MANY OPINIONS ARE NEVER HEARD
Five years ago, in 2009, Geocities.com which we used as a webhost in the early 21st century, terminated free accounts. In retrieving what our website once contained it was fitting to put the articles into the ExiledOne Commentary Archives.
As a writer since I was a youth I have had a particularly eventful time remaining myself, maintaining my own voice, a voice that would have to be raised in ways I couldn't have imagined. There are no illusions, once a person has been located in the crosshairs of an immense enemy. They must accept the responsibility of a battle-or be overwhelmed. It seems that just being born an African in the USA put me center stage. In time, I realized that I had to accept what cards had been dealt to me in life.
Like the definition of war, or peace for that matter, the term censorship is not fixed. Exploration is needed of the space where censorship exists in regards to African people in the USA taking the historical resistance to the international level. Here, censorship is alive and fully in effect. When I note this point with the underpinning facts of my life and that of my wife, it is still rarely acknowledged. There are real reasons, absurd as they seem, that support an oppressive roadblock.
Contemporary events in the area of geopolitics as recorded by a huge majority of writers, researchers, scholars and political analysts exclude the possibility of solutions beyond a colonial minded White House. To my knowledge, these forces have continued to ignore the realities. As the winners of a strange consolation prize we have insight. We lived through and claim significant achievements during the USA police/surveillance state period of the 1970s-2000 and endured as Political Exiles. Alongside a gifted woman and partner who has enlightened me and inspired me is also indescribably rewarding.There can be no disguising, though the racists and capitalists are trying harder in their panic world post 2007, that an international context is the only way to unshackle the so called African Americans from their social, economic, political and cultural situation. Below find the first part of Acceptance Speech, a collection which contains, in segments, open letters, articles and book excerpts written between the 2000 and now essays on censorship. In this series of articles, I also explain the basis of my personal efforts and success against international censorship. I begin with a letter to an organization that claimed it was against censorship. I never received a reply. EO
17 February, 2002
Refugee Media Agency
Bristol BS5 0HE
My name is Bankole Irungu, and I am an exiled writer, orator and commentator on the plight of African people in America, commonly referred to as African Americans. I heard about your developing organization through an e mail from a friend at Kebele Kulture Projekt in Easton, Bristol. I would very much like to be a part of the group being formed.
I am banned, along with my wife, Aisha, from the United States of America, since December, 2000. We are African ”Americans”. This occurred after both my wife and I filed Political Refugee claims in Canada in 1998, due to decades of FBI COINTELPRO (counterintelligence) attacks in the US. For our steadfast devotion to the beliefs we hold and for forging ahead with activities for Human Rights and Self Determination for African people in the States, we were hounded by governments in these two countries. This has been done as well, because we are articulate. The COINTELPRO targeting of Paul Robeson is likely the prime example of what the US government and society has in store for Africans from America who express views that it finds despicable. We had been living and working in Toronto for three years, when suddenly, we were actually ordered out of Canada in 2000 in the middle of the UN refugee claims process. Aisha and I were told in a letter :
”...you can neither return to the United States nor can you transit through the United States to another country. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ENTER THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT PERMISSION...”
See the letter, details on ourselves, some of my writing (ExiledOne) at:
Since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed putting pen to paper. I learned to read by age four and began to read incessantly. As a young teen, I had the idea that I would become a writer. I was particularly impressed with the legendary Richard Wright. At the highly rated suburban Philadelphia high school I attended, subtle obstacles to developing my creative writing, because of my African heritage, did not deter me from taking a class on the subject. I gained confidence and was satisfied that my own experience, that of Africans in America, over the generations, was valuable. I had also known, by age ten, that the US society, historically, considered African peoples’ literacy a crime and a potential weapon against its exploitative order.
Also budding, at this time, was my dedication to research writing, which I excelled at during the last high school year. By the university years in the late 1970’s, I was a skilled research writer, though the topics, many times concerned with the plight of my people, was controversial, and was discouraged by professors and the administration of the school. I helped revive a student newsletter and had my first brushes with censorship. My parents and nearly all adults did much to discourage my writing.
As a grassroots activist in the US, I would eventually develop my writing, and was nearly always concerned with news, historical accounts of Africans globally, and resistance against US repression of African people domestically. My efforts at journalism and political rhetoric were, surprising to me at the time, discouraged by political cell leaders. By age twenty-four, I had completed a self published, eight booklet essay collection, aimed at condensing worldwide African history and Self Determination personalities and events into short form. The reader then would not have to spend hours finding out the facts. Naturally, the political points were driven home. But I was again not supported, and attempts were made to belittle the booklets by activists and established writers and publishers that I knew. I would have the lesson made plain to me that what I was writing was forcefully and directly threatening to the US ruling class and the racial status quo. Then, a few years later, I decided to write for a newspaper and distribute and sell books.
In the mid-1980’s I was part of a network of activists and US Political Prisoners who wrote and shared information, mainly on countering the repression we all faced, but also on politics, history, culture and society. I began to interact with many African people in the US and from elsewhere. A newspaper I wrote for, and as an inspired activist, distributed, grew from a quarterly to a monthly due to my impetus. My duties as an editor for the Commentator newspaper included gathering and researching information, interviewing relevant people, and of course, developing stories and writing them for the chief editor. At the same time, I maintained circulation, solicited subscriptions and ad space for businesses and organizations and distributed the paper to shops, newsstands and through the mail. I managed a bookstore for the same firm, traveling to and dealing with book distributors simultaneously. Because of the sensitive nature of this employment experience in relation to my Political Refugee case, I have not revealed the company. But it is sufficient to say that I had become a journalist of merit by this point, along with my skill as a research writer and the creative writing abilities I had managed to nurture. I was thirty-one years of age.
In the 1990’s, in supporting my wife’s eventual success in filing suit against the US government, and through self representation in a US federal court in an employment matter, I gained more experience as a writer and law library researcher. I learned to write legal correspondence, law briefs, motions, appeals and at one point, even corrected a court docket log. A US court clerk attempted to omit record of my court appearances and the motions I had filed. Attempts had been made to misrepresent the corporate defendant’s filings as well. I found out key and illegal activities that should have resulted in a judgment in my favor. This corrected log then replaced the fabricated one, but did not change the corrupt direction of the case, which was thrown out on a technicality. My appeal and briefs to the Appellate court were researched and cited in case law. The result was that there was a gag on the decision for a second denial of my pleadings, and even who, among the trio of judges, had dissented. This gag meant that the case would never appear in case law, or be able to be cited by other non-lawyers and ordinary people. I was introduced to press release writing and press conferencing, by my wife, who is an excellent writer and editor and who handled the spokesperson’s role in our political challenges while enduring intense COINTELPRO harassment in the US.
By 1998, Aisha and I faced a daunting test: writing our Personal Information Forms for the Canadian government to prove our eligibility as Political Refugees from the United States of America. We were successful, after several months of writing these ”PIF”s, and were given a hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board in 1999. That same year, Aisha formed a music company in exile, The Soulful Expression. I have since aided in writing phone sales pitches, flyer and poster text and outlines for radio and news interviews. I have introduced, and acted as MC for Aisha, on stage in four countries. I developed with Aisha and supporters a major press conference on our political situation in front of the US consulate in Toronto in April, 2000. This attracted two dozen media organizations.
Today, in exile in Stockholm, Sweden, I continue to write: music reviews and blurbs for Aisha’s company, and I outline text and do written ExiledOne commentary for the website. I have written a dozen researched articles for the website in 18 months. Last year, I hosted my own ExiledOne news, views and commentary radio program in Stockholm, on community radio for four months. I researched and wrote the body of the two hour live show airing on Saturday mornings.
Finally, one of my greatest present tasks as an exiled writer, is to rewrite my life story. This was in rough form (both of the stories, Aisha’s and mine, and a self published software teaching book Aisha had copyrighted) when it was stolen in the mail between Canada and Sweden in June, 2001.
I know, today, at age forty-three and in exile, fully what it means to be censored, blacklisted and an exiled writer! There has not been one so called freedom of speech/anti censorship organization or publication that has ever responded positively to our story!
Although I must manage the writing of the autobiography, despite not having a country to live in, it will be done!
Thank You for your time and consideration,
END PART 1
See Related Articles:
Ghosted In The Guantanamo Called America (Exile 2007)
The Return Of Kahentinetha Horn Pt2 (Exile 2011)
The Vulture 14 (Exile 2013)