Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Protests at Washington Meeting of African leaders and Parable of the Parrot by Marvin X

Joseph Kabila, left, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference on Monday during a summit meeting with African heads of state. CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON — Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the State Department on Monday, the start of a summit meeting here of more than 40 African heads of state, to denounce some of the leaders as “torturers” and “killers.”
The protesters, who were mostly from Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, said they were angry that the White House was looking to enhance economic ties with repressive governments. “Stop financing dictators,” the crowd chanted. “President Obama, shame on you.”
Obang Metho, director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, referenced Mr. Obama’s message to African leaders during his 2009 trip. “Africa doesn’t need strongmen. It needs strong institutions,” Mr. Obama said at the time.
“Now he is sitting with strongmen,” Mr. Metho said. “Where are the strong institutions?”
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will host the leaders at the White House for dinner and will then take part in a series of meetings on Wednesday, mostly focused on increasing United States investment in Africa and promoting peace and stability on the continent. As the summit meeting began, the White House also announced that it would institute new programs and foreign assistance aimed at promoting gender equality in Africa.

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U.S.-Africa Summit Reading List

As President Obama hosts a gathering of more than 40 African leaders in Washington, explore the forces that are reshaping the African continent.

The sessions on Monday began with a forum on supporting civil society, and the leaders heard from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “It’s not possible to succeed for your people unless they have a chance to shape the policies of their government, identify problems and root out injustices and find ways for groups to resolve their differences peacefully,” Mr. Biden said.
Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed the leaders and met one-on-one with Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. When Mr. Kerry was in Congo earlier this year, he urged Mr. Kabila to step down after his current term, as Congo’s constitution requires. “Large majorities of Africans support free, accessible and fair elections and limiting their presidents to two terms in office,” Mr. Kerry said Monday.
Protesters outside the State Department said they hoped that the Obama administration would continue to press Mr. Kabila on the term limit.

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Tight security on opening day of U.S. Africa Leaders Summit

Tight security on opening day of U.S. Africa Leaders Summit

Security is tight in Washington as dozens of African leaders convene for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Delegates arrive amid small protests, one against Ethiopia. Nathan Frandino reports.
 Publish DateAugust 4, 2014. Image CreditReuters

“Obama must give a clear message that the president doesn’t change the constitution to stay in power,” said Constant Mbala, who moved to the United States from Congo 15 years ago.
The streets between the White House and the State Department were largely absent of traffic on Monday, as Washington residents had been warned of street closings and the likelihood of traffic congestion because of heightened security and the dozens of motorcades that would be driving around town.
African trade officials also convened with their American counterparts on Monday for annual meetings on the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The program, known as AGOA, lowers the tariffs on certain African goods imported to the United States, while countries in Africa are not obligated to lower the duties on any United States goods. It has been credited with helping to diversify and improve other sectors of the African economy, but oil still accounts for three-quarters of the African goods imported by the United States duty free.
The program requires reauthorization by Congress next year, and one of the questions is whether South Africa should continue to benefit from preferential trade status, as some say that its current economic growth means that it should extend a preferential tariff system to some United States goods as well. But while speaking at a luncheon hosted by the National Press Club on Monday, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa dismissed this idea.
“We look forward to a seamless, unconditional and long-term renewal of AGOA...."

uesday, April 12, 2011

Parable of the Parrot by Marvin X

Parable of the Parrot

for Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and the Pan African Revolution

The king wanted parrots around him. He wants all his ministers to wear parrot masks. 
He said he had to do the same for the previous king. He only said what the king wanted 
to hear, nothing more, so he advised his ministers to do the same. In fact, they must 
encourage the people to become parrots.

Yes, he wanted a nation of parrots. Don't say anything the kings does not want to hear. 
Everything said should be music to his ears. And don't worry, he will tell you exactly 
what he wants to hear in his regular meetings and public addresses to the nation. 
Everyone will be kept informed what parrot song to sing. No one must be allowed 
to disagree with the king. This would be sacrilegious and punishable by death.

The king must be allowed to carry out the dreams that come to his head. No one else 
should dream, only the king. In this manner, according to the king, the people can 
make real progress. There shall always be ups and downs, but have faith in the king 
and everything will be all right. Now everyone sing the national anthem, the king told the people.

There must be a chorus of parrots, a choir, mass choir singing in perfect unity. Let there be 
parrots on every corner of the kingdom, in every branch and tree. Let all the boys sing like 
parrots in the beer halls. Let the preacher lead the congregation in parrot songs. Let the 
teachers train students to sound like parrots. Let the university professors give good grades 
to those who best imitate parrot sounds. Let the journalists allow no stories over the airwaves 
and in print if they do not have the parrot sound.

The king was happy when the entire nation put on their parrot masks. Those who refused 
suffered greatly until they agreed to join in. The state academics and intellectuals joined 
loudly in parroting the king's every wish. Thank God the masses do not hear them 
pontificate or read their books. After all, these intellectual and academic parrots are 
well paid, tenured and eat much parrot seed.

Their magic song impresses the bourgeoisie who have a vested interest in keeping 
the song of the parrot alive. Deep down in the hood, in the bush, the parrot song is
 seldom heard, only the sound of the hawk gliding through the air in stone silence 
looking for a parrot to eat.

--Marvin X 4/5/10

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