Friday, September 28, 2007

Mychal Bell of the Jena 6 Released on Bail

Mychal Bell of 'Jena 6' released on bail

(CNN) -- Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate and who was the last of the "Jena 6" behind bars, was released from custody Thursday after a juvenile court judge set his bail at $45,000.

Thousands of marchers filled the streets of Jena, Louisiana, last week.

Bell's release followed an announcement from LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, who said he would not appeal a higher court's decision moving Bell's case to juvenile court.

Wearing a blue striped golf shirt and jeans, Bell walked out of the LaSalle Parish courthouse a week after an estimated 15,000-plus demonstrators marched through Jena -- a town of about 3,000 -- to protest local authorities' handling of the teens' case.

"We do not condone violence of any kind, but we ask that people be given a fair and even chance at the bar of justice," the Rev. Al Sharpton said outside the courthouse.

"Tonight, Mychal can go home, but Mychal is not out of the juvenile process. He goes home because a lot of people left their home and stood up for him," he said.

"Let America know -- we are not fighting for the right to fight in school. We're not fighting for the right for kids to beat each other. We're fighting to say that there must be one level of justice for everybody. And you cannot have adult attempted murder for some, and a fine for others, and call that equal protection under the law. Two wrongs don't make one civil right."

Demonstrators at last week's march were protesting how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other teens accused of beating fellow student Justin Barker.

Many said they were angry that the students, dubbed the Jena 6, were being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on Jena High School property.

The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters said they should have been charged with a hate crime.

Bell's attorney Lewis Scott said the teen was moved from jail to a juvenile facility earlier Thursday.

Walters said his decision not to appeal was based on what he believed was best for the victim in the case.

"While I believe that a review would have merit ... I believe it is in the best interest of the victim and his family not to delay this matter any further and move it to its conclusion," Walters told reporters.

He said last week's march, which included Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, did not influence his decision.

Bell, now 17, was the only one of the Jena 6 behind bars. His bond previously was set at $90,000.

A district judge earlier this month tossed out Bell's conviction for conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, saying the matter should have been handled in juvenile court. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, Louisiana, did the same with Bell's battery conviction in mid-September.

Prosecutors originally charged all six black students accused of being involved in beating Barker with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Walters reduced charges against at least four of them -- Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw -- to battery and conspiracy.

Bryant Purvis awaits arraignment. Charges against Jesse Ray Beard, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, are unavailable because he's a juvenile.

Wednesday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced that Louisiana State Police officers will protect the families of the Jena 6 and investigate any threats they have received. A white supremacist Web site posted the names and addresses of the six black teens after last week's march, calling on followers to "let them know justice is coming."

Thursday, the FBI said it had been made aware of allegations of threats.

"Threats are taken seriously, and as these investigations are ongoing we cannot comment further," said Sheila Thorne of the FBI's office in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The December 4 attack on Barker came after months of racial tension, including at least two instances of fighting in the town, sparked originally when three white teens hung the nooses.

Walters has said there was no direct link between the hanging of the nooses and the schoolyard attack, and defended the prosecutions ahead of last Thursday's peaceful march. Blanco defended the prosecutor Wednesday, saying, "He has a solid record and is highly respected among his peers."

Walters also addressed the stress and notoriety the town has been subjected to, saying the only way he and other residents "have been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community."

He also suggested that some kind of "disaster" was averted when thousands of marchers came to Jena last week.

"I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened," Walters said.

"The Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly," he said, without explaining exactly what he meant.

Soon after the district attorney spoke, a local reverend took issue with his comments.

"Obviously, we are serving two different gods here," the Rev. Donald Sidley said. "My Bible says that we should do -- we should be loving, love your neighbor as yourself.

"For him to try and separate the community like he is and then using Christ Jesus to influence the people that Jesus is working on their side, well, that's -- that's absurd. ... God is god of the human race," said Sidley, of the New Evergreen Church.

Teen in Jena 6 case released on bail

From the Associated Press
4:36 PM PDT, September 27, 2007

JENA, La. — A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse today after a judge ordered him freed.

Mychal Bell's release on $45,000 bail came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he will no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating in this small central Louisiana town.

"We still have mountains to climb, but at least this is closer to an even playing field," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize last week's protest.

"He goes home because a lot of people left their home and stood up for him," Sharpton said.

District Attorney Reed Walters' decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

Walters had said he would appeal that decision. Today, he said he still believes there was legal merit to trying Bell as an adult but decided it was in the best interest of the victim, Justin Barker, and his family to let the juvenile court handle the case.

"They are on board with what I decided," Walters said at a news conference.

Walters said Bell faces juvenile court charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit that crime.

Bell is among six black Jena High School students arrested in December after a beating that left Barker unconscious and bloody, though the victim was able to attend a school function later the same day. Four of the defendants were 17 at the time, and legally adults under Louisiana law.

Those four and Bell, who was 16, all were initially charged with attempted murder. Walters has said he sought to have Bell tried as an adult because he already had a criminal record, and because he believed Bell instigated the attack.

The charges have been dropped to aggravated second-degree battery in four of the cases. One defendant has yet to be arraigned. The sixth defendant's case is sealed in juvenile court.

Critics accuse Walters, who is white, of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that he filed no charges against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus not long before fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 protesters marched in Jena last week in a scene that evoked the early years of the civil-rights movement.

Walters said the demonstration had no influence on the decision he announced today, and ended his news conference by saying that only God kept the protest peaceful.

"The only way -- let me stress that -- the only way that I believe that me or this community has been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community," Walters said.

"I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened. You can quote me on that."

When the Rev. Donald Sibley, a black Jena pastor, called it a "shame" that Walters credited divine intervention for the protesters acting responsibly, the prosecutor said: "What I'm saying is, the Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly."

After the news conference, Sibley told CNN that Walters had insulted the protesters by making a false separation between "his Christ and our Christ."

"I can't diminish Christ at all. But for him to use it in the sense that because his Christ, his Jesus, because he prayed, because of his police, that everything was peaceful and was decent and in order -- that's not the truth," Sibley said.

Walters has said repeatedly that Barker's suffering has been lost in the furor that erupted over the case, and that what happened to the teen was much more severe than a schoolyard fight.

Walters also has defended his decision not to seek charges in the hanging of the nooses, which he said was "abhorrent and stupid" but not a crime.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela Appears at Opening Ceremony for New Giant Shopping Mall in Soweto

Giant Soweto shopping mall opens

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has opened the largest shopping centre in southern Africa in Soweto.

The Maponya Mall marks a transformation for the Johannesburg township, once an impoverished centre in the struggle against apartheid.

The complex covers 65,000 sq m and has 200 stores and an eight-screen cinema.

It is the brainchild of 82-year-old entrepreneur Richard Maponya, who began in business by opening a dairy in Soweto in the 1950s.

"I have been one of the sons of this town for a very long time. I have seen it grow," Mr Maponya said at the opening.

Standing close to the iconic statue of Hector Pieterson, the youngest victim of the 1976 Soweto student uprising against apartheid, he described how he struggled to get access to finance during his career as a black entrepreneur but kept persevering.

"Today I deliver to you my dream of 28 years," he said.

Fully fledged city

Mr Mandela, who has not made a public appearance in Soweto for some years, opened the mall by cutting a gold ribbon.

"With this action, we declare the mall open," he said to cheers.

The BBC's Peter Biles says the first rains of the summer fell outside, which some people said was a blessing for the new shopping centre.

Mr Mandela, 89, sat alongside Mr Maponya as they listened to singers performing at the ceremony.

Mr Maponya said the complex belonged to the one million residents of Soweto and Johannesburg's Mayor Amos Masondo said this was not just a facelift for the township but a radical reconstruction.

Within an hour of the opening, thousands of Soweto residents poured into the shopping centre, snapping up first-day bargains.

Our correspondent says that Soweto has become the site of massive development.

Property prices are rising and international tourists visit Mr Mandela's former family home.

Last year, Soweto marked the 30th anniversary of the 1976 uprising when students rebelled against the white apartheid state in a protest over the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in schools.

But many black South Africans have chosen to move from the townships to the former white suburbs in cities like Johannesburg.

Our reporter says the new shopping centre is designed to generate both wealth and jobs.

And he says Soweto is now looking forward to the day when it can become a fully fledged twin city of Johannesburg, rather than just a dormitory town.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/09/27 14:24:50 GMT

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Text of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's Address to the United Nations General Assembly, September 26, 2007

Statement by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Comrade R. G. Mugabe, on the occasion of the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 26 September, 2007

Your Excellency, President of the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly,

Mr. Srgjan Kerim,
Your Majesties,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr. President,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election to preside over this august assembly. We are confident that through your stewardship, issues on this 62nd Session agenda be dealt with in a balanced manner and to the satisfaction of all.

Let me also pay tribute to your predecessor, Madame Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, who steered the work of the 61st Session in a very competent and impartial manner.

Her ability to identify the crucial issues facing the world today will be remembered as the hallmark of her presidency.

Mr. President,

We extend our hearty welcome to the new Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, who has taken up this challenging job requiting dynamism in confronting the global challenges of the 21st Century. Balancing global interests and steering the United Nations in a direction that gives hope to the multitudes of the poor, the sick, the hungry and the marginalized, is indeed a mammoth task. We would like to assure him that Zimbabwe will continue to support an open, transparent and all-inclusive multilateral approach in dealing with these global challenges.

Mr. President,

Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues of our time. Its negative impact is greatest in developing countries, particularly those on the African continent. We believe that if the international community is going to seriously address the challenges of climate change, then we need to get our priorities right. In Zimbabwe, the effects of climate change have become more evident in the past decade as we have witnessed increased and recurrent droughts as well as occasional floods, leading to enormous humanitarian challenges.

Mr. President,

We are for a United Nations that recognises the equality of sovereign nations and peoples whether big or small. We are averse to a body in which the economically and militarily powerful behave like bullies, trampling on the rights of weak and smaller states as sadly happened in Iraq. In the light of these inauspicious developments, this Organisation must surely examine the essence of its authority and the extent of its power when challenged in this manner.

Such challenges to the authority of the UN and its Charter underpin our repeated call for the revitalisation of the United Nations General Assembly, itself the most representative organ of the UN. The General Assembly should be more active in all areas including those of peace and security. The encroachment of some U.N. organs upon the work of the General Assembly is of great concern to us. Thus any process of revitalizing or strengthening of the General Assembly should necessarily avoid eroding the principle of the accountability of all principal and subsidiary organs to the General Assembly.

Mr. President,

Once again we reiterate our position that the Security Council as presently constituted is not democratic. In its present configuration, the Council has shown that it is not in a position to protect the weaker states who find themselves at loggerheads with a marauding super-power. Most importantly, justice demands that any Security Council reform redresses the fact that Africa is the only continent without a permanent seat and veto power in the Security Council. Africa's demands are known and enunciated in the Ezulwini consensus.

Mr. President,

We further call for the U.N. system to refrain from interfering in matters that are clearly the domain of member states and are not a threat to international peace and security. Development at country level should continue to be country-led, and not subject to the whims of powerful donor states.

Mr President,

Zimbabwe won its independence on 18th April, 1980, after a protracted war against British colonial imperialism which denied us human rights and democracy. That colonial system which suppressed and oppressed us enjoyed the support of many countries of the West who were signatories to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Even after 1945, it would appear that the Berlin Conference of 1884, through which Africa was parcelled to colonial European powers, remained stronger than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is therefore clear that for the West, vested economic interests, racial and ethnocentric considerations proved stronger than their adherence to principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The West still negates our sovereignties by way of control of our resources, in the process making us mere chattels in out own lands, mere minders of its trans-national interests. In my own country and other sister states in Southern Africa, the most visible form of this control has been over land despoiled from us at the onset of British colonialism.

That control largely persists, although it stands firmly challenged in Zimbabwe, thereby triggering the current stand-off between us and Britain, supported by her cousin states, most notably the United States and Australia. Mr Bush, Mr. Blair and now Mr Brown's sense of human rights precludes our people's right to their God-given resources, which in their view must be controlled by their kith and kin. I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.

Mr President,

Clearly the history of the struggle for out own national and people's rights is unknown to the president of the United States of America. He thinks the Declaration of Human Rights starts with his last term in office! He thinks she can introduce to us, who bore the brunt of fighting for the freedoms of our peoples, the virtues of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What rank hypocrisy!

Mr President,

I lost eleven precious years of my life in the jail of a white man whose freedom and well- being I have assured from the first day of Zimbabwe's Independence. I lost a further fifteen years fighting white injustice in my country.

Ian Smith is responsible for the death of well over 50 000 of my people. I bear scars of his tyranny which Britain and America condoned. I meet his victims everyday. Yet he walks free. He farms free. He talks freely, associates freely under a black Government. We taught him democracy. We gave him back his humanity.

He would have faced a different fate here and in Europe if the 50 000 he killed were Europeans. Africa has not called for a Nuremberg trial against the white world which committed heinous crimes against its own humanity. It has not hunted perpetrators of this genocide, many of whom live to this day, nor has it got reparations from those who offended against it. Instead it is Africa which is in the dock, facing trial from the same world that persecuted it for centuries.

Let Mr. Bush read history correctly. Let him realise that both personally and in his representative capacity as the current President of the United States, he stands for this "civilisation" which occupied, which colonised, which incarcerated, which killed. He has much to atone for and very little to lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities.

He still kills.

He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be out master on human rights?

He imprisons.

He imprisons and tortures at Guantanamo. He imprisoned and tortured at Abu Ghraib. He has secret torture chambers in Europe. Yes, he imprisons even here in the United States, with his jails carrying more blacks than his universities can ever enroll. He even suspends the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Take Guantanamo for example; at that concentration camp international law does not apply. The national laws of the people there do not apply. Laws of the United States of America do not apply. Only Bush's law applies. Can the international community accept being lectured by this man on the provisions of the universal declaration of human rights? Definitely not!

Mr President, We are alarmed that under his leadership, basic rights of his own people and those of the rest of the world have summarily been rolled back. America is primarily responsible for rewriting core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We seem all guilty for 9/11. Mr. Bush thinks he stands above all structures of governance, whether national or international.

At home, he apparently does not need the Congress. Abroad, he does not need the UN, international law and opinion. This forum did not sanction Blair and Bush's misadventures in Iraq. The two rode roughshod over the UN and international opinion. Almighty Bush is now corning back to the UN for a rescue package because his nose is bloodied! Yet he dares lecture us on tyranny. Indeed, he wants us to pray him! We say No to him and encourage him to get out of Iraq. Indeed he should mend his ways before he clambers up the pulpit to deliver pieties of democracy.

Mr President,

The British and the Americans have gone on a relentless campaign of destabilising and vilifying my country. They have sponsored surrogate forces to challenge lawful authority in my country. They seek regime change, placing themselves in the role of the Zimbabwean people in whose collective will democracy places the right to define and change regimes.

Let these sinister governments be told here and now that Zimbabwe will not allow a regime change authored by outsiders. We do not interfere with their own systems in America and Britain. Mr Bush and Mr Brown have no role to play in our national affairs. They are outsiders and mischievous outsiders and should therefore keep out! The colonial sun set a long time ago; in 1980in the case of Zimbabwe, and hence Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. Never!

We do not deserve sanctions. We are Zimbabweans and we know how to deal with our problems. We have done so in the past, well before Bush and Brown were known politically. We have our own regional and continental organizations and communities.

In that vein, I wish to express my country's gratitude to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa who, on behalf of SADC, successfully facilitated the dialogue between the Ruling Party and the Opposition Parties, which yielded the agreement that has now resulted in the constitutional provisions being finally adopted. Consequently, we will be holding multiple democratic elections in March 2008. Indeed we have always had timeous general and presidential elections since our independence.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, let me stress once more that the strength of the United Nations lies in its universality and impartiality as it implements its mandate to promote peace and security, economic and social development, human rights and international law as outlined in the Charter. Zimbabwe stands ready to play its part in all efforts and programmes aimed at achieving these noble goals.

I thank you.

Zimbabwe Update: VP Mujuru Speaks to Traditional Leaders; Mugabe Meets UN Chief, Sanctions Impact

Pray for eradication of social ills during biras: VP Mujuru

Zimbabwe Herald Reporter

ACTING President Joice Mujuru has urged traditional leaders to include an appeal for eradication of social ills that has gripped the nation during the traditional biras that are taking place across the country until October 1.

She made the remarks while addressing representatives of chiefs who had called on her to present this year’s programme of biras.

This year marks the third consecutive year that Zimbabweans have taken part in the traditional biras, umthethelo.

The idea was muted by traditional leaders after realising that no formal ritual ceremony was conducted to appease the spirits after the Second Chimurenga which brought independence and freedom to this country.

Chiefs delegation was led by the Minister of Local Government, Public works and Urban Development Cde Ignatius Chombo, President of Chiefs Council Chief Fortune Charumbira, who said chiefs were delighted that the situation in the country was progressing in the right direction as shown by the recent outcome from the House of Assembly when both the Zanu-PF and MDC unanimously agreed to pass the Constitution Amendment Bill no.18.

In response, Cde Mujuru lamented the loss of cultural norms in the country and urged the chiefs to appeal for eradication of social ills such as raping of minors and murderers.

She said if the economy would be revived if the country receives good rains.

She said the recent demonstration of unity of purpose by Zanu-PF and MDC, the country’s harmonised elections are expected to be peaceful.

Cde Mujuru made a donation of $80 million to be distributed among the eight provinces that will be taking part in the traditional rainmaking ceremonies that are now an annual event.

Different areas across the country have their own way of conducting ceremonies hence individual chiefs and spirit mediums will lead rituals in areas under their jurisdiction.

Traditional leaders have hailed the biras, saying they are part of African culture that should not be lost as it is rooted in history a spiritual belief of the people.

President meets UN boss

From Caesar Zvayi at the UNITED NATIONS, New York

‘Don’t allow the West to abuse your office’ PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday met United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters here to apprise him of the situation in Zimbabwe, and took the opportunity to warn him not to let Western powers abuse his office.

The President’s warning came in the wake of recent machinations by Britain and the United States to pressure the UN to send a humanitarian envoy to Harare to justify their claims that the country had become a "humanitarian disaster" warranting foreign intervention.

Two weeks ago the British government used the offices of the Archbishop of York, Ugandan-born John Sentamu, to test the waters ahead of the current session of the General Assembly.

Dr Sentamu was widely quoted in the Western media saying Zimbabwe had become a humanitarian disaster, whose situation was so bad that only foreign intervention could salvage it.

Presidential spokesman Cde George Charamba, who attended yesterday’s meeting with the Secretary General, told The Herald here that the meeting was held to apprise Mr Ban, who is new on the job, of the situation in Zimbabwe.

"The President and the Secretary General discussed the situation in Zimbabwe and also had an opportunity to discuss the selfish demands by the British to send a humanitarian envoy to Zimbabwe.

"The President told the Secretary General that the situation in Zimbabwe was not as dire as portrayed by the British and the Americans who have always had a fight with Zimbabwe," Cde Charamba said.

Over the past few months the Western media has been awash with reports that Zimbabweans were fleeing their country in droves to seek refuge in neighbouring countries to escape what they termed "increasing poverty and repression".

And in his address to the General Assembly here on Monday, US President George W. Bush regurgitated the same rhetoric as he alleged that there was increasing violence and political repression in Zimbabwe, yet the two main parties — Zanu-PF and the MDC — have just reached a ground-breaking agreement, in the spirit of the Sadc initiative on dialogue, to amend sections of the Constitution as the first step towards political congruency.

Cde Charamba said the President told the Secretary General that if there was a dire situation in Zimbabwe, Harare would have made it known to the UN, but had not done so because it has national and regional institutions to use to address its problems.

To this end, Cde Charamba said, Mr Ban would consult the region, starting with South African President Thabo Mbeki, on how the UN can work with Zimbabwe.

"The President also told the Secretary General not to let his office be abused by the British and Americans who have a history of trying to drag Zimbabwe to the United Nations Security Council," Cde Charamba said.

Since the stand-off between Harare and London flared at the turn of the millennium, London and Washington have always tried to use their leverage as permanent members of the Security Council to have Zimbabwe on the agenda of the world body to warrant external intervention as a prelude to illegal regime change.

The President also apprised the Secretary General of the bilateral nature of the dispute with London, which the British government tried to internationalise, and the history of the land question at the core of the differences with London.

"The President also told the Secretary General about Zimbabwe’s election schedule and the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Bill as clear benchmarks that we have the capacity to resolve our own problems," Cde Charamba said.

On September 18, MDC legislators across the divide concurred with their Zanu-PF counterparts not to oppose the passing of the Bill which seeks to, among other things, harmonise presidential, parliamentary, senate and local government elections; reduce the length of the presidential term from six open-ended terms to two five-year terms; set up a Human Rights Commission; and restructure the membership of the Senate and House of Assembly.

The Bill now awaits Presidential assent after sailing through the Upper House this week.

Organisation calls for lifting of sanctions

By Mabasa Sasa

THE Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa has added its voice to the growing chorus of those calling on the West to lift the illegal sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe as this would contribute to the establishment of an environment conducive to the staging of free and fair elections next year.

Following two days of deliberations, participants in a CPIA-organised conference to review the gains so far achieved in the inter-party talks between-Zanu PF and the two factions of the MDC came to the conclusion that the maintenance of the sanctions regime served to undermine democratic processes in the country.

Part of the final communiqué read, "The Conference believes that the current spirit of dialogue should extend to and manifest itself in the creation of an environment conducive to peaceful and credible elections.

"This calls for: all political parties and all other stakeholders to renounce violence and refrain from provocative behaviour, government to ensure that all citizens are safe and secure at all times . . . the lifting of sanctions."

There had been attempts by a minority of the participants to delete the issue of the lifting of sanctions from the final communiqué but this was met with resistance as several people pointed out that regardless of personal views, the fact remained that there were sanctions in place against Zimbabwe.

CPIA executive director Dr Leonard Kapungu had, however, already set the anti-sanctions tone of the conference when in his opening remarks he made it clear that the embargo had to be done away with as a matter of urgency.

"We are saying the European Union should immediately lift economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. In its statement on May 13 2007, the EU said it was going to review its position on Zimbabwe if there was positive progress and when the country takes appropriate steps.

"Now there is positive progress in the country and we feel the EU should now take those appropriate steps. This is just the beginning because there are so many positive agreements to come between the opposition MDC and Zanu-PF. We know it is going to be a long walk, but we are going to continue with it," Dr Kapungu said.

South Africa was mandated by Sadc to mediate talks between Zanu-PF and both MDC factions and the negotiating parties recently announced they had made significant progress.

Soon after, they unanimously supported the passage of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 18) Bill through the House of Assembly and the Senate.

The conference, held in Mutare, coincided with various activities in the city to mark the International Day of Peace, Cease-fire and Non-violence.

Ambassadors and other senior diplomats from Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Sweden, Norway and Canada among others attended the conference while most political parties and a number of civic bodies, war veterans and farmer organisations were also represented.

Earlier on Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sten Rylander had indicated that the international donor community was impressed with the progress seen in the inter-party talks.

Cde Stephen Chidawanyika, the director of information in the ruling Zanu-PF said it was imperative that all Zimbabweans capitalised on the unique opportunity accorded by agreement over the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Will Teach Class on US Foreign Policy Toward Sudan, Oct. 4

Abayomi Azikiwe will teach a class as part of the Fall 2007 Lifelong Learning Forum at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington, Michigan

The class, "U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Sudan: A Political History," will be offered at 7:30 on Thursday, October 4th.

Location: Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington
Lifelong Learning Forum
25301 Halsted Rd
Farmington Hills, MI 48335

U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Sudan: A Political History

How are the foreign policy aims of the United States’
administration impacting developments in Sudan?

This talk will examine the increasing role of Sudan
in supplying oil to the international community, as well as the diplomatic activity of China in Sudan, and its
influence over western intervention.

Presenter: Abayomi Azikiwe is editor of the Pan-African News Wire and has traveled extensively in Africa. He is also a broadcaster on CKLN FM,88.1 in Toronto.

Sudan: Legacy of British Colonialism and U.S. Interference

Sudan was also colonized by Britain during the late 19th century. The imperialists’ methodology of divide and conquer was employed where the peoples of the south, north and west were taught that they were separate entities. Some of the earliest nationalist movements on the continent took place in Sudan, with rebellions after the conclusion of World War I extending through the early 1920s.

Some of the elements within the nationalist movement pushed for a unification plan with Egypt. Others sought a solution to the colonial problem through the breaking down of the barriers erected by British colonialism. On the eve of independence, which took place in 1956, the people in the south mutinied within the paramilitary colonial forces, hampering the potential for a national identity in the country. The conflict with the southern region of the country lasted from 1955 through 1972, when a negotiated settlement was reached.

However, a decade later, the conflict reemerged in 1983 and lasted for 20 years until a peace agreement was reached in 2003.

The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army led the southern rebellion under John Garang. A government of national unity was established with the understanding that the people in southern Sudan would eventually vote whether the people would remain in the unity government or establish an autonomous region in the south. It was after the agreement between Khartoum and the SPLA was reached that the conflict in the Darfur region erupted. Two rebel groups surfaced. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had links with the National Islamic Front (NIF) that became an opposition force in northern politics. The NIF initially played a pivotal role in the Omar al-Bashir government inside the country.

However, a split occurred, placing the NIF in opposition to the president and also the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) that appeared to be independent of northern influences. Since 2003, the Darfur rebel movement has further fragmented with splits inside the SLM/A largely over a peace agreement with Khartoum.

The imperialist nations and their allied press agencies have sought to portray the conflict in Darfur as an African/Arab conflagration with fundamental racial dimensions. Nonetheless, Darfur is predominately Islamic, like the population in the north. There is no pronounced racial difference between the peoples of the country. It is the legacy of British imperialism and U.S. interference that is at the root cause of the current conflict. These divisions are politicized in an effort to provide a rationale for possible military intervention. Consequently, anti-imperialists should look at the struggle in Darfur in light of American and British imperialists’ aims in the region.

China has stepped up its economic investments in Sudan. The country is rich in oil and consequently provides the American government with an incentive to seek dominance over the resources. The only true and lasting solution to the Darfur crisis lies within the Sudanese people themselves and does not require a military occupation by the West.

Above article reprinted from Workers World, Somaliland Times--Feb. 2007

Justice For All: Detroit Organizes to Defend Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas

Detroit Organizes to Defend Judge Deborah Thomas

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge challenges attacks

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

DETROIT, 26 Sept., 2007 (PANW)--Judge Deborah Thomas has become a focal point for a challenge to the increasingly conservative trends with the state courts in Michigan.

Since 2002, Judge Thomas has raised concerns about the composition of juries in Wayne County where the number of eligible African Americans is far lower than their actual percentage within the population.

At a public meeting held in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center's City Council Auditorium on Monday, September 24, a number of lawyers, trade union leaders, community activists and political officials gathered to map out a plan of action to pressurize the Wayne County Court system through mass mobilization and targeted demonstrations.

This meeting, which was convened and hosted by City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, has set out to form a Justice For All Coalition. The meeting on September 24 took place just two weeks after over 500 people demonstrated outside Cadillac Plaza, the headquarters of Michigan state government in Detroit's New Center Area on September 10.

Inside the state office building on September 10 was a meeting of the State Judicial Tenure Commission, an all-white body that has investigated Judge Deborah Thomas and at least two other African American women jurists in the state of Michigan.

On Monday, September 24, a number of talking points were circulated at the beginning of the meeting at the City Council Auditorium. These talking points included:
"-protecting rights to a jury of one's peers
-the reinstatement of the accused's rights to choose a trial by judge or jury
-the restoration of Habeas Corpus legal authority to all judges
-to reinstate protection of the right to a speedy trial and no rush to judgement
-the depoliticization of judicial opinions from the state supreme court and courts of appeal...."

In addition to the talking points, a call to action was also circulated which included:
"-a call for hearings with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights
-hearing before the Wayne County Board of Commissioners
-a call for a federal Department of Justice investigation
-make upholding the Constitution a political issue for all elected positions during 2008 and
-the call for a overwhelming turnout during the upcoming 2008 primary and general elections."

Attorney Alice Jennings spoke at the September 24 meeting pointing out how the Chief Judge of the Wayne County 3rd Circuit, Mary Beth Kelly, stopped Judge Deborah Thomas from requesting a review of the current jury pool.

Jennings cited a study by the National Center for State Courts which indicated that the present percentage of African Americans eligible for jury duty in Wayne County is less than 50% of their numbers within the general population. As of January of 2007, Wayne County is not keeping any data on the racial composition of the jury pool.

According to Jennings, the National Center for State Courts study found that there is a "suppression file" which objectively minimizes African American participation on juries. The file was started in 1997 and is estimated to include one million names.

"They are also suppressing Latinos and Arab Americans," said Jennings. The study recommended the discontinuing of the "suppression file."

"Why does this matter?", asked Jennings. She then cited another study by Samuel Summers at Tufts University focusing on inter-personal relations in jury trials.

"Justice delayed is justice denied," Jennings continued.
"Under the current system in Michigan challenges to the jury composition can only be made after the convictions during the appellate process."

Jennings concluded by stating that: "We have to decide on some strategies and not just wait for Wayne County. This is a denial of your constitutional rights."

City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson reflected on a recent experience while on jury duty in Wayne County. "All I saw was young African American men as defendants and crying black mamas. In the case I heard, only two black women were on the jury."

Attorney Carl Edwards addressed the meeting stating that: "We are in crisis on so many fronts, this is an important period in history."

Edwards talked about the role of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group which has members within the state courts and the supreme court in Michigan. According to Edwards this conservative group is committed to reversing affirmative action, voter's rights, etc.

Edwards contends that the majority of the members on the Michigan Supreme Court are members of the Federalist Society.

Attorney Wanda Evans, who represented the Black Attorneys United for Justice, talked about the crisis now facing Wayne County Juvenile Court. Evans asserted that Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly removed black attorneys from representing children. A private firm is now representing youth in the county courts.

According to Evans, "oftentimes we are the only real advocates the children have. They often view us as family: many have no one in a professional role to represent them, we are often role models."

Evans concluded by illustrating how several years ago there were reports of foster children that were missings in the region. " A lot of these kids had returned to their mothers even after their parental rights were terminated. Our families are being destroyed. These families have problems but they can be worked with if there are adequate resources made available."

Judge Deborah Thomas closed out the September 24 meeting at the City Council Auditorium. She pointed to the nearly 200 pre-emptorary reversals of her court rulings over the years. She pointed out that the United States Court of Appeals in the Sixth Circuit believed the defendants in these cases were not given proper consideration.

"We should request that Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the current chair of the House Judiciary Committee, hold hearings on the appeals rulings coming out of the state courts in Michigan," said Thomas.

"There are others who should be contacted about upholding the constitutional rights of citizens in Michigan. There should be Congressional hearings on jury compositions, not just in Michigan, but in states such as Louisiana as well," said Thomas.

In a resoulution to the Detroit City Council submitted by Councilwoman Watson, she states that:
"Whereas, The quality of justice for the people of Detroit is strained by racism, male supremacy and privatization: to wit, a jury pool in Wayne County Circuit Court negatively impacted by lack of representation, consequently catalyzing charges of bias, disparity, racism and failures to preserve the constitutional right of a jury of one's peers; target bias against Black women judges; and privatization of the Friend of the Court; and
"Whereas, The current injustices continue a history in which the conviction of 2 police officers for the 1992 killing of Malice Green was punished in retaliation by the State of Michigan's abolishing the entire court, Recorder's Court, in which the police officers were convicted, a remarkably racially biased abuse of power by the State legislature and Governor of that time, and
"Whereas, The Wayne County County Circuit Court Chief Judge and the Judicial Tenure Commission of the State of Michigan, which is an all white, all male body, have unconstitutionally and with bias targeted Judge Deborah Thomas, a Black woman jurist, for her efforts to protect the constitutional rights of all Detroit citizens, in particular Black men, a group disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system...."

Just two weeks prior to the September 24 meeting, a rally was held in the same City Council Auditorium. This September 10 rally was addressed by the Chair of the Wayne County Commission Jewel Ware as well as Bernard Parker of the Commission.

Bernard Parker commended Judge Deborah Thomas for standing up to the attacks against her. According to Parker it is only in Wayne County that the Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly is handpicked by the State Supreme Court.

Danny Craig of American Federation of State, County and Muncipal Employees (AFSCME), spoke at both the rally on September 10 and the follow-up meeting on the 24. According to Craig: "the employees of the Friend of the Court stand in solidarity with Judge Thomas. We need to do this for the children. We have to stop the privatization of the court system in Wayne County."

Julie Hurwitz of the Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild illustrated that the majority of the 20,000 children under the control of the Juvenile Courts in Wayne County are African Americans.

"Our laws and constitution require that these children get support from individual lawyers as any corporate executive charged with a crime. There is a privatization effort under way utilizing outside law firms. Black lawyers are being systematically removed," Hurwitz stated.

"By eliminating individual representation for children in the Juvenile Court system millions of dollars are being diverted in County funds to small groups who sub-contract with other firms. They send a group to represent them. Whoever happens to be in court that day represents the children," says Hurwitz.

Jeff Edison of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) stated that: "NCBL has always supported and continues to support Judge Deborah. This goes back to the days when former Republican Governor Engler took away the Recorder's Court. We elected Judge Thomas to exercise her authority. This is an attack on the electorate itself. "

Edison summed up the feelings of many of those involved in the campaign to defend Judge Deborah Thomas. He said that: "We are not going to go away silently. If they do it to Judge Thomas they will do it to the others."

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire. His articles have appeared in a host of newspapers, journals magazines, research reports, blogs and web sites throughout the international community. Azikiwe can be heard on radio every Tuesday evening at 9:30 p.m. on CKLN, 88.1 FM in Toronto. To hear this broadcast of the Pan-African News Wire editor just log on to

International Solidarity Efforts Underway for the Cuban Five; Detroit Event Planned for Oct. 4

MI Campaign To Free the Cuban Five/Justice for Cuba Coalition
PO Box 39188 - Redford, MI 48239
email: - phone: 313-561-8330

International Month of Solidarity with the Cuban Five
Detroit Forum

Report back from Appeal Hearing
by Judge Claudia Morcom

Plus a 33 min. DVD - "Philip Agee, Cuba, and the CIA," by the producers of "Mission Against Terror," Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Rebo of Two Islands productions
Date: Thursday, Oct. 4
Time: 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: International Institute 111 E. Kirby (at John R.)

Once again, in violation of U.S. and International laws and norms Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez were again denied visas to merely visit their imprisoned loved ones and see them with their own eyes.

This meeting is part of the International Days of Solidarity with the Cuban Five from Sept. 12, the anniversary of their false arrest to Oct. 6, the anniversary of the first mid-air bombing of a passenger plane - Cubana 455 as it took off from Barbados - killing all 73 passengers in 1976.

Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch who engineered this violence against Cuban and international civilians walk free in Miami today, while Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, René González, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino, who peacefully monitored the anti-Cuba para-militaries are in prison.

U.S. organizations reiterate support for the Five

NEW YORK, September 25 (PL).— Diverse organizations in the United States have called for the release of the five Cubans imprisoned in that country for fighting terrorism and condemned the violations committed by Washington against the men.

An event that was held within the framework of the International Days of Solidarity with the Five – as they are known throughout the world – saw the participation of Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque and the Reverend Lucius Walker, coordinator of Pastors for Peace.

During the event, participants analyzed the current situation of the men’s case and diverse organizations reaffirmed their commitment to defend justice and the human rights of the relatives of these individuals.

Leonard Weinglass, one the of the Five’s defense lawyers, informed the auditorium about the hearing before the Appeals Court in Atlanta last August 20 and the current legal situation surrounding the case.

During his contribution, the Cuban foreign minister thanked the many organizations that have demonstrated solidarity with the cause of René González, Gerardo Fernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Ramón Labañino for their growing support.

He likewise urged them to continue fighting until the Five are released and can return to the island.

Pérez Roque also referred to the battle that is being fought by the Cuban people in order to confront the economic blockade imposed by the White House.

The head of Cuban diplomacy highlighted the isolation of the Bush administration in the face of the international community’s generalized support for the resolution condemning the blockade passed every year by the UN General Assembly.

Translated by Granma International

Former assistant to Colin Powell denounces injustices committed against the Cuban Five

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD — Granma International staff writer —

DEEPLY disgusted by the many injustices surrounding the case of the Cuban Five, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to General Colin Powell, has published an open letter in which he not only denounces the situation of the Five, but calls for public demonstrations in support of the five anti-terrorists locked up by Bush’s government.

Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel and assistant to former Secretary of State Powell, said he based his courageous stance on the Five largely on his extensive knowledge of the George W. Bush administration.

Wilkerson said that he became convinced that defending the Five was a just cause after attending a Sept. 12 lecture by defense attorney Leonard Weinglass at Howard University Law School.

"I was stunned by what counselor Weinglass revealed," Wilkerson commented.

The former colonel was a right-hand man to Powell for most of 16 years, including while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and while he was Secretary of State. His other posts include serving as director and deputy director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia.

After recounting in detail the facts and arguments laid out by Weinglass, Wilkerson commented that on how the case "sort of takes the cake: to punish with life sentences men who came here to determine how and when their country was going to be attacked by people breaking U.S. law.

"These men were unarmed, not intent on any physical damage to the United States, and were motivated to protect their fellow citizens from invasion and repeated attacks by Cuban-Americans living in Florida.

"And we have to ask also, just how is it that we have become a safe haven for alleged terrorists? How is it that we—the United States of America—may rate a place on our own list of states that sponsor terrorism?

"If the facts are as counselor Weinglass reported, this case is truly the bottom of the pit. I had great trouble believing it, but I had nothing with which to refute Mr. Weinglass' superbly delivered presentation. But more than that was my four years inside the Bush Administration. You see, I know the depths to which our government is capable of sinking. Torture. Lies. False intelligence. Tyranny.

"Is the continued failure to resolve fairly this case against the Cuban Five, even though it began in the second Clinton administration, really so unbelievable when cast against the characters of the current administration?" he asked.

Wilkerson concluded his letter by inviting readers to talk about the case with congress members. "This is a travesty," he said, noting that "America has many disastrous actions chalked up to its discredit at the moment...

The retired colonel has harshly criticized U.S. policy since leaving the White House in January 2005.

In an interview with the New York Times, he commented that the decision to speak openly about Bush’s policies during his first mandate were "slow in coming," but encouraged by revelations about Abu Ghraib.

The former advisor to Powell described George W. Bush as an "amateur" managing an administration that is murky, stupid and with a tendency toward disaster, both internally and externally.

Translated by Granma International

Families of the Cuban Five received by Namibian leaders

WINDHOEK, Namibia. Sept. 26(PL) — President Hifikepunye Pohamba and historic Namibian leader Sam Nujoma welcomed relatives of three of the five Cuban anti-terrorists imprisoned in the United States, Prensa Latina reported, quoting a diplomatic source.

Magali Llort, mother of Fernando González; Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández, and Irma González, daughter of René González, visited that African nation Sept. 21 until Tuesday Sept. 25 as part of the International Solidarity Days to Free the Five. They also had meetings with members of labor unions, religious, youth and women’s organizations and Cuba solidarity groups.

The organizers of the relatives’ visit expected that the three would be heard by legislators from the ruling party, SWAPO (South West African People’s Organization), at the National Assembly in this capital.

The three women arrived in Namibia after a six-day visit to South Africa, where they were warmly welcomed. They have contributed with their presence to highlighting the International Days of Solidarity with the Five, an international campaign that got underway in 115 nations on Sept. 12 and continues until Oct. 8.

Translated by Granma International

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Criteria of Negro Art: An Essay Written by W.E.B. DuBois

Criteria of Negro Art

by W.E.B. Du Bois

Published in The Crisis of October 1926, DuBois initially spoke these words at a celebration for the recipient of the Twelfth Spingarn Medal, Carter Godwin Woodson. (The specific citation is The Crisis, Vol. 32, October 1926: pp. 290-297).

I do not doubt but there are some in this audience who are a little disturbed at the subject of this meeting, and particularly at the subject I have chosen. Such people are thinking something like this: "How is it that an organization like this, a group of radicals trying to bring new things into the world, a fighting organization which has come up out of the blood and dust of battle, struggling for the right of black men to be ordinary human beings -- how is it that an organization of this kind can turn aside to talk about art? After all, what have we who are slaves and black to do with art?"

Or perhaps there are others who feel a certain relief and are saying, "After all it is rather satisfactory after all this talk about rights and fighting to sit and dream of something which leaves a nice taste in the mouth."

Let me tell you that neither of these groups is right. The thing we are talking about tonight is part of the great fight we are carrying on and it represents a forward and an upward look -- a pushing onward. You and I have been breasting hills; we have been climbing upward; there has been progress and we can see it day by day looking back along blood-filled paths.

But as you go through the valleys and over the foothills, so long as you are climbing, the direction -- north, south, east or west -- is of less importance. But when gradually the vista widens and you begin to see the world at your feet and the far horizon, then it is time to know more precisely whether you are going and what you really want.

What do we want? What is the thing we are after? As it was phrased last night it had a certain truth: We want to be Americans, full-fledged Americans, with all the rights of other American citizens. But is that all? Do we want simply to be Americans?

Once in a while through all of us there flashes some clairvoyance, some clear idea, of what America really is. We who are dark can see America in a way that white Americans cannot. And seeing our country thus, are we satisfied with its present goals and ideals?

If you tonight suddenly should become full-fledged Americans; if your color faded, or the color line here in Chicago was miraculously forgotten; suppose, too, you became at the same time rich and powerful -- what is it that you would want? What would you immediately seek? Would you buy the most powerful of motor cars and outrace Cook County?

Would you buy the most elaborate estate on the North Shore? Would you be a Rotarian or a Lion or a What-not of the very last degree? Would you wear the most striking clothes, give the richest dinners, and buy the longest press notices?

Even as you visualize such ideals you know in your hearts that these are not the things you really want. You realize this sooner than the average white American because, pushed aside as we have been in America, there has come to us not only a certain distaste for the tawdry and flamboyant but a vision of what the world could be if it were really a beautiful world; if we had the true spirit; if we had the seeing eye, the cunning hand, the feeling heart; if we had, to be sure, not perfect happiness, but Plenty of good hard work, the inevitable suffering that always comes with life; sacrifice and waiting, all that -- but nevertheless lived in a world where men know, where men create, where they realize themselves and where they enjoy life. It is that sort of a world we want to create for ourselves and for all America.

After all, who shall describe Beauty? What is it? I remember tonight four beautiful things: the cathedral at Cologne, a forest in stone, set in light and changing shadow, echoing with sunlight and solemn song; a village of the Veys in West Africa, a little thing of mauve and purple, quiet, lying content and shining in the sun; a black and velvet room where on a throne rests, in old and yellowing marble, the broken curves of the Venus de Milo; a single phrase of music in the South -- utter melody, haunting and appealing, suddenly arising out of night and eternity, beneath the moon.

Such is beauty. Its variety is infinite, its possibility is endless. In normal life all may have it and have it yet again. The world is full of it; and yet today the mass of human beings are choked away from it, and their lives distorted and made ugly. This is not only wrong, it is silly. Who shall right this well-nigh universal failing? Who shall let this world be beautiful? Who shall restore to men the glory of sunsets and the peace of quiet sleep?

We black folk may help for we have within us as a race new stirrings; stirrings of the beginning of a new appreciation of joy, of a new desire to create, of a new will to be; as though in this morning of group life we had awakened from some sleep that at once dimly mourns the past and dreams a splendid future, and there has come the conviction that the youth that is here today, the Negro youth, is a different kind of youth, because in some new way it bears this mighty prophecy on its breast, with a new realization of itself, with new determination for all mankind.

What has this beauty to do with the world? What has beauty to do with truth and goodness -- with the facts of the world and the right actions of men? "Nothing," the artists rush to answer. They may be right. I am but an humble disciple of art and cannot presume to say.

I am one who tells the truth and exposes evil and seeks with beauty and for beauty to set the world right. That somehow, somewhere eternal and perfect beauty sits above truth and right I can conceive, but here and now and in the world in which I work they are for me unseparated and inseparable.

This is brought to us peculiarly when as artists we face our own past as a people. There has come to us -- and it has come especially through the man we are going to honor tonight -- a realization of that past, of which for long years we have been ashamed, for which we have apologized. We thought nothing could come out of that past which we wanted to remember; which we wanted to hand down to our children.

Suddenly, this same past is taking on form, color, and reality, and in a half shame-faced way we are beginning to be proud of it. We are remembering that the romance of the world did not die and lie forgotten in the Middle Ages; that if you want romance to deal with you must have it here and now and in your own hands.

Have you heard the story of the conquest of German East Africa? Listen to the untold tale: There were 40,000 black men and 4,000 white men who talked German. There were 20,000 black men and 12,000 white men who talked English. There were 10,000 black men and 400 white men who talked French.

In Africa then where the Mountains of the Moon raised their white and snowcapped heads into the mouth of the tropic sun, where Nile and Congo rise and the Great Lakes swim, these men fought; they struggled on mountain, hill and valley, in river, lake and swamp, until in masses they sickened, crawled and died; until the 4,000 white Germans had become mostly bleached bones; until nearly all the 12,000 white Englishmen had returned to South Africa, and the 400 Frenchmen to Belgium and heaven; all except a mere handful of the white men died; but thousands of black men from East, West and South Africa, from Nigeria and the Valley of the Nile, and from the West Indies still struggled, fought and died.

For four years they fought and won and lost German East Africa; and all you hear about it is that England and Belgium conquered German Africa for the allies!

Such is the true and stirring stuff of which romance is born and from this stuff come the stirrings of men who are beginning to remember that this kind of material is theirs; and this vital life of their own kind is beckoning them on.

The question comes next as to the interpretation of these new stirrings, of this new spirit: Of what is the colored artist capable? We have had on the part of both colored and white people singular unanimity of judgment in the past.

Colored people have said: "This work must be inferior because it comes from colored people." White people have said: "It is inferior because it is done by colored people."

But today there is coming to both the realization that the work of the black man is not always inferior. Interesting stories come to us....
"With the growing recognition of Negro artists in spite of the severe handicaps, one comforting thing is occurring to both white and black. They are whispering, "Here is a way out. Here is the real solution of the color problem. The recognition accorded Cullen, Hughes, Fauset, White and others shows there is no real color line. Keep quiet! Don't complain! Work! All will be well!"

I will not say that already this chorus amounts to a conspiracy. Perhaps I am naturally too suspicious. But I will say that there are today a surprising number of white people who are getting great satisfaction out of these younger Negro writers because they think it is going to stop agitation of the Negro question.

They say, "What is the use of your fighting and complaining; do the great thing and the reward is there." And many colored people are all too eager to follow this advice; especially those who weary of the eternal struggle along the color line, who are afraid to fight and to whom the money of philanthropists and the alluring publicity are subtle and deadly bribes. They say, "What is the use of fighting? Why not show simply what we deserve and let the reward come to us?"

And it is right here that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People comes upon the field, comes with its great call to a new battle, a new fight and new things to fight before the old things are wholly won; and to say that the beauty of truth and freedom which shall some day be our heritage and the heritage of all civilized men is not in our hands yet and that we ourselves must not fail to realize.

There is in New York tonight a black woman molding clay by herself in a little bare room, because there is not a single school of sculpture in New York where she is welcome. Surely there are doors she might burst through, but when God makes a sculptor He does not always make the pushing sort of person who beats his way through doors thrust in his face. This girl is working her hands off to get out of this country so that she can get some sort of training.

There was Richard Brown. If he had been white he would have been alive today instead of dead of neglect. Many helped him when he asked but he was not the kind of boy that always asks. He was simply one who made colors sing.

There is a colored woman in Chicago who is a great musician. She thought she would like to study at Fontainebleau this summer where Walter Darnrosch and a score of leaders of art have an American school of music. But the application blank of this school says: "I am a white American and I apply for admission to the school."

We can go on the stage; we can be just as funny as white Americans wish us to be; we can play all the sordid parts that America likes to assign to Negroes; but for anything else there is still small place for us.

And so I might go on. But let me sum up with this: Suppose the only Negro who survived some centuries hence was the Negro painted by white Americans in the novels and essays they have written. What would people in a hundred years say of black Americans? Now turn it around.

Suppose you were to write a story and put in it the kind of people you know and like and imagine. You might get it published and you might not. And the "might not" is still far bigger than the "might." The white publishers catering to white folk would say, "It is not interesting" -- to white folk, naturally not.

They want Uncle Toms, Topsies, good "darkies" and clowns. I have in my office a story with all the earmarks of truth. A young man says that he started out to write and had his stories accepted. Then he began to write about the things he knew best about, that is, about his own people. He submitted a story to a magazine which said, "We are sorry, but we cannot take it."

"I sat down and revised my story, changing the color of the characters and the locale and sent it under an assumed name with a change of address and it was accepted by the same magazine that had refused it, the editor promising to take anything else I might send in providing it was good enough."

We have, to be sure, a few recognized and successful Negro artists; but they are not all those fit to survive or even a good minority. They are but the remnants of that ability and genius among us whom the accidents of education and opportunity have raised on the tidal waves of chance.

We black folk are not altogether peculiar in this. After all, in the world at large, it is only the accident, the remnant, that gets the chance to make the most of itself; but if this is true of the white world it is infinitely more true of the colored world. It is not simply the great clear tenor of Roland Hayes that opened the ears of America.

We have had many voices of all kinds as fine as his and America was and is as deaf as she was for years to him. Then a foreign land heard Hayes and put its imprint on him and immediately America with all its imitative snobbery woke up. We approved Hayes because London, Paris and Berlin approved him and not simply because he was a great singer.

Thus it is the bounden duty of black America to begin this great work of the creation of beauty, of the preservation of beauty, of the realization of beauty, and we must use in this work all the methods that men have used before.

And what have been the tools of the artist in times gone by? First of all, he has used the truth -- not for the sake of truth, not as a scientist seeking truth, but as one upon whom truth eternally thrusts itself as the highest handmaid of imagination, as the one great vehicle of universal understanding.

Again artists have used goodness -- goodness in all its aspects of justice, honor, and right -- not for sake of an ethical sanction but as the one true method of gaining sympathy and human interest.

Truth as it relates to the artist and to the (social) scientist: Is DuBois referring to two different spheres, each with its own particular methods of discovering and/or portraying truth? Does he imply that the two realms are made distinctive because of their different tools?

Yet, we may muse, how similar are the 2 spheres of truth? There is indeed a commonality: namely, the artist and the scientist both implicate in their respective works the "subject matter" of humans.

The apostle of beauty thus becomes the apostle of truth and right not by choice but by inner and outer compulsion. Free he is but his freedom is ever bounded by truth and justice; and slavery only dogs him when he is denied the right to tell the truth or recognize an ideal of justice.

Thus all art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists. I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been used always for propaganda for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy. I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda. But I do care when propaganda is confined to one side while the other is stripped and silent.... "Thus all art is propaganda and ever must be...."

You know the current magazine story: a young white man goes down to Central America and the most beautiful colored woman there falls in love with him. She crawls across the whole isthmus to get to him. The white man says nobly, "No." He goes back to his white sweetheart in New York.

In such cases, it is not the positive propaganda of people who believe white blood divine, infallible, and holy to which I object. It is the denial of a similar right of propaganda to those who believe black blood human, lovable, and inspired with new ideals for the world.

White artists themselves suffer from this narrowing of their field. They cry for freedom in dealing with Negroes because they have so little freedom in dealing with whites. DuBose Heywood [sic: Heyward] writes "Porgy" and writes beautifully of the black Charleston underworld.

But why does he do this? Because he cannot do a similar thing for the white people of Charleston, or they would drum him out of town. The only chance he had to tell the truth of pitiful human degradation was to tell it of colored people.

I should not be surprised if Octavius Roy Cohen had approached the Saturday Evening Post and asked permission to write about a different kind of colored folk than the monstrosities he has created; but if he has, the Post has replied, "No. You are getting paid to write about the kind of colored people you are writing about."

Dubose Heyward's Porgy (1925) is available as a hypertext version, edited by Kendra Hamilton, at the University of Virginia's American Studies Web site.

In other words, the white public today demands from its artists, literary and pictorial, racial pre-judgment which deliberately distorts truth and justice, as far as colored races are concerned, and it will pay for no other.

On the other hand, the young and slowly growing black public still wants its prophets almost equally unfree. We are bound by all sorts of customs that have come down as second-hand soul clothes of white patrons. We are ashamed of sex and we lower our eyes when people will talk of it.

Our religion holds us in superstition. Our worst side has been so shamelessly emphasized that we are denying we have or ever had a worst side. In all sorts of ways we are hemmed in and our new young artists have got to fight their way to freedom.

The ultimate judge has got to be you and you have got to build yourselves up into that wide judgment, that catholicity of temper which is going to enable the artist to have his widest chance for freedom. We can afford the truth. White folk today cannot. As it is now we are handing everything over to a white jury.

If a colored man wants to publish a book, he has got to get a white publisher and a white newspaper to say it is great; and then you and I say so. We must come to the place where the work of art when it appears is reviewed and acclaimed by our own free and unfettered judgment. And we are going to have a real and valuable and eternal judgment only as we make ourselves free of mind, proud of body and just of soul to all men.

And then do you know what will be said? It is already saying. Just as soon as true art emerges; just as soon as the black artist appears, someone touches the race on the shoulder and says, "He did that because he was an American, not because he was a Negro; he was born here; he was trained here; he is not a Negro -- what is a Negro anyhow? He is just human; it is the kind of thing you ought to expect."

I do not doubt that the ultimate art coming from black folk is going to be just as beautiful, and beautiful largely in the same ways, as the art that comes from white folk, or yellow, or red; but the point today is that until the art of the black folk compels recognition they will not be rated as human. And when through art they compel recognition then let the world discover if it will that their art is as new as it is old and as old as new.

I had a classmate once who did three beautiful things and died. One of them was a story of a folk who found fire and then went wandering in the gloom of night seeking again the stars they had once known and lost; suddenly out of blackness they looked up and there loomed the heavens; and what was it that they said? They raised a mighty cry: "It is the stars, it is the ancient stars, it is the young and everlasting stars!"

The Roots of Socialist Realism

Roots of socialist realism

Reprinted from Wikipedia

PANW Editor's Note: Although this article does not recognize fully the contributions of socialist realist art forms, the underlying theme of working class and revolutionary culture as a by-product of anti-capitalist transformation still comes through the writings.

The political aspect of socialist realism was, in some respects, a continuation of pre-Soviet state policy.

Censorship and attempts to control the content of art did not begin with the Soviets, but were a long-running feature of Russian life. The Tsarist government also appreciated the potentially disruptive effect of art and required all books to be cleared by the censor. Writers and artists in 19th century Imperial Russia became quite skilled at evading censorship by making their points without spelling it out in so many words. However, Soviet censors were not so easily evaded.

Socialist realism had its roots in neoclassicism and the traditions of realism in Russian literature of the 19th century that described the life of simple people. It was exemplified by the aesthetic philosophy of Maxim Gorki. The work of the Peredvizhniki ("Wanderers," a Russian realist movement of the late 19th / early 20th centuries), Jacques-Louis David and Ilya Yefimovich Repin were notable influences.

Characteristics of socialist realism

Socialist-Realist allegories surrounding the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. Socialist realism held that successful art depicts and glorifies the proletariat's struggle toward socialist progress. The Statute of the Union of Soviet Writers in 1934 stated that socialist realism is the basic method of Soviet literature and literary criticism.

It demands of the artist the truthful, historically concrete representation of reality in its revolutionary development. Moreover, the truthfulness and historical concreteness of the artistic representation of reality must be linked with the task of ideological transformation and education of workers in the spirit of socialism.

Its purpose was to elevate the common worker, whether factory or agricultural, by presenting his life, work, and recreation as admirable. In other words, its goal was to educate the people in the goals and meaning of Communism.

The ultimate aim was to create what Lenin called "an entirely new type of human being": New Soviet Man. Stalin described the practitioners of socialist realism as "engineers of souls".

The "realism" part is important. Soviet art at this time aimed to depict the worker as he truly was, carrying his tools. In a sense, the movement mirrors the course of American and Western art, where the everyday human being became the subject of the novel, the play, poetry, and art.

The proletariat was at the center of communist ideals; hence, his life was a worthy subject for study. This was an important shift away from the aristocratic art produced under the Russian tsars of previous centuries, but had much in common with the late-19th century fashion for depicting the social life of the common people.

Painters would depict happy, muscular peasants and workers in factories and collective farms; during the Stalin period, they also produced numerous heroic portraits of the leader to serve his cult of personality.

Industrial and agricultural landscapes were popular subjects, glorifying the achievements of the Soviet economy. Novelists were expected to produce uplifting stories in a manner consistent with the Marxist doctrine of dialectical materialism. Composers were to produce rousing, vivid music that reflected the life and struggles of the proletariat.

Socialist realism thus demanded close adherence to party doctrine, and has often been criticized as detrimental to the creation of true, unfettered art – or as being little more than a means to censor artistic expression. Czesław Miłosz, writing in the introduction to Sinyavsky's On Socialist Realism, describes the products of socialist realism as "inferior", ascribing this as necessarily proceeding from the limited view of reality permitted to creative artists.

Not all Marxists accepted the necessity of socialist realism. Its establishment as state doctrine in the 1930s had rather more to do with internal Communist Party politics than classic Marxist imperatives. The Hungarian Marxist essayist Georg Lukács criticized the rigidity of socialist realism, proposing his own "critical realism" as an alternative. However, such critical voices were a rarity until the 1980s.

Notable works and artists of socialist realism Maxim Gorky's novel Mother is usually considered to have been the first work of socialist realism. Gorky was also a major factor in the school's rapid rise, and his pamphlet, On Socialist Realism, essentially lays out the needs of Soviet art. Other important works of literature include Fyodor Gladkov's Cement (1925) and Mikhail Sholokhov's two volume epic, And Quiet Flows the Don (1934) and The Don Flows Home to the Sea (1940).

The painter Aleksandr Deineka provides a notable example for his expressionist and patriotic scenes of the Second World War, collective farms, and sports. Yuri Pimenov, Boris Ioganson and Geli Korzev have also been described as "unappreciated masters of twentieth-century realism". Another well-known practitioner was Fyodor Pavlovich Reshetnikov.

Apart from obvious political considerations that saw works such as those of George Orwell being banned, access to foreign art and literature was also restricted on aesthetic grounds. Bourgeois art and all forms of experimentalism and formalism were denounced as decadent, degenerate and pessimistic, and therefore anti-Communist in principle. The works of James Joyce were particularly harshly condemned.

The net effect was that it was not until the 1980s that the general public in the Communist countries were able to freely access many works of Western art and literature. Many then joined Western observers in denouncing socialist realism as mere propaganda.

The Sots Art paintings of Komar and Melamid can be viewed as a parody of socialist realism.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dr. Adame Ba Konare Challenges Racist French Views on African History

AU head's wife challenges Sarkozy on African history

Sun 23 Sep 2007, 15:10 GMT

BAMAKO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - A Malian historian married to the head of the African Union has challenged fellow academics to produce a continental history book as a riposte to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's view that Africans lack history.

The French leader enraged many Africans when he laid out his Africa policy in July at one of French-speaking Africa's most prestigious educational institutions in a speech many denounced as patronising and out-dated.

"The tragedy of Africa is that the African man has not fully entered into history ... They have never really launched themselves into the future," Sarkozy said in the speech at Cheick Anta Diop University in Senegal's capital Dakar.

The speech provoked a tirade of angry correspondence in newspapers in Senegal and elsewhere in France's former African colonies.

Adame Ba Konare, who is married to African Union Chairman and former Malian president Alpha Oumar Konare, said Sarkozy's comments sprang from colonial-era misconceptions.

"These assertions are based on cliches, Euclidean theories about Africa, colonial imagery, which said Africa had no history," she said.

Ba challenged fellow historians to contribute articles to an African history book to be published in 2008 which could be presented to Sarkozy and the French authorities "to give them a degree of knowledge about the history of Africa".

Woman Wants Share of James Brown's Estate

Woman Wants Share of Brown's Estate

2007-09-24 10:24:18

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Sept. 24) - The woman who claims she is the oldest daughter of James Brown said she will be in court Monday to pursue a piece of the late soul singer's estate.

"I've been walking around looking like this man for 45 years," said LaRhonda Petitt, a retired flight attendant and school teacher. "I'm not talking no negative talk, I'm talking about what's right."

A judge is scheduled to go over pending issues in the ongoing court battle over Brown's will, said attorney Jim Griffin, who represents Petitt.

Brown died Christmas Day of heart failure at age 73. His will, which is being disputed, names six adult children. But at least three other people, including Petitt, say DNA testing proves they are his children.

Petitt, who was born and lives in Houston, said Sunday she would like all people claiming to be Brown's children to take a DNA test. "Just because they're in the will doesn't mean they're all my daddy's children," Petitt said.

An attorney for those named in his will and a trustee for the estate did not return phone calls Sunday seeking comment.

Petitt has filed a paternity action to legally establish that she is Brown's daughter, Griffin said.

"He had kids everywhere," Petitt said. "And each one of those kids can do something positive."

She also has two claims against his estate, one to share in the estate as a natural child who was not provided for by the will and a second claim for back child support.

Griffin said those issues won't be discussed in court Monday.

Petitt said she also would like to see Brown's body moved to a mausoleum so family and friends can visit more easily. His body has been entombed in a crypt at the home of one of his daughters since March.

Southern African Development Community Threatens EU Summit Boycott Over Zimbabwe Policy

Sadc warns EU of summit boycott

News Editor Farai Dzirutwe
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

ZAMBIAN President and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) chair Mr Levy Mwanawasa has warned that the regional bloc will boycott the European Union/Africa summit if President Mugabe is excluded from the meeting to be held in Portugal this December.

Mr Mwanawasa reportedly made the remarks in the Zambian capital on Friday afternoon just before departure for New York where he will join other global heads of state who will be attending the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly that opens next Tuesday.

The Sadc chairman was reacting to British Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown’s announcement that he would not attend the summit if Cde Mugabe was invited.

Speaking to journalists at Lusaka International Airport, Mr Mwanawasa said President Mugabe’s exclusion would not be in the interests of dialogue, adding that he would lead a Sadc boycott of the meeting in the event that the Zimbabwean leader was barred from attending.

In threatening to boycott the Lisbon summit, Mr Brown last week claimed that Cde Mugabe’s presence in Portugal would divert attention from important issues such as poverty, climate change and health.

However, President Mwanawasa shot back by saying: "As Sadc chair, I have always said dialogue is important to resolve any problems and unless you meet that person you perceive as a wrongdoer, you cannot resolve anything."

"Those who have a bone to chew with President Mugabe have to meet with him to find a solution."

He was further quoted by Zambian newspapers as saying that it would be unfortunate for Britain not to attend the summit because of President Mugabe’s presence.

"As far as the region is concerned, in this case the AU/EU summit hangs in the balance.

"I will not go to Portugal if President Mugabe is not allowed to attend because it will be a waste of time," he told the Times of Zambia.

Mr Mwanawasa said there was need for dialogue between Britain and Zimbabwe for the two parties to iron out their differences.

Prime Minister Brown was last week quoted in the British media as having reaffirmed his position that he would stay away from Lisbon if President Mugabe was invited, citing what he claimed to be a "tragic situation" in Zimbabwe.

Mr Brown further claimed that he was taking this action in the interests of Zimbabwean people, adding that he was working with other interest groups to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. He also threatened last Thursday to toughen sanctions against Zimbabwe and to ban more people from travelling to the 27-nation EU.

"Working with our international partners, we must do more to
press the Zimbabwean Government to change," he said.

Mr Brown has, however, been widely condemned by the African lobby for his stance with the African Union and now Sadc declaring that they will boycott the meeting if Cde Mugabe does not attend.

Summit host Portugal has said the potential rewards of closer ties between the two continents outweigh the antagonism between the leaders of Britain and Zimbabwe. The EU, most of whose members are former colonial powers in Africa, is keen to regain control on the continent, especially on the back of growing Sino-African ties which have seen China’s influence soaring in recent years.

The Asian giant has poured billions of euros in aid and investment into Africa over the last few years and this has ruffled the feathers of the EU and the US whose grip on the continent is slowly slipping away. Analysts have said although Africa is the world's poorest continent, it still offers plenty of potential business and important natural resources, hence the desire by the West to maintain close ties.

Zanu-PF, MDC to discuss sanctions

By Morris Mkwate

THE ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC parties have agreed to debate the effects of the sanctions that some Western governments have imposed on Zimbabwe in the on-going Sadc-brokered dialogue.

Although both parties have confirmed that the issue has been placed on the agenda, details of the talks were not available by yesterday.

Justice Minister and Zanu-PF negotiator Cde Patrick Chinamasa told the House of Assembly during debate on the Constitutional Amendment (No. 18) Bill last Tuesday that the two parties would also discuss the land reform programme. He said the two items were among several others on the agenda.

Cde Chinamasa indicated that the issues would be attended to after Parliament’s passing of the Bill. The proposed Constitutional amendments have gone through the House of Assembly and now await transmission to the Senate.

"An agenda composed of a broad range of issues, including discussion on the principle of coming up with a new Constitution, and, if agreed, the modalities by which this can be handled, was agreed upon," said Cde Chinamasa.

"Other issues on this agenda are the land question and sanctions," he added.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Nicholas Goche, who is also a negotiator for the ruling party, told The Sunday Mail in an interview last week that the agreement to debate the sanctions had been reached at the Sadc talks’ first meeting held at the end of May.

He said the MDC wanted the two parties to discuss provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which they deemed to be repressive.

"On our side, of course, we wanted to make sure that we discussed the land issue and that we are one as far as that issue is concerned. We also wanted to discuss the illegal sanctions.

"As far as we are concerned, the opposition has also been involved in campaigning for sanctions to be imposed against this country.

"We also wanted to discuss the pirate radio stations that are demonising the Government of Zimbabwe and seemed in favour of the opposition. So that was the basis upon which the agenda was agreed upon," said Cde Goche.

In March this year, an extraordinary Sadc heads of state summit in Tanzania passed a resolution advocating dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC.

South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki was appointed mediator under the initiative whose main objective is to iron out stark political differences between the two parties.

So far about 20 meetings have been convened, with a three-member team led by South Africa’s Local Government Minister Mr Sydney Mufamadi facilitating the deliberations.

Cde Chinamasa and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Cde Nicholas Goche form the Zanu-PF negotiating team while that of the MDC comprises Professor Welshman Ncube and Mr Tendai Biti, who belong to the Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai factions of the party respectively.

Several matters will be discussed in the second half of the dialogue, but deliberations on sanctions have in the meantime caught instant attention. For the past seven years, the matter has been at the centre of Zimbabwean politics as the sanctions are widely seen to be having debilitating effects on the economy.

Government says the sanctions are a direct retaliation to the country’s land reform programme, which sought to address imbalances in land distribution.

The West denies this notion, but analysts say the economy-crippling measures are at the centre of the socio-economic problems that Zimbabwe is facing.

Cde Chinamasa said the dialogue was progressing in terms of a two-track process. The first track is the expeditious passing of the Bill while the second entails discussing outstanding issues, including sanctions and the land question.

"The parties agreed that upon resolution of these issues, the total package can be referred to our respective constituencies for approval and endorsement," said Cde Chinamasa.

"Of the two parallel tracks referred to above, the first is the more urgent and Zanu-PF and the MDC’s negotiating teams agreed on a raft of amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill (No. 18) subject to approval from their principals."

Prof Ncube confirmed that the negotiating parties would, among other concessions, deliberate on the sanctions.

"They (sanctions) are on the agenda and we will deal with them," he said.

"We hope that we will find each other in all these issues. When we come back to this House we will come back with a package which includes resolutions on all the issues that have divided us over the last eight years or so."

The revelation that the sanctions will now be debated by the two parties come in the wake of threats by British Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown that he was looking at toughening sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"We are prepared to consider further sanctions. There are, in fact, 130 people or so (in Zimbabwe) who are subject to these sanctions. I believe that these sanctions could be extended to the families of people so more people could be under sanctions," he said.

"We will be prepared to extend these sanctions and we will do so with proposals to the European Union in the next few days," Mr Brown told ITV News on Thursday.

Developments in Harare are thus expected to rile the British who are banking on sanctions in their regime change strategy.

Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has emerged among the few voices that have condemned the agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC to amend the Constitution.

In a statement last week, the NCA claimed the MDC’s approval of the amendment was "treacherous". The organisation also advocated the complete overhaul of the Constitution.

"As a matter of principle, the NCA rejects piece-meal amendments to the current Constitution," read the statement.

Debating the amendments in the House of Assembly, MDC (Tsvangirai faction) deputy leader and Makokoba legislator Ms Thokozani Khupe said her party was committed to the on-going dialogue.

Reacting to news of the agreement, most analysts last week commended the two parties saying the move was a demonstration of political maturity and unity of purpose.

President arrives in Cairo

From Caesar Zvayi in CAIRO, Egypt

PRESIDENT Mugabe arrived here yesterday morning en route to New York to attend the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly that opens next Tuesday.

The President, who is accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and senior Government officials, was met at Cairo International Airport by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Egypt, Cde Aaron Mabhoyi Ncube, and embassy staff.

This year’s session, running under the theme "Responding to Climate Change", focuses on five key issues advocating multi-lateral solutions to global challenges.

The five topics include climate change, financing for development, implementation of the counter-terrorism strategy, management reform, and follow-up measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Climate change is set to take centre stage as evidenced by the motif chosen for the general debate, "Responding to Climate Change".

The world’s peace and security situation, that has been compounded by the unilateralism and militarism of the United States and its allies, is also up for discussion, particularly the situation in the Middle East as the UN is keen to play a key role in rebuilding Iraq.

Also on the agenda is the elimination of unilateral extraterritorial coercive measures as a means of political and economic compulsion, a pressing item in light of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and its allies in retaliation for the land reform programme.

UN Security Council reform is also up for discussion as almost all member states agree that the Security Council, as currently constituted, does not reflect the world of today but that of 1945 that was dominated by the victorious allies of the Second World War.

There have been increasing calls for the reform of the UN system particularly the Security Council, the only UN organ that makes substantive decisions binding on all member states but which is dominated by five permanent members, all of whom were the victorious allied forces of the Second World War.

The five permanent members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. These are joined by 10 temporary members elected for two-year terms.

The 10, however, do not have the veto power wielded by the five permanent members who can shoot down any decision.

Africa wants the Security Council increased from the present 15 to 25 members with two veto-wielding seats for the continent. Alternatively the seats may not have the veto as long as no other member wields it.

The General Assembly is the only UN organ in which all 192 member states are represented. It meets annually or in special sessions, usually on the third Tuesday of September every year and its work is suspended in late December, only to resume as required the following year.

President Mugabe resumes his journey to New York today.

Importance of collective memory

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona Mahoso

The recent agreement between ruling Zanu-PF Members of Parliament and their opposition MDC colleagues to co-sponsor and approve Constitutional Amendment No. Bill 18 on September 19 2007 has opened the opportunity for Zimbabweans to reclaim and reconfigure their collective memory, which was being assaulted and contaminated by the British and their North American and Australian cousins since the early 1990s.

The assaults on Zimbabwe’s collective memory were so intense and so relentless that, when the agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC was announced, it came as a shock to the "regime change" forces and made news on BBC, CNN, Sky News and throughout the imperial conveyer belt of lies.

The agreement made shocking or surprising news because since 1997-1999, a significant minority among Zimbabweans had succumbed to the Euro-American assaults and had suffered a disabling memory loss or disorientation, making it difficult to imagine that our Parliament could ever reach a unanimous decision on an issue of strategic importance for all the people. Some had come to treat the disorientation or memory lapse of the MDC-affiliated minority as something so permanent and so contagious as to be irreversible.

Perhaps the strategic value of collective memory in the life of a people can be understood by appreciating what happens when that capacity for collective cohesion has been scrambled, compromised or wiped out. In her article called "The Culture of Lies", Debravka Ugresic called the opposite or scrambling of national collective memory "terror by forgetting".

In other words, she described the scrambling of national memory as a form of terror; and she called the result of such scrambling "The Culture of Lies". A collective memory lapse allows imperialists to cultivate a culture of lies throughout our society.

In other words, a people who allow outsiders to assault, scramble and reconfigure their collective memory will not only live a culture of lies but also suffer a form of collective madness. Ugresic was describing what happened to the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia when the collective memory and cohesion of its people were assaulted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), the major states of the European Union (EU) and their various spy agencies.

Ugresic was not speculating. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was carefully and strategically planned. For example, the US government under President Ronald Reagan issued two directives which included ways to effect "regime change" in Yugoslavia.

The first one, National Security Decision Directive 54 (NSDD54), was issued in 1982 and dealt with Yugoslavia as part of a whole East European region which required "regime change". The second one, NSDD133, was issued two years later in 1984, focusing specifically on Yugoslavia.

While the underlying reasons for these directives was to capture Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia for corporate benefit, the means to be used had to include the scrambling of the collective memory of each of the nations involved. The collective memory of the people, the basis for national cohesion and self-determination, had to be stolen or at least disoriented enough to allow the looting of resources and markets. The culture of lies, employing intellectual and spiritual "terror by forgetting" had to be cultivated first.

This is what happened in Zimbabwe in 1890. This is what happened again especially in the 1990s, through the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) and the creation of the foreign-sponsored Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Vapambepfungwa always preceded vapambepfumi. The so-called NGO sector or civil society sector attacking the passage of Constitutional Amendment No. 18 Bill today are the present successors to Cecil John Rhodes’ vapambepfungwa of the 1890s. Collective memory is important for any people together to be able to define and recognise their national interest, to defend their national sovereignty and to anticipate any threat to the same.

Before defining what this memory is, we may start by describing what it is used for: to facilitate collective strategic thinking, planning and decision-making.

In order for people to plan effectively for their survival, solidarity, autonomy and prosperity, they and their leaders must be able to read the world.

Reading the world means deciphering more than just papers and books. For a people to prevail, they must read and understand complex situations, that is, be able to perceive and decipher their own situational texts based on original strategic observation. For example, the situation created by the 1979 Lancaster House Constitution with its myth of "willing-buyer-willing seller" was not sustainable for Zimbabwe.

A people and their leaders must also be able to read and understand complex relationships among themselves and between themselves and other people: They must be able to perceive and decipher relational texts, based on their strategic observations. Can the relations be sustained, adjusted, condemned or abandoned?

In the modern world, a people must be able to read and understand the character or characters of other societies, other people’s leaders, other people’s institutions and parties and what they portend for the future. This means they must be able to perceive and understand dispositional texts.

They must also be able to recall past events and facts in order to place them in the context of the present and the future, that is, remember and use recalled texts.

They must be able to read and share written evidence and documents or books which also contribute to or facilitate their collective memory, that is to read and understand what are called scripto-centric texts.

In the digital age, they must also be able to scan and make use of electronic texts, putting them into their proper context and using them strategically.

A people must also be able to use what they have experienced or what others have reported in order to imagine and project what they have not yet encountered themselves, that is, they must be able to create or read imagined texts, while placing them also in their proper place.

Now, what enables people to do all these things is memory. Memories or the products of recall are a very small part of memory. Memories may facilitate memory but they do not make memory.

Memory is a collective web which connects a people together so that individual groups or families or persons can go to sleep or go to church or to a picnic and expect that, when they come out, society and the neighbours will still understand them, work with them and continue to live with them, ready to defend one another against recognisable threats if necessary. This memory is, therefore, more concerned with a collective future than with the past, even though the inputs or data it uses to do so definitely come from the past.

This collective memory is, therefore, the capacity to mobilise for mutual survival and fulfilment; the capacity to create and keep a dynamic and comprehensible relationship between past, present and future; the capacity to develop and maintain a dynamic and comprehensible relationship between the individual and the family, the family and the community, the community and the rest of society.

There are many resources that help to build and sustain memory. But in the unhu or ubuntu philosophy, there are three fundamental bases: the body which contains and carries ancient DNA; the social institution, which can be the family, the school, the temple, the church, the Parliament or the liberation movement. The job of this social institution is to foster solidarity. The land, the ground, the space within which autonomy, expression, work and identity are made possible is the third base. These bases form a triad of memory and they are linked to three basic values, which in Euro-centric thinking are called "rights".

The body (whether it is the individual body, or the family or the movement or the nation or the community) will strive for its survival and prosperity. The social institution strives to foster solidarity as the basis for civilisation, for work, for mutual protection and advancement.

The land, the ground, one’s own space, is the arena within which to create, to celebrate and defend autonomy. Therefore, in most languages, the loss of memory is defined in terms of one’s relationship to ground and space. If a person or a people are described as fleeting, unrooted, baseless, shifting or clutching at straws, they are assumed to be suffering a memory lapse or loss of memory, even though they may be tormented by too many disjointed memories.

The idea of memory as an invisible web which makes it possible for a people to feel connected is not just imaginary.

We determine our ages by using linear dating, using the date of birth from which the date of conception can be roughly determined also.

But the voice of Nehanda telling the youths of the 1970s to go and take up the gun to free Zimbabwe is not just a voice from two thousand years back which now occupies new spirit mediums. No. The very genes, the very blood constituting the bodies of the youths are also as ancient as Nehanda. The linear births of these youths may have taken place in the 1950s and 1960s, that is under colonial occupation.

But the memory births of the very same youths, as defined by genetic science, are ancient and, therefore, capable of remembering freedom, remembering a time when there were no settlers, no slavery and no colonialism, even if the person is now in jail.

Now, white imperialists and colonists have always feared African memory. So the first objective of imperialism and colonialism in Zimbabwe was to dissect and chop up the web of African memory and to replace it with the "separate but equal" memories of apartheid, tribalism and sectarianism.

Imperialism dissects the web of African memory in order to replace it with tribes, uprooted tribes, denominations, congregations, sects and single-interest NGOs such as the Girl Child Network.

How does imperialism do all this? If we take the example of Zimbabwe, imperialism sent a Pioneer Column of thugs, thieves and liars to instigate the culture of lies similar to what Ugresic wrote about in the case of Yugoslavia. The people who helped Cecil John Rhodes to steal Zimbabwe were liars cultivating a culture of lies. Liar number one was Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of Cape Colony in South Africa. He forged the imperial seal on the letters given to Cecil Rhodes to deceive King Lobengula.

When Rhodes’ team of liars reached Lobengula in Zimbabwe they found the king already surrounded by 30 other speculators, liars and fortune hunters also seeking to deceive the same king.