Africa Now August 10, 2016
Topics: The Rights to Freedom of Assembly and Association in the U.S., and Reparations in Jamaica
Topics and Guests: Today Africa Now! features The Rights to Freedom of Assembly and Association in the U.S., and Reparations in Jamaica, in the context of Black August; in the context of the killing of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri; and as Africa Now! continues to spotlight the International Decade for People of African Descent which is from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2024. These topics are also covered today in the spirit of Emancipation Day which celebrated in English-speaking Caribbean nations mostly during the first week of August. This occasion commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Africans.
Africa Now! begins with a statement by Mr. Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. The UN Special Rapporteur made his comments following a two week visit to the U.S. making an assessment on how the freedoms of assembly and association are enjoyed. This is the first information gathering mission to the United States by an independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and promote peaceful assembly and association. The UN Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to interact with various activists such as members of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as members of police forces in the U.S. cities of: Baltimore, Maryland; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Ferguson, Missouri; Jackson, Mississippi: New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; and Washington, District of Columbia. Mr. Maina Kiai is UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association appointed by the Human Rights Council. Kenyan lawyer and human rights activist Mr. Kiai has worked in the human rights field for over 20 years: he is founder and founding Executive Director of the non-governmental organization Kenya Human Rights Commission. He also served as Chairman of Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission (2003–2008), where he won a national reputation for his courageous and effective advocacy against official corruption, in support of political reform and against impunity following the post-election violence in 2008 in which thousands were killed. Mr. Kiai has also served as executive director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy; as director of Amnesty International’s Africa Program, and the Africa director of the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights). Mr. Maina Kiai held research fellowships at various organization including the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington) and TransAfrica Forum (Washington). Mr. Kiai is also currently director of the Kenyan NGO InformAction.
For many decades in the Caribbean there has been a grassroots reparations movement particularly among the Rastafarian community. In recent years the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have placed a high priority on the topic of reparations. In 2013 CARICOM established the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) “to prepare the case for reparatory justice for the Region’s indigenous and African descendant communities who are the victims of Crimes against Humanity (CAH) in the forms of genocide, slavery, slave trading and racial apartheid.” (from Reparations for Native Genocide And Slavery, CARICOM October 13, 2015). A Ten Point Action Plan for Reparatory Justice was adopted by CARICOM in March 2014. A recent film, The Price of Memory, spotlights the reparations movement in Jamaica. Filmed over a decade, The Price of Memory follows a group of Rastafari who petitioned Queen Elizabeth II for slavery reparations on her last visit to Jamaica, and the lawsuit that followed. The film interweaves the impact of the legacy of slavery on independent Jamaica. Illustrated are travels across the United Kingdom, an exploration of England’s legacy of slavery as well as the British Royal Family’s own history with forced servitude. (Dir. Karen Marks Mafundikwa, 83 min, 2014, Jamaica/USA/UK, Documentary, English). Joining Africa Now! to discuss the film and the issue of reparations in Jamaica is Ms. Karen Marks Mafundikwa. Ms. Karen Marks Mafundikwa is the director of The Price of Memory. She also produced and wrote documentary feature film Shungu: The Resilience of a People (2009), which featured at various festivals and was winner of the Ousmane Sembene Award at Zanzibar Film Festival 2010 and Best Documentary Kenya International 2010.
Originally broadcast on WPFW 89.3FM, Washington, DC. Tune into Africa Now! live on WPFW 89.3 FM in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area or visit www.wpfwfm.org on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:00PM (Eastern).