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    Pambazuka News 736: Obama in Africa: Embracing thug-rulers or the people?

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    Is Obama keen on relations with barons of Kenya or with the people?

    Horace G. Campbell


    cc Wiki
    While there is real joy that Obama is visiting Kenya, this moment should provide another platform for progressives to push for the demilitarization of the relations with Africa. This calls for the dismantling of the US Africa Command, the withdrawal of the Special Forces from Somalia and the end of drone strikes.

    Barack Obama is visiting Kenya and Ethiopia when the people of Eastern Africa are desperate for peace. Last week Wednesday July 15, top Kenyan athletes, including former world marathon record holders, set off on a 22-day "Walk for Peace" against ethnic violence. The 836-kilometer (520-mile) walk is organized by a former Commonwealth marathon champion. This walk for peace is a striking example of the initiatives being undertaken in a country where the people want an end to all forms of violence. As President Barack Obama heads to Kenya to participate in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi this week, the peoples of Kenya are excited and there is pride that the President of the USA will be visiting Kenya. Obama will be meeting with entrepreneurs but this should be an occasion where the government of the USA should seek to work with the peoples of Kenya and Somalia who want peace. This visit should be an occasion to spell out the process of demilitarizing the relations between the peoples of East Africa and the United States.

    Kenya inherited the massive investment in the militarization of the Horn of Africa from the era of anti-communism and this militaristic link to the West was deepened during the so called War on Terror. This Global War on Terror has now backfired against the peoples and the insecurity generated within Kenya and East Africa reinforce the influence of the US military when Barack Obama and his Administration want to focus on “Doing Business with Africa.” In 2014, the Obama Administration with much fanfare called the first major US Africa summit but the present Washington sequestered bureaucracy has not worked to turn the page with the new engagement with African peoples. There have been no resources from Congress to support the much touted Power Africa.

    We will maintain here that there are personal and political pressures for the USA to change its policies in Africa and the trip to Nairobi by the President is one of the most explicit efforts to turn against the securitization of relations with Africa. Kenya is one of the spaces in Africa bursting with innovative entrepreneurship ideas, especially in telecommunications and banking. The infrastructure planning of Kenya with the Lamu Port-South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) is being undertaken to transform the economies of Eastern Africa, without significant US participation. China is the principal partner in the infrastructure projects in Kenya.

    As one of the vibrant centers of capital accumulation in Africa, Obama recognizes the vitality and energy of the Kenyan people. Prior to his departure he said that, "Despite poverty, despite conflict, there is a strength and a resilience there. The opportunities are extraordinary, and we just have to break down the stereotypes and the barriers.” Obama is traveling to break down stereotypes, but this is insufficient to change the 50 year program of militarism. There is in Kenya a vibrant popular force of progressives who are willing to work to ensure that the entrepreneurship engagement does not reward the current rich barons who are intent on rolling back the positive gains of the Kenyan Constitution of 2010.


    When the Obama Administration negotiated with the leaders of Iran to seal the nuclear deal to end the sanctions, he was working against the conservative wing of the political establishment in the USA but he also had the gaze of the US on the potential economic might of Iran in Eurasia. With the Iran deal under his belt after the success of the cementing of the Affordable Care Act along with the Diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba after 54 years, Barack Obama was seeking to extend his break with neo conservative wing of the US polity. On social questions such as the rights of gays and lesbians, the Obama Administration took credit for the Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 that States cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. At the funeral of those who were slain in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama spoke forcefully against racism and for the placing of the Confederate Flag in a museum.

    Barack Obama, as the 44th President, in the pursuit of a credible legacy was moving outside of the paths of the consensus of the old status quo in the USA. The opening to Cuba and the renewal of diplomatic relations with Cuba on July 19 was celebrated in Washington by progressives who had long called for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the USA. These progressives are now calling on Obama to use Executive powers to lift the embargo against Cuba.

    What is important about the thrust of the Cuba policy or the decision on marriage equality was that Obama was acting in concert with a vocal constituency in the USA. The decision on Cuba and the negotiations with Iran have not been welcomed by those sections of the militarists who oppose the closing of Guantanamo Bay as a base for the US military. The militaristic elements in the USA oppose what they see as the reversal of aspects of US foreign policy that have underpinned the projection of force by the United States for decades. The US right wing establishment along with the Murdoch papers such as the Wall Street Journal and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are publicly opposing this shift that is being pushed by the Obama Administration.

    In Eastern Africa, this section of the US establishment are working with those “traditional allies” of the USA such as Saudi Arabia and Israel to ensure that there are no dramatic shifts in the US alliances in Eastern Africa and in the Persian Gulf. The same Saudi Arabia that opposed the Iran deal had been named as one of the financiers of radical extremists in Somalia and other parts of East Africa. Essentially, all over the coast of Eastern Africa, from Beira up to Djibouti, the resources of the Wahabists are being poured into the pockets of groups that had been set in motion in the waning days of the Cold War when the CIA recruited Jihadists to fight in Afghanistan.

    In seeking to devise new initiatives such as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Barack Obama was looking for ways to turn a new corner. In 2013, after he was elected for the second term, President Obama announced at West Point in May that “The War on terror is over.” This declaration, that the USA will not wage war on a tactic, was accompanied with the words that the military and intelligence agencies will not wage war against a tactic but will instead focus on a specific group of networks determined to destroy the U.S.

    “We must define our effort not as a boundless 'Global War on Terror,' but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America. “ This attempted policy shift in Washington by Obama had threatened the long standing relations that had been established in East Africa that led Kenya to be compromised in the rendition schemes and in the duplicitous relationship with military entrepreneurs in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eastern Congo and Rwanda. The Kenyan army had invaded Somalia in 2011 and since that incursion the levels of attacks inside Kenya have intensified. The US military, private contractors and Special Forces are operating out of Kismayo in Somalia, bringing further spotlight on how the Kenyan military had been integrated into the old War on Terror. In a report in the magazine Foreign Policy in early July it was reported that US Special Forces were carrying out counter terrorism operations in Somalia with “Boots on the Ground” in areas “controlled” by Kenyan troops, operating under cover and involved in a massive drone operation. [1] What this report did not say was that the presence of the US military personnel and private contractors in Somalia have guaranteed intensified attacks on Kenyan targets in Somalia and in Kenya.

    Kenya had been caught in the vortex of the militarization of US foreign policy and the trip of the President to Kenya is coming at a moment when the investments from the Global War on Terror have unleashed insecurity in all parts of Kenya. The Global War on Terror had created another layer of violence in Kenya on top of the Cattle rustling, militia intimidation and revenge killings between rival communities that became common in certain regions of Kenya where there were loads of automatic weapons in the hands of unemployed youth open to manipulation by regional leaders.

    The bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 and the siege of the Westgate Mall in 2013 were two of the most publicized episodes of extremist violence, but all along the Coast of Kenya there have been attacks on civilians, with one attack in Mpeketoni killing more than 60 persons in 2014. The massacres of innocent students at the University College in Garissa in April took the lives of over 148 persons and in the aftermath the tourism industry had a further downturn with Western embassies issuing travel advisories. According to the New York Times, Kenya was caught in a Catch 22 in so far as Western terror alerts gave greater publicity to the extremists who are termed terrorists.[2]


    From the first year after independence in 1964, sections of the US political establishment had decided to mobilize the Kenyan government as a base to undermine the true independence of Africa. This episode in the US relations with East Africa is celebrated in the book by William Attwood, The Reds and the Blacks. Inside Kenya this external involvement was accompanied by the politicization of ethnicity and region. The assassination of Tom Mboya and the early passing of Barack Obama Sr. were seen as episodes on the intersection of local accumulation and alliance with Western forces, especially the British.

    At the end of the Cold War when saner voices in the US establishment wanted to demilitarize the US engagement with East Africa, the neo- conservatives decided to use the people of Somalia as a pawn and manipulated the sectional differences in the society. Even a former Cold Warrior, such as Smith Hempstone Jr., became an advocate for human rights and democracy in Kenya when he was appointed ambassador in 1989. However, the requirements of an alliance with President Arap Moi to secure the US incursion into Somalia in 1992 meant that the Administration of George Bush Sr. ignored the warnings of Ambassador Hempstone about the endemic corruption in Kenya and how the US “humanitarian” mission in Somalia was linked to this corruption.

    Up to today, the US military have not learnt the lessons of Black Hawk Down (that humiliation of the US military in Mogadishu in 1993) and have doubled down in the region of East Africa extending the militarization of Somalia and building up a massive military presence in Djibouti, for the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Although the Djibouti base is the military space on the soil of the Somali peoples, it is from Kenya where the planning and logistics were organized. From time to time Western papers reported on front organizations such as Bancroft Global Development, which has the contract to train African Union (AMISOM) troops in Somalia. Terms such as terrorists and terrorism have been mobilized by the ruling elements in Kenya to disguise all forms of repression and conceal business relations with their Somalia class allies.

    This current investment in militarism and NGOs in Kenya had been recounted by this author in the experience of the Office of Transition Initiatives in Kenya to ensure that the revolutionary capabilities of the Kenyan youths were not realized.[3] CIA and the militaristic operations in Kenya and Somalia reached its apogee when the US security establishment financed the military entrepreneurs (called Somali Warlords) of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) in the duplicitous engagement with the Kenyan and Somalia peoples. Over US $100,000 per month was being paid to Somali operatives who were business partners for warfare with a section of the Kenyan establishment under Daniel Arap Moi. A top US official (Michael Zorick) handling Somalia in the US embassy in Nairobi was transferred from his job (as Somali Political Affairs Office, Kenya) after criticizing payments to militarists who were at the core of the fueling some of Mogadishu's worst-ever fighting. Zorick’s exposure of the CIA in Somalia had exposed a rift inside the US government on how to handle Somalia -- whether efforts to build peace should come before counter-terrorism -- and the effect Washington's perceived role has had in inflaming fighting there.


    Barack Obama had personal links to Kenya, and there is genuine excitement in Kenya at the prospect of the visit of the President of the USA to Kenya. Kenyan newspapers have been printing the names of all of the known living relatives of the current President of the USA. He first journeyed to Kenya for five weeks when he visited the grave of his father in 1988 and his recollections of the apartheid forms of political life in Kenya at that time was explicitly spelt out in the book, Dreams from My Father. Obama had returned to Kenya in 1992 with Michelle, then his fiancé. Again in 2006 during his first year in the US Senate Obama visited Kenya and in that journey he had demonstrated his knowledge of the malaise of the forms of accumulation in Kenya that is called corruption.

    It is usual that Presidents of the USA identify with their ancestry (most publicized example was John F. Kennedy’s trip to Ireland) but with the vitriolic campaign by the neo-conservatives (called Birthers) that Obama was not a US citizen, Barack Obama had retreated from overt identification with his very close relatives in Kenya. In private, however, Obama was very much preoccupied with the absence of democratic participation. During the primary campaign in Iowa in January 2008, we learnt that candidate Obama had invited his sister Auma to Iowa who briefed him on the contradictions between the Kenyan peoples that had exploded into violence after the elections in December 2007. Later, in June 2013 when as President he made his first trip to Senegal, Obama invited the Chief Justices of Africa to focus on the role of the judiciary in the democratization process in Africa.

    The Kenyan political leaders (President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto) had been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for complicity in mobilizing the elements who killed over 1000 persons, and the cloud over their heads had meant that these same leaders became vocal anti-imperialists. The Kenyatta Administration worked hard to mobilize the African Union against the ICC. Although the United States was not a signatory to the Rome Convention, US diplomats were active in calling for the ICC to pursue what it called “justice.” In the face of the activism of the US and EU diplomats on the ICC question, Kenyan leaders of the ruling Jubilee Coalition started to project a diversified foreign policy for Kenya. In their offensive against “Western imperialists,” the Kenyan leadership threatened to revoke the Defence Cooperation Agreement that had sustained relations between British and Kenyan intelligence elements since 1963. In the process of the active foreign policy to minimize dependence on Western sources of capital and security, the Kenyan leadership started a Look East policy seeking to strengthen relations with China and India. One by-product of the new orientation of the Kenyan leaders since 2008 was that the financial barons of Nairobi started to invest heavily in real estate in Kenya.

    Fearing the sanctions against the leaders and the freezing of their vast assets, the Kenyan economy received a boost as the real estate barons and the financial barons transformed the urban landscape of Kenya. Nairobi had become a magnet for “entrepreneurs” and accumulators from all over Eastern and Central Africa; resources looted from Eastern Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Rwanda found their way into the financial institutions and social networks of Kenya strengthening the Kenyan barons who understood the linkages between political, military and economic power.


    This consolidation of power in the hands of a few induced a climate of intensified struggles by those who wanted a new form of political governance. Progressives in Kenya had worked hard since 1992 on a new Constitution and when this Constitution was put before the people in 2010, it was overwhelmingly ratified, despite opposition from the ruling circles around President Mwai Kibaki. The new constitution bought a more decentralized political system, which limited the powers of the President and replaced corrupt provincial governments with local counties. This 2010 Constitution also created a second chamber of parliament - the Senate - and set up a land commission to settle ownership disputes and review past abuses. Despite this new Constitution, the 2013 elections was fought against the background of the ICC charges hanging over the Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and the Vice Presidential Candidate William Ruto.

    Before the elections, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (Johnny Carson) who had been a former US Ambassador to Kenya made the statement that Choices have consequences. In a radio interview before the elections Mr Carson said. “We live in an interconnected world and people should be thoughtful about the impact that their choices have on their nation, on the region, on the economy, on the society and on the world in which they live. Choices have consequences.”

    This statement was interpreted to mean that the US government opposed the election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto and this statement itself became part of the election campaign. Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto represented themselves as nationalists defending the sovereignty of Kenya and rallied supporters with the claim “that foreign nations must not dictate who should lead Kenya.” The Jubilee Coalition of Kenyatta and Ruto won the elections in March 2013, so when Obama visited Tanzania in 2013 he bypassed Kenya.


    In the past ten years, the orientation of the Kenyan capitalist class has been to develop closer relationship with India, China, Turkey and other emerging powers. The 50 kilometer highway from Nairobi to Thika stands as one of the construction projects of the new leaders and confident peoples of Kenya. By the time the government of Kenya rolled out their Vision 2030, Chinese Construction companies were at the forefront of the planning stages for the ambitious projects being launched by the government of Kenya. About 50 Chinese companies have been contracted for 80 projects with a value of billions of dollars in sectors including transport, housing, water processing, power upgrading, energy, and sea ports and airports. The Chinese English language news service, CCTV, established its African base in Nairobi and the University of Nairobi hosted one of the Confucius Institutes in Africa.

    However, in all those projects, it is in infrastructure and specifically road construction that China has stood head and shoulders above others. Of these mega projects, probably the biggest was the $11 billion Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) This LAPSSET project includes the construction of the massive Lamu port at Manda Bay, road and rail links from the port to South Sudan and Ethiopia, and the construction of crude oil and product oil pipelines from South Sudan. This infrastructure will be more significant than any kind of competition going on now and will propel the transport barons of Kenya at the center of trade and commerce at precisely the moment when the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community initiated the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).

    The US establishment had no answer to this LAPSSET and the neo- con scribe Robert Kaplan wrote for many in the foreign policy and military circles when he opined that the LAPSETT project was part of a larger strategy in the “ Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?.” US planners received the answer when over the next five years the massive infrastructure plans were laid out for the upgrading of the port of Mombasa, for the Chinese involvement in road, port and bridge construction in Tanzania and the deals all over the region worth close to $100 billion dollars. These projects of East Africa were integrated into the African Union project of the Programme for the Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA).


    While the US was concentrating on drone strikes in Somalia and operating out of Kenya, the tourism industry suffered in Kenya while the general climate of insecurity intensified. US policy makers were concerned about the inroads of China in Kenya and the vitriolic anti-imperialist rhetoric coming from the leaders. In 2013 Senator Chris Coons of Delaware chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, said in a report issued by his office that "China, which has made dramatic inroads across the continent in recent years, may undermine or even counter value-driven U.S. goals in the region, and should serve as a wake-up call for enhanced American trade and investment.''

    In order to respond to this wakeup call, the Obama presidency had called and launched the GES, US Africa Summit and launched the Young Africa Leadership Initiative. President Obama elevated entrepreneurship to the forefront of the United States’ engagement agenda during a speech in Cairo in 2009. Since 2010, when the U.S. hosted the first Summit in Washington, D.C., GES has expanded to a global event, subsequently hosted by the governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Morocco. According to the communique from the White House,

    “The 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 25-26. It will be the sixth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials. The established tradition demonstrates the U.S. Government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world.”

    In August 2014, over 40 African heads of States and governments were feted in Washington when Obama again touted the Power Africa project. On June 30, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa, President Barack Obama had announced the Power Africa as an initiative to increase the number of people with access to electric power in Africa. Kenya is supposed to be one of the first six countries targeted for this project. However, because this initiative remains unfunded, Obama was seeking to link African billionaires to US corporations such as General Electric and Blackstone. Obama mobilized his personal charisma to entreat African billionaires such as Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Mo Ibrahim, James Mwangi (among other tycoons) to align with US corporations.

    What came out of this US Africa summit were pledges and nationalistic African business persons questioned the efficacy of Obama’s call for partnering with US corporations. At one meeting on Capitol Hill, a prominent Kenyan business person said to the other Africans: “Why are you here in Washington looking for money? We have money enough in Kenya to invest in all of Africa.”

    The Obama Administration was not blind to the new confident posture of the Kenyan society. What is known is that the Kenyan youths are among the most innovative and vibrant in the areas of telecommunications. New applications such as Mpesa and Ushaidi have set the Kenyan society apart in the novel use of new technologies. In a country where that are over 100 new Universities in the past 15 years, the state is planning an entire technology location called Konza City with a new University to tap into this energetic section of society.

    Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit is also one other attempt to tap into the energy of the Kenyan youths and to mobilize the society ideologically to be more positive to the ideas of neo-liberalism. Progressives are very clear that the neo-liberal order has been quite compatible with the militarization of the planet. The Obama Administration wants an end to the War on terror without curbs on the other sections of the military, financial and information complex. The GES is seeking to buck the plans of the Pentagon and the neo-con section of the State Department to intensify the militarization of the Indian Ocean. This year, for the first time John Kerry, the Secretary of State, visited Somalia and the US sent an envoy to Mogadishu for the first time in over 20 years.

    Israel, Saudi Arabia and sections of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are not keen on peace in Kenya and Somalia and the demilitarization of the Indian Ocean. These forces are aligned to one wing of the Kenyan leadership who have invested in the military and security. To strengthen these forces, neo- conservatives and right wing Christians have fanned out over rural Kenya spewing hatred of humans who are same gender loving beings. These right wing Christian forces seek to associate followers of the faith of Islam with terrorism.


    According to Forbes Magazine, the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, is reputedly the richest man in Kenya. As such, his leadership is based on the consolidation of the top financial barons in the country. When the charges against Uhuru Kenyatta were withdrawn by the ICC, he was emboldened to be more aggressive in establishing himself as a leader who could rally African opinion against Western imperialists. His challenge to the British about the renewal of the British military training has been followed by seeking to make links with the progressives inside and outside of Kenya. In June he met with Ngugi wa Thiongo who for the past two decades has lived in exile in the USA. Kenya will host the regional Pan African Congress for East Africa in Nairobi in August.

    In seeking to establish himself as a leading statesman, Kenyatta has invited the Pope to visit Kenya. The World Trade Organisation ministerial conference will take place in Nairobi, bringing together 200 ministerial delegations from around the world. Uhuru will have a sense of being on the world stage when he co–hosts the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with President Obama. He had only recently opened the Japan-Kenya Conference on Infrastructure.

    Obama will be giving legitimacy to this section of the Kenyan financial barons in his Entrepreneurship conference because in the past ten years US officials have been unconcerned about sweat shop conditions of workers in Africa. Kenyan entrepreneurs have been lobbying Washington for the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), but there is no discussion in the media about the rights of Kenyan workers.

    Obama will travel to Ethiopia after Kenya where the human rights record of the political leaders are as atrocious as those of the government of Rwanda. Obama will not welcome the leaders of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to Kenya but the deployment of military forces from Uganda and Burundi to Somalia has emboldened these leaders to defy constitutional arrangements in their own societies to extend their hold on to political power. One immediate task in relation to this visit is for a clear program for the demilitarization of Somalia and for the USA to identify and expose those forces from the Arabian Gulf who are financially supporting Al Shabaab.

    While there is real joy that Obama is visiting Kenya, this moment should provide another platform for progressives to push for the demilitarization of the relations with Africa. This calls for the dismantling of the US Africa Command, the withdrawal of the Special Forces from Somalia and the end of drone strikes. Normal air traffic and commerce in the area of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia has been negatively affected by the drone srikes being launched in this region. Real entrepreneurship and commerce cannot prosper in conditions where one section of capitalists want to engage in warfare as a business.

    African progressives can take a leaf from the progressive forces in the USA who for five decades have called for the renewal of diplomatic relations with Cuba. These same progressives must take the political initiative to expose the Israeli and Saudi alliances that support elements who do not care about the lives of Africans.

    Both the USA and Japan are very concerned about the foothold of China all over Eastern Africa but as long as the priority of the USA is for extending military relations with Africa via the US Africa Command and the so-called NGOs such as Bancroft Development, there will not be much traction for initiatives such as the US Africa Summit, Power Africa or the GES. Obama has surrounded himself with elements such as Susan Rice, Gayle Smith, Samantha Powers, John Brennan and others whose careers have been linked to military support for warlords in Libya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.

    From the start of his Presidency, Obama was caught between different forces in the United States and in Kenya. On the one side were the accumulated investments of the US military and private contractors in league with the neo-conservative Christians who proclaimed themselves to be Born Again Christians. These neo-conservatives had a base in the media with subsidiaries of the Rupert Murdoch Empire very involved in information manipulation inside Kenya. Western, especially US supported, non-governmental organizations were aligned with this section and they were silent on the role of the US military and the US Africa Command in Eastern Africa.

    Obama is very concerned about his historical legacy and in the past year he has pushed by the organized forces in the USA who wanted to end the isolation of Cuba. The struggles against police killings and brutality in the USA have inspired a new movement organizing to defend Black lives. The Kenyan athletes who have embarked on 836-kilometer (520-mile) walk for peace are also proclaiming that the lives of ordinary Africans matter. Progressives in Kenya cannot stand aloof from the debates about entrepreneurship, electric power, infrastructure and mobile applications. Kenya needs peace and an end to the violence that is killing innocent people. Patriotic entrepreneurs who are not compromised by the cut throat forms of accumulation must stand out to push for conditions where business practices do not rob the peoples of Kenya of basic dignity.

    The barons of real estate, banking, telecommunications, drugs, land and agriculture, sugar and transportation now dominate the agencies of government in Kenya and came into conflict with sections of Western Capital as they accumulated immense fortunes. The financial barons were willing to use violence to stay in power and were sophisticated enough to develop multilateral relations with new emerging economic behemoths such as India, Turkey, China, and sections of the European Union, especially France.

    The processes of accumulation of wealth in Kenya were not sufficiently independent of state power for the barons to yield to popular votes in elections so the violence of the aftermath of the elections in 2007 was one manifestation of the huge stakes in Kenya. By travelling to Kenya at this time, Obama is caught between the homophobic neo-cons and the drone, Special Forces types on one side and the barons who want respectability on the other. This visit to Kenya has left Obama between the devil and the deep blue sea. Ultimately, in the short run, it is the Uhuru Kenyatta branch of the robber barons who will make hay out of this visit, regardless of what Obama says in his speeches to the Kenyan people.

    Kenyan progressives must remain vigilant, be engaged with the debates about infrastructure and entrepreneurship to build a different relationship between the peoples of Kenya and the USA than that which has produced violence and insecurity over the past fifty years.

    * Horace G. Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University. Campbell is also the Special Invited Professor of International Relations at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity, Monthly Review Press, New York 2013.


    [1] “U.S Operates from Secret Bases in Somalia,” Foreign Policy, July 2, 2015,
    [2] Jeffrey Getleman, “A Catch-22 in Kenya: Western Terrorism Alerts May Fuel Terrorism, “ New York Times, February 25, 2015, terrorists-could-lure-the-unemployed.html
    [3] Horace G. Campbell, “ the Office of Transition Initiatives and the Subversion of Societies, “ Counterpunch, May 2, 2014
    [4] Robert Kaplan,”The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?.” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010,

    My private letter to President Obama

    Alemayehu G. Mariam


    cc SB
    Thousands of political prisoners, journalists, activists and other citizens languish in Ethiopia's official and secret dungeons. The violently repressive regime has thrown a pall of paralyzing fear over the entire nation. Will President Obama ignore this crying shame when Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn hosts him next week? Will he continue with his policy of parroting high ideals but embracing ruthless and corrupt African strongmen?

    July 16, 2015

    President Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear President Obama:

    Greetings! Mr. President.

    I was ecstatic when I heard you would be travelling to Ethiopia in late July “for bilateral meetings with both the country’s government and the leadership of the African Union.” Such a meeting is long overdue.

    I have no doubts the people of Ethiopia will welcome you with open arms and affectionate hearts. I may be biased but I believe Ethiopians are the most hospitable people in the world.

    The last time I was just as ecstatic was exactly 6 years ago in July 2009 when you spoke in Accra to members of Ghana’s Parliament.

    Your words in Accra were stirring and uplifting not only to me but also to tens of millions of Africans yearning to breathe free on the continent. You told it like it is and should be:

    “Make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.

    “Development depends on good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That’s the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.

    “Now, time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously.

    “No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy; that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end.

    “The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it’s no longer needed.

    “I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights reports.”

    I am aware that in the past couple of weeks numerous highly respected human rights and media organizations have expressed vigorous opposition to your Ethiopia visit.

    The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights expressed deep concerns. “The decision by President Obama to travel to Ethiopia, which has seen three opposition party members murdered this week alone, is very troubling.”

    The Washington Post was mystified by your trip and proposed an alternate venue arguing that Ethiopia “stands out in Africa for its increasingly harsh repression and its escalating chokehold on independent media and political dissent. It’s almost unfathomable that he would make time for an entrenched human rights abuser such as Ethiopia while cold-shouldering the nation that just witnessed a historic, peaceful, democratic change of power: Nigeria.”

    Foreign Policy Magazine was openly critical of your visit. “Washington wants a stable partner in the Horn of Africa. But cozying up to the repressive regime in Addis Ababa isn’t the way to go about finding one.”

    Commenting on the May 24 election in Ethiopia, Foreign Policy observed that by “winning all 547 parliamentary seats, [the ruling regime in Ethiopia] places it[self] among the ranks of North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Iraq in terms of the sheer efficiency of its electoral sweep.”

    The Guardian, in its summary of diverse reactions to your trip, observed, “Barack Obama’s decision to visit Ethiopia has shocked human rights activists, who say the visit sends the wrong message to a repressive government widely accused of clamping down on dissent.”

    Many Ethiopian civil society groups, organizations and community leaders have openly and vigorously disapproved your visit.

    On July 3, a large group of Ethiopian and Ethio-American protesters stood outside of the White House to register their disapproval of your trip.

    I share in the reservations expressed by the diverse human rights and civil society groups, media organizations and policy analysts regarding your trip to Ethiopia. I trust you will give due consideration to their concerns and deliberate the issues they raised.

    Arguably, as the foremost Ethiopian Diaspora advocate of human rights in Ethiopia, with a record of uninterrupted weekly commentaries and vigorous advocacy in the cause of human rights in Ethiopia and Africa for the past nine years, I believe your trip to Ethiopia, on balance, is likely to produce favorable and positive outcomes.

    I should like to believe we are already witnessing a glimmer of that positive impact just days before your arrival in Ethiopia.

    On July 8, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported the regime in Ethiopia released “two bloggers affiliated with the independent Ethiopian collective Zone 9 and three other journalists. All charges have been dropped against them. ”

    These young bloggers and journalists have been under illegal detention since April 2014.

    There are numerous other journalists and bloggers like them who eagerly await your arrival so they too may also be free.

    On July 9, the Committee to Protect Journalists jubilantly reported, “We are elated that Reeyot Alemu has been released, but she should never have been jailed in the first place. She served more than four years while in poor health and under often restrictive conditions.”

    Reeyot did not have to serve a single day in prison. She was told the key to the prison gate is in her hand. All she has to do is sign a request for pardon admitting guilt and walk right out.

    But Reeyot chose to stay in prison for 4 years and 17 days because she valued the truth more than her personal freedom.

    Just before her captors let her go, Reeyot warned them: “If you are letting me go to bring me back when I tell the public that I was released without asking for a pardon, I would rather stay. If you lie about my release, I will tell the truth.”

    That is why they call Reeyot Alemu “Ethiopia’s Truth-Teller.”

    I know Reeyot. She is a she-ro for millions of Ethiopians.

    Reeyot is Ethiopia’s Rosa Parks.

    I ask you to meet with her in private for no reason other than for you to see the face of grace under fire in flesh and blood.

    The release of the journalist and bloggers in anticipation of your arrival is an auspicious development.

    If the news of your arrival could crack open the gates of Akaki Prison just enough to let out five bloggers and journalists, I am hopeful and pray that your arrival will bust open all of the prison gates in Ethiopia and let out the thousands of long-suffering political prisoners.

    I also hope and pray you will not face what CNN reporter Erin Burnett faced when she arrived at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa in July 2012. Burnett described her experiences as follows:

    “We saw what an African police state looked like when I was in Ethiopia last month… At the airport, it took an hour to clear customs – not because of lines, but because of checks and questioning. Officials tried multiple times to take us to government cars so they’d know where we went. They only relented after forcing us to leave hundreds of thousands of dollars of TV gear in the airport…”

    I believe it is in your book “Dreams of My Father” that you wrote the following moving words:

    “I have seen the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair. I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder — alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware — is inadequate to the task. I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.”

    I am not sure the regime in Ethiopia will let you see what you saw in Jakarta and Nairobi when you visit Addis.

    In anticipation of your visit, they will sweep up and truck away the tens of thousands of street beggars and the homeless to the countryside so that they will not cast a tattered shadow of themselves on the shiny glass buildings along your motorcade. But if you look hard enough, you might see a few of them huddled alongside the walls and fences.

    If you were to speak to the average young Ethiopian in the street, they would first tell you they are very happy to see you. Then they will whisper to you how their lives have been twisted and mangled by a ruthless and corrupt regime. They will tell you about their daily lives of humiliation and the simmering fury that courses in their blood. They will tell you about their dashed hope and crushed dreams.

    I wonder if they will put to you Langston Hughes’ timeless question:

    “What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore–
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over–
    like a syrupy sweet?
    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.
    Or does it explode?”

    I commend you for your bold and uncompromising statement on World Press Freedom Day on May 1, 2015. After underscoring the “vital role that a free press plays in democracy,” you declared:

    “Journalists give all of us as citizens the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments. That makes us better, it makes us stronger, it gives voice to the voiceless, it exposes injustice, and holds leaders like me accountable… Unfortunately, in too many places around the world, a free press is under attack by governments that want to avoid the truth… Journalists are harassed, sometimes even killed, independent outlets are shut down, dissent is silenced, and freedom of expression is stifled.”

    I also recall your 2010 Statement on World Press Freedom Day. “While people gained greater access than ever before to information through the Internet, cell phones and other forms of connective technologies, governments like China, Ethiopia, Iran, and Venezuela curtailed freedom of expression by limiting full access to and use of these technologies.”

    The Ethiopia you will be visiting in July 2015 is ranked “fourth worst violator of press freedoms” in the world and second worst in Africa by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    In Ethiopia, journalism is synonymous with terrorism.

    Journalism is a crime against the state.

    Journalists are presumed and deemed to be terrorists and enemies of the state.

    You will find that all imprisoned journalists and bloggers in Ethiopia are convicted of or are held for years without trial on terrorism charges.

    This past week, it was revealed that the ruling Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front had spent millions of dollars purchasing surveillance software technology from a company called the “Hack Team”. This news reminded me of your 2010 Statement on World Press Freedom Day and your observation about governments “limiting full access to and use of these [internet] technologies.”

    You may also be interested to know that the regime in Ethiopia used the Hack Team’s nefarious surveillance technology to track down and arrest the “Zone 9 bloggers”, some of whom were released a few days ago in anticipation of your arrival.

    I realize and appreciate that your arrival in Ethiopia at this time may present some manifest contradictions for you. In July 2009, you told the Ghanaians and through them all Africans that no person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery even if that tyranny is burnished with an occasional “sprinkle of elections.”

    In September 2014, you met Hailemariam Desalegn, the titular head of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front, and his delegation at the White House and said, “The Prime Minister and the government is going to be organizing elections in Ethiopia this year. I know something about that… And so we’ll have an opportunity to talk about civil society and governance and how we can make sure that Ethiopia’s progress and example can extend to civil society as well…”

    Well, “Prime Minister Hailemariam and his government” had the election you spoke about on May 24, 2015. They “won” it by 100 percent. Yes, by one hundred percent!

    Learned commentators observed such an election outcome in the 21st century could occur only in North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

    In 2008 campaigning for the presidency, you said, “You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change.’ It’s still gonna stink after eight years.”

    In 2015, I say the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front can wrap its dictatorship in a piece of ballot paper called “election” and call it democracy. But after a chokehold on power for 23 years, it’s still gonna stink.

    Every 5 years, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front “sprinkles” elections to give a human face to its inhumanity, brutality and venality.

    In 2005, the late Meles Zenawi held elections. When he lost that election, he personally ordered the massacre and shooting of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators.

    It is ironic that but for the Meles’ massacres, it is unlikely that I would be writing this letter to you. It is because of the Meles massacres that I resolved to become an indefatigable and relentless human rights advocate in Ethiopia and in Africa and wherever else human rights are violated. Dr. Martin Luther King’s admonition stirred my soul: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

    The lives lost in the Meles massacres matter.

    For the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front, the Meles massacres are simple issues of mind over matter.

    The Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front does not mind and the hundreds of victims of the Meles massacres don’t matter! Neither do the thousands of political prisoners languishing in official and secret prisons today.

    But the victims of the Meles massacre matter to me. Beyond what I am able to express in words.

    They matter to me as a human being.

    They matter to me as a man uncompromisingly committed to the rule of law.

    They matter to me as a native Ethiopian son who left decades ago vowing never to return, but one whom Ethiopia has refused to leave.

    They matter to me as a proud Ethiopian American who has been fortunate enough to “secure the blessings of liberty” promised to “posterity” in the Founding document of the Republic. Yes, that flawed and imperfect document which turned a blind eye to slavery and deaf ears to the wails, cries and lamentations of African slaves.

    In 2009 in Accra you said:

    “This is about more than just holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections. Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves… No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top.”

    You are correct in your observations.

    The Economist in its May 2012 issue observed: “Investing in Ethiopia is not for the faint-hearted, however. With a projected national income of $38.5 billion this year, its population of 85m still ranks among the world’s poorest. The government’s big spending carries risks, including high inflation (32.5% in March was near a nine-month low) and heavy state borrowing that has shrunk the credit available to private firms. Much more borrowing and spending is planned, and needed. The heart of the Ethiopian capital may be traversed by new concrete arteries and bridges, built by Italian and Chinese contractors with Chinese loans. But the rest of Addis Ababa is a patchwork of dirt paths lined by corrugated-tin dwellings that are the capital’s shantytowns and slums.”

    In 2009, you told the Ghanaians that you “have directed [your] administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights reports.”

    You need not worry about a corruption investigation in Ethiopia. The World Bank has done that job for you meticulously. In 2012, the Word Bank issued a one of a kind 417-page report entitled, “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia.” That report documented the deadly cancer of corruption and its vector in the Ethiopian body politics. That’s why the World Bank was compelled to undertake a clinical “diagnosis”. The expert prognosis is that corruption will in the foreseeable future destroy Ethiopian society and economy. In 2014, Ethiopia ranked 136/175 on the Corruption Index.

    In all candor, I have been contemplating two questions for a long time. As your travel date to Ethiopia draws near, these questions gnaw my mind to sleeplessness: Is Africa better off today than when you became president? Is Ethiopia better off today than when you became president?

    I ask these questions in the form of accountability and for two basic reasons. First, billions of American taxpayers’ dollars have flowed into Ethiopia in the name of development, security and democracy over the past 6 years. The evidence shows that American tax dollars have served to fortify a brutal regime and not much more.

    In September 2014, you stated to the delegation of leaders of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front that Ethiopia is one of the “bright spots and progress that we’re seeing in Africa. I think there’s no better example than what has been happening in Ethiopia — one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.”

    The “fastest growing economy” may be a nice phrase for media hype but it is unsupported by evidence. It is part of USAID’s typical litany to claim that U.S. aid has contributed to the “substantial growth in agriculture, industry and services” in Ethiopia. I am not so sure about the “fastest growing economy” or USAID’s claims of “substantial growth.”

    In 2010, the State Department Inspector General reported “the audit was unable to determine whether the results reported in USAID/Ethiopia’s Performance Plan and Report were valid because mission staff could neither explain how the results were derived nor provide support for those reported results.”

    Is it possible the growth figures are being “cooked”? The evidence shows no one really knows if the billions of American dollars are doing much to help the people of Ethiopia. It is clear they are doing a lot for the leaders, members and supporters of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front.

    In 2011, Global Financial Integrity reported: “Ethiopia, which has a per-capita GDP of just US$365, lost US$11.7 billion to illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2009. In 2009, illicit money leaving the economy totaled US$3.26 billion, which is double the amount in each of the two previous years…

    “In 2008, Ethiopia received US$829 million in official development assistance, but this was swamped by the massive illicit outflows. The scope of Ethiopia’s capital flight is so severe that our conservative US$3.26 billion estimate greatly exceeds the US$2 billion value of Ethiopia’s total exports in 2009.”

    GFI concluded, “The people of Ethiopia are being bled dry. No matter how hard they try to fight their way out of absolute destitution and poverty, they will be swimming upstream against the current of illicit capital leakage.”

    The question is which Ethiopians have the financial ability to illicitly move out of the country billions of dollars.

    The Economist Magazine in its March 2013 issue had the skinny on “one of the fastest-growing economies in the world”:

    “Even [regime] supporters do not have much faith in official numbers. Annual productivity gains in agriculture are probably not 5-6%, as the official statistics suggest, but more like 2-3%, though that is still impressive. An insider says: ‘Officials are given targets and then report back what superiors want to hear.’ International experts are suspicious of the GDP growth figures of 11% flaunted by the government. They say the actual growth rate is only half that, around 5-7%—which is still respectable.”

    Other independent research organizations have reported even more jarring and distressing facts. In 2014, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHDI) Multidimensional Poverty Index (formerly annual U.N.D.P. Human Poverty Index) reported for the fourth successive year that Ethiopia is ranked as the second poorest country on the planet. Yes, the second poorest in the world!

    In 2010, OPHDI reported that the percentage of the Ethiopian population in “severe poverty” (living on less than USD$1 a day) was 72.3%. The OPHDI 2014 poverty statistics are even more shocking. In rural Ethiopia, 82 % of the population struggles “in severe poverty” compared to 18% in the urban areas. The highest incidences of “severe poverty” in Ethiopia in 2014 were found in the following regions: Somali (93% ), Oromiya (91.2%), Afar (90.9%), Amhara (90.1%) and Tigray (85.4%).

    By OPHDI measures, poverty is not simply lack of money. Poverty is quintessentially about bad health, bad education, bad nutrition, high child mortality, bad water and electricity supply, bad housing and bad sanitation.

    The root cause of poverty in Ethiopia is bad governance!

    Despite the hype about “double-digit economic growth over the past ten years”, Ethiopia is in very bad shape; and that is how she got to be ranked the second poorest country on the planet!

    Second, I wonder what American taxpayers have received from Ethiopia in exchange for the billions they have given out over the years.

    I do not doubt that the U.S. leans on Ethiopia to do the heavy lifting on security issues in the Horn and East Africa. I don’t believe there is anything new in that.

    In the post-WW II period, the U.S. has been the major supplier of military equipment and training to Ethiopia.

    The U.S. maintained Kagnew Station, a “Cold War listening station”, in northern Ethiopia between 1943 to 1977.

    U.S.-Ethiopia relations deteriorated after the military socialist junta took over in 1974.

    The strategic security cooperation and partnership to wipe out terrorism in the Horn between the U.S. and Ethiopia will continue regardless of the regime in power. There is little doubt that Ethiopians support the U.S. effort to fight terrorism in the Horn and elsewhere.

    A few months ago, terrorists in Libya beheaded 30 innocent Ethiopians because of their nationality and faith. The resolve of all Ethiopians to root out terrorism wherever it rears its ugly head can never be doubted. Ethiopians are confident that the long arm of justice will catch the criminals against humanity who beheaded their compatriots no matter how long it takes.

    The Tigrean People’s Liberation Front has no monopoly on counter-terrorism. It is rather ironic, however, that the U.S. has built a counter-terrorism partnership with the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front, an organization actively listed in the Global Terrorism Data Base.

    But “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”; even former terrorists can walk in our midst like wolves in sheep clothing.

    You once said, “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

    It is well known that the U.S. Air Force has flown armed drones on counterterrorism missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethiopia as part of the U.S. effort to destroy terrorist enclaves in Yemen and Somalia.

    I have no issues with “taking out terrorists who threaten us” or threaten any peace-loving nation. As a civil libertarian and constitutional lawyer, however, I am troubled by a policy premised on the doctrine of presumption of guilt, shoot first and ask questions later.

    I will reserve that issue for another time.

    My issue is that the very counter-terrorism security partnership the U.S. has employed to hunt down terrorists in the Horn is also used to hunt down journalists, bloggers, dissidents, opposition leaders and others in Ethiopia.

    The U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 has documented the terrorism that is perpetrated against the civilian population in Ethiopia by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front:

    “The most significant human rights problems included restrictions on freedom of expression, including continued restrictions on print media and on the internet, and restrictions on freedom of association, including through arrests; politically motivated trials; and harassment and intimidation of opposition members and journalists. The government continued restrictions on activities of civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) imposed by the Charities and Societies Proclamation (the CSO law). Other human rights problems included alleged arbitrary killings; alleged torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; reports of harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; a weak, overburdened judiciary subject to political influence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches; alleged abuses in the implementation of the government’s “villagization” program; restrictions on academic freedom; restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement; alleged interference in religious affairs; limits on citizens’ ability to change their government; police, administrative, and judicial corruption; violence and societal discrimination against women and abuse of children.”

    I should like to applaud your efforts in Africa over the past couple of years, and particularly for your initiatives. You launched “Power Africa”, a public-private partnership designed to make electricity available across the continent. I must say that I am wary of the words “power” and “Africa” appearing in the same sentence. Power is a real problem in Africa.

    The questions are always the same: Who has power? Who is powerless? How are the powerful to be restrained from abusing the powerless?

    For ordinary Africans, “Power for Africa” could be mistaken for “Power for African Dictators”.

    I wish the initiative had been called “Empower Africans”. I am all for empowering Africans, especially the young ones.

    I also like your Young African Leaders Initiative with the Mandela Washington Fellowship at its core. It is said that initiative “embodies” your “commitment to invest in the future of Africa.” It is commendable to bring 500 of the best and brightest of Africa’s youth and open up opportunities for them in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management.

    I must confess that your “Young African Leaders Initiative” reminded me of W.E.B. Du Bois’ “theory” of the “the talented tenth”, which he used to describe the likelihood of one in 10 black men becoming leaders of their race in the world. Du Bois wrote in his “Talented Tenth” essay, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst.”

    Perhaps your “Young African Leaders Initiative” will produce Africa’s “Talented Tenth”. Perhaps the young African leaders will save Africa from contamination, genocide and crimes against humanity.

    But I wondered what initiatives you had in the works for the hundreds of millions of African youths who lack access to basic education, health care and employment opportunities. The U.N. says nearly 70 percent of the African population is under 35 years old. These youths could use your leadership to help get them out of dictatorship. They can handle the rest.

    When you held the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the White House in August 2014, I was heartbroken. Your immortal words, “Africa does not need strongmen, Africa needs strong institutions” overwhelmed me when I saw you standing and smiling next to the who’s who of world dictators.

    There you were standing shoulder to shoulder with Paul Biya (Cameroon), Blaise Compaoré (Burkina Faso), Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equitorial Guinea), Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe (Ethiopia), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Joseph Kabila Kabange (DR Congo), Idris Deby (Chad), King Mswati III (Swaziland), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Denis Sassou-Nguesso (Congo Republic) and so on.

    There you stood with Uhuru Kenyatta, a man at the time on trial at the International Criminal Court.

    The Bard of Avon wrote, “Foul deeds will rise,/ Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.”

    I applaud your “Feed the Future Initiative” designed to reduce, hunger, malnutrition and poverty in Africa and elsewhere.

    Kofi Annan said, “Programs like ‘Feed the Future’ make an important contribution by supporting innovation, providing technical knowledge, and developing markets for smallholder farmers to sell their products.” Kofi is right.

    But I am sure you will agree with me that “Man and woman do not live by bread alone.”

    In June 2009, you said:

    “America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice, government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people, the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas. They are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.”

    Africa’s young men and women, Africa’s future, also desperately need freedom—the freedom to speak, to worship, to assemble and to petition for grievances.

    A young African mind and body is a terrible thing to waste.

    Let me say a few personal words that are unrelated to the big issues of the day.

    Perhaps these words will give you insights why I am passionate about my human rights advocacy in Ethiopia and Africa.

    I am among the second wave (cohort) of young Africans who came to the U.S. for higher education in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    Your father was in the first wave of promising young Africans who travelled to the West after the initial round of decolonization of African societies and returned to Africa in the mid-to late 1960s.
    I chose to study political science and law. I was particularly interested in the “theory” and practice of American constitutional law and government.

    Your father studied economics and returned to Kenya.

    I received my terminal degrees and chose to remain in America.

    I knew early on that I could not live in a country where the people live in total fear of their government instead of a country where the government fears the people.

    I guess that would make a Jeffersonian-type democrat with my resolute opposition to corruption, insistence on virtue, equal rights for all citizens and so on. I tend to be self-righteous in that way.

    In May 2009, you said:

    “I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake. I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset – in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval. Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.”

    I too have studied the Constitution and teach and practice it. I have vowed never to turn my back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

    For me upholding the Constitution is a simple matter of idealism. Deep down, I am an incorrigible utopian Ethiopian American.

    So every week, without missing a single week for the past nine years, I have preached and sermonized on the most cherished of American values, those values succinctly enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

    In your Nobel speech in 2009 you said, “We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard.”

    I hope as you meet the leaders of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front in Addis Ababa, you will not compromise on American ideals and turn a blind eye to the plight of the thousands of political prisoners held in official and secret prisons in Ethiopia. I hope you will insist on the release of journalists Eskinder Nega, Woubshet Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, Abraha Desta, the detained members of Zone 9 bloggers, and the thousands of other political prisoners.

    A couple of days ago it was reported that six members of the Ethiopian Muslims Arbitration Committee, eight scholars, two journalists, an artist and a student were “convicted” of terrorism, conspiracy and incitement charges.” They had been held in detention since 2012.

    I hope you will insist on the release of these young Ethiopian Muslims who have been imprisoned for no reason other than asserting their constitutional right to keep government out of God’s business.

    Let me also say that I have been your Number 1 fan and supporter since you announced your candidacy for the presidency in February 2007.

    Over the years, I have written countless commentaries promoting your candidacy and mobilizing financial and electoral support for you in the Ethiopian American community throughout the United States.

    I have defended your policies and robustly countered your critics in the media.

    In the past year, perplexed in the extreme by your policies in Ethiopia, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Why I am Ashamed to be Proud of President Obama”.

    There is nothing more I want than to be proud of you again in the last two years of your presidency.

    I remember reading somewhere that you have a practice of reading “10 pieces of unvetted correspondence addressed to you” as part of your important daily reading material.

    I hope my letter will be one of the 10 pieces.

    I hope you will get to read this letter because it resonates the deepest feelings of millions of Ethiopians who are voiceless and whose voices have been silenced.

    I imagine my letter will likely not reach you because those who screen the thousands of letters addressed to you every day may find mine to be the rantings of an overwrought, self-important, self-righteous, self-absorbed and self-appointed and misguided professor-cum-constitutional-lawyer-cum-Ethiopian-human rights advocate.

    Perhaps the content of what I have written to you does not make much sense because it is written by one “being wrought and perplexed in the extreme”, to borrow a phrase from the Bard of Avon, ruminates away his days over the tragedy that has befallen his native land and his people.

    Perhaps my letter is too long and may sound overly accusatory in tone.

    But I write to you out of conviction that “the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict”, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said.

    For the past nine years, I have not remained neutral in the great moral conflict facing Ethiopia.

    I have stood proud and tall on the right side of history every single Monday since 2006.

    I believe it was in your book “The Audacity of Hope” that you observed, “If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.”

    My friends Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, the Zone 9 bloggers, the young Muslims and so many other political prisoners are paying the highest price for their principles.

    In September 2014, you told a delegation of the regime in Ethiopia:

    “And so we’ll have an opportunity to talk about civil society and governance and how we can make sure that Ethiopia’s progress and example can extend to civil society as well, and making sure that throughout the continent of Africa we continue to widen and broaden our efforts at democracy, all of which isn’t just good for politics but ends up being good for economics as well.”

    I hope in July 2015, you will get a chance to talk to the leaders of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front about letting civil society institutions function freely in Ethiopia and hammer out a practical program to broaden democracy in Ethiopia.

    In July 2009, you said, “History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

    In your first inaugural address, you said, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

    In July 2015, as you visit Ethiopia, you will find out that the ruling Tigrean People’s Liberation Front is that dreaded gang of “African strongmen” you warned us about in 2009. They are the ones you warned us about clinging to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.
    For six years, you have unclenched your fist in dealing with the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. Perhaps it is time to speak softly and clench your fist.

    It is confusing and painful for me and many others to see you standing with the strongmen of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front in Addis Ababa.

    I am not sure if I will wince or grimace when I see those pictures of you standing with the “strongmen” in Addis. It may be best for me to turn a blind eye.

    I should like to remind you that as you stand shoulder to shoulder with the strongmen of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front in Addis Ababa, you are standing in the long shadow of history.

    Someone once said, “Shadows cannot see themselves in the mirror of the sun.” Or the mirror of history?

    Historians will one day write about your policies and efforts in Africa. They will write about your legacy and what you did and did not do.

    I don’t think any of that matters at all.

    What matters is how you will answer that question of history you raised in Accra in 2009 as you stand in the dock before the bar of your own conscience: Were you President Barack Obama on the right side of history in your policies in Africa and specifically in Ethiopia?

    Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

    I dare say that Ethiopians will not appreciate your neutrality if you visit them, take a few photos with their oppressors but remain silent about the heavy boot that is crushing their necks.

    In October 2011, Senator Ted Cruz whom the National Review proclaimed “the great conservative hope” said, “The most enduring legacy of President Barack Obama is going to be a new generation of leaders standing up for liberty.” I think Senator Cruz has a point.

    I hope your singular legacy in Africa will “be a new generation of leaders standing up for liberty.”

    As you think of the young and new generation of African leaders, I hope you will not forget the older generation of African leaders.

    As you know, great Ethiopian leaders preserved Ethiopia’s independence for over three thousand years and repelled repeated incursions by Europeans over the past couple of centuries.

    At the Battle of Adwa in 1896, two years after the Berlin Conference in which European powers carved up Africa, Emperor Menelik II routed Italy’s modern war machine with bows and arrows and spears.

    Emperor Menelik is the first African leader in history to decisively crush a vastly superior European colonial army. No European power managed to colonize Ethiopia because of its historic leaders.

    Ever since Menelik II victory over the invading Italian colonial army, Ethiopia has been a beacon of hope and symbol of dignity and pride for all Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.

    May I ask you to lay a wreath before the statute of Emperor Menelik II during your visit?

    I am certain you will find Ethiopia to be the “Land of 13 Months of Sunshine”.

    You will find Ethiopians to be a people who are hospitable, respectful and affectionate to a fault.

    Have a great trip to Ethiopia, Mr. President.

    I bid you Godspeed and a pleasant trip to the cradle of mankind.

    I have been told that when I get up to sing, all the birds tweet each other and swiftly fly out of town. But that won’t stop me from crooning to myself my version of the old Negro Spiritual, “Go Down Moses”, as I wish you bon voyage.

    Go down Moses way down in Ethiopia land
    Tell all Pharaohs to let My people go
    Oppressed so hard they could not stand
    Let My people go
    So the God sayeth, Go down, Moses way down in Ethiopia land
    Tell all Pharaohs to let My people go
    So Moses went to Ethiopia land
    Let My people go
    He made all Pharaohs understand
    Let My people go
    Yes The Lord said, Go down, Moses way down in Ethiopia land
    Tell all Pharaohs to let My people go
    Let My people go
    Tell all Pharaohs to let My people go.

    President Obama, tell the Pharaohs of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front to let my people go.

    Alemayehu “Al” G. Mariam, Ph.D., J.D. Professor, California State University, San Bernardino

    Letter from an Ethiopian-American son to President Obama

    Obok Okello Akway


    cc N24
    Next week, President Obama will visit US client state Ethiopia, ruled by a despotic regime that locks up anyone who dares to speak out against its mass atrocities. Mr. Okello Akway Ochalla, the former governor of Gambella, is one such. His son now appeals to Obama to secure Ochalla’s release from jail.


    As President Obama prepares to visit Ethiopia later this month, both international civil society and the Ethiopian diaspora are holding protests, challenging that the visit will further legitimize the country’s repressive regime that has muzzled all dissent and political freedom.

    Ethiopia is a close ally of the United States and one of the largest recipients of US aid in Africa. The significant financial support offered to Ethiopia from donors such as the US amounts to some 50 to 60 percent of the country’s national budget. This development aid has been essential in funding the Ethiopian government’s so-called development strategy—a key element of this strategy being the relocation of some 1.5 million people from areas targeted for industrial plantations under the government's “villagization” plan. The areas targeted include Gambella, Lower Omo, and several other parts of the country. As evidenced by the Oakland Institute’s extensive research, these displacements are happening without the free, prior, and informed consent of the impacted populations; when communities resist, they are being forcibly removed from their traditional lands by means of violence, rape, imprisonment, intimidation, political coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance, including food aid.

    Compelled by this research and evidence, the US Congress took the important step of including language in the 2014 and 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that would prevent aid to Ethiopia from supporting activities that result in forced evictions.

    Despite such moves, all who speak out against such atrocities are labeled as terrorists and locked up in Ethiopian jails. Mr. Okello Akway Ochalla, the former governor of Gambella, is one such individual who has been languishing in the Kilinto prison for over a year now following his kidnapping from South Sudan by Ethiopian security forces.

    As President Obama prepares for his trip, the Oakland Institute and the Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC), who have worked to expose Ochalla’s situation, are releasing this open letter to President Obama from Obok, Mr. Okello’s son.


    Spokane, Washington
    July 16, 2015

    Dear President Obama,

    My name is Obok Okello Akway. I am a 25-year-old Anuak man, originally from Gambella, Ethiopia, and I arrived in the US as a refugee in December 2013. Following the 2003 massacre of the Anuak people, I had to flee my home with my younger sister. After spending half of our lives as refugees in Kenya, my sister and I are today proud to call the United States our home.

    Since our arrival, we have worked hard to make a new life and make ends meet. Undeterred by my childhood and studies being interrupted while I was a refugee, I completed my GED diploma this June and am now applying to community colleges. But I felt the void of my family not being with me to celebrate my graduation from high school. I aspire to continue my education to receive advanced degrees and hope to have my family at my side for future celebrations.

    This is why I write to you today.

    You are the first sitting American president to visit my country, Ethiopia, with your trip planned for later this month. I hear that the Ethiopian government has freed several political prisoners ahead of your visit, including two Zone 9 bloggers and four journalists. It is because of YOU that these courageous individuals who were punished for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, expression, and association—all of which we take for granted and enjoy in the United States—are today back with their families and can shake off the heavy burden of being charged as terrorists. Thank you for ensuring their human rights!

    With the power you have—as the President of a country that is a friend of Ethiopia, an ally, and a key donor—I write to you today to also help secure the freedom of my father, Okello Akway Ochalla, who has been held as a political prisoner in Ethiopia since March 2014.

    My father was the governor of Gambella when he had to flee the country during the 2003 massacre and found asylum in Norway. Gambella is also the region where the government currently is responsible for mass human rights violations and forced resettlements of locals, displacing them from their lands, forests, and rivers. Speaking out against the ongoing repression of the Anuak people made my father a target of the Ethiopian regime.

    In March 2014, while in South Sudan visiting family and friends, my father was seized by the Ethiopian Intelligence Service, taken to Ethiopia the same day, and imprisoned and charged under Ethiopia’s harsh anti-terrorism laws due to his opposition to the government’s violations of human rights. All this was done in blatant violation of international human rights law. My father has now been held in the jail for over a year. I have even received reports of my father being mistreated, including beatings by prison guards.

    Given my father is a Norwegian citizen, my family and I reached out to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) asking for assistance and information. But the Norwegian ministry has closed all doors on its African-born citizen and his family. Meanwhile, my father’s Norwegian citizenship is not recognized and he is held in the jail for Ethiopians. The MFA and the Norwegian consulate in Addis have not addressed this violation.

    Because my father did not have a lawyer in Ethiopia, and we could get no information from the Norwegian government, with help from the US-based Oakland Institute and the Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC) the family brought on a leading Ethiopian human rights lawyer, Ameha Mekonen, to represent my father’s case.

    But as you know, there is no rule of law or justice in Ethiopia. No lawyer can win a human rights case. And that is why I write to you to beg for your help.

    Whereas Norway has failed its citizen, you and the United States have spoken out and taken action for the Zone 9 bloggers and many others who clamor for justice and a free society in Ethiopia. You are a beacon of hope for me, representing an opportunity for change in my life.

    I hope that by the time you return from Ethiopia we will see the release of all political prisoners. And I hope to see you return with my father, who I have not seen since 2003, so I can really start my life again with the promise made by the United States to all around the world of freedom from all repression.

    Thank you, President Obama, for bringing so much hope to my family when all others have failed us.


    Obok Okello Akway

    An open letter to Obama: A historic opportunity to denounce international racism

    Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.


    cc NYT
    Africans have heard plenty from world leaders about the lack of democratic institutions and the human rights abuse in their continent. It is time that the world talks about the absence of democratic principles in the international economic and political order and the prevalence of rampant international racism.

    There are high expectations, both in continental Africa and the African Diaspora, that your visits in Kenya and Ethiopia will be historic and transformative. I write on behalf of the civil rights community to urge you to use your speech at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa as a platform to address the endemic racism in international institutions such as the G-20 and the World Bank.

    Slavery, which robbed Africa of its sons and daughters, was a crime against humanity, as was colonialism, which pillaged Africa and subjugated its people. The abject racism in the 21st century against people of African heritage in global governing bodies and international institutions is a bestial remnant of the world's original sin.

    Africa has heard plenty from world leaders about the lack of democratic institutions and the human rights abuse in the continent. It is about time that the world talks about the absence of democratic principles in the international economic and political governing bodies. It is past time, indeed, that the world deals with the prevalence of rampant international racism.

    The systemic confinement of Africans to underclass global citizens is nowhere clearer than in Africa's gross underrepresentation in the G-20, an institution whose overarching objective is to "promote growth across the developed and developing world to benefit people in all countries."

    Europe and North America account for 14 percent of the world population, but occupy nearly 50 percent of the seats at the G-20 table. Asia has six seats including Australia. Latin America, which accounts for eight percent of the world population, has three. By comparison, Africa, home to 16 percent of the world population, occupies only one seat (South Africa).

    The virtual exclusion of Africa from global governance architecture has lent itself to manifest discrimination against people of African origin in international organizations. Since 1979, numerous World Bank reports have acknowledged that Blacks in the World Bank are "rated inferior; ghettoized in the Africa region; and confined to low profile positions."

    A 2014 World Bank report that was prepared by an independent expert was so damaging that the Bank's first reaction was to embargo it. It was forced to release it "for internal use only" after a concerted campaign for full disclosure by the DC Civil Rights Coalition. According to Justice for Blacks, "the report was sanitized so much so that the independent author's name was withdrawn."

    On a scale of one to six (one being an outright racist), the report found the Bank "hovering between 2 and 3". The report classified the Bank with institutions that are "tolerant of racial differences, [but] not open to those who question the status quo." It documented that "some staff referred to their assignment as kind of apartheid" and underlined that there is a "lack of accountability to discriminated groups".

    The findings of the report is consistent with a 2005 Staff Association report, which documented that the Bank's Senior Advisor for Racial Equality (SARE) received and reviewed over 450 cases of discrimination in just five years. Yet not a single complainant has prevailed.

    The galling statistics do not begin to tell half the story of the endemic racial injustice. Dr. Yonas Biru's case, which has triggered uproar both inside and outside of the World Bank, provides compelling evidence that racial discrimination in the World Bank is institutionally sanctioned. The case leaves bare the Bank's longstanding corporate lie that attributes the paucity of blacks in its management ranks to the absence of qualified candidates.

    Dr. Biru, an Ethiopian citizen, was a widely praised deputy global manager of an international program. His performance was evaluated consistently as "outstanding and superior." The problem started when he expressed interest in becoming the global manager of the program. The Bank rejected him alleging that "Europeans are not used to seeing a black man in a position of power."

    The consolation that the Bank offered the Ethiopian was to be a de facto global manager without official recognition and accept the Bank's decision to front a white consultant as the program's global manager. The Bank had no qualms about acknowledging on the record that, according to World Bank rules, consultants are "not allowed to work fulltime or manage any World Bank project." Evidently, the white consultant was fronted as global manager not to offend Europeans by designating a black man as global manager.

    Dr. Biru filed a complaint with the Tribunal. As Frank Watkins, my public policy director documented, the World Bank regarded Dr. Biru's challenge "as audacious and saw it fit to cut him down to size. This involved debasing his official personnel record, wiping out his title from World Bank websites, and claiming that he had no management responsibilities."

    Having freely obliterated his professional standing, the Bank submitted to the Tribunal that he cannot be global manager because he had neither "managerial responsibility" nor "relevant experience." The Bank further claimed that "he lacks international credibility, and some of the international partners do not want to work with him."

    The Tribunal had before it over a dozen written testimonies from senior officials of international organizations from every region of the world rejecting the Bank's false claims. Moreover, the Tribunal was in possession of Dr. Biru's official personnel record that read in relevant parts: "He has multiple roles in the Bank's global management, managing one of the most critical programs that the World Bank has ever managed... As Deputy Global Manager he continued to make significant contribution... He is praised for his many skills... He managed and brought to fruition important methodological innovations in critical areas that have created a lasting legacy..."

    Inexplicably, the Tribunal ruled that the Bank's actions were explained by business reasons and dismissed all charges against the Bank.

    To top off the injustice, the World Bank terminated the Ethiopian. The Tribunal found his termination "unlawful and arbitrary," but still ruled that he should not be reinstated because "he has criticized his managers."

    The aforementioned 2014 World Bank report found the case as a "blatant and virulent" example of racism. The Bank's SARE stated for the record that the case is "beyond the pale of comparison and utterly incompatible with the Bank’s zero-tolerance policy against racial discrimination." Despite such findings, in 2015 the Bank filed a motion to dismiss Dr. Biru's appeal to reopen the case.

    Externally, the US Treasury, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Civil Rights Coalition, the former chair of the US Senate Appropriations Committee, the Government Accountability Project (GAP), and leaders of over 500 faith-based organizations appealed to the Bank to resolve the case justly, but met with no success.

    Since 1998, numerous studies including those by the World Bank and the US government have found that victims of racial discrimination are denied the security of justice. This was reaffirmed in the aforementioned 2014 World Bank report. A comprehensive report by GAP has found some evidence of judicial racism against the Tribunal. The DC Civil Rights Coalition has compiled concrete examples, showing the Tribunal has different standards for blacks and non-blacks. The Bank's SARE is on the record stating that "the internal justice system is immune from scrutiny, especially when it comes to racial discrimination of people of African origin." Nonetheless, to date the World Bank has refused to address the problem, choosing instead to take cosmetic actions, such as the recent recruitment drive to hire 80 Africans.

    As the host country to the World Bank and as its largest shareholder, the US has moral and legal responsibility to ensure that the human dignity and rights of people of African origin are respected. Taking a firm stand against the World Bank will send a clear message to all international organizations that immunity is not impunity.

    I urge you to instruct the US Treasury to block US funding to the World Bank until it accords victims of discrimination access to justice. I also ask of you to encourage the Bank to meet the four-point requests that the DC Civil Rights Coalition has submitted:

    (i) resolve Dr. Biru's outstanding case through external arbitration;

    (ii) establish a high-level external commission to investigate the Tribunal for systemic violation of human rights that the denial of due process constitutes;

    (iii) resolve current and future racial discrimination complaints through external arbitration; and

    (iv) address the underrepresentation of Blacks in mid to senior management positions.

    Last but not least, I appeal to you as the President of the United States and as a globally respected statesman to use your influence to ensure that Africa is accorded fair representation in the G-20.

    * Jesse Jackson Sr. is founder and president of the Rainbow and PUSH Coalition and a two-time U.S. presidential candidate.



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    Paul Kagame crowned life-president

    The dangerous act of Rwanda’s Parliament

    Theogene Rudasingwa


    cc CCTV
    With the decision by parliament to remove constitutional term limits to allow Kagame to rule for life, Rwanda has now entered a dangerous period of escalation. Anger, frustration, miscalculation, another wrong decision or unforeseen event could easily trigger another round of devastation.

    The 14th of July 2015 will always be remembered as a day in infamy in Rwanda’s entire history. In a joint session of Parliament, legislators unanimously voted to remove term limits, thus paving the way for President Paul Kagame to rule for life. This deliberate and yet fateful decision by Rwanda’s rubber stamp parliament was preceded by the equally irresponsible and dangerous decision by the ruling Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) to abide by President Kagame’s will to remove the term limits. Equally cynical has been the manipulation and coercion of ordinary Rwandans to gather 3.7 million signatures demanding amendment of Article 101 of the Constitution to allow President Kagame to rule for life.

    Following this familiar enactment and orchestration of “popular will” by the ruling party, the people and the parliament, the next logical sequence will be a referendum and 2017 elections. In both, a “landslide victory” is inevitable to conform to the will of President Kagame. The reader is reminded that both Rwanda’s houses of legislature (celebrated abroad for having the largest number of women!) are not elected by the people but nominated, either directly by President Kagame, or through the ruling party RPF which must execute his instructions.

    The majority of Rwandans, Africans and those in the international community familiar with Rwanda’s tragic past are wondering why our country’s rulers are prone to commit the same costly mistakes.

    During the last days of Rwanda’s Monarchy before the 1959 revolution, the Kayibanda regime before the 1973 military coup, the Habyarimana regime before its fall in 1994, and now the Kagame regime in its decline to an inevitable end, Rwanda’s ruling elites behave in similar fashion to varying degrees. They ignore the warning signs. They selfishly rally to the absolute ruler. They amplify their ethnic identity, threatening shock and doom for their “fellow Hutu” or “fellow Tutsi”. As the crisis gathers momentum, they demonize the “others” to appease the ego of the ruler. In their final days they may then try all sorts of dirty schemes, including total elimination of the “others”.

    These end-game strategies and actions always fail to save the ancien regime. The narrow clique of political, military, business and social elite of the ancien regime become the losers in the violent contest that ensues. They then find themselves hunted, exiled, and at the mercy of the new political-military clique under a new hero-savior. The vicious cycle repeats itself as the stakes become higher with each successive round of cut-throat competition among the elites vying for power at all costs. The losses of one side are the gains of the other. This is the underlying cause of cyclical violent conflict in Rwanda, with the attendant refugee crises, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and regional wars.

    There are two additional factors to note in the cyclical pattern of violent conflict in Rwanda. The first is international, and the second, regional.

    In their ascendancy to and maintenance of power, elite factions in Rwanda have always found foreign benefactors to help. From 1959 to 1994, Belgium and France helped the “Hutu” regimes under President Kayibanda and President Habyarimana. From 1994 to date, the United States and the United Kingdom emerged as the generous shield around the “Tutsi” regime of President Kagame. Yet, these regimes do finally falter and collapse despite this Western support, which is often wrongly accused as the source of Rwanda’s problems when things fall part.

    Instability, death and destruction in Rwanda always have regional dimensions as well. Since 1994, the Kagame regime has sponsored instability and terror in the Great Lakes region, with far reaching consequence in the Democratic Republic of Congo where some six million have died, by some credible estimates. As the crisis in Burundi unravels and deepens, the Kagame regime’s disruptive arm is all too visible for those who care to see. The regime’s propensity to make enemies among fellow Africans is only surpassed by the apartheid regime of South Africa while it lasted.

    Rwanda has now entered a dangerous period of escalation. Anger, emotion, frustration, miscalculation, another wrong decision or unforeseen event could easily be the powerful trigger to another series of catastrophic consequences.

    The psychology of President Kagame leads us to a track record of taking very risky gambles without calculating the cost (the shooting down of the Habyarimana plane; the assassination of President Laurent Kabila and the wars and massive human rights abuses in DRC; fighting Ugandan troops in DRC; the imprisonment of President Pasteur Bizimungu; the imprisonment of FDU-Inking President Victoire Ingabire; the assassination of Seth Sendashonga; the Kibeho massacres; the assassination of Rwandan bishops; the diplomatic fall-out with South Africa after the assassination of Colonel Patrick Karegeya and failed assassination of General Kayumba Nyamwasa; his insults to Tanzania’s President Kikwete; his current proxy war in Burundi; his public denunciation of France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the West regarding the arrest of General Karenzi Karake in London, etc). The most likely scenario is that the regime will run full throttle to crown Kagame as Life President in 2017, irrespective of outcomes.

    The Kagame regime has coerced ordinary and fearful Rwandans, used a rubber stamp ruling party, and a rubber stamp parliament to choose a path in which civil war, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity seem inevitable. He has ruled with, and gained from, impunity long enough to believe that he can always survive any calls for accountability. He believes that his reign must endure till death so that he may not face justice, even if many more millions of Rwandans and Africans must perish in the process.

    All Rwandans must learn from their past. We all must rise and resist the dictatorial regime’s attempt to extend its illegitimate and unconstitutional mandate that has been characterized by horrendous human rights abuses and impunity; total closure to participation of independent political parties, civil society, media, and intellectual activity; sectarian security institutions; ethnic polarization; regional destabilization and absolute rule.

    Africa and the international community must learn from past mistakes in Rwanda, and rise to the occasion to stop appeasing and supporting the Kagame regime while its institutions, including the parliament, become tools of undemocratic and unconstitutional rule. Instead, Rwandans must be helped to build a free, united, democratic, just, and prosperous nation that is as peace with itself and with its neighbors.

    Rwandans, Africa and the international community must work together to deny the Kagame regime a chance to throw Rwanda into another hell of civil war and genocide.

    * Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Coordinator of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), formerly held positions of RPF Secretary General (1993-1996), Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States (1996-1999), and Chief of Staff for President Paul Kagame (2000-2004). He has testified before French Judges Marc Trevidic and Natalie Poux in the investigation of the shooting down of the President Habyarimana plane in 1994, as well as before the Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles in the case in which General Karenzi Karake and others are indicted. He has authored ‘Healing A Nation’ and ‘Urgent Call’.



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    The real danger: Letter to President José Eduardo dos Santos

    Rafael Marques de Morais


    cc Zi
    José Eduardo dos Santos - who shares with Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema the infamy of being Africa's longest-ruling president - is becoming increasingly tyrannical as his regime faces growing popular resistance. In this open letter, Angolan ward-winning investigative journalist and human rights activist speaks out his mind about the political situation in the oil-rich southern African nation.

    Mr President José Eduardo dos Santos:

    Since we are unlikely to meet, I have decided to attempt a conversation with you by this medium. I hope you respond to me. It is time to talk.

    Although I am sharply critical of how you govern, and of the suffering this causes the majority of the Angolan people, I admire you for staying in power so stoically; and, I understand very well your anxiety when faced with the prospect of losing power.

    Father António Vieira wrote: “Pulvis es, tu in pulverem reverteris”. Dust you are, and to dust you shall return. You are dust. That is the present. To dust you shall return. That is the future. That is the future that you are trying to avoid at any cost, and which results in the anxiety that I mentioned.

    For a while during my childhood, you cultivated a fear of yourself. In those days I knew when you, Mr President, had scheduled an outing from your official residence at the beach resort of Futungo de Belas. On these occasions, around midnight or later, I would feel the house trembling and my mother, in alarm, would come to take me from my bedroom into the yard. The presidential guard moved a Soviet tank [it could have been a T-54/55], on a tank transporter, to Rua da Liberdade (Freedom Street) where my mother lives to this day. This monstrosity would then manoeuver to position itself in the short, narrow lane alongside the wall of two of the rooms of the house. The structure was extremely fragile and the bricks corroded by salt, as the house is by the Samba beach. If the tank’s manoeuver had been just a few centimetres off target, it would have been goodbye forever to my family. The president’s outing from the palace forced us to sleep in the yard until the tank was taken away. My childhood was marked by this steel pachyderm, which with a slight gesture, could have destroyed our house and family, even if it had not intended to.

    I didn’t like you, because of the way our lives were put at risk every time you left your palace. I would pray that you would not have to go out. I was a churchgoer, Sir.

    In 1992 I had the privilege to go, for the first time, to your birthday party at Futungo de Belas. I had high expectations. I would rub shoulders with the leaders of my country. When you left the party, I saw a minister giving instructions for an arrangement of lobsters to be taken to his car, a general purloining an expensive bottle of whisky, the country’s rulers and their hangers-on looting the leftovers of the banquet. At the time, I saw this as an act of generosity on your part. But I left Futungo de Belas with a very bad impression of the people who surrounded you and who continue to surround you in government. If they could not even resist taking food and drinks from the palace, how then could public assets be entrusted to their care? From that point on, I had no more illusions about you or about your henchmen. 

    I have described these two episodes, not to blame you, but as a cry from the heart of someone who, along with millions of Angolan citizens, has had more negative than positive experiences of the way in which you exercise power.

    I have often been puzzled by the way in which you feel offended or threatened by citizens’ everyday expressions of discontent, and have wondered what offence or discontent I should feel in response to what I have suffered at the hands of your regime. I wonder what goes through the heads of millions of my fellow citizens, who share my experiences or worse. Only the right to free expression will save us from the danger of bottled up grievances turning into feelings of hatred, frustration and vengeance.

    The respect that you deserve is proportionate to the respect that you have for those whom you rule and for the common interests that you share with them. As a trained engineer, Mr President, you will be familiar with Newton’s Third Law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

    In 1999, when you ordered that I be put in jail because you had taken offence at what I had written calling you a dictator and corrupt, I began to understand you better: you are a powerful, but insecure man. I appreciated the gesture of your secretary who visited me to enquire about my state of health and wellbeing while I was in prison. Despite the horrors that I endured there, that visit left me with at least one more positive memory of my time in detention.

    The then director of the Viana Penitentiary, Francisco Ningosso, sent a greeting card to my cell, inviting me to a meeting under a tree on the premises, and there we had long conversations. These discussions were interesting. At the same time, I had the privilege of being able to document and report on human rights violations inside the prison.

    This time, Mr President, do not send your secretary to enquire about the health of the young activists who are currently in prison. The attorney general of the Republic, General João Maria de Sousa, took it upon himself as guardian of law and order to announce publicly that the activists were preparing a coup d’état against you. As a matter of fact, 13 of the protesters were arrested "red-handed" while reading and discussing a book on non-violent resistance. In arresting them, General João Maria de Sousa destroyed what little credibility his office still had. General João Maria de Sousa is a very bad man. He is not fit to serve you. Discrediting the judicial system does not serve your security.

    Mr President, take good note. The judicial system is what will be able to protect you against barbarity if there is ever a regime change. The judicial system is the fine line that separates civilization from savagery. Do not compromise the judicial system. Do not compromise civilization and law.

    You must have heard the mutterings among your loyal operatives in the intelligence service. They believe that it is counterproductive to use the information that they have gathered on protesters to make such a serious accusation for your own political and judicial purposes.

    I ask you, Mr President, to consider my request to order the unconditional release of the following citizens: Afonso Matias “Mbanza Hamza”, Albano Bingobingo, Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Jeremias, Domingos da Cruz,Fernando Tomás “Nicola Radical”, Hitler Jessia Chiconda “Samusuku”, Inocêncio Brito “Drux”, José Hata “Cheik Hata”, Luaty Beirão, Nelson Dibango, Nito Alves, Nuno Álvaro Dala, Osvaldo Caholo, Sedrick de Carvalho and Captain Zenóbio Zumba. 

    To free these citizens would be an act of political courage and constitutional morality. As the highest judge in the land, you must retain the moral high ground to correct mistakes made by institutions that could damage the rule of law and harm the relationship between state and society.

    Sovereignty resides in decisions of exception, not in bureaucratic conformity.

    Sovereignty is the affirmation of the people’s will through the bodies of state.

    Mr President, surprise the nation. Surprise us positively, and be recognised for this.

    In return for your statesmanlike gesture in defence of the constitution, I will offer you my modest thanks and will also have the honour to invite you to a vegetarian lunch. I guarantee that I am a good cook and a good raconteur to keep you entertained over lunch. 

    Mr President, protect yourself by affirming the ethics of the Constitution. Take heed of your critics, who are those who bear you the least ill will.

    Saying Europe, meaning Eurafrica

    Marco Zoppi


    cc MFS
    The current relationship between Africa and Europe may seem to have moved past colonialism, but a dynamic of economic subordination of the first to the second persists. The vision of Eurafrica, in fact, is built on the legacy of colonialism and positions Africans as the eternal Other.

    The recent debate on African migrants to Europe, oftentimes intertwining with the danger of international terrorism or the increase in national unemployment, imposes a wider reflection on a phenomenon, that of migration, which is far from being simply an 'emergency’. On the contrary, I argue that it is dynamic, totally physiological and even predictable, within a well-defined system of international relations whose historical profile will be briefly described in the following article.

    The collective imagination propagated by politics, media and much common speech suggests seeing Europe and Africa as otherwise separate continents that get in contact with each other through that perilous and highly symbolic act that is the arrival of a boat to the shores of southern Europe. The rescue and reception of migrants are often highlighted firstly as an act of solidarity on the part of European governments, and we tend to underestimate that this logic has a major role in activating the mechanisms for the definition of European consciousness: essentially, the exposure to speeches of this kind facilitates the construction of an imaginary in which European countries take on the role of ‘saviors’ against nations and populations that can be blamed instead for the grim fate that they were able to forge for themselves.

    This type of narrative, emphasizing the African migrant as essentially being ‘Other’ in respect to the European ‘We’, was first made legitimate by a historic step that proved to be essential for the social construction of that ‘We’ just mentioned above: the said step was the final and solemn settlement of the colonial past as well as the atrocities and injustices committed during the European expansion in Africa.

    In 2004, Germany in fact apologized to Namibia for the genocide of 65,000 Herero [1]; in 2008, the then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi did the same to Gaddafi, agreeing also to compensate for the damage caused by colonialism [2] (and in the same year the obelisk of Axum was returned to Ethiopia). More recently, Sarkozy, Hollande, Brown and Cameron offered public apologies for the violence of colonialism in the countries respectively ruled by France and Britain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; however, both their tones and arguments were, still, rather problematic [3].

    On the whole, yet, while this long-awaited action generated mixed reactions in Africa, it was functional in Europe in order to create the perception that the accounts with the past had been closed, thus opening up the opportunity to establish new relationships between the two continents based on claimed parity and equality. Therefore, in the collective imaginary as much as in the words of the European political leaders that succeeded one another in recent years, the thread that necessarily held together the stories and the destinies of Europe and Africa in a relation of subordinating power was finally cut.

    As mentioned above, the new position of equilibrium has given Europe new impetus to intervene in African affairs. Ironically, colonialism has now turned into a double-edged sword to criticize Africa opportunistically: for example, Gordon Brown made the suggestion already in 2005 to ‘celebrate’ the ‘great British values’ exported with colonialism [4]; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that ‘We’ve especially got to stop excusing them from all responsibility for the underdevelopment of their continent….Blaming Africa’s failure only on the consequences of colonialism is contrary to reality’ [5]. Even US President Barack Obama would join the group in 2009, telling Africans to stop blaming colonialism in instrumental ways [6].

    Why bother? This alleged evolution in the relations hides an important contradiction: Africa and Europe are more interconnected than we might think, and a relationship of economic subordination of the first to the second does persist. Traces of that can be found in the analysis of the policies of the European Union (EU).

    As early as in 1982, Professor Guy Martin noted that the post-independence agreements between Europe and Africa (from Yaoundé to Lomé II) represented the realization of the neoclassical theory of international development based on the division of labor, where Africa was responsible for providing both raw materials and, at the same time, emerging markets for Europe’s finished products [7]: this dynamic was nothing more than the continuation of colonialism by other means, namely those of modern finance corresponding to liberalization, open markets and deregulation. In this regard, Martin retrieves in particular the continuity between the French penchant for a ‘policy of non-industrialization’ in colonial Africa and the nature of French relations with Africa in the post-independence years.

    This ‘balance’, which obviously is not a balance at all, made Africa de facto dependent on European technology, while Europe too became dependent on raw materials imported from Africa, yet with an important distinction: the control that the global north (including Europe) could exercise at any time on Africa and its raw materials was decisively larger than the pressure that African governments and markets could instead ever apply on the first. Examples of this are the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) provided to the continent in the 1980s by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and partly by other creditors (including the EU): the SAPs consisted of loans that included conditionality clauses, like the application of the neo-liberal recipe as a solution to the problem of debts. The results produced by SAPs are well-summarized in the famous reference to the period 1980-1990 as Africa’s ‘lost decade’: the continent entered the new millennium with mass unemployment, deteriorating terms of trade and national GDPs lower than what it had forty years before [8].

    A vision of this type of European-African relation has a name, ‘ideology of Eurafrica’, which has been spreading within European circles since the 1920s. According to the aforementioned Martin, the ideology consists of the integration, and ideally the absorption, of Africa by Europe [9].

    In more recent times, Professor Peo Hansen extended the concept of Eurafrica, noting how it was essential for the very process of European integration during the twentieth century [10]: in the first half of the century, Africa represented the natural way out to solve European problems of overpopulation; later, in the European political debate, Africa was instead represented as a ‘reservoir’ of resources from which could be extracted those assets that were necessary for the development of the continent, ranging from hydroelectric power to other natural resources, eventually to the employment of African human capital, with the scope of solving the demographic problems afflicting the European continent that now, in the second half of the century, needed in fact the inflow of individuals to balance the expected aging of its population.

    Hence, Africa was party to the European integration discourse to the extent that it was necessary for the development of European countries themselves. This domination in disguise was in fact justifiable on the ideological basis that partly perpetuated the idea of Africa as a backward territory without history; this made the European intervention, despite the past colonial experience, morally right as it was moreover often mixed with humanitarian intervention.

    Even in recent times, Hansen reminds us, the project of Eurafrica has not gone into the background at the EU level, especially as concerns demographic and migration policies: it seems that the French Prime Minister Guy Mollet was not wrong when he declared in 1957 that Eurafrica would be ‘the reality of tomorrow’ [11].

    But how does the ideology of Eurafrica find space in current affairs?

    From the economic point of view, the Africa-Europe trade occurs ‘between unequal partners’ [12], given that it emphasizes the creation of jobs in the EU, whose members are moreover the largest trading partners of many African countries. Europe has pursued a specific project over time that aims at treating Africa as an extension of its market, but then does not take responsibility for the consequences that this market has on the lives of the individuals and the communities. In other words, Europe does not assume the responsibility, above all the social responsibility, arising from the failure of the market that it has planned for the Eurafrican region with so much care: and migration is after all one of the possible and rather predictable answers people everywhere have always given to the deterioration of economic conditions.

    On this basis, we can state that EU policies themselves in primis perpetuate the status of Africa as a continent of emigration: consequently, the migration flows that we are witnessing should be classified according to the physiology of an integrated system and for no reason as an emergency situation of any sort. Following the same principle, it is less clear on which level the measures enacted to block these flows can be motivated and justified.

    In addition, the recent policy of the European Union does not hide the need to accommodate migrants in the perspective of the aging European population, stating that ‘more sustained immigration flows could increasingly be required to meet the needs of the European labor markets and ensure Europe’s prosperity’ [13]; the goal remains nevertheless to attract only ‘highly qualified workers from third countries’ [14] on the basis, thus, of the strict needs of the Union, in a clear re-evocation of the approach described above, according to which Africa is a tool for Europe’s demographic balance.

    Therefore, we need to point out an alarming continuity between the colonial period and that of SAPs: if colonialism had allowed the extraction of and the profiting from continental resources, SAPs have later secured the opening and the integration of African markets into the neo-liberal system. The destruction of local economies, plus the harsh experiences linked to state building, have contributed in determining the resulting mass mobilization in search of better opportunities. The EU now sits on this uncomfortable legacy, attempting to manage African emigration, both at the community level and as single member states’ initiatives with governments beyond the Mediterranean. Is this a further step toward the consolidation of the Eurafrican structure?

    These dynamics should therefore be understood in the context of a macro Eurafrican region, as this is indeed the horizon at which many of the policies developed in recent decades seem to be directed.

    And if there is a Eurafrican region, there must be also a population connected to this geographical space and yet Africans are still represented as eternal ‘Others’ from the European ‘We’, being not only excluded from the circle of legality and rights but often even from circles of solidarity. According to the perspective proposed here, migrants instead should not just be welcomed, but welcomed as the most vulnerable parts of a socio-economic system that includes them fully, to which they contribute with their work (whether considered legal or not), maintaining so the functionality of European societies.

    All of this directs me to the last point of the analysis: despite nations’ strategies for representing African migrants as different from the European ‘We’, both ethnically and culturally, they represent instead a specific part of this ‘We’: the migrants arriving on European shores are nothing but a new social class of an economic system that is currently integrating: in particular, they embody the most vulnerable class, victims of historical and economic injustices to whom it comes now to provide remedy, ensuring them equal opportunities and rights. This society is also their society, even more so since the redistribution of risks and consequences of market failures has mainly burdened Africa, while Europe has been more eager to put hands on the dividends of this ‘partnership’, relegating, then, humanitarian intervention and cooperation to the comfortable realm of voluntary solidarity.

    Even when talking about terrorism, poverty and unemployment (themes that are strongly felt in the contemporary European debate), it should be recalled that African states are the ones currently paying the heaviest price. It takes a clearer view on the origins of the migration flows in order to understand to what extent these are caused by poor leadership or political or environmental crises, and in what cases they are provoked and accelerated by neoliberal economic policies exposing societies to more volatility they can actually take.

    Meanwhile, in European societies, the strategic representation of migrants in ethno-cultural terms, rather than in economic and social ones, performs a vital function: creating the perception that they are non-members, in order to ‘legitimize’ the refusal of hospitality or, alternatively, their exploitation on all levels and from all activities that may instead advantage the market of national as well as EU citizens. This ideology can be easily questioned, not just on ethical grounds, but also through the analysis of the economic dynamics uniting the two continents.

    Moreover, it is argued here and elsewhere [15] that this is also a strategy that aims at strengthening the identity of a Europe otherwise in crisis when dealing with the rest of the world: the ability to extend its market but not its horizon of solidarity beyond Europe (and increasingly not even beyond the national borders of the member countries) is the most obvious sign of the inadequate response of Europe to a globalized world that is moving at a very different speed.

    * Marco Zoppi is a PhD fellow in Histories and Dynamics of Globalization at Roskilde University, Denmark. He is currently researching on the Somali diaspora in Scandinavia. He holds a MA in African Studies pursued at the University of Copenhagen. His personal interests include Geopolitics, history of Africa and colonialism. Feel free to contact him at: [email protected]


    [1] As reported, among others, by The Guardian. Article available online at the following link:
    [2] See the government’s official note at the following link:
    [3] The 2007 Dakar speech delivered by Nicolas Sarkozy has been in particular the object of criticism in reason of his reference to several stereotypes as well as sentences that have been considered highly offensive.
    [5] In Nicolas Sarkozy (2007), Testimony: France, Europe, and the World in the Twenty-first Century (New York: Harper Perennial), p. 196
    [6] As reported by The Telegraph; article available online at the following link:
    [7] Guy Martin (1982), “Africa and the Ideology of Eurafrica: Neo-colonialism or Pan-Africanism?”, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 20(2), p. 221
    [8] See Mueni Wa Muiu e Guy Martin (2009), A New Paradigm of the African State: Fundi wa Afrika (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), p. 89
    [9] Guy Martin (1982), p. 222
    [10] Peo Hansen (2011), “Building Eurafrica: reviving colonialism through European Integration, 1920-1960”, Paper Presented at the EUSA Twelfth Biennial International Conference Boston, March 3–5, 2011
    [11] Quoted in Peo Hansen (2011), p. 28
    [12] See the interesting article by Africa Renewal, published by the United Nations, available online at the following link:
    [13] Extracted from the “Green Paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration” (11 January 2005). Available online at the following link:
    [14] Council Directive “2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment”. Available online at the following link:
    [15] See for example the argument of the historian Bo Stråth (2002) in: “A European Identity: to the Historical Limits of a Concept”, in European Journal of Social Theory (5)4: 387-401

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    The clampdown on resourcing: Comparing civil society and business

    Maina Kiai and Maria Leissner


    cc ABC
    Governments around the world are increasing their hostility towards civil society organisations, but at the same time enacting laws and policies that promote business investment. While CSO and profit-driven groups operate differently, and should be treated as such, they play important political and economic roles. Both need government support.

    Ethiopia, in the late 2000s: on one side is civil society, emerging after years of subjugation under a succes sion of repressive governments and slowly finding its feet. On the other is the country’s business community, roaring back to life after years of economic stagnation. While rates of growth were different, there is no doubt that both sectors were on an upward trajectory, bolstered by the space engendered by the fall of the repressive ‘Red Terror’ regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam.

    Exiles returned, many with new skills and focus obtained from many years living abroad, determined to ensure that Ethiopia never returned to the dark days of political and economic depression. At the same time, Ethiopia enjoyed the massive goodwill of the international community, both political and economic, with Prime Minister Mele Zenawi touted as one of the new generation of visionary African leaders.

    Then everything changed.

    In 2009, the Ethiopian government enacted a law prohibiting domestic civil society organisations (CSOs) working in certain rights-based areas, including gender and children’s rights, from receiving more than 10% of their funding from foreign sources. What happened next was no surprise. The country’s civil society infrastructure collapsed, with one source claiming that the number of registered organisations has fallen by some 60% since then. Others say that there are no more than three independent human rights organisations left working in Ethiopia.

    Meanwhile, the government was implementing a completely different approach towards the business sector. They wanted more foreign money, not less.

    Foreign cash flooded into Ethiopia, and encouraging more of it became a matter of national policy, perhaps best epitomised by the 2010 Growth and Transformation Plan, a five-year project to encourage billions of dollars of new foreign investment. The results of this influx of foreign cash have been no surprise. The business sector has boomed. Ethiopia is now creating millionaires faster than any country on earth, doubling its share from 1,300 to 2,700 in just six years. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 39% a year over the same time.

    The roster of recent foreign investments in the Ethiopian economy is too long to list: for example, a Chinese firm just announced plans to invest US$15m in the textile industry, while in 2012 British beverage company Diageo purchased a local brewery for US$225m and invested US$119m to expand it. Turkish investors alone have poured US$1.2bn into the country over the past 10 years. Bob Geldof, of Band Aid fame, is even investing in the local wine industry.

    And of course the government itself has never shied away from foreign money: it receives some 40% of its national budget via foreign aid , which amounted to US$3.2bn in 2012 alone. These are the best of times and the worst of times in Ethiopia. And it’s clear who is getting the short end of the stick. Ethiopia’s government and business com - munity are firmly plugged into the modern network of global capital, while civil society has been disconnected - and left to whither and die.


    At first glance, the business and civil society sectors may seem strange bedfellows for comparison. Conventional wisdom tells us that these two entities are distinct, warranting separate rules and treatment. The basis for this treatment seems to boil down to one dividing point: one exists to make a profit; the other is non-profit.

    But beyond their dissimilar profit motives, just how different are businesses and civil society? And how differently should governments treat them? The funding aspect of this question is among the topics we have been examining for the past year in a series of regional dialogues on civic space , organised jointly by the Community of Democracies and the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of fre edom of peaceful assembly and of association.

    The broader topic of sectoral equity - from registration to operational rules - will be the subject of the Special Rapporteur’s next report to the UN General Assembly in October 2015. The report will survey law, practice and perception in a number of jurisdictions around the world, with a focus on identifying how civil society and businesses are treated differently as legal entities, for better or for worse.

    Obviously, resources are a central issue when it comes to differential treatment. They are the lifeblood of any organisation, as the Special Rapporteur pointed out in his 2013 report on civil society’s ability to access resources. You can’t do much without resources: staff, offices, equipment and the implementation of plans and programmes all require resources. Cutting financial resources off is an easy way for a government to silence a CSO that’s a bit too critical, or even a business that refuses to toe the line, even if that line is the sharing of resources with the powerful political elite.

    And it’s also relatively easy to cloak restrictions on funding in the language of national security or crime prevention, even when these aren’t the true reasons behind the restrictions. Ethiopia is not unique in treating civil society and businesses differently when it comes to their ability to look abroad for funds.

    Russia, for example, requires CSOs receiving foreign funds and engaging in vaguely-defined ‘political activity’ to register as ‘foreign agents’, which carries the connotation that they are spies. We are not aware of a similar restriction requiring businesses with foreign investment to do the same. In fact, as recently as 2014, Russia was ranked the third most successful in the world in attracting capital from abroad.

    India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act requires every CSO receiving funds from ‘foreign sources’ to receive prior permission or to register under the Act. Granted, India does place some limits on foreign direct investment for businesses, but it is currently moving to liberalise investment in several sectors. The government recently welcomed investment pledges in excess of US$50bn from companies in China and Japan, for example. That figure makes quite small the

    US$266,000 in foreign funding that the government tried to block over six months, with the freezing of the foreign aid for Greenpeace India. In Egypt , meanwhile, the government is currently con - ducting something of a witch hunt against CSOs that have accepted foreign funding. But they are headed in the opposite direction when it comes to foreign capital for businesses: economic reforms have led to a wave of recent investment , including US$12bn from BP and US$500m from Coca Cola.

    The situation in Hungary is worth noting as well. It has no formal restrictions against CSOs receiving foreign funding, but the government launched last year what some described as an all out attack on a group of CSOs that were receiving funding from the government of Norway. The police clampdown was subsequently judged illegal by the court, but some problems remain. Businesses receiving investment from abroad do not seem to have been singled out for such treatment. On the contrary, the Hungarian government has heavily promoted itself as a leading destination for foreign direct investment, with PR videos and the creation of a favourable legal environment.

    Dozens more examples of the crackdown on foreign funding to civil society can be found in an excellent and comprehensive study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law by Doug Rutzen , from the International Center for Not-for-Prof - it Law.

    Moving beyond funding, the differences can be even starker. In Rwanda , for example, a business can be registered in a matter of hours, while CSO registration can take months.

    In Oman, it is forbidden to start a new association with the same broadly-defined ‘purpose’ as a pre-existing association; no such regulation exists for businesses. And around the world, businesses particularly large ones - frequently have superior access to the halls of power, when compared to CSOs.

    Of course there are nuances to this differential treatment, but these wrinkles help explain why the distinct treatment persists, and perhaps provide clues on how to address the problem. Rare is the country, for example, that simply opens the floodgates to foreign investment in its business sector. It is often controlled and deliberately directed at certain industries, especially in the case of foreign direct investment (e.g., a controlling ownership of a business in one country by an entity based in another).

    Ethiopia, for example, is actually considered somewhat difficult for investors, largely because of the level of state control. Certain sectors remain off-limits to foreigners, including banking, insurance and financial services. Russia and the United States impose formal restrictions on investment in certain sensitive sectors.

    And registration of foreign capital is required in a number of jurisdictions. But overall the trend in business investment seems to be toward liberalisation, with governments typically enabling more foreign investment in more sectors with fewer restrictions. The trend in civil society is the opposite: less foreign funding with more restrictions.


    Why is this?

    Our experience and research suggest that restrictions boil down to the perceived threats and benefits from each sector. The resulting level of control is a direct corollary.

    In short, it’s political. Restrictions against the non-profit sector might be cloaked in terms of national security and good governance, but few pass muster under close scrutiny. They tend instead to be signs of a ruling government’s weakness - an attempt to assert control, reduce public criticism, consolidate power or hoard the benefits of economic development.

    Businesses pose comparatively few threats to power, while the potential benefits they bring are vast. By definition, businesses exist to make money; they also have money to spend, on anything from political campaigns to lobbying to kickbacks. Their activity stimulates the economy, which creates jobs and makes governments look good. Their values are centred on profit-making, making them more malleable and more likely not to criticise unless their direct interests are threatened, regardless of the political structure in place. There are always exceptions, but relationships with businesses are inherently more comfortable for governments, particularly those looking to consolidate power.

    Civil society, of course, does not exist to make money and often doesn’t have very much of it. By challenging and speaking truth to power, civil society’s relationship with government can also be more antagonistic although not always. And this is where the comparison gets more interesting. Civil society is diverse, ranging from service delivery groups that work hand-in-hand with governments to accountability watchdogs that aim to keep power in check. Yet throughout history, the progressive changes that we enjoy are a direct result of civil society. Remember the anti-slavery movement? The anti-apartheid movement? The civil rights movement? Trade union movements? The women’s movement?

    And it’s telling how treatment diverges for each faction, as a sort of divide-and-conquer technique. Ethiopia’s law, for example, limits foreign funding only to groups working on certain human rights areas. Russia only targets the aforementioned ‘political activity’, which is poorly defined.

    Again, financial controls correlate with perceived threat. A CSO that unquestioningly works to supplement a country’s healthcare system seems to provide a direct benefit to the ruling government: it is thus less likely to face restrictions on funding.

    A CSO working to expose corruption, impunity or election fraud, despite the immense public good it does, is not seen as slavishly supporting the ruling elite. As we’ve found thus far, it is more likely to see its funding sources attacked.

    The fact that some governments are cracking down on civil society’s ability to access resources isn’t exactly news. But putting this trend in the larger, multi-sector comparative context illuminates an issue that hasn’t received as much attention: in each scenario, the government remains firmly in the driver’s seat. Governments allow foreign investment and service-delivery CSOs because they think this benefits them; they don’t allow foreign funding of civil society because they think this hurts them.


    We would like to see a more level playing field across the board.

    There may indeed be legitimate reasons for restricting money from abroad on occasion, whether it is destined for businesses or civil society. But these restrictions should never be imposed simply to further a ruling government’s political ambitions or grip on power. They should be fashioned for the benefit of the broader population. Political benefit to a ruling party is not a legitimate basis for restricting funding, whether to civil society or business.

    That is not to say that businesses and civil society should be treated identically. They do have their differences. We instead advocate for what the Special Rapporteur has referred to in a number of his reports as ‘sectoral equity’ - in other words, a fair, transparent and impartial approach.

    Such an approach should recognise, of course, the many similarities that businesses and civil societyshare. Both are non-state actors, potential employers, providers of goods and services, magnets for investment, and possible platforms for mobilising people and influencing policy. But it should also recognise the differences. Both civil society and business are crucial to economic and political development, but in different ways. Government policy and practice should give them the space to do this on their own terms, not as an appendage operating at the whim of a ruling party.

    It won’t be an easy road to reform. For starters, many governments have no incentive to level the playing field, as illustrated by the fact that the trend for restrictions on civil society funding is growing, rather than shrinking. And the sector that wields the most potential power in this battle - business - has historically lacked close links with civil society. There are also divisions within civil society itself, fragmented and compartmentalised as it has become today. It remains rare, for example, to see a service delivery CSO stand up to a government that bullies a civil society cousin in the advocacy field. There’s a prevailing attitude of ‘everyone for themselves’. Divide-and-conquer is winning.

    That’s not how it has to be. Businesses and civil society - in all of its incarnations - actually do have a strong convergence of interests when it comes to levelling the playing field.

    The rule of law is preferable to the rule of power. Predictability trumps disorder. Fairness is better than corruption. These statements ring as true for business as they do for civil society. Stable, balanced environments are better for everyone, whether they be a multinational corporation, a grassroots activist group, or a major international CSO working on health issues.

    It is time that we acknowledge our similarities and start working together to achieve this, for the benefit of each sector, and for society as a whole.

    * Maina Kiai is United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and Maria Leissner is Secretary General of the Community of Democracies. This article appears in The State of Civil Society Report 2015.



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    Financing for development: A Pan-African perspective

    Odomaro Mubangizi


    cc Pz
    This year is the deadline for MDGs, and the global community is set to come up with new set of development goals SGs in September at UN summit in New York. The Addis Ababa 3rd International Conference on Finance for Development held last week laid a foundation for further conversation on how to end extreme poverty and pursue the other post-MDG goals.

    The third international conference on Finance for Development (FfD3) started in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa, on 13 July 2015 and ended on 16 July 2015. The global conference, the first on the African continent, attracted close to 5000 delegates from all over the world. Delegates included heads of state; ministers of finance, foreign affairs, and development cooperation; representatives of civil society organizations; and the business sector. This goes to demonstrate how the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals are being taken seriously.

    The choice of Addis as a venue for this phenomenal international conference was well justified: Addis Ababa is a very secure city and is home to major international organizations such as the AU and UNECA. It has excellent infrastructure and can clearly serve as a model of how finances put to good use can stimulate massive investments and urban development, as well as being a hub and meeting point for the greater Horn of Africa, within the large regional blocks of Eastern African Community (even though Ethiopia is not yet a member) and COMESA. All the major international hotels in Addis were awash with activities as side events were spread across the city: the Radison Blu Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Jupiter Hotel, Hotel Intercontinental, and so on.

    What is the major scope of FfD3? The UN General Assembly resolutions (68/204 and 68/279) that specified the terms of reference of the conference identified three main areas of focus:

    1. Assessing the progress made in the implementation of the Monterray Consensus and the Doha Declaration and identifying obstacles and constraints encountered in the achievement of the goals and objectives agreed therein, as well as actions and initiatives to overcome these constraints;

    2. Addressing new and emerging issues, including in the context of the recent multilateral efforts to promote international development cooperation;

    o the current evolving development cooperation landscape;
    o the interrelationship of all sources of development finance;
    o the synergies between financing objectives across the three dimensions of sustainable development; and
    o the need to support the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015;

    3. Reinvigorating and strengthening the financing for development follow-up process.

    Come September 2015 the UN will hold a summit to agree on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as a follow up to the post-2015 agenda. The narrative is along the lines of calling upon the global community to fight vulnerability and extreme poverty, while protecting the ecosystem that is our common home. There has never been such passion across the globe to end extreme poverty.


    The immediate background to the FfD3 conference is the expiry of the MDGs in 2015. So the key issue is: how did the international community fare in meeting the MGDs? What worked and what did not work? The knowledge gained from the results of implementing the MDGs can help to polish up the next phase of Sustainable Development Goals, later this year.

    Most observers of the MDGs point to the need to combine poverty eradication with the promotion of equality and equity. The yawning gap between the rich and the poor is scandalous. A good number of participants at the Addis Conference pointed out the fact that it is not resources that are lacking, but rather access and equity.

    The emphasis on sustainability has brought to the discussion hitherto neglected issues in development discourse. The new issues that have been identified for the SDGs are as follows:


    SDG no. 6 is about the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. It is in rural areas of Africa where clean water and sanitation are a major challenge. Millions of people still rely on water fetched from village streams. Some women spend a whole day collecting water. A common site in most African villages is that of women and children fetching water from the same streams where cattle drink. No wonder water-borne diseases are a major threat to most people in rural Africa. Governments rarely consider clean water and sanitation as an essential part of sustainable development. The African Development Bank has taken the issue of water very seriously by dedicating about $5 billion to water-related projects across Africa.


    It is common knowledge that transport infrastructure is key in easing the mobility of goods and people across the African continent. This is even more crucial given the many land-locked countries which are trapped in colonial boundaries. The benefits of globalization will remain a distant dream if transport infrastructure is not improved. Access to global and regional markets can only be made possible if road, water and air travel are well developed. Some of the obstacles to efficient transportation are self-inflicted, such when neighboring countries fail to harmonize border rules and procedures, thus creating bottlenecks on border posts.

    Development corridors such as the Northern Corridor of the East African Community, comprising the countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, create jobs, increase free movement of people and goods, and increase revenue generation for the respective countries.


    Hitherto, governments across Africa have invested in universal primary education suggesting that literacy and numeracy are crucial to development. But this focus on primary education fails to appreciate the fact that just being able to read, write and count does not substantially increase one’s life skills. Key issues of health care, agricultural innovation, ICT, and even the ability to teach at primary and secondary levels, are intellectual skills only obtained at higher levels of education. To build capacity in local institutions, and to find indigenous solutions, one needs to have higher education. Human skills development is central to sustainable development in Africa, but Africa keeps looking for solutions from outside, an approach that is not sustainable.

    In identifying sectors for financing, it should be made clear that some sectors will have a multiplier effect if funded sufficiently. Higher Education with gender equality is such a sector. It is those who have benefited from higher education who are able to engage in transformational change, both socially and politically. Educated mothers are more likely to ensure that their children are well educated as well. It is also educated women who are able to negotiate their reproductive rights and work for gender-equality policies.

    Crucial to transformational change by universities is the role of innovation and research. Traditional colonial models of higher education will not bring about the desired sustainable development. New models of higher education using distance or e-learning need to be explored. Brain-drain has robbed Africa of many talented professors; but such talents in diaspora can also contribute to distance learning using online courses.


    Africa is still largely a subsistence-based economy with the majority of the population (close to 80%) relying on agriculture. And yet most countries assign less than 10% of their budget to agriculture. Modernizing agriculture will help improve crop yields and ensure food security.

    Since sustainable development is the overriding concern, agriculture needs to be connected with ecology: hence agro-ecology and ethnobotany. This will help preserve biodiversity. Africa is home to thousands of rare plant species that are used for ethnomedicine. These need to be preserved and processed to isolate their curative elements. Along with agro-ecology and ethnobotany comes eco-tourism.

    Financing smallholder farmers in rural Africa is crucial to sustainable development. The engines of food security across Africa are not the big commercial farmers, but the smallholder rural farmers. And in rural agriculture, financing should be given to women as the major actors in rural subsistence economy.


    Next comes health. Only healthy citizens can combat poverty. MDGs were rightly biased towards health—reducing maternal and infant mortality, reducing HIV and AIDS infection. Improved agriculture, and quality education, are only possible if we have a healthy population.


    What does domestic resource mobilization entail for Africa? It entails efficient fiscal and tax policies. Efficient revenue collection and utilization can go a long way to promote sustainable development. Where revenue authorities have been efficient in collecting taxes, and these taxes have been put to good use, countries are doing much better.

    The other mechanism to raise domestic funds is through philanthropy. There are many African billionaires who can contribute to social development through philanthropy, but the culture of giving locally has to be instilled in people’s minds.

    Illicit flows through tax evasion and blatant fraud across Africa undermine sustainable development. It is common knowledge that huge sums of foreign aid to Africa find their way into Western accounts. One cannot hope to eradicate poverty with such illicit final flows in Africa.


    As the global community continues to search for innovative ways to end global poverty, it might be helpful to look at non-traditional ways of financing such as faith-based banking. Islamic banking is an area worth exploring, where the principle of zero interest rates is practiced. There is also the innovative Centenary Bank in Uganda run by the Catholic Church, which gives loans for education and agriculture. This bank has inspired a lot of trust among its customers and if its model was replicated in the rest of Sub-saharan Africa, it might bring about a financial revolution in a continent where the percentage of the population with bank accounts is still less than 30%.


    The deadline for MDGs ends this year, and the global community is set to come up with SDGs in September at another UN summit in New York. The Addis Ababa 3rd International conference on Finance for Development has laid a foundation for further conversation on how to end extreme poverty. Will the SDGs be another list of goals for the next 15 years? While the international community should show more commitment this time around, Africa also has a responsibility to own the process and contribute to meeting the post-2015 agenda.

    The critical areas that need urgent attention were spelled out: modernization of agriculture, higher education, non-traditional forms of financing, financing for health, domestic resource mobilization, investing in transport infrastructure, and rural water and sanitation.

    For this to succeed we require political will on the part of global leaders and African heads of state. But there is also a need to solicit the support of the private sector, civil society organizations, and faith-based organizations. And as speaker after speaker at the Addis FfD3 international conference insisted, “SDGs are not aspirational, but achievable.”

    * Odomaro Mubangizi (PhD) teaches philosophy and theology at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis, where he is also Dean of the Department of Philosophy.



    * Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

    60 years: How the "Freedom Charter" betrayed Africans

    Motsoko Pheko


    cc Pz
    South Africa’s ruling party has recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter. That document, conceived by white colonialists, legitimised the white robbery of African land. Liberation icon Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe was spot-on when he described it as “a colossal fraud ever perpetrated upon the oppressed, exploited and degraded people.” That is the Charter's legacy.

    A great deal of false information was spread during June 2015 about the 60th anniversary of the “Freedom Charter” of the 1955 ANC. This was like asking the African people of this country to dance on the graves of their ancestors and spit on the bodies of their Kings who resisted colonialism with their blood to protect their land against colonialists.

    Zephaniah Mothopeng, a Pan-Africanist leader who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for leading the Soweto Uprising, described this Charter as “a notorious document of unknown origin.” It legitimised the land dispossession of the African people in South Africa (Azania).

    A nation that neglects its history is bound to be cheated almost permanently by the forces of imperialism and colonialism and continue to be made a slave in its own country politically, economically, educationally, socially and technologically. History is current and has deadly consequences for those who do not pay serious attention to it. History must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward. A nation that buries its history buries itself.

    That is why imperialists and neo-colonial forces always ask Africans “to forget the past” and concern themselves only with “the future.” They know that their colonial past often has a disconcerting tendency of bursting, uninvited and unwelcome, into their present, revealing their hidden colonial skeletons. These people want only the Eurocentric distorted history remembered so that Africans may be fooled for a long time to come.

    Have these forces not just commemorated the First World War they started in 1914 – one hundred years ago? But have they ever talked about the African holocaust or genocide? They want any harm that has been done to Africans to be “forgotten.” Africans must not allow this.


    The present political and economic situation of the African people in South Africa did not fall from the sky. It happened as a result of the Berlin Conference when Belgium’s King Leopold reminded his fellow European colonialists, “We are here to see how we should divide among ourselves this magnificent African cake.” Seven European countries partitioned Africa among themselves. South Africa became a British colony as a result of this.

    It is important to go into detail about this matter because the present generation of Africans who have been encouraged to bury their own history will never solve the political and economic problems of their country without reference to the stubborn facts of history which do not lie, no matter how colonial historians may lie about them.

    The Statute of the British Parliament Chapter 9, An Act to Constitute the Union of South Africa, stated:

    “Whereas it is desirable for the welfare and future progress of South Africa that the several British Colonies therein should be united under one Government in a legislative union under the crown of Great Britain and Ireland;

    “And whereas, it is expedient to make provision for the Union of the Colonies of Cape of Good Hope, Natal, the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony on terms and conditions to which they have agreed by resolution of their respective Parliaments and to define the executive, legislative and judicial powers to be exercised in the Government of the Union;

    “And whereas it is expedient to make provision for the establishment of provinces with powers of legislation and administration in local matters and in such other matters as may be especially reserved for Provincial legislation and administration;

    “And whereas it is expedient to provide for the actual admission into the Union or transfer to the Union of such parts of South Africa as are not originally included therein:

    “Be it therefore enacted by the King’s Most Execellent Majesty, by and with the advice of and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in the present Parliament as assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

    Part I


    “The Act may be cited as the South Africa Act 1909.”

    The colonial parliaments of the Cape Colony, Natal, Orange River Colony [Orange Free State] and Transvaal were composed of European settlers only. Section 44 of the Union of South Africa Act 1909, made provision for the Qualifications of Members of the House of Assembly as follows:
    “The qualifications of a member of the House of Assembly …. He must (c) be a British subject of European descent.”

    At this time Africans were just a little over five million. These were Xhosas, Zulus, Basotho, Batswana, Bavenda, Bapedi,Tsonga Swazis and Ndebele. Britain and its colonial settlers excluded these Africans. The Khoisan Africans were already exterminated by the colonial settlers (See Eric. A. Walker, A History Of Southern Africa page 118; Peter Dreyer, Martyrs And Fanatics page 63; Ernest Harsh, SOUTH AFRICA: White Rule Black Revolt page 181)

    The main purpose for the formation of the Union of South Africa was of course, “to fight the native danger.” This is well documented by constitutional lawyers Gilbert Dold and C.P. Joubert in their book, “The British Commonwealth – The Development of Laws and Constitutions South Africa”, page 33 Stevens & Sons Ltd , London. See also Fowler and Smith in their book, “History for the Senior Certificate and Matriculation,” page 428.

    What was the European population in South African in 1909?

    Table A
    Cape Colony 167,546
    Natal 34,784
    Transvaal 106,493
    Orange Free State 41,014

    Table B
    Representatives in the Union of South Africa Colonial Parliament were:
    Cape Colony 51 Members
    Natal 17 Members
    Transvaal 36 Members
    Orange Free State 17 Members

    As soon as the colonial settlers were granted power by Britain to administer the Union of South Africa, they confirmed the worst fears of the African people. They embarked on turning the African country into a “white man’s country.” The Parliamentary Records of 1910 and 1911 for the colonial House of Assembly prove this point beyond reasonable doubt.

    On 30th November 1910 , Colonel Sir A.Wooll-Sampson, M.P. Braamfontein, told the House of Assembly in Cape Town that to the best of his recollections during the recent election in the Transvaal the majority members declared themselves in the most positive terms, their determination to make this a Whiteman’s country….The time had come when honourable members had to carry out their promises to the electorate and assure South Africa that they were all in earnest when they said, “This shall be a Whiteman’s country.”

    M.H. De Waal (M.P.) for Wolmaranstad said that he agreed with the honourable member who had moved the amendment that it was time to cry ‘halt’ in regard to the question of mixed marriages because if they did not, instead of getting a white South Africa they would have a Creole [black] nation growing up.


    The settlers hurriedly demonstrated that they were not joking when they said they would make an African country a “European country.” The South African Parliament voted for the Native Land Act 1913 giving 93% of the African country to 349,837 colonial settlers and only 7% to over 5 million indigenous owners of the country.

    This compelled the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which was formed in 1912 by African patriots and visionaries such Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, a scholar, a Pan-Africanist and lawyer by profession, to take a petition to King George V of England whose country had colonised the African country.

    In July 1914 Sol Plaatje, John Dube, W.W. Rubusana and two other delegates delivered the petition to the English King. They demanded on behalf of the African people of this country and their Kings that “the natives [indigenous Africans] be put in possession of land in proportion to their numbers, and on the same conditions as the white race.”

    Their petition fell on the deaf ears of the English King. The British government had a programme of making South Africa an “Australia” in the heart of Africa. In fact not long after this, Britain referred to South Africa as a “Dominion” not a colony. It finally smuggled the African country into the League of Nations and later into the United Nations and paraded it as a “sovereign state.” South Africa is historically the only African country Britain just handed over to its settlers with impunity.

    The Native Land Act 1913 was intended to turn Africans into a “supply of cheap native labour” for the gold mines and large farms now owned by those who had turned the African country and its riches into a “European” property at gun point.


    Although the British Government snubbed the African delegation on land dispossession in South Africa on their visit to King V, a London daily newspaper spilled the beans. It reported, “In carving out estates for themselves in Africa, the white races have shown little regard for the claims of the black people. They have appropriated his land and have taken away his economic power and freedom and have left him worse than they found him…the blacks compared with only one fifteenth of their land…the deputation of natives now in England has appealed to the imperial government for protection.”

    Because the 1955 ANC Freedom Charter has been unprecedented betrayal of people robbed of their country and dispossessed of their land and its riches, it is important to give indisputable evidence that when the 1955 ANC betrayed the African people on the land question, the truth and facts of political history in Azania (South Africa) were there. These facts, to this day all stand in clear contradiction and contrast to the notorious preamble of their “Freedom Charter.”

    Honest Europeans who exposed the colonial land robbery of the African people in South Africa long before the so-called “Freedom Charter” twisted the facts of colonial dispossession of the African people.

    1. An official of the British Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society declared, “Upon principles that cannot be strongly reprobated, and which want radical reformation, aborigines (indigenous people) have had wholesale robbery of territory committed upon them by the government and settlers have become receivers of stolen property…” (British Parliamentary Papers 1836 page 680).

    3.2. Thomas Fowell Brixton, a British philanthropist wrote, “My attention has been of late drawn to the wickedness of our proceedings as a [British] nation, towards the natives whose countries we seize….” Brixton had earlier said, “… the native inhabitants of any land have an inconvertible right to their soil…. Europeans have entered African countries uninvited, and when there, have acted as if they were undoubted lords of the soil…” (Aborigines Protection Society 1842 page 29)

    William Elis, a British humanitarian, made reference to “especially seizing the land of the people whose country we colonise and the seizure, by force, expulsion and annihilation of its rightful possessors. It has been our custom to go to a country and because we are strong militarily than the inhabitants, to take and retain possession of their country to which they had the most inalienable right, upon no other principle that can ever be acted upon without insult and offence to the Almighty[God].”

    4.3. Sir Godfrey Lagden, the author THE BASUTOS (1909) VOLUME II page 642 has admitted, “The active seizure, by force or guile of lands actually in possession of the Africans, was a political blunder of the first magnitude as well as an act of injustice.”

    6.4. On the policy results of the Native Land Act 1913, W.P. Schreiner who was one time the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony warned, “Any policy that aims at setting off a very vast majority of the inhabitants, and reserving for the use and occupation of a very small minority of the inhabitants the great majority of the land of the country, is a policy that economically must break somehow.”

    5. C.G. Fichardt who was a member of the colonial parliament in Cape Town, logically and categorically simply proclaimed, “If we are to deal with the natives of this country, then according to population numbers we should give them, four-fifths of the country.” (see Sol Plaatje, “Native life in South Africa”, pages 339-340)

    In November 2012 the population figures of South Africa were released as: Africans 79.2%, Whites and Coloureds each 8.9%, Asian 2.5% and “other” 0.5%.


    The original ANC Youth League of the 1912 ANC was led by visionary and honest leaders such Dr. Muziwakhe Antony Lembede and A.P. Mda. This Youth League produced Four Liberation Documents. They were endorsed and adopted by the 1912 ANC Presidents, Dr. Alfred B. Xuma, Dr. James Moroka and Chief Albert Luthuli. They were as follows:

    1. Africans Claims In South Africa and the Bill of Rights 1943: Inter alia stated, “We [Africans] demand the right to an equal share of the material resources of the country and we urge: That the present allocation of 13% of the land surface area to 8 million Africans against 2 million Europeans is unjust…and therefore, demand a fair distribution of just settlement of the LAND problem.”

    2. Youth League Manifesto 1944 declared: “The white race, possessing superior military power…has arrogated to itself the ownership of land and country. This meant that the African who owned the land before the advent of the Whites has been deprived of all security which may guarantee or ensure his leading free and unhampered life.”

    3. The Congress Youth League Basic Document 1945 proclaimed, “The African people in South Africa are oppressed in common with thousands and millions of oppressed colonial people in other parts of the world.”

    4. Congress Youth League Programme of Action 1949 stated: “The fundamental principles of the Programme of Action of the African National Congress are inspired by the desire to achieve national freedom. By national freedom we mean freedom from white colonial domination and attainment of independence…. like all other people, African people claim the right to self-determination.”

    The position of these Four Liberation Documents was in accord with the Fifth Pan African Congress held in 1945 in Manchester. This Congress was attended by 90 delegates. Among these were Pan Africanist luminaries such as Kwame Nkrumah, Obefami Awolowo, Jomo Kenyatta, George Padmore and W.W.B. du Bois. The declaration of this historic Congress read:

    “We affirm the right of all colonised people to control their destiny. All colonised countries must be free from imperialist control, whether political or economical…the people whose countries are colonised must fight for these objectives, by all means at their disposal…the struggle for political power by colonised people is the first step towards and the necessary prerequisite to complete emancipation…Africans and subject people of the world unite.”


    The 1912 ANC constitution in its Article 25 stated its objective as “the safe-guarding of the interests of the African people.” These are people who were dispossessed of their land through European colonialism.

    In fact, at its meeting held in Mngungundlovu on 22 October 1916, this Congress passed a resolution objecting to “the parcelling of land into private farms for Whites” and demanded that “land remain a permanent reserve for original owners [Africans].”

    African Kings had themselves fought numerous wars of national resistance against colonialism to preserve land for their people. These Kings sent representatives to the founding of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC).In fact, Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland were represented by African royalty of the three countries. This was a serious affair –LAND Dispossession of all Africans.

    The delegates heard Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme when opening the inaugural conference of the South African Native National Congress on 8th January 1912 say, “Kings of the royal blood and gentlemen of our race, we have gathered here to consider and discuss a scheme my colleagues have decided to place before you….In the land of our birth, Africans are treated as hewers of wood and drawers of water. The whites have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa in which we have been excluded.”

    The name of the South African Native National Congress was changed into African National Congress in 1923.


    In June 1955 a national tragedy befell the colonised African people of Azania (South Africa). A leadership claiming to represent Africans in the name of the 1912 ANC spoke with two tongues. It hunted with the hunters but ran with the hare and made sure the hare was not caught. 1955 ANC became a bat. It was a mouse during the day and a bird at night.

    The preamble to what it called The Freedom Charter read:

    “We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white….And therefore we, the people of South Africa black and white, together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt the Charter….”

    The consequences of this preamble were that the 1955 ANC had now changed the African anti-colonial struggle for land repossession into a mere civil rights movement. The new leadership with its white friends denounced opponents of this Freedom Cheater as “anti-white.” It was clear that the main purpose of the “Freedom Charter” was to derail the land question in South Africa.

    Amidst insults and false accusations that opponents of the Freedom Cheater were “anti-whites,” Pan Africanists rejected this kind of “Freedom Charter.” Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe described it as “a colossal fraud ever perpetrated upon the oppressed, exploited and degraded people. It clearly bears the stamp of its origin. It is a product of the slave colonial mentality and colonialist orientation.”

    Before the opponents of the pro-colonial Freedom Charter formed the Pan Africanist Congress, they sent the alarm to the bamboozled colonised nation. It read: “Following the capture of a section of the Black leadership of South Africa by a section of the ruling white colonial class, the masses of our people are in extreme danger of losing the objectives of the national struggle. This captured leadership claims to be fighting for freedom, when in truth it is fighting to perpetuate the tutelage of the African people. It is tooth and nail against the African gaining effective control of their land. These leaders consider our country and its wealth to belong to…the dispossessor and the indigenous victim. ”

    Twenty years later Steve Biko of the Black Consciousness Movement corroborated the PAC position. He wrote, “Above all, we Black people should keep in mind that South Africa is our country. The arrogance that makes the whites to travel all the way from Europe to come and balkanise our country and shift us around must be destroyed…whereas whites were guests to us on arrival in this country, they have now pushed us to 13% of the land and are acting as bad hosts in the rest of the country. This must be put right.” (I Write What I Like, Steve Biko)

    Condemning the preamble to the Freedom Charter, an African professor of political science and economics wrote, “It was and is still untenable for a political organisation which considers itself, to be a liberation movement, to start sharing the robbed land of those it claims to represent before it had…recovered that land, and determined terms how that land should be used by those who have to live in the country when its indigenous people gained self-determination.”


    Top leaders of the ANC did not know who wrote the “Freedom Charter” that prostituted their land and cheated the already colonially robbed Africans. Chief Albert Luthuli who was President of the 1912 ANC in 1955 wrote in his book, Let My People Go (1st edition):

    “The Freedom Charter is open to criticism….I can only speak vaguely about preparations that went before it….The result is that the declaration is UNEVEN.”

    Dr. Wilson Conco who was Chief Luthuli’s Deputy in the ANC in 1955 for a long time presided over the Kliptown gathering that produced the “Freedom Charter.”On his return to Durban to report to Chief Luthuli, he said he had seen the document for the first time at the Kliptown. He did not know who had drafted it. (An African Explains Apartheid, by Jordan K. Ngubane page 154).

    The preamble to the 1955 ANC Freedom Charter is a bundle of fake goods by fake sellers. Through The Native Land Act 1913 the colonialists seized the very asset which is central to the lives of the African people and made Africans in South Africa permanent paupers, subjected to a “third world economy” while the beneficiaries of colonialism enjoy a “first world economy” in a country they colonially have seized from its owners by military terrorism.

    Sixty years after the 1955 ANC claimed to be a liberation movement through the Freed Charter, there are “two nations” in “New South Africa” sometimes called a “rainbow nation.” One nation is extremely rich and is European minority. The other nation is extremely poor. It has the shortest life expectancy and highest child mortality and is the massive 41 million indigenous Africans. Millions of Africans live in shacks not fit even for pigs. These shacks often burn or flood killing many of them. The Native Land Act 1913 has been entrenched in Section 25(7) of “New South Africa” Constitution.

    Although, 60 years ago the 1955 ANC declared, that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it ….” The ANC has the policy of “willing seller and willing buyer.” This means buying land for Africans from European settlers who acquired it colonially. They are compensated. If indeed, as the 1955 ANC stated in its preamble of its Charter, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white….equals, countrymen and brothers….” why are Africans landless and the poorest people in South Africa? Why is land that belongs to all who live in it, being bought the crumbs of land by the 1955 ANC Government, instead of spending this money on massive education of the African students?

    The Minister of Rural Development And Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti long disclosed that he needed R72 billion to buy land from the coffers of the state from those who acquired it colonially. One farmer is reputed to own farm land the size of Belgium or Maryland in America, or close to home the size of Lesotho.

    Nkwinti has admitted that whites are buying land three times faster than the 1955 ANC government. But for many years the ANC resisted in parliament the appeals of the Pan Africanist Congress and the Azanian Peoples Organisation to legislate against the sale of land to foreigners. The situation in South Africa, as the ANC mounts its propaganda to lull the African people into a sense of false security by celebrating their own colonial genocide, is that the country is running out of land to bury its departed citizens.

    The ANC government is now persuading the affected communities to accept cremation, or to be buried on top of other people. This is in a country where by culture, Africans bury their dead in the land. And their country Azania (South Africa) is not only rich but is four times the size of Britain and Northern Ireland combined.

    Indeed, this African country is now like the one which Prophet Isaiah saw when wrote, “Your country is desolate….Your LAND, strangers devour in your presence.” (Isaiah 1:7)

    Anthony Sampson, the author of Black gold Tycoons, Revolutionaries And Apartheid has written, the “Freedom Charter was depicted by the South African Government as Marxist though it is hardly more radical than the Labour Party Manifesto in Britain.”

    In fact while the colonialist apartheid regime outlawed all documents of the PAC, it never banned the Freedom Charter. In South Africa the land dispossessors love the preamble of the Freedom Cheater. They often quote it profusely because the preamble to this charter has legitimised the land dispossession of the African people. Anthony Sampson seems to be right when he further states, “The Freedom Charter sounds like a Psalm, rather than a policy.”


    Some authors of this notorious document, as Mothopeng put it, have been named as Rusty Beinstein, Joe Slovo, Benjamin Turok, Arthur Goldreich, Piet Byleveld and numerous other whites who claimed to be “cummunists.” Sobukwe called them quacks who misrepresented true communism. Slovo was chief commander of the military wing of the ANC until after the collapse of the Soviet Union when the martyred Chris Hani replaced him.

    In 2009 Turok confirmed his own authorship of the Freedom Cheater. “I was not a typist of the economic clause of the Freedom Charter….As vice chairman of the Cape Provincial Acting Council and full organiser of the Congress of the People I was invited to the meeting of the National Council of the Congress on the eve of the actual event. A draft Freedom Charter was put to the meeting for approval and I proposed and Billy Nair seconded the amended version which was adopted there and then. I had been asked previously to introduce the economic clause at the Congress.”

    The leaders of the minority white Communist Party of South Africa regarded themselves as the “the brains” of the South African revolution. The current Deputy President of the ANC recently referred to them at their recent Congress as “intellectual factory” of the struggle. But they have always been very hostile to the issue of the land dispossession of the Africans.

    In 1984 General Sebastian Mabote, Chief Commander of the Mozambican Army, speaking on behalf of President Samora Machel explained why the Mozambican government supported the Zimbabwe Freedom Fighters in Rhodesia but was not prepared to give the same assistance to the ANC. He explained, “The Zimbabwe guerrillas are fighting for self-determination, independence and liberty. In South Africa the ANC is carrying a fight for civil rights not an armed struggle for national liberation.” (SOWETAN 10th March 1984)


    The South African white pseudo-communists were exposed for what they really are at the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern (Communist International). This Congress observed that, “A characteristic feature of the colonial type of the country (South Africa) is almost complete landlessness of the African population. The Africans hold one eighth of the land, while seven eighths of the land has been expropriated by the European population.” (Independent Black Republic Thesis of the Communist International 1928)

    The delegation of the White Communist Party of South Africa was composed of Sydney Bunting and his wife Rebecca. They were unhappy about the position of the Comintern. Sydney Bunting said, “Expressions like ‘South Africa is Black Country’ though correct as general statements, invite criticism by the working class and peasant minority.” It is not clear whether Bunting was ignorant of the situation in South Africa or was deliberately dishonest. The slogan of white workers at that time was “Workers of the World Unite and Keep South Africa White!”

    Anyway, Harry Haywood, an African American who attended the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern has written, “Rebecca Bunting spoke in the Commission session. Addressing the land question she denied that the land [South Africa] belonged to the Africans in the first place. But that both Africans and Whites from Central Africa and Cape Town respectively forced the aboriginal Hottentots and Bushmen off their land. Thus there is no Native land question”[in South Africa]. Haywood continues, “We listened with amazement and a laugh went through the audience.”(Black Bolshevik, Harry Haywood pages 237,271 and 272 Liberation Press Chicago, Illinois).

    The ANC Freedom Charter is the mother of “property clause” in the constitution of South Africa. It has simply given a new name to the Native Land Act 1913 in Section 25(7) of the “New South Africa” constitution. Africans cannot claim land that was taken from them before 1913. This is land that was allocated to them in 1913 as “Native Reserves” later called Bantustans. Constitutionally, Africans can claim only land taken from “their” 13% through the Group Areas Act 1950.

    The Freedom Charter is a dummy that has no milk. It is “golden” furniture without a house to put it in. It is future fruits from a non- existing fruit tree. All the material needs of life are in the land. There can be no life without land. There can be no genuine liberation of a land dispossessed people with repossession of their land.

    Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe of the “Sobukwe Clause” fame and Robben Island imprisonment without even a mock trial, was right when he mentioned the role of African Kings in the liberation of this country for land repossession. This was on Heroes’ Day 31 July 1959. Addressing the land dispossessed nation which is today 80% of this country’s population, he said:

    “Sons and Daughters of Afrika, we are today going down the corridor of time renewing our acquaintance with the heroes of Africa’s past –those men and women who nourished the tree of African freedom with their blood, those Sons and Daughters of Afrika who died in order that we may be free in the land of our birth….

    “We are here to draw inspiration from the heroes of Thababosiu, Isandlwana, Sandile’s Kop and numerous other battlefields where our forefathers fell before the bullets of the foreign invader.”

    The history of Africans with European colonialism has been a history of robbery, robbery of land, robbery of African power and its riches. The ANC preamble to the “Freedom Charter” is in essence the Freedom Cheater.

    * Dr. Motsoko Pheko, a former Member of the South African Parliament, is author of ‘South Africa: Betrayal of a colonised people’ and ‘How the ANC Freedom Charter betrayed land dispossessed Africans, among several other books.



    * Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


    Call for applications: Master’s degree (LLM/MPhil) in human rights and democratisation in Africa


    Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria


    c c CHR
    This prestigous degree is presented by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in partnership with 13 leading African universities.


    FEES: US$ 15 000

    Partial or fully self-funded students are encouraged to apply for this programme.


    Eligibility criteria:

    - Law students (LLM option): A degree allowing access to the legal profession
    - Non-law students (MPhil option): At least an Honours degree in a discipline relevant to human rights and democratisation

    Applicants must have excellent academic credentials and demonstrate human rights experience or interest. Members of minority groups such as indigenous people, LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply.

    The LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa is a unique programme to which 25 individuals from African countries with the following degrees and preferably experience in the field of human rights are admitted:

    The objectives of the LLM/MPhil programme are:

    + To train human rights experts who can be employed in government ministries, other national, international and regional bodies concerned with human rights and democracy. The aim is to ensure effectiveness of these bodies, through imparting professionalism and operational competence. The end result is to ensure transfer of technical skills and strengthen the capacity of these organisations with the goal of improving the protection and promotion of human rights and democratisation in Africa.

    + Expand collaboration among African universities. Collaboration should result in a network of lawyers and academics specialised in human rights and democracy. The programme envisages promoting research and teaching that addresses the particular needs of Africa. Some identified needs include conflict prevention; democratic transition; strengthening of civil society, institutional building and the rule of law. The programme also aims at developing and strengthening links between civil society, governmental bodies and international organisations.

    + Develop relationship between the African Masters and the other regional masters, such as the European Masters Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (EMA), the Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in South Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation.
    During an intensive one-year course, they are taught by eminent lecturers in the field of human rights and gain invaluable practical exposure. It is the only course of its kind in Africa.

    The LLM/MPhil is a regional cooperation initiative presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria (South Africa), in conjunction with the faculties of law at Université d'Abomey-Calavi (Benin), Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), University of Alexandria (Egypt), Catholic University of Central Africa (Cameroon), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis (Senegal), University of Ghana, University of Lagos (Nigeria), University of Mauritius, Makerere University (Uganda), University of Venda and the University of the Western Cape (South Africa).

    Individuals from all African countries are invited to apply for admission to study for the Master’s Degree (LLM/MPhil) in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa.


    -Download the Call for Application 2016

    - Download 2013 the LLM/MPhil (HRDA) brochure

    Help rebuild a hospital in Gaza destroyed by Israel


    There is a fund to re-build a hospital in the Gaza strip, damaged in last year's brutal attacks by Israel.

    Please click here to donate.

    Pan-African human rights defenders awards


    Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRD–Net) has opened a call for nominations for the 2nd Edition of human rights defenders awards. The awards will honor exceptional individuals who peacefully promote and protect universally recognized rights as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

    Altogether six awards will be presented, one overall award and five sub-regional awards:

    – Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Award
    – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Award
    – West Africa Human Rights Defenders Award
    – Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Award
    – Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Award
    – Northern Africa Human Rights Defenders Award

    Visit or send your nominations for the 2nd Edition African Shield Awards to [email protected]

    Second Call for Papers: Pan-African Colloquium in Barbados University of the West Indies/Barbados, January 12-15, 2016

    Pan-African Colloquium


    The Departments of History and Philosophy; Government, Sociology and Social Work, The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados and PANAFSTRAG are pleased to issue a second call for papers for this inaugural international Pan African Colloquium to be held at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados over the period January 12-15, 2016.

    The broad theme for this inaugural colloquium will be "Heroes and heroines of the back to Africa movements, Pan Africanism, African nationalism and global Africanism: Their philosophies, activities and legacies."
    This international conference hopes to brings together scholars/researchers, activists and policymakers to interrogate the philosophical, political, socio-cultural and economic thoughts and legacies of these Africanists. Since the nineteenth century these persons have agitated and protested against imperialism, emancipation, racism, violation of human rights and inequality of economic opportunity, conditions that still characterize our reality. This conference provides a platform for the exploration of such issues and the questions related to the viability of Africanist movements. Interrelated issues of solidarity, self-determination, self-awareness, black consciousness, economic empowerment, spiritual enlightenment and cultural awareness will also be discussed. The conference is further intended to build synergies and forge dialogue on how the movement in Africa and the African diaspora can improve its position in a globalizing world and aid in shaping consciousness of Africans worldwide building on the efforts of these heroes and heroines.
    Please visit the following link and click call for papers for more information.

    Comment & analysis

    Obama’s Nairobi visit should unlock American funding for climate change

    Mithika Mwenda


    As President Obama pays a visit to demonstrate his commitment to his brothers and sisters in Africa, he should bring with him a renewed commitment to help the continent adapt to climate change.

    More than five years ago, in the dark negotiating halls of the Copenhagen climate talks, an agreement was struck that included a pledge of 100 billion dollars (Kshs. 100 Trillion) to help developing countries, such as Kenya, cope with the havoc caused by climate change and facilitate a shift to low-carbon development pathways.

    Back then, we didn’t call it a success. But it was something. A concrete manifestation of the understanding that rich countries caused climate change, and developing countries are on the front lines in the fight against it.

    As momentum is growing ahead of the Paris climate talks in December, we are hopeful that the time is right and world leaders can come together and build on that commitment and understanding. Because this is a crucial year when it comes to tackling climate change. The world has a unique opportunity to collectively turn one of the biggest challenges facing humankind into one of the greatest opportunities to build healthy planet. It’s an opportunity that we must capitalize on to ensure a better world for future generations.

    But the question nagging the poor people in Kenya and elsewhere in the world is how a new agreement can be struck when old commitments haven’t been fulfilled. As of today, Development Agency Oxfam estimates that currently less than $20 billion per year of the $100 billion pledged for the Green Climate Fund have been flowing to developing countries.

    As President Obama pays us a visit to demonstrate his commitment to his brothers and sisters in Africa, we are sure that he also brings a renewed commitment to help the continent adapt to climate change.

    The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that by the year 2100, a 4.1°C increase in global temperature will cost the African continent 10% of its net GDP. UNEP also estimates that the costs of adaptation in the Least Developed Countries alone will rise to $50bn per year by 2030, with a total of around $150bn per year in all developing countries.

    Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are not sitting idly by. Instead, they are collectively spending around $5bn annually from their own budgets to adapt to climate change - far more than they receive from international sources in climate finance. Sadly, this is money that could instead be going to building schools, roads, and hospitals. Increasing financial flows to developing countries is essential to accelerate their transition to low-carbon energy systems and to protect vulnerable communities. And it is essential to bring about success in Paris.

    Time and time again, President Obama has emphasized that no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that the United States stands up as a leader to ensure more governments deliver strong commitments on how to close the funding gap.

    The climate crisis will never be tackled unless vulnerable developing countries receive the financial support they need to build resilience and cope with natural disasters and weather patterns. Taking actions now is not only important because of the dangers of disruptive climate change, but because a new climate economy will create better business opportunities, and improve our health, prosperity, and security.

    Failure is not an option for us in Kenya, or Africa, or for all of the humanity living on this planet.

    The dramatic scenes of Vanuatu, where a Cyclone Pam left widespread destruction, will happen over and over again around the world, with increasing frequency. Even our own tourism city of Mombasa will not be spared in the whole equation. It also risks sinking.

    As the Civil Society from across Africa, we urge President Obama to stand in solidarity with the African continent, which has by far borne the greatest brunt of the global climate change crisis, despite us contributing the least.

    Developed countries must demonstrate that they will abide by their previous commitments before entering into new ones. The survival of African countries – and our planet-- depends on it.

    It’s not about charity. It’s about justice. And survival.

    * Mithika Mwenda is the Executive Director, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (

    The fight for a Socialist South Africa

    Glen Ford


    South Africa is failing, as a direct result of the neoliberalism embraced by the ruling Black elite working in cahoots with the white class since the formal end of apartheid 20 years ago. A true transition of power to the people is need.

    “By the end of next week, the opportunity to reform COSATU may be gone,” said Zwelinzima Vavi, the former general secretary of the South African labor confederation that was once a pillar of the struggle against white minority rule, but now acts as an extension of the ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC). Vavi was ousted from the Congress of South African Trade Unions, in March, for opposing the expulsion of the 365,000-strong metal workers union, last November, after NUMSA announced that it would no longer support the ANC and would, instead, continue to build a United Front of socialist movements with the aim of creating [url=file://localhost/home/bruce/Documents/BAR/2015/20150715/Glen%20Ford%20Black%20Agenda%20Report%20South%20Africa%20Irvin%20Jim]a genuine workers party[/url] to challenge the government.

    Speaking alongside Vavi, last week, in the mid-town Manhattan offices of singer-activist Harry Belafonte’s family business, was Irvin Jim, the metal workers union chief. The two labor leaders were on the second leg of a whirlwind trip to Washington and New York, to connect with U.S. supporters of a true transition of power to the people of South Africa. “This is the time to look for alternatives” to COSATU, Irvin Jim told the roomful of activists, many of them veterans of the “Free South Africa” campaigns of more than a generation ago. “There is no turning back.”

    Vavi’s prediction was right. On Monday and Tuesday, a tumultuous special congress of COSATU accepted the credentials of a shake-and-bake, ANC-backed façade called the “Liberated Metal Workers of South Africa” to take NUMSA’s place in the labor federation. A bid to reinstate Vavi as COSATU general secretary was also defeated, as expected. The credentials debate took ten hours to resolve, ending with a show-of-hands vote in a hall filled with guests and “observers.” Media were unexpectedly barred from much of the proceedings, and many delegates from NUMSA’s allied unions abandoned the process in disgust.

    NUMSA’s appeal of its expulsion has been put off until the next regular COSATU congress, in November, by which time, as Irvin Jim told U.S. supporters in New York, its “Liberated” replacements will be sitting in the metal workers’ chairs at the federation’s leadership table, representing virtually no one.

    This is not a U.S.-style labor fight for perks and privileges. “This battle goes to the core of building an economy and democratic state that works for all,” said Vavi, a former child laborer and metal worker who takes his socialism very seriously. So does Irvin Jim, whose family tried to scratch out a living as landless farmers. “For me, class is a driving force. We are struggling to advance humanity against the forces of greed.”

    For Zwelinzima Vavi and his comrades, the transition to Black electoral rule in 1994 was to have been the beginning, not the conclusion, of a process of social transformation. “Our struggle was never about Black people standing beside their former oppressors and putting papers in a ballot box.”

    The ballot brought an ANC government, buttressed by the two other legs of the anti-apartheid triple alliance: COSATU and the South African Communist Party (SACP). COSATU has been reduced to the “labor desk” of the ANC, while the SACP “sold out” to global capitalism at the very start of majority rule, as SACP-ANC veteran Ronnie Kasrils has written.

    “There is a brutal exploitation of the working class, in the mines, farms and workplaces, to keep them in the status of wage slaves,” said Vavi. Under the ANC’s neoliberal policies, racial disparities in wealth have actually increased since the end of formal apartheid. Horrific state violence against workers has also returned, with the massacre of 34 miners at Marikana in 2012 – a crime for which the ANC government has found not one person responsible.

    Vavi ticked off the statistics:

    Unemployment has worsened, to more than 36 percent.
    50 percent of youth below the age of 25 are unemployed
    Poverty has escalated to 54.3 percent of the people.
    26 million live on “below a U.S. dollar a day.”
    50 percent of kids drop out of school “before the age of 12.”

    “This is what breeds a cycle of poverty among the working class,” said Vavi, with the rhetorical question: “Why did we make these sacrifices against apartheid, if this is the result?”

    President Jacob Zuma, whom South African labor supported to replace the cold and calculating neoliberalism of President Thabo Mbeki, in 2009, “proved to be the worst thing we have ever done to the working class. It was our mistake,” said Vavi. “We got so angry at Mbeki and his neoliberal programs,” as well as his denial that HIV was transmitted by sex – leading to the death of “360,000 to 400,000 South Africans.”

    The South African state is failing, as are state-owned enterprises, as a direct result of the neoliberal straightjacket. There are “blackouts every day, because of previous attempts to privatize electricity,” he said. “Billions and billions of rand are being wasted through corruption, which has been institutionalized” in the ANC. Such corruption is more than simple theft; it is built into the system that South Africa’s leaders have embraced. “The fight against corruption is a fight against the capitalist system.”


    In Johannesburg on Tuesday, COSATU president S’dumo Dlamini gloated that he had pulled off a victory in locking Vavi and Irvin Jim’s NUMSA out of the federation. “There was no blood on the floor,” said Dlamini. “We are building COSATU.” The eight unions allied with NUMSA, who together with the metal workers make up a majority of South African organized labor, surely see things differently.

    Dlamini then charged that Zwelinzima Vavi and Irvin Jim had traveled to the United States on a mission of “regime change” – that they had become part of the “American system.” According to press reports, in a howlingly ridiculous inversion of who is upholding socialist values, Diamini said Vavi and Jim and the “American system” can be defeated and workers should be inspired by the release of the Cuban Five who were held for 15 years as political prisoners in the United States.

    As Vavi said of Jacob Zuma, Diamini likes to “talk Marxism.” But he behaves like an agent of capital.

    In December, after the next Congress of COSATU, NUMSA officially launches the United Front, a methodical step in building support for a party that will fight for a socialist South Africa. NUMSA is also exploring alternatives to COSATU, since the labor federation clearly cannot be reformed from within. As Irvin Jim told his audience of New York City activists, the current South African state “represents the dominant classes in society, which exploit the workers.” That’s why the police massacre at Marikana happened. The ANC government “wanted to teach the working class a lesson: that if you act in your interest, we will kill you.”

    * Glen Ford is executive editor of Black Agenda Report.



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    Third time unlucky

    Glebelands killers claim another life

    Venessa Burger


    The latest victim in the endless violence in a poor people’s residence in South Africa is a 55-year-old father of five who was chased and shot dead by a lone gunman in broad daylight. As in previous murders, the security forces deployed to the area were nowhere in sight.

    19 July 2015

    It is not known why Thandayiphe Cwele visited the traditional healer at the informal settlement near Glebelands Hostel today. But whatever the reason, it was a very bad decision. Cwele had survived two other attempts on his life, received threats, had to flee his officially allocated room and allegedly suffered police torture.

    At around 13h00 today, as he was returning to Glebelands, he was attacked and chased by an unknown gunman. As he ran across the road a bullet struck him in his left shoulder, exiting near his heart. He fell and died instantly at Glebelands’ entrance. Witnesses claim Cwele seemed to recognise his killer just before he opened fire.

    In September 2014, Cwele was shot at close range between Blocks J and K, allegedly by an eMagabheni hitman hired by the notorious hostel warlord. At the time he tried to defend himself and managed to wrestle a homemade firearm away from his attacker. The gun apparently went off during the struggle, injuring his attacker. For his pains he was charged with attempted murder. The investigating officer in this instance has been implicated in many cases that appear to have been riddled with irregularities and highly questionable police conduct. The same officer was believed to be involved in the torture of a female resident in October last year. It is rumoured he is one of the police officers who enjoy a close ‘working’ relationship with the infamous warlord. His name is well known. The case against Cwele was eventually withdrawn and the hitman was acquitted of the charges that Cwele had laid against him.

    Subsequently it was reported that Umlazi SAPS officers (an officer has been named) visited Cwele’s room several times and accused him of possession of an unlicensed firearm. During these visits the police allegedly vandalized his property, teargased, assaulted and tortured him. According to the community, Cwele never owned a gun.

    He also reported he received threatening phone calls from the warlord’s men. The thugs also visited his room early this year but were unable to find him.

    At around 10h30 on Thursday 8 May, Cwele was arrested with another resident on charges of armed robbery. They were held in custody at the Umlazi Police Station without being charged until Monday 10 May. Sources claim that the warlord had visited the Block 42 robbery victim and forced him to identify Cwele and his friend as the perpetrators. When they were released, the police reportedly informed them that there had been insufficient evidence. Cwele lost several days’ pay as a result of this seemingly baseless detention. At the end of the month, Cwele was reportedly attacked again by the warlord’s thugs.

    Cwele (aged 55) left a wife and five children, although it is believed he was supporting thirteen people in total. His two eldest children shared his room at Glebelands so that they could be near a good school. His eldest son failed last year after the police tortured him. Today, they were returning after visiting their mother in southern KwaZulu-Natal to resume their studies at the end of the school holidays. They will return to an empty room, their father blown away by the hatred and heartlessness of the hostel killers.

    So where were the police – apart from the many units crawling the vicinity after Cwele was shot, when it was too late? Where were the static deployments at Jeena’s, Reunion, MegaCity and other killing hotspots, requested of the SAPS Provincial Commissioner on 8 June? At what stage are the Provincial Task Team’s investigations into all these killings? Where is justice for Glebelands? When will it end?

    * Vanessa Burger is a South African Community Activist: 0828477766 / [email protected]



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    Bt cotton in Ghana: False claims and legal sleight of hand

    Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour

    Food Sovereignty Ghana


    The Bt cotton, which has no market, is just a way of getting the GMO foot in the door to pave the way for Bt maize. Most of the money made from Bt maize would exit Ghana, creating more wealth for foreign corporate interests.

    Field trials of GMO cotton, genetically modified Bt cotton, have been going on in three northern areas in Ghana, according to a news report published by the Graphic on Monday, 29 June 2015. With Ghana being a signatory to the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, the very decision to approve the application for the so-called “confined” field trial of Bt. Cotton, ought to have involved public awareness and participation.

    Article 23 of the Protocol requires Parties, on their own and in cooperation with other States and international bodies, to promote and facilitate public awareness and education, including access to information, regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs). It also requires Parties to consult the public in the decision-making process, to make public the final decision taken and to inform public about the means of access to the Biosafety Clearing-House.

    In the absence of all these regarding the very application for a “confined field trial”, Food Sovereignty Ghana was astounded by the announcement that, “A scientist at the Yam and Cotton Breeding Programme of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Dr. Emmanuel Chamba, has confirmed that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton trials in the three northern regions of the country have yielded positive results”!

    Interestingly enough, from the very same article we gather that there is no market for cotton in Northern Ghana. Dr Emmanuel Chamba, claimed farmers are impatiently waiting for the GM cotton. But it is hard to imagine why they would ask for Bt cotton if they have no place to sell it, particularly if they have to pay higher prices for the seeds and the chemical inputs necessary for any GMO commercial crop.

    A rather pathetic spin the SARI scientist put on the eagerness of the farmers to “embrace” the Bt cotton, also exposed the ineffectiveness and the incompetence of the National Biosafety Authority, and Ghana's law enforcement in general:

    “There are reports from the three northern regions that some farmers have sidestepped the regulatory system to plant Bt cotton seeds they brought in from Burkina Faso and are recording positive yields”. If this were true, it would be his responsibility to report this to the appropriate authorities, rather than narrating it to the media with glee.

    One fact that comes out clearly in Dr. Chamba's revelations of the illegal "confined field trials" of the Bt cotton is the disturbing lack of professionalism and sense of responsibility expected from a scientist who ought to know better. The very fact that the "confined" field trials were simply left in the hands of farmers rather than trained scientists is most alarming indeed, as we gather that, at least, in one location "the farmer could not go according to instructions"!

    Although there appears to be nothing legal about the Bt cotton field trials, the article says they expect Bt cotton to be approved for commercial production soon. So if foreign corporations want something that is illegal in Ghana, Ghana’s politicians appear happy to just change the law to make it legal.

    Every time a GMO crop is introduced, the seed industry and their political and academic shills make extravagant claims, loudly proclaiming better quality, higher yields, resistant to drought, etc. The reality soon turns out to be much different.
    In a recent opinion piece, Cottoning onto the lie: GM cotton will harm not help small farmers in Africa, Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) shows how GM cotton has impoverished smallholder farmers due to the expense of the technology coupled with inevitable technological failures associated with GM cotton crops. The paper states:

    “Scrutiny of actual experiences reveals a tragic tale of crippling debt, appalling market prices and a technology prone to failure in the absence of very specific and onerous management techniques, which are not suited to smallholder production.

    “As stated by a farmer during a Malian public consultation on GMOs, “What’s the point of encouraging us to increase yields with GMOs when we can’t get a decent price for what we already produce?” In Burkina Faso, the tide turned against GM cotton after just five seasons as low yields and low quality fibres persisted. In South Africa, GM cotton brought devastating debts to smallholders and the local credit institution went bust. Last season, smallholders contributed to less than three percent of South Africa’s total production.”

    For smallholder farmers growing on tiny plots, GMO crops quickly become more vulnerable to pests, not less. With tiny plots, cross contamination of non-GMO crops is certain. Farmers soon begin to experience devastating losses. Seed industry corporations can wait for the smallholder to be forced out of business by debt, buy the land cheap, and leave farmers and their families with nothing. This is made even more certain by legislation such as the Plant Breeders Bill or the ARIPO New Plant Varieties Protection Protocol, which prevent farmers from saving and replanting seeds. Farmers are forced to buy new seed each year from the seed industry monopoly that can set any price it wants.

    Dr. Chamba says that only one company is making any attempt to produce and market cotton in northern Ghana, "only Wienco is attempting because it has put cotton under its maize programme.” That gives us a big clue to the real GMO agenda. The real objective is to grow the real money maker in Ghana, genetically modified Bt maize. There are already input subsidies in place for maize. This would be devastating to Ghanaian farmers and the Ghanaian diet. Farmers would incur crippling debt buying the expensive seeds. Pollen drift and contamination make GMO maize a threat to all Ghanaian varieties of maize.

    This exact threat to other conventional varieties of maize is what informed Mexico’s decision to ban GM maize in 2013. The Bt cotton, which has no market, is just a way of getting the GMO foot in the door to pave the way for Bt maize. Most of the money made from Bt maize would exit Ghana, creating more wealth for foreign corporate interests, and mounting debt here in Ghana.

    Dr. Chamba said they only had to spray the Bt cotton with pesticides twice. He neglected to point out that Bt cotton is itself a pesticide, registered as a pesticide by the USDA. Every cell of the plant contains Bt toxin throughout the entire life of the plant. Applications of other pesticides are just additional pesticides applied to a plant that is already itself a pesticide. It is genetically modified not to produce better quality cotton and not to increase yields, it is genetically modified to be a pesticide and to be patented.

    Public opinion has been clearly against genetically modified crops in Ghana. Only the political and academic elites, who are listening to the G7 and USAID corporate enablers, and who think they may make big profits for themselves, are desirous of growing GMOs in Ghana. They don't mind selling out their country and fellow citizens to big agricultural multinational corporations. Or they may be fooled by the corporations, the G8NA, and USAID into believing the false hype and bogus claims. The GMO enablers are hedging their bets and trying to co-opt the leadership of all political parties.

    Aside from the negative health implications of GMOs, this high level technology is not workable for subsistence level farmers operating on very small plots of land. The global cotton market is highly competitive and unstable. High input costs are already annihilating profit margins. To promote more expensive technologies that have already proven unworkable for smallholder farmers in African countries is foolish and self-destructive for Ghana.

    Our political leadership needs to focus on building Ghana. Rather than undermining farmers, poisoning consumers, and destroying Ghana's ecosystems and agriculture with GMOs, Ghana's politicians need to listen to the people who elect them. Public opinion is resoundingly against GMOs. There is no science anywhere demonstrating GMOs are safe. There is disturbing evidence from many quarters that GMOs and their attendant chemicals are an economic disaster for agriculture and a health disaster for the people who live in their proximity and the people who consume them.

    Our political leadership appears determined to blanket Ghana with GMOs entirely against the wishes of Ghanaians. They are pushing to get this done before people catch on to what is happening. They know that if Ghanaians realize what is going on they will be angry and it will show in the way they vote. We must tell our local officials and our elected representatives we don't want Bt cotton or Bt maize in Ghana. NO to GMOs! NO to Bt Cotton!

    For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice

    * Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour works with the Communications Directorate, Food Sovereignty Ghana.

    Contact: Tel: +233 249867238 / +233 207973808



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    Letter from the graves: Murdered Gambians write to President Jammeh


    July 22, 2015 is President Yahya Jammeh’s twenty-first anniversary in power. To mark this day, the numerous Gambians murdered under the Jammeh regime are crying out for justice in a joint letter to West Africa’s King of Impunity. These victims, who are tired of waiting for justice, have expressed their suffering in the absence of accountability for The Gambia’s violations of human rights, including freedom of expression and press freedom.

    The Union of Murdered Gambians
    Central Cemetery of Victims of the Jammeh Regime
    Banjul, The Gambia
    July 22, 2015

    President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia
    Private Mail Bag
    State House
    Banjul, The Gambia

    Dear President Yahya Jammeh, West Africa’s King of Impunity:

    You may not have known us. You may not know or remember our names. Yet you claimed us; we are the ones tortured, disappeared, and murdered by your regime. We may have seen another face at our time of death, but we know: it was you who was responsible.

    We were human rights defenders, journalists, students, activists; innocents in all. Those of us whose bodies were returned to our families consider ourselves lucky; our loved ones have closure with respect to our end. The ones who died in disappearance suffer more, watching those they left behind hold onto a hope beyond hopes.

    None of us can rest knowing your crimes against humanity have gone and continue to go unpunished.

    Today, you happily celebrate your twenty-first anniversary as president of our country, while Gambians joylessly look back on two decades of violent abuses and repression under your rule. We’ve watched as you’ve shaken hands with the most powerful leader in the world and shrouded yourself with the veil of impunity. We saw the international community, including African Union bodies and even West Africa’s own ECOWAS body, turn a blind eye to your abuses and incendiary rhetoric.

    We heard the judgments of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, decided in favour of three of your countless victims. And our souls have wept as you continue to ignore these rulings and as ECOWAS allows you and your government to violate our memories with impunity.

    You broke our bodies, you tried to break our spirits with your disregard for our inalienable dignity and rights. But we refuse to accept that our deaths were meaningless; for the sakes of our brothers and sisters still speaking out against you and your regime, we believe in a just future.

    We know your reign as West Africa’s King of Impunity will not last forever. You will be held accountable and you will pay for your abuses against our words, our dignity, and finally, our lives and families. And on that day, we will finally be at peace.

    We are waiting.

    The Dead


    Dr. Nana Seshibe, a warrior of the liberation struggle

    Motsoko Pheko


    Heroes are immortal. They seem more powerful in their spirit than in their mortal life. Their spirits become the fountain of inspiration to conquer the forces of evil, oppression and human destruction. Nana has joined heroes in the spirit world.

    [EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Nana Seshibe, wife, mother, beloved teacher, activist and scholar, made her transition on Friday, June 19, 2015 in USA. She is survived by her elderly husband, Jerry, and their three sons.]

    First of all, I want Comrade Seshibe and his children and all his relatives to know that we are proud of the life Dr Nana Seshibe has lived. It is a good reflection on the family as a whole. She had a life full of purpose, a life with a personal vision, a life of selflessness, a life of perseverance in the struggle for the liberation of her people, a fierce courage to face difficulties of life, especially in the liberation struggle.

    Nana was just a little girl when she left her country because she loved to see her people liberated from apartheid colonialism in South Africa. She was a clear minded person. She was focused. She was dedicated to the noblest cause on earth – the liberation of one’s people and mankind.

    She never succumbed to the embarrassment some people feel about an honest expression of love for Pan Africanism. She was able to say, ‘Izwe Lethu! iAfrika!’ with great openness in public and in private. She was a lover of her people and her continent and regarded our brothers and sisters in the diaspora as great sons and daughters of that great continent which produced the first human civilisation on this planet, notwithstanding the lies and distortions of colonial historians.

    Yes, Africa built Memphis the capital city of MIZRAIM (ancient Egypt) in 3100 B.C. Greeks built Athens in 1200 B.C. The Romans built Rome in 1000 B.C. Africa invented writing. It was Hieroglyphics in 3000 B.C. Hieratic writing shortly after this. Demotic writing was developed about 600 B.C. The Kushite script was used in 300 B.C. Other scripts were Merotic, Coptic, Amharic, Sabean, Gee’z, Nsibidi of Nigeria, Mende of Mali and writings such as the Twi Alphabet of the Twi people of Ghana.

    In November 1999, some scholars at Yale University such as Prof. John Damell here in America discussed the origin of writing in the world. They found no reason to dispute the fact that the location was Africa – Alkebu-Lan – the Land of Ham. Some of his sons were Kush, Mizraim, Phut. This is an important continent whose civilisation such as the pyramids found in Mizraim, Kush (Ethiopia) and Nubia (ancient Sudan).

    Indeed, Edem Kodjo, author of ‘Africa Tomorrow’, a profound researcher on Africa, has written, ‘It is here in Africa that history began. Far from being a gratuitous assertion, this statement is an undeniable scientific fact for which one finds corroboration when one roves the world in search of the remains of ancient civilisations….Africa remains the privileged source of the early intense human activity.’

    As everyone knows Africa has been targeted for destruction for a long time through colonial terrorism and racism. Dr. Nana Seshibe stands very tall in the liberation not only of Azania (South Africa). She was a little girl when she answered the call for the liberation of our Mother Continent – Africa. She has had disappointments about how some people claiming to liberate, especially Azania, let the Native Land Act 1913 be entrenched in section 25(7) of the constitution of what the world has been told is ‘New South Africa’ or the ‘rainbow nation.’ This has created a situation of ‘two nations’ – one extremely rich and European minority of 8.9% and the other an extremely poor one involving an African majority of 79.2%.

    This is what at the end has saddened Dr. Nana Seshibe very much. But she was not discouraged. She kept on doing what she could do to bring sense to the Pan African vision of a United States of Africa prosperous and great among the nations of the world. There are signs of a new awakening among the young Africans in Africa including Azania – her country of birth.

    Heroes are immortal. They seem more powerful in their spirit than in their mortal life. Their spirits become the fountain of inspiration to conquer the forces of evil, oppression and human destruction. That is why we still invoke the spirits of lovers of Africa such as Malcom X, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and that of Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe of the ‘Sobukwe Clause’ fame and Robben Island imprisonment without even a mock trial by the forces of colonialism and racism.

    Speaking on Heroes Day in Azania (South Africa) in the ears of the then little Nana Seshibe, Sobukwe pointed to the importance of our heroes as inspirers of our liberation. He said:

    ‘Sons and daughters of Africa, we are going down the corridor of time renewing our acquaintance with the heroes of Africa’s past- those men and women who nourished the tree of freedom and independence with their blood, those great Sons and Daughters of Africa who died in order that we may be free in the land of our birth.’

    We are not here to bury Dr. Nana Seshibe but to record her name on the list of our heroes. As we lay down this great daughter of Africa, let me repeat Sobukwe her first President of the Pan Africanist Congress when he proclaimed on that Heroes Day a long time ago:

    ‘We meet here today, to rededicate ourselves to the cause of Africa, to establish contact beyond the grave with the great African heroes and assure them their struggle was not in vain. We are met here sons and daughters of the beloved land to drink from the fountain of African achievement, to remember the men and women who begot us, to remind ourselves of where we come from and restate our goals. We are here to draw inspiration from the heroes of Thaba Bosiu, Isandlwana and Sandile’s Kop and numerous other battles fields where our forefathers fell before the bullets of the foreign invader.’

    Brothers and sisters and comrades, the only way we can honour this great daughter of Africa is by rededicating ourselves to the unfinished struggle in Azania and on our beloved Continent.

    Let us remember our martyr Patrice Lumumba in the Congo when he said, ‘I prefer to die with my head held high, unshakable faith in the greatest confidence in the destiny of my country than live…in contempt for sacred principles.’

    I have known Dr. Nana Seshibe for many years. In fact, the last time I spoke on Africa Liberation Day in many American universities I was sponsored by her and the AAPRP brothers and sisters.

    Dr. Nana Seshibe is a warrior. She stood boldly for the defence of Africa in the stormy sea of falsehood and deception. She was not made of tender fibre. She was not a woman of lily fingers. She was not for sale. She was a daughter of Africa whom historical necessity had called upon to contend under the stern realities of life and vicissitudes for the liberation of her people.


    * DR MOTSOKO PHEKO is a former Member of the South African Parliament.

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    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at [url=]Pambazuka News[/url


    Country Campaigner: Horn of Africa


    Amnesty International


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. In order to be effective, Amnesty International’s (AI) International Secretariat needs to change how we work. That’s why we’re opening a hub in Kenya. And why we need your campaigning expertise with us on the ground.

    Closing Date: 9 August 2015
    Directorate: Global Operations
    Location: Nairobi
    Type: Permanent
    Working Hours: 35
    Salary: $48,254


    Our Horn of Africa Campaigner will tackle issues like freedom of expression and association, human rights abuses in the context of armed conflict, and abuses in the criminal justice system. As a Campaigner, you can expect to have a direct impact on these key areas, as well as our overarching regional campaigning and research strategies. Focusing mainly on Ethiopia and Eritrea and human rights themes, you’ll develop effective, strategic campaigning plans and work with both AI colleagues and external partners to deliver them. You’ll also create clear and compelling campaigning materials for a range of audiences, writing reports and public statements, making videos and web features, and raising awareness and mobilizing our members to effect human rights change. And you’ll constantly look for ways to improve your work too, researching effective campaigning methods, monitoring impact and staying up to date with the latest human rights developments.


    A practised campaigner, you’ll know how to create successful campaign strategies and build awareness through powerful actions and recognized techniques. You’ll also understand the importance of flexibility and be ready to adapt and evolve your plans. We’ll expect you to understand human rights and the political landscape within East Africa, both in general terms and specifically, with knowledge of Ethiopia and Eritrea and key thematic areas. You’ll be able to translate that knowledge into campaign materials and creative initiatives that inspire activism online and off, and have the fluency to express complex ideas in English and a relevant regional language. You’ll have a network of civil society and government contacts and the clout to represent AI to audiences ranging from civil society groups and governments to our global membership. Beyond that, you’ll be a real team player relishing close collaboration with our researchers, colleagues and partners.


    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    For more information and to apply click here.

    The CIHA Blog WordPress Developer and Designer


    The CIHA Blog


    cc CIHA
    The CIHA Blog is looking for a talented freelance WordPress developer with a keen eye for design to update the blog design, customize existing themes to design specification, fix bugs in the back and front-end, and improve usability and site performance.

    The Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa (CIHA) Blog seeks to transform the phenomenon of aid to Africa into egalitarian and respectful relationships that challenge unequal power relations, paternalism and victimization. Our research and commentaries highlight critical and religious voices to explore connections among issues of faith, governance, gender, and race in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Through analysis and dialogue, we strive for equality, justice and, ultimately, respect for others’ desires, beliefs and practices.


    ● Work with Co-editors and editorial assistants to update blog with latest technologies
    ● Optimize the design for readability and improve display of uploaded media, including photos, videos, and PDFs for high and low bandwidth
    ● Integrate the capacity to include additional technologies (e.g., livestream videos, paper archive, podcasts) and improve integration with social media
    ● Develop template and technology for subscription email newsletters
    ● Enhance analytic monitoring of site
    ● Provide assistance with other graphic design or technical tasks


    ● Extensive knowledge of modifying existing theme templates (support, extend and/or enhance existing code)
    ● Full knowledge of WordPress and CMS platforms, HTML5, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, jQuery
    ● Ability to modify and customize plugins and create new plugins, as necessary
    ● An understanding of DNS records and cPanel web server admin
    ● Fluency in English

    Preferred Education, Skills, and Experiences:
    ● Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent)
    ● French language skills strongly preferred (as well as any African languages; Arabic also helpful)
    ● Experience with design, including Adobe Creative Suite
    ● The ability to advise on UX improvements
    ● Aware of WordPress security pitfalls and follow best practices to ensure tight security
    ● Knowledge of SEO practices
    ● Knowledge of or interest in the role that NGOs, humanitarianism, and religion play in the social and historical context of Africa


    Email resume with portfolio and links to website examples to [email protected]

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