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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Pambazuka News 803: AU must stand up for Western Sahara

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

 

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.

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 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

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.

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. 

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.

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

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

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

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. 

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

Pambazuka News 801: Farewell, Comrade Fidel Castro

No one can look back over 20th and 21st century history without studying the work and ideas of this Cuban who wrote a small Caribbean island into the pages of “true global history,” as told by the people.

Despite enormous difficulties arising from a US economic blockade, Cuba under Castro made tremendous strides forward in education, medicine, science, sport, international exchange relations and sustainable development. The Cuban revolution served as a promising source of hope not only to the impoverished people of Latin America but also to the rest of the Tricontinental World - the exploited and colonized populations of Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Tagged under: 801, Pan-Africanism, Peter Mayo

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.

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.

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

Fidel Castro was a fierce Cuban revolutionary whose principle and dedication to revolutionary ideals of international socialism was like no other. Fidel passed away on 26 November 2019 at the age of 90 years. The following interview was conducted in February 1961 in Cuba.

It is laughable – or pitiful – to compare Barack Obama to Fidel Castro. The fundamental truth is: Barack Obama is the president of imperialism. By necessity he must be a mass murdering, lying, enemy of humanity. It is an unspoken prerequisite for that job. Fidel Castro is the opposite. That’s why a long line of U.S. presidents has tried to assassinate Castro over 600 times, and committed 1,000 acts of terror against his people.

Tagged under: 801, Netfa Freeman, Pan-Africanism

Fidel Castro embodied in his life the unending struggle of ordinary people for a life of dignity against the forces of oppression. In him dedicated revolutionaries find the inspiration to resist their enemy, regardless how mighty.

Despite the obvious propaganda attempting to demonize him, Fidel Castro will always remain an icon, a warrior for the poor and disenfranchised. He will forever be a symbol of revolution against Western imperialism, colonialism, subjugation, human exploitation and profit before people.

Tagged under: 801, Ezili Danto, Pan-Africanism

Museveni and Castro both came to power through a revolution. Despite a crippling international blockade led by America, Cuba under Castro made huge strides in development while Uganda, a darling of the West, has remained backward - with all those millions of dollars in aid. It is a country where ordinary diarrhea is a life-threatening condition.

Tagged under: 801, Mary Serumaga, Pan-Africanism

His anti-imperialist policies, socialist initiatives and strong internationalism have earned him a lasting place in world history.

Pambazuka News 800: After Trump: Defying neoliberalism and impunity

The fact of the matter is that all US presidents are one and the same, irrespective of whether they are Democrats or Republicans. They follow US foreign policy hook, line and sinker. As some of their leaders said, the US has interests, not friends. To them, this world is about a fight for resources, not about benevolence.

Tagged under: 800, Global South, Sam Ditshego

Much of the whining about the American working class falling victim to neoliberal globalization is rooted in American exceptionalism. Everyone else has supposedly reaped a windfall from neoliberal free trade. It is a narrative with very little sympathy for, or solidarity with, the victims of globalization around the world - particularly in Africa.

Large amounts of the money raised globally by Bill Clinton after the earthquake, and pledged by the U.S. under Hillary Clinton, simply disappeared without a trace, its whereabouts unknown. A whopping $465 million of the relief money went through the Pentagon, which spent it on deployment of 20,000 U.S. troops, many of whom never set foot on Haitian soil. What the Clintons did to Haiti was callous, selfish and indefensible.

In the past one-and-half years President Buhari has rolled out, on many occasions, the full strength of his country’s security forces to violently suppress the peaceful nonviolent Biafran independence movement. Now, the Buhari regime is working with foreign governments to crush pro-Biafra activism in the Diaspora.

The US electoral system shows a profound disjuncture between law and legitimacy. A system that so disenfranchises the masses of Americans is illegitimate. Democratic elections must be based on the popular vote.

Tagged under: 800, Allison Drew, Governance

The 15th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute is going at The Hague, the seat of the International Criminal Court. A network of civil society organisations in Kenya delivered the following statement to the Assembly:

Mild-mannered and almost self-effacing, the son of the renowned Nigerian environmentalist was yet the owner of a sharp intellect that was not afraid to adopt and keep positions that seemed right to him. What the rest of the world thought was not that relevant to him.

Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, evidence shows clearly that it is Clinton who is the imperialist ideologist. Despite denials by the West, imperialism is an existential reality of our time. In the last three decades or so, it has existed as free trade globalization. Imperialism will persist under Trump.

If it boggles the mind that a bigoted politician spewing hatred, misogyny and division could win the American Presidency, what does one make of a justice system that grants freedom to the murderers of an elderly woman who allegedly blasphemed Islam? Nigeria is busy destroying the very thin fabric that holds it together.

Tax evasion merits serious attention and global efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. But there is a clear lack of willingness by the beneficiaries to support such efforts. A resolution on tax evasion and the need to return the stolen assets to the so-called "developing" countries was adopted at the UN Council of Human Rights on 24 March 2016. No European state voted in favour.

 

The artistic rebirth of Anta Diop indicates Adé Olufeko’s attempts to pull the astute figure from the grasps of academic dialogue and fringes of mainstream journalism, and place him within the consciousness of everyday people, most of who crave objective enlightenment on African discourses.

Trump’s success means mass deportation, massive military spending,  continuation and escalation of global war, a conservative Supreme Court, a justice department and security system dedicated to growing the Bush/Obama-era surveillance state and waging war on activists; fiscal policies that will accelerate income inequality; massive cuts in social spending, and a lot more. Concrete strategies for popular organizing are needed to resist this.

Morocco this week stormed out of the Africa-Arab Summit in Equatorial Guinea to protest the presence of Western Sahara, which it has forcefully and illegally occupied for over 40 years. This incident yet again demonstrates Morocco’s hidden agenda in seeking re-admission to the African Union: to use the continental body to deny the Saharawi people their universally recognized right to self-determination.

Despite his thoroughly professorial lifestyle, Sam was a lively figure who always made time for his family and a broad range of people. His immense contribution to scholarship, particularly on the thorny land question in Zimbabwe, remains outstanding. His tragic death following a road crash last year points to the fragility of life and to the need for Africa to celebrate its scholars while alive.

Pambazuka News 799: Pan-Africanism: Kenya is unfit to head AU

The most obvious example of Obama’s lack of substance was his relationship with Black Americans. His disdain and contempt for the people who loved him the most was clear to anyone who paid attention. Obama won by making himself palatable to white people while also taking advantage of undeserved Black pride.

The water towers project is being implemented without free, prior and informed consent of the community, the leaders say. The forest community, whose rights have been repeatedly violated by the Kenya Government in brutal evictions, fear there will be more violations under the current project.

Does Ethiopia have an organized feminist movement? Yes. But its performance has been mixed. Unless deliberate, consciously sustained and strategic steps are taken at the level of institution building, resource allocation and leadership, gender equality may take another 100 years to be achieved. A strong women's movement is indispensable to catalyze change.

Africa barely got a mention in the US presidential election. This is good. If Trump succeeds in purging the factions that advocate war, interventionism and imperialism from the US government he will have done all that he needs to do for Africa. We can ask no more than to be left alone by the world hegemon.

Tagged under: 799, Global South, MK Ngoyo

Trump’s victory is partly because of his own skills, but also partly because the world is changing. We are witnessing a civilizational shift – the slow, painful death of the Western Empire. Even in rich America millions of people go hungry and without shelter. In the new world, Africa will use its own resources and ingenuity to prosper.

It is deeply disheartening that a country that fought so hard and long to win independence for its people has plunged into a civil war with no end in sight. South Sudanese are suffering again, this time in the hands of the same generals who led them to victory. Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, if they have a heart in their breast, must put aside their own pride and do whatever it takes to end this senseless war.

Tagged under: 799, Human Security, Osita Ebiem

The No to ProSAVANA Campaign considers the redesign and public consultation process of ProSAVANA’s Master Plan to be fraudulent.

People who murder others allegedly for blasphemy in Nigeria - a secular, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country - are never brought to justice. Yet without justice there can never be peace. And the absence of peace means there is no unity. For how long will this situation last?

For more than two decades, Russia has been struggling to regain its Soviet-era economic influence, but such efforts have hit stumbling blocks which policy experts and Russian authorities themselves attribute to inadequate knowledge of investment and economic possibilities in Africa.

 

The paralysis in South African universities following protests by students demanding free, decolonized education persists. In an impressive show of solid defiance reminiscent of the nationalist struggle against apartheid, students at Wits University have issued a raft of demands to administration, even as there are no signs that a solution to the crisis is within sight.

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