The politics of being an African descendant (in the Diaspora)
OK, here comes a little clarity. No, I’m not talking about President Barack Obama’s soulful elucidation about gay marriage. More than enough has already been said about that—essentially a lot of sound and fury signifying emotion but little substance.
He showed leadership. He stated clearly his view that the federal government should stay out of it. He spoke as a father who is teaching his children not to discriminate against anyone, even those who discriminate against you. He said he was not advocating federal legislation—he had just been eventually persuaded that this was a case of equal rights and not privilege. Hooray for Mr. President!
One does not have to agree with the president’s decision to admire the process he chose to make it. We need to move on. There are things we don’t like and/or don’t agree with in family members, but we love and support them still. Agree to disagree with President Obama on this and take care of the business at hand.
He is under severe attack. Even though Mr. Obama is a great president, as measured by the previous 43. He has shown great dexterity; he has shown character; he has shown an excellent ability to quickly grasp the essence of situations and come up with viable solutions. He has been bold, audacious, contemplative and decisive, as appropriate to each circumstance. In fact, he deserves to be re-elected to finish more of the job we hired him to do in 2008.
No, this article is about the African Union and 21st century Pan-Africanism—a topic discussed in this column before. On May 25, 2012, there will occur a huge gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, to basically anoint the process of bringing the African Diaspora into the African Union (AU) fold, consistent with Article 3(q) (an amendment) of the AU’s Constitutive Act of 2003. This gathering will consecrate the Programme of Action agreed upon by several previous gatherings hosted by South Africa from an AU mandate. Those gatherings were in various parts of the African Diaspora—Barbados, Brazil, New York, Paris, etc.—to get a feel for what the Diaspora wanted and needed in this newly energized Pan-African relationship with the AU.
The African Union’s Programme of Action is a very worthwhile document. Included in it are the following items: (A) To enhance South-South cooperation and collaboration through closer working relationships between the African Union, CARICOM (the Caribbean Community), the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Community of South American Nations (CUNASUR), and the Arab League states; (B) To create structures and processes for closer interaction between governments and civil society organizations in Africa and in the African Diaspora; (C) To encourage and inspire the African Diaspora to participate more fully in conflict prevention, management and resolution, post-conflict reconstruction efforts, and disaster mitigation in Africa and in regions of the African Diaspora, so that the dependence on strangers is reduced; (D) To strengthen the Diaspora participation in all available components of the Africa Union; (E) To think deeply about the modalities necessary for increasing the Diaspora’s evolution as the African Sixth Region.
At a gathering at the end of April in New York with several Black mayors, AU deputy chair of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Erastus Mwencha, said, “Our expectation is that the Global Diaspora Summit (on May 25th) would come out with a Magna Carta or fundamental law for the Diaspora program, but the real task would begin immediately after in the implementation of its outcomes and legacy projects for development. Thus the Outcome document that our leaders will adopt will come back to us as a framework for implementation. That implementation effort will require mass mobilization to enable its achievement and your role as the first base of the elected African leadership within the African Diaspora within the United States will place you at the vanguard of these efforts.”
Pretty words all. The real knotty problem still in the room is how to actually organize and mobilize the African Diaspora (a body of potentially 250 million souls, scattered in more than 90 countries) so that a crucial core of Diasporan members is galvanized into sustained action to implement all of the exciting words which comprise the AU Programme of Action. Thus far, that has not been done and as of now, there is nothing on the agenda for the May 25 meeting to address that.
The African Diaspora is not even who and what most of us expect. We think Black people who look like they are African descendants phylogenetically, or skin-color Africanism. That’s reasonable based on history, but it does not fit the African Union’s definition of the people it invited to the party. The AU’s definition of the African Diaspora is: “…The African Diaspora consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the (African) continent and to the building of the African Union.”
That definition leaves out a heap of Black folk, and brings in a number of others in a continentalism type of African Union (i.e., Arabs, Whites, Blacks, etc.). If one is not committed to building the AU and to the development of the continent, one is not African Diasporan, according to that definition. Besides that, there is a modern Diaspora (those who voluntarily left Africa) and an historical Diaspora (those who left involuntarily). All have to be motivated relentlessly to do major, magnificent work.
The process has been enjoined, although the movement forward may be slow. On May 25, in South Africa, OurWeekly will be there to provide you with coverage of this next monster step forward. Africa must be free. Africa must be operationally united. And we must be a part of it. A luta continua.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.
In 2010, State Senator Curren Price (D-26) authored a joint Senate Resolution to declare October as California’s Pan African Business and Trade Month. It was a great idea that got chewed up in the nasty state budget battles last year. Unofficially, however, we, the people, still see it that way—October is about the African Diaspora in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other parts of the state.
In the tightly wrapped, turgidly plotted thrill ride that is the 2012 presidential race, with both contestants trying to leave no stone unturned, or the smallest chore undone, in attempts to gain the ultimate advantage that will garner the required 270 electoral votes on the evening of Nov. 6, not enough attention has been paid to the other half of this story—the congressional races.
Youth represent an extremely valuable resource and talent pool when focused and channeled into positive activity.
There would not have been a successful civil rights struggle in this country without SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), the youth wings of CORE and SCLC, or other groups like them.
PRETORIA, South Africa—Yesterday, I was provided a golden opportunity to address the Pan African Parliament, one of the permanent organs of the African Union, and the entity that will begin making enforceable legislation for all of Africa within the next four years. Currently, the PAP is an advisory, consultative body comprising representatives from virtually all 54 AU member countries. The PAP presents its findings, resolutions and recommended suggestions to the Executive Council and the Assembly Heads of State for AU action.
The African Union invited the African Diaspora to join it in determining the future of the African continent. That future will include becoming the Union of African States or the United States of Africa. That is, the current 55 African countries being organized as one nation of 55 federated states.