Listen up! The European is not your friend

2015-04-06 11:00

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Assata Olugbala Shakur writes to UCT students

I have been watching with great interest your revolution unfolding in Cape Town.

My soul, the soul of the Afrikan, longs to be with you at your time of emancipation from a legacy of slavery at the hands of the white man.

My name is Assata Olugbala Shakur. I am an escaped slave from the 20th century. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of colour.

I am a former political prisoner and have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist for most of my life and although the US government has done everything in its power to criminalise me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one.

In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement and the movement to end the war in Vietnam.

I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969, the Black Panther Party had become the number one organisation targeted by the FBI’s Cointelpro (counterintelligence programme) because the Black Panthers demanded the total liberation of black people.

J Edgar Hoover called it the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country”, and vowed to destroy it, its leaders and activists.

I have one message for you and your comrades. Do not be naive about the mind of the white person. It has been taught since birth to believe in its superiority and to believe that the Afrikan child must labour and toil so wealth and power can drop into their hands like rain from heaven.

The European is not your friend. The liberal European might pretend to be your friend and might even contrive to denigrate themselves in front of you to show they belong among Afrikans.

When the powerful turn their guns on you, that person will leave you behind.

Throughout history, the person of colour has had his back whipped by the white man. Our Afrikan hearts have been penetrated by white bullets.

Our souls have been sliced by their spears. In Sharpeville, your brothers were mowed down by the white man, the same white man who holds you in captivity now in his game of educational mind colonisation.

The longer you and your comrades think about it, the closer you will come to the realisation that for too long, the Afrikan has not fought back.

For centuries, we have endured beatings only to never raise our fists.

We remain in subjugation, talking, listening, debating, but nothing changes. The only thing left to do is to fight centuries of fire with fire.

If we are unwilling to riot, unwilling to show our anger by damaging the property of the white man, and unwilling to blow up signs of colonial terror without the permission of the white man, then we remain plantation slaves shovelling pig shit while the white masters sip tea.

They promise freedom “one day” and say it must “come naturally”. It never does. It will come when the Afrikan slave uses force to break the shackles and obtain emancipation.

I am sure I do not have to be this explicit, but I will be in case I have not made myself clear. You and your comrades have hands. Use them. Pull down the statue.

If it doesn’t come down, think of something else.

All power to the people!

Shakur is an African-American activist

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