Thursday, November 25, 2010


The Left is a broad category – from centrist social welfarism to communism. The Left in government ranges from the Communist Party in China to the Tripartite Alliance in South Africa. The Left, based on its contribution to date, has a place in African politics, just as it features in every continent in the world. Those who would wish the death of the Left in west, east, central and southern Africa have a long wait coming. It is a fact that in certain parts of the African world the Left has been marginalized, neutralized or co-opted. What will further weaken the Left in Africa south of the Sahara and its western (Americas, Caribbean, Europe etc) and eastern ( Arabia, North Africa, Gulf states and points east ) Diasporas, is if it is unable to engage in the major challenges facing us due to emasculation or out of fear of the unknown. This paper argues that the principal challenge facing the Left today is how to engage the decolonization process underway in the Afro-Arab Borderlands. What will weaken the left is the absence of an organizational framework which unifies it’s struggle. This is beside the absence of a political agenda. The Pan-African movement can serve as the forum of the African Left, as seen in Cameroon, drawing its lifeblood from the people’s struggle for unity, democracy, social justice, equality and economic progress in different social settings in the Diasporas and on the continent south of the Sahara. The issue of organization must be tackled first. Even as the Berlin Wall was in place voices on the African Left stated that race was a key component in social analysis. However most in government toed the line from Moscow parroting that only class was important in defining social issues. In the South African Communist Party (SACP) during the armed struggle many were expelled who insisted, with varying degrees of emphasis, that race was a key element in social analysis. For some, when the Soviet variant of socialism suffered internal collapse, with the withdrawal of Russia from its frontline position in the Third World, serious challenges were thrown up. Take, for instance, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Southern Sudan. Adwok Nyaba says - ‘In all honesty the SPLM/A was not socialist or Left for that matter, although it raised socialist slogans. The Left is recognized by the manner it organizes its means of struggle and the relationship between its leadership and the masses. The SPLM/A was militarist and that is why it is paying dearly for its political organization and the unity of its rank and file’.The SPLM/A was, in the language of those times, a progressive, Left-leaning African liberation organization, similar to the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). The SPLM/A had been at war with Khartoum from the eve of Sudan’s self-government in 1956, with the Soviets gone where was the SPLM to draw its support, both in terms of logistics and diplomatic promotion, to maintain its struggle with the Khartoum government? The Islamic fundamentalist government of Sudan based in Khartoum is lead not by white Arabs, but by a mixed race/coloured group, who are Arabised and Islamised, practicing genocide in Darfur, oppressing the African majority in the country, in alliance with the rest of Arabia, where they are accepted as inferior Arabs. Sudan is strategically located, straddling the line where Arabia meets black Africa. In Sudan, north of that line, are not white Arabs, but an Arabised and Islamised people of mixed race, living in the centre of the country, around Khartoum on the Nile River which flows from its source in Uganda, through Juba, capital of Southern Sudan, onto Khartoum, thence through southern Egypt, Cairo and into the Mediterranean Sea. These people, in the Southern African context, would be described as a ‘coloured’ people. In Sudan the light brown complexioned people living in the centre of the country around Khartoum, detaining power, historically served as a buffer between white Egypt and black southern Sudan. This is how the last colonial Anglo-Egyptian administration distributed power within Sudan society, as they left the scene in 1956. The power centre in Khartoum was to stem the tide of African nationalism coming north along the Nile, the overwhelming majority of the population of Sudan being black Africans. This explains the causes of the protracted war in south Sudan and the frantic attempt now on to alter the demographics in Darfur, so that Africans will be thrown back southwards, in what has been a historical process of African retreat, since the time of the African civilization of Kush in north eastern Sudan, which preceded the black pharaonic civilization in Egypt, before the arrival of the Arabs in Africa. This type of ‘decolonization’ process was sanctioned in arrangements made by Europe and Arabia, to better exploit African labour and minerals. This is the challenge posed in Sudan today. The issues are similar in Mauritania, where the colonials gave power to a Moorish minority, to rule the African majority. The method of decolonization was the same in south and north Africa. Africans were to be hemmed in by Europeans in the south and by Arabs in the north, in a pincer arrangement in which they would be bound for ever to serve external interests in order to survive and escape genocide. It could be said that the Left has come a long way from where it was in say, 1957, when Ghana achieved self-government under the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) lead by Nkrumah. Many now acknowledge that race is as significant as class, in any analysis of the African situation, especially when handling Pan-African issues. African liberation action for decolonization was, in the case of Ghana, a mass not a class struggle, being lead by different strata of society, whereas in South Africa the struggle for majority rule was part of a process of decolonization, but it took the form of a mass struggle lead by the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the trade unions, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress (ANC). The two major areas for settler decolonization in 1957 were Southern Africa under Afrikaner/British settler colonialism, and the Afro-Arab Borderlands, in the Sahel and the Sudan, running from Mauritania on the Atlantic eastwards to Sudan on the Red Sea. Whereas in 1957 the problems of Southern Africa were admitted by the international community, those in the Borderlands were not. Fifty years later, in the 21st century, the issues of Arab racism and hegemony in the Borderlands surface with a vengeance, why ? Arab slavery and hegemony in the Sahelian Borderlands predated the arrival of the Heugenots in the Cape, in Southern Africa, by a millennium. In the mid-twentieth century proletarian internationalism, as co-operation between the Left across borders was called, in an era dominated by two superpowers – the Soviet Union and the United States – was the quintessential ingredient in the decolonization of Africa. After all colonialism was administered from the Western metropoles of London, Lisbon, Paris and Brussels. It’s end was hastened by the intervention of the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe. In Africa, the context of China until it joined the United Nations in 1971, must be put into consideration. There was no way China would have entered into the world arena before finishing its cultural revolution. It is this cultural revolution in the sixties that consolidated the Communist in power after the defeat of the Nationalists, first in China and then displacing them in the world body. The current China stance is dictated by its economic power. This power has been acquired without eschewing its communist[ Chinese style ]ideology. It remains to be seen what will happen when China reaches the top of the world political and military order. China’s actions in Sudan, particularly in Darfur, require close inspection and monitoring, providing indications of its evolving relations with Africans. Those who partook in the Fifth Pan-African Congress (PAC) in Manchester in 1945, such as Du Bois and Nkrumah, accepted the line of the Soviet Union, based on its internal need to keep in check its restive minorities, that race was not a factor in social analysis. One could say that Padmore was more circumspect in this regard. This was due to his period spent in Moscow as a member of the Comintern, where he had witnessed at close quarters how proletarian internationalism was tailored to Russian international interests, as the South African Communist Party had learnt much earlier. Men such as Du Bois, Padmore and Makonnen, worked with Nkrumah in the implementation of his Pan-African agenda, which lead to the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1964. The OAU was a tool in the hands of African leaders. For the Arabs it served to enlist African support for the Arab causes of Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine After the Camp David Accords and the establishment of relations between certain Arab states in Africa, such as Egypt and Isreal, the OAU and its successor the African Union (AU ) became increasingly subject to Arab, as distinct from African interests. It is from this period that the divide, north and south of the Sahara, became clearly discernable and their destinies no longer reconcilable. Arab members were not interested in the integration of the African Diasporas, on equal basis with continental governments, into the statist Pan-African structure. Certain Arab states took to underwriting/buying-into the expenses of the organization, by paying state dues in the face of the indifference of some African states regarding their financial obligations. A point was reached in late 2007 whereby Gadaffi of Libya was able to manipulate the AU by threatening to withdraw his support for the AU and rather turning to the West and Europe, knowing that this would cause severe financial problems, even the collapse of the organization. Makonnen had doubts about Nasser’s intentions in Africa and favoured relations with Israel. Nasser’s Egypt and Nkrumah’s Ghana, in close socialist alliance, were the main proponents of African decolonization, assisted by the Soviets. The OAU enshrined the concept of sovereignty and the inviolability of borders, with respect for the territorial integrity of states. Many Left leaning leaders in Africa, as late as the close of the 20th century, remained steadfast in their support of Nasser’s Egypt,despite Egypt’s signing of the Camp David Accords with Isreal and its murky involvement with Britain in the neo-colonial dispensation for Sudan. Whatever may have been Nasser’s intention in Africa, many have argued convincingly that he was first a Pan-Arabist and secondly a Pan-Africanist. During his period Egypt continued its interference in Southern Sudan, Darfur, Nubia etc by way of their institutionalized marginalization by Khartoum. Nasser facilitated the marriage of Nkrumah to an Egyptian, a tactic used by Arabia in the past to neutralize African nationalist leaders in south Sudan. The rule of Ghana by the Convention People’s Party (CPP) saw the establishment of Ghanaian embassies in Khartoum and Nouakchott in Mauritania. Nkrumah would have been aware of the oppression of black Africans in Sudan and Mauritania by people calling themselves Arabs or Moors. It is said that it was the 1966 Khartoum Roundtable on the future of South Sudan, at which Ghana was represented, which brought Nkrumah to the realization of the need to support Southern Sudan. His Government was overthrown shortly thereafter by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Adwok Nyaba takes the view that most African leaders did not understand the genisis of the Sudan conflict. Arab diplomacy focused on wider issues, such as Palestine, concealing Arab internal contradictions with the captive black African people in their midst. It was therefore not surprising that the continental body, often described as Pan-Africanist, left to us by Nkrumah, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), reflects the view that Arabs could be and indeed are ‘brothers’ – even as the Khartoum based government was fighting a protracted war with African nationalism in south Sudan, in a war seen by the Africans of southern Sudan, as a just war of decolonization from Arab settler colonialism. It is probably from this period, if not earlier, that we note the Left’s failure to address the issue of Arab hegemony and racism, which attitude is still with us today. Residence in south Sudan teaches that at the point of contact in the Afro-Arab intercourse, Arabia is aggressive and expansionist, not hiding its interests. This is understood throughout the Arab world. However in areas removed from direct contact, such as the west and southern African coasts, it is a different story. There Arab, particularly Egyptian, cordial diplomacy is legendary. Yet an Egyptian diplomat could be shifted from the Consulate in Juba, to the Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. It is this duplicity which has confounded Africans, but such protocol is rule-of-thumb in the Foreign Ministries of the Arab world, when dealing with Africa. African leaders are amenable to bribery by their Arab counterparts, at the cost of their people’s interests. The OAU played a major role in the decolonization of Southern Africa, whilst it refused to be involved in the south Sudan issue, which was stated to be an Arab issue, the proper consideration of the Arab League. The Liberation Committee of the OAU ensured that the decolonization process in southern Africa received the maximum support of the Organization, including its Arab members. The Arab government in Khartoum, although at war with Africans in south Sudan, was generous in funding the anti-apartheid struggle. In mid-February 2008 the post-apartheid Government of South Africa dealt in a cavalier fashion with a Darfurian freedom fighter seeking to enter South Africa, to explain the war going on in his country. He was locked up, his luggage confiscated and he expelled on the next available flight, without being offered any explanation. This could best be explained as a deliberate act to deny South Africans first hand knowledge of what is going on in Darfur and Sudan. The road to the defeat of settler colonialism in southern Africa was a long one. The African National Congress (ANC) had been formed in 1912. Later it was fused with the South African Communist Party. Shortly before South Africa attained majority government in 1994 the South African leader Chris Hani and likely future President, was assassinated, being described as both a leading figure in the ANC and the Communist Party. The Anti-Apartheid Movement was a powerful international tool of finance capital and played a leading role in the garnering of international support for the decolonization process in South Africa. There was no such humanitarian interest in the freedom struggle underway in Sudan by the marginalized majority. Those who followed the transfer of power from the white settler colonial Afrikaner Nationalist Party to the ANC saw how the Left in that country, worked with capital to create a new South Africa, so-called, with a mixed economy and lots of opportunities for venture and transnational capital, so that there was never a chance that the commanding heights of that economy would shift from the pre-1994 situation. Indeed local capital quickly stepped off-shore to places like Switzerland. The Kempton Park talks leading to majority rule in South Africa, laid the ground rules for the peaceful co-existence and co-operation of the Left with organized labour and the centre-right, which rule remains in place today. In Namibia self-government saw the introduction of a mixed economy, with respect for the social contract, with assurances for public health and education, embedded in the Constitution. It was therefore ironic that the government which emerged in South Africa, lead by the Left, experienced some discomfort in handling settler colonial issues in the Afro-Arab Borderlands, such as Darfur. This unease was felt to be a product of Soviet era relations, whereby the ANC had forged close international socialist working alliances, which ultimately lead to the battle of Cuito Cunavale in Angola, where the progressive forces of Cuba, Angola, Namibia and South Africa defeated on the battlefield the racist minority Afrikaner regime of South Africa, which was in alliance with the international rightwing, which included the USA, UK, the Angolan rebel group UNITA and others. From observation the ruling Tripartite Alliance in South Africa ( ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] ) has not shifted from its view that class is the main and only determinant in analyzing human relations. The Mbeki Administration did adopt aspects of Pan-Africanism in its African Renaissance agenda, taking on board the Diaspora and championing counties such as Haiti, whose role in contemporary African history had been ignored by the Left in the past. However the Alliance was unable to answer charges that Renaissance was more a moral fig leaf for the penetration of South African capital into Africa, through the agency of Shoprite, the Banks and the breweries etc, to be followed by the vacuuming of minerals resources. Whereas the world today is no longer in a duo-polar situation as during the Cold War, with power controlled by the United States of America and the Soviet Union, we are now in a period of the decline of the mono-power, the United States of America. This current scenario is slowly shifting in our view to a multi-polar world, in which new conflict issues are emerging, such as decolonization in the Afro-Arab Borderlands. We have seen terrorism become a matter of global concern, as well as fundamentalism and the preoccupation with the environment. Closer to home the Darfur conflict is bringing to the surface an old problem, which has long been buried from global view, which was apparent during the long war in South Sudan, for those who were discerning. This is the issue of Arab hegemony, slavery, racism and abuse of human rights, lead by Islamic fundamentalist governments such as that in Khartoum, which systematically seeks to change the demography of places such as Darfur, implementing genocide against the people of the area, such as the Fur, who are being forced off their land and are being replaced by Arabised West Africans, such as the Taureg. A similar Arab project is underway in Nubia, Northern Sudan, near the Egyptian border, where African Nubians, who have been living in the area for a millennium, are being removed in plain view of the world and Egyptian Arabs being resettled on their lands. Bear in mind that the conflict in the Afro-Arab Borderlands is as old as time, and that these issues were not publicized in the past. There will be new Darfurs spreading westwards. So long as Arab hegemony continues to push Africans southward it will be meet by a stout and organized resistance. From observation it appears that the difficulties that the Left experiences in South Africa, of openly supporting harassed Africans in the Borderlands, is the admission that in countries such as Sudan and Mauritania there is indeed a race issue, of such dimensions that just as South Africa needed the support of the Liberation Committee of the OAU to end apartheid, so in the Borderlands African solidarity and support is necessary. Indeed from Mauritania to the Red Sea there is an issue of Arab hegemony and racism. After all Africans lived on the Mediterranean coast, as Cheikh Anta Diop explained to us. If Africans have been pushed Southwards as far as Darfur today – the issue is – what are Africans going to do about it. There is unease when an apartheid-type figure such as El Bashir of Sudan is able, in late 2007, to undertake a state visit to South Africa, where he is accorded full honours. Would the ANC, in say the mid-1980s, have remained silent if P.W.Botha had conducted a State visit to a Frontline state? All progressive/Left leaning forces in African society have to take on board the truths of the Sudan and struggle to put in place changes for the better. The Left, both African and international has no choice, but to get engaged, as it did in South Africa. If the Left stays on the sidelines as a spectator, it ceases to be part of the solution and becomes part of the problem. The Left needs to fight Arab hegemony and violent Islamic fundamentalism. African contradictions with the Arab Left stems from its acquiescence to Arab hegemony. A distinction must be made between Arab Leftist ideas which are progressive and in line with progressive humanity and the support of the Arab left for Arab hegemony. Arab hegemony is imperial, it steals land and natural resources and it enslaves people. It is in continuous expansionist mode and has the support of the Arab League. But for the gallant fighters of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), Sudan under Tourabi, would have overrun the South and marched on Kampala, in the name of Jihad. Arab racism and domination is not an issue for the United States of America lead liberal alliance alone. It concerns African progressive forces too. Arab hegemony is active from Mauritania to the Red Sea. This is not new. As Chinweizu said, the Borderlands have been a war zone since the arrival of the Arab in Africa. Africans were unable to admit and face-up to this reality. The conflict is low intensity, in the main, and generalized, with key combat zones such as south Sudan, which lost 2.5 million during its liberation struggle, and now Darfur. These conflicts did not start yesterday, as the international press would want us to believe, but have been intermittent moving southward, again since the arrival of the Arab in Africa. Such conflicts are now in the public domain as the genocide in Darfur has received front page coverage internationally. The Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ) meeting in Burkina Faso in mid-January 2008 had top of their agenda, as a security matter, the issue of the Taureg. In the face of a collective Arab challenge there should be a collective African response. Groups such as the Darfurian freedom fighters deserve the support of the Left. A factor in that support will be the orientation of the group in question. Wagging liberation struggle requires support, both material and diplomatic. Military equipment is taken from the enemy. The people of Darfur, support their liberation movements. Amnesty International reports that the IDP camps in Darfur are flooded with weapons, with no shortage of youthful volunteers, ready to fight. In the camps a revolver can be purchased for US$25. In Sudan there will be no peace unless the claims of all the marginalized are meet. There are projections that this may take 10-50 years. The current peace process in the South is part of a longer unfolding process, which the late John Garang set in motion, towards a new Sudan. There is an ark of crisis of endangered African states, targets for Arab expansion as follows – Eritrea, Tchad, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Uganda. And what about the lands which were ‘lost’ in the north of the African continent, such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco? The indications are that once majority rule has come to Sudan, then the preoccupation of the new Sudan will by way of education on human rights and history, re-educating the people that Africa has its own culture, history and civilization. And that the African origins of civilization, currently excluded from the school curricula in North Africa, is a fact of history. The ‘lost’ lands will not be recovered by war, but those now living in those lost lands will have to address the challenges of African culture, ideas and the Afro-Arab civilizational dialogue based on equality. Afro-Arab relations have always been conflictual, with Africans on the receiving end, since the advent of the Arab on the Africa continent. The Left needs to engage this fact directly, not remain neutral and passive. The issues in play in this area are clear. The Left should not be afraid of confronting new situations, new challenges or unfamiliar terrain. In this period the Left should be vigilant and unbending in its core principles, as well as flexible in its approach B.F.Bankie November 2010 The author expresses appreciation for the comments and reactions to the preparatory text of this paper, received from Dr Adwok Nyaba. B.F.Bankie Sudan Sensitisation Project (SSP)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day of Outrage: Where is Money for Haiti? US Out of Haiti Clinton Out of Harlem

U. S. Out of Haiti – Clinton Out of Harlem

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Join us for a Day of Outrage in Harlem



WHERE IS THE MONEY FOR HAITI? Under US military occupation former President Bill Clinton serves as Special UN Envoy to Haiti and co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC): Life and death struggles intensify for millions of Haitians: cholera epidemic & 1.5 million still homeless!! And in Harlem Clinton Renews Lease for penthouse office in 55 W. 125th St: More Predatory Real Estate, Gentrification & Displacement!

Schedule of Activities

· 12 Noon to1:30 PM: Rally Against former President Bill Clinton directly across from penthouse office 55 West 125th St. (Between Lenox & 5th Avenues.)

  • 1:30 - 2 PM: March across 125th to Old Broadway: St. Mary's Church: 516 West 126th Street (Amsterdam & Old Broadway)
  • 2 - 5 PM Teach-in on Haiti at St. Mary's : Speakers include Omali Yeshitela (Chair of Black is Back); Glen Ford (Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report); Nellie Hester Bailey(Harlem Tenants Council); Ashley Smith (International Socialist Review); Kim Ives (Editor of Haiti Liberte: Back from Haiti Report); Activist/Organizer Ray LaForest; others to be announced.
· 7 – 9 PM: EVENING ACTIVITY: Maysles Cinema: 343 Lenox Avenue (128th & 127th): Film & “Voices of Haitians on the Future of Haiti” with Roger Leduc ( KAKOLA: Haitian Coalition to Support the Struggle in Haiti); Marquez Osson (WBAI Radio, "Haiti: The Struggle Continues"); Activist/Organizer Ray LaForest;  others TBA. Reception to follow.
For more information contact Harlem Tenants Council: email: or 646-812-5188 or visit or (Telephone:202-681-7040.


Friday, November 12, 2010


Harambee Radio Helpting to Unify the

Reparations Movement With Large Tent Marathon

NOVEMBER 12, 2010


“Reparation is the payment of money and other valuables to a nation, or distinct community of people. Reparations are paid by he criminal government that hurt them in the commission of a crime. The payment of reparations is part of the process to make them whole again. It is necessary because in the commission of the crime, the perpetrator cause injuries: reparation are the beginning of the healing process, it is to make amend, to make the nation [or community] whole again.”

---from the Constitution of N’COBRA

One of the great Black journalist of the century, Brother Dalani Aamon is using his platform, Harambee Radio & T.V. in an effort to promote some unity amongst the varied proponents for the Great Issue of Reparations. As a younger than the average of the N’COBRA membership in the 1990’s, when the work of N’COBRA made Reparations a “household” word in the United States of America, he did not involve himself to the extent where he knows much about the issue and the Movement that N’COBRA engendered.

But to achieve its “First Priority Mission,” The Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, under the guidance of Dr. Imari A. Obadele, its acknowledged founder, N’COBRA let the Great Issue of Reparations fly, as Dr. Obadele had turned the ideal over to The Coalition: they let it “fly.”

As per the definition of Reparations above the body of this text, it is clearly defined in the Constitution of N’COBRA, but as journalist researched and told the story, i.e. Brother Dalani, a degree of confusion had set into just “exactly what is Reparations.”


Opening Friday at 6 P.M. with Secretary-General of the U.N.I.A., Brother Senghor; and H. Khalif Khalifah, Senior Tour Guide for the Nat Turner Trail, Publisher and author of A History About N’COBRA & The Reparations Movement,” the Marathon will continue through 11 p.m. with some of the original founders of The Coalition speaking to the issue of Unity/Definition/Direction, with the overall objective of re-igniting a “Movement too Large to be Ignored; Championing a Issue Too Vital to be Forgotten.”

The entire program can be heard and seen live online at To speak with Khalifah you may call him at 434-378-2140. Khalifah will also be reviewing his book online, at on station Nat Turner Trail Library at 12 noon. The great thing about internet based radio is if you miss the live show, the archive is available 24/7.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

NAT TURNER’S SCULL FOUND: Nat Turner Library wants reburial on land of birth



NOVEMBER 6, 2010

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, VA – The scull of Nat Turner has been found in Gary, Indiana. It was donated to former Gary Mayor, Richard G. Hacher at a Fundraising event for “The Civil Right Museum.”

          Mr. Hatcher is reportedly, planning to send, or bring it to Jerusalem (renamed Drewryville), Southampton , VA “to give it a proper burial).”

          Some voiced skepticism that it is in fact the scull of Nat Turner. But Mr. Hatcher says he had it checked out and it is authentic. Nat Turner was the Afrikan Captive held as a chattel slave in 1831. He overcame his fear, and induced others to follow his lead to form an Army, A Black Liberation Army to free Black people.

          After wreaking havoc, panic and fear on whites in Southampton County, he was forced into a retreat near the same plantation, on the land where he was born. After his re-capture, Nat Turner was hung, decapitated and his head sent to be studied in Richmond, VA. But the people taking the head to the scientist, stole it and disappeared.



          On land of his birth, The Nat Turner Library is established in his memory. So it would be appropriate to have it returned to the land of his birth in North America.

          As Black people still hold a glimmer of hope that they can obtain their reparations, the exploits of Nat Turner loom as the alternative to this legal manner in which an abused people receive redress for the “debt owed, to heal” any number of maladies and ill behavior that is linked directly back to the physical torment they suffered in captivity for more than 400 years.

          The maintainers of the Nat Turner Library would like to speak with Mr. Hatcher to see it he’d be willing to donate this body part so it can be properly buried on the land of his birth, by people who hold him in the greatest esteem because of the intentions of his “words, acts and deeds” in 1831.

          Anyone with contact information for Mr. Hatcher is asked to report it to 434-378-2140 or e-mail

NAT TURNER CONVENTION 2011 - AUG. 20-21 - The Re-emergence of Nat Turner: be a part of "correcting, preserving & Propagating Black History: call 434-378-2140


For the Love of Haiti: A Cruise for People Committed to Rebuild Haiti

For the Love of Haiti: Pilgrimage of Hope
A Cruise for People Committed to Rebuild Haiti
October 3-10, 2011
Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas
Book Now To Reserve Your Cabin
The Vision

In the wake of the earthquake which devastated major regions of Haiti, the goal of  For the Love of Haiti: Pilgrimage of Hope is to lift the spirits of the Haitian people by mobilizing hundreds of friends who care about Haiti and want to see the nation restored. It is envisioned as a "roll up our sleeves" initiative where participants will have the opportunity to contribute humanitarian assistance, perform community service, explore opportunities for business investment and experience the rich history and culture of the first Black Republic in the Americas. - Dr. Ron Daniels, Founder, Haiti Support Project    


On The Ground
Humanitarian Assistance on the Ground in Haiti

On The Ship
• Seminars on Humanitarian and Developmental Assistance Projects and
  Business and Investment Opportunities to Build the New Haiti
• Haitian cultural-educational seminars, performances and film festival
• Meet and Greet high profile leaders, celebrities, artists and entertainers like
   Susan Taylor, George Fraser, Warren Ballentine and many others


We’re going to Haiti because  the people need our help now and into the future.

Be among the very first of 2,300 participants to register with a refundable deposit of $500 by December 15th to secure the ship.  All deposits will be held in escrow until the contract with Royal Caribbean is signed. Then the entire ship belongs to our Pilgrimage group for one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences of a lifetime!

For further information or to make your refundable deposit and reserve a cabin
From $849 Inside Cabin to $1,099 Superior Ocean View based on double occupancy/two per cabin via credit card online or by check/money order

Discount on Tours for First 500 Registrants

Visit the website
or call 866.502.8415

Georgia International Travel -- an American Express Representative
Official Travel Agency for the Pilgrimage of Hope Cruise

Monday, October 25, 2010


 Windhoek, Namibia

The Pan-African idea and movement grew out of the desire of the Africans to rediscover and recover their identity and heritage and to fight for their liberation from colonialism and racism, thereby restoring their dignity as a people of equal standing with other people in the world. Pan-Africanism is part of a historical process, reflecting particular material conditions.
The Africans emerged into the modern era from African civilisations, through slavery to political emancipation, which provides a platform to address the outstanding issues of their dignity, one of which is cultural rediscovery. The other is the effective control of the economic destiny, by way of agriculture, technology, education, industrialisation and innovation, to create self-sustaining development within the framework of Pan-African unity.
In this trajectory the Pan-African Congress (PAC) series starting in 1900, lead to the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77), bringing us to the 8th PAC today. Resolutions and papers, representing benchmarks in this historical  process should be accessed from the website of the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYCN) one of the partners in the convening of the Workshop 7 - 9 December 2010 in Windhoek, Namibia.
This Workshop convened by the Pan-African Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG), Lagos, Nigeria, the Nigerian High Commission in Namibia (NHC) Windhoek, the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON) and the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYCN), will focus on five programmatic themes :-
·         The Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON), as a role model for Africans ( see  NYCN website )
·         The Pan-African Congresses and their outcomes, their place in the Pan-African trajectory (see NYCN website )
·         The Second World Black and African Festival  of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77) and its outcomes, held Lagos and Kaduna, Nigeria In 1977 (see NYCN website )
·         ‘ Keeping our eyes on the ball (2)’, being a paper, towards the convening of the 8 the PAC (see NYCN website ) and
·         The attainment of economic self-sufficiency within the framework of Pan-African national  unity.
Apart from the resource materials available at the NYCN website all invited to present papers by the Convenors of this Workshop, may address  for any further information they might require.
Abstracts of no more than  200   words related to the five above-mentioned themes should be sent to  not later than the 21st October 2010. The presenters of those Abstracts which are accepted should submit the first draft of their papers, being approximately  4000  words or more, by the 21st November 2011. By the 26th November those who have submitted papers will be informed if those papers are accepted and, where necessary, they should collect their return air tickets for Windhoek, Namibia.
Africans have undergone many years of
underdevelopment and the need exists for
the restoration of our dignity, self-respect,
and humane-ness. Pan Afrikanism is one
of the ways to emphasize the role of
Africans as pre-eminent players in own and
global development, more so than is
presently the case. Empowerment in all
spheres and on all levels of human
development of Africans by themselves, and
in control of the process, is a sine qua
non for the attainment of freedom of the
African man, woman and child.

PACON will engage in the building up of
organizational structures and activities in
order to ensure the socio-economic and
cultural development of Africans. The
process of empowerment is envisaged
through the harnessing of all our
intellectual, material, spiritual and
emotional resources.

The main goals of PACON are:
• Research
• Information dissemination and

• Culture development
• Networking

• to research problems curtailing the
socio-economic and political
advancement of people in Namibia.
Africa and the Diaspora
• to determine and undertake the
supervision, coordination and
management of research work
• to provide scope for the acquisition of
research and project implimentation
skills for African academics and
• to accord the status of Associates of
the Centre to selected researchers
involved in research projects
networked and coordinated by the
• to grant fellowships to individual
researchers when funds are available
and the Centre deems it fit to accord such status
• to avail scholarships to young and old
who are willing to do research at the
Centre as part of under and
postgraduate studies or for other
• to build up research  databases for
especially young people (unemployed
youth. learners from secondary schools as well
as students at other secondary and tertiary
• to develop specialist resarch capacity, in areas
like oral. history, oral knowledge, literature,
languages, medicines, spirituality, tradition and
the like on audio --visual tapes
• to specialize in research on policies, education
 matters, socio-economic issues, political affairs
And cultural dimensions, history and to produce
knowledge on urgent issues as they may arise

Information, dissemination and documentation
To provide literature on African history, politics
philosophy, culture, etc,etc in the form of visual, audio
visual, material (eg printed )and other mediums
to develop bibliographies on African knowledge and to
provide study opportunities in African culture, orgology
(invention), economic, religion, politics and so forth

Cultural development
To promote and develop African spiritual culture,
inter alia in the areas of dance, music, theatre,
visual art, crafts, design and written and oral

To preserve and enhance the cultural and natural
heritage, especially in the areas of archaeology,
paleontology,rock art, environment, cultural industries,
cultural tourism, customs, traditions and languages
to encourage a policy of unity in diversity, with special
emphasis on nation building and self reliance
to discourage the retrogressive aspects of African culture
to assist community upliftment projects like literacy, HIV/Aids,
music, cinema and public lectures

• to foster international links and cooperation
with progresive organisations all over the world
• to work together with institutions, organisations
and associations involved in culture,
documentation, information and research
• to promote interaction amongst African students

PACON is a company not for gain.
Please contact us as the following address
P.O.Box 4323, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel 264 61 232681,
PATRON: H.E Dr.  Sam Shafishuna Nujoma, Founding President
Of the Republic of Namibia
MEMBERS: Hon. J.Mutorwa  MP, Hon N.Angula MP,
S,Kuugongelwa-Amadilha MP,Prof K.Prah, Mr B.F.Bankie,
Hon U.Nujoma, Hon P.Shifeta
BOARD MEMBERS Mr V.L.Tonchi,Chairperson,Mr A Strauss,
Ms.M.Hinda,Mr T.Musutua, Ms E Shilamba, N.A.Itope.
I. Nujoma Where Others Wavered'
2. AfroVoice Magazine
3. New PACON Centre/One Stop Shop
4. Documentation Information Centre •
5. Namibian History; Know your African Leaders
6. Namibian Culture and Heritage
7. Africans in the Diaspora
9. African Language development
10. Sam Nujoma Annual Public Lectures Series
II. Support to Youth Work Programs
12 PACON in the Regions
13. Fundraising

To be the leading Information, Development and
Empowerment Centre on Pan-Africanism in the SADC

OUR Mission is;
To collect and disseminate positive and relevant
information on Pan-Afrcanim, to conciously
inculcate Afro-pride and spearhead the socio economic
development of Africans, based on a
disciplined foundation of commitment, integrity and
Keeping Our Eyes on the Ball (2)
Kwesi Kwaa Prah
Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS)
Cape Town
Dear Gen. Williams,
The flurry of emails, I have so far seen, have maintained the pace and heat of the discussions that were initiated and aired during our Johannesburg meeting of early January this year. This is enormously encouraging, because the free exchange of views is crucial to the identification and elaboration of a platform for ideas which could eventually feed into the 8
th Congress. As originators of the request to me and Prof. Nabudere to create machinery for the organization of an 8th PAC, you and Mr. Bankie deserve to be prioritized for address in this post-meeting response from me. What I have written here are my personal views. Writing this also forces me to articulate thoughts which have meandered and coursed through my mind in the wake of the meeting. I am doing a sort of extended after-thought in full knowledge of the pitfalls and the sort of challenges one faces in philosophical terms.
Whatever may be the case or the outcome of this present exercise, it is certainly not meant to be merely a playback or flashback. It is more a summary cogitation on the consequences and implications of the January meeting; brain-storming we called it. I have taken a critical look at the project and asked myself if the approach of a Congress is at this time the most beneficial method for the achievement of our tactical and strategic objectives as Pan-Africanists. The meeting was certainly successful in terms of the aims it had set out in the Agenda. At the start of the meeting, we discussed at some length the thrust and breadth of the Agenda. You missed that. Eventually, we found it only necessary to alter the order of items in the tasks we had set ourselves to cover and went through our days work expeditiously. In the initial stages of our discussions, we were slow and cagy in picking up momentum, but as time went on we moved forward with the Agenda with remarkable speed. I dare say we surprised ourselves.
My greatest pleasure was to note that many of the ideals we share as an older generation are also held with fervour by the younger generation, and that they reveal a diversity of opinion and thought as variegated as those displayed by our generation. Some of these views were passionately articulated with logical dexterity and consummate expression. Others were intellectually roughshod and occasionally hot-headed. All of this mix made the meeting memorable.
However, I came back from the meeting vaguely in two minds; unsure of the value in using the organizational formula of a Congress, as tradition has bequeathed, for rallying Pan-Africanist thought and practice in our times. It seems to me that the advantages of a Congress cannot match the benefits of a smaller, more focused and plumbing exercise where in-depth knowledge over a defined and specified area is deliberately favoured for the more definitive and earthbound answers needed for programmed and planned practice; yes practice; away from rhetorical flightiness and oracular pronouncements which may superficially sound earth-shaking and calculated to strike terror in the hearts of all real and putative detractors of Africans, but which in fact provide little or no practical guidance and realistic prescriptions for the emancipation of African people today. We can repackage the language of the inimitable and indomitable Marcus Garvey, but we cannot bring back the 1920s, the world he lived in, with lynchings, Jim Crow and unvarnished racism. To my mind the greatness of Garvey lies in the fact that, in his times, he enabled people of African descent to face their historical tormentors eyeball to eyeball. His boundless courage and absence of any recognizably stifling inhibitions fired the imagination of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. His remarkable organizational acumen and vision enabled him to set up with his acolytes the most ambitious political and economic structure people of African descent had seen before his time.
I agree that state-led Pan-Africanism is a road to nowhere. This has been the experience of the last 50 years. Too quickly and too easily the leadership of African states subvert the real purposes and agenda of Pan-Africanism to suit their own petty and narrow flag and anthem purposes. Some of us have argued that these states, as we have them today, are more part of the problem than the solution. If our leaderships were more open and more serious about unity they will open the door to more people-to-people engagement, within and across borders; they would welcome democratically sponsored and popularly supported irredentism as a possible route to our collective ideal. But, their entrenched petty interests and hoggish attitudes in maintaining the
status quo for the material and non-material benefits these provide eclipse their commitment to more meaningful and earnest efforts at unity. The example of post-Congress Uganda is a classic case in point.
The Museveni regime treated the Secretariat of the Congress as its political property and in the initial period used it as one of its mouthpieces on the African continent. If we have another Congress under the auspices of whichever government or with the blessing of any host government in Africa, I am sure that a similar fate will befall it. I know there are some of us who would say, as we heard in the Johannesburg meeting, "provide these governments or states some space in our midst." I cannot in my own mind agree to this. I suppose its like letting the lion out of the front door and letting the leopard in through the back door.
During the meeting, I sometimes felt and heard in the sub-text of some participants that the shadow of continentalism was still stalking their minds. If we have a congress in which the issue of continentalism or non-continentalism rears its head, it would be most unfortunate for those amongst
us who definitely want to put continentalism behind us. There are some who may think for their purposes it may be tactical not to raise the issue now, but come up with it in a congress.
Equally worrying to my mind is the oftentimes near compulsive vulgarization of the catchword and slogan; "black power." I do not believe that in contemporary Africa this terminology deals with reality. We already have "black power" in Africa. Even in the former settler-colonial areas of Africa, we have been able to gain political power. The pertinent question and problem is what are we doing with the power that we have? I repeat, what are we doing with the power that we have? To talk about "black power" today in societies which are in almost all instances over ninety percent "black" is extravagantly fatuous and only succeeds to obscure our real political colouring. It reduces African politics and power contestation to irrelevancies and distractions. I think also that I read in that tendency an attempt to find blame with extraneous factors when the real culprits should be ourselves, the elites. We have now a half-century of independence, whatever problems we face collectively as Africans can be dealt with if we put our heads together and our shoulders to the task. To talk about our situation as if we are powerless is a lie.
The notion of "black power" in African countries on the continent and the ideology of racial holism is an even bigger myth because it assumes that in African societies colour is or should be a determinant of power. But Africa proper is overwhelmingly black. Furthermore, it does not recognize the primacy of the fact that amongst black skins there are rich and poor, elevated and down-trodden, voluble and voiceless. Indeed, in any society, anywhere, power is within the structure of the society and the state differentially distributed. To believe that the leading societal contradictions we face in Africa, in our everyday lives are due to skin colour is misguided. It is totally wrong. People who say in Africa that our challenge is to install "black power" may be physically in Africa but in their minds living elsewhere (possibly the United States). Even in South Africa, the quintessential erstwhile settler-colonial state in Africa, Africans are now in power, and have been in power for fifteen years. Here Africans form more than three-quarters of the population.
The idea of "black power" was born in the USA. Its first significant usage dates to the 1954 publication by Richard Wright of his reflections on the final stages of the Ghanaian march to independence entitled;
Black Power. He had spent six months travelling in the Gold Coast (as Ghana then was). Wright was referring to the fact that Ghanas prospective independence represented, in his view, the first African country which had politically travelled that far; and where "black people" were coming to power. Of course, I need to draw attention here to the fact that this idea carries in itself the mistaken notion that Ghana was subsequently the first country in Africa proper to be independent. As I have often argued, this is not correct because the Sudan got its independence in January 1956; ahead of Ghana. The problem is that the Sudan, in the minds of many, is identified as an Arab country. Needless to say, this is not the case because the overwhelming majority of the people of Sudan are Africans not Arabs and incidentally, in the Sudan, you can hardly tell the 4
difference between an African and an Arab on the basis of colour. Both groups are overwhelmingly visibly black.
However, the popularization of the slogan "black power" came into currency through the US civil rights movement, during the tempestuous years of the 1960s. We are told that its political deployment was through the initiative and genius of Willie Ricks and Stokely Carmichael (a.k.a Kwame Toure). The precise historical location of this was the 1966 Meredith March in the South of the United States when as leading members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) they used the slogan "black power" as a rallying call to galvanize minds and mobilize African-Americans for civil rights, local and community power. Apparently, this was meant also as an attempt to set up a contrastive ideological position to the argument of Martin Luther King and the members of the Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC). Kings position was an argument for "equal rights" while Carmichael and his SNCC membership were saying, "what do we want … we want black power." At that time "black power" was often translated to mean Black political and economic empowerment and control of predominantly Black towns, cities and counties in the South, especially in places like Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi. In Carmichaels words during that period; "Everybody in this country is for „Freedom Now but not everybody is for Black Power because we have got to get rid of some of the people who have white power. We have got to get us some Black Power. We dont control anything but what white people say we can control. We have to be able to smash any political machine in the country thats oppressing us and bring it to its knees. We have to be aware that if we keep growing and multiplying the way we do, in ten years all the major cities are going to be ours. We have to know that in Newark, New Jersey, where we are 60% of the population, we went along with their stories about integrating and we got absorbed. All we have to show for it is three councilmen who are speaking for them and not for us. We have to organize ourselves to speak for each other. Thats Black Power. We have to move to control the economics and politics of our community." This is how the person who popularized the term meant it to be. Carmichael frequently returned to this thesis. In the book he wrote with Charles Hamilton (
Black Power: The Politics of Liberation – 1967) they exhorted and prodded African-Americans to take pride in their heritage, culture, institutions and descent, to cultivate a greater sense of solidarity and community-spirit in order to create, own and direct a singularly Black economic and political base that would augment the political bargaining position of African-Americans in their bid for equality in American society.
In Simon Halls insightful piece,
The NAACP, Black Power, and the African American Freedom Struggle, 1966 – 1969, he writes that; "On the evening of 17 June 1966, Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), addressed a rally in Greenwood, Mississippi. The SNCC leader had been released from jail minutes before and acknowledged the „roar of the angry crowd with a „raised arm and a clenched fist as he moved forward to speak. „This is the 27th time I have been arrested – and I aint going to jail no more, I aint going to jail no more, he told the several hundred mostly local African Americans. „The only way we gonna stop them white men from 5
whuppin us is to take over. We been saying freedom for six years and we aint got nothin. What we gonna start saying now is Black Power! Carmichael proclaimed that „every courthouse in Mississippi ought to be burned tomorrow to get rid of the dirt … from now on when they ask what you want, you know what to tell „em. What do you want? The crowd thundered back „Black Power! "
Even more telling are the observations he made on July the 28
th, 1966 when he said that; "There is a psychological war going on in this country and its whether or not Black people are going to be able to use the terms they want about their movement without white peoples blessing. We have to tell them we are going to use the term „Black Power and we are going to define it because Black Power speaks to us. We cant let them project Black Power because they can only project it from white power and we know what white power has done to us. We have to organize ourselves to speak from a position of strength and stop begging people to look kindly upon us. We are going to build a movement in this country based on the colour of our skins that is going to free us from our oppressors and we have to do that ourselves." Carmichaels views are further elaborated in; Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism (1971).
The point to be remembered here is that in the USA and many other places in the Western world the cultural denationalization of Africans has proceeded to such a thorough or near-thorough extent that colour has become the only badge and reference point of historical difference. It is therefore understandable that Africans in the Western Diaspora use colour as the marker of the different histories, different experiences between themselves and their fellow citizens. Furthermore, the oppressor has historically consistently used colour to set apart people of African descent and identify them for racist, exploitative and oppressive treatment.
Racism is about power relations in which physical attributes and/or culture are used to justify and practise discrimination, exploitation and oppression. Philosophically it belongs to the political right. As a socio-political feature its fundamental and frequently masked object is almost always economic. Certainly, to take the term "black power" out of its historical and social context and use it in a blanket fashion to cover all Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora is not only to distort its meaning, but also to open ourselves up to serious misinterpretation.
Equally perplexing for me is the frequent race talk that I hear and read from some of our colleagues. I can very well see the relevance of race pre-occupations in societies where, to different degrees, clearly anti-African racism both on the continent and in the Diaspora constitutes an everyday issue and haunting problem for people. I mean, for example in South Africa, the United States or many parts of Europe and some parts of South America. But we must remember that racism is not unique to the black-white context. Hitlerian racism as we all know was directed principally, but not exclusively, against European Jewry who are of the same colour as Germans. It was also immediately directed against the Roma people (Gypsies) and Slavs. Hitler regarded Africans as half-apes. As I earlier said, in the Sudan the contradiction between Arab and African does not lie along the colour
line. Israeli Jews and Arab Israelis do not physically differ, neither do the Koreans, Japanese and the Chinese differ by look and yet there have been historically racist and violent tensions and expressions between all these groups.
In the Western world it is not only people of African descent who suffer from Western racism. Pakistanis and Indians in Britain, Arabs in France, Turks in Germany, Moroccans in the Netherlands, Spanish settlers and Amerindians in South America, Indians in Australia, Aboriginals in Australia, Native Americans, Mexicans and Hispanics in the United States all face racism on a daily basis. Therefore to talk about racism as if it is the particular preserve of the relationship between Westerners and people of African descent is at best ill-informed and at worst disingenuous. Racist attitudes have existed between Chinese and Malays, Indians and Malays, Indians and Chinese in South Asia and on the African continent racial tensions and feelings have been present in the relations between Lebanese and Africans, Indians and Africans. The Japanese (
Wajin) have for ages despised the Okinawans and Ainu of Hokkaido. Japanese treatment of Burakumin is more or less the same as general Indian treatment of Dalits/Harijans (Scheduled Castes). In both societies, the Indian and the Japanese, these fellow citizens are regarded as "untouchables." It is interesting to note that, in the Indian caste system, the Dalits who technically fall out of the caste system proper are historically derived from the Aboriginal peoples of India, the Dravidians. Many Russians have regarded Central Asians as racial inferiors. The list is much longer than this.
Racism is an evil which has for ages bedevilled inter-group relations within the human race. Sometimes, in practical effect, its objectives are genocidal. The studied beastliness and perversities of institutionalized racism are beyond all known animal behaviour. It is acquired; learnt behaviour. It is a condition which has to be fought as ruthlessly as it is ruthless. As the world globalizes and we all geographically and culturally pack-in like sardines, the urgency of this fight becomes by the day more pressing.
My argument here should also extend to the record of slavery. The African holocaust, in particular the consequences of the Atlantic slave trade, in evil effect and horror, is second to none in the history of the human race. In space, intensity, time and scope, its dimensions cannot be equalled. But we must be careful not to talk about it as if we are the only people who have historically been enslaved. For a start, Arabs systematically traded in black skins a thousand years before the Westerners. This practice has continued to the present day. Equally telling has been the comprehensiveness of their pattern of cultural denationalization. Their mode of denationalization was geared towards removing all memory of Africaness within the shortest possible time. This is why in spite of the fact that in time span and absolute numbers they possibly eclipse the Atlantic slave trade, the existence of Africans in the Arab world is today hardly visible.
Lets remind ourselves about the extent and experience of slavery in human history with a few examples. The
Code of Hammurabi (1760 BC) from Babylon in the 18th century BC provides vivid 7
details on slave life in the period. Slaves or the so-called helots of Greece were strongly in evidence from the 7th century BC. Both the principal states of Greece, Sparta and Athens, were driven largely on slave labour. In his time, Julius Caesar brought over a million slaves from routed armies from all corners of the empire back to Rome. As the Roman Empire expanded entire communities were enslaved, to create a steady supply of labour. The slaves of the Romans came from all over Europe and the Mediterranean. These included Berbers, Greeks, Britons, Germans, Thracians, Gauls, Jews, Arabs etc. Slavery was part and parcel of Genghis Khans 13
th century imperial order. The Mamlukes, a warrior caste of slaves were dominant in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East for over 700 years. Islamic rulers created this warrior caste by pressing into service non-Muslim slave boys and training them as cavalry soldiers. Mamlukes were first used in Muslim armies in Syria by the Abbasid caliphate in the 9th century. They served as cavalry of the Ayyubid sultans from the 12th century onwards and later challenged their rulers for power. There were historically two dynasties of Mamluke sultans; the Bahris (1250-1382), mainly Turks and Mongols, and the Burjis (1382-1517), who were principally Circassians.
The road to Irish subjugation by the English runs through Irish slavery. In the beginning of the 17th century, the English banished 30,000 Irish prisoners of war. This solution was however, for their purposes and intentions inadequate so James II, the last Catholic king of England, urged the selling of the Irish as slaves to planters and settlers in the Americas. The first lot of Irish slaves were sold to a colonial outpost on the Amazon River in 1612. A Proclamation in 1625 ordered that Irish political prisoners be shipped overseas and sold to English planters, who were then colonizing the West Indies. In 1629 a large group of Irish men and women were shipped off to Guyana. By 1632, Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat in the West Indies. A 1637 census revealed that 69% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves. Irish slave labour was in such demand that, for the most inconsequential misdemeanour in colonised Ireland the culprit was shipped off. Slaving squads went round the Irish countryside lifting people to make up their quotas. In the 12 year period from 1641 to 1652, over 550,000 Irish were killed by the English and 300,000 were sold as slaves. The Irish population of Ireland fell from 1,466,000 to 616,000. In 1649, when under instructions of the Rump Parliament Oliver Cromwell and his Roundhead army landed in Ireland, they laid a siege around Drogheda and put some 30,000 Irish in the city to the sword. Cromwell is reported to have observed that; "I do not think 30 of their whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody in the Barbados." A few months later, in 1650, 25,000 Irish were sold to planters in St. Kitts. During the 1650s over 100,000 Irish children, generally from 10 to 14 years old, were taken from Catholic parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In fact, more Irish were sold as slaves to the American colonies and plantations from 1651 to 1660 than the total of the then existing "free" population of the Americas. After the "Bloody Assizes" of 1685 a good number of the English prisoners were sent to the West Indies as slaves.
For centuries, till the early part of the 20
th century, Circassian and Georgian women slaves (from the North Caucasus) were invaluable commodities in Turkish homes, harems and seraglios. Mark Twain 8
noted in 1869 in
The Innocents Abroad that "Circassian and Georgian girls are still sold in Constantinople by their parents, but not publicly." Slavery in China dates back to the earliest period of Chinese civilization. In his book; A History of Chinese Civilization, (1996), Jacques Gernet points out that Chinese agricultural slaves were intensively utilized in the fifteenth century, and by the late sixteenth century it was observed that all the Manchu military officers had both field and house slaves. Between 1645 and 1647, Manchu rulers enslaved large numbers of local people on previously Han Chinese-owned estates in North China, eastern Mongolia and the Peking area. For cultivation, they used a slave-labour force of former landowners and prisoners of war. Slavery in China was technically abolished in 1910, but transformed and lingered on right into the 20th century until the emergence of modern China.
Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924. Yet in 1997, human rights observers reported that 40,000 Nepalese workers were being subjected to near-slave conditions and 200,000 kept as bondsmen and women. The Nepalese Maoist-led government has only recently in 2008 abolished the slavery-like
Haliya system. A large slave –labour class was present in the old Khmer Empire (present day Cambodia). These slaves built the monuments in Angkor Wat. Between the 17th and the early 20th centuries one-quarter to one-third of the population of some areas of Thailand and Burma were slaves. In Thailand, Siam as it then was, the prisoners of war became the property of the king. During the reign of King Rama the 3rd (1824-1851), there were an estimated 46,000 war slaves. Slavery was not abolished in Siam until 1905. Slavery in Japan was for most of its history indigenous. This is probably because for centuries before the Meiji Restoration (1868) Japan was a closed society. However in the 16th century, Koreans were shipped to Japan as slaves during the Japanese raids in the peninsula. In the late 16th century slavery was officially outlawed in Japan; but forms of unfree labour persisted. In the making of South African society Western settlers brought into the Cape slaves from West Africa, East Africa, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. So let us regard slavery for what it is, indeed, a universal historical phenomenon with no exceptions among victims and perpetrators in humanity. But when that has been said, we must also say that, although the reality of slavery has been historically ubiquitous, without doubt, the extent and depth of its infliction on us, as Africans, is without parallel.
I think what is important at this stage for us to get off the ground and going is a cultural movement, a cultural movement which will provide in effect confidence and affirmation for our people with regard to our historical heritage and cultural patrimony. This is what we have, together with many other people thought of as a
Sankofa Movement. In other words, the reclamation of values, tenets and institutions of our African heritage. Without reclaiming and repositioning ourselves with these bequeathments, in my estimation, there is no hope for our sustained advancement. By this, I do not mean rigging ourselves with the externals or superficialities of our heritage; I do not mean the outer finery of African culture; I mean the central institutions – religious, social, and cultural – of our belongings. I do not mean a fluffy, contrived or colourful ritual celebration of our nativeness to emphasize the fact that our nativeness is losing ground in a Western dominated world. 9
When we plead for a
Sankofa approach we are saying that we want a selective and judicious reclamation of our substantial cultural patrimony not an infantile and wholesale reappropriation of every cultural habit from the past. To give a concrete example, I think we need to be able to put our religious and ritual traditions on the same level as the received cultures of Islam and Christianity. Let us treat our own as equal in all respects to the foreign borrowings of Christianity and Islam and allow our people to choose freely, selecting what they like and what suits them best in any situation. The Japanese managed to achieve a good blend of their indigenous Shintoism and imported Buddhism. If we dismiss our traditions and treat them as backward, heathen, primitive, we will never be able to hold our own or our heads up within the human community. I am not saying that we must, fired by sentiments of naive atavism and blind tenacity hold on to age-old practices which may be developmentally unhelpful, defunct or backward. I mean we should be able to discard and reject what is obviously decrepit or modify what we consider to be needful in order to meet the challenges of the present without compromising the core values of our cultural heritage.
Another example; in South Africa ever since I came here in 1992, every year during the period when the passage of the circumcision rite is in season, countless hapless youngsters are either grievously mutilated, genitally amputated, or killed in the process of botched surgeries. We insist on circumcision taking place in obviously unsanitary and uncongenial circumstances in the bush and on the ground with little by way of protection from the elements. Such conditions are assumed to be the "genuine conditions" which the institution has lived with from time immemorial. But I ask you, what is more important with respect to this institution; is it the rite of passage; the values that are instilled in the youth, the commitments that are contracted for social and cultural purposes from the youth or the external trappings of the bush, scant clothes, old-fashioned blades and knives. Is it the core values and social commitments, or the epiphenomenal nuances of ambiance, dance and ritual? If it is the former, then obviously we do not need to keep the unhygienic and unsanitary conditions which surround the circumcision rite. Try explaining this to many of our people.
I have often explained that circumcision is not restricted to Africans or any group of Africans. As a tradition, circumcision is fairly common on the African continent and beyond. It is common to large parts of Asia and the Middle East. Jews practice circumcision and have done so from time immemorial. Muslims likewise also practice circumcision. But in both these instances, today circumcision is carried out mainly by qualified medical doctors in hygienic and comfortable conditions. This does not detract from the rite of passage it comes with as an institution. The fact that the circumstances in which circumcision is carried out can keep abreast with modernity does not undermine the institution. I would argue that it only goes to strengthen it. It only goes to show that the institution is evolving with time and discarding aspects which are unhelpful. We do not have to be caught in a time-warp of backwardness through wilful, irrational and uninformed stubborn attitudes. We only discredit our tradition and make ourselves the laughing stock of the world.
What goes without saying is the fact that without our cultures there is little or no hope for meaningful change for Africans. I mean change which will ensure that we developmentally advance and do not culturally disappear. Please remember, it is not our colour which will guarantee our continued existence. It is our culture. If we allow ourselves to be assimilated by Arab or Western culture, we shall as Africans disappear. This point cannot be over-emphasized. For our historical salvation as a people, the more we understand the importance of the culture question, the less important skin colour and so-called racial factors appear to be.
For the present, the
Sankofa Movement is most crucial. We have got to convince and engage the minds and activities of all our creative people; artists, writers, musicians etc, to remind our people about the vitality and saliency of our cultural belongings in any drive towards modernity and societal advancement. Development is ultimately a cultural construction. Once this message and its import win the hearts and minds of our people the political implications and requirements will become easily perceptible and a natural evolution towards a political movement will be within our grasp. I am saying that the road to a political movement for unity and African advancement must start in our times with an Africanist cultural and intellectual movement.
The cultural route to democracy and unity assumes the use of our languages as instruments for the empowerment of people. We transact all our social interaction on the basis of language and indeed language itself is a record of the history of the people who use the language. Language is also a register of the extent of our perceptible world. Without doubt, it is the central area of culture and carries culture in its entirety. If we want to make progress we cannot achieve this without the use of our languages. These languages which are spoken by the overwhelming majorities of our people are the instruments for deepening the culture of democracy. I am in my mind convinced that when we start using and developing our languages, the road to unity would be put on firmer ground. I ask, would it not be better, if a congress is the way forward for us, to restrict its focus to cultural considerations? Please give this serious thought because a congress which in ideas is here and there and everywhere and therefore nowhere would be a repeat performance of all the weaknesses of the last one.
Also, we cannot have democracy in any societally meaningful way if the pursuit and exercise of democracy is not grounded on cultural usages understood, recognized, appreciated and shared by the broad masses of African society. Too often, too many people want to suggest that democracy is foreign to Africans. There is of course the classic saying of General Mobutu to justify his dictatorship; "where have you ever seen two chiefs in an African village?" I also heard someone once remark that; "leave Rawlings alone to get on with his job. When the chief has spoken, it should be last word on the matter." Such sentiments are obviously unhelpful in modern African societies attempting to build democracy. But such sentiments cannot be uprooted or enforced by decree. With time the sentiments die out in the face of evolving realities and more suitable practice.
Years ago, during my spell as a Visiting Professor in China (1980), one day on a journey to Sian, the ancient capital of China, driving through miles of spectacular ancient monuments in the approach to the city, I asked my host the Director of the Institute for West Asian and African Studies, why in the wake of the death of Mao and the fall of the Gang of Four, Chinese opinion seemed to have discovered suddenly that their regard for Mao had been inordinately elevated. His response was that, I should never forget that China is a country which for 3000 years has had emperors; it is unrealistic to expect that suddenly, however sweeping the changes of modernity may have been since 1949, for such sentiments of the lofty supremacy of the leader to be altogether devoid of past notions of imperial status and aura. I of course immediately understood what he meant. In similar fashion many tradition-bound Africans may have sentiments of excessive admiration and elevated status for our contemporary heads of state. But with time and experience, in the eyes of the people, such leaders will be brought down to ordinary human levels. This cannot be decreed. Only experience and evolutionary or revolutionary practice will alter this.
Lets also remember that, democracy in its operations and conceptualization is not cast in stone for all societies at all times in the same way. What democracy meant in practice in the United States in 1900 is very different from what it means now. In the 1950s, an African-American was not tolerated as a student in the University of Mississippi. In 2008 Obama debated McCain in the same institution for the presidency of the country. Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland did not have the same civil rights until the 1960s and 70s. Women had the vote in England less than 100 years ago and long after the franchise had been extended universally to the male of the species. Democracy in Britain still includes a place called the House of Lords for people specially elevated to the status of Lords or those who have inherited these titles. Such an institution would be today unacceptable to the French. What I am saying is that democracy is not only historically specific, but societally also so. In all these societies democratic practice and institutions are adapted to the specificities of history and culture. We can simply not borrow wholesale in a one-size-fits-all approach, democracy from anywhere and implant it in Africa. We need to make democratic institutionalization fit cultural and historical relevancies.
Another point I can make with conviction is that part of the reason for our blindness and inability to move forward towards unity in a systematic way, with a clear road map, is because we lack a strong and all-embracing African national consciousness. This also partly explains the continued adherence of so many people to continentalism. I must warn immediately that my understanding of national consciousness goes beyond neo-colonialism or the nationalism tailor-made for the
ersatz states created under Western tutelage, sponsorship and blessing. In fact, neo-colonial nationalism throws a fog before us in terms of our ability to see our way forward. It makes us creatures of Western intent and drives us into a conceptual cul-de-sac with respect to a positive and creative rendition of nationalism which identifies the unities and diversities of African cultures and histories whilst recognizing the overriding unifying characteristics within these diversities. How can a Tswana in 12
Botswana regard him/herself as culturally, historically and nationally separate from a Tswana in South Africa or a Sotho in Lesotho?
It is interesting to note that during the colonial interlude and the end of colonialism we started manufacturing historical narratives to rationalize and justify our handed-down post-colonial states, which we call nations, and which are supposed to be the practicalization and ultimate repositories of our nationalism. We wrote; "A History of Zambia"; "A History of Ghana"; "A History of Namibia"; A History of Uganda", etc., etc. to make real what a few years before did not exist and was in actual fact unreal. We tuned our politics into the realities of these
ersatz states and behaved as if these states had been handed down from Adam. These states are not viable and will in the end prove to be so. I am sure in my life-time I shall not see this unity, but I am equally sure that the slow decomposition of these states in favour of greater African unity will in due course come to pass.
African unity does not have to mean one single heavily centralized entity. That is unlikely to work and I dare say, undesirable. African unity can only be achieved on the basis of the recognition of cultural differentiation, diversity and decentralization of rule. People have to be able to rule themselves in their own little corners in their different ways and different forms of order. But all this can best and easily be accommodated under a wide umbrella which unifies us all and our common interests.
To close, I must say clearly that I do not subscribe to the idea of "the whole world is against us." This is simply misguided and untrue. In all communities and amongst all people around the world there will always be some who support us in the name of justice, fairness, democracy, freedom and emancipation. It is very true that only Africans can save Africa and we must fight by all means necessary to uplift and unite our people. But we are not alone in our wish to uplift our people and end the injustice, exploitation and oppression that we have suffered for hundreds of years. All truly democratic and freedom loving people support us
Sudan Sensitisation Project (SSP)