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Burning Spear News

Colonialism is the real culprit of the Grenfell Tower fire!

Jul 11, 2017
Luwezi Kinshasa; Secretary General of the African Socialist International. This article also appears in the July 2017 issue of The Burning Spear newspaper


Colonialism: The foreign and alien domination of a people for the purpose of economic exploitation and political advantage. To strip a people of all human and civil rights and to rule without regard to law.

 

LONDON––A fire broke out in the Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey building located in West London on the early morning of Tuesday June 14, 2017 at about 1am.

The fire spread extremely quickly, engulfing the entire building in a matter of 15 minutes and condemning its inhabitants to a certain death.

The infamous building, demonized by both the government and the media, was mainly inhabited by poor and working class people from colonized places in Africa, Syria, the Caribbean, South Asia and elsewhere, along with poor white workers.

We united with all the demands from victims of this colonial mayhem, such as to be rehoused in the same borough.

We united to charge the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management organization KCMO, a subcontractor company that managed the Grenfell Tower on behalf of the Kensington and Chelsea local council–for murders!

The entire country is aflame

Witnesses reported that flames seemed to have started on the fourth floor.

At that time, no one could have dreamed that we were about to witness probably one of the most defining events that exposes the British ruling party’s inability to continue to rule in the same old way.

At the time of the writing of this article, on Saturday June 19th, the authorities claimed to not yet know for certain how the fire started.

Surprisingly, they have not blamed it on the Russians or on “Islamist" terrorists.

This fire happened at a critical juncture of British history.

On June 8th, the UK held elections, which, despite being won by Theresa May and the Conservatives, failed to achieve majority in the parliament.

May lost authority and legitimacy to rule, while her opponent, Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour opposition, gained even more seats and credibility.

The fire was caused by colonial living conditions, which are death traps.

Life under colonialism is a daily battle: police brutality and murders, death in the sea due to unsafe boats, extremely early morning jobs, poor schools, living on far less than minimum wage, massive imprisonment, mass unemployment and underemployment, zero-hour contracts etc.

Colonial conditions enforced by colonial power caused this fire

This tragedy happened in the richest borough of Kensington & Chelsea in United Kingdom.

The Daily Mirror stated on 16th June, “The royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has long been a byword for inequality.”

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization managed this high rise of Grenfell. That is how the government wanted to make money.

The average salary in the borough in which Grenfell Tower stands is £123,000, the highest in the U.K.

But the median/midpoint of all salaries there is £32,700. The national average income in UK is about £24,000.

These figures are more alarming when we take into account that half of the African (black) community lives below half of the national average income, which is around £12,000 a year.

We can also take another figure, which describes the conditions of living for our children: “Just over a third of the children in the Notting Dale ward, where Grenfell Tower is situated, are estimated to be in low–income families.

“This figure, 36 percent, is higher than the borough average (23) for London (24) and the UK (20).” (The Metro, June 16, 2017)

The British government and press know very well that black people are the poorest in the borough and throughout the country because of the colonial relationship that binds us to the oppressor British nation and State.

Every black person who died there did so because of British rulers’ power over our own homeland through their black puppet rulers in Africa.

We died there because our national homeland is colonized, looted and dominated by a white power international economic political system known as imperialism.

For instance, the Syrian who died there was a direct result of the NATO war of aggression to restore colonialism in Syria.

The laws in colonial systems do not exist for the purpose of serving colonized people

After the shock and horror of death caused by this fire, people were surprised by the absence of those who work for the council or state, who are always swift when taking actions to contain colonized people, were nowhere to be seen.

Instead, poor people took initiatives to help each other and it is this solidarity that reveals to black people and other oppressed peoples what we can do for ourselves without the intervention of the British colonial State when resources are collectively available to us.

Whilst this is written, we still do not know how many people lived in the Grenfell tower, how many are missing and the exact amount of deaths.

The government has been silent!

People speculate the number of deaths to be in the 100s!

This is because it is impossible to have just 10, 20 or 30 dead after such hellfire in such a massive building.

The colonial government in pursuit of colonial interests always rules at the expense of colonized peoples.

They can make promises, but are not bound to implementing law that will undermine colonialism unless forced to do so by the resistance of the oppressed colonized people.

“Despite the major refurbishment, no sprinkler system was installed at Grenfell Tower.

“Since 2007 all new buildings over 30 meters in height are required to have sprinkler systems installed.” (Mark Odell & Cyntia G’Murcgu, FinancialTimes.com)

In Grenfell Tower, when residents complained of gas pipes being installed in the stairwell, the Kensington and Chelsea authority promised to fix it by “boxing in pipes” with “fire rated protection.” Mark Odell & Cyntia G’Murcgu, financialt.com)

There is only one stairwell in Grenfell Tower, which was full of smoke that made it impossible for people without masks to use it as an escape route.

The complaints of the residents fell on deaf ears. People who lived there knew that they were living in a ticking bomb.

The local council was also aware but never acted on it. But under imperialist domination, lives of colonized people are not worth as much as the lives of white people.

The “Residents’ organization Grenfell Action Group has long criticized the fire safety standards of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization which manages some 9,400 properties.

This included the lack of notices to tenants about what to do in the event of a fire, piles of rubbish being dumped, and concerns over where boilers and gas pipes were placed.

In its blog it warned that “catastrophe” was inevitable and “only a matter of time.

British ruling class and society in permanent state of crisis

This ruling class is now moving from one crisis to the next, and crisis is becoming the norm.

Since February 2017, the prime minister has had to deal with Westminster attacks on March 22nd, Manchester attacks on May 22nd, London Bridge attacks on June 3rd, and now with this apocalyptic Grenfell Tower fire.

I am not even talking of general crisis within the collapse of white population as traditional leaders: unwinnable British wars abroad, Brexit, the possible breakup of UK, the National Health Service, expensive rental houses and transport, a society where household is riven by debt, the fall of the pound, gentrification of the black community, etc.

Fear, uncertain future, general stress in population can be observed in white society.

The irony is that the first bungee jump took place in the British city of Bristol.

According to Chairman Omali Yeshitela, that was when white people were known not to experience mass fear, they had to invent “Bungee jump” to experience fear.

This tragedy cannot be understood outside the context of the British irreversible decline, in the era of white imperialist power in permanent state of crisis due to the success of the rise and victories of struggles of the oppressed colonized peoples throughout the world.

This “uneasy equilibrium” Chairman Omali has been talking about for years best describes the permanent state of crisis Britain is forced to experience by the victorious struggles of the colonized peoples.

This uneasy equilibrium is the primary reason for the shattered cohesion of colonial British society today.

The social situation in Britain continues to deteriorate by the hour, and the self-congratulatory claims by the ruling class cannot hide the material reality of the standard of life in Britain today.

The social welfare born out of the enslavement of Africans and colonization of most of the people of the world is what kept Britain together.

The colonial bounty is no longer readily available, as English rulers are unable to dominate the world as in the past.

For black people in particular, as we wrote in The Burning Spear newspaper in October 2016, for us, “[t]his is the real issue, because our self-determination requires the end of a parasitic relationship between the African nation and the European nation, this is the most fundamental question that we need to bring to the public domain.”

Any solidarity with black people must be done for the attainment of Black Power and the overthrow of imperialist white power

The spontaneous solidarity that sprang up amongst the inhabitants of the Grenfell Tower was understandable in the absence of African revolutionary leadership and science.

Celebrities came to the scene of colonial crime and donated vast sums of money and resources.

No one mentioned British imperialism as the basis of this fire. Everyone was talking of the community as if there was no more colonialism!

There is no such thing as the community in general under imperialism.

The main contradiction was the idea that the power to act on our own decision was in the hands of white people, not in our own hands.

Colonial condition is what differentiates us, African (black) people, Muslim people, Roman people and other colonized people from white people.

We, black people, are from the oppressed African nation. White people are part of the European oppressor nation. Britain is an oppressor nation, a colonial nation.

Oppressed nations are not responsible for the poverty of white workers inside Britain.

The white left uses its slogan “community” or the “poor people” to distract from the national question.

This fire did not come out of the blue, but from a real expression of the relationship between Britain and its colonized populations from Syria, the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere.

Not to say that it is not a tragedy that some white people may have died; however, this fact alone does not change the reality that the Syrian who died in that block of flats was a victim of British imperialist war against Syria.

He fled the British imperialist-created war at home to be killed by British colonial conditions right here.

British imperialism denied us the right to be self-determining in our own land; it has robbed us of our resources that we very much need for ourselves.

We have not robbed white workers of their land, labor and resources.

Build real self-determination solidarity with Africans, Syrians and other colonized peoples!

Uhuru!

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