Written by Ajamu Bendele
The African Socialist Movement (formerly the Africanist Movement) was founded by Chairman Chernoh Alpha M. Bah and the remaining members of the Young Writers Association (YWA) in 2002 as an organizational vehicle to continue the fight for the total and uncompromising unity and liberation of the masses of African people from the diabolic and parasitic system of Capitalist-Imperialism as it manifest itself today in the form of Neocolonialism. This group of activist-writers originally formed in 1999 and functioned as a mass organization and service agency within the refugee camps in Guinea-Conakry. Using their official organ, The Nations Newspaper, the YWA provided news and analysis on the conditions of ‘refugees’ in Guinea and the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Chairman Bah and other leading members were imprisoned and the organization officially banned after they discovered and exposed the illicit involvement of the Guinean government for providing the US military with territory from which they were training the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) as a military proxy force.
In the first 3 years of its existence the African Socialist Movement (ASM) expanded its base of operation from Sierra Leone into 8 different West African countries with a registered membership of 70,000. The ASM was comprised mainly of African students and youth actively engaged in grassroots campaigns against the local forces of imperialism exploiting the labor of African people and expropriating our lands of its natural resources while leaving the masses living in squalor and disease. As a rapidly growing social movement that had effectively tapped into the rebellious spirit of young people and provided them with direction and a vision of the possibilities of an Africa free of imperialism in 2005 we understood the necessity to form strategic alliances with other genuine organizations and movements not only within the West African region but also throughout the continent and world.
In 2005, we were invited to send a delegation of representatives from our movement to London, England for a conference organized to bring the various fronts of the African Liberation Movement into a single formation. This conference was organized by a US-bases organization, namely the African People Socialist Party (APSP), for the consolidation of the African Socialist International (ASI) as this proposed international organizational vehicle to bring together the local, national, and regional fronts of the African Revolution in the 21st Century. Convinced that it was in the interests not only of the ASM but the entire African Revolution for an operational unity to be formed as a means of developing ideological cohesiveness and functional collaboration within the African Revolution we joined the efforts in good faith that the APSP was legitimate and honest in their grand statements of interests and commitments.
From 2005 until 2011, the ASM and the APSP were in a political alliance to build the African Socialist International. An official split ensued after the absolving of the Africanist Movement in observance of an ASI mandate to build all local fronts of the ASI into local APSP’s. We founded the African Peoples Socialist Party of Sierra Leone as mandated. Having cultivated a mass base of popular support we felt that we and now entertain executing a national democratic program including electoral politics as a means of raising the class and political consciousness of the masses, exposing the illegitimacy of the neocolonial state and the Petty Bourgeoisie, and intensifying the level of struggle focused in Sierra Leone where the movement has its strong hold and headquarters. The formation of a mass based Socialist party in Sierra Leone that would contest for state power as a tactical part of an overall revolutionary strategy was unprecedented and with the support of international allies the current National Elections would have been a serious showdown between the global forces of imperialism and the African working class aligned with the poor peasantry.
Chairman Bah, has served as the official Spokesperson for the NDA and has led the opposition’s march against the neocolonial All People’s Congress (APC) and president Ernest Koroma. This entire process has been a constant struggle with the ruling party and government. Battle after battle we have out maneuvered and defeated them winning the respect and support of more and more people daily. With the November 17th elections approaching, Chairman Bah and Secretary General Saa Famada are expected to win the parliamentary seats in Freetown and Makeni. We have engaged in great struggles and skillfully out maneuvered the APC and its governmental agencies at every turn. This is due to mass support for the program and positions of the NDA-ASM alliance. Chairman Bah has been the most critical voice in the country as the NDA has experienced an unprecedented growth in its membership. Today it is the 4th largest political party in the country with a firm base among youth, students, and women. As part of our electoral campaign we understood that it was important for the ASM to travel the world to inform our brothers, sisters, and fellow socialist of the process that we were leading up in Sierra Leone. Our goal was to provide an on the ground report and to solicit the material and political support of those that sympathized with the conditions of our people in Sierra Leone and the strategy that we were executing to push back the forces of reaction as we win some concrete power in our hands and begin the process of revolutionary party building and social transformation. Through the ASM’s Department of International Affairs, based in the United States under my directorship (Comrade Ajamu Bandele) we were able to conduct a North American speaking tour featuring Chairman Chernoh Alpha M. Bah.
The African Unity In The 21st Century Tour was launched in mid-September and ended early October. Kicking off in Philadelphia we were hosted by the Hip Hop Party for the People under the Chairman Tommy Joshua. We were very impressed with the level of ideological clarity and political activism that this group of serious and committed revolutionaries based in the heart of North Philly possessed. We were inspired by their work to show the people better than they can tell them that we can do for ourselves and that the youth can be transformed and led to the correct conclusions, commitments and conduct. Their effective use of Hip Hop culture was an inspiration as they had demonstrated the effective application of the culture. Some of the highlights of the Philadelphia stop of the tour were staying at the Peace House in the heart of North Philly, The Peace Tour during which we were able to pick fresh vegetables from the Peace Garden on land expropriated and cultivated directly across from one of the last high rise public housing projects in the city, those delicious and nutritious meals prepared by Comrade Keturah, visit to the UNIA Headquarters, and of course the panel discussion at the monthly “Political Hot Spot” with young cadre from the community and veteran black revolutionaries Muhammad Ahmad fka Max Stanford of the legendary Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and Brother Brown of the original Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party.
As the keynote speaker Chairman Chernoh Alpha M. Bah provided a grassroots report of the struggle on the ground in Sierra Leone and an excellent historical overview of the conditions before, during, and after the 11 year Civil War that broke out in 1991 and raged until 2002. He explained the current struggle for some political power in pursuit of all political power for the masses of exploited laborers in Sierra Leone. The panel discussion and Q&A period that followed was very engaging and we all experienced the international and intergenerational connection that the energy of the dialog produced.
We are currently engaged in a guerrilla-styled scorched earth outreach campaign and daily community rallies as the elections draw nearer. We are predicted to make history by winning the 10 seats that the ASM has targeted. Our next focus is to build an independent public library, health clinic, and youth recreation center. In order to secure and transport the material support required to build these grassroots people’s institutions we will be calling on our international allies and pipelining them through the International Support Committee for Africa (ISCA), our official humanitarian aid and development organization. It is our hope that we can continue to work closely with the Hip Hop Party for the People on this project and others as we “Fight The Power”, on all fronts!