Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays America: Enjoy the Religious War

By Ezrah Aharone

While President Obama revs-up the war machinery during this holiday season as he simultaneously holds the Nobel Peace Prize, it brings ponder to the possibility of lasting peace, considering that this conflict also embodies a borderless ideological “collision of religions.”

Although 9/11 makes the US feel justified in droning Afghanistan into submission, a few factors are worth noting since the groups known as Al Qaeda, Taliban, and Islamists are not all regional members of some Lodge-like fraternity who attend annual conventions to blow-up airplanes. Just as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden weren’t “colleagues,” they don’t all know each other or have close bonds. I’d bet that 9/11 was just as surprising to Americans as it was to many of the very combatants that the US now targets in the mountains of Afghanistan.
If you read A History of God by Karen Armstrong, you’ll find that the autonomous tribes and clans throughout this region have been warring and exacting “rough-and-ready” justice on themselves and invaders for centuries. Afghanistan is not only called the “Graveyard of Empires” because of its war victories, it’s a land where loyalty can be “rented” to the highest bidder. In fact, Afghans have a term called “Turning Turbans” to signify the switching of sides and loyalties.

But in this case, the one uncompromising factor is their Islamic belief and obligation to rid-out Westerners whom they regard as foreign occupiers and infidels. Before resigning his State Department post, former Marine Captain, Matthew Hoh, aptly assessed that Afghans are fighting in some areas only because the US military “is there.” If American soldiers weren’t “there,” many Afghan fighters would have a pre-9/11 outlook when America was not a “declared enemy.”

Meantime, despite the public’s mounting war outcries and economic anxieties, Obama has done something that can potentially reserve him a seat among the pantheon of the greatest commander-in-chiefs – He has become a “wartime president.” Many of the most renowned American presidents have the “glorified” distinction of being war leaders.

America’s warped fascination with war is openly boasted in its national anthem, which puts a twist of splendor on the butchery during the War of 1812 – “the perilous fight,” “ramparts gallantly streaming,” “rocket’s red glare,” “bombs bursting in air.” If you want instant success, just make a blood-spattering war movie that depicts American bravery and greatness. Don’t make the mistake though of featuring Black heroes like Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna because that lacks comparative box-office appeal.
This cancerous love affair with blood, circulates the veins of society and manifests in everything from the highest crime rate and gun homicides in the world; to belligerent television, movies, and video games for “entertainment” pleasures; to routine abortions and capital punishment; to random mass murders of schoolchildren; to over 90,000 annual rapes of women.

A nation’s true character is defined – not by fluffy words in its constitution – but by the moral and cumulative sum of its historical conduct. Yet America, with its enduring history of questionable wars and centuries of racialized misconduct, has a false self-perception of being a nation of peace. Dr. King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” . . . and said God hasn’t “appointed America as his messianic force, a kind of policeman of the whole world.”

America has a national holiday recognizing Dr. King and his nonviolent philosophy, but nonviolence is certainly not America’s philosophy. Nonviolence is something that Black America is conditioned to practice towards Euro-Americans, but nonviolence is considered a cardinal weakness by this establishment. Heck, America isn’t even fond of compromise, and it definitely doesn’t “love its enemies.” It practices an unrepentant “eye-for-eye” variety of Christianity that “lives by the sword.”

The religious notion that God endorses the US military is reinforced in the “Oath of Enlistment” that all soldiers must “swear,” which evokes “Faith” and eerily concludes with the words, “So Help Me God.” As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia affirmed, “A religious-neutral government does not fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its money to its military.”

If the reverse occurred whereby the Christian streets of America were stormed by Muslim soldiers with Blackwater-like mercenaries, ordinary Americans would fight no less fiercely than Afghans. Call them terrorists or whatever else, but based on their longstanding heritage and religious convictions they have no intentions to allow America, via the corrupted Hamid Kharzi government, to institute a Plymouth Rock-like presence in Afghanistan.
Consequently, the decade of 2010 launches with an outright, but undeclared, “Religious War” with Crusaders on one side, Jihadists on the other, with no negotiating table between these two Abrahamic faiths that originally share spiritual commonalities without today’s political complexities. So, as with Iraq, it’s near-certain that Afghanistan won’t become a vacation destination for Americans in your lifetime.

Ezrah Aharone is the author of two political books: Sovereign Evolution and Pawned Sovereignty. He is also a founding member of the Center for Sovereignty Advancement. He can be reached at

Thursday, December 17, 2009




A call for the establishment of a ‘Pan-African Commonwealth or League of Nations’ comprised of all of the countries of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean that have been impacted by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was one of the main outcomes of an historic Seminar on African, Caribbean and Latin American unity that was held in St Vincent on the 5th and 6th of December under the auspices of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

This novel proposal was advanced by a Barbadian delegation consisting of Bobby Clarke and David Comissiong of the Peoples Empowerment Party, Trevor Prescod of the Israel Lovell Foundation and John Howell of African Reparations Inc., and was inspired by the intellectual work of the legendary Nigerian Pan-Africanist scholar who goes by the single name of Chinweizu.

In outlining the concept of an association of African, Latin American and Caribbean states that could be variously conceptualized as a ‘Pan African Commonwealth’, a ‘South Atlantic League of Nations’ or a ‘Pan-African Bloc of Countries’, Mr David Comissiong explained that the vast majority of the nations of the three regions are bound together by historical, racial, cultural, geographical and political factors.

In making the case for this new multi-national association of states, Mr Comissiong sketched the common history of European orchestrated slavery, forced migration of large numbers of African people, colonialism and neo-colonialism that has impacted virtually all of the societies of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, and referred to the common interest that the people and governments of the three regions possess in pursuing ‘Reparations’ for the damage inflicted on them and the establishment of a ‘New International Economic Order’.

This proposal was unanimously endorsed by the participants in the St Vincent Seminar, and the next steps in the process of making it a reality are to place it before the governing bodies of the ‘African Union’ (AU), the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the ‘Bolivarian Alternative For Latin America’ (ALBA).

However, the ‘Pan-African Commonwealth’ was not the only idea that garnered the approval of the several Vincentian, St Lucian, Venezuelan, Surinamese and Barbadian delegates at the Seminar!
Indeed, in a declaration signed by some 20 leaders and activists of the Caribbean, the Seminar acknowledged the massive flaws inherent in the neo-liberal international capitalist system, and insisted that there is an urgent need for the nations of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to come together in solidarity and unity if they are to avoid the worst ravages of the diseased capitalist system.

The participants were very clear however that such efforts at unity have to go way beyond "the formal structures of government and state bureaucracies, into the realm of deep people-to-people contacts and relationships". And in this regard, they insisted that a much greater effort has to be made to implement comprehensive programmes of popular education and information dissemination that are designed to sharpen the intellect, critical consciousness and ideological orientation of our people.

The ‘Declaration’ also included a reiteration of "the longstanding clarion call of the progressive world community of nations and peoples for an immediate end to the criminal, illegal and immoral United States blockade against the Caribbean nation of Cuba". In addition, the participants unanimously confirmed their support of the recent declaration made by the ‘Union of South American Nations’ (UNASUR) for the South American region to be a zone of peace, and called on all of the nations of the world to respect the UNASUR declaration.

9 December 2009

Distributed by: [] On Behalf Of Cikiah Thomas

by Chinweizu Chinweizu


Hi David Commissiong:
I recall we met in Kampala in 1994 at the 7th PAC.

I have just seen your press release about setting up a Pan-African Commonwealth. Congratulations for taking the initiative again, like you did with the GAC. And since the press release mentions me as an inspiration for the project, I feel obliged to clarify what I have been calling for, and to ask some probing questions, lest you guys sink your efforts into bringing into being something inadequate to our needs in the 21st century. Surely, we don't need another jamboree outfit for Black heads of state, or another outfit that is structurally incapable of achieving the paramount goal of Pan-Africanism, namely the total liberation of Global Black Africa from all hegemonic and imperialist powers.

Before we can assess the desirability of this Commonwealth, we need to have a prospectus that clearly sets out its constituency, goals, and the various problems of its constituency that it shall undertake to solve, a prospectus that we all can study and help mature.

Here are some initial issues that come to mind:

If this is to be a Pan-African outfit, it cannot afford to repeat the parochialism of the 1960s when the OAU was formed without including the Black Diaspora in its constituency and its agenda. And without even including the interests of the Afro-Mauritanians and South Sudanese in liberation from Arab colonialism and enslavement. Today, we have a variety of situations and threats to different parts of Global Black Africa. Any new “Pan-African” organization, if it is to be adequate, has to be designed to help each part of the Global Black African constituency solve its peculiar problems using help from the other parts of the constituency.
After all, isn’t that what Pan-African solidarity is about?
However, judging from the press release, this Pan-African Commonwealth is going to be concerned with securing reparations only for the western diaspora. If so, what is Pan-African about it?
What of the interests of the eastern diaspora? Or of the continental Black Africans?
What, in particular, of the interests of the Darfurians, the South Sudanese and the Black Mauritanians in their long struggle for liberation from Arab colonialism and enslavement?
What of the indigenous Fijians in their struggle to prevent political domination by the immigrant Indians?
What of the interests of the West Papuans in their struggle against Indonesian annexation?
What of the interests of the Black Australians?
What, if I may ask, is Pan-African about this proposed Commonwealth if it ignores such parts of Global Black Africa and their interests?
Or has Pan-Africanism ceased to be about the total liberation of the peoples of Global Black Africa?

Here also are some initial questions that need wise answers:

Who are we—the Global Black Africans? And what are our plans and ambitions for ourselves for this century?
Where is our own exclusive interstate organization? For us only?
Before seeking alliances, shouldn’t we create our own home organization, for us alone? Our home base as it were?

What is a black African state? A country with a black majority in the population? A country in which the state apparatus is in the hands of its black population?
Which states are they?
Would the USA qualify just because it has a sizeable captive black African population, or because a blackface now resides in the white house?

What are the plans and ambitions of the ALBA states with whom, from the Press Release, we may be making alliances?

As the Chinese sage Sun Tzu pointed out some 25 centuries ago: “one ignorant of the plans of neighboring states cannot make alliances with them.”
We must bear in mind that one of the fundamental errors of Nkrumah’s generation when they formed the OAU in the 1960s was that they did not find out about the plans and ambitions of the Arab states with whom they went into alliance in the OAU. And even now, many Pan-Africanists don’t know, and don’t want to know, these Arab ambitions in Africa! We cannot afford to be naïve yet again.

How will this new outfit tackle Global Black Africa’s naiveté, weakness and lack of geopolitical purpose? After all, we must articulate a geopolitical purpose other than unity. Unity is not enough. We must insist on an answer to the question: unity for what? We must always bear in mind that we can achieve unity-in-captivity, and that’s hardly what Pan-Africanism is aiming for. So, lets spell out what our liberated condition would look like and how this new outfit proposes to bring it about.

Will the agenda of this Commonwealth, unlike the OAU/AU, include, in particular, the liberation of Black Africans from Arab colonialism and enslavement?

Needless to say, for it to merit the Pan-African name, it has to openly concern itself with the interests and struggles of all the subsections of the Global Black African constituency.

Honest and correct answers to such questions would, I think, help to improve the proposal.

I have no doubt that other readers of the press release will raise additional issues and questions for consideration.

All in all, I would suggest that, instead of implementing new interstate initiatives without first thoroughly debating them, we take the next few years to rigorously think through and debate what we have done or failed to do in the last 50 years. After all, Pan Africanism since 1958, with its ill-conceived OAU and AU has failed us. It has not liberated us from the neo-colonialism and imperialism of the Europeans, let alone from Arab colonialism and enslavement. Why don't we first learn from its failures before setting off in some new direction whose constituency and goals we have not thoroughly studied? We can't afford to get it wrong again. The world is moving on and getting more dangerous for Global Black Africans.

Black World League of Nations I & II .docPlease find attached my original proposal for a Black World League, in two parts: the 1994 proposal that I handed out as a flyer in Kampala; and the earlier 1985 argument for it, that is reproduced in my 1987 book, Decolonising the African Mind. Of course, the basic proposal is still valid and the Black World League is even more urgently needed. But if I were making the case for it today, I would take into consideration the lessons that we should have learned since 1994. I will update the case if required.

But let me urge you to set up a forum where a re-examination of Pan-Africanism for the 21st century can be conducted in detail, with particular attention to its constituency and its goals in the world of today. Maybe your outfit in Barbados can organize a journal or website, perhaps along the lines of Pambazuka, for conducting this re-examination of our situation and possible ways forward.

In the service of global Black Africa,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Open Email to Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramirez: Imprisonment is an occupational hazard for activists who make mistakes!

All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)

The Inheritor and Continuator of the Revolutionary Theory and Practice of
Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and Kwame Ture –

Part 1 of 3 parts – December 14, 2009
An Open Email to Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramirez:
Imprisonment is an occupational hazard for activists who make mistakes!

Dr. Ferrer,

You are accused of illegal possession of two bags of cement that cost about $8 in state-owned stores. Yusnaimy Jorge Soca, your wife, has publicly said, in the Uncommon Sense blog, that “When he was arrested, the police raided our house, supposedly, due to [a] tip that we were buying construction materials with an illegal origin. During that fake search in our house, they confiscated two bags of cement and some metal sheets. … What nobody understands is, why they didn’t show any interest in the bag of cement, the gravel and the sand piles we have had in the house’s front porch, in plain view, for almost a year?” She also said that you were using the cement to fix a hole in the ceiling of your house. If this is true, this was not a political act. It was an error, with tragic repercussions for you, your family, and the people and cause you serve. We beg you, as members of the A-APRP (GC), to not compound this error, this tragedy, by attempting to politicize and build a movement around your case. We speak to you as your older sisters and brothers. We speak to you from experience---collective and individual.

You know that stealing from state workplaces in Cuba, the “rerouting of resources,” is so common that some Cubans dismiss it as an acceptable part of daily life. Cubans call it “por la izquierda,” on the left. In November 2005, Fidel calculated that this “rerouting” could be costing the state as much as $200 million. He accidentally discovered state workers boldly selling stolen construction materials in a public market, and reportedly asked, “Just how many ways of stealing do we have in this country?” Raul has called it a “deadly cancer,” plaguing the Revolution. In March 2009, he allegedly replaced most of his cabinet, “in part, on the grounds that they were too cozy with foreign business men and lax in controlling graft beneath them.”

Corruption in Cuba did not begin in 1959, when the July 26 Movement seized power. “There is hardly a period in the history of Cuba,” according to Robert Buddan, on page 97 of The Foundation of Caribbean Politics, “that is not replete with descriptions of corruption in government, through every administration.” In 1942, according to Wikipedia, “the British Foreign Office reported that the U.S. State Department was “very worried” about corruption under Fulgencio Batista, describing the problem as “endemic” and exceeding “anything which had gone on previously.” Batista was African. He was also a prostitute and a pimp for U.S. Mafia bosses and businessmen, who by the way were European. Eduardo Chibas dedicated his life to fighting corruption under the presidencies of Ramon Grau and Carlos Prio. Dating as far back as August 23, 1498, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain sent Francisco de Bobadilla to Havana to relieve Christopher Columbus, and his two brothers, Diego and Bartholomew, of their command in Cuba. They were accused of mismanagement and of being rebellious subjects. They were arrested and shipped back to Spain in chains. When it became clear to the Monarchs that Bobadilla had abused the trust they placed in him, they ordered Columbus’ release, and assured him of their royal favor. But they did not restore him to his position as Governor of the West Indies.

In their paper, Housing Policy in Castro’s Cuba, Teddy Kapur and Alastair Smith, report that from 1959 to 1993, the housing stock in Cuba grew 80%, with the construction by the government of 1.3 million dwellings, while the population only grew 57%. The largest population growth occurred in the African community. The gusanos, the Cuban worms, fled to the comfort and safety of Miami. That exodus was overwhelmingly European/persons of Spanish descent. “The staggering need for housing,” according to Kapur and Smith, “has left the government in a perpetual chase to build enough units to distribute to needy families. … From 1971 to 1985, the need for housing grew from 745,000 units to 888,000 units.” The proportion of housing in good or average condition grew from 53% in 1953 to 83% in 1993. Leaseholders in government housing pay no more than 10% of their income on rent. The actual range is from 3-7%. The average state employee makes $10 per month. The price of vacant lots was set at $4 per square meter. Homeownership in Cuba is 85%, higher than in the African community in Chicago. A typical apartment in Havana is valued at between 4,500 to 10,500 pesos. Between 1996 and 2000, 141,000 units were added and 250,000 units restored in the Habana Vieja district. One half of these units were through individual efforts thanks to remittances from Cubans in Miami and one half through governmental efforts. The cost of rehabilitating all of Havana is estimated to be $14 billion.

Members of our organization, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC), have traveled to Cuba, for more than 4 decades. And we will travel to Cuba again, again, and again. We do not respect, accept, and will not obey the illegal and immoral ban on travel to Cuba. We know how the people of Cuba live, because we stay with them, not in tourist hotels. We know that one of Cuba’s greatest needs is for paint and cement. We know that Cuba is a major producer of cement, for the entire Caribbean, but its production capacity is outstripped by its needs; and severely damaged by the illegal and immoral embargo which the government of the united snakes has imposed for more than 40 years. Cuba is also suffering, like many countries in the Caribbean, from a wave of hurricanes that ravage its infrastructure. Thanks to its planning and organization however, the best in the world, few casualties are sustained. We have heard that the penalty for stealing a cow is higher than for killing a child, a woman or a man. If so, it should be, since that cow, in its lifetime, produces milk for thousands of children, and will feed, when it can produce no more milk, hundreds of women and men.

Dr. Ferrer,

Corruption is also pandemic in the united snakes, from Wall Street to the White House to the Governors Mansion in Illinois and the Mayor’s Office in Chicago. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell Barrack Obama’s senatorial seat to the highest bidder. Blago is also accused of attempting to “use a $1.8-billion tollway project as a carrot to lure $500,000 in campaign contributions” from a Toronto-based cement company. These are not political acts! Michael Scott, the chairperson of the Chicago School Board, an African, plead guilty to misusing his School Board credit card to pay $3,000 in expenses for his and his wife’s trip to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. His death, whether by murder as some believe or suicide as the coroner and police have ruled, is not political! The Mayor of Baltimore, an African woman, was recently convicted for buying a Nintendo with gift cards that were donated to the City for distribution to the poor. Her crime was not political! It was a crime against the City of Baltimore and all its citizens. She is not a political prisoner!

Theft of public resources and public trust, the creative “mobilization of resources,” is called many names in Chicago, including “pay-to-play,” patronage, etc. The bourgeois Nationalist Movement calls it “nationalization,” not socialist nationalization, but nationalization for individuals and elites, and justifies it by saying that they are taking back what the slave masters, the imperialists stole from us. Some call it “reparations” for the crimes they committed against us during our almost 6 centuries-long and continuing Maafa (1415 to today). But, there can be no justification for theft from the people, from the people’s institutions, from the people’s state. There can be no justification for stealing xerox paper or toilet paper from Bennett College, Cornell University, Emory University, the University of Maryland at College Park, the Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University or Princeton University; or for stealing pennies from the collection plates or frozen chicken from the kitchens at Trinity United Church of Christ and Allen Temple Baptist Church. God forbade it, and the laws of Cuba and the united snakes forbid it as well. Corruption and confusion—moral and spiritual, political and economic, is also pandemic in the civil and women’s rights, nationalist and Pan-African Movements in the united snakes and worldwide, and in the church as well. It is a ticking time bomb that is waiting to explode/implode and be exposed.

Our Party, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC), is the inheritor and continuator of the revolutionary theory and practice of Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and Kwame Ture. We have supported the Cuban Revolution since its victory in 1959, and will continue to do so. We will not join forces with the enemies of the Cuban Revolution, who are also the enemies of African and World Humanity, not even to save our own lives. We are asked to support you, simply because of the color of your skin. You and we know that this request is unacceptable. The A-APRP (GC), adheres to the principle of class as primary in relationship to nationality, as enunciated by Ahmed Sekou Toure who correctly said at the so-called 6th Pan-African Congress in Dar es Salaam in 1974: “Fidel is more of a brother to me than Mobutu.” We say today, for the entire world to hear, that Raul is more of a brother to us than Batista or Carlos Moore. The class implications of this statement are undeniable, correct and clear.

Dr. Ferrer,

The crime that you are accused of is not political; and you are not a political prisoner. If you had those bags of cement, as your wife reported, and can not produce a valid receipt documenting there purchase, then you are guilty of possessing stolen property, the peoples’ property, state property at the very least. You are simply another brother who made a mistake, a tragic mistake, like millions of our brothers and sisters who are languishing in prisons in every corner of Africa and the African Diaspora. You are at best, a socio-economic prisoner, not a political one. If you insist that you are a political prisoner, please explain to us what your political ideology and objectives are. We beg you to not make another mistake. Please, do not be misused by forces that have no regard for you or for African People in any corner of the world. Do not become a pawn, cannon fodder, in a filthy and immoral game. It will be tragic for all forces concerned.


The All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC) is confident that you and the highest levels of the Cuban government will insure and protect Dr. Ferrer’s civil rights, especially his human and civil right to a just, impartial and swift hearing. We know the Cuban Revolution will ensure his health and safety while he is incarcerated. We are also confident that you will continue to root out and crush corruption in any and all of its manifestations and forms, in Cuba in general, and in the housing and cement industry in particular, without pity or mercy, without regard to national (race or ethnicity), gender or age, status, stature or situation. Oppressed humanity will be forever grateful to you!

Ready for the Revolution!
Members of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)

See also:
Part 2: Open Email to African Intellectuals: Conscience cannot be sustained on a foundation of corruption!
Part 3: Open Email to Dr. Carlos Moore: We are known by the company we keep, and the lies we tell!

Free Trip to Egypt for 1000 Students and 500 Adults

The d'Zert Club and The African Genesis Institute are sponsoring a free, all expense paid, trip to Egypt, North Africa for 1000 students nationwide between the ages of 7 and 14 and 500 adult group leaders.

These travelers will participate in the Annual Teen Summit 1000.

The d'Zert Club is a Philadelphia-based, non-profit travel organization founded in 1997 by the husband and wife team of Ali and Helen Salahuddin. It specializes in coordinating national and international educational field trips for African Americans.

The African Genesis Institute is a proactive, 3 semester, educational and cultural program for African American youth between the ages of 7 and 14 focused on developing an understanding and awareness of the African experience in America. Over this 27-month period students are exposed to their rich and extraordinary ancient African history through bi-monthly classes, seminars and field trips. At the end of the program the students and group leaders sojourn to Egypt for the Teen Summit 1000 where they examine the land of their ancestors and share their culture and lifestyle with African youth. The trip to Egypt is sponsored by the d'Zert Club and is absolutely free to the students and adults serving as the graduation reward for those who complete the program.
All those interested in earning this free trip to the Motherland should call toll free 1-888-257-5991, email or visit

Friday, November 27, 2009

Job Losses Pose Danger for Obama and the Democrats

Vantage Point Articles and Essays
by Dr. Ron Daniels

There is a rebellion against Washington brewing across the land, and that’s bad news for President Obama and the Democrats. Unemployment is 10.2% and climbing. According to a recent poll, some 30% of American families are feeling the pain of the dramatic downturn in the economy, which has produced the highest level of joblessness in decades. Never mind that the devastating economic collapse was inherited by President Obama; what people care about is whether they see the government addressing their pain, whether any visible actions are being taken that give them hope that their job opportunities will improve in the near future.

While growing joblessness is the issue uppermost in the minds of millions of Americans, what they are witnessing in Washington is a protracted and divisive struggle over health care reform. And, on Wall Street, people are flabbergasted to see the stock market rising, bank and investment company profits soaring and monstrous bonuses for employees of the very companies whose reckless behavior precipitated the economic crisis. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people continue to lose their homes as the depression in the mortgage industry continues.

It is not that health care reform is irrelevant. In a nation where nearly 50 million people do not have health care and the prices of premiums continue to skyrocket, health care reform unquestionably must be a major national priority. Indeed, President Obama is correct to argue that the long term well being of the economy depends on bending the cost curve for health care downward. The problem is that people are less concerned about health care reform when their families and communities are being ravaged by joblessness. In this regard, there appears to be a dangerous disconnect between the Obama administration and Main Street.

Unfortunately, the brewing rebellion is yet another consequence of the timidity of President Obama in dealing with the huge crisis he inherited from the Bush-Cheney administration. Some argue that he has his priorities backward because the economy does not appear to be at the top of the agenda. For those who hold that view, it may be useful to remember that health care reform was not the first issue President Obama targeted for action/resolution; it was the economy. The first months of his administration were devoted to rolling out a new economic stimulus package and bail out packages designed to rescue the ailing financial, auto and mortgage sectors of the economy. But as Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out, President Obama’s stimulus package was too small to achieve the kind of job generation required to ameliorate the pain around the country.

Now President Obama is in a terrible bind. An inadequate stimulus package is “stimulating” far too slowly to reverse the tide of joblessness spreading across the country at a time when he is compelled to push through some form of health care reform legislation. After months of investing major political capital in this effort, the failure to produce something, no matter how modest, would be disastrous. The Republicans, who are determined to see him fail, are getting traction by howling about the lack of results of the stimulus package, the growing deficit and expansion of government. Sensing a political opening with the 2010 mid-term elections approaching, they are opportunistically tapping into and fueling the rage boiling across the country over the issue of jobs.

The question is how will President Obama and the Democrats respond. The President is scheduled to convene a Jobs Summit in the very near future, and that is a step in the right direction. However, it is not likely that the anger across the country will be abated by mere summitry. If there was ever a time for President Obama to be bold and decisive, it’s now. He needs to unveil a substantial job generating stimulus package and dare Republicans and vacillating “Blue Dog” Democrats to oppose it. And, he needs to be bold enough to propose that public service employment/jobs be an integral component of the initiative.

There was a time when Democrats routinely advocated that the government be an “employer of last resort.” With the successful Republican assault on “big government” and “social programs” beginning with the Reagan era, the idea of public service jobs as a remedy for unemployment disappeared from the political discourse. Democrats were cowered into refusing to consider initiatives that the Republicans might label as liberal “tax and spend” government proposals. However, the current crisis offers President Obama and the Democrats a golden opportunity to resurrect the concept of a full employment economy with public service jobs being part of the formula. Whether it is in a blue state or red state, most sane Americans want a job, no matter who provides it, that will allow them to bring home some green. So, rather than cower and be timid, President Obama and the Democrats should seize the moment to deliver a desperately needed jobs initiative and educate the American public on the importance of government as an employer of last resort in times of crisis.

President Obama now faces a critical moment of truth in his young presidency. With a rebellion brewing across the country because of massive joblessness, he must act boldly or the Republicans will ride the wave of discontent to an astonishing victory in the 2010 elections. A party whose philosophy and policies provoked the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression and was repudiated by the voters in 2008 will likely regain control of the House and Senate, rendering the duration of President Obama’s tenure miserable. It is an ironic circumstance which can and must be prevented with bold leadership by President Obama and the Democrats.

Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website and . He can be reached via email at

Friday, November 20, 2009




Paper delivered at the international colloquium ‘Teaching African history
and culture to the Diaspora and teaching Diaspora history and culture to
Africa’, held in Brasilia, Brazil, 9-13th November 2009, convened by CBAAC,
PANAFSTRAG, Nigeria and The Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial
Equality (SEPPIR) of the Government of Brazil, Brasilia, Brazil.

‘The linkage of Africa with its Diasporas on the basis of equality is the
key to African unity’ - Pan-African adage.


The name ‘Sudan’ has more or less been the same throughout history. Aside
from the references relating to the south such as Wawat, the area of present
day Sudan has always been associated with the color of blackness, with names
such as Ta-Nehesu, Kush, Kerma, Ethiopia, Nubia, ana-al-Salt al-Zarqa and
lastly al-Sudan (Sagheiroun, 1999), which was - and still is - the colour
of its people, since the early times of the ancient civilizations of the
Nile valley up to the present. The same name seems to have evolved by
translation from one language to another in the course of time. This,
regarding belonging and identity, puts Sudan in the heart of Africa , which
is rightly called the Black Continent. What seem to be differences of colour
among the Sudanese are nothing more than the shades of blackness.

Sudan had its black African advanced cultures, predating Egypt, such as Kush
and Naphata, which bequeathed us their pyramids, which remain visible in the
sands of Sudan today. Chancellor Williams (Williams 1976 ) identifies some
nine periods in the history of north-east Africa, where some of the earliest
world civilizations centered, around the capital cities of Naphata and
Meroe, in present day Sudan. The cultures spread from these

northwards to the Nile delta. At that time north-east Africa was peopled by
black Africans, with people Williams refers to as white Asians entering
later, occupying Lower Egypt and north–eastern Ethiopia. This, in his view,
marks the date of the beginning of the falsification, by western writers, of
the contribution of black Africa to civilization.

The significance of the name ‘Sudan’ is important, because it bears strong
identity implications. The Arabized people of middle Sudan of various shades
of brown, generally speaking, tend not to consider themselves black Africans
and call themselves Arabs. As the state for the last five centuries has
belonged ideologically to this group, Sudan has ended up identifying itself
more with the Arabs than with black Africa . This issue is central to the
contemporary problems of the reality of the Sudan and national integration.

One of the consequences of the arrival of the Asians in north Africa was to
push, more and more, the black people away from the Mediterranean coast into
the interior. The traffic of black women into slavery northwards, gave rise
to a new type of Afro-Asian, who due to their deliberate estrangement with
their African Mothers came to be called Egyptians, Arabs and Moors,
depending on where they lived in north Africa. This lead to the enslavement
of Africans deeper into black Africa, which falls within William’s third
period of the black history of Egypt, beginning in the seventh dynasty
2181BC, which lead to the Arab invasion and the destruction of black
civilization. Nyaba ( Nyaba 2002 )

dates the Arab conquest of Egypt to 640AD.

*The State*

In what roughly constitutes the geography of present day Sudan, the state
has prevailed throughout history. Archaeologically the state can be traced
back seven thousand years at least (Welsby, 2000). Like in other parts of
Africa, the state functioned in a kind of federal autonomy where the
ethno-cultural entities were its political nucleuses. The vast geographical
space necessitated that justice be the key for any ruler to reign for long.
Seeking a better place to live in was convenient for every ethnic group,
thus leaving any tyrant to rule either the desert or the jungle. Today’s
demand for self-determination by different marginalized groups is the modern
manifestation and formulation of a history-long practice, of pulling out
from any state that does not answer satisfactorily the longing of its
different subject-groups for freedom, justice and peace.

At no time was there any kind of political vacuum in the Sudan. The
traditional tribal federacy of ancient Sudan was maintained in the Christian
era (650BC-1505AD) and was also to prevail later in the Funj Sultanate

*The People*

All the people of present day Sudan contributed in making the ancient
civilization of Sudan. The people who call themselves ‘Arab’ have their
rightly recognizable share in building that civilization, since they are a
mixture of Arabs and indigenous people. In the weaving of the
ethno-linguistic map of Sudan, what is taken for granted to be
heterogeneous, reflects homogeneity as well. For instance, taking the
eastern Sudanic group, we see that the people living on the Sudan-Uganda
border (e.g. the Bari) are related as cousins to people living on the
Sudan-Egypt border (Nubians) and both people are related to others living on
the Sudan-Ethiopia border in the Funj region (e.g. Ingassana) and all of
them are related in the same way to other groups living on the Sudan-Chad
border (e.g. Daju). We must bear in mind that before the Arabization of
middle Sudan those people were in a dynamic contact with each other. This is
an ancient land with ancient people and an ancient civilization; the least
to be expected is that they are interrelated ethno-linguistically.

*Religion *

In this regard two things have characterized Sudan all through history; it
has always been multi-religious and religiously tolerant. Ancient polytheism
accommodated other deities which have survived in today’s traditional
religions. The Treasurer of Meroe (800BC-450AD) was a Jew who converted to
Christianity in its early days apparently without fearing persecution.
Christianity did not invade the Sudan (Vantini, 1978; Werner et al, 2000);
it was the Sudanese who asked for it. In Dongola, the capital of the
Christian Kingdom of Nubia (650AD-1350AD), there was a Mosque for which the
Christian state was responsible. In Soba (25km south of Khartoum on the Blue
Nile), in the capital of the Christian Kingdom of Alodia (650AD-1505AD)
there were about 300 Churches, there was also a Mosque within a hamlet
assigned for the Muslims.

In the 19th century Christianity would catch up again as a result of
intensive missionary work. The biggest Christian communities are in the
South, the Nuba Mountains and in the big urban centers. In the face of the
rise of Islamization and Arabization as vehicles for facilitating the
domination of the central state, Christianity would get involved and
eventually it would become, along with Africanism, an ideological tool in
countering Islamo-Arabism.

Islam broke the encapsulation of Sudan and opened it to the outer world of
that time. The transformation from Christianity to Islam was a gradual
process thus giving way to a distinctive mix of Sudanese cosmology and the
culture of tolerance. A Sudanese Islam was in the making that finally took
its shape in the Sufi sects that flourished in post-Christian Sudan, thus
bringing about an effective acculturation of indigenous practices and
Islamic teachings. The local people transformed from the traditional and
Christian choirs to Sufi chanting smoothly.

The conversion to Islam culminated in the Funj Sultanate (1505AD-1820AD),
which retained many ancient features with regard to administration and
cultural symbols (Spaulding, 1980). The traditional system of tribal
federacy, with its inherent democratic practices, was maintained. Other
ancient practices such as the ritual killing of the king (regicide) and the
Christian headgear and regalia were also retained. In the beginning Sufi
Islam assumed supremacy in reflecting the ideology of the state. A little
later a rival came into the scene represented in scholastic Islam that could
only be acquired through classroom teaching at such religious centers as
al-Azhar. Where Sufi Islam interacts with the local society, scholastic
Islam challenges it in its persistent endeavor to reshape it according to
its own norms. Where the former does not give heed to the penal code of the
Sharia as literally stated in the scriptures, the latter only pays attention
to the scriptures without giving any heed to the realities of setting and
context. At the beginning many scholastic shaykhs took to denouncing their
jurisprudence by throwing away their symbolic scholastic graduation robes,
to declare themselves as Sufi. In the end this would be reversed.

Sufi Islam could have won the rivalry if it were not for the Turco-Egyptian
colonial rule in Sudan (1820AD-1885AD), which introduced the culture of
official Muslim clergymen, who were appointed and paid by the state and who
adhered to scholastic Islam as they were mostly graduates of al-Azhar
Mosque-University in Cairo. That rule also introduced the modern educational
system, where the classrooms were also made available for this kind of Islam
to flourish.

The Mahdia Islamic state (1885AD-1899AD) represents the ultimate victory of
the scholastic Islam over the Sufi Islam. The Mahdi was a Sufi man who
revolted against what he took to be leniency on behalf of the Sufi shaykhs
towards the traditions of people which - according to his own views - did
not follow the book of Sharia. The Mahdia state understandably followed a
strict scholastic Islam. Thenceforth Sufi Islam would gradually identify
with scholastic Islam so as to catch up in the long run. By the late decades
of the 20th century the two could hardly be distinguished from each other.

British-Egyptian colonial rule, ‘the Condominium‘ (1899AD-1956AD), resumed
the same system as Turco-Egyptian rule with regard to government-sponsored
education and the culture of official Muslim clergymen. By the time Sudan
achieved self-government the educated class was mostly orientated to
scholastic Islam. This showed in the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalist
movements among the students of higher educational institutions.

*Al-Jallaba: the Slave Traders of Sudan*

Many Africans were taken into slavery via the trans-Sahara route, to Europe,
or via Arabia. The Arab enslavement of Africans began a millennium before
trans-Atlantic slavery. It continues in north-east Africa and the Afro-Arab
Borderlands. The denationalized African descendants of slavery live in
Arabia, the Gulf States and points eastwards, such as Iraq, in the African
Eastern Diaspora, calling themselves Arabs.

Slavery was practised in Sudan since ancient times. The Arabs in the Paqt
Treaty demanded slaves from the Christian Nubians, that were brought from
the hinterlands. However it was more or less African traditional slavery
resulting from petty tribal feuds and wars. It continued like that in the
early period of the Funj Sultanate, until the Europeans began making
incursions into the continent to procure slaves. It was the Turco-Egyptian
colonial rule that launched the era of mass slavery in the Sudan. They made
it a state-policy loaded with the whole weight of Arab cultural
stigmatization of the blacks. Locally, the Arabized people of the centre,
which was growing fast, followed their lead. They played the role of
intermediaries who organized the raids, captured the blacks and then sold
them. The term al-Jallaba* * is a plural adjective in Sudanese colloquial
Arabic literally meaning the procurers. The singular is jallabi. The term
originated in reference to the intermediary slavers who were mostly Arabized
Sudanese. The culture of al-Jallaba* *had a big impact in consolidating the
establishment of the centre. When the Turco-Egyptian colonial rule was
compelled to abolish slavery, al-Jallaba defied that and boldly continued to
practice it. By that time their raiding squads had developed into formidable
armies. In the last decade of Turco-Egyptian colonial rule, Al-Zubayr wad
Rahama, their leading slaver, led his slaving army and conquered Dar Fur. In
fact they were just one step from becoming the rulers of the Sudan .
Turco-Egyptian rule not only recognized de facto al-Zubayr’s governorship of
Dar Fur, but further bestowed on him the prestigious title of ‘Pasha’. The
Jallaba cherished the prospects of inheriting faltering Turco-Egyptian
rule. If it were not for the Mahdia revolution that took place, they would
have assumed that power.

The Mahdia state, strictly following the scripture of Islam, where there is
no direct verse from either the Qur’an or the Prophet traditions abolishing
slavery, indulged itself in reinstating the institution of slavery. However
it abolished tobacco and snuff although there is no direct verse either from
the Qur’an or the Prophet traditions to that effect. Understandably the
Jallaba were among the first to declare their allegiance to the Mahdia. They
put their huge military resources and expertise at the service of the
Mahdia. That is one of the factors that made the Mahdia state belong
ideologically to the Arabized centre.

Backed with its colonialist pragmatism, the British-Egyptian rule that
succeeded the Mahdia had soon consolidated its alliance with the Arabized
centre. Although officially declared abolished, slavery was tolerated as a
practice and culture (Saikinga, 1996). In self governing Sudan, national
rule clearly showed its stand in this regard by naming a street in Khartoum
after al-Zubayr Pasha, the most notorious slaver in Sudan’s modern history.
In fact the culture of slavery is the catalyst behind the bad treatment of
the black Africans of Sudan, who live in the periphery around the Arabized
centre. Successive national governments have shown this ill-regard for black
Africans, which took place under the pretext of curbing the north/south war.
As elsewhere in the global African presence, for instance in Southern Africa
and its contacts with Apartheid, the core problem in Sudan is one of Arab
racism and the need to change the mindset of Arabs in general vis-a- vis
African culture, and thus to resolve, in Sudan, the national question,
because Sudan is and has always been an African country, populated in it’s
majority, by black African people..

*The Arabization of the Sudan and power-related conflicts of identity*

With the weakening of the Christian kingdoms, between the 14th and 16th
centuries, many Islamic and Arabized kinglets began appearing and eventually
succeeded in replacing the old regime (Fadl, 1973; Shibeika, 1991). The most
important was the Funj Sultanate which came into existence in the early 16th
century and which succeeded in spreading its influence over most of these

The Funj Sultanate came into existence with slavery looming in the
background and with the colour black fully stigmatized by being synonymous
with ‘slave’. By the turn of the 15th century, Soba, the capital of the last
Christian kingdom of Alodia , fell into the hands of Arabized people, known
in middle Sudan as the Arabs. Having its founders being virtually blacks, it
was understandably called ‘the ‘Black Sultanate’. As it came in response to
the growing influence of Islamo-Arabized Sudanese, it explicitly showed an
Arab and Islamic orientation. The new formations of Arabized tribes began
claiming Arab descent supported with mostly fabricated genealogies. The
small family units compensated for their vulnerability by claiming noble
descent, i.e. descendants of the Prophet Muhammad; eventually in the name of
this descent they would appropriate both wealth and power, something the
immediate descendants were not ordained to have, while Prophet Muhammad was
still alive. To be on an equal footing with these tribes in matters
pertaining to power and authority, the Funj also claimed an Umayyad descent.
Scholars in Arabic and Islamic sciences from other parts of the Islamic
world were encouraged to settle in the Sudan .

*Arabization and the Rise of Islam*

Thenceforth the Arabized Africans of middle Sudan would pose as non-black
Arabs. Intermarriage with light-skinned people would be consciously sought
as a process of cleansing blood from blackness. A long process of identity
change began in order to have access to power and to be at least accepted as
free humans. African people tended to drop both their identities and
languages and replace them with Arabic identity and Arab language. A new
ideological awareness of race and color came into being. The shades of the
color of blackness were perceived as authentic racial differentiations
(Deng, 1995). A Sudanese-bound criterion for racial color was formed by
which the light black person was called an Arab, i.e. white or at least
non-black. The jet-black Sudanese were seen as Africans, i.e. slave (?abd).
Then a host of derogatory terms were generated in the culture and colloquial
Arabic of middle Sudan, which dehumanized the black Africans.

So the seeds of the Sudanese ideology of Arab-oriented dominance over the
Africans were sown. According to Jalal M. Hashim ( Hashim, 2006 ), Arab
hegemony works through two mechanisms: 1) the stigma of slavery, blackness
and people of African identity, who occupy the margins and surrounding
periphery and 2) the prestigma of the free, non-black/brown Arabs, who
occupy the centre. This ideology, in its drive to achieve
self-actualization, underlines a process of alienation and domination. While
posing as whites, Sudanese Arabs do not hold whites people proper in high
esteem. They stigmatize Africans and prestigmatize the Arabs with whom they
identify. This ideology of alienation has prevailed for the last five
centuries up to the present moment. It has been consolidated by successive
political regimes whether Turco-Egyptian or Egyptian-British or national
rule. It finds its roots in the vice of slavery. Slavery was once again in
full swing by the late 20th century as a result of the intensifying grip on
the state by Islamo-Arabism. By placing on high the Arab model through their
erroneous and confused concept of race, the Arabized people of Sudan have
made themselves second-class Arabs, this is how they are perceived in
Arabia. The repercussions of this would not only affect them, but the
country and would lead to a widening divide between Arabism and Africanism.

Sudan is a nation whose identity has been divisively distorted and is
rediscovering itself, albeit in a tragically violent way. The silver lining
is that a more constructive search for an identity framework around which
Sudanese could unite may be within reach.

As with most, if not all African countries, the colonial power brought
together into a state framework, national groups that had been distinctive,
separate and in some cases mutually hostile. The identities that are
currently in conflict are the result of a historical legacy characterized by
a form of slavery that classified groups into a superior race of masters and
inferior enslaveable peoples. The north, two-thirds of the country’s land,
is inhabited by ethnic groups, the more dominant of which intermarried with
incoming Arab male migrants and traders and, over centuries, produced a
mixed African-Arab racial group that resembles the African peoples in the
Afro-Arab borderland of the Sahara, herein after called the ‘Borderlands’ of
the African nation, and those further south. Indeed, the Arabic phrase,
Bilad al-Sudan (‘land of the blacks’) refers to all of those sub-Saharan
territories. Arab immigration and settlement in the south was blocked by
distance, environmental barriers, the harsh tropical climate and resistance
of the warrior Nilotic tribes. Those Arabs who ventured southwards were
primarily slave raiders, driven by commerce, not interested in Arabising and
Islamising the South.

As the dominant partner in the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, the British ended
slavery and effectively governed the country as two separated colonies. They
developed the north as an Arab-Muslim society and forged in the south an
identity that was indigenously African, exposed to western influences
through Christian missionaries, but otherwise denied any political,
economic, social or cultural development. Until colonial policy dramatically
shifted in 1947, it appeared that the British intended to prepare the south
for independence as a separate state.

The independence movement was pioneered and championed by the north,
supported by Egypt. The cause was reluctantly supported by the south, which
stipulated federalism and guarantees for it’s area, as conditions for
endorsing independence. The south opted for independence on the basis of
northern reassurances that their concerns would be given ‘serious
consideration’. However, the north quickly reneged on promises to
southerners and stepped into the British colonial shoes. As internal
colonizers, northern governments sought to impose Arabisation/Islamisation
as the basis of a unified homogeneous Sudan. Thus the north/south war
started in Torit, in South Sudan in 1955, one year before Sudan achieved
self-government, a war which continued till 2005, except for some eleven
years of peace starting in 1972. The conflict finds its origins in the
geo-political location of Sudan in the Borderlands, with it’s history of
slavery and Arab expansion southwards, making conflict predictable.

Southern opposition to impending Arab domination began in August 1955, six
months before independence, when a battalion of Southern soldiers in the
town of Torit mutinied and fled with their weapons. Their protest escalated
into a rebellion which resulted in a civil war that was to rage
intermittently for over half a century, starting as Anyanya I, which lead to
another war, Anyanya II.

The initial conflict, secessionist in its objective, lasted until 1972 and
ended in a compromise – the Addis Ababa Agreement - that granted the South
limited regional autonomy and ushered in a precarious decade of peace. Its
subsequent unilateral abrogation by the government led by Gaafer Nimeiri –
the military leader, who ironically had made the peace agreement possible in
the first place – led to the resumption of hostilities in 1983.

Southerners were incensed by Nimeiri’s embracing of Islamism and his
enforcement of Islamic law in the south, his redrawing of the North-South
border to incorporate southern oilfields and plans to construct the mammoth
Jonglei Canal to divert the waters of the Sudd ( the White Nile’s vast
floodplain) and channel its waters northwards to Egypt for irrigation.

*Garang’s Vision*

In 1983 Dr. John Garang de Mabior founded the Southern-based Sudan People’s
Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Army (SPLA). The Sudan Peoples Liberation
Movement/Army’s stated objective was not the secession of the South but the
creation of a restructured New Sudan, uniting all of Sudan under a
democratically elected SPLM government, in which there would be no
discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, culture, religion or

Garang’s vision of the New Sudan was initially not understood, far less
supported, in the north and the south and even within his movement. For
southerners, who overwhelmingly preferred separation, it was incongruent
with their aspirations, and in any case was utopian. For the north, it was
arrogant and, at best, naive. The fighting men and women in the south took
it as a clever ploy to allay the fears of those opposed to separation within
Sudan, the international community and the Organisation of African
Unity(OAU) and later the African Union (AU). Their attitude was reflected in
the Dinka saying popular among fighters: ‘Ke tharku, angicku’, ‘What we are
fighting for, we know’. While Garang was talking the language of a united
Sudan , they were fighting for secession.

Central to Garang’s philosophy was the conviction that the dichotomy between
the Arab-Islamic north and the African south is largely fictional. While the
north has been labeled Arab, even those who can trace their genealogy to
Arab origins are a hybrid of Arab and African races and their culture is an
Afro-Arab mix. Significant portions of the country in the Nuba, Ingassana or
Funj areas bordering the South, are as African as any further south in the
continent. The Beja in the eastern part of the country are also indigenously
Sudanese. The Fur and several other ethnic groups in Darfur to the far west
are black Africans. In the Darfur conflict black African Muslim pastoralists
are being ‘ethnically cleansed’ and pushed off their lands by Khartoum to
make way for Arab Muslim nomads, thus continuing the age-old march
southwards by Arabs, pushing Africans further southwards, which takes place
with the tacit approval of the Arab League. In most cases, non-Arab pockets
in the north, such as the Nubians, though predominantly adherents of
Africanised Islam, have been marginalized almost as much as the people of
the south. The vision of the New Sudan therefore promised to liberate all
these people and to create a country of genuine pluralism and equality, with
a greater influence for the previously marginalized African groups.

Over time Garang’s constructive approach neutralized those opposed to
secession in the north, Africa and the world, and rallied support for
justice in a reconstructed united Sudan. Garang incrementally challenged the
whole country with the prospects of a nation enriched, rather than ravished,
by its racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. His vision began to
appeal to those non-Arab groups that had been subsumed under the
Arab-Islamic umbrella and eventually, even to northern progressives as many
began to question their assumed ‘Arab’ identity. This national identity
‘renaissance’ challenged the dominant Arab-Islamic establishment. The
reaction of the establishment throughout the 1990s was to adopt a radical
offensive posture that fuelled Islamic fundamentalism and led to a sharp
deterioration in Sudan’s relations with the international community. Islam,
rather than the Arab race or culture, was their weapon for mobilizing the

Although the South Sudan conflict was the oldest in Africa, starting in
1956, it was never put on the political agenda of either the OAU or the
United Nations (UN). Sudan’s membership of the Arab League, permitted it to
claim that South Sudan was a matter for the Arab League, which made no
effort to broker peace and stop the fighting. The inability of Africa to act
on the Sudan issue, whether it be South Sudan or Darfur, has made black
Africans spectators of the slaughter of their fellow Africans in South
Sudan, Darfur and elsewhere.

*Addis Ababa and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)*

The Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 gave Southerners a corner of the country
within which to exercise a limited degree of autonomy, while major national
and international issues were left to be determined by the centre. The
agreement did not provide the south with a financial base and Southern
ministers remained dependent on the goodwill of central government and
President Nimeiri for revenues. In 1983 war broke out again due to northern
unilateral impositions in the south, such as Sharia Law and the use of

On 9 January, 2005, the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A signed the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), by virtue of which President Omar
Hassan Bashir’s National Congress Party would have 52 per cent of all
executive and legislative posts, while the SPLM would have 28 per cent. The
remaining 20 per cent was split among other political parties in Sudan, with
those in the North getting 14 per cent and those in the South 6 per cent.
The CPA commits the Sudanese Government to confining Sharia Law to the
North. It also grants South Sudan a six year period of administrative
autonomy after which the population can decide in a referendum in 2011
whether to stay in a united Sudan or secede. It offers the Nuba Mountains
and Southern Blue Nile significant regional autonomy. To a significant
extent, the CPA ensured a more symmetrical or equitable relationship between
the North and the South than was available under the Addis Ababa Agreement.

The South now has its own government. The Government of South Sudan (GoSS)
was supposed to be independent of northern interference. It has its own
army and its own Bank, which unlike its northern counterpart, adherers to
conventional – rather than Islamic – banking principals. It has its own
resource base and was supposed to have access to oil revenues. In reality
many of these provisions were manipulated, even withheld. * Sudan was to
have a national foreign policy formed by Khartoum. The importance of this
would become apparent later, for when the SPLM established Liason Offices
around the world, they were noticeably quiet in explaining, especially in
Africa, what had gone on in the South since 1955, which to many remains
unknown and would shape Pan-African opinion globally on Sudan and the
Borderland issues. *These Offices were to allow the South to develop
bilateral relations with international trade and development partners. In
the Government of National Unity announced in September 2005, the SPLM and
other southern representatives have ministerial power within an arrangement
set out in the CPA, which gives the ruling National Congress Party 52% of
the places, the SPLM 28%, other northern parties 14% and other southern
parties 6%. In order to maintain agreed quotas and to reflect Sudan’s ethnic
and political balance, several ministries were to be represented by a
minister and a state minister

*Garang’s death*

The complex framework of the CPA, being an agreement between only two
parties, the SPLM and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and which
initially lacked broader support throughout the country, particularly in the
North, was threatened by Garang’s sudden death in a helicopter crash on 30th
July 2005. He had led the SPLM/A for twenty two years and, together with
First Vice-President of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, had been pivotal in
the negotiations that led to the CPA. He had been sworn in as First
Vice-President of Sudan and President of South Sudan previously.

The SPLM/A acted promptly by electing Garang’s deputy, Salva Kiir Mayardit,
(formerly Deputy Army Commander ) to succeed him as Chairman of the SPLM,
Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA and President of Southern Sudan. In the sprit
of the CPA, President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir endorsed Salva Kiir as the First
Vice-President of the Republic. While leaders in the North and South
committed themselves to pursuing Garang’s vision of a New Sudan, many feared
that Garang’s death had left a vacuum. Sudan was deprived of a man poised to
address the country’s myriad crises, to bring to the East and Darfur the
skills to facilitate peace and reconciliation he had displayed in the

Under the CPA the ruling National Congress Party has the capacity to
implement the Agreement but lacks the political will, whereas the SPLM has
the commitment but is weak and disorganized. Corruption is a major problem.
There is a real risk of future conflict unless the Congress Party implements
the CPA in good faith and the SPLM becomes a stronger and more effective
implementing partner. Late off the starting blocks and with a weak
organizational structure, the SPLM has been overwhelmed and is ineffectual
in ensuring the Congress Parties’ CPA compliance, due to what some analysts
have called its incomplete metamorphosis from a liberation movement to a
Government. This makes uncertain future projections as to peace. An added
complication arises from Khartoum’s war in Darfur. As a consequence Al
Bashir stands accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. On the 4th
March 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Bashir, who is
now a fugitive from international justice. The Darfur conflict is a direct
consequence of the north/south conflict, as the SPLM/A, under Garang,
provided the inspiration and the means for the Darfurians to assert, by
armed struggle, their rights.

Given the fact that the CPA is a peace accord between opposite poles of an
acutely divided country, it remains to be seen whether this much-needed
peace will be sustainable. Respected projections are that Khartoum will
abort the CPA, just before the referendum in 2011. In such an eventuality
the South may chose to unilaterally declare independence (UDI).Several other
regions of the country – foremost among them Darfur in the West – are
challenging the Arab power centre. Though Muslim and Arabised in varying
degrees, they now see themselves as non-Arab, marginalized and discriminated
against on racial grounds. While marginalized groups in Kordofan, including
those who have been generally labeled as ‘Arab’ though reflecting strong
African features and cultural characteristics, still identify with the Arab
centre, dissident voices are complaining about their marginalization. The
Nubians of the North, who have been marginalized and in whose lands
Egyptians are being settled by Khartoum, who were in recent generations
close to Egypt and the Arab world, are reviving their pride in their ancient
Nubian civilization and disavowing the Arab label.

*The international relations of the Sudan state*

The Islamist parties in government, previously the National Islamic Front
(NIF) of Dr Hassan Abdalla El Turabi,( who in 2009 declared his exit from
public affairs but maintains a profile in his Popular Congress Party [PCP]
), now called the National Congress Party (NCP) of Omar Hassan Ahmad
Al-Bashir, adopted a political survival strategy of diverting attention from
internal contradictions by fomenting conflict and instability in neighboring
countries, as well as by actively supporting Islamic and dissident groups
fighting the governments of neighboring countries, such as Tchad and the
Central African Republic (CAR). The objective of this strategy, used by
Libya’s Gaddafi in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is first and foremost to
de-stabalise and then, where possible, assist in the overthrow of the
regimes, in order to pave the way for the take over of the state by Islamic
groups in those countries.

The expansionist and political survival strategies, mediated by the export
of a brand of Islamic fundamentalism, utilizes subtle means including drug
trafficking, corruption and terrorism. It aims to create a halo of satellite
regimes around Khartoum as the centre for fresh Arab conquest and
colonization in Africa. It was Turabi who said in February 1999 ‘we want to
Islamise America and Arabise Africa’. Sudan is a springboard into the Horn
of Africa, the Great Lakes Region etc.

The tactics of this expansion reveal a remarkable resemblance to those of
the seventh century. These include inter alia, scorched earth policy and
ethnic cleansing against the African people, formerly used in South Sudan
and today in the Darfur region of Sudan. These wars are characterized by
pillage, plunder and the enslavement of the conquered African peoples, with
their conversion to Islam, bringing to mind the seventh century Arab wars of
conquest in North Africa and other parts of the world.

The current petroleum revenues coming mainly from oil extraction along the
north/south border, rather than being shared in accordance with the CPA, are
being used to finance the internal and external wars of the NCP. Sudan under
the NCP acts in concert with its partners in the Arab League and in time of
stress is able to count on Arab support, especially in international forums.
Without doubt Sudan’s domestic and international policies are harmonious
with general Arab League strategies in the Middle East. Sudan in December
2006 provided a large cash gift to the Palestinian Hamas organization, by
way of solidarity, in the face of Israel’s refusal to allow money into the
Palestinian economy, Africa and elsewhere. Sudan sets itself up as a front
for a fresh wave of Arab conquest and the Arabisation of Black Africa.

It is important to recognize that the problems of the Sudan are not
accidental and flow from its geo-political location along the Nile river, in
the Afro-Arab Borderlands, stretching from Mauritania on the Atlantic ocean
through Mali, Niger and Tchad, to Sudan on the Red Sea. The relationship
between Africans and Arabs in this area, dating back a millennium, has been
called ‘ambiguous’ by Prof Helmi Sharawy, Director of The Arab Research
Centre for Arab-African Studies and Documentation (ARAASD ) in Cairo,
Egypt. In Mauritania today hereditary slavery is still in practice on a
wide scale, despite the passing of laws to abolish it. Such an antiquated
social basis for state formation can only render problematic the future of

In northern Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African
Republic, Tchad, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Sudan has or is active in
stirring up instability and conflicts. It does so primarily to promote
Arabisation and Islamisation, either in the short, medium or long term.
Khartoum believes that the best method of defence is attack and that
offensives should be unforeseen, unpredictable and constant.

Despite Sudan being a pariah state, the Khartoum government has remained in
office. It is unlikely that this is set to change, given the general global
preference for the statuo quo ante and resistance to the resolution of the
African national question, whether in Southern Africa or the Borderlands.
The Khartoum regime is feared and loathed by its neighbors. Sudan straddles
the river Nile in the north-east area of the Borderlands of Africa and
maintains its hegemony over this water resource for the benefit of its
northern neighbor. Sudan also is the outpost for the promotion of Arab
interests in north, east and central Africa. It’s outreach extends
culturally and physically into places such as Mali and Niger in west Africa,
where there are Touaregs, a black ethnic group, who have been effectively
Arabised and are being settled in the burnt villages in Darfur, recently
abandoned by the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa of Darfur.

Arabs in general look down with contempt on African people as an inferior
race, deserving enslavement. This is also seen in Mauritania. Thus being a
Muslim is not a sufficient criteria to save an African from scorn and
contempt, as the black Muslims of Darfur found out. This is exacerbated by
the conviction among many Arab thinkers and writers that Africans do not
have a culture of their own, leaving a vacuum after western decolonization,
which must be filled by Islamic and Arab culture. Consequently many Arabs
believe that Africans do not have rights to self-determination. This creates
fertile soil for international Islamic fundamentalist Jihadists to implant
themselves in Africa, starting in Somalia today.

The conflicts in Sudan receive a hearing in Arab forums, such as the Arab
League, but no resolute action. Whereas the South Sudan situation was never
raised or placed on the agenda of the OAU. The Arabs, lead by Egypt,
tenaciously resisted the inclusion of the conflict in the various OAU
summits and Ministerial meetings, on the basis that South Sudan was an
internal affair of the Arab League.

Even so Africa has, since the time of Nasser’s Egypt , supported the
Palestinians versus Israel. This has not been reciprocated by the Arab north
African states. Worse still, Africans in general are either ignorant of the
Sudan situation, or do not wish to support fellow Africans in Sudan, due to
a wish not to offend Arabia, because of favors received or an inadequate
sense of African national solidarity. .

*The rise of the Khartoum proxy, the Lords Resistance Army/Movement (LRA/M)
and its deployment in central Africa*

In the 1980s the forces opposed to Yoweri Museveni’s government in Uganda,
those of Tito Okello and Alice Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Movement, sort refuge
in eastern Equitoria in South Sudan. The arrival of the Lord’s Resistance
Army (LRA) in south Sudan in 1993-4 began a decade of fighting involving
Ugandans on Sudanese soil, cutting off large parts of Southern Sudan,
causing thousands to flee.

Initially the LRA had been fighting only in northern Uganda against
Museveni’s Movement army, the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF). The LRA
came to South Sudan from Uganda seeking refuge. In 1993 the Khartoum
government harnessed the LRA, to crush the SPLA. By 2005 the LRA had moved
into the DRC, spreading mayhem, brutality, displacements, abductions and the
use of child soldiers. By 2009 the LRA was operating in CAR.

Under the command of Joseph Kony, the LRA/M is one of the most notorious
terror groups in the world. Whereas Alice Lukwana had formed a group
inspired by Christianity, to promote the genuine grievances of the people of
northern Uganda, especially the Acholi, the structure she founded has become
a mercenary force, used by Khartoum to terrorize its neighbors and to
implement its Arabisation/Islamisation project. Having depopulated northern
Uganda with its terror tactics and strategy, Kony settled in Juba, South
Sudan, where the LRA was seen as yet another invasive armed group.

When the LRA engaged the SPLA, typically the LRA fighters attacked first,
followed by a second attack by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of Khartoum.
Vincent Otti, who was for many years Kony’s deputy until he was executed, is
quoted as saying, as regards the LRA’s relationship with Khartoum :-

‘We had a very good relationship with Khartoum and the Chairman
(Kony) went there. Even me, I went several times’.

Kony had an official residence in Juba and received all-round support from
the Khartoum government. The South was at that time governed by the South
Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) lead by Riak Machar, presently
Vice-President of GOSS and a former associate of Garang, who had split from
the SPLM to form SSIM. According to Mareike

Schomous ( Schomous 2007 P25 ) Machar and Kony met at least once, in 1997.

Ugandan government information has tended to drive the public perception of
LRA activities. Talks arbitrated by GoSS lead by Riak Machar, between the
LRA/M and the Ugandan government started in 2006, with oversight from
Joachim Chissano, former Head of State of Mozambique. Despite the stop/start
nature of these meetings, they ultimately broke down, when Kony’s
outstanding writ issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), could not
be cancelled, leading him to return to military activity. The LRA is but the
latest proxy used by Khartoum to fulfill its aims. The Janjawid of Darfur is
another. There have been many armies used over the centuries to fight the
African people of the south and other parts of the country, by the central
authority, for pacification purposes.

*The unity of the Africans at home and abroad *

Apparently the Founding Fathers of the OAU, or at least some of them, did
not know the real nature of Afro-Arab interaction in the Afro-Arab
Borderlands, and were ignorant of the grassroots relations of conflict which
exploded into violence in Nouakchott, Mauritania for the first time in 1966
( Diallo,1993). As the movement, which was largely driven by Libya , gained
momentum towards the revision of the OAU structures, some observers
monitored closely the formulation of the Charter of the emerging African
Union (AU). This was not easy, given that the elaboration took place, at
least in the early stages, away from public scrutiny and knowledge. From the
‘Report of the meeting of Legal Experts and Parliamentarians on the
establishment of the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament’ dated
17-20 April 2000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Ref Cab/Leg/23.15/6/Vol IV,
paragraph 48, under the rubic ‘ Consideration Protocol relating to the
Pan-African Parliament’ at the section referring to article 4 ‘ Objectives’,
it is stated :-

‘ On the issue of composition it was proposed that the prospective
members should represent not only the people of Africa and those who have
naturalized, but peoples of African descent as well. However, other
delegations were of the view that only African people should be represented
in the Parliament…..’

At paragraph 55 appearing under the same rubic as paragraph 48 ( ie
Consideration Protocol relating to the Pan-African Parliament ) in the
section referring to Articles 2 and 3 ‘ Establishment and relationship with
the OAU’, it is reported:-

‘After effecting certain amendments to paragraphs 1 and 2 of
Article 3, the reference to members of Parliament representing all people
of ‘African descent’ was deleted’

It is no secret that Arabia in the OAU never saw a place for the African
Diaspora in its deliberations, reason being - to divide and rule the African
Nation - whereas Africans in general embrace their ‘ kith and kin’ taken out
of Africa through slavery. Mohamed Fayek, Director-General, Dar Al-Mustaqbal
Al-Arabi, Cairo, Egypt, in his contribution to the Amman Seminar on
Afro-Arab relations points out that prior to the Nasserite Revolution of
July 23, 1952 Egypt had no organic relationship with the rest of Africa and
there existed no linkage movements. He goes on to state that:-

‘…The African movement itself, which was initiated by Black Americans in
reaction to discrimination against them, adopted the theme of the black
man’s dignity and freedom and his returning to his roots – while the black
Americans had neither knowledge nor concrete links with the African
continent, other than the colour of their skin. Hence the birth of what is

‘Africanism’ based on their African descent – but only with black Africa
in mind. African unity was to them as much a way of living the ancient
African empires of Ghana, Songhai, Mali and others, as it was the unity of
black Africa. With this, Africanism, before reaching the African continent
itself, took a separate path from Arab Africa. Egypt therefore, as well as
the rest of North Africa , had no connection with this particular African


Like the rest of the West, the United States and Britain have persistently
dealt with the civil war in Sudan as between the African and Christian South
against the Muslim Arab North. On the Wednesday 2nd September 2009, in
Cairo, the European Union foreign policy head, Javier Solana stated - ‘It is
very important to have the country (Sudan ) united’, going on to say ‘ I do
look at the map, I do look at the distribution of resources, I do look at
the situation…. I am for unity of the country’.

It does not make sense to put an end to the war in the South and leave it to
flare up in the Ingassana, Darfur, Nuba Mountains or Beja, especially when
the causes of the war are the same and the fighting groups have achieved a
kind of unifying body. Whereas the war is a circular one, the Naivasha peace
initiative and its CPA is a linear solution.

Two areas in Africa where the issue of racism has been at issue are
South(ern) Africa and South Sudan. How the issue was managed in both
instances provides some salutary lessons for the marginalized people of the
Borderlands in general, where millions of impoverished, unseen, black
Africans live in countries such as Libya and Algeria. In South Africa
western finance capital brought about, with minimum loss of life, the timely
end of apartheid, which was no longer internationally socially sustainable
as an intensive system of capital accumulation. In South Sudan there were no
such financial interests of the international community, to end Arab
oppression of Southern Sudanese Africans, who consequently had to fight
Khartoum in a bloody war in which over two million lost their lives.
Problems such as Mauritania and Darfur, with long historical antecedents,
will not be resolved by the North Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese or
by the United Nations, because they have shown, through the history that
they have little capacity to resolve core African historical weaknesses.

Windhoek, Namibia, November, 2009

*General bibliography *

Bankie,B.F.2005 Pan-Africa or African Union ?. In African Renaissance of
May/June 2005, London, UK: Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd.

Deng,M.D.2005 African Rennaisance: towards a New Sudan . In Forced
Migration Review No 24 of November 2005, entitled Sudan : prospects for
peace , Oxford , UK : Refugees Studies Centre

Deng,L.B. 2005 The Comprehensive Peace Agreement : will it also be
dishonoured ? In Forced Migration Review No 24 of November 2005, entitled
Sudan propects for peace , Oxford , UK : Refugee Studies Centre.

Hashim,M.J. 2006 Islamisation and Arabisation of Africans as a means to
political power in the Sudan: contradictions of discrimination based on the
blackness of skin and stigma of slavery and their contributions to the civil
wars. In Bankie.B.F and

Mchombu.K (Eds) 2006. Pan-Africanism Strengthening the unity of Africa and
its Diaspora, Windhoek , Namibia : Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers

Kenyi,I. 2006 Shall war return to South Sudan? In Khartoum Monitor of 17th
November 2006, Khartoum , Sudan .

Lagoye,L.D. 2006 CPA : Provided one Sudan , two systems . In Khartoum
Monitor of 10th October 2006, Khartoum , Sudan .

Nyaba,P.A. 2002 Afro-Arab conflict in the 21st century . In Tinabantu –
Journal of African National Affairs Vol 1, No 1, Cape Town, South Africa :
Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS)

Schomerus,M. 2007 The Lord’s Resistance Army in Sudan: A history and
overview. Geneva, Switzerland, Small Arms Survey

Sharawy,H. 1999 Arab culture and African culture : ambiguous relations. In
The dialogue between Arab and other cultures, Tunis, Tunisia, The Arab
League, Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO ).

Williams,C. 1976 The destruction of black civilization. Chicago, Third World
Distributed and Posted
by Kwasi Akyeampong – TheBlackList

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

BLUEPRINT FOR THE BRONX Breaking Ground, Building Together!!

Bronx Residents Call the Community to Action to Demand a Voice in Responsible Development and Address Increasing Poverty, Overcrowded Schools, Loss of Affordable Housing, Healthcare and Immigration

Bronx, NY)– The Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) will convene more than `1000 residents, or one hundred congregations, community groups, schools, and tenant associations to address the challenge of creating living wage jobs, schools, affordable housing, and social policies that benefit working families with Bronx elected officials. We want to begin to layout a blueprint for building a Bronx that is a powerful, vibrant, diverse community where everyone has the opportunity to participate in decision making, contribute to building the future and benefit from the growth and development of this great borough. Some of our specific demands include a community benefits agreement and good living wage jobs at the Kingsbridge Armory, four small schools to be built on the North Side of the Armory and affordable health care for all.

When: Sunday Oct. 25, 2009- 3pm

Who: Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Confirmed Elected Officials: Congressman Jose Serrano, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion; City Council Members G. Oliver Koppell, Joel Rivera, Helen Diane Foster, and James Vacca; State Representative Luis Diaz; State Senators Efrain Gonzalez and Jeff Klein.. Additional elected officials and their staff representatives are expected to attend.

What: Blueprint for the Bronx- Community Action to Win Change for the Northwest Bronx

Where: St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church
2345 University Avenue at Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10468 (entrance at Andrews Avenue)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

IN GABON: Bongo promised to cruch any civil unrest, the situation is therefore critical

On June 8th, President Omar Bongo died and the country entered in a transition period an which an interim President wos sword in in the person of Rose Francine Rogombe.

The new interim President who is a member of the state party PDG has to led the election process, the date set for the election to take place was August 30, 2009 even though the opposition indicate that a longer period was needed to properly prepare the election. Indeed, the electoral list whith count for the 800 000 electors for a population of 1 300 000 seems unrealistic and has not been updated properly.

The election process has been full of irregularities (i.e. problem with the electoral list, only a few days given to Gabonese people to register themselves, issues the day of the voter such as fraudulent registration of strangers, paralell voting booths, etc).

Despite all the request for a longer time to better prepare the election, the gouvernment maintained the election to take place on August 30, 2009. People still came in numbers on that date and a public count of the votes was made at the end with "proces verbal" signed by all authorized members of the dominant party and the opposition.
A copy of that PV was given to each candidates.

The results of the election was supposed to come out on september 2nd, the Gabonese people who feared their votes to be stolen spent the night with all the leaders of the opposition at the site of the CENAP, the organism in charge of collecting all the PV and indicating the winner of the election. This morning, some military people were sent to spread out the people doing the sitting at the CENAP including the leaders of the opposition. One of them Mr. Pierre Mamboundou was hurt, another one Mr. Andre Mba Obame is at an unknown location, we do not knwo if he is detained or not.

On the basis of the PV signed the day of the public count taking place at each voting stations around the country and abroad, Mr. Ali Bongo who is the son of the President Omar Bongo, representing the PDG came 3rd. Mr. Mba Obame complained yesterday that some PV were re-written to give false results. Today, we receid the news on TV that Mr. Ali Bongo was elected President of Gabon. The country is now knowing some civil unrests as results are contested. We heard that the site of the company TOTAL in Port Gentil has been put in fire, the consulate of France has also burnt (France is viewed by many as supportive of the power in place) and that three provinces might have stated they would do sessassion.

Mr. Ali Bongo has promised to cruch any civil unrest, the situation is therefore critical.


Posted by TheBlacklist

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Meaning of the Kingsbridge Armory Battle

The Meaning of the Kingsbridge Armory Battle
Neighborhood Retail Alliance

View the Original Article

As the fight over the development of the Kingsbridge Armory wends its way downtown, it is a good time to reflect on the meaning of the struggle-and its potential impact on the upcoming election cycle. In our view, the Armory fight symbolizes a great deal of what's wrong with the policies of Mayor Mike Bloomberg; and in uncovering some of the underlying meanings in the battle, we can also highlight some significant hypocrisies in the Bloomberg policy portfolio.

In the first place, Mike Bloomberg has been attempting-arguing against the evidence, in our view-to position himself as an environmental crusader. This posturing really emerged, de novo, in his promotion of congestion pricing. The concept was advanced in order to reduce carbon emissions and make New York a healthier city. The pedestrian malling of Times Square is just the latest manifestation of this environmental pretension.

In making the case for Mike the Green Crusader, the mayor wanted us to ignore his own personal life style; one that had multiple houses, a private jet, a helicopter and a boat in its lavish resume. Now none of this new found environmental fervor was really very persuasive to us, but Bloomberg managed to suborn enough enviro groups to give the entire congestion campaign the feel of a moral crusade.

Which brings us to the development of the Armory-situated in an area where asthma rates are conspicuously higher than the city's average. So what will this particular mall contribute to the already over burdened local traffic? Well, according to the developer's own study, traffic at key intersections will be-unmitigatable!

Here’s how the document outlined the severity of the traffic problem: “Under the proposed actions, a minimum of six intersections would experience unmitigatable impacts…The three intersections that would remain unmitigated are the intersections of West Kingsbridge Road and University Avenue, and West Fordham Road at its intersections with the Major Deegan Expressway’s northbound and southbound ramps.”

So, as we have said, in the congestion pricing debate, the mayor argued that we needed to reduce traffic in order to lower harmful emissions and improve the city’s air quality. What’s a particularly useful extrapolation from the mayor’s campaign is the manner in which his allies at the NYC Partnership-and Steve Ross of Related-yes, the same developer now looking to mall the Armory-was front and center; arguing in advertisements that congestion pricing would. The Partnership spent over a $1 million to “research and promote the plan.” (NY Daily News-6/24/2007)

One of the linchpins of the Partnership’s ads was the argument that reducing traffic would have a salutary effect on Black and Latino children who suffer disproportionately from asthma conditions that are exacerbated by increased traffic. So what we have with the Armory development, then, is a self-serving amnesia contracted by Ross and the city. You can’t be for a reduced carbon footprint while simultaneously promoting auto-dependent malls in areas where asthma rates are epidemic.

So, what's also unmitigatible here, is the gall of Mike Bloomberg and Steve Ross. You can't argue for the car cleansing of midtown-making the area safe for all of your limos?-while simultaneously building these auto dependent retail malls in areas where respiratory conditions are more severe than elsewhere in the city. Kingsbridge, then, symbolizes the hypocrisy of the Bloombergistas and the fight against the development becomes, ipso facto, a battle for the kind of reduced carbon foot print that the mayor has tried to claim as his epitaph.

But this isn't all that's wrong in the Kingsbridge Armory struggle-and we'd be remiss if we simply left the argument at this point. The approval of this project without any mitigating living wage agreement would also be representative of the mayor's consistently poor economic decision making.

As we have said elsewhere: "Another reason, is that the mayor, always ready and willing to promote large retail development, has successfully advocated a permissive policy of mall development that has sucked the life out of those neighborhood stores that are the lifeblood of a community. Here's why the advocates-as well as the comptroller-are dead on when it comes to their living wage battle. If you're going to continue to promote mall development-with its concomitant chain store proliferation-than minimally, these stores must provide the kind of living wages that families can live on. Otherwise, we have simply replaced the locally owned neighborhood business-ones that circulate dollars through the community-with a chain that removes revenue, and whose dollars fail to circulate in as healthy a manner."

And with retail store vacancies reaching epidemic proportions, the insidious and self defeating nature of this policy becomes apparent. Bill Thompson underscores this point: "Thompson said he thinks the city should be tying tax breaks into the creation of good jobs, “not just during construction, but after construction” as well. He added, “Some of the models [for linking tax breaks to post-construction jobs] that we’re seeing are not part of how the city thinks.”

So, in essence, the fight at the Armory dramatizes the serious faults inherent in the Bloomberg economic worldview-highlighting the inflated fallacies of his five borough plan. Which brings us to the supermarket inclusion question-in a kind of strike three and your out manner.

The city has a major supermarket promotion policy going through the ULURP process. In fact, the first City Planning hearing on this land use proposal will be on Wednesday, August 5th. The plan is meant to address a supermarket gap in so called underserved neighborhoods.The proposed supermarket/big box food use at the Armory is emblematic of all that is wrong with how the city is proceeding on this issue.

Over the past eight or nine years-the city has lost over 300 local supermarkets. So, if indeed there is a gap, than the gap has come as a result of the loss of existing markets. But instead of addressing the disappearance factor-the underlying causes of store closings-City Planning devised an elaborate plan for incentivizing new market penetration in areas it considers to be underserved.

What should be clear is that NYC is losing supermarkets; and that good public policy must address the underlying causes of the disappearance. The current supermarket initiative, however, appears to be a good answer to the wrong question-a non sequitor that won’t remedy the supermarket deficit that it purports to ameliorate.

Building a tax subsidized mega-food store at the Armory dramatizes the fallacy-and underlying false premises-of the city’s well meaning effort to assure better access to fresh food. To allow the Armory development to proceed with this use will lead to the diminution of the number of local supermarkets.

So, there it is in a nutshell. The Armory fight symbolizes the fallacies and faults of a failed Bloomberg environmental and economic development policy-underscoring the mayor's hypocrisy at the same time. If this project is to go forward at all, then, it must exclude any supermarket use that reduces the number of local food stores; and it must provide a living wage that will mitigate the fact that the community will be forced to absorb unmitigatable traffic conditions that will exacerbate the already higher respiratory disease rates that the neighborhood experiences. Its the kind of fight that could define the upcoming mayoral election.

© 2009 Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance | 103 East 196th Street, Bronx, NY 10468
Phone: 718-584-0515 ext 316 | Fax: 718-584-0563