Who is Chilembwe?
Chilembwe is named after the liberation fighter John Chilembwe, the true national hero. The person of Chilembwe is not important; it can be anyone speaking for the Liberation Movement. Chilembwe explains what Liberation Movement stands for, next time you speak to Chilembwe the person may be different, but the message will be the same.
Chilembwe speaks for the Liberation Movement. What is the idea behind Liberation Movement?
Liberation Movement is a movement. We have been colonized in the past, by the British and before that by Arab slave traders. In the beginning man was free. We were hunter-gatherers, living in paradise. There were prey to be hunted and berries to be picked, enough for all. But when iron smelting came, with agriculture this changed. Some people took the surplus of agriculture and demanded that others obeyed them. This way inequality was introduced into our society. These rulers were religious as well as secular. And this unnatural state is still here: we have rulers in our society who steal the fruits of our labor, through their laws as well as through illegal means, mostly corruption. Now the population toils and the ruling class parasites on our labor.
After the British we got political independence, but we were colonized by our indigenous ruling class. The result is the same: we work and they profit. This ruling class of today consists of three groups:
- The politicians, who are the most visible, but they are passing.
- We have a business class closely allied with the politicians who profit through tender-preneurship, a short word for corrupt tendering, giving our money away to the corrupt business elite.
- There are the top civil servants, who in fact rule the country: the politicians are only a passing incident, every 5 years they are replaced, and when the cabinet is reshuffled even faster. And politicians often lack expertise. The top civil servants have many years of experience and a lot of expertise in stealing the money of the Malawian people.
These three groups are colonizing us today, and conniving with international capitalists and imperial politics from abroad, to take as much of our possessions from us as they can.
What is the organization of Liberation Movement?
Liberation Movement is not an organization as such. Liberation Movement is an idea that every well meaning person in the world can join and apply. We are bottom-up, non-elitist, a basic democracy of Soviets. You want to join Liberation Movement? Then you are Liberation Movement! We are as free as the wind. Like Mao Ze-Dong said: we live in the population as fish in the sea. If you want to join Liberation Movement and liberate yourself economically, then set up your own Soviet. There are no rules to follow, no fees to pay, no membership cards to buy, or hand-outs to collect. Set up your own Soviet in your own village or township. Organize yourself, and move against injustice, in favor of freedom from oppression and colonization, internal or external. Liberate yourself and your people from the ruling class and their corruption.
You mention a Soviet. What is a Soviet?
A soviet we learned from the Russians, that’s why we use a Russian word. It is a committee of all who want to join, that rules the local situation. It rules the village, it rules the township, it rules the company. It is self determination and it is our answer to colonization, exploitation and injustice from the ruling class, national ruling class, or international ruling class.
A Soviet gets together and talks. It consists of everybody who is of good will. The literate read for the illiterate, we watch films like Sarafina. Films about liberation. We read books like Fanon, Che Guevara, Marx & Engels, Mandela, Nyerere, Nkrumah, Nasser, you name it. Anything that can liberate us. And we discuss how to apply it to the local situation. The PhD holders learn from the illiterate and the illiterate learn from the PhD holders. We fight false consciousness as well as colonization by foreigners and by the local ruling class.
How does Liberation Movement think to improve the situation in practice, not only in the Soviet?
We study activism. Bottom-up activism. This means we do not need an office which can be firebombed, as happened when Bingu was President. We do not need grants from foreigners, which have strings attached. For this read: Confessions of an Economic Hit man. This book clearly shows how our ruling class connives with the international capitalists to colonize our economy.
Our actions look spontaneous but they are highly studied and organized. We prepare and we strike. The wave of strikes in the country now is no accident. And it will continue and be followed up with more forms of activism, if the ruling class do not change their ways quickly. I do not expect them to give up their privileged position soon, so we are prepared to keep fighting for our rights. Listen to Bob Marley: Get up, stand up! Stand up for your right! Get up, stand up! Don’t give up the fight!
All these ideas have been practiced around the world with more or less success. Look at Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. They fought in the early 1960s. Now there is a black president in the US. But the poor are worse off than ever. So they have one victory after 50 years, and the main objective still has to be won. You see how things move in different directions at the same time.
We have started the struggle here, and it is going to be a long hot struggle. A privileged class does not give up its privileges voluntarily. They will keep taking our share of the national wealth if we don’t confront them. But we will. We are determined that justice shall prevail.
Is activism the only goal of Liberation Movement?
By no means! We have to show the real face of oppression, and of indigenous colonization. But we also have to offer an alternative. We are preparing for a political party, to participate in elections in 2019. But this will be a very new concept to Malawi. By that time we will have a strong brand recognition, and a strong brand image. The population knows what we stand for and many will have joined.
Our party is bottom-up, with true internal democracy. We will have candidates, because it is prescribed by the foreign –western- style of democracy. But they will be elected and we will have a recall provision. Other Malawian parties are not mass movements, they are simply the personal property of one rich person and some henchmen and women, who invest money and then demand a return on their investment through corruption. They treat governance as a form of capitalism, instead of a way to serve the people! But we are different. We have a mass movement, and we have genuine elections, and we represent the people, the masses, the electorate. We are the people, the masses, the electorate.
Look at the current political class: they are old while the population is young. They are rich while the population is poor. They are corrupt while the population is honest. They are overwhelmingly male while the majority of the population is female. This political class does not represent the population; they represent only themselves, the ruling class. That is not democracy, that is colonization by the rich! We have no appointments in a polit-bureau by some old rich corrupt party owner. We have mass democracy, direct democracy; the people themselves are the leader. We do not represent the population, we are the population, and the population is us. We do not buy votes with hand-outs. Look at the EFF in South Africa. They do not give out t-shirts. They do the opposite: they sell t-shirts. The population is willing to contribute because they feel represented, and they support the EFF by buying t-shirts and berets and what have you. We do not need a corrupt old man to finance the party because we do not need money to buy votes. We have a program of Liberation Movement to offer, and offer an alternative to poverty and colonization.
We start with activism, and as soon as political parties are being registered for 2019 we will be there and we will offer real improvement of the populations situation.
Where can we find your manifesto?
We do not have a written manifesto yet. It is too early for that, we are in the phase of political activism by an avant-garde in the style of Lenin. We fight false consciousness, and we show the Malawian colonizers, the local ruling class, for what they are. Our manifesto will not be written by some outsider, as is the case with traditional parties of the ruling class. Our manifesto is written by the people of Malawi, for the people of Malawi. Just like the ANC Freedom Charter. It will be truly African, and truly just.
Any last word from you?
Will never be defeated.