Ramona Africa, the lone adult survivor of MOVE fire

Posted: May 07, 2010

RAMONA Africa's burn scars are not the only reminders for her of the day she fled the raging fire that killed most of her family on May 13, 1985.

She was the only adult to escape the home with her life. Her anger and bitterness over that day still burn as deeply as the flames that engulfed six adults and five children inside the MOVE house at 6221 Osage Ave.

"Despite the grief and the shock, what got me through was my bitterness," she said recently of her recovery in the days following the bombing.

Africa served seven years in prison on riot charges stemming from the 1985 confrontation. She later sued the city and pocketed part of a $1.5 million civil-rights judgment.

1985: Africa, who was then and still is the group's spokeswoman, was often seen in front of the Osage home, yelling into a bullhorn calling for the release of MOVE followers who were convicted of killing a police officer during a shoot-out between police and members in 1978.

Quote: "MOVE will destroy the entire Democratic Party, the police, the mayor and the image and economy of Philadelphia."

Today: Africa still lives in Philadelphia, where she said she continues to uphold MOVE's causes and beliefs just as she had when she joined in the early '80s.

She said the group's priority is still the "unrelenting fight for our brothers and sisters who've been in prison since 1978." The surviving MOVE members in prison come up for parole later this year, she said.

Meanwhile, she travels around the world - she's been to Cuba, South Africa and several European countries, - spreading the message of John Africa.

"[The [police bombing] made me very serious about the revolution," she said during a recent interview.

So the scars from the second-degree burns that cover more than 15 percent of her body will remain unrepaired, she said.

"I need to be reminded about what happened," she said. "I'm not trying to cover it up. Because of the strength of my beliefs, this doesn't bother me that much. I use the burns as a teaching tool."

- By Dafney Tales

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