HOUSTON–Juneteenth is the oldest holiday acknowledging the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas during the year of 1865.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Houston chapter of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) hosted a jamming Juneteenth music and freedom festival.
The festival took place on Saturday, June 21 in the AAPDEP 5th Ward Uhuru Garden.
Indeed, this was probably the liveliest Juneteenth event in Houston!
The efforts of all the organizers, in particular Omowale Kefing, generously paid it forward.
The community left the festival full of fire, knowledgeable of our movement and thirsty for more.
In addition to this, new comrades joined the movement as members.
Once the festival opened, there was never a dull moment. The stage continuously hosted a bevy of talent.
The crowd was able to “Tighten Up” to the tune of Houston’s own legendary Archie Bell of Archie Bell and the Drells.
Although Archie Bell lit up the stage as always, his beautiful toddler granddaughter captured the hearts of the audience as she performed on stage with Archie Bell.
After a powerful opening by Omowale Kefing, the lovely Mother Aja Zola opened the ceremony with libations to the ancestors.
Mr. Las Vegas delivered a prized package of “oldies but goodies” that compelled the audience to swing-out, toe-tap and slow-drag.
The range of performers was quite suitable for all ages and genres of music.
12-year-old Yong Tonka performed an encouraging song for the youth entitled, “I Can Be President.”
O.G. Penguin of San Antonio rocked the stage with positive Hip Hop music.
Author and songwriter Trete Lo performed with grace and style, and the soulful violinist, Jonell certainly did not disappoint with her lovely rendition of the gospel hit by Isarel Hougton, “Moving Forward.”
Ali York, one of the speakers for the evening, shared an uplifting message for the community and inspired the community to think positively.
The Master of Ceremony, Dujan “Detroit” Harris and Mistress of Ceremony, Ashira Adwoa kept the continuity of the show upbeat and lively to the very end.
Attendees were able to peruse and saunter through the garden as Jody Burnett picked a bushel of okra, corn and peas while the show was in full swing.
A big Uhuru thanks goes out to the grand Jackie Miller, the vendor organizer who recruited 17 vendors with an array of items and food for everyone’s purchasing pleasure.
Another special note and thanks should also be given to the Idiginis Reggae Band who played into the night and gave us all the feeling of being in Jamaica. Yea Mon!
The festival culminated with a barefooted African dance circle around community elder, Ephfran (Pot) Boyd.
Thank you all!
On behalf of AAPDEP International and AAPDEP Houston, we would like to sincerely thank the following people who made this event not only an awesome and memorable success, but also possible:
Songstress Justice Belle, Junior and Black McHenry for use of their property for the garden, and the Brill Street neighbors who made their driveways and property available for people to park.
Danny Russo, who provided us with a world-class sound system, Mr. Livingston, who provided the stage, Archie Bell, his wife Juanita and their granddaughter.
O.G. Penguin, Mr. Las Vegas, Young Tonka, Idiginis, Trete Lo,Tenacious, and Tracy Vigilance, How Worthy Are You T- Shirts, IM HAPiLiNapi, and JMarie Designs.
We want to also thank Sylvia Price for her work at postering the community, and Demetra Brown for her foot-stomping gospel performance.
A special thanks to AAPDEP members Aja Zola, Aaron Ray, Joe Holley, Jesse Carldwell (who worked especially hard), Jody Burnett, Karen Berry and the host of neighbors and friends of AAPDEP who made this a success.
This includes Tommy Wesley and Chase Walker who handled all the parking and sanitation needs throughout the day.
Indeed, it is imperative to mention the extraordinary work of Omowale Kefing who existed as a primary organizer of the festival.
Mostly, we want to thank the people for coming out to join us in this auspicious occasion and celebration of the significance of Juneteenth and what freedom means.
Did you see the touching story about Annmarie Richards, a woman who has taken in 32 homeless, abused and otherwise shattered youth and raised them as her own?
As the video of Annmarie’s story goes viral on the internet, we have to look at the underlying causes of the conditions that made her bold action necessary.
Despite what people are shown on television about Jamaica being the land of “don’t worry, be happy,” out of a population of 2.7 million people, a whopping 1.1 million people live below the poverty line and this number is steadily growing (The Gleaner, March 2014).
This is despite the fact that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been on the rise for the last couple of years, according to TradingEconomics.com, with tourism leading the pack as the top revenue producer for the country.
Jamaica is also the sixth largest producer of the bauxite in the world; the mineral used to manufacture aluminum, which is the most used metal next to steel.
There is no reason that the population should be experiencing these levels of poverty, aside from the fact that it is entrenched in a relationship with the World Bank and IMF, which are agents of imperialism that serve to rescue capitalism at the expense of African and other oppressed people by undermining the economies of colonized countries.
This process ushers in widespread poverty and destitution with its policies of repayment and debt. The tourism industry also plays a huge role in siphoning millions of dollars out of Jamaica’s economy because it is dominated by U.S. and European-owned hotel chains.
This does not absolve the responsibility of the neocolonial petty bourgeoisie in Jamaica that serves the interest of capitalism and allows for the continued exploitation of both human and natural resources.
We have to look at the attempt by humanitarian/philanthropic organizations to make a name for themselves by calling for people to watch a video 50,000 times by April 10 in order for them to donate a computer lab.
Why not just donate the lab in obscurity?
This is an example of the bankrupt parasitic nature of charity as the way to solve the problems of the poor by providing short term solutions without calling into question the role that capitalism plays in creating the conditions that they highlight in their stories.
The fact remains that Annmarie will continue to be a salvation for a handful of youth in need—but until parasitic capitalism is destroyed—the poverty, destitution and powerless of the masses will never see an end.
That is why it is necessary to expose charity schemes and organize to truly solve our the problems that African people contend with. The All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) is the organization that is leading on this critical question and we call on Africans who want to contribute their skills and labor to solving these problems, to become members and work with us to make it happen.
Written by Maimuna Safiyyah
Food sustainability issues raised during the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project’s (AAPDEP) Annual conference in October 2012 prompted me to write this article in hopes to highlight the dire situation faced by many African regions regarding agriculture.
The purpose of this article is to provide some insight and context on agricultural practices in Africa, and convey how crucial it is to develop a pool of ideas leading to genuine solutions to food insecurity that can be duplicated in order to eliminate hunger as well as provide entrepreneurial opportunities for many communities worldwide.
A Clear & Present Danger
At a 2011 seminar in Uganda, organized by the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly, the clear and present dangers to food security and the roadblocks to eliminating hunger were outlined. A key presenter from the Ugandan government held a Ph.D. in Agriculture.
During the Q&A session I asked, “How can hunger be eliminated, and sustainable food supplies achieved when farmers must buy seed every season imported from abroad?”
The government expert suggested that participants, “Find seed experts who are qualified to answer such questions.”
In Africa “the experts” are from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Founded in 2006 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AGRA is at the forefront of promoting the use of genetically modified seeds, environmentally destructive fertilizers and pesticides throughout the continent as a part of the “Green Revolution.”
The response from the presenter was typical in the AGRA controlled environment where anti genetically modified organism (GMO) views will lead to an organization losing its funding. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through its AGRA organization financially dominate African food policies, agriculture outputs, and innovation.
The negative impact of the AGRA on grassroots farmers near the urban centers and the most remote villages is the same. Every growing season farmers sink deeper into debt buying GMO seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides.
On top of seed costs, fertilizers, pesticides and water and farm soil implements is the complex balance of fertilizer and pesticide specifications with corresponding equipment, which when done incorrectly, leads to damage to crops and the environment.
Moreover, acquiring water is difficult where laborers must fetch water on the head from the wells as very few farmers use irrigation system.
I have traveled in many agricultural districts throughout the continent, speaking to farmers, and discovered total confusion.
Where before subsistence farmers had expert knowledge and developed skills of managing formidable constraints imposed by nature, incompetent politicians, traditions and society, now added was the menace of multi-national corporations.
Individual subsistence farmers devised strategies that helped them survive within the local constraints and still managed to produce negligible crops.
Farmers over generations selected varieties of grains that match their local conditions and food preferences. Before huge corporations flooded GMO seed, researcher volunteers (working with National Research Council, Washington DC, 1996) found in Nigeria farmers were able to identify a selection of 109 sorghum cultivars known to all.
In Tanzania, a researcher counted 100 local sorghum cultivars known to local farmers by name. In Kenya, researchers discovered farmers who had developed the skill by which they identify sorghum varieties and can distinguish by looking at the grain and tell the household that grew it.
The researchers called it a form of natural bar coding devised to ensure against theft. All this technology handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years is under threat by GMO merchants rendering African farmers inept in agriculture methods.
I traveled the East African region and discovered not many farmers as yet have any idea that agriculture problems relate indirectly to AGRA and benefactor AID agencies.
Most are not as yet able to tell GMO seed is different from organic seed since GMO is the only seed flooding the countryside.
Farmers are bombarded with radio advertisements in local languages prompting them to buy “improved” seed in order “to overcome” poverty – “Buy fertilizer and pesticide and implements and get profit.”
Yet Wikileaks reports that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn have been linked to organ damage and environmental devastation.
The Second Green Revolution
This is the second green revolution of Africa. In both, small to medium scale farmers were targeted throughout Africa as a way of “rapid agricultural growth.”
The first Green Revolution was an ongoing series of Western initiatives of research, development, and technology transfers that occurred between the 1940s and the late 1970s.
The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, US Agency for International Development (USAID), The World Bank were the major actors in developing the new paradigm agriculture.
With a mandate on the development of high-yielding varieties (HYV) of cereal grains, the expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of agricultural and management techniques, along with distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers – African starvation was supposedly over.
Utilizing toxic pesticides and expensive foreign fertilizers, the “revolution” created a lopsided system where the harvested grain cannot be replanted, and decreases in domestic seed varieties never realize substantially greater yields or profits for the farmers.
Moreover, all the components of the Green Revolution were manufactured and sold by the multinational corporations to the farmers.
The “revolution” created a neo-colonial system where all agricultural outputs of third world nations was determined by market value, rather than the needs of the people.
According to Eric Holt-Gimenez, the Executive Director at the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First), AGRA’s claim that “Green Revolution technology packages has or will benefit poor farmers is misleading.”
He cites research which analyzed the results over 30 years and 300 published reports from Green Revolution programs, which showed that 80 percent of the projects that were supposed to create more equity actually increased inequality.
Holt-Gimenez raises serious question about the Green Revolutions. “If the millions of dollars from foreign aid and Bill Gates’s foundations was not invested in a Green Revolution for Africa, then where were they spent? If they were spent on the Green Revolution, then why does Africa need another one? Either the Green Revolution’s institutions don’t work, or the Green Revolution itself doesn’t work – or both. The Green Revolution did not “bypass” Africa. It failed.”
He characterized the actions of the Second Green Revolutions as a series of decisions “that ignores, misinterprets, and misrepresents the harsh lessons of the first Green Revolution’s multiple failures and it will likely worsen the problem.”
Philanthropic efforts often “ignores, misinterprets, and misrepresents.”
For example, in 2005 Britain chose Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to chair the Commission for Africa.
Britain set up the commission to “define the challenges facing Africa, and to provide clear recommendations on how to support the changes needed to reduce poverty.”
One of the 12 voluntary organizations Tony Blair founded was the Faith Foundation.
Among other things, the foundation aims to eradicate malaria in Africa by donating mosquito nets. In her book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, African economist Dambisa Mayo recounts how an African entrepreneur who was locally making mosquito nets was forced to close his shop as a consequence of the Faith Foundation’s importation of donated mosquito nets.
Also consider the Neem tree. In 1992 a group of scientist published a report entitled, The Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems. Neem is cited as “…one of the most promising of all plants, that may eventually benefit every person on the planet. Probably no other plant yields many varied products or has as many exploitable by-products.
“This tree may usher in a new era in pest control; provide millions with inexpensive medicines; cut the rate of population growth; and perhaps even reduce erosion, deforestation, and the excessive temperature of an overheated globe…”
Despite its promise, U.S. companies will not fund necessary research following a failed attempt to secure patents for Neem.
Further, not only does Neem grow throughout Africa, but it is also a safe and inexpensive natural contraceptive.
Despite this benefit, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced a new device for Depo-Provera to be tested as an injectable contraceptive on women in Senegal and Uganda delivered by less skilled health workers to cut costs.
This announcement was made at the Family Planning Summit hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in London in July 2012.
The Scramble for Africa
I helped harvest corn (and sesame seed) on a 30-acre farm where we discovered the entire farm carried a single cob on the stalks.
Traveling through the districts, I took care to observe corn in the fields – all carried one cob per stalk. While normal in the U.S., this was highly abnormal in Africa prior to the advent of GMO crops.
A few farmers in one area of the Jinja district harvested traditional grain that yielded several cobs per stalk.
These farmers preferred grains that yield several cobs per stalk over grains producing one cob per stalk.
More disturbing, throughout East Africa, where a second cob on the same stalk attempted to manifest, the cob does not bear even a single seed.
Historically, corn cultivated yielded tasty soft seed and each stalk yielded 2-5 cobs that were replanted.
Today, despite how many acres are cultivated, only single cob stalks are harvested. Moreover, the taste is unpleasant, and unlike food at all with taste akin to animal feed.
In the book Confessions of An Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, American couple Greg and Cindy recounted their first hand experience with the harm caused by Genetically Modified Organisms while working in Mali.
The couple was concerned by the collusion between U.S. agencies and big businesses that purchase and market GMOs in Mali.
Greg and Cindy recounted families living off the land for hundreds of years, saving seed to replant, were now becoming dependent on fertilizers, pesticides and seeds available for purchase from foreign companies.
Greg and Cindy were invited to participate in a conference on GMO crops, cotton subsidies and African Agricultural heritage, attended by farmers representing Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Gambia, as well as academics, scientists, activists, and politicians.
Greg and Cindy informed that USAID and Monsanto were working together to rewrite Malian legislation, and starting in 2003 a U.S. government agency is working with Monsanto to write into the Malian constitution language that will allow the introduction, sale, and patent rights of GMO crops.
At the Mali conference, Greg and Cindy learned further that “experts” persuade farmers to shift from growing food crops to cotton. In an attempt to boost production, farmers take credit to purchase GMO seed, pesticides, herbicides and newer plows and fertilizer which send them deeper into debt to international companies that have a monopoly on cotton.
Greg and Cindy also described the ravaging effects of US cotton subsidies on Malian farmers. By allowing American farmers to sell their cotton at artificially low prices, the U.S. government undercuts African producers in world markets, they observed.
The Gates Foundation claims AGRA was established to assist small farmers secure needed funding to enable them to feed themselves.
AGRA works in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Syngenta Foundation and the government of Norway, and is financially backing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located in Norway.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault initiative has agriculturalists from around the world sending every possible specimen of non-GMO seeds to Norway.
As a result, a scarcity of non-GMO seed (including vegetables and fruits) was created but blamed on the “ineptness” of African farmers throughout all regions of the continent. The calculated result was farmers pressured to buy imported seed.
The above developments are not isolated and are mentioned here to shed light on the confusion and create a sense of urgency regarding the fact of whoever controls food, controls life or enslaves others. In fact, the Vatican openly declared Monsanto’s GMO crops as the “new form of slavery”.
This situation need not arise. Scientists from the National Research Council studying strategies to overcome Africa’s food and poverty dilemmas discovered Africa has more native cereals than any other continents.
The Greatest Potential Worldwide
The African food heritage is comprised of over 2000 grains, roots, fruits and other food plants that have fed generations stretching back to the origins of mankind.
Those promoting GMOs in Africa have completely ignored the potential of African native cereals. The National Research Council (NRC) proposed African cereals could be expanded and diversified to facilitate feeding the world.
In fact, some of these cereals are currently cultivated in developed nations, which export them on a large scale.
Nutrition scientists have identified five African native cereals with the greatest export potential worldwide: (1) sorghum, (2) Finger millet, (3) Pearl millet, (4) African rice, (4) Fonio (Acha), and (5) Tef.
Countries that have undertaken extensive research studies and production of these cereals are earning enormous benefit and have yielded new food and other by-products which they export in large volumes to international markets such as Japan and Mexico.
Africa could be exporting the same, instead American multi-national corporations target Africa as recipient of GMO crops.
The U.S. produces sorghum as feed for cows, chickens, pigs, lambs, horses, catfish, and shrimp. Sorghum is also used for many industrial uses i.e., foundry-mold sands, charcoal briquettes, oil-well drilling mud, manufacturing plywood and gypsum (for building houses), and refining the process of potash, aluminums and ethanol (to fuel American cars).
Nearly 2000 years ago, sorghum from Africa was carried to China and is a daily staple there even today.
Hybrid sorghums develop increasing food supplies and grains as every part of sorghum is utilized.
To-date 1,000 local varieties have been recorded: 980 for food; 50 for industrial use; and 14 for sugar in China alone.
Sorghum grains are eaten at every meal and certain types of grains are baked into cakes.
China is known for producing the best liquors, distilled from sorghum. Seed heads are converted into brushes (as in the U.S.).
Sweet stemmed sorghums are a major source of sugar to millions of Chinese. Stalks of more woody varieties are bound together, cemented with clay and used for partitions, walls and fences.
The green stems are split and woven into baskets and fine matting.
The strong dry stems are used in making handicrafts and many types of small household utensils including plate-holders and pot covers.
Sorghum stalk is a favorite for making children’s toys and many types of containers. The leaves are removed before the grain harvest and used for fodder for cattle, goats, horses and rabbits. Sorghum stems are a basic fuel for cooking and roots are also grubbed out and dried for fuel.
Sorghum has impacted more than the U.S. and China.
Since 1800 in South Africa, sorghum has been the preferred feed for horses and the largest brewery in the country produces popular beer from sorghum.
In India, researchers at the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI)found sorghum varieties that yield both grain and sugar-filled stems.
This variety of sorghum yields grain from the top for human consumption; from its stalk, sugar (hence alcohol) for fuel; and from the pulp remaining after the sugar is extracted, animal fodder.
NARIresearchers claimed that 1 hectare of their sorghum can annually yield 2-4 tons of grain; 2,000-4,000 liters of alcohol; and enough crushed stalk to feed three to five cattle year round.
Farmers in East Africa have devised various survival strategies to mitigate nature’s constraints.
Without research, farmers deliberately cultivated sorghum containing tannin in the outer layer of the grain to prevent the crop devastation by the queleabird that typically devours sorghum at an alarming speed.
While the tannin ingredient prevents the body from reaching the protein in the grain, rendering inedible for food, this particular sorghum farmers brew for beer.
Farmers can extract and remove the tannin to make the grain palatable, however this requires farmers to process the grain.
Unfortunately, this process is currently done manually.
The sorghum seed is very small and farmers cannot ingest the grain as food in the absence of mills for processing.
Findings from the National Research Council Report (NRC) claim simple harvesting and processing machines could greatly increase the effectiveness of seed production at minimal costs.
A. Bruce Maunder, a NRC researcher, writes even on research station in Africa, it is common to see sorghum and millet being pounded with wooden clubs.
Maunder observed many suitable small machines that have been superseded by newer and more sophisticated models, readily available in the developed world.
Because of the constraints, the market for sorghum flour as food and by-products has remained under-developed, a situation perpetuated since the colonialists and missionaries introduced and supported wheat and maize (from Europe), and rice from India (not African rice).
Even today several websites describe sorghum as, “food for poor rural people”, and African rice as, “inferior and weak.”
Yet sorghum has evolved, making the U.S. the second largest grower, with exports to Japan and Mexico (but not for human consumption.
John Perkins, author of Confessions of An Economic Hit Man) identify economic hit men as highly trained professionals.
Unlike the days when slavers kidnapped Africans, contemporary hit men come dressed as teachers with computers, and speak to farmers and shopkeepers “with kind words.”
For Africa to overcome this dilemma, researcher Donald F. Beech recommends African postgraduates studying agriculture abroad return to their home country and work on the cultivation of crops from their own country instead of wheat or maize.
This approach might broaden the thinking, as stated by researcher Gerald E. Wickens, ”Maybe the local farmers growing a mixture of cultivars in a field have the right idea.”
The Report in Africa’s Lost Grains Vol. 1, outlines that Nutritionistssee Africa’s native grains – specifically sorghums and Finger millet – as the key to finally solve Africa’s malnutrition problem.
Further, food technologists are finding vast new possibilities in processes that can open up vibrant consumer markets for new and tasty products made from Africa’s native grains.
Sorghum, Finger millet and Tefproduce baked goods such as breads and pastries, which would greatly reduce reliance on imported wheat, and also create viable economic development opportunities that accrue to local farmers instead of to the international investors generating income from these farmers by selling GMO and chemical products!
Some nutritionists suggest solutions to malnutrition in Africa be solved through international organizations handing out exotic crops.
However, experts have never considered native cereals.
Consider the following, Finger millet malt and sorghum malt are both easily digested, rich in calcium and sulfur-containing amino acids, and are prepared the same as infamous foods such as Ovaltine and malted milk.
Food technologist suggest fermentations of some sorghum and finger millet deserve attention as they hold promise for creating nutritious and tasty weaning foods as well as food for the elderly.
Further sorghum and millet are good for malting (better than barley), higher in nutrition, and can be grown and processed locally.
After sorghums, Tef and millet are doing well as alternative food sources internationally.
The potential to develop and process convenient pre-cooked sorghum foods that are palatable and shelf stable can keep from deteriorating that can attract and compete with already established food sources in cities, needs to be explored.
For example, in Korea, sorghum is cooked the same as rice. In sorghum growing regions, extending from West to South Africa, it can replace imported rice.
Corn, a major crop in western agriculture systems, has become an increasing complex practice. Throughout Africa, in many regions, farmers grow sorghum as a substitute to corn.
The potential of sorghum in Africa as a food and by-product can leverage great improvement in food sustainability and livelihood.
From West to South Africa, wild sorghums can be found that have not been domesticated since wild grasses have not wiped them out.
Most regions in Africa face energy shortages due to poorly planned power grids that require prolonged periods of rolling blackouts.
Throughout the continent small scale industries and household users would benefit tremendously from Sorghum-generated solid fuels to power local mills, which can process flour mills.
The National Council Report estimated an average user cooking meals on open fire burns over a ton of firewood a year.
However it was noted that few advisers or administrators have ever thought of developing sorghum for firewood in Africa, which Egypt is already doing and so is China.
Since George Bush’s war on terror was declared, in many regions in Africa construction of high walls around houses “for security” has inflated costs in cement and bricks.
Construction of fencing material grown locally could minimize costs for imported materials helping local incomes, and improving the overall local quality of life.
Cutting down forests for firewood would be minimized, environment degradation prevented, more rain would come and more food grown.
Some sorghum varieties can be harvested several times a year. Farmers would find great relief harvesting crops that yield food for humans and fodder for their animals, fuel for lighting and cooking in their homes, and power for small-scale mills.
There is a need for an ongoing extended dialogue between farmers, nutritionist, and the people to overcome the major barriers of growing and sustaining native nutritious food.
In 1884, Europeans demarcated artificial boundaries of African nations.
A by-product of the imperialist action has been the lack of regional interaction and sharing of knowledge and grains.
Yet Europe recognizes the importance of opening up borders (to Europeans) who move freely, study, trade and work from Poland through Germany to Britain.
A farmer grows his/her produce, stacks it in the car and sets off with it to sell throughout the twenty-seven European Union zone wherever he/she finds a market, be it in Scotland or Switzerland.
Restriction to free movement is still a major condition imposed on Africans by their governments in the interest of “security” as dictated by Western nations.
Thousands of years of knowledge and experience pertaining to native cereals, roots, fruits and grasses that Africans passed down to future generations cannot be shared because of these constraints and restricted free movement regionally (some regions in West Africa have started to open their borders to neighbors) and internationally.
As a barrier to entry, in 2012 Britain updated new visa rules stipulating entry and stay of only the brightest and talented international students.
Student entrepreneurs able to invest a minimum of £50,000 in their business can also apply for the visa in the U.K.
Students must provide land titles bearing their name, bank statement in their name, and meet other conditions the U.K. Border Agency deem necessary to impose.
These standard conditions are strictly enforced within African regions as well as internationally.
At the Annual conference in October, AAPDEP probably did not realize how apt their observation fit in relation to Africans on the continent when they wrote a scenario of a scramble to get to what is inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
These stringent rules are securely in place to deter Africans and especially students, who are expected to take back knowledge in order to improve the situation in Africa.
What chances does any African have of getting a visa for the purpose of traveling to solicit for seed fortified behind a $ 1.6 Billion Vault in Norway?
“Usipojenga ufaa utajenga ukuta” & “musajja Kaama, yerandiza yekka” are African proverbs Marcus Garvey constantly repeated. Interpreted, the proverbs mean, “Africans must fix things for themselves.”
This motivated Garvey to found the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
We live in an age where the masses are convinced the Internet is the only viable option to convey information around the globe.
This is misinformation. Misinformation is deliberately and strategically availed from various misinformation media channels.
Irresponsible opinions are copied, pasted and spread like bushfire to various network groups.
In this way, the masses are kept ignorant of real issues while the few individuals struggling to present beneficial researched studies remain in obscurity, their voices drowned out, for example, by organizations such as Bill Gates’ AGRA.
Since financial matters progressed from push to shove, Warren Buffet reportedly bought a total of 69 newspapers that were near collapse. Is Warren Buffet in the business of buying companies that have no future?
As a wealthy entrepreneur, Warren Buffet is convinced of a future in newspapers although the media conveys a different message.
Closer appraisal of developments might reveal that actual users that access the Internet in terms of percentages might not be in the majority.
As usually happens, the majority have not the means to embrace the new technology (whatever the reasons).
What will happen to the majority?
This is the niche Warren Buffet is focused on as an entrepreneur.
It is crucial Africans stay right beside Warren Buffet, researching and publishing newsworthy materials in the form of newspapers, books videos, CDs and speaking events to fill the gap the Internet cannot reach.
The challenge facing us today is to ensure worthy news is published that is relevant to communities in their areas, as well as real world events of concern.
If Marcus Garvey wrote empowering and inspiring news items for the African communities in the Caribbean, African Americans, and Africans in Europe back in 1920-40s, it is crucial this challenge is tackled in the same manner today.
It is not a secret the media is owned by entrepreneurs, driven by profits.
Like Marcus Garvey, our objective has to be to inform, educate and inspire – to empower the masses to educate themselves.
How can Africans on the continent overcome the challenge of language?
How did Marcus Garvey do it?
“In 1921, Kenyan nationalists, unable to read, would gather round a reader of Garvey’s newspaper, The Negro World and listen to an article two or three times.
Then they would run various ways through the forest, carefully to repeat the whole, which they had memorized, to Africans hungry for some doctrine which lifted them from the servile consciousness in which Africans lived.”
Because English secured a niche, many people are convinced it is pointless presenting information in any other language.
However, English is a recent addition to the linguist world scene. It is possible to reach every corner of the world through Arabic and Swahili, and both have been on the world scene longer. Literature from the Arabic language has been translated into local languages for centuries and many populations in remote regions write and speak Arabic.
Both Arabic and Swahili are among 160 languages currently translated via the Internet. Garvey’s publications brought news to the masses without ever compromising to the barrier of language.
When we hear of a “Youth Retreat” most words that come to mind are “fun, relaxation and learning (something new).” However, this is no ordinary retreat.
It is geared toward the children in our African communities and is an opportunity to give parents and children, who have little to no time or resources, a chance to learn more about self-determination and revolutionary theory through practice.
It also provides All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) the opportunity to bring together parents, teachers, organizers, activists and leaders within our community in a consorted effort to engage with our children, in order to teach them the much needed survival and development skills.
For quite some time, this has been an interest of AAPDEP.
So, we are happy to introduce the AAPDEP’s Youth Survival and Development Retreat that is taking place from July 15-17, 2011, as part of the wider St. Petersburg Summer Project, which is being held from July 9-August 9, as a way to make this vision a reality.
Uhuru Movement forces from all over the U.S. and around the world are coming together to work on the much needed projects within the African community in the city of African resistance aka St. Petersburg, FL.
AAPDEP’s Youth Survival and Development Skills Retreat will be held at Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey, FL, just one hour south of the St. Petersburg Summer Project location – the St. Pete Uhuru House.
AAPDEP views the responsibility to inform our children about their expectations and roles in the community as vital to our survival.
We strengthen our ability as a community dedicated toward self-sufficiency and self-determination by imparting these skills and knowledge from as early as possible. We will be teaching our youth survival skills in the wilderness.
Many of the youth have never experienced being in a wooded environment or camping before, so this will be a chance to introduce activities such as hiking, cooking by campfire, basic navigation skills and swimming.
There will also be workshops on water purification and wildlife/plant viewing and education. This retreat will help empower black youth by developing leadership skills that they can use for now or in the future.
We are accepting registration for interested parents and children from as early as 5 years old to 18 years of age.
Any interested parent/guardian/individual who would like to take part in AAPDEP’s inaugural “Youth Survival and Development Skills Retreat” should contact us at email@example.com
We have opportunities for individuals who would not be able to participate but who unite with the responsibilities of AAPDEP; they can help provide the resources to make our first and long-awaited retreat a success and also make it possible for children to attend by sponsoring their cost for attending the retreat.
It costs $40.00 per child to attend the retreat. We want to see the African community supporting the legacy of the African family and there is no better way than to invest our time, resources and knowledge to it.
written by Samah Elsayed
The story of the exploitation of Africa’s resources for the benefit of a few is sadly an all too familiar tale across the continent. Despite the wealth of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country is mired in poverty and conflict. Colonialism, corrupt elites, western companies and foreign governments are all complicit in the pillaging of the DRC’s rich resources and the dire situation faced by many of its people. Since the outbreak of fighting in 1998, resource fueled conflict and poverty have lead to the deaths of more than 5.4 million people. This is the largest loss of life since the second world war. Yet this shocking statistic often remains unreported and out of the media spotlight. This global silence on the atrocities taking place in the DRC is fueled by the fact that many of the most influential nations are also benefiting from the theft of the country’s natural wealth.
This exploitation is clearly illustrated by the rapid deforestation of the DRC’s vast rainforest. The 180 million hectare Congo Basin Rainforest spans across the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of Congo-Brazzaville, the southeast of Cameroon, southern Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. This vast ecosystem provides services such as food, water, medicine, livelihoods and shelter to over 75 million people and is also home to numerous endangered wildlife species. The DRC alone contains more than 12.5% of the world’s remaining tropical rainforest, with only Brazil and Indonesia having larger areas. However unlike the much-publicized deforestation of the Amazon there has been little focus on the depletion of the Congo’s forests at the hands of Europe, America and Asia’s growing appetite for tropical wood.
Any understanding of the current dynamics in the DRC must be rooted firmly in the historical context as the legacies of colonial rule are still heavily influencing modern dynamics. Western imperialism reached the nation in 1885 when King Leopold II of Belgium claimed the country as his personal fiefdom. A small but heavily armed Belgian army forcibly conscripted youth whilst taking women hostage in order to force the men to tap abundant rubber trees in the region, amassing his personal wealth as well as building that of Belgium. This relatively recent reign of terror was one of the most violent and atrocious periods in human history. Between 1880- 1920 the country lost around half its population, an estimated 10 million people. Whilst public outrage instigated a change in rule from King Leopold II to the Belgian government, the results were no less barbaric or exploitative. Forced labor continued but now also for ivory, diamonds and uranium. As a further insult, the uranium used for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, came from the slave labor produced by the people of the Congo. Whilst the country officially gained independence in 1960, Belgium and other western countries still to this day retain economic power over the region. Attempts at control of the Congo’s resources, shrouded in a fear of communism, lead to the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Speaking out against Western control of resources lead to Lumumba’s kidnapping, torture and murder by Joseph Mobuto under instruction from the CIA and Belgian government.
The effects of colonization are all too evident in the rapid deforestation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The colonial era saw a collapse in indigenous social structure and traditional land rights. Prior to the brutal rule of King Leopold II, there was a natural fluidity between communities. Potential conflicts were resolved by the movement of people from one village to another. Village elders or chiefs sought to attract people to their settlements in order to build strength and as a result, good leadership and equity was fostered within villages. Belgian colonial rule forced people to remain in the area in which they were registered in order to grow crops to be paid as tax. Chiefs were able to remain in power so long as they retained control over their community and extracted wealth from them for the benefit of the colonial rulers. This arrangement continues to this day. Villagers have no secure access to land and can be pushed off their land at the whim of those in power. This landlessness places additional pressure on the rainforests.
The control and pillaging of the Congo’s resources, which began under King Leopold still continues to this day. Whilst the names of the actors involved have become more sophisticated and exploitation now under the guise of multinational corporations rather than a murderous King, the outcomes remain the same. This stripping of the DRC’s resources for the wealth of the few at the expense of the indigenous masses is prevalent in the forestry sector where foreign logging companies and corrupt elites are still being granted titles despite a moratorium halting activities. Even multinational development actors such as the World Bank, who were instrumental in establishing this moratorium, were found to be complicit. Additionally, an investigation by Greenpeace found that the Bank has invested in a company that deals with illegal timber from the DRC.
The rape of the DRC’s wealth highlights the need to move away from this capitalist model of exploitation of land and people for profit. Even so called development agencies such as the World Bank are complicit. There is a need for a new paradigm of development that puts people at the center and encourages an equitable distribution of resources and skills. The All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) is an effort spearheaded by Africans for Africans. AAPDEP organizes the highly trained and skilled sector of the African population to use their skills for the development of Our Africa and African communities everywhere. True development is only possible through liberation.
In any given society, intellectuals are the result of the level of development of the society. Intellectuals are specialized in solving problems that confront society in the process of producing and reproducing real life. People develop skills and organizations to overcome contradictions presented to them by nature. To fulfill the needs of the people in the society, most people get involved in manual labor, as fishermen, peasants, house builders and net makers, as metalworkers making knives, hoes, axes and spears, as clothes makers, etc. Another set of skilled people like mathematicians, philosophers, artists, priests and healers, who are not directly involved in the process of production of material life, emerge later as a result of the development of material production in society.
The latter type of people depends on the former type of people.
Intellectual activities arise in the process of producing life, in the process of solving problems that oppose the development of forces of production. Gradually, a small number of people may be asked to observe, study and analyze further a particular phenomenon in order to advance the material production in society.
For example, a society that does not produce yams cannot directly acquire yam planting knowledge; a society that does not directly make stone pyramids cannot directly acquire the art and science of building pyramids. Ancient Egyptians invented and developed geometry because they were involved in work to control the flooding of the Nile River. This was necessary to guarantee agricultural production and land delimitation upon which the whole country depended.
Production under imperialism has given rise to nations, institutions and relationships necessary to maintain and reproduce imperialist order: primarily the oppression and exploitation of oppressed nations by oppressor nations; secondarily the reproduction of the African petty bourgeoisie in Africa, as the enforcer of the imperialist order that keeps us, the oppressed people, chained to the oppressors from Europe and North America.
The institutions of learning in capitalist society are created to train and form cadres who will manage and secure the reproduction of that capitalist society. That is to say that in a world that is split between the oppressor nations and oppressed nations, the education must serve to maintain the status quo.
African students are part of the oppressed nation, which under imperialism produces essentially for the oppressor nations. Since students are not a social class by themselves, engaged in material production, many consider their studies in universities and other institutions of higher learning to be a pathway to the petty bourgeois class and the lifestyle associated with it. In fact, it is in these institutions that their role as a conscious agent of imperialist interests and values will be enhanced and consolidated. They learn to see their education, grants and, later on, their jobs and careers as an entitlement, with no regard to the causes and plight of the African workers and peasants whose labor and resistance to imperialism made it possible for them to acquire education and professional status in society.
It is our view that African students must first serve the people. Their education must be used to develop the organizational and fighting abilities of the people against neocolonialism. They cannot be apolitical, because the universities they are in are not apolitical. There is no such thing as an apolitical institution under slavery. You are either for or against. You either support it or fight it. In order to ensure that their qualification is not just a passport to the bourgeoisie, students must join the African resistance against imperialism. We do not mean the talk fest and other conferences African opportunists organize on campuses solely to consume information. We want students to join the struggle for African liberation under the leadership of African Internationalism. It is only in the process of fighting imperialism and the African petty bourgeoisie under the leadership of African internationalism that African students can really gain knowledge of the art and science of African liberation.
It is only then that they can begin to resolve the contradictions of being educated but not alienated from the people, educated but not opportunistic, and firmly united with the workers and peasants for a common future.
Labor is the foundation of every society. It is around labor that human beings have to produce in order to survive. It is African labor that created the space necessary for Europeans to specialize in mental work in universities and other spheres of activities to advance the industrialization of Europe and North America.
African labor in the last 500 years has not been used for our own benefit. It has not been used for the development of Africa. From the slave colonies in the Americas to the enslaved African continent itself, our labor has been used first to build better lives for Europe and white people in general. Our stolen labor and resources are the most critical missing factors in understanding the general level of poverty of black people everywhere and the underdevelopment of Africa today.
Every aspect of intellectual life under imperialism rests on African labor and resources, which financed the building of universities and other institutions of learning in the first place. It is our stolen labor and resources that built all these technologically advanced industries that require the advanced studies offered today to all students.
Today, in bourgeois societies African manual workers are despised, considered sub-human, when in reality, it is these men and women, working in the most unimaginably cruel conditions, who generate the high quality of life enjoyed by oppressor nations and their allies of the African petty bourgeoisie in Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere.
African intellectual activities must serve to advance the material conditions of African people. Since most African intellectuals are directly or indirectly trained by imperialist created or funded institutions, it implies that rulers of the oppressor nations must create institutions that will allow them to produce cadres who will defend and fight for oppressive and exploitative capitalist societies. Universities in colonial slave societies must serve and justify slavery, inequality and exploitation in society: the enrichment of a tiny minority and poverty of the vast majority. Universities in oppressor nations are spheres that generate ideas and philosophies to promote and justify imperialist economic order:
No one in their right mind can deny the existence of two sets of nations in the world: oppressor nations and oppressed nations. You have people who have achieved freedom and development and those who have lost freedom and development. One came at the expense of the other. We have two entities not in partnership and cooperation with friendly relations, but in a bloody and genocidal relationship.
In their universities, they train our young men and women to unite with imperialism, to accept and spread ideologies and philosophies that do not serve our own interests and societies. In their universities our children are indoctrinated to obey and respect U.S. and European Union imperialist rule over our lives and land. It is on those campuses that we learn to accept the falsification of world history and the disfiguration and slander of African people’s history, personality and culture. They spread wrong concepts such as the concept of developed countries versus developing countries, and good governance versus corrupted countries. They use terms like “abandoned” and “forgotten” when referring to Africa. It is in those universities that you are invited to join or support the illegitimate rulers in Africa.
The role of white bourgeois intellectuals is to develop ways and means for the EU and U.S. powers to keep Africa and African people oppressed, exploited and divided forever. They specialize in the development and implementation of laws, policies and projects to oppress and exploit Africa and Africans everywhere.
In the sphere of ideas and philosophies, there is a constant assault on African brains to adopt and internalize the worldview of the white bourgeoisie as our own. When you go to any university and talk to African students, you will likely meet people who have been indoctrinated by one or more brands of thoughts of the Euro-North American ruling class: African intellectuals are today evangelists of all denominations. They may be Blairites or Clintonians, etc.
While European/North American/Japanese and other imperialist intellectuals are busy developing all kinds of weapons of mass destruction at the expense of Africans—like AIDS, Ebola and others—African scientists are ready to leave Africa and seek employment and scientific careers from imperialists industries.
Europe was born as a bourgeois nation, which means it was born as an oppressive nation or an enslaving nation. Europe has acquired freedom and development for itself as an enslaver nation. The rise of Europe and of world economy came into being at the expense of Africa’s freedom and happiness. They are maintained at the expense of Africa’s future.
These are forces that are already conscious of what it means to be petty bourgeois in Africa or in an African community in Europe or North America, and refuse to be part of it. They think of themselves as part of the African people. They hate the humiliation and oppression of Africa. They despise imperialism and their parasitic lifestyle. They use every opportunity to open up their campuses’ material resources to African resistance and the revolution. We must find and meet these students. If you know one or you think of yourself as a progressive student, you should urgently contact us. They never desert the African freedom struggle when they graduate because of a newly found loyalty to imperialism.
Our Africa has been defined by our oppressors today as a charity case. Newspapers, movies, music, sports, movie stars and various personalities in imperialist countries are involved in charity activities all over Africa. Geldof and Bono tour the world to raise money for Africa. For years, the criminal duo of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair shamelessly promoted themselves as leaders trying to help out Africa. Wherever you go, there are images that appeal for donations to help out Africa and African people. They advertise Oxfam, USAID, Save the Children, Christian Aid, Red Cross, etc. Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and now China have all developed aid programs as part of their foreign policies towards Africa.
This concept of charity undermines African people’s consciousness to the reality that Europe and America are living off African resources. It covers up for all the looting and brutality inflicted on the people in the process of stealing our resources.
Untold massive amounts of gold, oil, coltan, cobalt, platinum, uranium, diamond, cocoa, and other resources that leave the land of Africa every year, hundreds of billions paid to IMF and the World Bank disguised as debt are not signs of poverty. Our mines generally are owned by imperialist powers who also fix the prices of what comes from our own soil and labor. Most of the stuff we produce ends up in factories, supermarkets, homes, mansions and museums in Europe and North America.
As Chairman Omali Yeshitela often says, “Africa is not poor, Africa is being looted!”
Africa does not have its own economy. It has an imperialist economy. Ghana and Ivory Coast are large producers of cocoa, which is processed and consumed in Europe and North America. Nigeria, Chad and Angola produce oil, which is mostly consumed in North America, China, Europe and Japan, while our people continue to queue up for oil at unaffordable costs. It does not matter how many years we have produced cocoa or oil, our people are still poor. In North America and other oppressor countries, African labor is not paid its real value.
We all know by now that under direct or indirect colonial slavery, African workers and peasants are never paid the real value of our labor and natural resources, which are defined by imperialism, which has its origin in the capture and enslavement of Africa and African people in the 15th century.
This article calls on all African students to unite with the theory of African Internationalism, as laid out by Omali Yeshitela, the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP). This theory is the tool that we need to overthrow “charity-ism” and any other false worldview imposed on us by our oppressors to confuse and mystify us. The Chairman repeatedly sums up to us that “It is our labor that provided the primitive accumulation that kick started and maintains capitalism as a world system. Value is always created by labor; banks do not create value, churches do not create value, lawyers and teachers, etc. do not create value. It is the worker that extracts and transforms natural resources to produce what we need to use.” Charities do not create value in Africa. The redemption of Africa is not a charitable matter.
Bono and Geldof and others are modern day missionaries. They are covering up for imperialism. If it were a matter of musicians sorting out Africa, since modern music is the creation of African people, we would not need second-class musicians to help out Africa.
The emancipation of the workers from neocolonialism is the cornerstone of any genuine movement for freedom in Africa. The role of African students is not to join these charities, which are nothing less than agents for the status quo. Students have to turn their back on NGOs and engage in the struggle of denouncing and dismantling modern day missionaries, and replacing them with our own All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) and our other self-determination institutions. NGOs undermine the consciousness of the people to fight imperialism and the African petty bourgeoisie. Africa does not need charity; we need African Internationalism, the revolutionary theory and practice to end neocolonialism.
Our suffering is not a result of the absence of the generosity of white rulers or white imperialist society, but the consequence of parasitic relationships that exist between Africa and the Western world.
The African intellectual living in Europe and North America must familiarize themselves with the African proletariat, which is demonized every day by the imperialist media. They must join every African working class struggle that emerges. Where there is no noticeable resistance, they should spend time to help to organize the masses of African people against all various colonial conditions that our people experience on a daily basis. For example, we are all familiar with the massive failure of colonial education in the black community. Most of our children cannot get the five GCSE required, mainly in math, English and sciences. Students under the leadership of AAPDEP should organize our own schools inside black communities to solve this problem. In doing so, we will begin to win young African students to turn their backs to the British government and build or increase faith in our own capacity to take care of ourselves.
Young graduates and undergraduates in law should provide training and seminars to help young Africans and African workers to understand the bourgeois colonial laws and how to defend ourselves when we are attacked by imperialism. I call on all students and intellectuals who may have an opportunity to read this article, to get in touch with the Uhuru Movement. Let’s get organized.
The role of African intellectuals is to discover and understand the true history of the genesis of capitalism and all its manifestations that constitute a challenge to the existence of African people on this planet. The role of the honest intellectual is not to become another servant of EU, Japan and U.S. imperialist powers, and increasingly of Chinese interests. The commitment of African intellectuals is not to become a mental worker for imperialism. The duty of African intellectuals is to solve the problems of the people, which are imposed on us by a worldwide economic system of foreign domination, known as capitalism. African intellectuals must unite with the people and plan the struggle to defeat imperialism in Africa.
All governments in Africa today are ex-colonial governments with African faces to give us an illusion of independence. Africa is not free. Our struggle for independence has been left incomplete. The role of the current governments is to prevent our people from completing that struggle. Just look at the economy 45 years after independence. It has regressed in most places.
The African Socialist International (ASI) Main Document, by Omali Yeshitela states, “Today only seven percent of Africa’s formal trade takes place within Africa itself, meaning that 93 percent of African trade is simply continued expropriation of African resources by our historical oppressors and exploiters. Additionally, 83 percent of the Gross National Product of the combined African countries goes to pay debt which has been accumulated by the neocolonial rulers of Africa through the rigged European-created and dominated trade relations born of slavery and colonialism. This means that Africa has access to only 17 percent of its own resources after paying the manufactured debt. Once the neocolonial primitive petty bourgeoisie takes its cut from this, the African masses are lucky to achieve five percent of what they have produced.”
Today, African revolutionaries are African internationalists.
They are different from the rest of students, because they are equipped with the theory of African Internationalism, the theory of the African working class in struggle against neo-colonialism to free and unite Africa under a socialist government. African Internationalist theory is the ever developing practice and thought of Chairman Omali Yeshitela. This is the theory that unites the best achievements in Africa’s history of resistance and the world’s peoples struggles, from Garvey, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Malcolm X to Kimathi and others along with the experiences of the struggles of all other oppressed peoples to overthrow imperialism.
The struggle amongst the youths and students must be led by African Internationalist students under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, because it is only under a disciplined party steeled in the struggle against all forms of opportunism that Africans can be free of imperialist domination.
The strategic role of Africa in the struggle for the liberation of the world must be understood by all African intellectuals. Imperialism will never leave us alone of its own accord. Imperialism does not care if we have elections or not, if we are Anglophones or Francophones. What we need to do is build the African Socialist International, to mobilize the one billion working masses in the African world for African revolution. Students can have a future if only they join up with the African working class, which is the class that carries the future of all of Africa and African people on its shoulders. Students can join only as a revolutionary class. Oppressed workers and peasants do not need opportunist intellectuals, who are waiting in the wings for their turn to join the gravy train.
Workers need young people with revolutionary spirit and fervor, ready to formulate plans for the mobilization of one billion African people around the world. We need students who are ready to flex their thinking muscles to the maximum in the struggle to reclaim Africa for ourselves.