Omali Yeshitela's statement on the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president
(Listen to the audio archive of African Socialist International Chairman Omali Yeshitela, Black Agenda Report senior editor Glen Ford, African Socialist International General Secretary Luwezi Kinshasa, direct from London, and Africanist Movement Director Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, direct from Freetown, discussing reaction to the U.S. elections from the U.S. to the UK to Sierra Leone - on UhuruRadio.com)
By Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Socialist International
African workers and peoples of the world:
On Tuesday, November 4 Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States to the obvious joy of millions of African people in the U.S. and around the world, especially in Africa, our national homeland. Other peoples of the world also welcomed the election of Obama. The jubilation over the election was the result of relief at the end of the hated Bush regime, but mostly it was the result of an assumption that Obama’s election represents a drastic change for the better in the conditions of African people in the U.S. and an end to the United States’ predatory relationship with most of the world. Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: none of this is true. The fact is that the election of Obama to the U.S. presidency represents the highest stage of neocolonialism, white power in black face.
As we have seen in Africa and some other places, when our political consciousness develops to the extent that it becomes impossible for imperialist white power to rule us directly, indirect rule or neocolonialism has been employed as a method of undermining our struggle to win our freedom. Instead of imperialism with the white face that had become so hated by our people because of its history of brutality and humiliation, imperialism donned a black face giving the appearance of freedom and progress while our resources remained in the hands of the same imperialist white power as before.
Sisters, brothers and comrades: some of us are old enough to remember the joy and hope that we experienced with our independence and the emergence of African heads of state in Africa during the 1960s. Others experienced the same elation that accompanied the election of Nelson Mandela as president in South Africa in 1994. Today that joy has been dulled by the reality of our continued exploitation by the same imperialist countries and corporations that have exploited us historically.
Sisters and brothers; friends and comrades: Today our people are swimming in a sea of misery throughout Africa under the indirect rule of neocolonialism. This is true even after Mandela in South Africa where nearly 50 percent of African people are unemployed and thousands are required to live in shanties unfit for human habitation. This South Africa that we are told has overcome its racial past and now constitutes a “Rainbow Nation,” is one where the white ten percent of the population still own 87 percent of the land that they stole with their initial brutal occupation that lasts to this day.
In the U.S., where Barack Obama also told us that racial oppression is no longer a factor in life, the black-white health gap costs the lives of more than 83,000 African people each year. Additionally, African men in the U.S. are incarcerated at rates 8 times higher than white men and one out of three African males in his 30s has a prison record. One out of eight African men in his 20s is now in prison or jail on any given day. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the conditions of existence for African people, most of whom are workers, in the U.S. Clearly the election of Obama is not a sign that things are better for African people.
Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: the same thing that made it necessary for imperialist white power to employ neocolonialism on the Continent of Africa has made it necessary for our imperialist oppressors and exploiters to employ neocolonialism globally through the election of Barack Obama, whose presidential campaign cost more than 600 million U.S. dollars.
Throughout the world people are struggling to overturn their oppressive relationship to the U.S. These are struggles that have been ongoing for some time now and were highlighted in the past by the glorious struggles of the Vietnamese and Cuban peoples. Today these struggles are evident in the resistance to U.S. occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the challenge to U.S. hegemony by growing numbers of peoples and countries in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. In South America the growing resentment of the people to U.S. domination and expropriation of their wealth can be found in the policies and popularity of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela along with the governments and people of Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua and others. These are some of the myriad of problems the U.S. ruling class has been confronted with for some time now. These are among the contradictions facing U.S. imperialism that we have characterized as a crisis of imperialism.
Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: The U.S. and world economy is in trouble precisely because of this growing resistance by the world’s peoples. It is true that the world capitalist economy is a parasitic economy that rests upon a pedestal of the oppressive exploitation of the majority of humanity—a parasitic economy that has its origins in part from African slavery and the colonization of Africa and much of the world.
The successful struggles of the world’s peoples to take back their resources and their freedoms for their own use means that these are resources that the imperialists can no longer rely on to feed, clothe and house themselves and their children at our expense. This is what has made it necessary for our oppressors to employ a global neocolonial strategy. It is a strategy that intends to give imperial white power a new and friendlier face that is not normally associated with oppression and exploitation. It is a strategy to seduce the peoples of the world to compliance with the predatory interests of U.S. imperialism as it becomes increasingly clear that military coercion alone is no longer sufficient for imperialist success.
It is a strategy designed to enhance the U.S.’s capacity in the growing contest with others, especially China, for the resources of Africa that are so critical in determining the economic future of the world. Part of the strategy is to create an international brotherhood of neocolonialism under the umbrella of U.S. imperialism that would allow neocolonial heads of state in Africa to enjoy the prestige of association with Obama in return for favorable treatment of U.S. corporations exploiting the resources of Our Africa.
Another critical component of the imperialist strategy represented by Obama’s election is the Africa Command or AFRICOM, the overt U.S. military intervention in Africa that is designed to protect the oppressive status quo and to oppose its most serious contenders for Africa’s resources that should be going to the development of Africa for African people ourselves. Obama’s presidency provides the necessary cover for cowardly neocolonial heads of state who could not previously openly support Africom because of its obvious colonial connotation.
While Obama is an African this is not a true determination of who he really represents, any more than the fact that all over Africa there are African heads of state that continue to represent the interests of the wealthy imperialists and do not represent African interests beyond those of their narrow petty bourgeois class base. During his campaign for president, Obama received more money from the white ruling class of the U.S. in the form of Wall Street bankers than any other candidate. While African people flocked loyally to him, Obama refused to raise any of the issues critical to the interests of Africans, especially the issue of police killings of young African men throughout the U.S. Obama also spoke out against reparations payments to Africans for the history of slavery and other forms of exploitation and oppression that have robbed our people of a meaningful economic capacity and the inheritance of the value created by our ancestors.
Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: All of Obama’s advisors during his campaign and those who he is expected to bring into his administration have histories as imperialist servants, some of them notoriously so, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was National Security Advisor with the administration of U.S. President James Earl Carter and Madeline Albright who was Secretary of State with the regime of William Jefferson Clinton. In addition his campaign financial chairwoman was Penny Pritzker from Chicago, a billionaire heiress who created the predatory lending scheme that targeted Africans and Latinos, resulting in thousands losing their homes while she made a fortune at their expense.
Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: Elections in the U.S. are simply nonviolent contests by different sectors of the white ruling class for control of the state. The ideas that are presented during these electoral campaigns are simply the ideas of different sectors of the ruling class who use the elections to achieve a popular mandate to use the power of the imperialist state to advance their predatory interests. Although Obama has proved to be quite eloquent in putting forward ideas during the campaign for president, the ideas that he put forward were those of his ruling class sponsors.
Obama will not free Africa. He cannot free Africans either at home in Africa or abroad in the U.S. or the many other places to which we have been shipped by slavery and colonialism. He is not a friend of Africa, nor is he a friend of the suffering oppressed peoples of the world. His interests are the interests of U.S. imperialism, the world’s greatest predator state. If Africa and Africans are to be free it will be because we stop looking to representatives of our oppressors for our freedom; it will be because we come to understand that our power resides in ourselves as African people who are determined to fight for Africa for Africans ourselves; it will be because we recognize that we must combine our efforts as a people under the leadership of the African working class, organized independently into our own international party to fight for a totally liberated and united Africa and African people worldwide.
Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: Barack Obama represents imperialism in crisis. He is an imperialist solution to its loss of influence among the struggling peoples of the world. To embrace Obama is to participate in resolving the crisis of imperialism that is responsible for our misery as a class and as African people.
The return of our freedom, resources and happiness will only come with the conquest of political power in our own hands through our own efforts.
We must reject imperialist neocolonialism, whether in Africa or in North America!
We must implement the Revolutionary National Democratic Program!
We must fight for power to the people under the leadership of the African working class!
We must build the African Socialist International as the essential instrument for waging our struggle for national liberation and power to the African working class!
U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan!
U.S. hands off Venezuela and all of South America!
Down with U.S. terrorist threats against the people of Iran!
Down with AFRICOM!
All U.S. troops and intelligence agencies out of Africa now!
One Africa! One Nation!