Revolutionary and radical greetings to our many friends in Durban. Ona move. Long live John Africa.
It is fitting that many of us gather in South Africa, fitting too, that many in attendance here hail from the United States. Those who have studied the issue of racism, and the phenomenon of white supremacy, find too many points of convergence between South Africa and the United States. Both nations claim heritages of democracy, but in fact they have long and tortured histories of what some have called "herrenvolk" democracies," where whites have been granted a kind of egalitarianism, but non-whites were forced into social, economic and political subordination. We know that it didn't matter what is said on paper, or what government spokesmen said. A lived experience communicated the worth of white life and white property, while also communicating the worthlessness of black and indigenous life and liberty.
For millions of people of color in both these originally herrenvolk states, that message is reflected in our daily realities. And because a state has been forced to change its tune from its herrenvolk or white supremacist roots, doesn't mean that all is now well. We remember the words of Kwame Nkrumah who stated that political independence is illusory without economic independence. Who can question the wisdom of that observation when we look at the choking, numbing poverty among blacks here in South Africa that continues under the new political dispensation?
Let us consider the historical role of the United States government during the years of apartheid from the 1970's, when there were the now infamous Vorster/Kissinger conferences, Reagan's program of so-called constructive engagement with the Botha regime. And how many of us know that in the United Nations General Assembly, between 1978 and 1983, the United States voted at least 11 times against any action by the world body against apartheid. For example, in November 1983, the international community voted 110-1 for Resolution 38-19, an international convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid. In all the world, guess which nation voted against the U.N. resolution, only one - the United States?
The U.S. was the best friend the apartheid regime ever had. It has never met a dictator it didn't like. Is there any wonder now that it wants to demand that be no discussion of slave reparations in Durban? The nation that held African people captive in chains and in human bondage, reduced to cattle in American law, for almost 300 years and then forced them into subordination, segregation and subjection for another century under a Supreme Court approved lie of "separate but equal," that today supports a prison industrial complex that cages more black men, women and juveniles per capita than South Africa during the Botha regime. In effect, a new slavery, accomplished by the systematic and illegal removal of blacks from jury service, this new herrenvolk state, forbids the world from the very discussion of slave reparations. Imagine that.
Well, I trust you - all of you - will do the right thing. Remember the sweet ancestors, those precious millions whose whitened bones formed under water walkways across continents - those shackled sons and daughters of Africa, who prayed that death would bring them back home, away from a land of greed, spirit hunger and madness. You'll know whom to listen to. I thank you.
Ona move! Long live John Africa.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
or Pam Africa USA (202) 215 476 8812, e-mail ICFFMAJ@aol.com, web www.ICFFMAJ.org