May she rust in peace!

Doug and Gwen share their thoughts on the significance of Margaret Thatcher’s actions towards Africa, her unswerving support for Apartheid, SAP’s and everything conservative…

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Émission Amandla du 8 août 2007/ Amandla show from August 8th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 8 août 2007 sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission en anglais.

Alfie Roberts publicationCélébrations du 169ème anniversaire de l’Émancipation à Montréal. Le 1er août dernier, des célébrations se sont tenues dans la Petite Bourgogne (Montréal) pour marquer le 169ème anniversaire de la libération des Noirs de l’esclavage dans les colonies britanniques. L’événement a été animé par “l’Universal Negro Improvement Association of Montreal”, la plus vieille communauté noire de Montréal, ainsi que par l’Institut Alfie Roberts et Umoja Concordia. Musique, lecture, discussions et poésie ont marqué les célébrations tout en donnant un hommage à Alfie Roberts, un visionnaire et activiste de la communauté noire de Montréal. Le reportage peut être téléchargé ici (en anglais).

L’aide du Royaume-Uni à l’Afrique en baisse. L’aide britannique à l’Afrique, malgré toutes les promesses, a chuté de 1% entre 2005 et 2006. Commentaires de Doug.

Politique namibienne et la bande de Caprivi. Commentaires sur la lutte du mouvement pour l’indépendance de la bande de Caprivi menée par la Caprivi Liberation Army. Des membres de ce mouvement ont été condamnés à 32 ans de prison par le gouvernement namibien.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the August 8th 2007 Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show in english.

169 th Emancipation Day Celebrations in Montreal. On august 1st, people gathered in Montreal’s Little Burghundy neighbourhood to celebrate emancipation day and mark 169 years of black African freedom from bondage in the British colonies. The Montreal event was hosted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association of Montreal, one of Montreal’s oldest Black community, as well as the Alfie Roberts InstituteUmoja Concordia. with music, readings, talks and poetry, it marked emancipation day while paying tribute to the late Alfie Roberts, a visionary Montreal Black community activist. The reportage can also be downloaded here.Caprivi strip and

UK’s aid in Africa dropping. Despite the promises, the UK’s aid dropped 1% from 2005 to 2006. Comments by Doug.

Namibian politics and the Caprivi strip. The fight of the people from the Caprivi strip (Caprivi Liberation Army) against Namibia. Today, fighters from Caprivi were sentenced to 32 years in jail by the Namibian government. Comments by Doug.

South Africa accuses the UK for the Zimbabwe crisis/ L’Afrique du Sud accuse le Royaume-Uni comme responsable de la crise au Zimbabwe

(Lien en anglais/ link in english)

Selon le Guardian, de Londres, l’Afrique du Sud accuse le Royaume Uni d’imposer des barrières contre le Zimbabwe, contribuant à la crise actuelle qu’il vit et contraignant les discussions avec les autres gouvernements africains de la région.

According to the London Guardian, South Africa accuses the UK to impose barriers creating the crisis the country actually lives:

South Africa blames UK for Zimbabwe crisis

Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent
Monday August 13, 2007
The Guardian

South Africa has blamed Britain for the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe by accusing the UK of leading a campaign to “strangle” the beleaguered African state’s economy and saying it has a “death wish” against a negotiated settlement that might leave Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in power.

MugabeAccording to a South African government document circulating among diplomats ahead of a regional summit this week, President Thabo Mbeki will paint an optimistic picture of his efforts to broker an agreement between Mr Mugabe [see picture] and the Zimbabwean opposition.

But the document, a draft of the report the South African president is expected to present at the meeting, says Britain remains a significant obstacle by spearheading sanctions that Mr Mugabe blames for his country’s economic collapse.

“The most worrisome thing is that the UK continues to deny its role as the principal protagonist in the Zimbabwean issue and is persisting with its activities to isolate Zimbabwe,” the report says.

“None of the western countries that have imposed the sanctions that are strangling Zimbabwe’s economy have shown any willingness to lift them.”

Britain pressed the European Union to impose “targeted sanctions” against Zimbabwe’s leadership by refusing visas, freezing bank accounts and other measures that the UK said were aimed at individuals without harming Zimbabweans.

But Mr Mugabe has blamed what he describes as the “illegal sanctions” for the economic collapse and said his government is a victim of British imperialism because it seized white-owned farms for redistribution to poor blacks.

His opponents say the crisis is the result of a brutal strategy to hold on to power by violently suppressing the opposition, rigging elections and trying to buy support by seizing the farms. This last move devastated the tobacco export industry that provided Zimbabwe with much of its foreign earnings.

The wholesale printing of money helped fuel inflation now estimated to be running at about 20,000%. Shops are virtually empty of basic foodstuffs.

Some African leaders have been willing to criticise Mr Mugabe, although a Zambian opposition leader, Michael Sata, urged the region’s leaders to “join hands and launch strong protests against attempts by the west to recolonise Zimbabwe”.

The South African report describes the crisis as “Zimbabwe’s bilateral dispute with Britain”. However, the focus of Mr Mbeki’s efforts is to reach an agreement between Mr Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change ahead of elections next year.

Mr Mbeki has not had a smooth ride. Mr Mugabe’s two negotiators, both cabinet ministers, failed to arrive for talks in South Africa last month. The ministers, Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa, finally arrived in Pretoria a week ago.

The document says some issues, including constitutional reforms, have been “worked out”. “There are strong indications that the two sides are sliding towards an agreement,” it says.

But MDC sources say that agreement is not near and they suspect that Mr Mugabe is playing for time until the end of the year when the focus will shift to the presidential election campaign. Meanwhile, the economic crisis is expected to deepen. More than 3 million Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work.

Émission Amandla du 28 mars 2007/ Amandla show from March 28th 2007.

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 28 mars dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

– Interview avec Gabriel Côté-Goyette de la chaire C.A. Poissant (Université du Québec à Montréal) qui commente le contenu d’un rapport du Sénat canadien sur l’aide canadienne en Afrique subsaharienne – en français. L’entrevue a déjà été diffusée sur CKUT en début mars et est aussi disponible sur Audios.Amarc.org (lien vers l’entrevue sur Quicktime). Mr. Côté-Goyette critique le Rapport sénatorial intitulé: “Surmonter 40 ans d’échec: Nouvelle feuille de route pour l’Afrique subsaharienne”, émis en février 2007. Mr. Côté-Goyette présente les inquiétudes que le rapport soulève quand à l’avenir de l’aide canadienne destinée au développement du continent Africain. Il indique que certaines contradictions apparaissent dans les solutions proposées. Il conclut en indiquant que le continent Africain a besoin d’autre chose que de solutions économiques pour assurer son développement. À écouter (…de nouveau).

Le rapport peut être téléchargé ici (pdf).

– Revue de presse hebdomadaire de l’actualité africaine – en français.

– Les énergies vertes en Afrique – en anglais. Discussion sur les énergies vertes dont peut bénéficier le continent africain. On parle de géothermie et d’énergies marémotrice, éolienne et solaire.

– Commémoration de l’abolition du commerce des esclaves au Royaume-Uni – en anglais. Nous en avons parlé dans ce blog. On critique une commémoration qui ne devrait pas avoir lieu puisque les personnes qui célèbrent aujourd’hui sont les descendants de ceux qui se sont enrichis grâce à ce commerce honteux. On fait donc allusion à la famille royale britannique.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the March 28th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

– Interview with Gabriel Côté-Goyette from the chaire C.A. Poissant (Université du Québec à Montréal) who comments a report from the Canadian Senate on Canadian aid to Sub-Saharan Africa – in french. The interview was already aired on CKUT in early March and is also available at Audios.Amarc.org (link to a Quicktime stream). M. Côté-Goyette criticizes the Canadian Senate report called “Overcoming 40 years of failure: A new Road map for Sub-Saharan Africa”, issued in February 2007. M. Côté-Goyette explains the worries revealed by the report regarding the future of the Canadian aid to the development of the African continent. He exposes contradictions between some proposed solutions within the report. He concludes by saying the African continent needs other things than economic solutions for his development. A must to hear (…again).

The report can be downloaded here (pdf).

– Weekly press review of current events in Africa – in french.

– Green energy in Africa- in english. Discussion on green energies that could benefit the African continent. We talk about geothermal, tidal, wind and solar energies.

– Commemoration of the Slave trade ban by United Kingdom – in english. We already talked about it on this blog. We criticize a commemoration that shouldn’t take place since the persons who celebrate are the descendants of those who got rich thanks to that disgraceful trade. Therefore, an allusion to the Royal British family is made.

Le Grande-Bretagne et l’abolition de l’Esclavage/ Britain and the Slavery Ban

Voici un article de Richard Gott dans le London Guardian (lien en anglais) qui date de Janvier 2007, mais qu’on présente ici, puisque mars 2007 est le mois où on commémore l’abolition de l’esclavage en Grande-Bretagne.

Here is an article from Richard Gott in the London’s Guardian from January 2007 but we show it here since March 2007 is the month when Britain will commemorate the abolition of slavery:

In March, the British state will rightly celebrate the bicentenary of the end of Britain’s part in the slave trade. Yet ordinary citizens, as well as schoolteachers and makers of television programmes who may find themselves caught up in the prolonged bout of self-congratulation imposed by government fiat (with the help of £16m from the Heritage Lottery Fund), will do well to reflect on aspects of this anniversary that are not so praiseworthy.

In the first place, when remembering the parliamentary vote in 1807, we should also recall that the slave trade was, for more than two centuries, the central feature of Britain’s foreign commerce – endorsed, supported and profitably enjoyed by the royal family, and by the families of sundry courtiers, financiers, landowners and merchants.

The personal and public wealth of Britain created by slave labour was a crucial element in the accumulation of capital that made the industrial revolution possible, and the surviving profits have remained a solid element within specific families and within British society generally, cascading down from generation to generation, in John Major’s felicitous phrase. In this context, the demand for reparations is a serious proposition, similar to the claim put forward by the families of Holocaust survivors for the return of property stolen by the Nazis. Black people whose forebears were slaves, victims of that other Holocaust, are simply asking for the stolen fruits of their ancestors’ labour power to be given back to their rightful heirs.

Second, we should remember that the end to the trade came not simply from the useful agitation of Quakers, other Christian dissidents and parliamentary radicals, but also from the work of slaves who engaged in the propaganda of the deed, people who today would be described as “terrorists”. Driving the anti-slave trade agitation was the ever accelerating rate of slave rebellion experienced in the Americas and the Caribbean in the late 18th century, reaching a peak in the years of the French revolution.

It is customary to pay homage to the slave revolutionaries in Saint-Domingue, today’s Haiti, who rebelled in August 1791. They seized power, abolished slavery, and established the first black republic in the Americas. Yet other islands also saw serious uprisings by slaves and Maroons, who – at the time of the French-British wars – seized control with French help of large parts of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Grenada, St Vincent, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad. Even where their actions were not eventually successful, the rebellions defeated two British armadas sent to destroy them, killing thousands of seamen and soldiers (with assistance from the French and from the twin weapon of malaria and yellow fever). They also deprived the British of income from their sugar plantations for years. Since those in the forefront of these rebellions were slaves recently arrived from Africa, the stark danger of the continuing slave trade to British commercial interests could not have been more graphically revealed.

Third, in considering the British achievement of 1807, we should remember that other countries got there first. Again, it is customary to record the decision of the French convention to abolish slavery itself, on February 4 1794. Yet in the US, in spite of the wording of the constitution adopted in 1787 that endorsed the slave trade (at least for the subsequent 20 years), several states abandoned slavery. While the southern states grew rich on slave labour for another 70 years (until 1863), slavery was abolished in the 1780s in New Jersey and Delaware, and the trade was outlawed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island.

The Danes were also among the first in the field, decreeing an end to the trade to their Caribbean colonies in March 1792 (though it continued until 1803). The British voted much the same way as the Danes at the end of a Commons debate a month later, declaring that “the slave trade ought to be gradually abolished”. The weasel word “gradually” was introduced by an influential imperial politician from Scotland, Henry Dundas, who thereby postponed the trade’s end for 15 years.

This long postponement is a further reason for this year’s anniversary to be celebrated in a minor key, for the continuing trade allowed the evil practices of the Atlantic passage to continue, as well as permitting the British to purchase black people in the slave market to serve in their imperial wars. Black people were imported from the slave market in Goa and from Mozambique to fight a war of conquest in Ceylon, while 13,000 slaves were bought in the Caribbean to help in the suppression of slave rebellions. Black battalions were formed in several islands after 1795, and the soldiers were promised freedom when hostilities ended. Since the promise was often forgotten, the rebellions on one side were followed by mutinies on the other, both leading to a horrendous litany of floggings and executions.

A fourth aspect of the slave trade ban should not be forgotten: the vote of 1807 was not always respected. The British in Asia continued to take advantage of the continuing trade. The governor in Mauritius, conquered in 1810 from the French, sought to befriend the existing French settlers by allowing them to continue importing slaves, some 30,000 between 1811 and 1821.

The vote did not put an end to the international trade by other nations, nor did it terminate slavery. Several countries continued the trade, with half a million slaves arriving in the Americas in the 1820s, more than 60,000 a year. About 3,000 slaves were still being landed annually in Brazil in the 1850s. Slavery itself was not abolished in the British empire until 1838, in the French empire in 1848, and in the US in 1863. Spanish Cuba continued with slavery until 1886, and Brazil until 1888.

One lasting and dubious legacy of 1807 has been the sanctimonious interventionism that has survived in Britain for two centuries, and still motivates contemporary governments. The British navy was given the task of patrolling the Atlantic, to police the continuing international trade from Africa to Brazil, Cuba, and the US. The West Africa Squadron began surveying the coast of Africa, and securing the naval bases that would make easier the task of imperial expansion later in the century, when east Africa was brought into the frame. Parliamentary radicals, however, were always opposed to the policy, arguing cogently in the 1840s that “our unavailing attempts to suppress the traffic worsened the lot of the slaves by making the misery of the Middle Passage worse than ever”. Yet their opposition was ineffective. The naval squadron was not phased out until the 1870s, but by then Britain’s taste for empire had become well established.

The navy’s activities gave the British a taste for international action that has survived long into the post-colonial era. Tony Blair’s speech in Plymouth last week, on Britain as a “war-fighting” nation whose frontiers reach out to Indonesia, last included in the empire between 1811 and 1816, was emblematic of the new enthusiasm for imperial revival, echoed by Gordon Brown’s repeated remarks that the empire gives us nothing to apologise for.

The final tragic aspect of the decision to end the slave trade was its arousal of the false expectation among slaves that their servitude might soon be abolished. It was to be more than 30 years after 1807 before the British finally abandoned slavery in their empire, years that saw major slave rebellions in Jamaica, Dominica, Barbados, Honduras and Guyana. All were savagely repressed. Some participants claimed that the trumpeted news of an end to the trade had led them to believe that slavery itself was over, a mistake that some people still make today.

· Richard Gott, author of Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution, is writing a book about imperial rebellions.