Pambazuka News 805: Yahya Jammeh must go!

As a member of the petty bourgeoisie in the final decade of colonialism, Congo’s iconic independence leader Patrice Lumumba supported the idea of a Congolese-Belgian commonwealth in which Africans and Europeans shared common interests. It was only later that he abandoned this view and aggressively championed Congolese independence in the European framework of a nation-state.

Kenyans go to elections on 8 August 2017 against the backdrop of empty promises by the government of Uhuru Kenyatta, widespread looting of state coffers, poverty and massive borrowing that has left the nation mired in debt. The future of Kenya is in the hands of a united Opposition.

There are several reasons why the West African regional grouping ECOWAS should not allow Yahyah Jammeh to stay in office beyond January 19, but three stand out – a bad precedent, violation of the will of majority of the Gambian people and violation of regional norms and standards.

Apart from perhaps Senegal and Ghana, none of the West African nations now holding Yahya Jammeh’s feet to the fire has conducted a credible election. Gambians must be allowed and supported to resolve their crisis without threats from regional powers. West Africa is arguably Africa’s most troubled region; another front of confrontation, this time in The Gambia, must be avoided.

How will President Obama be remembered in Africa? In the dying days of his administration, Obama lifted sanctions imposed on Al Bashir regime in Sudan. That decision confirms to the world Obama’s true face and on which side of history he has stood in relation to Africa for the past eight years.

The Ethiopian women’s association AWiB, upon hearing the unsettling news of the UK Parliament decision to pull DFID support to YEGNA, a program which has been instrumental for addressing core issues of the unspoken and unseen trials of women and young girls, skillfully crafted to get to people’s hearts and minds and changing millions as a result, asks the global community to start a conversation on this issue. Dialogue is the first step to change!

If the people of Kasese in Uganda are marginalised, discriminated against, exploited and dispossessed, what's wrong with them making calls for secession? In his violent crackdown on them, Yoweri Museveni has committed crimes against humanity for which he should be tried by the International Criminal Court.

The Canadian government under Justin Trudeau is attempting to alter the narratives about our country's relationship with the African continent. Beware the initiative is largely an ideological chimera devoid of concrete action, but even worse, it is blatant hypocrisy.

It looks increasingly likely that the West African regional bloc will have to send troops into The Gambia to remove Yahya Jammeh and install President-elect Adama Barrow. But ECOWAS should keep in mind that military intervention is fraught with risk. It is essential that thorough and efficient planning is done beforehand to avoid civilian deaths.

A year ago, Kenya’s army suffered its worst attack in history inside Somalia chiefly due to lack of clear objectives and operational strategies. The government has kept the exact details secret, even as it spends $1 billion annually without crushing al-Shabaab. Meanwhile lecturers, doctors, nurses and other workers are up in arms demanding better terms. The military invasion of Somalia, now in its sixth year, has failed and should be halted. An alternative reconstruction plan for Somalia is needed.

Yahya Jammeh has violated the constitution and subverted the electoral laws of The Gambia by refusing to hand over power to the winner of the December elections. His decision constitutes treason. It triggers the right and duty of the citizenry to rise up against him in defence of the constitution. Military intervention by ECOWAS is also justified.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, expresses deep concern over the political situation in The Gambia, and calls for stronger South African engagement.

Aggressive population control campaigns in Africa have their roots in American foreign policy going back nearly 60 years. US authorities concluded that rapid population growth in the developing world  threatened America’s access to cheap resources necessary for their consumerist lifestyle. Unknown to many in the countries targeted, and against protests from the Catholic Church, America has pretty much achieved its objectives.

While acknowledging the moral, religious and ethical concerns raised by those opposed to progressive abortion law reforms, it is important to critically reflect on the public health implications of unsafe abortion on women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health. It is equally necessary to sustain constructive engagement with every section of the society to find lasting solutions to preventable deaths and disabilities from the scourge of unsafe abortion.

Two contrasting political transitions are scheduled this week: In America, President Obama will hand over power to his successor Donald Trump. But in The Gambia, President Jammeh will not be stepping down for Adama Barrow who beat him in December. The regional bloc ECOWAS should have found a way to hear Jammeh’s Supreme Court appeal instead of planning a military intervention.

On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. Will he succeed in carrying America’s “imperial burden”? It is too early to say, but it will, undoubtedly, be a compromise between what he and his inner circle of policy advisers intend to do, and what the military-industrial-financial complex wants him to do.

Tagged under: 805, Global South, Yash Tandon

President Yahya Jammeh should save his family and thousands of innocent lives by retiring to his Kanilai Villa and later face the International Criminal Court. But as it is, he has chosen a worse fate. No effort should be spared to take down The Gambian tyrant and to install President-elect Adama Barrow.

Pambazuka News 804: Mixed signals: The AU and Africa in 2017

The wild celebrations in honour of top-level thief James Ibori's release from prison, though detestable, are quite understandable. Nigerians seem not to be in agreement on what constitutes corruption or who a corrupt person is. What one Nigerian sees as corruption, another sees as a "blessing from God".

Someone asked whether the younger generations ever read Frantz Fanon. But how can they read Fanon when the education system recommends books that teach children that heads are for carrying loads? The older generations should be grateful then that the youth have not read Fanon, Nkrumah or Cabral, because if they had, they would be out on the streets attempting to tear down the system.

Cuba’s medical intervention in international health crises is unparalleled among nations. As of 2014 there were 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 developing countries. This outstanding legacy of Fidel Castro demonstrates what can be achieved when a very high value is placed on human life, every human life.

The future is still largely open-ended. Trump could try to make a difference, but whether he would succeed or not depends on many systemic and structural constraints at both national and global levels.

The golden era of Nigeria’s civil society featured names such as Wole Soyinka, Alao Aka-Bashorun, Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Baba Omojola, Comrade Ola Oni, Ayo Obe, Dr. Segun Osoba, Idowu Awopetu, Clement Nwankwo, Frank Kokori, Chidi Odinkalu, Abdul Oroh, Richard Akinnola…But today things are sadly different.

Aside from its reliance on anonymous witnesses, the Washington Post story – while criticizing Burundian soldiers - failed to mention that the top ten contributors of UN peacekeeping troops include infamous human rights abusers Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal, Egypt and Indonesia. 

 

Opposition candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has been sworn in as Ghana's new president. Beyond the current euphoria sweeping through much of the nation, the winning party is stuck with Ghana’s IMF programme at least for the next two years.  It remains to be seen how they will rise above the country’s worrying high debt ratio, currently around 70 per cent of GDP, to achieve their ambitious campaign promises.

Negotiations with descendants of the Herero and Nama people massacred by Germany in Namibia have been difficult. The government of Chancellor Merkel does not want to pay compensation for the genocide. But at the same time Germany is attempting to reassert its political and economic influence in Africa.

President Zuma has always openly derided the intellectual class as “the clevers” because he knows that, at the end of day, they are not prepared or even able to carry out the donkey work of building and nurturing political constituencies and kissing naked, impoverished snotty-nosed kids just to win the vote. The “clevers” are probably too busy analysing the worth of their shares on the stock market. Perfunctory calls for the resignation of a sitting president would entail far more than this attitude.

What are the lessons from Cuba in dealing with racism? Denial of racism is clearly not an option. Discouraging public discourse about it can not help either. Greater awareness is needed of the systemic nature, the multiple forms and the seeming invisibility of racism in institutions, social spaces and relations.

For over two decades under President Jammeh, independent views were considered seditious. Secret police were everywhere listening for hints of subversion. Jammeh’s name was spoken only in whispers, unless you were praising him, in which case you genuflected and shouted yourself hoarse at rallies, thanking Allah for loving The Gambia so much as to bless it with a leader of such peerless morality, wisdom and compassion. That is why the people elected Adama Barrow on 1 December 2016.

The political crisis in The Gambia remains unresolved as January 19, the date for President Yahya Jammeh to leave office, nears. Jammeh must be told in unequivocal terms that he has to respect the will of Gambians who voted him out of power. But he should also be provided with a “safe-landing” to avoid possible bloodshed.

The current efforts to elect a new Chair of the AU Commission have been caught in the crosswinds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of reseating Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The AU will survive this turbulence. But the rise of the Pan African Movement will likely sweep away the present crop of leaders.

The upcoming AU Summit will be “closed”, allowing only the accredited delegations and staff to participate in and witness its deliberations. What is clear is that it will give the current class of Africa’s Heads of State a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape the organization.

The Black Canadian Studies Association, in partnership with Brandon University (Manitoba), invites submissions to its third biennial conference, 11-13 May 2017, “Blackness, Indigeneity, Colonialism, and Confederation: 21st Century Perspectives." This conference will explore the achievements, challenges, contributions, histories and futures of African Canadians at Canada's 150th anniversary.

The Ivory Coast’s tranquility has been shaken by a revolt of a group of soldiers in the Ivorian Army shooting up Bouake, Korhogo, Daloa and marching to Abidjan. They are demanding the pay they claim has been promised them and free house which the Ouattara Government agreed to provide them for fighting against the legitimate Ivory Coast Army commanded by the elected President of the country, Laurent Gbagbo, when Ouattara, the French and the UN made their successful coup in 2011.

Tagged under: 804, Gary K. Busch, Human Security

The Year of the Meme concealed a new cynicism and deeper fragmentation in South African politics. Other than the country’s diminished international stature, the ruling ANC and President Zuma demonstrated a rare talent for obfuscating essential national issues from broad scrutiny.

From the peaceful conduct of the 7 December 2016 general election, to the prompt concession by former President John Mahama; from the seamless transition programme through to the orderly inauguration of the new president on 7 January 2017, the Black Star has once again shone brightly as the lodestar of African liberation.

Relations among the BRICS member states could destabilise to breaking point this year. While the Brasilia, Moscow and New Delhi regimes are shifting towards Washington, Pretoria and Beijing continue spouting well-worn anti-imperialist rhetoric, just as Donald Trump and his unhappy mix of populists, paleo-conservatives, neo-conservatives and neo-liberals take power on January 20.

While inequality has become a topic of increased popularity and politicization in recent years, most of the attention has focused on how 1% own an increasingly large share of the world’s wealth, rather than on inequalities between nations. In a global context in which national borders and citizenship pose few barriers to the mobility of capital, the reality is also a story of the world’s richest nations continuing to reap a disproportionate amount of the globe’s profits.

The book’s central theme focuses on the serious impact of modernism, colonialism, and post-colonialism on Africa. It is an interesting work, which contributes to knowledge of democracy, economy, social conditions and globalism in the African context.

Facts are overrated – who has them anyway? World Bank reports, IMF figures, Human Rights Watch narratives, national GDP figures, CIA fact files, entries in the Lancet, government stats, etcetera are not facts in any benevolent sense. As means of control and manipulation, they are instead the most supported (and perhaps most persuasive) opinion of the day.

Pambazuka News 803: AU must stand up for Western Sahara

Trump is the second coming of the familiar phenomena of political impossibilities that become not only tangible realities but almost immoveable beams of obstruction. What is particularly disgusting about the Trump moment is that despite all his toxic flaws, a whole bunch of people believes him.

Many postcolonial regimes are still mired in protracted civil wars and violence, struggling economies, corruption, bad leadership, broken social and economic infrastructure and famine.  It is rather dishonest for a country whose main university could be closed for months by presidential decree, whose professors strike year in year out over emoluments, to complain about an overwhelming European or American presence in their studies.

In the light of the former British Prime Minister’s dismissal of reparations, activists must push the debate further by detailing what reparations should entail. Fundamental to a reparations programme must be the fact that we transform the system of capitalism which slavery gave birth to.

Tagged under: 803, Ama Biney, Pan-Africanism

The next African Union summit will be on January 31, 2017 in Addis Ababa, where Morocco is hoping to achieve its sinister agenda against Western Sahara, Africa’s last colony. The honourable thing for the AU is to rebuff Morocco’s arm-twisting and vigorously support the self-determination of the Saharawi people.

At the recent public ‘debate’, part from Senegal’s Prof Abdoulaye Bathily all the other candidates for African Union Commission Chair read from prepared scripts. They all had interesting things to say on the issues brought up, but clearly Bathily emerged as the more passionate and pan-Africanist candidate with a clear vision of what he would bring to the position.

Canada’s position towards the African liberation struggles of the 1970s and 1980s should influence how people view deploying troops to the continent today. This history – and the media’s distortion of it – suggests the need for healthy dose of skepticism towards Ottawa’s intentions.

Tagged under: 803, Pan-Africanism, Yves Engler

It seems that this soft-spoken man of the deepest integrity is a threat to those who seek to maintain their brutal power in Sudan. His ability to work with people from all backgrounds, his unswerving commitment to truth and justice, and his international connections and credibility are seen by the ruling elite as dangerous qualities.

It is dubious that African middle classes by their sheer existence promote economic growth. Their increase was mainly a limited result of the trickle down effects of the resource based economic growth rates during the early years of this century. Their position and role in society has hardly economic potential and dynamics inducing further productive investment contributing towards sustainable economic growth.

Tagged under: 803, Economics, Henning Melber

My Camera, My Life details the extraordinary life of a brilliant and daring TV journalist and filmmaker who covered some of the most significant events in modern history, more so in Africa. The legendary Sir Mohinder is the gentle giant of television journalism in this part of the world.

The peoples of Uganda did not agree to be a nation together. Constitutional settlements right from the colonial days have been attempts to subject others to a fait accompli imposed by dominant forces. It is a failed nation -project. Some people still feel that they are not part of an entity called Uganda.

 

Negligence of African languages invites ignorance and misconceptions about Africa. Some professors in their very high institutions of learning call bohali or lobola “bride price” or “bride wealth.” Yet our daughters and sisters have never been up for sale. Eurocentricity finds nothing wrong with calling African traditional doctors or herbalists “witchdoctors.” Can a person be a witch and a doctor at the same time? This is senseless.

Tagged under: 803, Motsoko Pheko, Pan-Africanism

The Standing Rock movement has quickly grown as a national symbol of, and call to action for, Native power and sovereignty; the rights of Mother Earth, especially water; and opposition to government impunity and corporate supremacy.

This festival, under the theme of Global Africa 2063, is seeking to rekindle the ideals of African redemption in troubling times. Starting from the goals and aspirations of the African Union in Agenda 2063, this festival seeks to draw inspiration from Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah while ensuring that the conditions and freedom of the peoples of Africa within the wider international community are not left out in the call for freedom and independence of Africans. 

With this issue, Pambazuka News closes another successful year of bold and insightful articles that raise revolutionary consciousness about the peoples’ struggles for freedom and justice in the pan-African world.

The amalgamation of a failed private sector with kidnapping, drug trafficking, and bad government constitutes the most important reason that explains Haiti’s failure in its quest to build a nation-state. Unfortunately, the United States government, symbol of nation building, is often on the wrong side of history in Haiti.

Tagged under: 803, Global South, Joel Leon

Pambazuka News 802: One love, one heart: Towards an alternative order

Donald Trump is an economic nationalist. In the wake of his electoral victory, the peoples of the Global South need to intensify their struggles against economic orthodoxy, and work on development alternatives that take into account the fact that all countries – without exception – are economic nationalists, including those that swear by the ideology of “free market globalisation”.

Outgoing President Michel Martelly's handpicked successor, Jovenel Moïse, won disputed elections setting off protests. If Haitians had a real leader, like Moise Jean Charles, democratically elected, that leader would want to change the economic plundering and looting. This is why the oligarchs pulled out all the stops to put in another Martelly replica. It is going to be another five years of US colonization of Haiti.

The Black Panthers made clear the need for organized collective action by way of the formation of political organizations of and by the oppressed. The BPP became the vehicle through which the cop watch patrols and the necessary resources were mobilized to collectively fight police terrorism.

Trump’s victory signals the inevitable implosion of the liberal order. This will pave the way for construction of the alternative, which comprises: at the national level, the abandonment of liberal economic management for the benefit of sovereign projects, giving rise to social progress; and at the international level, the construction of a system of polycentric globalization.

Tagged under: 802, Global South, Samir Amin

The decision-making framework provided by the South African constitution after the dawn of democracy highlights the importance of stakeholder engagement, thus increasing the power of activism. Vast stretches of the country are now earmarked for unconventional oil and gas exploration. Activists need to be vigilant that no application goes unchallenged.

To call a conscious protest by schoolgirls resisting racism a “tantrum” is myopic. Although apartheid has long been legally dismantled in South Africa, racism still exists and whiteness there still means being part of a privileged group; one whose traditions, religion, food and appearance - including hairstyle - is still the default norm.

America’s policies under the Donald Trump White House are likely to hurt Africa. Nations on the continent should aim to diversify their products away from exporting raw materials, foster home-grown small and medium enterprises and intensify intra-Africa trade. They should also diversify their global trading partners.

Tagged under: 802, Economics, William Gumede

Nigeria and its backers must now know that no force can stop the determined will of a people. No other African peoples have suffered such an extensive and gruesome genocide and incalculable impoverishment as the Igbo. Yet the Igbo have written a stunning essay in the past 50 years on human survival and resilience, overcoming the most desperate, unutterably brutish forces in Nigeria. 

Two nights before a much awaited national show, two carloads of armed men drove into Marley’s Hope Road yard and shot up the place. Whether the CIA was connected to the attack is unclear. But Marley was stirring up the populace with lyrics of resistance and revolution, inciting the people to think breaking from “the system” was a good idea.

Tagged under: 802, David Cupples, Global South

African countries should consider making insurance a mandatory requirement for certain categories of environmentally sensitive projects. This requirement should be applied pragmatically, in order not to drive away investors. At the same time investors, especially from developed countries, should not apply double standards when they are outside their countries of origin environmental pollution insurance is required.

The most important task in the struggle for a more equal society is to build the power of impoverished people through building democratic popular organisations. It is through these organisations that the people can challenge the state and capital.

This article reflects on the recently concluded presidential election in the United States and its potential implications for the promotion of democracy and human rights across the world, particularly in Africa. It suggests that the election provides an opportunity for the US to deepen rather than reduce its engagement.

Major investors were hoping Zuma would fall, but the ruling ANC turned to well-tested strategies to yet again protect him. And although credit rating agencies had offered pessimistic commentary on Zuma’s reign in their most recent statements, they did not downgrade South Africa to junk status. But the whip remains poised above the country’s head, awaiting next June’s ratings.

Extremely feared in life and in death, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary leader Sobukwe remains largely silenced as all attention has been lavished on Mandela. Subukwe articulated an uncompromising internationalist vision with Afrika at the centre. He eschewed multi-racialism and a narrow nationalism. Restoring land to Black people was at the heart of his praxis of liberation.

In his 20s, Castro already attempted to liberate his country from the grip of a military dictatorship. Eventually he succeeded. And once in power, his single agenda was to serve the Cuban people - and humanity through internationalist solidarity. What are the masses of young people languishing in poverty and hopelessness under misrule throughout Africa and the Global South waiting for? Arise!

In the battle of ideas, we inherit from him a wealth of revolutionary weapons of theory and real experiences to defend and guide our struggle against capitalism, imperialism and all forms of reactionary ideas and practices.

The new film on the former slave, Nat Turner, whilst deeply flawed should inspire people to find out more about this historical heroic figure, beyond populist narratives. More importantly, his legacy of revolt should inspire the generation of Black Lives Matter to struggle against new forms of domination in our capitalist, imperialist white supremacist patriarchal world.

Tagged under: 802, Ama Biney, Pan-Africanism

Despite strong-arm efforts to stamp out unlicensed local refining in Africa’s largest oil producer, the practice continues and is a major source of livelihood for those involved. Maybe it is time the government recognized and regulated local oil refining instead of relying on imports of petroleum products.

Tagged under: 802, Audu Liberty Oseni, Resources

Much has changed about Ogoniland twenty years since the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight comrades. With the Niger Delta flush with money and arms, rebels and criminals now have more bargaining power. Some observers claim they have the capacity to cause mayhem on the scale of Boko Haram. The only thing not to have changed is the anger the Ogonis feel towards the Nigerian nation. And that is a ticking time bomb.

Pambazuka News 801: Farewell, Comrade Fidel Castro

Vivid accounts of Castro’s brave encounters with the forces of oppression enabled people of diverse cultures and backgrounds to envisage waging similar struggles in their own terrain. Suddenly, revolution was seen as a possible and viable alternative to corrupt dictatorship in many developing countries.

Tagged under: 801, Cameron Duodu, Pan-Africanism

Nobody should be under the illusion that the conditions of poverty and hopelessness that crush the masses of the people in Africa are one day going to end without a bitter struggle. The time is ripe for a Socialist revolution in Africa that will overthrow elite misrule and put the continent on the path to true transformation. That is the urgent task for Africa’s teeming masses of young people.

No other political figure outside of Africa symbolized global solidarity with the aspirations of the people than Comandante President Fidel Castro Ruz of the Republic of Cuba.

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