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Climate justice through Pan-Afrikan Reparatory justice

As reports emerge that the People's Climate March London sidelined a 'Wretched of the Earth' bloc of activists representing communities on the frontline of climate change, some of these activists share a Reparations story.

PARCOE and Zena Edwards
3 December 2015
Leading the People's Climate March London. Wretched of the Earth collective

Wretched of the Earth collective

As the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE), we have our own understanding (‘overstanding’) of the problem of climate change, within the context of Pan-Afrikan Internationalism. PARCOE sees climate change as one of the results of the criminal imposition – by the ruling classes of Europe – of a rapacious system expropriating the resources of the globe, not only at the expense of the majority of Humanity, but also to the detriment of our Mother Earth.

From the 15th Century onwards, Afrikan people have been suffering environmental racism and other crimes of genocide and ecocide. This has developed through enslavement in its three main phases of chattelisation, colonialism and neocolonialism, within a globalising capitalist framework. It has included the misuse of enslaved Afrikan mental and physical labour to perpetrate environmental destruction and genocide across the Americas and Asia as well as Afrika. One result is systematised Afriphobia and other forms of anti-Black racism, which we term the Maangamizi.  [1] 

This has not only destroyed human lives, including the enduring harm passed generation to generation through the ‘Mentacide’ of mental enslavement, but also other forms of Nature in its rich biodiversity. For there to be Planet Repairs, (which we see as a holistic way to tackle climate change), we need to break through forces that colonised the Majority World and still maintain coloniality of power over the indigenous peoples of the world and their habitats, denying them their right to self-determination and preventing them from fully exercising their peoples', human and Mother Earth rights in their own homelands.

Decolonisation is essential to the Reparatory Justice process, whereby peoples of the Majority World can regain their sovereignty and reorder their lives in harmony with Nature.  In effect, we are firmly of the view that if there is no genuine decolonisation, the overwhelming majority of humanity will not be able to regain control of their destiny and be able to effect the kind of Planet Repairs required to respond to climate change.

PARCOE’s organising approach includes several elements.  

We are strengthening connections between the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR) and the Peoples’ Reparations International Movement (PRIM) as well as harmonising the diverse efforts of Communities of Reparations Interest (CORIs) all over the world.

We are advancing Truthquest, facilitating dialogues and developing – together with a broad range of partners from diverse CORIs – channels of networking, alliance-building and campaigning. Examples include the Afrikan Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP), the Europe-wide NGO Consultative Council for Afrikan Reparations (ENGOCCAR), the SPPRINGJAR, the Popular Civil Society Fora for Reparations (POCSFORs), the STOP MAANGAMIZI: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Petition and the SANKOFASEMKA Open Surgeries of Reparatory Justice Action Learning (SANKOFASEMKA-OSORJALs). 

 A special feature is our involvement in building the Afrikan Heritage Community for National Self-Determination (AHC-NSD), part of the Global Afrikan People’s Parliament. The AHC-NSD is focused on the holistic regeneration of Afrikan communities; mindful of the fact that, at present, such Afrikan communities exist within and beyond the UK as a multiplicity of different and even conflicting nation-state, ethnic, racial, class, gender, age and other socio-cultural configurations brought from all over the world. Therefore, regeneration of Afrikan communities is being done in a radical and intersectional way, for example through innovative Eco-Justice Village building projects such as SERUJAMAA, which serves as a living prototype of a future MAATUBUNTUMAN Pan-Afrikan Union of communities expressing Maatabuntu dignity throughout the continent and diaspora of Afrika. There is also the highlighting of MAATUBUNTUSITAWI,  our Pan-Afrikan Reparatory Justice equivalent of 'Sumak Kawsay’, an Andean indigenous approach. MAATUBUNTUSITAWI is our Afrikan contribution to the global search to replace Eurocentric models of imperialism.

One instrument for this alternative globalisation is the enactment­ to be achieved during the United Nations Decade for People of Afrikan Descent of a Pan-Afrikan Reparatory Justice Law for Rematriation/Repatriation by the African Union (AU) and its Pan-African Parliament.  In addition, the ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide’ petition (SMWCGE) is a campaigning tool to exert pressure on the British Houses of Parliament to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice (APPCITARJ) in the British and European Houses of Parliament and is being used, alongside other initatives, to build dialogue from the ground upwards with the British state and society on Reparatory Justice and forms a companion project with the 1st August Emancipation Day Afrikan Reparations March

There are countless examples of the grassroots creativity with which Afrikan Heritage communities are effecting their own Reparatory Justice Self and Planet Repairs.  

 Ametsitsi Kosi P. S. Agoko is striving, through the UBUNTUMAFUNZOKRONTI Pan-Afrikan Council for Global Citizenship Education and the ASASEYAAMMA Pan-Afrikan Green Campaign for Global Justice, to harness guidance from community elders for the younger activists of the Ewe-Fon-Adja Network for Pan-Afrikan Community Regeneration (EFANPACOR). This is to help them overcome obstacles created by the arbritary and divisive colonial borders of present-day Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria and to reunify their Afrikan nationality through community education and ground-up initiatives of sustainable development. They are engaged in a range of efforts to reclaim Ewe-Fon-Adja or Ewe-Stock indigenous knowledge, culture and spirituality, including Afrikan traditions of environmental justice rooted in the MawuLisa faith system practices; and harmonising with it, in Sankofa [2] creativity  guided by the consciousness of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, positive elements from other traditional Afrikan religious faiths as well as Christianity, Islam and other teachings in the common Wisdom Treasury of Humanity from all over the world. With the help of the PRYPAC Green Star Clubs, efforts are being made, particularly in the Tanyigbe area of the Volta Region of Ghana, to promote Global Citizenship Education that highlights initiatives springing from Ewe-Stock resources; encouraging permaculture farming and innovative practices of organic aquaculture, food crops and herbal medicinal processing, natural husbandry of animals, biodiversity conservation and the ecological harmonisation of the built and natural environments.
  

Maatyo Dedo Azu is similarly working through ASASEYAAMMA, supported by the Environmental Justice Alliance of Ghana for Sustainable World Development (EJAGSWOD), to guide the Krobo Community Regeneration for Sustainable Development Action Forum (KCORSDAF); she is engaged in mobilising people to stop the Maangamizi crimes of the GHACEM subsidiary of Scancem International in Norway and HeidelbergCement in Germany, which are despoiling the environment and poisoning virtually everything in their Klowem homeland in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Accordingly, she is working on the development of Krobo customary rites, festivals and other educative traditional cultural practices such as Dipo, Kloyosikplemi and Ngmayem to empower her community. No wonder she is playing a leading role in building the Popular Civil Society Forum for Reparations (POCSFOR) in Ghana.

The Kgeikani Kweni movement of the First People of the Kalahari (FPK) – led by the 2005 Right Livelihood Award-winning Tobee Tcori (also known as Roy Sesana) and Jumanda Kagelebone – is spearheading San communities in Botswana and other areas of southern Afrika in the growing resistance of indigenous Afrikan people to the expropriation of their ancestral lands. Likewise, Piaba Madokwe and Mpho Morolane of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) are not only joining fellow youth and student activists like Thembani Ma'at Onceya of the Black Student Movement (BSM) and others of the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements in battling for decolonisation of education and society; they are also working to enhance the efforts of community activists like Sbu Zikode, Zandile Nsibande, Sindi Mkhize, Nomusa Nxumalo and Scelo Ngidi of the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) shack-dwellers movement and the Poor People's Alliance, as well as other diverse communities of resistance such as Marikana, all making similar demands for land, housing, and other human, people's and Mother Earth rights in an increasingly turbulent South Africa.

The environmental dimensions of Reparatory Justice are also being highlighted in the efforts of those such as Accompong eco-warrior Tyshan Wright from the Maroon community Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) mobilising against threats of expanding bauxite mining in the west of Jamaica; Sister Francia Elena Marqez Minas from the Black Women's Movement in Defence of Life and the Ancestral Territories in the North Cauca region of Colombia; and Quilombolas Dona Maria and Vilma Reis, from the Black Community Development Council (CDCN) of the Quilombo Rio dos Macacos in Bahia, besieged for eviction by the Brazilian navy, as well as the many others involved in the National Front in Defence of Quilombo Territories in Brazil.

PARCOE is hopeful that our efforts, in harmony with so many catalysing the momentum for change in and beyond the UK today, will move forward not only Afrikan people, but other still subjugated peoples of the world, galvanising the reawakening of the "Wretched of the Earth" to whom Frantz Fanon addressed his call to remake the world.

Kofi Mawuli Klu & Esther Stanford-Xosei Co-Vice Chairs, PARCOE


Truth and morning become light with time

-       African Proverb.

 

 

I

Because they had heard,

on a south easterly wind

of a spring of human gold,

                                    men with white skin and long robes to the ground

                                                                        came.


They gave us cups of wine

and told us "drink"

this claret that would bless our home

                                    We were taught to refuse offerings is rude

                                                                        so we drank.    

 

 

                                    To be cursed with such a trait as trust.

 

 

II

 

The bargain was bamboozlement.

We tightened our throats and would not swallow their wine.

                                    Offended, the white men cut out all our language

                                    pushed spiked bridles into our mouths 

                                    that stabbed our tongues

 

Our land and bodies forced

to speak their greed -

Glistening red wounds from chains bound;

their religion, our anaesthesia,

                                    a brutal bypass operation was performed -

                                    for centuries, an illegal transfusion

                                    of treasures from our home to theirs.

 

we still

taste our blood and break teeth biting down  

into our Earth hacking Her in mines,

                                    ripping up the futures’ roots

                                    tossing devastation into Her waters

                                    catatonic with trauma, dismembering the ancestors

Till the land aborts its own seeds 

Till the rivers run poisoned, like torrents of goblins. 

Till leaders dine drunk at the table,

                                    puppets, the opacity of greed riddling their eyes

                                    and bellies distended by the broth brewed

                                    from the wet bones of their people.

 

When we learned the men with white skin

and long robes, who lay on a cross

and drank their God's blood

                                    were but one head of a beast.

                                    Time brought us a bloody dawn.

                                    We wondered where sanity had gone.

 

 

III

Pirate.

savager of ripe clay, fetishizer of rock,

Pimp and drug pusher to nature's crop,

Cleaver of a peoples legacy

Mercenary of shaman ways

Author of walls of bloody pages: fabrications

of terror that dehumanise 

 

You, who brand the Source of all Life

till wet and dry land are misplaced

You, who drip feed your greed

Proving eyes

have nothing to do with being blind -

 

unforgivable, relentless, ritualistic violence.

Your aim: to break will by breaking bark and backs.

 


IV

Let it be understood

Afrika is not a country in violent servitude

though violated - though  webs are spun inside the loops

                                    of rope nooses

                                    in houses of injustice,

                                    in ink and pixels,

                                    in policy.

 

Afrika is metamorphous Source  

You cannot find Her in the ground 

or pull Her with no ritual from its trees, 

or rip Her from its rivers 

or straightjacket Her

Without recourse

 

Her Brood has learned  

how to hold its breath 

how to undulate free  

from a colonisers gaze.

 

 

V

All impetus comes from the earth up, the feet up.

Forcing the voice all out.

 

The choir is world wide.

Summons diaspora harmonies.

The song is completing itself 

 

From the farthest reaches of the planet 

Ubuntu echoes through the canopies

of the Amazon, the Congo, in Lagos  

Dives and breaches through the rivers and oceans

Forging a path through the darkness and chaos

 

Birds, big cats, bears, apes

Beetles and snakes

Whose habitat is on the navel of the equator

Live when we are full voiced.

 

Remove any obstruction.                     sing.

Remove the obstruction.                      sing.

Remove obstruction.                            listen.              

 

Her notes are bass.

Wrap around us.

Reverberate to heal us.

Riffs to embrace us, return us

To ritual, that might save us.

 

Fools do not listen.

 

This is a series of poems in response to the determination of the Afrikan Reparations Movement in recognition of its monumental and achievable challenge. They explore the Movement as a learnable state of consciousness, as a strategy of re-membering humanity, as a network of Diasporic peoples in flux with a firm foothold in the past, present and future simultaneously, in Sankofa and as a champion for healing the Planet.

This article is part of the Climate Stories project.




[1] The term Maangamizi is a Kishahili term first popularised by Dr Maulana Karenga which he defined as being the Holocaust of Enslavement. 

[2] translates in the Akan language as ‘it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind’.

 

 

 

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