Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, addressing a public forum on the International Year of Peoples of African Descent held at the Malcolm X Library in San Diego, California on November 19, 2011. Azikiwe was a featured speaker., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
The Strategic Role of Diaspora Africans
Defending the continent and advancing Pan-Africanism
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Note: The following talk was delivered at the Malcolm X Library in San Diego, California on November 19, 2011. The event was held in recogniton of the "International Year For Peoples of African Descent" and was entitled "We Are All Africa's Children." This program was sponsored by the Friends of the Malcolm X Library in San Diego.
This program on the United Nations Declaration of the Year of Peoples of African Descent comes at a critical time in world history. The issuing of this Declaration poses serious questions and requires workable solutions.
Since the beginning of 2011, the African continent and the Diaspora have experienced monumental upheavals that portend much for the future of the world. Africa is not only the cradle of human civilization but also the engine of contemporary social change and development.
In response to the various uprisings in North Africa and other regions of the continent, the United States, France and Britain have escalated their military and political interventions against various nation-states and peoples. The ongoing wars in Libya and Somalia are designed to establish permanent military bases in both North and East Africa.
In Ivory Coast earlier in the year, the French overthrew the government of Laurent Gbagbo and installed their chosen leader Alasanne Quattara. The French are also involved in the imperialist war against Libya that resulted in an international sanctions campaign, a naval blockade and the carrying out of nearly 30,000 sorties and 10,000 airstrikes against a country of 6 million people.
The rebel NTC was trained, armed and provided with military cover by the combined forces of the US along with various NATO countries and their allies in the region. After declaring victory over the most prosperous and oil-rich state on the continent, the transnational corporations are being given free reign by their puppets to loot and plunder the country even further.
Other states on the continent such as Zimbabwe and Sudan have also been subjected to a form of “cold-war” politics where sanctions have been imposed, opposition parties and interests are financed and the threat of military intervention remains ominous. In Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, the US has bolstered these governments with economic investment, political support and weapons.
With the formation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008, Washington was poised for deeper imperialist involvement on the continent. Over the last four years funding for AFRICOM has increased substantially and the Pentagon has established a military base at Camp Lemonier in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.
Africans in the West must not only be informed about these events but also play a leading role in reversing these policies. Unity of thought and action is essential in building an anti-imperialist front to end western imperialism in Africa.
In the current period with the deepening of the world economic crisis, the objective basis for unity among African and oppressed people has reached unprecedented levels. Every corner of the African world and beyond has been impacted by the capitalist crisis of overproduction and unequal distribution of economic and political power.
Escalating Racism and Poverty in the West
Several developments which occurred over the last six years have profoundly illustrated that the social plight of Africans in the West has not fundamentally improved. Despite the public positions of various governments within the industrialized countries indicating that discrimination and repression are not state policy, actual condition prove otherwise.
In the Gulf region of the United States in August and September of 2005, millions of people were traumatized and dislocated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds of thousands of Africans in New Orleans and other Gulf cities, towns and rural areas were totally neglected by the federal government and the capitalist class in what was apparently a deliberate effort to remove large numbers of people from the region.
To this day those who lost property, jobs, family members, love-ones and their way of life, have not been justly compensated or allowed to re-locate. The destruction of thousands of homes, public housing units, community institutions and public school systems prefigured the impact of the looming economic crisis that began in the US in 2007.
In France during 2005, tens of thousands of African and Middle Eastern immigrants rebelled against the national oppression and discrimination so intricately woven into the political fabric of this imperialist state. The current president of France was a cabinet minister in 2005 and dismissed the demonstrating “French citizens” as social scum.
Just recently in August 2011, the Black and working class youth of Britain rose up in rebellion against the plague of police brutality, structural unemployment and institutional poverty. As in most capitalist states in Europe and North America, broadening social layers of youth see no hope—and rightly so—in the system of exploitation and oppression.
With the economic recession/depression that began in the US in 2007, the social impact has been most severe on African people. Africans have the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the US and these factors have worsened over the last three years since the advent of the current administration.
Consequently, it is not surprising that the Occupy Wall Street movement has surfaced over the last two months spreading to hundreds of cities throughout the US, Canada and the world. What the movement represents is the broadening of the economic crisis that has reduced the prospects and expectations of whites for whom the system is ostensibly designed to insulate.
Although Africans and Latino/as are disproportionately affected, youth and workers of all nationalities are being brought down by the perennial crises in the world capitalist system. The traditional boom-to-bust cycle of economic life in the US seems to be irreparably broken and the only solution to the downturn is a massive restructuring of the distribution of wealth and political power.
Since Africans and other oppressed people and women have been the most serious victims of the economic crisis it is essential that these groups be at the forefront of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle. To overthrow the unjust system the most marginalized must be liberated to the fullest extent politically possible.
The plight of Africans in North America and Europe is closely intertwined with the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. As the nations of Africa must be liberated from neo-liberalism and globalization, so must the oppressed nations of North America and Europe.
These positions in order to be realized require mass political education and independent revolutionary organization. The movement for human rights and national liberation must be rebuilt on a foundation that is unshakeable in the face of increasing state repression in the capitalist countries.
In light of the collapsing systems of capitalism and imperialism, Africans and all oppressed and working class people should look seriously towards alternatives of governing, the organization of society as a whole, including its economic structures. Working people create all wealth within society and therefore should be in control of its distribution.
When broader social forces enter the struggle for economic justice against racism, national oppression, class exploitation and gender discrimination the stage will be set for genuine revolutionary change. It will be through this fundamental change that humanity can be free of war and exploitation forever.