So Long Chokwe: A Tribute to Chokwe Lumumba
Dr. Mutulu Shakur
Some transitions come in the midst of crucial times and we wonder why. I am lost for words, but not for emotions and reflections. The chairman as we called him in the organization (NAPO) that we built together. He lived a life where every major decision was politically motivated in establishing his political ideology and actions. As I said before, he was of the best of us.
As he and I moved from adolescence into manhood in the early stages of the revolution, we met in the streets of Motor City, Detroit. We came there to decide which way we would go to join the struggle. In those days, there were many options. Many beautiful sacrifices and the articulation of those leaders could fire up the emotions in anyone. We amongst others fell in line with an ideology and the leaders who were very pragmatic, and fundamental in establishing goals in our hearts and minds. That, in the future, would guide our work and sacrifices for over 45 years.
We became citizens of the (Republic of New Africa). Him from Detroit, and me from New York. Northerners with our eyes on the five southern states that we named New Africa. The thing that impressed us was the rigorous black legionnaire’s defense of our people on the streets of Detroit while under attack by Michigan vigilantes and the heroic battle waged by the black legions against an army of law enforcement agencies against New African civilians, the church of Aretha Franklin’s father that saved all of their lives led by the great General Mwesi Chui (who also just made his transition at the age of 91 and must be honored for his heroic leadership and sacrificial acts during the famously now called new Bethel incident).
The other was the passionate demand for justice, human rights and freedom by some of the most articulate, non assuming, scientific analysis of brothers Gaidi and Imari Henry. I’m sure that their style impacted the dynamic speaking and leadership of Chokwe Lumumba. So we did have amongst these great elders, great men and women mentors that we honored. There came a time when those leaders disagreed tactically, as to where we must concentrate our forces. To stay in the north and build a rear guard, or to move our forces south to make a base. Both tactically had merit; sitting across the table staring into Chokwe’s eyes we knew what we were going to do.
We followed the tradition of the Gullar’s, Geeche’s and Seminoles. With some regret, we left the leaders pushing for the north strategy and went into the south. The United States armed forces attacked the Republic of New Africa headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. Again, our New African security forces heroically defended the lives and property of the people. The struggle waged in the south and the repression in the north intensified the need for legal representation. As it became a priority, Chokwe tightened up on his academics and passed the bar exam, and continued to wage battle for our freedom fighters behind enemy lines.
I was convicted of freeing fellow freedom fighters, POWs, and comrades and developing an underground railroad to that same end. I and Chokwe’s interdependency and commitment manifested after my capture; I selected him as my attorney. My comrade a New African, he and I waging heroic efforts in court for my freedom. In our life of struggle nothing is easy; we disagree, we make up and learn from the lessons and move ahead. Our intent was never in question (he had no tolerance for court room bullshit, he was disbarred in two states and won back both decisions on principle). As an attorney, the courtroom was too constrictive for our brother Chokwe; the false forms of pomp and circumstances graded him, the contradictions too repressive for his fighting spirit. The judges hated him, the juries questioned him, but his clients loved and adored him. But if truth be told every time he came in the court in the 8o’s with that circa 1965 dashiki on, I use to put my head in my hands and use to say “oh Allah, don’t hold the dashiki against me”(*_~). It must be a Shakur thing, because my son Tupac felt the same exact way when Chokwe came in to court defending him many years later in one of those same dashikis.
It was a smile in my heart that i was so proud of; I am so proud of my brother who stuck to the plan. Everything he did was to enhance the predictability of the New African ideology, to provide our people an opportunity to decide if self determination was of the best course for us. We were all engaged in his effort to become the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, and proud of his victory. His strategy was something that was not new to us; it was the directions that we had received back in the 70′s to go south, organize with people and use city government to elect sheriff’s and mayors so that we could provide an example of New African government ship that could set a paradigm, to provide a choice for our people and open arms for all people to chose. To that end, mayor Chokwe Lumumba is our hero, not for one great act but the years of consistent grinds against all obstacles, to see the plan through to the end, through a shining example. He will be missed dearly, but his footsteps will be seen along the sand to free the land. See you in the whirlwind; give all the New African’s our regards. We salute you and honor you. Like I mentioned in the very beginning, you are one of the best of us.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur