Monday, February 16, 2015

Maiga on Phil part one


When I first met Phil, I was preparing myself to really hate men.

Like many women, I'd been hurt in a variety of ways by men. To cope with the hurt, I was shutting down and becoming less available. There were a few relationships in my life that helped me figure out different ways to be self-protective but to not shut off from safe and healthy intimacy. Obviously, marrying Kevin was fundamental. In a different way, becoming close to Phil taught me how to recognize and cultivate nourishing friendships.

On the surface, Phil and I should not have been able to relate to one another. I'm now 33 but at first meeting I was probably 22. I'm white from the 'burbs. Phil is a Black man who grew up poor in Philly. He was incarcerated for the duration of the time we knew one another.

And Phil got where I was coming from. Hell, he was suspicious of most men too! If anything, he taught me how to be more cautious, conscious, and aware. He was clear and instructive in offering me ways to keep myself safe. He always told me to value myself, respect myself, and listen to my intuition. 

As he gave me these tools to feel empowered and secure, his example showed me a man who was warm, familiar, and respectful. He treated me like was a close niece. He gave me advice, listened, and offered warm shelter. He was playful and messed with me when I was too serious. He called me to check up on me. He kept me busy when he saw that my mind was obsessing. He painted pictures and drew sketches for me. He gave me attention. He gave me aspects of himself and his experience. He urged me to be close to my husband, Kevin, and told me how much he cherished his wife, Janine. He constantly reminded me to be available to growing in love. He told me to engage love like we would exercise-- to let ourselves get stronger in the practice. To be changed by it.

Maiga on Phil part two

We had several art shows of his work. The above photo is from last August, when we had a unique exhibit. People emailed a copy of one of Phil's pieces. I blew it up and displayed on the walls. Each contributor also wrote about where they displayed the piece, what it meant to them, and it's reach. Some had taken the art pieces on tour in Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico. Others had shared it in community spaces throughout the US. The reach was profound.

Folks came in off the street and learned more about Phil. They learned that despite being incarcerated for the last 35 years of his life that he never stopped living. He never let his circumstances limit him. He stayed close to his wife. He developed friendships with people like me. He inspired and connected with numerous people all over the globe. He kept us close to him and we cherished the link.

One time, I saw a bear while I drove up to visit him. When I was going through a particularly rough patch, Phil drew a card (that I later framed. It's still on my living room wall) that he and his brother, Del, signed. They said, "Your Grizzlies have got you." And they are my grizzlies. They're warm, fierce, grizzled men. They taught me that there are beautiful men out there that I can cherish, trust, and grow with.

In Phil's honor, Kevin and I had grizzlies tattooed on our arms.

Before Thanksgiving, our beloved, nearly 20-year-old cat, Laz passed. I knew it was coming and wrote Phil before hand. He replied to me, "Don't dwell over it. When it happens, it'll happen, and you'll just have to be ready to be strong and deal with it. Don't get your mind set to fall apart. Be prepared to deal with reality. I'm not trying to tell you it's going to be easy, just that it's going to be and not to plan on falling apart. Just know you get to be strong and keep on moving. With you, all I see is you still hold onto things that happen to you, which is not good. It will make you feel like things are piling up on you, when what is really happening is that you're not letting things to go like you should. You've got to deal with stuff and then move on by letting the past go. The India trip will keep you motivated and take some pressure off you. Being happy

Maiga on Phil part three

His words helped me navigate Laz's transition. When Laz passed, I wrote Phil to tell him. On 12/2/14, he wrote me a reply, the last letter I received from him. He wrote, "We have been trained to see Life moving on in a cycle as a sad thing. When you look at the old cultures, those with religions more Earth/Nature based, you see how they celebrated the cycle of life. I'm glad y'all had family around to help y'all so that y'all were able to help move Laz along in the cycle without any suffering. That was the most important thing. No one or nothing stays on this level forever, that would go *against* Life's cycle. It would throw things *out* of balance. I know Laz is glad that he had y'all to be there for him when his time to move on came. You have to work to never feel like you're 'without'."

And once more, Phil offers me exactly the advice I need to move through transition. He provides the sage counsel to now mourn his transition, understanding that he too is Life. He too still is, but not in the form I've come to know and love. I hold his words close, his memory close, and cherish his presence in my life. I'm grateful to have known him and to know that he is at peace. I'm still fighting for freedom. I'm still moving. I'm still loving.

We love you, Phil.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Reflections On The Full And Dynamic Life Of Phil Africa

“Ona MOVE Kevin!
Hey Now Bro! I got your letter and wanted to write right back so you’d know it was good to hear from ya. Always good to hear from those you are active in the work needed to right the things this rotten system has caused to be wrong. To make a righteous change in this world one must be willing to work for it and to stand up against all that is wrong.”
Those lines began the first letter I received from MOVE 9 political prisoner, Phil Africa. I was 16 and his letter of encouragement kept me motivated for weeks. Phil had that effect on people. I continued to write and visit with him over the years, unfortunately less so the past few years. I was as shocked as everyone else when I heard that he passed away on Saturday. To say that it didn’t seem like it should be his time is an understatement. If you’ve had the privilege to spend time with Phil you know that to think of his high energy level slowing down is like thinking about the sun going out. Though he has spent the last 36 years in prison, eating prison food, spending time in solitary confinement, and experienced the abhorrent conditions that come from a life imprisoned, Phil was vibrant, his skin glowed, he talked a mile a minute and he was excited to be alive.
Writing about Phil is frustrating because he’s a hard person to describe. I only knew him through visits and letters, but I really feel that I got to know him. I wish more people had had that opportunity. Phil’s hard to describe because he embodied forces that we usually think of as contradictory. He was big, strong as hell, very protective, and I’m sure he’d be damned intimidating if the situation required it. He was MOVE’s First Minister of Defense for a reason. However, he was bursting with love, humor, and positive energy in a way that was physically palpable as soon as you came near him. He had a calm, clear thinking, collected vibe that relaxed those around him.
Phil was like a metronome, a very fast metronome. His steady pace and consistent energy level gave me something to measure myself against. He wrote letters with whoever wrote him – hundreds of people. If you sent Phil a letter you’d usually have at least one or two typed (hopefully, otherwise good luck with his handwriting!) pages back within a week. There were many times when he wrote to me twice before I responded to the first letter. I’m incredibly thankful to have a binder of his letters on my shelf. I’ll be reflecting on them for years to come. In letters and in person Phil was always moving things forward. If you wrote him about a problem he’d offer pragmatic advice to proceed and didn’t humor weakness if you were stubborn to move on. This discipline was coupled with an incredible sensitivity and concern.
I’m lucky to have so many fond memories of Phil. It helps that he had a lot of unforgettable habits that will help aid in keeping the memories clear. As soon as we’d arrive in the prison visiting room, after we had hugged, he step back and thoroughly examine me. He’d squeeze my bicep and nod encouragingly or tip his head to the side humorously if he thought I hadn’t been exercising. He’d look closely at my face and say “You alright man?” After we’d stocked up on food from the prison machines he’d sit across the table, give a knowing look, tilt his head back and smile in the most distinctive way, almost like he was observing the whole thing from the future, like he already knew what you were going to say and he was quite entertained by it.
The past few days it’s been tough telling people about Phil who didn’t know him. I’ve been glad to be able to share my experiences, but there’s just no translating them. I think for many folks it’s hard to get past the label “prisoner.” That word becomes the primary identifying factor. I understand that. Without the privileges I’ve had to get to know so many people who happen to be imprisoned I think I would have the same stumbling block. If I was making a list of a hundred things Phil was though, prisoner wouldn’t make the top 100. He never allowed himself to be imprisoned. He didn’t put his life on hold after he was sentenced, he continued right along in the work of his life. He put in long days, typing deep into the night. He kept a strict exercise regimen, called into radio shows, mentored other inmates, and learned to paint. He wrote until typewriters broke and he painted until there were no more supplies. He became a damned good painter. And if you were on a visit or on the phone, he talked. He talked very quickly and very intentionally. The number of words that went into a 15 minute call with Phil would fill up an hour of normal conversation. He was passionate and he was excited. And that is why it is so damned hard to believe that the last letter that I got from him is the last I will get from him. His words and actions will continue reverberating on and on into the future though. As I type these words now the waves of his life are still moving through mine and the

The Endless incarceration Of The Move 9

They were convicted to 30 to 100 years in prison for murder in the 3rd degree, the members of the „MOVE 9“: the 4 women Debbie, Janine, Janet, and Merle Africa, and the 5 men Delbert, Phil, Mike, Chuck, and Edward Africa. In 1998, Merle Africa died in custody, and it is only in January 2015 that one of the men, Phil Africa, also succumbed to the conditions in prison.

What horrific crime are these people accused of, such that every single survivor by now has had to spent almost double the time in prison that Nazi criminal Albert Speer had to and more time than most mass murderers in Europe?

The MOVE organization emerged in 1972 in Philadelphia under the spiritual leadership of John Africa, who, like the other members, changed his name and adopted the surname “Africa” in order to distance himself from his former “slave name” and to point to the origin of humanity in Africa.

MOVE (the name is no abbreviation, but simply means “movement”) was given to a sort of “back-to-nature” ideology, but apart from that, it was a decidedly anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist group, which by this very nature was a thorn in the side of the authorities. Their protests, particularly against the abuse of animals, but also against all sorts of dignitaries of politics led to countless arrests and prosecutions, and by the mid-1970s, MOVE had become “enemy of the state no. 1” in Philadelphia.

Politics and media descended into a virtual smear campaign against the movement, even though there were hardly any concrete accusations against it. The police acted with particular sadism. Between 1974 and 1976, four female MOVE members suffered miscarriages following violent abuse by the police. In March 1974, the newly-born baby Life Africa died from scull injuries inflicted by police nightsticks.

One of the few journalist to give a voice to MOVE members themselves in his reports was a radio reporter who by now in no longer an unknown quantity, namely, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Towards the end of the 1970s, the background just sketched led to total confrontation. In March 1978, the city administration instigated a two-month siege against the “head quarter” of MOVE to “smoke them out,” which could be ended only by the rallying around MOVE by their neighbors, who decisively took the side of MOVE despite often harsh critic of the organizations perceived “backward” and “unhygienic” lifestyle.

At the beginning of August, Mayor Rizzo posed an ultimatum to MOVE to either immediately leave the house or to be evicted. After the uncompromising rejection by MOVE the house was violently stormed in the morning of August 8, 1978. More than 600 cops surrounded the house, and both a crane and a bulldozer were used as battering rams, which forced those in the house including their children to seek refuge in the basement.

In the basement, they all were soon in danger of drowning, since the Fire Department soon flooded their refuge with water from high pressure hoses, forcing the beleaguered to do what they could to keep the children and pets above the water which by then reached to the basement windows. Thereafter, there was a two-minute fusillade of shots which wounded MOVE members, firefighters, cops, and passers-by, and that killed Police Officer James Ramp.

The people under siege were soon forced to leave the basement. After brutal maltreatment, they were arrested, and later on, they were accused of multiple accounts of physical assault and the murder of James Ramp. The trial was the longest and most costly in the history of Philadelphia and was no less unfair than the one against Mumia Abu-Jamal one year later. Two statements should be sufficient to characterize it.

Thus, immediately after the events Mayor Frank Rizzo fulminated: “The only way we're going to end them is--get that death penalty back in, put them in the electric chair and I'll pull the switch.” With that, a fair trial in Philadelphia was practically no longer in the cards.

Quite fittingly, the trial judge excluded all evidence pushed by the defense and ruled in all the material brought by the prosecution. Testimony saying that MOVE didn’t begin the shooting or hints that the MOVE members locked in the basement had hardly been able to fire any shots at all, he confidently ignored, only to find ALL of the MOVE members guilty in the end and to subject them to the draconian sentence already mentioned.

Asked, how nine people could shoot and kill one man, he responded: “They were tried as a family, so I convicted them as a family” – a breathtaking proposition coming from a judge, and, in principle, a sure reason for overturning the trial result.

But neither this nor the fact that there has long been testimony saying that the shot that killed James Ramp had been accidental “friendly fire” is enough to bring Philadelphia’s criminal justice system to its senses. There seems to be no chance for a new trial for the MOVE 9. And not even for a release after the minimum sentence of 30 years already reached in 2008. The Kafkaesque official reason: The accused would first have to confess their guilt – even though at most one of them killed Ramp, and most likely none of them did.

As in the case of Mumia, the motive seems to be revenge on the part of the representatives of the status quo, and if they have their way, after Merle and Phil Africa, the remaining “MOVE 7” will also die in prison. The only hope for them lies in making this absurd miscarriage of justice more widely known, generating the outrage that it should automatically spark. The movement for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal considers this as one of its most important tasks for the future.

Michael Schiffmann

February 2015

The German original version of this article will appear in the 2015 issue of the annual special supplement for the “March 18 - International Day of the Political Prisoner,” of the quarterlyRote Hilfe, published by the German prisoner support organization Red Aid,

Friday, February 13, 2015

Eddie Africa on the life of Phil Africa

Opening Quote From Strategic Revolution

Quote JOHN  AFRICA Move is STRONG  WILLED , CLEAR VISIONED , ONE MINDED true in dedication , Move don't STAGGER , WAIVER, STUMBLE or FALL SHORT  with THE MOVE ORG . A step FORWARD is s step GAINED and a step LOST for the SYSTEM . Because  The Move Organization will not take a step backward, our aim is Revolution, our trust is MOMMA , our DRIVE is CONSISTENCY , our TARGET  THIS SYSTEM  and we will NOT BE STOPPED for we have the COURAGE OF LIFE ,THE UNDERSTANDING  of TRUE LAW and THE POWER OF GOD IN BOTH FISTS .



I am at mahanoy prison now and Phil's friends here are many , they give me their thoughts of sorrow about Phil and I understand , I will miss my brother but I still feel his presence next to me. I can look at UJU , his son and see Phil , I can look at Neen and see Phil  Delbert, Janet Debbie, Mike, Mona , Carlos, Ria , Bert, Zack, Mary, Mo, Theresa , Chad,  Maria , All MOVE Children. Gary , Maiga , Kevin, Fred, Abdul , Mumia , Orie all our friends and supporters as Phil was taught to revere family life wherever whoever it was without prejudicial categorization Phil's example is a good one .  I remember some of our talks about love and marriage and he would talk of neen with a smile on his face and a clear bond of love in his eyes as he thought about her , he is a good example of a loving husband , he is not perfect but he strived for it as we all do, his friends are many , prisoners and staff , they gravitated to him, some of them not understanding why as the stories told about us were supposed to turn folks against us but the lies that are told don't match MOVE'S behavior how we really are in person.

Eddie and Phil AFRICA were at CAMP HILL together for years and go back forty years together .

On The Move

My brother Phil Africa is a good man , a father, husband , brother , a good solider . I sit here thinking of him and I'm smiling , I can hear his voice , see his laugh ,and it touches me in a good way , The memories of our brother are countless and I think of them a lot even before he moved on to Momma's  cycle , at times I would lean on him to get past some particular problem he would give me MOVE LAW to make me strong and a smile to show his love . We spent a lot of time and instead of feeling down about him I will use his life to strengthen mine I think of our family and friends and I know we will be alright . I love you Phil now and forever as the bond of family is on going


Quote This system can never break the family that generate in Move People they can only stretch it, for however faint the connection until the connection is broken . We are  still connected and because it is impossible to break the connection of Move People they can say they have broken The MOVE FAMILY 'S connection but  that is like sayin that the earth's connection to the sun is broken just because you see it as cloudy .  End Quote





Your Brother For Life

Eddie Africa

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rest In Peace , Phil Africa

By  Raoul Duke III

The celebration of life normally only comes in death .

For it is when we face the passing of a loved one, an iconic figure or a friend that we truly see the merits of their life.

Such was the case when members and supporters of The Move organization joined together in the small confines of The kingsessing recreation center at the corner of 50th and Kingsessing avenue in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania to celebrate the life of Phil Africa on Saturday , January 31.

To those in attendance , Phil Africa was a brother , a revolutionary , an artist and an example of how to survive the system from inside the belly of the beast . Phil Africa was a loving husband ,a father figure . His life was guided by the words of JOHN AFRICA and the knowledge that all life is sacred.

It is this belief that Phil Africa held onto, the words of JOHN AFRICA and the system's hatred of those words , that made his last 38 years on earth a pure hell. Phil Africa sat in a small , cold cage for those years He refused to denounce The MOVE Organization , he refused to abandon THE TEACHINGS OF JOHN AFRICA and he professed his and his brothers and sisters innocence to the crime that locked nine MOVE Members away from society back in 1978.. For 19 of those years ,Phil Africa suffered through living in solitary confinement .

One of The Move 9, Phil Africa was one of nine MOVE Members convicted for the fatal shooting of police officer James ramp in a law enforcement siege on the powelton village MOVE headquarters in west Philadelphia and sentenced to 30-100 years a piece .

Despite theories that Ramp's death actually occurred from friendly fire during the excessive show of force by the Philadelphia police on MOVE Headquaters , all nine members of MOVE who were inside of Headquaters during the siege were charged with Ramp's murder .

The judge who sentenced each of the MOVE Members when asked who shot officer James Ramp replied , I haven't the slightest clue.

Hardly a reassuring rationale for sending nine people to prison for 30-100 years .

However , Phil Africa would not let the system bring him down not let the system bring him down nor allow them to tarnish The Teachings Of JOHN AFRICA in prison . In prison , Phil Africa started to express his revolutionary ideas through art . He spent countless hours painting , sketching ,and capturing powerful ideologies through his art is tic  talents with the world as his audience . The work he produced displayed a rawness, a  power and a fortitude that showcased the flaws of the American system .

His art also reflected the simple beauty of life.

Two years ago , I joined members and supporters of a Move in remembrance of the six children and five adults who were slaughtered when local, state, and federal government and law enforcement agencies worked in collusion to drop a bomb on MOVE headquarters on Osage ave on May 13th 1985. During The event the event , I had the opportunity to see Phil Africa's artwork first hand.

Now , years later, I look at those paintings and rough sketches that I bought and see the same beauty ,the same peace . When I heard of Phil's passing I looked again to his art . Phil Africa deserved better in this life , he deserve a fair shake , he deserve to be heard and his life defiantly deserved to be celebrated.

So despite not being able to join those who attended his memorial in Philadelphia , I celebrated Phil Africa's life as well . I allowed his art , his message  and his spirit to push me in a better direction , to keep me looking for the truth and to love everyone and everything .

Although there will be no mention of Phil Africa in the mainstream media at least none positive , the underground media will never let his story or the story of The MOVE 9 die.

For Phil, I say you inspired me with your positivity , your perseverance , your messages and your beautiful art. You will be missed , remembered and celebrated .

Rest in peace , Phil

Letter to Delbert Africa on Phil Africa Part two

I'm writing to express my deepest condolences about the loss of Brother Phil . Phil's legacy is one that will not be forgotten . His presence and influence is nothing short of powerful and for us at twin cities save the kids will continue to be modeled. Phil Africa will continue to live in our hearts through his example and benevolence. The loss of Phil Africa resonates throughout our community and our warmest sympathies as well as our gratitude for work you all do is with you.

In solidarity

Peace and Power


Letter to Delbert Africa on Phil Africa

Hello, Delbert Africa

I am sad to hear about our loss and your loss of Phil Africa . He was so amazing and looked up to by so many including you and all of MOVE. I grew up in philly and supported you since the 1980's . I am at an event to remember Phil Africa with a number of people who are writing all The MOVE Family and Phil's wife . We will also do a candlelight vigil after we write letters . He will be greatly missed . It is actually a beautiful day here in Minneapolis and I think the earth is giving us a good day for this event .i know how much you and he love the earth and animals.

With Care !

Anthony Nocella

St. Paul, Mn 55104

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

French Collective On Phil Africa

Our thoughts are with you to salute Phil's memory and his courageous fight please pass this massive to The Move Family and Phil's many friends . Your pains especially that of his wife, Janine is also ours.

In Solidarity and Friendship

Claude and Jacky

Inmates who were at SCI Dallas with Phil and Delbert Africa

To The  Family Of Phil Africa

Truly he was a man that was well loved by me and all those he touched

Bro Red

Brother Delbert and The Move Family

Thank you for standing firm upon true righteousness a true solider is gone but his spirit will never die and will never be forgotten

In Solidarity Gabe

Juan Gonzalez - worked in prison infirmary , was holding on to Phil as he moved on.

Brother  Delbert and Family

May God give you the strength to continue on this struggle not only was Phil a mentor to me but my Brother . I will never forget what he taught me not only from my connection but by his actions . Phil will be missed but never forgotten .

Reflections of Phil Africa

Mr Del ,

I am terribly sorry about the loss of Phil . What a man he was . Extroardinary . I remember when I was drawing his portrait a fly kept landing on his forehead. It didn't even bother him. I said Phil , if you want to move so you could swat that fly feel free . He said the fly's our brother too. It was something  I'll never forget.

I hope that you are finding comfort in the good people and support around you . The guys I've talked to said that you are doing your best staying positive and on the move. That Made me happy .

We'll talk soon . In the meantime , I'm sending some copies of Phil for you to disburse as you feel adequate so people can have a pic in memory . It's all I could think of doing . If their is anything else I could do please let me know

Your friend


This one of the many brothers that served time with Phil at SCI Dallas

Chris and Bea Zimmerman on Phil Africa

Dearest Sister Ramona , Dear Move Family

Our hearts go out to you in this time of mourning the death of a man who was a brother in the truest sense of the word-that is, not only in the sense of shared genes, but a man whose love encompassed a larger , and even larger community.

The great Russian thinker Dostoyevsky once said that a society can be judged by the way it treats it's prisoners . Need anyone say more about the United States of America ?

On a more hopeful note, let us remember the words of Eugene Debs, an old fighter for freedom who made the following observation .

Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living human beings , and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest person on earth. I said then,  and I say now , that while there is a lower class , I am in it  while there is a criminal element , I am of it and while there is a soul in prison , I Am Not Free.

We know that Phil was not mean nor was he a criminal element in any way , shape or form . But he he was indeed a soul in prison- a beautiful soul who never gave up .

True ,he is finally free -but his death behind bars is still shameful , and it ought to mobilize us, if only to renew our own personal pledges to take up the torch in the universal struggle for Justice .Wherever we are ,and what ever  the circumstances , there is more than enough work to do.

Wishing you all the inspiration and courage to keep fighting the fight , we greet you with the old battle cry, Ona Move

Your Brother and Sister Chris and Bea Zimmerman

P.s. We've been working  at a Bruderhof in Germany since 2010 . That's why we can't be with you today. But our hearts are with you . Were still on the same bench, fighting against racism , injustice, etc . For love , brotherhood , sisterhood , peace and freedom. Believe us - there's plenty of scope over here in Europe ! All our love to anyone who remembers us.