Ramona Africa, the last survivor of the 1985 MOVE bombing, has been diagnosed with lymphoma, which was discovered after she suffered a stroke that left her unable to walk, MOVE members said Wednesday.
At a news conference on the sidewalk outside the MOVE house on Kingsessing Avenue, Sue Africa — who identified herself as the mother of 6-year-old Tomaso Africa, one of the five children killed in the bombing on Osage Avenue — blamed the cancer of the lymphatic system on chemicals in the C-4 military explosive that was dropped on the MOVE bunker by the city that day. Two MOVE members died of cancer in prison, she said.
"We offered to pay for the therapy, but they still said she could not get therapy without insurance," Sue Africa said. "We are asking for volunteers who are nurses, therapists, or aides because Ramona needs 24-hour care."
Members of MOVE, often described as a radical back-to-nature group, would not name the hospital where she was receiving care.
Also at the news conference, where posters with "Free the MOVE 9″ and "Free Mumia" were propped up against a chain-link fence, were Pam Africa and Consuewella Africa, who said she lost two daughters in the 1985 inferno.
Ramona Africa, about 63 years old, is able to talk, members said. Her focus is on getting well, they said.
"She is in good spirits from the outpouring of love and support she is getting from around the world," Pam Africa said.
Eleven MOVE members were killed in the fire after police dropped an explosive from a helicopter in a residential city neighborhood May 13, 1985. Police later said they allowed the fire, which went on to destroy about 61 homes in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood, to burn to end the standoff.
City officials had clashed with MOVE since the 1970s. At a standoff at MOVE's Powelton Village compound in 1978, Police Officer James J. Ramp was killed, and 18 police officers and firefighters were injured.
Nine MOVE members were sent to prison on charges connected with Ramp's death, though no one was identified as the shooter. In June, Debbie Africa became the first of the MOVE Nine to be released on parole.
Seven years after the Powelton Village standoff, police dropped the bomb on the MOVE house in West Philadelphia. Ramona Africa was the only person charged in the incident and served seven years in prison.