A Pan African Human Rights Organisation challenging the misrepresentation of African people, culture and history in the British media.
Mon 11 June 2012
Nubiart Diary - The Challenge for Africa
A different perspective on the Afrikan world
Submitted By: Kubara Zamani
THE CHALLENGE FOR AFRICA: A NEW VISION’ – Wangari Maathai. [William Heinemann. ISBN: 978-0-434-01981-6]
“Culture is the means by which a people expresses itself, through language, traditional wisdom, politics, religion, architecture, music, tools, greetings, symbols, festivals, ethics, values, and collective identity. Agriculture, systems of government, heritage, and ecology are all dimensions and functions of culture…without culture, a community loses self-awareness and guidance, and grows weak and vulnerable. It disintegrates from within as it suffers a lack of identity, dignity, self-respect and a sense of destiny. People without culture feel insecure and are obsessed with the acquisition of material things and public displays, which give them a temporary security that itself is a delusional bulwark against future insecurity.” (p160-1).
The late Wangari Maathai’s ‘The Challenge for Africa: A New Vision’ should be compulsory reading for any politician, activist, scholar or environmentalist who is concerned with Afrikan - nay, world - affairs. It is as essential as the writings by Cheikh Anta Diop and Walter Rodney’s ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ for an understanding of geopolitical dynamics. The book is divided into five sections: the contemporary cultural and historical background of the challenges; the economic, political and international context and dimension of these challenges; the challenge of leadership and good governance at the top of society and at the grassroots; the complex and problematic relationship of ethnic identity to the nation-state in modern Africa; and the centrality of the environment to Africa’s development challenges and solutions to them, followed by a final chapter on the challenges before individual Africans, at home and abroad. “The Challenge for Africa’ is a call for genuine leadership that puts peoples’ welfare first, places the environment at the center of development, and maintains a vision of the future founded on justice and sustainability.” (p291).
As well as having been an elected politician and renowned academic Wangari Maathai is best known for her work with the Green Belt Movement who promoted the planting of trees across Africa for economic, environmental and aesthetic reasons. To counter malaria GBM started a campaign against plastic bags to prevent pools of stagnant water and provide durable, biodegradable and indigenous products. Another project she helped promote was the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. But she highlights the need for a review of contracts and mechanisms to ensure that they are truly sustainable and beneficial to the local people and continent in general.
Afrika has been the victim of endless inappropriate financing. Money given in aid is sent back to Europe and America in corruption and money laundering schemes only to be reloaned at higher interest. We then saw the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) and the Washington Consensus without any noticeable benefit to the majority of Afrikans on the ground. This led to aid dependency, economic devastation and the continued widespread dissemination of negative images of Afrika and Afrikans. “Only a handful of industrialized nations have reached the benchmark they set in 1992 to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national products as development assistance.” (p75).
Yet all the lowest 22 countries in the UN Human Development Index were Afrikan. “In spite of having only 5 percent of the developing world’s income, African still has about two-thirds of the world’s debt. …According to the United Nations, in 2007, Africa’s debt burden stood at $255 billion.” (p92)
There is a need for economic blocs to bolster Afrika’s historically weak negotiating position in forums such as the WTO. “Those leaders, like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who sought to remain nonaligned and who tried to forge a different path of development were isolated, vilified, and denied support.” (p30). She continues: “One wonders how many potential post-independence leaders who did not cooperate with the colonial authorities were sidelined or even executed by those same authorities, and who might have provided, in the end, better leadership for their people.” (p46)
Wangari Maathai breaks down the expropriation of Kikuyu lands and their move to urban areas over the last century. Which is directly linked to the rise of the Mungiki sect. This has been the fate of most colonies across the Afrikan continent who have suffered economic and political manipulation. “The rapid withdrawal of colonial administrators left newly independent countries with relatively few local people qualified to manage the inherited colonial bureaucracies, or medical and service professionals to operate health services, the business sector, schools, and other institutions.” (p30)
The African stool has three legs: democratic space; sustainable and accountable management; and cultures of peace. The fall of apartheid has allowed for the rise of the NGOs but they have not radically altered the perceptions and reality of Afrikan existence. “The continent south of the Sahara has been seen as a land of unparalleled riches, startling beauty, and extraordinary wildlife; as a place of strange and at times primitive tribal customs, civil disorder, and armed militias; of child labor and child soldiers, mud huts, open sewers and shantytowns; of corruption, dictatorship and genocide. These and other perceptions have framed the world’s response to Africa...The challenge, therefore, is not only for the international community to use more positive depictions of Africa, but for Africans themselves to stop providing so many images of dysfunction in the first place.” (p78-80)
Wangari Maathai uses the term micro-nation in preference to ‘tribes’ which often has negative connotations. Throughout the book she highlights several pre-European Afrikan empires and political communities which functioned with their own economic, social and dispute resolution systems. However, these were undermined by the negative effects of ‘the Bible and the gun’. But this was not without a struggle and there are several examples of Afrikan resistance to slavery and colonialism.
Colonialism was central to land dispossession and women’s increasing economic and social marginalisation. The intervening period has seen the rise of poachers, western-controlled ‘conservation’ and tourism. Alongside this – because of this – there has been a corresponding Increase in bushmeat consumption and the devastating use of charcoal as people eke out survival on diminishing and depleted land. People moving to urban areas bring about a rise in imported goods and further decline in the local economy. Cash crops become the main income but that money is siphoned back to towns to buy the latest electrical, fashion and industrially-manufactured goods. The British banned alcohol in Kenya until they had built breweries then promoted it heavily.
The ECOSOCC (Economic, Social and Cultural Council) of the African Union was established: to bring the voices of African peoples into the AU’s decision-making process; to educate Afrikans on all aspects of Afrikan affairs; and to encourage civil society across the continent to work for the welfare of Afrikans.
Afrika is a continent of abundance and poverty. Migrants are following their fish to Europe. Hoping for a better life or some of what Europe, America and increasingly the oil-rich Arabian lands display. “It isn’t unusual to find that foreigners know more about the native peoples than the latter know about themselves. Such is often the fate of the colonized.” (p42)
The much-mentioned Brain Drain is even more devastating for Afrika because not only has talent and skills left the continent but those who go abroad are often so caught up in economic, mental and physical survival mode that they risk losing meaningful contact with Afrikan values and their relatives. While remittances are increasing there should be more far-reaching government support for the Afrikan Diaspora which should include dual citizenship.
Chapter 14 on ‘The African Family’ reveals many stories of activism and positive expressions of culture such as the demand for the reintroducing the Afrikan man back into his family. Wangari Maathai wants a return to the influence of the traditional medicine man / healer. This could be seen as controversial at a time when Christian evangelists and radical Islamists are sweeping the continent and there are widespread reports of ‘witch burnings’ and brutal ‘exorcisms’.
A clear grasp of the issues raised in the chapter entitled ‘Environment and Development’ should be the minimum benchmark for any Afrikan seeking public office. In it Wangari clearly sets out the tasks: “If Africa does not change, not only will it not achieve the MDGs, it well also further degrade or destroy the resource base on which development depends, and in so doing exacerbate and entrench the challenges that the continent faces. No amount of advanced weaponry can fight the desert. But the problem can be overcome by planting trees and other vegetation to curb soil loss and harvest rainwater, and it is in repulsing the sands of the desert as they encroach on arable land and in fighting deforestation and climate change that the genuine battle for national and human security lies.” (p255).
FORTHCOMING NUBIART PROFILES
NUBIART: Focus on arts, business, education, health, political developments and the media.
~ ‘SUMMERTIME’ – Black Umfolosi [ARC Music – Released 25 June] Founded in 1982 Zimbabwe’s Black Umfolosi here present a 12-track collection of their most beautiful and inspiring traditional songs from the last three decades. The album features arrangements of well-known ‘standards’ such as ‘Nkosi Sikelela’ and ‘Imbube’ (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’), the ‘Malaika’ lullaby dedicated to the most beautiful woman who looks like an angel as well as their most recent hit ‘Summertime’ which is full of positive imagery and good time vibes. All the tracks here are imbued with a gentleness of spirit, beautiful intricate rhythms. ‘Shosholoza’ imitates the sound the steam trains make as they carry people both away and back to their homelands. ‘Uma Sithethela’ says that when we consult our ancestral spirits we believe they can solve all our problems. ‘Mama’ invokes the memories and love for and of a mother. ‘Ngikukhulisile’ tells of parents disappointment at a well-brought up child brought now behaving in a disloyal and rude manner. ’Ikhaya Elihle’ reminds people to keep in touch with their roots as there is no place like home. Black Umfolosi are committed to putting back resources into their community and developing a new generation of artists by operating the Enkundleni Centre for the Arts in Bulawayo which is co-ordinated by members Thomeki Dube and Sotsha Moyo and Taurai Tichareva.
NUBIART LIBRARY – JUNE MEDIA
We will only review books we have read and DVDs we have seen and that are available at reasonable prices online or in shops or libraries. However, given the nature and current state of Afrikan publishing and production there may be books and films on this list that are worth the extra effort to track down.
~ THE CHALLENGE FOR AFRICA: A NEW VISION’ – Wangari Maathai. [William Heinemann. ISBN: 978-0-434-01981-6] The late Wangari Maathai’s ‘The Challenge for Africa: A New Vision’ should be compulsory reading for any politician, activist, scholar or environmentalist who is concerned with Afrikan - nay, world - affairs. It is as essential as the writings by Cheikh Anta Diop and Walter Rodney’s ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ for an understanding of geopolitical dynamics. The book is divided into five sections: the contemporary cultural and historical background of the challenges; the economic, political and international context and dimension of these challenges; the challenge of leadership and good governance at the top of society and at the grassroots; the complex and problematic relationship of ethnic identity to the nation-state in modern Africa; and the centrality of the environment to Africa’s development challenges and solutions to them, followed by a final chapter on the challenges before individual Africans, at home and abroad.
~ CENTERPRISE MID-SUMMER LITERARY FESTIVAL 2012.
- Mon 11 June at 6.30-9pm. Adm: Free. Book launch with John Theodore: Lessons from the life of a salesman.
- Wed 13 June at 6.30-9.30pm. Adm: £7.50 (Redeemable with purchase of the book). Festival Keynote and book launch’ ‘Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for
Independence’ by Prof Alan Gilbert of Denver University, Colorado, USA. Topic: Racism in the American Revolution and in America and Britain today. UK race relations in perspective with Lee Jasper, Co-Chair of BARAC. Poetry with El Crisis and Cezanne. Host: Douglas Williams.
- Wed 20 June at 6.30-9pm. Adm: Free. ‘Zimbabwe, Racism and The Land Question’ with D Gazi.
- Fri 22 June at 6.30-9pm. Adm: Free. ‘On Being an African’ with Dr. Kwame Glevey - What does it mean to be an African in the 21st Century? Book Launch and discussion
- Sat 30 June at 11am-5pm. Adm: £110 / £85 (concs) (incl. refreshments and lunch). One day play writing workshop with Ade Solanke. How does a play work? Join playwright and Spora Stories theatre producer Ade Solanke for this one-day course looking at some of the key ingredients of audience-centred dramatic writing. Her recent hit play, ‘Pandora’s Box’ was loved by audiences and nominated for Best New Play by Off West End Theatre Awards.
- Fri 6 July at 8pm-2am. Adm: £9 / £7. The Dark Sea Scrolls with El Crisis and friends. A night of Words, Power and Sounds
- Sat 7 July at 3-6pm. Adm: Free. ‘Paving the Empire Road: BBC Television and Black Britons’ Book Launch. A Media history book by Dr Darrell Newton, Chair and Associate Professor, The Department of Communication Arts, Salisbury University, Maryland, USA. Host: Arthur Torrington
- Sun 8 July at 3.30-6pm. Adm: £7.50. Dr Franz Fanon explained how oppressors shape the mind of the oppressed. If we can understand this, we can undermine the slave and colonial mentalities that shackle the minds of our people today. Robin Walker will explain the content of Fanon’s book ‘Black Skins White Masks’ and show why the content is still relevant today, 60 years after it was first written.
All events take place at Centerprise, 136-138 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2NS. Tel: 020 7254 9632. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.centerprisetrust.org.uk
~ ‘BLACK MOZART IN CUBA’. Documentary dedicated to the life and work of Chevalier de Saint George (Guadeloupe; 1745-1799), an accomplished composer, violinist and conductor who became a superstar in 18th century France. He became the first Afrikan to lead France’s most important orchestras. Saint-George was also Europe’s fine fencer, a master horseman, elite musketeer, infamous playboy and a colonel who led an army in the French Revolution. On Mon 11 June at PCS Headquarters, 160 Falcon Road, Clapham Junction, London, SW11 2LN. Adm: £5.
~ HISPANIC & LUSO BRAZILIAN COUNCIL lecture by Dr. Shihan de Silva on ‘Luso-Asian Spaces: Portuguese-speaking Communities in Sri Lanka’. Considering language, ethnicity and identity, this lecture will focus on people of Portuguese descent and also those of Afrikan descent in Sri Lanka. It concerns the communities responsible for the survival, against all odds, of Indo-Portuguese for half a millennium. On Thurs 14 June at 6pm at Canning House, 2 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PJ. Adm: Free. To register tel: 020 7235 2303 x 221. E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.canninghouse.org
~ ANCIENT FUTURE AND MUATTA BOOKS PRESENTS KILINDI IYI: ANCIENT FAMILY - NEW REALITY. Kilindi Iyi is the head instructor and technical advisor of the Tamerrian Institute based in Detroit. Many may know him for his work within the Martial Arts. Kilindi is also a teacher on the subject of ancient power plants and their spiritual connection. An entheogen (“God inside us”), in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, psychotherapeutic, shamanic, or spiritual context. As a living explorer of novel states of consciousness he shares his experience with the African community.
- Fri 15 June at 7–10pm: Polygamy and the Ancient Family. Adm: £8. Esther Stanford gives a sharp and profound scholastic food for thought on Polygamy
Bro Umar Johnson On Black Dating, Marriage and The Benefits Of Polygamy
- Sat 16 June at 6–9pm: Mushroom’s and the Masks of a New Reality. Adm: £8.
BEHIND THE MASK: David Attenborough looks at the Dogon of Mali
- Sun 17 June at 3–6pm: Advanced Mushroom Growing Workshop (Booking Only). Adm: £15. Mushrooms have been growing wild since prehistoric times. Their therapeutic value has been prized in indigenous cultures, for thousands of years. They play a critical role in medicinal practice and were noted in some of the first books on herbal medicine written thousands of years ago. In the past few decades, mushrooms have become more popular for their therapeutic qualities in the west as a result of an expanding body of scientific research supporting their numerous health benefits.
All events at Navarino Mansions Community Hall, Dalston Lane, London, E8 1AJ. Tel: 07506 481 509 / 07956 134 370. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org /
~ REFUGEE WEEK CELEBRATING SANCTUARY. It’s a one day festival splashing a profusion of new talent across its three stages, pulsating with the sounds of live music, the flow of the spoken word, the sizzle of food and the rhythms of dance - the cultural fruits of sanctuary. Acts include Eska, Elysian Quartet, Tanya Auclair and many more. On Sun 17 June at 2-7pm at Bernie Spain Gardens, Southbank, London, SE1. Adm: Free. Web: http://bit.ly/K9fmda
~ THE 9ETHER FORUM PRESENTS SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION EVENT IN THE BROTHER-SISTAH CIRCLE. This interactive workshop (for Afrikan Men and Women) will be led by Cultural Heritage Therapist sistah AnkhAmunet, whose work is designed to provide a forum for Afrikan men women and children, to connect to their heritage in a therapeutic way. Our Afrikan ancestors observed the movement of the heavens and incorporated this knowledge into the creation of calendars, temples and clocks, as well as rituals to acknowledge the movement of the earth, in relation to seasonal changes. This annual event provides participants, with an opportunity for celebration, information and healing. Attire is Whites or Traditional African On Wed 20 June at 6-9pm at The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford, London, SE8. Adm: £10 from the secure on-line shop on www.9ether.com.
~ ‘W.A.R STORIES: WALTER ANTHONY RODNEY’. Documentary that covers the life of historian, author and activist, Dr Walter Rodney who was assassinated on Fri June 13 1980 in his native Guyana.
The people who knew him tell how they related to him and him them. We see the growth of his ideology over the years from his coming of age in racially divided Guyana through the cold war, the Black Power Movement, Pan-Africanism, Caribbean independence and the idea of self emancipation. It’s about the influence of places on him and him on places as evidenced by the riots in Kingston, Jamaica, his role in Southern Africa’s struggle for independence and finally civil rebellion in Guyana where his life ended just a block from his birth-home. On Wed 20 June at PCS Headquarters, 160 Falcon Road, Clapham Junction, London SW11 2LN. Adm: £5.
~ RE-THINKING DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA: AN ORAL HISTORY APPROACH FROM GHANA. Komla Tsey will talk about his new book and explain why he believes oral history and wisdom are so important to Afrika’s future development. On Wed 20 June at 6.30pm at the Africa Centre, 38 King Street, London, WC2. Adm: Free. Web: http://bit.ly/JalmzF
~ MORE THAN XY - A VISUAL TRIBUTE TO BLACK FATHERS & POSITIVE MALE ROLE MODELS
Curated by Thenublack and the forFATHERS project this exhibition celebrates the role of Fathers and positive role models in the Afrikan community. The organisers are mounting this show to increase the awareness of the fathers who are active parents in their children’s lives and to provide exposure for the artists expressing their views of fatherhood through visuals. The show is their way to challenge the often imbalanced portrayal of black men being absent fathers and negative role models. From 17–30 June at Darnley Gallery, London, E9 6QH. E-mail: email@example.com
~ THE BRUNEI GALLERY present ‘Disappearing Heritage of Sudan 1820 - 1956: A photographic and filmic research exhibition’. An exhibition of materials created by Frederique Cifuentes and from Durham University’s Sudan Archive. Many of the country’s old buildings have fallen victim to wider economic development or lack of a preservation campaign. This study will show different aspects and forms of the rich colonial architectural heritage in Sudan before it vanishes completely. This is an illustrated history of a unique cultural landscape.
And ‘The Fabric of Fieldwork’ by Wessieling and Susan Ossman. Exhibition of paintings, sculpture and installations inspired by ethnographic research in East Asia and North Africa. Using art both as a recording device and a way of creating a field of exploration Wessieling and Ossman investigate issues of visibility, femininity and women’s work, including their own field weaving as artists and ethnographers.
Both exhibitions run until 23 June on Tues-Sat at 10.30am-5pm at Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7898 4046. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.soas.ac.uk/gallery
~ SHANTI-CHI PRESENTS THE SESA WO SUBAN AFRAKAN STORYTELLING FESTIVAL. Workshop leaders also include Chi Creation Storytellers, Nkechiukwu Afrakan centred Education, Kesensa, Chukwu, Amaasade Shepnekhi, Kay Smith, Galatic Clyde, Neters A Ma’at, Afrakan Professor, Kapeni Melesse, Verona Spence, Dalian Adafo, Griot Chinyere, Sista Mena, Usifu Jalloh, Michelle Campbell, Ras Kweku, Black Heartman, Aunty Jedidah, Jaavier Solicopa, Eli Anderson, Ayo Ajala. On Midday Fri 22 June to 4pm Sun 24 June at Moat Mount, Barnett Way, Mill Hill, London, NW7 5AL. Adm: £120 / 8-16 yrs - £60 / under-7’s – free. Ticket prices include all rituals, storytelling performances, workshops, communal fires, camping area, showers, toilets and inspired visions. Healthy foods, Afrakan crafts, energy healing & massage available for purchase.
~ THE SOUTHBANK CENTRE AND THE ROYAL AFRICA SOCIETY PRESENT ‘WORD FROM AFRICA’. The finale of the Poetry Parnassus festival and a celebration of the spoken, and written word, through poetry, song and storytelling with performance, music and literature. Taking its lead from the successful 2007 and 2008 events produced by Africa Beyond at The British Museum, Word From Africa brings to London diverse talent in the literary and music fields from across the African continent. On Sun 1 July at 6pm at Southbank Centre, The Clore Ballroom, Belvedere Rd, London, SE1 8XX. Adm: Free.
~ ‘JOURNEYS AND KINSHIP’ EXHIBITION. Is the face not currency enough? This display of face casts responds to the irony that members of the African Diaspora must pay to visit sites from which their ancestors were transported into enslavement. ‘Journeys and Kinship’ explores further the themes of the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery at the Museum of London Docklands through a project between the visual artist Jean Joseph and a group of young Londoners working together with Calypsonian, Alexander D Great, and Yvonne Wilson from Equi-Vison. Until 4 Nov 2012 at Museum of London, Docklands 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London, E14 4AL. Tel: 020 7001 9844. Adm: Free. Web: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands/Whats-on/Exhibitions-Displays/JourneysandKinship.htm
Contact: Kubara Zamani, Afrikan Quest International, PO Box 35165, London, SE5 8WU. Tel: 07811 494 969. E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.southwark.tv/quest/aqhome.asp
NB: Nubiart Diary can also be read at www.ligali.org and on the Afrikan Quest website.
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The late Wangari Maathai’s ‘The Challenge for Africa: A New Vision’ should be compulsory reading for any politician, activist, scholar or environmentalist who is concerned with Afrikan - nay, world - affairs.
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