AFRICANGLOBE – Kwame Ture inspired and continues to inspire freedom loving people all over the world. His self-less commitment to African People and the revolutionary struggles of all people worldwide are legendary. Through his example, we can learn so much about how to understand the world we live in, what ideologies to guide us and the basis for the political strategies to achieve Pan-Africanism.
Kwame Ture was a revolutionary Pan-Africanist, committed to a socialist path of development. He followed the teachings and practices of Kwame Nkrumah (former President of Ghana) and Sekou Ture (former President of Guinea) since 1968 and later changed his name using one name from each. After the untimely deaths / assassinations of Nkrumah and Ture, Kwame Ture kept their messages and strategies at the forefront of the African revolution, travelling and speaking all over the world and building the All-African Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) – the party founded and outlined by Kwame Nkrumah in his ‘Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare,’ while in exile in Guinea in the late 1960s.
I first came across Kwame Ture in 1988, after joining the AAPRP at African Liberation Day. I joined the struggle like many Africans after growing up and experiencing racist Britain, reading about the history of the ‘Black’ working class and reading about the civil rights struggles of African Americans of the 1960s. Kwame was a towering figure in the civil rights struggle but also in the black power movement. His articulation of the term ‘Black Power’ united Africans worldwide. However, Kwame developed beyond the demands of black power as articulated in his book ‘From Black Power to Pan-Africanism’.
The development of Kwame’s own politics, hugely influenced by Nkrumah and Ture, led to a clearer analysis of our struggle and helped in the early development of the AAPRP. Kwame understood the importance of class struggle and at the same time the need to liberate an oppressed nation, Africa and its people. These struggles were inseparable, hence the term ‘revolutionary Pan-Africanism’. He was clear that it was not enough to have class struggle without the unification of Africa and the unification of Africa without winning the class struggle. This also put him on a collision course with most of the African governments on the continent and in the Caribbean, who often tried to prevent his travel into their countries. Kwame’s articulation of this inseparable link, led to much criticism from the ‘White left’ that he was too nationalistic. Kwame always pointed out that African nationalism was based on self-love and unity against external oppression, as opposed to nationalism from the oppressor which is generally based on hatred of others.
As one of the leaders of the AAPRP, Kwame Ture was an awesome speaker who electrified audiences all over the world. He was sought after by Africans everywhere but also non-Africans across the world. He met, worked with and shared the struggles of most of the major African liberation parties of the 20th Century. These include the FLN (Algeria); PDG (Guinea); PAIGC (Guinea Bissau); UPC (Cameroon); FNS (Senegal); ANC, PAC/A, AZAPO, BCM (Azania / South Africa); MPLA (Angola); FRELIMO (Mozambique); SWAPO (Namibia); ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe); EPLF (Eritrea); PDIOS (Gambia); the Libyan Jamahiriya (Libya); plus African organisations in the diaspora like the Dalits (India); NDM (Grenada); and many other less known organisations and forces worldwide.
With great links across the liberation organisations on the continent and worldwide, Kwame was often our (AAPRP) key link to these organisations. He helped to provide us with great source material, excellent contacts and helped us collectively to gain a better understanding of the struggles unfolding across the world. These contacts would be developed in our local organising areas in England, Canada, USA, and in the Caribbean. With these links, we were able to provide local platforms for them to speak to local African communities and helped to internationalise their struggles. When Kwame was banned from England after his 1983 visit, the AAPRP were able to provide platforms for the ANC, PAC/A, AZAPO, PAIGC, EPLF and others including the American Indian Movement (AIM); Woolf Tone (Irish Republicans); the PLO (Palestinians), and the Cuban Government.
Visit To England
Kwame’s visit to England in 1983 had a profound impact on Africans living here. His tour was organised by Hackney Black Peoples Association, led by Lester Lewis who sadly passed some years ago. The tour included visits to Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Maidstone, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham and London. The success of this tour, led directly to Kwame committing to return to build the AAPRP in Britain, but the Conservative government issued a ban and he was never allowed to set foot in Britain again, except in transit through an airport. The AAPRP sent other senior members who did an excellent job in building the foundations for the Britain Chapter.
Influencing Change Inside The AAPRP
I first met Kwame in Atlanta, Georgia in 1994. The purpose of the meeting was to widen the experience of the party cadre, share the work we have been doing in Africa and to expand the Pan-African mix of the AAPRP’s leadership. Kwame was a big champion of this change, making the AAPRP more democratic, increasing the number of sisters on the Central Committee (CC), shifting more power to the base of the party and to empower more cadres around the world. This was not universally accepted and later led to some cadre leaving. However, the only cadre who left were born and lived in the USA, and only after Kwame passed to the ancestors. This was a sad moment in the party’s history and today, some of these cadres continue to organise under the banner of the AAPRP but do not accept the authority of the current CC. Kwame must be turning in his grave!
Kwame was a dominant figure during the meeting. His clarity of analysis and explanations were supported by great stories of his travels around the world. Kwame had so many stories, like the many passports he had, being stopped and harassed, and his depth of knowledge of the various struggles across the African continent. We lapped up the stories with great excitement, giving us little insights into the world of a true revolutionary. He also told us of the work the AAPRP had done quietly to spread revolutionary messages across the continent over many years to progressive youth, students, activists and organisations – like distributing revolutionary books in various languages; linking progressive forces in different parts of the continent; speaking to activists at meetings across the continent; all to promote revolutionary Pan-Africanism and the works of key figures like Nkrumah, Ture, Cabral etc.