ended with a recognition that the actualization of the objectives of the Diaspora Programme and adequate preparations for the Global Diaspora Summit would require urgent and effective follow-up process. The AU Commission and the Government of South Africa have reflected further on this and would like to offer recommendations as follows:-

a)     The Report of the Technical Experts Meeting should be used as inputs to revise the Ministerial Outcome Document of 2007 as appropriate. This could have been done automatically but both sides felt that endorsement of the PRC is a prior requirement for enabling such inputs.

b)     We also propose that the refined and improved Ministerial Outcome Documents should be considered by a new Ministerial Meeting that should be convened on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2011. The outcome of the reconvened Ministerial Meeting in New York should then serve as the working document for the Global Diaspora Summit that is envisaged in South Africa in 2012 and would be planned to coincide with the hundred anniversary of South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, which forms the government.

c)      The proposal for a 2nd Ministerial Summit in the margins of UNGA is a good one because it would enable the presence of all African Ministers.  However, the timing and preparation requires careful deliberation.  The pattern of the Diaspora Ministerial Meeting is more inclusive than the Ordinary Executive Council pattern.  It involves Ministers of the CARICOM and some other states in South and Latin America with significant Diaspora communities as well as civil society representatives of the Diaspora communities in the various regions of the world.  If this pattern is to be repeated (and its adoption was deliberate the last time around) then there is clearly a need for effective forward planning.  We also need to examine appropriate timetables for the event bearing in mind that effective discussion cannot take place within an hour or two as would be the likely preference in the crowded schedule of UNGA.  Hence, the event should be well timed before or after other landmark events in New York.  Within this context, the Commission and the Government of South Africa in collaboration with appropriate organs of the Union must begin the planning process immediately.

d)     The Commission in partnership with Member States as appropriate, should continue to implement other elements of the roadmap as anticipated in the Assembly/AU/Dec. 354(XVI) adopted by the Assembly of the Union. Foremost among this, is the agreement on a Workshop involving Diaspora Ministries of all Member States in order to build an appropriate synergies between national and continental programs.

e)     Due consideration should also be given to the issue of the Diaspora Summit.  In particularly, the precise timing needs to be established soon to allow for effective planning.  It cannot be in January 2012 because that would coincide with AU Summit.  The location in  South Africa is already established but the planning process must commence in earnest so that the relevant issues such as host agreement, agenda, list of participants, work programme, and expected outcomes would be dealt with in a proper and appropriate time frame.

Photo and report supplied courtesy of Mr. Oscar Braithwaite, SRDC-Canada

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African Nova Scotians in the Canadian Mosaic

African Nova Scotians in the Canadian Mosaic

African Nova Scotians in the Canadian Mosaic

By Denise Allen
African Nova Scotian Activist,  SRDC Nova Scotia(Canada) Facilitator


The primary purpose of this article is to inform the readers irrespective of their race, ethnicity, religion, geographical location, socio-economic class background and/or political ideology that African Nova Scotians have been in this Canadian province for centuries, and that they have been marginalised and relegated to the lowest socio-economic strata of the society. In this the year of ‘African descendents as declared by the United Nation’, we intend forge ahead to improve the appalling conditions of African Nova Scotians in this country, which we have contributed much to its development. We will no longer accept socio-economic exclusion and marginalization as an accepted way of life for African-Nova Scotians.

Remember the Indigenous-Black Community of Nova Scotia, Canada.

In 2004, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism, Dr. Dou Dou Dienne, in his assessment of the status of African Canadians in the mosaic of Canadian society, inferred that Canada has not recognized the accomplishments and contributions of Blacks in the formation and development of Canada. He succinctly implies that “The history and culture of Black-African Canadian are not woven into the fabric of Canadian society.”  He noted also that there is a need to establish programs and strategies to address racism that would not be limited to the mere equalitarian and democratic superimposition of communities. He advocates suggestion that would facilitate interactions, mutual respect, interpersonal and intercommunity awareness, and respect for the contributions made by African Canadians to Canada’s development, and by implication to the expansion of the British Empire. His report inferred that Canada has not come to grip with or accepted its history facts, which is rooted in racial inequality against African Canadians. If Canadians continually ignore this fundamental reality, because it is considered a taboo and damaging to the image of Canada, then the social malignancy would be virtually impossible to address and deal effectively with. This social malignancy of systemic and institutional racism that negatively affect the lives of African Canadians at all levels. Like the proverbial ostrich we keep, our heads bury in the sand to avoid dealing with the reality, and if Canadian politicians, leaders and decision makers do not recognize and address that fact its effects will remain out of reach and irresolvable.

In his address to the Commission on Human Rights at the United Nation in Geneva on 23 March 2004, Oscar Brathwaite of the African Canadian Legal Clinic said succinctly that there are many social issues that are damaging to African-Canadian. “Issues such as the continuing legacy on descendants of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, poverty, the criminalisation of Black people, racial profiling, police violence, education rights and media bias reflected the reality of African descendents in Canada, which was one of social exclusion and economic marginalisation.  The Special Rapporteur was commended for highlighting the issues relating to the racial discrimination of African Canadians, but a cautionary note on the reliance on the official policy of multiculturalism espoused by the Canadian Government was required. An effective anti-discrimination strategy should include a vigorous anti-racist agenda accompanied by programmes of action designed specifically for African Canadians.”[1]

Unbeknownst to most Canadians in general and Nova Scotians in particular, African people were brought to this country (Canada), and they were made slaves to serve the socio-economic interest of the white ruling class. Their social status created socio-economic barriers to them, and for other Blacks/Africans who came later fleeing from the horrors of overt racism and terror of Canada’s southern neighbour. Whether they were free or enslaved, they encountered many hurdles and obstacles towards equal opportunities in this province and country for over two hundred and fifty years.  The ‘Black Loyalists’, the Black/African American who fought on the British side in the American war of independence were brought to this country (Nova Scotia) after the American war of independence, and they were promised freedom, land grant and a brighter future in this country. The legacy of that unfulfilled promised still reverberates in the socio-economic exclusion in the society today.

We as oppressed and marginalised descendants of that earlier generation in this province (Nova Scotia) must ask ourselves some fundamental questions to ascertain why we are in the present socio-economic and political situation today. For example, did the government of that time fulfilled it’s promises of land grant to the Black Loyalists on equal terms, and was the quality and quantity of land equal to that granted to the White Loyalists? Did this country provide a brighter future for African Canadians?  Did Blacks/African-Canadians faced the same kind of racism as in the USA, or was it a more dangerous and insidious form or racism? How has the inequality of that time affected the development of the African Nova Scotian communities today and how it will affect African Nova Scotians-Canadians in the future?  Reparation is the latest buzz term that is now added to lexicon of African people worldwide resistance to address the debacles of slavery, colonization and racism. The legacy of that pass is still being manifested in anti Black-African racism in the form of discrimination in the socio-economic areas, business opportunities, pervasive unemployment and underemployment, marginalization, and an over representation of African Nova Scotian youth in the criminal justice system. We as an oppressed people know that it is a taboo to mention racism in the Canadian social lexicon and it more taboo to even hint that the enslavement of Africans in Canada is a part of the country’s history. White Canadians like to assume that those two anomalies racism and slavery are the realities of Canada’s southern neighbour (USA), but definitely not in Canada. How can anyone be so presumptuous to label this country with such barbarous act, after all, this country gave refuse to Africans fleeing  from the USA using the tremulous journey on the infamous underground railroad to freedom in the snowy north. The effects of this oppressive legacy are felt to this day and contemporary human rights violations in Nova Scotia provide clear examples of the pervasiveness of racism in Canadian society. The roots of racism are buried deep in historical patterns of race based exploitation and marginalization. A cursory reading of the media will show that there are still acts of aggression including attacks against African Nova Scotian institutions and individuals.

The history of Black/African people in Canada is far more complex than it appears on the surface through the media, where it is sanitize to reflect a harmonious racial compassionate image if Canada.  In contrast to the intentions of white colonizers who came to pillage, rape, enslave and destroy, the oral history of Indigenous-Black/African Nova Scotians attests to the arrival of African Peoples traveling the North Atlantic to share resources and knowledge. In one documented example, Black/African explorer Mathieu Da Costa was the interpreter and navigator for Pierre Dugua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century. This suggests that free Africans traveled the Atlantic and settled there long before the aforementioned white Europeans. However, the narrative of black subjugation has overwritten these examples in the Canadian mainstream education system. This and the many other misconception and myths must be debunked and rectify. Africa Canadians will and must continue to established and develop and strengthen institution that will foster new paradigms in the education of Black-African Nova Scotians-Canadians. For example, organizations in the form of the Nova Scotia Black Education Association (NSBEA), Council on African Canadian Education (CASE), The Nova Scotia Africentric Summer Learning Institute (ASLI); The African Canadian Services Division (ACSD). These institutions will empower the African Nova Scotia learners and the youth across the learning and education continuum. In Nova Scotia, we are aware that our very survival in this potentially hostile environment is preparing African Nova Scotian youth of today for the challenges of tomorrow.

The unemployment rate among Black/African Nova Scotians is endemic and very dangerous. It creates a myriad of social pathologies, resulting in our youth over representation in the criminal justice system, and the expansion of the prison industrial complex, which may be making some entrepreneurs richer and more powerful at the expense of Black/African people. Therefore, we have to establish, develop and strengthen enterprises and businesses that will provide much better business, employment and career opportunities for African Nova Scotians. The Black Business Initiative (BBI) is one example in Nova Scotia, and the Black Business and Professional Association in Ontario is another.

To move forward it is very important that in Nova Scotia we establish and build alliances within and beyond the local and provincial jurisdictions. It is necessary to establish ties and working relationships nationally and internationally. This approach would aid in capacity building. For example, Sixth Regional Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) is an organization that is involved with the Africa Union (AU). That great Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey said, “We as a people are responsible for our own advancement, because no other racial group will do it for us”. Perhaps one of the major errors that has been made in the pass is we placed our welfare in the hands of other racial groups.

Nova Scotia was home to 47 Black owned communities. In stark contrast to the white empire loyalists, our ancestors of African origin were permitted entry into Canada solely on the basis that they provide advantageous protection and development for the betterment of Canada. Once the battles were fought and the mission accomplished or completed, Britain’s rule and expansion was secured, all deals were off. Where are the land grants that we were promised in 1783? Is it too late to rekindle that fire, in this year of the UN declaration of the year of African Descendants for us to demand immediate redress for the Black Loyalists Land Grants to be settled? Although Blacks kept their end of the bargain, the promises made to them by the British were mostly abandoned.

Britain and your proxy Canada we the descendants of those who you deceived are now demanding that you redress the imbalance of two hundred an twenty-five years of injustice and the dreams that were deferred. We were given the worst land that was unsustainable, ensuring that the status quo remains, that is cheap available labour to the powerful white oligarch. Where is the justice? We are demanding justice!  Despite the harsh terrain comprised of mostly bedrock, Blacks were able to cultivate and settle the Halifax areas of Africville, East and North Preston, Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Porter’s Lake, Cherrybrook, Lakeloon, and the Lucasville Road, as well as the Windsor area.  Today, only 43 Black Communities remain throughout the province of Nova Scotia; a strong indicator that the Indigenous-Black Community is decreasing.[2]

There is no community of People in Canada, perhaps that are not many Indigenous/black Canadian in comparison to the Indigenous-Black Nova Scotians. Above all, the contribution of our settlement to the benefit of Nova Scotian and Canadian society must be borne in mind. Although Canada is rich in Black history and accomplishments, most Canadians (let alone the global community) are not aware that Black People’s ancestry and enslavement in Canada predated and continued beyond Confederation (1867). Black People’s history and contributions to the establishment of Canada have yet to be incorporated into Canada’s national museums of history. Our oral history, despite its legitimacy, is marginalized and treated as inconsequential, and at times even dismissed as dreaming. History from a white Eurocentric (supremacist) perspective places white Europeans as the only explorers to Atlantic Canada, and Black people as their slaves. It must be emphasized that there is a desperate need for a radical paradigm shift in the education of all students in general and African Nova Scotians-Canadians students in particular.  Remember one of those clarion calls made by that great leader Marcus Garvey concerning the issue of education

Negroes, teach your children that they are direct descendants of the greatest and proudest race who ever peopled the earth; and it is because of the fear of our return to power, in a civilization of our own, that may outshine others, why we are hated”[3]

I should also add the wisdom of another great African American Scholar who advocated for our advancement through the kind of education as one of the pathways that will guide us in the right direction to free our mind from mental slavery and liberate Africa and Africans from all form of entrapments and oppression by our forced state of mind.

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks, you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that, he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to seek an inferior status, and he will do so without being told”[4]

Our unique cultural characteristics were intricately shaped by refugee slaves from the Southern United States, skilled workers from Barbados and Trinidad, master carpenters from Great Britain, Maroons from Jamaica, and free African explorers. Our distinct history is one of overcoming more than 400 hundreds of years of betrayal, neglect, and systemic racism.[5]

I would be remised if I did not mention the debacle of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the force removal that was executed by the white overlords who treated the residents worst than discarded garbage.

A brief synopsis of Africville a black/African Nova Scotian community:

Over its 120-year history, perhaps 90 to 100% Blacks with a few white families, permanent residents and transients. At its peak, Africville had perhaps 400 residents. It was a small, self-contained, tight-knit Black community within the city limits of Halifax, Nova Scotia. At its peak, just before World War I, it was made up of approximately 80 families / 300 residents. Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the northern edge of the Halifax peninsula, beside the Bedford Basin.

1830s – 1970. Developed slowly after the War of 1812, grew after the American Civil War, thrived from the 1890s to the 1920s. Endured a bad phase during the Depression; rebounded during the late 1930s and after World War II. During the 1950s, it began a slow downturn until the late 1960s. Relocation occurred between 1964 and 1967. The last house was bulldozed January 2, 1970.

The controversy following the relocation, the spirit of the former residents, and the fact that it was a unique community has made Africville a national and international legend –- a lost community gone forever. It is also an enduring symbol of racial intolerance, the myth of urban renewal, and the value of community culture.[6]

In conclusion, I believe that the Black/African readers will be able to identify with the issues, challenges and problems that African-Nova Scotians encounter in their daily lives in this part of Canada. It is identifiable; because this is the reality of the Black people/Africans experience, any place in the world where Euro-centrism is the dominant determinant.  In this the year of African descendents as declared by the United Nation, we must reverse this trend through collaboration, cooperation, unity and the resolve to make this decade the decade of self determination and monumental advancement locally, nationally and internationally. We as African-Nova Scotian resolve to chart a new and more assertive course in this decade to guarantee our advancement and provide a brighter future for our descendents in this country.  Lastly, do remember that united we stand together against all foes-enemies, because divided we will fall and be trampled upon. We intend to build a solid foundation, and SRDC could be that corner stone. Forward ever, backward never.

[1] United Nations, Press Release, Commission on Human Rights 23 March 2004 Independent Expert, Chairperson-Rapporteur of Working Group, on Right to Development Present Reports.

2  Map of Black Communities (Black Culture Centre – _ HYPERLINK “http://bccns.com/”http://bccns.com/_)

3  “Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey”

4  Carter. G. Woodson, “The Mis-education of the Negro”

5   For a comprehensive history of People of African decent in Nova Scotia, Canada, please visit the BlackCulture Centre Website at – http://bccns.com

6  (http://www.dacosta400.ca/cavalcade/africville.shtml);  Africville: Canada’s Most Famous Black/African Canadian Community.


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Abdias do Nascimento: 1914-2011

Abdias do Nascimento: 1914-2011

ABDIAS do NASCIMENTO: 1914-2011

Abdias do Nascimento, a Brazilian writer, painter, politician and scholar who was an outspoken civil rights leader on behalf of black Brazilians, has died in Rio de Janeiro. He was 97.

Sources differ on the date of death, saying it was either May 23 or 24. The cause was complications of diabetes, said Anani Dzidzienyo, a friend who as a professor of Brazilian studies at Brown University has written about Mr. Nascimento.

For decades Mr. Nascimento was a dissident voice in a Brazilian society that for most of the 20th century was identified by its government and perceived by much of its population as a racial democracy. Mr. Nascimento maintained, in both his art and his political rhetoric, that Brazil remained, in fact, a racist society.

Significantly more black Africans were sent to Brazil than to the United States in the slave trade, and Brazil did not abolish slavery until 1888. Only in the last decade, as affirmative action programs have taken root at many Brazilian universities and in some government agencies, has racism been publicly acknowledged as a problem in Brazil.

“He was a legend,” Edward E. Telles, a professor of sociology at Princeton and the author of “Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil,” said of Mr. Nascimento in a telephone interview. “From the 1930s through the 1990s, Brazil was considered a racial democracy, but nobody talked about race, and there was a clear racial hierarchy. Poor people were predominantly black, and the elites were almost all white. He wasn’t afraid to tell people that racial democracy was a myth. And he said it for 60 years.”

In 1944 Mr. Nascimento founded the Black Experimental Theater in Rio de Janeiro, a troupe that celebrated Brazil’s African-influenced culture. It trained black citizens as actors in defiance of the custom of casting white actors in blackface.

As an actor, he performed in “Orfeu da Conceição,” the play by Vinicius de Moraes that became the basis of the 1959 film “Black Orpheus,” directed by Marcel Camus. The troupe also sponsored civil rights events, including the first Congress of Brazilian Blacks, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1950.

In 1945, Mr. Nascimento helped found the Afro-Brazilian Democratic Committee to fight for the release of political prisoners. After a military coup d’état in 1964, he lived in self-imposed exile in the United States and Nigeria until the early 1980s. While in exile he began painting strikingly colorful works featuring human and natural images in juxtaposition with geometric shapes, suggestive of Afro-Brazilian cultural and religious themes. His work has been exhibited in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere.

In the late 1970s, as the military continued to hold power (and would until 1985), Mr. Nascimento, still in exile, helped found the Democratic Labor Party of Brazil, seeing to it that the issue of racial discrimination was a part of its platform. He served in the Brazilian Legislature as a congressman and senator. He also helped found the Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute, known as Ipeafro, in Rio de Janeiro.

“There was no more important Brazilian than Nascimento since the abolition of slavery in 1888,” said Ollie A. Johnson, a professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit and the author of “Brazilian Party Politics and the Coup of 1964.” “No other Brazilian fought harder and longer against white supremacy and racism in Brazil in the post-slavery era. For Americans to understand him and his contribution, you’d have to say he was a little bit of Marcus Garvey, a little of W. E. B. DuBois, a little bit of Langston Hughes and a little bit of Adam Clayton Powell.”

Mr. Nascimento was born in March 1914 in Franca, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. His father was a cobbler; his mother made candies and sold them on the street. His grandparents had been slaves.

“He grew up around people who experienced the last days of slavery,” Mr. Dzidzienyo said, adding that keeping that experience alive through the 20th century “was one of his most important contributions.”

Mr. Nascimento studied accounting and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Rio de Janeiro. He joined the Brazilian civil rights movement, known as the Brazilian Black Front, as a teenager.

During his exile, he taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he founded the chair of African cultures in the university’s Puerto Rican studies program. He also lectured at Yale and Wesleyan.

His survivors include his third wife, Elisa Larkin Nascimento, who is the current director of Ipeafro; three sons, Henrique Christophe, Bida and Osiris; and a daughter, Yemanja.

An activist until virtually the end of his days, Mr. Nascimento gave his final interview to the American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. for a PBS series, “Black in Latin America,” which was broadcast this spring.

“Has Brazil ever truly had a racial democracy?” Mr. Gates asked.

“The black people feel in their flesh the lie which is racial democracy in this country,” Mr. Nascimento said. “You just have to look at a black family. Where do they live? The black children, how are they educated? You’ll see that it’s all a lie. You must understand that I’m saying this with profound hatred, profound bitterness at the way black people are treated in Brazil.”

Mr. Gates asked if, nonetheless, there was reason for optimism.

“If I weren’t an optimist I would have hanged myself,” Mr. Nascimento said.

A version of this article appeared in print on May 31, 2011, on page B15 of the New York edition with the headline: Abdias do Nascimento, 97, Rights Voice.

________________________________________

Biography from BlackPast.org

Abdias do Nascimento, famous Brazilian writer, scholar, and politician, was born on March 14, 1914, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. From a humble family, his mother, Josina, was a candy maker and his father, Bem-Bem, was a musician and shoemaker, Abdias do Nascimento joined the Brazilian Army at age 15, moving to the state capital, SãoPaulo, where he became politically active. In Rio de Janeiro, he founded, in 1944, the Teatro Nacional do Negro (Black National Theater). A member of Brazil’s Congress from 1983 to 1987 and a Senator in 1991, 1996-1999, Abdias do Nascimento dedicated his life to fighting racial prejudice.

In the 1930s, rising nationalism, gradual industrialization, and urbanization led to political transformations in Brazil, including the formation of a black press and the first Afro-Brazilian organized political movement, Frente Negra Brasileira. After participating in the latter, Abdias found in 1944 Teatro Nacional do Negro, focusing on black identity and heritage in Brazil, using art to promote education (through literacy classes) and to fight for social justice. The Teatro also staged poetry readings, including Langston Hughes’s Always the Same, revealing Abdias do Nascimento’s cosmopolitanism. Despite many problems, including internal divisions, lack of funds and support in general, the Teatro survived until 1968, when increased censorship after the 1964 military coup made it impossible to operate and Abdias do Nascimento went into self exile in the United States and Europe.

In 1970, Abdias do Nascimento became a full Professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo, founding the Chair on African Cultures in the New World at the Center for Puerto-Rican studies. He also taught in Nigeria, at the University of Ife, in 1976. Returning to Brazil, in the 1980s, he participated in the formation of the political party Partido Democrata Trabalhista (Democratic Labor Party) and was elected to Congress in 1983 on a platform of promoting Afro-Brazilian rights. As a senator (1991, 1996-1999), he continued this work and, in 1999, he was the first to head the recently established Rio de Janeiro Department for Citizenship and Human Rights. He received, in 2004, the Presidential recognition as “the greatest Brazilian political figure in the fight for black rights and against racism, prejudice and discrimination.” Abdias do Nascimento saw and shaped the emergence of the modern black movement in Brazil and his life was wholly dedicated to racial struggle in the country.

Sources:
Kimberly Jones-de-Oliveira, “The Politics of Culture or the Culture of Politics: Afro-Brazilian Mobilization, 1920-1968,” Journal of Third World Studies, v. 20, part I (2003), pp. 103-120; Elizabeth Marchant and Fernando Conceição, “An Interview with Fernando Conceição,” Callaloo, v.25, n.2 (Spring 2002), pp. 613-619; Abdias do Nascimento biografia, available at  http://www.abdias.com.br/biografia/biografia.htm; Itaú Cultural, Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural available at http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicexternas/enciclopedia_teatro/index.cfm?fuseaction=cias_biografia&cd_verbete=649.

Contributor(s):
Martins, Ana Nina
Independent Historian

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World Festival of Black Arts & Cultures

World Festival of Black Arts & Cultures

WORLD FESTIVAL OF BLACK ARTS & CULTURE

DAKAR, SENEGAL
December 10 – 31, 2010

Report by Dr. Ruth Love, Professor, University of California at Berkeley
International Facilitator, SRDC

“It is the destiny of Africa, after four centuries of incomprehensible conflict and turmoil to now become a continent united by the best of human achievement, cultural excellence, prosperity, security, peace and progress.”
~His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade,
President of the Republic of Senegal

Not since the legendary Marcus Garvey convened 25,000 Africans descendants for the First International Convention of Negro Peoples (August 1 to 31, 1920) has the world seen so many brilliant and dedicated Africans focused on the African Renaissance. Under the auspices of Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, the “conference-festival” focused on Africa’s future. From some 66 countries, an unprecedented group of scholars, academicians, scientists, mathemeticans, doctors, educators, filmmakers, artists, writers, elected officials and civic leaders engaged in serious deliberations germane to the development of the continent. A sense of urgency prevailed throughout the deliberations.

This conference was the third such festival and the first in 30 years. In 1966, the late president Leopold Senghor launched the first festival in Dakar. The second festival took place in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977.

This conference, (FESMAN) titled “World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, took place from December 10th to December 31st. The USA delegation (200) returned on Dec. 18th after a 10-day participation. Endorsed by the African Union, this meeting appeared more of a conference than a festival. His Excellency Maitre Abdoulaye Wade opened the conference with a lengthy, but impactful speech. He laid out some of the issues facing Africa (poverty, diseases, education, job, economic development, natural resource development) and emphasized that the countries have to work together to solve these giant-sized problems. He also emphasized that Africa needs all of the Diaspora and that he will continue to stress that idea with the African Union.

The USA delegation was composed of Pan African scholars in psychology, education, history, medicine, the arts, elected officials: Mayors, State legislators, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, civic leaders and the National Basketball Association/Africa. Dr. Djibril Diallo, the UN officials for HIV/AIDS, organized the group.  Many of the delegates had been involved in Africa for years and for some; this was the first trip to the Motherland. Delegates flew from Kennedy airport on a chartered flight to Dakar. Among the U.S. delegates were Dr. Johnetta Cole, Director of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian, Runoko Rashidi, noted historian, Wayne Watson, President of Chicago State University, Dr. Julius Garvey, Surgeon and son on Marcus Garvey, Professor Leonard Jeffries, City University of NYC, Richard Gant, actor, Dr. Ruth Love, Professor, University of CA, Berkeley, Dr. Joyce King, Professor, Georgia State University, Dr. John W. Franklin, Director of African American Art at the Smithsonian and son of John Hope Franklin;  Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and many others.

The five structuring conferences of the 3rd World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures endorsed the establishment of the United States of African and embraced the United Nations Millennium goals: End Poverty and Hunger, Universal education, Gender Equality, Child health, Maternal health, Combat HIV/Aids, Environmental Sustainability and Global Partnerships.

The format included daily forums on selected topics followed by lunch and roundtables. evenings were taken with entertainment. Each forum was chaired by the Honorable Iba der Thiam. Dr. Thiam is an imposing figure who made a meaningful presentation each day and handled the panels with great skill. He is clearly one of Senegal’s most distinguished scholars.

This report will highlight selected aspects of the conference. Numbers speakers delivered presentations daily.

OPENING CEREMONY

The formal Opening Ceremony was spectacular! Held at the National Stadium Leopold Sedar Senghor with hundreds of guests attending, it ended in the wee hours. President Wade and several leaders addressed the crowd. Performances by Angelique Kidjo, Youssou Ndour, Carlinho Brown, Mahotella Queens and many others, captured our collective attention. Some five hundred dancers, in well-choreographed fashion, covered the surface of the stadium with unbelievably rapid African dances. Multi-colored lights added to the brilliance of the performers. Between music, dance and spoken words, the evening left us breathtakingly impressed and moved.

AFRICAN RENAISSANCE FORUM

Several distinguished African scholars spoke at length regarding what is required to bring about a serious renaissance.  Dr. Theophile Obenga, from the Congo, gave a stellar presentation for one and one-half hours. In essence, he admonished the audience about Africa being left behind to be exploited and placed the blame clearly on leadership. In reiterating the fact that Africa has not built a car, airplane, found cures for deadly diseases, he called on Heads of States, intellectuals and scholars to become pro-active in planning and initiating some major steps. Further, he indicated,” We have not eliminated poverty, unsanitary conditions, hunger, tribal wars or corruptions.” Obenga urged  Africans, at home (continent) and the Diaspora to focus time and attention in building our own manufacturing and processing companies. Decrying the fact that natural resources have not benefited African masses, he stated emphatically, “It is time to assume responsibility for our own destiny. We allow and encourage others to come in and take our resources and only a handful reap the financial benefits.”  In stressing education, he repeatedly indicated that illiteracy has no place in the 21st century.

Dr. Obenga’s presentation was so well received the convener stated that it would be placed on a DVD so that it could be widely distributed. Dr. Obenga was a student of and later worked with Dr. C. Diouf and the two of them present compelling testimony before the United Nations in defining Egypt as an African country.

Other scholars addressed similar themes and expressed a sense of urgency about Africa’s need to make radical changes. They hammered away at the need for education, jobs for the educated, reclaiming those who have left the continent in order to find ways to make a living. “Africa needs its citizens and Africa needs the Diaspora” was a repeated theme. The brain drain continues and has seriously affected the continent’s capacities.

Dr. Wade Nobles’ presentation stressed the importance of understanding that our history goes back to Kemet and we are the first civilizers of humanity. He spoke about Black psychology and why it is imperative to know and understand ourselves from an African Perspective.

Mr. Mel Foote spoke about the importance of the Diaspora working collaboratively to help Africa reach and realize its goal of self-sufficiency. Mel Foote had an alternate agenda and spoke to several youth leadership groups in Senegal and in the Gambia.  He interacted with the U.S. Ambassadors in both countries.

After an intense day of speaker after speaker, the evening was taken with a Football Match, Brazil vs. Senegal.  On the Sunday, there was an interesting Round Table between President Abdoulaye Wade and artists, intellectuals, elected officials of the Diaspora. Again the president expressed his interest in and support for the Diaspora. The festival highlighted the role of art and culture in promoting development and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It is fair to say that during the U.S. delegation stay in Senegal, President Wade gave us special attention.

GALA: TRIBUTE TO WOMEN

The official inauguration of visual arts, architecture, prints, photographs (inventors), paintings, cravings and crafts, represented one effort to demonstrate the contributions of black culture to humanity.  After visitation to the exhibits, the Gala, A Tribute to Women was held. Ten women from around the world, including Dr. Ruth Love were honored. The gala was an elegant affair with African women beautifully adorned. President Wade gave the keynote speech and stressed the contributions of women historically and currently. After dinner, each woman was introduced and made presentations. It was long night, but an informative and inspiring evening.

That evening provided an opportunity to talk with President Wade about SRDC and the African Union. He was interested in SRDC’s approach in organizing in the United States. Although, we spoke through interpreters, occasionally, he would speak English. On the occasions when he was participating, messages were sent to President Obama and some statement regarding SRDC was interjected.  Several discussions were held with Pan African women. One Senegalese woman is interested in running for president and spoke adamantly about the possibilities.  Interestingly, there was buzz regarding the president’s desire to have his son succeed him and/or he was considering a third term in 2012. Some women with whom I met were individuals in high governmental positions, professors at universities and still others were civic leaders who were engaged in civil and human rights. Several such persons from Brazil were strong leaders locally and nationally. The commitment of these women to social justice was evident. They spoke of raising families and leading efforts for the improvement of lives of citizens. All of them had encountered discrimination as a black person and as a woman. Gender and ethnic biases are alive and well.

ELECTED OFFICIALS/EDUCATORS

The ceremony between President Wade and Members of the National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Associations for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and the National Basketball Association/ /Africa (NBA/Africa) provided an opportunity to exchange ideas around political and civic issues.  Present also were representatives of the National Association of Senegalese Mayors. The discussion resulted in commitment to develop joint projects.  Basketball figures are on a mission to visit villages and teach basketball to children and youth and discuss the importance of education.

GOREE ISLAND

Goree Island is the slave house, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in commemoration of the painful history of the Atlantic slave trade. Located a few miles from Dakar on an island, Goree is a major tourist site. It reminds us once again of the inhumane, callous and horrific experiences endured by our ancestors. Like other slave dungeon, walking through Goree is a very emotional experience.  In the evening, the Senegalese Dance group entertained the delegations.

RESISTANCE FORUM

The forum on Resistance focused on the various forms of resistance, beginning with West Africans revolts against being entrapped. Several speakers spoke to resistance. On slave ships, there were those who resisted being transported to a new land. Some refused to eat. Others chose to jump overboard rather than be chained like animals. Once in the new lands of America, South and Central America, Caribbean Islands, including Cuba, some men and women tried to escape the auction block. From the earliest time on plantations, Africans plotted and planned revolts; some violent and others simply escaped at the risk of their lives.

Speakers described the various forms of resistance to enslavement and colonization. Interestingly, there was discussion about those who escaped enslavement only to flee to other countries where they were treated badly and often enslaved. Some of the countries represented were Turkey, Canada, Germany, and Pagua Island. Brazil had the largest delegation of 500 and had comments regarding the impact of enslavement and discrimination. The chief of Pagua is living in exile and graphically and emotionally described current slavery of his people. The Indonesians prohibit them speaking their language and education is minimum. One can be jailed for merely saying a Paguan word. He is attempting to bring public attention to their plight. He expressed gratitude for being in Africa and presented his headgear to President Wade. Members of the audience shed some tears. (Hopefully, Danny Glover and others will visit the island).

The point was made repeatedly that Africans did not accept enslavement and always tried to find ways to obtain freedom. During the middle passage, some Africans went on hunger strikes and plotted ways to escape. Scholars discussed the longing for their homeland that was pervasive. Some scholars expressed deep resentment at the European portrayal of Africans being happy with enslavement.  Even those few, who were not as harshly treated, longed for and found ways to become free. There was the indication that the number and context of slave revolts are seriously under-reported.

The former president of Benin gave a moving presentation on slavery. Complete with photographs, he stressed the mistreatment, the degrading experiences of those enslaved.  “In spite of all that has happened, our brothers and sisters have come back and we must join hands and work

Together.” He is working with an organization that plans to keep enslavement before the public. In private, there was discussion regarding the guilt and shame some Africans feel about their ancestors’ role in the slave trade. They also indicated that Africans have to come to terms with it and move forward.

Dr. Julius Garvey gave a stunning presentation on the importance of collectively working toward common goals. He also expressed the belief that we can accomplish anything we put our minds and hearts to: Up You Mighty People.” Africans were thrilled to meet and see the progeny of Marcus Garvey. Dr. Garvey has projects in Ghana, Mali and Uganda and is a frequent visitor to the continent.

Dr. Leonard Jeffries gave a presentation on the return of African descendants to African and the contributions they are making in different African Countries. He expressed hope for the future, given the quality of discussions and presentations thus far. Dr. Jeffries shared his commitment to Africa beginning in the 1960s when he was a university student with Operation Crossroads Africa.

AFRICAN RENAISSANCE MOMUMENT

The Monument, recently sculpted, is a gigantic statue of an African Man, Woman and child (pointing to Africa). Located on a hill, with lights around it, the monument is an impressive sight and claims to be the tallest monument in Africa. The monument is titled, “African Renaissance. Interestingly, the sculptor was a North Korean and an opening ceremony was held a few months ago. The U.S. Ambassador, due to the involvement of North Korea, boycotted it. Nevertheless, the monument is magnificent.

An evening of speeches and music at the foot of the monument was a special occasion.  There is a sense of empowerment.  The Heads of States offered their congratulations to President Wade for such an extraordinary work of art. In attendance were presidents from Libya, Liberia, Nigeria, Mali, Gambia and other countries.

PRESIDENTIAL FORUM

President Wade invited the USA delegates to the Palace and convened the Senegalese mayors with the US mayors and State legislators with their elected officials. This meeting included his cabinet of Ministers as well. The president gave a lengthy speech, as did different representatives who had been involved in facilitating the conference. His purpose was to have elected official begin a dialogue and develop some collaborative projects. I brought greetings from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama. It was abundantly clear that President Wade desires a relationship with President Obama. He is preparing a packet of materials to be sent to our president.

In an unusual statement, President Wade said, “We must teach the truth. Africans were involved in the slave trade and the involvement was morally wrong. But they were not the main reason for slavery, nor would there have been a market without the organized business of Europeans. He emphasized the need to change what is taught.

President Wade indicated that he is establishing a museum on slavery and a department on the Diaspora at the university. Throughout the conference, we were told how important it is for the Diaspora to work with Africa.

The garden reception that followed, included delicate food, conversation with African leaders and an introduction of 170 Haitian students who has been given shelter and care by President Wade. As the evening ended, the president presented delegates with Certificates as Goodwill Ambassadors. It was a grand occasion.

HIV/AIDS ROUNDTABLE

This session was co-sponsored by UNAIDS, (the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS) and Senegalese HIV Program. Mr. Michel Sidibe is Undersecretary-General of he UN and Executive Director of UNAIDS. He, too, sent a message to President Obama. Mr.  Sidibe is based in Geneva. He spoke passionately about the devastating effects of AIDS and called on Africa to generate increased efforts to address this issue of life or death. Mr. Sidibe also sent a message to President Obama to aid Africa in this struggle.

Dr. Rosalind Jeffries and Dr. Vera Wade made the panel presentations. Dr. Jeffries emphasized the role and power of art in bringing about change and a sense of well being. She also discussed her role in working with African women and being on the continent whenever she can. Dr. Nobles discussed the importance of African and alternative medicines. She described her own experience with becoming paralyzed, but with the love and support of family and the herbal and traditional treatments, she was able to complete her dissertation. Dr. Nobles also graphically described her recent battle with brain tumor (cancerous) and how she again called on African and traditional treatment, surrounded by her loving family, she defied the odds and is here at this conference. Her point was that we should look to Africa for cures for HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Diallo expanded the panel to include the following:

Elsie Scott, Executive director of Congressional Black Caucus, Ruth Love, University of CA and a representative from the basketball association as well as a singer. The famous singer stressed using music to reach young people and educate them about AIDS. The basketball representative, based in South Africa, traveled with a small team to various countries and teaches basketball to youth in villages. The team includes discussions around health issues and education.

I discussed our project in Ghana where a group of women are HIV and husbands have left and have died. Their families ostracize these women. They come together daily and make crafts, jewelry, clothing etc to sell. They have learned to prepare foods for their children in ways that protect the children from HIV. We purchase some of their goods and they are able to make a living.  We provided them with library materials on HIV and inspirational readings.  The ambulance shipped to the project was met with joy and glee. It reduces the time it takes to walk 10 miles to the nearest clinic.  Originally, the only medications they used were tonics, provided by local medicine men. President Clinton’s negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, was able to reduce the price of anti viral medications. Now, these women are able to take this medicine. These courageous women speak to youth and women’s groups and discuss ways to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS. They feel it is their duty to share their struggles and how they are learning and living lives.

The other project shared with them was our West African Power Plant Project; a project with 15 West African countries who have come together to provide energy and sanitary water for those countries. Each of the presidents has signed on and the program will be launched in the near future. Some of the profits from this project will be used to establish education and health program in each country.

Elsie Scott discussed some of the programs of the Congressional Black Caucus. She talked about the scholarships, interns program and the legislative weekends. The caucus serves as the conscience of the congress. She made some recommendations for follow up to this conference.

SOME RECOMMENDATIONS

Each Forum addressed significant issues relating to Africa’s past and future. The first forum’s topic was The Diasporan Africans and was opened by Senegalese President Maitre Abdoulaye Wade.  President Wade expressed deep confidence in the Diaspora, as Africa becomes a United States of Africa. He applauded the accomplishments of the Diaspora, in spite of the horrific experiences of enslavement. Historian Runoko Rashidi, Dr. Sheila Walker and Dr. Joyce King spoke during this forum. Some of the key points expressed were:

1.The African Renaissance must be centered in African realities (not Europe) and must include African languages and traditions.

2. Diasporan Africans have experienced a dislocation of self, not a loss of self.

3. The story of Diasporan Africans does not start with enslavement, but with human history in Africa and our humanity and African identity—as one big family.

4. What and how we teach needs to be changed to reflect our Pan African priorities.

5. Using African, rather than colonial languages is essential in the African renaissance.

6. Many in the Diaspora are already involved in African countries and others are familiar with Africa and extend themselves to Africans in their respective communities. More of these interactions are needed.

FOLLOW UP COMMITTEE

One of the most important aspects of the deliberations was the establishment of a committee to set forth some formidable goals for achievement in Africa in the foreseeable future. Each participant in the small group had an opportunity to present concepts for consideration as Africa looks to its future on the world stage. Several from the U.S.A. delegation participated, including Wade Nobles, Joyce King, Ruth Love et. al.

Sample recommendations included the following:

1)       UNIVERSAL EDUCATION for all children and youth: It is imperative for education to be a priority, if they are to thrive. Funds must be set aside and strategies for eliminating illiteracy can affect the nation’s future. One suggested strategy to begin the eradication of illiteracy is to adopt a program of “each one teach one” in which each graduate from high school assume responsibility for teaching one child/youth to read. Several countries have used this strategy effective. It is critically important for countries to embrace the right to an education, regardless of economic or tribal identity.

2)      HEALTH CARE: Join with existing groups that are pursuing the elimination of malaria, worms, sanitary drinking water etc. and develop programs to partner with these organizations and individuals to ensure health care for all. Different countries could develop scientific laboratories to focus on one serious life threatening disease. These might include, but would not be limited to the following:  HIV/Aids, Malaria, Polio, Vaccinations, etc.

3)      NATURAL RESOURCES: It is well established that Africa has an abundance of natural resources. Taking charge of such precious resources will necessitate the establishment of oil refining plants, mineral plants to process valuable resources for the benefit of the countries and their citizens. Developing the infrastructure to assume responsibility for handling the the vast resources of the continent is both a challenge and an important priority.

4)      AGRICULTURAL ENHANCEMENTS: It is said that African soil can grow almost anything. A massive campaign to develop agricultural products for domestic use and for exports would enable countries to supply food products for their masses. Additionally, the exportation could generate revenue.

5)      RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE DIASPORA: The vast Diasporans can be valuable partners with African countries. The combined efforts of continental and diasporan African can be powerful influences in Resolving challenges for both groups. Reclaiming those who were taken from the continent can be enriching and enhancing. Given the mutual benefits of the continent and Diaspora, the provision of citizenship would substantially enhance the vital partnership.

Dr. Thiam invited delegates to send additional recommendations to him after returning home. Clearly, he is extremely serious about Africa’s future.

In summary, what the conference lacked in logistics, it made up in sustentative discussions. Our hotel was being renovated and thus was not the most convenient accommodations. Nevertheless, the fact that Africans are seriously turning their attention to assuming responsibility for their destiny is absolutely gratifying and entices the Diaspora to join hands in the herculean tasks of helping this remarkable continent come into its own and establish its place on the world stage.

Posted in Report: World Festival of Black Arts & Cultures1 Comment

Dr. Edialeda Salgado do Nascimiento

Dr. Edialeda Salgado do Nascimiento

Dear Community.
Hopefully you remember  Dr. Edialeda Salgado Do Nascimento. She was with us for the Sept 11, 2009 SRDC Gathering of the Diaspora. I  used google translate to translate this announcement from my friend Prof. Sandro Correia I made  a small clip of her dancing during our Town Hall Meeting and Cultural Celebration. May her spirit continue to be with us and may we continue her work and maintain her legacy..
Yours in solidarity,
Dr. Joye Hardiman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgA1JWBDoBE
__________________________________________________________

THE LESSONS OF DR.  EDIALEDA SALGADO do NASCIMIENTO
by: Professor Sandro Correia

The trajectory of Dr.  Edialeda Salgado’s life is marked by loyalty and integrity to the pedetistas ideals and Afro-Brazilians. Throughout her career was a great life lesson which told us other lessons of life of how black women are able to negotiate with men as equals.

In her lectures Dr. Salgado’s  used to tell us of the strength and leadership of Queen Nzinga of Angola to face the King of Portugal and claim to the territory of Angola so that there was a fair dealing with respect to mineral and natural resources of its country.

This example sets the path for the young Edialeda Salgado’s life.  She became a doctor,  Secretary of State,  President of the National Secretariat of the Black Movement of PDT, a representative of Pan-Africanism in Brazil, our candidate for Senator in Rio de Janeiro , a citizen of El Salvador and other achievements and performances.

Her personal life was marked by dedication and selflessness  in the interests of the Afro-Brazilian people.  Her performance is the product of a sample of women who faced the great evils of racism, discrimination and prejudice.

Her dream of a full-time comprehensive education for all Brazilians is our great flag, but for that you must continue the struggle and determination to overcome the mantle of discrimination, prejudice and racism within and outside the party and civil society.

A major contribution of Dr. Edialeda Salgado’s life was the PLANSEQ-Brazilian women from the Ministry of Labor aimed at the vocational segment of Afro-Brazilians being an important proposal for the inclusion of African-Brazilian population in the labor market.

His performance in the creation of the commission to combat the inequalities of the Ministry of Labour and Employment was the major contribution of the companion for effective public policy and mechanisms to combat inequalities in the workplace.

The relentless desire to build free nation and civil society respectful of its origins and civilizations, that would guarantee a place of dignity for the African-Brazilian population was the great bulwark of Dr.  Edialeda Salgado’s life.

A TRIBUTE to the LIFE of  DR. EDIALEDA SALGADO do NASCIMIENTO

Comrades historical Secretariat of the Black Movement and militants of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) are mobilized to honoring Dr. Edialeda Salgado’s life in the period from January 31 to February 15, 2011.

The historical importance of the contribution of obstetrician Edialeda Salgado is the Birth of the Age of Leonel de Moura Brizola when he took the side of Brizola the Secretariat of Social Promotion in the State of Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s, a period marked by the transition from dictatorship to country. This was the first woman to command a Secretary of State and the face side by side with Brizola the challenge of implementing a progressive government and leftist in Brazil.

One of his last tasks was to be our candidate for Senator in Rio de Janeiro defending strongly and full-time education in an integrated manner for all Brazilians.

It was our Chairman of the National Secretariat of the Black Movement and leaving his mark on the course pedetista responsibility of our party and the policy and enforcing respect for black women in times of violence to create the institutional IPCN (Institute for Research and Black Consciousness) in Rio de January.

The ideals and dreams of Birth companion Edialeda Salgado will continue by all and we all hope for a PDT that welcomes the fight against inequality and racism in this sense we are organizing a series of tributes that involve various places in the city of Salvador in conjunction with the tributes that will be made in Brazil.

In the period from January 31 to February 15, 2011 will be promoting religious services, discussions and dialogues that reinforce the importance of the leadership of Dr. Edialeda Salgado. Thus, we invite one and all to join us in this fitting tribute to a woman who inspired all of us and all.

Edialeda Lives!

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U.N. Declares 2011: International Year of People of African Descent

U.N. Declares 2011: International Year of People of African Descent

The U.N.’s Declaration of 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent

Jan 13, 2011
David Horne, Ph.D.
Our Weekly Contributing Columnist
www.ourweekly.com

Practical Politics

On December 18, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly voted to approve 2011 as the International Year of African Descent (including the African Diaspora). This would coincide with the ten-year anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa, in August-September 2001. That conference concluded with a 62-page document called the U.N. Declaration and Programme of Action containing over 122 introductory affirmations, recognitions and reiterations, and recommendations for over 219 specific actions.

Additionally, the conference and the subsequent U.N. General Assembly vote established the approved phrase that, “slavery and the African slave trade were crimes against humanity, and always should have been seen as such.”

During the ten-year period between the WCAR and the present, there have been several meetings and conferences to discuss the progress of the Programme of Action in countries worldwide, including the 2002 African Descendants Conference in Bridgetown, Barbados, and the Durban II follow-up conference held in Geneva in 2009. The latter, like the WCAR itself, was a hotbed of controversy mainly perpetuated by Jewish advocates who claimed the original WCAR was simply a forum for anti-Semitism, and any follow-up or related conferences would be second opportunities to continue along that path. Of course, that advocacy, as pungent and relentless as it has been, is and has been wrongheaded.

In point of fact, there were two adjoining conferences in South Africa in 2001, the first an NGO (non-governmental organization) gathering of at least 750 groups from around the world, and, a week later, the government-based WCAR itself. The former did include all sorts of protest marches, demonstrations and noisy discussions, some of which included the Palestinians trying to demonize Israel. But that activity was just part of the overall context and it was never the core of what that NGO gathering was about, and did not form the basis of the document that eventually came out of the NGO portion of the WCAR. That document, by the way, which was supposed to recommend action to the official government-based WCAR held the next week, never got finished in time to even be considered by those governments. The document negotiated by the 120-odd countries that attended the official WCAR barely mentioned the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and when it did, it remained respectful and equitable. It never called Zionism racism. But the advocates of killing any progressive results of the WCAR have hammered their misinformation for over ten years now, even involving President Barack Obama’s administration in the fray as soon as Mr. Obama took office. The controversy has delayed implementation of the Programme of Action and obfuscated consistent monitoring and evaluation of progress against racism.

Thus, the 2011 International Year of People of African Descent was formulated to focus more attention and action specifically on those most vulnerable worldwide to racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. According to Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the U.N., the purpose of the year is, “to strengthen the political commitment to eradicate discrimination against those of African descent, who are among the most affected by racism, and have been denied their basic rights to quality health and education around the world (because of their color). The initiative also aims to promote respect for diversity and cultural heritage.” Governments are to adopt “targets for integration and promotion of racial equity, to assure, in every respect, full integration of those of African descent.””

The regular public, based on several meetings and agreements among caucuses of African descendants themselves, is urged to utilize the following Survey of Current Compliance With the WCAR Programme of Action to look at their own area—national, regional or local—and report on what positive actions are being carried out, if any, to end or substantially reduce racism, sexism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, specifically as it relates to African descendants.

The survey results are to be sent to the U.N. Office of the High Commission of Human Rights.

1. Since 2001, has any new legislation been passed in your area that aims at reducing or eliminating racism, sexism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia or other forms of intolerance in compliance with the WCAR recommendations?   YES     NO

2. If Yes, what is the name and primary objective of that legislation? Where can it be found (Is there digital access to it?)?

3. Since 2001, have any new initiatives or projects from your government been implemented to reduce or eliminate racism, sexism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia or other forms of intolerance?   YES     NO

4. If Yes, What is the name (or what are the names) of such initiatives and can you briefly describe it or them? (Please use a separate sheet if necessary.)

5. Since 2001, have any new initiatives or projects from community-based organizations or civil society groups in your area been attempted?   YES     NO

6. If Yes, what is the name (or what are the names) of such projects? Can you briefly describe it or them? (Please use a separate sheet for the description if necessary.)

7. Since 2001, has there been any positive change in reducing or eliminating racism, sexism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia or other incidences of intolerance in your area?   YES     NO

8. Since 2001, have there been any noticeable changes in the educational curricula in your area aimed at teaching youth to become more aware of racism, sexism, racial and ethnic discrimination and other forms of intolerance?   YES     NO

9. If Yes, can you describe that educational curricula including the grade level at which it is being taught or utilized? (Use a separate sheet to describe it if necessary.)

10. Your information is about what geographical area? Are you currently residing there?

Professor David L. Horne, is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or Non Governmental Organization (NGO). It is the step-parent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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