Smash Slander And Sabotage: A Response To The Uhuru Movements Attack On The African Socialist Movement By Chernoh Alpha M. Bah
Readers of the Uhuru News may have been obsessed during the last couple of days with what has now clearly and obviously become a calculated attempt by Omali Yeshitela and his Uhuru Movement to defame my hard-won reputation and the actual character of the African Socialist Movement (ASM) within the ranks of the African liberation movement.
It is now two weeks or so since the Uhuru Movement published an article in which it fabricated and falsified information with the objective of isolating me and equally destroying the sacrifices and great achievement of the hundreds of thousands of young men and women in Sierra Leone and West Africa who have been struggling for the last eleven years to overturn the objective conditions of poverty and misery imposed in our communities by imperialism and its neo-colonial agents in the region.
It is needless for me to state here that anyone who has profound knowledge of our relationship with the Uhuru Movement for the last few years – commencing in 2005 – need no additional information from anyone to arrive at the conclusion that the Omali Yeshitela group is once more making victims out of people who have refused to submit themselves to irrational dictatorship of the Uhuru Movement. They need no statement from anyone to realize that the article is an unsuccessful attempt by Omali Yeshitela and his group to falsify history by dishonestly amputating the facts surrounding the chronology of events that always governed our relationship with Omali Yeshitela and his Uhurus.
What is more striking is the fact that the authors of the article deliberately and unfairly attacked other individuals – Comrade Ajamu Bandele and his wife together with Matthew Willis – with foul language and invectives all in a bid to smear their character and good reputation for standing in solidarity with the African Socialist Movement (ASM) and the genuine struggle of African people in Sierra Leone. This is the highest level of victimization and psychological violence unfairly employed against individuals who have nothing to do with the so-called struggle that the Uhurus appear to be making against me and the movement under my leadership.
I was obviously in Belgium when the Uhuru Movement first published its attacks against me on the internet. Initially I had decided not to respond to an article I consider being groundless and a mere distraction from the very meaningful work that currently faces me. Upon reading the article, I sent Omali Yeshitela an email in which I told him that it is not my nature to respond to personal attacks directed against my work or disposition. The simple reason is that my reputation and outstanding character as an individual committed to the liberation of my people from the miserable conditions imposed in our communities by the class contradictions of neocolonialism and imperialism is everywhere. It is my firm conviction that the fabricated allegations published against me by the Uhuru Movement lacks the credible potentiality to destroy my impeccable history of consistent and committed struggle in West Africa. The allegations of so-called “theft” and “criminality” imputed on me by Omali Yeshitela and his group of lackeys has no validity.
I do not need to defend myself to any of the Uhurus because my credentials and profile as a combatant for the rights of African people to be free and self-determining supersedes all the vile attacks currently being published by the Uhuru Movement.
I still think that Omali Yeshitela and his group do not deserve the attention they are craving for through a response from me to the unprincipled diatribes they have been trading on the internet against me and other members of the International Support Committee of the African Socialist Movement under the leadership of Comrade Ajamu Bandele.
However, having observed the volume of calumny that is being directed against the comrades in our Support Committee and equally so the desperate attempt by the Uhuru Movement to falsify history through fabricated and distorted information around our relationship, I now feel obliged to add my voice to the discussion that has been going on for about two weeks now on the internet.
Let me start by saying upfront that the leadership of the African Socialist Movement (ASM) had initially conducted an open phone-call to Omali Yeshitela, the leader of the Uhurus, demanding that since it has taken its so-called struggle against the African Socialist Movement (ASM) to the court of public opinion via Uhuru News, they are under obligation to allow an open discussion on their website if they believe in the veracity of the allegations they have made in the article.
Unfortunately, Omali Yeshitela could not accept the terms of an open public discourse on the contents of the article they published attacking the characters and reputations of key revolutionaries within the African liberation movement. A press release was issued by the African Socialist Movement (ASM) making this demand public and asking that people whose names were mentioned in the article must be given the right to respond to the allegations imputed on them. This is the only way, we believe, people who are ignorant of the basis of the contradictions between us and the Uhuru Movement will have an opportunity to arrive at sound conclusions.
Sadly, we have learnt that the Uhuru News has for the first time – since its creation in March 2006 – adopted a policy of preventing people from making comments on any section of their website. They have unilaterally denied people the right to free speech and chose to deliberately pursue their unprincipled enterprise of slander and character assassination. By so doing, they are preventing people from having access to all the information relative to this situation.
I am therefore writing this piece not as a response to the Uhuru Movement – because they do not deserve any – but to help Africans outside of Sierra Leone who have become interested and worried with the shabby campaign of calumny organized by the Uhurus against me to have an opportunity to the other side of the story that the Uhuru Movement is trying to obscure from the international African community.
It is obvious that the article from the Uhuru Movement I am going to address contains many windy and subjective narrations raising issues that are completely irrelevant and thoughtless. In consequence therefore, I will concentrate with this first piece on those questions that appear to deal with the fabricated allegations. In subsequent articles on our relationship, I will endeavor to concentrate on the other trivialities raised in the article.
Our contact with the Uhuru Movement
In order for us to situate this discussion in its proper context, it will be fitting for us to examine the circumstances of our initial contact with the Uhuru Movement. Omali Yeshitela and his group have claimed that it was they who introduced me to the international community and to all the contacts I have in the African liberation movement.
That is to say, before our contact with the Uhuru Movement, we had no connections whatsoever outside of the borders of Sierra Leone, and that by implication; I was unknown to the outside world. Through this premise, the Uhuru Movement assumed for itself that it was responsible for my political development, and by extension the formation of a revolutionary movement in Sierra Leone. This is not only wrong and incorrect but it also represents a complete distortion and falsification of history.
It was not Omali Yeshitela or the Uhuru Movement that started the struggle in Sierra Leone. Neither is Omali Yeshitela or anyone in the Uhuru Movement responsible for my entrance into revolutionary political life. More than that also, it is not Omali Yeshitela or the Uhuru Movement that popularized me or the work of our Movement.
The fact is that I was born into a politically conscious family and by the age of 12 I was already actively involved in the political struggles of my country. I need not state here the role I played during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil conflict in the 1990s because it is well documented and the Uhuru Movement is quite aware of that even though they failed to mention it in their campaign of slander against me.
The truth is that for the last twenty or more years – since my childhood – I have been fighting for the emancipation of my people. I have committed my life and energy in defense of my people in times of war and periods of peace. I am both a victim and living witness of neocolonial oppression and exploitation. I grew-up in Sierra Leone at the apex of a war created by the ravenous exploitation of multinational corporations for control over the immense resources found in the country. I have lived through armed violence, survived it and equally fought against it.
As a journalist for a number of years, I employed the tools of mass communication to articulate the concerns and interests of African workers and poor peasants displaced by imperialist sponsored wars in Liberia and Guinea. I had used my journalism in revolutionary terms to expose the oppression and exploitation of African communities. I need not trumpet the fact that my outstanding work and uncompromising stance against West Africa’s neocolonial dictators during the 1990s forced me into exile and eventually landed me in some of the most oppressive prisons in the region.
It was this great sacrifice in defense of African people’s rights and self-determination that propelled me to a position of extreme danger and a platform of recognition within West Africa’s political terrain. It is the desire to challenge this naked political oppression and economic exploitation that equally forced me to build many organizations throughout the period of my struggle. From organizing youths against military rule in Sierra Leone to organizing journalists to advocate for social transformation and end to oppression, I came across some of the most renowned activists in the region – from Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria to Ghana, Cameroon and beyond.
My organizing abilities has remained a subject of discussion from the ghettos of Kono, Eastern Sierra Leone in West Africa to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa and the war-zones of Central Africa and refugee camps in Northern Africa. I had played host to many activists and fighters in Africa – from those in Casamance in Senegal to those in the Niger Delta in Nigeria and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in South Sudan.
In 2001, I had organized one of the most populous militant revolutionary mass organizations in West Africa that spread across the colonial borders of Sierra Leone to Guinea right up to the Cameroons. In less than two years of its existence, the Africanist Movement mobilized a membership that was over 70, 000 youths across most parts of West Africa. This organizational success was solely the result of astute leadership and dynamism that was unparalleled in contemporary times. All this success occurred at a time when we never knew of Omali Yeshitela and his tiny Uhuru Movement.
Our first contact with the Uhuru Movement occurred sometime in June of 2005 through an email communication we received from Comrade Sowande Ediyiye; a member of what was then called the London-chapter of the Uhuru Movement. Comrade Sowande, a PhD student at the time from British Virgin Islands, had written to us informing us of a conference that was to be held in London to discuss efforts to build an organization referred to as the African Socialist International (ASI). Sowande’s email also requested our attendance to the conference and participation in the effort to build the ASI; a project of Omali Yeshitela. At the time, I was Director and leader of the Africanist Movement and simultaneously serving as a newspaper editor for one of Sierra Leone’s leading newspapers. This email correspondence from Comrade Sowande was discussed comprehensively in both leadership and mass meetings of the Africanist Movement, during which time we resolved to explore relationship with the Uhuru Movement as requested. The objective was to see how we could unite revolutionary movements across the African world into a single international organization. This was in line with the vision of the Africanist Movement.
In several correspondences with Comrade Sowande, we expressed our unambiguous unity to be part of any effort by African revolutionaries to unite our various struggles. It was in connection with such aspiration that we resolved to honor the invitation to meet with the leadership of the Uhuru Movement. As the leader of the Africanist Movement, it was my responsibility to proceed with the discussions as mandated by the members of my organization. This was how I travelled to London in October 2005 and met for the first time Omali Yeshitela and the few members forming the cabal of the Uhuru Movement. The costs associated with visas and travel to London for that meeting was paid by me and not the Uhuru Movement. It was at that October meeting in London that discussion around a possible relationship between the Africanist Movement and the Uhuru Movement was formally conducted. It was at that meeting also that a formal invitation was extended to the Uhuru Movement to attend the first leadership conference of the Africanist Movement, which was held in Makeni in November 2005, north of Sierra Leone.
So in essence the Uhuru Movement of Omali Yeshitela only entered in Sierra Leone in November 2005 as guests of the Africanist Movement to attend our leadership conference in Makeni. That conference was organized and financed by the resources of the Africanist Movement. All the delegates of the Uhuru Movement who included Gaida Kambon, Luwezi Kinshasa and Comrade Omavi Bailey never paid for anything relative to their visit and stay throughout the period of more than two weeks that they stayed in Sierra Leone as guests of the Africanist Movement. It was during that conference that we first discovered tendencies of betrayal from the Uhuru Movement when they secretly tried to recruit some members of Africanist Movement into the Uhuru Movement or African People’s Socialist Party. We even have a copy of an email in our archives in which Gaida Kambon secretly reported at the time to Omali Yeshitela that “the Africanist Movement is up for a grab.” It was obvious from that point that the Uhuru Movement obviously plotted to steal our membership. Evidences of these facts are equally well documented in a video footage put together by the Uhuru Movement from that conference.
Apart from distorting the narrative of the documentary, the Uhuru Movement produced a number of videos from footage of our activities that they have been selling throughout the world with no account being made on the proceeds of the sales of such videos. Nobody knows how much money the Uhuru Movement generated for itself out of the fundraising activities they conducted in the name of “helping the struggle in Sierra Leone.” Neither were they even honest to give a correct account of the chronology of events leading up to their connections with the Africanist Movement.
So with all of this, it is interesting that the Uhuru Movement will attempt to create the impression that it was they who introduced me to the world community just as they would want people to believe that it was Omali Yeshitela that is responsible for my political understanding and conclusion. This is completely wrong and dangerously misleading.
I had already successfully built a revolutionary mass organization with hundreds of thousands of members across West Africa before the Uhuru Movement came in contact with me. In fact, the Uhuru Movement was undeniably attracted to my outstanding political work and proven organizational strength and capacity. Sadly, throughout the period of our relationship, they had always struggled to wrongfully ascribe to themselves the organizational capacity and strength of the Africanist Movement by creating the impression within the African community in the United States and United Kingdom that the genesis and actual existence of a revolutionary struggle under my leadership in Sierra Leone and much of West Africa owes its credit to the Uhuru Movement. This is a completely misleading position. The Uhuru Movement was unknown in Sierra Leone before 2005 and it had never had a presence in Sierra Leone before then and it still lacks an actual presence in Sierra Leone up to now.
Uhuru Movement tried to usurp our work
This then brings to mind the fact that since 2005, while we continued to operate with the Uhuru Movement in good faith, Omali Yeshitela and his group were anxiously scheming to subvert our work. They had created the impression in the United States and England that they owned the Africanist Movement; that our existence and actual political development represents a practical manifestation of Omali Yeshitela’s so-called leadership and “internationalism.” This was a deliberate concoction by the Uhuru Movement to arrogantly place themselves above anyone else in the African liberation movement. All propaganda materials from the Uhuru Movement falsely apportioned our work to the supposed success of Omali Yeshitela. Because of this erroneous and misleading distortion that they put out in the world, the Uhuru Movement of Omali Yeshitela was unwilling to accept an organizational relationship with the Africanist Movement where both organizations will function on equal terms to promote the cause of African unity and liberation within a principled arrangement that was to ultimately result into the actual development of single, organic force on an international level. Instead they prefer not only to lord themselves over the Africanist Movement but embarked on a program to usurp our work.
While many of the comrades in Sierra Leone often complained about the misleading propaganda that was being disseminated by the Uhuru Movement, we in leadership of the Africanist Movement encouraged our members to accommodate the excesses with the understanding that we will struggle with Omali Yeshitela and his group to realize the need to rectify such erratic conduct. This was to serve as the basis of continuous disagreement between us throughout the period.
This situation reached an alarming point with the arrival of Diop Olugbala in Sierra Leone in 2008 on the invitation of the Africanist Movement leadership. At the time, we had discussed with the Uhuru Movement on the need for a cross-exchange of training programs between our organizations that will allow members of both organizations to benefit from experiences outside of their own organizations. We knew that the Uhuru Movement has a lot to learn from our organizational techniques judging from our success in building a mass-based revolutionary movement. This was true because we were always concerned with the fact that the Uhuru Movement, with its multitude of organizations, still lacks a mass presence and following even in St. Petersburg, Florida where it is headquartered.
Our hope was that the Uhuru Movement will learn a lot on how to build a mass organization if some of its organizers were to come to Sierra Leone and learn from us by participating in the daily activities and programs of our Movement.
This was why we invited Diop Olugbala from the Uhuru Movement to Sierra Leone. Interestingly, we were to discover from the welcome meeting we held for Diop Olugbala on the night of his arrival that he had been instructed by the Uhuru Movement leadership to come to Sierra Leone and recruit members of the Africanist Movement into the Uhuru Movement. In the process, Diop Olugbala immaturely incurred the wrath of members of Africanist Movement by stating that his organization did not consider our Movement a revolutionary organization, and that the only revolutionaries are those in the Uhuru Movement. This statement was completely outrageous and arrogant to the highest degree; and it annoyed every single member of the Africanist Movement.
In a correspondence we addressed to Omali Yeshitela few weeks after that, we expressed our dissatisfaction with the conduct of Diop Olugbala and the characterization of our Movement. Omali Yeshitela was to later distance his organization from the utterances of Diop Olugbala and offered apologies for the disparaging remarks made by his representative. Then the Uhuru Movement realized that it was impossible for it to employ subterfuge to control the Africanist Movement.
Omali Yeshitela moves from subterfuge to co-optation
Having then realized the futility of that strategy, Omali Yeshitela imagined that the best way to control the work of the Africanist Movement was by co-opting the leadership of the Movement into the ranks of the Uhurus. A month later, while on a visit to the Uhuru House in Florida, Omali Yeshitela asked me to take up membership of the Uhuru Movement. I stated emphatically that our position of unity with the Uhuru Movement was based on the objective of building the African Socialist International (ASI). I reminded them that this position is reflected in the 2005 communiqué passed at the leadership conference in Makeni announcing our unity to build the ASI.
At the time, the African Socialist International (ASI) was a skeletal project when the Uhuru Movement came in contact with us. It was its relationship with the Africanist Movement that gave oxygen to the ASI process and even the entire Uhuru Movement. The leadership of the Africanist Movement employed all the tools at our disposal to call on Africans across the world to be part of the process to build the ASI. It was our singular efforts at mobilization and mass propaganda that germinated the entire work of the ASI process from a position of comatose to real life. When we met the Uhuru Movement, the ASI was just a concept on paper with no structure and direction. Apart from the poorly attended yearly conferences; it achieved nothing absolutely to galvanize actual organizational influence that would have ensured its presence on the continent.
The first real presence of the ASI therefore in Africa was to occur with the advent of the Africanist Movement. Through the Africanist Movement and its mass presence, Omali Yeshitela egoistically posed as a “commander of the African revolution” even with his obvious incapability to build actual organization.
The truth is that the first ever ASI conference with a real mass attendance to be held in the history of Omali Yeshitela’s existence as a so-called revolutionary was the one conveyed by the Africanist Movement in Freetown, Sierra Leone during the month of October 2008. It was also under my leadership and directives that the ASI entered East Africa. Before now, there was never any presence of the Uhuru Movement or the ASI in any part of East Africa. So the Africanist Movement is not only responsible for introducing Omali Yeshitela and his group to West Africa alone. But we are equally responsible for taking the ASI and the Uhuru Movement to East Africa. All of this could not be stated by the Uhuru Movement in their desperate efforts to smear my reputation and character.
However the fact is that, the Uhuru Movement has never proved to us that they are capable of building an organization with a mass character. As far as we know, Omali Yeshitela’s revolution and organizing capabilities have been limited only to the University Halls of North America and the poorly attended meetings of the Uhuru House in Florida and California.
From Africanist Movement to African Socialist Movement
Even though we knew of this extreme limitation of Omali Yeshitela and his Uhuru Movement, we were determined to advance the effort to build the single international revolutionary organization of Africans across the world that would fight for the liberation and unification of African people. Interestingly, a draft constitution of the ASI provided that all organizations wishing to be part of the process should be known as the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) of the area in which they are established except in areas where for historical reasons this could not be possible. This provision within the ASI constitution was, in our view, designed to test the actual commitment of any organization wishing to be part of the process.
Several discussions were held between August and September of 2009 within the ranks of the Africanist Movement to determine how we move into actualizing the communiqué passed at our leadership conference of 2005 in Makeni to build the ASI. A certain segment of the regional leaders, fearing the treachery of the Uhuru Movement as was being reflected in the history of our relationship, refused to continue with efforts to build the ASI. They opted out of the Africanist Movement on grounds that they do not trust a relationship with the Uhuru Movement any longer.
In consequence, a final meeting was conveyed on October 5, 2009 to determine a way forward. At the meeting attended by all regional leaders and organizers, more than eighty-five percents of the comrades resolved to follow the decision to transform the Africanist Movement into the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) of Sierra Leone as required by the constitution of the ASI and its main resolution document. This was in conjunction with the communiqué we passed at our 2005 leadership conference. It was equally resolved at that very meeting that to avoid confrontation between those of us who have united with the idea to build the APSP of Sierra Leone and the few other comrades who objected to a further relationship with the Uhuru Movement, it was unanimously agreed by everyone that the Africanist Movement should be dissolved. A final suggestion then emerged that efforts to build a back-up organization should also be undertaken. This back-up organization was to accommodate all those in disagreement with the decision to build the APSP. This was how the embryonic seeds of the African Socialist Movement (ASM) were planted into the political terrain of Sierra Leone. Its ultimate function was to build a mass based movement to galvanize comrades who did not want to be part of the ASI process but are still determined to advance the struggle against neocolonial oppression and exploitation.
A communiqué announcing our decision to dissolve the Africanist Movement to build the APSP was issued on October 8, 2009 and circulated widely across the world. The Uhuru News published the said communiqué with enthusiasm. As we announced the formation of the APSP of Sierra Leone, efforts were also announced to build the African Socialist Movement (ASM) simultaneously.
Omali Yeshitela’s lack of sincerity destroyed our efforts
But as it turned out, our experiment to build the APSP suffered a major setback due to the lack of sincerity by Omali Yeshitela and his group to genuinely build a real revolutionary party that will actually contest for real power. In the first place, the Uhuru Movement in its slanderous article stated wrongly that the decision to dissolve the Africanist Movement was unilaterally done by me and that the consultative conference held at the British Council Hall in Freetown was a fait accompli to position myself within the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie in Sierra Leone. And they even erroneously stated that I actually flouted the laws of Sierra Leone by announcing the formation of a party without having it registered.
This is completely dishonest. What the Uhuru Movement has failed to state is the fact that the decision to form the APSP of Sierra Leone was directly the instructions of Omali Yeshitela and that the entire leadership of the Uhuru Movement is equally aware of the limitations imposed on our struggle by the repugnant neocolonial legislations in force in Sierra Leone. We have copies of several email correspondences with Omali Yeshitela on this question. The truth is that the Uhuru Movement wanted us to establish a branch in Sierra Leone but they were unwilling to accept the burden of organizing such a formation in the country. At the said consultative conference to build the APSP, which had come about as a consequence of severe deliberation from our movement forces, the Uhuru Movement did it last unsuccessful attempt to enlist conference participants into their organization. Because they could not accomplish this sinister objective, they blamed me for preventing them from recruiting members of our Movement into the Uhuru Movement. It became obvious that what the Uhuru Movement was interested in was to subvert the work of our movement in a bid to create a branch under their leadership and control in Sierra Leone.
Our actual disagreement with Uhuru Movement
Our actual disagreement with the Uhuru Movement ultimately reached its climax in January of 2010; a month after the transformation of the Africanist Movement into the APSP of Sierra Leone. The current Sierra Leone government of Ernest Bai Koroma had introduced a 1% tax increase on goods and services across the country at a time when workers salaries had remained abysmally low.
A press conference was conveyed in the name of the newly established APSP in which we called for a struggle against the new tax legislation. The following day, shops and businesses across the country remained closed. That evening, the IMF and World Bank representatives issued a joint statement calling on the people of Sierra Leone to support the new tax legislation; a position which also warranted us to issue another statement condemning the World Bank and IMF officials. The next day, the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) issued an ultimate ban against the existence of the APSP on technical grounds that it was not a registered political party in the country. I organized several media events to challenge the position of the PPRC but it was obvious that for the APSP to exist in Sierra Leone, it had to fulfill the conditions laid down by the laws of the country. This includes the fact that it should have four offices across the country and the payment of a registration fee of US$500. There were no such offices for the APSP’s operation neither was there any money available to pay the stipulated registration fees.
At that point, we appeared to be faced with a dilemma because we were no longer allowed to organize in the name of the APSP in Sierra Leone. We attempted several discussions with the leadership of the Uhuru Movement on the way forward. Omali Yeshitela’s interest was not to legitimize the APSP; he rather requested that the idea of the party should be abandoned and that a branch of his International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) should be established in Sierra Leone instead of the APSP.
At this point, it became obvious to us that what the Uhuru Movement wanted was to justify that they have a branch in Sierra Leone and nothing more. They were never committed to building an actual revolutionary party that will struggle for the conquest of real political power.
We therefore refused to form InPDUM because we are not a branch of Omali Yeshitela’s group. And we also believed that the formation of InPDUM in Sierra Leone is in direct conflict with the process to build the African Socialist International (ASI), which was the actual basis of our relationship with the Uhuru Movement.
We communicated our position to Omali Yeshitela and the entire leadership of the Uhuru Movement. It was obvious at the time that the Uhuru Movement was very annoyed with our position not to build a branch of Omali Yeshitela’s group in Sierra Leone outside of the work of the ASI. Having realized that we have taken such a position, the Uhuru Movement then resolved on a strategy of poaching the less developed members of our Movement. They started contacting members who were mainly part of the security department of our organization into accepting bribes and promises of travel to the United States for further political training with the Uhuru Movement. Some of these individuals were part of the group of security forces we had assigned as close protection guards to Omali Yeshitela during his visit to Sierra Leone for the consultative conference of November 2009.
Reports of several phone calls and email correspondences from Uhuru Movement leaders to some of our members were communicated to the leadership of our Movement. We then realized that the Uhuru Movement has embarked on a program of subversive activities against our leadership on the ground in a bid to divide and conquer our base.
Uhuru Movement uses AAPDEP to divide our base
This program of subversion became more obvious when a woman we had sent to the United States for medical training and fundraising with the Uhuru Movement was later unilaterally appointed by Omali Yeshitela to establish a branch of the Uhurus in Sierra Leone. The woman, a nurse midwife we had recruited and identified to help kick-start a community healthcare program to tackle the high incidences of infant and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, was instructed by the Uhuru Movement to establish a branch of the All-African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) in Sierra Leone.
Having limited political understanding and experience, this woman saw the Uhuru Movement’s offer as a golden opportunity to earn a living. Already the Uhuru Movement had worked out a monthly salary for her to enable them control her actions and activities. While in the United States, she also gave the Uhuru Movement an impression that she leads a women’s movement in Sierra Leone called Women in National Development (WIND) comprising of traditional birth attendants.
In actual fact, while she has a relationship with some traditional birth attendants in the country, the so-called WIND organization did not exist. But for the Uhuru Movement, the nurse midwife had given them what they were looking out for: someone they can readily use to defend the myth about their existence in West Africa. Because this has been the impression they gave to the African community in the United States and elsewhere. They can not afford to have that myth broken down by obvious reality.
Uhuru Strategy ends up in Opportunist triangle
On her return to Sierra Leone, therefore, the nurse midwife had to organize the semblance of an organization to actualize what she told the Uhuru Movement. This was how she entered into a relationship with the Passengers Welfare Organization (PAWEL). For the last few years, the Passengers Welfare Organization had been running the semblance of a Nursing School in Sierra Leone but it has been unable to gain legal status. The leader of the group has been desperately looking out for financial support to capacitate his nursing school. Most people trained by the School the last few years could not be admitted into mainstream nursing practice. This has been very debilitating for the organization and its leadership.
In 2007, a friend of our Movement had introduced the leader of this organization to us. This was about the time that we were working on building a mass-based coalition of organizations to advance the struggle for national democratic rights in the country. PAWEL became one of forty other organizations that we enlisted as part of this broader coalition. In fact, this was the same time that we also developed the so-called Revolutionary National Democratic Program (RNDP) that the Uhuru Movement is accusing us of hijacking or having refused to disseminate.
In August of 2007, the Passengers Welfare Organization was one of the organizations that worked with us to coordinate the visit of representatives of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM); who had come to Sierra Leone to seek the support of our Movement for the Sudan Sensitization Project (SSP). We never continued any relationship with PAWEL after the SPLM program. The reason was obvious: after the elections of 2007, the leadership of PAWEL visited President Ernest Bai Koroma who had recently come to power after the elections to pledge their support for his government.
We were later to learn that the Uhuru Movement nurse midwife in Sierra Leone had entered into a relationship with PAWEL and that the Nursing School of PAWEL has been transformed into the so-called AAPDEP Nursing School. This is the same Nursing School that the Uhuru Movement is now trumpeting across the United States as its school in its desperate effort to raise funds in the name of a struggle in Sierra Leone.
In January this year, members of the Uhuru Movement visited Sierra Leone on the invitation of the nurse midwife. The visit of the Uhuru Movement was timed to coincide with a graduation of students from the school. Such an event is bound to attract members of the community whose relations are attending the said school. For the Uhuru Movement, it serves their purpose because they could obtain video footage to justify that they are doing work in Sierra Leone. They are desperate to show that they have a presence in the country. On the side of the Nurse Midwife and the leaders of PAWEL, it gives them some confidence in that they were able to pull together a crowd of people to showcase to the Uhuru Movement representatives. This they think would allow them to access funds from what the Uhurus will be raising in the United States.
This is obviously a triangle of opportunism involving the Uhuru Movement on the one side, and the Nurse Midwife and the PAWEL leadership on the other. On our part, we have been looking at this comic work with amusement. The reason being that the Uhuru Movement, which claims to be a revolutionary party, is now actually working with the most opportunistic forces directly tied to Sierra Leone’s neocolonialist parties – the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All Peoples Congress (APC). These are the two groups that have dominated the political landscape of Sierra Leone throughout the last fifty years.
Uhuru Movement has no presence in Sierra Leone
In consequence, we would like to point out clearly that the Uhuru Movement currently has no real presence in Sierra Leone. The so-called AAPDEP projects in Sierra Leone are a fairy tale. The Uhuru Movement can not adopt existing kindergarten schools that are actually run by church organizations and community partnership boards in Sierra Leone and brag about establishing institutions to better the conditions of existence of the people. Those schools and institutions are not under any Uhuru Movement influence. They are owned by Churches and Community Education Boards. Besides, all the so-called projects that the Uhuru Movement currently claims to be implementing are a complete farce. There is no single work that is currently being done by the Nurse Midwife or any of its associates in Sierra Leone that is tied to any revolutionary work or effort.
In fact, by their very nature all the institutions the Uhuru Movement is claiming to have established in Sierra Leone have been here before the Uhuru Movement came into Sierra Leone. Most of these institutions have categorically stated in their mission statements that they are non-political.
Where then is the Uhuru Movement in all of this? This is the greatest puzzle that the Uhuru Movement is struggling to solve. And they think the only way to do that is by smearing my reputation and character. We are opening the challenge to all Africans who are willing to travel to Sierra Leone to come and undertake an independent investigation into the facts of this situation. Omali Yeshitela and his Uhuru Movement have found themselves in a complete dilemma. How they are going to get out of it is their own guess.
Allegations concerning the radio transmitter
This brings me to the much trumpeted allegations of so-called theft and criminality that the Uhuru Movement has imputed on me. The Uhuru Movement alleges that I had stolen a radio transmitter from them. That I had used the transmitter to borrow money from people, and that I had promised jobs to members of my ethnic group in Makeni. They even went further to say that it was their so-called members in Sierra Leone who had located the stolen transmitter. This is completely preposterous and outrageous.
It is a clear manifestation of vendetta on the part of the Uhuru Movement against me and other comrades who have chosen to be dissociated from Omali Yeshitela for the obvious reasons already stated in this article. Everybody knows that to steal something literally means that you take it away insidiously or secretly without the knowledge of or willing approval of anyone. And this is not what happened between us and the Uhuru Movement.
The actual story is that since 2005 when we met the Uhuru Movement in London we submitted a project document to Omali Yeshitela suggesting the establishment of a revolutionary media organization to help raise the political understanding of the masses. The Uhuru Movement hijacked the project and proceeded to establish its own Uhuru News and the Uhuru Radio in March of 2006. Interestingly, I was the first to be interviewed by the said Uhuru Radio in Florida. We made several requests to the Uhuru Movement to assist us with a radio transmitter to enable us establish a local FM station in Sierra Leone. The Uhuru Movement was reluctant to help with this project because it never wanted to build the capacity of our forces on the ground. Although it was interested in profiting from our great work and success in mobilization, it was only in May 2009 that the Uhuru Movement finally offered a radio transmitter to establish our own radio station in Makeni.
The transmitter was a gift to our Movement. Interestingly, the said radio transmitter is still intact with us in the same boxes that it was handed to us in May of 2009. Although we have spent immense financial resources in having it registered and licensed, we have the radio transmitter and its accompanying equipments stored in Makeni.
When representatives of the Uhuru Movement visited Sierra Leone early this year, they came to my house demanding that we return the transmitter. I called on the comrades in Makeni to bring the transmitter and its equipment to Freetown to be handed over to the Uhuru Movement. The comrades protested that if the Uhuru Movement wants the transmitter, they should come to a mass meeting in Makeni to request that the transmitter they had offered to us should be returned to them. I communicated this to Luwezi Kinshasa who was part of the group that came. But the Uhuru Movement representatives were not very adamant to having a public meeting for such a purpose because this would have definitely further exposed them to outright ridicule.
So in essence the said transmitter is with us in Makeni in the same boxes as it was given to us in May 2009. But we now refuse to surrender it to the Uhuru Movement because it no longer belongs to them on matters of principle. It was offered to our Movement. We never stole it from anyone neither did we subject anyone to offer it to us under gunpoint. That is the story of the much talked-about radio transmitter.
We are not holding onto the radio transmitter because we can’t afford one. The fact is that the Uhuru Movement has taken us for granted. They came into our terrain to divide us and then abuse our intelligence.
However, in November this year the African Socialist Movement (ASM) under my leadership will commence our FM broadcasts in Makeni with our own radio station – FREEDOM RADIO – with a brand new transmitter and equipments we have procured from Holland early this year. The transmitter from the Uhuru Movement will now remain with us in the same boxes and stored under our beds in Makeni. That is our position. And we are very determined to pursue it to its final conclusion. The same could be said of the reported stolen boat motor. But I have chosen to deal with the question of AAPDEP in a separate article, in which all issues surrounding the boat motor and other matters will be adequately addressed.
The question of the police
This also brings me to the question of the police. It has been wrongly reported on the internet by the Uhuru Movement that we have called the police against individuals who were formerly associated with us that the Uhuru Movement has bribed to build InPDUM in Sierra Leone. This is completely false and misleading. It appears that the Uhuru Movement is trying to make a storm out of a tea-cup. They are creating the semblance of a struggle where it doesn’t exist.
The fact is that on Saturday last week, a group of five young men who included Fenty Tholley and Issa Kamara besieged my residence in my absence and attacked my house throwing stones on the windows and the roof of the building. They also made several phone calls to my phone issuing death threats and invectives on me. They said the Uhuru Movement of Omali Yeshitela has instructed them to attack me and other members of the African Socialist Movement (ASM). They said the Uhuru Movement wanted me killed because, according to them, “I have betrayed Omali Yeshitela and the Uhuru Movement.”
The residents of the community who were concerned with the activities of these young men alerted the police and called on them to maintain order in the community. I was later advised by members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to contact the head of the Criminal Investigations Department to tender a report on threats against my life and the safety of members of my Movement. The police investigations included invitations to members of my Organizations as well who witnessed the attack on my house and the threatening phone calls.
But it appears that the Uhuru Movement has wrongly published the police invitation to Fenty Tholley and Issa Kamara, the actual perpetrators of the violence, on their website claiming that their “members” are under attack by the police.
It is important to note that the current conflict is the result of the Uhuru Movement’s divisive tendencies implanted in Sierra Leone. They have created animosity in our community with the objective of destroying a genuine African liberation movement.
But it is also important for people to understand that the Uhuru Movement has no organizational presence in Sierra Leone. Neither do they have a capacity to contend with any organization on the ground in Sierra Leone. And they know this is exactly the case. The few individuals they rely on to build InPDUM have no organizational skills and experience to pull together anything meaningful for the Uhuru Movement. The only real revolutionary organization on the ground here is the African Socialist Movement (ASM), which the Uhuru Movement is bent on destroying.
In consequence, therefore, I take this singular opportunity to call on all African people across the world to stand-up in principled unity and solidarity with the struggle of our people for self-determination. The African Socialist Movement (ASM) under my leadership will continue to fight for the liberation of our people and will never succumb to any effort by any organization or individual to destroy our vision and great sacrifices. We take this opportunity also to invite anyone, with a desire, to come to Sierra Leone to see for themselves the actual situation independent of what Omali Yeshitela and his group is reporting. In subsequent articles, I will endeavor to address the questions of my statement on the United Nations deployment in Sierra Leone. I intend to do this because I realized that the Uhuru Movement has dishonestly removed my statement out of its actual context to serve their diabolic intentions. But the truth is that, the Uhuru Movement has no moral authority to question or judge the correctness or incorrectness of our tactics and strategy. The effectiveness of the Uhuru Movement and Omali Yeshitela, in my view, will only be measured and tested when they are able to build a real revolutionary organization with a mass character. Anything less than that is childish gibberish. My position on this and other questions relative to the Uhuru Movement and Omali Yeshitela are directly informed by a scientific assessment of their work and conduct during the few years of our operations with them. The question of the Uhuru Movement, as far as we concerned, is now something behind our backs. We have moved on and we are making great progress in our efforts to overturn the verdict of imperialism and its neo-colonial minions in our communities. Till then, this is my humble submission on this matter. Forward to a free, united Africa and African people.
Editor’s note: Chernoh Alpha M. Bah is Chairman of the African Socialist Movement (ASM) and Official Spokesperson of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He is a renowned journalist with multiple years of practice in Sierra Leone, Guinea and other parts of the world.