Friday, February 14, 2014

Olowo-n'djo's Update - African American History Month

Dear Friends of Alaffia,
With this brief note in the celebration of African American History Month, I would like to first thank you for all you have done in supporting Alaffia in the empowerment of our communities during the past ten years. Many generations before us have fought and died for the rights that all of us of African origin enjoy today. And in honoring their sacrifices, one must, regardless of skin color or origin, continue the fight for better rights for the generations yet to come.
From the 1800s through the 1960s, the civil rights movement in the USA and fight for desegregation in the South directly contributed to decolonization of our African nations in the 1960s. While the physical presence of European rule is no longer in place in our countries, the continent continues to be plagued by human and economic injustices for the masses.  These injustices are due to a combination of self-infliction on our own people and global economic systems with the sole desire of producing economic gain for the wealthiest. 
As with all my visits to Togo, last month I returned to the USA with great sadness in my heart since the human condition seems to worsen every year in my country despite the efforts of Alaffia.  I see my country being recolonized by foraging emerging economies; our major industries are controlled by them, our precious resources, minerals and lumber taken away, and our peoples cultural history and basic rights are not being respected. I see cargo ships lined up as far as the eye can see at the Togo port. Yet, the streets of Lomé are filled with girls 11 years old or less, selling bean cakes in the hot sun, and more and more families are digging through garbage heaps for recyclables to pay for a day’s worth of food.  I visited a cloth-dying neighborhood of Lomé, next to which is a large dumping area for electronics, where young men break down computer monitors and other electronics in search of valuable metals and parts. Copper sells for $2 per pound, but it takes four days of smashing toxic components without respiratory protection to get this much.
In summary, economic injustice continues in my home country and across the globe, prohibiting the attainment of all other human rights. To fight this injustice, I put out a calling to my own people, to the powerful in the West, and to the emerging economies to compensate the poor fairly for their resources and labor.  For your part, I urge you to support fair trade initiatives and, most importantly, activities that do not destroy indigenous cultures. I am optimistic that by continuing this work together, we can bring full economic rights for all our communities and our future generations, and in the process preserve cultural diversity and indigenous knowledge.

Peacefully Yours,

Olowo-n'djo Tchala