I spoke as an activist in the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations, in general and a representative of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC) which takes a special interest in the connections between the Maangamizi (the Afrikan Hellacaust), the global Afrikan reparations claim arising from it, and a host of contemporary injustices that not only we as Afrikans, but also the rest of humanity faces and which endanger our very existence. That is the possibility of human and other species extinction.
Extinction is an expression of structural violence against Indigenous peoples and their relations, and colonial violence in particular; involving systemic forms of harm, exclusion and discrimination, each of which is ecologically devastating. So how does extinction apply to us as Afrikan Heritage Communities?; well, for over 500 years, the entre Maangamizi, in all its phases, rooted in the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Afrikans (TTEA), enslavement and colonialism, has been and still is geared towards the extinction of Afrikan people. These forms of colonial and structural violence not only involved mass killing, but also the invasion, occupation, settlement and despoliation of our Motherland, Afrika; uprooting and disordering Afrikan communities, trafficking millions of Afrikans into Abya Yala (the so-called Americas) which had genocidal and ecocidal outcomes; destroyed millions of lives over generations and changed the socio-economic fabric of existing societies in Afrika, Abya Yala and the Caribbean. For those that remained, this led to enduring injustice with intergenerational and epigenetic effects. For instance, undermining our own Afrikan modes of governance and kinship systems and in the process systematically destroying relationships between life forms in addition to epistemicide/s or the erasure of knowledges. Such forms of violence weakened the co-constitutive relationships between Afrikan Heritage communities, other life forms and ecosystems that have enabled our collective survival in harmony with nature for millennia.
An aspect of genocide is “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” Various aspects of these harms are epitomised in the twelve manifestations of ecocide and genocide highlighted in the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Petition, a grassroots tool of the SMWeCGEC, working towards genocide and ecocide prevention by mobilising people as part of the People’s Reparations International Movement (PRIM) and the ISMAR to stop various manifestations of the Maangamizi. The third manifestation of the Maangamizi contained in the petition is: denial of Black and Afrikan ‘Mother Earth’ (Nana Asase Yaa), human and peoples’ rights to national self-determination as an oppressed People. In the petition, various other ‘power disparities’ and inhumane public policies and practices are identified which have genocidal outcomes and continue to cause devastation to Afrikan Heritage Communities within and beyond the UK. Such policies and practices have resulted in the decimation of generation after generation of people of Afrikan heritage due to ecocidally induced physical and cultural genocide, the destruction of ecological and social life-systems as well as natural flora and fauna. Not to mention the perpetration of a myriad of other environmental crimes such as wildlife crimes, illegal logging, illegal fishing, illegal waste disposal and pollution, illegal traffic of ozone-depleting substances and illegal mining.
Some of the genocidal outcomes for Afrikan Heritage Communities include:
• Physical, biological, economic, cultural genocide
• Social and civil death of Afrikan People.
• Ecocide of our environment.
However, the life-destroying pollution of our planet, anti-Black racism, its specific form of Afriphobia and the impoverishment of whom Frantz Fanon referred to as the ‘Wretched of the Earth’, all arguably have their causes in the current unjust world system. Many scholar-activists have helped us to understand that the current world system is rooted in and has been established through the Transatlantic enslavement of Afrikans. We as an Afrikan-led Reparatory Justice campaign are therefore working as an affinity group and campaign which is building solidarities with the Extinction Rebellion Movement on the basis of the commonality of interest we share in rebelling against ecocide and ensuring accountability for environmental crimes. In addition to the fact that our campaign itself is a form of ‘rebellion against extinction.’ – In that it is safeguarding Afrikan people’s role as custodians of humanity’s futures; which focuses on the racialised and other intersectional destruction/s of genocide and ecocide as deliberately inflicted forms of colonial, imperialist violence against Afrikans, indigenous peoples and Mother Earth, in furtherance of advancing holistic reparatory justice. This is something which PARCOE, the reparations coalition I am part, of refers to as Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice. In this regard, the SMWeCGEC has been heavily influenced by PARCOE’s approach or (‘overstanding’) of the problem of climate change from a Pan-Afrikan internationalist perspective; therefore seeing the climate emergency as the result of the criminal imposition – by the ruling classes of Europe – of a rapacious system expropriating the resources of the globe, not only at the expense of the majority of Humanity, but also to the detriment of our Mother Earth.
Our strapline in the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Campaign is ‘stopping the harm – the first step to repairing the damage’. By repairing the damage we are referring to reparations or as we prefer to say, Reparatory Justice. We see this as the beginning of the solution to reversing centuries of super-exploitation and extractivism and ending the ‘climate emergency’ and its corollary ‘human and peoples rights emergency’. Enforced access to much of the world’s natural capital – oil, gas, timber, minerals which lies on or beneath lands occupied by Afrikan, indigenous and Aboriginal peoples often entails land evictions, displacements, forced relocations, arrests, abuses and killings and other violations. For us as people of Afrikan heritage, reparations cannot simply be limited to financial compensation alone due to the nature of the damage and existential threat that we are facing. Comprehensive and adequate reparations require the removal of structures built on centuries of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression, in the forms of enslavement, colonialism and neo-colonialism or what we refer to as the Maangamizi.
Reparations must entail the cessation of current violations, such as environmental crimes in particular, and guarantees of non-repetition including true decolonisation and the restitution of sovereignty for Afrikan, Aboriginal and other indigenous peoples globally. For sovereignty, as conceptualised by Afrikan and indigenous peoples, is indispensable to halting the destruction of Nana Asase Yaa (Mother Earth) as our home; which has been caused by the structurally violent European initiated cultural, political, socio-economic system known as capitalism that is rooted in the genocide of indigenous and Afrikan peoples, chattel enslavement and the dispossession of ancestral lands, territories and natural resources.
Afrikans, Aboriginal and indigenous peoples have always known that the processes of genocide and ecocide are inseparable, for what has happened to our people and the lands on which we live are interconnected. In the Pan-Afrikan perspective of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Campaign this warrants an ‘overstanding’ that in stopping the harms of ecocide and genocide, we not only have to emancipate and save ourselves, but this process of stopping the harm and repairing the damage must also result in the repair of humanity and the cosmos. Since we as Afrikan people, who in the words of Audre Lorde, “were never meant to survive,” see that we have unique insights into what it means to be in stewardship of this World, Planet and Cosmos.
Accordingly, one of the seven goals of Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice is to “Enforce environmental elements of global justice full respect for Mother Earth/ Nana Asase Yaa rights.” However, we know that we cannot accomplish even our own self-determined goals for Reparatory Justice fully without working with others who are seeking to achieve similar goals of revolutionary social change and transformation. As the Afrikan freedom fighter Samora Machel said: “International solidarity is not an act of charity: it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objectives. The foremost of these objectives is to assist in the development of humanity to the highest level possible.”
But how do we repair the loss of a future?
We have to destroy the peace of those who are too comfortable to change in order to rebuild!
By all means, we must escalate the rebellion by building alternative futures.
I close with some words of wisdom from the Calypsonian Baron’s ‘Mother Earth is Dying’.
Today the things we nurture could determine the future
And pray what would the picture be
See grandson and granddaughter fighting, chaos and disaster
As Mother Earth protest violently
Wake up, wake up people and be part of the struggle!
The planet earth in serious trouble
We got to end this melancholy refrain
We cannot afford to lose Paradise again
That’s why I’m pleading.
Mother Earth is crying, she say to stop the polluting…
Mother Earth is Dying, we got to stop the polluting…
Whole attitude got to change, and priorities rearrange
We got to become more competent
The way we protect the environment
And fight, fight for all that it’s worth
Fight to save Mother Earth…
Mother Earth crying…
In case you don’t know, the planet Earth dying slow
What a sad way to go.
Esther Stanford-Xosei, Coordinator-General, ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC)