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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Jackson urges black initiative in Africa
Monday, 22 November 2010 00:00

Jackson urges black initiative in Africa

Written by Ellis Mnyandu
Rev. Jesse Jackson speaking at Durban City Hall Rev. Jesse Jackson speaking at Durban City Hall Jacques Naude

This week Jackson paid South Africa another visit

When Reverend Jesse Jackson, one of America’s leading civil rights leaders, marched alongside exiled ANC President Oliver Tambo in London’s Trafalgar Square on November 2, 1985, South Africa was a global pariah.

The townships back then were restive and Nelson Mandela was still in prison.

The 120 000-strong demonstration marked one of a series of events mounted by the anti-apartheid movemement in a push to bring the segregationist system to its knees.

Little did Jackson know that by 2010 South Africa would have marked its 16-year anniversary as a democratic state and played host to a spectacular World Cup, the first to be held on African soil.

Jackson, 69, has made countless trips to South Africa and he remains close to the country.

Apartheid was no different to the policies of racial discrimination and other violations that bedevilled black people in America, leading to the emergence of the US civil rights movement in the 1960s in which Jackson featured prominently and stood alongside the likes of Dr Martin Lurther King Jr.

This week Jackson paid South Africa another visit.

Among his engagements was delivering a keynote address to the annual investment conference of the Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP) in Johannesburg last Wednesday.

On Saturday he was scheduled to speak in Groutville, north of Durban, home of Chief Albert Luthuli, the president-general of the ANC from December 1952 until his death in 1967, and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.

Jackson used his ABSIP speech to celebrate some of the country’s achievements since 1994, but also took time to showcase its current shortcomings, one of which is growing inequality.

While every South African now had the right to vote, he said there remained formidable obstacles to economic opportunity for a majority of South Africans. “We are free today but we are not equal,” said Jackson.

“Luthuli marched for freedom, (President Jacob) Zuma must fight for equality,” added Jackson.

He suggested that black people must come together and apply a global strategy to deal with global banks and leverage their strengths.

“Black groups need to buy shares in large multinational corporations so that they can attend global banking group shareholder meetings to raise issues.”

He said the management of these companies needed to be asked who they used for their professional and other services.

As an agitator for social change you would expect him to be some sort of fire spitting preacher but, if anything, his speech at ABSIP showed that Jackson is more nuanced and strategic.

In December 1996 he formed the Rainbow PUSH Coalition (RPC), whose mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world.

Jackson said that there was still apartheid in finance, healthcare, education, trade and shipping among other sectors.

“We are free, but we aren’t equal. Who manages the pension funds? This is another dimension of our struggle,” said Jackson.

He told ABSIP members that everyone had to understand that: “Every bank and shopping centre is for sale, if you have the money”.

He urged black people to come together and leverage their strength to gain access to strategic economic spheres.

“There’s more to the car than the ride,” entoned Jackson, wondering why black people were not involved in the production of the many thousands of parts that constitute a car – from the alternator system to the windshield.

He made the same point about all industry sectors in South Africa.

“There’s more in the Coke bottle than the taste.” - Weekend Argus


Last modified on Monday, 22 November 2010 00:10

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