Michael Brown Sr. Calls for New Trial

Michael Brown Sr. looks to have his son's case retried.

Michael Brown Sr. looks to have his son’s case retried.

By Free Radical

On the fifth anniversary of the death of his son, Michael Brown Sr. publicly requested that a new investigation be conducted on the events surrounding his killing. He made the announcement at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri this past Friday.

Then St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCullough chose not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the 2014 death of Michael Brown.This decision had and continues to leaven an imprint on national politics. Locally, it resulted in the defeat of McCullough by Wesley Bell who campaigned on a progressive platform.

Brown Sr. hopes that Bell will reinvestigate Wilson and the events surrounding Michael Brown Jr.’s death in Ferguson in August 2019. The 2014 killing of Michael Brown, whose lifeless body remained in the street for hours, sparked outrage which made the St. Louis metro region ground zero for the Black Lives Matter movement. Michael Brown’s death was exacerbated by the investigation led by McCullough which many local and national observers considered a miscarriage of justice.

“Five years today, I lost my first born, my only son,” Brown said. “Although I have been forced to learn how to cope with his absence, I will never grasp the fact that my son will no longer be here and justice has not been served.”

After the local trial, Wilson was also cleared subsequently in a federal civil rights case.

In the aftermath, Brown Sr. created the Chosen for Change foundation to support fathers who have lost children to gun violence.

Several memorials were held locally and nationally to commemorate the life and legacy of Michael Brown on Friday, August 9, the five year anniversary of his death..

No New Ebola Cases in the Congo

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

WHO reports they have made headway in a potential Ebola outbreak in the Congolese city of Goma.

WHO reports that they have made considerable headway in a potential Ebola outbreak in the Congolese city of Goma.

According to international news sources, on August 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there have been no new cases of Ebola in the Congo since Friday, August 2.

WHO has vaccinated over 1,300 people who potentially came into contact with the Ebola virus in the Congolese city of Goma. This is believed to have helped contain what many feared would be a rapid spread in an urban center.

A year-long Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has killed at least 1,800, the second biggest toll ever, and efforts to contain the virus have been hobbled by militia violence and some local resistance to outside interference.

Goma, a lakeside city of nearly 2 million people on the Rwandan border, has been on high alert over the past week after a gold miner with a large family contaminated several people before dying himself.

“Ongoing vaccination activities have reached the majority (98%) of eligible contacts, and 1,314 contacts, and frontline workers (have been) vaccinated to date,” the WHO said in a statement on Sunday.

The use of an experimental Ebola vaccine, developed by Merck, has proven to be a key weapon against the hemorrhagic fever, although reaching contacts in rural areas beset by violence has proven difficult.

The vaccine’s success has been most obvious in cities where contacts can be easier to trace, helping avoid the widespread havoc seen in densely populated areas during a 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa that killed over 11,000 people.

Toni Morrison, Pulitzer & Nobel Prize Winning Author, Passes

By MCNS Staff

Toni Morrison is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2012

Toni Morrison was awarded the prestigious  Medal of Freedom by then President Barack Obama in 2012

Toni Morrison, born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, passed away on August 5, 2019 in The Bronx, New York. Widely considered one of the greatest writers of our time, Morrison is noted for her examination of the Black experience, particularly the black woman’s experience, within a racist and sexist American society.

Morrison attended the famous HBCU, Howard University, from 1949 to 1953, when she obtained a B.A. in English. She then obtained an M.A. in American History from Cornell University in 1955.

She taught at the HBCU Texas Southern University for two years before teaching at her Alma Mater, Howard University, from 1957 to 1964. In 1965 Morrison served as a senior fiction editor at Random House and held that post until the New York State Board of Regents appointed her as Chair in the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany in 1984. Ms. Morrison left the State University of New York at Albany in 1989 in order to become a professor at Princeton University. Ms. Morrison then retired in 2006.

Among her many awards, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for her novel “Beloved.” She was also the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She was honored as a National Humanities Medalist by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, by President Barack Obama in 2012.

She is the author of nine novels, including The Bluest Eye, her first novel which was published in 1969, Sula, published in 1973, Song of Solomon, published in 1977, Tar Baby, published in 1981, Beloved, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and Jazz, which was published in 1992.

While Morrison taught at Howard University, she married Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect, in 1958. They had two children, Harold and Slade, and were married until 1964.

Irenosen Okojie, the award-winning Nigerian novelist, wrote that Toni Morrison’s gift was to make Black people feel seen. In this vein, Morrison gave “meaning and multiplicity to Black lives by writing them into existence.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities, which sponsors the National Humanities Medal, described Morrison as America’s most renowned Black woman writer when she received this award in 2000.

Toni Morrison remains an inspiration for many reasons, but especially because she believed in herself and Black people long before White institutions chose to recognize her.

“I was more interesting than they were,” Morrison said in reference to these very institutions. “I knew more than they did.”

Yet Morrison did not feel that her gift was singular. She believed that all people can make art.  “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

African Nations Launch Free Trade Agreement

By Malcolm Speaks

Representatives of African nations who signed AfCFTA earlier last year

Representatives of African nations who signed the AfCFTA.

African nations launched a continental free-trade zone this past month that can unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, and usher in a new era of development. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which consists of 55 countries is now the largest of its kind in the world. The World Trade Organization, which was created in 1995, previously held this distinction.

Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters and discussions were held on how exactly the bloc will operate.

Currently, most imports from African nations are from China or Europe. However, many products could be produced much closer, for example, in Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and other African countries with an industrial base.

Prior to the free trade agreement, a patchwork of self-imposed regulations and tariffs made intra-African commerce costly, time-consuming, and cumbersome. AfCFTA has created a tariff-free continent that can grow local businesses, boost intra-African trade, rev up industrialization, and create jobs.

The agreement creates a single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union that allows free movement of capital and business travelers. Countries that join AfCFTA must commit to removing tariffs on at least 90% of the goods they produce.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) added that intra-African trade is likely to increase by 52.3% in 2020 under the AfCFTA.

Many economists agree that tariff-free access to a huge and unified market will encourage manufacturers and service providers to leverage economies of scale; an increase in demand will instigate an increase in production, which in turn will lower unit costs. Consumers will likely pay less for products and services as businesses expand operations and hire additional employees.

“The types of exports that would gain most are those that are labour intensive, like manufacturing and agro-processing, rather than the capital-intensive fuels and minerals, which Africa tends to export,” concurred Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the ECA, in an interview with Africa Renewal, emphasizing that the youth will mostly benefit from this job creation.

In addition, African women, who account for 70% of informal cross-border trading, will benefit from simplified trading regimes and reduced import duties.

AfCFTA will move Africa toward its age-long economic integration ambition and spark the establishment of pan-African institutions such as the African Economic Community, African Monetary Union, African Customs Union, and so on.

“I am dreaming of the day I can travel across borders, from Accra to Lomé [in Togo] or Abidjan [in Côte d’Ivoire] and buy locally manufactured goods and bring them into Accra without all the hassles at the borders,” said Iso Paelay, who manages the Place Entertainment Complex in Community 18 in Accra, Ghana.

“Right now, I find it easier to import the materials we use in our business—toiletries, cooking utensils, food items—from China or somewhere in Europe than from South Africa, Nigeria or Morocco,” Paelay added.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and another huge economy, was the last holdout, with the government previously saying that it needed to have further consultations with indigenous manufacturers and trade unions. Some Nigerian unions warned that free trade could open a floodgate for cheap imported goods that could atrophy Nigeria’s nascent industrial base.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, an umbrella workers’ union, described AfCFTA as a “radioactive neoliberal policy initiative” that could lead to “unbridled foreign interference never before witnessed in the history of the country.” Note that the foreign interference that the workers’ union referred to was from Africans, not Chinese or Europeans.

However, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo expressed the view that the agreement is “where our [economic] salvation lies.”

While experts believe that Africa’s large, industrializing economies will reap the most from the free trade area, it is clear that smaller countries also have a great deal to gain because factories in larger African countries will source inputs from smaller countries to add value to products.

Additionally, the AfCFTA has also been designed to address many countries’ multiple and overlapping memberships in Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Kenya, for example, belongs to five RECs.

For Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, former prime minister of Niger and chief executive of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), infrastructure development is crucial to intra-African trade. NEPAD’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is an ambitious list of regional projects. Its 20 priority projects have been completed or are under construction, including the Algiers-Lagos trans-Saharan highway, the Lagos-Abidjan transport corridor, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya power transmission line, and the Brazzaville-Kinshasa bridge.

The African Free Trade Agreement intends to spur these projects and many more as this is all part of the vision of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana after it liberated itself from Britain in 1957. That vision is of a United States of Africa.