Remembering Dedon Kamathi
Dedon Kamathi, a former Black Panther and Central Committee member of
the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) passed away at the
end of August after suffering a stroke.
I first spoke with Dedon, a.k.a. Ken Carr way back in the 1980’s when
I was arranging to bring Kwame Ture (stokely carmichael) to speak in
my then hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. Dedon was one of the first
revolutionary black internationalists I was to get to know and work
with and his loss hit me hard.
Dedon began his life as a revolutionary activist while still a
teenager as a member of the Black Panther Party and he survived the
FBI’s Cointelpro death squad program that saw the assassination of
over 200 Panthers and American Indian activists in the 1960’s and
early 70’s. Dedon went on to join the AAPRP and rose to membership of
its Central Committee representing the Southern California region.
Coming from Hawaii and having spent my youth bodysurfing everywhere
from Point Panic to the world famous North Shore breaks I quickly
learned that Dedon was a revolutionary black surfer, that’s right,
there are black surfers, and Dedon at one time was President of the
Black Surfers Association in Southern California.
After Kwame Ture’s visit in 1985 I kept in touch with Dedon who sent
me a study packet of the AAPRP’s material used to raise the political
consciousness of its new cadre, something the Party was very diligent
about, knowing full well that issues come and go and the glue that
holds revolutionary organizations together is a high level of
This was my first exposure to revolutionary black nationalism, Pan
Africanist internationalism really, and along with the AAPRP’s
introducing me to the Eritrean peoples national liberation struggle
started me on a path that I am still on today.
In 1987 Dedon, along with Kwame Ture, helped secure me an invitation
to be a member of the 1st US Peace Delegation to Libya, though both
brothers remained in the USA to organize a simultaneous demonstration
in Washington DC that included a satellite link live from Tripoli,
You have to remember that before Osama Bin Laden, there was Saddam
Hussein and before Saddam Hussein there was Muammar Gaddafi of Libya,
who in 1987 was public enemy number one in the United Snakes of
AmeriKKKa. So holding a demonstration of several thousand people
supporting revolutionary Libya in the heart of Babylon, Washington DC,
Chocolate City as it was known, was an act of defiance few dared to
envision back then. Just going to Libya was declared a crime by
President Reagan in 1987 and all of us in the delegation were
threatened with serious jail time for our visit.
After the Libya trip I continued to call Dedon in LA regularly to
discuss politics (there really wasn’t anyone in Hawaii that I could
talk to about Pan Africanism and revolutionary politics in general)
and Dedon did a lot to raise my understanding of what was really going
on in the world.
In 1996 Gary Webb broke the Dark Alliance story on how the CIA and the
Nicaraguan Contras started what became the Crack Cocaine pandemic in
South Central Los Angeles and I immediately contacted Dedon and he
helped me start our local chapter of the Crack The CIA Coalition.
Following my bringing Gary Webb to Hawaii to speak as a part of the
coalitions activities Dedon helped me arrange Dick Gregory’s visit
since Dick was very active in exposing the crimes of the CIA at the
I didn’t actually meet Dedon in person until 1999, having only spoken
to him over the telephone for all those years. When Kwame Ture passed
away I brought Dedon to Hawaii to give the eulogy for Kwame at his
Memorial Service at the Center for Hawaiian Studies, where Lilikala
Kamehe’leihiwa had helped organize Kwame’s standing room only
presentation in 1994.
After the memorial program Dedon stayed with me for another week and I
had a chance to get into some very deep discussions with the brother.
I took him to the Hawaii’s world famous North Shore (my homestead was
at the beginning of the North Shore road up the windward Oahu coast)
and showed him the surfing breaks that were safe, where the best deals
on renting a surfboard were and the best lunchwagons for healthy
sustainance between catching waves. I lent Dedon my country cruiser
station wagon, something wicked for his higher consciousness and set
him loose to enjoy the waves. The night before he left I took him and
my daughter to see Will Smith in Enemy of the State and the discussion
we had after kept us up late into the night.
That was the last time I was to see Dedon in person though we kept in
touch over the years. After moving to Eritrea in 2006 Dedon had me on
his radio program in Los Angeles to talk about Eritrea and the last
time we spoke was after his trip to Syria where he had a chance to see
Afshin Rattansi’s groundbreaking documentary on Eritrea on PressTV. He
promised to follow up but being Dedon he always had a lot of irons in
the fire and we didn’t get another chance to reconnect.
Dedon is gone but his spirit embodied in the revolutionary
consciousness of Pan Africanism and revolutionary internationalism
lives on, at least here in Eritrea and increasingly in the Eritrean
youth in the diaspora, something I know Dedon was more than pleased to
Dedon always greeted you with “Ready for Revolution” and I add to that
“Awet N’Hafash”, Victory to the Masses, as we say here in Eritrea.
Thomas C. Mountain