Burning Spear News
We must have an international African Revolution!
This is an excerpt of Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s presentation at a Vanguard Book Tour event, held at Uncle Bobbie’s Books and Cafe in Philadelphia on April 29, 2019.
I want to express appreciation to sister Tiffany for that introduction and all of you for coming out.
What I would like to do first is make it clear that this book was the Political Report to the Seventh Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party.
It was a document that was developed to advance the revolution.
We have come to the conclusion long ago that America does not have the ability nor the intent to see African people free, in this country or any place on Earth.
In fact, America is the strategic enemy of all human beings on the planet.
Therefore, it is going to take revolution to change our circumstances.
Now, if that falls on your ear as strange, that’s only because the U.S. government succeeded in crushing the Black Revolution of the 1960s.
When revolution was the main trend in the world; not just in the U.S.
When revolution did occur in the 60s, it was occurring here in Philadelphia and various other places around the world.
But that movement was crushed and the U.S. was the primary factor in crushing it.
In 1966 they overthrew Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, in 1967 they captured, wounded and murdered Che Guevara.
We’re talking about the same time frame that Martin Luther King was assassinated; that Malcolm X was killed.
That more than 300 members of the Black Panther Party were arrested and more than 30 of them killed in 1968.
So people have asked from around the world, “what happened to the Black Revolution of the 60s?”
People in this country have often commented on the movement like suddenly black people are different now.
That we have stopped struggling now; that we are not who we used to be.
And that is misunderstanding history, because what happened is the U.S. government crushed the revolutionary movement and it worked with imperialist powers around the world to do that.
We’ve got political prisoners still in prisons, some as recent as the 70s, but it goes back a long period of time.
Because the people will not submit to colonialism, to slavery, easily.
It takes extreme violence, in order to win that, to hold people in submission.
I’m the chair of a revolutionary organization.
An organization that came to the conclusion a long time ago that there is not going to be a Philadelphia revolution that will free us.
Anymore than there will be a Haitian Revolution that will free us, anymore than there is going to be some type of Ghana Revolution, etc.
The fact of the matter is, the African Revolution has run into its limitations when fought within the context of the borders that were created by imperialism, keeping us locked within these borders.
All throughout Africa, we have this false national consciousness, just as we do here.
I spoke recently at Oxford, where the question of Africa and African freedom has begun to resurface during this era of the crisis of the social system that’s based on slavery and colonialism.
Everything that you see—all the wealth, all the resources—in this country and throughout Europe, stem from the enslavement of African people and the colonization of Africa and other peoples around the world.
In this country, Africans still live under colonial domination, just as we do in other places.
We’ve concluded that there is no way out of this just trying to fight this struggle within the U.S.
Our struggle is one that is global. The imperialists understand that.
France alone controls something like 14 different territories that they call countries in Africa.
It sucks out 65% of the gross domestic product in those 14 territories.
Then it charges Africans on the continent of Africa another 15 percent for “handling” the 65 percent that they’ve extorted.
This money goes straight into the French Treasury. Africans don’t even see that money.
This came as a consequence of what they call the “colonial pact” in Africa.
They have a situation where Africans cannot live off the pittance that’s left, so they have to borrow money from France.
This means they’re borrowing their own money from France and they dare not ask France how much money they have, or they’ll overthrow the government.
They did that recently in Ivory Coast, where you saw Gbagbo [Laurent Gbagbo, former prime minister of the Ivory Coast] overthrown, bombed and replaced by their own guy, a former employee of the World Bank, Ouatarra [Alassane Ouattara]—they put him in power.
Gbagbo was put in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and locked up in prison. Their courts.
It’s a court that the U.S. doesn’t even recognize in terms of its own participation.
The court doesn’t apply to the U.S.
The U.S. demands that black people be tried in that court.
Even with that, the case was so flimsy, they determined that Gbagbo was innocent, but they decided to arrest him just in case.
I’m mentioning this about France, because we have Africans who talk about how we are not Africans; that all of us are not Africans.
In an Oxford Debate that I participated in on January 24, there was an African from Zimbabwe, that was a former prime minister of Zimbabwe, who stood up and said he was opposed to African union—the greater union between African people —because Africa is so diverse that we wouldn’t be able to manage that.
Of course the evidence of that lies in this room.
It’s all of the diversity of Africa that’s in this room, right now. We are that diversity.
Africans are so diverse that Africans can’t handle it, but they don’t have anything to say about France controlling it, or England controlling it, or any white power controlling it.
So it’s a nonsense kind of argument.
So we say we are one people and that we have to have a capacity for the African Revolution to express itself strategically all over the world.
I remember during the war that the U.S. government was making against the Vietnamese people, to push those people back into colonial slavery, after the Vietnamese had defeated the French in 1954.
They had this great difficulty in crushing the Vietnamese Revolution because North Vietnam had secured independence and South Vietnam was still fighting; the revolution had been extended to South Vietnam.
The problem they had was the North, now a free territory, was able to come in and reinforce the Vietnamese in the south and bring in cadre, bring in weapons, everything they needed.
And they were doing this through the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Perhaps you've heard of that, if you've read it in history.
They bombed all these places to try and crush the Ho Chi Minh trail; to keep these weapons, to keep these ideas, to keep these cadre, from coming into South Vietnam to liberate all of Vietnam.
That's what we need.
We need a Malcolm X trail.
We need a Marcus Garvey trail.
We need a Patrice Lumumba trail that stretches across the globe, so they cannot crush us in any single place, because of all the African people who are conscious and part of a revolutionary process can come to the defense of the African Revolution.
That's what we do. We build all over the African world.
We have organization—one of the most dynamic stations we have is in what they called South Africa.
We have a dynamic organizational presence there.
We are in Sierra Leone, Ghana, and increasingly in Nigeria.
There are thousands of Africans who are conscious of us and reaching out in Nigeria in particular.
We are in France, England, forces in Belgium, and throughout Europe; throughout the African community.
This is who we are as a political party.
We are engaged in the struggle to take power.
We are African Internationalists, because revolution requires theory.
It requires a philosophy.
Since August 9, 2014 in this country, we've seen the emergence of African consciousness, unlike anything we've seen in a very long time.
People are in motion in many different places - people blocking interstates and having interesting kinds of demonstrations.
The question we continue to raise is "to what end?", because the issue has to be the conquest for political power.
If you're not talking about power you're just spinning wheels.
You can be on a treadmill and you can turn it up as high as you want to, and you can run, run, run, on a treadmill and get all sweaty and tired, but you're not going any place.
The question is where are we trying to go?
We say we have to make revolution and it has to be an African Revolution, that will liberate all 12 million square miles of the continent of Africa, unite Africa and African people around the world and that takes a global organization, such as what Marcus Garvey succeeded in building and this is what we have to do today.
That is what we're in the process of doing every place.
I think it's important to understand that there is something that we can say, that is common by human existence, all human beings and this is something that throws people off from time to time.
White people don't like black people, is something common, in all human existence.
You know what I'm talking about.
This is a fundamental contradiction we had with the revolutionary movement: the question of white people and how white people act and how they always seem to work against their own interests in supporting capitalism and white power.
The reality is that white people have been treated as some sort of mystery.
They've been devils and mutants, but what we're saying is that there is something common to all human activity.
That the primary motive of human society is the production and reproduction of life.
All humans have to do that. This is the fundamental question.
If you don't have life, you don't have religion, you don't have any genetic issues, you don't have any of that stuff.
Life is primary.
It is the process of producing and reproducing life that humans make history.
Culture and everything we do stems from that.
But what has happened in history is that Africa has been assaulted and the process of production of life has been interrupted and we do not produce life for ourselves, we produce life for a hostile, alien force.
That has been the primary contradiction and that is what we call colonialism.
I think it's really important because if you don't understand that you end up fighting against what they call racism.
I don't know how you fight against racism? How do you do that?
Racism is the ideas in the heads of white people.
Some people have gotten a little more sophisticated because that concept, that is under assault, especially by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP), now they're saying it's institutional racism.
Well, what is institutional racism?
The definition of institutional racism is called colonialism every place else in the world.
Everyone else calls it colonialism, now you come up with this concept of institutional racism.
All the institutions do that to us because they're colonial institutions.
We have a colonial relationship.
When a foreign alien, hostile entity, captures you, your resources, controls and dominates everything: that's colonialism.
It's important to say that because I don't know how to cure racism.
Although people are making fortunes doing that—setting up schools, and trainings to cure your racism.
When they leave those classes to cure their racism and they go home and relieve their Vietnamese, Mexican, or African baby sitter, the conditions in the white community are just as they were when they took the course, before they took the course and the conditions of the African community are still the same.
You say you're fighting against racism? How do you know when you've won? Does someone come out waving a white flag? Do you sign a peace treaty? Racism now surrenders?
But colonialism, you know that. That's a foreign power that dominates our lives.
We've seen people fight and defeat colonialism and we can fight and defeat colonialism as well.
We came to those conclusions, many of them, in the 1960s, when our revolution was defeated.
I don't talk about the 60s as some kind of nostalgic waxing, to say how wonderful the 60s were.
It's important to us only as a means by which we can get closer to understanding where we are now.
We didn't just drop out of the sky, into this situation in 2019.
There's a process that brought us here, that's really important for us to understand.
We need to understand the nature of the social system that we're dealing with.
That's part of what it is we intend to do.
That's what our Party was founded to take on. For the last 45-46 years, we're the longest existing continuous African revolutionary organization in the world.
The thing that makes it significant is not that we've lasted a long time, there's a lot of forces who have been there a long time and we have some opinions about the viability of that, but it's because that in the African People's Socialist Party, resides the history of struggle.
The Black Revolution of the 60s was defeated.
That's what Malcolm X's death was. That's what Martin Luther King's death was.
That was the attack on the Black Panther Party.
That's what the murder of Lumumba was and I believe the murder of Nkrumah after he was overthrown.
It was the defeat of a revolutionary movement, and some people don't want to recognize that, because they like to put this notion to us that there has been this ongoing continuum; just because you lived a long time means you’re still involved in the same process.
You've seen the posters of Malcolm and King and Obama, as though they represent a single historical continuum.
I'm here to tell you that Obama doesn't represent a continuum, he represents the defeat of the Black Revolution.
Obama couldn't have been president if the revolution hadn't been defeated.
He couldn't have gotten elected without having to say something about black people.
It took the death of King, the death of the Panthers, the death of Malcolm X and the destruction of our revolutionary organization for this negro to be able to walk through there, put on a fake pimp limp and show you some kind of left hand jump shot and wink at you every now and then, and not say a damn thing about what he was going to do for us.
In fact, the only thing he ever said about us was negative.
It hasn't been that kind of continuum. The revolutionary movement was crushed and it's important for us to understand that.
We're at a new period of history and people are trying to push us back to the Civil Rights thing and I'm not going through that anymore.
It's not necessary to go through that again.
There's a crisis of the social system now, a social system that has its origin in slavery and colonialism. That's where it came from.
You all know where capitalism came from? Try to imagine the existence of capitalism without slavery and colonialism; it could never have happened.
Slavery and colonialism gave rise to white power. White power came into existence as capitalism.
It came into existence as a world system; not something that happened in Manchester in England.
It was a world economy that emerged off of the enslavement of our people.
It created various kinds of structures and institutions.
Capitalism was born as a parasite on the body of humanity.
We live in a world today and it's important for us to understand this, so that we don't get confused about some phenomenon that we are experiencing today.