The APSP’s National Plenary featured presentations made by Chairman Omali Yeshitela
ST. PETERSBURG, FL — On July 3 and 4, the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) held a national plenary here to define the work of the Party. The meeting was held at the Uhuru House on the city’s south side, where the Party’s leadership is headquartered.
The National Plenary is a tool often used by the Party between its congresses, the place where the entire organization comes together to establish policy and elect leaders.
This year’s plenary had a special significance because the Party is very late in holding our Congress and also because the crisis of imperialism and the leaps taken in areas of the Party’s work demand that the entire membership have an opportunity to critique the Party’s direction and struggle around outstanding issues.
The Plenary opened with an overview by Chairman Omali Yeshitela who talked about the significance of the Party as an instrument of revolution. The Chairman made a distinction between the role of the Party and that of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), a mass organization of the Party that leads African people around issues concerning national democratic rights of our people worldwide.
The Party is a revolutionary organization of the African working class that is comprised of members who are professional revolutionaries. The Chairman talked about the Party being necessary in order to integrate revolutionary theory into every struggle that the masses are engaged in. The people need revolution and that can only occur if the African working class and masses have the benefit of a revolutionary organization that is guided by revolutionary theory.
Party’s focus is to build the African Socialist International
The Chairman’s overview put forward the Party’s view that liberation for African people cannot occur within the borders imposed on African people by imperialism and that the primary work of the Party will be implementation of Point Number 14 of the Party’s 14-Point Working Platform, which states:
“We want the total liberation and unification of Africa under an All-African socialist government.”
This is the context within which the Party’s party-building process will occur. This means that our focus above everything else is to build the African Socialist International (ASI), the worldwide revolutionary party of the African working class.
The ASI is a party that must exist and function everywhere Africans are located in the world. It must have a single leadership, a single general line, and a unity of will and practice.
While the Party believes that practice — actual work and struggle — is primary, we also understand that practice without theory is blind and often becomes slave to the urgency of the moment. This can lead to opportunism, which is the tendency to sacrifice the long-term interests of African people and its working class for apparent short-term advantages.
Therefore, following the Chairman’s overview two important theoretical workshops were conducted. The first of them was on dialectical and historical materialism, the scientific method of investigating and analyzing society that is used by the Party. This workshop was conducted by Comrade Luwezi Kinshasa, the Congolese expatriate who leads the Party’s international work from London where he is based.
The use of dialectical and historical materialism by the Party helps us to understand that there are laws of society that can be understood just as the laws of natural science help a biologist or chemist to understand the processes they are confronted with. This prevents the Party from assuming that historical transformation occurs simply because of great leaders and speakers. It helps us to look for the changes in the material conditions of life to explain social transformation.
Dialectical and historical materialism prevents the Party from looking for solutions to social and political contradictions outside of the society itself. For example, when we want to understand the oppression of African people, we examine the material relations existing between Africans and our oppressors and exploiters. We discover the economic basis for our oppression and the ideas born of that economic basis that claim the inferiority of Africans and the superiority of whites.
Workshop explains how European nation consolidated itself at expense of African nation
Luwezi Kinshasa, Director of International Affairs and Chair of the ASI Interim Committee
Connected to this area of theoretical work done at the Plenary was the second workshop on the National Question. This is an issue that has plagued our liberation movement for ages.
This workshop was led by Chairman Omali, who revealed that the prevailing notion of the nation is new. It is a notion that was born out of historical developments in Europe stemming from African slavery and colonialism that gave rise to capitalism. Indeed, in Europe the 19th century has been characterized as the era of nation building, for it was within this time frame that the entities that are considered nations were consolidated in Europe.
However, what is generally not understood is the process that gave rise to the European Nation. For, prior to slavery, colonialism, and the rise of capitalism out of this process, most groups of what we now call Europeans defined themselves primarily in relationship to each other.
It was slavery and colonialism that gave birth to capitalism and also gave rise to a common identity between whites, who now defined themselves not primarily in relationship to each other, but in relationship to Africans and the others of us whose lives and resources were being used to build European capitalism and white solidarity.
Obviously, while the unification of whites helped to solve problems of European society, this unification came at the expense of Africa, its people, resources and unity. Therefore, the task before African revolutionaries is to lead the struggle for the reunification of our people and the consolidation of our national identity as one people. We must reunify our nation that has been forcibly separated from each other and from our resources and whose only chance to have a real future is in the liberation and unification of Africa and African people as one nation.
As the national unification of whites came about as part of the process that gave birth to capitalism as a European phenomenon, it is clear that the European nation was born as a bourgeois nation, an oppressive and oppressor nation.
On the other hand, if Africa is to be liberated and united it can only come about through the leadership of the African working class which, combined with the African poor peasantry, is the only social force for whom the illegitimate borders separating Africans have no use. In other words the emerging, united African nation can only be consolidated as a revolutionary nation, born in fighting opposition to the imperialism that divided us and keeps us divided for its own benefit.
“[I]f Africa is to be liberated and united it can only come about through the leadership of the African working class which, combined with the African poor peasantry, is the only social force for whom the illegitimate borders separating Africans have no use.”
Party’s work to build ASI’s labor union and participate in International Tribunal will help build African Socialist International
Reports were given to the Plenary from the Party’s work throughout Africa and Europe. One report came from Luwezi Kinshasa, the chair of the Interim Committee to Build the African Socialist International and Gaida Kambon, the leader of the North American region to build the ASI.
This report dealt with the growing interest being demonstrated for the upcoming ASI conference scheduled for London from October 6 through October 9. New inquiries and commitments are coming from South America and the Caribbean.
This, combined with the interest being shown by Africans throughout Africa, especially during Chairman Omali’s recent trips to South Africa, Namibia and Ghana, represents an exciting new development. Also, the ASI website has been attracting more attention and commitments as well.
This workshop laid out the expectation to use the upcoming London ASI conference to start the process of planning to develop an African Internationalist international labor union. This would be a revolutionary labor union that would be tied to the ASI, its revolutionary Party.
This revolutionary labor union would not limit its struggles to issues of benefits and wages, but would recognize itself as the leading component for organizing the laboring masses of the African world for the seizure of political power. Labor organizers in South Africa and possibly in Ghana have already been identified who may be able to provide leadership for this effort.
National Secretary Gaida Kambon
The National Plenary also discussed the role of the world tribunal for African reparations scheduled for Berlin in 2007 in contributing to the development of the conditions leading to African unity and revolutionary consciousness necessary for building the ASI.
The world tribunal is a project in which the Party is cooperating with a number of organizations, some of which have different philosophies and class outlooks. However, we see the world reparations tribunal as offering an ability to create a common political trajectory for the entire African world. To this end, the group working for the tribunal formally named itself the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People (ITRAP) at its last meeting in Paris in May 2006.
It has established committees in various regions of the world and is currently working to create regions where none exist. Currently, Chairman Omali is the elected leader of the tribunal work.
The next meeting of ITRAP is on August 26 in Berlin, the site of the tribunal. Berlin was chosen as the site of the tribunal partially because of the role of the city in the infamous conference that carved up Africa for parceling out among European powers under the auspices of the pope. Also, since Berlin is in Germany, there is already a precedent for paying out reparations as Germany paid Jews for genocide from the second imperialist world war.
African People’s Solidarity Day put forth as tool to extend African liberation movement into white people’s homes
The National Plenary also prepared the Party for African People’s Solidarity Day that will be held in several cities in November. African People’s Solidarity Day is being conducted by the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), an organization created and led by the African People’s Socialist Party that is comprised of North Americans or white people.
African People’s Solidarity Day extends the African liberation movement into the lives and homes of white people of the oppressor nation. It is designed to win conscious support from among North Americans for the aspirations of African people for liberation as a nation in a united Africa.
The schedule for APSD includes events happening in St. Petersburg on November 2, in Oakland and San Francisco on November 4 and 5 and in Philadelphia for the weekend of November 11 and 12. The APSP is currently attempting to organize APSD events in cities and on campuses throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
In many ways, APSD will function like the teach-ins that occurred on college campuses during the U.S. colonial war of aggression against the people in Viet Nam. One objective is to bring massive exposure of the reality of Africa and African people to Europeans in a manner that will rob them of the ability to hide behind an ignorance of convenience and to win political allies and support for the struggle for African national liberation as opposed to integration.
West Africa projects and worldwide communications projects put forward at Plenary
During the National Plenary the Party also revealed its West African electrification and water purification project that is being prepared in association with our comrades in Sierra Leone. This project will allow us to organize Africans from throughout the U.S. and around the world to go into Sierra Leone to participate in setting up the electrification and water purification project. It will also demand massive fundraising for its success.
Reports were also made on our Party’s growing communications capacity and the need to recruit into the committee leading this incredible work. This work includes UhuruRadio.com, an internet radio station; Burning Spear Records, a record label that is organizing to increase its capacity to produce and distribute revolutionary music, beginning with hip hop; and Burning Spear Publications, that does book publishing, DVD and CD production, and more.
The key task of this committee, responsible for producing and distributing the Party’s ideas and political line, falls to The Burning Spear. The Plenary firmly committed all resources necessary to improve The Spear, both in terms of quality and frequency of publication.
Leadership was established for building the Party in various regions of the U.S. with plans of action for this to be developed by early August.
At the end of the National Plenary the unity of the Party had obviously been deepened and everyone spoke of going back to their areas of struggle eager to engage our imperialist enemy at a much higher level than before.
Aisha Fields, APSP member heading up the West Africa electrification and water purification project
Omavi Bailey, member of the Party’s Agitation and Propaganda Department and more