A Road to Pan-Afrikan Unity
By Bro. Cliff
Editor, KUUMBAReport Online
I’ve been reading a lot of emails and other communication that, thankfully, have started to move away from personal arguments to what I believe is a principled discussion of the ideas we all have for organizing Afrikan people in the Afrikan Diaspora as well as in the Mother Continent. While I agree with many of us that immediate concerns such as jobs and wealth are important, they will be nothing but band-aids for a sucking chest wound unless we put together a real organizing model from top to bottom that will work to bring the Pan-Afrikan World to total freedom. I’d like to share with you one piece of that total model, as well as a few thoughts on how it could work as part of a much larger and more comprehensive plan, based on what I believe is (or at least should be) a familiar conceptual model for organizing the Afrikan Diaspora and Afrikans in the Continent.
I want to start by telling you about an organization known as the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC, http://srdcinternational.org). It is primarily based in the United States, but in realizing that the Afrikan-American population comprises only about 40 million of a total of 300-million-plus Afrikan Descendants around the world living outside the Mother Continent, this organization is dedicated to the organization and uplift of the entire Afrikan Diaspora, and to the need for the Afrikan Diaspora itself to control its own method of organization and uplift.
SRDC: One Major Plan for Organizing the Afrikan Diaspora
Since the African Union added Article 3[q] to its Constitutive Act in 2003, which invited the Afrikan Diaspora to participate “in the development of the African Continent and the building of the African Union”, the effort on the part of the Afrikan Diaspora to respond to that invitation has been pursued. In April 2006, a Pan-Afrikan Roundtable was held in Los Angeles, California, at which the AU’s definition of the Afrikan Diaspora as “people of African descent and heritage, living outside the Continent, regardless of their country of citizenship, who are willing to assist in the development of the African Continent and the building of the African Union” was accepted (though it was acknowledged at that time to be in need of review in the future) and the effort to organize the Afrikan Diaspora began in earnest.
The first objective of the Afrikan Diaspora, according to the African Union’s “roadmap” for our incorporation in the AU, is the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), a council of Representatives from civil society organizations, activists, the general public, the “people on the ground” as one might say. The AU’s requirement is that the Afrikan Diaspora develop “modalities for election of Representatives” to ECOSOCC (as stated in the Statutes of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, available on the AU’s website). In other words, Representatives to ECOSOCC cannot be anointed, appointed or self-proclaimed. They must have been elected by their people, and the Afrikan Diaspora must develop a means to accomplish this and submit that method to the AU for their review and approval. Because the Afrikan Diaspora currently has only been designated to receive 20 seats out of the 150 total in ECOSOCC, that means that we have to make those 20 seats count by finding serious, quality Representatives while adhering to the standard that they must be elected positions. But how do we do that?
SRDC, in partnership with a number of other Pan-Afrikan organizations in the US, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Canada and Europe, has developed a plan in which we begin by organizing our communities at the local level. In the US, that means state-by-state, while in other parts of the Afrikan Diaspora, this may mean organizing province-by-province (as in Canada), island-by-island (say, in the Caribbean) or country-by-country.
Each local organization determines a local Facilitator, a Community Council of Elders and two (2) Elected Representatives, that is, they are elected through a process in which the community in that local area is invited to a public forum where they learn about the effort, nominate and elect people from their own community to take the needs as well as the ideas of that community to the national, and even to the international level. The Council of Elders is needed to provide their guidance and wisdom, and to make sure that those who are nominated to be Representatives are indeed qualified, serious activists, thinkers and workers and not opportunists or manipulators as happens too often when our collective guard is down.
Once a reasonable number of local organizations are formed in a large country (like the US) or a sub-region, a National or Sub-Regional Summit is held to allow local organizations to share information, develop a more consistent organizing strategy and determine who the best Representatives from that sub-region, from among the local Representatives who were elected by their own communities, will be. Those national and sub-regional Representatives would then meet in a Full Diaspora Summit which would lead to a group of Representatives who take the Pan-Afrikan Agenda (the needs, issues and constructive ideas of all the communities in the Afrikan Diaspora) to the African Union in this case, but this model could also be used to develop Representative Councils outside the AU if need be.
SRDC is currently in the process of building this model and putting it into practice in the US, while affiliated organizations are doing similar work in Canada, Central America, South America and Europe. AU member nations are also pursuing a process whereby similar Representative assemblies are being developed in the Continent. SRDC’s method for organizing the Afrikan Diaspora has been submitted to the AU since 2007, and the AU’s official assessment of the proposed method is expected later this year. In the meantime, though, SRDC realizes that it cannot wait on the bureaucratic process to unfold before implementing this method. If necessary, adjustments to that method will be made, but in the meantime, the work to organize the Diaspora must move forward. In late July SRDC concluded its seventh National Summit, which included contingents from several US states, and affiliates from Canada, from the Caribbean and from other Pan-Afrikan organizations. SRDC’s work continues apace, and they invite you to come and work this model with them. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to connect with an SRDC organization where you are, or if you want to create one if there isn’t one where you live.
A Part of The Bigger Picture
This portion of the discussion is based entirely on my personal opinions as a Pan-Afrikan activist, and does not necessarily represent the positions of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus or the Pan African Descendants Union.
The work of creating a Representative-based method and strategy for organizing the Afrikan Diaspora is only a part of the whole picture we all must paint together. There are clearly other means and avenues we must pursue if Afrikan people are to fully realize the freedom, self-determination, justice and prosperity we all need and deserve. Businesspeople who have an Afrikan-centered worldview are needed to help us pursue economic development, but not Western European development in blackface; rather, it must be culturally and spiritually relevant to Afrikan people, and must be pursued in a way that will not oppress and exploit us or defile the environment of the Continent and planet which we all call home. We also need our Spiritual Community, which must include the Christian, Muslim and Hebrew elements but also ancient Afrikan spiritual traditions such as the Yoruba, the Akan, the Vodou, the Santeria and others, to find a way to come together in a true Spiritual Alliance. We need our Cultural Community to help keep us inspired creatively and to remind us of what and who we are working, building and fighting for. Our revolutionary and direct-action groups in the Diaspora and in the Continent that are all fighting for the people must find a way to work cooperatively if we are to reach our full potential for Pan-Afrikan Unity. We need Legal Warriors who are ready to defend us, our activists and our interests in domestic and international courts. Our scientists, doctors, agriculturalists, engineers, economists and teachers must work together more effectively so that we will have and develop the knowledge base we will need to chart our course of independence from the West as well as the East. We need our Elders, our Women and our Youth, as well as greater strength of will and strength of morality among our Men. We need a strong Pan-Afrikan Media to ensure that our people are properly informed about what is happening in the world around us. And we need a strong moral center to help guide it all from an ethical standpoint; I personally think the Ancient Afrikan moral system of Ma’at would be perfect there.
There are so many different areas in which the work needs to be done, but they must all find a way to work cooperatively toward the total goal of Afrikan Unity, Afrikan Self-Determination, Afrikan Prosperity, Afrikan Morality and Afrikan Justice. While some may see the missions of the different organizations as a series of roads that cross each other (and thus lead to a spirit of rivalry and competition, since everyone wants their “traffic light” to be green always), I prefer to see our various organizations as occupying spots on a large circle, the objective of a free, prosperous and just Afrika in the center of that circle and their missions as lines that extend from the circle to the center. The conceptual image is that of a bicycle wheel. A bicycle wheel is strong only when all the spokes are strong, the wheel is straight and even, and it can roll smoothly, allowing us to ride it to victory. But when spokes are cut, that wheel bends and is unable to roll smoothly. The result is what we have been getting: we crash on the side of the Road to History while everyone else passes us by.
There is currently a “Super-Coalition” that is pursuing such a vision of Pan-Afrikan Cooperation, based on the principle of “Unity Without Uniformity”. It is called the Pan Afrikan Descendants Union (PADU). And there certainly are, or will be, other honest efforts by principled activists to build cooperative coalitions among our organizations. If you want to find out more about PADU, feel free to contact me by email and I can tell you more about PADU and how to contact it officially.
The mindset we have too often insisted upon following until now, that of rivalry and competition, has been the equivalent of taking a set of wire cutters to that Wheel of Pan-Afrikan Unity. This is a large part of why our organizing efforts have failed so many times, and that mindset has frankly got to stop.
Why do we seem to gravitate toward the politics of competition and rivalry instead of the politics of teamwork, mutual respect and Ujima? Why have we apparently insisted upon following such a failed concept for so long? I chalk it up to a Western-influenced mindset that is based too much on a My-Way-Or-The-Highway philosophy that is based largely on individual and organizational ego. We have to move away from ego (Some people say “EGO” stands for “Edging God Out”) and toward coalition-building and the realization that none of us has all the answers. We also tend to hold on to personal beefs and arguments, based on something that someone did or said in the past, that quite frankly are small compared to what our true enemy has done and continues to do to us. We have to learn to atone for those misdeeds we have done to others and to forgive others for those things they have done to us that we didn’t appreciate.
We need to finally decide that truly coming together in a spirit of Pan-Afrikan Unity is something we really want to do. Every time we fail to answer that call is another way in which we disrespect our Ancestors and Elders, we leave our struggling Brothers and Sisters in deprivation and danger, and we betray our children and those unborn. Let’s start, today, to chart that course toward Pan-Afrikan Unity, Prosperity, Freedom, Truth, Justice and Righteousness.
At one time in the City of Baltimore, Maryland, there was an effort to build coalitions between Pan-Afrikan organizations. The most recent one I can remember was the Tubman City Alliance, which was promoted (and possibly conceived) by activists in Reality Speaks, Solvivaz Nation and other groups.
Over the years, however, a combination of personal tragedies, conflicts and organizational inertia have plunged much of the Baltimore, Maryland area, including parts of the activist community, into apathy, dysfunction and ineffectiveness. The Tubman City Alliance, and other efforts at building a Pan-Afrikan United Front before that, would have kept the community together, active, relevant and growing.
There is a serious need to rekindle such a coalition. If you are interested in taking a hand in the resurgence of true Pan-Afrikan Unity in the Baltimore area and the forging of a more unified, coordinated effort among our many and varied organizations, then either leave a comment here or send an email to me at email@example.com.
Why Are We Still Disorganized?
This piece was initially written as an email to two Elders who have often bemoaned the lack of unity that we as African people have demonstrated over these many generations since the Ma’afa (a Twi word meaning “great disaster”, used by Pan-Afrikan historians and activists to describe the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the Arab Slave Trade, the Scramble for Africa and the suffering African people have endured as a result). I meant it as a helpful response to their question (which was probably rhetorical anyway) about why our people continue to act in such a self-destructive manner, refusing to hear the words of our knowledgeable Elders and instead preferring the siren song of the corporate interests who wish to keep us subjugated as compliant consumers and labor lackeys to keep the wheels of their industry moving. When my email was returned to me with the message “the recipient is only accepting mail from specific email addresses”, it became clear to me that, while the message was meant to be distributed broadly so that all could hear the wisdom of their words, they did not themselves wish to hear the words of the rest of us. In other words, this was to be a one-way discussion. And, apparently (and unfortunately), the only answer they wished to see or hear was the rest of us unifying under their leadership.
I’ve encountered a number of wise and well-meaning activists and organizers, such as these respected Elders, who have taken this view, that they are the ones with the answers and all others should simply follow their banner. The organization I belong to, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), is a coalition-based organization that realizes that such an approach will often fail to attract allies who already have ideas and organizations of their own. SRDC has attempted to form cooperative partnerships with other organizations whose response was simply “join under us and then we will work together.” These partnerships failed to materialize because we could not subordinate our mission to someone else’s, but we were willing to work side-by-side with other organizations in areas of shared interest, an offer which has often been refused. Our various organizations’ utter failure to work together in such a unified and cooperative manner (despite our avowed reverence for the principles of Kwanzaa, specifically Unity–Umoja–and Collective Work and Responsibility–Ujima) actually underlines the primary reason why the words of our enemies carry so much more weight than do our own with our own people.
I’m not saying that the Elder’s complaint was without merit; quite the contrary. He is absolutely right: our grassroots communities easily and readily swallow the brainwashing and propaganda that is fed to them by the powers that be. Where I differ with the Elder is in his seeming surprise and bewilderment as to the reason why this is happening. It is not because of some magic spell that has been cast over our people. It is not because of some myth of intellectual or moral inferiority that right-wingers try to sell us. It is not even so much because of Western “tricknology”, though it is a tool that is used to deliver the poisonous messages our enemies feed us. It is because, as much as anything else, of our own inability, or refusal, as self-styled “leaders”, to actively model the unity and cooperation we want the masses to practice to lift our communities up.
The messages with which our communities are bombarded–Look out for Number One, Individual Freedom, Personal Responsibility, I Gotta Get Mine–have profoundly influenced us, and not for the better. While it took military coups d’état and the imposition of military dictatorships to turn communities in Latin American countries and even villages against each other, the unraveling of the fabric of our Village was accomplished more through a coup d’esprit–the conquest of our spirit through a combination of drugs, deprivation, fear and propaganda. The major entertainment media (which often masquerade as news) and the corporate interests that control them were able to pull off this stunt in a way that was well-coordinated and affected our collective psyche across the board. This is largely because of the fact that they are well organized in spite of belonging to different organizations and corporations. While they all have their specific organizational interests (mainly profit), they all agree on the basic narrative to feed to our people, and thus their message is well crafted, organized and unified. They often sit on each others’ Boards of Directors and, though they may be competitors in many ways, they have learned to support each other in a variety of projects. Even going back in history, we see this level of cooperation. At the Berlin Conference, supposedly-competing countries “cooperated” to divide Mother Africa up so that each of them was given control of specific, resource-rich sectors of our ancestral home, knowing that they would all benefit at our collective expense. This spirit of cooperation would ultimately serve them well in the two World Wars, when first Otto Von Bismarck, then Adolf Hitler and the Axis Powers, decided to attempt to conquer all of Europe for themselves. The countries of Europe, including the United States and Russia in World War II, not only cooperated militarily, they also worked together to develop and implement the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. Thus, our historical oppressors from the United States and Europe have been practicing “Ujima” (Collective Work and Responsibility) and “Umoja” (Unity) for hundreds of years before we even mouthed the words.
We as African people do no such thing. With the exception of the occasional slave revolt, civil-rights march or presidential election, we seem unable to truly come together and cooperate on anything without our own self-interested aims derailing our efforts. (The African Union is trying to provide an example of cooperation among member states, but that project, much like the Organization of African Unity which it replaced, is being challenged as well, from inside and from outside the organization.) Our different organizations are still involved in the “me-first” game and no other strategy is acceptable. To us, unity seems possible only through conquest and the absorption of other groups’ members. If people do not join our organization and follow our specific organizational agenda, we assume that they do not wish to work with us and that they are against Pan-African Unity.
This, our refusal to even work in cooperation with each other while our enemies have been doing so for generations, is the main reason why our message goes unheeded by the masses of our people. We are so busy competing with, contradicting and fighting ourselves that our messages of liberation and uplift sound jumbled and self-contradictory; why should anyone listen to us talking about unity when we all fight amongst ourselves? The corporations, while they do compete with each other for the biggest share of the profits, are at least selling us, by and large, the same thing, and have agreed to use their common media outlets
to send us the same basic message of what we should call ourselves and what dreams we should seek to attain. Our ironically self-described Pan-Afrikan organizations, however, disagree on what we should call ourselves, what our relationship should be to Africa and what is best for us as a people, and they all seem to insist that they alone are the path to our psychological, economic and political freedom and that all others must join them and them alone.
The fact is that our different organizations are not going to join each other. You may have no interest in “joining” my organization, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus or SRDC (not that I’m insisting that you do) because you want to continue to build your organization, and I don’t have the time or energy to join other organizations because I’m quite busy with more than enough unpaid work helping to build SRDC.
However, this need not be a major problem or an impediment to our organizing efforts. While we in SRDC are still focused on building our organization and establishing a means to bring the voice of the Grassroots Communities of the African Diaspora to the World Stage (be that through the African Union, World Social Forum or other vehicles), we also recognize that, while our different organizations are not ready to join each other, they can, and must, find a way to work together cooperatively for the education, mobilization and general uplift of African people, as the corporations of our adversaries do in their effort to strengthen their control over us.
I have been reaching out, on behalf of SRDC, to other organizations that have shown an interest in working cooperatively. I’ve concentrated my efforts in the area near where I live, and as a result I’ve gotten a few interested responses from some of the Continental African organizations in the Washington DC area, even though many of them would tell you that their perspective on who the African Diaspora is (that the Diaspora is primarily Continental Africans who emigrated from the Mother Continent to the West) are often quite different from that of SRDC and of African Descendants in general (that the Diaspora includes all people of African descent who live outside the African Continent). Still, if there is a way for Continental Africans and African Descendants to engage in constructive planning so that we can eventually develop a narrative of Diaspora Unity instead of the individualistic disunity and thoughtless consumerism that our adversaries teach us, I hope to be a part of that planning process. I don’t expect these organizations to join SRDC, but my hope is that they will agree to work alongside us to reach out to, organize and galvanize the African Diaspora so that the aims of all our organizations can be attained.
If this sounds like an acceptable arrangement, I am prepared to hear from you so that we can make plans to move all of our people forward. Just leave a comment here, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace and Power,
We Are Allowing Our Oppressors To Keep Us Apart
So many identities. So many nations. So many names. So many perspectives.
We are Afrikans (with a “k” or a “c”). African-Americans. Blacks. Negroes. “Coloreds”. Moors. Nubians. Nuwaubians. Kosmosans. Egyptians. Kemites. Ma’atians. Afro-Asiatics. Rastafari.
We are Muslims. Christians. Hebrews. Yoruba. Santeria. Wolof. Dogon. Vodou. Mdw Ntr.
We are Republicans. Democrats. Greens. Independents. Socialists. Communists. Anarchists, even.
We are NAACP. Urban League. Alpha. Kappa. Sigma. “Q-Dog”. Delta. Zeta. AKA. Sig-Rho. Iota.
We are OAAU. SCLC. SNCC. NOI. BPP. N-BPP. WADU, PADU and GADU. A-APRP. Kawaida. GAC. PAOC.
We are liberals. Conservatives. Pan-Afrikanists. Black nationalists. Cultural nationalists. Revolutionaries.
We are also confused. The whole lot of us.
It often seems that we spend more time talking “at” each other than we do talking “with” each other. All the while insisting that Afrikan Unity (or some form of it) is important to us.
The source of that unity must be the realization that, despite the small differences that have been manufactured (from the initial migrations that Dr. Chancellor Williams described so well in The Destruction of Black Civilization to the present time) to keep us apart, we share things that are much more important that should be bringing us together:
We are all separated from our ancestral home.
Even those of us still living in Afrika are separated from the most productive farmland, the minerals under the ground that are the source of the continent’s great wealth, and the life-giving waters of the Nile, the Congo, the Niger and other great rivers and lakes.
We are not recognized as a people on the World Stage.
Those of us on the Continent are often “ruled” by the heirs of neocolonialism who marginalize the masses for the benefit of their Western paymasters, and those of us in the Diaspora have no seat in the United Nations at all.
We are turned against each other.
Xosa vs. Zulu in South Afrika. Hutu vs. Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi and Congo. “Arab” vs. “Afrikan” (a truly contrived conflict if ever there was one) in Sudan. Christian vs. Muslim vs. Hebrew vs. “Pagan” everywhere (where the hell did we, who are treated as ”foreigners”/”pagans” around the world, get that concept?), especially since the current practiced forms of the major religions are not indigenous to Afrika even though their seeds were all grown there. In the US, it’s Crip vs. Blood, Panther vs. Kawaida/United Slaves, North Side vs. South Side, even East Baltimore vs. West Baltimore (the major US city closest to me). Internationally, it’s Afrikan vs. Afro-Caribbean vs. Afro-American in some kind of mad internecine free-for-all as we race to the bottom of the human food chain.
And all the while, the oppressors laugh as they plunder our land in Afrika and our bodies and minds elsewhere in the Diaspora.
In the Baltimore (“Harriet Tubman City”) area, there are many activists and organizations who do work that is praiseworthy. I applaud Bro. Carlos Muhammad for his effort several years ago to bring the community together through the Luv4Self Network. I applaud Bro. Manifest for his ongoing work with Richmond, Virginia’s Happily Natural Day. I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Baba Dalani Aamon for founding the Harambee Radio Network (broadcasting around the world over the Internet at www.harambeeradio.com), which gave me more than an hour every Sunday afternoon for six years to share information when I couldn’t afford to print the Newsletter. Baba Keidi Obi Awadu has done a similar great deed with the establishment of Harambee’s “sista” Internet station, LIB (Living In Black) Radio. Major shout-outs go to Bro. Anpu (Ruffmic) and Bro. Heru (Freedomwriter) of Precise Science for bringing the Pan-Afrikan cultural and moral vibe to music. People like Bro. Imhotep Fatiu (Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement and Urban Youth Initiative Project), Bro. Jabari and Bro. Sundiata (Reality Speaks/Solvivaz Nation), Sista Ertha Harris (Millions More Movement-Baltimore) and Baba Ade Oba Tokunbo (OAAU-BPC) are others right here in Maryland with whom I am personally familiar who do great work in an attempt to organize us around critical issues of the day. And there are others. Still, not enough of these organizations and leaders talk to each other. Some do, but some remain separated from each other because of differences in spirituality, political focus, issues of self-identity, personal conflicts, or simply because of the perception that the barriers that separate us are insurmountable. This must be true, for if they did not believe so, these barriers would have been overcome and destroyed long ago, and for all time.
That much is clear from the chronic miscommunication between groups, the lack of cooperative organizing with many of our important causes and campaigns, the lack of support I see for many important organizing efforts, and the occasional sniping I’m forced to endure between people who should be fighting for, and not with, each other.
I don’t wish to get into a debate over which spiritual, political or philosophical perspective of all the ones I mentioned above (and countless others I didn’t) is the best, or the correct one. What we need to do is bring those perspectives together, so we may all learn from each other and ultimately see, through each other’s examples, the most effective path(s) that we need to follow.
The ultimate purpose of this particular commentary is to offer one solution, which is to continue the call I’ve been putting out for the last several years: to bring Afrikan people together, city by city, state by state, country by country (but starting, for me, in my home state, Maryland), in a series of Pan-Afrikan Town Halls.
I’m currently the Maryland State Facilitator of an Afrikan-Diasporan organization called the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), which was formally developed in 2006 to organize Afrikan people on a city, state, country, regional and ultimately Diaspora-wide basis to seek representation at the table in the Civil Society committee (Economic, Social and Cultural Council, or ECOSOCC) in the African Union (AU).
Before people start jumping up and getting hysterical about the shortcomings of the AU, let me state that I see a much larger mission here. SRDC’s purpose is to seek entry into the AU for the Diaspora as a voice of influence to move Afrika in a more positive direction for her people and the Afrikan Diaspora. But at the same time, what we will achieve is the restoring of positive, constructive communication and cooperation between Afrikan people throughout the Diaspora and on the Afrikan Continent.
How do we do that if we can’t even get along within the same city or country or discussion group, I hear you ask? Well, that’s the first and, apparently, the most difficult step. It’s certainly the most important step, as all other steps build on this.
Every member of the Pan-Afrikan community who is reading these words must become involved in some way in bringing us all together, not to put a stop to our debates, but to make our debates a bit less important than our cooperative plans to achieve our global unity and liberation.
To Bro. Carlos: I hope to put something together with you, based on your networking from the Luv4Self Network, and combine those efforts with those of other Maryland-area groups, from individual organizations to the coalition that puts together the successful Kwanzaa event in Baltimore every winter, so we can continue to chart the course which you and others have helped put us on and strengthen the organization in Maryland, where I live and serve as the Facilitator. I and the other SRDC Facilitators would also like to be able to formally present the SRDC plan for the states in the US where we are not already established, establish a Community Council of Elders , and at least propose to the people in those states that we nominate and elect the next slate of Representatives and Observers who would pursue a Pan-Afrikan Agenda, through SRDC, with other similar groups that already exist across the United States (California, Washington State, Ohio, New York, South Carolina, Oregon, Maryland and Tennessee) and throughout the Diaspora (Nicaragua, Martinique-Guadeloupe, Canada, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Germany, and others). This call has been made, by myself and other SRDC members in the areas listed above, to not only continue the efforts at strengthening Pan-Afrikan unity in their states, but to plant the seed in neighboring states and areas of the Diaspora as well.
To be able to achieve true unity across communities of Afrikan descent in the US and the Diaspora, we must organize in at least a “critical mass” of local communities across the US and throughout the Afrikan Diaspora. Because SRDC was founded in the United States, our initial aim is to do this in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, to show Afrikan people throughout the Diaspora that those of us in the United States are indeed capable of coming together as one, despite the way we often behave which has led others to compare us to “crabs in a barrel”.
There have been some who have expressed misgivings, or at least uncertainty, about what it would mean to participate in SRDC’s effort. Some of these misgivings are from misconceptions that are understandable, and some are expressions of personal exhaustion from having fought as long as some of us have, but others are simply due to some irrational fear of the loss of personal influence or from inertia and old habits, while still others are because of personal beefs and petty bickering that have no place in efforts to forge Pan-Afrikan unity.
Let me address some of the misconceptions first. Your organization will not “lose itself” by aligning with SRDC. It is a coalition of a variety of organizations that have come together to achieve a common goal: the establishment of a Diasporan voice in the African Union and the forging of global Pan-Afrikan unity. People don’t have to individually become “members” of SRDC, and the different groups don’t have to take some loyalty oath to it (there have been some who apparently think that they must subordinate their own organizations to comply with SRDC’s goals), but we do need the input of the Pan-Afrikan community to examine and discuss the SRDC plan and to choose Representatives, Observers and a Council of Elders (either through Afrikan Consensus or democratic elections) if we are to say that any state truly has Representatives that can speak for Afrikan people of that state, and by extension, if we are to say that Afrikans in the US and Afrikans in the Diaspora truly have representative leadership.
To those Veterans who are simply exhausted, I can understand. Many of you have been involved in this much longer than I have—I am but a pup in this dogfight—and sometimes even my own energy level sinks dangerously low. Activists and organizers who have struggled with no help or support year upon year, or Political Prisoners who have languished in confinement for decades before finally being freed (or not freed) have earned either some time off or outright retirement from the struggle. They have been doing already, and for quite some time. They have seen marriages and relationships destroyed because of the pressure of this struggle, they have lost friends and comrades to this struggle, they have seen their health decline because of this struggle, and they have received little thanks. We do need their guidance and, at times, their admonishments when we go astray. But the heavy lifting is up to those of us who follow. We cannot drop the load now.
As far as the inertia, old habits, personal beefs and petty bickering are concerned, it’s time to stop it. Barack Obama or no Barack Obama, we remain in a struggle for survival across the globe, and time is running out for us. We cannot afford to allow this state of disunity to continue any longer. Those who oppose this effort to bring us together in some form of Pan-Afrikan unity have apparently aligned themselves with those who have opposed other similar efforts throughout our history, and they owe our scattered and suffering masses an explanation and a heartfelt apology for their obstructionist behavior.
Healthy debate is fine, but I’ve seen too much back-biting between activist organizations and within a number of discussion groups that were created to pursue Pan-Afrikanism and Black Unity. And this goes beyond just an effort to root out provocateurs and opportunists in our midst or to distance ourselves from illegal or dishonorable behavior by misguided members; now we’re seeing heated arguments about what name we will use to refer to ourselves and rifts that have developed between committed organizers because someone’s ego has been bruised. Don’t you know better by now? Isn’t it time to start putting our differences aside, honoring those unique aspects about each of our belief systems that make us strong, and coming together so we can break our psychological chains? Or is the unspoken purpose of the back-biters to achieve the destruction of all organizations and forums that committed Pan-Afrikan organizers have created to help us, to paraphrase Ancestor Robert Nesta Marley, “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”?
Think I’m being too hard on us? Wanna cuss me out? Or do you agree with my analysis and want to get involved in a positive way? Are you already doing this great and important work and want to link up with others who are tired of watching us rip ourselves apart? Do feel free to give a brotha a shout. Drop a comment to this piece on our Web Site. Let us know who is out there who is ready to start making a positive difference and bring our people together at last. The development of a broad coalition of true Liberation Thinkers, a true Pan-Afrikan United Front, is needed, and I hope we can find a way to bring something like this about at last. Mama Pam Africa of MOVE, Bro. Carlos, Baba Dalani, Baba Keidi, Sista Marpessa who struggles for Political Prisoners, and others have been trying to bring us together for years, and I and others in SRDC have seen how difficult it can be to get us to stop screaming at each other and start talking, listening and planning with each other. I hear so much from us when it’s time to “vent spleen” and not enough when it’s time to sit down with each other, learn to understand (or “overstand”) each other and truly plan for our own Unity and Liberation.
Peace and Power,
Editor, KUUMBAReport Newsletter
Maryland Representative, Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)