Organizing Africans to defeat capitalism and liberate Africa

Organizing Africans Against the Capitalist System

Editor’s Note: 
The following is an excerpt of Hood Communist Editor, Ahjamu Umi’s, most recent work A Guide for Organizing Defense against White Supremacist, Patriarchal, and Fascist Violence. He was also interviewed about it in Black Agenda Report yesterday! If you would like to read it in full, consider purchasing it. All proceeds go toward helping him continue the radical work of arming communities with the skills needed for self defense.

The Current State of Africa and the African diaspora within the U.S. Africa Today

Africa today can be summarized as a continent dominated by foreign interests.  There are over a billion people living in Africa today in 54 countries.  There are 58 territories connected to Africa counting the islands around the continental land base.  Africa today produces about 75% of the cocoa used to make chocolate products.  The continent provides a large percentage of the world’s oil for heating purposes and fuel.  Most of the diamonds and gold produced today originates from Africa.  Columbite tantalite or coltan/cobalt is the mineral ore that once ground down into a powder holds electrical charges which facilitates digital technology.  Cellular phones, laptop computers, flat screen televisions, pretty much any device that sends and receives a signal to function cannot exist without this mineral ore and its only found in plentiful supplies in Central/Southern Africa.  It’s so valuable that it can sell for almost $600.00 USD dollars per pound.  African bauxite, uranium, zinc, flowers, and other raw minerals supply most of what is used on the world market in the production of automobiles, nuclear power capacity, aluminum products, and much, much more.  What’s essential to know about all of this is the vast toll extracting these resources is taking on Africa from the standpoint of the tremendous amount of wealth that is leaving Africa without stopping to benefit everyday Africans, the overwhelming physical toll the work takes on our people, and the devastating environmental consequences from this exploitative process.  

The result is an Africa that is poor and very unstable because this environment benefits the forces who profit from these conditions.  The conflicts that constantly arise in Africa can all be traced to these exploitative industries and the push to ensure imperialism maintains control over these markets.  By imperialism we of course mean the industrial capitalist countries led by the U.S., Europe, etc.  These entities always downplay the importance of Africa, but the level of resources and people they place in Africa to maintain the current systems of oppression tell us otherwise.  The U.S. currently has almost 100 military installations throughout Africa and not one of them is there to build anything for the people.  Instead, this military presence exists to quell, and help train African neo-colonialists, to crush resistance to the rampant oppression these industries facilitate.

This military effort costs billions annually to U.S. taxpayers, most of whom have absolutely no idea it exists.  If you just look at the Congo, imperialism has fomented instability and absolute chaos in that country nonstop since the 1950s in order to ensure capitalism’s interests are protected.  The blatant gangsterism carried out in the process, where literally millions of innocent lives have been brutally lost, is enacted with such confidence by these international thieves that the Hollywood movie industry blatantly produces mainstream motion pictures that display this horrific treatment of African people.  Actor Sean Penn starred in a movie called “The Gunman” which tells the tale of a European mining company in Africa (it could be the Congo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Ghana, anyplace in Africa) that has him assassinate the country’s mining minister (who wants to nationalize the country’s resources) to ensure the European company can continue its theft of resources there. Although a fictional account, this movie pretty much tells the tale about Africa today.  And, there are many movies like that one, but again, most people within the U.S. are completely oblivious to their complacent role in supporting this terrorism (including most Africans in the U.S.).

Clearly, one unified socialist Africa is a solution that places African people in the driver’s seat to control those vast resources and use them through socialist development to advance the masses of Africans, in Africa and everywhere throughout the African world.  Of course, imperialism has killed and exploited far too many, and built its empire on this model, to simply decide one day to return all of the resources they have stolen to the masses of African people.  Kwame Nkrumah recognized this in the Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare. That’s why the third organizing entity he proposed after the All-African Committee for Political Coordination (A-ACPC) and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) is the All African People’s Revolutionary Army (A-APRA) which will serve as our collective military arm to drive the imperialists out of Africa.  This is precisely the work the A-APRP has been engaged in with it’s A-ACPC work over the last 50 years and that work will continue and intensify.  At this stage though, the primary struggle in Africa is one of political education because contrary to popular opinion amongst Africans in the U.S., the education system in Africa is the same neo-colonial, pro-imperialism education that Africans in the U.S. receive.  So, our A-ACPC work today consists primarily of building the consciousness of Africans throughout Africa towards our objective of Pan-Africanism.  There are plenty of indications that this message is taking strong roots throughout Africa.  A question we ponder is how will the African masses in the U.S. respond while this consciousness translates to active struggle to overthrow imperialism in Africa?  That is the purpose of this manual.  To give some analysis on the role of Africans within the U.S. in developing community defense models to assist in this worldwide Pan-African effort for justice and liberation while also providing a model for other communities to prepare for massive resistance to capitalism on an international basis.

Africans in the U.S. Today

The African population within the U.S. will forever serve as a problem for the imperialists.  This is exactly the reason the system works so hard to repress our people.  They know that we are the shock troops here for the Pan-African revolution taking place in Africa.  They know that they cannot have 50 million Africans running around here uncontrolled while imperialism is savagely exploiting Africa.  Often, Africans and other well-meaning people misinterpret this phenomenon.  Since education about Africa is so nonexistent, the very real connection of Africans in the U.S. to Africa, is easily dismissed.  Most everyone in the U.S. suffers painful ignorance about Africa.  So to them, the continent doesn’t seem to have any obvious relevance to their daily lives.  Consequently, the conclusion is most often that Africa must not be too important.  As a result of this confusion, the clear systematic oppression of Africans in the U.S. is credited to this nebulous concept known as “anti-blackness.”  The only anti-blackness is the necessity of capitalism and imperialism to feed itself from robbing Africa blind.  The oppression against the African masses in the U.S. results because our people were never intended, despite our concerted efforts to force the issue, to fit into this society.  Many of us are too traumatized to accept that to the capitalist system our only purpose here is cheap labor.  As a result, the stark reality is the masses of African people in the U.S. are simply in the way in the minds of this power structure and the majority of Europeans and other misinformed nationalities in this country.  Abe Lincoln said it when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending chattel slavery in 1863.  He said if it were practically feasible, since our primary purpose of slave labor was ending, he would have favored sending us all to Africa.  So, when racists tell us “go back to Africa” that’s not just some random aberration from a deranged individual.  That’s a reflection of the fabric of this country since colonialists breached these shores.  When something is in the way and has no value to you, it becomes easy to discard of that something.  

In the U.S. today, the capitalist system needs African mineral resources, but it doesn’t need Africans in the U.S. so its daily operations, from the police to business, politics, faith practices, and social services, are all designed to keep us controlled and under thumb.  To watch us while they continue to steal what they need from our mother.  Our enemies are smart enough to recognize that the fact we are ignorant about our connection to Africa today in no way ensures this ignorance will exist tomorrow.  So, since they remain organized against us, they oppress us ruthlessly to ensure they are not caught off guard when we wake up and realize that wherever we live, our salvation is tied to Africa’s future.  This is the daily experience and reality for the African masses throughout the U.S. and this will continue to be reality until Africa is free, unified, and socialist.  Until that happens, even if many of us have no collective vision and plan for ourselves, rest assured that our enemies have their vision and plan for us.  This is why community defense models are so critical to helping our people get prepared for this fight.  Most of our people are ​​confused about all of this.  Many of us already believe, or want to believe, we are Americans.  The institutions of imperialism have been set up to spread this confusion amongst our people.  If we see ourselves as Americans, we will not be inclined to pay attention to what is happening to Africa and we certainly won’t see doing something to stop it as our responsibility. Also, we will continue to see respecting and protecting the U.S. as our responsibility instead of seeing destroying this empire as essential to our freedom.  We will believe the propaganda of our enemies that the U.S. is helping Africa with everything its doing.  We will also believe that regardless of what traumas this backward country dumps upon us, the absolute only opportunities available to us can only exist within the confines of the U.S. and its exploitative capitalist system.  We will believe that anyone who attempts to present an alternative vision, outside the realm of U.S. capitalism, is insane.

The Capitalist Empire

Further, the other more insidious element of U.S. propaganda on Africans in the U.S. is this subtle notion that the U.S. is the best country on Earth.  This story advances the lie that the U.S. is the citadel of democracy and that everyone can become rich and prosperous in the U.S. if you just apply enough individual effort.  Of course, if you are not successful in this endeavor, which practically everyone is not, then it’s simply because you are flawed and not up to the task.  For this backward analysis, the contradiction is never the system.  The problem here is that imperialism has told us for centuries that this is the wealthiest country because it worked so hard to become that (all you need to do is join that dedicated workforce and your dreams too will come true).  The truth is the U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world because it stole free labor and land.  It exploited and exploits African resources.  The transatlantic slave trade financed the development of the capitalist system.  This is ill refutable.  The banking and insurance industries only came to fruition from seed money provided by African slave labor, but most Africans, especially those within the U.S. don’t know this.  

Most people overall within the U.S. are oblivious to these historical facts.  So most of us believe siding with the U.S. means being on the winning side.  And everyone wants to be a winner, so many Africans, mostly well-intentioned, but overwhelmingly uninformed, buy into this propaganda that we have a stake in the U.S.  For example, the belief that we built the U.S. is really code language for we created this wealth so we are entitled to a piece of it.  The reality of how the wealth was gained, as was just stated before, escapes, or isn’t a priority to many of these Africans who have consciously made class decisions to side with the enemies of African people in the hopes doing so will bring them personal financial success.  This is important to point out because there are petty bourgeoisie Africans everywhere who adopt this sell out mentality.  And, there are even some misdirected Africans within the U.S. who, because of their own dishonest class objectives, choose to paint Africans born outside of the U.S. as Africans who somehow betrayed Africans in the U.S.  This analysis, ​​reaped in opportunism and disunity, fails to acknowledge that there are plenty of Africans in the U.S. who sell us out daily.  As Malcolm X told us, “there have always been house negroes and field negroes!”  This contradiction reflects class struggle among African people, regardless of where we are born and/or living. So, much of the basis of these community defense models is to provide ongoing political education to the masses of Africans in the U.S. while initiating concrete work to demonstrate to them that Africans can be independent.  We can work together across colonial borders to solve our problems.  We can build communities internationally.  And, those communities can connect with our own societies (Africa).  And our societies can be productive and beneficial to all our people and the rest of humanity (Pan-Africanism).

A Case for Organizing Africans against the Capitalist System

Africans within the U.S. face a multitude of oppressive forces.  Police agencies shoot us down in the streets.  And if they aren’t unjustifiably shooting us, they prey on us to provide cheap labor through mass incarceration and to provide revenue for municipal coffers by disproportionately targeting us for anything that can be construed as a violation.  We are ruthlessly discriminated against in job seeking, housing, and even the most casual acts of living life.  The schools mis-educate our children to believe all they can hope for in life is acceptance by the white supremacist capitalist system and most of our adults, already trained in this dysfunctional model, play significant roles in perpetuating this anti-African propaganda among our people.  Most of the religious institutions our people participate in, whether Christian, Islam, etc., promote values that are friendly to capitalism and antagonistic to revolution, socialism, and African self-determination.  The core reason for this oppression is the reliance of imperialism on the continued theft of Africa’s vast mineral resources.  The results of this level of systemic oppression against the African masses are twofold.  One, we continue to mount consistent and sustained resistance wherever we are on earth.  That resistance is almost always spontaneous and reactive, but still, it happens everywhere.  Secondly, we find ourselves on the bottom of every society we inhabit in the world today.  

This is no accident, but the result of the capitalist system’s need to keep us directly under its thumb at all times.  Its reliance on our homeland requires it to ensure we never manage to develop the capacity to confront it successfully.  Consequently, our people are constantly propagandized against our interests.  We are told all over the world, 24/7, in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swahili, and in every other language, that we are cursed by God.  We are incapable of leading ourselves.  Our families are dysfunctional.  And, every problem we have is the direct result of our incompetence.  The truth, of course, is the opposite of this.  The level of love and support we as a people have been able to provide to ourselves within the wretched state we are forced to endure, is overwhelmingly impressive.  All this boils down to the reality that the oppression African people face is a worldwide phenomenon that is powered by the capitalist system, the dominant economic system in the world today.  If we understand and accept this, we have to also face the reality that since the problem originated, and is maintained, on an international level, the problem cannot in anyway be addressed on a micro-state basis.  In other words, the British, French, and U.S. economies, some of the leading capitalist economies in the world, are built and sustained on exploiting Africa. And, those systems maintain their power through brutal oppression of the African masses, the Africans living in Britain, France, and the U.S., cannot effectively address the problems they face without figuring out how to take down the worldwide capitalist system that oppresses all of us.  

We cannot win freedom in Britain alone.  France alone.  The U.S. alone, etc., because all of those economies are based on exploiting our homeland and our people all over the world.  So, any so-called progress Africans within the U.S., for example, can make on an individual basis by advancing through the U.S. capitalist system is always going to be based on perpetuating the oppression of Africans in other parts of the world, particularly Africa.  So, as attractive as it may appear to some to have the opportunity to integrate into the capitalist system, since that system is based on our exploitation, this alleged integration can only always be on a token basis since any wholesale acceptance of us into the capitalist system would have to compromise its basis of operation.  It’s not possible to permit the people your success is based on to have the opportunity to advance within that system on anything beyond a token level.  Just enough to keep providing unrealistic hopes within that community that they too can break through.  So, for any African sincerely dedicated to the emancipation of the African masses, the only true solution must be a worldwide effort of African people uniting to overthrow capitalism.  The antithesis of the worldwide capitalist system is a worldwide socialist system.  The reason for this is capitalism is an economic system where the means of production are owned and controlled by private enterprise for the purpose of private profit.  Socialism is a system where the means of production are owned by the masses of people for collective good.  

Since capitalism is the system that placed us in this situation while maintaining and depending upon us staying in this condition, no solution to our reality could ever be based on capitalist operation.  As Kwame Ture was fond of saying, the question is “who will own and control the means of production.  The question can only be answered two ways.  Either some will own it or everyone will own it.”  We select the everyone will own it option.  And, we embrace that option from an African cultural perspective of achieving socialist revolution.  Nothing against Karl Marx, Vladimar Lenin, etc.  We appreciate, respect, and admire their contributions, but our solution can only be contained with our revolutionary African personality and cultural context.  Our socialist solution is tied to our historical circumstances.  Its tied to Africa’s liberation.  Our socialism is connected to one unified socialist Africa e.g. Pan-Africanism.  So, for us the question is how we go about achieving the Pan-Africanism we need?  Obviously, we are working against the most powerful system in human history.  Our collective success is reliant on an unprecedented level of organization among African people everywhere.  That requires a collective strategy we must employ to bring about the results we are looking for.  Nkrumah, in the Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, gave us the blueprint for creating the mechanism for African unity focused on Africa being primary.  Since the core of our Pan-Africanist effort will take place in Africa, the other question is how we will employ the masses of African people across the diaspora in this work?  This is where the community defense models come into play.  The strategy within the HORW provides the basis for this work in Africa and the intention of this manual is to provide a complimentary model for Africans born within the U.S.  In other words, the idea here is the community defense model will complement the work for Pan-Africanism in Africa.  These combined efforts will strengthen our work all over the world which makes our ability to achieve our objective that much more feasible.

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Ahjamu Umi is revolutionary organizer with the All African People's Revolutionary Party, adviser, and liberation literature author.