We must take back our Africa, our resources, our identity!

Chairman Omali Yeshitela gave the following presentation at the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 19, 2006. The event was the last night of the African People’s Socialist Party-sponsored U.S. tour of Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, leader of the Africanist Movement of Sierra Leone and West Africa.


First of all I want to express my appreciation to Comrade Chernoh Alpha M. Bah for the tremendous amount of work that he has been doing for our Africa in Africa, and also for his participation in this tour.

He traveled to some 16 cities different cities throughout the United States. In the short time that he’s been here Chernoh has traveled to more cities in the U.S. than most Africans who live here have ever visited. He’s had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and to share experiences throughout this country.

Chernoh was also with us in London last month, where we met with Africans from Germany, Holland, France, Israel, England and the United States.

Chernoh’s tour is part of the work of the African People’s Socialist Party. Everything that we want to make happen in Sierra Leone is part of our Party’s work as well. All of this work reflects our understanding that indeed we are one African people, whether we are living here in St. Petersburg, Florida in the United States, or whether we are in Sierra Leone or Liberia or Congo in West Africa. We are one African people.

It is really important for us to understand this. When you listen to much of what Chernoh has been talking about, you’re witnessing the ability of a powerful oppressor and exploiter to take resources from Africa and African people. They do this by dividing us and convincing us of our differences, even as this oppressor convinces us that we are a part of him. The reality is that Africa is the original sin, if you will. It was the assault on Africa that built capitalism and white power.

Slavery isn’t something that happened to Africans or so-called black people in America or in the Caribbean or South America. Slavery is something that happened to Africa! What we call slavery and the slave trade was an attack on Africa.

It wasn’t as if somebody came here and enslaved us. Somebody came to Africa and captured Africans! They like to talk about America being a “nation of immigrants,” but we are not immigrants. We are captives! We were brought here as captives. We are the only people in this country other than the Indigenous people who did not come here looking for a better way of life. We lost a better way of life as a consequence of having been brought here. [Audience: That’s right!]

The reality is, when you look at the conditions of existence of black people any place in the world, you see that we share the same reality of imposed oppression, exploitation, poverty and ignorance. Yet we come from the richest continent on earth in terms of natural resources. Twelve million square miles of wealth. It’s so rich that they have been looting Africa for the past five hundred years.

Africans poorest on planet because resources are being stolen from us

We are a part of the loot of Africa, part of what was stolen from Africa. There are a 140 million Africans in South America and the Caribbean. The poorest people in South America and the Caribbean are Africans. The poorest people in the world are Africans, because we have been taken away from the resources that belong to us, whether we are in Africa or whether we are someplace else.

Our resources are being stolen from us. There is one company in one city in Sierra Leone that is taking nearly 130,000 karats of dia monds a year. Each karat is valued at $60,000. That’s just one of many, many companies in Sierra Leone and throughout Africa. Yet in Sierra Leone African people are starving. We are trying to make it off one meal a day. No electricity. No clean water. You see children, little babies with boils on their skin because of the impure water.

Look at Congo, a territory about the size of India. There are a billion people in India. There are only 50 million people in Congo. Angola is the fourth largest territory in post-partitioned Africa, yet only ten million African people live there. Where are the Africans? They’re in St. Petersburg, those who survived. They’re in Brazil. They’re in South America, and elsewhere. These are resources that have been stolen from our Africa — human, thinking resources.

In 1884-85, the pious representative of God on earth called the pope held a conference in Berlin, Germany where he carved up Africa and parceled out different parts of our land to the various European powers. Those borders that were created then are still in existence today.

Those borders weren’t created for Africa. They were created for the Belgians, the French, the English, the Germans and all the others for the purpose of stealing wealth away from Africa.

Africans must reclaim our identity as Africans

Today people call themselves by the names given to those countries created by the imperialists who control those borders. You’ve heard of Cameroon, a name given to us by the Portuguese.

They called it Cameroon because the Portuguese found a lot of shrimp when they came there, and Cameroon is derived from the Portuguese word for shrimp. So you’ve got people walking around calling themselves shrimp.

There’s Ivory Coast, where the French killed elephants to take their tusks to make piano keys and billiard balls. There you’ve got Africans running around calling ourselves elephant tusks.

Worse than that, you’ve got Africans who were captured and brought here, where we call ourselves Americans or Negro-Americans or African-Americans, almost-Americans, Americans-in-the-incubators, Americans-maybe-in-the-next-400-years, or one-day-Americans. Second class Americans. Hitchhiking Americans. Some of us have accepted this designation imposed on us by imperialism. We didn’t name ourselves that. The imperialists did.

How the hell can you get on a boat in Africa as an African in the 17th or 18th century and then get off that boat in Jamestown, Virginia as a Negro? How can you get on a boat as an African in Africa and then get off that boat in America as something else?

I was an African when I got on the damn boat, but when I got off I was an Afro-something, a Negro-something or some other kind of creature. No! If we were Africans when we got on the boat in Africa, we were Africans when we got off the boats. We were Africans then and we are Africans now. This is the consciousness we have to accept for ourselves.

Here we are fighting for food stamps and welfare and all this madness when Africa is the richest continent on earth! Everybody’s stealing it right out from under our noses because they’ve convinced us that we aren’t Africans. You used to be an African but you aren’t an African any more. What happened?

Chernoh was talking to us about Liberia. We have a relationship to Liberia because that’s the place where Africans who were enslaved in this country went to supposedly gain freedom.

Liberia became a U.S. neo-colony a long time ago. The capital of Liberia is Monrovia. It is named after the U.S. president James Monroe. Did you know that? The flag is red, white and blue with one star. The currency is the U.S. dollar. Always has been.

In the 1920s Marcus Garvey built an international movement that was millions strong, with from six to eleven million members and supporters throughout the African world. If you talk about the success of Cuba, you’re talking about Garveyites who built the movement that initiated much of the struggle that happened in Cuba.

In a few days, I’ll be going to Namibia in southwest Africa. I’ll be in South Africa. The Garvey movement was there.

Garvey built an incredible movement. He never went to Africa, but he sent a delegation of people to Liberia because Liberia was supposed to have been independent. This delegation of Africans bought a huge parcel of land in Liberia. They had an agreement with the Liberian government.

They had actually begun to transport materials from the U.S. to build a center in Liberia. They were going to build a base in Africa.

That terrified a lot of the imperialists, not only those who were tied to America, but from everyplace else. They knew that Garvey was setting up a base in African territory from which he would strike out all across Africa to unite and liberate our Africa.

W. E. B. DuBois and a lot of the petty bourgeois Negroes in this country were integrationists and assimilationists, who believed that the solution to our problems was not to fight to win our own freedom and build our own resources, but to somehow fight to be with white folks.

DuBois, who was the founder of the Pan Africanist movement, worked with the U.S. government to overturn the deal that Garvey had made with the government of Liberia. Because of this Liberia took back the land that they had given to Garvey. You know who owns that land now? Firestone Rubber Company. Firestone Rubber Company owns that land right now. These are the kinds of contradictions we’re talking about.

When you look at the theft of our resources in Sierra Leone right now, you’re not looking at something new. You’re talking about diamond mining that began there in the 1930s, but the rip off has been going on for much longer than that. Our presence in this country is evidence of the fact that they’ve been stealing from Africa for a long time.

Today we are building a process to take back our Africa, to take back our resources and our identity. We are fighting to reenter history as a people determining our own future and the future of our progeny, as opposed to having somebody else doing that.

Our struggle is for power over our own lives

I don’t know about anybody else in this room, but I’m tired of living in a world where you have to hope, “Oh god, please let a good white man get elected this year!” I don’t want to live like that. I refuse to live like that anymore.

People are trying to understand why Africans in America have such hypertension problems. I can tell you why. We live in a state of constant fear.

Some people won’t even come into this building now because they’re scared of what the white folks will think if they come to the Uhuru Movement. People are scared they would lose their job if their boss found out.

People are afraid that what happened on November 13, 1996 will happen again. That’s when the government sent in a military force some 300-strong to attack this building during a regularly scheduled meeting of over a hundred people. They used all the tear gas they had in the city of St. Petersburg against us. People are afraid of what white folks will do if we come together to even talk about being free as a people.

That’s no way to live. I won’t live that way, and I don’t expect anybody who hears my voice to live that way.

I will tell you this. We will know freedom when we win freedom and take it for ourselves. We will know freedom when we free Africa and take back our resources. We will know freedom when we are a self-governing people again.

“We are a part of the loot of Africa, part of what was stolen from Africa. There are a 140 million Africans in South America and the Caribbean. The poorest people in the world are Africans, because we have been taken away from the resources that belong to us, whether we are in Africa or whether we are someplace else. ”

People tell you if you are African you are supposed to struggle to make people like you. Nobody else on earth is told that. They didn’t tell the Vietnamese that. They didn’t tell the Nicaraguans that. They don’t tell that to anybody but you, both here and in Africa. They tell you that your struggle is to make white people like you.

Everybody else in the world understands that the struggle is to have power over your own life. Power over your own resources, so that you with your own hands can know that your children are going to have a future. [Applause] Everybody else understands that but us. They tell you that you teach “hatred” when you call on people to stand up and act like men and women.

You live in a country that has a budget approximating a trillion dollars. They spend a billion dollars a day on more than 730 U.S. government military bases around the world, and they tell you that you’re supposed to be making people love you.

Look at the people in Occupied Palestine that they have the audacity to call Israel. It’s one of the last colonies in the world, a direct, nasty, white nationalist, settler occupation there. Now the Hamas government is in power. Because it won’t commit to non-violence and it won’t say that Israel has a right to exist, the U.S. is going to economically strangle them.

How the hell can somebody steal your land, then break into your house and take it over. They let you have part of the bathroom. You’re trying to get out of the bathroom, saying “I want my house back! Those people who stole my house got to get out.” They tell you that the only way you can get some support is if you say the people who stole your house got the right to be there!

The imperialists don’t want a free Palestinian State. They want punks. They want people who have been beaten down, cowards who are too afraid to stand up for their rights.

They are afraid of the Palestinian cause because they know that oppressed peoples around the world are watching the Palestinians, just like we watching the Iraqis and the people of Cuba and Venezuela. [Applause] All the oppressed people on earth want to be free! There is nothing that the intelligent ones will not do in order to get free.

Everybody wants to be free!

The problem that we have here is not with white people but with the imperial attitude that imperialism creates in white people, because imperialism defined itself as white power. A handful of people on earth are holding the vast resources of everybody else.

We are poor in Africa, poor in Latin America, and poor in most of Asia because all the resources from those places are coming to America and Europe where they are living it up.

How in the hell do you think you are supposed to sleep peacefully at night when you’ve got everybody’s loot under your bed? Hell no! You can’t take it from me and sleep at night. If I know you got it, I’m coming for it, and if you get in the way I’m coming for you as well. [Applause]

Imperialist crisis in Africa is constantly on edge and unstable

In West Africa the situation is so repressive that Chernoh has to weigh every word he says. If he says the wrong thing, he’s going to get a visit from the government asking him to explain what he meant by that statement. It’s like that here too when movements start to emerge.

The crisis in West Africa is so profound that they know something could happen any day. That’s why British troops are stationed there. That’s why they’re building an FBI office right now in Sierra Leone. They know that any minute everything can explode.

In the beginning Chernoh was taken aback by what we can say at this time. Right now we can say it, but maybe not tomorrow. Some people can’t even say it now. Look at Sami Al-Arian, the Palestinian professor who was arrested for supposedly “aiding terrorists.” He just spent years in jail before going to trial. He won the trial and he has to spend another year in prison before being deported. [Audience: That’s right!] How many others are stuck in prisons and detention camps all over the country that we don’t even know about?

When Chernoh was speaking in Emeryville, California, he was confronted by an African man from Sierra Leone who is tied to the government. This person made some not very subtle threats against Chernoh reminding him of what happened to another journalist who criticized the government. The man stated to Chernoh that if he was there for the wrong reason he might not leave the room alive.

What we are saying is we are building a movement today. This is not some charity trip. Chernoh has now connected himself to the African People’s Socialist Party, which has a dynamic relationship to the Africanist Movement and the situation in Sierra Leone. We truly believe in the slogan, “Touch one, touch all.”

We are saying that part of the work that will be done by the Sierra Leone support group that we are building is political support. This lets the government there know that if they touch a single strand of his hair, they are going to be greeted with resistance from Africans and other people around the world. [Applause]

We must build an international revolutionary party to liberate Africa

My objective, and the objective that makes Chernoh so valuable to us, is to build a revolutionary movement. We’re going have to fight our way out of here. You are out of your mind if you think they are going to give up those diamonds in Sierra Leone. Do you think they are going to have an epiphany? Maybe they’ll see the movie, The Passion of Christ and decide they’ll give it back?

That is not going to happen. They’re not going to give the resources back. We’re going to have to fight for our freedom. We have to build the organization around the world capable of making that fight.

That’s why Chernoh is here. That’s why we go to Sierra Leone. That’s why in a couple of days I’ll be going to South Africa, then Namibia, then Ghana and France to meet with Africans, because we have to build this organization throughout the world that can fight for our freedom. We have to build an organization of professional revolutionaries. People may have occupations as schoolteachers, bus drivers, bricklayers or mechanics. That might be your occupation but your profession is revolution. There are no oppressed people on earth who ever won their freedom without first building an organization of skilled, tested cadre whose profession is winning their freedom.

Now, I am not calling on everybody to be a revolutionary. If you can be a revolutionary then you should join this movement. If you can’t be a revolutionary then you should support this movement. If you can’t support this movement openly, then you should support this movement secretly. You ought to have some relationship to this movement. [Applause]

We are not the NAACP. We are not the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. No, we don’t believe “we shall overcome some day.” If you thought that’s what you were coming to, this is the wrong place. We don’t believe that we can win our freedom by voting.

If we participate in an election it is not because we think that the vote is going to free us. We participate in an election because we are fighting for the democratic space to build our struggle. We understand that the electoral process is simply a nonviolent contest between different sectors of the ruling class fighting for control of the State. That’s all it is.

So we might participate, but an election will never free us. They will never put revolution on the ballot. Giving back our resources will never be on the ballot. We are going to have to fight our way out of here.

Brothers and Sisters, Africa has to be free. You have to fight for Africa. Some people in this room might have problems with the concept that we are Africans and we are all one people. I understand that. Just because I say that we’re Africans doesn’t mean that we’re smart! [Laughter] It just means we’re Africans.

There are those of us who have a stake in not being Africans. If we are Africans then some people are left to ask the question, “If they are Africans then who are we?”

Some people say we are not Africans because we’ve been here too long. They don’t say what the cutoff date is, but you’ve been here too long. I wish they would tell us the cutoff date, because Chernoh might need to leave tonight. [Laughter] We might need to hustle him out of here. What’s the fairy tale where the person turns into a pumpkin? You might have to get out of here tonight because you might turn into a Negro, Chernoh.

We are Africans. We’ve been made to hate Africa because we don’t know anything about Africa. If we knew something about Africa we would love Africa. Even the most frothing at the mouth reactionaries have to admit that human life started in Africa.

It is not natural for people in Africa to have a lifespan of thirty-seven years. Human life started in Africa, so Africa is not hostile to life. Africa is the friendliest place on earth to life.

Human life didn’t start in Manchester, England, you know. It started in Africa. Furthermore, human civilization has its origin in Africa. We were building pyramids before Europeans learned to master fire. We have been made ashamed of our Africa. Somebody has wiped our memory clean so that we don’t understand our history or anything about ourselves.

The value of our history is that if we know what we have done, it informs us of what we are capable of doing. Knowing our history gives us the courage to fight our way out of this.

Somebody has convinced us that they rescued us by making us slaves and working us like beasts. They worked us to death in some places like Barbados where the lifespan of an African was seven years. And they’ve convinced us that they’ve rescued us by doing this.

Things are not much better than slavery today. The minimum wage is now $6.15. That means since they brought us here they’ve given us a raise of $6.15. That ain’t much to brag about.

Chernoh and the Africanist Movement are so significant to us because we have been working for the past 30 years or more trying to build the African Socialist International. We have been working all over the African world. We’ve built relationships with groups that ultimately went to power, but never have we been able to find someone on the ground building mass grassroots movement. We had given up on the idea and said we’re going to have to do this by ourselves. Now we have met Chernoh Alpha M. Bah and the Africanist Movement and we know that together we are going to build a revolutionary movement all over Africa and throughout the African world.

We want to send Chernoh home with some resources so he can do some work. This is not charity work. We are plotting to slay the slave master and overturn the system of slavery. This is not to help poor slaves live better but to overturn the system of slavery.

Izwe Lethu! i Afrika!

One Africa! One Nation!



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