Chairman Omali's ASI TourThe “winds of change” are sweeping the African world. They are coming from the whirlwind that Marcus Garvey foretold of as being the advent of his return. The name of this whirlwind is African Internationalism and it is being eagerly embraced by Africans everywhere.
From April 22 through June 5, APSP Chairman Omali Yeshitela traveled throughout Africa and to Paris to organize Africans into the African Socialist International, the organization necessary to unite and lead the revolutionary struggle to liberate and unify Africa and African people and to build for the world tribunal on reparations for African people, scheduled for June 2007 in Berlin.
The Chairman’s tour began on April 22 with a trip to Azania, called South Africa, as a guest of the Pan African Youth Congress (PAYCO), the youth organization of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC). Throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s our Party had a strong relationship with PAC, primarily through its exiled forces in the U.S.
However, with the negotiated settlement that allowed the exiles to return to South Africa, we lost contact until 2000 when a young PAC leader accepted our invitation to participate in an ASI conference in London.
The trip in April was the second trip that our Party had made as a guest of PAYCO, an organization struggling to raise PAC up from its current status as a minor factor in the political life of Azania. This is especially important, because along with the ANC ruling party, PAC was recognized as a legitimate liberation force in that country and, in the eyes of many, the critical force leading up to the crisis that forced the settler-colonial South African government to enter into negotiations with the ANC in order to shortcut the process that would have overturned the entire system.
This trip that occurred under the leadership of PAYCO President Sbusiso Xaba would prove the most important of all the trips and resulted in an intense speaking tour of universities, meetings with important political forces and working agreements between our Party and PAYCO, which has already agreed to participate in building the ASI.
During his stay in Azania, the Chairman was living in Soweto but the first leg of the tour took him to the University of Pretoria, Memelodi Campus, on April 26 where he spoke at an outdoor rally with enthusiastic and thoughtful students, some of whom had challenging questions and offered serious critiques of the Chairman’s presentation.
Chairman Omali spent May Day at a Workers’ Day rally held in the Free State by the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU), a trade union movement close to the PAC. While calling on the workers to support the effort to build a united and liberated Africa, the Chairman also called on them to unite with the efforts of undocumented, mostly South American workers who were on strike in the U.S. in opposition to the threat of new immigration laws that would criminalize undocumented entry into the U.S.
An important part of the tour was the interactions with a number of political organizations that had been organized for our Party by PAYCO. These included meetings in Johannesburg with leaders of the Azanian People’s Organization (AZAPO) and SOPA, the Socialist Party of Azania. Both of these organizations have their origin in the Black Consciousness Movement of the martyred Steve Biko. The meetings revolved around the need for unity within the broad Africanist tendency that includes the Party, PAYCO, AZAPO and SOPA. There was also discussion about participation in the African Socialist International and the upcoming world tribunal on reparations for African people scheduled for Berlin next year.
These meetings were very fruitful and resulted in an exchange of views on a number of subjects as well as an exchange of literature and a commitment by SOPA and AZAPO to investigate their ability to participate in the Berlin Tribunal.
Similar meetings occurred with members of the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA), the student organization of PAC; veterans of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA), the armed wing of PAC during the liberation struggle; and the GAC Azania chapter, an organization of the Global Afrikan Congress comprised mostly of young African artists and cultural workers in Azania.On April 29, Chairman Omali participated in an economic emancipation conference held by PAYCO and attended by its members from throughout the provinces. Also attending were members of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) of Swaziland.
Here PAYCO wrestled with serious issues of economic development within the current neocolonial situation in Azania and challenged various traditional economic models and criticized the BEE or Black Economic Empowerment scheme of the ANC government that allows a handful of ANC officers and other petty bourgeois individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses of African workers and poor people.
The highlights of the economic conference were the Party’s introduction to the struggle in Swaziland and the relationship being developed with the NNLC, and the practical areas of agreement reached between the Party and PACYO. These areas of agreement revolved around the Party’s production and distribution of information, especially in the form of revolutionary DVDs, The Burning Spear newspaper and UhuruRadio.com, our recently launched internet radio station.
Chairman Omali builds ties for the ASI process in NamibiaOn Friday, May 5th, Chairman Omali was off to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, known as South West Africa when it was a German and then South African colony. Upon his arrival in Windhoek, Chairman Omali was met by B.F. Bankie — a tireless Africanist who considers himself a “foot soldier” in the struggle for a united and liberated Africa — and Naville Andre-Itope.
From the airport, Yeshitela was taken directly to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, the state run television station. This would be the first of the many appearances of the Chairman on Namibian national television. In fact, the Chairman would appear on Namibian TV several times a day every day of his seven-day stay in the country.
Again, the Chairman’s tour would be intense. He would speak at the University of Namibia, the International University of Management and the Polytech of Namibia. There were also smaller meetings with youth and student leaders. The themes of his university and campus presentations revolved around the question of Pan-Africanism and its relevance today.
While the Chairman and the APSP are not Pan-Africanists, the Chairman recognized that many people incorrectly lump Garvey in with what is often defined as Pan-Africanism, and in Namibia the UNIA, led by Marcus Garvey, had a strong history. Therefore, the Chairman was able to address the issue by tying his philosophical grounding to Marcus Garvey and deliver an African Internationalist analysis of the world situation and Africa’s place in the world.
Chairman Omali called for the building of the ASI before extremely enthusiastic students and won support for the Berlin tribunal on reparations for African people.
The Chairman was also able to meet with Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s founding president and current leader of the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), the ruling party of Namibia. He also met with Prime Minister Nahas Angula, the Deputy Minister of Education and Chairman Johanes Tjitjo of the Pan Afrikan Centre of Namibia.
In addition to winning an endorsement of the reparations tribunal from President Nujoma, the Chairman also got an endorsement from the Paramount Chief of the Hereros, an ethnic group that suffered the brunt of the German genocide in South West Africa in 1904. Paramount Chief Kauima Riruako has spearheaded the drive for reparations from Germany for this genocide and has agreed to testify at the Berlin tribunal.
The Chairman was also able to acquire one of the first copies of the book reflecting the proceedings of the 17th All Africa Student’s Conference that took place in Namibia in May of 2005. Entitled PAN-AFRICANISM: Strengthening the Unity of Africa and its Diaspora, the book was fresh off the press and can be acquired from firstname.lastname@example.org.
After leaving Namibia on May 12, Chairman Omali spent a few days in Florida, attending a press conference and public meeting before heading for Ghana where he would spend the next nine days in a whirlwind tour, speaking in Tema, Takoradi, Accra and Cape Coast. The Ghana tour was sponsored by Jubilee Afrika Campaign, an organization initially created to get the imperialist countries to forgive the so-called debt that strangles Africa. However, the organization today criticizes the very concept of African debt to imperialists and demands reparations as payment of the real debt owed to Africa by imperialism.
These meetings were of great significance, partially because they occurred in Ghana, the home of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the great African visionary who lived his life attempting to implement Garvey’s dream of a free, united Africa. Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 under the leadership of the U.S. government, and every effort has been subsequently made to erase him from memory. However, the legacy of Nkrumah continues to haunt imperialism and its neocolonial stooges even as it inspires genuine African patriots committed to Nkrumah’s vision.
In addition to these public meetings, Chairman Omali appeared on several radio talk shows with sisters from Angola and the UK as well as with Sister Affiong from Nigeria and other leaders of Jubilee Afrika Campaign.
Before departing Ghana on June 1 for Paris, Chairman Omali also met with members of the influential Ghana Socialist Forum, where discussions were held to determine means of carrying out united efforts and about participation in the ASI and the upcoming reparations tribunal in Berlin.
When the Chairman left for Paris,, the sense of sadness from leaving home was alleviated by the great success of the tour. What was obvious was that there is a strong determination among our people in Africa — the workers and poor, the progressive and revolutionary intellectuals and militants of every stripe — to achieve a free and united Africa and African people.
The idea of the African Socialist International was met with great enthusiasm in nearly every arena. The African nation, forcibly dispersed around the world and separated from itself with artificially created borders, longs for consolidation. And, increasingly, throughout the African world the unifying slogans brought by the Chairman on this tour can be heard throughout the world as African people, passionate in our determination to liberate and unite ourselves, cry out: “Uhuru!”, “One Africa! One Nation!”, “Izwe Lethu I Afrika!”, and “Touch One, touch all!”
Paris meeting further consolidates reparations tribunal organizationThe final leg of the trip was to Paris. This was the site of one of the preparatory meetings to build the world tribunal on reparations for African people scheduled for Berlin, Germany in 2007.
Some comrades were unable to make the meeting because of the perennial contradiction of visa approval that we are constantly confronted with when crossing the various imperialist-created borders to be with each other. At least three comrades from the Democratic Republic of Congo were prevented from attending because of visa problems. Other comrades were impacted by money problems, especially since the airlines industry is spiking prices, using the rising cost of fuel as its basis.
Nevertheless, there were 20 representatives of various different organizations from the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean and Africa who were able to make the meeting and it proved to be one of the most productive of all the meetings up to date.
For one thing, the group gave itself a name, the International Tribunal on Reparations for Afrikan People (ITRAP). The tasks were better defined for building the tribunal, and regional committees were verified for North America, Europe and West and Central Africa.
Also, likely regional representatives were identified for North and southern Africa. It was also established that work to build regional committees is advancing in the Caribbean and South America. The next phase of the work was determined to be the task of bringing Africans of Asia and Oceania into the process.
Carole Crawford of France is busy building the communications capacity of ITRAP and, together with her committee, put out a press conference announcing the success of the meeting and announcing the next meeting scheduled for Berlin in August.
The Paris group had done an excellent job in preparing for the meeting that was chaired by Chairman Omali. The trip to France was an excellent reminder that the contradictions faced by Africans are not restricted to Africa, but that they have followed us abroad in virtually every location to which we have been forcibly dispersed.
Paris is still experiencing political and social anxiety from weeks of ongoing uprisings by African and Arab young people. On his last day in Paris, the Chairman was able to witness the police attack on a group of young African militants who are charged with being anti-Semitic because of their criticism of actions by paramilitary Jewish thugs in the African community.
One thing is certain: the struggle for African liberation and unification has taken a new leap. Those who choose to see Africa as a charity case unable to identify and struggle in its own interests do so at their own peril.
Those who would see Our Africa and Our people through the lens of neocolonial stooges put in place by the imperialists to guard their interests should remember the words of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah: neocolonialism is the last stage of imperialism. They should also know that there is a new generation of Africans prepared to fight to the last breath to give truth and meaning to the words of Marcus Garvey that Africa is for the Africans, those at home and those abroad.