Petitions are not necessarily an end in themselves but often form part of wider protest actions including, other forms of direct action.The most significant thing about petitions is that a group of people break through fear, intimidation and intellectual terrorism to declare that we are the ones opposed to something, stand for something and this helps more people to come forward to support the cause. The more people who do so, the more people are willing to stand up for the said cause.
In fact, petitions are not just about what gets handed in to the Prime Minister or the British Parliament. By speaking to and grounding with our people, we are waking them up and getting them to sign up to and agree something whereby they append their name to a campaign in history. They are the ones who are recorded as openly standing up in history to say that we must ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’
In essence, by signing the historic Stop the Maangamizi/ We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign (SMWeCGEC) Petition that are signing an agreement with history and destiny. Essentially, the action of marching and handing in the SMWeCGEC Petition is about Afrikan people taking people, extra-parliamentary action/activity and engaging in extra-parliamentary struggle, gathering our forces to impress upon the British state and its parliament that reparatory justice is the biggest issue for our people.
When we are outside of our homeland and without access to land and the full benefits of the resources that our people have generated, reparatory justice cannot be just about self-repairs as essential as this is, but must also tackle external repairs. This is because we are estopped from effectively repairing ourselves in so many ways, including, truly building community and establishing own autonomous self-determined institutions. We must remember that we are here because they were there in our homeland and we have never recovered from the harmful intergenerational effects of the Maangamizi. As Malcolm X brilliantly stated: “If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches, that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress. Progress is healing the wound, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife.” This quote does not just relate to those that are unjustly ruling America but also those who exercise and wield the coloniality of white supremacist power in the UK and other parts of Europe.
We have to also find ways of tackling the system and confronting, as well as, challenging oppressive power structures with our own people based power, if we are to bring about systemic change and we truly want to stop the genocide/ecocide. We also recognise that people’s and political pressure must be mounted at every level, politically, culturally and legally. By promoting, discussing and reasoning through the contents of the petition, we are helping to raise popular legal consciousness,* building peoples power and knowledge for effecting and securing reparatory justice.
Petitions are equally as likely to play more of a role building a sense of community among campaigners in addition to sometimes influencing parliament or Whitehall. So, they still play an important role in mobilising support for other more revolutionary and other more advances types of reparatory action. Therefore, it is important to note that the SMWeCGE petition is a tactic, it is not a strategy! The strategy for effecting and securing reparatory justice, both internal and external, cannot be a singular one because the movement, and those who comprise it, have many different and sometimes contradictory goals. Hence the annual 1st August Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March is just one column or pillar in a wider International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR) and is also a tool for mobilising people around the goal of acquiring the consciousness for effecting/taking and securing (internal and external reparations). The other columns of the ISMAR include:
- Street Column (those who take forms of street action)
- Parliamentary & Extra Parliamentary Column
- Legal & Extra-legal Column
- Political Economy Column
- Faith Column
- Labour (workers) Column
- Women’s Column
- Youth & Students Column
- Veterans Column (Elders)
- Edutainment Column.
- Sports & Recreation Column
- Academic Column (including reparations scholar-activists).
The ISMAR is itself a column of the wider Peoples Reparations International Movement (PRIM).
The aims of the March were formalised in 2015 as follows:
1. To draw attention to Afrikan peoples’ global determination to not let the British State and other perpetrators get away with the crimes of the Maangamizi (Afrikan hellacaust and continuum of chattel, colonial and neo-colonial enslavement);
2. To hand in the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide petition requesting an All-Party Commission of Inquiry for Truth & Reparatory Justice in order to raise consciousness about the fact that all the attacks on us, in both individual and collective instances, amount to Genocide/Ecocide in Maangamizi continuity, necessitating reparations;
3. To increase awareness of the necessity to ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ and its current manifestations such as austerity, attempts to recolonise Afrika, mentacide and deaths in police, psychiatric and prison custody;
4. To demonstrate Afrikan peoples’ strength, capacity and determination to speak truth to, and challenge establishment power, with our growing grassroots power to effect and secure reparatory justice on our own terms;
5. To highlight Afrikan people’s grassroots demands and initiatives for effecting and securing reparations.
*Legal Consciousness is the sum total of views and ideas expressing the attitude of people toward law, legality and justice and their concepts of what is lawful and unlawful. The SMWeCGE petition is part of a social justice lawyering approach to utilising law to effect and secure forms of reparatory justice.