In Detroit, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice held a conference on May 18 entitled “Africa & U.S. Imperialism.” The event was a day-long gathering featuring lectures and reports on the 50-year history of the national liberation struggles and nation-building efforts in Africa. It coincided with the 50th anniversary summit of the African Union.
The conference was held in solidarity with the AU 50th anniversary and delved into the struggles aimed at building national democratic revolutions and socialism in various African states, including Ghana, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Egypt, Algeria, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa. Speakers identified continuing Western interference in the internal affairs of independent African states as a major impediment to national and continental development.
Speakers at the conference included Dr. Rita Kiki Edozie, director of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Edozie based her presentation on a book she will publish by the end of 2013.
An expert on the history and development of the Organization of African Unity and the AU, Edozie spoke for over an hour on the topic “The Evolving African Supra-State: Accomplishments, Pitfalls and Continuing Challenges for the African Union.” She related the political developments on the African continent over the last few decades with efforts by African Americans to achieve self-determination and genuine equality.
Another power point presentation was given by MSU graduate students Cheick Oumar and Moussa Rimau. Entitled “50 Years of Pan-Africanist Mali: Modibo, Konare and ATT,” their talk emphasized the role of French and U.S. imperialism in the crisis inside the mineral-rich West African state currently being occupied by the French military.
Tachae J. Davis, of Workers World Party Youth Fraction, spoke on “The Revolutionary Legacy of Dr. Walter Rodney and African Historical Struggles.” Davis highlighted the contributions of the Guyanese scholar who used the Marxist approach of historical materialism to illustrate how Africa had been underdeveloped by Europe for 500 years.
Jeff Edison, former president of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, presented a paper entitled “The U.S. Military in Africa: Unwanted and Unlawful,” which had been written by a leading NCBL member and past President Mark Fancher. Since its formation in 1968, the NCBL has challenged successive U.S. administrations on the role of Washington’s foreign policy toward the African continent.
The conference was concluded by Venezuelan Consul General Jesus Rodriguez Espinoza, who spoke via videotape from Chicago. Consul Rodriguez Espinoza talked for nearly 30 minutes on “Venezuelan Foreign Policy in Africa: Opposition to Intervention and International Solidarity.”
Rodriguez Espinoza pointed out that Venezuela under the late President Hugo Chávez Frias opposed U.S. and NATO intervention against Libya in 2011 and the French military intervention in Mali, which began in January 2013. He also noted that the Africa-South America Summits — the second was held in Venezuela in 2009 — was a cornerstone of his country’s foreign policy.
The final segment of the conference acknowledged statements of solidarity sent to the event. The 4th Media in Beijing sent a message of support to the conference.
Though the African migrants group called No Borders Morocco was unable to attend, it wrote to conference organizers to bring to their attention “the issues around which our organization was formed. In practice this involves Black migrants from West Africa in North African countries like Morocco and Algeria being subjected to systematic police violence, atrocious violations of basic human rights and intense discrimination in all aspects of their lives.”
Note: The talk delivered by this writer and Consul General Jesus Rodriguez Espinoza’s video presentation can be found at tinyurl.com/o6e7qe5.