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Unfinished Agendas: Updates on 2016 Trips

September 19, 2016 - Chicago, Illinois

Dear Friends and Comrades,

For me, this summer, leading one group to Cuba in June and two to Southern Africa in July and August, was exhausting, sobering, and inspiring. I am now back in Chicago, getting started with classes again at Columbia College and trying to keep up with my constantly changing list of things to do "as soon as possible." This short note is to update you on how the trips went and to share a few thoughts about the way ahead for Making the Road. 

First, my thanks to the many, many people who helped make these trips possible and worth doing. Above all, I am deeply grateful to the participants themselves for their good spirits, willingness to share their own experiences, and commitment to genuine learning and dialogue. They included 17 teachers and parents and 27 children from the Village Leadership Academy, which sponsored the trip to Cuba; 13 experienced activist professionals in the Mayibuye "lawyers' group," who joined me in August in South Africa and Namibia; and the ten activists on the "Unfinished Agendas" trip in July to Mozambique and South Africa.

Special thanks to our hosts in Cuba; to over a hundred activists in South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia, both old and young, who graciously took time to meet us, often with little advance notice; and to the host families who housed our group in Maputo. Also to Carrie Pratt in Pretoria and Bonita Bennett in Cape Town who assisted in coordinating both groups in South Africa, to Jackie Asheeke and Vicki ya Toivo in Namibia, Terezinha da Silva and Ruth Castel-Branco in Mozambique, and to Bill Minter and Evalyn Tennant who assisted in communications and fundraising. 
In San Felipe, Cuba. Man in blue shirt at right of photo, met by chance, is a veteran of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola.
 

And thanks to all of you who contributed financial support so that the July trip could include a diverse multi-generational group of U.S. activists linked to #BlackLivesMattter and related   U.S. struggles today.
In Maputo, meeting with activists of Mozambique's leading LGBTQ rights group Lambda.

More than ever, I am convinced that such connections are a vital component for our struggles on both sides of the Atlantic.
 
My fundraising consultants tell me that I should have already made a pitch for money in the first or second paragraph, but I am hoping you have read this far. And even though I know the demands on your time as well as your money are many, I am also asking ten minutes of your time and hope you can contribute either one or the other (or both!). For Making the Road to continue with similar trips next year, more sustainable financing and outreach to a wider variety of donors is needed, and that means beginning now.

You can help in two ways:
  • If you have yourself been on a Making the Road trip, can host a speaking engagement for me or trip participants, or have friends who might be interested in being added to this Making the Road updates list, fill out this short form
  • You can make tax-deductible contributions by going to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/SouthAfricaDevelopmentFund, choosing "Making the Road" as the designation for your contribution, and paying by Paypal or credit card. You can also send a check made out to South Africa Development Fund, and designated for Making the Road, to SADF, 555 Amory Street, Boston, MA 02130.
Unfinished Agendas / Unfinished Activism

The time that my fellow travelers and I were in Southern Africa this year was a time of extraordinary  contention about the future and the past, in South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia, as in the United States. The title of our activist trip was prescient, as we connected both with movement veterans and with young activists. And, by coincidence, Angela Davis touched on the same themes on her visit to South Africa this month, to deliver the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, speaking of mutual learning between generations of activism and "unfinished activism." (I strongly encourage you to watch, but finish reading this letter first!)

As those of you who have visited Southern Africa well know, Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa are very closely linked but are very different countries. But Mozambicans, Namibians, and South Africans are all in a particularly difficult stage of the ongoing struggle to realize the unfulfilled promises of liberation from racism and oppression, as are we in this country. I really can't even begin to describe these realities or the richness of our conversations in a few words, but I and the activists who traveled with me are eager to share our experiences and our reflections.

Activists from our July  group in particular, some in Chicago, others in Minneapolis, Boston, New York, Providence (RI), and Washington (DC), have committed to share in more depth with their networks over the coming months, as am I. To be in touch with me, write to my personal email address (rozell.makingtheroad1@gmail.com) or call me on my cell (708-790-8931). For contact with people in our July group about possible speaking engagements, write to Andrea Meza in Chicago (andrea.meza@loop.columbia.edu).  

I don't have photos from some of the most significant opportunities for dialogue, including conversations over meals and meetings with #FeesMustFall student activists as well as many others in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Maputo, and visits to townships in Johannesburg and Cape Town. But let me conclude with just one 5-minute video on Mozambique by a Cape Town filmmaker, vividly depicting Mozambican resilience and creativity in completing the clearance of their country from landmines, and short notes about two photos from very different venues in Cape Town.  


The District Six Museum  portrays forced displacement from the community under apartheid, and it also serves as a center for community activism in this city still marked by apartheid's spatial inequality. Since returning to the US, activists from the July group responded to an appeal to support a community challenge to new displacement
 


 

Crypt Jazz in Cape Town is a unique live jazz venue, in space underneath the historic anti-apartheid church St. Georges Cathedral. This photo was taken in August. The lead vocalist and guitarist in the middle, Mermans Mosengo, came to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998. From his base in Cape Town, he travels the world with Playing for Change.


 

Tax-deductible contributions can be made by going to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/SouthAfricaDevelopmentFund, choosing "Making the Road" as the designation for your contribution, and paying by Paypal or credit card. You can also send a check made out to South Africa Development Fund, and designated for Making the Road, to SADF, 555 Amory Street, Boston, MA 02130.

A Luta Continua,

Prexy 

P.S. Please note. This address is used for updates related to the Making the Road trips. For personal messages to Prexy, please continue to use his personal email: rozell.makingtheroad1@gmail.com

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