We must use technology and the Afrikan principle of Sankofa (looking in the past to move forward in the future) to rebuild the Black world.
By Bashir Muhammad Akinyele,
“Culture is a weapon in the face of our enemies” – Amílcar Cabral (He was one of Afrika’s foremost anti-colonial leaders)
In the book, THE MAROON WITHIN US: SELECTED ESSAYS ON AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY SOCIALIZATION, the late and great Afrikan-centric educator Asa G. Hilliard argues that if Afrikan/Black people are to survive in America and in this world, then we must truly work everyday to liberate ourselves from the vestiges of White supremacy and racism by studying Afrikan history, embracing Afrikan languages, and revolutionary Afrikan culture. On pages 58-59, Hilliard breaks down the importance of Afrikan history, Afrikan culture and language to Black people. He writes, “We on the contrary, have failed to understand the political function of culture. Franz Fanon (Black Caribbean anti-colonial revolutionary) showed us its meaning where language is concerned. He tells us that the very act of speaking a language means not only to grasp the rules of that language, but, in addition, to assume a culture, supporting the weight of the civilization itself.”
This is why since birth, my wife and I worked everyday to raised our children on revolutionary Afrikan culture. We started with the Nguzu Saba (The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa), knowing Afrikan history, knowing Afrikan spirituality, the importance of wearing our Afrikan names, the importance of speaking Kiswahili, knowing Arabic, respecting all Afrikan languages, and the importance of honoring our Afrikan Ancestors. However, my wife and I are the exceptions to the rule. Many Black people in America, particularly Black youth, are totally disconnected to Afrikan history, language and culture. However, all is not lost. In the age of the new millennium, we have more access to information on the history of Black liberation struggles, and its movements against White supremacy and the system of racism, at the palm of our hands.
Our White American slave-masters, and European colonial oppressors, knew exactly what they were doing by separating Afrikan / Black people from our own history, languages and culture. This is why many Afrikan Americans do not know our own Black history, we can not speak a lick of our own Afrikan mother tongue, we bear the names of our former White slave-masters, and struggle with embracing our own revolutionary Afrikan cultural practices.white supremacy
In the Afrikan world community, many great Afrikan leaders came before Afrika, and continental Afrikan people, to help liberate that part of the world from the domination of European and American colonialism. There are too many Afrikan revolutionaries to list at this movement. However, here is a short list of Afrikan leaders who worked tirelessly to move Afrika into self – reliance and self -determination. These leaders included such names as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Gamal Nasser, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmed Sékou Touré, Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyetta, the Mau Maus, Thomas Sankara, and Steve Biko. Unfortunately, these Afrikan leaders became such a threat to the system of racism and White supremacy in Afrika that they were either discredited, assassinated, or imprisoned. As a consequence of the destruction of Pan Afrikan revolutionary leaders, masses of continental Afrikans gave up the Afrikan liberation struggle all together. This is why Afrika has not been totally liberated from the days of White domination under colonialism. The lack of Afrikan freedom fighters In the 21st century, have left continental Afrikans struggling to embrace their own history, traditional Afrikan languages and define revolutionary Afrikan cultures for Afrikan empowerment. Like many Black people in America, some continental Afrikans have lost the sight for Afrikan liberation. However, all is not lost. Fortunately, continental Afrikan leaders from the past, have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, and news articles. We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map for revolutionary Afrikan culture, the development of a Pan Afrikan language, the development of a national language for each Afrikan country, and struggle for Afrikan liberation.
Even In the Caribbean, which holds a special place in the Afrikan world community. This is where some of the most committed and respected Pan Afrikan freedom fighters (i.e. H Sylvester Williams, the Honorable Marcus Garvey, Kwame Ture’, Bob Marley, Maurice Bishop, Walter Rodney, etc) evolve from to organize Black people to rebuild mother Afrika and Black people. Unfortunately, in the Caribbean, Black people are still struggling to find Black liberation through Black history and revolutionary Black culture in the new millennium. Unfortunately, many Black Caribbean nations are still under the domination and the control of White supremacy and racism. However, all is not lost. Fortunately, Black Caribbean leaders from the past, have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, and news articles. We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map for Black liberation.
However, in America, the powerful forces of White supremacy, and the system of racism, separate oppressed people from one another in this country. Without a national, and international Black liberation movement to help bring political clarity and develop unity of oppressed people, we forget, or ignore, the real enemies of people of color and poor people.
In the present era of America, we now live in a country where many of our immigrant brothers and sisters (i.e. Indians, Hindus, Arabs, Asians, Latinos, Jamaicans, Haitians, etc) are coming to America in masses like never before in United States history due to the abolishing of racist immigration laws. Our immigrant brothers and sisters are coming to America seeking freedom and opportunities. Although they are coming to a country that has created inequalities and oppression in the world, they believe that America is the land of opportunity. Unfortunately, they come to America either ignoring or not knowing or disrespectful of the ongoing freedom struggles of Black people in America from White supremacy and the system of racism.
However, they come speaking their own mother tongue and embrace their own cultural practices. In fact, immigrant brothers and sister use their languages, and their own cultural practices, as a springboard for community empowerment and survival in America. Although many of our immigrant brothers and sisters come from continents and countries just recently liberated from European colonialism and European domination; they come to America without experiencing the violent, overt interference, and oppressive conditions of White supremacy and racism upon their people. The reason for this is that immigrant brothers and sisters did not go through the horrors of White supremacy and racism forcibly and legally removing and dis-centering them from their languages and their cultural practices like Afrikan Americans.
In fact, because of the unique experiences of Black oppression under hundreds of years of the system of racism and White supremacy in America, the Black Civil Rights and Black liberation movements of the 1950s, 60s, early 70s found it absolutely necessary to force racist America to respect the legal freedoms, languages, and cultures of all people of color and oppressed people. In other words, Black people’s struggle for justice had to include the struggle for linguistic and cultural freedoms of all oppressed people. During that era, we clearly understood linguistic and cultural oppression better than any other group in America, because, we were the most victimize by White linguistic and cultural racist domination. We were, and are, the living proof of what can happen to a people if languages and cultures are denied to a people. Black people of 1960s, 60s, and early 70s understood that without knowing your history, denying your language and your culture, a people will become lost in America. We had understood that not knowing your history, not knowing your language, and not knowing your culture; oppressed people will fall victim to feelings of inferiority, broken communities, self-destruction, helplessness, and self-hate.
Unfortunately, in the present era of America, many Black people have lost their understanding of the importance of knowing Afrikan history, acquiring the ability to speak an Afrikan language, and embracing a revolutionary form of Afrikan culture in the Afrikan American community. We don’t understand why activists- scholars like a Dr. Maulana Karenga struggled hard to establish Kwanzaa as a Black cultural holiday for Black liberation in the Afrikan American community. Before Dr. Karenga established Kwanzaa, he founded a Black cultural nationalist organization called US in Los Angeles, California in 1965. Dr. Karenga taught that the first steps towards Black revolutionary change in the Afrikan American community is through a Black revolutionary culture. This is many of us do not understand that Kwanzaa was also to be used as a building block for Black nation-building. Using Kiswahili, a Pan-Afrikan language spoken in many parts of Afrika, Dr. Karenga began to linguistically reconnect Black people in America to Afrika. But he did not stop there at an Afrikan language. Dr. Karenga collected the best principles of Afrikan cultural practices to create just Seven Black revolutionary cultural foundations called the Nguzu Saba to help rebuild Black people in America and in the Afrikan world community. Unfortunately, his commitment to Black nation building became a threat to White supremacy and the system of racism. Dr. Karenga, and his US movement, were attacked by the US government. However, all is not lost. Fortunately, Black revolutionary cultural nationalist leaders from the past have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, and news articles. We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map for revolutionary Black culture for Black liberation.
On the other hand, we don’t understand why Black leaders such as Bobby Seal and Huey P. Newton came on the scene to establish the Original Black Panther Party on October 15, 1966 in Oakland, California. They, Seal and Newton, believed that Black revolutionary nationalism was just as important as Black cultural nationalism. The Original Black Panther Party taught that Black people must unite with themselves to fight against America’s system of exploitation and oppression. Seal and Newton believed that the system of racism and White supremacy are by-products of European and United States monopoly capitalism. Thus creating permanent a Black under class. In other words, Seal and Newton believe that if oppressed Black people did not challenge monopoly capitalism, then White supremacy and the system of racism would create lasting oppressive conditions in the Black community to reduce Black people down to the lowest realms of American society. The Original Black Panthers went to work organizing Black people to fight against U. S. oppression in the Black community. The Black Panther Party created community survival programs (i.e the Breakfast Program, the Lunch Program, the Peoples Ambulance Program, the Free Clothing Program. The Free Health Care Program, Free Liberation Schools, etc) to provide needed resources and political education for Black people suffering in American ghettos. Original Black Panthers built coalitions with other oppressed people (i.e. Latinos, Asians, poor Whites, etc) to fight for social justice in all communities. However, one of the very first maneuvers the Black Panthers rallied Black people against was rampant cases of racist police brutality in the Black community. The Black Panthers began armed patrols of the police in a effort to protect the Black community from racist police violence. As a result of these armed patrols of the police, the FBI labeled the Original Black Panther Party the number #1 threat to America’s national security in 1967. The US created a secret program called COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) to neutralized the Original Black Panther Party movement in the Black community. The Original Black Panthers became the targets of attacks from all local and federal policing agencies in America. Many Original Black Panthers were gunned down in the streets of America. Original Black Panthers that the US government could not kill, COINTELPRO used its unlimited resources to legally frame Black Panthers on trumped up charges. Many Black Panther were sent to prison on long sentences for duration of their lives in a effort to reduce their revolutionary influences in the Afrikan American community. Then, the propaganda machine of COINTELPRO labeled Original Black Panthers thugs and terrorists in the eyes of the public to further destabilize its revolutionary movement in the Black community. All of these dirty tricks by the US government weaken the the Black Panther Party. Many Black Panthers began to leave the organization in masses. Some Black Panthers had to flee the US to survive the onslaught of state sanctioned police harassment and police violence directed towards them in America. By the early 1980s, the Original Black Panthers ceased to exist. However, all is not lost. Fortunately, Black revolutionary nationalist leaders from the past have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, and news articles. We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map for Black revolutionary politics for Black liberation.
In today’s racist America, we don’t understand why Newark, NJ’s world renowned community activist Imamu Amiri Baraka struggled so hard in the 1960s and early 70s to establish the Black Arts Movement. Awakened by the Black nationalist consciousness of Malcolm X, Baraka, a respected playwright and poet, began to believe it was absolutely necessary for Black people to embrace our own Black perspectives in Black literature, Black poetry, Black music, and Black theatre. He, along with other Black artists, such as Maya Angelou, Haki Mahabuti, Amina Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Felipe Luciano, and The Last Poets; created the Black Arts movement. The Black Arts Movement became the central foundation for a new Black cultural identity in America, and in the world, for Black people’s struggle for Black liberation during that time period. However, all is not lost.
Fortunately, Black artists from the past have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, and news articles.
We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map for revolutionary Black artistry for Black liberation.
We don’t understand why Black historians from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s struggled to establish the Importance of Afrikan / Afrikan American history in Black liberation. They inspired masses of people of Afrikan descent to embrace their Afrikan history, Afrikan languages, Afrikan religions, and Afrikan culture. For decades, Afrikan / Black people were Guided by many Afrocentric scholars of the day, such as Dr. John Henrick Clarke, Dr. Yusef ben-Jochannan, Dr Chancellor Williams, Dr. Lenonard Jeffries, Cheikh Anta Diop and Dr. Molefe Kete Asante. These scholars helped reshape and represented the non-racist facts about the history of Black people to Black people and the world. However, all is not lost. Fortunately, Black scholars from the past have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, scholarly articles, and news articles. We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map to reclaim our Black / Afrikan historical memory from grips of White supremacy and the system of racism for Black liberation.
We don’t understand why it was important for Afrikan-centric spiritual leaders, such as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad (co-founder of the Nation of Islam) and Dr James Cones ( a Black Christian theologian), to reestablished Black people and their experiences at the center of religious expression. What they created was something called Black liberation theology. It explained God, religion, and spirituality from a Black empowerment perspective. However, all is not lost. Fortunately, Afrikan-centric spiritual leaders from the past have left their examples in history books, films, magazines, documentaries, and news articles. We thank the Creator, and our Afrikan ancestors, that we have the internet to access their histories to create a road map for Black liberation theology for Black liberation
Moving forward, the next generation of Afrikan/Black leaders will have to grapple with these Black historical, linguistic and cultural ideas of liberation for Black people in America, and in the Afrikan world community, if we are ever going to be free from under the yoke of White / European racial domination in America and in the world, then our future generations must root themselves in all forms of Black liberation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bashir Muhammad Akinyele
-Chair of Weequachic High School’s Black History Month Committee
FYI: Spelling Afrika with a k is not a typo. Using the k in Afrika is the Kiswahili way of writing Africa. Kiswahili is an Pan -Afrikan language. It is spoken in many countries in Afrika.