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My father was a “comrade” to the bone and in his 70 years of life never

wavered from that conviction up to his passing in 1997. He was born,

lived and died a “PNP man” and an incorrigible Manley supporter.

 

 

Manley’s Legacy

A Blemish on Our History

By Aduku Addae

 

I find myself ill-suited to the task of writing a reflective piece on the legacy of Michael Manley. My thoughts run in tortured convoluted arcs and emerge in the most irrational patterns whenever I chance to think about the man. It is not easy to speak about an individual whose socialism brought him to accept capitalism and the "free market" as the remedy for poverty and social exploitation.  It is not easy at all to speak about a man who is contradiction personified. 

My father revered Manley in a manner reminiscent of the Christian reverence for the divine soul.  In that special spot, high on the living room wall, from which the white Christ holds dominion over Africa’s scattered flock in households throughout the Diaspora, Michael Manley assumed his place among the trinity (Haile Selassie, Norman Manley, and Michael Manley). He was the Jesus in my father’s house, come with the “rod of correction” issued to him by the King of Ethiopia (and the God of Rasta nations) to “put them under heavy manners” whilst he, Manley, “row the boat ashore.”  Manley was “Joshua” the “redeemer” and he held dominion over my father’s household as Pharaoh did over Egypt.

My father was a “comrade” to the bone and in his 70 years of life never wavered from that conviction up to his passing in 1997. He was born, lived and died a “PNP man” and an incorrigible Manley supporter.

Passion as strong as was my father’s belief in the People’s National Party (PNP) touches everyone that comes into contact with it. This passion affected us as children without exception. To this day my siblings remain faithful to the People’s National Party.

As intimated earlier, Manley was the Messiah, the Christ redeemer in my father’s household. As such, he exercised considerable influence over me during my formative years. For about 5 years, between 12 and 17 years of age, I ran around with the rest of the 'sheep' waving my fist in defiance and shouting "Power!"

Later, after 1977, when I became disillusioned with his week-kneed conduct, after he sold us out to the IMF, I dismissed Manley as a fraud and disavowed any link with the People’s National Party. Most of my contemporaries were driven to this state of disenchantment and rejection. In fact we rejected Jamaican party politics outright and joined the radical Rasta rebellion. So I labor from a disposition of early sentimental attachment and later deep political disaffection to assess Manley's legacy.

I must mention that whereas my father was a fanatical comrade, as I have previously discussed, my mother, on the other hand, had a strange and wholesome immunity to comrade-ism and PNP mania. She held fiercely to the view that politics was a lot of foolishness and loyalty to a political party, and a political leader, was just plain stupidity. To have held such a view since as early as 1969, as clearly as I can remember, made my mother a political heretic. Today it is the view held by 67% of those of voting age in Jamaica. It turns out it was a very advanced and latently revolutionary view.

My political vision oscillated between these polarities of sentiment embraced by my parents. I grew up in the hinterland of being supportive of the PNP and being disdainful of stupid party politics. This appears to have had a telling effect on the development of my political consciousness. And here I stand, disdainful of tribalistic politics, proposing to speak informatively about the “Manley Legacy.” My proletarian consciousness and working class disposition precludes any sympathy for this so-called legacy and I cannot pretend objectivity in my assessment. 

It is not my sentiment that Manley was a “great” political leader as many tributary commentators have maintained. It is indisputable, however, that this character was a visible actor in 1980s World politics and that in Jamaica his charisma has had a signal, if abortive, effect on the incessant power struggle between the antagonistic elements in Jamaica society, across the class and racial divide. Manley was a politician with an aristocratic bearing who peddled a reformist politics that landed him in hot water with the heavy-hitters in Washington, and which, ultimately, served to retard the proletarian struggle against five hundred years of brutal domination.

In 1972 (at 12 years going on 13) I was swept up in the frenzy of the political campaign that brought Manley to power in a landslide victory. He was victorious over the Jamaica Labor Party then under the discredited leadership of the Hugh Lawson Shearer. (Shearer was Manley’s cousin, who gained ill-repute for declaring Walter Rodney, the Pan African hero and proletarian revolutionary, persona non grata.).  Manley was swept into power on the ground swell of a popular awakening that manifested in every dimension of the peoples lives (cultural, political, religious).

The years between 1972 and 1980 may have proven a pivotal moment in our history. The youth of the nation was caught up in the frenzy of Manley’s demagoguery and threw their last iota of energy behind his populist programs. Free Education, National Youth Service, Land Reform, Self Reliance, and National Literacy were slogans that constituted a battle cry. Youthful energy drove the expectations awakened by the token reform programs to a crisis point.

Everywhere the energy was bubbling and building to a revolutionary pitch. By 1976 Jamaican youth were ready for a reconfiguration of the island society into a new social “paradise” based in no uncertain terms on the unabashed institution of socialist production and distribution. They were ready to the extent of taking up arms and giving their lifeblood in the struggle to build an egalitarian society. 

Manley sensed that this swelling tide of youthful revolutionary energy was threatening to overwhelm the Jamaican Oligarchy (of 21 families) and at the very quantum limit of this political “Armageddon,” which he perceived as impending historic disaster, Manley began to back-pedal and sought refuge in the stranglehold of IMF agreements. Thus was the ignominious retreat begun, which has doomed the laboring masses of people to material and spiritual degradation.

Manley's actions were consistent with his political philosophy. He believed in the power of ideas, personal charm, and in his ability to drive men to a compromise in all situations. Manley, as a brinkman who aroused the passion of the crowds with his empty rhetoric, sapped the energy of the people in meaningless melodramatic squabbles, and traded on the threat of the latent violence of the aroused masses to work out compromises.

He spent his life working out compromises in the interest of the 21 families who rule Jamaica and against the laboring Africans who have done the building for 500 years. Manley was not our hero! Ultimately he compromised our struggle for social emancipation.

To gain a vision of Manley’s legacy one must take a closer look at what Jamaica has become. It is the Prime Minister, P. J. Patterson, who sums it up best. Here is how he sums it up: " 'Mr. Patterson told supporters at the People's National Party's 65th Annual Conference at the National Arena, that "More people have running water, more people stop use kerosene, more people have electricity and more man have gal dan anything else” (The main news – “Nuff gal inna bungle!” Phyllis Thomas, News Editor, Jamaica Gleaner, September 28, 2003).

Patterson was hand-picked and groomed by Michael Manley as his replacement.

Phyllis Thomas’ incensed remarks put into keen perspective the nature of this legacy.  According to her:

" [The remarks] objectifies women. We are no longer seen as persons, but a thing and we are categorised among the things that men should have, or which they claim as their possession" (ibid).

Under Manley’s hand-picked steward African flesh is still a commodity, sold to the highest bidder. And it is no secret - it is in the news. "There were allegations of "illegal exploitation of young girls in 'go-go clubs,' and in particular a special 'trade fair' for girls at certain locations in western Jamaica and other entertainment centers in the tourism resort areas” (“Thriving rural trade in girls,” Jamaica Gleaner, July 6, 2003).

The picture gets even bleaker as one examines the social fallout. Veteran columnist John Maxwell draws attention to the prevailing social decline in a June 2003 publication of his weekly column, “Common Sense,” in the Sunday Observer. He wrote: "Children have been driven to prostitution by hunger and by their own parents. The result is that we have a galloping epidemic of HIV/AIDS and juvenile delinquency" (“Twilight of the dinosaurs,” John Maxwell, Jamaica Observer, June 22, 2003).

It is an awful picture of social and economic decay, human degradation, and hopelessness that one must contemplate if one would assess Manley’s legacy. The half is yet to be told.

Marcus Garvey isn't coming back. But then neither is Jesus! Looks like we are on our own. Is that great or what!

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Vijay Prashad—The Darker Nations, Part 2

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Response

I find the piece here, on Manley, interesting, particularly Aduku Addae's impressions of him and influences on his family. Yes, Manley was charismatic and he did mesh with Jamaican Peasants and workers who do appreciate charm, character and... spirit in their leaders. That was not all the found in Manley however, he was able to effectively articulate the demands of the masses in both domestic and international politics.

Addae, in his skepticism about some of Manley's polices and limited success in the practical area of implementation, has overlooked some important political and economic forces that impeded Manley's overall success in political reform. Among these forces or factors are:

1. While the masses were developing a "socialist" consciousness they were poorly organized and insufficiently educated, politically, to provide the kind of revolutionary vanguard necessary to bring about the social and economic transformation that they aspired for and expected by Addae of Manley. Manley himself or his party at the time did not claim to be revolutionary socialists and had no such platform.

A good leader can raise the awareness of his optimistic followers and show them the way which allows them to cover some ground, but it takes an exceptional leader and a highly motivated population (or vanguard) to find the right direction and go the whole way. Manley was a good leader with optimistic followers during his first term as Prime Minister and only a part of his second term.

Addae also failed to provide the international political context in which Manley was operating at that time. Sure, there were the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 (?) and the USSR acting as a counter-weight to the influence and power of the West. The cold war was still hot, though losing some of its steam. Neither Manley nor the power brokers of the West at the time had any clue regarding the rate of decay of the Stalinist East European states from which 3rd world nations such as Jamaica had gained some confidence in questioning the influence of global corporations and international capital on their politics and economy.

Consequently the American ruling elites having brought China into their camp were rejuvenated sufficiently to aggressively pursue the Cold War and challenged the USSR wherever they perceived a threat, including in the Americas. Hence Manley at the time lacked the power to pursue a more assertive policy of Democratic Socialism in Jamaica as his party had conceived of it. So when Addae speaks of Manley's "compromise" with Jamaica's big capitalists he failed to consider the international context in which Manley was operating.

Several other points are made in the article without reference to their economic and historical context—such problems as existing today in states such as China and Cuba which have undergone much more revolutionary transformation than Jamaica has achieved up to date.

To be brief, I ask the question, were there no successes for the Jamaican masses under Manley's administration? I believe that there are, some of which are addressed in books listed on the website (the source of the above article). Again, Addae failed to mention any of these successes.—Yao Lloyd D. McCarthy

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I cannot conceive of Manley as anything but a showman and demagogue. Manley's unionism, for example, was corporate in nature, it’s been aptly described as 'trade union advocacy" and as such was specifically geared towards undermining and demoralizing the workers. The tribalism engendered by this trade union advocacy was reflected in and served as the foundation for the divide and rule strategies of the anti-working class, nationalist politics carried on by the two halves of the Manley family enterprise called Jamaica's Party Politics. Manley's legacy is tribal politics, plain and simply put! To gain a good measure of his legacy then, one need only look at what tribal politics has made Jamaica today. . . . Prashad is simply re-articulating the long discredited notion of "the Third Way." There is no third way! Capitalism is global! Capital and labor confront each other without any significant buffers. The choices are clear - reaction or revolution - in every facet of human endeavor.

From the article: "The years between 1972 and 1980 may have proven a pivotal moment in our history. The youth of the nation was caught up in the frenzy of Manley’s demagoguery and threw their last iota of energy behind his populist programs. Free Education, National Youth Service, Land Reform, Self Reliance, and National Literacy were slogans that constituted a battle cry. Youthful energy drove the expectations awakened by the token reform programs to a crisis point.

"Everywhere the energy was bubbling and building to a revolutionary pitch. By 1976 Jamaican youth were ready for a reconfiguration of the island society into a new social ‘paradise’ based in no uncertain terms on the unabashed institution of socialist production and distribution. They were ready to the extent of taking up arms and giving their lifeblood in the struggle to build an egalitarian society.

"Manley sensed that this swelling tide of youthful revolutionary energy was threatening to overwhelm the Jamaican Oligarchy (of 21 families) and at the very quantum limit of this political ‘Armageddon’, which he perceived as impending historic disaster, Manley began to back-pedal and sought refuge in the stranglehold of IMF agreements. Thus was the ignominious retreat begun, which has doomed the laboring masses of people to material and spiritual degradation.

"Manley's actions were consistent with his political philosophy. He believed in the power of ideas, personal charm, and in his ability to drive men to a compromise in all situations. Manley, as a brinkman who aroused the passion of the crowds with his empty rhetoric, sapped the energy of the people in meaningless melodramatic squabbles, and traded on the threat of the latent violence of the aroused masses to work out compromises."Aduku Addae

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Ancient African Nations

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The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker

In this groundbreaking work, historian and scholar Rediker considers the relationships between the slave ship captain and his crew, between the sailors and the slaves, and among the captives themselves as they endured the violent, terror-filled and often deadly journey between the coasts of Africa and America. While he makes fresh use of those who left their mark in written records (Olaudah Equiano, James Field Stanfield, John Newton), Rediker is remarkably attentive to the experiences of the enslaved women, from whom we have no written accounts, and of the common seaman, who he says was a victim of the slave trade . . . and a victimizer. Regarding these vessels as a strange and potent combination of war machine, mobile prison, and factory, Rediker expands the scholarship on how the ships not only delivered millions of people to slavery, [but] prepared them for it. He engages readers in maritime detail (how ships were made, how crews were fed) and renders the archival (letters, logs and legal hearings) accessible. Painful as this powerful book often is, Rediker does not lose sight of the humanity of even the most egregious participants, from African traders to English merchants.— Publishers Weekly

Marcus Rediker is professor of maritime history at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987), The Many-Headed Hydra (2000), and Villains of All Nations (2005), books that explore seafaring, piracy, and the origins of globalization. In The Slave Ship, Rediker combines exhaustive research with an astute and highly readable synthesis of the material, balancing documentary snapshots with an ear for gripping narrative. Critics compare the impact of Rediker’s history, unique for its ship-deck perspective, to similarly compelling fictional accounts of slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage. Even scholars who have written on the subject defer to Rediker’s vast knowledge of the subject. Bottom line: The Slave Ship  is sure to become a classic of its subject.—Bookmarks Magazine  

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Guarding the Flame of Life / Strange Fruit Lynching Report

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The State of African Education (April 200)

Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7

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John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

This video chronicles the life and times of the noted African-American historian, scholar and Pan-African activist John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998). Both a biography of Clarke himself and an overview of 5,000 years of African history, the film offers a provocative look at the past through the eyes of a leading proponent of an Afrocentric view of history. From ancient Egypt and Africa’s other great empires, Clarke moves through Mediterranean borrowings, the Atlantic slave trade, European colonization, the development of the Pan-African movement, and present-day African-American history.

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Hunger for a Black President  / Introduction I Write What I Like

Biko Biosketch   Biko Speaks on Africans

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter.

He joined the “revolutionary underground,” later landing back in prison. Sentenced to more than twelve years in Leavenworth, he earned three degrees there and found a new calling. He is now chair of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division—the very school he exhorted students to burn down during one of his most famous speeches as a Panther.

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Origins of Pan-Africanism

Henry Sylvester Williams, Africa, and the African Diaspora

By Marika Sherwood

This 2012 book recounts the life story of the pioneering Henry Sylvester Williams, an unknown Trinidadian son of an immigrant carpenter in the late-19th and early 20th century. Williams, then a student in Britain, organized the African Association in 1897, and the first-ever Pan-African Conference in 1900. He is thus the progenitor of the OAU/AU. Some of those who attended went on to work in various pan-African organizations in their homelands. He became not only a qualified barrister, but the first Black man admitted to the Bar in Cape Town, and one of the first two elected Black borough councilors in London. These are remarkable achievements for anyone, especially for a Black man of working-class origins in an era of gross racial discrimination and social class hierarchies. Williams died in 1911, soon after his return to his homeland, Trinidad.

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My First Coup d'Etat

And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa

By John Dramani Mahama

Though the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa began to claim independence in the late 1950s and ’60s, autocratic and capricious leadership soon caused initial hope to fade, and Africa descended into its “lost decades,” a period of stagnation and despondency from which much of the continent has yet to recover. Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana, grew up alongside his nascent country and experienced this roller-coaster of fortunes. In this memoir, Mahama, the son of a member of parliament, recounts how affairs of state became real in his young mind on the day in 1966 when no one came to collect him from boarding school—the government had been overthrown, his father arrested, and his house confiscated.

In fluid, unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghana’s recent history via entertaining and enlightening personal anecdotes: spying on his uncle impersonating a deity in order to cajole offerings of soup from the villagers hints at the power of religion; discussions with his schoolmates about confronting a bully form the nucleus of his political awakening. As he writes: “The key to Africa’s survival has always been . . . in the story of its people, the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of our lives.” The book draws to a close as the author’s professional life begins.Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 17 May 2012

 

 

 

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