Correcting False Information: A Necessary Letter to Pan Africanists
Dear Pan African Activists of The Black List (and Members of the Pan African Community):
When members of the World Afrikan Diaspora Union (WADU) first sent out the public letter titled Declaration Urging Support for AU Diaspora Representation, originally dated January 21, 2012, in which the Pan-African community was urged to support the nomination of several hand-picked Pan-Africanists as Representatives of the African Diaspora in the African Union, we initially chose not to respond to it. It was surely a concern to us, but we thought it would simply fade away, as have other such missives. Sadly, however, the piece found its way to The Black List this week, and we are now forced to make a definitive response.
In the spirit of operational unity, and with all due respect for the writers and distributors of that WADU letter, we will take the position that their intention was honorable in sending out that letter. However, regardless of the intent, the actual damage done by the massive misinformation in the letter, and the potential for even more damage to result from it, is a very strong motivator to engage this issue at a high level.
To begin with, the WADU letter states a falsehood and promotes it as truth. The ECOSOCC Statues of the African Union (anyone can search for that document using Google on the Internet) do not state in any Article, Section or Subsection that African Diaspora representatives can be appointed or recommended by petition. The Statues mention the African Diaspora at least 11 times in its 12-14 pages. On page 5, Article 5, number 3, the Statues state explicitly that African Diaspora representatives (numbering 20 in all) must be elected, and they must be elected by an approved process. The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) has been working alongside other Pan-African organizations toward that end.
The ECOSOCC Statues do allow for CIDO (the ECOSOCC Citizens Directorate, the AU agency directly responsible for the Diaspora’s coming into the AU) to appoint two ex-officio representatives from the African Diaspora — those two have been appointed since 2008, and are Khafra Kambon from Trinidad-Tobago and Marta Johnson from Costa Rica. Except for their actual work inside the AU, these two have nothing to do with electing the 20 designated African Diaspora representatives chosen to join the AU as voting members as is specified in the ECOSOCC Statutes.
The WADU letter lists a number of people who have collectively and individually done great things for the Pan African community. Each of them can easily qualify to be elected as an AU African Diaspora representative from a community that supports them. However, not one can be appointed as part of the 20 designated seats in ECOSOCC for the Diaspora. (The long list of Ph.Ds among the nominees in the letter also suggests that one has to have an advanced academic degree to be an AU African Diaspora representative, and that is patently untrue.)
On December 16, 2011, the African Union Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Amina Salum Ali, speaking to the diverse gathering of African Diaspora groups she had invited to a Unity Symposium, said more than once from the podium that the African Diaspora representatives to the AU must be elected through an AU-approved process. In his last public speech, WADU President and Honored Ancestor Dudley Thompson (may he rest in peace and satisfaction for a job well done) spoke to Ambassador Ali’s gathering and answered several questions from the participants, and three other WADU representatives attended the Ambassador’s Unity Symposium, so it was not as if the organization was unaware of the facts.
This point makes it much harder to understand why the WADU letter of January 21, 2012 was distributed broadly when the writers certainly had accurate information to the contrary available to them.
The WADU letter spreads confusion and misinformation to hundreds, even thousands of people. The AU-African Diaspora process is already confusing enough to those who are interested in learning about it. This letter severely compounds that confusion and at a time when the African Diaspora needs to be clarifying its assets, strategies and readiness for the upcoming May 25, 2012 African Diaspora Summit in South Africa. The African Diaspora should not and cannot show up to that international Summit unorganized and ill-informed. The WADU letter has already had a chilling effect on several Pan African activists we have talked with who had been working diligently toward organizing portions of the Diaspora, and doubtless many more who have been stunned into silence and non-participation. The letter has also been read by several AU members — some of whom do not desire the African Diaspora as participants in AU proceedings. For those AU members who were already opposed to the Diaspora’s participation, the WADU letter gives them fresh ammunition to argue for the rescission of the AU’s invitation to the African Diaspora. Even for friends of the Diaspora inside the AU, the letter makes the Diaspora appear arrogantly uninformed and significantly unready for AU diplomatic engagement.
The letter, along with some previous missives from this same group (“… the Diaspora’s responsibility is to save Africa …”), revives a long-standing stereotype within African diplomatic circles that the African Diaspora, particularly its African American portion, simply cannot raise itself to the appropriate diplomatic level needed to participate in discussions to determine Africa’s future.
A few months ago, The Black List posted a PADU Ma’at article which elucidated a code of honorable Pan African conduct expected of leaders and participants in the ongoing 21st Century Pan African Movement. We strongly urge the writers and distributors of the WADU letter to re-visit that Black List posting, and to refrain from doing further damage to the integrity and reputation of the African Diaspora as its members try to move forward positively.
Forward Ever, Backward Never,