Remember: First Major Race Riot in Portugal: 1976

LISBON, Oct. 7—Two men from Portugal’s former colony of the Cape Verde Islands were killed and a score of Cape Verdeans and Portuguese were wounded last night in this country’s first major race riot.

Some 130 Cape Verdeans involved in the clashes have been taken to the Santa Margarida airbase, near Abrantes, north of here, it was announced tonight. Representatives of the Cape Verde Embassy will go there tomorrow to decide what is to be done with them.

The violence occurred among workers at the wolfram—tungsten—mines of Panasqueira, in the Estrela Mountains, 18 miles west of Fundāo in central Portugal. The mines are owned by the Beralt Tin and Wolfram Company, which has British, American, South African and Portuguese capital.

“The problem was basically racial,” a company source said in a telephone interview today. “The Cape Verdeans and the Portuguese really despise each other, although there have been some mixed marriages here.”

Racial tensions have been building up in Portugal for 18 months with the influx of refugees from Lisbon’s former African colonies.

The Cape Verdeans, who are mostly racially mixed, often resented Portuguese workers, who generally had less education but better jobs.

There have always been minor troubles at the mines between the two groups. according to company sources.

The British general manager of the mines, Martin Watts, issued a brief account today of the fighting, which began at 1 A.M. According to his casualty list. there were two black Cape Verdeans dead, seven blacks and one white seriously injured, and seven whites and one black with minor injuries.

Eyewitnesses reported that the trouble began when a group of Cape Verdeans with knives invaded the single men’s quarters and began fighting the Portuguese workers. The Portuguese were held prisoner until dawn. Yesterday afternoon, the Portuguese retaliated with pitchforks, poles, axes and hunting rifles.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/1976/10/08/archives/2-killed-many-wounded-as-first-major-race-riot-breaks-out-in.html

Josephine Baker: First Black Woman in the French Pantheon

Josephine Baker was a dancer and singer who became wildly popular in France during the 1920s. She also devoted much of her life to fighting racism.

Who was Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker spent her youth in poverty before learning to dance and finding success on Broadway. In the 1920s she moved to France and soon became one of Europe’s most popular and highest-paid performers. She worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and ’60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States. After beginning her comeback to the stage in 1973, Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975, and was buried with military honors.

Early Life

Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Carrie McDonald, was a washerwoman who had given up her dreams of becoming a music-hall dancer. Her father, Eddie Carson, was a vaudeville drummer. He abandoned Carrie and Josephine shortly after her birth. Carrie remarried soon thereafter and would have several more children in the coming years.

To help support her growing family, at age eight Josephine cleaned houses and babysat for wealthy white families, often being poorly treated. She briefly returned to school two years later before running away from home at age 13 and finding work as a waitress at a club. While working there, she married a man named Willie Wells, from whom she divorced only weeks later.

Dancing in Paris

It was also around this time that Josephine first took up dancing, honing her skills both in clubs and in street performances, and by 1919 she was touring the United States with the Jones Family Band and the Dixie Steppers performing comedic skits. In 1921, Josephine married a man named Willie Baker, whose name she would keep for the rest of her life despite their divorce years later. In 1923, Baker landed a role in the musical Shuffle Along as a member of the chorus, and the comic touch that she brought to the part made her popular with audiences. Looking to parlay these early successes, Baker moved to New York City and was soon performing in Chocolate Dandies and, along with Ethel Waters, in the floor show of the Plantation Club, where again she quickly became a crowd favorite.

In 1925, at the peak of France’s obsession with American jazz and all things exotic, Baker traveled to Paris to perform in La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. She made an immediate impression on French audiences when, with dance partner Joe Alex, she performed the Danse Sauvage, in which she wore only a feather skirt.

Baker and the Banana Skirt

However, it was the following year, at the Folies Bergère music hall, one of the most popular of the era, that Baker’s career would reach a major turning point. In a performance called La Folie du Jour, Baker danced wearing little more than a skirt made of 16 bananas. The show was wildly popular with Parisian audiences and Baker was soon among the most popular and highest-paid performers in Europe, having the admiration of cultural figures like Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and E. E. Cummings and earning herself nicknames like “Black Venus” and “Black Pearl.” She also received more than 1,000 marriage proposals.

Capitalizing on this success, Baker sang professionally for the first time in 1930, and several years later landed film roles as a singer in Zou-Zou and Princesse Tam-Tam. The money she earned from her performances soon allowed her to purchase an estate in Castelnaud-Fayrac, in the southwest of France. She named the estate Les Milandes and soon paid to move her family there from St. Louis.

Racism and the French Resistance

In 1936, riding the wave of popularity she was enjoying in France, Baker returned to the United States to perform in the Ziegfeld Follies, hoping to establish herself as a performer in her home country as well. However, she was met with a generally hostile, racist reaction and quickly returned to France, crestfallen at her mistreatment. Upon her return, Baker married French industrialist Jean Lion and obtained citizenship from the country that had embraced her as one of its own.

When World War II erupted later that year, Baker worked for the Red Cross during the occupation of France. As a member of the Free French forces, she also entertained troops in both Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps most importantly, however, Baker did work for the French Resistance, at times smuggling messages hidden in her sheet music and even in her underwear. For these efforts, at the war’s end, Baker was awarded both the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour with the rosette of the Resistance, two of France’s highest military honors.

Children

Following the war, Baker spent most of her time at Les Milandes with her family. In 1947, she married French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon, and beginning in 1950 began to adopt babies from around the world. She adopted 12 children in all, creating what she referred to as her “rainbow tribe” and her “experiment in brotherhood.” She often invited people to the estate to see these children, to demonstrate that people of different races could in fact live together harmoniously.

Return to the U.S., Civil Rights Advocate

During the 1950s, Baker frequently returned to the United States to lend her support to the Civil Rights Movement, participating in demonstrations and boycotting segregated clubs and concert venues. In 1963, Baker participated, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., in the March on Washington, and was among the many notable speakers that day. In honor of her efforts, the NAACP eventually named May 20th “Josephine Baker Day.”

After decades of rejection by her countrymen and a lifetime spent dealing with racism, in 1973, Baker performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and was greeted with a standing ovation. She was so moved by her reception that she wept openly before her audience. The show was a huge success and marked Baker’s comeback to the stage.

Death

In April 1975, Baker performed at the Bobino Theater in Paris, in the first of a series of performances celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Paris debut. Numerous celebrities were in attendance, including Sophia Loren and Princess Grace of Monaco, who had been a dear friend to Baker for years. Just days later, on April 12, 1975, Baker died in her sleep of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 68.

On the day of her funeral, more than 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to witness the procession, and the French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Baker the first American woman in history to receive French military honors.

First black woman in the French Pantheon

Joséphine Baker, will enter the Pantheon. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has decided to pantheonize this artist, activist for freedom and equality, learned, Saturday August 21, franceinfo, confirming information from Parisian. Joséphine Baker will thus become the first black woman to rest in this republican temple, installed in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.

The ceremony will take place on November 30.

The file in favor of the interpreter of the famous song “I have two loves” had been examined for the first time at the end of June by the Elysee, still according to Le Parisien / Today in France. A petition in favor of the pantheonization of the artist, launched two years ago by Laurent Kupferman, had gathered 38,000 signatures.

Sources: http://www.biography.com

http://www.news.in-24.com

Viola Desmond ( 1914 – 1965)

Viola Desmond

In mid-20th century Canada, Viola Desmond brought nationwide attention to the African Nova Scotian community’s struggle for equal rights. An African-Canadian businesswoman, she confronted the racism that Black Nova Scotians routinely faced by refusing to sit in a segregated space in a public theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946. After her arrest and conviction on spurious charges that concealed racial discrimination behind the arrest, Desmond fought the charges with the help of the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP). Now a symbol of the struggle for equal rights, Viola Desmond’s defiance in the face of injustice became a rallying cry for Black Nova Scotians and Canadians determined to end racial discrimination.

Viola Desmond was born in 1914, the daughter of a middle-class mixed-race family in Halifax. When Desmond graduated from high school she worked as a teacher in Black schools, one of very few employment avenues open to her. Black women in Nova Scotia were restricted from going to beauty salons and studying beauty culture (hair-styling, cosmetics, or wig making), so Desmond attended schools in Montréal and New York. When she obtained her diplomas she opened a salon and eventually a beauty school beside her husband Jack Desmond’s barbershop in Halifax. As an entrepreneur, she achieved financial independence and became a role model to African-Canadian women through the success of her enterprises, which included skin and hair care products for Black women that had previously been unavailable to Nova Scotians.

In November of 1946, Viola Desmond was travelling on business from Halifax to Sydney, Nova Scotia, when car trouble obliged her to stop overnight in New Glasgow. She attended a local movie theatre where she encountered segregated seating rules. When told to move to another seat, she refused to comply. She was forcibly removed from the theatre, arrested, held in jail overnight, and then charged, tried, and convicted with tax evasion. That charge, based on the one cent difference in tax between floor and balcony seats, was the only legal infraction that could be invoked to justify placing her in jail.

The physical injury, humiliation, and injustice that Desmond suffered outraged the Nova Scotian Black community. The newly established NSAACP took her case on and engaged a lawyer to contest her conviction. Although they did not succeed in overturning her conviction, the case became a rallying point for Black Nova Scotians seeking to end discrimination in their province. Viola Desmond’s act of defiance has since become iconic for Canadians, representing a turning point in the struggle for rights in Canada.

Africa Unity Day – 58 years later

Credit: consumare.org

In this day in 1963, African leaders from 32 independent countries established an intergovernmental organization called the Organization of African Nations in Addis-Abeba, Ethiopia.

Some of the key aims of the OAU were to encourage political and  economic integration among member states, and to eradicate colonialism and neo-colonialism from the African continent.
58 years later in 2021, the continent is far to have achieved this goal: No Unity, no real Independence.

African leaders became the torturers of their own people.

They prioritize their personal interest and sell the continent to multinational companies, lobbies and fail to prioritize the interest of their own people.

They are the snakes in our houses.

They undermined the fight.

They betrayed real pan-africans leaders and children of the continent.

Yet, at the inaugural ceremony the ex-president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah pronounced a speech full of dream and hope for the continent.

The full speech below

“Your Excellencies, Colleagues, Brothers and Friends,

At the first gathering of African Heads of State, to which I had the
honour of playing host, there were representatives of eight
independent States only. Today, five years later, we meet as the
representatives of no less than thirty-two States, the guests of His
Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie, the First, and the Government and
people of Ethiopia. To His Imperial Majesty, I wish to express, on
behalf of the Government and people of Ghana my deep appreciation for
a most cordial welcome and generous hospitality.

The increase in our number in this short space of time is open
testimony to the indomitable and irresistible surge of our peoples for
independence. It is also a token of the revolutionary speed of world
events in the latter half of this century. In the task which is before
us of unifying our continent we must fall in with that pace or be left
behind. The task cannot be attached in the tempo of any other age than
our own. To fall behind the unprecedented momentum of actions and
events in our time will be to court failure and our own undoing.

A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation
of our Union at this Conference. It is our responsibility to execute
this mandate by creating here and now the formula upon which the
requisite superstructure may be erected.

On this continent it has not taken us long to discover that the
struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of
national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and
more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and
social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations,
unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and
interference.

From the start we have been threatened with frustration where rapid
change is imperative and with instability where sustained effort and
ordered rule are indispensable.

No sporadic act nor pious resolution can resolve our present problems.
Nothing will be of avail, except the united act of a united Africa. We

have already reached, the stage where we must unite or sink into that
condition which has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed
prey of imperialism after one and a half centuries of political
independence.

As a continent we have emerged into independence in a different age,
with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and
more dangerous in its international associations. Our economic
advancement demands the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist
domination in Africa.

But just as we understood that the shaping of our national destinies
required of each of us our political independence and bent all our
strength to this attainment, so we must recognise that our economic
independence resides in our African union and requires the same
concentration upon the political achievement.

The unity of our continent, no less than our separate independence,
will be delayed if, indeed, we do not lose it, by hobnobbing with
colonialism. African Unity is, above all, a political kingdom which
can only be gained by political means. The social and economic
development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not
the other way around. The United States of America, the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics, were the political decisions of
revolutionary peoples before they became mighty realities of social
power and material wealth.

How, except by our united efforts, will the richest and still enslaved
parts of our continent be freed from colonial occupation and become
available to us for the total development of our continent? Every step
in the decolonisation of our continent has brought greater resistance
in those areas where colonial garrisons are available to colonialism.

This is the great design of the imperialist interests that buttress
colonialism and neo-colonialism, and we would be deceiving ourselves
in the most cruel way were we to regard their individual actions as
separate and unrelated. When Portugal violates Senegal’s border, when
Verwoed allocated one-seventh of South Africa’s budget to military and
police, when France builds as part of her defence policy an
interventionist force that can intervene, more especially in
French-speaking Africa, when Welensky talks of Southern Rhodesia
joining South Africa, it is all part of a carefully calculated pattern
working towards a single end: the continued enslavement of our still
dependent brothers and an onslaught upon the independence of our
sovereign African States.

Do we have any other weapon against this design but our unity? Is not
our unity essential to guard our own freedom as well as to win freedom
for our oppressed brothers, the Freedom Fighters?

Is it not unity alone that can weld us into an effective force,
capable of creating our own progress and making our valuable
contribution to world peace? Which independent African State will
claim that its financial structure and banking institutions are fully
harnessed to its national development? Which will claim that its
material resources and human energies are available for its own
national aspirations? Which will disclaim a substantial measure of
disappointment and disillusionment in its agricultural and urban
development?

In independent Africa we are already re-experiencing the instability
and frustration which existed under colonial rule. We are fast
learning that political independence is not enough to rid us of the
consequences of colonial rule.

The movement of the masses of the people of Africa for freedom from
that kind of rule was not only a revolt against the conditions which
it imposed.

Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they
believed that African Governments could cure the ills of the past in a
way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule. If,
therefore, now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to
exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which
overthrew colonialism will be mobilised against us.

The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active
service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted efforts,
within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress
at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mood of our people.
The symptoms of our troubles will grow, and the troubles themselves
become chronic. It will then be too late even for Pan-African Unity to
secure for us stability and tranquillity in our labours for a
continent of social justice and material well-being. Unless we
establish African Unity now, we who are sitting here today shall
tomorrow be the victims and martyrs of neo-colonialism.

There is evidence on every side that the imperialists have not
withdrawn from our affairs. There are times, as in the Congo, when
their interference is manifest. But generally it is covered up under
the clothing of many agencies, which meddle in our domestic affairs,
to foment dissension within our borders and to create an atmosphere of
tension and political instability. As long as we do not do away with
the root causes of discontent, we lend aid to these neo-colonialist
forces, and shall become our own executioners. We cannot ignore the
teachings of history.

Our continent is probably the richest in the world for minerals and
industrial and agricultural primary materials. From the Congo alone,
Western firms exported copper, rubber, cotton, and other goods to the
value of 2, 773 billion dollars in the ten years between 1945 and
1955, and from South Africa, Western gold mining companies have drawn
a profit, in the four years, between 1947 to 1951, of 814 billion
dollars.

Our continent certainly exceeds all the others in potential
hydroelectric power, which some experts assess as 42 percent of the
world’s total. What need is there for us to remain hewers for the
industrialised areas of the world?

It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill,
no communications and no internal markets, and that we cannot even
agree among ourselves how best to utilise our resources.

Yet all the stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa’s
gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ores. Our capital
flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy.
Fifty-two percent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the
U. S. A. stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from our
shores. Africa provides more than 60 percent of the world’s gold. A
great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for
electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel
for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter
industries – the basic economic might of the foreign Powers – come
from our continent.
Experts have estimated that the Congo basin alone can produce enough
food crops to satisfy the requirements of nearly half the population
of the whole world.

For centuries Africa has been the milk cow of the Western world. It
was our continent that helped the Western world to build up its
accumulated wealth.

It is true that we are now throwing off the yoke of colonialism as
fast as we can, but our success in this direction is equally matched
by an intense effort on the part of imperialism to continue the
exploitation of our resources by creating divisions among us.

When the colonies of the American Continent sought to free themselves
from imperialism in the 18th century there was no threat of
neo-colonialism in the sense in which we know it today. The American
States were therefore free to form and fashion the unity which was
best suited to their needs and to frame a constitution to hold their
unity together without any form of interference from external sources.
We, however, are having to grapple with outside interventions. How
much more, then do we need to come together in the African unity that
alone can save us from the clutches of neo-colonialism.

We have the resources. It was colonialism in the first place that
prevented us from accumulating the effective capital; but we ourselves
have failed to make full use of our power in independence to mobilise
our resources for the most effective take-off into thorough going
economic and social development. We have been too busy nursing our
separate States to understand fully the basic need of our union,
rooted in common purpose, common planning and common endeavour. A
union that ignores these fundamental necessities will be but a shame.
It is only by uniting our productive capacity and the resultant
production that we can amass capital. And once we start, the momentum
will increase. With capital controlled by our own banks, harnessed to
our own true industrial and agricultural development, we shall make
our advance. We shall accumulate machinery and establish steel works,
iron foundries and factories; we shall link the various States of our
continent with communications; we shall astound the world with our
hydroelectric power; we shall drain marshes and swamps, clear infested
areas, feed the under-nourished, and rid our people of parasites and
disease. It is within the possibility of science and technology to
make even the Sahara bloom into a vast field with verdant vegetation
for agricultural and industrial developments. We shall harness the
radio, television, giant printing presses to lift our people from the
dark recesses of illiteracy.

A decade ago, these would have been visionary words, the fantasies of
an idle dreamer. But this is the age in which science has transcended
the limits of the material world, and technology has invaded the
silences of nature. Time and space have been reduced to unimportant
abstractions. Giant machines make roads, clear forests, dig dams,
layout aerodromes; monster trucks and planes distribute goods; huge
laboratories manufacture drugs; complicated geological surveys are
made; mighty power stations are built; colossal factories erected –
all at an incredible speed. The world is no longer moving through bush
paths or on camels and donkeys.

We cannot afford to pace our needs, our development, our security to
the gait of camels and donkeys. We cannot afford not to cut down the
overgrown bush of outmoded attitudes that obstruct our path to the
modern open road of the widest and earliest achievement of economic
independence and the raising up of the lives of our people to the
highest level.

Even for other continents lacking tile resources of Africa, this is
the age that sees the end of human want. For us it is a simple matter
of grasping with certainty our heritage by using the political might
of unity. All we need to do is to develop with our united strength the
enormous resources of our continent. A United Africa will provide a
stable field of foreign investment, which will encourage as long as it
does not behave inimically to our African interests. For such
investment would add by its enterprises to the development of the
national economy, employment and training of our people, and will be
welcome to Africa. In dealing with a united Africa, investors will no
longer have to weigh with concern the risks of negotiating with
governments in one period which may not exist in the very next period.
Instead of dealing or negotiating with so many separate States at a
time they will be dealing with one united government pursuing a
harmonized continental policy.

What is the alternative to this? If we falter at this stage, and let
time pass for neo-colonialism to consolidate its position on this
continent, what will be the fate of our people who have put their
trust in us? What will be the fate of our freedom fighters? What will
be the fate of other African Territories that are not yet free?

Unless we can establish great industrial complexes in Africa – which
we can only do in united Africa – we must have our peasantry to the
mercy of foreign cash crop markets, and face the same unrest which
overthrew the colonialists? What use to the farmer is education and
mechanisation, what use is even capital for development; unless we can
ensure for him and a fair price and ready market? What has the
peasant, worker and farmer gained from political independence, unless
we can ensure for him a fair return for his labour and a higher
standard of living?

Unless we can establish great industrial complexes in Africa, what
have the urban worker, and all those peasants on overcrowded land
gained from political independence? If they are to remain unemployed
or in unskilled occupation, what will avail them the better facilities
for education, technical training, energy and ambition which
independence enables us to provide?

There is hardly any African State without frontier problem with its
adjacent neighbours. It would be futile for me to enumerate them
because they are already familiar to us all. But let me suggest to
Your Excellences, that this fatal relic of colonialism will drive us
to war against one another as our unplanned and uncoordinated
industrial development expands, just as happened in Europe. Unless we
succeed in arresting the danger through mutual understanding on
fundamental issues and through African Unity, which will render
existing boundaries obsolete and superfluous, we shall have fought in
vain for independence. Only African Unity can heal this festering sore
of boundary disputes between our various States. Your Excellencies, the
remedy for these ills is ready to our hand. It stares us in the face
at every customs barrier, it shouts to us from every African heart. By
creating a true political union of all the independent States of
Africa, we can tackle hopefully every emergency, every enemy and every
complexity. This is not because we are a race of superman, but because
we have emerged in the age of science and technology in which poverty,
ignorance and disease are no longer the masters, but the retreating
foes of mankind. We have emerged in the age of socialized planning,
when production and distribution are not governed by chaos, greed and
self-interest, but by social needs. Together with the rest of mankind,
we have awakened from Utopian dreams to pursue practical blueprints
for progress and social justice.

Above all, we have emerged at a time when a continental land mass like
Africa with its population approaching three hundred million are
necessary to the economic capitalization and profitability of modern
productive methods and techniques. Not one of us working singly and
individually can successfully attain the fullest development.
Certainly, in the circumstances, it will not be possible to give
adequate assistance to sister States trying, against the most
difficult conditions, to improve their economic and social structures.
Only a united Africa functioning under a Union Government can
forcefully mobilize the material and moral resources of our separate
countries and apply them efficiently and energetically to bring a
rapid change in the conditions of our people.

If we do not approach the problems in Africa with a common front and a
common purpose, we shall be haggling and wrangling among ourselves
until we are colonized again and become the tolls of a far greater
colonialism than we suffered hitherto.

Unite we must. Without necessarily sacrificing our sovereignties, big
or small, we can, here and now, forge a political union based on
Defence, Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy, and a common Citizenship, an
African currency, an African Monetary Zone and an African Central
Bank. We must unite in order to achieve the full liberation of our
continent. We need a common Defence system with an African High
Command to ensure the stability and security of Africa.

We have been charged with this sacred task by our own people, and we
cannot betray their trust by failing them. We will be mocking the
hopes of our people if we show the slightest hesitation or delay by
tackling realistically this question of African Unity.

The supply of arms or other military aid to the colonial oppressors in
Africa must be regarded not only as aid in the vanquishment of the
freedom fighters battling for their African independence, but as an
act of aggression against the whole of Africa. How can we meet this
aggression except by the full weight of our united strength?

Many of us have made non-alignment an article of faith on this
continent. We have no wish, and no intention of being drawn into the
Cold War. But with the present weakness and insecurity of our States
in the context of world politics, the search for bases and spheres of
influence brings the Cold War into Africa with its danger of nuclear
warfare. Africa should be declared a nuclear-free zone and freed from
cold war exigencies. But we cannot make this demand mandatory unless
we support it from a position of strength to be found only in our
unity.

Instead, many Independent African States are involved by military
pacts with the former colonial powers. The stability and security
which such devices seek to establish are illusory, for the
metropolitan Powers seize the opportunity to support their
neo-colonialist controls by direct military involvement. We have seen
how the neo-colonialists use their bases to entrench themselves and
attack neighbouring independent States. Such bases are centers of
tension and potential danger spots of military conflict. They threaten
the security not only of the country in which they are situated but of
neighbouring countries as well. How can we hope to make Africa a
nuclear-free zone and independent of cold war pressure with such
military involvement on our continent? Only by counter-balancing a
common defence force with a common defence policy based upon our
desire for an Africa untrammelled by foreign dictation or military and
nuclear presence. This will require an all-embracing African High
Command, especially if the military pacts with the imperialists are to
be renounced. It is the only way we can break these direct links
between the colonialism of the past and the neo-colonialism which
disrupts us today.

We do not want nor do we visualize an African High Command in the
terms of the power politics that now rule a great part of the world,
but as an essential and indispensable instrument for ensuring
stability and security in Africa.

We need a unified economic planning for Africa. Until the economic
power of Africa is in our hands, the masses can have no real concern
and no real interest for safeguarding our security, for ensuring the
stability of our regimes, and for bending their strength to the
fulfilment of our ends. With our united resources, energies and
talents we have the means, as soon as we show the will, to transform
the economic structures of our individual States from poverty to that
of wealth, from, inequality to the satisfaction of popular needs. Only
on a continental basis shall we be able to plan the proper utilisation
of all our resources for the full development of our continent.

How else will we retain our own capital for our development? How else
will we establish an internal market for our own industries? By
belonging to different economic zones, how will we break down the
currency and trading barriers between African States, and how will the
economically stronger amongst us be able to assist the weaker and less
developed States?

It is important to remember that independent financing and independent
development cannot take place without an independent currency. A
currency system that is backed by the resources of a foreign State is
ipso facto subject to the trade and financial arrangements of that
foreign country.

Because we have so many customs and currency barriers as a result of
being subject to the different currency systems of foreign powers,
this has served to widen the gap between us in Africa. How, for
example, can related communities and families trade with, and support
one another successfully, if they find themselves divided by national
boundaries and currency restrictions? The only alternative open to
them in these circumstances, is to use smuggled currency and enrich
national and international racketeers and crooks who prey upon our
financial and economic difficulties.

No independent African State today by itself has a chance to follow an
independent course of economic development, and many of us who have
tried to do this have been almost ruined or have had to return to the
fold of the former colonial rulers. This position will not change
unless we have unified policy working at the continental level. The
first step towards our cohesive economy would be a unified monetary
zone, with, initially, an agreed common parity for our currencies. To
facilitate this arrangement, Ghana would change to a decimal system.
When we find that the arrangement of a fixed common parity is working
successfully, there would seem to be no reason for not instituting one
common currency and a single bank of issue. With a common currency
from one common bank of issue we should be able to stand erect on our
own feet because such an arrangement would be fully backed by the
combined national products of the States composing the union. After
all, the purchasing power of money depends on productivity and the
productive exploitation of the natural, human and physical resources
of the nation.

While we are assuring our stability by a common defence system, and
our economy is being orientated beyond foreign control by a Common
currency, Monetary Zone and Central Bank of Issue, we can investigate
the resources of our continent. We can begin to ascertain whether in
reality we are the richest, and not, as we have been taught to
believe, the poorest among the continents. We can determine whether we
possess the largest potential in hydroelectric power, and whether we
can harness it and other sources of energy to our own industries. We
can proceed to plan our industrialization on a continental scale, and
to build up a common market for nearly three hundred million people.

Common Continental Planning for the Industrial and Agricultural
development of Africa is a vital necessity.

So many blessings must flow from our unity; so many disasters must
follow on our continued disunity, that our failure to unite today will
not be attributed by posterity only to faulty reasoning and lack of
courage, but to our capitulation before the forces of imperialism.

The hour of history which has brought us to this assembly is a
revolutionary hour. It is the hour of decision. For the first time,
the economic imperialism which menaces us is itself challenged by the
irresistible will of our people.

The masses of the people of Africa are crying for unity. The people of
Africa call for a breaking down of boundaries that keep them apart.
They demand an end to the border disputes between sister African
States – disputes that arise out of the artificial barriers that
divided us. It was colonialism’s purpose that left us with our border
irredentism that rejected our ethnic and cultural fusion.

Our people call for unity so that they may not lose their patrimony in
the perpetual service of neo-colonialism. In their fervent push for
unity, they understand that only its realization will give full
meaning to their freedom and our African independence.

It is this popular determination that must move us on to a Union of
Independent African States. In delay lies danger to our well-being, to
tour very existence as free States. It has been suggested that our
approach of unity should be gradual, that it should go piece-meal.
This point of view conceives of Africa as a static entity with
“frozen” problems which can be eliminated one by one and when all have
been cleared then we can come together and say: “Now all is well. Let
us unite”. This view takes no account of the impact of external
pressures. Nor does it take cognizance of the danger that delay can
deepen our isolations and exclusiveness; that it can enlarge our
differences and set us drifting further and further apart into the net
of neo-colonialism, so that our union will become nothing but a fading
hope, and the great design of Africa’s full redemption will be lost,
perhaps, forever.

The view is also expressed that our difficulties could be resolved
simply by a greater collaboration through cooperative association in
our inter-territorial relationships. This way of looking at our
problems denies a proper conception of their inter-relationship and
mutuality. It denies faith in a future for African advancement, in
African independence. It betrays a sense of solution only in continued
reliance upon external sources through bilateral agreements for
economic and other forms of aid.

The fact is that although we have been cooperating and associating
with one another in various fields of common endeavour even before
colonial times, this has not given us the continental identity and the
political and economic force which would help us to deal effectively
with the complicated problems confronting us in Africa today. As far
as foreign aid is concerned, a United Africa would be in a more
favourable position to attract assistance from foreign sources. There
is the far more compelling advantage which this arrangement offers, in
that aid will come from anywhere to Africa because our bargaining
power would become infinitely greater. We shall no longer be dependent
upon aid from restricted sources. We shall have the world to choose
from.

What are we looking for in Africa? Are we looking for Charters,
conceived in the light of the United Nations example? A type of United
Nations organisation whose decisions are framed on the basis of
resolutions that in our experience have sometimes been ignored by
member States? Where groupings are formed and pressures develop in
accordance with the interest of the group concerned? Or is it intended
that Africa should be turned into a lose organization of States on the
model of the organization of the American States, in which the weaker
States within it can be at the mercy of the stronger or more powerful
ones politically or economically or at the mercy of some powerful
outside nations or group of nations? Is this the kind of association
we want for ourselves in the United Africa we all speak of with such
feeling and emotion?

Your Excellences, permit me to ask: is this the kind of framework we
desire for our United Africa? And arrangement which in future could
permit Ghana or Nigeria or the Sudan, or Liberia, or Egypt or Ethiopia
for example, to use pressure, which either superior economic or
political influence gives, to dictate the flow and the direction of
trade from, say, Burundi or Togo or Nyasaland to Mozambique?

We all want a United Africa, united not only in our concept of what
unity can connote, but united in our common desire to move forward
together and dealing with all the problems that can best be solved
only on a continental basis.

When the first Congress of the United States met many years ago at
Philadelphia, one of the delegates sounded the first chore of unity by
declaring that they had met in a “state of nature” in other words,
they were not at Philadelphia as Virginians, or Pennsylvanians, but
simply as Americans. This reference to themselves as Americans was in
those days a new and strange experience. May I dare to assert equally
on this occasion, Your Excellences that we meet here today not as
Ghanaians, Guineans, Egyptians, Algerians, Moroccans, Malians,
Liberians, Congolese or Nigerians but as Africans. Africans united in
our resolve to remain here until we have agreed on the basic
principles of a new compact of unity among ourselves which guarantees
for us and future a new arrangement of continental government.

If we succeed in establishing a new set of principles as the basis of
a new Charter or Statute for the establishment of a Continental Unity
of Africa and the creation of social and political progress for our
people then, in my view, this Conference should mark the end of our
various groupings and regional blocs. But if we fail and let this
grand and historic opportunity slip by then we should give way to
greater dissension and division among us for which the people of
Africa will never forgive us. And the popular and progressive forces
and movements within Africa will condemn us. I am sure therefore that
we should not fail them.

I have spoken at some length, Your Excellences, because it is
necessary for us all to explain not only to one another present here
but also to our people who have entrusted to us the fate and destiny
of Africa. We must therefore not leave this place until we have set up
effective machinery for achieving African Unity. To this end, I now
propose for your consideration the following:

As a first step, Your Excellences, a Declaration of Principles uniting
and binding us together and to which we must all faithful and loyally
adhere, and laying the foundations of unity should be set down. And
there should also be a formal declaration that all the Independent
African States here and now agree to the establishment of a Union of
African States.

As a second and urgent step for the realization of the unification of
Africa, an All-Africa Committee of Foreign Ministers be set up now,
and that before we rise from this Conference a day should be fixed for
them to meet.

This Committee should establish on behalf of the Heads of our
Governments, a permanent body of officials and experts to work out a
machinery for the Union Government of Africa. This body of officials
and experts should be made up of two of the brains from each
Independent African State. The various Charters of the existing
groupings and other relevant document could also be submitted to the
officials and experts. A praesidium consisting of the Head of the
Governments of the Independent African States should be called upon to
meet and adopt a Constitution and others recommendations that will
launch the Union Government of Africa.

We must also decide on allocation where this body of officials and
experts will work as the new Headquarters or Capital of our Union
Government. Some central place in Africa might be the fairest
suggestion either at Bangui in the Central African Republic or
Leopoldville in Congo. My colleagues may have other proposals. The
Committee of Foreign Ministers, officials and experts should be
empowered to establish:

1. A Commission to frame a Constitution for a Union Government of
African States;
2. A Commission to work out a continent-wide plan for a unified or
common economic and industrial programme for Africa; this plan should
include proposals for setting up:
• A Common Market for Africa
• An African currency
• African Monetary Zone
• African Central Bank, and
• Continental Communications System;
3. A Commission to draw up details for a Common Foreign Policy and Diplomacy;
4. A Commission to produce plans for a Common System of Defence;
5. A Commission to make proposals for Common African Citizenship.
These Commissions will report to the Committee of Foreign Ministers
who should, in turn, submit within six months of this Conference their
recommendations to the Praesidium. The Praesidium meeting in
Conference at the Union Headquarters will consider and approve the
recommendations of the Committee of Foreign Ministers.

In order to provide funds immediately for the work of the permanent
officials and experts of the Headquarters of the Union, I suggest that
a special Committed be set up now to work a budget for this.

Your Excellences, with these steps, I submit, we shall be irrevocably
committed to the road which will bring us to a Union Government of
Africa. Only a united Africa with central political direction can
successfully give effective material and moral support to our Freedom
Fighters in Southern Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique, South-West Africa,
Bechuanaland, Swaziland, Basutoland, Portuguese Guinea, etc., and of
course South Africa.”

Nina Simone

“Nina Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone? Maya Angelou

She was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, an icon of American music. She was the consummate musical storyteller, a griot as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. She earned the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul’ for she could weave a spell so seductive and hypnotic that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment. She was who the world would come to know as Nina Simone.

When Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003, she left a timeless treasure trove of musical magic spanning over four decades from her first hit, the 1959 Top 10 classic “I Loves You Porgy,” to “A Single Woman,” the title cut from her one and only 1993 Elektra album. While thirty-three years separate those recordings, the element of honest emotion is the glue that binds the two together – it is that approach to every piece of work that became Nina’s uncompromising musical trademark.

By the end of her life, Nina was enjoying an unprecedented degree of recognition. Her music was enjoyed by the masses due to the CD revolution, discovery on the Internet, and exposure through movies and television. Nina had sold over one million CDs in the last decade of her life, making her a global catalog best-seller.

No one website can fully explore the many nuances and flavors that made up the more than 40 original albums in the Nina Simone library. This site contains most of Nina’s finest works and press mentions. However, we might not have had the chance to witness the breathtaking range of material Nina could cover if she hadn’t taken the path she did.

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina on February 21st, 1933, 

Nina’s prodigious talent as a musician was evident early on when she started playing piano by ear at the age of three. Her mother, a Methodist minister, and her father, a handyman and preacher himself, couldn’t ignore young Eunice’s God-given gift of music. 

Raised in the church on the straight and narrow, her parents taught her right from wrong, to carry herself with dignity, and to work hard. She played piano – but didn’t sing – in her mother’s church, displaying remarkable talent early in her life. 

Able to play virtually anything by ear, she was soon studying classical music with an Englishwoman named Muriel Mazzanovich, who had moved to the small southern town. It was from these humble roots that Eunice developed a lifelong love of Johann Sebastian Bach, Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert.

After graduating valedictorian of her high school class, the community raised money for a scholarship for Eunice to study at Julliard in New York City before applying to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. 

Her family had already moved to the City Of Brotherly Love, but Eunice’s hopes for a career as a pioneering African American classical pianist were dashed when the school denied her admission. 

To the end, she herself would claim that racism was the reason she did not attend. While her original dream was unfulfilled, Eunice ended up with an incredible worldwide career as Nina Simone – almost by default.

Credit: http://www.ninasimone.com

Nina Simone would have turned 88 years old.

Love life to the queen

21 march 1960 -Remember Sharpeville and take actions

Sharpeville massacre, (March 21, 1960), incident in the black township of Sharpeville, near Vereeniging, South Africa, in which police fired on a crowd of blacks, killing or wounding some 250 of them. It was one of the first and most violent demonstrations against apartheid in South Africa.The Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), a splinter group of the African National Congress (ANC) created in 1959, organized a countrywide demonstration for March 21, 1960, for the abolition of South Africa’s pass laws. Participants were instructed to surrender their reference books (passes) and invite arrest. Some 20,000 blacks gathered near a police station at Sharpeville, located about 30 miles (50 km) south of Johannesburg. After some demonstrators, according to police, began stoning police officers and their armoured cars, the officers opened fire on them with submachine guns. About 69 blacks were killed and more than 180 wounded, some 50 women and children being among the victims. A state of emergency was declared in South Africa, more than 11,000 people were detained, and the PAC and ANC were outlawed. Reports of the incident helped focus international criticism on South Africa’s apartheid policy. Following the dismantling of apartheid, South African President Nelson Mandela chose Sharpeville as the site at which, on December 10, 1996, he signed into law the country’s new constitution.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March.
In 1979, the General Assembly adopted a Programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (A/RES/34/24). On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21 March, would be organized annually in all States.

Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and an international framework for fighting racism has been built, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Convention is now nearing universal ratification, yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.

Racial and ethnic discrimination occur on a daily basis, hindering progress for millions of people around the world. Racism and intolerance can take various forms — from denying individuals the basic principles of equality to fuelling ethnic hatred that may lead to genocide — all of which can destroy lives and fracture communities.

All together for more justice

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Redoshi: The only known footage of a female African born transatlantic slave trade survivor.

Redoshi, also known as Sally Smith, was the second to last living, African-born survivor of North American slavery, and the only female survivor of the transatlantic slave trade known to have been recorded on film.

Born on the coast of West Africa in what is present day Benin, Redoshi was one of about 110 West African children and adults who were human cargo of the schooner Clotilda, the last slave ship to reach the United States.

In July of 1860, the Clotilda docked in Mobile Bay, Alabama, even though federal law had banned the importation of slaves to the United States since 1808. Redoshi  outlived all other known Clotilda survivors with the exception of Matilda McCrear, who died in January 1940.

Another Clotilda survivor, Kossola/Cudjo Lewis, died in 1935. Very little is known about Redoshi’s early life, although a newspaper article suggested that she was the daughter-in-law of a chief and that her father upheld the law in their community (Montgomery Advertiser, 31 January 1932).

Descriptions of Redoshi’s kidnapping by Dahomean slave traders indicate that, similar to many of her fellow Clotilda survivors, she was a member of a Yoruba community that was raided on or around February 16, 1860.

King Glele of Dahomey led the raid on Redoshi’s town. Glele’s father, King Ghezo, had signed a treaty with Great Britain in 1852 that formally abolished the export of slaves overseas. However, a decline in the price of palm oil and resurgence of the Cuban slave trade meant that an overt trade in slaves soon  resumed within the West African kingdom.

When Ghezo died in 1858, Glele expanded his father’s slave raiding campaigns. Redoshi claimed that the Dahomean warriors who kidnapped her wet her town’s gunpowder to ensure that the community could not defend itself before launching a surprise night  attack. The survivors of the raid were then marched to the slave port of Ouidah. Redoshi suggested  that this journey took four days. The captives were then locked for three weeks in a slave pen, or barracoon, alongside other raid survivors and kidnap victims before being selected for sale to the U.S.  for $100 each. 

The voyage from West Africa to Mobile lasted for around forty-five days. Redoshi stated that at least two people died from sickness on board the ship and thrown out to sea, consequently. Upon arrival in Mobile the Clotilda survivors were smuggled upriver in an effort to conceal their illegal purchase and journey from U.S. authorities. Although the schooner was burned and sunk, remains of the Clotilda were finally identified at the bottom of the Mobile River in May 2019.

Most of the Clotilda survivors stayed in Mobile because they were enslaved to the Meaher family. The groups of men and women  managed to reunite after the Civil War. They purchased land from their former owners and created  their own community, known as African Town, the first U.S. town to be run continuously by black people and the only one founded by Africans. However, Redoshi, her husband, Yawith, and at least two other Africans were sent to Bank of Selma founder Washington Smith’s plantation in Bogue Chitto, Dallas County. According to Amelia Boynton Robinson, a community leader and voting rights activist who interviewed Redoshi in the 1930s, Redoshi was a twelve-year-old girl when she was sold and married to Yawith, a much older man from a different ethnic group. 

When Redoshi arrived at the Smith plantation, they renamed her Sally or Sallie and her husband, Yawith, became known as William or Billy Smith. The couple was enslaved to Washington Smith for the next five years and worked in both his house and cotton fields.

After the Civil War formally granted them their freedom, Redoshi and Yawith continued to labor as sharecroppers on the Smith plantation. Redoshi and Yawith found that the amount of cotton that they produced was miscounted when they tried to sell it. This was a common practice by plantation owners and merchants in  the Black Belt that was designed to keep black farmers in perpetual debt to white landlords. In  response, Yawith developed a system for recording independently the amount of cotton that he  produced.

Together, Redoshi and Yawith had a daughter to whom they gave a West African name, which was recorded variously on census and marriage data as Leasy, Luth A., Lethe, Lethia, Letia, and Lethy. Boynton Robinson also recalled that Redoshi had several great-grandchildren and that some became public school teachers and ministers.

Redoshi and other Clotilda captives were among the few African-born slaves who lived through the  Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. More notably for a survivor of the transatlantic slave trade, Redoshi witnessed the activist beginnings of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement through her associations with Amelia Boynton Robinson and Bogue Chitto. Redoshi was buried on the plantation where she had been enslaved. Records evidence that Redoshi remained committed to her West African spiritual beliefs and language throughout her life. 

In the last year of her life, Redoshi appeared in the U.S. Department of Agriculture film The Negro Farmer: Extension Work for Better Farming and Better Living (1938). This recording of Redoshi is the only known footage of a female African born transatlantic slave trade survivor. Although she is shown talking on film, tragically her voice is silenced in the brief clip, over which a white narrator intones.

Credit: enslaved.org

How Portugal silenced ‘centuries of violence and trauma´

There has been little acknowledgment of Portugal’s role in the transatlantic slave trade – until now.

As a wet winter gives way to spring, Lisbon’s Campo das Cebolas square is empty and quiet.

From the nearby ferry terminal, commuters from neighbourhoods on the other side of the Tagus river go back and forth. Between the empty, pedestrianised square and the river bank runs the Infante Dom Henrique highway, named after the discoverer, Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460). A few hundred metres away, a soaring, empty cruise ship, the Vasco da Gama, evoking the great 15th-century explorer, is moored to the dock.

References to Portugal’s epic, seafaring past like these litter this city – there is even a Vasco da Gama shopping mall. But until now, there has never been a single explicit reference, memorial or monument in Portugal’s public space to its pioneering role in the transatlantic slave trade, nor any acknowledgement of the millions of lives that were stolen between the 15th and 19th centuries.

This is the task that has brought Kiluanji Kia Henda, Angola’s most successful contemporary artist, here from his hometown of Luanda. The forthcoming Memorial-Homage to the Victims of Slavery that he has designed will be the first memorial of its kind in Portugal and, he says, “the greatest challenge I’ve faced as an artist”.

Illustrations of the memorial by Kiluanji Kia Henda [Courtesy of Djass – Association of Afro-descendants

The installation, due to be unveiled in Lisbon this spring, features a field of three-metre-high sugar canes, forged in aluminium, alluding to the cold economic rationale that drove the transatlantic-slave trade. It is also a challenge for Portugal. For a country that both established the transatlantic slave trade and was one of the last to continue reaping its profits (it was still using de-facto slave labour in its colonies in the 1960s), Portugal has been slow to reckon with its past.

The national school curriculum, museums and tourism infrastructure all amount to a grandiose rendering of the country’s 15th to 17th-century “discoveries” in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and a selective recollection of its 20th-century colonial exploits in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé & Principe, Goa, Macau and East Timor.

There are monuments and statues up and down the country dedicated to navigators, missionary priests responsible for the conversion of Africans and Indigenous people to Catholicism, or soldiers who fought against African independence in the colonial wars. Meanwhile, it is often said that “Portugal is not a racist country”, despite enormous structural inequalities and decades of documented discrimination. “There has been a silencing here of centuries of violence and trauma,” says Kia Henda.

However, a burgeoning movement here – the Movimento Negro – along with global calls to “decolonise history”, have begun to challenge the way Portugal views itself, from past to present. The Movimento Negro has been around in various forms in Portugal since the start of the last century; the latest resurgence of it is now in its second generation. Most of the sizeable Black population in Portugal today are immigrants and their descendants from the former Portuguese African colonies, who emigrated here from the 1960s and hold in their memories and histories a very different version of Portugal’s past. Kia Henda’s memorial is seen as part of this process; erupting on the national landscape and expected to stay.

Significantly, the memorial is not an initiative of the Portuguese government, but came about in 2017, when the Djass Afro-descendent Association, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded by the Portuguese MP, Beatriz Gomes Dias, won a popular vote for public funds.

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https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/features/2021/3/10/how-portugal-silenced-centuries-of-violence-and-trauma?fbclid=IwAR3S4Rg594WHxgL6ZmLagBppqwuImf50cCUn3gVNr3KeT5oc_MnZV1w-LTE