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