If Europe can have the Euro, why can´t Africa have the Afro | SDGActionTalk by Kumi Naidoo

If Europe can have the Euro, why can´t Africa have the Afro | SDGActionTalk by Kumi Naidoo


it is my sincere and great pleasure to
introduce the first of our live stage keynotes Kumi Naidoo launch director of
African rising for justice peace and dignity and many of you will know him
because he has had a storied career that has touched all of the SDGs to the point
that when I told my younger sister that I was introducing him today she said oh
my god i love kumi he killed it at Greenpeace and it’s a pretty funny thing
when you think about using a word like killed in a development conference but
the reality is we meet it in the best positive sense this is an example of a
person who has just done incredible work that is so emblematic of what we are
hoping to embody and continue here as a global festival of ideas so without
further ado we are thrilled to welcome to the stage Kumi Naidoo for a talk with
what is possibly my favorite title ever if Europe can have the euro why can’t
Africa have the Afro the imperative of pan-africanism Kumi Naidoo thank you
very much friends I must confess that when I speak at meetings these days I’m
extremely nervous because when you speak truth to power when you say how close we
are to catastrophic climate change when you talk about our oceans that within
four decades could be left to just algae and jellyfish in it when we talk about
our forests which are disappearing in the rate of every two seconds of forest
the size of a football field disappears you talk about the inequality crisis you
talk about the immigration crisis and sometimes I get this response where
people put up the ends and say Mr. Naidoo have you heard about Martin Luther
King and I say yes I did because he inspired me as a young activists in the
struggle against apartheid and then they say do you know what is most favorite
famous speech was called and very tentatively I say I have a dream
thinking it’s a trick question and the response i sometimes get back is yes it
was i have a dream but when you speak it sounds as if you haven’t you have a
nightmare because everything is so daya so one of the challenges we face in
the world today is how can we not sanitized the crisis that we’re in how
can we speak in an honest way about the pain that millions and millions of
people are suffering on a daily basis but how can we do it in a way that you
can speak above the noise and at the same time send a message of hope and
that activism actually matters so I want to draw on a wisdom from Martin Luther
King speaking in the United States in the late 60s and I hope you can hear
this psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word
in psychology it is a word maladjusted it is a ring in part of modern child
psychology maladjusted now of course we all want to live the well-adjusted life
in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities but as I
move toward my conclusion I would like to say to you today in a very honest
manner there are some things in our society and some things in our world
which I’m proud to be maladjusted I call upon all men of goodwill to be loud
adjusted to these things until the good society’s realized I’m as honestly say
to you that I never intend to adjust myself through racial segregation and
discrimination I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry I never
intend to adjust myself taken on the conditions that will take necessities
from the minute luxurious to the few leave millions of
God’s children smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an
affluent society so it was within this context of people in Africa particularly
within civil society feeling that we needed to draw on a wisdom of Albert
Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over
and over again and expecting to get different results and at this
conference we must ask ourselves also wether in fact we might be
afflicted with the same problem so why i call this talk if europe can have a euro
why cant Africa of an afro because the reality for us in Africa is that many of
our countries do not make social economic cultural linguistic or
environmental sense they only made sense in a European colonial logic so what we
are saying through a new social movement that is emerging on the African
continent who the vision is captured in a document called Kilimanjaro
declaration we are saying that we refuse to be divided by the boundaries that
were left by colonialism yes it’s a reality that we have to operate within
those nation-states but we are saying that we are we have to and we must rise
above those artificial boundaries to actually maximize the unity of people
and to push for the greatest social economic cultural and political
integration we want to say as Africans that you know Tony Blair for example and
some other leaders in the world we’re very fond of saying things like Africa
is a scar on the conscience of humanity some of you might remember that
quotation said over and over again I think he got the he might have got the
continent wrong when he said Africa is the scar on the conscience of humanity
because we as Africans are asserting that Africa is the richest continent underneath the ground and that is precisely why perhaps we are one of
the poorest continent above the ground what in the jargon in the development
discourse is sometimes called the resource curse we are saying that we
need to ensure that while there is historical injustice ha’s that have been
done including slavery colonialism and how African countries were kicked around
as political footballs during the Cold War there is a certain amount of
responsibility and get that still is old but we as Africans civil society are
also saying that we cannot allow our political leaders to continue to blame
colonialism for every single thing that happens and in a context where people
like president Trump want to build walls to divide Mexico and the United States
we want to say to the world that in fact if Africa built a wall around itself the
whole world will go out of business so our starting point is one of
assertiveness one of pride and one of where we are saying to our leaders that
we will not continue to accept that we will have the level of poverty and
inequality that we have on our continent and when we talk about poverty and
inequality we remind ourselves that in fact one of the biggest diseases we face
on the continent and the world is in fact a disease we call affluenza this
is a pathological illness where our leaders many on the continent but also
globally as typified by president Trump and other leaders himself actually
European political leaders are significantly better when it comes to
their level of consumption but what we are saying is that affluenza is a
disease way enough is never enough that in fact it is madness to see for example
the Gambian presidents that was defeated in the election has about thirty
Maseratis and Ferraris and so on park in his village and he hardly drove
them once a year that must be understood as a mental illness so the agenda of
Africans rising which will be launched on 21st of may which is African
liberation day we are saying that as far as we are concerned African freedom and
liberation has not been delivered all that we’ve had is a winning of elections
and as we have seen the United States today the holding of elections does not
guarantee a democratic world and what we are call democracies and nothing more
than liberal oligarchy where we have the form of democracy without the substance
of democracy so one of the key agendas that we are pushing forward is to put
young people at the center of public life on the continent we are far too
many geriatrics in office and let me say that I use the word geriatrics very
sensitively as somebody who’s heading in that direction and somebody who’s been
an advocate for all the people’s rights but the demography of the continent and
and and the profile of our leadership is completely out of sync but our specific
areas where we are going to campaign against is to ensure gender equality to
work for the eradication of poverty and inequality to work for the eradication
of corruption but on corruption we want to say that far often in the global
discourse when people talk about corruption it’s as if corruption is a
peculiarly African disease or a global South the disease let me say quite
explicitly there are three types of corruption it’s a petty corruption when
the police officer stops you on the street and says oh if you give me five
dollars i’ll let you go now that’s bad it shouldn’t happen and it’s wrong but
let’s be honest that money actually circulates within the national economy
the second type of corruption is the expected industries and the large-scale
corruption and I want to assert today that all the corruption and the money
that we see flowing out of the African continent will not be possible without the collusion participation and complicity of powerful
western governments and western companies there’s also a third type of
corruption and that is policy corruption because at one point in the world
slavery was legal at one point in the world denying women the right to vote
was legal just because it was legal and it was policy in dominant parts of the
world did not make it just all right so right now for example the fact that
exploiting fossil fuels oil coal and gas is legal even though we know that is
what is driving us to catastrophic climate change doesn’t make it moral
doesn’t make it right so when we look at corruption in that way then we can
understand that corruption is a much more dynamic problem with high levels of
collusion amongst many countries in the world who claim to be working against
corruption or claim to be promoting democracy we also are dealing with the
problem of democratic space throughout the world right now we are seeing in the
name of the fight against terrorism since nine eleven 2001 we are seeing the
shrinking of democratic space and on the African continent not different from
elsewhere in the world we are seeing space constantly being constrained so on
twenty first of May we are mobilizing people in a different kind of launch of
a new movement we’re not going to have a physical meeting like this one we are
going to ask people to actually do two things during the day our religious
leaders our trade union leaders our NGO leaders social movement leaders between
12 and two are going to call for peaceful acts of mobilization where they
come together read it together we did it kilimanjaro Declaration and commit
themselves to stand up and work for justice peace and dignity on our
continent in the evening between eight and nine p.m. we are calling on people
to switch off the lights and put a candle where they have access k let’s
electricity to show solidarity with a large numbers of people on our continent
will live in absolute energy poverty to also do that in a way that sends a
message to our government that if governments won’t lead the people will
light the way forward to justice peace and dignity I’d like to just end with a
quotation from Mahtma Gandhi which connects to what we heard from Martin Luther King
Gandhi once said this planet has enough to me to meet all of humanity’s need but
not all of humanity’s greed and I contend in conclusion that of all these
SDGs that we have if we do not put at the center the SDG that relates to
reducing inequality I believe it will not be possible to meet any of the other
SDGs either thank you very much for your attention

One Comments

  • Africans Rising

    May 5, 2017

    Wear RED on #25May2017
    Wear a simple piece of RED cloth as a wrist band, arm band or head band. This will serve as unifying symbolic colour that unites the various peaceful mobilisations across the continent.

    #AfricansRising for justice, peace & dignity

    Sign up at: http://bit.ly/KDforAll

    19:00 (7pm) and 20:00 (8pm)
    Gather in your group, club, movement, office, with your family and, friends
    Wear RED or have something red on you or in the background
    Turn off your lights in solidarity with the millions of Africans with no access to electricity
    Light a candle (the more people with candles the better!)
    Read out the Kilimanjaro Declaration
    Read out your list of demands
    Stand up together to signify your intention to build a new Africa and say:
    WE ARE A UNITED AFRICA. WE ARE AFRICANS RISING. FOR JUSTICE, PEACE AND DIGNITY

    12:00 (noon) and 14:00
    Gather in your group, club, movement, office or alone
    Wear RED or have something red on you or in the background
    Read out the Kilimanjaro Declaration
    Read out your list of demands
    Stand up together to signify your intention to build a new Africa and say:
    WE ARE A UNITED AFRICA. WE ARE AFRICANS RISING. FOR JUSTICE, PEACE AND DIGNITY.

    Reply

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