In response to Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach recent controversial interview, Friends of the Earth Africa elaborated an Open Letter to be handed over to every Embassy of Denmark in African countries where FoEA is present. Based on that Open Letter and with the purpose of empowering it by allowing all of us, concerned citizens of the world to sign it, we are now starting a petition with the same motto. You can read the Open Letter bellow and if you share our concern, please sign our petition and add your voice to the struggle against the development models of capitalist neocolonialism.
Open Letter from the African Civil Society To The Representatives of Denmark in Africa
Subject: Africa is Sovereign and WILL NOT ACCEPT being Re-colonized
In light of the interview given by your Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach, on the 9th of this month to the Danish newspaper Politiken, and taking into account that the presence of Danish cooperations on the African continent dates long before the independence of most countries where they still operate today through various organizations that develop various projects and activities in various spheres of the political system, civil society and the business sector, we cannot refrain from expressing our deepest distaste for the disrespectful and peculiar ideological content of the above-mentioned interview.
Truth be told, Minister Christian Friis Bach said exactly what many politicians and leaders of developed countries think but cleverly would never dare say. Frankly, we prefer Christian Friis Bach to those other dodgy individuals. Petulant or reckless, your Minister of Development Cooperation said just what he thinks, giving us a chance to rebut, to contest and tell him that his notion of development is obsolete, that what he says he is willing to do is ethically despicable and offensive, that those who he claims would be the main beneficiaries of the policies he intends to impose will for sure become its main victims, and that even though unfortunately he may have the power to influence the decisions taken by the state apparatuses of some African countries, he definitely does not have the right to do so. We believe that he ought to know it. We Africans assure Christian Friis Bach and all who think like him, that even though we are already being pillaged, we will never allow Africa to be economically recolonized. Never.
It is instructive to remember that contrary to what Minister Friis Bach said in his interview, we Africans do have capacity to feed and sustain our people. African agriculture and food needs have been met over time through sustainable and multi-dimensional approaches, keeping to a minimum such externalities as artificial fertilizers, imported pesticides and herbicides, as well as practices that are alien to the socio-cultural settings of our people.
The support Africa needs right now is a decisive stand to maintain seed as well as cultural diversities and defend staple crops which are targeted by biotech even when there is no need for their engineered varieties or GM crops.
To you, as the highest representative of the Danish people in our territory, we would like to ask if you share the opinions of your Minister for Development Cooperation. If you do, please be kind enough to answer the following questions:
Do you think it is fair that the African continent should be held accountable “today” for the bad decisions rich countries such as yours made “yesterday”, and which led to over-exploitation of nature, animals and human beings by introducing unhealthy and destructive diets as well as excess energy consumption?
Do you consider it acceptable that countries like yours should impose their failed development models on Africa as if they were models of success and the only guaranteed path towards development?
Would you imagine a world in which Africa adopts your ideas of production, consumption, development and progress?
Do you think it right that we Africans must accept without question the responsibility of using our resources to support those who were obviously unable to manage theirs?
It honours us greatly that the world is turning to Africa and its leaders say they are counting on us. We Africans are hospitable and supportive and for long we have been wanting to contribute more and better to a development path that supports sustainable livelihoods. However, we do not have to sacrifice ourselves to accommodate the whims of those who think it is a mark of progress to destroy the planet. We want to rely on the support of all who are well intended, but such support must not trample on our sovereignty and dignity.
In this context, we, African organizations, movements and associations who hereby signed this letter, reiterate that we continue to consider much welcome the support of those who wish to walk with us towards a development path:
- That adequately serves our needs and those of our future generations;
- That is fair and just and not predicated on exploitation, resource grabs and denigration;
- That is logical and thoughtful and does not necessarily have to be traversed in pursuit of anything or anyone;
- In which we may not be sole beneficiaries, but we must not be denied our due;
- That not only respects the sovereignty of each African country, but also our diversity as a people, as well as the diversity of our cultures and traditions;
- That is guided by principles of honesty, transparency and inclusion, fundamental to the democratic exercise of any territory.
- That respects our Food sovereignty, which is built upon the inalienable rights of peoples to maintain their cultural as well as seed diversities. Cultural diversity permits peoples to maintain and enlarge their stock of local knowledge; produce, save and use their seeds and have control over farming practices developed over centuries of experimentation and experience. Food sovereignty ensures that farmers stay in business and that peoples are not forced to alter their diets.Naturally, we consider that any development project that ignores or disregards any of these principles is not in the best interest of Africa or Africans, and we reject and denounce the position taken by your government through your Minister of Development Cooperation.
For the sake of the good relations we wish to maintain with you, we would appreciate you would be so kind as to respond to this letter.
Friends of the Earth Africa
Justiça Ambiental/FOE Mozambique
ATPNE / Friends of the Earth Tunisia
Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement / Friends of the Earth Cameroon
Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria
Friends of the Earth Ghana
Friends of the Earth Sierra Leone
GroundWork / Friends of the Earth South Africa
Guamina / Friends of the Earth Mali
Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team / Friends of the Earth Tanzania
Les Amis de la Terre / Friends of the Earth Togo
Maudesco / Friends of the Earth Mauritius
National Association of Professional Environmentalists / Friends of the Earth Uganda
Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) / Friends of the Earth Liberia
Yonge Nawe Environmental Action Group / Friends of the Earth Swaziland
Alliance For Food Sovereignty In Africa (AFSA)
African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN)
Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC)
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association
Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESSAFF)
La Via Campesina Africa
FAHAMU, World Neighbours
Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA)
Community Knowledge Systems (CKS)
Plateforme Sous Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC)
Laurent Alex Badji COPAGEN Senegal
The Green Belt Movement Kenya
Health of Mother Earth Foundation, ((HOMEF) Nigeria
Committee on Vital Environmental Resources (COVER) Nigeria
The Young Environment Network (TYEN) Nigeria
Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternatives in Development (IRPAD/Afrque)
Mali Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africain Mali (COPAGEN-Mali)
Actions Pour le Développement Durable, Republic of Benin
Kenya Debt Relief Network(KENDREN) Kenya
African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) South Africa
The Rescope Programme Malawi
Host Communities Network Of Nigeria (HoCoN, Nation Wide) Nigeria
Students Environment Assembly Nigeria (SEAN Nation Wide) Nigeria
Community Forest Watch Group Nigeria
Green Alliance Nigeria (Nation wide) Nigeria
Abibiman Foundation Ghana
Improving Livelihoods Through Agriculture (ILTA) Ghana
Acção Académica para o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU), Mozambique
Associação de Apoio e Assistência Jurídica às Comunidades (AAAJC), Mozambique
Fórum Mulher, Mozambique
Liga Moçambicana dos Direitos Humanos (LDH), Mozambique
Non African Organizations:
Amigos da Terra América Latina e Caribas TALC
Amigu di Tera (FoE Curaçao), Curação
NOAH Denmark, Dinamarca
COECOCEIBA / FoE Costa Rica
Community Alliance for Global Justice Denmark, Dinamarca
Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA) México
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero (M4) México
The Rescope Programme
Community Alliance for Global Justice
PLANT (Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples)
Various African Organizations and Movements are still signing in and several Non African movements and organizations are also subscribing to this letter.