On Saturday 11th June 2011, Black History Studies attended the conference ‘Africa: Exploitation and Resistance’ in Oxford. I was surprised by the lack of African people in attendance. However, it was good to see members and students of Black History Studies in attendance.
The blurb from the conference is below:
Africa has some of the richest natural resources in the world. Yet the majority of its people have been impoverished by decades of policies imposed by international finance institutions and northern governments. These policies have enabled corporations to accumulate vast profits while dispossessing the people and the continent of its riches, often subsidised by public funds in the form of ‘aid’.
But from Egypt to Gabon , South Africa to Tunisia , African people have been resisting. This conference will discuss their struggle, the alternatives they’re proposing and opportunities for solidarity actions with the oppressed and exploited.
Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Centre , Kenya , and Africa Jubilee South
Yash Tandon, Ugandan author and activist
Firoze Manji, Editor in chief, Pambazuka News
Jonathan Glennie, Overseas Development Institute
Deborah Doane, Julian Oram , Kirsty Wright, World Development Movement
Sophi Tranchell, Divine Chocolate
Esther Standford-Xosei, Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe
Sibongile Ndashi, Interights
Plus music from Jali Fily Cissokho, Senegalese Kora player and vocalist
Debates and workshops on:
Africa from exploitation to resistance · Is Fairtrade working? · Africa beyond aid · African sexualities: The struggle for liberation · How Europe underdeveloped Africa · Organising locally for global justice · Where now for climate justice? ·From food crisis to food sovereignty
I made some notes from the presentations/workshops I participated in which I have summarised below:
- There have been uprisings in Africa similar to Libya in Uganda, Benin, Ethiopia, Burkino Faso and Senegal. However, these have not been publicized on the western media.
- There has been a 33% increase in the price of food in Africa due to speculation by bankers on food in global markets. Land grabs in Africa are seeing more farmland transferred into corporate hands.
- A question was posed ‘Who is ‘aid’ helping?’ Aid only helps those who are impoverishing Africa such as the ‘west’ governments and banks. Aid dependency must be critiqued and addressed. There is an upcoming conference entitled ‘Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness: The promise of Busan‘ that will look at the effectiveness of Aid.
- I attended the presentation by Sis Esther Stanford-Xosei and Bro. Horace Campbell on How Europe underdeveloped Africa which looked at how the ‘slave trade,’ the exploitation of African resources and labour under colonialism and post-colonial economic policies have all seen Europe actively push Africa’s development backwards. The presentation took same title from the brilliant book by Walter Rodney which you can read online here. This was the best workshop for me as it was clear, direct and to the point and no one was trying to plug any books in the workshop!
- Sis. Esther made a good point about involving African schloars and other grassroot organisations in the UK to engage in these discussions about Africa.
I will close my post with a quote read out by Njoki Njoroge Njehu which emphasized our need in the UK to organise and come together to address our social problems in the UK through the development of a National Afrikan Peoples Parliament in order to help other Africans around the world in their liberation struggles.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.” – Lilla Watson