Omavi’s Critique of the Attack Made Against Comrade Chernoh Alpha M. Bah!
I’m writing this statement to weigh in on what I believe is an unprincipled attack and incorrect criticism being made against Comrade Chernoh Alpha M Bah. Before I am accused, no I am not a Chernoist nor a Yeshitelist, and I am not a member of either of their organizations. After reading the long drawn out criticism and some of the responses, I thought it necessary to give my position. Before I go any further, I think that it is important to state that this entire struggle is not fairly being made, because the vast majority of African people in Sierra Leone don’t have access to the internet to have their voices heard in this struggle, including the masses that support Chernoh.
First of all, I think it is dishonest to make a struggle labeling the leader of a genuine movement in West Africa as an imperialist over a boat motor, some land, and a radio. Is that what are struggle has been diminished to, a petty argument over resources that were donated to the People’s movement in Sierra Leone. All the work and publicity and promises to the people have been halted because the African Socialist Movement refuses to use the donations made to their movement to support programs of the Uhuru Movement in Sierra Leone that are currently working against the ASM. Or is this merely a beef due to the fact that the APSP no longer controls the movement in Sierra Leone? After working full-time in the party for about 5 years, if I called the Chairman a thief and demanded a return or refund on all the donations, resources, time, and work that I have given to the Uhuru Movement, that would be entirely unprincipled, because that was a willing donation that I made under the assumption that I was supporting a genuine revolutionary movement. In fact, if all those that have supported and sustained the Uhuru Movement over the years and now completely disagree and disunite with their organization demanded a return on all of their resources, the Organization would be literally bankrupt. So how is it fair, to demand a return of resources that you donated to the ASM because you now disunite with their organization. If that is the most principled way to resolve it, then the debt must be paid from both ends. The Uhuru Movement must return all that it has gained from their relationship with Chernoh as well. True solidarity is support without subordination.
One thing seems clear, the APSP stands to benefit more than the African Socialist Movement in their former relationship. I know for a fact that the Uhuru Movement is greatly indebted to the Africanist Movement for lending legitimacy, exposure, and opportunity to the APSP. Countless members, including some of those making this attack against Chernoh, were won to the Uhuru Movement by their relationship with Chernoh and his work in Sierra Leone. It is dishonest to paint the picture that the Uhuru Movement has been taken advantage of by the African Socialist Movement under the leadership of Chernoh Alpha M Bah, when it was in fact the APSP that was taking advantage of an opportunity to build itself off the work of the African Socialist Movement.
It has been stated by Chimurenga Waller that “the African working class can only have one Party”, and I guess that means one Chairman and one Movement; the Uhuru Movement and Chairman Omali Yeshitela. So clearly it was and has been the intent of the Uhuru movement to “own” the Africanist Movement from the beginning. That was the terms of their “solidarity.” Attempting to take advantage of the weaknesses of the People’s Movement in Sierra Leone is opportunistic, unprincipled, and dishonest.
I do not unite with the following points being made in the criticism:
“This is reactionary internationalism… This means they are not interested in overturning imperialism and the parasitic devastation imperialism imposes on Africa and the internationally dispersed African nation.
Chernoh’s actions expose him as a reactionary internationalist. He is willing to sacrifice the interests of the workers and toiling masses of Sierra Leone and Africa through building alliances and relationships with his counterpart in the U.S.” -APSP
Reactionary internationalism is building relationships with revolutionary organizations and mass movements under the terms that they join the APSP in an opportunistic attempt to co-op the movements of African people. Reactionary internationalism is recruiting Africans under the claim to be building a movement, yet the only work that is being done is centered around preserving the Chiarman’s legacy. I believe that the APSP just squandered the best chance it has ever had to actually advance the African revolution, due to its tradition of arrogance and culture of neo-colonial opportunism it has with African people and the African liberation movement. Plain and simple you cannot use or manipulate your own people in the name of freedom.
“During Chernoh’s involvement in the ASI, all projects of AAPDEP and the ASI in Sierra Leone were brought in from the outside. None of the AAPDEP work resulted in building AAPDEP, the ASI or the Uhuru Movement until Nurse Mary Koroma took leadership of the organization on the ground in Sierra Leone.
From 2005, when we first came into contact with Chernoh, until sometime in 2011, when Chernoh left our movement because he was no longer able to advance his own personal agenda and under criticism from the ASI, Chernoh created absolutely nothing that contributed to the development of the revolution, our movement or the people of Sierra Leone and Africa.” -APSP
It seems like what you really are saying is that the Uhuru Movement, APSP, and the ASI are disappointed that Chernoh did not build the Uhuru Movement in Sierra Leone. Why should he build the Uhuru movement when there is already a strong movement on the ground in Sierra Leone; unless it was to opportunistically advance the selfish interest of the Uhuru Movement and the Chairman’s legacy at the expense of the People’s movement in Sierra Leone. This is especially correct when there is nothing pointing to any evidence of success that the APSP has had building the Uhuru Movement in the US. The better question is what has the Uhuru Movement done for the People of Sierra Leone, except for try to co-op and control their movement? If you want to support a genuine movement, the Party should have supported it without having to own it!
FORMER PARTY FORCES
There are scores of such persons. They lurk in dark spaces and throughout cyber space waiting to pounce on any contradiction involving our Party and Movement and some wait to do whatever harm they can do to the Party, all to justify their retreat from revolutionary principles by making the Party the enemy. In fact, for some attacking the Party is their primary goal in life. Needless to say, their attack on the Party is aiding and abetting imperialism.
What the people really need to understand is that the Uhuru Movement has taken advantage of more Africans that they will ever be able to organize. That is the real reason they have created so many enemies. It has been the revolving door of opportunistic relationships that has burnt the bridges between the Party and the People time and time again. The party exploits and then drops its own forces quick with an unspoken philosophy of “If One dies get another.” However, what makes it worse is that when these forces attempt to organize outside of the Uhuru movement they are called reactionary internationalist, etc. I believe that if they Uhuru movement wants to genuinely build a mass movement and develop a revolutionary party, then it has to commit itself to serving the people, investing in its cadre, and maintaining principled relationships.
Chernoh slandered and accused of being an agent of imperialist white power
“Chernoh Alpha M. Bah is not only a thief, but he is also someone consciously at work to aid and abet imperialism in its ongoing assault on the freedom and happiness of African people in Sierra Leone and throughout the world. Chernoh Alpha M. Bah is an agent of imperialist white power that had wormed his way into the midst of our revolution and he must be exposed.” –APSP
Are you serious? It was the APSP that needed the Africanist movement to validate its claim that it had a genuine grassroots movement. Whose revolution are you referring to when you say “our revolution.” Are you speaking of the personal revolution of the Chairman and his handful of followers, because you clearly cannot be referring to the masses of people in the African Socialist Movement that believe in Chernoh’s leadership. Really, it is the Uhuru Movement that has been behaving like the imperialist by forming neo-colonial relationships with African revolutionaries like Chernoh and when they no longer serve their interest they throw them away and grab the next one. That is the intention of the relationship that the Uhuru Movement had with Chernoh and the Africanist Movement from the beginning.
The Uhuru Movement brags about its 40 years of experience. Why is it that they couldn’t recognize an imperialist from a revolutionary in 6 years of working together? Or is it that the Uhuru Movement was blinded by their opportunism, and now that Chernoh refused to submit his movement to a neo-colonial relationship with the APSP he goes from being a hard core revolutionary to an imperialist overnight, according to the APSP. In fact, this should alarm all the members of the Uhuru Movement. If you refuse to submit yourself in an opportunistic relationship to build the Chairman’s legacy you will be labeled as the enemy, the imperialist. Simply put, anyone who is a revolutionary will be labeled as an Imperialist by the APSP if they are not working under the leadership of the APSP.
January 2012 visit sounds like a coup
Much of what we did not understand earlier was made clearer when AAPDEP and ASI leaders from the U.S. and England visited Sierra Leone in January 2012. While in Sierra Leone we had an opportunity to meet with some of the members of our movement we had lost contact with because of Chernoh’s refusal to provide their contact information, despite our repeated demands.
This sounds like the APSP are trying to steal members from the African Socialist Movement of Sierra Leone or even organize a coup against its leadership. How is this a principled relationship respecting the work and territory of the African Socialist Movement in Sierra Leone. Furthermore, why must the Uhuru Movement be in the center of the movement in Sierra Leone in order for it to be revolutionary?
Chernoh violates centralism without democracy
Chernoh also refused to adopt the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) as the organizational vehicle for carrying out the work, including popularizing the RNDP.
Building InPDUM was the ASI proposal for revolutionary political work in Sierra Leone in the face of his dissolution of the Africanist youth movement. Chernoh claimed that our members in Sierra Leone voted to reject the InPDUM proposal.
Chernoh stated that only the Party could be built there or the members of the movement would consider us as going backwards. It had to be the Party or nothing.
What democratic centralism? How is the ASI able to uphold democratic centralism when there is not an ASI congress that holds the leadership accountable that I’m aware of? I do know, however, that the APSP’s Chairman and Central Committee are only held in check by the Party Congress that has only occurred twice in more than 15 years. There is no democracy in the APSP just Centralism revolving around the commands and agenda of the Chairman.
So the Chairman demands that Chernoh submit to the APSP and dissolve the Africanist movement and build InPDUM and the APSP. I’m glad he didn’t build that broken ass process. Why couldn’t they support the Africanist movement to build on what they had already developed? It must be because the arrogance of the APSP leaves them to believe they are the only way to freedom, despite what the people want. I wonder did the APSP consider the pride and amount of work the people have put into building their own movement. Instead they wanted to force the Africanist movement to build a US born flawed and dysfunctional mass organization, another brain-child of the Chairman. What kind of revolution can be lead with disregard for what the people want. It’s a party bloated with self-righteous arrogance.
Chernoh hijacks ASI platform to seek office
Chernoh has no program other than his own self-interest, so he is attempting to hijack and steal the people’s Revolutionary National Democratic Program. In addition, Chernoh’s campaign literature completely revised history by erasing his prior connection and obligation to the ASI and Uhuru Movement. In other words Chernoh is attempting to actually steal the prestige of the ASI and Uhuru Movement by kidnapping our program, pretending it is his.
I agree that they Chairman’s name should be on the document of the NDRP just as he should give credit to all the theorist he borrowed from in developing Yeshitelism. However, if the Platform is correct why should he not use it? When he was a member of the ASI it was ok for him to use the platform. Now that the African Socialist Movement is not controlled by the ASI he is being criticized for using the platform. I thought the platform was for the people. If anything the ASI should be supportive of that position, and let go of this competitive power hungry egoism. Let the people have the platform. I do however unite that Chernoh should give credit to Chairman Omali for writing the NDRP. It is a part of his legacy.
Secondly, the Party produced a Sierra Leone edition of The Burning Spear newspaper while in Sierra Leone. This was done under the leadership of Omowale Kefing, The Spear editor at the time. While Chernoh is trained as a journalist and has had articles appearing in various media sources in West Africa, he did nothing but drag his feet in the process of getting The Spear, the political organ of the ASI and the African working class, published and distributed in Sierra Leone.
In order to understand this question, one has to pose the question is the Burining Spear in the best interest for the movement in Sierra Leone to maintain a media presence and distribute the ideas of its leadership. If not then again this would sound like opportunism. Why would you demand that Chernoh, an award winning journalist, write, print, and distribute the Burning Spear, a newspaper the Chairman founded which has a dismal and embarrassing distribution, when he has the ability to advance the position and ideas of the African Liberation Struggle with the journalism work that he is already doing in the region? To me it seems that it is more important to use Chernoh and the Africanist movement to advance the interest of the Uhuru Movement and the legacy of the Chairman despite how it will affect the struggle in Sierra Leone. If anything the comrades should be supported in building their own capacity, instead of entering into a relationship of colonial dependency with the Uhuru Movement. Unless the Burning Spear is the media apparatus that is in the best interest of serving the international African Revolution which seems to have the largest presence in Sierra Leone.
The Chairman’s title as the “big man” is challenged by Chernoh
“First, Chernoh refused to allow the people to make financial contributions to the conference, which would have allowed them to become stakeholders in the conference and the effort to build the African People’s Socialist Party in Sierra Leone. Chernoh claimed the people were too poor to make contributions to their own liberation. Instead, disregarding the position of the ASI he unilaterally decided to leave the people dependent on his “good will.” -APSP
How is it correct to make “poor” Africans, who barely have any financial resources pay for a conference when there are comrades who have the ability to pay? Why is it that the only way they can make their contribution is financially. If the Uhuru Movement truly wants the people to participate in their own revolution why wouldn’t you support the development of their own organization and instead of making them build the Uhuru Movement.
I remember true socialism being practiced when I and the APSP first went to Sierra Leone as guests of the Africanist Movement. These comrades worked together, lived together, shared everything and fed each other to build their movement. They were true communist like I never have witnessed in the Uhuru Movement. Now that the Uhuru Movement brings its middle class style and standard of organizing, how do you expect the people in Sierra Leone to be able to afford to participate. I attended the first conference in Sierra Leone that the APSP participated in and witnessed the excitement and eagerness of the people to participate in their own conference. How they fed the people and accommodated an overflow crowd, and solved all the logistical issues by pooling their own resources and even making great economic sacrifices to host the APSP.
“Finally, perhaps the most revealing of all was Chernoh’s absolute refusal to even get the contact information from the participants of the conference and put it in a process to use to build on in order to establish the Party in Sierra Leone.
The ASI delegation left the conference without any real knowledge of who the many people who attended the conference were and where they were located in Sierra Leone, something that would obviously be needed if there was a genuine intent to build the Party there.
In reality, the Party did not actually exist in Sierra Leone and Chernoh had even broken Sierra Leone law by declaring its existence, knowing fully well what it took to legally register the Party. He had made a unilateral decision to dissolve the Africanist Movement, a mass youth organization he had created and led, without even informing many of the people who were part of the organization.
He gambled that since the Uhuru Movement was so determined to build an organization to liberate our people in Sierra Leone we would be forced to fork over the money Chernoh wanted to use to establish the Party as a legal registered organization, especially since the Africanist Movement no longer existed.
It was a poorly disguised attempt to extort the African Socialist International and the revolution for the resources to advance his own selfish petty bourgeois interests.
Instead, we determined that Chernoh had the responsibility to build the movement and the Party using the Revolutionary National Democratic Program (RNDP) written for him by the ASI to mobilize the masses.
Having already refused to promote the RNDP because of the alleged illiteracy of the masses, the idea of assuming responsibility for raising the resources for the Party through winning support among the masses was unacceptable to Chernoh.” -APSP
Extortion really? It looks painfully clear that the heart of the criticism is not about a boat motor, radio transmitter, or a piece of land but Chernoh’s ultimate refusal to discard the peoples movement in exchange for building the Uhuru Movement. Why should he, when he is the leader of a successful movement built by the people of Sierra Leone. Why should the people of Sierra Leone build InPDUM an organization that has never been successfully built. In fact, why shouldn’t the APSP build the African Socialist Movement in the US and London. If anything it was InPDUM and the APSP that has failed to successfully be built, but the APSP is bent on destroying a legitimate movement on the ground in Sierra Leone for what seems to be purely selfish reasons.
8 FACTS ABOUT THIS STRUGGLE
1. DESTROYING AFRICAN UNITY:
I believe besides the unprincipled relationships and the petty arguments over a boat motor and radio transmitter, the real issue is how the APSP is sabotaging the ability of Africans from different fronts to form principled African Unity. The APSP is ruining the opportunity for Africans on the continent to want to work with their comrades in the US. However, it is no different that how the Party has turned more Africans off from political life than it has brought into political life. Now that is true aiding and abetting of Imperialism.
2. APSC is more powerful than the APSP: (more opportunism)
On April 11 2012 Penny Hess called Chernoh Bah an Imperialist in her scathing attack made publically on facebook. How does the party allow the APSC’s white leader Penny Hess to launch an attack against an African leader of a revolutionary movement that the party has not publically disengaged? If white people can force and manipulate African leaders to attack one another, then how is the Uhuru movement’s relationship with white people any less opportunistic than the neo-colonial leadership of the Civil Rights Movement.
If you want to talk about stealing or thieves. The Uhuru Group steals years from the lives of genuine African activist and revolutionaries, their resources, time, ideas, and relationships in the fallacious claim of leading the African Revolution. In fact, I believe it was the Uhuru Movements intention to steal the Africanist Movement from its leadership.
4. EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT:
I was there in Sierra Leone when the APSP met the Africanist movement for the first time. I can recall how dynamic and influential the Africanist Movement was without the help of the Uhuru Movement. I remember how Chernoh had built the movement that the Chairman never could. In fact, Chernoh held a conference where he was able to bring forces from Guinea, Liberia, and other West African countries. The truth is that Chernoh held the apparatus that the ASI needed to make its theoretical revolution a practical reality. I can recall the meetings that I participated in where leaders of the Central Committee discussed the need to recruit Chernoh into their ranks or better yet get Chernoh to bow down and submit the Africanist movement to the leadership of the APSP. The APSP invited Chernoh to the US and inflated the reputation and track record of the Uhuru Movement, its capacity, and the number of members that it has. I recall the tactics that the APSP used to convince Chernoh to submit to the APSP. What was obvious is that the APSP never intended on supporting the Africanist movement in the name of solidarity and comradery, with respect for their work and leaderhip on the West African front of the African Revolution. The terms of their support were purely opportunistic. Literally the APSP would go from a rag tag organization of 20 to 30 party members to an international party with tens of thousands of members. If they were going to be supportive, the Africanist movement would have to completely submit to the rule and law of the APSP. Something like the opportunistic relationship that the USSR had with the Cuban Revolution. The party has a hardline position that the Party submits to no one; but the real position is that everyone has to submit to the party.
5. OBVIOUS OPPORTUNISM:
If everything that you say is true, Engaging Chernoh was about opportunism. If you knew that Chernoh wasn’t a genuine force and had neo-colonial aspirations, why did you continue to make him the golden child of the Uhuru Movement? It seems to me like he was important as long as he was in the pocket of the Uhuru movement, but the moment he no longer submitted to working in the interest of the Uhuru Movement and does what he believes is in the best interest of the people of Sierra Leone, he all of a sudden becomes an imperialist petty-bourgeois force. Anyone in their right mind can see the opportunism in that position.
So it seems like the message being sent is that its ok to deal with imperialist as long as it works in the interested of the APSP or helps to advance the agenda of the ASI, but at the moment it no longer serves your interest you cry that you are a victim and were hood winked. Yeah right. It actually is the other way around. You thought that you were going to be able to dupe Chernoh into turning over the reigns and interests of the Africanist movement to the APSP. Once the comrade was fed-up with the commands and opportunism of the APSP and realized how the party attempted to subjugate the movement in Sierra Leone into a neo-colonial relationship he bounced and now you all of a sudden have all these criticisms that you want to make. That’s what happens when you engage in unprincipled and opportunistic relationships.
6. BIG MAN:
If it is about trying to be the Big Man its not Chernoh it’s the Chairman… The APSP from the beginning set the terms for their support; the only way they would support the Africanist Movement was if Chernoh subjugated himself to the absolute leadership/ownership of the APSP. It was Chernoh that refuses to be bought.
7. INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNISM:
In my experience with the Uhuru Movement, I am not surprised with the unprincipled and opportunistic nature of this relationship. With the history and reputation that the party has with its own members and the African community in the US, it is no wonder why the international relationship also fail to be maintained. The party has to believe what they truly already understand you can’t win a revolution with dishonesty and opportunism. You can’t fake a revolution. You also cannot build a genuine revolutionary movement on the legacy of a single person.
8. THE TRUTH:
The truth is the ‘Big Man’ Chairman Omali is the biggest cause of the failure of the Uhuru Movement. Not because he hasn’t put in work and contributed to the struggle of our people, but because he has allowed the movement to be built around his ego. The work of the APSP in the last 15 years has consisted of making the Chairman a house-hold name, building his tour, his books, his vision. At least in this period there has not been any genuine effort to build a movement, and it is completely obvious. All resources have been used to build the Chairman’s brain-child, the ASI, so that his legacy can live on. Any real effort to build a genuine movement for the people has been undermined. However, what makes this so unprincipled, is that the Party claims to be the only legitimate African revolutionary organization on the planet, but truly has no intention on building a mass movement. Many of the forces that join the organization realize this and become demoralized with the infinite cycle of failure and internal-sabotage. If they were honest they would say join this organization if you want to be part of the group that preserves the legacy of the Chairman.