Since the formation of the Africanist Movement four or five years ago, we have been struggling to establish contact with our African brothers and sisters all around the world. We believe that the struggle and the conditions that we face in Sierra Leone are no different from the conditions of Africans here in St. Petersburg, Florida or any other place that we Africans find ourselves.
I want to salute the chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, Chairman Omali Yeshitela. We in the Africanist Movement believe that the theory of the Chairman and his leadership are an inspiration for those of us who are struggling on the Continent to overturn the conditions that we face as Africans. We consider this relationship with the African People’s Socialist Party very important. We have been in this situation for far too long, and without the African People’s Socialist Party and the leadership of the Chairman, it would have been impossible for any member of the Africanist Movement to stand in front of you to explain the conditions we face not only in Sierra Leone, but in West Africa or any part of Africa that we find ourselves.
There is no way that I can really express our gratitude to the African People’s Socialist Party. As soon as the Party sent delegates to Sierra Leone to our last conference in December, the strength of our movement increased and our numbers continue to increase on a daily basis on all fronts where we have our forces. That includes Sierra Leone, Guinea and all the other areas we are located.
African Liberation Movement entering into new historical period
We believe that this is a new period in the history of our struggle for the liberation and unification for Africa and African people worldwide. The fact that we are here today is a clear indication that we are entering a new era, and that this is a period that when we are beginning to defeat the forces responsible for our misery.
Since I have been here, I see no difference between Africans in Sierra Leone in Africa, and the Africans I have met in London or throughout the U.S. We are the same people. We have the same sense of humor. We are part of one family, one people. [Applause]
We experience the same conditions as Africans wherever we find ourselves. We know fully well the significance of the strength of the unity that we have established with our brothers and sisters outside of Africa. We know the circumstances that led to our separation, and we have been separated for far too long now. I believe that this is the period when we should unite to overcome the difficulties that we continue to face as African people throughout the world.
Sierra Leone is being looted by imperialism
On this tour I have had the opportunity to share with the people I have met the conditions that we continue to face in Sierra Leone. Some of the people here tonight have heard the stories that I have been telling about the conditions we face in Sierra Leone and throughout West Africa. These are conditions that Africans equally face even here and in any other part of the world that we happen to find ourselves. Sierra Leone is known for its diamonds. The country has the best diamonds in the world. Diamond mining goes back to the 1930s in Sierra Leone. Even though Sierra Leone has produced the second largest diamond in the world, most of us from Sierra Leone have never seen a diamond. The reality is that we are people who have been deprived of access to our own resources. The fact is that we are forced to experience misery because of the scramble among the various imperialist nations — by this I mean the United States, Britain, Belgium their various corporations — for access to our own resources.
Since 1930 until this period, the diamond mines in Sierra Leone, which produce the richest diamonds in the world, are controlled by various corporations from Belgium and the United States and other parts of Europe. The Africans who own this land and these diamonds have no access to them. There are millions of Africans, like myself, who have had their future taken away as a consequence of the struggle among this group of nations to deprive us of access to our resources.
The struggle for diamonds and control of various resources that you find in Sierra Leone and other parts of West Africa have led and are still leading to the deaths of thousands, maybe millions of our brothers and sisters — your brothers and sisters. So many of us are currently facing the attacks by devious companies and corporations from the United States, Britain, Belgium and other European nations.
In Sierra Leone we have a total of about 90 multi-national corporations that we know of, owned by the United States, Britain, Belgium and the various European countries. Among these corporations is a notorious British diamond company called Branch Energy. This company sponsored an invasion of Sierra Leone in 1997 to re-impose a government on us that would represent their interests.
The British government has used a mercenary firm called Sandline International to send arms and ammunition to the rebel movement called the Civil Defense Forces. That shipment of arms and ammunition enabled the British, the United States and various corporations to carry out a military invasion that lead to the deaths of over seven thousand people within a week.
Branch Energy wanted to have absolute control over the diamonds and various resources that we have in Sierra Leone. As part of that agreement, the company was given two-thirds of the country. Today, Branch Energy is in control of the mines of Kono, where the richest diamond mines in West African region are located. According to municipal records, Branch Energy mines about 120,000 carats a year. One carat is worth $60,000. Multiply $60,000 by 120,000 and you will begin to understand the amount of resources that these corporations have taken out of Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa.
The reality is that Branch Energy is just one of 90 multi-national corporations, and the activities of these corporations have left our people homeless in Kono. There is nothing like good roads, no water supply, no electricity. There is basically nothing like any socioeconomic facilities set aside for the people. We are experiencing misery as a consequence of this struggle.
The struggle for the diamonds has led to the deaths of two hundred thousand people in Sierra Leone and over a million people in Liberia and other parts of Africa. The sad thing is that, while these corporations continue to amass millions of dollars on a regular basis, our people in Kono, Sierra Leone, and in other parts of West Africa live below the poverty line, if that is an appropriate term to use. We cannot even describe the actual conditions that we continue to face because of the activities of these corporations.
Stolen resources of Sierra Leone belong to all Africans
The thing I want you to realize is that the resources that are being stolen from Africa are your own resources, because they are Africa’s resources. As long as we are black, we are Africans. We share the same problems. The people that are currently being killed by these corporations and their governments in order for them to loot our resources, are killing their own people as well. We have to stand up as a one single organization in order to fight against these devious corporations and their governments who are responsible for our misery.
If you go to a place like Sierra Leone, you will find that there are people who go days without food. You have people in the United States and in the various imperialist centers, who have more than enough to eat. They are even confused about what to eat because there is an abundance of food. Those of us from the impoverished areas in Africa struggle to have a meal a day. The reason why there is an abundance of resources here is that we are being deprived access to our own resources in Africa. The reason why we have no access to our resources is because of this group of nations that are depriving us of access to our land, to our resources, and our right to a decent living.
We in the Africanist Movement are tired of explaining to people about the conditions we continue to face. If you just look around you see that the conditions I am talking about in Sierra Leone are the same conditions you are facing. The enemy we are faced with in Africa is the same enemy that we face here and in all the various places that we happen to find ourselves. We are so close to the enemy here, that it should be easy for us to organize and destroy the enemy [Applause].
Charles Taylor: a U.S. government-created monster
I want to say something about Liberia. For the past few days, we have been able to see evidence of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia — some people call him the War Lord. We have seen the news about Taylor and his extradition to Sierra Leone to face trial for what has been described as crimes against humanity or genocide.
The reality is that when we talk about Charles Taylor, we are talking about U.S. imperialism. Taylor became a War Lord because the United States made him a War Lord. Taylor is a monster as a consequence of the fact that the United States government made him a monster. I am saying this because Taylor was a member of the government of Liberia during the 1980’s. The United States government created a situation in Liberia that gives the U.S. absolute control over our rubber plantations and the various other resources that you happen to find in Liberia, including iron ore. There is a certain company called the Liberian-American Mining Company that has been mining the ore in Liberia since even before my father was born.
This company is still in Liberia, still looting the resources of our people. The Africans in Liberia have no access to these resources. The Africans who work for this company live in huts while the white people live in mansions bungalows. They have all the luxuries that they need. They are living off the blood of our people in Liberia.
Taylor embezzled funds from the government of the previous president Samuel Doe. When Doe came to power, the relationship between Liberia and the United States was affected. It was no longer cordial. The U.S. has always regarded Liberia as an outpost for the CIA. Over the years the U.S. has been able to carry out its devious activities in Africa through Liberia. So Doe’s arrival in power affected the relationship between U.S. government and Liberia.
The U.S. government was in desperate search for someone who would overthrow the government in Liberia in order to restore U.S. control over our resources in Liberia, and to facilitate the various U.S. operations in Africa. In effect, Taylor embezzled close to a million dollars from the government of Doe, and he fled to the United States.
The government of Liberia requested that Taylor be extradited at the time in order to face charges for misappropriation of public funds, but the U.S. refused. They said they would try Taylor under their own law. They reported that he was tried and put in prison in Massachusetts. Two years after that, he was released from prison by the U.S. government, and he was sent to Libya. We have evidence that Taylor was a CIA informant. Some people are linking him to Khadafi, but we knew that Taylor was sent by the CIA to Libya in order to spy on Khadafi. That is where he met Foday Sankoh and the people who organized the genocide against our people in West Africa.
The United States was the only government that maintained an embassy in Liberia throughout the conflict. We are still asking the question, what was the U.S. ambassador doing in Liberia during the period of a crisis of that nature, when the whole world was being shown images of Africans killing each other. What is the U.S. ambassador doing in a situation like that?
The US government had organized and rigged the election that led to the position of Taylor as president of Liberia. Taylor’s relationship with the United States was affected when Taylor visited France immediately after swearing in as president of Liberia. While Taylor was in Paris, the U.S. State Department made a public announcement saying that Taylor escaped from prison. In fact, that is when most people became aware of the fact that Taylor was a prisoner in the U.S. Ever since this period we have witnessed a witch hunt against Taylor.
Imperialist courts have no integrity
The so-called United Nations special court is not a UN court. It is a U.S. court [Applause]. The person who made the indictments against Taylor and most of the other people facing crimes against humanity or genocide was an individual working for the FBI, and he is still working for the FBI. The money that is being used to pay the judges of this so-called special court comes from the U.S. government. It is a court established by the U.S. government in order to ensure that imperialism has absolute control over our land and resources.
We are not trying to say that Taylor and the individuals responsible for carrying out the genocide that was orchestrated and financed by this group of imperialist nations and corporations should not be tried. What we are saying is that the United States government is guilty of the genocide committed against our people in West Africa. [Applause] The U.S. government should equally be tried for the genocide that they committed against our people, against us.
We know that the U.S. is not committed to the fight against impunity, because the U.S. is not a party to the Rome Statute established by the International Criminal Court. That is the court that they are going to use to try Taylor after they take him from Sierra Leone. The reality is that the crisis happened because imperialism wants to have access and control over our resources. We have a situation in Sierra Leone where we are faced with neocolonialism.
In a few days from now the country will celebrate its forty-fifth anniversary of so-called independence. It is so shameful because after forty-five years of so-called independence we now have a situation where the British are absolutely in control of the country. April 27 of this year marks forty-five years since the British made the ceremony claiming that they have granted independence to Sierra Leone. But if you go to Sierra Leone today, you will find British judges in our courts.
If I am taken to court today in Sierra Leone for whatever charges the government will bring against me, I will be tried by a white man. I will be tried by a British judge. The British have a military base in Freetown. Over two thousand British troops are currently stationed there.
The British have what they call the British Department for International Development. This is the equivalent of what we call U.S. Aid. This department is responsible for the formation of whatever economic policy that is being carried out in the country. We have what we call the Office of National Security. It is made up of British soldiers. The British train the army. The British join the police. Until last year the Inspector General of the police is a British officer.
This is the reason why the British sent arms and ammunition to the rebel movement that killed over seven thousand people within a week in order to ensure that the government would represent its interests and they are imposed on us. This is the situation we are confronted with.
We have come to the realization that we have to fight in order to be free. We have to organize ourselves in order to take back our land and decide for ourselves how our resources are going to be used. We have built a movement within the last four years or so that has a membership of over seventy thousand Africans. As I said, since we joined forces with the African People’s Socialist Party out numbers are increasing and our strength continues to grow.
So, this explains the importance of our unity in the struggle for the freedom and liberation of our people. We are committed to making the revolution. Our movement has membership that is greater than the neocolonial army of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea combined. [Applause] We are ready to fight in order to get back our rights to become a self-determined people.
For the past weeks that I have been here, I have been saying most of the things I have been saying tonight. I have said over and again the same thing, but the reality is that we experience the same conditions as Africans. Nobody is going to change the situation for us. We have to change it for ourselves. We knew that we can not win in isolation, because nobody was aware of what we are doing in Sierra Leone and West Africa. We were doing it on our own. We have been looking for this kind of opportunity to meet with our brothers and sisters here because we know that together we will win. United we will defeat the enemy.
Tour ends the isolation of the Africanist Movement
On behalf of the Africanist Movement, I would like to express my appreciation to the African People’s Socialist Party, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, and all of those who have worked assiduously to make sure that this tour is organized. I believe this has been a successful tour. This is going to strengthen our effort to liberate and unite our people. We know the importance of this relationship to us. I cannot exactly say how much we uphold the significance of this relationship. The truth is without the African People’s Socialist Party, it would be impossible for us to stand here and explain to you some of the conditions that we face. What that means is that we have to be organized and be part of this effort to free and liberate Africa.
I am grateful for everything that has been done for us and for the movement back home. I will be able to explain everything to the members of the movement. In fact since I’ve been here when I call back home, I have been able to tell them how the hospitality is so great and that everything is just the same. We are one people and there is no difference between Africans here and Africans back home. The Africans back home are opening their hearts very wide to receive you because we know that we are one people and from the same family [Applause. Uhuru!]. We foresee a situation where all of us can come together and live as one family.
I want to thank the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, Chairman Omali Yeshitela. Since I first met with the Chairman in London my spirit has been raised and I have been inspired more than ever to fight for the liberation and unification of Africa and African people. I have never been influenced by any other individual the way I have been influenced by the Chairman. This is something that I am saying out of an honest expression of how I feel about the Chairman. I don’t think I have the exact words to use about the level of influence and inspiration that I have gotten from the Chairman and from the African People’s Socialist party.
We know that this is a new era and the fact that we are coming together is a clear indication that we are beginning to see the death of imperialism and the various neocolonial puppets who represent white power in various communities wherever we find ourselves.
I want to leave you with this slogan: “Smash neocolonialism! Smash imperialism!” Uhuru!