On 140th anniversary of W.E.B. Dubois’ birth
Anti-war organization says 'U.S. imperialism - HANDS OFF AFRICA!'
By Cheryl LaBash

Published Feb 28, 2008 9:54 PM

Debbie Johnson,
WW photos:
Cheryl LaBash
Less than a month before the fifth anniversary of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, a one-day Black History Month conference sponsored by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice on Feb. 23 challenged the anti-war movement to address the increased U.S. military and political intervention in Africa. The conference commemorated the 140th anniversary of the birth of the great scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois.

African countries are resisting the U.S. government plan to build permanent military bases on the African continent and a unified U.S. military headquarters focusing exclusively on Africa, known as the Africa Command, or AFRICOM. The historical and political context of this resistance was set through three overview presentations by Debbie Johnson, Detroit Area Network for Reproductive Rights; Abayomi Azikiwe, founding member of MECAWI and Pan African Newswire editor; and Mark Fancher, National Conference of Black Lawyers. Fancher is a primary contributor to the NCBL’s position paper, “AFRICOM Threatens the Sovereignty, Independence and Stability of the African Continent.”

Mark Fancher,
“DuBois and other activists saw the Black struggle in the United States as being part and parcel of a broader movement against racism, colonialism, imperialism and for national liberation and socialism,” said Azikiwe, who quoted extensive eloquent passages from W.E.B. DuBois’ seminal work, “Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880,” published in 1935 during the Great Depression.

Azikiwe highlighted and paid tribute to the contribution of African-American women “who took charge of their political and social agendas to promote self-organization and self-help programs for the African-American people. ... Ida B. Wells-Barnett played an instrumental role in this movement by intersecting with women’s groups throughout the country while carrying out her anti-lynching mobilizations.”

Abayomi Azikiwe,
Pan African
Newswire editor
Azikiwe concluded: “The solution to the national question in the United States will be a collective one, rooted in a struggle against capitalism and imperialism on a world scale. Irrespective of the machinations of the Bush administration’s Africa policy, the fact that the problem of race, class and gender oppression in the United States has not been resolved speaks volumes to the peoples of the continent and other oppressed and struggling peoples around the globe.

“The deepening crisis of capitalism and imperialism requires the heightening of the struggle of working people and the nationally oppressed against exploitation, racism and gender oppression. In the tradition of DuBois and other luminaries of the 20th century, the present generation must continue the fight to achieve genuine political freedom and social emancipation.”

Andrea Egypt,
Reports by MECAWI activists on Zimbabwe, Somalia and Sudan exposed specific examples of U.S. imperialist intervention in African nations.

Andrea Egypt noted: “National press associations and other propaganda machines are the modes of operation to make it appear that Robert Mugabe is some deranged ruler who is sabotaging the economy [in Zimbabwe]. Yet sanctions imposed by the U.S., Britain and the European Union and its allies are the real cause for the failing economy. ... Just recently the Washington Post put out a call for the overthrow of Mugabe. They also insisted that President Thabo Mbeki [of South Africa] cut off 15 percent of the electricity that South Africa provides for Zimbabwe, similar to what has occurred recently in Palestine.”

Kim Greene,
Kim Greene reported that the U.S. encouraged hostilities between Somalia and Ethiopia during the 1980s, intervened directly under the guise of providing humanitarian aid in 1992, but was expelled after Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu. In 2006 the U.S. backed an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

Kevin Carey also paid tribute to W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson. On Sudan, Carey pointed to the oil and uranium resources as a motive for U.S. political and military intervention. In 1998, 19 cruise missiles were used by the Clinton administration to destroy a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.

Kevin Carey
Fancher exposed the real intent of AFRICOM, using the U.S. Navy’s own website. “The U.S. military is stepping up operations in the Gulf of Guinea to enhance security in this strategic and resource-rich region. ... Maritime security is critical for the region to benefit from its natural resources and prosper economically, [Capt. Tom Rowden] said. Africa provides almost 15 percent of the United States’ oil supply, much of which comes from the Gulf of Guinea. In addition, the region is rich in timber, iron ore, copper and other resources. ‘Our goal is to ensure a more stable maritime environment to ensure their ability to get those resources to market.’”

The full NCBL position paper on AFRICOM is at www.ncbl.org.

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