Posting this shit. AGAIN.

AGAIN.

Posting this shit. AGAIN. Another black child murdered at the hands of ‘law enforcers’. What law; whose law are they enforcing?

What law says it’s ok to shoot a 17-year-old in the back 16 times? 16 times.

This is inhuman. The US media and government (as here in the UK) try to scare the shit out of us painting terrorism as brown men and women who are attacking ‘our values’, while they weave fairytales about state-sanctioned, paid and trained, trigger-happy, racist terrorism going on ON A DAILY BASIS.

We can’t just keep sharing these atrocities on social media and saying‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬. When are governments going to start caring about keeping ALL of their citizens alive instead of allowing them to die like this, whilst bombing the shit out of those living in other countries?

Governments aren’t going to change any time soon and these actions are just a symptom of a system that does and always has ‘prioritised’ (for want of a better word) whiteness (and please remember that I’m not attacking all white individuals but a system, just as when I talk about patriarchy I’m not attacking all men as individuals, but a system – one we all live in and have done for hundreds of years, so much so that it can be sometimes difficult to even see it. That’s not to deny that there ARE individuals who commit horrendous acts – like this police officer, but I’m talking to you, reading this, living in the same system as me) and it’s up to us, all of us, to see this, name it and tear it down.

If you want me to explain this more or feel personally hurt by my words then I do honestly understand that and I’m happy to talk about it further. I’m not trying to just upset people, I want you to be angry that things like this are happening but I don’t want people to feel personally attacked, just responsible, aware and galvanised to take action. I do genuinely want to learn more about how people feel about things like this and how we can get past feelings of shame, hurt and discomfort around issues like race so we can actually do something about it. It’s an ongoing process and I know it’s not straightforward.

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Have you heard of the African Growth and Opportunities Act?

Probably not, because it’s gone under the mainstream radar. It’s not #TTIP or #TTP but in my opinion the African Growth and Opportunities Act is more important – because we’re talking about what looks like the subjugation and continued exploitation of an entire continent.

Later this month, US officials will meet in Gabon for a summit to discuss the US-Africa agreement (AGOA) which has recently been renewed for 10 years by the U.S. Congress.

The act, which was originally signed in 2000 claims to provide 39 sub-Saharan African nations with liberal access to the U.S. market.

But, and here’s the crucial point of my post. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield states that the agreement also allows the U.S. to export many of its intangible values — among them, an open-market system and an emphasis on development, democratisation and women’s empowerment.

I think this looks like a damaging neoliberal, unfair agreement that will continue to disempower and exploit the African continent and set up unequal trade and power relations that ONLY promote, further and benefit US interests to the detriment of African countries.

The comments from US officials imply that the emphasis on respecting human rights, press freedoms and rights of works will be of ‘significant benefit’ to African partners, but fail to mention the significant manipulation and damage the economic policies will do to to the continent and its people. To pretend that this self-interested, aggressive, immoral agreement is an act of altruism beggars belief.

I will be looking into this further, but really welcome your thoughts and comments on AGOA and anything you know about it too. They say we’re living in an era of post-colonialism, but ‘agreements’ like this just prove that it’s not true.  I’ll leave you to read the rest of the news story, originally posted here, and to make up your own mind. I’ll highlight in bold orange all of the bits (I could highlight the whole thing, but I won’t) which set off HUGE warning bells for me.

“We were delighted — I mean, absolutely delighted — with the recent 10-year reauthorisation of AGOA,” Thomas-Greenfield said during a briefing this week on the upcoming meeting. “The reauthorisation garnered bipartisan support here in the United States, and that’s a clear indication of promoting prosperity, opening markets, and inclusive development and stronger regional integration and good governance on the continent of Africa.”

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Florie Liser claims that “The 10-year extension — the longest in the program’s history — will also provide more stability for all those involved.”

“Now that we are no longer worrying about AGOA expiring in the near term, the AGOA Forum will provide an opportunity for us to begin a more strategic conversation about the future of our trade and investment relationship with Africa,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield added that AGOA also has a political element: “That has been an essential part of AGOA — encouraging countries to respect human rights, encouraging countries to respect press freedoms, and encouraging countries to generally respect the rights of workers. That has been a key part, a key component of AGOA’s success, and it’s something that our African partners, particularly the people, benefit significantly from.”

With that in mind, Liser said, the act holds a provision that allows nations’ status to be reviewed if they stray. That’s being considered right now, she said, in the central African nation of Burundi, which has been plunged into turmoil over the president’s decision to run for — and win — a third term, which is beyond his constitutional mandate.

“There is some discussion within the U.S. government of reviewing Burundi,” she said. “We have not reached the point of doing that review yet, but I think it will come sooner rather than later if the situation does not resolve itself very quickly.”

The act has also allowed African nations to move beyond just exporting raw materials, Liser said.

“What we’ve seen actually over the course of the last 15 years of AGOA is that the Africans have been able to triple the amount of non-oil exports that they have sent to the United States,” she said.

Last-minute lack of transparency weakens sustainable development goals

The US asked to replace the word “ensure” with the word “promote” in two targets (2.5 and 15.6, both about equitable benefits from natural resources) which, when applied would see rich nations – whose corporations and research institutions extract the vast majority of world’s natural biodiversity – share fairly the profits and patents reaped from those resources with the countries and communities from which they are extracted.”

This article appeared today in The Guardian about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It’s an important read.

“On Sunday 2 August, the 193 countries which make up the UN agreed to a document that will shape the next 15 years of international development policy and action.

Hailed “the people’s agenda” by UN secretary-general Ban-Ki moon, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), have taken some two years to negotiate. The SDGs in their final form will be agreed to by all governments at a special summit this September.

Yet, the final 48 hours leading up to this milestone moment were marked by closed-door deals and bad faith, I believe.

As a civil society advocate working on the SDGs, I have been witnessing the negotiations since March 2013. The negotiations had, until the evening of Friday 31 July, been a genuinely open and inclusive process. They were open to observers, included opportunities for civil society and the private sector to speak directly to the governments and were webcast on the UN’s own live TV channel.

But that weekend, as the 17 goals and 169 targets were being debated for the last time, observers were kept out and information was relayed by a small handful of specific negotiators to a small handful of civil society advocates such as myself.

After the negotiations stalled, the US delegation laid down an ultimatum, asking for changes to the language of the final outcome document, without which they refused to adopt the SDGs.

The US asked to replace the word “ensure” with the word “promote” in two targets (2.5 and 15.6, both about equitable benefits from natural resources) which, when applied would see rich nations – whose corporations and research institutions extract the vast majority of world’s natural biodiversity – share fairly the profits and patents reaped from those resources with the countries and communities from which they are extracted.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Africa to Obama: Mind your own business

“[The US] was complicit in the murder of Patrice Lumumba, supported apartheid South Africa against Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC, whom it declared terrorists), financed the terrorist organisation National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and propped up incompetent and corrupt tyrants like Mobutu, Samuel Doe, and Siad Barre.

Instead of coming to lecture, Obama should have had the humility to come and apologise to Africans for his country’s sadistic adventures on our continent.”

US President Obama’s long-anticipated visit to Kenya this month has been met with a mixed reaction from across the African continent. Amongst the fanfare and warm welcome he received from Kenyans, there was a noticeable, and rightfully (in my opinion) indignant rumbling of dissent from a number of Kenyan and African journalists, bloggers and Tweeters about the arrogance and hypocrisy of his address.

To increasingly see these opinions, views and concerns appearing in the mainstream like green shoots through concrete is thrilling and emboldening. That’s not to say that what’s being said is new – fighting Western imperialism, hypocrisy and arrogance has been an ongoing struggle for centuries; but to see the blows coming thick and fast, unapologetic, spreading, sharpening, and shared more widely than ever via the magic of social media, is weaving a new kind of narrative.

There have been many great articles and tweets written about the visit, but I thought I’d share my favourite from Ugandan journalist Andrew M Mwenda, founder of The Independent, a news magazine in East Africa. His opinion piece in Al Jazeera, published today, is a brilliant read and something that I feel can be addressed to all Western governments – ‘mind your own business’. I hope he won’t mind me sharing this with you (you can read the original here).

Africa to Obama: Mind your own business

United States President Barack Obama is the most admired foreign leader in Africa because he has ancestral roots in our continent.

This is partly the reason his ill-informed and stereotypical admonitions of our leaders attracted cheers from a large section of our elite class.

But it is also because we African elites have internalised the ideology of our conquerors that presents us as inferior, inadequate, and incapable of self-government.

Bob Marley’s words that we must liberate ourselves from mental slavery are important here.

In his speech to the African Union in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Obama acted like a colonial headman lecturing the natives on how to behave as good subjects.

Yet behind Obama’s seeming concern for our good lies the social contempt he holds us in.

Flagrant hypocrisy

Why doesn’t Obama openly admonish leaders of Western Europe whenever he visits their countries? Is it because they govern better? Who has the right to make this judgement and by what criteria?

There is a lot of corruption and widespread human rights abuses (especially of migrant minorities) in Western Europe – not to mention the brutality, genocides, forced labour, and racism that characterised their governance of Africa during colonial rule.

The difference between Africa and these nations is that we are poorer in material possessions. But does their present wealth imply better governance?

To use Jean Bricmont’s analogy from his book Humanitarian Imperialism, the US and Western Europe behave like a mafia godfather who, as he grows old, decides to defend law and order and begins to attack his lesser colleagues in crime, preaching brotherly love and the sanctity of human life – all the while holding onto his ill-gotten wealth and the income it generates.

Who would fail to denounce such flagrant hypocrisy? In any case, is the US such a model country in governance to give Obama the moral authority to lecture Africans?

In the US, a black person is killed by the highly militarised police force every 28 hours.

Scores of black people in the US are stopped and searched every minute for no other reason than the colour of their skin.

Blacks constitute 12-13 percent of the US population but 43 percent of its prison population. Although there are only 33 million blacks in the US, there are one million (nearly four percent) of them in jail.

Indeed, the incarceration rate of blacks in the US is 10 times that of blacks in apartheid South Africa.

According to Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, there are double the number of blacks in jail than in college.

There are more black people in jail today than were enslaved in 1850; and more blacks are disenfranchised today than in 1875, when the 15th amendment prohibiting discrimination in voting rights based on race was passed.

In Obama’s hometown of Chicago, the total population of black males with a felony record is 80 percent of the adult black male workforce.

The 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa Obama admonishes have a combined population of 961 million and their total prison population is 830,000.

If sub-Saharan Africa jailed its people at the same rate as the US jails its black population, we would have 38.4 million people in jail.

Dehumanising Africans

But these are not the only state abuses in the US.

There are mass surveillance programmes that allow the federal government to eavesdrop on almost every communication of American citizens and allies, the indefinite imprisonment without trial and torture of suspects in Guantanamo Bay and other illegal detention facilities around the world.

The corruption of Washington and Wall Street – where corporate profits are privatised and losses nationalised – goes without saying. 

Invading sovereign nations and toppling their governments while leaving chaos in their wake, the large scale use of drones which kill innocent civilians in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are the kind of crimes the US commits.

This is not an argument of two wrongs making a right. Rather it is to show that Obama’s choice to lecture Africa is a product of the social contempt he and his countrymen and women have for black people.

Many African leaders do not treat their people with the cruel contempt with which the US treats its black citizens. 

True some of our leaders use the police against their political rivals. But the US uses its police daily against innocent poor black people who are not even contesting for political power from the white financial, industrial, and military aristocracy that rules that country.

Why dehumanise them?

Lecturing Africans

Contrary to Obama’s self-appointed role as the secular priest of good governance, Africans fight for more freedom, democracy, and clean government daily.

And in these struggles, the US has consistently sided with our oppressors.

It was complicit in the murder of Patrice Lumumba, supported apartheid South Africa against Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC, whom it declared terrorists), financed the terrorist organisation National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and propped up incompetent and corrupt tyrants like Mobutu, Samuel Doe, and Siad Barre.

Instead of coming to lecture, Obama should have had the humility to come and apologise to Africans for his country’s sadistic adventures on our continent.

Indeed, Obama has no moral right to lecture Africans on democracy, human rights, and clean government because his country has been sponsoring corrupt and cruel policies against black people at home and thieving tyrants on our continent.

If there are weaknesses in our governance they are ours to struggle against and overcome.

Steven Biko, a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, said that the greatest weapon in the hands of an oppressor is never his guns and armies, but the mind of the oppressed.

This was clear from the assembled African elites in Addis Ababa who were cheering Obama as he presented himself as the altruist advising our leaders on how to lead us better.

Like all imperial powers before it, the US seeks to dominate the world in order to exploit it. This is how it sustains her greedy consumption.

But to disguise its intentions, the US rewrites history, employs selective indignation, and chooses arbitrary priorities to present its selfish agenda.

Obama being of African ancestry is the best puppet the US uses to disguise its contempt for Africans. But the best he can do is to mind his own business and let us mind ours.

What do you think of Obama’s visit to Kenya and of his speech? Please feel free to share your thoughts, or other interesting posts and articles on the topic.

Craig Murray: IMF and USA set to ruin Ghana

Having heard back in England that Dumsor (the frequent and lengthy power cuts Ghana experiences) is the work of the IMF and the USA, not a hydroelectric dam running low on water as many Ghanians have told me, I wanted to investigate further.

Where I stay Dumsor has been a sometimes predictable and sometimes erratic visitor – generally we’ve had 24 hours of electricity, followed by 12 hours blackout, with frequent pattern changes. It’s been fine for me as a novelty and being privileged enough to be staying in a house with access to a generator if we need it, but for Ghanians living here permanently; needing access to power and lights to run businesses, to cook and store food, to study and communicate – it’s frustrating – especially when there seems to be so little clarity about what’s actually going on. Promise after promise comes from the Government as to a date when the situation will be resolved, but it’s become a permanent fixture in Ghana, and people have had enough. There’s even a song about it (by one of the best Ghanaian musicians IMO)…

This week on citifmonline, a Ghanian radio website, I came across an article reposted from the website of Craig Murray (author, broadcaster, human rights activist and former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan), which confirmed my fears about IMF and US involvement in the power cuts.

Here is the article in full, originally posted on www.craigmurray.org.uk. I hope Craig won’t mind me reposting it (I’ve just emailed him…)

“Just ten years ago, Ghana had the most reliable electricity supply in all of Africa and the highest percentage of households connected to the grid in all of Africa – including South Africa.

The Volta River Authority, the power producer and distributor was, in my very considerable experience, the best run and most efficient public utility in all of Africa. Indeed it was truly world class, and Ghana was proud of it.

Obviously the sight of truly successful public owned and run enterprise was too much of a threat to the neo-liberal ideologues of the IMF and World Bank. When Ghana needed some temporary financial assistance (against a generally healthy background) the IMF insisted that VRA be broken up. Right wing neoliberal dogma was applied to the Ghanaian electricity market. Electricity was separated between production and distribution, and private sector Independent Power Producers introduced.

The result is disaster. There are more power cuts in Ghana than ever in its entire history as an independent state. Today Ghana is actually, at this moment, producing just 900 MW of electricity – half what it could produce ten years ago. This is not the fault of the NDC or the NPP. It is the fault of the IMF.

Those private sector Independent Power Producers actually provide less than 20% of electricity generation into the grid – yet scoop up over 60% of the revenues! The electricity bills of Ghana’s people go to provide profits to fat cat foreign corporations and of course the western banks who finance them.

Indeed in thirty years close experience the net result of all IMF activity in Africa is to channel economic resources to westerners – and not to ordinary western people, but to the wealthiest corporations and especially to western bankers.

Not content with the devastation they have already caused, the IMF and the USA are now insisting on the privatisation of ECG, the state utility body which provides electricity to the consumer and bills them. The rationale is that a privatised ECG will be more efficient and ruthless in collecting revenue from the poor and from hospitals, clinics, schools and other state institutions.

Doubtless it will be. It will of course be more efficient in channelling still more profits to very rich businessmen and bankers. I suspect that is the real point. That privatised utilities bring better service and cheaper prices to the consumer has been conclusively and forever disproven in the UK. What it does bring is huge profits to the rich and misery to the poor. To unleash this on Ghana is acutely morally reprehensible.

Ghana has a political culture in which the two main parties, NDC and NPP, heatedly blame each other for their country’s problems. But if they only can see it, in truth the electricity sector has been ruined by their common enemy – the IMF and World Bank. I pray that one day the country will escape the grip of these bloodsucking institutions.”

I’m going to do what I can to find out more while I’m here, but if anyone knows any more I’d be grateful if you’d get in touch. I’d also be interested to hear what you think of this.

Accra calling

I’m writing from Accra, Ghana, where I will be spending the month of July writing, reading, learning and listening…

I’ve been here for five days already, dancing, eating, talking, watching and easing into Dumsor (lights out/power cuts).

It’s very easy to get caught up in how much I love Accra life and forget that, at the same, time as hanging out with friends and appreciating (IMO) some of the best music in the world, my time here is precious and I want to be speaking to Ghanaian activists, people, businesses and organisations in the who are passionate about and/or standing up to Western neoliberalism, colonialism and multinational corporations. We’re cooking up a platform in the UK for them to be heard more widely there (which I believe I’ve mentioned before – more details coming soon..).

If you know of anyone or organisations that might be willing to share their story – please let me know ASAP or put them in touch… You can reach me here, or send me a tweet (@devtruths).

I’m also interested in hearing from people in the UK and from around the world who would like to be involved in supporting our ‘campaign’, or just want to find out more.

While I’m here I will be sharing some of the conversations I have with people and some of the observations I make of the city and country.

First feelings

It’s not my first time in Ghana, but already I’ve been met with familiar feelings of indignation about the effects of neoliberalism and colonialism that are so evident here. I hope to delve into this in more detail in later posts, when I can share more from people who have the full experience of what’s going on. In summary, however, over the coming weeks, I will be exploring:

  • British influence here – exactly how much influence does Britain have over Ghana and where does it lie, both in terms of the UK government and British businesses? How is UK aid money being spent? What does this mean?
  • The colonial hangover – what effect has being a ‘former’ British colony had on Ghana and Ghanaians? ‘Whiteness’ in Ghana – what does it mean?
  • Neo-colonialism – how has Britain paved the way for neo-colonialism in Ghana from multinational corporations, the USA and China? How is this affecting the economy, governance and everyday life?  How much corporate power and control of the food system is there in Ghana?
  • Speaking truth to power – what do Ghanaians think of all of the above? Is it welcome? Do they feel they have agency over external influences? If not, who is standing up to it?
  • Why me? What right do I have? A little about responsibility, self-righteousness and why I’m doing this.
  • And whatever else I come across…

I’ll also be going wildly off topic, am madly open to suggestions and will (hopefully) be sharing lots of stories, that are often told, but less frequently heard in the Western world.

I will also be announcing further details of our upcoming event in the UK in October and how you can get involved…

Please do get in touch! And if you are in Ghana or know anyone who might be happy to talk to me, please do let me know. I have the opportunity to write for a couple of different outlets while I’m here, not just on the blog – so it would be wonderful to share important stories.