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18th AFRICAN UNION ASSEMBLY REPORT

18th AFRICAN UNION ASSEMBLY REPORT

18th AU Confab Ends
Elections For Commissioners Set For June

From the African Inquirer, January 30, 2012

The 18th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) have ended in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa with the adoption of 25 Decisions, one Resolution and two Declarations.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Session held under the theme “Boosting Intra-African Trade”, took place at the new AU Conference Center dedicated on Saturday, January 28th, 2012. The 18th Ordinary Session ran from January 29th – 30th, 2012 with Liberia’s President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in attendance.

Amongst the decisions is the suspension of the elections of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission along with that of the eight Commissioners. The decision was made after a long debate which saw none of the candidates for the chairmanship obtain the two-thirds vote as stipulated in the AU Constitution.

The summit resolved that an ad-hoc committee of Heads of State and Governments composed of one Member State per region together with the Republic of Benin as Chairperson of the Union and the Republics of Gabon and South Africa is mandated to look into the election matter ahead of the next AU summit scheduled for June 2012. The ad-hoc committee is expected to meet in March 2012. As such the Assembly extended the present mandate of the current Members of the Commission until the next AU Summit.

Also adopted is the decision on the election of ten members of the AU Peace and Security Council for a two-year term beginning March 2012. Those elected include Cameroon and DR Congo from the Central Region; Djibouti and Tanzania from the Eastern Region; Egypt from the Northern Region; Angola and Lesotho from the Southern Region and Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia and Guinea from the Western Region.

Other decisions adopted by the Session include the Establishment of the Pan African University, Decision on African Integration, Decision on the Global African Diaspora Summit, Decision on Boosting African Integration, Decision on Boosting Intra-African Trade and Fast Tracking the Continental Free Trade Area and the Decision on the Situation in Palestine and the Middle East.

Others are the Decision on the Progress Report of the Commission on the Implementation of the Assembly Decisions on the International Criminal Court, Decision on “Integration as a Factor for African

Renaissance”, Decision on the Establishment of an African Institute of International Law in Arusha, Tanzania, Decision on the 10th Report of the Committee of Ten on the United Nations Security Council Reform, as well as the Decision on the Contributions of Member States to the Budget of the AU, amongst others.

During the closing ceremony, the President of the Republic of Tunisia, Dr. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki presented the vote of thanks to the Assembly, calling on the need for peace and unity on the continent. To the Chinese Government he extended his gratitude for offering the AU a magnificent conference center which will enable the African Heads of State and Governments to meet and discuss issues of interest to the continent.

For his part, the new Chairperson of the AU, President Yayi Boni of Benin thanked the Heads of State and Government for the honor bestowed on him by conferring the responsibility of guiding the AU during the next 12 months.

He congratulated them for the contributions made during the Assembly in ensuring that they considered the different items on the Summit’s agenda dealing with peace, security and stability that will lead the continent towards prosperity and development.

The new Chairperson noted that the discussions enabled them to consider the progress made as well as focus on the challenges faced in pursuing sustainable development on the continent. President Boni said that despite the brotherhood and solidarity that characterized the deliberations, he regretted that they were not able to proceed with the election of members of the Commission; but was of the conviction that the ad-hoc committee would conclude on the matter before the next AU Summit.

Meanwhile, the Assembly named Lilongwe, Malawi as the venue for the 19th Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government scheduled for June 2012.

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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 Symposium1 Comment

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

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Nelson Mandela at 93

Nelson Mandela at 93

The Character of a Champion: Nelson Mandela at 93

Pan African Commentary From the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)
By David L. Horne, Ph.D


On July 18, 2011 of this week, Mr. Nelson Mandela—Madiba—will have arrived at 93 years young. Such would not have been predicted when he was sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa in June, 1964. As one of the 13 major national holidays, and the only one dedicated to a Black South African, the Republic of South Africa will celebrate the continuing life and legacy of this great man all this week.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~Nelson Mandela

It was he who came out of Robben Island and Victor Verster Prisons in February, 1990, after 27 years of incarceration with the wisdom, fortitude and non-bitterness necessary to become the chief reconciler and conscience of a new South Africa. Confounding virtually everyone, he demonstrated a strength of character and courage unheard of in political leadership to that time. He had to overcome and transcend the negativity of long years of entitled white privilege  from the Afrikaners and the British, the continuing intra-ethnic rivalries (remember Gatsha Buthelezi and the Zulu Inkatha antagonists), and the strong need for revenge and retribution among indigenous South Africans for the abuses of apartheid and institutional racism in the country. He was often the only one in the room who knew where he was leading the country.

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” ~Nelson Mandela

As Martin Luther King had to do in the USA, he marched to a recognizable cultural rhythm with a distinctly different beat. In the end, again as with Dr. King, character and focused vision prevailed. Now he lives as the heart and soul of where South Africa is going, not just where it’s been.  Clearly, he did not negotiate the perfect solution to South Africa’s very deep troubles, but he certainly led in crafting a pragmatic, practical approach forward that would allow time, increasing sophistication and skill, and greater opportunities  for education and advancement to kick in and drive South Africa to ground higher than even most citizens expected.

“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.” ~Nelson Mandela

Institutional racism and entrenched white privilege are yet alive in South Africa seventeen plus years after the new one man-one vote national constitution was adopted. Whites still own over 70% of the land, over 85% of the resources, still dominate in educational leadership, and too many Black South Africans remain poor, ill-housed and depressed. But apartheid, which was merely formalized in 1948 but which had been government policy and practice since the end of the first Anglo-Boer War in 1880, had not been erected in a day, a fortnight or two decades. Its eradication would also take some time. Somebody had to stand up and consistently advocate patience, a subduing of passions for pay back, and clear thought in order for South Africa to save itself.As the saying goes—‘you cannot overcome if you are no longer here.’

With the help of many, Nelson Mandela saved South Africa. In so doing, he earned worldwide acclaim and recognition. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and has collected over 250 other prestigious awards since. He has highways, streets, boulevards and avenues named after him. There are Nelson Mandela universities, villages, libraries and public schools. There are memorial lectures and international conferences in his honor, and naval ships and satellites named after him, as well as books, plays, stamps and other celebrations of his achievements. Mandela Day was introduced as a new South African public holiday in current president Jacob Zuma’s inaugural  State of the Nation address in June, 2009. In announcing it, Mr. Zuma said, “Mandela Day will be celebrated on the 18th of July each year. It will give people in South Africa and all over the world the opportunity to do something good to help others… Madiba was politically active for 67 years, and on Mandela Day people all over the world, in the workplace, at home and in schools, will be called upon to spend at least 67 minutes of their time doing something useful within their communities, especially among the less fortunate.”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Nelson Mandela

At 93 years young, Mr. Mandela, South Africa’s first full-franchise democratically elected president, 1994-1999, is a bona fide hero. He could easily rest on his laurels, give occasional interviews in his trademark hand-painted Madiba shirts, and counsel the young. Instead, he continues his activist tradition, regularly condemning international and national actions that he deems to be dishonest, immoral or just wrong-headed. Such was his major criticism of the Kosovo bombing under former President Clinton, and he railed consistently against the George Bush invasion of Iraq and other chicaneries. Currently, he is adamantly opposed to President Obama’s bombing of Libya. He is a great admirer of Mr. Obama, but thinks that project is a major catastrophe for all concerned and should be terminated immediately. When she visited him in June of this year, Mr. Mandela reportedly told the president’s wife, FLOTUS Michelle Obama, to deliver that message to her husband and to do so with conviction. Mr. Mandela remains unafraid of taking the high road of integrity and sincerity, even when that means condemning his own ANC party, or some of his former Umkhonto we Sizwe (ANC armed wing, Spear of the Nation) colleagues like former South African president, Thabo Mbeki. He was reportedly incensed with South Africa’s vote in March, 2011, as part of the U.N. Security Council’s approval of the ‘no fly zone’ assault on Libya’s Moammar Qaddhafi and remains upset over it. SRDC shares Madiba’s sentiment: the Libyan bombing campaign should stop immediately.

“Where you stand depends on where you sit.” ~Nelson Mandela

Mr. Mandela, Happy Birthday to Ya !!   You remain a profile in courage and character we can all emulate and of which we can be proud. We salute you. For our own sakes, may there be many more like you among your far-flung Pan African progeny.

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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

Posted in AU Diaspora Meeting3 Comments

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.


Posted in African Nova Scotians1 Comment

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.

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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

Posted in Abdias do Nascimento0 Comments

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.

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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
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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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