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Pan African Visions » Business in Africa, Editorial, Featured, Interviews, Partnership, Perspective » Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017
Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017
July 12th, 2013 | 13 Comments
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-Jerome Almon shares his vision of getting African-Americans to Bank on Africa
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Jerome AlmonU.S Businessman Jerome Almon says it is time for African-Americans to bank more on Africa and matching words with actions, he is launching a venture that will attract hundreds of billions of new investments in the continent. Almon, a veteran who also runs a successful entertainment company says investing in the continent will create wealth and opportunities for Africans and will also be economically beneficial to Africans in the U.S. Countries like India and China have made great progress in part because of strong ties and it is time for African Americans to have the same level of engagement with Africa said Almon in an interview to discuss his initiative with Ajong Mbapndah L
Mr Almon, you have been in the news recently with an ambitious plan to get African Americans invest about $230 billion by 2017, can you break down the vision in very simple terms for us?
It is a simple plan that ask a simple question, “Why should we have to ask others for help when we can help ourselves as Africans. African Americans spend well over a trillion dollars annually, and it does us no good, however investing in Africa through tourism, business ventures, and so on makes Africa financially independent while increasing the wealth and opportunities of Africans on the Continent and in America and it creates a cycle of economic growth for every country and its people in Africa and it makes all Africans everywhere more financially wealthy. It’s just common sense that we do it. We have complete power and control to do as we want with our money and resources-let’s do what’s best for us.
How did you conceive the idea and from the initial reactions you have got, how receptive is the public to your vision?
I looked around and saw nothing but opportunity for the African diaspora to help-especially African Americans with the huge amount of hard currency we spend every year and said to myself it’s time for us to do our share. Africans in every other region of the world were and are doing more than their share. Bottom line it works. The reaction to the plan at first was shock, but when the information was reviewed the people saw how reasonable and workable the plan was and really liked it. The amount of money is less than 8% of African American’s consumer spending. We were once on top of the world economically from Zimbabwe to Timbuktu to Egypt, let’s get back where we belong.
Definitely much could change in Africa with that kind of money, how do you think the money can be raised especially with the economic challenges that many African Americans are facing now?
It is very important that Africans in America not accept whatever they hear in the corporate media. African Americans are constantly told they are poor even though we spend more money than the GDP of all the countries on Earth with the exception of 15 (out of 229 ranked). We are as poor as Bill Gates is-which is not at all. If we spent our money among ourselves as Africans the way the Chinese, Europeans, and Indians, we would create more jobs than there are Africans in America. Equally we are not experiencing an economic downturn in the African American community, we are experiencing the lack of basic economic literacy and the lack of maximizing our potential in this area. For example, my hometown Detroit is bankrupt, but it is not bankrupt due to the lack of money as my website http://www.detroit1st.com shows. Africans in Detroit spend $30 billion a year, which would make Detroiter’s wealthier than over half the countries on Earth. If you convince someone that they are poor, they will behave as if they are poor. That is why the economic relationship with Africa is so important, think of what would happen if we as Africans followed such a common sense system with all of Africa’s natural resources?! The huge population of young people that can be the next innovators that produce the next Apple or Google, the large amount mineral wealth and natural resources that Africa has puts us as a people in a unique position. It is a matter of just seeing what is right in front of our eyes. The money is there, that cannot be disputed, it is a matter of consolidating it for African advancement. Through a basic media education program with 10 simple facts will allow us all to have a blue print to work from. The biggest issue is not that people don’t have the money and don’t want to help, they don’t know how to help and where to send the money. African Americans give away $12 billion annually to charities that don’t help Africans-American or otherwise. I say let’s spend and invest that $12 billion amongst Africa and Africans. Once you get the truth it compels you to act, it is impossible not to. Look at the fact that Africans from the Continent send more money back to Africa than all the foreign aid combined! There is endless potential if the North American, Caribbean, European, Australian, and South American Africans join in. Actually, it is normal for a society to invest 10% of its GDP into the economy, so we can do it-it happens every day. Any economic distress African Americans have is caused by our lack of doing business with Africans and Africa period. If Africans in America invested in Africa, there would be no poor African Americans-economically this is indisputable.
We have seen a few celebrities with projects in Africa like Oprah Winfrey and a school in South Africa, Isaiah Washington with a foundation in Sierra Leone etc, but many will agree there is still a strong disconnect between African Americans and Africa, why is it that the bonds are not as strong as those between Indian Americans and India or Latinos and South America?
The answer to that question is simple-we haven’t tried. A simple PR and marketing campaign from the African Union and its 54 members directed to African Americans saying “come back home-see what we can do as a people for ourselves, let’s talk, let’s do some things that benefit us all. African Americans should initiate a similar program of gaining membership in the African Union, adopting an African country to visit and work with, and most importantly right now reaching out to the 54 African embassies in America and finding out what Africa needs from us. We will find out that we can do so much together- we have to think big not small. African Americans should also learn an African language, this is a bond that the Chinese, Indians, and Latinos have-a common language. It is natural that we do this, so let’s do it. Our fate in America is the same as Africans everywhere else. It’s a matter of leadership, we need new leadership to compliment current leadership and move Africa and Africans to the next level.
We understand this idea is new, so what is the road map, the plan of action, beyond the first step to get word out there when do we see the first concrete steps towards the realization of the vision?
OPERATIONBLAKKOUT (1)We must control our own message, currently most news on Africa is filtered through the non African media. We have enough money and the human talent to have an African Al Jazeera with branches in Africa and America. This also allows us to educate and end misconceptions we have of Africa and other Africans, which also provides great business opportunities in advertising and business ownership globally. Next we need to set time tables and specific goals in regards to the funds and projects. This can be easily done with a diaspora conference in Africa and in America and making maximum use of the internet and social media. The most important thing in this area is SHOW the people what great results come from the cooperation. We need to set a top 10 list of priorities such as education, economic literacy, infrastructure projects, GDP goals, and so on. We have to look at this as a grand project with grand results which requires a grand executable plan. These simple steps are 90% of the solution. African Americans are spending the money anyway, why not in Africa, why not on African goods and services? We can all be wealthy together or poor together, I say let’s be wealthy as a people. Let’s help fund projects such as The Great Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. The dam cost around $5 billion dollars
Are there partners you have identified besides African Americans especially in the continent?
I have been contacted by the office of the President of Sierra Leone, the South African government, African Canadian groups, Ugandan, Kenyan, the office of the President of Rwanda through a journalist in East Africa, the government of Tanzania, Nigerian, Angolan, and Namibian businessmen and dozens of other Africans from as far away as Hong Kong. The key is working with the leadership and people in Africa to partner them with Africans in the West and getting lines of communication open and resources to the needed area as efficiently as possible.
As much as things are changing in the continent, there are still leaders in power for over thirty years and counting, corruption is still too rife for comfort and there are countries where democratic values are not respected, how can such realities affect your project?
Democracy is a powerful thing-it automatically changes a lot of things. And one of things it does is create a middle class by its very nature, and that ends the chance of such prolonged rule. At a certain stage in development it is not viable, nor acceptable. Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go, but the country and the people still need power plants, roads, bridges, and technology. The concentration has to be on improving the average African’s life, and the rest will take care of itself. The West, China, India all faced the same issue and concentrated on the economic and infrastructure issues at hand and the democracy came along with the progress in these areas. All of my research and experience in this area shows that poverty creates dictators, and prosperity creates transparency and freedom.
Personally are there any countries that you have visited or some you consider as the kind of models of development and progress you will like to see across the continent?
Ironically, it is Germany, Canada, and China. Germany is a very efficient country. It was the world’s largest exporter up until 5 years ago. When you consider that the country has less than a third of the population of the US and 7% of China’s population, it is amazing. I always saw this as a model for Africa-especially South Africa. With Canada you have nearly as much efficiency and you have a very modern country in terms of infrastructure and human rights. Also with Canada you have a country the size of the US with 1 tenth of the population, which is very similar to most African countries. Canada is also a great model to borrow from in terms of its modern infrastructure and facilities such as hospitals. The country also mirrors African American economically, with our consumer spending being almost identical to Canada’s GDP. This allows for us to see what we SHOULD have with the amount of money we spend. Finally, there are more Africans in America than there are Canadians on Earth, look what they do with their resources and look what we Africans in America do with ours. We should have everything Canada has in America, but also each African country. We can easily do this. With China we see where we should be as a whole. China and the Chinese diaspora are moving as one economically and have been really seriously since the 1980’s-look at the result. If we adopt such a philosophy for Africa with its unmatched mineral and natural wealth we can be where China is in a relatively short period of time. China went from and agrarian society in the 1950’s to dominating the world economically today through its 5 year plan economic system. In these countries we see our potential and future, the keys are having the right vision, efficient execution of a workable plan, and constant monitoring of the feedback data and progress to make the plan more efficient.
With such a great vision, people will love to know who Jerome Almon, we see there is information about music labels you are, involvement in show biz etc, can you tell us who Jerome Almon is and the kind of experiences he has that should make people believe that this is a serious vision and this is something he can provide the right leadership for?
IMAG0140-1My background is in economics and political science, I have worked on the UN Delphi Project out of Belgium, I have attended America’s best Universities, and I have the real world experience-which is most important. I have managed one of the busiest retailers in the world. I speak working Zulu, German, Arabic, and English. I am a paratrooper and own a successful entertainment company that produces events that have 1.5-2.5 million fans per event. But what I am most proud of is my studying the history, geography, and culture of Africa. I have spent countless hours talking to Africans from university, African military officers, and African academics about Africa. My heroes were and are mostly continental Africans such as Jerry Rawlings, Haile Selassie, Thomas Sankara, Jomo Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, Jose Dos Santos, Kenneth Kaunda, Anwar Sadat and on and on. I have studied Africa since I was 8 years old. It is Africa FIRST for me always.
After reading this interview if people got interested what should there do, how can they get involved, support or find out more information?
They can contact me at email@example.com and visit the website http://www.thepowerof1trillion.com for basic information which will contain very specific information on the plan this month.
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Written by Panafricanvisions
Filed under: Business in Africa, Editorial, Featured, Interviews, Partnership, Perspective
13 Responses to “Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017”
joe lewis says:
July 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm
i been looking for this info for a long time this is the gospel for lack of a better word rite now our people got to get it together i am into pan africanism i want to get deeply envolved with this project big time this is the only way our people going to survive
Achiampong Edward says:
July 21, 2013 at 7:42 am
Brilliant idea and we hope it does not end only in words. There is much that African Americans can do to help Africa. Africa will always be their home and will welcome them with open arms
Ehirim Stephen says:
July 21, 2013 at 7:47 am
It is interesting that with the rest of the world scrambling about Africa, African Americans have remain timid. I mean the China,France,Japan,India,Brazil,Korea,Canada ,UK, etc and even the USA are scrambling for Africa, but where are our African American brothers?Will the white Americans toy with Europe?will the Hispanic population in America ever fail in its duties towards Mexico and other South American Countries?African Americans must engage more with Africa.It can only be a win win situation
Stone Ncube says:
July 21, 2013 at 7:50 am
Brilliant initiative and it will be great if this does not end up like others which raise hope only to end up disappointing people.
Essim Braitwhite says:
July 21, 2013 at 7:53 am
Whao, are African Americans about to wake up in recognition of their historic ties to Africa and the potentials the continent has for them?great project and kudos to Mr Almon
Amedofu Ayew says:
July 21, 2013 at 8:00 am
Nice interview and one of the best I have seen from an African American concerning Africa. It is good to see more engagement and it can be limited to Oprah opening a school in South Africa or Isaiah Washington working in Sierra Leone, bigger broad based projects can be carried out as well. The power sector has potential, and could definitely do with support from African Americans
Atabong Elvis says:
July 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm
I am really impressed by Mr. Almon’s vision and hope he can see it through, I will definitely look up the website
October 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm
If people really want to learn and know more about Africa. I am free for any questions. But I have a message for you do not be mislead. In African their is a huge investment from all types of people from the Western world including Asia but non from Africans outside Africa. Opportunities are endless and in Africa depending on the country you can never go wrong. At least am familiar with the situation in Southern Africa so I will any type of information in Southern Africa is welcome for your own information Southern Africa is short of real estate so this is another area of investment you can think of. For more and any other information just inbox me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln NJENGA says:
November 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm
Dear Bro Almon,
Your boldness and courage will do doubt provoke thought beyond your imagination. I frankly had not looked at the Great African Re-union with such vividness. Indeed, the African-American engagement with mother Africa is enough to restore dignity and respect of the African. To some, the thought is actually scary.
And you are right; a second scramble for Africa is in the offing seeing that it is the last bastion for growth on planet earth. And on this score, China is first off the blocks! I imagine the word out there is if USA can elect (and re-elect) an African president, Africa is certainly ready for business.
May the God of all Creation, the Holy One of Israel-who has begun this good work in you-be gracious to you and bring this Great Vision to a glorious completion to the glory and honour of His holy name!
Your proposal for an African Diaspora Conference is therefore spot on given the increasingly important economic role African Diaspora remittances is playing in many countries. For instance, I am involved in a Kenya Diaspora initiative whose objective is to harness/mainstream the reasonably large remittances it receives annually for faster economic development.
The African Union estimates that Africans in the Diaspora exceed 170 million! Brazil has of late shown keen interest in the Continent. Perhaps this may be due to the fact that it is home to the largest number of the African Diaspora in the world.
Press on, brother, press on!
Frank Simmons says:
November 6, 2013 at 12:23 am
Yes , right on with the progress.
Justin Aadil says:
November 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm
Im into marketing and can help with a marketing plan
Nothing to it except to do it
November 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm
Do you have a plan for investment? I did a direct import business of Artifacts for resale. I did alright for a while but it’s like people were no longer interested in African Art/carving.
A. B. MOMANYI says:
November 7, 2013 at 3:48 am
WELCOME HOME BRO. THERE ARE ENOUGH RESOURCES AND ROOM FOR ALL AFRICAN PEOPLE.WE WILL SHARE IDEAS AND ALL THE INFORMATION REQUIRED TO MAKE IT A SUCCESS.
A. B. MOMANYI on Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017
“WELCOME HOME BRO. THERE ARE ENOUGH RESOURCES AND ROOM FOR ALL AFRICAN PEOPLE.WE …”
Leslie on Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017
“Do you have a plan for investment? I did a direct import business of Artifacts …”
Justin Aadil on Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017
“Im into marketing and can help with a marketing plan Nothing to it except to do…”
Frank Simmons on Game Changing Mission? African Americans Could Invest $230 Billion In Africa By 2017
“Yes , right on with the progress.…”
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AFRICA!-MOTHER AFRICA!-BACK TO AFRICA-GHANA IS A NATURAL CHOICE FOR MANY BLACKAMERIKKKANS! -FROM THEGRIO.COM- O SE O ABURO MI ZAINABU AYIRA O!November 7, 2013
O SE O ABURO MI ZAINABU AYIRA!
Travel and Leisure
Why Ghana is fast becoming a hub for African-Americans
by Ezinne Ukoha | November 2, 2013 at 11:00 AM
Local chiefs wait for visiting Dutch Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima at Elmina Castle April 15, 2002 in Ghana. From Elmina the Dutch shipped over 50,000 slaves to Surinam and an unknown number to other destinations in North and South America. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
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We are now living in a time when Africa evokes images of vibrancy and growth instead of poverty, war and struggle.
In this context, Ghana is fast becoming a mecca for black Americans who are looking for lucrative opportunities in a new environment. According to recent reports, about 10,000 African-Americans visit Ghana yearly. Currently almost 3,000 American blacks reside in the capital, Accra, the major hub of Ghana.
Signs of a growing trend
While these numbers are not huge, they are still significant. Almost six years ago there were only 1,000 African-American expatriates living in Ghana, so clearly the numbers are rising steadily.
What has attracted them? The fact is this burgeoning nation has consistently enjoyed a peaceful political climate without many threats of internal or external strife since it gained its independence from the British back in 1957. The temperate weather also makes it an attractive choice.
But most importantly, there are elements that could resonate with anyone seeking a more laid back lifestyle. The pristine beaches, affordable living and a sense of spiritual calm that permeates the landscape makes Ghana an attractive alternative to the proverbial American “rat race.”
Ghana is living up to that hype, in addition to being a land of economic opportunity and bountiful resources.
Why relocate to Ghana?
Most Americans are starting to grasp the notion that they may have better luck financially in another country. As the American economy continues to falter, some blacks are finding that places new and unfamiliar could challenge them in ways leading to upward mobility.
Monies saved and invested elsewhere can yield bigger dividends. The educational attainment of many African-Americans can be put to immediate use in countries that have not been able to offer their populations similar luxuries until recently.
Much has been written about American blacks moving to South Africa for these very reasons, but I would like to suggest Ghana be added to the short list of locales for those considering planting new roots in the Motherland.
Technology, teaching and more opportunities
There are a plethora of companies in Ghana eager to recruit foreign applicants. If you are lucky enough to be well versed in all things digital, securing employment with a well-established technology firm is a strong possibility. Organizations such as Blogging Ghana have created platforms for interactivity within the social media realm that are reaching a global audience. Employees of such firms will have the opportunity to be proponents for change in an emerging field.
Or you can more easily start a family business. More than half of the African-Americans that reside in Accra are entrepreneurs. Local chiefs are often more than willing to grant prized land and other resources to budding entrepreneurs interested in real estate development, or other commercial ventures. This could also lead to a lucrative life in farming – or “agribusiness” – for those interested in a totally new, yet viable way of making a living.
Teaching is another highly desirable profession. English is the official language of Ghana; thus, entering academia as a teacher of the language could be one means of entrance into a coveted class. Plus, there are many supports extended to foreign pupils and the qualified staff who instruct them. You and your family could benefit from this aspect of the economy as native speakers.
Realistic challenges to immigration
But nothing comes easy. Newly minted migrants have encountered some issues adjusting to the regulatory patterns and overall atmosphere of their adopted homes. As progressive as Ghana is compared to their regional neighbors, there are still some difficulties that arise when it comes to everyday comfort. Coming from a Western culture creates certain expectations, and the thought of not having stable electricity, or constant running water can be a pain. Yes, this does happen, and may be a deal-breaker.
In addition, government agencies can also be hard to work with and in some cases they can prolong the process of becoming a citizen, which will limit your access to certain jobs. But, for many recent immigrants, aside from the “malaria issue” (which unfortunately is still the norm), settling in Accra isn’t nearly as intimidating as one would imagine.
Most importantly, acquaint yourself with the history of this very diverse country. Many Ghanaians are well traveled and knowledgeable about world affairs, so you have to be able to hold your own.
Weighing options for change
You have to look before you leap, so it’s advisable to visit first before you make such a drastic decision. You should ideally be armed with a well-drafted blueprint of what your vocation will be and have a few promising options lined up to assuage any doubts. Yes, it can take a considerable amount of time to achieve residency, but if you like Ghana and want to take a risk in your quest for a better life, you will likely succeed.
Ghana is the perfect choice if you are looking to experience living in Africa, because it has managed to take advantage of global opportunities, which has allowed the country to develop a comfortable level of stability. African-Americans will enjoy making a life in a place that will make them feel connected and celebrated in a way that they probably don’t fully enjoy in the U.S. as “minorities.”
Plus, you don’t have to be a millionaire in order to live quite decently. Moreover, there are resources available, like The African American Association of Ghana (AAGG), to help make your transition a smooth one.
Overall, you will be living among a people who are just as excited to get to know you as you are to know them. Ghanaians are very hospitable, which makes it easy to make friends and quickly build a network, which is ultimately the key to survival in any foreign country.
That’s what makes Ghana a welcoming and worthwhile choice for African-Americans who might be thinking of relocating to a new land of opportunity.
Follow Ezinne Ukoha on Twitter @nilegirl.
YORUBA RELIGION EXPLAINED IS NOT “IDOL” WORSHIP FOR THE ORISHA ARE MESSENGERS FROM GOD LIKE JESU ATI MOHAMMED!-THIS SISTER EXPLAINS!-FROM THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER,NIGERIAOctober 31, 2013
The Christians against Aregbesola
With a-not-so-subtle-viewpoint, the Christian Association of Nigeria dredges up the familiar issues of morality, religion, secularism and victimhood in Osun State. CAN’s nuanced outburst on Monday, contained in its lengthy press release, indicates a shadow war between it, a Christian lobby group, and the governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, who is a Muslim.
Considering how much religious liberalism exists in South-West Nigeria, the case of CAN and Aregbesola raises questions of why Osun State and why at this time?
Recently, the Lagos State Government was reported to have sealed off the Lord’s Chosen Church over charges of environmental abuse. Governor Babatunde Fashola’s action did not denigrate into the belittling prattle of Muslim-governor-versus-Christian-worshippers hyperbolic navel-gazing. Compare this to CAN’s charges of Islamisation agenda, sponsoring and glorification of idolatry and, re-classification of public schools in Osun State by Aregbesola.
Fashola, of course, cannot be easily tagged with Islamisation bias like Aregbesola; both men are evidently different. In their self-presentation, Aregbesola’s appearance preempts your perception of his religious beliefs; Fashola’s subtle. Second is the admixture of geography and culture: Lagos is cosmopolitan; Osun is provincial.
Third, Aregbesola tries too hard to pander to every existing religious belief in Osun State. While doing this, he knows he must leave room to reassure his Muslim constituency he is still theirs. This kind of politics is confusing as it is unimpressive, and that is why his religious demons remain un-exorcised.
Religion in Nigeria, by the way, is about politics and politics is about contesting spaces. When sects push for space for their religion to thrive, it is not necessarily about social equality. The aim is their cut of socio-political relevance and the capital they can build with it. Their negotiating tool is, of course, the mammoth crowd that subscribes to these religions. The politics of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor as both the President’s spiritual adviser and Public Address System is a demonstration of this crafty mix.
CAN’s contestation with Aregbesola is buoyed by his madcap educational policies; from indications, they desire to tan his hide.
My preliminary assessment of the re-classification remedy masquerading as a revamp of the education sector is that it is meretricious, and does not demonstrate genuine commitment to resolving the problems of education.
Aregbesola’s inspired carving up of schools and teachers is not exactly new. He should ask ex-Governor Rashidi Ladoja who promoted similar wasteful restructuring of schools in Oyo State when he stimulated policies that divided schools into as many as five and all of them had to cohabit in the same compound!
Why do governors go for artificial restructuring while they neglect the real issues of funding, curriculum content development, continuous teacher retraining among others?
However, CAN and its sense of victimhood confuses me. They complain Aregbesola has the dual mandate of Islamising Osun State and glorifying idolatry. How is that possible when the two are diametrically opposed? Is Islam not as intolerant of idols as much as Christianity? Unless of course their argument is that Aregbesola is using idolatry to deflect attention from his “Islamisation agenda” and, he is promoting “idolatry” so as to claim an equal opportunity secularism, I do not see the logic in their argument.
Speaking of idolatry, what does CAN mean by classifying traditional religions as idolatrous?
I am at a loss over how to characterise the bigotry that reeks from CAN’s release. They claim they are “gravely concerned” about Aregbesola’s love for idolatry and cultism, but why the paternalism? Are members of CAN so detached from cultural realities that they see the worship of Ogun or Yemoja as idolatrous and cultic? Have they actually studied African Traditional Religion and its philosophies objectively? Or, they are merely parroting what their colonial forbearers handed down to them?
If CAN desires to see ‘idolatry’, they should look within its varied sects: crass materialism and the pastor figure are the idols on the altar people feverishly worship these days in most ecclesiastical gatherings. They further ask, “Why Ifa in this century?” and I respond, “Why Christianity in the 21st century?”
They even refer to traditional religions as “ancient idols” as if the existence of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus Christ is not as old –and possibly predates — the Yoruba pantheon of gods. CAN’s shocking lack of tact and pernicious attitude towards others’ faith gives a hollow ring to its redemptive press release.
CAN’s position makes the need for studying comparative religion right from primary school a must –not only in Osun State but also in all states of the federation. It will disabuse ignorant minds that the worship of Ogun is neither idolatrous nor cultic. Its prejudice against traditional religions shows its members lack any higher moral ground than the governor whom they accuse of upsetting social order with his religious overzealousness.
If Aregbesola were a Christian, and he was fiddling with Islamic institutions, would CAN have stood up to him? Would it agitate for equality if it were not a beneficiary?
That said, for Aregbesola, I will restate a position I have made on this page on the issue of Hijab in public schools: It should not be allowed because it is not only religious, it is political. Introducing politics to school uniforms defeats the whole purpose the concept of uniform was introduced in the first place. Uniforms are a social, class, and religious leveller and should be rigidly enforced to maintain the discipline of standardisation.
As to the question of mixing up children in other schools with the ones in mission schools, well, I understand CAN’s angst but then, any child should be able to attend any school as long as it is publicly owned. Both Muslims and Christians pay taxes in the state, so why discriminate?
Finally, I return to the third reason for CAN’s restiveness: Aregbesola’s religious pandering upsets. If he is not putting the Bible and Quran on Opon-Imo, he is advocating Isese Day for traditional worshippers. At the same time, he is busy throwing his religion in your face with billboards that announce his private devotions. And if his religious affront has not annoyed you enough, he seeks to introduce Ifa into the school curriculum. He does all these without any coherence or stating where he stands in the whole affair. This madness without methodology is confusing, like watching a footballer who insists on playing all positions.
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JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON:
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
Fate has a way of forcing razor-sharp turns in our lives, and Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, are dealing with the ultimate challenge. Within a week of the acquittal of the man who pulled the trigger on that rainy Florida evening, and though many would crumble under the weight of despair, they continued to turn their pain into a pointed argument for justice. Vaulted into a national debate over the issues of racial profiling, gun violence and “Stand Your Ground” laws, Martin and Fulton are buoyed by the wave of public empathy and rallies taking place around the country; they gain strength and conviction with each heavy step they take.
The pair agreed to meet with EBONY, along with their attorney and advocate Benjamin L. Crump, on a sweltering morning in New York City, just days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Ironically, our interview and cover shoot took place in the same hotel suite where a newly elected president Barack Obama stayed at the dawn of his first term in office, and on the same day of his very personal address on race in America. In those remarks, the president poignantly identified with the plight of young African-American men when he stated, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”
But on this day, the room held a different energy. Obama’s post-electoral elation yielded to a family’s desires to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Holding firm to their convictions, they still seek to properly honor the memory of their son and to ensure the survival of all our children.
Read more in the September issue of EBONY
© 2013 EB
Saviours’ Day 2013
The Final Call | National News
America’s New Slavery: Black Men in Prison
By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Mar 20, 2008 – 4:56:00 PM
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Photos: AP/Wide World PhotosAdvocates note that the constitution’s 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exception in cases where persons have been ‘duly convicted’ in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment.
(FinalCall.com) – A new American slave trade is booming, warn prison activists, following the release of a report that again outlines outrageous numbers of young Black men in prison and increasing numbers of adults undergoing incarceration. That slave trade is connected to money states spend to keep people locked up, profits made through cheap prison labor and for-profit prisons, excessive charges inmates and families may pay for everything from tube socks to phone calls, and lucrative cross country shipping of inmates to relieve overcrowding and rent cells in faraway states and counties.
Advocates note that the constitution’s 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exception—in cases where persons have been “duly convicted” in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment, they add. The majority of prisoners are Black and Latino, though they are minorities in terms of their numbers in the population.
According to “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008,” published by the Pew Center on the States, one in nine Black men between the ages of 20-34 are incarcerated compared to one in 30 other men of the same age. Like the overall adult ratio, one in 100 Black women in their mid-to-late 30s is imprisoned.
“Everyone is feeding off of our down-trodden condition to feed their capitalism, greed and lust for money. They are buying prison stock on the market and this is why they want to silence the restorative voice of Minister Louis Farrakhan, because he is repairing those who fill and would support the prison system as slaves,” said Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam Prison Ministry.
The report states that the rising trend stems from more than a parallel increase in crime or surge in the population at large, but it is driven by policies that put more criminals in prison, extending their stay through measures like California’s Three Strikes Law.
Prisoners from the Limestone Correctional Facility do a trash detail along I-65 in North Alabama near the Tennessee State line while working on a chain gang.
Atty. Barbara Ratliff, a L.A.-based reparations activist, said the prison industrial complex’s extension of the slave plantation plays out in a pattern of behavior that Black people must study in order to survive. “I’m not talking about behavior of the individual incarcerate, but the pattern of treatment that digs into institutional racism. Corporate profit from prisons is no different than how slave owners received benefit from their labor, and that impact remained even after slavery. For instance, freed Blacks were arrested and put on chain gangs for their labor which continued to benefit slave owners, so this is no accident,” she said.
Inmates produce items or perform services for almost every major industry. They sew clothes, fight fires and build furniture, but they are paid little or no wages, somewhere between five cents and almost $2.
Phone companies charge high amounts for collect calls and inmate care packages can no longer be sent from families directly. Inmates must purchase products from companies to be sent in, which feeds capitalism, activists charge.
Although the costs of prisons is skyrocketing and consuming state budgets, money continues to be spent to push more Black youth into prison, activists assert. Many education and prison advocates charge there is a plot to populate U.S. prisons based on the dumbing down of America’s youth. Figures show those most likely to be incarcerated and to return generally have the lowest level of education. The report said, “While states don’t necessarily choose between higher education and corrections, a dollar spent in one area is unavailable for another.”
U.S. spending on prisons last year topped $49 billion, compared to $12 billion in 1987. California spent $8.8 billion on prisons last year and 13 states spend more than $1 billion a year on corrections.
The chain gang was re-established in 1995. Becoming one of the first convicts in perhaps a half-century to break rocks, William Crook, 28, of Gadsden, Ala., takes a swing with his 10-pound sledge hammer. Shortly after sunrise, 160 inmates at the Limestone Correction Facility marched a half-mile in leg irons from their dormitories to the rock pile.
Data from the National Association of State Budget Officers indicates:
• Vermont, Michigan, Oregon, Connecticut and Delaware spent as much or more on corrections than on higher education;
• For every dollar spent on higher education, Alaska spent 77 cents on corrections;
• For every dollar spent on higher education, Georgia spent 50 cents on corrections;
• On the average, all 50 states spent 60 cents on corrections for every dollar spent on higher education; and
• For every dollar spent on higher education, Minnesota spent 17 cents on corrections.
Between 1985 and 2005, Texas’ prison population alone jumped by 300 percent.
“All we have to do is follow the logic to see this connection between prisons and enslavement. When you look at prison costs and they say it cost $45,000 to house one prisoner, where does that break down? There’s only three square meals a day. The prisoners make their clothes and bedding in sewing factories and about 90 percent of the items they use in the prisons,” said Nathaniel Ali of the National Association of Brothers and Sisters In and Out of Prison (NABSIO).
He believes the majority of prison costs support guard unions and pay enormous base and overtime salaries of prison guards and other staff.
“They receive these exorbitant wages regardless of their education and training. You don’t have an I.Q.; all you have to have is the ability to be brutal” to command these wages through this new slave system, he said.
Mr. Ali said the public school system has become the feeder to prisons and their slave populations by increasing the heavy presence of school police and sheriffs on middle school campuses and penalties students face for often trivial offenses, other activists added.
Prison watch groups note corporate-owned prisons feed job-starved communities where businesses have disappeared. By incarcerating so many people, America deals with warehousing them and not finding out why they are incarcerated in the first place, advocates said.
“The fact is, it’s a business and a readily accessible, ‘free’ workforce removes prisons’ incentive to rehabilitate, especially those that are owned by corporations,” Atty. Ratliff said.
Laini Coffee, a self-described “unity activist” said, “At current trend, we could very well see the number of so-called free Blacks rival to the same number of those that are incarcerated. The answer is simple: Unity.”
The impact of high Black male incarceration rates (FCN, 11-07-2007)
Follow the Prison Money Trail ..to elected officials (In These Times, 09-04-2006)
Profits fuel prison growth (FCN, 03-03-2002)
Black incarceration rates tripled during Clinton Presidency (FCN, 03-06-2001)
The Prison Industrial Complex: Crisis and Control (CorpWatch, 1999)
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Cassava Bread, the Sweet Smell of Success
By Joelle Bassoul Mojon
Martha dusts a small table with flour then starts kneading the dough, before dividing it into tennis-sized balls. Next to her, Jennifer places the balls on a tray and straight into the oven’s open mouth. The sweet smell of baked bread suddenly fills the air. A few minutes later, the golden, warm rolls are taken out and brushed with margarine, turning into deliciously shiny pearls. The group of six women fills tray after tray, singing happily, oblivious to the sticky mud and pouring rain engulfing their open air bakery in Mwandama, Malawi.
And they have every reason to be happy. Since 2009, the Katete cassava bakery has been going from strength to strength. ‘We were only farming our small plots. We wanted to improve our lives and make an income,’ says Martha Simoko, 62. So a group of women approached the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) and suggested the bakery idea, using locally produced cassava. The small plot of land was given for free by a village headman and the MVP built the oven, at a cost of 500 USD, under a temporary roofed shelter. The group today counts 14 women. They have divided themselves into smaller groups, each using the oven 2 days per week. The MVP and the Malawi Entrepreneurship Development Institute (MEDI) provided a two-week training. ‘We learned to bake bread, doughnuts and cakes, and to fry cassava meatballs,’ explains Martha, displaying a heart-shaped baking tray for special occasions.
The women pull their resources together to buy the ingredients: cassava flour, eggs, yeast, margarine, etc. They bake about 120 bread loaves a day, sold at 20 kwacha (1 US cent) each. Every single kwacha of profit they make goes into a common account. At the end of the year, they divide their earning equally. In 2010, each of the 14 women received 5,000 kwacha (33 USD). ‘I used the money to pay my daughter’s school fees. She’s a secondary school pupil in Zomba,’ the nearest town, 42-year-old Jennifer proudly says. That’s no small feat in a region where girls are more often seen in the fields than in classrooms. ‘Without this money, it would have been a problem to cover the fees. So I’ll keep on baking.’
The women do face some challenges though. ‘We don’t really have a shelter from the rain and we have to get firewood for the oven,’ says Martha. In an area where population growth has pushed villagers to cut down trees and farm the surrounding hills, finding firewood means walking long distances. Nonetheless, ‘I’m enjoying this very much and the community is very happy with the bread,’ adds this mother of six. Previously, Mwandama had no bakery and the only available bread was brought in from nearby towns and sold at a high price. ‘Now we have fresh, warm bread, and it sells fast,’ says Jennifer who gives her own children a roll to take to school or enjoy with a heart-warming tea.
In 2011, 6 more bakeries are scheduled to start in Mwandama. The community’s interest is so high that another group of women have already donated 3,000 bricks for a new oven.
‘The goal is to set up a real bakery to produce quality bread products. It will provide better working conditions for the women and create conditions for hygienic processing of the bread and cakes,’ says Roselyne Omondi, the regional business advisor at The MDG Centre, which oversees the Millennium Villages Project in East and Southern Africa. The new bakery will be ‘mid-sized, with larger surface area, electric equipment -ovens and mixers-, packaging, storage and distribution facilities.’