Burning Spear News
100 Years Later, It's Still Red, Black and Green
"Marcus Garvey, Universal Negro Improvement Association" by dbking is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The 28th Annual Convention of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) was held September 11-13, 2020. The 2020 InPDUM Convention was held virtually, on Zoom and Facebook, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, or as African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela has correctly termed it: the Colonialvirus.
The three-day convention was dynamic, well-attended and historic. The 2020 InPDUM Convention opened with “An Evening of Revolutionary Culture” that was succeeded by two days of workshops, panel discussions, and legislative proceedings.
At annual InPDUM Conventions, the organization’s membership, the Uhuru Movement, and the public celebrate the previous year of revolutionary work and chart the political way forward for the next year.
The 21st century Garveyites
The title of the 2020 InPDUM Convention was “Build the African Nation: 100 Years Later, It’s Still Red, Black and Green.”
In the midst of the revolutionary thrust of the African working class following the public murder of George Floyd on May 25, InPDUM celebrated the legacy of Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association. InPDUM boldly declares themselves 21st century Garveyites.
As Chairman Omali Yeshitela notes, the ideology of Marcus Garvey was African Fundamentalism. The ideology of 21st ccentury Garveyites is African Internationalism.
In August 1920, Marcus Garvey and the UNIA assembled their first international convention at Madison Square Garden. With tens of thousands of Africans from around the world in attendance, Garvey presented “The Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World” and adopted the red, black, and green African national flag.
InPDUM channeled the revolutionary leadership of Garvey in its call to the convention:
“The magnificent UNIA Convention brought together African people from around the world who were fed up with the wretchedness of their lives under colonial domination and understood that self-determination was the only way forward to ensure a future for African people.
“In the year of perfect vision, the same dilemma is before us again and our fate cannot be decided by the colonizer anymore. There is no going back.
“The fate of the African working class is in our hands! Our 2020 International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement Convention to build the African Nation is the necessary next step for complete and total liberation.”
“Negating the power of colonialism over our lives”
The first evening of the convention was a virtual turn up. The emcee was Jordan Flyy of St. Louis. Entitled “A Night of Revolutionary Culture,” it began with a recorded presentation of “Vanguard Up” by the Stewards, an Uhuru Movement hit.
The video was followed by a panel discussion entitled “What is Revolutionary Culture?” The panel was moderated by Matsemela Odom featured Dexter Mlimwengu, Elikya Ngoma, Zenobia Spencer and Grammy-nominated artist from Brazil Thalma De Freitas.
The night featured musical and spoken word poetry presentations by Thalma, Mars Xorn, Jermain “Complex” Simpson of InPDUM San Diego, Ant Black, InPDUM Economic Development Coordinator FoFeet Alkebulan, and Neroli Portofino.
The Black Star Awards acknowledged the hard work of InPDUM members and branches. FoFeet Alkebulan and Chairman Tafarie Mugeri of Occupied Azania were voted Comrades of the Year. InPDUM San Diego was chosen as Branch of the Year.
Day two was hosted by Jainabah Phillips-Lumumba. Following the official convening by President Kalambayi Andenet, Comrade Michelle Odom and her daughters Mayasa-Aliyah and Malika-Akilah performed Amy Jacques Garvey’s “This Flag O’ Mine,” an ode to the African National Flag.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela and African Socialist International (ASI) Secretary General Luwezi Kinshasa presided over the renaming of Comrades Malika and Marquise. Chairman Omali Yeshitela acknowledged that “colonialism denies us an identity that is apart from that of the colonizer... these issues that we are engaged in today, just as we were yesterday, are a part of the process of negating colonialism—negating the power of colonialism over our lives.”
Solidarity statements were delivered to InPDUM by Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), President Yejide Orunmila of the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO), Director Aisha Fields of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) and Undersecretary Benjamín Prado of Unión del Barrio.
Comrade Elikya Ngoma’s “African National Fight Song” inspired the convention attendees and the emcee, Jainabah who could be seen singing along with the Uhuru Movement anthem.
The address from the International President of InPDUM Kalambayi Andenet was followed by a recorded report from Zakhele Mkhondo, president of InPDUM South Africa.
Africa negating the influence and power of colonialism
In his main presentation on the Uhuru Movement and the continuation of the African Revolution since the days of Marcus Garvey, Chairman Omali Yeshitela placed InPDUM in historical context.
The African People’s Socialist Party, InPDUM, the Uhuru Movement and our ideology, African Internationalism, is the outgrowth of dialectical and historical materialist engagement of the history of revolutionary struggle, Chairman Omali Yeshitela noted.
“Many people don’t even know the name Marcus Garvey, even though he had an organization of 11 million members and followers. No other organization could say that in the world. Not just African organizations. No other organization can say that,” Chairman exclaimed.
“It took the government to crush that and raise up these other forces,” Chairman added. The Uhuru Movement, like Marcus Garvey, has fought against all attempts to divide the African community, Chairman Omali Yeshitela noted.
We have fought against efforts to define African women as less than African men. We have fought against efforts to “gay bash” and marginalize same-gender loving Africans.
This “is an assault on the fact that African people come from a history of matriarchy...what you see when you look in this convention on today, you look at the women leadership that you’ve just experienced, this is Africans negating the influence and the power of colonialism because Africa is coming into its own,” Chairman Omali Yeshitela proclaimed.
Chairman continued that “to see women rising up and assuming their rightful place as equal leaders and a part of the process of shaping history and becoming obvious partners in this whole process with African men, the whole African revolution is expressing itself the way Garvey would have had us do.
“That is why we just celebrated, opening up with the poem by Amy Jacques Garvey, because women in the Garvey Movement played prominent roles, unlike what they did in the movement that was led by W.E.B. Du Bois.”
A successful Membership and Sustainable Funding appeal followed the Chairman’s address.
The panels and workshops
The second day of the convention concluded with a report on the African Reparations Claim, presented by Kabula Mutombo of InPDUM Chicago, and an Africans Charge Genocide panel hosted by Matsemela.
Coming out of the First Plenary of the Seventh Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party held in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 shutdowns, InPDUM was tasked with placing emphasis on building the Africans Charge Genocide Campaign and creating a certificate that Africans can sign to demand reparations and call for them to go to InPDUM. Closely aligned to the Africans Charge Genocide Campaign, this certificate became known as the Africans Reparations Claim.
In six months, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, InPDUM met these tasks.
Kabula reported that a process to collect digital signatures to the African Reparations Claim has been created. It can be accessed at tinyurl.com/africanreparationsclaim.
Scores of people have signed the claim and it has been incorporated into the 2021 outreach strategies. Both the African Reparations Claim and Africans Charge Genocide Campaign have been fallen under the leadership of the InPDUM outreach coordinator for the 2020-2021 political year.
The Africans Charge Genocide Campaign saw great success this year also, adding over 100,000 signatures to the petition at africanschargegenocide.org.
Moderated by Matsemela Odom, the Africans Charge Genocide Panel featured President Kalambayi Andenet, ANWO President Yejide Orunmila, Belinda Parker-Brown and Dr. Zena Crenshaw of Louisiana United International, Unión del Barrio Undersecretary Benjamín Prado and Jamie Wilson, a mass InPDUM force in San Diego.
The panel focused on InPDUM’s struggle against the containment of African and Indigenous people by colonial prisons and military forces (be they the police, immigration, or the U.S. military).
The emcee for day three was Dexter Mlimwengu of Boston. Following the convening of the third day, there was a performance from Ngoma, a drumming collective from St. Louis.
Muambi Tangu moderated the panel “Building InPDUM Internationally.” This panel featured Chairman Omali Yeshitela, SG Luwezi Kinshasa, and Chairman Tafarie Mugeri.
In a very in-depth powerpoint presentation, SG Luwezi outlined the material basis for building InPDUM internationally and the necessity for the adoption of the Revolutionary National Democratic Program amongst the African working class in Africa as the only way forward. This is surely a panel that InPDUM organizers should return to, frequently, as they build the regional strategy that Chairman Omali Yeshitela has outlined.
Black Power Blueprint Economic Development Director Ticharwa Masimba presented on the Uhuru N2U Brigade. This highly practical presentation offered a clear way forward for the participants.
Ticharwa displayed how the effective usage of Asana and other organizational tools and strategies amplifies the work productivity.
FoFeet presented on the advancements of Uzi Custom Apparel, the economic development project of InPDUM.
A highly practical panel on electoral politics followed a captivating cultural performance by Comrade Auset from New York. Chairman Omali Yeshitela outlined the African Internationalist usage of electoral politics.
The panel contained important conversations between St. Louis alderman Jesse Todd, a member of the Black is Back Coalition who also became a Marcus Garvey lifetime member of InPDUM at the convention; APSP Director of Agitation and Propaganda Akilé Anai, who ran for city council in St. Petersburg, Florida and was the first candidate in history to place reparations to African people on their political platform; Ticharwa Masimba and President Kalambayi Andenet.
President Kalambayi and Ticharwa have announced their candidacies for alderperson in North St. Louis’s 3rd and 21st wards respectively.
InPDUM elections, constitution, and resolutions
Chairman Omali Yeshitela re-appointed President Kalambayi Andenet to leadership of InPDUM for another year. President Kalambayi presented a slate of candidates that included Marisa Martinez for International Secretary and FoFeet Alkebulan for International Economic Development Coordinator.
History was also made when Matsemela Odom was elected International Vice President as part of President Kalambayi’s slate. Matsemela was also appointed International Membership Coordinator.
Dexter Mlimwengu nominated himself for International Information and Education Coordinator and Muambi Tangu nominated himself for International Outreach Coordinator. Both candidates were confirmed.
There were significant changes made to the constitution. This is the most significant modern change to the InPDUM Constitution.
Implementing the regional strategy, InPDUM created Regional Coordinator positions to its list of appointed officers. An International Treasurer has also been added to the International Executive Committee.
The long and tedious, yet productive process of the line-by-line approval of InPDUM’s Constitution was in fact one of the most popular parts of the convention for viewers. Attendance did not decline.
Two resolutions were brought to the convention floor. One resolution to organize in opposition to the colonial borders was presented by Matsemela Odom. This resolution was the outgrowth of the Black Power at the Border working group of the Africans Charge Genocide campaign in San Diego.
The other resolution in support of the creation of Uzi’s LLC was also presented. Both received support.
The success of the 2020 InPDUM Convention was the outgrowth of hard work and preparation under unforeseen circumstances. Originally, the convention was going to be on-the-ground in New York City.
Moving online gained more exposure and transparency to the masses of African people. Hundreds of people registered for the convention.
To date, the convention has garnered over nine thousand views on InPDUM’s Facebook page and thousands more on The Burning Spear TV YouTube page.
InPDUM has a year of work planned for 2021 as they build to their next convention. Even in the midst of the complicated circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, InPDUM carries on its work toward self-determination for African people as it flies the red, black and green!