Political Report to the 2022 ANWO Black Women’s Convention
Omali Yeshitela, Chairman and founder of the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement, has spent over 50 years developing the scientifically falsifiable theory of African Internationalism, which proves that the worldwide system of capitalism “has its origin in the assault on Africa and the global trade in African captives as well as the ensuing European onslaught on most of the world.”
The stolen labor of African people and the theft of the world’s resources is the pedestal upon which the entire colonizer white world stands on. Hence capitalism was born parasitic, demanding the necessity of colonialism to sustain itself in countries throughout the world.
Though this comes as no surprise to African people who have been under the assault of colonial capitalism for centuries, the theory sets Africans and any others on the path toward ending the oppression and exploitation that robs us of our humanity – this requires that we destroy the parasite.
This is the genesis for African women who want to end the oppression we have endured.
We recognize that the assault on Africa happened to our whole people. African women as a sector of our people experience special oppression that came about as a result of being colonially dominated.
The attack on Africa brought about the worldwide system of terror that used our bodies as the factories for the production of new workers, slave labor for the production of raw material, and made patriarchal policy in the colonies – patriarchy that had existed as a system of oppression in Europe for thousands of years. Now Africans are trapped by it.
What had been transitional communal roles such as caretakers, food producers and preparers had become societal edicts for women, on top of which we were now forced into producing for the colonizers.
African historian Wunyabari.O. Maloba in his book, African Women in Revolution says:
“It was colonial policies that reshaped African social norms, that ‘unlike the precolonial period, where ‘in many parts of Africa, women who farmed had rights over land,’ under colonialism the imposition of private ownership of land left most women without their ‘customary right’ to land.’”
The conditions that African women experience today are not a result of natural development but an attack that shifted us away from being self-productive to producing for the colonizers and this resulted into the change of the entire economic and social landscape of the world and the relationship that African people have with one another.
African people were forced to participate in the colonial mode of production that upholds parasitic capitalism as Chairman Omali Yeshitela so brilliantly explains in his 2022 report to the African People’s Socialist Party Plenary:
“Our theory [African Internationalism] provides us with the scientific proof that our colonial oppression is the origin of the parasitic capitalist system that rapes, humiliates, and exploits Africa, Africans, and the majority of the world. Eventually, we came to understand that this rape and pillage of Africa by Europe matured into a global, colonial mode of production that rescued Europeans from feudalist ignorance, poverty, and oppression.”
Pan-Africanism and Neocolonialism the perfect storm
African flag independence did not bring relief as it gave rise to neo-colonialism and the ascendency of the African petty-bourgeoisie, the most radical of them using pan-Africanism as the rallying cry to organize itself.
Luwezi Kinshasa Secretary-General of the African Socialist International writes of the failures of pan-Africanism to meet the needs of the revolution in his article, The historical class struggle within the African Liberation Movement, published in the Burning Spear Newspaper:
“The 5th Pan-African Congress did not mobilize Africans to fight the United States, which emerged out of the second imperialist world war as the new imperialist world leader. The main target of this PAC was the colonial powers from Europe like France, Germany, Portugal, and others. The Pan-Africanist pacifist approach left Lumumba vulnerable in the face of his enemies from within his own organization. Since the Pan-Africanists in Manchester were never concerned with class interest inside the African community, their non-violent method meant that they did not anticipate that they would have to fight the colonial state to get to power. This meant that our best leaders, like Lumumba, Sobukwe, and others, were vulnerable at the hands of our class and national enemies who had control of the State and were prepared to strike at our leaders at any time. Nkrumah himself, who failed to grasp the class question, was overthrown by the same social forces that murdered [Patrice] Lumumba five years earlier.”
Abdulrahman Mohammed Babu who worked with Lumumba and Nkrumah was a Zanzibar-born Marxist and pan-Africanist who played an important role in the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. He too came to realize that neo-colonial pan-Africanism did not serve the interest of the masses. He was a minister under Julius Nyerere until he was jailed by Nyerere in 1972 for being critical of Nyerere’s model of African socialism failing to address Tanzania’s reliance on raw material exports and for irresponsible and unsustainable nationalization. He writes in his 1981 book, African Socialism or Socialist Africa:
“The main characteristic of [so called] post-colonial Africa is the struggle between the forces of justice equality and self-reliant development (in short, socialism) on the one hand and, on the other, the forces of neo-colonialism, comprador tyranny, arbitrary military-civilian dictatorship, class aggrandizement of social and economic resources and oppression of the people in the name of national progress and development. The political consciousness of the African masses has developed, by and large, in a social and political environment characterized by an uneven development…”
Socialism is what we are calling for! A United Socialist Africa is the only way forward and the path to it is painted in black.
Not only should we destroy colonial capitalism; we have to replace capitalism as the colonial mode of production with socialism to ensure the forward progression of society.
Socialism is when the workers control the state and own the means of production. That way there can be an assurance of redistribution of wealth, contributing to a more equal society.
Under socialism, we will be jolted out of the fog of mysticism and economic depravity and driven toward a future that will require the rapid development of the people.
Practices that had previously been the only source of economic stability, sex work, female genital mutilation (FGM), and other practices that trap women primarily, will fade away as society is opened up to new opportunities. Worker-owned production will ensure that all of our people can make a living contributing to the development of our nation and most importantly provide financial security for women and other vulnerable sectors of our society, making us less vulnerable.
The need for a revolutionary African women’s organization
You’ve heard us say many times that there is no such thing as women, in general. There is a difference between the women of the oppressor colonizer nation who benefit from colonial domination and the women of the oppressed colonized nations who suffer as a result of colonial domination.
Colonizer women, although oppressed because of the patriarchy that existed in Europe, came into the colonial mode of production at the side of their oppressors and reinforced it in the colony. They were the missionaries, the teachers, and the madames who offered strategic points of entry into the colony.
They benefitted from having African women in their homes as servants which gave them the pedestal upon which they launched their struggle for equal rights to their male counterparts.
They’ve created this narrative that all women are in the same boat. That patriarchy, male domination over women, is our primary barrier. However, it has been impossible for them to win this position alone as colonial white women and they have created strategies to adopt colonized and oppressed women to their fight by pandering to the experiences of those women. First with the bourgeois woman’s movement and finally through feminism.
Feminism encourages equality in order to maintain the status quo within the existing parasitic social structure. It has African women fighting for equal pay for “women”, while oppressor nation women continue to earn more than African, Indigenous, and Latinx men and women in the U.S.
Essentially, colonized oppressed people within the U.S. colony are fighting just to catch up to white women, while white women are fighting to be equal to white men. Patriarchy cannot explain this dichotomy nor can it explain the many other issues that impact poor working-class colonized people.
Patriarchy does not explain the overrepresentation of African prisoners in the U.S. Europe, and Canada, state violence, the overrepresentation of African children kidnapped by the state, dumpster babies, neo-colonialism, infant and maternal death, poor healthcare, food deserts, gentrification, ethnic cleansing, proxy wars; just about everything else.
Yet still, they’ve worked hard to force the false narrative that all women suffer from patriarchy and must band together, using the conditions of the poor and oppressed people they dominated as a springboard for their bourgeois women’s issues.
White women in the U.S. catapulted from abolition to the fight for women’s suffrage to struggles for equal pay, reproductive rights, and ending sexual violence; all of which was happening as African women were fighting off sexual violence as low-wage workers in the homes of white women.
From the very public cases of Recy Taylor a mother and wife, who was kidnapped and gang-raped by six white men in 1944, sparking the Movement in Defense of Black Womanhood to Megan Williams who was kidnapped, raped, and tortured by white women and men in West Virginia in 2007; the sexual violation of black women and girls never garnered the rallying cry of any of bourgeois women’s activism. Especially if white women couldn’t capitalize on it.
In fact, black women have often been depicted as liars or worse, complicit in our own assaults.
The white women who help their male counterparts win local and national political victories, feign ignorance about the long-standing culture of rape and violence inherent in this parasitic social system, founded on rape and violence.
The rape of African women benefits white women as much as it does their male counterparts. The children produced are capital that supports the entire white nation.
Only when it is to white women’s political advantage, is the victimization of African and other colonized women used as a prop to bolster their own objectives.
As expected white women’s adoption of our issues did not improve the material conditions of African and other colonized women, solely because white women sit on the pedestal of colonial capitalism, which robs African people of self-determination.
This reality laid the groundwork for Black Feminism to use the momentum of the bourgeois feminist movement and the gains and contradictions of the black power revolution of the ’60s to:
- Make the case for patriarchy as the primary contradiction based on the misogyny within black organizations up until that time
- Align African women of the petite bourgeoisie to the bourgeois call for “all women” to fight against patriarchy.
- Take the focus away from anti-imperialism to anti-racism.
- Try to resolve the contradictions of oppression while upholding the system that oppresses them.
- Attempt to use feminism to change the system by becoming part of the system
It doesn’t require the pre-condition of revolution, the destruction of the capitalist system as a motive force leading to the liberation of women. Black feminism is a petit-bourgeois divisive, unproductive, political line that leads African women away from African liberation and toward an unrealistic stance of self-preservation under white power imperialism. For these reasons, feminism is not a liberation ideology. African internationalism is.
This conclusion laid the foundation for building a revolutionary anti-colonial anti-imperialist African women’s organization that could contend with the popularism of feminism.
The Party creates the African National Women’s Organization
The African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) is guided by the political theory of African Internationalism, not feminism. African internationalism informs us that colonialism, not patriarchy, is the root of African women’s oppression.
Making our fight against patriarchy obscures the colonial reality of African women.
Our existence comes as a result of the attack on Africa, the enslavement and colonial domination of Africa and African people, not because of patriarchy.
The African National Women’s Organization was born as a strategy of the African Revolution. We were founded by the African People’s Socialist Party in 2015 after having successful African Internationalist conferences on African women in Washington, D.C. in the U.S. and London England, which were attended by African women from the Caribbean, Africa, the U.S., U.K., and other places in the diaspora.
These women voted to establish an international organization of African women, to forward our revolutionary aims and objectives.
Although, the mandate to create an African women’s organization had been written into the resolutions of the African People’s Socialist Party decades earlier.
We understood that the pursuit of the economic, social, and political emancipation of African women is a vital part of the struggle to free the African nation and defeat white power imperialism.
I was appointed as the president of ANWO by Omali Yeshitela the Chairman of the African Socialist International and our first International Executive Committee (IEC) was voted in by the body of the conferences.
Our initial priorities were to work on the resolutions that were adopted during the conferences which were to:
- Protect and defend Assata Shakur
- Organize against African mass incarceration U.S. and U.K.
- Form Uhuru Kijiji Childcare Collective
- Expose the colonial contradiction regarding Immigration and organize against it
- Organize against Horizontal Violence (intimate partner violence)
- Develop political education to stop the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation
- Organize against the imperialist wars targeting women, children and men in the Congo and Africa
- Develop Birth and Reproductive Justice initiatives
- Develop Economic Development project
The International Executive Committee (IEC) is the highest body of ANWO. It leads the day-to-day affairs and political activities of ANWO including making sure that our work adheres to the resolutions set during our conventions.
Growth marked by the fight for the African working class
This year marks seven years of the African National Women’s Organization’s existence. We are still a small organization, led by members who commit to carrying forward the mission of bringing African women into revolutionary life. Our smallness, though not ideal, carries the stretch marks of growth and struggle.
From the outset, we struggled to define who we were to the world, however, that revealed a lot of internal struggles. ANWO was and remains to be a confusing organization for many feminists and feminist-leaning activists because while we are in favor of equality for African women on one hand; we are against colonialism in all of its forms including in the form of petit-bourgeois feminism.
Initially, feminists thought they could carry feminism into our ranks. This became a point of contention because, while feminists aren’t excluded from our membership, the petty-bourgeois class characteristics of feminism required us to spend a lot of time struggling with them to abandon petty-bourgeois aspirations and contribute their skills to the interest of the African working class. We fought for structure, accountability, and action.
What was exposed was that some women joined not understanding that they aspire to be the African petty bourgeoisie – a sector of the African colony that maintains the status quo and who are not particularly interested in becoming the leaders of the African revolution, shapers of our new society.
There are also women who we consider the radical petty bourgeoisie. These women are unhappy with the current social system and are constantly voicing outrage or protest in order to initiate reforms within the capitalist system.
In either instance, the outcome is African women who do not believe that African liberation is possible but join ANWO because it represents the militant politics that they hope to embody.
Liberation requires organization, not anarchy
We are a mass organization which means that any African woman can join.
We do, however, have objectives that we expect members to contribute to.
The highest expression of membership is action either on the ground or by supporting with dues. The African working class demands a flexible self-funded organization that will carry out its interests.
What we find is that some women are opposed to the strategizing, organizing, and execution that is required to get us closer to our mission; and are drawn to groups or individuals who do not have structure and where political theory does not exist.
That is anarchy and we are not anarchists.
This struggle constantly emerges because the characteristic of the African petite bourgeoisie is to be liberal.
Since they do not believe in African liberation they do not have a vision of a free future. So every action item is tedious, inconvenient, “confusing”, or too hard.
They do not help solve problems, they present problems. They suddenly don’t have convertible skills and they do the bare minimum or nothing at all.
In some cases, they have contempt for the African working class, evidenced by their unwillingness to engage in basic organizing in our communities.
They would rather work hard for capitalist industries or in bourgeois institutions, rather than work hard for the revolution.
They fear “coming out” as revolutionary, but are ok with being an activist.
We have to engage in the long, hard, important work to build power amongst African women who suffer immeasurably inside the colony.
The conditions of African women demand organization
There are over 1 million African women who live in combat zones as a result of colonial exploitation.
Many of us are poor and without access to resources. Many of us are illiterate and are victims of violence on a daily basis.
There are hundreds of thousands of African girls who are missing. They are forced into prostitution just to make ends meet.
There are mothers, right now, looking for their children or crying over the bodies of their children.
This is the world we live in because of capitalism.
It’s in the interest of African women to destroy parasitic capitalism. In the process of destroying capitalism, African women learn to solve problems and emerge as leaders in the African revolution.
ANWO remains committed to building that legion of African women who will birth a new world free from colonial domination and parasitic capitalism.
So we have been building campaigns like ArrestCPS and Uhuru Kijiji Childcare Collective in addition to what Erika mentioned in my intro because this is the training ground under which people, our women, and our communities, learn how to become revolutionary. The struggles we engage in while fighting to get our children back, building community control of welfare, or building our own economic development institution, are all capacity-building for the African revolution.
These struggles build our political fortitude and bring us to a place where we can come to the final conclusion that regardless of what we do under capitalism, we will continue to struggle for hundreds of years in the future if we don’t destroy colonialism.
We cannot avoid the inevitable that we have to become conscious active revolutionaries. We cannot add any value to this system.
The only redemption that is worth having is the redemption of the African working class when we burn this system down, wipe it out and begin anew to create a structure where African people and other formally colonized people can live free without having this exploitative parasitic relationship with the colonizer that we have today, as once stated by Comrade Demetrius.
The crisis of imperialism defines our politics
We’re living in a time where the entire imperialist world is targeting Russia because of the Russian-Ukraine conflict. The imperialist targeting of Russia is nothing new because Russia, having developed outside of the colonial mode of production, has been an outlier in Europe for over a century.
The Party put out a position in support of Russia’s defensive war against Ukraine and ANWO, as a member of the Uhuru Movement, is in support of this position.
This created a struggle within our own organizing efforts to build the Black Mothers March in Washington, D.C. scheduled for Mother’s Day May 8, 2022. Two of the 7 black-led “activist” organizations decided to abandon this important work because they did not agree with ANWO’s position.
One of these organizations that identified itself as a “Black Queer Feminist,” while abandoning the effort to bring black families to Washington D.C. said their position is anti-imperialist, even though their decision to join the worldwide condemnation of Russia is fomented by U.S. imperialism which means that they sided with the U.S. and European imperialism by default. And their ultimate decision to leave the efforts to organize this March for black families targeted by U.S. imperialism through colonial state-sponsored kidnapping of black children means that they have no interest in the struggles of the African working class.
This struggle shows that the crisis of imperialism doesn’t escape any part of our existence and thus we must articulate our position. We must be prepared to not only struggle to find a better understanding but also win people to the correct position.
African Internationalism leads us to an understanding rooted in dialectics. It isn’t based on feelings but on historical facts that place the interest of the African working class at the center. We are no longer sitting on the sideline as the objects of history, we are the subject of it. As black women, we have to learn how to explain the world that we are living in so that we can give leadership to anybody.
It’s African women’s responsibility to be the leaders, shapers, and makers of human history. We must be involved in the revolutionary project to win liberation for our people. It cannot be limited to specific projects like anti-cps. We have to see further than that because if it’s just about getting back this one child back or getting this one family back together; down the street, somebody else’s child is being taken away. So, while we are out here, helping and assisting and organizing and fighting with these parents, we are also struggling to come to the final realization that the system must be destroyed in order for this terror to end.
The African National Women’s Organization is here to be an avenue for African women who have abandoned their allegiance to this social system and want to be a part of the work to find and define what our worldview is.
African internationalism, not feminism, gives us the political acumen to contend with anyone on any issue. I am so appreciative of the Chairman for studying and for developing this theory and arming the masses of our people with it to use it at our disposal, to fight for the unequivocal freedom and liberation of African people.
Not only that but also to fight on behalf of the African working class, which is the motive force to transform, change and destroy the system of colonial capitalism.
Yejide Orunmila is the President of the African National Women’s Organization and a leading member of the African People’s Socialist Party. This report was presented at the March 2022 Black Women’s Convention.