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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

USA: Summit Documents, 5

USA: Summit Documents, 5
Date distributed (ymd): 000323
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This set of two postings on the National Summit on Africa continues the series of three posted in February by APIC. Please note that, as has always been APIC's policy for this electronic list, the responsibility for the views expressed is that of the original source of each document. As the guidelines posted on APIC's web site indicate, "selection of a document for reposting implies that it is considered a useful resource for wider public debate, but not necessarily that APIC endorses all the views expressed in reposted material." Neither the previous postings nor the two today should be misconstrued as an "APIC statement."

As a matter of record, APIC has not made and does not yet have a formal statement of opinion on how the important dynamic of the National Summit on Africa process should continue in the future. This is far too serious and complex a subject, involving not only the responsibilities and directions of many different groups, but also many individuals around the country and indeed around the world, for us to reach quick conclusions or prematurely adopt firmly defined positions. APIC is convinced that the primary arena in which such a position should be defined is among the very diverse strands of concerned people who have been engaged in the Summit process at many levels.

APIC's electronic distribution list is not the appropriate vehicle for continuing these important discussions. For the ongoing debate -- to the extent it is available on-line -- we recommend two primary sources. One is the Summit web site ( The other is an on-line discussion entitled "Africa Matters," initiated in December with an core group of many summit delegation chairs, and opened to the public following the summit. This forum -- -- is available on-line for sign-up and viewing of the archive at To sign up by e-mail, send a blank message to us-afr-networksubscribe If there are other such fora that are open to a wide audience, please let us know and we will find a way to insert a notice of their existence through the distribution list or the Africa Policy web site.

This posting contains the Summits' Top Ten Action Priorities, just released, as well as statements by the three co-chairs of the Michigan state delegation and by a co-chair of the New York state delegation. For additional comments by other co-chairs and delegates, see the Africa Matters discussion at

The other posting sent out today contains a letter from Herschelle S. Challenor, Chair, NSOA Board of Directors and Leonard H. Robinson, Jr., NSOA President and Chief Operating Officer, as well as references to Foreign Policy in Focus articles debating the Summit:
February 25, 2000 -
March 17, 2000 -

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

National Summit on Africa:
Top Ten Priority Recommendations

National Summit on Africa
1819 H St., NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-861-8644
Fax: 202-861-8645

During the National Summit, delegates deliberated and adopted the following 10 priority recommendations (two for each of the National Summit on Africa's five themes) for immediate action, and to serve as the anchors to the National Policy Plan of Action for U.S.-Africa Relations in the 21st Century [now due to be available at on April 5, 2000. These ten points are also available on the delegates' page (]

Economic Development, Trade and Investment, and Job Creation:

1. The U.S. should take the lead in providing prompt and meaningful debt relief for Africa by forgiving all Africa public sector debt owed to the U.S. The U.S. should also support and encourage the favorable renegotiation, restructuring or cancellation of African debt held by private and multilateral creditors, as well as that held by other creditor nations.

2. It is absolutely necessary for the U.S. to stimulate direct trade and investment between Africa and the U.S. because without it democracy will fail and the human needs of the people cannot be met. This should be done with particular emphasis on small- and medium-sized businesses between Africans and African-Americans. There must be support for the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act in order to foster trade and investment in Africa and enable African countries to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with the U.S. so as to accomplish these goals.

Sustainable Development, Quality of Life, and the Environment

3. In the interest of sustainable development and the goals of self-sufficiency and economic independence in Africa, the U.S. should support and strengthen access to potable water and waste management; the prevention, control, and eradication of infections and diseases through the use of non-traditional, traditional, and herbal medicines. Prevention of all major diseases in Africa should be supported in partnership with African governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations, the private corporate sector and other multi-lateral and bi-lateral donor agencies. Moreover, the U.S. must champion debt cancellation so African governments can redirect those resources toward these efforts. The U.S. should work collaboratively with organizations in Africa to support efforts to provide disability, refugee, and mental health services. HIV/AIDS should be given special emphasis. These collective actions will also ensure the future of Africa's children.

4. The U.S. should invest in and support African initiatives to provide basic necessities through the development of sustainable infrastructure. Addressing these issues requires commitment to human capital, gender issues (with emphasis on women), education, capacity building, participatory development involving the inclusion of non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and reliance on expertise from Africa, as well as establishing linkages with African-Americans. All existing and future U.S. government projects, U.S. non-governmental organizations and businesses should adhere to the same environmental protection standards that they would need to meet in the U.S. and should be required to sign on to a list of principles that promote sustainable utilization of land, water, forest, wildlife, marine, biodiversity, and coastal resources. The U.S. should strictly enforce the prohibition of transporting, selling and dumping of toxic and hazardous substances. Therefore, the U.S. through its Department of State, agencies, and Congress can play key enhancing roles by: 1) increasing the foreign assistance budget; 2) sustaining and expanding information technology infrastructure 3) using its relational leverage with other donors to boost the livelihood of grassroots communities; and 4) supporting efforts at land reform which sustains small holder agriculture and food security.

Peace and Security

5. The U.S. should support United Nations and regional organizations' peacekeeping and conflict prevention efforts in Africa, including timely financial and logistical support. The U.S. also should fully pay, without conditions, its current United Nations dues and arrears and its assessments for peacekeeping operations.

6. The U.S. should increase financial, technical, and logistical support for African and multilateral initiatives and institutions (including civil society) aimed at crisis prevention, conflict resolution, peace enforcements, and humanitarian assistance. Any action should incorporate an intensive education program. The U.S. should increase efforts to enact the optional protocol on child soldiers; to protect African citizens against conscription, to inform American consumers of the origins of African products and resources in order to prevent the sale of those products from financing war, conflict, and corruption. The President should immediately sign, and the U.S. Senate should ratify, the Treaty to Ban Landmines without reservation. The U.S. should expand financial support for mine clearance, victim assistance and rehabilitation, environmentally sensitive de-mining, and landmine awareness. The U.S. should end all production and sales of landmines and should support international initiatives to make producers of landmines financially accountable for property and human losses therefrom.

Democracy and Human Rights

7. The U.S. government, public and private sectors should make the promotion of democracy and respect for human rights central to their policies towards Africa. The U.S. should increase support towards existing and emerging institutions that do not violate human rights. U.S. foreign assistance including trade benefits, security assistance, finance, and logistics should be available on a preferential basis to those that respect human rights. This assistance must include human rights training. To this end, the U.S. should be committed to bringing all Americans, particularly African Americans, to the forefront of discussions, planning, and implementation of all initiatives.

8. To promote African democracy and human rights in this era of globalization, the U.S. government should require U.S.-based corporations and international finance institutions, particularly the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, to advance these goals in policy and practice. A corporate code of conduct must make democracy and human rights central to doing business in Africa. The charters of international institutions should be amended so that they can no longer offer support and legitimacy to illegitimate governments, and to democratize the institutions to allow for more African representation. The U.S. should support Africa's quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, should triple the number of African refugees admitted to the U.S., increase aid to 0.7% of GNP, and ratify all pending human rights conventions.

Education and Culture

9. The U.S., including African-American educational institutions, should seek equitable partnerships with African professionals, institutions, and communities to include opportunities for international exchange, training, research, technology, knowledge transfer, information sharing, and arts and culture. The U.S. should fund and support efforts of all countries to provide basic education, all types of literacy programs, and HIV/AIDS education for children (particularly girls) adults, and persons with disabilities.

10. It is imperative that action be taken consistently and accurately to educate the U.S. public on Africa through mass media, cultural institutions, and school curriculum. The U.S. must encourage African ownership while discouraging multinational institutions from destabilizing, displacing, or competing unfairly with indigenous media. Policymakers must 1) promote change in American knowledge and attitudes toward Africa; 2) emphasize Africa's role in the history of global civilization.

Letter from Michigan State Co-Chairs

March 5, 2000

Dr. Leonard Robinson, President and CEO, The National Summit on Africa; Dr. Herschelle Challenor, Board Chair, The National Summit on Africa

Rev. Mangedwa Nyathi, Co-Chair, Michigan Summit on Africa Executive Director, Agape House, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. (313) 861-1200, Fax: (313) 861-7896

Ms. Salome Gebre-Egziabher, Co-Chair, Michigan Summit on Africa
Education Equity Consultant, University of Michigan (734) 763-2137, Fax: (734) 763-2137, e-mail:

Ms. Iva Smith, Co-Chair, Michigan Summit on Africa Education Equity Consultant, University of Michigan (734) 763-9910 , Fax: (734) 763-2137, e-mail:

Concerning: The National Summit on Africa

We have just returned from attending this unique celebration of Africa in Washington this last week, and we write to congratulate you on all the arduous arrangements and long hours of labor that we know that you and the staff invested in creating all this activity for us. We were privileged to attend, to hear so many promises to work for and with Africa from leaders of the community, and to renew our own efforts to be part of a greater voice for Africa in this country.

We do plan to continue our work as the Michigan Summit on Africa in ways yet to be determined, and we shall be meeting shortly to assess how we proceed. We already have plans for seeking support for Africa partnership activities from the Michigan Legislature. And we met with both Representatives John Conyers and Carolyn C. Kilpatrick at the Capitol while we were in Washington.

We shall be eager to receive the revised National Plan of Action and to hear of the plans of the National Summit on Africa for implementing our plan of action and policy agenda.

Participants in the Michigan Summit on Africa have a long history of working closely with a variety of organizations that have labored long for Africa here in Michigan - especially with TransAfrica, the American Committee on Africa, the Africa Fund, Washington Office on Africa, Africa Policy Information Center, as well as with some others.

The pro-Africa movement here in Michigan, which has many accomplishments including passing more state sanctions laws on South Africa (3) than any other state, has benefitted in may ways from the work, staff, and support of those organizations over several decades. We were encouraged to join the Summit effort and to build our own Michigan Summit on Africa in large part because we saw some of those organizations joining the Summit three years ago.

Therefore, now we are very concerned to learn how the Summit effort, as was promised to them and us, will feed into and work closely with all of those organizations and will not lead to their demise by competing with them. We assume that you will be convening meetings with the broader community of the leaders of those organizations as you discuss future plans.

In addition, we are assuming that any plans will be provided to and debated by the state delegations that constitute the base of the Summit effort to date. This is good democratic process, which we presume will be at the core of any continuing Summit process and organization. We were encouraged to read your letter, Dr. Robinson, that "To this end, we are, right now, developing strategies to facilitate the Plan's implementation, working in concert and collaboration with the thousands of you, grassroots, non-governmental groups throughout the country, as well as Africa-focused organizations at the national level." We believe that it is important that full debate and democratic decision-making inform not only the development of the Draft Plan of Action but also the purposes, structure, and operating principles of any organization which extends the Summit process beyond May 31, 2000.

We have just seen your website announcements that: "Decisions on the new structure for our next phase will be made during our Executive Board meeting to be held on March 4th" (February 29, 2000, Special Announcement). We also read with some concern that, "We are contacting a random sampling of delegates and state chairs in order to consult with them on this critical objective of the Plan's implementation." (February 24, 2000) A "random sampling of state chairs and delegates" is not a democratic process that we expected from a constituency-based organization. We shall expect that you will consult broadly with all delegations so that the full benefit of our diversity it included in the decision-making process - both about implementing the Plan of Action and any continuing structures of the NSA organization. Clearly, no decision about the future of the Summit can be made as soon as March 4 if democratic consultation is to occur.

We look forward to hearing from you again.

Thank you again to you and your staff for all your efforts in planning this meeting.

Letter from New York State Co-Chair

From: Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of African Studies & Political Science
Fordham University, New York.
co-chair, NYS delegation.

To: Leonard Robinson, President, and Dr. Herschelle Challenor, Chair of the Board, National Summit on Africa

March 20, 2000

This is a response to the email of March 7, 2000 [note: the full text of that note, including the points Dr. Okome refers to in her letter, is available in a posting also sent out today, archived at

I was unable to respond until the present time due to the pressure of work. Since I am the "delegate from New York" that was referred to in the letter, and I am a Nigerian, I will respond to some issues that were raised in the letter.

I requested and got the permission of the Board of the National Summit on Africa on February 20, 2000 at the final plenary session of the summit, to address some concerns that I had. In my statement, I expressed my commitment to the process of the summit, acknowledged, and recognized the hard work that it took to put together a process as significant, broad, and momentous as the summit. I offered the comments that I made in the spirit of a genuine desire to suggest that some attention need be paid to several areas. I felt that transparency, accountability, democracy and dialogue were being neglected.

I clearly stated the reasons why I believed that to be the case. Luckily, the NSOA board has recordings of all the statements made at the final plenary session. I also have a copy of my statement. At the time, I asked the board if my statement and the petition that accompanied it could be accepted as part of the official records of the summit. The statement and 150 petitions as well as a cover letter was delivered to the NSOA office last weekend.

It is disheartening that I am being dismissively referred to as the "delegate from New York" when the board had as a condition to allowing someone to speak, that the person be the chair of a state delegation. I am Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of African Studies and Political Science at Fordham University and co-chair of the New York State Delegation.

If we have a democratic process in place, individuals that are involved in this process ought to be able to raise issues of concern to them. The concerns raised ought to be treated seriously. The letter of 3/7/2000 implies that there is only one possible interpretation to the impact of trade, that any trade is good trade, and that Africa's problem arises from a lack of trade. There is a difference between fair trade and free trade. If the trade bill that is endorsed is one that again, makes Africa vulnerable to the vagaries of the international trade system, what would be the difference between this new trade initiative and all others engaged in previously? This is a matter that is debated within the discipline of international political economy. As an African, I support fair trade, and would suggest that free trade only benefits the powerful within the world political economy.

To address the part of the letter that states: "The allegation that the National Summit is 'being hijacked by a leadership with a corporate friendly agenda' or will be dominated by corporate interests is silly at best. ... All of the NGOS, including Africa focused groups, actively seek and receive foundation grants, which are, after all, resources generated from corporate profits."

To claim that just because the funding from corporations, including Chevron and Monsanto amounted to only $315,000.00, they are unlikely to have any serious influence on the National Summit is not to take seriously the expressed commitment to corporate responsibility. Chevron in Nigeria has produced oil and made immense profit in an area that became environmentally degraded as a consequence of the actions of oil producing companies including Shell and Mobil. The company has interfered in local politics in a manner that intensified ethnic strife and caused many deaths and loss of property. Even a penny is too much to accept from such a corporation.

In order that it is fully understood that corporate responsibility is most important, and that Chevron's activities in Nigeria deserve to be challenged, see a document produced by Human Rights Watch titled: "The Price of Oil at the website: Also be aware of a documentary titled: "Drilling and Killing" prepared by Amy Goodman of WBAI Radio 99.5FM in New York. For my open statement to the Nigerian government and Chevron, see the public service announcement at

To assure us

"that we will consult with a cross section of State Chairs and Delegates in reaching final decisions related to structure, methods of communication and the nature of the relationship between the Summit Secretariat and the states."

as promised in the letter is again, to indicate that the opinions of some are more valuable than those of others. The number of delegates and delegates at large and state chairs is small enough that everyone ought to be consulted. If such consultation is what is implied, all the better.

To promise us that "in concert with plans to restructure the Board of Directors, we will reserve six Board positions for one representative from each of the six regions. We have already consulted with some of you by telephone concerning the future plans of the Summit Secretariat. Following the special meeting of the Executive Committee of the Board held this weekend, this consultative process will continue through a series of conferences calls."

is also to be selective in the determination of whom the board finds worthy of consultation. If everyone was good enough to participate in this process thus far, they ought to be included and consulted hereafter.

The letter also states: "While it is the policy of the National Summit on Africa not to respond to commentary that criticizes its actions, in the interest of transparency, we do feel constrained to provide some observations on a recent electronic article by Jim Lobe and Jim Carlson, which contained several false statements and half-truths."

None of what I said was either a false statement or half-truth.

I will speak to the section that states: "In citing the support for the African Growth and Opportunity Act by the President Clinton, the Secretary of State, Senior Director for Africa at the NSA, and Secretary of Transpiration Slater, Messrs. Lobe and Cason neglected to point out that every single African official who spoke at the Summit ... Indeed we support the African leaders in their desire for a trade bill The charge cited in the article that the National Summit was being 'controlled by people with an emphasis on trade and investment and that ... these are the new colonizers' is intriguing, since a colonizer is one who settles in a colony. In contrast, it is perhaps those who think they know what is best for Africa, despite Africa's clear statements to the contrary, that are acting in a paternalist manner characteristic of the former colonial powers."

Colonialism as many Political Science 101 students know, has never been associated only with the physical presence of the colonizer in the land of the colonized. The control of the economy of the former, and/or new colony is commonly known as neo-colonialism, and it is alive and well in Africa. I daresay, it is one of the enduring causes of the lack of development of the African continent. If African leaders refuse to learn the lessons of history, by not ensuring that they pursue fair rather than free trade, they will bear the consequences by engendering economic crises.

To quote again from your letter, "... Only one individual read a document for which signatures were being sought during the conference. The delegate from New York was given the opportunity to speak, not to avoid a disruption as implied by reporters, but rather because the National Summit supports the articulation of diverse points of view. ... the role played by American anti-apartheid groups, including most of the individuals on the Summit Board, should be commended. However, the issues that challenge the rest of Africa are more complex and require different analyzes and responses."

It is precisely because complex issues are involved, not only related to the rest of Africa, but also in post-apartheid South Africa that some of the observations that I made were raised. No one knows all the answers, and in the spirit of true dialogue and respect for the free exchange of ideas, people ought not to be dismissed for raising questions that are an integral part of the cutting edge of discourse among serious scholars of Africa and activists in Africa. A petition was presented to you before you wrote your response. You do not acknowledge that it was received.

Your mail said: "... In 1992-93, 62.4% of all drug traffickers arrested at JFK International Airport were Nigerian. Illicit drugs interdicted through these arrests were headed for the streets of our inner city communities and constituted a threat to U.S. national security. In 1993, Leonard Robinson, while working for the then law firm of Washington & Christian, the firm, with the encouragement of U.S. authorities, agreed to assist the Government of Nigeria in establishing a drug interdiction program, including initiating a poly-graph system for all police officers, security personnel and border guards, and to help formulate an official drug policy. Leonard Robinson and others presently working with Africa focused organizations, worked on this project. This work was conducted in the national security interest of America."

I will only address the part of this quote that relates to the Nigeria drug problem. If we all treat the global political economy as one system, we will see the direct linkage between huge debt, Structural Adjustment Problems and the increased participation of marginalized people in third world countries in desperate activities including the drug trade, mass immigration to unfriendly climes and locales and increases in social problems within the domestic systems of debtor countries. This happened in Nigeria, it happened in Russia, it happened in Colombia. If 62.4% of the drug traffickers arrested in the airports were Nigerian, it could well be a case of profiling. If the customs profile in such a manner that Nigerians are targeted, then most of the people caught in their dragnet will be Nigerian. Most Nigerians in the US are hard-working, honest people who have contributed immensely to the economic and social well-being of the United States. Their contributions remains ignored, and/or trivialized.

The point of this discussion is to let you know that all the while, Nigeria was involved in trading with the world. As a matter of fact, the US is one of its largest trade partners. However, the nature and form of trade was not beneficial to the overwhelming majority of Nigerians. Today, just any involvement in trade is not enough. The lessons of history must be learned. In the post-WTO (Seattle) protest era, we know that matters of trade cannot be treated as isolated from the politics of production. To attempt to support ANY trade is not to be aware of the need for FAIR trade. Fairness in trade entails a serious commitment to corporate responsibility and a serious commitment to economic and social democracy in African countries. It also relates to sustainable development, environmental protection, human rights guarantees, and matters of peace and security.

One can still be committed to ensuring that Africa gets on the policy agenda and be open to dialogue that is conducted in a transparent, equitable and democratic manner. One can point out issues of concern and still acknowledge the hard work of summit staff and the Board of Directors. I am committed, and I acknowledge your hard work. However, I would suggest that the board institutionalizes a mechanism to address issues that are brought to its attention.

Thank you.


Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of African Studies & Political Science Fordham University, New York.
co-chair, NYS delegation.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen international policy debates around African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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