ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)  

Google
 

 The procession swung around a corner and came into full view, twenty

or thirty yards long. The women wore white flowing robes and white

handkerchiefs on their heads. The faces were painted into grotesques

masks made with thick streaks of black, red, white and yellow paints.

The heavy thud of bare feet rose above the hum of the sea.

 

 

Books by Peter Abrhams

Mine Boy / Wild Conquest / Tell Freedom; Memories of Africa / The Path of Thunder A Wreath for Udomo / Return to Goli

*   *   *   *   *

Books by Kwame Nkrumah

Consciencism: Philosophy and the Ideology for Decolonization (1970) /  Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965) / Africa Must Unite (1963)

 

Ghana: Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah   /  Dark Days in Ghana  /  Class Struggle in Africa  /  The Struggle Continues  

*   *   *   *   *

Books by Jomo Kenyatta

Facing Mt. Kenya / African Socialism and Its Application to Planning in Kenya  /  Suffering Without Bitterness 

Harambee! The Prime Minister of Kenya's Speeches, 1963-1964  / The Challenge of Uhuru

*   *   *   *   *

Nkrumah, Kenyatta, and the Old Order

By Peter Abrahams

 

It was a hot, humid, oppressive August day in Accra, capital of the Gold Coast that was to become Ghana. The air had the stillness of death. I walked down toward the sea front. Perhaps there would be the hint of a breeze there. As I neared the sea front I was assailed by a potent stench of the sea with strong overtones of rotting fish.

The houses were drab, run-down wooden structures or made of corrugated iron, put together any way you please. The streets were wide and tarred, and each street had an open-drainage system into which young boys and old men piddled when they needed to relieve themselves. I have seen women empty chamber pots into these drains in the early morning. The fierce sun takes care of the germs, but God help you if smells make you sick.

In about eight minutes of walking, some fifteen "taxis" pulled up beside me: "Hi, massa! Taxi, massa! Me go anywhere you go cheap!" They are all private taxis with no meters and driven by strapping young men with flashing teeth. The place is full of taxi drivers willing to go anywhere and do anything cheap.

The street traders here are women. "Mammy traders," they are called. They trade in everything. They sell cigarettes, one at a time; round loaves of bread and hunks of cooked meat on which the big West African flies make sport. They love bargaining and haggling. They are a powerful economic factor in the life of the country. The more prosperous ones own their own trucks, some own fleets of trucks. These "mammy trucks" are the principal carriers of the country. They carry passengers as well as produce and go hurtling across the countryside with little regard for life or limb. Each truck has its own distinctive slogan, such as: Repent For Death is Round the Corner, or Enter Without Hope, or The Last Ride or If It Must It Will. My own favorite, and I traveled in this particular truck, pleaded, Not Today O Lord Not Today.

I passed many mammy traders, many mammy trucks, before I reached the sea front. I crossed a street, jumped over an open drain, and there was the sea. But there was no breeze, and no shade from the terrible sun. In the end I gave in to the idea of "taxi, massa, taxi" and looked about for one. But now there was no taxi in sight. Instead, I saw, suddenly, a long procession of many women and a few men. The procession swung around a corner and came into full view, twenty or thirty yards long. The women wore white flowing robes and white handkerchiefs on their heads. The faces were painted into grotesques masks made with thick streaks of black, red, white and yellow paints. the heavy thud of bare feet rose above the hum of the sea.

Then, all at once, the drums burst forth and there was no other sound about me. The marching women began to jig, then dance. As the tail of the procession passed me the drums reached a frenzy. A thin, pure note from a reed rose above the drums. The whole procession became a shivering, shaking mass. The reed note held longer than seemed human. And then, dramatically, there was silence. The thudding feet faded away out of sight and sound. There was silence and a slight racing of my heartbeat and the hum of the sea, and, of course, the overpowering fishy stench.

I thought of Richard Wright, with whom I had had breakfast that morning. This was his first visit to any part of Africa and he seemed to find it bewildering. Countee Cullen, the late American Negro poet, had speculated:

One three centuries removed

From the scenes his fathers loved,

Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,

What is Africa to me?

Wright was finding the answers and finding them disconcerting. He had been astounded by the casual attitude to sex. There was, he had said, too much sex, too casually given and taken; so that it worked out as no sex, with none of the emotional involvement associated with sex in the western mind. He shook his head with a slight disgust. The open drains into which young boys and old men piddled had led him to conclude that Africans piddled rather more than any other people. The sight of young men dancing together, holding hands, disturbed the puritan in him. He expressed to me that morning what he later summed up in his book on the Gold Coast: "I was black and they were black but it did not help me."

What Wright did not understand, what his whole background and training had made difficult for him to understand was that being black did not of itself qualify one for acceptance in tribal Africa. But how could he, when there are thousands of urban-bred Africans up and down the vast continent who do not themselves understand this? The more perceptive of the urban Africans are only now beginning to comprehend, but slowly.

Being black is a small matter in tribal Africa because the attitude toward color is healthy and normal. Color does not matter. Color is an act of God that neither confers privileges nor imposes handicaps on a man. A man's skin is like the day: the day is either clear or dark. There is nothing more to it until external agencies come in an invest it with special meaning and importance.

What does matter to the tribal African, what is important, is the complex pattern of his position within his own group and his relations with the other members of the group. He is no Pan-African dreaming of a greater African glory when the white man is driven into the sea. The acute race consciousness of the American Negro, or of the black South African at the receiving end of Apartheid, is alien to him. the important things in his life are anything but race and color--until they are forced on him. And "Mother Africa" is much too vast to inspire big continental dreams in him. She is a land of huge mountains, dark jungles, and vast deserts. In her rivers and in her jungles and in her grasslands lurk creatures that are the enemies of man: the leopard and the lion, the snake and crocodile.

All this makes travel, by the old African methods, extremely difficult and makes for isolation between one group of people and another. The African who is in Britain is likely to be a deal better informed on what is happening all over the continent than would be his fellow African in any of the main centers of both tribal and non-tribal Africa. In terms of communications the man in the tribe lives in the Dark Ages.

Richard Wright was surprised that even educated Africans, racially conscious literate people, had not heard of him and were skeptical of a grown man earning his living by writing. They could not understand what kind of writing brought a man enough money to support a family. Wright really wanted to understand the African, but--"I found the African an oblique, a hard-to-know man."

My sympathies were all with Wright.

The heat and salty rancid fish smell had made me desperately thirsty. Across the way a mammy trader squatted beside her pile of merchandise: cooked meat, sweet potatoes--a whole host of edibles--and some bottles of opaque white liquid that could be either coconut milk or palm juice, as well as the inevitable little pile of cigarettes priced at a penny apiece. I had been warned of the risks involved in eating anything sold by the street traders. But to hell with it. I was thirsty and not exactly a stranger to African germs. I crossed the street, felt the bottles and chose the one that seemed coolest and looked the least opaque.

"How much?"

"One shilling." The carved ebony face looked at me with dead eyes.

I pulled the screwed-up newspaper stopper from the bottle, wiped its mouth and took a swig. I could not decide whether it was coconut milk or palm juice. It had been heavily watered down and sweetened. But it was wet and thirst-quenching. I drank half the bottle, firmly ignoring the little foreign bodies that floated in the liquid. then I paid her and drank the rest. I put down the empty and began to move away.

"You African?" she asked in her harsh, cold, masculine voice.

I stopped, turned and looked at her face It was as deadly cold and impersonal as before: not a flicker of feeling in her eyes. Like an African mask, I thought. But unlike Wright, I did not try to penetrate it. I knew the futility of trying. She would show feeling if and when she decided. not before.

"Yes," I said, and added, "from the south. Far, far south." She paused for so long that I began to move again.

"You like here?" Nationalism had obviously touched her.

I turned back to her. "No," I said.

"Why you don't like?"

"I don't say I don't like."

"But you don't like?"

I showed her my teeth, African-wise, which is neither smile nor grimace but a blending of the two. "You like Africa?" I asked.

Now it was her turn to show me her teeth. There was a flicker of feeling in her eyes, then they went dead again. She nodded. I had established my claim. Only outsiders--white people or the Richard Wright--liked or disliked Africa.

I left the mammy trader and carried on up the smelly and hot street. Much and little had passed between us. Out to sea some fishing boats appeared on the sky line. About me were the citizens of Accra. Some wore the cloth of the country--the men looking like pint-sized citizens of ancient Rome painted black and the women looking extraordinary masculine--and others wore western dress.

My thoughts shifted to my forthcoming meeting with Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first Prime Minister. it was well over seven years since I had last seen him, in London. Then he was a poor struggling student; now he was the head of a state and the spokesman for the great Pan-African dream of freedom and independence.

This was the man who later made common cause with the people of French Guinea, when they voted for independence in 1958 and against membership in DeGaulle's Fifth Republic--a move by Nkrumah that can have great significance for the British Commonwealth.

Prime Minister MacMillan has indicated that Whitehall is watching Nkrumah's "closer association" moves with Guinea with keen interest. Prediction would be idle, yet it is intriguing to speculate that an ex-colony of Britain might bring an ex-colony of France into the Commonwealth. This could be a dramatic underscoring of the changing nature of colonialism in Africa. And at the center of its is Kwame Nkrumah.

I remembered our past friendship and wondered what changes I would find in him. Anyway, it was now nine A.M. and my date with him was for 9:30. I would soon know. A few minutes later I flagged a taxi and simply said, "Kwame's office."

A pale-brown West Indian miss was the Prime Minister's secretary. She welcomed me as though I was a V.I.P. The Prime Minister had not come back from a conference yet. This tribal business was taking up a lot of his attention. She told me with indignation how members of the Ashanti tribe had to crawl on their bellies for some twenty yards into the presence of their king, the Asantehene, and how tribalism had to give way or there would be no progress. If she was any indication, then Nkrumah was very worried about the opposition the tribesmen were offering his western-style Convention People's Party.

A number of officials came in. The lady stopped assailing the tribes. Then there was some bustle and the Prime Minister arrived. In something just over five minutes he had seen and dealt with these officials and I was ushered into his office. It was a big pleasant, cool room.

Nkrumah came around his big official desk, took my hand and led me to a settee near the window. the now famous smile lit up his face. As we exchanged greetings, felt each other out with small talk in an attempt to bridge the gap of years, my mind went back to our London days. this poised, relaxed man, with the hint of guarded reserve about him, was a far cry from the friend I had last seen nearly eight years earlier.

For me, the most striking change of all was in his eyes. They reflected an inner tranquility which was the one thing the Nkrumah in Europe never had.

Even his name had been subtly different then. He had been our friend Francis Nkrumah, an African student recently arrived from the United States, and he had not seen Africa for a decade and more. He had quickly become a part of our African colony in London and had joined our little group, the Pan-African federation in our protests against colonialism.

He was much less relaxed than most of us. his eyes mirrored a burning inner conflict and tension. He seemed consumed by a restlessness that led him to evolve some of the most fantastic schemes.

The president of our federation was an East African named Johnstone Kenyatta, the most relaxed, sophisticated and "westernized" of the lot of us. Kenyatta enjoyed the personal friendship of some of the most distinguished people in English political and intellectual society. He was subtle, subtle enough to attack one's principles bitterly and retain one's friendship. He fought the British as imperialists but was affectionate toward them as friends.

It was to this balanced and extremely cultured man that Francis Nkrumah proposed that we form a secret society called The Circle, and that each of us spill a few drops of our blood in a bowl and so take a blood oath of secrecy and dedication to the emancipation of Africa.

Johnstone Kenyatta laughed at the idea; he scoffed at it as childish juju. He conceived our struggle in modern, twentieth century terms with no ritualistic blood nonsense. In the end Francis Nkrumah drifted away from us and started his own little West African group in London. We were too tame and slow for him. He was an angry young man in a hurry.

Then he went back to his part of Africa, and Francis Nkrumah became Kwame Nkrumah. he set himself at the head of the largely tribal populace and dabbled in blood ritual. There was some violence, a spell in prison, and finally Nkrumah emerged as the first African Prime Minister in a self-governing British African territory.

Tribal myths grew up around him. he could make himself invisible at will. he could go without food and sleep and drink longer than ordinary mortals. He was, in fact, the reincarnation of some of the most powerful ancestral spirits. he allowed his feet to be bathed in blood.

By the time I visited the Gold Coast the uneasy alliance between Nkrumah and the tribal chiefs had begun to crack. A week or so before my arrival he had threatened that, unless they co-operated with his government in turning the Gold Coast into an efficient twentieth century state, he would make them run so hard that they would leave their sandals behind them. This was a calculated insult to the tribal concept that the chief's bare feet must never touch the earth.

That was the beginning of the secret war. Nkrumah thought he would win it easily. he was wrong. the chiefs have not run, and today their opposition to him is even more clear cut. Some of  his own followers, like Joe Appiah, who married the daughter of the late Sir Stafford Cripps, have defected to the tribalists. they are biding their time: waiting and watching.

And they have, negatively, scored their victories too. They have pushed him to a point where his regime is, today, intolerant of opposition. the tribal society brooks no opposition. Nkrumah's government banishes its most active opponents. as a modern socialist leading a western-style government he justifies this as a temporary expedient. But his less sophisticated ministers frankly talk the tribal language of strength, frankly express the tribal impulse to destroy those who are out of step.

There was an air of delicacy about our conversation and we were both aware of this. I asked him how he was getting on with those civil servants who, a little time earlier, had labeled him as an "irresponsible agitator." He had nothing but praise for those who had remained. Some resigned, among them the officer in charge of the prison where Nkrumah had been detained, who refused openly to serve under one of his former inmates. One or two other die-hards of the old colonialism also pulled out, but in the main the expatriate civil servants stayed on and rendered loyal service, but he was preoccupied with Africanizing the service, something which has largely come about now.

We touched on local politics. he let off at full blast against the tribalist. I told him I had heard that the Accra Club was still exclusively European. His eyes lit up. "You wait and see," he said.

Then, in relation to nothing either of us had said, he leaned toward me and exclaimed, "This place is rich! God, man, there's so much riches here!"--as though revelation had just been made to him.

But always, throughout our talk, I sensed a new reserve, a new caution that had not been there in the young student I had known in Europe.

As we talked in Nkrumah's cool office that hot August day in Accra, my mind kept slipping back to our mutual friend Jomo or Johnstone Kenyatta, [later to be] imprisoned in his native Kenya for leading the Mau-Mau movement. significantly, though we mentioned many friends, both Nkrumah and I avoided mentioning Kenyatta. I had decided not to mention him first. I had hoped Nkrumah would. He did not.

A year earlier, I had flown up to Kenya from South Africa and visited Kenyatta. I felt terribly depressed as I got off the plane. Things had grown so much uglier in the Union. The barricades were up in the ugly war of color. When I had left South Africa in the dim-and-distant past, there were isolated islands where black and white could meet in neutral territory. When I went back in 1952, the islands were submerged under the rising tide of color hatreds, and I was glad to quit that dark, unhappy land which yet compelled my love.

It was in this mood that I got off the plane. I had not seen my friend Jomo for years. Now there he was, just outside the airport terminal building, leaning on a heavy cane, bigger than I remembered him in Europe, paunchy, his face looking puffy. And behind him was a huge crowd of Africans.

I began to move toward him when a lean-faced, lean-hipped white colonial-administrator type suddenly appeared beside me and said: "Mr. Abrahams." I stopped and thought, "Oh, Lord."

Kenyatta also came forward. The two men ignored each other. Lean-face introduced himself and said the Colonial Office had alerted them that I was coming to do some writings for the London Observer and they had drawn up a provisional schedule for me. Had I done anything about accommodation?

Before I could answer, Kenyatta said, "you are staying with me, of course." The old detachment was back in his eyes. They seemed to say, "You've got to choose, pal. let's see how you choose."

Lean-face said, "We've got something set up for you tomorrow and --"

"I live in the bush," Kenyatta added.

It dawned on me that I had become, for the moment, the battlefield of that horrible animal, the racial struggle. I made up my mind, resenting both sides and yet conscious of the crowd of Africans in the background. A question of face was involved.

"I've promised to spend this weekend with Mr. Kenyatta," I said.

Lean-face was graceful about it. I promised to call at the Secretariat first thing on Monday morning. He gave me a copy of the schedule that had been prepared for me and wondered, sotto voce, whether I knew what I was letting myself in for. Kenyatta assured me that I would be perfectly safe, that nobody was going to cut my throat. I was aware that they were talking to each other through me. I was aware that they knew I was aware, and that made me bad-tempered.

"then I'll say good night, Mr. Abrahams," lean-face said pointedly.

As soo as he was out of hearing Kenyatta began to curse.

"It's good to see you again, Johnstone," I gripped his hand.

"Jomo," he replied. The hint of ironic speculation was back in his eyes. A slightly sardonic, slightly bitter smile played on his lips.

"Welcome to Kenya, Peter," he said. Then, abruptly: "Come meet the leaders of my people. They've been waiting long."

We moved forward and the crowd gathered about us. Jomo made a little speech in Kikuyu, then translated it for my benefit. A little old man, ancient as the hills, with huge holes in his ears, then welcomed me on behalf of the land and its people. Again Jomo translated.

After this we all bundled into the fleet of rattling old cars and set off for the Kikuyu reserve in the heart of the African bush. Kenyatta became silent and strangely remote during the journey.

We stopped at the old chief's compound, where other members of the tribe waited to welcome me. By this time the reception committee had grown to a few hundred. About me, pervading the air, was the smell of burning flesh; a young cow was being roasted in my honor. before I entered the house a drink was handed to me. Another was handed to the old chief and a third to Kenyatta. The old man muttered a brief incantation and spilled half his drink on the earth as a libation. Jomo and I followed suit. Then the three of us downed our drinks and entered the house.

A general feasting and drinking then commenced, both inside and outside  the house. I was getting a full ceremonial tribal welcome. the important dignitaries of the tribe slipped into the room in twos and threes, spoke to me through Kenyatta for a few moments, and then went away, making room for others.

"Africa doesn't seem to change," Kenyatta murmured between dignitaries. There was a terrible undercurrent of bitterness behind the softly murmured words. I was startled by it and looked at his face. for a fleeting moment he looked like a trapped, caged animal.

He saw me looking at him and quickly composed his face into a slightly sardonic humorous mask. "Don't look too closely," he said.

And still the dignitaries filed in, had a drink, spoke their welcome and went out.

The ceremonial welcome reached its high point about midnight. Huge chunks of the roasted cow were brought in to us, and we gnawed at the almost raw meat between swigs of liquor. Outside, there was muted drumming. Voices were growing louder and louder.

Suddenly, in the midst of a long-winded speech by an immensely dignified Masai chief from a neighborhood and friendly tribe, Kenyatta jumped up, grabbed his heavy cane and half staggered to the door.

"Come, Peter," he called.

Everybody was startled. i hesitated. He raised his cane and beckoned to me with it. I knew that this would be a dreadful breach of tribal etiquette.

"Come, man!" he snapped.

I got up, aware of the sudden silence that had descended on the huge gathering. By some strange magic everybody seemed to know that something had gone wrong.

"Jomo," I said.

"I can't stand any more," he snapped. "Come!"

I followed him to the door. I knew the discourtesy we were inflicting on the tribe. I also knew that my friend was at the breaking point. We walked through the crowd of people, got into Kenyatta's car and drove off into the night. the African moon was big and yellow, bathing the land in a soft light that almost achieved the clarity of daylight.

He took me to his home. It was a big, sprawling, empty place on the brow of a hill. inside, it had nothing to make for comfort. There were hard wooden chairs, a few tables and only the bed in the bedroom. there were no books, none of the normal amenities of western civilization. When we arrived two women emerged from somewhere in the back and hovered about in the shadows. They brought in liquor, but I never got a clear glimpse of either of them. my friend's anguish of spirit was such that I did not want to ask questions. We sat on the veranda and drank steadily and in silence until we were both miserably, depressingly drunk.

And then Kenyatta began to speak in a low, bitter voice of his frustration and of the isolated position in which he found himself. He had no friends. There was no one in the tribe who could give him the intellectual companionship that had become so important to him in his years in Europe. The things that were important to him--consequential conversation, the drink that represented a social activity rather than the intention to get drunk, the concept of individualism, the inviolability of privacy--all these were alien to the tribesmen in whose midst he lived. So Kenyatta, the western man, was driven in on himself and was forced to assert himself in tribal terms. Only thus would the tribesmen follow him and so give him his position of power and importance as a leader.

To live without roots is to live in hell, and no man chooses to live in hell. the people who could answer his needs as a western man had erected a barrier of color against him in spite of the fact that the taproots of their culture had become the taproots of his culture too. By denying him access to those things which complete the life of western man, they had forced him back into the tribalism from which he had so painfully freed himself over the years.

None of this was stated explicitly by either Kenyatta or myself. But it was there in his brooding bitter commentary on both the tribes and the white settlers of the land. For me Kenyatta became that night a man who in his own life personified the terrible tragedy of Africa and the terrible secret war that rages in it. He was the victim both of tribalism and of westernization gone sick. His heart and mind and body were the battlefield of the ugly violence known as the Mau-Mau revolt long before it broke out in that beautiful land. The tragedy is that he was so rarely gifted that he could have made such a magnificent contribution in other circumstances.

Source: Jacob Drachler, African Heritage, 1964

Peter Abrahams (born March 3, 1919) is a South African novelist

His father was from Ethiopia and his mother was classified by South Africa as a mixed race person, a "Kleurling" or Coloured. He was born in Vrededorp, nearby Johannesburg, but left South Africa in 1939. He worked first as a sailor, and then as a journalist in London, at which time, he lived with his wife, Daphne, at Loughton. Whilst in London, he met several important black leaders and writers, such as Jomo Kenyatta. He then settled in Jamaica in 1956. One of South Africa's most prominent writers, his work deals with political and social issues, especially with racism. His novel, Mine Boy (1946), one of the first works to bring him to critical attention, and his memoir Tell Freedom; Memories of Africa (1954) deal in part with apartheid. His other works include the story collection Dark Testament (1942) and the novels The Path of Thunder (1948), A Wreath for Udomo (1956), A Night of Their Own (1965), the Jamaica-set This Island Now (1966, the only one of his novels not set in Africa) and The View from Coyaba (1985).

He also wrote This Island Now, which speaks to the ways power and money can change most people's perspectives.

*   *   *   *   *

Peter Abrahams, born in a Johannesburg slum of an Ethiopian father and a "Cape Coloured" mother, is the best known of the South African Negro writers. he has written Mine Boy  and other novels, as well as an autobiography, Tell Freedom. In the lively article excerpted here, he gives us a piece of candid journalism such as few other writers would be in a position to do, for in writing of his visits with Nkrumah and Kenyatta he is writing of men who were his friends and intimates in the African colony in London before the upsurge of independent states in Africa. Mr. Abrahams has lived for many years outside his native continent, first in England and now in the West Indies.

Written in 1959, the article may on some political points be dated; and Mr. Abrahams may have overestimated the damage done to Kenyatta's potentialities by his ambivalent connections with tribal society.

But, on the whole, this article is a valuable portrayal in personal terms of the tensions between nation-building leaders and traditionally oriented masses. these tensions could be of two sorts: in the case of Nkrumah they would seem to be part of a clash between authoritarian centralism and a variety of localisms; in the case of Kenyatta, there seems to be in addition to the political dynamics, an inner struggle of emotional commitments to both African and Western patterns.  [Jacob Drachler, African Heritage, 1964]

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

Peter Abrahams Documentary

*   *   *   *   *

Jomo Kenyatta (c. 1894 – 22 August 1978) served as the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya. He is considered the founding father of the Kenyan nation.

In Kenya, Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi's main street and main streets in many Kenyan cities and towns, numerous schools, two Universities (Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology), the country's main referral hospital, markets, and housing estates are named after Jomo Kenyatta. A statue in downtown Nairobi and monuments all over Kenya stand in his honour. Kenya observed a public holiday every 20 October in his honour until the new 2010 constitution abolished Kenyatta Day and replaced it with Mashujaa (Heroes') day. Kenyatta's face adorns Kenyan currency notes and coins of all denominations, but this is expected to change as the new constitution bans the use of the portrait of any person on Kenya's currency. . . . Kenyatta had two children from his first marriage with Grace Wahu: son Peter Muigai Kenyatta (born 1920), who later became a deputy minister; and daughter Margaret Kenyatta (born 1928). Margaret served as mayor of Nairobi between 1970–76 and then as Kenya's ambassador to the United Nations from 1976 -86. Grace Wahu died in April 2007.[22]

He had one son, Peter Magana Kenyatta (born 1943) from his short marriage with Edna Clarke.  His third wife, Grace Wanjiku, died when giving birth in 1950. Daughter Jane Wambui survived.  His fourth wife, the best known due to her role as First Lady, was Ngina Kenyatta (née Muhoho), also known as Mama Ngina. She often accompanied him in public and also has some streets in Nairobi and Mombasa named after her. She bore Kenyatta four children: Christine Wambui (born 1952), Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (born 1961), Anna Nyokabi (also known as Jeni) and Muhoho Kenyatta (born 1964). Mama Ngina lives quietly as a wealthy widow in Kenya. Uhuru Kenyatta, Mzee Kenyatta's political heir, unsuccessfully vied for the Kenyan presidency as President Moi's preferred successor in 2002 and is today the Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. Muhoho Kenyatta runs his mother's vast family business but lives out of the public limelight.

Kenyatta was the uncle of Ngethe Njoroge, Kenya's first representative to the United Nations and the great uncle of Tom Morello, the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine. His niece, Beth Mugo, married to a retired ambassador, is an MP and currently serving as Minister for Public Health.Wikipedia

*   *   *   *   *

Kwame Nkrumah (21 September 1909 - 27 April 1972) was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana. An influential 20th century advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and was the winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963. . . . Nkrumah's advocacy of industrial development at any cost, with help of longtime friend and Minister of Finance, Komla Agbeli Gbedema, led to the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River in eastern Ghana. Kaiser Aluminum agreed to build the dam for Nkrumah, but restricted what could be produced using the power generated. Nkrumah borrowed money to build the dam, and placed Ghana in debt. To finance the debt, he raised taxes on the cocoa farmers in the south. This accentuated regional differences and jealousy. The dam was completed and opened by Nkrumah amidst world publicity on 22 January 1966. Nkrumah appeared to be at the zenith of his power, but the end of his regime was only days away.

Nkrumah wanted Ghana to have modern armed forces, so he acquired aircraft and ships, and introduced conscription.He also gave military support to those fighting the Smith administration in Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia. In February 1966, while Nkrumah was on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, his government was overthrown in a military coup led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and the National Liberation Council. Several commentators, such as John Stockwell, have claimed the coup received support from the CIA. . . .

Nkrumah never returned to Ghana, but he continued to push for his vision of African unity. He lived in exile in Conakry, Guinea, as the guest of President Ahmed Sékou Touré, who made him honorary co-president of the country. He read, wrote, corresponded, gardened, and entertained guests. Despite retirement from public office, he was still frightened of western intelligence agencies. When his cook died, he feared that someone would poison him, and began hoarding food in his room. He suspected that foreign agents were going through his mail, and lived in constant fear of abduction and assassination. In failing health, he flew to Bucharest, Romania, for medical treatment in August 1971. He died of skin cancer in April 1972 at the age of 62.Wikipedia

*   *   *   *   *

Marcus Garvey "Africa For The Africans"  /  Look For Me in The Whirlwind 

 Marcus Mosiah Garvey  / Marucs Garvey Speech

*   *   *   *   *

Race for the AU Chair: Africa’s Soul Searching Moment, Unique In History—4 February 2012—Kwame Nkrumah wrote in his book, Africa Must Unite!, as far back as 1960: “We in Africa who are pressing now for unity are deeply conscious of the validity of our purpose. We need the strength of our combined numbers and resources to protect ourselves from the very positive dangers of returning to colonialism in disguised forms. We need it to combat the entrenched forces dividing our continent and still holding back millions of our brothers. We need it to secure total African liberation. We need it to carry forward our construction of a socio-economic system that will support the great mass of our steadily rising population at levels of life which will compare with those in the most advanced countries.”

Just a year after that, he published another book, I Speak of Freedom, 1961, in which he laboured the point: “Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.”

For many a doubting Thomas, all they need to do to understand what has been going on with our African leaders, is to read from “Declassified National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency documents”, which “provide compelling, new evidence of United States government involvement in the 1966 overthrow of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah.” In one of these declassified documents, March 12, 1966 (Document 260), Robert W. Komer, according to Paul Lee, “first joined the White House as a member of President Kennedy’s NSC staff,” “had worked as a CIA analyst for 15 years”, and “now acting special assistant for national security affairs, wrote a congratulatory assessment to the President on March 12, 1966 (Document 260). His assessment of Nkrumah and his successors was telling:

‘The coup in Ghana,’ he crowed, ‘is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.’”

“Where the more subtle methods of economic pressure and political subversion have failed to achieve the desired result,” Nkrumah wrote from exile in Guinea three years later, “there has been resort to violence in order to promote a change of regime and prepare the way for the establishment of a puppet government.”

Today, what is as stake, is not just a matter of systematically replacing a revolutionary anti-imperialist regime with a puppet government, they want to swallow up the entire continent with one full sweep. Once more, another undeclared war between China and Africa seems to top the priorities of those who pretend to be our friends and stab us in the back, as quickly as they can, in order to perpetuate and maintain what they call “Full Spectrum Dominance”.PanAfricanistInternational

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

Aké: The Years of Childhood

By Wole Soyinka

Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perceptiona lyrical account of one boy's attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spiritswho alternately terrify and inspire himall carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that "God had a habit of either not answering one's prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward." In writing from a child's perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.

*   *   *   *   *

The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian

Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

 

 

 

update 13 August  2012

 

 

 

Home   Transitional Writings on Africa     Amiri Baraka  The African World

Related files: African Renaissance  Kwame Nkrumah, Kenyatta, and the Old Order  For Kwame Nkrumah  Responsibility of a Pan-African Socialist   God Save His Majesty 

Pan African Nationalist Thought   From Atlanta to East Africa   From Tanzania to Kansas and Back  Sylvia Hill Post 6th PAC   On Learning of Walter Rodney's Death