Follow by Email

Sunday, June 14, 2009






The FESMAN Festival in Dakar, Senegal, December 1-21, 2009 promises to be a great opportunity for the African world in general, and African Americans in particular, to showcase the wealth, diversity and richness of African culture in all of its global manifestations. We will hear the melodic sounds of the kora from Mali, the high stepping dances of the Watusi and Masai from east Africa, the colorful ghelas and fashion eminating from the West African countries, and the harmonic voices, boot and Zulu dances from Southern Africa. The steel bands, and festive nature of our Caribbean brothers and sisters will fill the atmosphere with joy and delight. We all will look forward to meeting African people from New Zealand, Australia, Surinam, Guyana, Fiji, and yes, Germany, also. We, the Children of Africa will feel, listen and hear the unique stories of what it means to be African peoples dispersed throughout the world in the new millinium. It has been over thirty years since FESTAC was held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977, which was the last World Festival of African Arts and Culture of this magnitude. We applaud the forsight of President Wade of Senegal, to take lead in this newest endeavor, to showcase Africa, and to play host to these festivities. But it remains paramount that while we take this time to enjoy the breathe and depth of our Global and Pan African cultural heritage, that we also take serious stock of where, we, as African people are on the world stage, in terms of our political, economic and social securityand well being.
When FESTAC met in 1977, many African countries had achieved the goals of the Pan African Congresses, forged by intellectual giants, such as WEB Du Bois, Kwame Nkhrumah, Julius Nyerere, Amilcar Cabral and Sekou Toure, independence from colonial rule, mostly under the domination of European colonialists. By this time the battlefront had mostly moved to Southern Africa, where Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and South Africa remained locked in vicious struggles against Apartheid, of some variation thereof. In some cases, aid and assistance from Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, was paramount. It should be said here, that had it not been for Cuban solidarity, with its aid and assistance on the ground, that many Southern African Liberation Struggles might still be locked in protracted struggles, against their European oppressors, who had real and/or tacid support of Israel and the United States government. It is important to lay this cursory background for what is about to happen in Dakar at years end.

Today, the Africa we see, is at a crossroads. What does this mean, how is it related to FESMAN, and how is it relevant to us, and what can we do about it, if anything? While literally all African countries are free of colonial rule, many African countries, if not African people, remain subjugated and exploited by neo-colonial relationships with past colonizers, the IMF and/or Global Corporations whose oppression knows no boundaries and respects no borders. We needn't point out any particular perpetrator. For our purposes here, what is important, is, what will our response be, and with what amount of force and commitment will we be willing to back it up.

The history of African peoples have been marked by distinct periods; the Great Empires and decline, the slave trade and resistance, colonialization and independence. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama, as leader of the most powerful nation on earth, marks the beginning of another era in African history. Though the two events are not necessarily related, one cannot deny the irony that they occur similtaneously. The second event, which is the subject of this paper, is the African Renaissance. What we hope to achieve in this paper, is to make a contribution to what the content and elements of this Renaissance should and can be. We hope to accomplish this by using the following outline format:

Seven Key Characteristics of African and Diasporan Development

1. Exhibition and Preservation of African Peoples artistic heritage and the progressive character of its culture -
When we speak here of African peoples, we refer to all people of African descent, on the continent and in diaspora. As African people enter into a new stage of development which will allow engagement into the global economy, it is mandatory that institutions are built which preserve the integrity of African and Diasporan art forms, languages, systems of thought (Dogon, Maat, Ifa, Akhan, Zulu, Masai, etc.), and cultural traditions, such as Council of Elders, Rites of Passage, Cooperative Economics, Extended Family, Reverance for Nature and the Spiritual Quest of Oneness with a God Force. These defining elements of African life and culture must not be lost at the expense of modernization. We must learn from the mistakes of European and American industrialization which did not allow for its social institutions to keep pace with the changes occuring in their social fabric so quickly. Thus, they experience serious crisis in their families, respect for law, poor distribution of wealth (causing social disparity), poor socialization of their youth, and lack of the ability to integrate minority groups fully into society.

2. Transfer and Exchange of Knowledge, Technolgy and Science between and among Continental Africans and Diasporans -
Each grouping of African peoples must establish consortiums, economic clubs and strive to build Pan African Universities which can encourage, inventions, the study of architecture, science which can benefit African peoples globally.

3. Dynamic Development Strategies and Methods -
Such strategies must, of necessity, be African-centered in order to protect their integrity and the interests of African people. Land development must be done in a manner that dose not compromise the ecological balance.

4. Infra-structure Development on the Continent and Rural Areas in Diaspora
a. Transportation - Cross continent rail system.
b. Roads - paved
c. Sustainable Energy
2. Water - ocean, waterfalls, etc.
3. Wind
4. methanol>ethanol
d. Indigenous Sanitation systems and Water Treatment
e. Indigenous Communication Systems and ability to connect with Global sytems.
f. Reduction of and Penalties for toxic wastes caused by foreign corporations

5. Modernization of the Agricultural Sector While Preserving the Quality of Rural Social and Cultural Life -
This is important in terms of its contribution to health and growing low carbon food for the indigenous, without compromising the export market also. Irrigation systems with purified water is an essential component. The key is balance.

6. Expansion of Cultural and Economic Trade and Exchange -
Festivals such as FESMAN and FESTAC must not only focus on the arts, but also on the Art of building more people to people trade between and among African peoples.

7. Methodologies which Ensure that African Mineral Wealth Benefits Indigenous Peoples-
Corruption must be challenged and fought and replaced by a system which allows re-distribution of wealth on a level of parity. Quatar and Kuwait might serve as models.

The FESMAN Festival is being referred to as the beginning of the the African Renaissance. But the African Renassaince should not seek to duplicate or copy its European counterpart. Also, it should not just be restricted or limited to just a revival of the arts, though, the arts should and will be a necessary component. African culture has influenced almost every peoples on every continent around the globe and remains one of its greatest exports. However, it remains necessary to define the meaning and scope of renassaince as we apply the term in the African socio-economic-political-cultural millieu. We have reached a historical point in time, where people of African descent must become actively engaged in the path to constructive development on the African continent. It is no longer acceptable for Africa's human, material or natural resources to continue to be exploited by foreign interests who have little or no concern for the well being of its indigenous people and the culture that sustains them.

We argue here, for the African American, in particular, to play a key role in the "Engagement of Constructive Development" on the African continent. As a spiritual people, we must not believe that our ancestors would allow us to go through the pains of MAAFA for no reason. Not only did we resist the enslavement process at every chance, we also contributed in substantial ways to the industrialization process in Europe and America that came after. We invented, farmed, labored, became schooled, and since the sixties, have accumulated sizable wealth, in spite of the racism and White Supremacy which seeks to keep us, as a community, supressed and exploited. History has shown us, and it has become apparently and abundantly clear that the development of Africa and the liberation of African Americans are intrinsically linked. African Americans have accrued the wealth, training, education, skills and technological experience which Africa now needs in order for it to develop in accordance with it's capacity for growth. As Africa grows, it too can helps to contribute to the expanded possibilities of all of its children abroad (in Diaspora), through favorable people-to-people trade, distribution and manufacturing opportunities. This was Garveys' dream when he said "African for the Africans", and why Malcolm taught us that we were/are an African people and that our destinies are mutually linked with our brothers and sisters on the continent.

As Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, would posit, a real Pan African Unity must extend beyond just sentiment and feeling, but must be realized with a material base. This base must be build upon the capacity to satisfy basic human needs of African people; food, clothing, shelter, health and to live in a realm of freedom from oppression, exploitation and domination. Cultural expressions, philosophy and revolutionary theories alone, will not quench the Africans' thirst for a uniquely developed society. The old African American adage is applicable, which says, "While its true we don't live by bread alone, we can only come to that conclusion, after we've eaten". Though it is of paramount importance to maintain the cultural integrity of our Motherland, we must also devise a development strategy that does not compromise the values inherent in the people and their lifestyle. Such a strategy must also be sensitive to the needs and demands of nature and the ecological balance of the continent. Africa's mineral wealth has been exploited too long and those foreign interests who have engaged in such behavior (and we all know who they are) must not only repent, but pay to Africa and its children, fair reparations for their continued rape of Africa's human and natural resources for over 500 years. Yet, in all of this, there is no substitution for the united actions of all of Africa's children to restore Africa to it's proper place of prominence in the world. This can only happen when continental and diasporan Africans decide, together, to take over the areas of Critical Social Space which define the African character and personality and by extention, it's territorial integrity. Africa cannot grow as long as aliens continue to control its means to create its own wealth, and to satisfy the needs and aspirations of its peoples, at home and abroad. It is our hoped that the Development strategies proposed above, will serve as a step in that direction, and begin to answer the crucial question, Which Path to African Development?

This paper is humbly submitted by,
Mwalimu Wesley Kabaila
National African American Congress,
June, 2009


The African American Convention Movement has its origin in 1830 with the advent of the National Negro Convention held at the historic, Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, Pa. Out of this gathering, an organization was born, The American Society of Free Persons of Color, to be led by Bishop Richard Allen. This monumental organizational effort was among the first of its kind to harness the collective talents, knowledge and energies of African Americans towards the end of defining, developing and defending our interests as a national community. Though the conventions, conferences and movements that followed, sought to raise the aspirations of America’s people of color, none took on the meaning and significance of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), under the able and visionary leadership of the Honorable Marcus Garvey.
The UNIA became a practical expression of what others only theorized about. It encouraged Blacks to be self-determining, to own their own shops and businesses and to profit together from them, to manage the internal and international affairs of our national community, to know, understand and build on our rich history and to pursue our unique interests as a community of free, proud and productive people.
Later, it would be the artists, writers, performers, poets, dancers and even fashion designers such as Madame C.J. Walker, who would inspire a generation to engage in a cultural renaissance that would instill dignity, respect and self-determined action to free ourselves from the triple evils of racism, oppression and exploitation.
As the United States traversed its way through the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars, many of its People of Color sought to realize the ever illusive American dream, leading to the massive migrations to northern urban centers. Awaiting these dream seekers were many influences, including those of Paul Robeson, Mary Mcleod Bethune, A. Phillip Randolph, The Honorable Elijah Muhammed and W.E.B. Du Bois.
Fast forward to the 1960’s, where activism took on a new character as it sought to challenge the power structure of the dominant society, unlike any other time in this country’s history. This period was marked by many contending ideological tendencies; integration, assimilation, black power, black cultural nationalism, Marxism/socialism and Pan Africanism. As Komozi Woodard points out in his book, “Nation within a Nation”, this period, as in the former ones, was punctuated with various Unity Formations, some of which were the three Black Power Conferences, National Black Assembly, Republic of New Africa (RNA), Gary Convention, Independent Black Political Party, Congress of African People (CAP), and later the National Black United Front. In addition to the governments’ COINTELPRO program, other factors leading to the demise of these organizations were lack of leadership and organizational skills, character questions, debasement of woman and ideological conflicts.
In formulating and fashioning the National African American Congress (NAAC), we tried to take the above factors and history into account. Key to building a NAAC structure, is the emphasis of developing a COMPREHENSIVE and MULTI-DISCIPLANARY approach to the myriad issues that affect the National African American community. This calls for black professionals, community activists, scholars and artists to unite towards the goal of formulating policy, positions, analysis, proposals, programs, projects, strategies and tactics in at least seven basic areas of black social and cultural life. These seven basic areas include:
1. History
2. Spirituality/Religion/Ethics
3. Social organization
4. Political organization
5. Economic organization
6. Creative production (Art, Music, Dance, Fashion, Literature, Technology, Theater, Cinema, Spoken Word)
7. Ethos – Collective psychology and it’s defining characteristics

The National African American Congress stands on several principles to which its constituent organizations and advocates believe and adhere to.
1. Self determination – In the African American context, this principle is best defined as the recognition of the right and responsibility to define, defend and develop our interests as a people and national community, and to step back on the stage of human history as a free, proud and productive people.
2. Operational Unity - Entering into and engaging in a principled and practical unity that does not seek to deny autonomy, but rather, to foster a spirit of working together towards common goals and objectives, the ultimate of which, is to build a more perfect and harmonious union in the interests of our National Community.
3. National Community – this is recognition of the fact that African Americans share a common history, culture, life experiences, consciousness and therefore the same or similar life chances. Because of these we also have the right and responsibility to build the structural and institutional capacity to create and contribute to human progress in our own image and interests, as a free and self-determined people.
4. Social Space as Liberation Zones –
The most controversial principle of the National African American Congress is social space as liberation zones. While it is a general truism that land is the basis for all revolutionary movements, as Malcolm admonished us, we also have learned from Cabral, that each national liberation movement must adjust to the social conditions and environment in which it finds itself. NAAC takes the position that we, as a national community, cannot wait until a land base in the south or on the African continent, is secured before building the structural and institutional capacity to control key areas of our social and cultural existence. Many of our national organizations address specific need areas in our communities. The NAACP, for the most part addresses legal issues. The National Urban League addresses the need for jobs. As a national organization, NAAC seeks to address the myriad of issues that affects African Americans in a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary manner. In short, this means to take a total look at any given issue or issues, form analysis, and formulate correctives and/or remedies drawing from multiple disciplines, as needs are assessed. Having a land base or approaching challenges facing us as a collective group in a piecemeal or band-aid manner will not bring the kind and degree of social transformation about that will empower us.
What NAAC argues, is that African Americans need to occupy critical areas of social space that have traditionally controlled our lives. In the dominant society, areas of social space are associated with Law, Medicine, Finance, Science, Technology, Pop Culture, and Media, Industry and Electoral Politics. These areas of social space have worked together to support a system of dominance and White Supremacy for over a 400 year period. Therefore, NAAC posits that there are at least Seven Areas of Social and Cultural Life that Black Americans need to engage as Liberation Zones in order to attain degrees of empowerment in order to control our communities and to create a realm of freedom that allows us to pursue our interests as a national community. In the Angolan, Mozambiquan, Cuban, and Nicaraguan Liberation Movements there was no question about the land base that they were fighting for. Therefore, their Liberation Zones were land based. In our social milleu land based solutions remain problematic. As a matter strategy for struggle, we maintain that by engaging our people in a movement for community control over key areas of social space, i.e., history, spirituality/religion, social organization, economic organization, political organization, creative production and Ethos, we in fact open up new battlefronts at a time and place of our choosing, where conditions are favorable to us, and allows us to provide needed services and goods to our communities. NAAC seeks to identify these key areas as liberation zones, in as much as they determine our cultural and social life, and the more we are empowered in these areas, the less control our oppressor has over our lives. The more we control these key areas of social space over our lives, the closer we move our people to full and final liberation. This strategy is not offered at the exclusion of or alternative to others, but in addition to and to broaden our options as we look for practical liberation strategies.
To achieve this end, NAAC proposes the following:

1. To harness the wealth of talent, intellect, experience, knowledge, creativity and wisdom in our national community and direct them towards nation building projects.
2. To Build the processes and structural capacity to develop national policies, programs, projects, i.e. a National Agenda, that produces models and paradigms that can be implemented at the regional and local level.
3. Formulation and implementation of a Cooperative Economic program from a national perspective.
4. Design and formulation of a National Youth Corps that will have the capacity to develop and defend our community’s interests, both, internally and externally.
5. Support and provide a National Platform for a National Woman’s Movement, which lends itself to development of a National Culture and also integrates women into every fabric of our national life and community.
6. To build and support the building of Pan African relations in the areas of trade, cultural exchange and preservation, people to people relations, Pan African universities, and to engage in meaningful dialogue as to what path to development for the African continent.
7. To support the building of a national governing entity that seeks to develop new paradigms of governance, trains a new generation of leaders who put character first, develops an African-centered political culture and develops a plan to hold national plebiscites when necessary.



1) Writing corrective history of African Americans and developing historiography. This is important because history is a record (written and oral) of our peoples’ achievements, contributions and role in human progress.
2) Corrected history of African peoples provides critique, models, images, and paradigms of what we have done and can do to rescue and reconstruct our communities locally and with a national scope.

B. Spirituality/Religion/Ethics

1) Developing organizational structures and institutional capacity to promote ethics, values, morality and a spirituality that are people-centered and socially-based within an ecumenical spirit and framework. Promote study of Maat as classical African ethics.
2)Researching, documenting, gaining understanding and teaching the role and history of the black church and other spiritual institutions in our struggle for national liberation and continuing our social justice tradition of making America realize its goal of Freedom and Justice for all.
3) Developing ways and means of networking with those in the other six areas, to ensure that the spiritual dimension of our lives is always represented and actualized in all that we do, in keeping with African and African american tradition. Collaborating in an ecumenical spirit to develop affirmations, prayers, meditations, stories, myths and other spiritual expressions that uplift and elevate us to higher levels of life.
4) Black churches can serve as institutional conduits to building regional unity. These opportunities should be explored by community organizers and activists.

C. Social Organization

1) Education
Public, Private (Church, etc.), Alternative (African centered), Charter schools, Pre-school, Historical Black Colleges (HBC) program and curriculum emphasis.
Support structures for black students enrolled at Universities and in Graduate Schools
Support structures and systems for Black Studies Programs and Curriculum, particularly in HBC’s
Ways and means of supporting and organizing advocacy groups for education of black students developing a system of communication and disseminating information on progress, models and issues as they arise. Encouraging Black students to go into areas of study that pursue our interests as a community of people and that allow us to occupy key areas of social space, i.e. – Law, Science, Medicine, Trade, Cultural Transformation.

2) Health
Expose’ of the status and critique of, and correctives for health in the black community.
Establishing and submitting agreed upon proposals for Universal Health Care in America.
Commission to study and report on universal health care and delivery systems in other countries (China, Cuba, Europe, Canada)
Research and Advocacy for Wholistic and people centered (as opposed to profit oriented) medicine and encouraging regular conferences and national formations for support.

3) Family
History and current status of the Black family – African enslavement , post slavery, current; DNA testing
Research and Study of new family and community forms adapted to an industrialized, urban and technological society (Rebuilding the Village).

4) Council of Elders
Definition, Role and Relevance

5) Rites of Passage as means of addressing Children and Gang issues by insisting that children rise up to definable community standards and rewarded (or sanctioned) by family and community rituals.

6) Criminal Justice
Research, debate and implementation of nationally accepted standards for equal administration of justice.
Strategies for prevention and re-socialization after imprisonment
Abolition of 3 strikes
Education, training and Job development (particularly Green jobs) for bro’s and sisters returning to community from incarceration.

7) Diasporan Relations
Building stronger social, spiritual, economic and cultural relationships between and among African Americans, Continental and Diasporan Africans.
Promote the building of Universities on each continent that study our respective histories and struggles as African people.

D. Political Organization

1) Electoral Politics
Designing local, national and international strategies to develop, promote and pursue black interests; Use to mobilize the masses, to access resources and organize around definable and relevant issues.

2) Extra-Parliamentary Politics
This involves strategies and tactics of mobilizing and organizing at local, regional, national and Pan-african levels in order to affect, influence, and challenge policies, programs and issues from without the ordinary channels of power, when expedient to do so, in order to get intended results.
Also to research, design and propose other national and Pan-african formations that can pursue and agitate for a National Agenda for Black Americans and progressive policies towards Diasporan peoples.
3) National Black Agenda - Formulating, Proposing and devising strategies and tactics of implementing policies, programs and projects that define, develop and defend the collective interests of people of African descent. To be made up of a consortium of Black Professionals, Community activists, and Union organizers.

4) National African American Congress
An issue defining, policy formulating, program implementing alliance, made up of delegates to be chosen from their respective regions of the country; areas of emphasis will include, Political, Economic, Spiritual/Religious, Artistic (creative), Communications, Social (Education, Health, Psychology) Community defense and development. This body is charged with initiating and implementing a multi-disciplinary approach that institutes a comprehensive National Black Agenda.

5) Building the Organizational and Institutional capacity to engage in Pan-African and Diasporan relations
a) Participation in the African Union (AU)
b) development of people to people trade – Creation of Pan African and/or Diasporan Trade Market and Festivals
c) Cultural Exchange and development – Building Pan African Film Festivals and Festpac type of events into institutions
d) Continuing the Pan African Congresses and State of the Black World Conferences and building them into institutions.
e) pursuing duel citizenship, Diaporan reparations (could be debt relief) , and resettling of Diaporans on the African continent.

6) Council of Elders
To be made up of men/women of stature, experience, knowledge and commitment to community interests, whose role shall be defined by their respective communities, but inclusive of conflict resolution, advise and (in some cases) consent of means and ways to implement policy, programs and projects for community growth and development

7) Community Defense and Development
Development of New African Scouts, Simba Wachanga or New Black Panther formations that are conscious, committed and capable of developing and defending black community interests and who are accountable to the Council of Elders and National African American Congress.

8) Building a New Black Political Culture and new paradigms for
Black political action, leadership and community organization.
a) Of greatest import here is develop new paradigms of Black Leadership and ways and means of providing training for emergent leadership who show initiative, innovation and insight in meeting the challenges that our communities face.

9. National Intelligence Force

10. Support and promote the building of an Inter-dependent Woman's Movement that has the capacity to address Women's issues in our struggle for National Liberation.

11. Formulate, Promote and Develop a Diplomatic and Ambassador Corps to represent our interests in Diaspora and Internationally.
12. Exploring the possibilities for establishing a Nation-Entity structure that houses our national aspirations for Self-determination and to have the institutional capacity to control our own communities in our own image and interests. Ending the external occupation and gentrification of urban areas where the masses of our people are concentrated. Gaining UN and AU support for such a movement.

E. Economic Organization
1) properly addressing class relations in the Black community and the impact on community development
2) Definition, Role and Relevance of Black Middle Class
a) Building people to people trade relations with and between Continental Africans and Diasporan
b) Encouraging investment in and between black communities at home and in Diaspora
c) Encouraging and supporting Buy Black campaigns and culture
d) Formulating, analyzing and developing structures and systems that implement Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) in our communities, e.g. Matah, 1IMall, Afrikan Business Development Fund(ABDF LTD.)
e) Coordination of Ways and Means to support N’Cobra and others involved in the struggle for Reparations.
f) Strategies to get the business sector to support Black Ownership
g) develop strategies to engage in the Ecological, Sustainabilty and Green Revolution
(1) This deserves highest priority in terms of developing teams of grant and proposal writers, contractors and negotiators for sustainable and green training programs, work projects, patent development in order to prepare our youth, and former prison inmates for jobs programs.
3) Instituting Maatian values in the application of Economic Affairs and Relations

F. Creative Production

1) The definition, role and relevance of the black creative experience in raising social and community consciousness.
Is there a Black Aesthetic? Defining the difference between popular art and culture and national art and culture.
2) Sponsoring seminars, forums and town halls on how values, ethics and morality are transmitted and transferred via various cultural expressions, i.e. Art, Music, Literature, Spoken Word (Poetry), Dance, Theater, Cinema, Sports, Comedy, Architecture and Technology and Fashion. Instituting an annual National Unity Tour involving artists in the above categories.
3)Developing Communications networks and outlets that respond to the need of our National Community to be informed and educated on issues, topics and current events in the context of our technological society. Develop ways and means of promoting and supporting our IT community. Promote the learning of African languages as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese.
4) Development of community theater, exhibitions, concerts, art, dance and fashion shows (or some combination of all), that promote national culture and the values that flow from them.
5) Means and Ways of building and supporting institutions that promote and project Black art and fashion. This would give jobs, create outlets and context for free and liberating expression for black artists.
6) Artist associations and leagues by which artists develop their crafts as well as creating ways of becoming and being more relevant to black community interests, growth and development.
7) Finding creative ways of making the point that technology should not define our social agenda, but rather, we must find ways of making technology serve our collective community agendas.

G) Ethos/Psychology
1) Developing a unifying and positive self conception as a person, people and national community with definable history, life circumstances, identity, and future.
2) Collective Identity
Defining, developing and educating our people on our collective identity and how it translates into a national one. Developing modalities that bridge the light vs. dark skinned divide.
3) Strategies, methods and treatment modalities which assist in overcoming the effects of Post Traumatic Enslavement Syndrome
4) Defining and developing the relationship between our identity as African Americans,
Pan Africans and Humans and means and ways to institutionalize same

No comments:

Post a Comment