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Pan Africanist and Cultural Leader John Watusi Branch Makes his Transition

The World African Diaspora Union (WADU) sends its deep-felt condolences to the immediate and extended family members of Baba John Watusi Branch. Baba J. Watusi Branch made his transition to the world of the ancestors at 7:00 a.m. on December 28, 2013. Baba Watusi Branch was a Pan-Africanist, a cultural leader, community builder, entrepreneur, activist, teacher, organizer and a father to our youth.


For Baba Branch, his journey from a hostile environment in New York to becoming an esteemed elder, and now a revered ancestor in the Pan-African movement, started with his youthful acceptance of African culture. Early in his life he became involved in the East Movement and Uhuru Sasa Pan-African school system promoting African culture as the basis for African liberation and Garvey Black nationalism. As these institutions evolved into the renowned contemporary International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn, Baba Watusi co-founded the Afrikan Poetry Theatre, Inc. (as a Center for African Culture).

Under his directorship, the Afrikan Poetry Theatre(APT) became the beacon for the promotion of multiple African art forms, including African drumming, dancing, languages, history, technology, poetry writing, news publication, etc. It also served the community with positive entertainment with local and internationally recognized artists, jazz bands, film festivals and theatrical performances from Africa, the Caribbean and Afro-Latino. Additionally, it was a center for African immigration issues, helping the homeless and African employment. Further, the center became an African home to many seekers of African wisdom and work, especially the youth. Baba Watusi was a pioneer in organizing regular cultural and business tours to Africa. His contribution on these tours have led to thousands of Africans from the Diaspora visiting and repatriating to Africa and contributing billions of dollars to the economy of Africa.

With his great leadership of the APT, Baba Watusi helped to foster the Pan-African, civil rights and the Black Nationalist movements with his regular invitation of critical leaders to the center. Some of these key leaders and scholar activists were  Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Dr. Amos Wilson, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Elombe Brath, Dr. Ben Jochannan, Dr. Charshee McIntyre, Dr. Ishakamusa Barashongo, Reverend Herbert Daughtry, Attorney Alton Maddox, Dr. Molefe Asante,  Viola Plummer, Drs. Leonard and Roslyn Jeffries, and Dr. Ron Daniels.  Also, he has had African and Caribbean ambassadors, elected officials, major faith leaders and youth leaders to speak and organize around critical local and global issues, programs and projects affecting African people.

By the 1990’s, he had pioneered another visionary effort, which was to build a Pan-African entrepreneurship group to foster African Diaspora business initiatives across Africa. This group, called Africa Trade and Business Assistance (ATABA), became a 21stcentury model for Pan-African self-determined business initiatives and projects in Africa. Because of his profound contributions to the African world movement, at the opening of the 21st century, he was tapped to be an advisor on the African Union (AU) Diaspora initiative, which started in 2003. Under his guidance, support and then his leadership, the World African Diaspora Union (WADU) was established by 2007 and he became the Chief of the Secretariat in 2008. During his tenure, Watusi exemplified high levels of leadership advocating key Diaspora initiatives for African continental dual citizenship, reparations, repatriation, economic partnership and African culture and philosophy as the basis for a Pan-African government.

Before his transition, he urged for greater financial support for the Afrikan Poetry Theatre. The APT has been severely mal-affected by the recent economic depression across the Black global communities. He also urged greater participation of a new generation of leaders in the global African movement, especially in Africa. Finally, he was very concerned with the direction of the cultural movement, especially the rollback on African education and on significant cultural programs such as Kwanzaa. Baba John Watusi Branch was, and is, the spiritual embodiment of an African with profound love, an authentic legacy and an uncompromising loyalty to African people. MORE TO FOLLOW, Peace and blessings!

Minister P.D. Menelik Harris

Secretary General, WADU

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