Dr. Julius Garvey reaffirmed that African Americans are often viewed “as being a major asset for America in its relationship with Africa,” but he cautioned that African Americans must also be included in the policy making.
“We want to help,” explained Melvin Foote, The Constituency for Africa (CFA) President, on the group’s objective of advocating for Africa before all United States administrations. “We will work with anybody who will work on Africa. We want Africa to win and we want America to win,” he continued while creating the atmosphere for the CFA meeting with Biden-Harris’ new Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Molly C. Phee.
Dr. Julius Garvey continued the cooperative spirit, but reaffirmed that African Americans are often viewed “as being a major asset for America in its relationship with Africa,” but he cautioned that African Americans must also be included in the policy making. “We are not simply here as an asset to allow other Americans, Caucasians or otherwise, to make significant profits in Africa.”
There are many ways to impact how policies play out,” Foote told Port Of Harlem. “A policy paper is a higher level of engagement than an editorial in the media or a demonstration,” he explained. While all three instruments and others can play a part in influencing policy, Foote continued “a policy paper is a more substantive argument.” Policy papers provide detail, and present problems and solutions that are well documented that can be passed around in the necessary circles.
In addition to CFA’s policy proposals, the group in the second meeting acknowledged that Biden has announced plans to meet with African leaders in a summit in 2022. Phee also reported that the administration is supporting vaccine development in Senegal and UPS is working with delivery services in Kenya.
The ambassador added, “U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is interested in helping Americans learn “the strategic value of Africa to the United States.” She also said that Blinken wants to work with African nations at strengthening democracy.
However, while in Senegal during his recent Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal tour his remarks did not seem to indicate democracy had “backslidden” in the United States on January 6, 2021, a step that many African nations have recently avoided, including Senegal’s sister nation, The Gambia, after its December 4 presidential elections.
Blinken said, “We spoke about democracy and human rights and how we can work together to strengthen our own democracies, but also together respond to some of the democratic backsliding that we’re seeing not only in parts of Africa but in many parts of the world.”
The CFA discussion also included other concerns from the South Africa travel ban, the Liberia Bicentennial in 2022, where Phee hopes the US will be “robustly engaged and present,” and the need to compensate Kenyan families harmed in the 1998 US embassy bombing.
As a result of the bombing, Sudan paid $335 million as compensation for victims of past attacks against US targets. But the deal – a key condition set by the US for Sudan to be removed from its list of state sponsors of terrorism – only includes punitive damages to families of victims or those injured who are US nationals or US embassy workers.
The majority of the estimated 5,000 people injured in the twin bombings to hit the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will not get any money. Neither will the families of the more than 200 locals who died in the blasts.
Another part of the Trump administration deal with Sudan resulted in the Sudanese approving legislation repealing a law from 1958 which had prohibited diplomatic and business relations with Israel. (See: Trump Tied Africans to Palestine/Israel Conflict – Disapproval Mounts).
Though the hour-long meeting did not cover every subject and its tentacles, it did live up to the CFA’s objective as written in the report: “African-Americans and those in the African Diaspora are reaching out to inform the Administration that many of us are interested in U.S. policies toward Africa.
“Getting back to what happened in Kenya, Foote commented, “The (Kenyan) families have not been made full.” Phee quickly agreed to look into the issue. The meeting may be a manifestation of things to come.
Source: Port of Harlem Magazine