Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Slavery

Tidbits # 48

It was Not planned during this confinement, but I observed that my day work is split in 3 proportional categories of tasks. 1/3 for physical activities (1 hr for early walk, 1 30 min for gardening and physical exercises). 1/3 for reading, writing, publishing on my blog and following on news. 1/3 for home maintenance (laundering, washing dishes, mopping, cooking…). I take 2 short invigorating siesta of less than an hour to focus on breathing and plan the next set of tasks.

Purify your heart and mind, and pray anywhere you want, and any which way you want

Men authors are at disadvantages in describing their childhood: They failed to observe, to comprehend and quickly forgot whatever feeling and minor events might have affected them

No need for personality cult. If your “hero” figured something out, learn what he learned and don’t emulate him in everything else.

Most of Jesus’ disciples and early Christians were dead serious that they would rise on the third day. Especially the martyrs. No need to wonder how initially Christianity made any headway.

My heroes are Malcolm X and James Baldwin: Religion is Never a basis to define and demand human rights.

Malcolm X transformed many times his political model, as cruelty, violence and injustices could no longer fit within his current understanding and model of resistance.

The Modern States that learned to listen to the demands and request of its people and reacts promptly in reconsidering its laws are the most advanced, regardless of their size in land and population and are the most respectful of the UN resolutions regarding human rights. They have confidence that their educated and cultured citizens are more attuned to the world calamities than their functional institutions.

Mener une vie cachée’ n’est pas une vie décente: sans engagement face a l’injustice, rien n’est decent.

Slavery is very ancient, before even religions took hold on society.  The cruel and brutal behavior of “owners” of slaves reached a high level of discrimination as religious sects guessed correctly that it satisfies the interest of the power-to-be classes and directly their own interests.

They give you life. And they give you death. And they tell you take care of your Destiny in between. But we all know what is destined to the living species.

Age should Not entitle you to play the wise-man: Young people are Not hearing your counsel or advice or wise-cracking humors. Learn to loosen up and say “reflected humor” that are within the humanist values: Your humor should Not match the humors of the younger ones’: that’s the best message you can share with the next generations.

The Ivy League school Harvard College dropped standardized test requirements is changing its admissions requirements as it figures out how to attract the best applicants in a pandemic, and also after years of complaints that SATs penalize low-income students.

Keep digging archaeological sites: It is important to remember, every now and then, that powerful empires and great civilizations were forgotten. That all empires will eventually decline into oblivion.

Demand for private flights from Hong Kong to Australia and North America jumped 214% in January,  just as the pandemic was spreading beyond China. (In all pandemics, the elite class is never hurt, and their comfort Not altered)

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 165

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pa attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Another surprise is that when it comes to purchasing course materials and answering old questions in assignments, many succeed in locating previous students who took the course. They never attempted to get an idea of the course before registering.

I have tried many teaching styles, revised several times the contents and arrangements of the course chapters, and experimented with various methods to encourage the students into reading the course materials on their own volition. Nothing worked. A few diligent students were my teaching rewards.

I varied the number of quizzes, exams, assignments and lab projects, tried to encourage my university students to read research articles, investigated new presentation techniques, gave them hints on how best to read and assimilate the materials, emphasized on thinking like engineers and not memorize information, and I even assigned students to read to class:  I received basically the same observations, no matter how I change the course. A few diligent students (2 to be precise) were my teaching rewards.

Many university students don’t bring any paper or pen to take notes, many refuse to redo their assignments for a couple extra points or for closure sake, and most of the redone works (even after correcting them in class) show no improvement.

One of my constraints for homework: the end product has to be hand written, including tables, charts and figures.  I can manage to read physicians’ prescriptions better than their handwriting assignment.

Zionist Ashkenazi Jews (including Neocons) who obey only the Talmud (and never the Torah), have formed a world power banking, extortion cult of war and death that has little or nothing to do with being devout adherents of Judaism. These are the folks who think nothing of breaking the law, lying (Kol Nidre), stealing, graft, corruption, assassination, blackmail, extortion or destroying tens of millions of people to get their way.

There is this couple of students who demonstrate this want to learn: it is always refreshing to feel that a few students are serious about the money invested by their parents for them to learn at universities.

Slavery is rampant in most countries, especially in West Africa (Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Gambia…), Yemen, Sudan and the Far East. Slavery is even practiced on its own citizens. Other countries abuse the “imported” work force to subjugate them into a state of slavery. (East European highway truck drivers consider themselves slaves to western Europeans capitalists)

Slaves were first “imported” from Madagascar, Sudan, East Africa and the current States bordering the Sahara Desert to Sultans in Morocco and the Ottoman Empire. Saudi Arabia is highest in that practice and the UN is declining to broach this indignity.

In the 18th century, the European colonial powers and the USA shipped slaves from West Africa for several centuries.

How Chocolate Brands Exploit Child Slaves?

Americans spend over a billion dollars every Halloween on chocolate, accounting for 10% of most chocolate company’s annual revenue.

And the average American citizen eats over 11 pounds of chocolate a year.

So this Halloween, use your money to let them know that child slavery will not be tolerated by American consumers.

Cocoa-Child-Laborer


Here’s a handy guide to help avoid buying Halloween treats produced by child slaves.

Last September, a lawsuit was filed against 8 companies – including Hershey, Mars, and Nestle – alleging that the companies were duping consumers into “unwittingly” funding the child slave labor trade in West Africa, home to two-thirds of the world’s cacao beans.

Worker ages range from 11-16 (sometimes younger).

They are trapped in isolated farms, where they work 80 to 100 hours a week.

The film Slavery: A Global Investigation spoke with freed children who reported that they were often beaten with fists and belts and whips.

The beatings were a part of my life,Aly Diabate, a freed slave, told reporters.

“Anytime they loaded you with bags (of cocoa beans) and you fell while carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead they beat you and beat you until you picked it up again.”

To help you avoid supporting slavery this Halloween, Here’s are ten chocolate companies that benefit from child slave labor:

Hershey

Mars

Nestle

ADM Cocoa

Guittard Chocolate Company

Godiva

Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut

Fowler’s Chocolate

Kraft

See’s Candies

Legislation nearly passed in 2001 in which the FDA would implement “slave free” labeling on the packaging.

Before the legislation made it to a vote, the chocolate industry – including Nestle, Hershey, and Mars – used its corporate money to stop it by “promising” to self-regulate and end child slavery in their businesses by 2005. This deadline has repeatedly been pushed back, with the current goal now at 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of children working in the cocoa industry has increased by 51 percent from 2009 to 2014.

As one freed boy put it: “They enjoy something I suffered to make; I worked hard for them but saw no benefit. They are eating my flesh.”

Here is a list of more socially conscious companies who have made a point to avoid profiting off the suffering of child labor:

Clif Bar

Green and Black’s

Koppers Chocolate

L.A. Burdick Chocolates

Denman Island Chocolate

Gardners Candie

Montezuma’s Chocolates

Newman’s Own Organics

Kailua Candy Company

Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company

Rapunzel Pure Organics

The Endangered Species Chocolate Company

Cloud Nine

(Question: How higher are their prices? How much real chocolate they contain?)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article previously listed Dagoba Organic Chocolate as a company that doesn’t rely on child slave labor. US Uncut has since learned that Dagoba Organic Chocolate was purchased by Hershey’s, one of the ten candy companies listed here that uses child slaves. We have since amended the list and apologize for the error. -CRG)

Note: Multinationals don’t generally buy socially conscious companies outright or publicly. They tacitly sell them most of the cocoa they need.

 

 

How a letter written in 1855 gave Kyra Gaunt a whole new perspective on slavery.

White Americans aren’t the only ones who don’t like to remember slavery and its history.

According to the Office of Minority Health, in 2012 there were 43.1 million people who identify as African-American.

I could lay money that, next year, fewer than 1 percent will publicly celebrate the 150th anniversary of June 19th, or what we call “Juneteenth” — also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day — even though the holiday is recognized in 43 of our so-called United States.

It was on this day in 1865 that, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the state of Texas freed the last enslaved Africans in America.

Many African-Americans don’t have detailed stories about our enslaved ancestors or their escape. At least, my family didn’t.

When I grew up, no one in our community talked about slaves. Slaves were objects in public debates, always referred to in some generalized manner. The talk was always “we come from slaves” (not enslaved African people).

We were property, not human beings whose culture and nationality was stripped with every stroke of a slavemaster’s whip.

So I was struck to my core with tears when I recently read a copy of a letter written by my great-great-grandfather in 1855. He’d recently escaped slavery in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the Underground Railroad.

When he reached Philadelphia, he sent this note to a friend, entreating him to help his (first) wife and children, who were in jail — left behind as a casualty of his emancipation.

Here is the letter, unedited and in full:

LETTER FROM SHERIDAN FORD, IN DISTRESS.

BOSTON, MASS., Feb. 15th, 1855.

No. 2, Change Avenue.

MY DEAR FRIEND:—Allow me to take the liberty of addressing you and at the same time appearing troublesomes you all friend, but subject is so very important that i can not but ask not in my name but in the name of the Lord and humanity to do something for my Poor Wife and children who lays in Norfolk Jail and have Been there for three month

i Would open myself in that frank and hones manner. Which should convince you of my cencerity of Purpoest don’t shut your ears to the cry’s of the Widow and the orphant & i can but ask in the name of humanity and God for he knows the heart of all men.

Please ask the friends humanity to do something for her and her two lettle ones i cant do any thing Place as i am for i have to lay low Please lay this before the churches of Philadelphaise beg them in name of the Lord to do something for him i love my freedom and if it would do her and her two children any good i mean to change with her but cant be done for she is Jail and you most no she suffer for the jail in the South are not like yours for any thing is good enough for negros the Slave hunters Says

& may God interpose in behalf of the demonstrative Race of Africa Whom i claim desendent i am sorry to say that friendship is only a name here but i truss it is not so in Philada i would not have taken this liberty had i not considered you a friend for you treaty as such

Please do all you can and Please ask the Anti Slavery friends to do all they can and God will Reward them for it i am shure for the earth is the Lords and the fullness there of as this note leaves me not very well but hope when it comes to hand it may find you and family enjoying all the Pleasure life Please answer this and Pardon me if the necessary sum can be required i will find out from my brotherinlaw i am with respectful consideration.

SHERIDAN W. FORD.

Yesterday is the fust time i have heard from home Sence i left and i have not got any thing yet i have a tear yet for my fellow man and it is in my eyes now for God knows it is tha truth i sue for your Pity and all and may God open their hearts to Pity a poor Woman and two children.

The Sum is i believe 14 hundred Dollars Please write to day for me and see if the cant do something for humanity.

I wept deeply when I read this letter and an accompanying account of a merciless whipping before his escape. His writing spoke of options I never, even as a professor, realized a slave could have.

Here was a literate man well versed in writing by 1855, who clearly articulates the value of his freedom, five years after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act from the Compromise of 1850 — which ended Reconstruction and led to the discriminatory, second-class-ranking Jim Crow laws.

He could have been snatched back to Virginia if ever found in Boston by his lawful captors.

This is more than any memory passed down orally and better than any autobiography published in a book. It was evidence of a liberated truth.

It was a local knowledge penned by a formerly enslaved man’s full grasp of a belief in God, in his humanity and in the justice of being newly free.

It seemed like a miracle to read the words of someone I am related to, someone I could trace to my bloodline instead of some generalized story about slavery. Reading the handwritten words of my grandfather’s grandfather changed something in me.

It turns out that we were more than anything I had ever learned — more literate, more compassionate, more enlightened — and contemporary youth must be remembered to this kind of inscribed evidence of our cultural evolution.

Evidence of owning not just one’s liberty but one’s own literacy. I can now claim my descendence from the Race of Africa from the words of my own kin, from within my immediate family, and not from some televised fiction.

The cherry-picked popular slave narratives or mediated memories from Alex Haley’s miniseries Roots are like secondhand clothes, mediated scripts of third-world stories. They carry no local knowledge or memory at all: they are broken memories of forced migrations thrown overboard.

When we do get to the real memories, we try to tell “the right” story, the “grotesque” how-could-they-do-this-to-us story, or the capitalism-was-built-on-the-back-of-the-debt-paid-with-our-free-labor-and-forced-sex story.

There’s Toni Morrison’s beloved story of a mother killing her children rather than let them live as chattel slaves. Non-blacks aren’t the only ones who resist remembering slavery.

My great-great-grandfather lives first-hand: “i love my freedom.”

We know slaves taught themselves to read and write. In this exchange of ideas written in 1855, Sheridan Ford speaks to not just valuing but owning his own freedom in ways no Hollywood script by Spielberg or Tarantino could ever aptly capture. Now I can’t wait to tell about his second wife, my great-great-grandmother Clarissa Davis, who escaped to freedom dressed as a man.

Ethnomusicologist and Baruch College-CUNY professor Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D,. is a 2009 TED Fellow. Her scholarship focuses on black girlhood, with special attention to their offline musical play and online content creation.

She’s the author of The Games Black Girls Play.

Patsy Z  shared this link

150 years ago today, the state of Texas freed the last slaves in America.‪#‎Juneteenth‬

How a letter written in 1855 gave Kyra Gaunt a whole new perspective on slavery.
T.TED.COM

Slavery: Not only in the Middle East

Slavery is rampant in most countries, especially in West Africa (Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Gambia…) and the Far East, Yemen, Sudan, are practiced on its own citizens. Other countries abuse the “imported” work force to subjugate them into a state of slavery.

The Middle East, once at the forefront of slavery, is back in the spotlight again as now there are more cases emerging of contemporary slavery that are gradually catching up with the horrific events of the past.

Slaves were “imported” from Madagascar, Sudan, East Africa and the current States bordering the Sahara Desert.

In the 18th century, the European colonial powers and the USA shipped slaves from West Africa for several centuries.

The many hot spots of the MENA region, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE were pointed out as the countries that have the most number of slaves.

Khalil Dagher , regional intern of the World Youth Alliance Middle East, posted this article.

798px-Marsh_Arab_girl

Those trafficked into the Middle East are often put into forced labor; forced to work for long periods of time, sometimes up to 16 hours without pay.

They are often subjected to beatings, forced sexual relations and forced abortions.

Most of these victims end up dead before ever gaining their freedom. The majority of trafficked victims knew their trafficker. They were a family member, a friend, a relative, or a neighbor.

(Qatar for example, now on the verge of hosting the 2022 World Cup, is being accused of mistreatment of the workers  from Bangladesh, Nepal and the Himalaya States, employed to build the stadiums, or a form of slavery. Over 400 workers died so far from overwork, malnutrition and unsanitary dwelling).

With over 150,000 slaves, Mauritania ranks first globally as the country with the largest slave population. (It is reported that a third of the population are slaves)

In Jordan, child labor is huge with some 30,000 children working, mainly in shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Even Israel is in on the act following in the footsteps of the likes of Lebanon with a huge human trafficking sector.

Low-level skilled workers from China, Romania, Africa, Turkey, Thailand, and Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India face forced labor conditions.

Many have had their passports confiscated by their “sponsors,” never receive wages due to debt bondages, and face threats and physical intimidation.

Women from Russia and former Soviet states are commonly trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

In Sudan women and children are taken captive, then enslaved, branded, and bred. Women chosen as concubines (a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives) are genitally mutilated.

In Uganda, armed factions kidnap kids to become ruthless killers, after forcing them to kill their mothers.

In Lebanon human trafficking has developed into sex work. With Lebanon being one of the least conservative countries in the Middle East, brothels or ‘’whore houses” have found fertile ground in the spoils of the shadowy industry.

In analyzing the causes of slavery, it can be seen that it is often a by-product of poverty.

Countries that lack education, economic freedoms and the rule of law, and which have poor societal structure can create an environment that fosters the acceptance of slavery.

The majority of the trade is initialized in the developing world such as in Asia and Africa, where, the Middle East is merely another one of the drop-off points en route.

Government corruption around the world allows slavery to settle into a norm. Countries within the Middle East and North Africa are infamous for being corrupt states with police bribes and even government officials themselves playing a big role.

Even though it is illegal, millions have become vulnerable to slave holders and human traffickers looking to profit from the theft of people’s lives. This new slavery has two prime characteristics: slaves today are cheap and they are disposable.

From deceiving maids to work for a wealthy family in Lebanon to trading slaves from one buyer to another as if they were products in South Sudan, slaves are a rare commodity that won’t die down anytime soon until the right methods are aimed at stopping this from growing.

It is easy to analyze the causes of slavery in the Middle East and all over the world and identify it as a problem, but it is even easier to find solutions to eradicate slavery.

It’s important to state that this is only a plan of action that has to be adopted by all parties involved from the UN to members in society.

First plan of action is for governments to do more than they actually say. It’s the duty of the governments in the Middle East and all over the world to build a national plan to end slavery within its borders.

They can do this by bringing together all relevant existing government agencies, and appointing an anti-slavery ambassador charged with coordinating their efforts and actively involving the local anti-slavery organizations in their countries that are closest to the problem.

Second plan of action is for the UN to get more involved by putting pressure on permanent members to provide funds and resources to special representatives to aid in the eradication  of slavery, The Security Council should appoint a committee of experts to review the existing conventions on slavery and recommend how to unify and clarify these conventions.

The Security Council should establish a commission to determine how the existing UN inspection mandate could be applied to slavery.

Third plan of action is to promote plans that promise slavery-free cities. For example, Public Awareness Raising which could involve conferences in schools and universities all over the region and the world, promote the use of social media networks, and encourage more research to be done, going down to the street level and educating those who don’t know about slavery on the issue, and finally go to your community level where we all can be a hero and tackle slavery as a mobile force.

These are a few steps that can be used to finally eradicate slavery but will only take place when society as a whole decides to come together as a united force in social mobilization from the bottom up with the aim at influencing those in power that there is a problem that needs to be tackled.

Until then however, slavery will continue to go on right under our noses and in our back yards with no aim at ever stopping.

The Middle East is only a small percentage of what has developed into a social problem that should have ended centuries ago.

 

Societies’ Blind Spots through the centuries and civilizations

For various reasons such as maintaining structural hierarchies, preserving privileges, class struggle, religious and ideological dominance, knowledge development, economic systems… societies through the centuries had particular Blind Spots that hindered its progress toward equitable and fair rights to all the people.

For examples:

1. In the French revolution of 1789, somehow the rights for women were totally forgotten in the equation of Liberty, Equality, and Human Rights. Historians prefer to attribute this neglect to the notion that women were not an issue in this struggle, since societies were patriarchal in their structure for centuries and women managed to tacitly navigate the system in order to maintain sort of a power balance withing the family foundation… Mind you that it was the women who marched on the Bastille prison on October 1789

Prior to the French revolution there was the US revolution, independence, and Constitution and Bills of Rights… And still, women rights were no where to be found.

In the USA, women grabbed the right to vote in the 20’s after a long and arduous struggle of the Suffragists. This movement was successful as women from the highest ranks joined the fight. Women led the labor movements in the two decades 1840-60 https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/led-by-women-us-labor-movements-1840-1860/

The right to vote was secured in France shortly before WWII…

2. Slavery was an admitted way of life till the 18th century. Obviously, the darker the color the more evident it was that the person was more eligible to be worked as a slave, since the people Africa were theorized in religious circles to be denied the same kind of soul as the other lighter colored people… Giving the slaves the same rights as “free-men” was a “blind spot” that society could not fathom in any political discussion. The like of Spartacus movements were cruelly crushed as if bitten by rabid dogs…

3. The Industrial Revolution gave priority to hiring children for reasons entirely at odd with current laws. Children rights to safe and healthy environment was anathema in the political circles. Families would even encourage their children to go to work early on and supplement the resources instead of wasting precious time in school.

Fact is, through the ages, it was the tiny people, mainly children and drwarfs, who were used to dig tunnels in order to extract gold and silver: It was too time consuming to enlarge the passage of tunnels in the hard rock with hand tools…

4. Since the Industrial Revolution, the notion that environment degradation and air pollution were serious factors to consider in wealth generation was not considered. Commercial Whale Fishing went on for centuries before the idea that whales and fish can be depleted if marine life is not managed scientifically.

5. Four decades ago, the opinion that man is the main nemesis in earth climate change and degradation of water and air quality was not an issue in discussions.

6. Openly slaughtering animals was common occurrence and pretty natural to observe. Currently, laws and procedures are constraining how animals are killed and processed.

7.  The term “paradigm shift” in field of sciences and sociology is synonymous with “blind spots” in mankind march toward higher levels of dignity and respect for human rights…

7. I ask you to send me a list of blind spots that you are aware of in previous centuries, and the ones that were Not Blind Spots previously and are currently blind spots.

Essentially, blind spots are common behaviors once a culture is stamped as the normal way of living and thinking. Once a culture is chiselled in rocks and common laws, it is hard to deviate and consider other perspectives…

The main hindrance in spotting beneficial conducts for improving society behavior is the built in ideosyncraties that limit communicating efficiently with other cultures.

Every culture is endowed with facilities to spotting the blind domains in other cultures. If a civilization denies the right to its people to listen carefully and seriously study the trends in other cultures, then it is almost impossible to overcome the built-in blind spots in a particular culture.

Questions:

1. Have you tried to research the blind spots in your culture? For example, saying “How I came not to see this obvious shortcoming?” “How this natural right was oblivious to my mind?”

2. Many blind spots look terribly a matter of common sense a couple of decades later, and we failed to see the obvious looking in our face. What blind spots do you think will be uncovered in the next decade?

3. Modern quick, efficient and global mass communication facilities should generate mass contacts with other cultures. Do you think that this enhanced communication will greatly facilitate the uncovering of blind spots in many cultures?

4. Can you research the current blind spots that were not that blind at all in previous ages and civilizations? Spots that were not that blind or dark to the common people because they practiced what is currently viewed as anathema to progress? Think of these multinational companies destroying the livelihood of billion of people and preventing them from eeking a significant profit from their small family entreprises…

With humility for accepting other cultures as sources for breakthrough in mankind cooperation, and a flexible mind to comprehend other cultures way of life… it is possible to face global obstacles for a sustainable life on earth.

Mauritania?  An “Arab” State in West Africa? Where a Third of population are slaves?

Mauritania is a vast desert State in West Africa, bordering Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Senegal…and the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently, its population is barely 3 million, a third of them are slaves and mostly women.

Mauritania is a member of the “Arab League“, but the US State Department opted to group Mauritania smack in Africa, and this State is “administered” as such by the US Secretary of State…

Lucky Mauritania?  That the US has decided to forget this country as part of the “Arab”World”: It must have been saved plenty of humiliation and indignities heaved on the remaining “Arab States” by the US foreign policies…

 posted on May 23, 2012, under: “The Arab Spring you haven’t heard about — in Mauritania”:

“You may not have heard of it, but the West African country of Mauritania has what is probably one of the most vibrant and active protest movements in the world today.

Protests drawing tens of thousands of people take place almost weekly in the capital Nouakchott, with many smaller protests happening on a daily basis around the vast country.

Photo by Magharebia, via Wikimedia Commons

The protests are overwhelmingly nonviolent, even in the face of frequent violent suppression, and have been going on since February 2011.

It would be comfortable to file these protests as another part of the Arab Spring: Mauritania is on the southern reaches of the Saharan Arab belt, and large-scale protests here started with the self-immolation and subsequent death of Yacoub Ould Dahoud, an action mirroring the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, which set off the revolt in Tunisia.

As in other Arab countries that experienced large-scale protests, Mauritania is governed by an autocratic regime whose leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, originally came to power through a coup d’état.

But while these similarities exist and the pro-democracy protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world surely have been a source of great inspiration for local activists, Mauritania merits a second look.

First, the range of participating actors in Mauritania are as diverse as their agendas. While a common concern of all protest movements is the end of the rule of Abdel Aziz, there are host of other issues that various groups want to have addressed, not all directly related to the country’s ruler.

(Saidou Wane, a Movement for Justice and Equality in Mauritania activist speaks during a protest against the government at Fountain Square in April. Photo via Cincinnati.com)

Chief among the issues is of slavery.

Some estimates say that up to a third of Mauritania’s population is enslaved (even though the practice has been formally abolished many times). Victims are overwhelmingly ethnic black Africans.

This creates racial tensions in Mauritania’s multi-ethnic society, but also religious ones, as certain interpretations of Islam are used to legitimize slavery.

These tensions have forced their way into the open in the context of current protests, with anti-slavery activist Biram Ould Abeid publicly burning Islamic legal manuals discussing the issue. Abeid was subsequently arrested by the authorities, and his case is controversially debated among other activists.

Another very active group, traditionally eyed suspiciously in Western societies, are the Islamists. Organizations like Tawassoul demand a State and society based on principles of Islamic law.

While not cooperating a lot with other protest movements, they have been incredibly persistent in their activities against the regime, including protests of Salafist women against democracy (which is seen as not compatible with Islam) and for the release of imprisoned husbands.

More familiar political standpoints are expressed by the traditional political opposition and various youth movements, the biggest of which has followed the modern tradition of naming itself after the date of the first big protest, 25F (February 25, 2011). These groups focus on democratic reform and an end of the reign of President Aziz.

With all these different actors and goals competing for internal support and attention, it is remarkable that protests have almost completely stayed peaceful for well over a year. While protesters frequently face violence from police (including kittling, arbitrary arrests, beatings, water cannons, tear gas and attack dogs), the protesters have employed a wide range of nonviolent tactics.

In addition to traditional rallies, marches, speeches and sitins, protesters have occupied public squares with tents and use social media and video live streaming to coordinate protests, document violence and communicate with the outside world.

As the growing momentum of the protests show, these nonviolent tactics have so far fulfilled their goal of mobilizing the general population against the regime. But President Aziz should not be counted out just yet.

While the diversity of the protesters and their goals shows that a vibrant civil society and widespread discontent exists in Mauritania, their disunity may still allow Aziz to carry the day.

Already, the affair around the Islamic book burning by anti-slavery activist Abeid has allowed President Aziz to portray himself as a defender of Islam.

Given the incompatibility of demands by pro-democracy activists and Islamists, it is easy to imagine President Aziz discovering his inner zealot to rally support from this part of society (a strategy tried and tested on the other side of continent in Sudan).

Another possible development could see Aziz taking advantage of the regional situation.

There are large parts of neighboring Rep. of Mali controlled by Islamist groups who proclaimed the Independence of Azawat in the northern region (see link in note). And the fear of an “African Afghanistan” is running high in European, U.S. and African capitals.

President Aziz could implement some feigned democratic reforms and present himself as a beacon of stability in the region, hoping for (and probably getting) Western military support and closed eyes, ears and mouths in the U.N. Security Council and the African Union.

Given the level of mobilization in Mauritania so far, the pro-democracy movements in Mauritania have a good chance of succeeding against such moves. Looking at successful nonviolent struggles elsewhere, activists in Mauritania could enhance the likelihood of success by working to undermine the foundations of the regime.

Actions like strikes and boycotts can be incredibly effective, if well employed. Additionally, the protest movements could reach out to security forces, trying to convince at least elements of them to turn over to their side.

After all, police and soldiers need to feel that they will be part of a better future as well, otherwise many of them will go with the devil they know instead of with the change they mistrust.

Note 1: Since, France has engaged troops to stop the Islamist forces marching toward south Mali, and so far, a few African contingents are participating, lukewarmly.

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/western-africa-rep-of-mali-azawat-tuareg-south-sahara-al-qaeda-sahel-whats-going-on/

Simon Bolivar (1783-1830): “Slavery is the worst human indignity”.

Biography of a leader who freed Latin America from Spanish colonial power

Before Simon Bolivar freed all of Latin America in 1826 from Spanish colonialism, many revolutions in this continent preceded him and few were successful.

Already Independent Haiti re-armed and supported two expeditionary attempts by Simon Bolivar.  The second landing in Venezuela secured the success of the revolution.

Toussaint L’ Ouverture (1743-1803) was a Haitian mulatto who became a general in the French army during Napoleon; he was sent to the island of Haiti/Dominican to dislodge the Spanish troops.   He did the job and then revolted against the French troops in the island to free the slaves and install an autonomous regime.   He sent Napoleon a respectful letter in 1801 declaring a new Constitution to Haiti and the wish to stay part of French protectorate.

The constitution written by Toussaint stated that f

1. “there cannot exist slaves on the territory of Haiti”;

2. “slavery is abolished and all men, regardless of color of skin, are born, live, and die free men”;

3. “Any man is admissible to all kinds of jobs and employment”; and

4. “The constitution guarantees liberty and security to all citizens”.

Napoleon responded to the letter by dispatching an expeditionary force.  Toussaint was made prisoner and died in a prison in the Jura region in France.

In 1802, a lieutenant to Toussaint, Jean-Jacque Dessalines defeated the French troops in “La Verriere” and was appointed Emperor to the Haiti Empire.  The new constitution of 1805 stated that

1. “The people living in the island decided to live in a free State, sovereign, and independent of any foreign powers”;

2. “Slavery is abolished and no white individual will be permitted to own properties as master”; and

3. “Every citizen will be called Black regardless of the color of his skin and will enjoy the same equal citizenship rights”.  That was the first time that Negro or “negritude” was advanced as a culture.

In 1801, local militants in Guadeloupe pressured the French General Lacross to return to France because he discriminated against colored officers in the army. Louis Delgres (1766-1802) led an insurrection in the island of Guadeloupe but refrained to go on the offensive to keep peace with France. The declaration of emancipation stated:

“Citizens of Guadeloupe; we are revolting as one people regardless of color of our skin.  Resistance to oppression is a natural right. Even divinity cannot be offended that we are defending a rightful cause: justice and humanity to all.  We will refrain to soil our cause by crimes.  Our forces are to defend your life, properties, and children by all means.  And you, posterity! Accord us a tear to our miseries and we will die satisfied”

As Bolivar was born in the valley of Aragua (Venezuela), Spain was controlling south America with the exception of Brazil that was a Portuguese colony.

In the 15th century, the Pope of Rome mediated between the two monarchs of Portugal and Spain and divided the world into two parts for colonization: West and East. Brazil was within the Easter part to belong to Portugal that started colonizing the world 50 years before Christopher Columbus discovered Americas at the sold of the Spanish monarchs.

Spain divided south America into four regions headed by viceroys appointed by the monarch:  New Spain (current Mexico), New Grenada (Colombia, Equator, Panama, and Venezuela), Peru, and Rio Plata (Argentina and Uruguay).

Up north, the same year Bolivar was born, 13 colonies of the USA won their independence.

In 1789, Joachim Jose Da Siva Javier demands the independence of Brazil.  The French Revolution has started. Bolivar, the fourth new-born is breast-fed by the slave Hipolita.

In 1792, Bolivar is orphaned at the age of nine:  His mother died of tuberculosis.  His uncle appoints Simon Carreno (a freemason) to educate him for two years, before Bolivar is sent to the academy preparing Spanish officers; he graduates at the age of 15 as Lieutenant of the white volunteer militias in Aragua:  His father was colonel before he died. Bolivar’s uncle sent him on a long trip to Europe in 1799.  Bolivar witnesses the poor conditions of rural Spain but is impressed by Paris and Napoleon and starts to appreciating Republican regimes.

Bolivar returns to Madrid and fall in love with Maria Theresa; they got married in 1802.  He is 19 and she is 21.  They reach Caracas in 1803.

Simon decided for a settled life-style, as his father, and take care of the vast plantation.  History changed when his wife died of fever 4 months later.  Bolivar is back to Europe.  He meets the geographer Alexander of Humboldt who had crisscrossed south America and explored the Andes mountain chains.  Humboldt told Bolivar that south America is ripe for independence and what it lacks is a leader.  Bolivar had the privilege of assisting to the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor in 1804.

Bolivar is in Italy with his former preceptor Carreno.  The anecdote goes that while on the Palatine Hill in Rome Bolivar swore: “On my honor, I will never find rest until the Spanish chains are broken in Venezuela“.  Carreno inducts Bolivar a freemason at the Scottish loge in Paris in 1805.

In 1806, England financed a revolt in Venezuela as the French troops of Napoleon occupied Spain:  It is a failure. Bolivar reached Charleston in 1807 and visits the battle fields and discovered the “rational liberty”.  In 1810, independence revolts starts in Mexico by two priests Hidalgo and Morelos as well as in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and the port of Cartagena in (Columbia).

In 1811, Bolivar urges the “Supreme Junta” to declare the independence of Venezuela and pronounced this speech in front of the national congress: “We are discussing what should have been decided long time ago.  Are you suggesting that we have to wait for the political outcome in Spain?  Why should we care if Spain sells its slaves in Venezuela to Bonaparte or retain them for its own profit since we have decided to be free?”  Venezuela became the first Spanish province to declare independence in south America.

By 1812, Spanish loyal to the monarchy recapture Venezuela.  Bolivar flee to the island of Curacao under the control of the Netherlands and manages to borrow money for another attempt from Cartagena.  He crosses the Andes with 573 armed men and captured the village of Merida, the first village in Venezuela .  His small troop increases; he tells the peasants: “The nation is the common land to all who were born and live in, regardless of caste, race, or religion.” It is June 23, 1813 and Bolivar, 30 of age, enters Caracas as the Liberator.

By September 1814, Bolivar is again taking the road to exile.He is badly received in Cartagena, and in Jamaica; he ends up in independent Haiti under president Alexander Petion who supports and arms Bolivar for another come back.  The expedition fails.  Unexpectedly, Petion supports and finances another campaign writing to Bolivar: “You failed: it happens in life to the better men.  Something tells me that this time around you will succeed.”

Things began to move faster in 1816.

The monarch of Portugal recognizes the autonomy of Brazil and the first university is founded.  General Jose de San Martin liberate Argentina and Uruguay and then march on to Chili and rescues the insurrection of general O’Higgins.

Chili is liberated in 1818.  San Martin advances to Peru and is liberated and then toward Equator.  Bolivar will meet San Martin in Guayalquil (Equator) in 1822.  San Martin is 45 of age and receives a dispatch informing that his wife is very ill. San Martin renounce all his functions as president of Argentine and as commander of a conquering army to be close to his ailing wife.  That is strength of character: refusing glory and power to be able to closely support his immediate family.

In 1817, Bolivar is re-conquering parts of Venezuela and consolidating his hold; he declares during a congress for writing a constitution: “It is far more difficult to maintaining the stability of acquired liberty than enduring the weight of tyranny.  It is the people who generally carry dictators to power.

Bolivar would admit: “Convoking the congress gave me more reputation than all my previous services: The surest way of pleasing people is to convene them to participating at the glory of the commander.

Bolivar appoints general Santander vice-president of Venezuela and marches on to Bogota (Columbia) and stays there for a year till 1820.  He liberates Equator and advance to rescue the independence forces of Peru.  The US is already worried of the European alliances to dividing Canada and south America; President James Monroe proclaims that any European interventions in the Americas would be considered as a declaration of enmity toward the USA.

In 1826, all south America is liberated and Bolivar is the man of the year in Europe and the USA.  He tried to convene a congress in Panama for a constitution to a federated south America but the US made sure to torpedo the convention.

Bolivar had his text ready: First,the constitution is for all the countries, including Mexico,  Argentina, Brazil, and Chili. Second, right to vote is not solely based on owning property but also on education and honorable conduct. Third, the supreme magistrate is for life and the vice magistrate is hereditary.  Fourth, a legislative branch divided in three chambers, one of the chambers the senate is constituted for the purpose of election crisis when politicians works for re-election instead of catering for the interest of the people. Fifth, the total abolition of slavery. Sixth, separation of State from religions; and Seventh, liberty of religious beliefs.

In 1830, Bolivar realizes that the federation of south America is not for any time soon and renounces all his power and functions.  He said: “Learn from nature:  Nature is an infallible master for mankind; nature will tell you the necessary laws. You will find your guide in the identity of our country from the Andes to the Orinoco River.

Bolivar is readying to embark to Europe when he is told that his most faithful general Sucre was assassinated.  Bolivar lost all hopes and died in the village of Santa Marta.

The body of Bolivar was repatriated to Caracas in 1842; the head was missing!


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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