Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pan African Party

I just finished reading “Stokely: A Life,” by the historian Peniel E. Joseph. Stokely Carmichael was a seminal figure in the evolution of Black Liberation in the United States. He was instrumental in the development of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was the precursor of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. I long admired him though he was considerably before my time. It spurred me to begin to investigate why Pan-Africanism, which is a philosophy Kwame Ture embraced and promoted, especially during his self-imposed exile in Ghana failed to gain traction, as a viable expression of African self-determination.
Pan-Africanism began as an anti-slavery and anti-colonial movement rippling throughout the Diaspora in the late nineteenth century. The ideology has evolved through the ensuing decades. Pan-Africanism seeks reconciliation. It denounces tribalism, nationalism, independence, political and economic cooperation, and historical and cultural awareness (especially for Afrocentric versus Eurocentric interpretations).
Some claim that Pan-Africanism goes back to the writings of ex-slaves such as Olaudah Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano. Pan-Africanism here related to the ending of the slave trade, and the need to rebut the 'scientific' claims of African inferiority. For Pan-Africanists, such as Edward Wilmot Blyden, part of the call for African unity was to return the Diaspora to Africa, whereas others, such as Frederick Douglass, called for rights in their adopted countries.
Blyden and James Africanus Beale Horton, working in Africa, are seen as the true fathers of Pan-Africanism -- writing about the potential for African nationalism and self-government amidst growing European colonialism. They, in turn, inspired a new generation of Pan-Africanists at the turn of the twentieth century -- JE Casely Hayford, and Martin Robinson Delany (who coined the phrase 'Africa for Africans' later picked up by Marcus Garvey).
Pan-Africanism gained legitimacy with the founding of the African Association in London in 1897, and the first Pan-African conference held, again in London, in 1900. Henry Sylvester Williams, the power behind the African Association, and his colleagues were interested in uniting the whole of the African Diaspora, and gaining political rights for those of African decent. Others were more concerned with the struggle against colonialism and Imperial rule in Africa and the Caribbean -- Dusé Mohamed Ali, for example, believed that change could only come through economic development.
Marcus Garvey combined the two paths, calling for political and economic gains as well as a return to Africa (either physically or though a return to an Africanized ideology). Between the world wars, Pan-Africanism was influenced by communism and trade unionism, especially through the writings of George Padmore, Isaac Wallace-Johnson, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Paul Robeson, CLR James, WEB Du Bois, and Walter Rodney. Significantly, Pan-Africanism had expanded out beyond the continent into Europe, the Caribbean and Americas. WEB Du Bois organized a series of Pan-African Congresses in London, Paris, and New York in the first half of the twentieth century.
International awareness of Africa was also heightened by the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935. Also between the two world wars, Africa's two main colonial powers, France and Britain, attracted a younger group of Pan-Africanists: Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Cheikh Anta Diop, and Ladipo Solanke. As student activists they gave rise to Africanist philosophies such as Négritude. International Pan-Africanism had probably reached its zenith by the end of World War II when WEB Du Bois held the fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester (in 1945).
After the second World War, Pan-Africanist interests once more returned to the African continent, with a particular focus on African unity and liberation. A number of leading Pan-Africanists, particularly George Padmore and WEB Du Bois, emphasized their commitment to Africa by emigrating (in both cases to Ghana) and becoming African citizens. Across the continent, a new group of Pan-Africanists arose amongst the nationalists -- Kwame Nkrumah, Sékou Ahmed Touré, Ahmed Ben Bella, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Amilcar Cabral, and Patrice Lumumba.
In 1963, the Organization African Unity was formed to advance cooperation and solidarity between newly independent African countries and fight against colonialism. In an attempt to revamp the organization, and move away from it being seen as an alliance of African dictators, it was re-imagined in July 2002 as the African Union. Pan-Africanism today is seen much more as a cultural and social philosophy than the politically driven movement of the past.
People, such as Molefi Kete Asante, hold to the importance of ancient Egyptian and Nubian cultures being part of a (black) African heritage, and seek a re-evaluation of Africa's place, and the Diaspora, in the world. Kwame Ture has spoken extensively on Pan-Africanism. But he once wrote that “if we understand the nature of imperialism, neo-colonialism, we will realize that if we did create a Pan-African socialist state, it would be faced with encirclement and intervention from the United States government,” but this where our philosophies diverge.
Collectivism as traditionally defined by the African Disapora is something I have always embraced. But it is not as defined by Brother Ture mutually exclusive from economic cooperation. As a college student living abroad two decades ago now, collectivism was critical in my forming ideological development. But I do not agree it has to be a zero sum game. Economic development, cooperation, self-determination and collectivism can co-exist easily without heavy labels. Many before me have paid lip service to to this objective while others have tried and failed.
Fostering close economic ties with some, if not all, of the mineral rich countries in Africa is an objective fraught with danger because of white supremacy, cultural hegemony, and one of its manifestation - avarice. Joseph Inikori's masterful book, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England, shows how African consumers, free and enslaved, nurtured Britain's infant manufacturing industry. As Malachy Postlethwayt, the political economist, candidly put it in 1745: "British trade is a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation.
By 1914 Africa had already been chopped up and divided by the colonial powers Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.   It was the European squabbling for African, Asian and Middle East colonies; and their tremendous wealth that was a significant cause of WW1. Africa has historically been absolutely vital to the industrialization of Europe as a source of natural resources and human labor.
Modern Europe owes its development to the availability of Africa’s natural resources which were hauled home and then turned into finished manufactured products for value-added export. Beginning in the late 19th century Europe dominated, divided and exploited Africa by force of arms and colonial rule.  Europeans drew the map of Africa to divide and conquer it.   Now with economic globalization, Africa is in play again for its natural wealth by all of the developed countries of the world.  The competition is fiercer than ever. Many of the protagonists of 1914 are the same ones today.  Many of them never really left Africa.  After African colonies won independence in the mid-20th century, for many of them it was just a token independence.
It is the new frontier for the American Empire.   In February 2007 President George W. Bush created the United States African Command (AFRICOM).  Under President Obama the US has greatly increased the military activities of AFRICOM.  The US is in a high-stakes competition with China. Tensions between the two nuclear global powers have been spinning out of control.  The US has very publicly announced its military pivot to Asia to militarily encircle China.  The pivot to Africa has been less noise.  The current war in South Sudan is a proxy war between the two.  China has obtained much of the rights to the oil-riches of South Sudan.
The US wants the Chinese out. China is still fuming over having been driven out of the North African country of Libya where it was a big player in oil production.  The Libyan oil is the light-sweet oil that is easier to refine.  Geographically Libya is also strategically located to ship the oil to Europe. Muammar al-Gaddafi had displeased the US with his visions of Pan African nationalism.  Gaddafi had been an unreliable ally of the US in the War of Terror, so he was driven out by NATO and the US on the pretext of the Arab Spring, human rights and democracy.
Never mind that Gadhafi’s Libya had ranked number 2 on the UN Human Index Scale for Africa; before the US, French and British 7 months of humanitarian bombing.    Hillary Clinton bragged with mirthful laughter:  “We came, we saw, he died.” The USA uses the War of Terror, humanitarian hand-wringing, the dogma of democracy and capitalism, international peacekeepers and voodoo neoliberal economics to camouflage its quest for hegemony.  The USA Empire is powered by oil, military supremacy and international finance.  For the oil weapon to be effective the USA needs to control all of it everywhere and all the time.
To do that the US Empire has foreign military bases all over the world. Africa is the “new Middle East” and the next frontier for the US Empire.  It is already an import source of oil for China and gaining importance for the US and the world.  Africa could also be the host of another protracted US military quagmire.  President Obama cannot be counted upon to prevent another hot war by putting the generals and neocons on a short leash.  So far that leash in Africa has been extremely slack. The US has a heavy military presents in Africa called AFRICOM.  Its stated mission is to “advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity”.  It is a good rhetorical question to ask:  “Security, stability and prosperity for whom:  Africans, American taxpayers, empire, hegemon, oil companies, who?”  AFRICOM does not say.

George Orwell might have appreciated the double-speak of AFRICOM:  “Stability from Instability”.   It seems that everywhere in Africa that has oil and mineral riches, they are experiencing instability.  The USA attributes instability to terrorists.  Others might attribute Africa’s instability to a US war for oil and hegemony. "Call me naïve or foolish or both, but we need t wrest control of Africa back for Africans.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Open Letter To My Son's Grandmother - Celestine Hill of Delaware

Refusing to read my weekly letters (as well as give money) to my son, attempting to return them (they are on the way back by the by), trying to manipulate me to either call or drive 120 miles knowing I am incapable of this sort of stress so that either you or Alicia can coach my child on what to say - because the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse continues unfettered - as if he is incapable of independent thought; or, more importantly, subject me to verbal or physical assaults, giving him the false impression that I do not love and care about him is unfathomably mean, demonstrably selfish, and abusive under a strict reading of the law.
It is inconceivable any responsible parent or adult would engage in this sort of reckless behavior and, more importantly, is illustrative of how badly the Judge erred first beyond obviously failing to recognize he lacked jurisdiction to even make the ruling in the first instance; and, second, by refusing to appoint an objective mediator to ensure what restricted right he grudging granted me was enforced.
Consequently, though I know little will be done by the bureaucracies with statutory oversight (this matter is going to have to be fully litigated) overrun as they are with aggrieved women who prefer to engage in petticoat politics instead of an objective discharge of their duties and responsibilities due to “transference,” I am still making a formal record of this psychological abuse and emotional neglect by copying this correspondence to Delaware’s Children’s Department; an agency ostensibly charged with the protection of vulnerable children as well as his guardian (and my friend) in the event of my demise, Solange Bitol, Esq., of San Francisco.
My son is going to grow to deeply resent both Alicia and you for these outrageous antics because we love and, consequently, have an unbreakable psychic bond with one another. The boy knows I love him unconditionally. More importantly, I will eventually regain full custody of my baby. Of that you can rest assured. (Losing him as a result of institutionalized racism because of an unlawful order by an arrogant, incompetent, and paternalistic Delaware Family Court Judge, who well knows that placing my son with the mother instead of college professor - trained in law - father with a terminal degree in social and behavioral science practically guarantees his failure in life; and, thereby, perpetuates white supremacy by cynically promoting a false narrative that another black man “abandoned” his son to a woman ill-prepared to properly rear him, causing the child to engage in anti-social conduct requiring him to be either put down like a dog or caged like an animal, which provides a built in rationale for this type of nuanced racism is particularly egregious).
It is unfortunate that at 70 plus years of age, you do not know this and, consequently, have been little more than an enabler – i.e., one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior - to Alicia. But what you have not been is a “mother” or a mediating influence in her life. This is why she is in the position that she is. It is only, solely, because of my generous support to my child, which doubtless she squanders and misappropriates given she has chosen to have another child out of wedlock - although she was utterly incapable of caring for the ones she already had - that she has not yet failed altogether.
In closing, I harbor no animosity, anger, or resentment toward you. Celestine Hill is who you are, you may or may not recognize these contradictions, but cynically, cannily employ them nonetheless to effectively prevent me from having relationship with my child. That is unforgiveable, Tina. Einstein said once that “the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” “And this too shall end…”