This year the Nation of Islam celebrated its annual Saviours’ Day Convention. It was the Nation’s first virtual convention. One of the major sessions at each annual convention is the International Workshop.
According to the workshop’s facilitator, NOI International Representative Abdul Akbar Muhammad, the yearly workshop is designed to highlight the work of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Nation of Islam “not only in America but outside of America as well.”
Min. Akbar Muhammad has visited over 140 countries, spent 10 years living and working in Ghana and has a Ghanaian passport. He stressed the importance of sharing with convention participants the history of the Nation’s “global outreach.”
Opening the Feb. 26 two hour session was Min. Akbar Muhammad’s assistant, Earl X Reddix, who lives and works in Zanzibar, Tanzania. “The island where I’m currently located is 99 percent Muslim,” he said. What is the “biggest difference” between Tanzania and the U.S.? he asked. It’s the “reverence of Allah,” said Earl X. It’s a “blessing to hear five times each day the adhan (call to prayer) being called,” he said.
Touching on international travel, Earl X began by mentioning the Counterintelligence Program of the U.S. government. He said the program was used to destroy any rise of leadership in the Black community and to prevent the coalescing of Blacks domestically and abroad. Why is our unity important? asked Earl X. Quoting Nation of Islam’s patriarch, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,
“Our unity is more powerful than an atomic bomb,” said Earl X. He talked about the Pan-African work of 20th century nationalist leader Marcus Garvey building in America and abroad, African leaders Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Kwame Nkrumah and Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Franz Fanon, the psychiatrist and author of “The Wretched of The Earth,” from the Caribbean who ended up in Algeria.
All these brothers “stressed unity amongst ourselves to establish independence and self-determination,” said Earl X. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, invited Blacks from the Diaspora to live, work and attain citizenship in Ghana, he added.
Tanzania’s first president after independence Julius Nyerere granted asylum to Peter O’Neal of the Black Panthers and others and hosted many Diasporian leaders for the Sixth Pan-African Congress in 1974, Earl X noted.
In addition, he said, Min. Farrakhan went on three World Friendship Tours. “He traveled extensively through Africa, Asia and the Middle East,” Earl X continued.
According to Earl X, Min. Farrakhan stated during one of those tours, “It is time for Blacks in America to get involved in international affairs.”
David Comissiong, Barbados ambassador to the Caribbean Community and Common Market, or CARICOM, addressed the reparations movement.
He said the “reparations movement is alive and well and growing from strength to strength. In 2013 our heads of government came together and decided to initiate its reparations movement.”
According to its website, “the Caricom Reparations Commission (has a) mandate 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.”
Caricom, on its website caricomreparations.org, has a ten point action plan which includes: (1) Full formal apology; (2) Repatriation; (3) Indigenous Peoples Development Program; (4) Cultural Institutions; (5) Public Health Crisis; (6) Illiteracy Eradication; (7) African Knowledge Program; (8) Psychological Rehabilitation; (9) Technology Transfer; (10) Debt Cancellation.
Imam Nuri Muhammad, who was originally sent to Belize by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad as his representative, also spoke on the reparations movement.
“We have struggled in the Caribbean to fight against the impact of this Transatlantic Slave Trade, which has brought a catastrophic trauma to all of us in this region during the last 300 plus years,” said the imam. He added, “The impact of which we are still feeling … in our cultural, economic, political and even spiritual reality today.
The struggle for independence was the movement throughout the Caribbean. Here in Belize our nationalist movement achieved its goal of independence in 1982. But like most territories we achieved political independence but in fact never had a stable plan of action that included compensation for us to achieve economic independence.”
Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the former African Union ambassador to the U.S., known for “telling it like it is,” said to the virtual audience the “reason why we’re the most disrespected race on earth is because of our inability to unite.” “It’s just that simple,” she said.
During her short talk she described how in 1945 in Tel Aviv 13 Jews met in a museum and elsewhere. “And the decision they made on that day gave birth to the powerful (country of) Israel that we have to this very day and gave birth to a powerful Jewish diaspora that we have to this very day,” she said, “They believed in each other, they understand their strength is in their unity.” They “understand the importance of pulling their financial resources. That is why when their issues (come up) that deal with Jews they talk with (their) money,” she said.
Discussing the White supremacists demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., a few years ago, she said, “When the rednecks were walking up and down the streets of Charlottesville with their tiki torches and saying the Jews will not replace us. Did you ever see a single Jew on CNN or any of the media platforms complaining? Did you see the Jews going on the street? Of course not.
Their fights are done behind the scenes with money. So, when it’s all said and done, until we Black people can understand that unity of purpose followed by mobilization of financial resources, and of course for all this to work you have to wake up, my brothers and sisters. We are so fast asleep in our slumber. We must wake up.”
Also on the panel was the National Conference of Black Mayors executive director Vanessa Williams. She came to the organization as a new executive director and felt the group was missing an opportunity.
“The organization had a long history. It started as the Southern Conference of Black Mayors, and then it became the National Conference of Black Mayors,” she explained. Today, with its outreach stretching globally, the group has adopted the name, International Association of Mayors of African Descent and Heritage, reported the NNPA Newswire Service.
This is a vision of mayors and leaders united for the purpose and mission of establishing a platform for education, empowerment, and economic development through trust, trade, training, and tourism, she said.
“The next step for me was an international step because as we began to grow the organization domestically, we started seeing the similarities of conditions of the quality of life or the lack thereof with Africans living on the continent of Africa,” Ms. Williams stated.
“So, the first step we took in 2006 was to Haiti and then a delegation to Columbia in 2007,” she said. “It was in Columbia that we organized over 230 Afro-Columbian mayors and we formed an organization called ‘Amon Afro,’ representing the 32 million Afro-Columbians that live within the Republic of Columbia that look just like you and I but speak Spanish and speak with pride about their African heritage.” They refer to themselves as being Afro-Columbians, she said.
“In 2008 we took our first trip to Africa to Uganda. We took a delegation of mayors to figure out how to reconnect and open the door so that everyone can walk through it,” Ms. Williams continued. Responding to the clarion call to erase the cultural divide that exists through distance, language barriers, and lack of resources, the organization believes Black mayors could serve as a conduit to connect resources, talents and skills necessary to develop sustainable communities, she explained.