Diasporian News of Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Source: David Adu Boahene
The biennial Pan African Congress being held in Munich has once again successfully brought people of black and white descent across continents under a colorful canopy in exchange of dialogue for substantial solutions of African uncountable problems. This year´s event under the motto “Learning from the Past” was also dedicated in memory of genocide victims in Namibia as well as anti -apartheid and colonial Activists including the late Stephen Bantu Biko and Mariam Makeba, all from South Africa.
Commenting on the legacies of Steve Biko, his first born son, Nkosinathi Biko told the large audience at the Muffathalle in Munich that the “Black Consciousness Concept” being laid down by his father has gained worldwide recognition. Hence, he has taken it as a sole responsibility to manage the Steve Biko foundation as a meaningful instrument to free and educate the oppressed from their naivety. The late Steve Biko was an outspoken advocate against the Apartheid regime and was the architect of the Black Consciousness Movement. On the quest of true humanity, the late Steve Biko once quoted in his intellectual literary works as ff…..
“The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity”
“Apartheid both pretty and grand is obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority…….It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die away”
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” Biko, the great Pan Africanist left those sayings as a legacy to remember.
It is indisputable that apartheid system with it hard austerity measures and colonialism in general, were repugnant to the dark skinned inhabitants of Africa. The Congress therefore offered a minute silence in remembrance of great men and women who stood against the aforementioned inhuman system. Recalling the past in traditional incantation, Mrs Affiong L. Affiong, a lawyer based in the United Kingdom and a frontline campaigner of Pan African Women´s Network paid special tributes to the late Steve Biko, Miriam Makeba, Malcom X, Kwame Nkrumah, Women from Azania (South Africa) and those from Namaland ( Namibia) as well as many undaunted Ones who risked their lives in various ways and through unconventional organized method were able to emancipate Africans from oppressive rule. The powerful lady presented an anecdotes of Steve Biko´s legacies and explained vigorously the true meaning of the Black consciousness concept and its relevance today.
Congress demands unconditional apology from Germany for the Genocide in Namibia
In his opening speech Mr Hamado Dipama, the spokesperson and also founding member of Pan African Working Group in Munich acknowledged the unflinching support of the state Munich and her municipal administration. He rendered an unmeasured appreciation to all those who made the event a class of its own. However, Mr Dipama in displeasure informed the audience, that one central campaign demanding the decolonization of street names in Munich, has been turned down by the State Munich. Only one of over 30 streets bearing names of colonial crime activists has been renamed after the victimized Hereros Folk. It was formerly known as Trotha street, in recognition of the notorious Army General Von Trotha who under extermination orders of Germany´s Kaiser Wilhelm 11, more than 80,000 Namibians were slaughtered like animals.
Responding on the demands, Mrs Gülseren Demirel (Munich City Councillor) assured that her factions will relay the issue because it is still not decided outright. “ We have petitioned an official statement further to eliminate all streets in connection with barbarous colonial past here in Munich” the Councilor, Demirel profusely articulated.
Among the dignitaries were, Niema Movassat,( member of German Parliament from the left wings) Mrs. Nükhet Kivran (Council of Foreigners, Munich) Dr. Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile( South African Ambassador in Germany) Mrs Affiong L.Affiong Mac Bown, Biram Dah Arbeid( Mauritenia) Michael Onyebuchi (Nigeria) Mr Nkosinathi Biko (first son of the late Steve Biko) Mr Usutuaije Maamberua, a Namibian Parliamentarian, and Mrs Ida Hoffmann (a political activist and chairperson of Nama Genocide Technical Committee)
It came to light at the final stage where open discussion were engaged that, up till now German has refused to render an apology to the atrocities committed against their former colony, Namibia, where the Nama and Hereroes ethnics were liquidated from the planet earth. Was it just a mere coincidence that Namibia and Ruanda, the two countries, where genocide took place in Africa were both Germany colonies? To my astonishment, this great question asked by Mr. Usutuaije Maamberua, a Namibia parliamentarian, during his presentation remain unanswered. Well, a consensus was reached by the stakeholders, including the Pan African working group in Munich, Guest speakers, Press representatives and various concerned African groups, demanding an unconditional apology from the German Government for the genocide in Namibia. First and foremost the Germans should acknowledge the atrocities committed, render an apology before handling for a rational reparation packages.
Social and political challenges after the fall of Apartheid…
Another challenging angle after the fall of apartheid was the dealings of social injustices and inequalities. In retrospect, Prof. Dr. Denis Goldberg, a renounce Anti-apartheid Activist and co- founder of African National Congress, came out with some shocking revelations. “ Apartheid was an institution that grew up to be a system. It was wrong because it tried not only to destabilize the Southern part of Africa, also it brought the people under social and economic degradation” According to Professor Goldberg, there was a time where one doctor was in charge for more than 5000 patients. The white minority group encircled themselves with thousands of security operators against any move to dismantle the system. “More than 10,000 people were murdered by the security apparatus during the period of reconciliation alone and their crime was that they were negotiating for peace that today the people of South Africa are enjoying. I don´t think it is right for people who doesn´t know about our past struggles pointing fingers of blame for the hard won freedom and peaceful atmosphere in our land ”, the Professor responded in rebuttal against the radical call from others for reprisals during the panel discussion.
The South African Ambassador to Germany His Excellency Makhensi Arnold Stofile also consolidated the statement made by his comrades and advised the youth not to downplay the hard won reconciliatory initiative at all. The existence of segregation before and after the fall of Apartheid, is an established fact and a daunting legacy of rich white minority still remains superior over the major black populace. However, South Africa has today position herself as a competitive player in the global market.
The Ambassador poured water on the conflagrated and resentful atmosphere in his presentation under the theme “ South Africa Economy and the Role of the Middle Class” that, despite all odds, there has been a tremendous growth of the black middle class in private sector. The positive outcome of this new trend is that blacks are getting influential in decision making and economic policy development. “This is a great achievement because they are gradually emancipating themselves from economic slavery” , the experience South African diplomat outlined further in his analysis.
In summary, the two day Pan African conference under the theme “Learning from the past” has once again paraded German and African prominence to tackle sensitive political issues of the past in search for a positive approach today and the near future. The message across is that Africans had suffered severely by the inhuman colonial and apartheid system and as that an unconditional apology is in demand. The symptoms has today affected the whole African continent leaving her children into psychological, moral and socio-economic deprivation. It became clear after the two days conference that the connection between slavery and colonialism is still in operation today and the blame this time goes to the African political elites and decision makers. Due to their failure and mismanagement of our resources, the youth of today are in disillusionment, running helter- skelter across oceans in search of better standard of living. Terrible pictures, documentaries and sad news that appears at the European media confirm the betrayal of African governmental bodies. Our forefathers were forced into slavery and servitude but now the new generation are offering themselves into voluntary slaving, trying to enter the western world by any means necessary. At least hundred people by average dies every week at the shores of Europe, particularly Lampedusa, Italy, and the World is watching. How long would these goes on?
I would like to thank the city Munich on behalf of the Pan African Congress for the privileged and support rendered making it possible for Africans to present their case. We should in continuity create rooms and platforms for dialogue and by so doing a constructive solution will be found. A special appreciation notes goes to the Pan African working group, Munich, the numerous sponsors, Media participants as well as the dignitaries both local and foreign, for the wonderful event.
David Adu Boahene (Media practitioner, Germany) Founder, Radio Africa Stuttgart