United Nations Permanent Forum reveals influence of Uhuru Movement, weakened U.S. hegemony

From May 30 to June 2, International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) President Matsemela Odom and Lisa Davis, Vice Chair of the Black is Back Coalition (BIBC) attended the second session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) at the United Nations (UN) in New York City. The first session of the PFPAD was held in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2022. In the future, these sessions will rotate between NYC and Geneva.

The Uhuru Movement was greeted by many friends and comrades from other organizations. Contacts that we have through our membership in the United Nations Antiracism Coalition (UNARC) were present including human rights attorney Kerry McLean of NYC and Crista Noel of Chicago. Crista had organized the UN panel in Chicago that Kabula testified at in April 2023. There were comrades from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), Black Alliance for Peace (BAP), December 12th Movement (DTM), and of course Mama Efia Nwangaza of the Malcolm X Center in South Carolina.

InPDUM’s presence at the UN clearly stood out because of the U.S. government’s assault against the Uhuru Movement and indictment of the Uhuru 3 (Chairman Omali, Penny Hess and Jesse Nevel). One reason for this assault was InPDUM’s Africans Charge Genocide campaign and UN petition that garnered upwards of 130,000 signatures.

InPDUM New York at People’s Forum organizing support for the Hands Off Uhuru! campaign. Pictured from left to right: Matsemela, Lisa, FYC and Malik. PHOTO: THE BURNING SPEAR

Impact of anti-colonial struggle on the United Nations

Following the second imperialist world war, the emergence of independent countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America made the UN a significant arena of struggle. In the 1950s and 1960s, the UN developed a certain progressive character because it was being transformed by a variety of anti-colonial forces.

In 1951, William Patterson and Paul Robeson presented the We Charge Genocide Petition to the UN. In 1957 and 1959, Queen Mother Audley Moore presented petitions to the UN demanding reparations to African people in the U.S.

In 1960, at the UN General Assembly, Malcolm X met with Fidel Castro of Cuba as well as the heads of multiple African countries including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea. Malcolm X emphasized the importance of raising the struggle of African people from civil rights to human rights. Civil rights kept us stuck inside the U.S. system, human rights allowed us to take our concerns to the UN and the world stage.

In July 1964, Malcolm X spoke on the human rights violations against Africans in the U.S. at the convening of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Cairo, Egypt. Malcolm was assassinated before his mission could be realized.

Weakened U.S. hegemony on display

An article by Mama Efia on the PFPAD appeared in The Burning Spear in early 2023. In her article, Mama Efia noted that the PFPAD was “the United States and other European countries, former colonizers and enslavers, effort to control today’s Bandung-like global reparations centered freedom movement evidenced by the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).”

The April 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia was a significant moment in the anti-colonial struggle. It represented colonized people solving the problems ourselves. The Bandung Conference was attended by 29 countries (20 Asian, seven African, and one from Eastern Europe). The Atlantic countries, countries we would constitute as “white countries” were not allowed in.

The DDPA is the program adopted by delegates at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The DDPA condemned colonialism and genocide and demanded reparations.

InPDUM was present at the Durban Conference in 2001 through our president at that time, Chimurenga Selembao who was a member of the Durban 400. The Durban 400 were an All-African group, mostly from the U.S., that attended the Durban Conference to push for reparations and were successful. The DDPA reflected the influence of the Durban 400 which included people like Mama Efia, Omowale Clay and Roger Wareham.

The U.S. and its allies torpedoed the DDPA. Yet, much like in 1955, the anti-colonial struggle is raging and despite their pushback, the weakened U.S. hegemony was on display.

Most important work happens between sessions

President Matsemela and BIBC Vice Chair Lisa met with African representatives from around the world including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, South Africa, Haiti, the Congo, Belgium, Netherlands and England.

InPDUM President Matsemela Odom and Regina Santos from The Movimento Negro Unificado/Unified Black Movement (MNU) of Brazil. PHOTO: THE BURNING SPEAR

The PFPAD consists of main thematic discussions and many official side events. There were five thematic discussions held in the General Assembly hall as well as another large conference room: Global Reparatory Justice; Pan-Africanism for Dignity, Justice and Peace; Transnational Migration; Recognizing and Addressing Systemic and Structural Racism: Data Collection for People of African Descent and Health, Well-being, and Intergenerational Trauma.

Like Malcolm in 1960, the most important work happens outside of the official meetings.

Brazil’s delegation was large. InPDUM gained contacts from Movimento Negro Unificado/Unified Black Movement (MNU) and UNEafro. Matsemela reconnected with comrade Douglas Belchior, UNEafro cofounder. Comrades from Brazil organized an important side event at Columbia University.

UNEafro of Brazil. PHOTO: THE BURNING SPEAR

A crucial side-event was the screening of the documentary Durban 400 by DTM at the People’s Forum in Manhattan. InPDUM New York organizers Fyc and Malik also attended this event. Roger Wareham and Mama Efia led a crucial discussion following the film about the need to fight for the DDPA. Matsemela addressed the audience about the attack against the Uhuru Movement and the ACG Campaign.

Reparations was center stage, Uhuru influence present

The discussion on reparations took center stage. The influence of the African People’s Socialist Party and Chairman Omali Yeshitela was evident in the discussion. Yet, the void of ideological clarity of African Internationalism was also evident.

Crista Noel’s organization, Women’s All Points Bulletin, placed the Hands Off Uhuru in their list of demands they submitted as part of their report to the PFPAD.

Dr. Amara Enyia of Global Black came the closest to our position. She spoke on the Pan-Africanism panel. She upheld the legacy of Malcolm X, Du Bois, and the DDPA.

The neocolonial position on reparations prevailed through most of the discussion, however. Even worse, many people associated with the African Union used the idea of reparations to evade the colonial question, instead only focusing on internal contradictions Africans face.

U.S. weakened hegemony was not only on display, their anti-reparations agenda was displayed through the remarks by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The most aggressive defense of full reparations to African people came from Stepan Kuzmenkov, senior counselor at Russia’s UN mission. Kuzmenkov identified the role of reparations as overturning the “crimes done in the name of colonialism and the slave trade.” He stated that it was the General Assembly’s responsibility to create a global reparations fund and pledged their participation in the process.

It’s clear why the U.S. government is attacking Uhuru

David Commissiong of Barbados called on the UN to hold a reparations tribunal. Over 40 years ago, Chairman Omali and the APSP held the tribunal being called for. A new historical record of that convening is now available in the book The Verdict is In: Reparations Now!

Chairman Omali Yeshitela will be touring the U.S. Northeast during the UN General Assembly. InPDUM NYC is already organizing to help make this tour a success.

The echoes of the Party’s influence proves the correctness of InPDUM’s presence at the second session of the PFPAD and our participation moving forward. It was a success for InPDUM, the Party and the Hands Off Uhuru Campaign.

Hands Off Uhuru!

The highest expression of democracy is self-determination. Join InPDUM today:
inpdum.org/today

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