WASHINGTON, May 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Leon H. Sullivan Summit IX officially launches the 100 Days of Change Campaign (www.thesullivanfoundation.org/100days) and Statement by the 2012 Summit Chairman His Excellency John A. Kufuor, former President of Ghana.
"Your Excellency's and Heads of States,
Government Representatives from the U.S. and Africa,
CEOs of U.S. and International Corporations,
It is a distinct pleasure for me to write about the struggles and freedoms of Africa. As the former President of the first African nation, the Republic of Ghana, I have witnessed the manner in which our leaders in Africa, in particular the freedom fighters of Africa have endured to attain freedom from their Colonial European Masters. However, I take this opportunity not to write about leaders such as Nkrumah, Nyerere, Khama, Selassie, Machel and Mandela, but one that tends to be overshadowed by the minutia of corporate dogma that has infiltrated the African environment today. I am talking in particular of the late Rev. Leon H. Sullivan and the Foundation that has been named after him.
Many years ago, a Baptist minister from Charleston, West Virginia, embarked upon a unique movement to assist African-Americans and the continent of Africa to take action upon themselves, to build hope, opportunity and prosperity through sheer hard work and determination. This person I speak of was Reverend Leon H. Sullivan.
Known as the "Lion of Zion," the late Reverend sought through determination the passion, persistence and perseverance necessary to build a movement aimed at "self-help," enabling people to acquire the appropriate tools to overcome poverty and oppression. He coupled this movement with another initiative in which he demonstrated to CEOs of corporations to be accountable for the work they did in the environments they worked in. Applying both movements to his passion for Africa, the late Reverend revolutionized the manner in which business was conducted. Through the creation of the Sullivan Principles and the Global Sullivan Principles, an international code of business conduct was created whereby corporations were held accountable for the actions they conducted. His movement, in particular the Sullivan Principles was responsible for putting an end to Apartheid in South Africa. He was the only person I saw who was able to bridge mountains and bring African leaders together.
It is not that I commend him for this achievement alone, but rather I revere his passion for Africa. Though he was not born on the continent, he was as strong as the freedom fighters of Africa, as he was fighting for a belief in which equality, justice and ethics of good business stood as the foundation of well-functioning societies. It is this principle today that stands as the base of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation.
But this passion for Africa is the same passion I continue to hold for my people across the continent. However, my perspective on Africa's level of freedom is jaded, as I witness bountiful resources continually being looted from the continent by the greed of global corporations. It's akin to witnessing a young girl being deceived of her riches and being seduced to give up her innocence.
In this respect, Africa is not old by any means, and its innocence is just revealing itself. Only recently have the countries of the continent achieved independence, and many are still working toward political stability, yet the continent is witnessing an economic colonization that bounds its people to the perils of corporate handcuffs. By tempering the ability of African countries to have a voice with respect to the wishes of global corporations, the nations of Africa have itself kneeled to the economic colonizers.
My wish is not to see Africa in such peril. I am a strong proponent of foreign investment and bilateral trade, as I believe that foreign investment leads to the necessary technology transfer, cheaper production and access to new skills and finances, necessary for emerging economies, especially those in Africa to grow. However, I am opposed to the dogma or rather "Cannon of Profitability" and greed that is so entrenched among global corporations that a failure to understand the operational environment and lack of social responsibility of human rights of Africans is neglected.
I have seen corporate greed at its finest in Africa, and have witnessed foreign companies demonstrating their own boundaries of operation at the cost of African lives. Yet the international community keeps shut with respect to corporate self-indulgence and insatiability, and easily points a finger to the insufficient structure of governance Africa is faced with.
I therefore implore those corporations working in Africa to take heed of their actions. My desire is by no means to draw on the negativity of corporations working in Africa, but more so to see corporations adopt the Global Sullivan Principles, and take part in the fruits of labor the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation has endured to ensure the Human Rights of Africans.
I call on all international corporations, in particular those in America, to step forward and take responsibility toward their actions. Their support of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, which stands to bridge not only U.S.-Africa business relations, but also stands as the platform for social and economic justice on the continent, is the only significant entity that has managed to bridge corporate dynamism in a manner that addresses the human rights of Africans.
In this respect my challenge is two-fold. I first challenge all corporations operating in Africa, in particular those in the energy, mining, agriculture and health industries to follow such principles. I invite each of these corporations to take their first step by attending the 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit and announce their commitment to be more active and accountable to their corporate actions in Africa. It is not simply a mere provision of the recycled terminology known as "corporate social responsibility" that corporations must engage in, but a step forward in building and maintaining the human rights of Africans, in the interest of Africa not the interest of capital accumulation.
I also challenge those pundits and critics who continue to disapprove and disparage African leaders from their ability to make change. The 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit will be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in August 2012, and I request those international activists who have been critical of African leaders to attend the Summit and witness first hand the changes in Africa, both through corporate dynamism but also through the human rights advancements and social developments embarked by African leaders."
"I'm a man who expresses his opinion, and I will not be tied to traditions. I'm more interested in human returns than capital returns." (Late) Rev. Leon H. Sullivan
SOURCE Leon H. Sullivan Foundation