| CONSULTATION WITH THE DIASPORA ON AGENDA 2063
NEW YORK, USA
08-10 OCTOBER, 2013
THE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA IN AGENDA 2063
PRESENTATION BY DAVID A. COMISSIONG
President of the Clement Payne Movement
Chairman of the Caribbean Pan-African Network
In considering the role of the African Diaspora in Agenda 2063, we must begin by recognizing that the Diaspora consists of several components, each of which has the potential to make unique contributions to the attainment of the goals and objectives of Agenda
There is, for example, the people of the Historical Diaspora – those of us who are the descendants of Africans who were subjected to enslavement and removed from the continent centuries ago. The people of the Historical Diaspora are found in independent nation states
where they constitute a majority of the population; they are found in independent nation states where they constitute a minority of the population; and they are to be found in still existing European colonies where they constitute a majority of the population.
In the independent nation states where they constitute a majority of the population (such as a majority of the states of the Caribbean) they possess national Governments imbued with the potential to contribute to Agenda 2063 in a very unique manner.
We must also consider the people of the “More Recent Diaspora”: that is, Africans who were born on the continent of Africa and who voluntary migrated out of Africa in more recent historical times, as well as the children or grand-children of such Africans, born in various regions of the Disapora. It should also be noted that members of the “More Recent Diaspora” are to be found in independent nation-states where African people constitute a minority of the population (such as the USA, Canada, the European nations, and many of the nations of Latin America) and in independent nations in which African people constitute a majority of the population, such as Brazil and the nations of the Caribbean.
All of these components of the Diaspora must be made relevant to Agenda 2063, and must play a number of varying roles in the attainment of the goals and objectives of Agenda 2063!
In looking at Agenda 2063 from the perspective of the African Diaspora, the central suggestion I would make to the African Union (AU) is that the AU should, as far as possible, conceptualize Agenda 2063 as a gradually unfolding process in which the African continent, led by the A.U, will engage in a series of initiatives that are of MUTUAL interest and benefit to BOTH the Continent and the Diaspora, thereby establishing a modus operandi of the Continent and Diaspora planning together, working together, building new structures together, benefitting together and progressively integrating. (And, of course, when I talk about “the Continent and the Diaspora”, I am referring to the people and institutions of the Continent and Diaspora.)
In other words, as far as possible, conceptualize Agenda 2063 in such a way that the people of the Diaspora can perceive a benefit to themselves as well as a benefit to the Continent in the various projects and measures of the Agenda. Of course, this does not mean that we abandon the notion that our mother continent - Africa – should be our central concern, and that we should be willing to make sacrifices for the development of Mother Africa. Indeed, there may
well be components of the Agenda which simply call upon members of the Diaspora to give to Africa. But let that be the exception rather than the rule. As much as possible let us strive for mutual benefit.
Now, it is clear that Agenda 2063 will be geared towards achieving an Africa that :-
(1) Possesses a deep sense of self-worth, and a strong sense of African identity and Pan-African consciousness.
(2) Is unified politically and is equipped with a central continental government and a central military capacity capable of defending the continent and its people against existential threats emanating from any foreign power.
(3) Is the functional core region of a world-wide Pan-African civilization that encompasses all regions of the African Diaspora.
(4) Has taken concrete measures to heal and repair the damage inflicted on the continent and on its sons and daughters in Africa and in the Diaspora, resulting from centuries of European orchestrated slavery, slave trade, colonialism and apartheid.
And I can go on and on outlining a multiplicity of aspirations, goals and objectives that are relevant to something as large and complicated as a 50 year Agenda for a continent of 12 million square miles and 54 nation states and its world-wide Diaspora. But I will not do so,
since much of this has already been covered over the past 2 days.
What I would like to suggest however is that a critical component of Agenda 2063 should be the production of a concise Creed or Code that encapsulates in “10 Commandments” the fundamental principles and values of Agenda 2063, and that can serve as a guide or as directive principles for all the sons and daughters, institutions and governments of Africa and the Diaspora over the next 50 years.
Those ten “commandments” could possibly read as follows:-
(1) There shall be a continental African system of governance that unites the entire continent politically and economically.
(2) Africa shall feed itself and shall be equipped with a self-sustaining industrial economy.
(3) There shall be zero tolerance for all notions of African inferiority, and for all forms of anti-black or anti-African racism or discrimination.
(4) Africa shall be recognised as one of the world’s fundamental civilizations and shall enjoy a status of equality with all other major world civilizations.
(5) It is affirmed that there is a sub-stratum of cultural unity that binds all of the people of Africa together.
(6) The continent of Africa is the centre of a Pan-African Civilization comprised of the continent and its world-wide Diaspora.
(7) There shall be no foreign military bases on the continent of Africa, and the continent of Africa shall establish the collective capacity to defend itself militarily.
(8) Africa shall be accorded a place of equality in all major international fora, including the United Nations Security Council.
(9) Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad.
(10) The sons and daughters of Africa shall proudly strive to live with an authentically African style of living that is self-sustaining and that exemplifies the best of Africa’s cultural traditions.
Such a Creed or Code could be disseminated throughout Africa and the Diaspora, and could be used as an instrument to keep us focused, unified, motivated and on track!
But, after being sufficiently motivated and focused, what are some of the concrete ways in which the Diaspora can play a role or be involved in attaining the Vision of Agenda 2063? My concrete suggestions are as follows:-
(1) THE REGIONAL NETWORKS
I think we have to begin with those Diaspora structures and organisations that have been consciously developed for the purpose of engaging with the AU in establishing and implementing the “Sixth Region” project.
Pan-African activists and organisations from every region of the Diaspora need to bestir themselves and act with discipline and commitment to form themselves into regional Pan-Africanist Networksthat will engage with the AU in an organised manner.
These Regional Networks will need to take responsibility for identifying the legitimate regional representatives who will occupy the seats reserved for the various regions of the Diaspora in the
Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union and in the various Cluster Committees of ECOSOCC.
The Regional Networks must also become the critical on-the-ground infrastructure through which the AU agenda in general, and Agenda 2063 in particular, will be disseminated to the people of the African Diaspora.
The Regional Networks will also have to play a critical role in helping to mobilize the human and financial resources of the Diaspora communities and nations that they represent, for deployment in projects that are relevant to the development of Africa and its Diaspora.
And, in similar vein to the Republic of India, the AU will have to develop a programme under which sons and daughters of the African Diaspora will officially be certified as “Citizens of African Origin”, and will receive certificates or other forms of documentation that
will entitle them to some form of special or preferential status in all member nations of the AU.
And I hasten to add -- not preferential in relation to indigenous citizens of those countries, but
preferential in relation to non-African foreigners.
Needless-to-say, the Regional Networks will have to play a critical role in helping to put such a programme in place. And this type of programme could be the answer to Diasporans who are agitating for a right of return to the continent and the right to some form of dual
(2) AFRICAN UNION OUTREACH PROJECTS TO THE DIASPORA
The AU must move with haste to establish mechanisms and programmes that are designed to mobilize and harness the human and financial resources of the Diaspora. I refer to such projects as the establishment of a Pan-African Mutual Fund, Pan-African Development
Bond issues, and a Pan-African Volunteer Programme.
Such projects will have to be carried out in partnership with institutions of the Diaspora, and will have to be fully supported by the Regional Networks.
(3) ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENTS OR MINISTRIES OF PAN-AFRICAN AFFAIRS
The AU needs to facilitate the Diaspora to connect with and engage with the African continent by mandating every member-state of the AU to establish Ministries or Departments of Pan-African or Diaspora Affairs as part of the structure of government.
Independent black nation states of the Diaspora must also be encouraged to establish such governmental institutions. One outstanding example of this is the Government of Barbados’ Commission
For Pan-African Affairs. Caribbean Pan-Africanists must lobby their governments to follow the Barbados example and establish governmental agencies designed to facilitate engagement with Africa and other regions of the Diaspora.
This type of Governmental infrastructure on the continent and in the Diaspora is critical for facilitating developmental partnerships, sharing of expertise, and the building of strong relationships across our Pan-African world.
(4) A PAN-AFRICAN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME
A concerted effort needs to be made to develop and deploy a formal and informal educational programme devoted to fostering the historical consciousness of the people of Africa and the Diaspora, and to fostering Pan-African consciousness. To this end, the AU should make
an effort to partner with the nations of the Caribbean Community and with outstanding black educational institutions and educators from across the African Diaspora, to conceptualize, plan and execute such a model Pan-African educational programme, inclusive of the production
of relevant educational materials.
(5) ESTABLISH PAN-AFRICAN STRUCTURES IN AFRICA’S INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENTS
The AU should seek to establish Pan-Africanist structures and relationships within every international or multi-national organism or programme that it is involved in. For example, the countries of South America (led by Venezuela) are engaged in an on-going “African/South
American Summit” with Africa. The African nations involved in the “African/South America Summit” should seek to build into that arrangement a Pan-Africanist structure that permits them to engage in some way with the African organisations and communities of the South
American sub-continent. (A similar approach can be taken in respect of the AU’s engagement with the European Union and with the countries of the Pacific region.)
In this manner, the AU will be grasping every possible opportunity to establish contact and relationships with members of Africa’s Diaspora.
And this will be of particular importance in relation to regions of the Diaspora in which African people constitute a minority - and often an exploited minority - of the population.
The sons and daughters of Africa and the African Diaspora have all had the common experience of suffering the negative consequences that have emanated from centuries of European-orchestrated slavery, slave trade and colonialism, and therefore share a collective vested interest in healing and repairing the damage and injury that we have suffered.
This quest for repair and healing is known as the campaign for Reparations.
Virtually every region of the African World has evinced an interest in pursuing a campaign for the securing of Reparations:- Reparations which take the form of our own self-generated and self-made repairs on ourselves and our societies; and Reparations which take the form of
compensatory payments and programmes that are extracted, as a matter of International Law, from the relevant European former colonial governments.
The OAU, for example, led the way in the early 1990's with the proclamation of the Abuja Declaration on Reparations, and the establishment of the OAU’s Group of Eminent Persons on Reparations and a Reparations Commission. Furthermore, all across the African
Diaspora, the black civil society has established Reparations organisations. And recently, the 15 independent member nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) established a CARICOM Reparations Commission and mandated every CARICOM member state to establish
national Reparations Commissions, and that the University of the West Indies should establish a Reparations Research Unit.
I therefore wish to suggest that the Reparations issue and the international campaign to secure Reparations constitutes an instrument that can be used to unite Africa and the Diaspora in a common cause!
The AU should therefore join forces with CARICOM in pursuing a campaign for Reparations! Once this is done, it is clear that the joint CARICOM / AU Reparations Campaign will provide a structure around which Diaspora civil society organisations of North America, Central America, South America and Europe will be able to mobilize and make common cause.
Such an all-embracing Pan-African Reparations Campaign will of necessity cause us to research and investigate our common history, our biological and cultural kinship, our common predicament, and common solutions to our predicament. It will also cause us to engage in
collective diplomatic and legal efforts in the international arena.
In short, the pursuit of Reparations will foster Pan-African unity and development.
(7) A PAN-AFRICAN COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS
Just as Britain has taken the initiative to establish a British Commonwealth of nations that experienced a history of British colonialism, and just as South America - in a more positive vein – has engaged with Africa in establishing the “Africa / South America Summit”, the AU should take the initiative to establish a “Pan African Commonwealth of Nations” comprised of all of those independent nations that are totally or predominantly black or African, along with
selected countries that possess sizeable African populations and that have evinced a strong desire to engage with Africa.
The countries that I have in mind are the 54 countries of Africa, the 15 countries of the Caribbean Community, and such Latin American and Caribbean countries as Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua among others.
This project will provide a powerful and valuable state-centred mechanism for the building of Pan-African unity, and for achieving many of the goals of Agenda 63.
DAVID A. COMISSIONG
President of the Clement Payne Movement
Chairman of the Caribbean Pan-African Network