Nouk Bassomb's Address The African-American Students Group The Dalton School March 5, 1993 My Dear Friends, When an elder talks to his young blood, he tells them a story. So let me tell this story all Africans know, or ought to know. Many great African men and women have disappeared. This world is not our eternal home, so it's good for us to go to the other side, the land of the ancestors. But before we go, each one of us must do his part. Sheba, Ba Bemba, Ahmadu Seku of Segu, Sa Mory, Harriet Tubman, Lumumba, W.E.B. DuBois, Nkrumah, El Hadj Malik El-Shabbaz, better known as Malcolm X, and MLK, Jr., to name only a few, have disappeared, disappeared for ever. but by their great deeds, they have become immortal. They remain for us examples to emulate, and surpass, if we really want to preserve the glory of days past and insure a better future for you, the next generation, and your own children. In the Mali Empire of 1880, French troops were already meeting fierce resistance from its emperor, Almany Sa Mory. Unfortunately, during that same period, there was such internecine warfare in West Africa that there was not a strong enough force to stop the Europeans conquerors. And when the ruler of the neighboring kingdom, Ahmadu Seku of Segu, was also attacked by the French, he sent a message to Sa Mory and Sheba, his other neighbors, rulers of Senufo, imploring them to stop fighting each other (black-on-black crime is not a modern invention) so that all three could join forces and defend themselves against the French onslaught. Unfortunately, this never happened and Sheba died in 1893. On May 1, 1898, French troops besieged the capital of the Kenedugu in an attempt to defeat the great patriot Ba Bemba, the leader who, till his last breath, preferred death to shame. When he refused to surrender, he declared: "I will not taste the honey of your words. I fear nobody under the sun, for a man does not die twice. What I know for sure is that as long as there is still a man standing in Sikasso, the French will never set foot here." In the last hour of the siege, this great African patriot left a message for future generations in the words he uttered to his two sons, Nkoy and Madu. "Princes, my children," he told them, "I have chosen to remain here not only for the greatness and honor of the Kenedugu region but also for the prestige of our family. I am asking you to leave now, so that tomorrow, the Kenedugu finds in you a power and greatness never equalled. Yes, princes, everyone knows that during the last five years of my reign, I have constantly upheld the dignity, sovereignty, and true independence of the Kenedugu. And because of my policy, Sikasso is besieged today by the French. Princes, my sons, you now have proof that the path of dignity and privilege rarely meet. I am sure that you will have no other code of behavior and that, tomorrow, you'll succeed where I have failed. Go, my sons. If the French army comes after you, do not hesitate to rejoin Sa Mory who, despite all, is still a brother. Go. My blessings are with you. May you always have the wind behind you. May Allah protect you." As the man foresaw it, he was a victim, the honorable and enviable victim of his own tenacity. This was the tragic end of the dynasty of the Traores of Sikasso. This was also the collapse of the Senufo kingdom of Kenedugu. Princes Nkoy and Madu who took refuge in a wood near Sikasso, saw the terrifying sight of the French flag flying over the city of Sikasso and understood immediately what this meant: their father, Ba Bemba, had been killed and the French flag had been raised over his dead body. After swearing to avenge the memory of the king and re-establish the rights of the Senufo people, they headed south with all the warriors of the royal guard who had escaped the massacre. They climbed mountains, descended valleys, passed through canyons, and marched day and night. As their father had asked them, the princes eventually reached Bolibana--Bolinana, the running-is-over, is the name Sa Mory gave his camp and a guard took them to the king. A great number of warriors were already there. They had joined the Almany to help him fight the invaders but also to avenge their dead brothers and preserve the integrity of their land. Unity was born. But what kind of unity was it? In view of all that had happened, the great and immortal African patriot Sa Mory turned to his son and lieutenant Sarankelly Mory and said: "Keep your calm, O Sarankolle, the old man simply told the truth. Whether we are a hundred, two hundred, three hundred, or even a thousand generals and princes of the bravest dynasties, we have been driven out of our kingdoms and empires. Our union is merely a union of despair and powerlessness. Do we only have twenty thousand fighters? No. Only eight years ago, O cruel memory, if Sheba and I had listened to Ahmadu Seku of Segu, we could have raised a mighty army of at least three hundred thousand souls who could have destroyed the platoons of the invaders. But each one of us wanted to keep hos own throne. Not one of us was willing to make the smallest sacrifice, the tiniest compromise, for we were too scared to lose part of our sovereignty for the benefit of a mightier and more viable group. It would have been better if, instead of trying to dominate each other and sign treaties of friendship and protection with one invader after the other, we had come together and joined forces against the invaders. Each one of us was relying on outside help to fight his brothers and expand his own empire. The conquerors took advantage of this situation and aimed their cannons wherever they wished. Yes, it's our fault if the French, English, and Belgian flags fly above N'dakarru, Kankan, Sokoto, Sanankoro, Segu and Sikasso. However, if we are to serve as a lesson to all the fighters for the African cause, particularly those who, like ourselves, are responsible for the destiny of our people, only then will we be able to sleep peacefully in our graves, for our example will not have been in vain. But all this is a sad memory. The time has come. Now we must fight." Then striking up the song of the tonjoy, the remaining warriors of Bolibana prepared for the ultimate battle. Almany Sa Mory wanted to pierce the French lines and get through to Kenedugu where the presence at his side of the princes Nkoy and Madu would have enabled him to mobilize the Senufo people. Unfortunately, a French platoon broke through the troops of Konandi Keleba and Mory Sidjian and stormed into Almany Sa Mory's tent. On September 18, 1898, the great African patriot who had resisted foreign invasion for eighteen years was captured. The warrior who said to his son, "We've got to fight" did not know that he had to fight his own weakness first, and stay awake. He was deported to Gabon with his son Sarankolle Mory where he died four years later at the age of 65. Nkoy and Madu continued on to Timbuktu and when they returned to Sikasso in 1900, the colonial administration informed them that they could not even claim the meagre power of canton chiefs. African-American youth, my Young Blood, this is the way in which the light of the last representatives of this beautiful race of people who wrote the most important pages of African determination to remain African dimmed. A few years later, Young Blood, in place of this multitude of kingdoms and African empires, the colonial powers organized the Federation of Western Africa, the federation of Equatorial Africa, the Federation of Nigeria, the Congo, and so on. As you know, during the 1960s, liberation movements insured the rebirth of Africa to national sovereignty in the form of a multitude of small nations--Togo, Benin, Niger, Burkina-Faso, Gabon--which come out of the break-up of the big federations. So, my young brothers and sisters, it's with these mini-nations of 2, 3, sometimes four or five hundred thousand souls that Africa pretends to stand erect, tall and strong. At a time when international competition is so fierce, we need to unite all these small African nations together or go forward toward another Bolibana. Let's make sure that this time, we do not wait until it's too late before we are willing to unite. Unfortunately, in 1997, 2000, just as in 1880, African states still seek whatever they need from foreign powers rather than turn to one another for help. Africans, inhabiting a land overwhelmed with gold, silver, diamond, precious wood, oil, coffee, and cocoa only need the will for self-dependency to rise above the rim. African-American youth, my Young Blood, it's not enough to study in the greatest colleges of the world--Harvard, Yale, the Sorbonne, and Cambridge. It's not enough to acquire every prestigious diploma. You must understand that it's up to you to rebuild Africa up on the healthy and tangible foundation of African unity. The Organization of African Unity and regional groupings are indeed steps on our way to African unity; but they are timid steps that we need to outgrow. To me, the African-American community is as important as Azania, Nigeria, the Congo, Algeria or Egypt, and the young African people of Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx or South-Central L.A. are as important in building a modern Africa as the young Ashantis, Igbos, Mandingos, Yorubas, or Bassa. All Africa wants from you is accountability. My Young Blood, how are you going to protect Africa if you do not first protect America? How are you going to rebuild Africa if you prove yourselves incapable of rebuilding your communities, right here in Harlem, Broklyn, the Bronx, Chicago and South Central L.A. Give America what is America's, and give Africa what is Africa's. If Africa divisiveness of yesterday in the face of European colonial armies was a tragedy for Ba Bemba, Ahmadu Seku of Segu, and Sa Mory, the balkanization of Africa today, black-on-black crime, the unreliability and unaccountability of people of African descent may turn out to be a joke for which African people themselves will pay. That's why it's up to you, young people of Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx who are the quintessence of the African-American nation, to work hard so that tomorrow, when the time of reckoning comes, the hour of truth in the merciless court of history, Africa-on-Hudson, African-in-America, will be able to make a real contribution to the building of a free, united, and more prosperous Africa. Stay strong and thank you for listening. Harambe!
PANAFRICANISM BACKGROUND The lessons learned from the takedown of Almany Sa Mory scattered the seed of panafricanism which became popular only after the London Conference of 1900, as a reaction against the oppression of the African people and the racial doctrines that marked the era of abolitionism. The panafrican ideology also was developed by the independence church movement (the Africanization of churches) in America, as well as by the resistance against Europe's colonial ambitions in Africa, which led to Marcus Garvey's Back-To-Africa movement. The noteworthy African warriors who galvanized, through speeches and writings, the African peoples into actions were: USA's James Beale Horton (Born in 1835, he adopted the name "Africanus" to state his African identity.) Sierra Leone's Edward Wilmont Blyden (1832-1912) Haiti's Benito Sylvan (1868-1915) From 1893 onwards, men of stature began to summon panafrican conferences, organizing themselves in pressure groups, thus transforming panafrican ideas into a movement. One of these African warriors, Trinidad's Sylvester Williams, organized the London Conference in 1900, whose main objective was to bring into closer touch the peoples of African ancestry throughout the world. Marcus Garvey had already introduced the idea of AFRICAN NATIONALITY to the uninformed masses. For Garvey, a people without authority and power is a race without respect. Like Blyden, he realized that it was impossible to erect African nationality without the restoration of African values. He wanted the African to cultivate self-respect, love and pride of his features (thick lips, woolly hair, dark skin and broad nose). He succeeded in creating a real feeling of international solidarity among Africans, both at home and in the diaspora. FIRST AFRICAN CONGRESS Organized by W.E.B. DuBois, the First African Congress took place in Paris, France, February 17-21, 1919. It was demanded that Africa and her natural resources, be reserved for the natives, and that the natives participate in the government of their lands. SECOND PANAFRICAN CONGRESS The Second Panafrican Congress was held in September 1921, with consecutive sessions in London, Paris, and Brussels. Most radical of all, the London session ended with a resolution known as "Declaration to the World" or "The London Manifesto" which, in several aspects, was similar to Garvey's "Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World" issued in 1920. It was resolved that African personality must be respected, and that Africans must manage their own affairs. THIRD PANAFRICAN CONGRESS The first session, November 7-8, 1923, took place in London, and the second session, December 1-2, 1923, was held in Lisbon, Portugal. It demanded the right of African people to speak for themselves to their respective governments and their right to land and its produce. FOUR PANAFRICAN CONGRESS Earlier attempts to hold this fourth session either in Tunis or in the West Indies failed due to oppositions from the French and British governments. It was finally held in New York, in August of 1927. Two remarkable developments occurred during this seesion: 1) Radical African personalities honored the congress with their presence, and 2) DuBois paid tribute to the Soviet Union for her policy against imperialist colonialism. FIFTH PANAFRICAN CONGRESS 1945. Charlton Town Hall, Manchester, England. This conference remains the most important in the annals of the movement for, addressing colonialism harshly, it set the independence movement in first gear. Among the leading figures present, Sierra Leone's Wallace Johnson, Nigeria's Obafemi Awolowo and Jaja Wachuku, Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta, Malawi's Hastings Banda, South Africa's Peter Abrahams, Ghana's Ako Adjei and of course, Kwame Nkrumah. SIXTH PANAFRICAN CONGRESS June 19-27, 1974. Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Thirty of the then 42 independent African states were represented, along with delegations from national liberation movements and missions from South America, the Caribbean, Great Britain and North America. It was resolved that all necessary military and financial aid be given to liberation movements of Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa. SEVENTH PANAFRICAN CONGRESS April 2-8, 1994. Kampala, Uganda. Theme of the Congress: PANAFRICANISM, FACING THE FUTURE IN UNITY, SOCIAL PROGRESS, AND DEMOCRACY. This congress was called in order to keep alive the tradition established by W.E.B. DuBois when he initiated the Panafrican Congress series at the beginning of the century. The main resolution of this congress was to build a permanent sectariate with a view TO CREATE A UNITED STATES OF AFRICA. MESSAGE TO THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY The African-American Community was at the forefront of the battle against apartheid. The African-American Community ensured an end to apartheid in South Africa. The African-American Community mobilized itself. The world saw Randall Robinson and others chain themselves in front of the White House, leading the boycott of multinational corporations from investing in South Africa. With the triumph of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid is no longer a fight. The economic integration of Africa is the new battle. What the African-American community did yesterday to ensure apartheid's death, they can do today to ensure Africa's economic integration and cooperation.
HoSHEP and the Coalition for Africa's Economic Community salutes CARICOM, the economic and political organization of Caribbean States which emerged from its 18th summit meeting with one additional member, the 15th, Haiti. "The common market is not an option. It is a non- negotiable reality in the lives of each and every Caribbean citizen," stated the summit's host, Jamaica's PM, Mr. Percival Patterson. Efforts to form a Caribbean common market date back at least 50 years when a meeting of regional leaders was held in Kingston, Jamaica, to discuss the idea. The movement has gained new momentum in recent years with the creation of NAFTA and progress toward a European Common Market. Among other rules, the agreement allows nationals of CARICOM nations to open business in any member country, to move capital around the region, and to sell services in the various territories. HoSHEP and the Coalition for Africa's Economic Community supports the Caribbean Common Market.
HOMELESS SELF-HELP EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM, Inc. (HoSHEP) was created in 1992. HoSHEP's tax-exempt was recognized in 1994. HoSHEP basically promotes self-help as a philosophy for empowerment.
African Americans, 12% of the American people, make up 90 to 97% of the homeless population. Self-help is the tool of their empowerment. Self-help is the tool of Africa's empowerment. HoSHEP organizes groups and individuals who care about Africa into a Coalition for Africa's Economic Community to promote the philosophy of self-help for Africa's Integration and Cooperation.
Modelled on the Holocaust Museum's Speakers Bureau which sends victims of the Holocaust out to share their memories and testimonies, HoSHEP sends its speakers out to share their compounded experiences--which are unique--of being homeless and artist at the same time. As a sort of training, every Tuesday evening, we tell our stories to each other. Hear us describe how we see the world and society and especially why we think we don't fit in neither, and our reactions to our not-at-homeness, which quite often translates into homelessness. Isn't that why we make art in the first place? Isn't that why we try to add colors and sounds to a dull society? MAKE ART, NOT WAR. HoSHEP's entrepreneurial program also keeps its members out of a life of crime-- which is not a small thing. Hear us reflect on that. Instead of revolting against a society which offers us close to nothing, we ask our members to express themselves with paint and brushes, colors and sounds, and with these, to be as bad as they can be. Homeless art is subversive. That's another reason it is a genre a part. For a stipend that goes anywhere from $250 to $2,500, HoSHEP speakers bring their unique perspective to schools' art programs, community centers, churches and synagogues.