Sunday, 18 October 2009


WAWA ABA Hardiness Toughness Perseverance & Marcus Garvey, Letters from Tombs Prison, 1923 to the Members & Friends of the Universal Negro Improvement Association: "I take this opportunity to return thanks to you for the splendid interest you have manifested in me during the trial of my case. I bear with me the kindliest feelings toward you, I commend to your care and attention, my wife, who has been my helpmate and inspiration for years. She has suffered with me in the cause of service to my race, and if I have any sorrow, it is only on her account, that I cannot be alongside of her at all times to protect her from the evil designs of the enemy, but I commend her to your care and keeping and feel that you will do for her as much as you have done for me. Her tale of woe has not been told, but in my belief that truth will triumph over wrong, I feel sure that a day will come when the whole world will know the story of her noble sacrifice for the cause that I love so much. "I have been informed by my wife of the keen interest and deep sympathy you have shown in my case and imprisonment. This, as I have always said, was to be expected. "No one, in a day like this, can successfully lead a movement of reform like ours without making enemies and causing plotters to seek his ruin. Imprisonment or death means nothing to me in my service to our race. I am only expecting that you will hold fast to the glorious faith and work unceasingly for the triumph of our sacred cause. "You must pray for strong men and women to grow up among you to continue leading the race as your martyrs and heroes fall. Fall they must, as they do appear, but there must be a continuous procession until the goal is reached. "You must not mistake lip-service and noise for bravery and service. We have been so deceived for too long. True courage, bravery and real manhood cannot fail to show itself when embodied in the individual. It has no time and no place, it is ever evident. "Men and women who will bow, cringe and hide when the cloud seems dark are those whom we should avoid in choosing leaders. True leadership looks at dreadful odds, and smiles at them for the cause that needs assistance. I say to you, cheer up. A better and brighter day is in store-that day when Ethiopia shall in truth stretch forth her hands unto God."

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Such non-African-centred reports although meaningful provide only a quantiative analysis of the numbers crunched and compounded into simple statistical inferences are invariably silent on the qualitative aspects to the African, the African family and community in Leeds and the rest of the UK. Building African-centred programmes which addresses the silence of African incarceration in the penal system and give voice to the issues at the forefront of the African experiences are long overdue. At a recent meeting between the Chapeltown MP and members of the community questions challenging this silence were raised and a promise made by the central government MP that these are 'issues which needs to be addressed locally and he will personally guarantee the development of services identified by the community'. But promises made on a whim are often quickly forgotten!!.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment