Monday, 18 June 2012

Africa Day, Africa Liberation Day, Global Diaspora Summit Primer

May 25 is supposed to be an important date within the global African calendar. But what do we know about its significance? Here is a bite-sized primer culled from various sources to give you an overview of the key points.

May 25 is known as Africa Day or Africa Liberation Day (ALD). Its importance is likely to be even more important in the light of the fact that the door has been opened for diasporic African-led countries to join the 54 nation African Union, following Haiti's move from observer nation status to full membership applicant. Haiti may be some 5000 miles from the African continent, but it holds a pre-eminent position within global African history, in that in 1804, it became the first African led independent nation following a 12 year revolution against several European imperial powers.

It is Africa Day on May 25, marking the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union (AU). On that day, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community, and in 2002 the OAU established its own successor, the African Union.
The name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of African unity. This year’s theme of Africa Day is “Africa and the Diaspora.” Africa Day is observed as a public holiday in only three African countries; Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, celebrations are held in some African countries, as well as by Africans in the diaspora.

Africa Day 2012 coincides with the Global Diaspora Summit which is slated to take place in South Africa on 25 May. The summit comes at a time when many African leaders face harsh economic and social challenges. Citizens continue to leave their countries in search of a better life and almost fifty years after the first African Liberation Day, Africans are still not at peace in their own countries. Click to read the full 'Africa Day and the hidden treasures outside the continent' article.

Perhaps it's not by accident that Haiti has applied for full African Union membership.  And the Global Diaspora Summit is the acceptance of drawing the African diaspora closer to the mother continent. This was made plain in the speeches and comments made during the Summit in South Africa, which drew a wide constituency from the diaspora - click here to read the Report Of The African Union Diaspora Conference.

You may want to check out David L Horne's The global activities surrounding the African Diaspora Summit in South Africa - A People's Report, which uses a What, When, Where and Significance format.

Before I go any further, I must give thanks to Tony Tafari Thomas of the Rastafari Global Council for some of the links highlighted below. This starts with Tony's own piece published earlier on this blog, followed by a fantastic, almost poetic speech by the then South African President Thambo Mbeki. And just in case, you are tired of reading, there are a few more videos to take further the global African notion of solidarity with diasporic Africa.

'I Am African' speech by Thabo Mbeki

As an aside, I'd like to point 'I Am An African' an edu-tainment track Akoben Awards/Music2Causes created with rapper Kimba. This video with moi talking about Music4Causes includes Kimba dropping some rhymes from 'I Am An African', etc.

The African Union Global African Diaspora Summit took place on May 25th in South Africa. It was the first diaspora summit and was attended by representatives of African, Caribbean and South American states and representatives from CARICOM. African-Americans were represented by former mayor of New York David Dinkins. The summit ended with the formulation and commitment to a programme of action and 5 key proposals.  Click to read the full Overview of African Union Global African Diaspora Summit report written by Tony Tafari Thomas on behalf of Rastafari Global Council.

Global African Diaspora Summit In South Africa 2012 news item

Global African Diaspora Summit In South Africa 2012 President Jacob Zuma speech

Global African Diaspora Summit In South Africa 2012 by British blogger Niaomi Sesay

Global African Diaspora Summit In South Africa 2012 Rev. Dr Marcia O. Stewart aka Queen Mother Moses of Almighty Rastafari Kingdom

Global African Diaspora Summit In South Africa 2012 comments by Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem

For details of World Afrikan Diaspora Union Summit - Organizing the Power of the African Diaspora, which takes place in Washington DC on July 20-21 2012, click here.

Global Afrika Surviving Modern ‘Progress’

by Dr Vince Hines

Afrikans on the Continent of Afrika and in the Afrikan Diaspora have largely neglected their interests over the past five hundred years, partly through trickeries and subjugations by others. While we, too, need to say ‘NEVER AGAIN’, we can only move on when we fully recognised the consequences which the distortions of Afrika’s history generated and impacted  Afrikan peoples today.

Afrikans interests have been, and are still being, substituting for foreign interests. This should not be the case -  time for rapid change. The late Wangari Maathai, (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011), in her book,  “THE CHALLENGE FOR AFRICA: A NEW VISION” – [William Heinemann. ISBN: 978-0-434-01981-6], erected “a mile stone” on our current Afrikan Journey.

Maathai reminded us that  Culture is the means by which a people expresses itself, through language, traditional wisdom, politics, religion, architecture, music, tools, greetings, symbols, festivals, ethics, values, and collective identity. Agriculture, systems of government, heritage, and ecology are all dimensions and functions of culture…without culture, a community loses self-awareness and guidance, and grows weak and vulnerable. It disintegrates from within as it suffers a lack of identity, dignity, self-respect and a sense of destiny. People without culture feel insecure and are obsessed with the acquisition of material things and public displays, which give them a temporary security that itself is a delusional bulwark against future insecurity. (p160-1).

Afrika has been the victim of endless inappropriate financing. Money given in aid is sent back to Europe and America in corruption and money laundering schemes only to be re-loaned at higher interest. We then saw the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) and the Washington Consensus without any noticeable benefit to the majority of Afrikans on the ground. This led to aid dependency, economic devastation and the continued widespread dissemination of negative images of Afrika and Afrikans. Only a handful of industrialized nations have reached the benchmark they set in 1992 to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national products as development assistance. (p75).

Yet all the lowest 22 countries in the UN Human Development Index were Afrikan. In spite of having only 5 percent of the developing world’s income, Afrikan still has about two-thirds of the world’s debt. …According to the United Nations, in 2007, Afrika’s debt burden stood at $255 billion. (p92)

The Challenge for Afrika’ is a call for genuine leadership that puts peoples’ welfare first, places the environment at the center of development, and maintains a vision of the future founded on justice and sustainability. (p291).  

The African Family reveals many stories of activism and positive expressions of culture such as the demand for the reintroducing the Afrikan man back into his family. Wangari Maathai wants a return to the influence of the traditional medicine man / healer. This could be seen as controversial at a time when Christian evangelists and radical Islamists are sweeping the [Afrikan] Continent and there are widespread reports of ‘witch burnings’ and brutal ‘exorcisms  -  Afrikan Quest International

The Afrikan moral compass has been interfered with. The unnatural and malicious mass transportation of Afrikans as chattel slaves from one geographical area, where there had been no natural disaster or cause for concerns, to Western Hemisphere and elsewhere, continues to impact us.

Global call for Reparations for past wrongs perpetrated against our great Afrikan peoples must be one of all Afrikan nations’ primary mission statements during the Twenty First Century. It must be like a very bright torch extinguished only when our global reparations campaign successfully concluded.

Our campaign for reparations must go from generation to generation, if necessary, because chattel slavery, colonisations and imperialism went from generation to generation. The call for ‘REPARATIONS NOW’ must be our ‘new cultural rituals’, taught to the young and echoed throughout our lives until we succeed.

Success will have been the final recognition by those who “transgressed” against Afrika and Afrikans, that Afrikans had been, and are, peoples with rights, 5000 years ago, 500 years ago, 50 year ago,  5 years ago, 5 days  ago and today.

Linked to our Afrikan reparations claims must be a system developed to help us survive current “Modernism”.

Dr Vince Hines, Chairperson of the Afrika and Diaspora Institute (ADI), introduces and promotes “four essential principles of modern communal self-help. That is - to “Share, Warn, Encourage and Protect – SWEP,” influenced by MAAT fundamentals.  That is, “Balance, Harmony, Truth, Justice, Order, Reciprocity and Righteousness - right actions.”

Both Self-Help Essential Principles and MAAT teachings are antithesis to modern corporate and individual greed, envy, jealousy and arrogance. 

It is Dr Hines’ teaching that Afrikans have a global duty to do everything possible to work with others to bring back the world into Balance, from the edge of destruction. Balance is a crucial part of Afrikan Reparations Campaign. If the world is destroyed, a call for  ‘Afrikan reparations’ is meaningless.

Armed with the Four Essential Principles of Self-Help, we need to educate the masses, starting from inside our homes, villages, neighbourhoods - ‘the hoods’, regions, states, nations and the world.

WE  must learn to Share again; to Warn those among us to embrace high morals and personal codes, which respect and uphold the rights of the individuals; to Encourage those who are doing and endeavouring  to  do right; and to Protect our Global Family from rapacious actions by those who are currently addicted to their arrogance,  greed and associated consequences,  leading to our devastations.

If nothing else, the world is governed by universal principles of ‘right and wrong’. The Afrikan global campaign for reparations - repairing of heinous wrongs perpetrated against Afrika and Afrikans continuously over several centuries, is one which all members of a civilised world should recognise their responsibilities to participate in order to ensure a successful conclusion.

 It is in the interest of all nations to assist in creating conditions for the Afrikan peoples to gain claimed reparations and so encouraged a culture of forgiveness, compassion, individual and collective responsibilities to our common inhabitants.

If the world and its homo sapiens inhabitants have not understood the importance and necessity to assist in correcting wrongs perpetrated against Afrikan peoples, it is a world that harbours potentials for a repeat of the same wrongs against Afrikans and others in the future.

Overall,  Afrikans cannot be expected to forgive,  when perpetrators - and their beneficiaries, individuals and institutions - had never recognised fully past and current wrongs against Afrikans, asked for forgiveness and moved to satisfying our Afrikan call for reparations, including the perpetrators and their beneficiaries, changing their ways permanently for the good.

“Afrikans  on the Continent of Afrika and in her Diaspora, who are reminding ourselves of the past, should never be self-serving. These collective reflections should be ways of developing and sharpening our resolves to triumph and excel.  We must avoid being defined negatively by our past. Our strengths and weaknesses must always be in focused as we learn to create collective opportunities, mindful always that our productive development is based on our creating conditions for communal self-help. Dependency is our enemy; self-help our friend.”

Editorial Collective
Self-Help News – “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”

African British: If You Aren't Being 'De-selected' Or Stereotyped, They Remember To Honour Some Of Your Lot!

With the London Olympics 2012 and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations just round the corner, we can expect to hear the sound of jingoism. African British athletes are bound to be well represented in the Olympics publicity, whereas Africans will generally be invisible in mainstream publications highlighting Britain.

Indeed, on Sunday June 17 2012, I breezed through the Alkemi African market in Willesden, where I met co-organiser Bro Ra. Pretty much the first thing he said to me was that we had been “deselected”, before explaining by showing me a multi-page spread in Sunday’s Observer newspaper looking at the issue of Britishness. What he meant by being "de-selected" was that not one African or part African was among the 5 subjects highlighted. 

"It is a summer for celebrating Britishness, but in many ways our identity has never been more complex. In the wake of the Queen's diamond jubilee and before the Olympics, we asked five young people to debate the issue." That's how Yvonne Roberts' article starts off. Click to read:  'What does it mean to be British - and does it matter?'.

Interestingly, on the same day, the Voice Online provided a counterpoint with  'Great Britain...?' 

With “Rule Britannia, Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!” ringing in his ears, Nelson Abbey got his friend and acquaintances to give their take on Britain

"The self-congratulation was intoxicating. The air was thick with patriotism and there was little room for dissenting thought. It was one hell of a terrible weekend for ‘fans’ of democracy and meritocracy.

"Almost everyone who spoke to the roaming reporters on the endless broadcast of the Diamond Jubilee had something lovely to say about Britain and, of course, the Queen. It was a very polished affair. As a result of this, I was left wondering what would happen if one of these reporters canvassed opinion from people other than the traditional flag-waving, celebrity-worshiping monarchists."

One of the responses reads as follows: "Great Britain - A country where black Americans are treated like royalty whilst black Britons are treated like servants."

The day before, the Voice Online published  'More than gangsters', in which Elizabeth Pears highlighted "The rise of black online shows offering positive alternatives to mainstream TV." This is happening as an antidote the mainstream media's predilection for offering a fare of stereotypical African images. She began by revealing some of the damaging effects of this portrayal: "New US research suggests extensive television watching can damage black children’s self-esteem – thanks to mainstream productions that rely on lazy stereotypes of black people."

In spite of being generally ignored, and stereotyped, a few do get the Establishment honours. In the Queen's Birthday Honours List published last weekend, the likes of singer-songwriter Omar and actor/playwright Kwame Kwei Armah, were respectively honoured with an MBE for sevices to music and OBE for services to drama.   

Well, it's something to think about.



Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Overview of African Union Global African Diaspora Summit

Written by Tony Tafari Thomas on behalf of Rastafari Global Council, May 10th 2012

The African Union Global African Diaspora Summit took place on May 25th in South Africa. It was the first diaspora summit and was attended by representatives of African, Caribbean and South American states and representatives from CARICOM. African-Americans were represented by former mayor of New York David Dikins.
The summit ended with the formulation and commitment to a programme of action and 5 key proposals.
The plan of action was organised into 3 categories,
1.     Political cooperation
2.     Economic cooperation
3.     Social cooperation
Political cooperation
The key points in the category of political cooperation include,
1.     Establishment of formal relationships between states
2.     Support of the AU as diaspora focal point
3.     Development of diaspora task force
4.     Encouragement of diaspora to organise regional networks and mechanisms that will enable increased participation in AU affairs.
5.     Creation of a conducive environment to invest, work and travel in Africa.
Economic cooperation
The key points in the category of economic cooperation include,
1.     Mobilisation of capital using financial instruments
2.     Listing of African diaspora companies in African stock exchanges
3.     Regular meetings between national chambers of commerce
4.     Promotion of development of institutions dedicated to innovation, invention and social and economic development
5.     Support the development of fibre optic cabling
Social cooperation
The key points in the category of social cooperation include,
1.     Design and development of a platform for Africa and diaspora educators and scholars
2.     Development of African-centred institutions and programmes
3.     Promotion of education as a basic condition for achieving human development
4.     Prioritise the coordination and funding of cultural exchange programmes
5.     Encourage and disseminate information on African diaspora projects such as the Museum of Black Civilisation, an African Remembrance Square, the African Renaissance, the Joseph Project and slave monument
6.     Support and encouragement of global observance days as symbols of solidarity, Africa Day, African Union Day, Black History Month and Emancipation day
7.     Rebranding of Africa – Good governance and rule of law to strengthen image of Africa
The 5 key proposals are as follows,
1.     Skills database
2.     African Diaspora Volunteer Corps
3.     African Diaspora Investment Fund
4.     African Remittances Institute
5.     Create incentives for investment and foster more conducive business environment
The next phase of the AU diaspora project is focused on agreeing multi-stakeholder working groups made up of AU, CARICOM and representatives from the diaspora in the following areas,
1.     Economic cooperation including infrastructure, sea and air links, trade and investment and travel and tourism
2.     Science and technology including low earth orbit satellite, research in agriculture, biotechnology, renewable energy solutions, infectious and non-infectious diseases
Rastafari Global Council Response
Rastafari Global Council proposes that we adopt the programme of action and the 5 key proposals as the fundamental work of the Rastafari Global Council and the Rastafari community. We believe that the summit and the proposals that are a product of it offer the only realistic mechanism through which Rastafari can constructively engage with Africa. We believe this summit is a historically important step towards the integration of Africa’s diaspora into Africa.
Rastafari Global Council short term plan of action
1.     Make official contact with the AU and CARICOM and the state representatives from Africa, the Caribbean and South America
2.     Organise working groups to work on the 5 key proposals
3.     Formulate 3 committees to work on political, economic and social cooperation.
4.     Offer RGC as diaspora representatives in the multi-stakeholder working groups in the areas of economic cooperation and science and technology