Press Conference
by the Hon. Minister
Louis Farrakhan
Washington, D.C.

June 17th, 2002





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WEB POSTED 07-14-2002
Birth of the African Union
by Askia Muhammad
White House Correspondent

Proudly, solemnly the Zulu warriors paraded; their lances, their shields of lion skins illustrated Africa’s ancient customs. The column of female soldiers, wearing combat fatigue uniforms with automatic weapons on their shoulders, were like a sign of modern African democratic traditions.

Together with 43 of their continent’s 54 heads of state, but only a scant few observers from the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, the warriors, the soldiers, the diplomats eulogized the end of the Organization of African Unity and they celebrated the birth of the new African Union (AU).

Liberated at last from colonial domination from Cairo to Capetown, the leaders pledged to forge the solidarity foreseen by Kwame Nkrumah and Gamel Abdel Nasser. Host President Thabo Mbeki proclaimed it the dawn of “The African Century” where peace, security, stability and sustained development of a better way of life for all the people of the continent would prevail.

“By forming the Union, the peoples of our continent have made the unequivocal statement that Africa must unite!” Mr. Mbeki told 20,000 witnesses in this city’s rugby stadium July 9. “We as Africans have a common and shared destiny! Together we must redefine this destiny for a better life for all the people of this continent.”

There are stumbling blocks along the way to achieving the cohesion and cooperation, to building the institutions necessary to deepen the political and social integration they envision. There are obstacles to overcome before the African Union can achieve the new forms of partnerships at all levels and segments of society. One of the most troubling is the lack of participation by Africans in the Diaspora, those Blacks who live in the Western Hemisphere because they were forcibly removed from the continent during the brutal Transatlantic Slave Trade.

“We are very honored to be here at the birth of the African Union,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, one of the few Black observers from the United States, told reporters following the closing session of the historic summit. “As representatives of the sons and daughters of Africa in the United States of America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as Canada, we have a keen interest in not only seeing the birth of the African Union, but watching it grow to success.

“It is only when Africa is honored and dignified and self-reliant that all sons and daughters of Africa wherever we may be in the world will be honored, dignified and self-respecting. When Africa is down, all her sons and daughters are down. When Africa is up, all the sons and daughters of Africa go up with her.”

Among the heads of state to whom the Nation of Islam leader offered his goodwill and best wishes for the success of the effort that may eventually grow into a United States of Africa were: host President Mbeki; Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo, Republic of Nigeria; Pres. Robert Mugabe, Republic of Zimbabwe; Pres. Omar Hassan El-Bashir; Republic of Sudan; Pres. Yahya Jammeh, Republic of Gambia; Pres. Bakili Muluzi, Republic of Malawi; and Pres. Assoumane Azali, Union of the Comoros.

Min. Farrakhan also met with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan; the Vice President of Liberia; Amara Essy, Secretary General of the African Union; and the Secretary General of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) before he held his press briefing at the International Conference Center (ICC). Those remarks by the Nation of Islam leader were broadcast live throughout the country by the South African Broadcasting Co. (SABC).

In his remarks the Nation of Islam leader gently offered a word of advice: “In all of the deliberations that we heard, we very rarely heard any mention of God. In my humble judgment, since it is He Who originated the universe that is united under one great law, and it is He Who caused us to grow from a sperm united with an egg to produce our lives and the lives of everyone who worked for the African Union, it would seem to me that there can be no real union without the intervention of the Originator of the Heavens and the Earth and the Architect of unity.

“As a servant of God and as a lover of Africa, I respectfully suggest that God not just be mentioned, but that he become an integral part of the drive for African unity.

“There’s very little publicity in the United States about the African Union,” Minister Farrakhan said. “I believe that if more of our brothers and sisters in America knew that this was happening, more would have desired to be here. But I thank God that we are here, and we are here in the name of all of those who might have wanted to come but were unable to come for one reason or another.”

When asked about the oversight, the summit leaders promised to consider reaching out to Africa’s important Black constituency in the United States by utilizing the upcoming Leon Sullivan African-American Summit in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2003; the 250 publications that make up the Black Press and the thousands of Black journalists employed in corporate-owned media outlets; and their own embassies in Washington as well as their United Nations missions in New York City.

At the procedural AU Ministerial conference that preceded the Summit, U.S. activists Viola Plummer, of the December 12th Movement, and Erika Bennett managed to win approval of a resolution to confer official “observer” status to a delegation of Blacks from the U.S. at future AU meetings.

“Our not having an important role in this is something that will be talked about as time goes on,” Min. Farrakhan told reporters. “Those of us who are living in the Diaspora are a part of this and cannot justifiably be left out of this, since the idea started in the Diaspora with the Honorable Marcus Garvey and (George) Padmore and the Pan-Africanists,” said the Muslim leader when asked about the sparse representation of Blacks from the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America in this founding meeting.

“Then it was picked up by Osageyfo Kwame Nkrumah, Gamel Abdel Nasser, (Mwalimu Julius) Nyerere, and the African leaders. (Dr. W.E.B.) Du Bois was a part of that. We watched this with great joy. We watched this with great hope for the future of Africa,” Min. Farrakhan continued. “It is not necessary for us to force our way in, but I believe that we will take a very important role in the development of the African Union.”

“I think the lack of participation of African Americans and people of the Diaspora is due in great part to the deliberate effort by the media in the United States to have a media blackout about what’s really going on in the continent, to trivialize the whole importance of this historic moment and to belittle the efforts of Africans to overcome their own problems,” Gamal Nkrumah, a Cairo-based correspondent for Al-Ahram newspaper and son of Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah told The Final Call. “Also, to make sure African Americans are not part of the African agenda. I think deliberate efforts have been made by certain vested interests in the United States of America. This is why the presence of Minister Farrakhan here with us today is of great symbolic value and importance. It gives us a lot of courage and a lot of hope.”

Another sticking point to be worked out by AU organizers is the role of the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The partnership is a program with the support of the “G-8,” the world’s major industrialized nations, in which democratic, well-managed states are to be rewarded with foreign aid and investment.

“We accept help, but we refuse conditions,” Colonel Muammar Gadhafi, leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahariya, told the cheering stadium audience in a short speech delivered in English.

“We welcome all those who want to assist us, but we will refuse it if they impose conditions,” Col. Gadhafi said. “We are not pupils who need someone to teach us. We are not beggars. We are enemies of those who are enemies to us, and peaceful to those who are peaceful to us. We accept assistance and we will take part in the development of the world to try and defend human rights and to allow popular democracy.”

The birth of the African Union was not the “delivery of twins,” Min. Farrakhan told reporters. “NEPAD is an integral part of the African Union and must not be allowed to be manipulated by the enemies of Africa to subvert or subsume, or take away the drive of the African people for an African Union.”

“On the other side of that, we have to be careful of what the Bible calls ‘wolves that come in sheep’s clothing,’ because sometimes our very oppressor will send us people that look like us but their mind is the same mind of the oppressor. So we have to have the power of discernment to know those who truly love Africa, who truly want the best for Africa, from those who come in a black face, with the heart of the colonial master to further the oppression, the subjugation, the division.

“This is why I would hope that we would watch carefully that the formation of NEPAD which hopes for the partnership of the Western powers and billions of dollars coming from them to aid African economic development, we must be careful that there are no strings attached that make us the same as we once were.

“The West needs to be involved in that partnership, but it must be a partnership that respects the dignity of the African people and our desire for self-determination and no longer to be the orphan child, or little boy of Western powers.”

Photos (Credit, Kenneth Muhammad):
1-Minister Louis Farrakhan (4th from left) stands with Peace Mission delegation members (L-R) Leonard F. Muhammad, Joshua Farrakhan, Mustapha Farrakhan, Min. Farrakhan, Imam Tijani Ben Omar, Rev. Al Sampson, Akbar Muhammad and Rev. James Bevel at African Union inauguration in Durban, South Africa in July.
2-Former South African President Nelson Mandela and President Muammar Ghadafi of Libya.
3-Delegation cheers inauguration of African Union.
4-Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh chats with Min. Farrakhan.

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