APSP adds clarity on the life and times of Marcus Garvey at Birkbeck College lecture

On Saturday, May 22, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) members attended the NUS (National Union of Students) Black Student Campaign annual summer conference held in Liverpool.  

It was the Party’s second time at the conference and this gave students, who met the party before, the opportunity to re-establish contact, whilst providing others who hadn’t with the opportunity to learn about African Internationalism.

One student who was familiar with the APSP was Black Student Officer for the Student Union and President of the African Caribbean Society (ACS) at Birkbeck College, Sabrina Malcolm.  

The ACS at Birkbeck was apparently in the process of organizing a Marcus Garvey lecture to be presented by a professor from Jamaica and wanted the APSP to participate as well. 

President Sabrina later extended a formal invitation to the Party, requesting a guest speaker to be on the panel. APSP London Treasurer, Comrade Kwabena Gyakye, accepted the invitation on behalf of the APSP and led a party contingent to the event on Thursday, June 10.

Former Hackney Director for Education, respected Academic and Yuroba High Priest, Professor Gus John was tasked with chairing the event, whilst founding member of the Pan-Afrikan Congress Movement, Cecil Gutzmore, delivered the lecture in question.

Mass e-mails from the Pan Africanist Society Community Forum (PASCF) were sent to the Party.

These e-mails advertised the event as an annual memorial lecture being presented jointly by the ACS and the PASCF’s Marcus Garvey Organizing Committee.

The PASCF originated from the Pan-African Society, a student society based at the London South Bank University (LSBU).  

This name change occurred when it became apparent that the society was no longer run by or formed of students and was thrown off campus.

Opportunism raising its head at Birbeck?

The event started over an hour late because organizers were busy trying to find a potted plant with earth for Yuroba High Priest Professor Gus John to use for the opening libation ritual.

They were also waiting on guest speakers, such as shamed and rejected labor party lick spittle, Lee Jasper, who never bothered to show up.

Party organizers on the scene shared the dismay of many in the audience that such an event, supposedly dedicated to Garvey, had so much time being dedicated to so-called great Pan -Africanists like George Padmore.  

In fact, Cecil Gutzmore spent the majority of his forty-five minute presentation espousing the virtues of Karl Marx!  

At the end of Gutzmore’s presentation, the Chair called for the other guest speakers to limit their speeches to “3 minutes at the most or 1 minute if possible.”

APSP Comrade Kwabena was the last of four panelists, which included: NUS Black Student Campaign President, Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy; Birkbeck student representative of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community, Adebisi Alimi; and Black Student Officer of SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), Mas Naina, to speak.  

Kwabena emphasized the importance of not being liberal.  

He also attempted to give a brief understanding to the audience of the APSP’s politics (African Internationalism) and how it continues to build on Garvey’s legacy through its work to build the African Socialist International (ASI).

He stated that “Marcus Garvey never called himself a Pan-Africanist, and we never refer to ourselves as Pan-Africanist,,but as African Internationalists. 

The main thread of the speech exposed the historic class struggle inside the African liberation movement. He ended by reading two excerpts from an article in the Burning Spear, written by Secretary General of the ASI, Luwezi Kinshasa.  

The first excerpt quoted a letter from W.E.B. Dubois, who many credit with being one of the fathers of Pan-Africanism: “The Pan-African Congress is for conference, acquaintanceship, and general mobilization. It has nothing to do with the so-called Garvey Movement and contemplates neither force nor revolution in its program.” 

The quote continued, “We have the cordial cooperation of the French, Belgian and Portuguese governments and we hope to get the attention and sympathy of all colonial powers.”

The second was from an article that Garvey wrote summing up Dubois as “the man who opposed the american negro launching steamships to the seas, the man who did everything to handicap the commercial propositions of the american negro, the man who tried to wreck the industrial education system of Tuskeegee, the man who never had any thing good to say about any negro leader, but tried to down everyone of them.” (Both these excerpts can be found in Race First, by Tony Martin)

Many members of the audience left their contact details to be informed of future activities of the APSP. 

Contradictions in the meeting

There were many contradictions in the meeting. Despite the intensification of US and UK sponsored attacks on African people in Congo, Sudan, Jamaica and USA, no speaker – with the exception of Comrade Kwabena – dared to mention the need to organize against imperialism, or what we can learn from Garvey on organizing for freedom. 

The meeting, being organized supposedly by students in a university, only had a handful of students in attendance, whilst the same old forces dominated the attendees. 

They even limited the time that the NUS Black Student president could speak (cutting her off in mid sentence), regardless of the fact that she was involved in the organization. 

APSP comrades heard people from the audience stating that, as soon as Comrade Kwabena started talking about Marcus Garvey, they made him stop speaking.

Yet, they allowed Gutzmore to go on for such a long time for just speaking about Marx and Marxism.  

Some in the audience seemed more concerned about the sexuality of the openly gay student speaker than they were about organizing to free Africa. 

In response to these sentiments of condemnation against Alimi, Comrade Makola reminded them that the real enemy of African people is imperialism, which was responsible for the looting of our resources and the destruction of our health and environment. 

Adebisi Alimi openly used these verbal attacks on him to create a scene, where it might appear there would be homo-phobic violence and got campus security to call the police. 

Reactionary short-sightedness played into the hands of this counter-insurgent force, thereby making it difficult for Birkbeck students to host similar events in future.  

Comrade Kwabena unites with legitimate criticisms from honest African forces

Comrade Kwabena welcomed criticisms from members of the audience, stating, “Valid criticism is to be encouraged.”

He agreed with criticisms that, despite any differences, he “should have respected the Chair of the meeting and not gone back to approach the microphone”, and that he “let his ego get the better of him.”  

Comrade Kwabena told the Burning Spear, “At the time, I genuinely believed I was struggling for principle and continued to speak because I did not see that the chair of the meeting had any respect for anyone else in the room except his Pan-African and academic counterparts.”  

He continued, “Although I did not approve of the way the students were treated by the Chair and disagreed with his assessment of me, it was incorrect and arrogant to have stood up again at the point that I did. I apologize to all who were present and took offense to this action. I understand that this indiscipline may have influenced how people unfamiliar with the Party perceive it, and want everyone to know that this is not at all the Party style.”

Smash Opportunism!  Smash Liberalism!  Smash Neo-colonialism!

One Party! One People! One Destiny!


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