Vol VIII, Issue 1 (Winter 2001): African Reparation

   


EDITORIAL
BOARD:

Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor
brownw@ccsu.edu

Haines Brown
Adviser
brownh@hartford-hwp.com

REGIONAL EDITORS:

Olayemi Akinwumi
(Nigeria)

Zenebworke Bissrat
(Ethiopia)

Paulus Gerdes
(Mozambique)

Mosebjane Malatsi
(South Africa)

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)

TECHNICAL ADVISORS:

Tennyson Darko
Asst. Dir. ITS, CCSU
darko@ccsu.edu

Peter K. LeMaire
Professor, CCSU
lemaire@ccsu.edu

Bernice A. LeMaire
Website Designer
lemaire_bea@ccsu.edu

For more information concerning AfricaUpdate
Contact:
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britian, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

 

 








 

Table of Contents


Editorial:  African Reparations

By Dr. Gloria Emeagwali - Chief Editor

       In this issue of Africa Up date we include excerpts from a lecture delivered by Professor Ali Mazrui, the Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies and the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, SUNY, Binghamton, New York. The lecture was delivered at Central Connecticut State University on February 7, 2001.

    Dr. Mazrui supported the call for an African Renaissance and the redistribution of power on a global scale so as to make Global Africa a major player. Damage has been done and is not a thing of the past, he argued, and this is reflected in the disproportionate number of Black faces in America's jails; the high rate of infant mortality of Blacks in the U.S.; and the cheapness of Black lives on the streets of Paris, London and Rio de Janeiro.

    Dr. Mazrui eloquently explored the various ways by which the adjustments could be achieved. Paying the debt could entail a Marshall Plan for Africa; power sharing at international organizations such as the U.N.; and more effective phases of Affirmative Action. Debt repayment and reparations should lead to upward mobility. The appointment of Colin Powell as Secretary of State in the United States should be the start of a series of high level appointments. 

      Dr. Mazrui argued that the first administration of President Clinton, 1992 to 1996, was less Africa-friendly than the second of 1996 to 2000. For example Madeline Albright, the Secretary of State of the second administration, was more Africa-friendly than the previous Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. 

      The distinguished professor took us through a series of U.S. administrations, including that of Presidents Kennedy, Carter and Clinton, and pointed out that the latter were the most Africa-friendly of the fifteen U.S. presidents of the 20th century. Unfortunately in the case of President Clinton, a hostile Republican Congress; the end of the Cold War and the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal undermined what could have been a great opportunity for Africa.

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Africa between Reparations and the Renaissance

A Post-Clinton Perspective

By Ali A. Mazrui,

Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies and Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities

SUNY Binghamton University, New York, USA

    I and others have written about the African Renaissance in a variety of senses. But we have almost always focused on the Renaissance of the African continent. The word "African" in the "African Renaissance" has tended to exclude the Diaspora and to focus only on the ancestral continent.

    In 1986, I coined the term "GLOBAL AFRICA." I used the term as the title of programme 9 of my television series "THE AFRICANS: A TRIPLE HERITAGE". In this presentation I return to the term "Global Africa" meaning the linkages between Africa and her sons and daughters scattered around the world.

Winds of the world give answer 

They are whimpering to and from

And who would know of Africa

Who only Africa know?

      I shall discuss the issue of both reparations and the renaissance in the global scale. The issue of reparations and the issue of Africa's renaissance meet on two ultimate principles the redistribution of power globally and the reactivation of skills locally. The power structure within the world system needs to be redistributed in such a way that Global Africa becomes less marginalized and moves towards becoming a major player. If willingly promoted by the most powerful countries of the West, this would be both a form of reparations and a contribution to the African Renaissance.

    But in addition skills of the African peoples worldwide need to be reactivated, targeted and enhanced at the local level. The full creative potential of Global Africa may need to be re-kindled. In part, this may require skill-transfer from the most advanced countries to the less. This form of reparation could thus enrich the Renaissance.

Three Forms of Reparations 

     At a summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1992, the African heads of state appointed me and eleven others to constitute a Group of Eminent Persons to explore the modalities and logistics of a campaign for Black reparations worldwide. Our group of 12 members did indeed elect as our chairman Chief Moshood K.O. Abiola, who was subsequently elected President of Nigeria in June 1993, but was prevented from taking office by the military. He died on the eve of being released in 1998.

    Our Group of Eminent Persons on reparations elected as our co-chair Professor Mohtar M'Bow, former Director-General of UNESCO. And we elected as our Rapporteur-General, Ambassador Dudley Thompson, Q.C., a distinguished Jamaican jurist and diplomat. The Nigerian government under President Ibrahim Babangida promised us a preliminary budget of half-a-million dollars to enable us to make a start.

    We do believe that the damage done to Black people is not a thing of the past but is here and now. It lies in the disproportionate Black faces in the jails of America, the disproportionate Black infant mortality rates in the United States, the ease with which a Black man in police custody in London (like a certain Mr. Lumumba) or in Paris (like a 17 year old Congolese boy) can get killed by the police - the cheapness of Black lives from the sadistic streets of Rio de Janeiro to the masochistic streets of Soweto in South Africa. The damage is here. And the debt has not yet been paid.

    How is the reparations to be paid. I have explained that there are at least three modes these are modern versions of ancient heads of cattle from one tribe to another.

a) Capital Transfer from the West to the Black world compared to the precedent of the Marshall Plan to Europe after World War II.

b) Skill Transfer in the form of a major international effort to help build the capacities and skills of Africa and the rest of the Black world. Redress is needed for the damage, which is here. This is fundamental to the African Renaissance.

c) Power-sharing by enabling Africans to have a greater say in global institutions -such as more effective representation in decision-making in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, not because Africa is rich but because it has been systematically enfeebled. We need to compensate for the damage, which is here. This is crucial for both reparations and the renaissance.

    And why should all the permanent seats of the United Nations Security Council be given to countries that are already powerful outside the UN? Is there not a case forgiving Africa a permanent seat with a veto-not because Africa is powerful but because it has been rendered powerless across generations? We need to redeem the damage which is here.

    In the 1960s the United States invented the concept of affirmative action an effort to make allowances for historic disabilities whenever minorities applied for jobs or sought other opportunities. It was a progressive step towards racial redress and socio-economic justice.

    We now need to make a transition from affirmative action to a more comprehensive affirmative action II in the form of reparations. It is in fact the logical next step after affirmative action I. Conservatives believe that the next step after affirmative action should be a free play of market forces. But the bondage of history denies the market autonomy. Residual racism is an impediment to the market. We have to move beyond affirmative action to the affirmative action II as a reactivation of the Black peoples the world over.

     There is a primordial debt to be paid to Black peoples for hundreds of years of enslavement and degradation. Some of the causes of global apartheid lie deep in global history. It may take a generation to win the crusade for reparations but a start has to be made. This will be one more aspect of reverse evolution back to ancient ways of settling moral debts between tribes. This damage is here. It is time to mend.

 Power Sharing and Upward Mobility

     I have mentioned that one possible form of reparations is power-sharing in the citadels of ultimate control. In the past I have indeed illustrated power-sharing in relation to international institutions which have disproportionate leverage on the fates and destinies of African peoples.

    I have therefore called upon special representation of Africa and the Black World on the governing boards of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Others and I have also called for a permanent African seat on the Security Council of the United Nations with or without the veto.

    In this presentation, however, I would like to add another sense of power-sharing as a contribution to reparations accelerated upward social and political mobility for people of African descent within the countries which had previously enslaved or colonized them.

    If the first Black Secretary of State, General Colin Powell leads on to other instances of such political upward mobility, then the rise of Colin Powell becomes a contribution towards the payment of American debt of reparations. This would become reparations in the sense of sharing power rather than sharing resources.

    But if the rise of Collin Powell leads on to complacency about promoting any other Black to such a high level then Powell's rise becomes an impediment to the multiracialization of power in the United States of America, rather than its facilitator. For example the rise of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain became an impediment to the rise of other women rather than a facilitator of the androgynization of power in Britain.

    If one day Colin Powell does actually become President of the United States, either directly after running himself or indirectly after he first becomes a Vice-President and then succeeds upon the death of his President, a Black President of the Untied States would constitute part of reparations. It would constitute power-sharing at the highest level between descendants of slave-owners and descendants of slaves.

    France has had a paradoxical history in relation to its colonies and former colonies. Africans shared power with the French in Paris more when the Africans were colonials than they do now that the Africans are independent. The late Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Cost was a member of the Cabinet in Paris during the Fourth Republic more than once. African deputies to French institutions in the metropole influenced French political parties and struck bargains with them. And in 1958, when his country Senegal was still a colony, Leopold Sedar Senghor participated in drafting the Constitution of the Fifth Republic of France. This was power-sharing between the master and the subjects at a time when the master was still in complete and dominant control.

    Curiously enough, the independence of Senegal and the Ivory Coast gave more independence to France than to its former colonies. French institutions in Paris no longer had direct participation by Africans. Nor were French political parties any longer obliged to wheel and deal with Africans in the French political process. Paris was politically dis-Africanized.

    But were Dakar (Senegal) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast) de-Gallicized in any fundamental sense? The Africans lost influence in France, but the French retained power in Africa at least for the rest of the twentieth century.

    But as Africans are now helping France become a bigger sporting power (including winning the World Cup in soccer) will there be a return to African political influence and leverage in Paris? Will this now come from the African Diaspora resident in France?

    At the moment a Black President of the United States seems more likely in the twenty-first century than a Black President of France, but a Black Prime Minister of France in quite foreseeable leading on to co-habitation between a white President and a Black Prime Minister. Such a re-Africanisation of political power in Paris would indeed constitute partial reparations.

    In Britain and the Untied States there has been some improvement in the representation of Black People in the legislatures. In Britain this included Bernie Grant, a Black member of the House of Commons who was himself a champion of reparations, and who died recently. There have also been Black and Asian members of the House of Lords.

    In the United States there is the Black Caucus in the House of Representatives, including Congressman John Conyers, a champion of reparations for African Americans. I personally do not regard representation in the Lower House as a form of reparations. It is more a symptom of democracy at work. But a Black Senator representing a whole state is a form of power-sharing in the reparations sense.

    And a Black member of US Supreme Court-especially one who is sensitive to Black concerns like Thurgood Marshall-qualifies as relevant power-sharing. There is a problem with Justice Clarence Thomas. Genetically he is probably more purely African than Thurgood Marshall was. But ideologically Clarence Thomas is far less Africa-friendly than Marshall was. It is a genuine dilemma as to whether Clarence Thomas' presence on the US Supreme Court qualifies as partial reparations.

 Was Clinton A Step Towards Reparations?

Toni Morrison, the Nobel Laureate, has referred to Bill CLINTON as "the first Black President of the United States." Bill Clinton's Presidency certainly does not qualify as reparations, but has his Presidency improved the chances for reparations?

    Why has he appeared as the equivalent of a Black President? The following factors about Clinton have been relevant:

  • Poor family circumstances from a poor state of the South

  • Being briefly brought up by a single parent.

  • Ending up with a name (Clinton) other than that of his biological father  

  • Against all odds, doing brilliantly. In Clinton's case, goes to Oxford as Rhodes Scholar and later to Yale Law School.

  • Having his enemies use sexuality as a method of bringing him into disrepute as they had tried with Martin Luther King Jr. thirty years earlier.

But did the Clinton years prepare the ground for reparations? President William Jefferson Clinton's first administration (1992-1996) was disastrous for Africa, as I was telling a class here earlier. He scrambled out of Somalia as soon as there were American causalities. He was guilty of criminal neglect of Rwanda amid reports of an impending catastrophe in 1994. Different decisions by him could have saved thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives in Rwanda. As for his first Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, he never visited sub-Saharan Africa until the tail end of his tenure in office as contrasted with some twenty visits he paid to the Middle East.

In general, Clinton's first administration was a series of missed opportunities in foreign policy, from Bosnia to Liberia. The United States was a reluctant super power for four years. The United States abandoned Somalia at the first loss of American lives.

But there was a dramatic change in Clinton's second administration (1996-2000).The replacement of Christopher with Madeline Albright was a major PLUS for Africa. Secretary of State Albright was better informed about Africa and was far more interested in Africa's problems. Her background as United Nations Ambassador of the United States of America also helped.  

In his second administration Bill Clinton (1996-2000) emerged as the most Africa-friendly president that the United States had ever had. There was a mood of Afrophilia affection for Africa. He traveled more widely in Africa than any President before him. Was that the first step towards reparations? He was almost the only US president who expressed concern for Africa in a State of the Union Address.

Clinton's administration also started an initiative in skill-transfer to train African soldiers for a "crisis response" initiative when there was a breakdown of state institutions in neighboring African countries. An African Center of Security and Strategic Studies was also set up. Clinton either supported or initiated unique conferences about the African situation. He and his Secretary of State were highly visible at the National Summit on Africa in Washington DC in February 2000. The highest-ranking African to address that National Summit was Kenya's President Daniel Arap Moi. The event was an opportunity for President Clinton and President Moi to start rebuilding bridges between the two countries. It was not yet power-sharing, but the National Summit on Africa was a quest for a bigger pro-Africa constituency in the United States.

A concern for AIDS in Africa made the Clinton Administration turn it into an issue of international security. For the first time ever the Security Council of the UN addressed a health menace. Vice President Al Gore presided. We are not sure whether John F. Kennedy had he lived to have a second term as president would have been as Africa-friendly as Bill Clinton. There were positive signs of Kennedy's Afrophilia in his early years as President. At the time when white settlers in Africa were digging in their heels, Kennedy supported the policy of "Africa for the Africans" enunciated by his Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, G. Mennen Williams. Kennedy viewed the new United Nations (with so many new African members) so highly that he appointed Adlai Stevenson as the United States ambassador. Stevenson had twice been the Democratic Party's candidate for President of the United States, but had lost to Dwight Eisenhower.

Stevenson was a highly regarded American public figure, and Kennedy sent him to the United Nations. The signs were good that John F. Kennedy planned to take newly independent countries seriously as potential partners of the United States. But that was long before the modern crusade for reparations began.

In any case, the Kennedy symphony was rudely interrupted by an assassin's bullet in 1963. So we shall never know whether his Second Administration would have been at least as Africa-friendly as Bill Clinton's.

Jimmy Carter was the first U .S. President to visit sub-Saharan Africa while in office. He visited Nigeria and Liberia. And since he left office as President he has been even more active in a number of African initiatives--ranging from peace-making in Sudan to problems of disease control. Carter has stood for damage-control rather than for reparations.

When he was President of the Untied States, his highest priority in the Third World was in any case the Middle East. He left an enduring legacy with the Camp David accords of 1978.

Of the fifteen presidents of the United States in the twentieth century, the most Africa-friendly had been John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. While in office, Bill Clinton led the three in the Afrophilia. Was he preparing the ground for reparations?

However, Bill Clinton's pro-Africa policies were long in symbolism and short in resources actually allocated to Africa. It is one of the cruel misfortunes of history that the most Africa-friendly president of the United States ever should have been in power at a time which coincided with, first, a hostile Republican dominated Congress; second, the end of the Cold War and its negative impact on the strategic value of Africa; and thirdly, the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal which damaged and weakened the President. The happy advent of an Africa-friendly president was handicapped in resources by these three forces-a hostile Congress, the end of the Cold War and a sex scandal. Preparing the ground for reparations becomes doubly difficult.

Advanced levels of racial democratization may constitute a form of partial reparation. This involves power-sharing at advanced levels of racial equalization. Under the Anglo-American paradigm Blacks have risen within the liberal rules of the game. A Black Secretary of Commerce in the United States under Bill Clinton or a Black Justice of the US Supreme Court under George

Bush Senior were phenomena within the liberal rules of the game. At such a level of power-sharing, reparations begun. Clinton accelerated Black upward political mobility .

In the paradigm of France, Blacks have risen within the cultural rules of the game. The assimilationist aspects of French culture have historically permitted considerable upward social mobility regardless of color. At a certain level of power-sharing, French Assimilative empowerment was partial reparations.

In the paradigm of the Arabs, Blacks have risen within the genealogical rules of the game upward social mobility sometimes comes with upward genealogical mixture. In the Arab system, a child born of a slave mother and Muslim father would become a member of the "Master Race," because of paternity.  Of the four Presidents Egypt has had since the 1952 revolution, two presidents had Black African blood. These war Muhammad Neguib and Anwar Sadat. In Saudi Arabia there are powerful princes with Black African blood. This includes Prince Bandar bin Sultan who has been Saudi Ambassador to the Untied States almost for a whole generation.

If upward political mobility in the Anglo-American world is by the Liberal rules, and in the French world it is by the cultural rules, in the Arab world upward political mobility has been partly by the genealogical rules. Clinton played his part in promoting Blacks.

The Brain Drain and Skill Transfer

    The second major area of potential reparations is skill-transfer. One of the worst damages inflicted on the Africa people by both slavery and colonialism is the undermining of their capacity to help themselves economically and technologically.

    Colonialism did build schools and universities in parts of Africa but these institutions often produced skills of dependency rather than of self-reliance.

    In the new millennium there has been considerable discussion about the digital divide with Africa on the deprived side of the divide. Africa digit-prived.

    The group of 7 or 8 industrial nations have embarked on a program of helping poorer countries to digitize themselves. Japan has allocated a preliminary fund for the computerization of less technological societies. If digitalization and computerization are done in Africa in ways which truly enhance skilled self-reliance rather than new forms of dependency, such digitalization of Africa could constitute partial reparations.

    But for the time being there is at least as much skill-transfer from Africa to the West as there is from the West to Africa. Nigerian analysts have started analyzing their country's skill-transfer to countries like the United States.

    The best educated ethnic group in the United States is, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Nigerians living in America. It is estimated that sixty-four percent of Nigerians over eighteen years old living in the Untied States have one or more university degrees.

    Half the members of major Nigerian associations in the United States probably have master's degrees and doctorates. If these figures are correct, this is skill transfer from Africa to America instead of the other way round.

    On the other hand, it is estimated that Africa spends four billion dollars a year on 100,000 foreign experts. Sometimes skill transfer from the West Africa is in exchange for capital transfer from Africa to the West.

    When you compare the Nigerian presence in the United States in the year 2000 with what it was like when Nnamdi Azikiwe first arrived in America in the 1920s, the contrast is stark. (For those who do not know, he was the first president of Nigeria. He is affectionately called Zik.) When Zik set foot in America in 1924, the number of Nigerians in the U.S. was probably less than ten. By the end of the twentieth century the number of Nigerians in the United States had risen to a quarter of a million.

    Yes, there is indeed a skill-transfer but it seems to be going in the wrong direction. Maybe African governments should consider a system in which six months can be spent here and six months there. Former victims are paying knowledge-reparations to former victimizers!

CONCLUSION

    At the global level, there have continued to be master nations and subordinate nations both in global Africa and the Western world. But the struggle continues and Africans and African Americans are part of the vanguard for change, a force for progress.

    The whole issue of reparations has, as we indicated, re-emerged in Black politics in both global Africa and the Western world -reparations for hundreds of years of Black enslavement, colonization and racial victimization. A debt is outstanding between the West and the Black world -a debt which is not subject to the statute of limitation. Let ultimate power be shared; let ultimate skills be reactivated, let the African Renaissance touch base with the reparations movement, and open the gates of redemption at last.

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The Seventh Annual Conference of African Studies

    On November 17, 2000 the Seventh Annual Conference of African Studies took place in conjunction with African Americans in Higher Education (AAHEC).The theme of the conference was SANKOFA: Reconnecting the Past to Build a Better Future.

    Among the scholarly and illuminating presentations were those of Dr. Harriet Schiffer, Dr. Esiaba Irobi, Dr. Warren Perry, Dr. Delroy Lauden and Dr. Frederick Phillips.

    Presentations were multidisciplinary explorations of the complex and multifaceted dimensions of Africa and its Diaspora.

    The current Coordinator of African Studies is Dr. Charles Matekole, Prof. Of Psychology, Dept. of Psychology, CCSU.

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The George Muirhead Center for International Education

The George Muirhead Center for International Education has been awarded funding from the US Department of Education for intensive professional development programs in Ghana. Fifteen fellowships will be subsidized. 

The Seminar will take place in Ghana July 5 to August 3, 2001.

Interested applicants should contact the CIE at 860-832-2040 

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Africa Online

By Dr. Haines Brown, CCSU History Department, Emeritus

     Despite the tribulations experienced by some sectors of the IT industry, private and public sector development in Africa continues to attract capital from Europe and the U.S. A context that facilitates this capital flow is provided by a series of regional conferences such as the following.

    Spectrum International is organizing an African Telecom Summit 2001, at the Accra International Conference Center, for March 27-29. Ministers of Communications from over 20 African countries will attend. The theme is "Universal access and ICT-Strategies for effective development."

    There are also regional conferences, such as the two-day fifth West Africa Computing & Telecommunications Exhibition and Conference, AITEC West Africa 2001, which opens 17 May 2001. Is being organized by the UK-based African Information Technology Exhibitions & Conferences. Since AITEC's first exhibition and conference in Ghana in 1997, the event has drawn IT managers, communication and information technology (IT) manufacturers and marketers from Ghana and other West African countries. The opening falls on World Telecommunications Day, important to telecommunications service providers. A focal point of the exhibition will be the Telecommunications Pavilion where the industry will demonstrate the latest communications technology to high level corporate and government decision makers.

    The AITEC 2001 Conference will comprise strategic briefings to government and private sector delegates by IT professionals from both inside and outside Ghana on subjects including e-governance, the Internet, e-commerce, networking, third generation mobile telephony and the telecommunications regulatory framework in West Africa.

    The commercial development is drawing non-commercial interests. For example, the national US organization, Black Data Processing Associates, is interested in becoming involved and supporting African IT. To that end it has begun a discussion list for African IT professionals, which is reached at BDPA-Africa@yahoogroups.com

    To join,  send a message to this address:BDPA-Africa-subscribe@egroups.com . This list should provide an opportunity to follow and help support IT development in Africa. Membership in the BDPA is not required.

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Harper's on Black Reparations

By Oscar  Beard, Independent Consultant

Harper's Magazine showcased Black Reparations in their November 2000 issue. It is old news now that some top notch class action attorneys are planning to file suits for US Slavery against the US Government and all of its States. 

The pivot person for this new initiative is Dr. Ogletree, Harvard Law Professor. The discussion features attorneys Willie E. Gary, Alexander J. Pires, Jr., Richard F. Scruggs and Dennis C. Sweet, III. All are experienced experts in winning Class Action suits.                    

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