The following statement comes from Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Interim Committee of the African Socialist International (ASI). The African Socialist International is an international party of African revolutionaries. The ASI has as its historical mission the unification and liberation of Africa under an all-African socialist government under the leadership of the African working class and poor peasantry.
The ASI calls on all who receive this document to forward it to as many contacts as possible and distribute it around the world in order to lend support to the just struggles on the ground in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
For more information, contact the African Socialist International:
Omali Yeshitela, ASI Chairman
1245 18th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33705
Luwezi Kinshasa, ASI Secretary-General
4-16 Deptford Bridge
London SE8 4HH
20 8265 1731 (land) / 077 8412 1709 (cell)
Look for updates on the situation in Sierra Leone at www.uhurunews.com
Program of the Africanist Movement for the 2007 Elections
Africans in Sierra Leone, like most Africans in Africa and throughout the world, are fed up with inept and corrupt government and leaders who care nothing about the suffering masses. They are tired of seeing their resources being shipped off to far away places to feed, clothe and house populations they do not know and will never see. They are disgusted that their children and family members are made ill and being killed by preventable and curable diseases. They loathe the fact that they have no freedom, no quality education, no food, no decent roads and no future under the prevailing situation.
Africans in Sierra Leone do have the Africanist Movement, however, an organization that is firmly connected to other Africans and allies around the world through its membership in the African Socialist International (ASI). The Africanist Movement has a vision and a revolutionary national democratic program that connects the African population of Sierra Leone with the struggling masses of the African world. This is a program designed to lift Africans out of their wretched station.
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Chernoh Alpha M. Bah is the Director of the Africanist Movement, an organization based in several territories in West Africa and is a member organization of the African Socialist International.
In mid July the Africanist Movement issued a working resolution following a three-day strategic planning meeting held in Allen Town on the outskirts of Freetown, the capital. The resolution was a product of a newly-formed coalition which came together under the leadership of the Africanist Movement. Forty member organizations resolved “…to join the Africanist Movement to carry out a general campaign against neocolonialism and imperialism, and to undertake, under the leadership of the Africanist Movement, collaborative programmes and activities in defense of the interests of the African working class and peasantry.”
This general campaign initiated by the Africanist Movement is occurring during the election season in Sierra Leone, where in early August members of parliament and a new president will be elected. The Africanist Movement will not field candidates for office, but has acquired a permit allowing it to campaign, making it legally possible to use the elections to put forward its revolutionary national democratic program and raise the political consciousness of our people.
The role of the Africanist Movement is to prepare the population of Sierra Leone for the upcoming political struggles that will determine the future of our people there and affect the future of Africans everywhere. Primarily, the people of Sierra Leone will be presented with a program that will not only provide solutions for the desperate problems facing our people, but will also expose the neocolonial petty bourgeoisie contending for power through the electoral process.
The fact is that our people are confronted with a multitude of problems in Sierra Leone. These include the expropriation of all our “national” wealth by an army of rogues that includes vicious foreign corporations, supported by their imperialist governments in concert with the Sierra Leone domestic capitalists of various nationalities. The neocolonial stooges nominally in charge of the Sierra Leone government benefit from this looting of our resources as well.
Sierra Leone controlled by imperialist powers
The theft of our national resources by foreign corporations has succeeded in corrupting our leaders and hijacking the Sierra Leone state itself. This theft is the reason why there is no money for the development of the infrastructure of Sierra Leone. This is why there is no electrical grid. The only electricity is from generators and 82% of that is in Freetown. Eighty-five percent of the people must use oil lamps and cook with wood, coal or dung.
Because of the theft of the resources that are the birthright of African people, Sierra Leone has no running water, no water purification system, little hygiene and few toilets. Dirty water alone kills thousands of children every year. Sierra Leone has no system of roads and highways. Most roads are unpaved and are generally impassable during the rainy season.
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Mercenary corporations like SLDC use helicopters to transport diamonds from mining communities to Freetown before they are a flown to Antwerp, Belgium and other places in Europe and America. The United Nations itself has become part of this corporate mafia network.
Because of the theft of our resources we are unable to set up healthcare centers for the benefit of the people throughout the country. For this reason most of our healthcare professionals leave the country for imperialist countries because of the inability of the government to pay them sufficiently for their work. According to Africa News of April 2, 2003, “there are reportedly more Sierra Leonean doctors living in Chicago (U.S.) than in all of Sierra Leone.”
The infant mortality rate in Sierra Leone is the second highest in the world at 158 per every 1,000 live births, accompanied by a staggering maternal mortality rate of 1,800 deaths per 100,000 births. The life expectancy for men is no more than 35 years.
Less than 50 percent of Sierra Leone’s primary schools are functioning, most of these with completely inadequate facilities. An international trade union report states that 72 percent of the children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Sierra Leone are forced into paid or unpaid labor. Besides laboring in the mines, Sierra Leone’s children are made to be domestic workers or forced into the sex trade.
In the 18th century Sierra Leone was a British port for the enslavement of African people on the West Coast of Africa, where tens of thousands of our people were kidnapped and transported mostly to South Carolina in the U.S. After more than a hundred years as a direct British colony Sierra Leone achieved nominal independence from Britain in 1961 when neocolonial rule was established.
Theft of resources responsible for Sierra Leone’s poverty
Today Sierra Leone is one of the most impoverished countries in the world with the majority of the population living on less than a dollar a day, with 53 percent of the people engaged in subsistence farming.
Yet, Sierra Leone has immense natural resources that include some of the best diamonds in the world. An estimated 115 million carats of rough diamonds with a market value of US $6.7 billion are taken out of Sierra Leone every year. These diamonds are converted into 67 million pieces of jewelry worth close to US $50 billion.
/old_site_images/2007-08/sierra-leone-statement/diamond_072dpi_200w.jpg width="200" height="173" border="1" style="float:left;margin-right:5px" /> One of many diamonds recently found by SLDC in Kamakwie, North of Sierra Leone. Thousands of diamonds like these weighing hundreds of karats are being taken out of Sierra Leone regularly by imperialist mining companies to Europe, America and other places whilst Africans who own these resources have no access to them.
The first Sierra Leone diamond was found in 1930, and significant expropriation began in 1935, characterized by a high proportion of top-quality gem diamonds. A 969-carat diamond was discovered in the Koidu area during this period, and since 1937 at least 80 million carats have been stolen from our land.
In addition to diamonds Sierra Leone also has some of the largest deposits of titanium ore used in the aerospace industry, pipes and for hip joint replacements, a $3.4 billion industry in the U.S. and Europe. Gold is also plentiful in Sierra Leone, as is bauxite ore used to make aluminum, and chromite for the production of stainless steel.
Fifty-two percent of Africans in Sierra Leone engage in subsistence agriculture, growing rice and millet, along with tomatoes, yams, cassava, peanuts, pineapples, coconut and peppers. Coffee, cocoa and palm kernel are major exports. Thirty percent of Sierra Leone's land is potentially arable. It is also rich in forests and fresh water.
Sierra Leone has a large natural harbor that can accommodate cargo ships and private vessels. It is known for its abundant inshore and offshore fishing, which includes shrimp, tuna, snapper, lobster, crab and mackerel.
However, as in the rest of Africa the profits and benefits of Sierra Leone’s natural resources are in Europe and North America, though they are increasingly being expropriated to other lands such as China. Although these resources are on our land African people in Sierra Leone know only poverty and suffering, with an annual per capita income of U.S.$170—less than 50 cents a day.
Neocolonialists fight over crumbs of imperialist plunder
Former British colonizers continue to control the economy, the military and the governing of Sierra Leone. Along with a host of foreign multinational corporations and other imperialist states they carry on the extraction of our massive wealth that should be used to make African people prosperous, healthy and self-governing. By controlling the wealth and resources of Sierra Leone these imperialist countries control the government itself. This is called indirect rule or neocolonialism, as defined by Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first independent president and proponent of a united and liberated Africa. We of the African Socialist International often refer to neocolonialism as white power in black face.
/old_site_images/2007-08/sierra-leone-statement/foday_child-vicitm_072dpi.jpg width="282" height="180" border="1" style="float:left;margin-right:5px" /> In the 1990s The Revolutionary United Front (RUF), led by Foday Sankoh, emerged in Sierra Leone, ostensibly in response to the imperialist contradictions forced on our people. Preying on the lack of political development among the people, the RUF launched an armed struggle against the neocolonial state. Although initially welcomed by the people, the RUF soon turned its barbaric fury against the very people the RUF claimed to represent. It quickly became clear that the RUF was not fighting in the interests of the masses of the people but was contending with the petty bourgeoisie in power for the crumbs of colonial plunder.
British-backed mercenary forces, such as Sandline International and South Africa’s Executive Outcomes, acting to maintain imperial control of Sierra Leone’s resources, inflicted equally brutal violence against our people. As a result of these armed interventions more than 50,000 Africans were slaughtered, tens of thousands horribly mutilated and thousands more were forced out of their homes in Sierra Leone.
It is said that the De Beers diamond cartel and the state of Israel were among the biggest benefactors of this brutal assault on our people. Of course, the mercenary corporations of England and South Africa especially benefited from the carnage left in the wake of the war. They were given partial or full ownership of diamond mines as payment for maintaining or restoring to power one or another neocolonial leader.
/old_site_images/2007-08/sierra-leone-statement/houston-kabbah_072dpi_250w.jpg width="250" height="165" border="1" style="float:left;margin-right:5px" /> Current president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has handed over much of Sierra Leone’s resources to mercenary corporations in the form of mining concessions as payment for maintaining and restoring his regime.
The role of the RUF in the politics of Sierra Leone, its revolutionary rhetoric notwithstanding, was another expression of political struggle being waged between contending sectors of the African petty bourgeoisie. True revolutionaries recognize that the people are the real makers of history—not an armed band of thugs who carry out their own predatory agenda in the name of the people. Kwame Nkrumah once said, correctly, that the guerrilla is the masses in arms. Recognition of this reality makes it impossible for genuine revolutionaries to turn their arms against the masses, whose role as active participants is critical in any genuine revolutionary struggle.
This is why the Africanist Movement and the African Socialist International of which it is a part puts so much emphasis on educating the masses, especially the workers and peasants. This is why it is necessary to develop programs addressing the most deeply felt and realized needs of the oppressed people. The most important aspect of our work is therefore based in organizing the masses to participate politically in winning their liberation.
Revolutionary National Democratic Program
As an expression of this understanding and in response to the conditions of existence of our people in Sierra Leone, the Africanist Movement is putting forward this revolutionary national democratic program. It is the only legitimate program that should inform the political debate during the campaign for parliamentary seats and the presidency of Sierra Leone. This is the program that the African Socialist International is calling on African workers and freedom-loving people of the world to support in unity with our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone. Our program demands:
1. All power to the people–The establishment of a patriotic government of workers and peasants aligned with the progressive and democratic forces of Sierra Leone.
It is absolutely necessary that state power be retrieved from the clutches of neocolonial puppets that have acceded power and the national resources of Sierra Leone to foreign corporations and imperialist countries. The state power of Sierra Leone must be put into the hands of the people. In the final analysis it will be the state power in the hands of the workers, peasants and democratic forces of Sierra Leone that will make it possible to initiate permanent programs to change the material conditions of the people.
2. Nationalization of strategic components of the economy– People’s control of the strategic components of the economy of Sierra Leone in particular, the extractive, mining component so critical to the budget of Sierra Leone must be in the hands of the people, especially the workers and poor peasants whose labor is responsible for the all the wealth of Sierra Leone.
Up to now our people have been forced to watch the spectacle of our resources being controlled by our enemies who use the wealth stolen from our lands to build themselves and oppress us. This is facilitated through paying off a small sector of the African petty bourgeoisie, a process that has resulted in social stratification and the creation of a class of Africans who have material interests that are at odds with the interests of our people.
3. Payback to the people– Reparations from the imperialist countries and corporations for hundreds of years of exploitation of our labor, land and resources.
This is an issue of great urgency and significance. The fact is that the labor of African people – including slavery, colonialism and exploitation under the current situation – have been expropriated and used to benefit imperialist countries and corporations in the same fashion as our diamonds and other material resources. It has been the expropriation of the value produced by our labor and our stolen resources that resulted in the wealth of England and other countries at our expense. Reparations simply means those who are responsible have to repair the damage, to fix the problem.
Repatriation of stolen wealth– The creation of a special
repatriation commission with the task of locating the resources that have
been illegally and inappropriately acquired by different Sierra Leonean
governments and shipped out of the country to safe havens in European
countries. We demand the return of the money stolen from our people through
inappropriate deals made by various neocolonial regimes with imperialist
corporations and governments.
These deals, made behind the backs of our people, have contributed to the ability of the imperialists to transfer the national wealth of the people to foreign lands where it serves the needs of others at our expense. We demand the return of the ill-gotten money that has come as a consequence of these deals and that sits in the banks and real estate of England and other imperialist countries.
5. Cancellation of all debt contracted by previous governments of Sierra Leone and restitution of all money paid, with interest.
Transformation of the existing financial and taxation systems in order
to regulate the activity and financial role of banks. Promote investment
in domestic development. Democratize credit and provide free access to
7. Light and clean water – There must be an immediate campaign to electrify Sierra Leone and to guarantee that the people have access to clean water that can be piped to their communities.
Control of the state and the economy will make it possible to invest money from the millions of dollars that are produced from the mines of Sierra Leone in building infrastructure for African people. As it is today, the theft of our diamonds and other resources make it possible for Europeans and others to have electrical power and water at our expense. This issue of electrification and clean water has critical implications for the well-being of our people.
The absence of electrification places severe limitations on the productivity of African workers, limiting our ability to work to daylight hours. Similarly, it is incredibly difficult for students to study at night, which negatively affects the intellectual development and literacy of the children of workers and poor peasants.
Additionally, the health issues associated with a lack of clean water are immeasurable, and are clearly connected with the mortality rates affecting workers, peasants and the poor of all ages and genders.
8. Away with all pests– Initiate an immediate campaign of mosquito eradication.
The number of our people, especially children, who die from malaria, seriously undermines our capacity as a people. It affects the productivity of our workers and poor peasants and the morale of our families who continue to have loved ones incapacitated or killed by disease, causing even greater burdens for our impoverished population. An effective mosquito eradication campaign based in the masses can have an immediate impact on the quality of life for Africans in Sierra Leone.
9. Health care for the people– Clinics and healthcare must be made available for all our people, especially workers and rural and agricultural communities. Also, healthcare workers must receive payment for their work. All efforts must be made to convince healthcare workers who have left Sierra Leone for imperialist countries to return home and share the struggle of the workers, peasants and impoverished masses to improve the conditions of our people.
10. Massive expansion of public works– This is needed for the purpose of urgently carrying out planned programs for solving the housing crisis, constructing roads, railways, telecommunications and other necessary aspects of Sierra Leone’s infrastructure.
11. Nationalization of the entire hydrocarbon sector of the economy– This is to guarantee national sovereignty over all aspects relating to the energy industry.
12. Government support and protection for domestic producers– The government must allocate resources to support domestic production by developing a strategic economic plan that will help local producers to provide for a domestic market and protect them from unfair competition from imperialist corporations and governments.
13. Living wages for all workers.
14. Military reformation – The army of Sierra Leone must be dismantled and restructured under the leadership of a democratic national revolutionary committee of patriotic officers, including non-commissioned officers and soldiers. The army must be transformed into servants of the people and not our oppressors. All forces who have committed crimes and human rights abuses against the people must be removed and face judgment before people’s tribunals.
15. All military checkpoints must be removed – All policies allowing for extortion of money by police and army at checkpoints and the demand for identification papers specifying ethnicity must be ended.
16. Removal of all military and intelligence agencies – Foreign military forces, including the thousands of British troops, U.S. intelligence organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), are in Sierra Leone to protect the interests of imperialism. They are in Sierra Leone to protect the system of indirect rule or neocolonialism and to guarantee that the resources of our people will never be returned to us for our own use to solve our own problems. They must be expelled and replaced by our own worker-peasant led military forces.
17. Freedom of press, speech, assembly and political association.
18. Security for all citizens–The establishment of committees of workers, peasants and students to control the appointment of police officials, legal and penal authorities.
19. Recognition of all African people throughout Africa and the world as comprising one African nation that has been forcibly dispersed and impoverished by slavery, colonialism and other machinations of imperialism.
20. Solidarity with the struggles of Africans and other oppressed peoples struggling for liberation and justice throughout the world.
21. Immediate removal of borders separating Sierra Leone from our brothers and sisters in other post-colonial “countries” in the region – The borders must come down not only because they validate an imperialist definition of our identity as separate people to our disadvantage, but also because the borders restrict us to an economy that will never be large enough to provide for our needs and transform our situation.
22. Recognition of the right of return for all African people displaced and dispersed from Sierra Leone and Africa by slavery, colonialism and other attacks on Sierra Leone and Africa as a whole by imperialism.
This is the revolutionary national democratic program that the Africanist Movement is taking out to the masses of our people during the electoral process occurring in Sierra Leone today. It is a program that speaks to the needs and aspirations of our oppressed people there.
must remain alert. The neocolonial state of Sierra Leone will not take
lightly the fact that these courageous men and women are exposing its
role in furthering the aims of imperialists who are exploiting our resources.
Moreover, we must keep in mind that there are other sectors of the African
petty bourgeoisie that recognize the depth of the misery of our people
and are capable, like the RUF in the past, of attempting to go above the
heads of the people to seize power.
In the next several days we must do all within our power to publicize the electoral activity occurring in Sierra Leone and the program of the Africanist Movement. We must make every effort to give material support for the efforts of the Africanist Movement by sending money for the current campaign and in anticipation of the ongoing campaigns that will follow the election.
In the real world this is what the struggle against imperialist domination of Africa is all about. This is the meaning of real African solidarity – the acceptance of any front of resistance in the African world as our very own.
The fact is that the entire region of West Africa is extremely volatile as our people are increasingly fed up with imperialist exploitation and neocolonialism. In too much of Africa the misery of our people is being hijacked to further the agendas of our enemies. In most instances this is leading to incredible violence, including fratricidal aggression that results in the suffering and death of thousands of our people.
The presence and work of the Africanist Movement give all African patriots, militants and revolutionaries an opportunity to participate in this struggle from wherever we are. We must take this opportunity and give all our support.
give financial support, transfer funds to the following bank account:
Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas
Church Street Station
New York 1008-0318
Swift Code: BKTRUS 33
Favour of International Commercial Bank (SL) Ltd.
22 Rawdon Street
Account No: 04-422-278
For further credit to:
Account Name: Chernoh Alpha Muhamad Bah
Account Number: 00001-02-000484-03
One Africa! One Nation!