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Malcolm X’s 100th birthday to be commemorated in Gambia

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By Omar Bah

Academics, activists and campaigning organisations will gather in May next year at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre for the Convention of African People.

The convention on historic global Black empowerment organised by leading UK academic Professor Kehinde Andrews will honour Malcolm X’s 100th birthday and address key issues faced by Black people worldwide. It is also aimed at uniting people in Africa and across the diaspora.

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While Malcolm X is regarded as a towering figure in the fight for Black liberation, the convention has the broader goal of creating a global organisation for Black people that can speak with a strong, collective voice.

The event will also create a directory of Black organisations.

By linking up organisations, leaders, activists, and scholars from different parts of the world for next year’s convention, Andrews hopes to build stronger bonds an effective collaboration on projects an initiative that will help to tackle the inequalities faced by people of African heritage.

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Among the key issues most likely to be on the conference agenda are the impacts of colonialism, combating systemic racism, and empowering Black communities economically, issues as timely now as they were in Malcolm X’s time.

Also, likely to be discussed are Black people’s fight against police brutality, economic disparity, and political disenfranchisement.

Andrews says the event will bring to life Malcolm X’s vision of a global struggle against racial and economic oppression.

According to the Birmingham City University academic, the convention is aimed at educating, inspiring, and mobilising participants with a stronger sense of what a global Black community can achieve.

“Malcolm X was the most important intellectual of the twentieth century for those interested in racial justice. On his 100th birthday, we are organising the Convention of Afrikan People to honour his legacy and also to build it. We have founded the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity using Malcolm’s blueprint and hope to build a global organisation that connects Africa to the diaspora to build a strategy,” he said.

He continued: “This convention is more than just honoring Malcolm X’s legacy.  It’s about building the future he envisioned—a future where Black people are united, empowered, and free from the chains of colonialism and racism.”

The first Pan-African conference was held in London in 1900.  Following this a series of Pan African Congress meetings were held over the years.

Andrews however, makes a clear distinction between the past, and the convention next year.

“Malcolm’s political vision was all about uniting the African diaspora. He said Africa will not go further than we will, and we will not go further than Africa.

“Our convention is called a convention for a reason; it’s purposefully not called a congress. The congress movement in the past started in Westminster, and went to France, New York, and Manchester. Next year’s convention is taking place in Africa.

“The only really official Pan African Congress which was in Africa, was in 1974.  The Pan Africa Congress movement really has been an elite bourgeois ‘best of the race’ kind of initiative, which led to things like the African Union which are extremely problematic.

“At the same time as the congress movement, Marcus Garvey’s organisation the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) was organising conventions and these were for the masses.

“These were large scale organisations.  They were talking about Africa for the Africans and had this really radical vision of a global Black nation. And so, the purpose of calling next year’s meeting a convention ties into some of the all-African conferences that happened in the 1960s.  There’s a tradition of trying to bring people together.”

Andrews went on to explain that the kind of organising and unity the convention seeks to promote is key to combating White supremacy globally.

“The big problem that we have is economic independence. This is why no country in Africa or the Caribbean is independent. Until we have an independent economy you can’t really have anything, the whole thing is about economics”.

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