The daily empowerment of African people requires a strong constitution made up of hardiness, toughness and perseverence and one Elder who consistently demonstrated these characteristics was Elder Marcus Garvey. He is no stranger to imprisonment and was incarcerated because of his resilence in advocating the philosophy of 'Africa for Africans'. In building leadership programmes for young African lions in prison requires these characteristics and this is perhaps one of the central reason why African-centred organisations delivering services to the most vunerable members of our community is missing. Issues relating to Africans in prison in UK at a local community level are rarely openly discussed, campaigned, supported and information about the brothers and sisters missing from the community and in jail are raised at family level in secrecy if ever. African people of Leeds and other major cities in the UK are over-represented in the imprisonment systems in extraordinarily high numbers. Non-African-centred research of young Africans presents reasons for this over-representation as:
- Social exclusion—both historic and current—is the key, primary cause of young black people's overrepresentation. Young African People are disproportionately subject to socio-economic disadvantage. Issues such as school exclusion, under-achievement, detained on remand, least likely to report victim of crime incidents, detained under the mental health act, etc.
- Factors specific to the black community—such as family patterns and cultures amongst young black people themselves—are both fuelled by and compound socio-economic deprivation such as unemployment, neighbourhood conflicts and disputes, lack of youth and community provision, poor health, single parenthood, female-centred households, etc.
- Thirdly, the operation of the criminal justice system, including both the reality and perception of discrimination, mean more young black people come into contact, and stay in contact, with the system.
The proposal for the development of 'WAWA ABA' a charity and company aimed at delivering services to the African community in need of information, support and networking opportunities in respect of the penal system in the UK is long overdue. Challenging issues of overrepresentation and proposing initiatives for rehabilitation, employment, education and housing of African people as they experience the penal system is a central objective of WaWa Aba. We hope that all interested in these aims and objectives will render their action and ideas and participate in the construction of positive and empowering programmes. Human Rights and Social Justice are universal rights and responsibilities to be enjoyed by all including Africans from wherever in the world we hail.
So come and join us at WaWa Aba there is strength in many.