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The Next Pan-Afrikan Town Hall (December 2, 2017)


The KUUMBAReport Web site has been a bit idle the last couple of weeks. We just recently returned from a conference in Nashville, Tennessee and needed a little “down time” after we got back. Of course, during that time, much has happened in the news that has helped raise the collective blood pressure of the people of the United States and the world in general. Trump administration officials indicted, entertainers and US senators accused of grievous sexual misconduct, more mass shootings.

That being said, my primary concern at the moment is the current situation we face as Afrikan people and what we are going to do about it. Thus, as Maryland State Facilitator of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), I’m announcing our next Maryland Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meeting, Saturday, December 2, 2017 at the historic Arch Social Club from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. At this Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meeting, we will seat a Maryland Grassroots Council of Elders (or at least get it started), we will continue the process of nominating and ultimately electing Representatives from Maryland, we will discuss our plan to build a national network of locally-elected Representatives to take our grassroots voice to the World Stage via the African Union, United Nations or independent Pan-Afrikan conferences, and we will work to build a true Cooperative Coalition among the various Pan-Afrikan “pro-Black Unity” organizations of our community who are ready to put their WORDS of unity into ACTION, so we can begin to respond to the multi-faceted, multi-pronged attack we’ve been under for over 400 years in the multi-faceted, multi-pronged way in which such an all-encompassing assault MUST be met.

Maryland Council of Elders – Afrikan tradition calls upon us to consult our Elders. In many traditional Afrikan societies, the person regarded as the chief or “king” was often unable to receive visitors from other nations without first consulting the Elders Council of that community. In Pan-Afrikan cultural events here in the United States, we often begin our public statements by asking the Elders, “Do I have permission to speak?” Thus, a Community Council of Elders is in the best traditions of Pan Afrikan Organizing, and is an important step in the formation of a stable Pan-Afrikan community.

State Representatives – SRDC is an organization based on the raising of the voice of the grassroots. This is done through the nomination and election of Representatives by that grassroots community, in this case done state-by-state in the US, with other parts of the world determining the best methods for them. At our previous Town Hall on October 14, several candidates were nominated to become Representatives. We will seek more candidates at our December 2 Town Hall and hope to hold elections to fill two (2) Representative positions sometime in January or February.

National Representatives Taking Our Voice to the World Stage – The Representatives from Maryland would join Representatives from other states to form a cadre of elected Representatives, each put there by the voice of their own local communities and each expected to promote the Pan-Afrikan Agendas that were determined by the grassroots communities in their states. When all of the states and the District of Columbia have elected Representatives and established their Pan-Afrikan Agendas, we would have a complete cadre from the United States. In the meantime, since we do not have organizations in all 50 states and the District, we will do the best we can with what we have, combining the Agendas of the states where we are organized and amassing a cadre of elected Representatives from our current states. These states would combine their Agendas to produce a more comprehensive US Pan-Afrikan Agenda that would then be promoted and, if necessary, defended at international gatherings of the African Union, the United Nations or independent Pan-Afrikan organizations such as the Pan Afrikan Federalist Movement (PAFM), the 9th Pan-African Congress or whatever global gathering of Afrikans and people of Afrikan descent is ready to hear the voice of the Diaspora.

A Cooperative Coalition to Answer the Multiple-Front Attack from our Oppressors – Finally, we realize that we as a people are under attack from our enemies on multiple fronts. Our food, air and water are poisoned. We are bombarded with “legal” as well as “illegal” drugs. Big Agriculture controls the food supply and Big Pharma controls the drugs. Crooked politicians either steal our votes or try to prevent us from voting in the first place, only to lie to us when they attain office in obedience to their big-money benefactors. Resource extractors are destroying large swaths of the planet for oil, coal, natural gas and minerals, especially where Afrikan people live (70-80% of Afrikan people in the United States are estimated to live in “environmental sacrifice zones”, while mining for oil, coltan, diamonds and precious minerals continues unabated in Afrika). Weapons manufacturers develop more and more efficient ways of killing large numbers of people and resist all efforts to keep these weapons out of the hands of crackpots and racists. Major corporations continue to try to take ALL THE MONEY and reduce the rest of us to desperate poverty, which impacts Afrikan people more than most. Afrikan spirituality is constantly under attack by the “established” religions that insist the Akan, the Yoruba, the Santeria, the Vodou, the MDW NTR and associated spiritualities are “pagan” or “primitive”. The Prison-Industrial Complex has found a way to make money by putting us in jail, and so they do this whenever they can, resulting in mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black youth. The political police still practice many of the “dirty tricks” of COINTELPRO, and use them to silence or imprison political activists and leaders. Even nonprofits have been corrupted by Big Money, with the Nonprofit-Industrial Complex making some NGOs rich while allowing the horrible conditions they were created to bring to an end to continue year after year. All the while, the major media fill our brains with news articles of hopelessness and cultural messages of inferiority and cynical “thug-life” lawlessness masquerading as rebellious commitment to freedom.

For us to think that we can resist this multi-faceted, multi-pronged attack with ONE SPECIFIC SOLUTION is lunacy. Some say our “solution” is economic alone. Black Wall Street was a tremendous economic achievement in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 1920’s, but that did not save it when the Klan and the police decided to firebomb it. The Panthers built one of the best national grassroots revolutionary activist organizations ever seen, and even had the Black Liberation Army when the hostilities from the US government reached the point of all-out war, but when the BLA itself was attacked and the Panthers were rounded up in mass numbers with their sympathizers from other organizations and all tried in courts of law at once, there was no cadre of Black lawyers, or even people trained in any aspect of the law, to provide a credible defense in the US kangaroo courts, resulting in some 200-plus Political Prisoners, many of whom remain imprisoned to this day. Thus, we cannot effectively resist the multi-faceted, multi-pronged attack from our enemies by pursuing ONE avenue of resistance.

Our artists, businesses, scientists, spiritualists, Elders, educators, researchers, grassroots communities, political activists, prison activists, revolutionaries, Black Media and others must learn to work together, cooperatively, so we as a people can resist our enemies on ALL FRONTS, at the SAME TIME. Our strategy up to this point appears to have been one akin to trying tom play chess with ONE PIECE. The chess player who wins is the one who can coordinate ALL of the pieces, with their individual abilities, to work cooperatively together as a TEAM.

SRDC realizes that we cannot bring the entire Pan-Afrikan Diaspora together alone. NO organization can accomplish its mission by itself. We need ALL of our people together in this, and as a result we need ALL of our organizations that are committed to a unified, coordinated Pan-Afrikan response to our current crisis to come together in a Cooperative Coalition and work TOGETHER to defeat our oppressors.

These are all aspects of our struggle which we will seek to advance at each of our Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meetings in Maryland, and we’re urging our SRDC-affiliated organizations in other states to pursue a similar strategy. How can we expect our communities to come together in peace and harmony in our neighborhoods if our organizations are not willing and able to set the example by coming together in peace and harmony themselves?

So, I invite you to come and join us in this noble struggle. If you’re in the state of Maryland, especially in the city of Baltimore, I invite you to come to the Arch Social Club on December 2, 2017 at 3:00 PM.

Peace and Power,
Bro. Cliff
Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus
KUUMBAReport

JUSTICE INITIATIVE: Should America be Deporting Domestic Violent White Males?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary was written by Heather Gray, a white woman from the Atlanta area and the founder of Justice Initiative, on October 3, in the aftermath of the massacre at the country music festival in Las Vegas by 64-year-old whacked-out millionaire-turned-mass-murderer Stephen Paddock, who as of this writing has killed 59 people and wounded over 500 more before taking his own life in a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel as police closed in on him.  As she notes below, she received a number of comments in response to her commentary.  In case you missed it, we are sharing it with you at this time.  Ms. Gray has allowed us to reprint several of her commentaries, as they often pertain to issues of racial justice and the struggle against white supremacy.

Note: I have begun to receive many comments about this editorial and am sending it out one more time. I think many of us in America are wanting to address this issue both of white violence and white supremacy. It is way past time for all of us to honor the other and begin to teach in our schools and in our communities overall the sad history of European violence and white supremacy so that we can move beyond this. We have kept it under the radar screen for far too long even though it faces us promptly every single day! I welcome your comments and suggestions for community action and literature overall.

Peace,

Should America be Deporting Domestic Violent White Males?
Now there’s a good idea but nobody would want them!
Violent “white” American males are the problem in America as they have killed far more Americans than any other male group. Yet, just imagine the press and comments from Donald Trump if Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock had been a black male or a Mexican male or a Middle Eastern male or a Muslim male. Under those circumstances, I can just hear Trump saying, “See, I told you so! We need to control them or get rid of them!” So the question remains, when is the press, and especially Donald Trump and his supporters, going to acknowledge that this was a violent crime by a “white” male and that it is “white” American males who are far more dangerous than any other male group in the United States. Is it not time for white males in America who are concerned about the violence by other white males to begin addressing this issue?  I think it is way past time for some action by white males themselves and the white community overall.Yet, Paddock had all these guns and used an “automatic” weapon to kill 59 people and injure more than 500 now suffering individuals. And Paddock’s use of an “automatic” weapon for this killing spree was the first ever in an American massacre! And no authorities knew he had a sizable compilation of weapons? And/or there was no surveillance of him? That, in itself, is a tragedy. 

 

Should Trump include on his banning list and priorities the deportation of American white domestic terrorist males? Now, there’s a unique idea, except for the fact that nobody would want them! But where would he send them? Whites in British prisons, both convicts and debtors overall, were, for example, sent to the Britain’s American, Australian and other colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries with Georgia being a debtors colony. But I can’t imagine any country in today’s world wanting to increase their violent American white male population. Can you?­

The other problem is that the American white males and those in police departments invariably are inappropriately acquitted of the most outrageous and heinous crimes, primarily against people of color,  and are not placed in jail as they should be for the safety of all of us. But, nevertheless, most can be identified. This is, in fact, a major issue. Too many white males are acquitted for acts of violence that virtually any other male of color, or those not belonging to a main-stream American religion, would be penalized. In addition to the acts of violence, these inequities in the court system, or the so-called justice system, have to end.   

 
I know that deportation of violent white males is not realistic but we do need to explore ways to better control guns and address the violent tendencies of white males in America.  White males need to become accountable. Finally, American whites overall need to end this insane white supremacist mindset and, with compassion, acknowledge the beauty, profound cultures and humanity of all human beings on the face of the earth.  

Puerto Rico and The Caribbean Suffer, US Agencies Struggle, Trump Stumbles

On Friday September 29, San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz took to the major media in a desperate bid to alert the outside world that a humanitarian crisis on the scale of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was unfolding in her country.

She described the “horror in the streets” of her destroyed city and went on air “begging” the American people and the rest of the world to “save us from dying”.

As a result of Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on the island on September 20, hospitals face weeks without power, the cities, including San Juan, could be without electricity for months, and the devastation in the island country/US territory could take years to repair.

According to CNN, Lt. Gen Jeffrey Buchanan, who was appointed to lead the military effort to render aid in Puerto Rico, stated that 10,000 personnel, including Air Force, Navy and Army medical facilities, planes and helicopters, were being brought to the disaster area, but that more were needed.  Meanwhile, reports circulated on all major media that goods and supplies at the port could not be distributed to the suffering people because of a lack of drivers for the trucks needed to deliver them and the impassibility of many of the roads.

As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bureaucracy was busy demanding that Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, make requests and applications for assistance by Internet and phone in spite of the complete lack of phone or Internet service, US president Donald J. Trump went on one of his classic and clueless Twitter sprees,

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”

“Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!”

“such poor leadership ability … not able to get their workers to help.”

“They want everything to be done for them,”

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican pop stars are chipping in to assist.  Ramon Luis Ayala, better known as Daddy Yankee, donated $100,000 to the Food Bank of Puerto Rico which fed thousands of families in the village of Toa Baja, according to a CNN article.  After Jennifer Lopez announced the donation of $1 million from her Las Vegas show to the humanitarian effort, Daddy Yankee responded by increasing his pledge of support to match it.  And hip hop artist Pitbull sent his private jet to take cancer patients stranded at the local hospital to locations where they could receive life-saving treatments.

Certainly, by the time this is read, many more celebrities will have made public announcements of donations to the cause of Puerto Rican relief as well as private, anonymous ones, as the US government continues to make a public show of ineffectiveness and, some say, heartlessness in the statements the president continues to make about Mayor Cruz and any other officials who question or criticize his administration’s response.

In the meantime, territories such as the US Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe and other places devastated by Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria continue to struggle to recover from perhaps the most violent storm season in recorded history.

Maryland Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meeting Set for Saturday, October 14

In response to some requests we received from the community, the Maryland Organizing Committee of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) is holding its fourth Pan-Afrikan Town Hall on Saturday, October 14 from 3 pm to 6 pm at the historic Arch Social Club (2426 Pennsylvania Avenue, the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues). This Town Hall will be in preparation for our National Summit in Nashville, Tennessee the following weekend. At the October 14 Town Hall, we plan to accomplish the following:

(1) a quick review and update, as needed, of the Pan-Afrikan Agenda that was developed and discussed at the June 24, August 12 and September 16 Town Hall Meetings;
(2) nomination of a Community Council of Elders for the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Community;
(3) nomination of candidates to run for Representatives of the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Community, who will take our Pan-Afrikan Agenda to national and, perhaps, international meetings;
(4) discuss the building of a Pan-Afrikan Cooperative Coalition to help create a climate of cooperation between the Pan-Afrikan organizations in Maryland; and
(5) discuss recent events and future plans for moving our work forward.

We hope to see you at the Maryland Pan-Afrikan Community Town Hall. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us at (443) 865-2723 or cliff@kuumbareport.com.

Our Frustrating, Maddening Obsession

“The thing to do is to get organized.  Stay separated and you will be exploited, you will be robbed, you will be killed.  Get organized and you compel the world to respect you.”
–The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey

The above statement is, in my opinion, perhaps the most profound comment I’ve ever heard or read from The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).  More profound than “Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad.”  More relevant than “Up you mighty race; you can accomplish what you will.”  This is because while those other two statements are iconic in their own way, they are pronouncements that were designed to inspire, whereas that first quote is an analysis and a prescription for people of Afrikan Descent to free ourselves from bondage and oppression, and, unfortunately, one which too many of us continue to ignore.  Too often, we rail against the discriminations and deprivations to which Afrikan people are subjected, but we also repeat, ad nauseam, the very behaviors of disunity that ensure that those discriminations and deprivations will continue without any comprehensive and effective challenge from us.  Why are we so often obsessed with the empty behavior of complaint coupled with rejection of any organized and cooperative plan to put our collective misery to an end?

It has been stated that “division is a monster.”  Division is indeed a monster.  We have been “divided and conquered” from the day a Conquistador saw that when we were separated from our communities we could be more easily taken away from our homes and consigned to enslavement.  It was used to keep our enslaved Ancestors as compliant as possible, it was used to instill fear in our communities post-Reconstruction, it was used to destroy our organizations from the UNIA to the Panthers and beyond.  It is used today to keep us divided.   Our communities do need to organize themselves, as so many of us have stated repeatedly.  So, what is it that keeps that organization from happening?  Why are so many of us so quick to dismiss and reject those among us who are working to build the Black Unity we all claim to want?

I’ve written about that before, on this web site.  Specifically, here, here, here and here, among other places.  The problems seem to be that (1) when the call is put out to our organizations and activists to come together and work to build coalitions with input from the community, too many of us insist that it’s impossible, and so we don’t even try; (2) too many of our organizations and activists seem to want to be involved in work that only we control, and not even work where we would share the effort, input and reward; (3) we too often dismiss as illegitimate those whose analysis of the situation of Afrikan people doesn’t completely agree with ours, when what we should really be assessing is the sincerity and commitment of the activists to work on listening to each other and getting something done for our people; (4) even when we express vocal support for an effort, when the time comes to actually support it, putting our money, our effort  or just our attention where our mouths are if by nothing more than coming to a meeting of the community to participate in building an agenda and determining a collective course of action, we too often “forget” about the meeting just as it approaches, and thus fail to even come to see whether the effort is legitimate or not, and sometimes the entire effort dies on the vine because of a perceived (or maybe actual) lack of interest.

As a case in point, the Maryland Organizing Committee of the Pan-Afrikan Diaspora organization Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus, an organization to which I belong, has held three Pan-Afrikan Community Town Hall Meetings in Baltimore, Maryland to date which, quite frankly, should have gotten much more response than they have gotten so far, if for no other reason than people should at least be curious enough to see what the plan is and to offer their ideas for improving it.  How can one dismiss a plan when they haven’t even taken the time to engage the planners or even see what the plan actually is?  Especially when the planners are asking the community of activists, organizers and “just plain folks” to come and offer their thoughts, ideas and critiques so that a truly participatory, cooperative and complete strategy can be developed, and especially since our elected officials have so consistently failed us?  If you don’t trust elected officials, religious leaders and big corporations, fine.  I don’t either.  But that seems to leave us, the activists, organizers and “people on the ground”. And when we try to bring us out to collectively and cooperatively formulate a strategy, the call is too often ignored or rejected outright without so much as a discussion.  Even when the suggestion on the table is for us to build a Cooperative Coalition among the different entities in our community that do care about what is happening, from the business, art, spiritual, media, education, revolutionary, scientific, grassroots and other communities, in which all of these organizations are empowered to pursue justice the way they do best, but in coordination and cooperation with each other so that what we all do is done in a way that we help each other instead of competing against each other.  And then, after rejecting even that idea, we go back to the old, comfortable jacket of raging against elected officials and blaming them for all our problems.  Didn’t we conclude that ages ago?

But no doubt, there are people who, if they read this commentary all the way through, will have already dismissed even this grassroots-based Pan-Afrikan Cooperative-Coalition idea as a pipe dream, or as lacking in proper analysis.  Well, if there’s something lacking, why not improve it by informing it with your own ideas?  Why not engage in some form of dialog instead of telling us that our ideas suck and are unworthy of implementation?  None of us knows everything, least of all me.  But if we continue to simply dismiss each other and then scream about how un-unified we are, at that point we need to look in the mirror.  If everyone has to agree with you top-to-bottom for there to be anything close to unity, then there will be no unity.  EVER.

I apologize if I seem to be ranting, but this is far more frustrating than it needs to be, and in many ways it’s our own collective fault.  Our organization has been struggling with this since 2007 in Maryland, and we’ve just now gotten to the point where some organizations and activists are starting to learn what we are about and engaging with us.  Lots of organizations with few resources fold up in less time than we’ve been pushing this huge rock up the hill.  But we haven’t given up on trying to engage our community, though it gets frustrating to hear all the outrage about what is happening to us but then get little more than ridicule or dismissal when an attempt is made to bring us together and seek solutions together, especially when that dismissal and ridicule are often coming from people who have not one clue as to what we are about.  Let’s get away from the knee-jerk cynicism and get back to talking to each other instead of at each other.  That’s where real community lies, and that’s how we can rally our forces and win the battle for truth and justice.

Peace and Power,
Bro. Cliff
KUUMBAReport
Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus

JUSTICE INITIATIVE on “The First 9-11”

“This will surely be the last time I speak to you. Magallanes Radio will be silenced, and the reassuring tone of my voice will not reach you. It doesn’t matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be with you. At the least, your memory of me will be that of a man who was loyal to the country. … I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other people will be able to transcend this sad and bitter moment, when treason tries to force itself upon us. … I’m sure that my sacrifice will not be in vain … It will be a moral lesson that will punish the felony, cowardice, and treason [of the Armed Forces].”
–the last broadcast of President Salvador Allende, Sept. 11, 1973

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week marked the 44th anniversary of what is called, by people who know history, “The Other 9-11” or “The First 9-11”, as Heather Gray of the Atlanta-based organization Justice Initiative calls it.  Below, we share two of Justice Initiative’s releases, which include commentaries by Heather Gray, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein.  For even more background, we invite you to check out an archived issue of our newsletter, KUUMBAReport, “The ‘Other’ 9-11”.

JUSTICE INITIATIVE on Chile: The First 9/11 
 
Heather Gray

As September 11, 2017 is upon us, millions around the world and in the U.S. will invoke the September 11, 2001 tragedy at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Simultaneously, for many there will also be the recollection of the CIA coup in Chile on September 11, 1973, when Chilean President Salvador Allende was assassinated. And yes, this had to do with the economic desires of corporate America along with its U.S. government support.

 
With Trump as president we are once again faced with the prospect to diluting programs that have been in place since the New Deal to benefit the masses. We are now faced with the threat of the stark economic policies of neoliberalism, or its more bleak form of the structural adjustment market-driven model, being thrust down our throats. This is thanks to, for one, the likes of the leader in the House of Representatives, the former GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan and his radical economic “go it alone” Ayn Rand philosophy. 
 
Ryan and others have wanted to dismantle the last vestiges of the New Deal in its current form. It’s also what Milton Friedman, of the University of Chicago’s School of Economics, wanted which is that his market-driven policies be imposed on the American people. The right wing on the whole is likely pleased that the United States might finally be the victim of these failed and tragic economic policies that they’ve forced on developing countries where the wealthy benefit and no one else. It’s a home-coming and not a pleasant one. This is also accentuated now with the presidency of Donald Trump.
 
Friedman’s probably smiling from his grave. Contrary to all the hype, neoliberalism is a failed system throughout the world leading to inequities, environmental degradation and starvation. As Filipino economist Walden Bello said of Friedman, “Indeed, there is probably no more appropriate inscription for Friedman’s gravestone than what William Shakespeare wrote in “Julius Caesar”:  ‘The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.'”

Milton Friedman 
Ironically, the two tragedies of the September 11, 1973 assassination of Allende and the September 11, 2001 World Trade building disaster are not totally unrelated. In fact, the consequences of these disasters are immense in terms of the implementation of American economic and ideological domestic and foreign policy.
What are neoliberal or structural adjustment economic policies? These are Global North v Global South distinctions on the whole: “neoliberalism” is referred to market-driven draconian economic model in the “developed” Global North; “structural adjustment” refers to the same market-driven draconian model but with distinct policies being enforced, if money is loaned, by the world’s banking system in the so-called “developing” or Global South. The requirements are austere and restrictive than what’s yet appeared in the “developed” economies, although Paul Ryan and others want to change that in the U.S. The imposition of structural adjustment on “developing” countries has made them essentially without protections and vulnerable to vulture capitalists.
 
Market-driven means that the market will solve our problems – place no restraints on the market because as an entity it will determine what’s needed in terms of products and consumption and everyone will benefit as a result, economically and otherwise. Yet, it’s a farce!
 
Neoliberalism, or its more austere structural adjustment model, was ultimately enshrined as the leading paradigm in the policy guidelines of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In fact, to receive loans, countries were required to curtail government programs that offer services to the people that are then privatized or ended altogether; tariffs that had wisely been in place to protect local business ventures were required to be lifted; and the country was generally required to provide the opportunity for foreign investment in their country, perhaps of land ownership, resource extraction and control of large scale business ventures by foreign interests.
 
The policies have never created a level playing field. The West’s corporate leaders have dominated as a consequence and while corporate capitalists have thrived, thanks to the World Bank and IMF, many of the poor have starved and been driven deeper into poverty. We saw this in Mexico after the passage of NAFTA as well as among workers in the United States with virtually no protection of worker rights and unions and, for the first time, under NAFTA, foreigners could own land in Mexico. This forced many Mexican farmers off the land coupled with the dumping of cheap, largely unhealthy produce, such as corn, on the Mexican market, again thanks to NAFTA.
 
Similarly, Paul Ryan’s philosophy is that you’re on your own essentially and to shrink the government programs altogether to insure that you don’t get help and/or to privatize everything. This brings efficiency they say. It would also finally put the nail in the coffin of the New Deal policies. Ryan apparently wants to complete the process except for the military. Who will benefit? Certainly not the 99%!
 
Friedman knew his neoliberal policies would essentially throw out the popular New Deal programs and that there was no way this would pass the U.S. Congress in the 1970’s.  He instead needed another country and most likely a crisis to test his neoliberal policies. Chile was it.
 
Allende was a socialist and a friend of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. When he became the Chilean president in 1970, he immediately began to restructure the economy with admirable socialist initiatives to advance opportunities for the Chilean masses. For example, his sweeping policies included the nationalization of some large-scale industries such as cooper mining and banking; he took under the auspices of the Chilean government the educational system, the health care system, and offered a free milk program for poor children; he was engaged in land reform and the raising of the minimum wage for Chilean workers. (And you’re right – some of this sounds like our own New Deal under President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930’s that, as mentioned, conservatives have always wanted to dismantle.)

Salvador Allende
At the time Allende took office, the three major American corporations in Chile were ITT and two American cooper-mining companies Anaconda and Kennecott. ITT owned 70% of the Chilean Telephone Company and funded the right-wing newspaper El Mercurio. They were not pleased with Allende and by all accounts complained to the American government and had, with US government knowledge, given money to Allende’s opponents. There are also reports that ITT channeled money to the CIA to help dismantle the Allende government.
 
Yes, we would certainly call this U.S. interference in another country’s government!!!
 
Allende’s threat? It was apparently independence from the United States and offering a new democratic alternative in the region.
Allende also obviously thought Chile was a sovereign nation, but Henry Kissinger (Nixon’s Secretary of State) and the U.S. corporate investors in Chile thought otherwise.
Allende’s policies infuriated Kissinger, who, by all accounts, gave the CIA the green light to get rid of Allende. But Allende also alienated some of the Chilean middle class and some Christian groups who saw his policies of empowering the poor as a threat or as a Cuban style authoritarian state.
 
So Allende was assassinated, became a martyr, and what followed was devastating for Chileans on the whole as thousands of Chileans became “disappeared” and activists were killed or tortured – tortured, I am told, to cleanse them of their collective “social contract” mindset.
 
In the coup, thousands of Chileans were taken to the Chilean Stadium in Santiago where many were immediately killed or tortured.
 
One was the renowned folklorist and guitarist, Victor Jara, who was also a political activist and a member of the Communist Party. Jara was inspired by the folk songs of Chile and other South American countries. Under Allende, he was one of the artists who created the “Nueva Cancion Chilena” revolution of popular music.
 
At the stadium, where he had performed many times, his ribs were broken by his captors, and his fingers broken as well, to prevent him from playing his guitar. His captors then mocked him by suggesting he play the guitar and he responded by “defiantly” singing part of “Venceremos” (We Will Win). He was then shot 44 times by a machine gun and his body thrown into the streets of a shantytown in Santiago.

At the Chilean stadium when Victor Jara was killed on September 16, 1973 
In 1977, I was in the office of MIT professor, Dale Runge, in Boston, who had been in the Peace Corps in Chile before the coup and had known Jara. While sitting at his desk, he cried as he described what happened. Also a guitarist, Dale had frequently played with Jara and learned from him.
Victor Jara singing in Chile 

Just prior to his death, Jara had written the following, almost as if he envisioned his fate – here’s some of the verse:

 
My guitar is not for the rich no,
nothing like that.
My song is of the ladder
we are building to reach the stars.
For a song has meaning
when it beats in the veins
of a man who will die singing,
truthfully singing his song.
 
There is no way a discussion about Chile in 1973 can be recalled without referring to Naomi Klein’s excellent book, the “Shock Doctrine“. Shocks to countries, says Klein, offer a vacuum for “disaster capitalists” to sweep in for the kill to change and control what and how they want for their benefit. In her book she describes how on September 12, 1973 – the day after the Allende assassination – young economists in Chile had on their desks documents drafted by the Chicago School of Economics on neoliberal policies for Chile. Actually, these Chilean graduates of the Chicago School, known as the “Chicago boys”, under the tutelage of their neoliberal godfather Milton Friedman, were already well informed about the market-driven economic model.
 
These Chicago “boys” imposed the new policies with a vengeance, which was coupled with the ruthless and murderous Pinochet dictatorship. As Bello said, so much for “political freedom going hand-in-hand with free markets.” Yet, Friedman called it the “Chilean miracle.”
Bello, who was a graduate student in Chile around this time, has also noted, after Pinochet’s 17 years of terror, that “Chile was indeed radically transformed…for the worse“. He said further that:
 
Chile was the guinea pig of a free market paradigm that was foisted on other third world countries beginning in the early 1980’s through the agency of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  Some 90 developing and post-socialist economies were eventually subjected to free-market, “structural adjustment.”
 
Structural adjustment policies (SAPs), which set the stage for the accelerated globalization of developing country economies during the 1990’s, created the same poverty, inequality, and environmental crisis in most countries that free-market policies did in Chile, minus the moderate growth of the post-Friedman-Pinochet phase.  As the World Bank chief economist for Africa admitted, “We did not think the human costs of these programs could be so great, and the economic gains so slow in coming.”  So discredited were SAPs that the World Bank and IMF soon changed their names to “Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers” in the late 1990’s. (Bello, 2006)
 
When, on September 11, 2001, the planes struck the World Trade Center Towers, it’s important to note that they struck at the symbolic heart of the American capitalist system. We lost thousands of innocent workers in this tragic event. It’s also important to note that a plane flew into the Pentagon on the same day, which is the heart of the U.S. military that essentially protects America’s foreign economic ventures and its corporate capitalists. The targets were incredibly symbolic of American imperial arrogance that has tragically destroyed countless countries, communities, families, individuals and environments throughout the world.
 
As writer Chalmers Johnson would say, the attack on September 11, 2001 would be “blowback” time. He noted that there was only so much that others in the world can take of arrogant economic and aggressively violent U.S. foreign and military behavior.
 
Was the 9/11 tragedy in New York a ploy for a U.S. on-going war in the Middle East to then destabilize it for easier exploitation by the west and to advance the military industrial complex? This question is on-going.
 
In fact, the aftermath of 9/11 has resulted in significant and costly wars in the Middle East by the U.S. which, coupled with the disastrous deregulation of the banking system, for one, and the economic disaster in 2008, has led to a perfect crisis for the likes of the Friedman neoliberal/structural adjustment followers, like Paul Ryan, to impose their draconian policies on Americans. The situation is the perfect “shock”, as per Naomi Klein, for these disaster capitalists in America to sweep in and create even more havoc then they have already in the U.S. and for them to gain at the people’s expense. This is similar to Chile in 1973 minus the bloody coup in America itself.
 
It’s way past time that we all begin to develop concrete ideas for another economic system than what we have now. As Marxist economist Richard Wolff told me, in an interview a few years ago, since the Occupy Movement Americans now have in their mindset the 1% versus the 99%. There is a concrete understanding of the dreadful inequities in this U.S. capitalist economy. He said it is now much easier to talk about economic systems that we simply were denied during the Cold War and after the Cold War as well. The Cold War system set the tone for the dialogue. Yet, finally we had a prominent socialist, Bernie Sanders, running for the presidency in 2016 and actually more of an open dialogue. Now, that is progress!!! It’s way past time for a change!!!
 
References:

Walden Bello, “Eye of the Hurricane: Milton Friedman and the Global South” (2006) Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF)
 
 

Note: I had first written an article about 9/11 in Chile for Counterpunch in 2012. The above article has been updated. Heather Gray

JUSTICE INITIATIVE: Chile Was Not Saved by Milton Friedman

Note: This week, on September 11, 2017,  I sent out an article entitled “Chile: First 9/11″ regarding the September 11, 1973 coup in Chile and the assassination of the Chilean president Salvador Allende. In the article, I did not go into the details about what happened in Chile years after the assassination; the installation of the dictator, Augusto Pinochet, as president; and the largely disastrous results of attempting to implement the U.S. directed neoliberal economic plan to privatize virtually everything in Chile.  Below are two articles about the aftermath of the Allende assassination. One by Noam Chomsky, written in 1994, with more details about the Chilean coup in 1973; and a later article, in 2010, by Naomi Klein, about the devastating impact of the economic neoliberalism on the Chilean people.

As we explore economic systems in America and as Trump and others are also wanting to privatize virtually everything, in their economic neoliberal style in America, such as education, healthcare, social security, etc., we should take heed and learn lessons from happened, for one, in Chile. Chomsky and Klein, in particular, refer to the importance of the democratic “public sphere” funded largely by “nationalized” institutions, as Allende had planned for his country. As Klein notes below:

…. (in Chile) by the early 80s, Pinochet’s Friedman-prescribed policies had caused rapid de-industrialisation, a tenfold increase in unemployment and an explosion of distinctly unstable shantytowns. They also led to a crisis of corruption and debt so severe that, in 1982, Pinochet was forced to fire his key Chicago Boy advisers and nationalise several of the large deregulated financial institutions. (Sound familiar?)

Peace,

Heather Gray
Justice Initiative
September 13, 2017 

Chile

Noam Chomsky
Henry Kissinger said in his eulogy: “The world is a better place, a safer place, because of Richard Nixon.” I’m sure he was thinking of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. But let’s focus on one place that wasn’t mentioned in all the media hoopla – Chile – and see how it’s a “better, safer place.” In early September 1970, Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile in a democratic election. What were his politics?

He was basically a social democrat, very much of the European type. He was calling for minor redistribution of wealth, to help the poor. (Chile was a very inegalitarian society.) Allende was a doctor, and one of the things he did was to institute a free milk program for half a million very poor, malnourished children. He called for nationalization of major industries like copper mining, and for a policy of international independence – meaning that Chile wouldn’t simply subordinate itself to the US, but would take more of an independent path.   

Was the election he won free and democratic?  

Not entirely, because there were major efforts to disrupt it, mainly by the US. It wasn’t the flrst time the US had done that. For example, our government intervened massively to prevent Allende from winning the preceding election, in 1964. In fact, when the Church Committee investigated years later, they discovered that the US spent more money per capita to get the candidate it favored elected in Chile in 1964 than was spent by both candidates (Johnson and Goldwater) in the 1964 election in the US!

Similar measures were undertaken in 1970 to try to prevent a free and democratic election. There was a huge amount of black propaganda about how if Allende won, mothers would be sending their children off to Russia to become slaves – stuff like that. The US also threatened to destroy the economy, which it could – and did – do.

Nevertheless, Allende won. A few days after his victory, Nixon called in CIA Director Richard Helms, Kissinger and others for a meeting on Chile. Can you describe what happened?  

As Helms reported in his notes, there were two points of view. The “soft line” was, in Nixon’s words, to “make the economy scream.” The “hard line” was simply to aim for a military coup.

Our ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, who was a Kennedy liberal type, was given the job of implementing the “soft line.” Here’s how he described his task: “to do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty.” That was the soft line.

There was a massive destabilization and disinformation campaign. The CIA planted stories in El Mercurio [Chile’s most prominent paper] and fomented labor unrest and strikes.  

They really pulled out the stops on this one. Later, when the military coup finally came [in September, 1973] and the government was overthrown – and thousands of people were being imprisoned, tortured and slaughtered – the economic aid which had been canceled immediately began to flow again. As a reward for the military junta’s achievement in reversing Chilean democracy, the US gave massive support to the new government.

Our ambassador to Chile brought up the question of torture to Kissinger. Kissinger rebuked him sharply – saying something like, Don’t give me any of those political science lectures. We don’t care about torture – we care about important things. Then he explained what the important things were.

Kissinger said he was concerned that the success of social democracy in Chile would be contagious. It would infect southern Europe – southern Italy, for example – and would lead to the possible success of what was then called Eurocommunism (meaning that Communist parties would hook up with social democratic parties in a united front).

Actually, the Kremlin was just as much opposed to Eurocommunism as Kissinger was, but this gives you a very clear picture of what the domino theory is all about. Even Kissinger, mad as he is, didn’t believe that Chilean armies were going to descend on Rome. It wasn’t going to be that kind of an influence. He was worried that successful economic development, where the economy produces benefits for the general population – not just profits for private corporations – would have a contagious effect.

In those comments, Kissinger revealed the basic story of US foreign policy for decades. 
You see that pattern repeating itself in Nicaragua in the 1980s.  

Everywhere. The same was true in Vietnam, in Cuba, in Guatemala, in Greece. That’s always the worry – the threat of a good example.

Kissinger also said, again speaking about Chile, “I don’t see why we should have to stand by and let a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.” 
As the Economist put it, we should make sure that policy is insulated from politics. If people are irresponsible, they should just be cut out of the system.

In recent years, Chile’s economic growth rate has been heralded in the press.  

Chile’s economy isn’t doing badly, but it’s based almost entirely on exports – fruit, copper and so on – and thus is very vulnerable to world markets.

There was a really funny pair of stories yesterday. The New York Times had one about how everyone in Chile is so happy and satisfied with the political system that nobody’s paying much attention to the upcoming election.

But the London Financial Times (which is the world’s most influential business paper, and hardly radical) took exactly the opposite tack. They cited polls that showed that 75% of the population was very “disgruntled” with the political system (which allows no options). 
There is indeed apathy about the election, but that’s a reflection of the breakdown of Chile’s social structure. Chile was a very vibrant, lively, democratic society for many, many years – into the early 1970s. Then, through a reign of fascist terror, it was essentially depoliticized. The breakdown of social relations is pretty striking. People work alone, and just try to fend for themselves. The retreat into individualism and personal gain is the basis for the political apathy.

Nathaniel Nash wrote the Times’ Chile story. He said that many Chileans have painful memories of Salvador Allende’s fiery speeches, which led to the coup in which thousands of people were killed [including Allende]. Notice that they don’t have painful memories of the torture, of the fascist terror – just of Allende’s speeches as a popular candidate.

Milton Friedman did not save Chile

3 March 2010

 

Ever since deregulation caused a worldwide economic meltdown in September ’08 and everyone became a Keynesian again, it hasn’t been easy to be a fanatical follower of the late economist Milton Friedman. So widely discredited is his brand of free-market fundamentalism that his admirers have become increasingly desperate to claim ideological victories, however far fetched.
 
A particularly distasteful case in point. Just two days after Chile was struck by a devastating earthquake, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens informed his readers that Milton Friedman’s “spirit was surely hovering protectively over Chile” because, “thanks largely to him, the country has endured a tragedy that elsewhere would have been an apocalypse … It’s not by chance that Chileans were living in houses of brick – and Haitians in houses of straw -when the wolf arrived to try to blow them down.”
 
According to Stephens, the radical free-market policies prescribed to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet by Milton Friedman and his infamous “Chicago Boys” are the reason Chile is a prosperous nation with “some of the world’s strictest building codes.”
 
There is one rather large problem with this theory: Chile’s modern seismic building code, drafted to resist earthquakes, was adopted in 1972. That year is enormously significant because it was one year before Pinochet seized power in a bloody US-backed coup. That means that if one person deserves credit for the law, it is not Friedman, or Pinochet, but Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected socialist president. (In truth many Chileans deserve credit, since the laws were a response to a history of quakes, and the first law was adopted in the 1930s).
 
It does seem significant, however, that the law was enacted even in the midst of a crippling economic embargo (“make the economy scream” Richard Nixon famously growled after Allende won the 1970 elections). The code was later updated in the 90s, well after Pinochet and the Chicago Boys were finally out of power and democracy was restored.
 
Little wonder: as Paul Krugman points out, Friedman was ambivalent about building codes, seeing them as yet another infringement on capitalist freedom.
 
As for the argument that Friedmanite policies are the reason Chileans live in “houses of brick” instead of “straw”, it’s clear that Stephens knows nothing of pre-coup Chile. The Chile of the 1960s had the best health and education systems on the continent, as well as a vibrant industrial sector and a rapidly expanding middle class. Chileans believed in their state, which is why they elected Allende to take the project even further.
 
After the coup and the death of Allende, Pinochet and his Chicago Boys did their best to dismantle Chile’s public sphere, auctioning off state enterprises and slashing financial and trade regulations. Enormous wealth was created in this period but at a terrible cost: by the early 80s, Pinochet’s Friedman-prescribed policies had caused rapid de-industrialisation, a tenfold increase in unemployment and an explosion of distinctly unstable shantytowns. They also led to a crisis of corruption and debt so severe that, in 1982, Pinochet was forced to fire his key Chicago Boy advisers and nationalise several of the large deregulated financial institutions. (Sound familiar?)
 
Fortunately, the Chicago Boys did not manage to undo everything Allende accomplished. The national copper company, Codelco, remained in state hands, pumping wealth into public coffers and preventing the Chicago Boys from tanking Chile’s economy completely. They also never got around to trashing Allende’s tough building code, an ideological oversight for which we should all be grateful.
 
Thanks to CEPR for tracking down the origins of Chile’s building code.
 

Idle Insights on Irma

I heard today that two friends of mine, who are members of Pan-Afrikan organizations we work with and who live in Guadeloupe and the US Virgin Islands, have weathered Hurricane Irma and are all right.  Still, it’s terrible that they and their Sisters and Brothers in the Caribbean have to endure this kind of disaster, especially with Hurricane Jose coming up next as a Category 4 (at least) and seeing little chance of escape.  As the people of Florida scramble to evacuate and hold their collective breath, they can see in the carnage that Irma has already left in its wake that which awaits them if they take this storm lightly and fail to take advantage of the mobility the people of the Caribbean did not have.

One thing that I’ve been hearing is that the effects of this storm in specific areas of the Caribbean could last much longer than those from Hurricane Harvey in Houston.  Suddenly the unfortunate people of coastal and southern Texas are looking like they managed to avoid the worst of this hurricane season, even with the disaster they have been forced to endure, with many billions of dollars in property damage and, worse yet, the loss of lives.  And it’s really a cruel twist of fate that much worse seems to be happening now in the Caribbean, before we can even catch a breath from Hurricane Harvey.

I’ve heard people talking on television about a total information blackout on some of the islands being battered by Hurricane Irma because of a loss of all communications (some people may not even know that Jose is coming next), perhaps months without even having access to power, and years to come close to fully recovering in the most heavily damaged areas.  I also heard, as my friend in Guadeloupe mentioned Thursday, that Antigua and Barbuda were 95% destroyed. At least major parts of Puerto Rico could be without power for up to six months, plus the US territory’s current bankruptcy will make assistance from FEMA difficult. The British Virgin Islands are likely to get some assistance from the United Kingdom and the US Virgin Islands expect some assistance from the US National Guard, but there are others who are not so connected but are just as badly damaged, and they are forced to plead to organizations like the Red Cross for help. Frankly, I don’t know how someone comes back from all this.  But a way needs to be found.  And we need to begin to develop a way to respond that does not depend on the colonial powers.

All day, as I’ve watched the news reports and done other unrelated chores in my house, I’ve had the same song going through my head: Jamiroquai’s “When You Gonna Learn?” from 1993, which was one of several songs that London-based group did about the coming price to be paid for so-called “modern civilization’s” disregard for the earth’s environment. 

Have you heard the news today?
People right across the world
Are pledging they will play the game
Victims of the modern world
Circumstance has brought us here
Armageddon’s come too near
Foresight is the only key
To save our children’s destiny
The consequences are so grave
The hypocrites, we are their slaves
So my friend. to stop the end
On each other we depend.

When that album was released (Jamiroquai’s first), the liner notes warned that if people didn’t wake up in 10 to 20 years, the worst was in store. Well, here we are. And I’m sure that some folks (mainly Climate Change deniers who want to “Drill Baby Drill”) will continue to insist that the occurrence of these multiple superstorms (the first time they’ve ever recorded two Category 4 hurricanes in the same season, and it looks like we actually have three in a row now!) has nothing to do with Climate Change.

Have you heard the news today?
Money’s on the menu at my favorite restaurant
Don’t talk about quantity
There’s no fish left in the sea
Greedy men have slaughtered all the life there ever was
And you’d better play it nature’s way
She will take it all away
Don’t try to tell me you know more than her ’bout right from wrong
You’ve upset the balance man
Done the only thing you can
Now my life is in your hands

While most of us are probably at a loss at this moment as far as what we each can do personally, perhaps some sort of collective response will be able to come from whatever sense of community we can draw from.  This is one reason why it’s so important for us to come together in social groups, spiritual groups and community organizations.  This is the importance of groups like the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement (PLM), the Ujima People’s Progress Party (UPP), Working-Organizing-Making-A-Nation (WOMAN), the Organization of All Afrikan Unity-Black Panther Cadre (OAAU-BPC), the Million Woman March Universal Movement, the World African Diaspora Union (WADU), Reality Speaks/Solvivaz Nation, and of course, the organization I work with, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC).  Such organizations provide us with the diversity of ideas while maintaining the unity of purpose that can bring to light solutions to even the most formidable adversaries and catastrophes we may face.  Each of them has the capacity to develop important solutions to this current disaster, as they have for so  many other challenges we have faced over the years.  Imagine what could be accomplished if these organizations are ever able to all work together, in cooperation and coordination with each other?  There might be no challenge they could not overcome, perhaps not even this one.

Our Community currently lacks the ability to mount any kind of response to crises that impact us as a people.  This is one capacity that we will have to develop.  It’s time for our Pan-Afrikan organizations to get to work on devising at least a policy on what we will do to not only ensure our immediate Community is able to survive disasters such as these, but also how we will be able to respond, together, to the immense needs of the people after such a disaster has struck.

Mountain high and river deep,
Wake this world up from its sleep,
Get my Momma on her feet.
The greedy men will fade away,
Mother Earth will have her say,
Know it’s gonna be okay.

I call on all our organizations, especially the one I work with, to get to work on building the spirit of cooperation with each other that will bring us the ability to mount a meaningful response to all the disasters, natural and man-made, that beset the Pan-Afrikan Community.  We are disproportionately impacted by these types of disasters, and what we are able to do may become a model for vulnerable communities everywhere.

And for those who are still in the path of these monster storms, STAY SAFE.

Bro. Cliff

 

“Pan-Afrikan Town Hall 3” to be held September 16 in Baltimore, Maryland

On Saturday, September 16, the Maryland Organizing Committee of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) will hold its third Pan-Afrikan Town Hall of the summer. “Pan Afrikan Town Hall 3” will be held at the historic Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue, from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Arch Social Club, at 105 years old, is the second-oldest Black private club in the United States and holds a storied place in the Penn-North Community. Penn-North was the scene of the massive Community mobilization that followed several days of unrest in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in April 2015. Arch Social Club was one of several Black institutions that were not harmed during the days of unrest, and it is working to rebuild a sense of true community in that neighborhood.

The Purpose of the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall

SRDC’s mission is to connect with our grassroots Pan-Afrikan Community (African-Americans, Continental Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and people of African descent) on the local level, bring them out to public meetings (Town Halls), build local lists of issues of concern (Pan-Afrikan Agenda), nominate people who will help represent the local community’s Agenda nationally and internationally, organize our organizations and activists to work together toward realizing that Agenda on the local level and work with similar efforts in other states and other countries around the world to push our combined Agenda items on the world stage. While our efforts culminate in advocacy and action in the international arena, the place where all of this starts, and without which the effort will fall flat, is the local Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meeting.

At the Town Hall, the essential steps are to build or refine the local Pan-Afrikan Agenda, nominate and elect Elders, Representatives and Observers, and build a structure that will allow our local organizations and activists to work together effectively, for it will take all of us to achieve success in this mission.

The Maryland Pan-Afrikan Agenda, which has been discussed and developed between activists, organizations and Community neighbors (mostly from the surrounding Penn-North neighborhood) over the last two Town Hall Meetings on June 24 and August 12, will be refined at this Town Hall Meeting.

We will also begin to build the local organizing committee anew by nominating and seating a Community Council of Elders, as well as nominating Representatives and Observers to be officially elected now or, possibly, at a later meeting that will probably be held in November.

The Community Council of Elders

The Community Council of Elders will consist of those in our Community who have demonstrated a track record of wisdom and leadership within our Community. While a minimum age will be agreed upon to be considered for the Council of Elders, wisdom is more important than simply age.

The Community Council of Elders will be needed to provide direction to our activists and organizations as they continue to build and advance their programs. The Elders will also be valued resources to help mediate disputes among Community organizations and members, and to correct us when we stray from our missions and when we commit misdeeds in our Community. The Elders will not simply be there to sit regally on a stage so the “real organizers and revolutionaries” can appear to be honoring the Elders and acting in a Pan-Afrikan manner. The Elders are needed to be a proactive, involved presence as we go about our respective missions as activists and organizers to ensure that we do not go astray. Every effort will be made to ensure that there is gender balance on the Community Council of Elders and that Elders are nominated from different areas of the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. Elders can be seated by Afrikan Consensus if all members of the Community recognize and agree upon all Council of Elders candidates as people whose wisdom and authority they will follow.

Representatives and Observers

Representatives must learn about local, national and international efforts to organize and galvanize the voice of the Pan-Afrikan Community and listen to the concerns of the Community as they are stated in the Pan-Afrikan Agenda and specific concerns that are clarified during subsequent Community organizing meetings. Every year, they must work with the Facilitator and the Elders to take the Pan-Afrikan Agenda and the voice of our Community in Maryland to the SRDC National Summit, and may be called upon to be part of the Representative Delegation that would travel to the African Union Summit, United Nations meetings, national and international Pan-Afrikan organization conferences and congresses, and thus help to take the combined Pan-Afrikan Agenda of our Communities across the United States to the World Stage. Representatives will be determined through a multi-step election process.

Representatives will be nominated and then they will submit information about their track record in Pan-Afrikan organizing to the Council of Elders for review. If the Council of Elders approves of the nominee’s experience, knowledge and commitment to the work, they will be approved to move on to the Election phase, where the approved candidates will speak to the gathered Community, explain their commitment to and understanding of what we must do to accomplish the uplift of Afrikan people, and then answer questions from the audience and the Elders, at which time the Community will vote to fill two Representative positions. Those who are not elected as Representatives can become Observers, essentially “back-ups” to the Representatives in case one or both of them cannot fulfill their duties.

Building Functional Unity among Organizations: The Cooperative Coalition

The final step in the local organizing process is the development of a framework through which our different Pan-Afrikan organizations and activists can begin to start working together more effectively instead of the rivalry that too often exists and continually threatens to undo our efforts. The Maryland SRDC Organization has proposed a model for a Cooperative Coalition that we call “Spokes of the Wheel”. That model will be further explained during the meeting, and we will begin the work of bringing organizations and activists together from the artists, the economists, the businesses, the scientists, the media, the revolutionaries, the prison activists, the educators, the lawyers, the community activists, the Elders, the state-builders and other groups that use different strategies to lift Afrikan people up. The spirit of rivalry that too often exists between us must come to an end, and it must be replaced by a spirit of cooperation, ethical behavior (Ma’at) and commitment to the betterment of the community as a whole (Ubuntu) if the work of our Ancestors and the work of our Veteran organizers is not to be wasted by our own stubbornness and arrogance.

Let’s move forward from this point on. There are organizations currently doing great work in Maryland, and we can magnify their efforts and their success if we engage the voice of our grassroots Community and develop ways in which our different organizations and activists can work together cooperatively and help each other so we can all be lifted up.

Again, the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall is Saturday, September 16 at the historic Arch Social Club from 3:00 PM to 7″00 PM. We hope to see you there. A Luta Continua (the struggle continues), but it won’t be the same without YOU.

Peace and Power,
Bro. Cliff
KUUMBAReport
Maryland State Facilitator, Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)

A Brief Tribute to New Ancestor B. F. Bankie

The Pan-Afrikan Community lost one of its foremost thinkers and builders when Baba Bankie Forster Bankie joined the Ancestors.  According to reports, he was found by his wife on August 1.  He apparently had passed on several days prior to being found.

Not having known Elder Bankie personally, it was necessary for us to search through email communications for tributes to his work, and to find writings of his that give some small sample of the intellectual force he gave to his Pan-Afrikan activism work.  The following was shared by Job Shipululo Amupanda.

Activist Romona Epifania Hidileko, who worked very closely with the late elder Bankie F. Bankie at the National Youth Council (NYC), delivered the news that our Pan African teacher and guide has departed from this earth.

Indeed, he has proceeded into the ancestry from where, as African spirituality guides us, he will be watching over us. With the defeat of African spirituality in the arena of death related metaphysical, there is only one way to react and interpret death – the European missionary interpretation.
Thomas Sankara, one of Africa’s greatest African revolutionaries that lived, helped us deal with death.

Listen to how he guided the people of Burkina Faso, on 19th October 1986, following the death of Samora Machel, then revolutionary leader of Mozambique: “avoid falling into sentimentalism… with sentimentalism one cannot understand death. Sentimentalism belongs to the messianic vision of the world, which, since it expects a single man to transform the universe, inspires lamentation, discouragement and despondency as soon as this man disappears. Samora Machel is dead. His death must serve to enlighten and strengthen us as revolutionaries . . . I ask you to name streets, buildings and so on after Samora Machel over the whole expanse of our territories, because he deserves it.”
Similarly, Bankie is dead. His death must to enlighten and strengthen us as Pan-Africanists. Bankie was a Pan-African activist in his own class. He would not want us, I believe, to fall into sentimentalism. He would want us to dedicate our work to the liberation of the African people, particularly towards black people’s knowledge of self.
The best we can do is to recall his ideas, thoughts and principles for reflection and action. It is for us to think about our engagements with him for reflections and safekeeping for he is gone for good into ancestry.
Although I understood the struggles of the African people and constantly sought personal development of my objective and subjective consciousness when I left Iipumbu Secondary School for the University of Namibia after 2005, I had not reached a refined understanding and appreciation of Pan-Africanism until I met and had personal relationship with Bankie. He taught me Pan–Africanism.
I was not alone, we were with many others, such as Etuna Jakobus Joshua and Shidumifa Lot Ndamanomhata. He had many students under his Pan-African tutelage before us. Many of them hold high positions in society today. The best universal reflection of Bankie, therefore, is that of a Pan-African activist, Pan-Africanist teacher and compass for those of us that got closer to him.
It must be clarified that he did not teach us Pan-Africanism in classrooms, but through personal, social and political encounters. Bankie had successfully integrated himself with the youth.
Politics aside, Mandela Kapere assisted a great deal in this integration by finding a place for Bankie at the NYC. This has been a significant development in Bankie’s Pan-Africanist work in Namibia. Kapere, therefore, played an important role in the work of our teacher within the small circles of Pan African youth.
Bankie was an action-orientated teacher. He loved us dearly. In 2010, he took me out of the World Youth Festival in Pretoria to meet the freedom fighters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). At that time the people of South Sudan were still fighting for independence from Khartoum. The ANC had given diplomatic status to the SPLM.
He had long hours of discussion with Dr John Gai and Sabir Ibrahim, who then ran the office. When South Sudan got independence, he asked me to accompany him to a workshop in Addis Ababa to meet with African activists, including those from the newly independent South Sudan dealing with the questions of the challenges of decolonisation.

Bankie was passionate about the struggles of the people of South Sudan. He introduced us to the problem of ‘Islamisation’ and the ‘Arabisation’ of Africa, with Sudan being a case study. He often, in private conversations, chastised the SWAPO [South West African People’s Organization–Editor] elites for prioritising the struggle of Palestine over the struggle of people of South Sudan.

He had the following to say about Pan Africanism in Namibia: “In Namibia the youth are disinterested in Africa and its Diaspora. It will come eventually, but it’s two to three generations away. PACON failed its mission of disseminating Pan-Africanism. I wanted to resign from its Eminent Board in 2005 but was asked to stay on. Despite many efforts to change its board, the powers-that-be have insisted on keeping the board. During the armed phase of the struggle SWAPO was generally felt to lack ideological direction. We are paying the costs of that now.”
What we must do, as Pan Africanists, is to continue the activism of elder Bankie. I will continue to make him proud with my little efforts as Commissioner of the African Diaspora and External Affairs. I will work with African activists in the Diaspora.
Although he may not be around to call me to his house for hours and hours of discussions, I will forever cherish our time together, avoid falling into sentimentalism, and complete his task. Our Pan-African guide will continue watching over us, from ancestry.
Job Shipululo Amupanda is a commissioner for the African Diaspora and External Affairs of the African Youth Commission and a political science lecturer at the University of Namibia.
SOURCE:

The following paper was published in 2013 for the World Festival of Youth and Students, convened by the World Federation of Democratic Youth in Quito, Ecuador from December 8 – 13, 2013.  It currently appears on Ancestor Bankie’s website http://bankie.info/:

THE YOUTH, Dr. KWAME NKRUMAH, AFRICAN INTEGRATION,FREE MOVEMENT AND PAN-AFRICANISM

Paper for the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, convened by World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), held Quito, Ecuador, 8 – 13 December 2013

The Youth

Forums such as this convened by the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) are important spaces to remind, mobilize and energize young people around the world, as well as the progressive forces globally, of the responsibility they have to transform society. The technology today in the form of the internet and social media facilitates this process on an unprecedented scale. From Kenya in Africa, the Late Wangari Maathai left a message for the Youth. The message is that Youth must replenish the earth and they must save the world planet. Global warming is real and if we are not mindful nature will take its revenge. The parents failed to learn this lesson. Hopefully the Youth will. The continent of Africa has the youngest population in the world. Some 60% of Africa’s unemployed are reported to be between the ages of 15 – 24. The high rate of unemployment amongst the Youth of Africa has implications for political and social stability, as well as development.

The use of religious terrorism as a tool of colonialism has been the practice for centuries. However its generalization has ominous implications. Recruits for these operations are most often drawn from the marginalized Youth. Proxy wars that serve the interests of external forces from outside Africa, be they Arab, North American or European, are destabilizing central Africa and the Great Lakes region, as part of their project to redraw the map of Africa and colonize it’s people. The epicenters of this now are the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR). The statist African Union Commission (AUC) is unable to influence these events. In such instances Africa remains the playground of the great powers and their Middle East adjuncts, some 50 years after nominal Independence. Wars in Africa are preferred to social unrest in the metropoles.

Mohamed Bouazizi, the twenty seven year old Tunisian fruit and vegetable seller, who set himself alight on the 17 December 2010, setting in motion the Pan-Arab rebellion and it’s related ‘Occupy’ movement in the Western world, taught us of the constant tension and contradiction between the undeveloped world and imperialism’s aggressive need to conquer and monopolizes resources be this in Egypt or in Syria. In the Congo basin in Africa Patrice Lumumba struggled for African Liberation. He wrote :

‘United as the children of one family, we shall defend the honor and freedom of Africa’ He was ‘put down’ as a rabid dog and his remains dissolved in acid. His words are those of a Pan-Africanist, who understood the role of the Youth and the centrality of the Congo in the African Revolution. Franz Fanon had famously said ‘every generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it’.

Thirty years ago on the 16 June 1976 South African Youth protested against a degree of the Department of Bantu Education, of the racist government of South Africa, stating that a form of Dutch language be used to teach in Secondary Schools in South Africa. In the resultant massacre over five hundred Youth lost their lives. In South Sudan the imposition of Arabic in school ciricula was yet another cause of a conflict that left over two million dead during the more than a half-century-long conflict. 2013 saw the biggest uprising in the cities of Brazil, since those during the government of Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992.From the onset the Youth played an active role in this process. Drawn by poverty and unemployment, like lemmings in their rush to the sea, thousands of marginalized African Youth are headed to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe, as their best option in life, in a human traffic of immense dimensions, by way of forced migration. Similarly Ethiopians, Sudanese and Somalis, despite racism in Arabia and Israel, head for Yemen, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, as economic migrants and domestic workers. Overwhelmingly young, aged from eighteen to thirty years of age, from rural and semi-rural environments, poorly educated, mostly lacking basic literacy, they have no other means to escape poverty.

In the African Western Diaspora in the Americas, North and South, as well as in Europe, in the Black ghettoes there is the issue of gang warfare and ‘Black on Black’ violence. In the United States, despite its Black President, Black males are amongst the most marginalized in the society. In the US Blacks account for 12% of the US population, but represent some 44% of the prison population. The War on drugs which began around 1971 in the US gave rise to the prison industrial complex, which produces significant profit for parasitic segments of the US economy, the prisons being mainly populated by African Americans and Latinos. This presentation would be remiss if it failed to mention the Western conspiracy to export gayism to Africa. Gayism, these days, being tied to the grant of technical assistance. Such practices are tantamount to the unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of African states and are particularly targeted at the Youth.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah – background

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was born in Nkroful, on the coast, in Western Ghana probably on 21 September 1909. He was baptised by the Roman Catholic Church and was given the Christian name of Francis. He was his Mother’s only child. He attended the Roman Catholic Elementary School at Half-Assini, where his Father worked as a goldsmith. He spent some eight years at this school and showed promise as a student. He was recommended for training as a teacher at the Government Training School in Accra. It was probably in 1927 that Dr. Nkrumah arrived at the School, which was absorbed into Achimota College. 1927 was the year that Kwegyr Aggrey, also known as ‘Aggrey of Africa’, left Achimota College, in the then Gold Coast, where he had been Assistant Vice-Principal, for the USA to complete his Doctorate. Aggrey was the role model, who persuaded Nkrumah to proceed to America.

Nkrumah’s attendance at Achimota College lasted some four years and was the equivalent of secondary education. He was appointed in 1930 a teacher at the Roman Catholic Junior School at Elmina. The next year he was appointed head-teacher at the Roman Catholic Junior School at Axim. Two years later he moved to the newly opened Catholic Seminary at Amessano, near Elmina. Whilst there he considered becoming a priest.

According to Marika Sherwood Nkrumah’s mentors in this period included the trade unionist S.R. Wood and Kobina Sekyi, the African Nationalist man of letters. Most likely he would have read Nnamdi Azikiwe’s editorials in the African Morning Post, in the Gold Coast, where Azikiwe was Editor in Chief, before he left for the United States in December 1934. Azikiwe was later to become President of Nigeria, failing to mark any particular Pan-African achievements. At page three of her book ‘Kwame Nkrumah : the years abroad 1935-1947’ Sherwood, who researched Dr. Nkrumah’s sojourns in both the USA and the UK in depth, reports that in both countries Dr. Nkrumah received the close attention of both the US and UK Secret Services, an attention that remained with him on his return home, leading ultimately to the overthrew of his Government in 1966 by the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Sherwood states and I quote: “But Nkrumah was not just a product of Diaspora influences. He was also a son of Africa and more particularly of the Gold Coast. Through his contacts as a young teacher in Western Ghana, near the intellectual/political centre of Cape Coast, he became heir to certain political traditions. More than some of the men who shaped his early life reappear in his life ten to twelve years later.” 

Nkrumah arrived in the United States in 1935 and left ten years later in 1945. Those who went there later bear testimony as to how the African American experience helped to shape their world view. One characteristic of note concerning Dr. Nkrumah’s stay in North America was that he immersed himself, without fear or favor, in the situation of the Africans and their descendants, who he found there. Many travel overseas for education and on arrival remain sealed within a small community of those from their ethnicities and countries of origin. By the time he left North America Dr. Nkrumah had completed the preliminary stages of his Ph.D studies.

In May 1945, instead of returning to the Gold Coast, Dr. Nkrumah headed for the United Kingdom, where he arrived with letters of introduction to leading Pan-Africanists, with the intention of qualifying to practice law (i.e. being ‘called to the English Bar’). He directed little time to legal studies and most of it to student activism. In the UK he worked alongside George Padmore, C.L.R.James, Ras Makonnen and others, who were later to assist him in the shaping of affairs in Africa. From England and active participation in the 5th Pan-African Congress of 1945, along with Jomo Kenyatta, W.E.B. Du Bois and others, Dr. Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast in 1947 and immediately engaged in an intense involvement in the affairs of the country.

Latin-American and Asiatic nationalists in this period were branded communists. This was at the height of the Cold War, after the Second European War, when the balance of power in international relations, to a large extent, revolved around the two power centers, capitalism and communism. With hindsight it was noted that those states which aligned with capital received substantial investment, those who opted for non-alignment did not. For instance South Korean and Taiwanese development after 1945 was on the back of a “Marshall Aid” plan for rapid development. None of the emerging self governing countries in Africa was so assisted.

Comparisons between African development and that in Asia have been in vogue, based on the underlying Western psychology that Africans are unable to develop due to laziness or their inability to budget. The experience of Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP) should be understood from this perspective and its place in development studies, as analyzed in the Western press. The South East Asian, Ho Chi Minh, was of the same school of thought as Dr. Nkrumah. The differences being geographic and geo-strategic, in that Asia preceded Africa on its road to development, due to the choices of the colonialists. African decolonization was signposted by the Independence of Ghana under the CPP in 1957.

Dr. Nkrumah was essentially a Socialist and an African Nationalist. His definition of the African Nation was continental, most probably due to his sympathies with socialism and proletarian internationalism. Most of his advisors were Left of Centre in their political orientation. All shared his vision of a continental Afro-Arab union. Indeed continentalism is signposted after the 5th Pan-African Congress of 1945 in which Nkrumah had some secretarial responsibilities. Prior to 1945 what was to become known as the “Diop South Sahara plus Diaspora’”interpretation of African unity had held sway since the Pan-African movement emerged from slavery in North America.

As we look at the domestic policy of Dr. Nkrumah we can draw conclusions as to its ideological orientation. From those conclusions we should be able to better assess his foreign policy agenda. There is a belief that the Pan-African foreign policy of the CPP superceded domestic considerations, especially as regards cost effectiveness.

Working back from what we now know, the development experience of Ghana under the CPP was not unique in Africa. Ghana lead the way. Indeed many looked to Ghana for concrete lessons. For instance all were interested in industrialization based on import substitution. Dr. Nkrumah was guided by what he thought were the best interests of Ghana. Whereas Asia was centre stage in the East West contestation, Africa hardly featured. Simonstown at the Cape in South Africa was, in those days said to be strategic. Other parts of Africa, apart from the Suez Canal and Red Sea, were not. Countries such as Ghana were expected to remain mono-crop cultures, whose minerals, where exploited, would add to the coffers of the developed world. Some fifty years later little progress has been marked towards self sustaining economic development in Ghana. The understanding now being that Ghana needs to work within the framework of the unity of the global African community, to progress attempts to break out of neo-colonialism, into economic integration, self-sufficiency and Pan-African unity.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah – Pan-African foreign policy

“Ghana’s Independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.” (page 4 of Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah – Freedom Fighters Edition published 1967 by Panaf Books, London)

Late last year one of the ‘Top Four’ in Namibia was heard to say words to the effect that, he knew nothing about Africa until he arrived in USA. It is unlikely the Dr. Nkrumah was different. The influence of US based Pan-Africanists such as John Henrik Clarke on Africans and those of African descent is not well known or understood internationally.

This initiation in the US was experienced by sojourners in North America from all over the African continent, whether it was Duse Mohamed Ali from Sudan/Egypt, Pixley Seme from South Africa or Kwame Nkrumah from the then Gold Coast. Each carried back to Africa a vision of African unity and self-rule. Dr. Nkrumah was different in that as a subsequent Head of State in Africa he was particularly well placed to actualize Pan-Africanism and did so with exemplary dedication. Succeeding African leaders, in general studiously avoided Nkrumah’s example. Dr. Nkrumah’s commitment to the liberation of Africa was unshakable. Indeed some Ghanaians complained of what they considered as the excessive expenditure by the CPP on international affairs and under expenditure on domestic affairs during the CPP rule in Ghana. All African Nationalists who could attended the All Africa Peoples Conference and the First Conference of Independent African States both in Accra soon after Ghana’s self-government. Both of these meetings in Accra marked the assertion of African Nationalism and decolonization in Africa. In those days it was expected that the granting of Independence amounted to sovereignty.

By the time Ghana obtained self-government in 1957 under the CPP Government it would not be an exaggeration to say that its leader Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was a schooled Pan-Africanist. Having been on the north east coast of the United States and thereafter in London, Dr. Nkrumah had been particularly well placed to imbibe African Nationalism from a particular generation of African Americans, Caribbeaners and from Pan-Africanists in the UK. Those who came later, such as Julius Nyerere were not as fortunate. It was that exposure which later was to guide his approach to the unity movement. Not only had he submitted to teaching, whilst a student, but he distinguished himself at the earliest opportunity on his return home by inviting those teachers to join him, such as Du Bois, Padmore and Makonnen, to settle in Ghana, in order to better avail himself of their wisdom. This was an approach to research and foreign policy formulation which was not duplicated by any of his peers, including Azikiwe in Nigeria and goes a long way in explaining Nkrumah’s unique position in contemporary African politics. By all accounts Nkrumah’s relationship with these African foreign policy Advisors was based on long standing humility and mutual respect.

Whilst in North America and Europe Dr. Nkrumah studied in depth the global African situation. He had the assistance of others well versed on the subject. On the opening of the George Padmore Memorial Library in Accra on the 30th June 1961, Dr. Nkrumah developed our understanding of African Nationalism. Padmore had risen to the highest heights in foreign policy formulation in the Soviet system, to become a member of the Comintern in Moscow for a number of years. In as much as Dr. Nkrumah is hailed these days as a Pan-Africanist, it may be that in future he will be remembered foremost as essentially an African Nationalist, who had an early understanding of the significance of African nationalism in the collective mobilization of the global African community.

In his address and tribute to Padmore Dr. Nkrumah stated: “Comrade Padmore’s life was spent in the development of African nationalism.” Of his relationship with Padmore,who originated from the Carribean, Dr. Nkrumah states “it was a genuine spiritual and intellectual loyalty.” The library was and still does, serve as a research centre and as a repository of culture and wisdom. Dr. Nkrumah never ceased to promote the power of “intelligent reading.” In his view progress was dependent on reading.

Figures in Ghana’s foreign policy such as Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Victor James Gbeho and K.B.Asante have affirmed that Ghana’s foreign policy from 1957 to the 21st Century, spanning ten different administrations has remained basically unchanged from that established by the CPP. Ambassador Debrah asserts that Dr. Nkrumah pursued an active and aggressive foreign policy :

• he led the fight against colonialism, ultimately leading to the total liberation of Africa;

• he sensitized Africa on the need to be free by hosting African conferences at the level of states and freedom fighters; 

• he set the example of regional integration by his unions of Ghana with Guinea and Mali; and

• he built the Volta project as a basis for Ghana’s industrialization. 

African integration and free movement

The historical significance of Dr Nkrumah within the Pan-African Movement is that he

“…served as the link between the Fifth Pan-African Congress, the West African Secretariat (in London) and the Independence movement in Africa. He connected his Pan-Africa background to his later international activities as the first President of Ghana. For Nkrumah, the goal of Pan-Africanism was to go beyond the geographic, national and cultural barriers imposed by colonialism.” ( page 136, Pan-Africanism for Beginners by Sid Lemelle, Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc., New York, 1992)

It is the Pan-African movement which gave birth to the idea of African integration, Pan-African unity and the possibility of free movement in Africa and its Diaspora. By free movement is meant the ability to travel within Africa, without borders and without passports. This remains a distant prospect, given the fact that the post-colonial state is jealous of its sovereignty.

The Ghana Guinea Union of African states, formed 1st May 1959, represented the first practical step towards African integration post “independence”. It was to have been joined by the Republic of the Congo, whose Premier, Patrice Lumumba, in early August 1960, signed an agreement to join the Union, during a brief visit to Accra. By September Lumumba had been removed from office and was later murdered by Western Special Forces. Mali joined the Union on 1st July 1961.

In 1958 Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who played a leading role, through the OAU Liberation Committee, in the decolonization of Southern Africa, formed the Pan-African Movement for East and Central Africa (PAMFECA). Mwalimu Nyerere, despite his earlier differences with Nkrumah on Pan-African interpretation, in his Opening Speech delivered at the 6th Pan Afican Congress of 1974 held in Dar es Salaam, paid tribute to both Nkrumah and Kenyatta for their input in the work of the 5th Pan- African Congress as well as to Garvey, Makonnen and others for their contributions to the Pan-African movement.

Dr. Nkrumah’s leadership of Ghana towards the building of meaningful African unity, via the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the reception those efforts encountered, was a lesson in determination, courage and fortitude. Despite the hostility and resistance his initiative met from some quarters, such as the Francophone community (excluding Guinea and Mali), which could have lead to discouragement and cynicsm, since they amounted to personal attacks on his character and questioned his integrity – despite all these Nkrumah refused to relent and continued his work to unite Africa and its people. These days in Africa we hear and read little about what is discussed in this paper. It is now said that the rationale for interstate relations within Africa today is Pan-Aficanism. Currently the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU is being celebrated under the banner of “Pan-Africanism/African Renaissance”. The ideology of the unity movement has been researched by the likes of P.Olisanwuche Esedebe, as expounded in his work Pan-Africanism – the Idea and the Movement 1776-1991 (Howard University Press, Washington DC, 1994 ). At page 5 Esedebe states:

we can say that Pan-Africanism is a political and cultural phenomenon that regards Africa, Africans and African descendants abroad as a unit. It seeks to regenerate and unify Africa and promote a feeling of oneness among the people of the African world.” 

At Pan-African gatherings, whether Continental or regional, we do not hear the language of Pan-Africanism and it’s authorities such as Rodney, Cabral and Nabudere. Rather what we hear are the platitudes and verbiage of the bureaucracy. This does not augur well for our collective memory and the realization of the ideology.

Dr. Nkrumah’s CPP government was overthrown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, whilst he was in Asia, seeking to assist peace in Vietnam. When his plane landed in Beijing, China, he was informed that the military and Police had taken over the Government in Ghana. He proceeded to Guinea in West Africa where it’s leader, Sekou Ture, appointed Nkrumah Deputy President, a titular post he retained until he passed away in 1972. His stay in exile consolidated his life experience and it was in this period he wrote a number of essential books.

Pan-Africanism

Men and women migrated out of East Africa to populate Africa and the world, specifically from the Rift Valley. Overtime these Black Africans changed their pigmentation due to the climatic conditions they experienced. To this day in parts of Asia and Austral-Asia Black people are still found or are remembered as having been present.

Fourteen million people of African descent live in the Caribbean. It is estimated some fifteen million people of African descent live in the European Union. Some forty million people of African descent live in the United States and Canada and around hundred and thirteen million of African descent live in Latin and South America. These are persons of African descent living in the African Western Diaspora, the origins of which can be traced to forced migration, resultant from slavery. New arrivals in the United States and Canada from Africa are, in the main, economic migrants.

As regards those in the African Eastern Diaspora in the Middle East, Palestine, the Gulf States and points further East, as well as North Africa, some are the remainders of those that originally populated North Africa before the Arabs crossed the Sinai into Africa in AD639-640 – these are African nationals who are only now being conscientised to Africanism, as a conscious stream of world civilization, having been cut off from their African roots. Arabia in general does not admit that it entered Africa from without, claiming that it was always in Egypt.

The forced migration of Africans out of Africa went east towards Asia. Thereafter the migration was partly diverted westwards to the Caribbean and the Americas, whilst continuing a pace, particularly to the Middle East and Egypt. Those taken eastwards were Islamized and Arabised. The long and continuing wars in Sudan, which the Western media sort to hide, represent historical resistance. Recent events in the Central African Republic teach us that these struggles will continue and that this hegemony will reach further towards the Equator, given African existing passivity.

The African Union, the statist/bureaucratic outcome of the pioneering work of Nkrumah, as part of it’s 50th anniversary celebrations, is reflecting on Africa 2063. With difficulty it has sort to bring on-board the Western Diaspora as it’s Sixth Region. It has yet to pronounce itself on those of African descent in the Middle East and South America. It is also the lieu for discussion on “giving back” to Africa by way of remittances from the Diaspora, as a construct for African Unity, thus harnessing the liberating ideal of Pan-Africanism for material purposes. This approach is articulated by Mbungeni Ngulube of the “Global Native” in Leeds, UK. This approach implies that the Diaspora could carry the costs of the implementation of Pan-Africanism. It is said that in 2012 some US$50 billion was sent by way of remittances by the African Diaspora back to Africa. Ghana in the 1990s encouraged the ‘right of return’ by way of revenue generation through tourism.

The relationship of Africa and its Diaspora, based on the study of history, has been one of complementarity – neither dog wags the tail. It is important to keep this in view. The Sixth Region approach fails to recognize this norm. Indeed after the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963-4, the statist body, which did not represent the thinking of Late Nkrumah, lost contact with it’s Western Diaspora and implemented the continentalist project, otherwise known as continentalism.

The slave trade to the Western hemisphere resulted in Pan-Africanism, as the political and philosophical reaction of Africa to imperialism and the outside world. This resulted in the reparations movement getting underway, especially in those areas, such as Namibia, where extermination was used as a policy for colonization. For a people who have been written out of there own history by outsiders, reparations offer an attractive form of acknowledgement. Slavery was so pernicious causing physiological damage such that as a matter of choice most Africans and African descendants automatically choose the side of the master rather than that of the servant. The OAU/AU has been unable to reach out to the global African community, fearful of upsetting the global status quo. Pan-Africanism has yet to be taken seriously by African elites, especially those in politics. Walter Rodney had foreseen this. Pan-Africanism is an expression of African political thought, which encompasses the realization of the African Nation, linking all those of African descent with or without Africa. It is the diplomatic and foreign policy arm of domestic African nationalism. It assumes such role due to its flexibility and creativity and it’s capacity to mutate and take new directions dependent on the exigencies of the circumstances. It is a dynamic thesis, ready and able to incorporate new constituencies and accommodate new thinking.

B.F.Bankie, Windhoek, Namibia, December, 2013

End notes

A. Biney, Youth unite for a better world, Pambazuka issue 635 of 20-06-2013 www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/87927, UK, 2013
P.O. Esedebe, Pan-Africanism – The idea and the Movement 1776 – 1991, Howard University Press, Washington DC, 1994
Y.D. Gebe and others, Ghana’s foreign policy options, Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA ), University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, 2002
S. Lemelle, Pan-Africanism for beginners, Writers and Readers Publishing Inc, New York, 1992
M. Ngulube, Diaspora as dilemma – ‘Developmentalising’ The African Union’s Sixth Region? Pambazuka issue 639 of 17-07–2013, www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/88292, UK, 2013
K. Nkrumah, Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah – Freedom Fighters Edition, PANAF Books Ltd, London, 1967
W. Rodney, Towards the Sixth Pan-African Congress : aspects of the international class struggle in Africa, the Caribbean and America, in Resolutions and selected speeches from the Sixth Pan-African Congress, Tanzania Publishing House, Dar es Salaam, 1976
M. Sherwood, Kwame Nkrumah – The years abroad 1935-1947, Freedom Publications, Legon, Ghana, 1996
Y. Smertin, Kwame Nkrumah, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1987

 

Blood, Soil and Trump

The horrific terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, August 12 immediately followed the ominous warning the night before of torch-wielding
Whites marching on the University of Virginia campus to the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, located in what had been called Lee Park but was being changed to Liberty Park. They were marching in protest of the imminent removal of Lee’s statue, which has increasingly been recognized as an homage to the general who fought the Civil War on behalf of the slaveholders in the South. The fact that Lee and the Confederates who followed him were technically traitors to the country, or that the “Southern way of life” they fought for was built around the brutal oppression and enslavement of people of Afrikan descent, is lost on these racist, venal hooligans who clearly want to “take their country back” to the days of rampant White privilege on the backs of Black people in the United States.

The statements of US president Donald Trump, as the supposed “leader of the free world”, are no less repugnant than the terroristic acts of these “Alt-Right” hooligans, as he first attempted to conflate the aggressive violence of the Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and White Supremacist marchers with the clearly defensive actions of the faith leaders, anti-fascist (“Antifas“) and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists who found themselves under attack by these angry White men who wielded tiki torches chanting “Blood and Soil” (a Nazi-inspired slogan), “You will not replace us” (another White Supremacist slogan motivated by the irrational fear of people of color “taking their jobs and opportunities from them”), and “F**k You F*gg*ts” (anti-LGBTQ taken to extremes), all designed to elicit fear among the anti-fascist demonstrators who included such “dangerous individuals” as the Rev. Traci Blackmon of the United Church of Christ and Dr. Cornell West.

The violence of these White Supremacist attackers led to a tragic, but predictable result: Heather Heyer, 32, a paralegal who lived in Charlottesville, was killed by a car driven by James Alex Fields, Jr, age 20, of Maumee, Ohio, as he first drove forward into a crowd of counter-protesters and then reversed back up the narrow street, hitting several people, seriously injuring up to 19 more.

And Trump did not miss the opportunity to lower himself even below the standards he had set with every race-baiting, dog-whistle remark he made during the presidential campaign and the first seven months of his markedly un-presidential presidency.

Trump began on Saturday, August 12 with a statement that denounced “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.  It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long, long time.” The public outrage at his attempt to create a “moral equivalency” between the violent White Supremacists and the anti-fascist protesters who were their targets caused Trump’s staff to release a more innocuous statement the next day. His handlers on the White House staff then convinced him to recite a revised statement from a teleprompter on Monday, August 14 finally condemning the Klan, the Nazis and White Supremacists. However, he reversed his field yet again the following day (Tuesday, August 15) in what was billed as an “infrastructure press conference” but which seemed to quickly degenerate into a disjointed, unhinged rant after reporters began to pose questions about his response to the Charlottesville attack and his irritation grew that there were those who questioned his sincerity about healing the nation. His response was to double-down on his Saturday remarks, insisting that the White Supremacist marchers included a number of “very fine people” who were “quietly marching” in Charlottesville against the taking of the Lee statue, and that the “Alt-Left” had been just as aggressive and “very violent”, attacking the “Alt-Right” marchers with clubs.

As if that was not enough to make his point, he then launched into a defense of the Confederate statues of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, questioning the decision to take them down in the first place because George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also held Black people in enslavement, completely overlooking or ignoring the fact that Lee and Jackson had actually betrayed the United States and that Lee was at one point sentenced to be executed for treason.

As Jamil Smith explained in a Los Angeles Times article, “Why would Charlottesville racists do so much to protect a Robert E. Lee statue?” (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-smith-charlottesville-statue-20170814-story.html), August 14, 2017:

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu … delivered a landmark speech outlining exactly why he pushed, successfully, to have his city’s monuments to the Confederacy and Jim Crow torn down.

“These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy,” he said. “After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.”

In this way only does it start to make sense that racists would commit terrorism to defend monuments. The monuments themselves are terrorism. Thus the Lee
sculpture honors a dishonorable man while encouraging his ideological descendants and expressing to black people that America is not ours, too. “White nationalist” is the appropriate term to use, since a white ethno-state is what Confederates sought and what their modern-day brethren still wish to achieve.

After Charlottesville, it should be clear now to everyone that the urgency to rid ourselves of these markers of America’s racist past comes not from some childish desire to block out painful history, but to challenge a racist present. White nationalism is not just a cultural legacy. It is an ongoing public safety crisis, and should be treated as such.

Trump’s remarks were almost unanimously derided as yet another example of a president “going rogue” and resorting to ad-libbing in response to interrogation from his enemy, the press. But television talk show host Rachel Maddow, on her Wednesday evening show on MSNBC, made note of a small, folded page Trump held at the press conference that was the written statement he had made Saturday, without the “on many sides” comment, an indication that this defense of his incendiary statements was actually planned in advance and not actually the “off-the-rails” diatribe many observers thought them to be. The implication there is that Trump had always planned to make those remarks and to give license to the reactionary White Supremacist right-wing to ramp up their tactics of intimidation and violence.

The responses so far from political representatives and members of the media, for the most part, has been one of condemnation. Only the farthest right-wing pundits have attempted to defend Trump’s remarks, falling in line with Ku Klux Klan former Grand Wizard David Duke, who had stated at the Charlottesville march the intent of the marchers to “realize the promise of Donald Trump” and who tweeted his appreciation of Trump’s “courage” in directing his August 15 remarks against the “Alt-Left”.

All these recriminations have so far glossed over the fact that so-called “conservatives” in the Republican Party in particular have been banking on racial dog-whistle tactics for generations, and Trump is only the most overt and crass version since the years of Wallace, Goldwater and Nixon. Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes in a commentary for the Electronic Urban Report titled “You Can Thank Trump for the White Nationalist Rampage” (http://www.eurweb.com/2017/08/you-can-thank-trump-for-the-white-nationalist-rampage/#) on August 13:

It was both hilarious and telling to see # 45 Donald Trump tweet that he condemns “all that hate stands for” following the racial fomented violence by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The hilarity is that one would have to reach back to presidential candidate George Wallace in 1964, and maybe toss in GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, to find someone who aspired to sit in the Oval Office that so blatantly, nakedly, and shamefully pandered to racial bigots to snatch the office as Trump did. His broadsides against Hispanics, Muslims, immigrants, blacks, and women, are almost the stuff of political legend. …

We gave the above description of the events stemming from the Charlottesville march and attack primarily because of what appears to be a surprising lack of coverage on many of the nation’s media outlets (with the exceptions of networks such as MSNBC and Free Speech TV). The question at this point, for those of us in the Pan-Afrikan and activist community is: what do we plan to do about it?

We received the following statement about the August 12 Charlottesville attack from the 8th Pan African Congress, courtesy of the Pan-Afrikan publication Self-Help News (selfhelpnews@ubol.com):

No To Charlottesville!
14 August 2017 12:19
The Pan African Congress
North American Delegation
(614) 214-6277
8thPanAfricanCongress@gmail.com
Website: www.panafricancongress.org

Don’t Agonize, Organize!

The North American Delegation to the 8th Pan African Congress condemns in the strongest terms the actions of the white supremacists, racists, anti-Semites and bigots, collectively characterized as “Alt-Right,” who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, promoted and engaged in domestic terrorism for the “Unite the Right” rally. We also condemn the failure of the U.S. President, Donald J. Trump to clearly and forcefully express similar sentiments.

We recognize that Donald J. Trump rose to fame on the back of his claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and was therefore ineligible to be president. We acknowledge that despite the random attacks on people of color throughout the United States over the past seven months, Donald J. Trump has failed to characterize a single incident as an act of domestic terror. We know that Donald J. Trump has as cabinet members, senior members of staff and significant consultants, people with a track record of close association with the “Alt. Right” or neo-Nazis.

We had hoped though that on this occasion, Donald J. Trump would recognize that African Americans and people of color have faced a gradual erosion of our rights on a daily basis by those who, as David Duke expressed at the rally, “put Trump in the presidency.” We have been faced with hate speech, hate crimes and simple hate in communities across the country as individuals have acted out what they think it means to have Trump as president. And it’s time to stop.

As the North American Delegation to the 8th Pan African Congress we encourage all who are concerned about the increasing role of bigotry, police brutality, militarism and the criminalization of Black lives to reach out to others with similar concerns and to look to history to gain guidance on the latest resurgence of racism within the United States.

We call on our brothers and sisters in Africa and the Global African family internationally to use all mechanisms at your disposal to condemn the actions of Donald J. Trump. The spread of white racism and chauvinism inside the USA remains a threat to oppressed peoples in all parts of the planet.

From the outset, the cardinal principle of Pan Africanism has been that the African in one part of the world is responsible for the well being of other Africans in every part of the globe. This spirit of Pan Africanism guided the solidarity and support of Africans from the time of the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to the fight against apartheid. This spirit of Pan Africanism must guide us all as we work to end racism at home and abroad in 2017 and beyond. August 13, 2017

Julialynne Walker
Chair
North American Delegation – Pan African Congress
Pan African Movement
8thpanafricancongress@gmail.com
http://8thpanafricancongress.com/
www.panafricancongress.org

Meanwhile, the Electronic Urban Report (http://www.eurweb.com) released the story that the Illinois Senate has passed a non-binding bill to refer to White Supremacists as a “terrorist organization” (http://www.eurweb.com/2017/08/illinois-senate-passes-bill-call-white-supremacists-terrorist-organization/#).

There will certainly be more statements and commentaries on this issue in the next few days. We may share some of them on this website.