WASHINGTON, D.C. — Among the outstanding resolutions adopted at the historical Conference on the Other Wars conducted by the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIBC) in this city on March 26 was one calling for Africans to conduct African Liberation Day (ALD) on May 21 this year as an event to oppose imperialist wars in Africa and against African people worldwide.
The resolution also called for an International Day of Action by Africans worldwide in opposition to the imperialist wars in Africa and in every community around the world to which the African nation has been forcibly dispersed.
The Black is Back Coalition is an organization that is comprised of Africans from almost the entire spectrum of anti-imperialist expressions — in North America, the Bahamas and England. It is an organization of organizations and personalities that came together urgently in 2009, after the selection of Barack Hussein Obama as the black face of imperialist America.
The selection of Obama as U.S. president is what gave urgency to the founding of the coalition, which held its first action, a national demonstration at the White House, less than two months after its founding meeting. Coalition members felt a special responsibility in defense of the African community and its historic reputation for being on the side of social justice, to oppose imperialism in its latest desperate form.
However, the coalition was also moved to come together because of the limitations of the traditional white-led anti-war and/or peace movement, that is generally incapable of criticizing imperialism as a system and almost always incapable of criticizing imperialism as it relates to Africans, Mexicans, other indigenous people of the Americas and a host of other peoples whose oppression constitute the critical factor in the advent and success of imperialism as a system.
This is why the March 26 conference was characterized as a conference on the “Other Wars,” wars that don’t hold the attention of the white left at the moment, but that constitute the condition of existence for the vast majority of humanity.
Peace movement does not speak to wars on Africa
Luwezi Kinshasa, the Secretary General of the African Socialist International and a native of Congo currently residing in London, gave the presentation that resulted in the anti-war resolutions around ALD and Africans internationally that were unanimously adopted by conference participants.
Speaking on the permanent war against Africa, Kinshasa began by stating the obvious: Imperialism and Western civilization are based on lies. “They cannot tell the truth,” he boldly declared. Civilization and writing began in Africa, he stated, contradiction the imperialist claims that whites came to Africa as exporters of surplus civilization.
Kinshasa’s presentation was based on his recognition that “the minds of the oppressed have to be free.” War is what introduced most Africans to Europeans and the white world. “Slavery is a form of war,” he said. “Colonialism is a form of war. From it’s starting point you are dealing with an economy of war!”
“Every day in Africa at least 400 million people go hungry. Malaria, unclean water, etc., are all examples of war. When you die from hunger, are sick and cannot afford a doctor, that’s war. There is no trade,” he explained.
“The imperialists loot, kill and impose conditions on the people. And the wars all over Africa? They are wars to reverse the gains made through the struggles for independence. The response of the U.S. was to impose war in all the places where they could not control the situation directly.”
Speaking about the situation in the land of his birth, Kinshasa explained how anyone from the age of seven was considered a Lumumbaist, a follower of Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba was a great African patriot who was murdered with the assistance of the CIA under the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose assassination was also supported by Kennedy who followed Eisenhower in office. “They killed them all,” Kinshasa explained.
“There has never been a sustained peace movement to stop the war in Congo or most of Africa. And there is imperialist-inspired war all over Africa. The people suffering from these wars have no access to healthcare, clean water. Millions of people are living in concentration camps called refuge centers, which are nothing but death camps.”
Calling for Africans to come together around the world in support of our common struggle to liberate and unite Africa and African people worldwide, Kinshasa’s resolution to build ALD as a platform opposing the imperialist-sponsored wars in Africa was adopted unanimously by the conference.
The resolution also called for an international Day of Action on August 20, honoring the August 17 birthday of Marcus Garvey, where Africans and all others would mobilize in opposition of war on Africa on the continent and African people everywhere else.
A second resolution proposed by Kinshasa and also adopted unanimously by the conference, called for Africans everywhere to oppose Africom, the U.S. Africa Command that has been created to protect the imperialist status quo in Africa.
Presentations at Conference address broad spectrum of imperialist wars against oppressed people
Kinshasa was not the only presenter at the conference. Glen Ford, a founding member of the coalition gave an extensive presentation that revealed the empirical basis for African resistance in the U.S. and people’s resistance throughout the continent of Africa.
Eugenia Charles, a longtime Haitian activist, gave a rundown on the history of war against Haiti, especially its successful struggle to defeat colonial slavery imposed on the people by France with the collaboration of the entire white world. The Black is Back Coalition has a history of support for the Haitian resistance and opposition to imperialist aggression there that is represented in resolutions that, among other things, call for reparations to Haiti from the U.S. and France.
Dr. Jared Ball, an esteemed radical intellectual at Morgan State University, brought his sharp analysis to the issue of psychological warfare, the ongoing, necessary assault on the consciousness of African people colonized in the U.S. by the various forms of media, functioning as a weapon of the colonial state.
Rich Piedrahita, spoke on the history of oppression and its current articulation in Colombia, where African people exist as an oppressed, colonized community, marginalized and under constant violent attacks and threats of violence from a neocolonial state in the service of U.S. imperialism.
Efia Nwangaza from the Malcolm X Center for Self-determination in Greenville, South Carolina, another founding member of the coalition, excoriated the U.S. government for its colonial practices of mass incarceration of Africans in general and the criminalization and incarceration of political prisoners, those brave women and men who have often led the resistance of our people to U.S. colonial oppression.
Coming from Philadelphia, USA, Diop Olugbala, the president of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, gave a brilliant presentation that exposed the use of the police in the U.S. as military occupation forces that regularly harass, brutalize and murder African people.
Queen Mother Yaa Asantewa, a leader of the International section of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA), helped us to understand why “reparations” is in the name of the coalition. Taking the term reparations to a literal definition, the Queen Mother reminded us that the damage done by imperialism to our people also includes damage to the psyche that will require a united effort by Africans ourselves to repair.
All of the presentations were extraordinary and clearly demonstrated the significance of having this conference by Africans to examine the issue of war and peace on our own terms and not as people whose definitions have to meet the approval of a white left that often uses resource monopoly as a means to shape the discussions and agendas in the African community.
This was something that was recognized by Sister Nellie Bailey, a Harlem resident and president of the Harlem Tenants Council and noted anti-imperialist combatant.
Among other things, Sister Nellie spoke to the successful gentrification of Harlem that functions as a means of destroying the concentration of African economic, cultural and political power. However, one of the outstanding examples of Nellie Bailey’ courage and commitment is her early and consistent criticism of U.S. imperialism as represented by Barack Hussein Obama.
Unity of Mexican and African liberation struggles
Nothing excited the conference more than the presence and presentation by Christian Ramirez, a representative to the conference from Unión del Barrio, a Mexican National Liberation organization with its headquarters in San Diego, California.
Unión del Barrio is a fraternal organization of the African People’s Socialist Party that has shared a relationship of great integrity for more than 25 years. It has been partially through its relationship with the Party that Unión del Barrio has experienced solidarity with the struggle for African liberation and the Party has experienced solidarity with the Mexican National liberation movement, partially through our relationship with Unión del Barrio.
It was this solidarity that was central to Companero Ramirez’ presentation. He addressed the great oppression of the Mexican people, the special police organizations created by the U.S. to control the Mexican population and to prevent the movement of Mexican people on either side of the artificial border.
Comrade Ramirez recognized — to great applause from the Africans present — that the unity of the African and Mexican peoples will drive the final nail in the coffin of imperialism.