Food, water, energy and self-sustaining economic institutions in the African community are the focus of the African Village Survival Initiative (AVSI), the Uhuru Movement’s recently launched programmatic response to the impact that the current imperialist economic crisis is having on the African community in the U.S. and around the world.
AVSI is a joint effort of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) and the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), two organizations with track records for transforming the conditions in African communities throughout the U.S. and on the continent of Africa, building institutions, programs and campaigns.
Through AVSI, the Uhuru Movement is organizing local committees in African communities throughout the U.S. in order to:
1. build networks of individual and collective African community gardens
2. promote the use of rainwater harvesting and simple water purification techniques for domestic purposes and garden irrigation
3. organize collective bulk food-buying clubs
4. develop self-sufficient economic institutions
5. provide regular community workshops on such topics as renewable energy, organic gardening, rooftop gardening, water purification, ecological sanitation and other appropriate, sustainable technologies
6. network with other like- minded people and organizations
7. promote sustainability- using practices that sustain the people and land for generations to come.
AVSI kicked off with daylong conference
AVSI was launched on March 22, 2009 with a daylong conference at the St. Petersburg, Florida Uhuru House, the headquarters of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP). The AVSI founding conference, part of which aired live on UhuruRadio.com, opened with an overview presentation from Ironiff Ifoma, Director of Finance and Economic Development for the African People’s Socialist Party and President of APEDF.
A dynamic powerpoint presentation by Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC) helped to lay the basis for the development of AVSI by providing the Uhuru Movement’s analysis of the rise of parasitic capitalism and the current economic crisis as both being rooted in attacks on Africa and African people.
The conference also featured a presentation from AAPDEP Director, Dr. Aisha Fields, and workshops on various models of backyard vegetable gardening from African master gardeners and local permaculture proponents.
The Village must come together!
With the slogan “If we combine our efforts, we’ll come out stronger!” AVSI works against the capitalist concept of “every man for himself” and instead seeks to win Africans back to building real community recognizing that the village must come together to get through this crisis!
Already, subprime mortgage schemes targeting the African community have cost Africans in the U.S. tens of thousands of homes and hundreds of millions of dollars in combined wealth. African unemployment, homelessness and poverty are skyrocketing, even as energy and food costs soar, and it is almost certain that these conditions will worsen as the economic crisis continues to unfold.
In true form, the U.S. government response is not to develop programs that would provide relief to the people, but instead to offer up trillions of dollars to Wall Street and millionaire corporate CEOs.
The Uhuru Movement understands that we must not work to solve the crisis of imperialism but that we must organize and help to provide solutions for our people who suffer as a result. Therefore, key to AVSI’s work and success is to win the understanding of the masses of African people that it is not in our oppressor’s interests to solve our problems — problems that they created. Rather, we must pull our village together and share our vast knowledge, resources and skills in the critical areas of food, water, energy and economic development.
AVSI organizes community and collective gardens
AVSI brings African farming and gardening skills back to the community by building networks of organic backyard and collective Uhuru “freedom” gardens. An economic development component will be establishing African Farmer’s Markets with extra produce from the gardens.
In St. Petersburg, AVSI has already established a growing collective of organic backyard gardens where Africans share tools, labor, knowledge and seeds. A variety of greens, cabbage, lettuce, onions, carrots, mangos, eggplant, cucumber, peppers, strawberries, okra, squash, pineapple, beans and more are being grown and the harvests are plentiful.
The Tyron Lewis Memorial Peace Garden, established by the Uhuru Movement as a memorial to 18-year-old Tyron Lewis who was murdered by St. Petersburg police in 1996, is being revived as an Uhuru Freedom Community Garden where members of the local community participate in the collective growing of tomatoes, peppers, greens and other vegetables.
Ground has been broken at a second community Uhuru Freedom Garden on land donated by a member of the St. Petersburg backyard collective. This garden will be used for an AVSI summer program that will offer area youth an opportunity to learn gardening and other skills related to the initiative.
While growing organic gardens and going “green” have become fashionable for some and have been put forward as a way in which imperialism can rescue itself from its economic crisis, AVSI engages in such activities as a means of creating healthy independent, sustainable African communities.
Rainwater harvesting and renewable energy
AVSI addresses the critical needs for water and energy independence with a program for rainwater catchment, installing wells, water purification systems, and developing the model for green sustainable energy.
Where appropriate, AVSI promotes and helps participants set up rainwater harvesting systems for garden irrigation and other household purposes. Simple well-building techniques, rainwater harvesting and water purification, renewable energy and other workshops are offered once a month at the St. Petersburg Uhuru House.
Through AVSI, the Uhuru Houses are being positioned as the working centers for African economic development. The St. Petersburg, Florida Uhuru House has the infrastructure, and we are now working to outfit our recording studio as an economic institution of international African culture and create a fully equipped commercial kitchen for community based economic development projects.
Become a part of AVSI today!
Traditionally, African culture is a culture of collectivism, not individualism. We are confident that if we come together as a community and combine our efforts, African people can not only survive this crisis, but we can come out stronger!
Plans are underway to immediately expand the programs of AVSI in Oakland, California and Baltimore, MD. AVSI committees can and must be built in African communities throughout the U.S.!