The case of Julian Assange reminds me of an incredible protagonist I read and taught: Ivoe Leila Williams in LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s 2015 novel Jam on the Vine. One is real-life and one is fictional. Both pursue committed lives as independent journalists. Both are persecuted because of what they choose to print.
On April 11th, Julian Assange was forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and into “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay,” after a U.S. Grand Jury in Eastern Virginia unsealed their charge against him of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” which carries a maximum five year prison sentence. I appreciate Julian Assange for noting in his 2012 interview with Michael Hastings that: “there is no large scale corruption in the developing world without Western corruption.” The information that was given to him that he, through WikiLeaks, has selectively released ultimately aims to expose this “Western corruption” and, as he told Steve Kroft in 2011, make government more “transparent.”
Toks Adewale wrote that of the two current movements in the world, Pan Africanism or Zionism, only Zionism is the movement working “as a major obstruction to the radical transformation of the beleaguered states of Southern Africa.” It is clear that between the two movements, Assange’s work is more helpful to the cause of Pan-Africanism.
WikiLeaks helps expose this obstruction. In the Introduction to his book, The WikiLeaks Files, Assange writes:
WikiLeaks’s information exposed the corruption in several African nations in Kenya and exposes the malfeasance of puppets working for the interests of the U.S. government. As a U.S. citizen, I appreciate his effort to make governments across the world more transparent.
Barnett’s Ivoe is born the same year as journalist A. Philip Randolph, 1889, and is raised in Texas, attends the fictional Willetson College, learns printing, and like Ida B. Wells, Pauline Hopkins, and Marcus Garvey, founds her own printing press. I appreciate Ivoe Williams for her commitment to raising the consciousness of her readers, like Garvey:
“As editor, she had tried to point out ways that they might lessen dependency on white businesses, create infrastructure, and uplift the race in noble acts and deeds, especially in behalf of each other” (246).
While Assange was detained in an Ecuadorean embassy for seven years for publishing information in Western news outlets, Barnett’s Ivoe Williams was detained and tortured for writing an article that exposed the harmful working conditions in a Kansas City meatpacking plant in her own newspaper. Both cases highlight the importance of lessening dependency on white businesses, which is what the information from WikiLeaks also highlights, because it shows how “white businesses” support a certain type of leader that will conform to the idea, that Hopkins wrote in her fourth novel, that “the Anglo Saxon was appointed by God to rule over the African.”
Ivoe Williams challenged this idea in her writing.
Julian Assange’s leaks also challenge this idea, including the recent leak that showed the International Monetary Fund being used as a weapon to bend countries to the will of the U.S. government.
Within a month after his nation has received an IMF loan, Ecuadorean president Lenin Moreno made sure Assange was expelled from his embassy and his predecessor Rafael Correa who initially gave Assange refuge, called Moreno’s expulsion of Assange “a crime that humanity will never forget.”
The work of Assange is exposing the reality of what Kwame Nkrumah called “neocolonialism” which is a process by which “the developed consuming country which obtains the advantage of the increased production in the less developed one.” Moreno consents to this relationship by accepting IMF funds and expelling Assange from his nation’s London embassy. The 2014 graduating class of Smith College objected to IMF president Christine Lagarde speaking at their Commencement because of the “harmful policies of the IMF” that further neocolonialism.
Barnett’s work exposed deplorable working conditions and the incredibly high incarceration rates. The narrator said:
“Jam and its readers must speak louder and insistenly. Call on government officials the nation over to respond to what she saw as a mounting crisis–incarceration-especially in the cities” (314)
Ivoe’s work provided opportunities to see the end of the prison industrial complex from Texas to Missouri. Assange’s work has provided opportunities for Pan Africanism to develop and for neocolonialism to be exposed.
Neocolonialism was coined by Kwame Nkrumah who was taught by Marcus Garvey. The work of Garvey since his 1927 deportation in trying to organize outside of “white businesses” is similar to the work of Assange in exposing how “white businesses” control U.S. government.
Garvey in his 1927 speech at Ward Theatre in Kingston, Jamaica quoted William Cullen Bryant. This speech is in Tony Martin’s edited collection Pan African Connection:
Truth crushed to the earth shall rise again / The eternal years of God are hers /But error, wounded writhes in pain / And dies among his worshippers (Applause)
Both Marcus Garvey and Julian Assange have suffered an “Error” in their persecution by the U.S. government. Their journalism is a gift to the thinking world.