OAKLAND, CA — On Tuesday, February 13, 2007, the heartrending news of the tragic passing of Sister Ifetayo Folashade spread swiftly throughout the Uhuru Movement. Sister Ifetayo, who joined the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in 2001, had apparently died in her sleep.
Ifetayo was one of InPDUM’s Oakland branch’s most trusted and reliable members. She was elected to and held the position of treasurer until shortly before her untimely death.
Ifetayo was born on October 13, 1963 in Oakland, California as Gwen Carol Gibson. She grew up in the projects of West Oakland known as 24 Village or Campbell Village. Like most African families in 24 Village and throughout Oakland, her family was forced to survive on meager resources.
The lack of resources that she experienced during her early years in the 1960’s still plague the same African community in Oakland today.
The Uhuru Movement explains these conditions as being a result of colonialism — where African people are held under foreign domination by U.S. and European imperialism for the purpose of social, political and economic advantage. This explanation resonated with Sister Ifetayo, and she united with the Uhuru Movement’s demand for self-determination for African people.
Her first political work outside of Oakland, California was at the Millions for Reparation mobilization in Washington, D.C. She was impressed with the impact that InPDUM had made on the mass mobilization.
The more involved she became in the day-to-day work of the Uhuru Movement, the more her consciousness grew. She took on the African name Ifetayo Folashade that means “love brings happiness” and “ honor confers a crown”.
The following is a statement she wrote for Oakland’s membership Branch brochure:
“Why I joined InPDUM: The idea of an organization devoted to the freedom of the African community appeals to me in a big way. InPDUM answers the question, ‘Who’s going to take on the struggles of our people?’ We are — myself included.
InPDUM organizes against our daily suffering in the form of police brutality, the poor quality of education for our children, unaffordable housing and just plain old inequality. These are the reasons you should become a member. I know that the injustices facing the black community have touched each and every one of us at some point. When will enough be enough?
Becoming a member is your first step to a solution. Initiate change. Become a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement today!
Gwen Easterling, Oakland InPDUM Member”
Ifetayo always made sure she renewed her annual membership fee of $15 before prompting from the membership committee. Ifetayo — mother of two daughters, Shenelle and Sharyce —involved her family members in campaigns, fundraisers, and mobilizations sponsored by the Uhuru Movement.
After she attended a Party school held by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) in St. Petersburg, Florida, she joined the Party. Ifetayo never lost sight of the reasons she participated in the tireless work of the Uhuru Movement.
“She was a valuable asset to the local organization and to myself personally,” stated Oakland InPDUM Branch President Bakari Olatunji. “Seldom was a movement mobilization without her presence during her nearly six years of participation. Death is about the only thing that would keep Ifetayo from doing movement work.”
Ifetayo had a moving funeral on Friday, February 23, where people came to pay their last respects, and spoke to the qualities that all came to know her for — her big infectious smile, her unique laugh, her gentle and loving spirit, her dependability, her love of comedy, television, and family.
Comrades, family, friends and co-workers spoke of this loving sister with praise and appreciation. Family and friends spoke of the person they knew as Gwen. The movement spoke of the person we knew as Ifetayo.
The home going celebration organized by the Uhuru movement and held at the Uhuru House was equally as touching as the funeral itself, rich in culture and spiritually uplifting. In addition, family and friends caught a glimpse of Ifetayo Folashade, the revolutionary.
Ifetayo’s involvement with the Uhuru Movement was her demonstration of her unity to forward the progress of African people fighting to be free. Long live the spirit of Sister Ifetayo Folashade!