An Interview with Mfalme Sikivu, Executive Minister of UFD
UFD stands for the Ujamaa Field Dynasty. This article describes more of what it's all about. MIM(Prisons) solicited contributions for this Peace Issue of ULK from many comrades both in prison and out. We are aware of many efforts to make peace and take on the real correctional tasks that none of the capitalist run "DOC"s seem capable of or interested in. UFD stands out among these projects as it is explicitly part of the anti-imperialist United Front. This is so important, because ultimately we know there can be no peace without an end to oppression and injustice. We also know that capitalism only benefits the worlds minority, most of whom live in the imperialist countries. All the job training programs in the world can't change the fact that capitalism requires a concentration of capital that sucks every resource it can from the majority of the world.
Q. How would you describe UFD, what is its purpose?
A. I describe UFD as it states in our code, “…a counter-gang of ex-gangbangers, ex-hustlers, ex-prisoners and prisoners, and youth committed to collectively raising up each other to become conscious and prosperous New Afrikans.” Our purpose is stated in our mission, “[t]o serve as a positive and constructive alternative to gangs street and prison life, especially for our youth, who we focus on bringing into our movement through UFD, and to build a brotherhood and sisterhood through which our ndugu can improve themselves and their circumstances while making a better life for themselves and their families.”
Q. How does UFD relate to lumpen organizations (LOs), commonly known as gangs, and how do these LOs relate to UFD considering that UFD’s purpose seems to seek to undermine them?
A. Look, UFD isn’t in competition with any LO. Unlike some of them who fall victim to the divide and conquer tactics of the Establishment, we don’t view other oppressed people as enemies just because they rock different colors. Plus, we have a law that states, “Avoid conflicts with others and dead beef: before they get physical…” For the most part, the LOs our ndugu are around have been cool toward us. We don’t actively try to recruit their members, but nor do we hide our purpose. Those who choose us, we accept them. Those who don’t, we work to teach and help them.
Q. But part of your code says “UFD is devoted to leading others away from gang …life…” Don’t you think certain elements within an LO may take that as meaning you’re after their members?
A. Maybe, if they don’t understand our meaning. To lead one away from gang life doesn’t have to mean we seek to coax them out of their affiliation. By UFD doing right, we set an example for the LOs to follow as a whole. If our only means to lead one away from gang life is to get them to leave their affiliation, then we’re ignoring our greater purpose – to serve the people. As much as we disagree with some of the bullshit LOs get caught up in, they’re still oppressed like us.
Q. What efforts can UFD make to bring peace between LOs?
A. Once we’ve established ourselves as a positive and constructive force here to stay, and ourselves avoid the trap of warring with LOs, we’ll garner a certain respect in the prisons and on the streets. At that time we can counsel LOs to consider the damage they do to themselves by warring among themselves. Through UFD’s success, we get to show them their potential strength in doing better.
Q. Do you honestly think it’s possible they’ll hear you?
A. UFD takes political direction from the New Afrikan Maoist Party being that the Party politically leads the New Afrikan Liberation Movement. Our parent organization, the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, is a part of this movement. We tend to agree with the Party’s assessment that, until there is a revolutionary change within urban subculture that is dominated by the colonial/criminal mentality of which George Jackson spoke, LOs will themselves not fundamentally change. But UFD can play a significant role in decreasing the conflict between LOs by first being a good example and second, by educating those who’ll listen to us.
Q. When will that revolutionary change take place?
A. Hard to say, UFD is poised to lend its hand when the time is upon us. For now we’ve focused on doing all we can to help our ndugu change and better themselves and do what they can to uplift their families which in turn empowers our communities.
Q. How can interested youth join up with UFD?
A. Either by hollering at one of our ndugu authorized to bring them home or by contacting our executive assistant Taraji Vuma at New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140.
Q. How does UFD deal with the repression of its incarcerated members?
A. NYSDOCS [New York State Department of Correctional Services] has charged a couple of our ndugu with possessing unauthorized organizational materials. This is bullshit because UFD isn’t an unauthorized inmate group and the ndugu charged weren’t accused of using our literature to recruit other inmates to an unauthorized inmate chapter of UFD. We have a federal lawsuit in against NYSDOCS over this issue. They’ve been repressing members and supporters of the different NALM-affiliated organizations like ours since at least 2004.
Q. If UFD isn’t an unauthorized group, then why does NYSDOCS discipline its members for possessing its literature?
A. Because NYSDOCS is reactionary like any other state bureaucracy. It seeks to protect its existence. UFD represents more of a threat to NYSDOCS not because we advocate violence or disobedience (which we don’t), but because we have the potential to do what NYSDOCS can’t do effectively: correct the behavior of our incarcerated ndugu. Could you imagine the public relations nightmare for them? Some obscure, fraternal group comes along, recruits prisoners in large numbers who actually reform themselves. Hell no! There are other implications involving the exposure of corruption and abuse only an organized group can expose. The less common identity and unity prisoners have, the easier it is to abuse them and cover it up. Just having a growing number of prisoners who join an outside organization not subjected to NYSDOCS control, even if its prison members aren’t organizing among themselves without permission, is a threat to prisoncrats' cover-up abilities. So, prisoncrats will do all in their power to discourage prisoners from joining up.
Q. Would you say this affects the ability to bring peace among LOs?
A. Definitely. NYSDOCS officially doesn’t recognize gangs. Stupid, because they exist. Humans are social beings, we clique up for the bad or good. As steel sharpens steel and people sharpen people, so too groups sharpen groups. In other words, if you suppress positive and constructive groups, you destroy the very thing that can encourage groups on the wrong path to choose a better one. The positive and constructive groups NYSDOCS does approve are kept so isolated and ineffectual that they might as well not exist at all.
Q. What message do you stress to your UFD ndugu?
A. Do better, be better, and know better and push and challenge each other to do the same. The establishment, law enforcement and prison officials in particular, along with even some regular folks, will call us a gang just because some of us are ex-lumpens (that is, used-to-be gang bangers, hustlers, etc.) and some of us are in prison. Many have come before us claiming how positive they were only to fall right into the trap of the colonial/criminal mentality. This always seems to happen. In our case, it CANNOT! Though we must accept the bad with the good and recognize that none of us can be perfect, we need to be more good than bad, suppressing the bad at every turn. We need to break old habits that aren’t productive and learn new habits. If not, we will fail and become just another group hanging onto a banner, doing nothing productive, and deceiving ourselves that we rule or are almighty while under the foot of law enforcement and prisoncrats. This is absurd! And I’m not prone to embracing too much absurdity, though I fall short, too. But this is why we’re together. Each one help one! We have a better chance at succeeding together than alone.
Q. Any final words?
A. Yeah. To my UFDeez, many will doubt you, some will hate you, but we must earn the respect of all by living up to our ideology and laws. To do this we must have faith in ourselves, in each other, and in our leadership. Be strong and resolute. Love the people and they’ll love you. UFDeez, Dynasty Forever!!