The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement is in the midst of a petition campaign and encampment tour to hold the United States government responsible for crimes against humanity committed against the U.S. African population historically and continuously up to the present moment. The drive to internationalize the movement for justice and liberation for the Black people in the U.S. has a long and storied history since the Abolitionist Movement of the late Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Centuries. From Frederick Douglass to Malcolm X, progressive African leadership has recognized the value of international solidarity. The United States promotes itself as the principal defender of human rights in the world, the indispensable nation keeping the world from sliding definitively into barbarism. What is more barbaric than empire building? Murder by police, murder by private citizens, toxic water in Flint, water deprivation in Detroit, food deserts in South Los Angeles, engineering the crack cocaine economy, routine displacement of African communities, hyper school suspension rates and push-out rates, mass incarceration, benign neglect, malignant attention, these constitute only some of the most contemporary and quotidian aspects of The African bodies and minds, among so many others, cry out for justice and point their scarred and broken fingers at the perpetrator of the crimes against them, the United States government and civil society. Read the petition linked below, and if you can unite with it in a principled solidarity, sign it and share it. Even if you don’t sign it, share it. The INPDUM winter encampments are in Chicago, IL, Jackson, MI, New York, NY, and Washington, DC. We charge Genocide!
For twenty-three years I listened to Dedon keep revolutionary Pan-Africanism on the air and in the conversation. I listened to Dedon survive the Wednesday Night Massacre in the mid Nineties, when the bloc of African hosts were removed from KPFK’s airwaves. I listened to Freedom Now survive moving air times. Because I listened to Dedon, I was able to attend numerous cultural and political events around Los Angeles, able to meet like-minded fellow travelers, comrades and allies. Dedon remained steadfast, a rock against the muting and erasure of radical African political thought and practice, unapologetically Pan-Africanist and revolutionary when reformist solutions monopolize the discourse on the progressive left, and KPFK had begun to sound more like the voice of the unchurched left wing of the U.S. Democratic Party. Dedon kept the African world, the colonized and neo-colonized world, the anti-imperialist international, informed about revolutionary processes locally and globally, with transnational content committed to principled solidarity: Cuba, Ireland, Libya, New York, Palestine, Venezuela, South Los Angeles. But more than that, the chance to know Dedon, to be in his company and talk politics and culture with him, hear his stories of solidarity work and emancipatory journalism in the countries so regularly under attack from the U.S.’s military, economic, and media apparatus, and hear him talk about surfing was to be enriched, educated and uplifted. The first time I met Dedon, I had just started teaching at Santa Monica College. Dedon had brought a sister from the U.K. to speak to the Pan African Student Union. I was so excited to meet the man whose radio show I had been listening to throughout the 90s. He was gracious, gregarious, and just a good brother. He was just an incredible brother, and an elder of depth and integrity. When we had Dedon, we had a treasure, our brother dedicated to our freedom and to a free and just world, and now that we no longer have him with us in this flesh, we are left with a hole that we all must fill because we owe it to him. Mojuba, Baba Dedon!
Below is a link to a PowerPoint presentation (Joko Teach-In: Modern Revolutions) and the bullet points that expand on some of the slides. I gave the presentation a member of the JOKO Collective, a grassroots, community based brain trust/think tank/study circle/discussion group.
“In the Yoruba language the word JOKO means “sit”. To “have a JOKO” is to have a “sit down”, or gathering for the purpose of resolving conflict — by uncovering the truth of the matter…JOKO is not a space where all information is created equal. It’s a space where information is scrutinized through universal rules of logic and inquiry, source quality and corroborative data, and sound, replicable methods of analysis…Thus, our agenda statement currently reads: ‘JOKO At The AFIBA is a panel/group discussion series that provides a space for the exercise of critical thinking. For practice in the art of sustained, critical dialogue, we treat selected topics for several sessions and in this way, we construct in-depth understandings of the topics, and their relationship to African People’s bid for empowerment.'” (from “Welcome to JOKO, a Grassroots Braintrust” by Tasha Thomas, posted at http://www.brothersquarterly.wordpress.com, August 5, 2014)
A July Joko Two Day Teach-in:
“Modern Revolutions and the African World”
Saturday, July 11, 2015, 4-6 PM “A Survey of Modern Revolutions”
- We must define Revolution and Reform.
- 1649 The Commonwealth of England
- Cromwell and Rump Parliament execute King Charles I and attempt to create an English republic.
- Republicanism becomes the primary form of the modern, bourgeois, liberal state.
- The class controlling the state controls the economy, the colonies, and the trade routes, to all of which Africans were central.
- 1775-1783 The American War of Independence
- The North American settlers wage an anti-royalist war for reform. They assume management of the system, and retain property and social relations. Independence insures that the U.S. can maintain slavery as the foundation of the national wealth.
- 1789-1815 The French Revolution
- Radical break with the Old Regime: Royalty, Aristocracy, and the Church.
- Under pressure from men of color in the French National Assembly, slavery is abolished and then reinstated by Napoleon.
- 1791 -1804 The Haitian Revolution
- History of African resistance
- From Caribbean front of French Revolution to Haitian Revolution.
- Haiti shakes the security of all other slaveholding states and colonies in the Americas.
- Spanish American Wars of Independence
- Africans & Afro-Mestizos central to conflicts
- 1808-1821 Bolivar and Gran Colombia
- 1810-1821 The Mexican War of Independence
- 1862-1898 Cuban Wars of Independence
- 1848 Revolution in Europe
- Primarily middles classes and organized workers seeking reform and/or asserting nationalist claims
- Within a year, royalists and reactionaries reassert control.
- Socialist ideas and principles spread and grow in popularity.
- 1910-1920 The Mexican Revolution
- Land reform was a key issue.
- 1917-1918 The Russian Revolution
- Bolsheviks come to power, execute royal family, and dismantle the Czarist state.
- 1949 The Chinese Revolution
- China goes from a nationalist liberation struggle to communist revolution with a primarily peasant army.
- 1959 The Cuban Revolution
- Under U.S. control since 1898 and the U.S. intervention in the Cuban struggle, Cubans make several attempts to overthrow foreign rule and the local collaborators.
- July 26 Movement finally achieves victory.
- Cuba embodies the propaganda problem of a successful revolutionary example.
- 1945-1992 “Third World” Revolution
- East and South Asia
- The Pacific
- Western Asia
The United States and NATO, a redundancy, wage open war on Africa. In fact, the United States through the offices of the world system’s international agencies, such as the UN and the IMF, has been aggressively pursuing military intervention at least since the Bush administration launched the War on Terror. President Obama very early in his tenure proved his willingness to deploy lethal force to achieve US goals in Africa when he gave the order to have the Somali so-called “pirates” taken out by Navy sharpshooters. Now President Obama with his partners Sarkozy and Cameron wantonly bomb Libya in the name of humanitarianism and the interest of “democracy,” and officially recognize a cluster of criminals and traitors as the “legitimate” government of Libya. This is, of course, consistent with Western disdain for the legal government of Zimbabwe, as Western governments routinely receive government officials from their favored and funded MDC-T and rebuff government officials from ZANU-PF, despite the power sharing agreement brokered by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The arrogance of these imperialists is beyond galling. They leave me just short of apoplectic with anger and contempt for them.
It comes to this: eventually one must take a side. Some may insist that binaries should be avoided, that choosing one side over another only deepens the rift, locking opponents into a self perpetuating cycle of incrimination and re-incrimination, violence and responding violence. Of course, issues are not always simple binaries. After all, squares have four sides, and cubes have six. But the moment for disinterested observation from a supposed position above or outside the fray has long passed. One must finally accept that abstention acts as a passive vote for the eventual majority position. One must eventually take a side, even a nuanced, contextualized side, eventually, as events dictate, or a side may be taken for one. The events in Africa over the last seven months have laid bare before the world the vicious disregard with which the Imperialist Northern super states hold Africa, Africans, and African institutions. So if one is not prepared to take a side, choosing instead a practiced objectivity within which to wrap oneself as guard against accusation of partisanship, then one must accept the contempt of those who have thrown all in for the cause. If one cannot or will not rise to the defense of the most progressive, forward and revolutionary nation-states in contemporary Africa, Libya and Zimbabwe, one chooses abjectivity for Africa’s foreseeable future.
To get right to the point, the NATO bombing of Libya must stop now, immediately! The sanctions against Zimbabwe must be lifted now, immediately! African development and indigenization must proceed with all due speed! Libya and Zimbabwe have unapologetically put these goals, development and indigenization, at the forefront of political and social action in Africa. These are the unforgivable sins for which they bear the brunt of imperialism’s deadly and persistent attack. And they must be defended! The distorted democracy practiced in the Global North can offer no real model for democracy in Africa precisely because it is itself profoundly undemocratic. Capitalist modes of production can ultimately offer no lasting solution for African development precisely because capitalist modes of production under the current world system embody the very site of Africa’s repression. Brother Comrade Kaddafi and President Mugabe bear the disdain of western liberals and progressives because they are not seen as fully committed to democratic politics, or even hostile to them. These African patriots are excoriated as dictators, despite the recent recognition of Libya as a constitutionally governed state responsive to the demands of the Libyan people and committed to the further democratization of its political culture in the UN periodic review, and despite regularity of open elections in Zimbabwe since the country won its independence in 1980.
The Arab Jamahariya of Libya and the Zanu-PF government of Zimbabwe are popular governments regardless of the judgment of Western journalists, pundits and diplomats. Furthermore, neither government nor civil society in North America or Europe has any moral authority or monopoly on democracy so long as they remain committed to neo-liberal solutions to the crisis of capitalism or their narcissistic expectation that democratic institutions must mirror those of the Global North, institutions and practices that are themselves compromised by corporate interests and endemic racism. Choose a side: fight for the African people or facilitate the continuing rule of imperialism from the Global North. Defend the unfolding African Revolution, or support counter revolution. Work to achieve the vision of a united Africa, The United States of Africa, explicit goals of Kaddafi and the Green Revolution and Mugabe and ZANU-PF, or condemn Africa to further fragmentation, exploitation, and dispossession. We need clarity, and clarity reveals that these Global North countries are not now nor have they ever been genuine friends of Africa and Africans. They have not even been disingenuous friends. They are no friends at all, the African descended Barack Obama and Susan Rice no better than their European and Euro-American allies and counterparts.
Already the indignity of President Gbagbo’s arrest by France in the Ivory Coast despite that country’s Supreme Court declaring Gbagbo the elected president after investigating irregularities by France’s man Ouatarra and the electoral commission, and the near complete contempt for the African Union’s efforts to sponsor a negotiated peace in the E.U. / U.S. sponsored civil war/counter revolution in Libya severely damage any pretense to sovereignty in Africa. If Kaddafi’s financial support for the African Union is taken as compromising that continental organization’s independence, what then can we say about U.S funding of NATO, the UN, or the IMF? What makes these organizations uniquely able to remain independent despite pressure from their major funder? Nothing, I think. These people, the U.S. and the E.U. are the enemies of Africa and Africans. Eventually one must choose a side. Defend the African Revolution. Defend Libyan sovereignty and Zimbabwean sovereignty. No bombs on Libya! No sanctions on Zimbabwe!