In April of this year I was able to attend a party school for two weeks at the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida, which in itself was truly inspiring as the building was built literally by the hands of members and supporters of the movement. I learnt of the various economic institutions that the Uhuru Movement has been able to build in the face of some really tough contradictions and was also able to see some of those institutions that still exist as well as meet people who work there.
One of the greatest challenges now at hand for the London Branch of the InPDUM is of growing the organization and moving beyond well appreciated donations from membership and supporters, to actually achieving participation from all sectors of our community in building this movement to be economically self sustaining with its’ own institutions.
Since the defeat of the black revolution of the 60’s in the US and the subsequent rise of the black middle class, it has been increasingly difficult to engage the African masses in any kind of political struggle. Here in the UK the black middle class was given life as a result of uprisings against the state, in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Africans in places like Brixton and Birmingham stood together and fought back against military style police containment in our communities led by Margaret Thatcher and her so-called ‘Sus laws’, which officially gave police thugs the authority to stop search and arrest Africans from off the street for no reason at all, other than a suspicion that we had already or intended to break their law!
In order to pacify this resistance from the most courageous and dynamic part of our community, a few Africans were hand picked and given grants by the government to lead various community initiatives. We obtained buildings in the community which ran cultural, athletic, educational and other social activity programmes for us and by us. Although such projects were in most cases good for our community on a social level, the fact is they drew us back to the embrace of the state by creating a dependency to maintaining them. Such initiatives created paying jobs for people through a steady supply of GLC (Greater London Council) or other Local Authority funding.
Over the last decade or so, that sector of our community who have been relying on funding to pay their mortgages and more importantly to maintain these so-called community initiatives, have found the rug being pulled out from under their feet! They did not have the long term vision to make efforts to gain tighter reigns of community control over these premises, instead seeing these buildings as their personal property. The state no longer has a need for such projects. They have already served their intended purpose in quelling our resistance, and many of the most dynamic forces of our community who could potentially rise up again to defend it, have been locked up in the state’s concentration camps, strung out on drugs and pushed to the fringes of this society, or are just so demoralised by these facts that there is no response to this state orchestrated attack.
The only black political leaders of any significance in this country made sure that their own personal interests were safe guarded at the expense of our people’s struggle, taking on positions in government institutions and convincing us that by them achieving such status within the system, things would somehow become better for us. They misdirected the masses to look to the government to resolve our problems as opposed to organizing ourselves for self determination; in short, control over our own lives.
The National People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, was launched by the African People’s Socialist Party as it’s primary mass organization to address this contradiction in the US, and became International when it’s first branch was built outside of US borders, here (London) in 2001. The international character of our movement and the influence of the APSP’s ‘Touch one! Touch all!’ philosophy, have enabled us to see the futility in fighting our battles in isolation, in the belief that our experience in one part of the world is somehow unique. Now the state cannot attacks us in one part of the world without expecting a response to come from other parts of the world where Africans are. The fact that InPDUM, unlike so many black community organizations, does not receive any kind of state funding, instead looking to the masses to sustain our own organization, means that it is in no way accountable to the state for any of its’ actions.
One criticism that is often made of the African liberation movement as a whole is that we always seem to be starting from scratch. This observation is not untrue and the reality is until we are able to win more forces to the movement who are committed to doing the work to change this it will remain just so. We must begin to take ownership of our movement and accept the responsibility of building it. We all see the derelict buildings in the African community right here in London which could be utilised well by us. This is a call to all who want to see an Uhuru House built in London. Our own building, where we can hold mass meetings, classes to educate our children, organize child care programmes which will allow mothers time to actively participate in campaign work, plan our activities and strategise campaigns, hold cultural or social events for ourselves, even run Uhuru Radio from. The possibilities for such a project are endless and can be realised if the African community demands it.
We must turn our backs on the British state and the carrots they dangle in front of our noses to stay loyal to them. We must turn our backs on the uncle tom neo colonial puppets that are handed to us as community leaders who do not represent the interests of our community. We must turn our backs on the British media who slander us at every turn and feed us lies and half truths in order to further demoralise and degrade our community. We must turn our backs on all of this in order to be a truly free and self determining people because to be forever enslaved is no option at all! The question has never been whether this is something that can be done, but whether this needs to be done. If you are African you already know the answer. Join the InPDUM Membership and Sustainable Funding Committee today! Build our Uhuru House in London and build to win! Uhuru means freedom!
Kwabena ‘Scientist’ Gyakye
Treasurer for InPDUM (London Branch)