Report: Spelman College Investment in Africa Hurts Native Population

The Oakland Institute says that funds from the college are forcing farmers off ancestral lands.

Posted: 08/19/2011 03:14 PM EDT
Filed Under education

Could Spelman College’s investment in Africa be displacing residents in the motherland? According to a report released this summer by the Oakland Institute, the answer is yes.

 

America’s first Black college, Spelman’s endowment fund exceeded $350 million in 2010, making it the largest private endowment of all historically Black colleges and universities, reports News One. Those same funds have been used to make “large land purchases” in Africa but, according to the Oakland Institute, a non-profit, social and environmental policy think tank, the school’s mission and moral integrity may be put into question.

 

In a report entitled, “Special Investigation: Understanding Land Investment Deals In Africa,” the organization explains that the largely unregulated land purchases are resulting in virtually none of the promised benefits for native populations. Through London-based Emergent Asset Management, the college has invested in large tracts of land that are supposed to be used as a way of securing food production for the developing world. Millions of African farmers, however, are being forced off ancestral lands and food farms so room can instead be made for “export commodities.”

 

“The same financial firms that drove us into a global recession by inflating the real estate bubble through risky financial maneuvers are now doing the same with the world’s food supply,” said Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute. “In Africa this is resulting in the displacement of small farmers, environmental devastation, water loss and further political instability such as the food riots that preceded the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.”

 

Spelman College has not yet responded for comment.  

 

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(Photo courtesy of Spelman College)

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