What started out as a male-centered, severely limited organization in the Jim Crow America of 1900, has radically transformed itself into an international and multitasking complex operation in the 123 years since.
Concerned as much with agricultural and mineral extractions in Africa as it is with obtaining multibillion-dollar defense contracts, the National Alliance for Black Business, conjointly with the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and the World Conference of Mayors and Historic Black Towns and settlements announced to the world at the August 23- 27 National Black Business Conference (NBBC) in Atlanta that both its vision and its reach have grown immeasurably.
The signing of a compact to create a Black stock market was completed at the conference. Many high-level trade and investment opportunities with the Mother Country, Defense Department contracts, and breakthroughs in legal rights for families and individuals are all a part of the new developments.
Former Tuskegee mayor and founder of the World Conferences of Mayors Johnny Ford gave high praises to NBL founder Booker T. Washington for bringing together Black business and political leaders, educators, leaders of Black nonprofit organizations to form the National Business League in 1900. More than 1,000 professionals and participants of all stripes packed the halls and the special interest panel discussions.
“In 2023, we find ourselves returning to the foundational model envisioned by Booker T. Washington,” Ford said. “The current economic climate necessitates a resurgence of industry and the establishment of a robust economic base within the Black community, both nationally and internationally.”
The honored keynote speaker, nationally renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, brought good news to the survivors and friends of the late Henrietta Lacks, the Black mother whose DNA cells – the “HeLa cells” stolen from her dying body in 1951 – became the generative fount for scientific research and curative medications to the tune of $35 billion annually. Until Aug. 1, all the Lacks family members were denied any rights to compensation for her cells that are still vital to cancer research. Crump, their attorney, announced that a settlement has been reached. The family is no longer shut out of their own legacy, although Crump also said the deal was a confidential one.
DeWayne Boyd, the former minister of agriculture of the State of the African Diaspora, said that it was bitterly ironic that one of Henrietta Lacks’ grandsons is dying of the cancerous strain that caused her demise and until now has not been able to afford the treatment that her bloodline had made possible.
Boyd, who is co-founder with his wife Leontine Mafuta Boyd of the women’s agricultural cooperative COOPAGEL, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said that despite the enormous natural wealth of Africa and its potential for real prosperity for the people of the 55 different African nations, the reality is that economic life in Africa is not “a bed of roses.”
In discussing the Women in Business panel presentations, Boyd said African Americans seeking investment opportunities in Africa should not be blind to the horrendous burdens that the people of all the African countries bear. A native of Detroit, Boyd has deep family roots in Mississippi and is a former employee of the Mississippi Agriculture Commission.
“The focus here has been on agricultural trade with Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana,” Boyd said. “But nobody focused on the issue of minerals, or the extraction and exploitation and how these minerals can be used to develop agriculture. They didn’t have that mindset. They totally overlook the DRC and its great agricultural potential to easily feed half the world consistently from year-to-year. The trade mission had gone to Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana. They were fresh off the field trip. I told them the DRC alone could be a superpower in agriculture.”
The Congo also happens to be the world’s wealthiest country in diamonds, cobalt, gold, coltan, lithium, and tin. If electric cars are in our future, he said, then the Congo will be the central player in supplying the batteries that will drive that future.
“Y’all making it look all hunky-dory, making it look like a beautiful thing. But investments in Africa without knowledge of the various markets spells disaster for its people. Investments are needed in Africa and what the Chinese are doing, we need to be doing. But the bottom line is, the bulk of our people, African Americans, don’t have a clue as to these opportunities or what’s going on in Africa.
“Investment in Africa is nice, but not one mention of the Congo was raised. Yet nothing will be achieved in the future economy without Congo. If Congo flies, then all of Africa flies. I said you must realize that the situation in Congo is terrible. Because of the exploitation of the mineral resources and as much agricultural potential that country has, the people are starving. They’re suffering and don’t even realize they’re suffering.
“You got to realize these people can’t eat the minerals. They can’t eat cobalt, gold, and diamonds. And they’re starving, working under slave labor conditions to provide for the great transition to green energy conversion. This is wrong. And some of you are holding up America like the Queen Mother. But it’s criminal what America is doing over there. It’s criminal what the rest of the European powers like France and so forth have been doing and nobody’s doing anything about it.”
Boyd reports that several of the nation’s top-flight Black business experts have consulted with him about investments in the Congo as a result of his discussion with the various panelists.
Boyd said that the next most significant occurrence at the conference was the signing of the Black-owned and -controlled stock exchange.
“That means that the revival of Black Wall Street begins now in Atlanta with the official signing of this developing opening or creation of a Black-controlled New York stock exchange.”
It will be an investment and financing vehicle for African American business interests. National Business League President Ken Harris, Mayor Johnny Ford, and Charles Debow (president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce), and Dreamex founder-director Joe Cecala, the main person in creating the Black stock exchange, all signed onto the deal, Boyd said.
Black Women In Business Panel: Moderator, Stacey Key, President/CEO, Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, and panelits Leona Barr-Davenport, President/CEO, Atlanta Business League; Melinda Sylvester, President/CEO, Greater Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce; Santia Deck, President/CEO, TRONUS, LLC; and Cora Miller, President/CEO Young King Hair Care.(Advocate photo)
Developments in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) continue to progress in cementing the world’s largest free trade zone, contrary to western media reports about a lack of cooperation among African nations. The next AfCFTA conference is set for Addis Ababa Oct. 25-27, 2023.
In March 2018, 44 African heads of state signed a framework to establish a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of capital and business travelers. Five additional countries, including South Africa, joined in July. The AfCFTA still needs ratification by the parliaments of at least 22 countries. Seven have done so, thus far.
The recent coups in Niger and Gabon are a welcome turn towards a new direction for the former French colonies that never seemed able to get from under France’s economic and military control since their purported liberation half a century ago, Boyd said.
“Paris, the city of lights, would be plunged into darkness if the francophone African countries, that hardly have lights of their own, should pull out of this system of uneven exchanges and exploitation of their resources,” he said.
Boyd also points out that Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the former International Ambassador of the African Union, has been a persistent critic of the continuing controls over former colonies by France and the other European nations.
“The junta leaders of Gabon and Niger listen to her and even call her ‘Mama Africa,’” he says. “And they are now effecting what Mama Africa has called a realignment of the relationship with the former colonial powers, particularly France. They’re saying now what Patrice Lumumba was saying back in the 1960s. Now that we know the game, we’re going to use our resources for our own development. To hell with you France. You’ve been looting us long enough for Paris to have lights when we don’t. So, it’s no longer a situation where Europe or France will have comfort at Africa’s discomfort.”
Since 2018, Boyd and his wife have played a big role in organizing and supporting the annual Florida International Trade and Cultural Exposition (FITCE) 2023. The 8th FITCE is scheduled for October 4-5 in Fort Lauderdale. The emphasis is on trade opportunities provided by 60 countries from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East to exhibit and bargain for trade in the international marketplace. It is one of the best opportunities for African American investors and agriculturists to participate in the global markets and cultural exchanges, he says. Registration deadline is October 1. General admission is free. For more info, visit online: FITCExpo.com, or call 954-357-6400.