Africa: Cancel the Debt, 09/21/00

Africa: Cancel the Debt, 09/21/00

Africa: Cancel the Debt Date distributed (ymd): 000921 Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents: This posting contains a press release from The Africa Fund and statements from African-American religious leaders and elected officials calling for cancellation of Africa's debt. A related posting today has an update from Oxfam International on the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative.

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The Africa Fund 50 Broad Street, Suite 1701 New York, NY 10004 Phone: (212) 785-1024 Fax: (212) 785-1078 E-mail:


Contact: Aisha Satterwhite or Aleah Bacquie, (212) 785-1024


Wednesday, September 20 (Brooklyn, New York) - Along with The Africa Fund, members of the African-American faith community and state and municipal officials from across the country issued statements this morning calling for the cancellation of Africa's foreign debt. The statements, signed by fifty-five prominent individuals around the country, were released at a press conference held at St. Paul Community Baptist Church, which hosts the annual Maafa commemoration for the millions of African lives lost during the TransAtlantic Slave Trade.

"Congress is currently deliberating on legislation that contains funding to reduce some of Africa's debt during the next two weeks, but African-American religious leaders are unimpressed with the efforts to date," said the Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Senior Pastor of Harlem's Canaan Baptist Church and Africa Fund Trustee. "It's 2000 A.D. and we're still in chains!" Walker added.

Signatories on the religious statement, from California to Kentucky, include the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, Martin Luther King, III of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network; Bishop Felton Edwin May of the United Methodist Church; Archdeacon Michael Kendall of the Episcopal Church; and the Reverend Terrie Griffin of Ministers Against Global Injustice (MAGI). "We came together today to urge the US Congress to help put an end to this crippling foreign debt crisis, which poses a huge threat to the continent's long-term development efforts. The Congress must cancel the debt now if Africa is ever to have a fair chance," said the Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood.

Also released at the press conference was a statement by The Africa Fund's Advisory Council of Public Officials. The statement reads, in part, "The US has provided leadership in the past to cancel loans to European countries such as Germany and Poland, while African countries devastated by floods, droughts and AIDS are told to reschedule debt repayment under onerous terms." Africa Fund Director Salih Booker added, "African-American leaders support the cancellation of Africa's debt and consider this Congressional vote the most important on Africa this year."

The statement issued by African-American elected officials echoes the religious leaders' statement, stressing that "Africa's economic development, the expansion of mutually-beneficial U.S.-Africa trade, and most importantly the health and well-being of African people, depends on this debt being canceled. The time for Congress to act is now." Signatories include Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb; Boston City Councilor Charles C. Yancey; Representative Reginald Beamon (CT); former Representative Dr. Irma Hunter Brown (AR); Representative G. Spencer Coggs (WI); Representative William A. Crawford (IN); Representative Helen Giddings (TX); Senator Avel Gordly (OR); Assemblyman William D. Payne (NJ); Representative Beryl D. Roberts (FL); Councilman George Stevens (San Diego, CA); Representative Charles Quincy Troupe (MO); Assemblyman Albert Vann (NY); and Representative Velma Veloria (WA).

"Twenty-one million African children's lives could be saved this year alone if this illegitimate debt were canceled. This is a question of life and death," said Aleah Bacquie, Director of The Africa Fund's Faith Communities Program. "Most African countries pay more servicing their international debt than they do on education and health care combined. Why must African mothers and fathers starve their children to pay this debt? Why are the world's richest countries holding the world's poorest countries accountable for debts that can never be paid? In any case, who owes whom what?"

The full text of both statements follow.


Statement Of Black Religious Leaders on the Cancellation of African Debt

We gather here in commemoration of our ancestors and their struggles against unprecedented exploitation, greed and untold suffering. We, descendants of the survivors of those taken from Africa, now speak as one with the descendants of those not taken. We charge the Congress of the United States to cancel Africa's illegitimate debt, which the All Africa Conference of Churches calls "a new form of slavery, as vicious as the slave trade." Today we challenge the notion of African debt to the world's richest countries. We ask, Who owes whom what?

The legacy of injustice against Africa dating back to slavery continues to this day. Some practices of today's American corporations demonstrate as much disregard for Africa's people as their colonial predecessors during the height of the slave trade. Water supplies and farming lands are poisoned from oil spills and illegal toxic dumping, with no accountability or compensation to the victims. Exploitative practices of mineral resource extraction from Africa - her oil, gold, diamonds, copper and chrome - generate millions for corporations, leaving Africa's people poor, indebted, sick and dying. Repressive leaders propped up by U.S. Cold War policies were allowed to pocket millions with impunity, while the people are left to repay the misused funds plus interest. Loans to apartheid leaders supported wars and repression while apartheid's victims are left holding the bag. While the U.S. has provided leadership in the past to cancel loans to European countries such as Germany and Poland, African countries devastated by floods, droughts and the AIDS pandemic are told to reschedule debt payments under onerous terms. In the past 17 years, Africa's debt has risen 350%!

While Americans revel in an unprecedented surplus of $4 trillion over the next few years, the U.S. government demands that Africans spend four times more on debt payments than health care and education combined. African children are undernourished and malnutrition accounts for half of all deaths among pre-school aged children. In the words of Julius Nyerere, "African mothers and fathers are being asked to starve their children to pay the debt." Yet, some U.S. Senators and Representatives tell us that it is too expensive to cancel Africa's debt, even though they voted last session to give the Pentagon $12.5 billion in excess of its request, more than double the total of all of Africa's bilateral debt to the U.S. If this debt were canceled this year alone 21 million African children's lives could be saved by money diverted from debt payments to health care and nutrition. Canceling this debt would only cost a fraction of the book value.

We call on all elected representatives to stand on the right side of this human justice struggle, on the right side of economic development, on the right side of this moral imperative. Our struggle is inextricably linked with those of our brothers and sisters in Africa. To all Senators and Representatives who court our votes, we want you to know that we are watching you and your vote. A vote to cancel Africa's debt is a vote for us.

Denominational Offices/Religious Organizations

Shaykh Abd Allah Latif Ali, Chairman, Imam's Council of New York, NY, NY

Dr. Louis Baldwin, Dept. of Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

The Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, Chicago State University, Chicago, IL

The Rev. William Monroe Campbell, Ministers Against Global Injustice (MAGI),Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Jon Chapman, Presbyterian Church, USA, Louisville, KY

The Rev. Terrie Griffin, Ministers Against Global Injustice (MAGI), Washington, D.C.

Mark Harrison, Program Dir., United Methodist Board of Church & Society, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Larry Haynes, American Baptist Churches, Valley Forge, PA

Archdeacon Michael Kendall, The Diocese of New York of the Episcopal Church, NY, NY

Martin Luther King III, President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Atlanta, GA

Willis Logan, Africa Office, National Council of Churches, NY, NY

The Rev. Bennie Mitchell, Dir. Labor Relations, National Baptist Convention, Inc., Atlanta, GA

Bishop Felton Edwin May, Washington Episcopal Area,The United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Dr. Glen Missick, The African-American Council, the Reformed Church in America, NY, NY

Ms. Sullivan Robinson, Congress of National Black Churches (CNBC), Washington, D.C.

Bishop Orris G. Walker, Jr., Diocese of Long Island of the Episcopal Church, Garden City, NY

The Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Religious Action Network, American Committee on Africa, NY, NY

Peace with Justice Organizations

Sister Alice Gerdeman, Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center, Cincinnati, OH

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Washington D.C.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network, NY, NY

Individual Congregations

The Rev. Anthony L. Bennett, Mt. Aery Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT

The Rev. Harry Blake, Mount Canaan Baptist Church, Shreveport, LA

The Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, Third Baptist Church, San Francisco, CA

The Rev. Dr. Lee R. Brown, Springfield Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

The Rev. Dr. Morris A. Buchanan, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Fontana, CA

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Allen Bullock, Progressive Baptist Church, Chicago, IL

The Rev. James Coleman, Jr., Court Street Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA

The Rev. Dr. Ira Coombs, Greater Bibleway Temple, Detroit, MI

The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, The House of the Lord Church, Brooklyn, NY

The Rev. Barbara Delaney, Missionary Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Detroit, MI

The Rev. E. James Eaddy, Sr., St. John Baptist Church, Edenton, NC

Attorney Patricia Eggleston, Africa Ministry, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL

The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Bethel Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Floyd H. Flake, The Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral of New York, NY,NY

The Rev. Lawrence Graves, Second Providence Baptist Church, Harlem, NY

The Rev. Tony Curtis Henderson, St. Paul's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Detroit, MI

The Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Wilma R. Johnson, New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, Pembroke, MI

The Rev. Dwight Jones, First Baptist Church, So. Richmond, VA

Associate Rev. P. Kimberleigh Jordan, Associate, Marble Collegiate Church, NY, NY

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Austin-Lucas, Agape International Tabernacle Fellowship, Brooklyn, NY

The Rev. Dr. Mankekolo Mahlangu Ngcobo, Kalafong AME Mission Church, Baltimore, MD

The Rev. Paul Martin, Macedonia Baptist Church, Denver, CO

Elder Tony Minor, Emmanual Chrisitian Church, Cleveland, OH

The Rev. Bennie Mitchell, Connor's Temple Baptist Church, Savannah, GA

The Rev. Anthony Moore, Carolina Missionary Baptist Church, Temple Hills, MD

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH

The Rev. Cecil Murray, First AME Church, Los Angeles, CA

The Rev. Mangedwa Nyathi, Hartford Agape House, Inc., Detroit, MI

The Rev. Dr. Ronald Patterson, Marble Collegiate Church, NY, NY

The Rev. Dr. James Peters, New Hope Baptist Church, Denver, CO

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, Faith Community of St. Sabina, Chicago, IL

Imam Talib Abdur' Rashid, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, NY, NY

The Rev. Dr. Darrel Rollins, 31st Street Baptist Church, Richmond, VA

The Rev. Emil Thomas, Zion Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

Bishop Norman Quick, Child's Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ, NY, NY

The Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, NY, NY

The Rev. Joel Anthony Ward, St. Paul Baptist Church, Los Angeles, CA

The Rev. Carl Washington, New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, NY, NY

Canon Frederick B. Williams, Church of the Intercession, NY, NY

The Rev. Ricky Woods, First Baptist Church West, Charlotte, NC

The Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, Saint Paul Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY


Statement of Public Officials on the Urgent Need to Cancel Africa's Debt

African countries are facing a crushing debt burden of over $300 billion, which constitutes chains of slavery in the 21st century. African political and civil society leaders and the All Africa Conference of Churches have called for this debt to be canceled. This debt burden is a major obstacle to economic development. Most African countries pay more servicing their international debt then they do on education and health care combined. African countries, facing an AIDS crisis greater than anywhere else in the world, are unable to meet the health needs of their citizens or the millions of orphaned children. The debt is owed to Western governments, including our own (bilateral debt), and to international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (multilateral debt). Much of this debt was incurred at the urging of Western governments, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for failed and misguided projects. Other loans were made during the Cold War to prop up dictators. Now poor people in Africa, many who live on less than one dollar a day, are left to pick up the tab.

For decades Western governments and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have come up with a series of plans to reduce this debt, but in fact the debt has increased. President Clinton pledged to cancel much of the debt owed to the U.S. government, but Congress has failed to act. Africa's economic development, the expansion of mutually-beneficial U.S.-Africa trade, and most importantly the health and well-being of African people, depends on this debt being canceled. Congress needs to appropriate money to cancel both bilateral and multilateral debt. The time for Congress to act is now.

U.S.-Africa Advisory Council of Public Officials

Reginald Beamon, State Representative, Connecticut; Chair, International Affairs Committee, National Black Caucus of State Legislators

Dr. Irma Hunter Brown, President, Shorter College; former State Representative, Arkansas

G. Spencer Coggs, State Representative, Wisconsin

William A. Crawford, State Representative, Indiana

Helen Giddings, State Representative, Texas

Avel Gordly, State Senator, Oregon

William D. Payne, State Assemblyman, New Jersey

Beryl D. Roberts, State Representative, Florida

George Stevens, Councilman, City of San Diego, California

Charles Quincy Troupe, State Representative, Missouri

Albert Vann, State Assemblyman, New York

Velma Veloria, State Representative, Washington

Wellington E. Webb, Mayor, City and County of Denver, Colorado; President, National Conference of Black Mayors; Chair, Task Force on Sub-Saharan Africa of the U.S. Conference of Mayors

Charles C. Yancey, City Councilor, Boston, Massachusetts; Immediate Past President, National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 09:14:54 -0500 Subject: Africa: Cancel the Debt

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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