IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7/21/2008
Mganga (Rev.) P.D. Menelik Harris 404-527-7756
Pan African Priest Urges Building of African Pilgrimage Centers
At his 84th birthday feast and forum, Reverend Dr. Ndugu T’Ofori-Atta called for faith leaders to pull together to spearhead the building of Pan African Pilgrimage centers in Africa and the African Diaspora to commemorate our Ancestors, especially those Africans perished in the holocaust of enslavement, within the last 500 years. During his pointed message, he reminded everyone that African spirituality includes African political and economic empowerment and stressed that African identity is central to attaining our destiny for the humanizing of the world.
The July 20, 2008 celebration at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) with ministers, family and extended family members was also to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the launching of the Pan African Christian Church Conference (PACCC) when faith leaders from all over the Diaspora and Africa gathered at ITC and committed to promoting African spirituality and to actively engage in the destruction of the apartheid system in South Africa. The gathering also marks the 108th anniversary of the first Pan Africa Congress (PAC), inspired and supported by ministers such as Rev. Dr. Edward Blyden, Rev. Dr. Martin Delaney (M.D.) and Bishop Henry McNeil Turner, July 1900, in England. The African Union is descended from the work of these Pan African nationalist faith leaders of the 19th century.
As a child, Dr. Atta felt a passion to help overcome the problems of the world. While serving during WW11 as an assistant Chaplain in the Pacific island of Guinea, Dr. Atta decided he would focus his work on the challenges affecting Africa. Upon completion of his military service, he immediately enrolled at Lincoln University following the path of greats like Kwame Nkrumah and Nnamdi Azikiwe. He then attended Boston University with other African American leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Atta remembered Boston University as a “hotbed for raising one’s spiritual and political conscience to transform a world dominated by racism, imperialism and colonialism.”
Upon graduation from Boston University in 1951, Dr. Atta taught briefly at Livingstone College in North Carolina and then proceeded with his wife Nanasewa Thomas to work in the Congo. While in the Congo, he taught and promoted African liberation theology. He also participated in activities that would soon lead to the forming of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in 1961. The AACC is a Pan African faith body that became an important support for the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. Both the AACC and the OAU committed themselves in principle to support the unification and liberation of African people.
In 1965, Dr, Atta returned to the United States and established the Religious Heritage of the Black World (RHBW) at Livingstone College as an organization to re-educate Africans in the Diaspora on African culture, spirituality and the African freedom movements. In 1969, the RHBW moved to the ITC in Atlanta, Georgia and collaborated with Dr. Vincent Harding of the Institute of the Black World (IBW) on numerous projects. Later, the RHBW was renamed the Religious Heritage of the African World (RHAW) and collaborated with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows Doctoral Project at Colgate University. Dr. Atta served as a faculty to educate prominent pastors on the significance of African spiritual heritage in South America, the Caribbean and Atlantic coast of the United States. Graduates of the MLK Fellows like Wyatt Tee Walker became vital links in supporting and assisting the liberation struggles waged in southern Africa.
In the 1970’s the RHAW was a beacon of light for African spiritual reawakening attracting many pastors and community leaders to accept African traditional worldview as vital to the dignity, humanity and divinity of African people. The RHAW also served as a catalyst and support for African liberation struggles in Africa and throughout the Diaspora. It especially, collaborated with the AACC, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and Congress of National Black Churches (CNBC) Africa initiatives to promote the decolonization of Africa.
By the 1980’s, the RHAW initiated the Pan African Christian Church Conference (PACCC) to organize African faith leaders across the Diaspora to partner with the AACC to support the reconstruction of Africa. The work of the PACCC would quickly inspire the founding the Religious Action Network (RAN) by Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, former Chief of Staff to Dr. King and former Chair of the National Action Network (NAN) under Rev. Al Sharpton. The RAN became part of the American Committee on Africa, now Africa Action after Wyatt’s deep consideration to join TransAfrica led by Randall Robinson. The RAN, with the leadership of former students of Dr. Atta such as Rev. Phyllis Byrd and Rev. P.D. Menelik Harris, became an important African American dominated religious organization to support efforts in the ending of apartheid in South Africa, restoring democracy in Nigeria, pushing for increased U.S. development assistance to Africa and calling for fair trade with Africa.
The RHAW opened the 21st century by launching the RHAW Pan African Movement (PAM) initiative to unify the African Diaspora with Africa. The RHAWPAM initiative was inspired by the work of Bishop McNeil Turner, a key convener and supporter of the 1900 First Pan African Congress with WEB Dubois other leaders of Africa and the Diaspora in England calling for unified action to end imperialism in Africa. The RHAWPAM initiative was also a response from the continuous call from the OAU, now African Union and the AACC for Africans in the Diaspora to become partners for the rebuilding of our Homeland, Africa.
Since 2004, the RHAWPAM initiative received wide support from organizations across the Diaspora and has consequently helped to establish the World Afrikan Diaspora Union (WADU) in 2007. WADU is now a central organization of the Diaspora to unite the African Diaspora with Africa. Dr. Atta is its interim Chief Secretariat and a member of the Council of Elders of the Diaspora. His Excellency Baba Dudley Thompson is the President of WADU. President Thompson was an attorney for President Jomo Kenyatta during the Mau Mau African anti-colonial movement, former Foreign Minister of Jamaica, Ambassador to numerous African countries, and a participant in the historic 5th Pan African Congress with WEB Dubois, Amy Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, etc.
The RHAW stands vigilant at the door of the 21st century as globalization presses a new “Scramble for Africa” from Asia, Europe and North America due to increased demand for scarce resources. The RHAW is urging faith leaders and Africa supporters to become a member of its Pan African Conference of Congregations (PACC). The role of PACC is foremost to continue supporting African restoration and reconstruction. The RHAWPAACC program of action calls for: (1) Establishing a mutually supportive network of African centered faith leaders across the Diaspora; (2) to immediately and effectively work to engage issues such as African struggles in Haiti, Darfur, New Orleans, and Columbia; and (3) participate in supporting an agenda for the cultural, economic and political integration and empowerment of Africans, worldwide.
To participate in our next conference in the Caribbean in 2009 and in Africa in 2010, please contact us at 404-527-7756, firstname.lastname@example.org or RHAWPACC.ORGSubmitted by: Amenelik- WADU