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Afrikan people from the Diaspora who on a visit to Namibia should make it their mission to go to

PACON, to learn more about their Afrikan culture and heritage. PACON is also important in the sense

that it is the only institution of its type in Namibia since 1999/2000 to occupy a Pan-Afrikan agenda

 

 

Pan Afrikanism in Present Day Namibia

By Henny H. Seibeb, Bernadus C. Swartbooi and T. Elijah Ngurare

 

I beg to direct your attention to Africa: I know that in a few years I shall be cut off in that country, which is now open: Do not let it be shut again! I go back to Africa to try to make an open path for commerce and Christianity; do you carry out the work which I begun. I leave the work which I begun. I leave it with you. David Livingstone, European Missionary-Explorer

The missionary says that we are the children of God like our White brothers….but just look at us. Dogs, slaves, worse than baboons on the rocks…..that is how you treat us. A Herero to a German Settler

The Hottentots have no aeroplanes, and because of that the Boers and the British can bomb them out of their holes and huts and ultimately subdue them. But around these American cities and this Western World we have many Negroes who can fly in aeroplanes. Why not build some, and when the Hottentots need aeroplanes to combat aeroplanes, why not give them of our technical ability and help them to put over the big job that all of us want done. Marcus Garvey

 

In using these quotes, it is not our intention to reopen the wounds of the past, but in our view, these wounds have not yet healed completely because the bandage continues to be cut by the realities of the relationship between the ‘Master Race vs. the Slave Race’. We are aware of the sensitivity of this characterization but judging the behaviour of our modern Africa both as individual States and people, there is increasing evidence to substantiate the dominance of the ‘Master Race’ and its subjugation of the ‘Slave Race’.  

The negrophobic attacks in South Africa as well as Kenya are examples that whilst we slaughter ourselves over crumbs from the capitalist table, the European neo-colonisers remain in control of our means of production, our economies and prices of African strategic raw materials. In this opinion piece, we argue that the only practical and realistic way for us as a people and continent to truly free ourselves from the mental shackles of colonialism and regain our true self determination and economic independence is through Pan-Afrikanism.

Clearly, since the advent of Europeans in Africa, our continent and people have not known real peace, stability and tranquility. Instead in the place of peace came war, in the place of stability came the drawing of arbitrary colonial borders (in 1884-5) and in the place of tranquility came slavery, racism and colonialism.

The African people were exported and sold as commodities in Europe, North America, South America and the Caribbean. The Constitution of the United States of America even declared an African as being 3/5 of a human being. Indeed, this African Holocaust began with the ‘European Renaissance’ in Italy in 1400 and since then slavery, colonialism and racism had ravaged the African continent and its people for centuries. It was the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism which destroyed Africa and underdeveloped it. In his book “How Europe underdeveloped Africa”, Dr Walter Rodney gives a vivid picture of this African tragedy. Slavery and colonialism were made possible by the so-called European Renaissance. The authors of this renaissance used the compass and gunpowder. These Chinese inventions for peaceful purposes were used by Europeans to steal the land and wealth of Africans.

It was as a result of this that visionary leaders of African descent advocated that all Africans - wherever they might be - should unite to end slavery, colonialism and racism. As a result of these events African people world wide began to realize that they faced common problems (slavery, colonization, and racism), and that it would be to their benefit to work together in an effort to solve these problems. Out of this realization came the Pan African Conferences of 1900 (London), 1919 (Paris), 1921 (London, Brussels, Paris), 1923 (London), 1927 (New York), and the last official one was in 1940s. 

As Motsoko Pheko points out in his article in The Sowetan (1999), Pan Afrikanism is a movement began in 1776, however, the fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, England, in 1945 advanced Pan-Afrikanism and applied it to the decolonisation of the African continent politically. Some African leaders involved in this noble cause were giants such as Kwame Nkrumah, William du Bois, Jomo Kenyatta, Robert Sobukwe and Patrice Lumumba. In other words, “Pan-Afrikanism includes the intellectual, political and economic cooperation that should lead to the political unity of Africa.

The Pan-African alternative provides a framework for African unity.” It also fosters radical change in the colonial structures of the economy, and the implementation of an inward-looking strategy of production and development. It calls for the unification of financial markets, economic integration, a new strategy for initial capital accumulation and the design of a new political map for Africa. Contemporary Africa is beset with difficulties rooted in its inability to unite territorially. The consequences have been national economies incapable of developing because of geographical, economic and political reasons.

We must accept this truth, and take it as our prime duty, if the restoration of Africa is to become a reality. Today we have currencies and passports which allegedly identify us from one another. Yet our currencies lose their values at the borders where we willingly surrender to the power of the Euro and American Dollar. Our national passports are used to restrict the movements of Africans but not of Europeans and Anglo-Saxons from America and elsewhere.

It is imperative to quote Pheko further when he states that “The artificial borders that separate the national territories in the region are divisive of people united by history and divisive of regions united by geography to the extent that they are the subject of disputes and conflicts between African states. SADC must strive for a community that transcends the economic level and strive for the territorial and political unification of Africa. This is the only way for the continent to become a great modern power. This is the only protection against neo-liberalism and globalisation.”

Pan-Afrikanism demands that the riches of Africa be used for the benefit, upliftment, development and enjoyment of the African people. Pan-Afrikanism is a system of equitably sharing food, clothing, homes, education, healthcare, wealth, land, work, security of life and happiness. Pan-Afrikanism is the privilege of the African people to love themselves and to give themselves and their way of life respect and preference. In other words there should be no need to sell white dolls in predominantly black neighborhoods or countries because such dolls are not made in the image of Africans but of Europeans. The only window out of this self-imposed slavery is Pan-Afrikanism. The current problems of Africa therefore are ‘neo-slavery, neo-racism, neo-colonialism, globalisation and neo-apartheid’.

So why Pan-Afrikanism, because it was developed by outstanding African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in Africa and the Diaspora. It was conceived in the womb of Africa. It is a product made in Africa by Africans. Pan-Afrikanism is the oldest vision in Africa. No other ideology has successfully challenged Pan-Afrikanism intellectually. In other words, we do not need ‘coconut academics’ today who look black outside but white inside, NO, we need genuine African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in and the Diaspora to provide a salvation of the Afro-centric ideals espoused by great African visionaries of yesteryears.

Pan Afrikanism in Namibia Yesterday

The national resistance wars of 1904-05 certainly had a lasting effect on the indigenous people’s lifestyle and views regarding Whites in Namibia in terms of Unity and Solidarity. Since the popular uprising by Hereros and Namas was crushed brutally by Lothar Von Trotha’s commando, many of the indigenous leaders were forced to sign protection treaties and surrendered to German Imperial Forces.

From July 1915, the South African regime took over the control of the Namibian territory from Germany, ending 30 years of German colonial rule. Although there has been a change in regime from one master to the other, the oppressive policies remain largely unchanged. Between 1920 and 1925 resistance against colonial rule assumed a variety of forms unparallel in Namibian history (Tony Emmet).

This period also witness the emergence of new forms of political organizations and ideological strands that transcended pre-colonial divisions and began laying a basis for national unity. Among various organizations that were established were the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), the African People’s Organisation (APO) and the South West Africa National Congress (SWANC). Tony Emmet notes that “UNIA with its Pan-Africanist platform proved remarkably successful, spreading from the industrial center of Luderitz to other urban, centers, and then to the countryside”.

Both Tony Emmet and Gregory Pirio acknowledge that the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League were launched in Luderitz in 1921. The nucleus for the formation of the UNIA branch was constituted by a small group of West Africans and West Indians who had settled in the coastal towns of the territory. The majority of this group was said to be originating from Liberia, the Cameroon’s, Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast and had been brought into Namibia by the Germans before and during World War 1. In 1910…fifty men and a number of women and children were deported from German colony of Kamerun to Luderitz, following mutiny among the Black Schutztruppe in the West Africa colony (Tony Emmet). Some of the West Africans had been brought to Namibia by Woermann Shipping Company.

Towards the end of 1921 the Luderitz branch of UNIA had a membership of 331 and had collected more or less 41 pounds in subscription fees, a huge amount at that time considering the Black population of 2155 in Luderitz. Upon registration each recruit received a ‘Black, Red and Green Rossette’ which worn on the lapel (Gregory Pirio).

The Luderitz UNIA Branch was active in mobilizing the Blacks under one umbrella body. The continued exploitation of Blacks in all its manifestations-politically, socially and economically gave rise to the unity and resistance zeal to these ordinary people. Fritz Headly, its President was always persistent and resilient in providing the Parent Body with material documenting the real situation and used to write letters to the Negro World and was thus instrumental in acquainting Black people throughout the world with the oppressiveness of the South African mandate regime in South West Africa.

In one such letter, he stated (Gregorio Pirio):

We are segregated, discriminated, disenfranchised, jim-crowed in cattle trucks, coal boxes, and last but not least, butchered by the other fellow with rifle and machine gun bullets. But what we are dealing with mostly is segregation wholly in its aspects in the former regime of our oppressors the Germans.

Garveyism Spread to the Countryside

The Luderitz division of the UNIA branch was established in Windhoek in October 1921 under the guidance of its President Headly. From the onset what makes the Windhoek Branch of UNIA unique was that the executive of the branch was firmly under the control of local Black leaders.

The local leaders who were prominent in the Windhoek branch were Hosea Kutako, Aaron John Mungunda, Traugott Maharero, and Nikanor Hoveka. Other leaders on the executive committee were Alpheus Harasemab and Franz Hoisemab.

The Windhoek Branch sent out in October 1922 two emissaries—Theodor Hambue and John Mungunda to establish branches of the association in Usakos, Karibib and Okahandja (Gregory Pirio). Headly was also instrumental in the founding of the UNIA Branch in Swakopmund.

Not only were the ideals of Garveyism spreading in Namibia but the Parent Body also got wind of the activities of the UNIA Namibia. The first formal connection between Namibia and Garveyist organization is said to occur in 1922 when a UNIA delegation was sent to Geneva to petition the League of Nations to turn the former German Colonies over to black leadership (Tony Emmet).

Garvey himself was not disappointed or discouraged by the continued ignorance and silence by the League of Nations and continued steadfastly, in a true combative form to support the cause of South West African Blacks. One such example is in reaction to the aerial attacks against the Bondelswarts (in 1922),

Marcus Garvey had declared on the front page of the Negro World:

The Hottentots have no aeroplanes, and because of that the Boers and the British can bomb them out of their holes and huts and ultimately subdue them. But around these American cities and this Western World we have many Negroes who can fly in aeroplanes. Why not build some, and when the Hottentots need aeroplanes to combat aeroplanes, why not give them of our technical ability and help them to put over the big job that all of us want done

Gregory Pirio

It is befitting to mention here that the hallmark of the early phase of the African liberation was the need to unite in the face of common intruders. The unity of purpose, which was so openly provided by Pan-Afrikanism in the form of UNIA’s ideological nexus, in action for change, heralded the birth of the Modern Namibian Nationalism, giving rise to the emergence of nationalist organizations in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Pan-Afrikanism in Namibia Today

Namibia gained its independence on the 21st of March 1990, ushering in a new wave of democracy and nation-building process. Indeed, the last colony on the African continent had become part of the international community. The challenge for the SWAPO leadership was now to transform the economy which was beset by a myriad of contradictions and inequalities into a modern economy, which is able to respond to the challenges faced by the people. The SWAPO Party government not only concentrated on transforming the education system but also provided the much needed political space, where young people, the majority of them who have not witness war could innovate with new ideas and ideologies.

It was during such time that the Pan-African Students Society (PASS) was formed in 1994 at the University of Namibia by the political science students to enhance the process of dialectics. According to Joshua Kaumbi, the Chairperson of PASS from 1998/9 the aim of the student society was to ‘promote African values and morals; acknowledge and honour the contribution of African men and women towards the advancement of the Pan-African ideas; to organize public lectures and to undertake research on issues affecting Africans at home and in the Diaspora’ (The African Origin of Civilization and the Destiny of Africa: 2000).

PASS was amongst the most vibrant and vocal societies on the campus. It held numerous public lectures and seminars on topics such as Global Politics, International Terrorism, Privatisation of Higher Education, etc. It also hoisted the AU flag on the Unam campus. It brought in High Commissioners, Leading African intellectuals and Pan-Afrikan Activists. One memorable event is the co-hosting of the ‘Land Question’ seminar workshop with The Caucus Political Science Club of the University of Namibia in 2000. It was fully attended by high level student segments and High Commissioners from both Britain and Zimbabwe, and agricultural unions.

It was amidst this euphoria that student leaders such as Joshua Kaumbi, Ben Uugwanga and John Pangech decided to organize a first-ever Pan-Afrikan Conference in an independent Namibia together with the resourceful Pan-Afrikanist like the current Prime Minister Cde. Nahas Angula, Cde. Bankie F. Bankie, a devoted Nkrumahist, and Cde. Utoni Nujoma.

‘The African Origin of Civilisation and the Destiny of Africa’ conference was held at the Safari Hotel conference complex, in Windhoek, 24 May 1999 on the eve of the OAU day. This conference attracted a high level political segment, students, and African academics such Prof KK Prah, Dani Nabudere of the Du Bois/Diop Center in Uganda, and Malegapuru Makgoba, amongst others.

After this watershed conference, which was aired live both on NBC TV and Radio, the resolution was then taken to establish a Pan-Afrikan Center in Namibia, which shall mobilize, propagate and disseminate the ideals of Pan-Afrikanism. It was in this collective spirit that the Pan-Afrikan Center of Namibia was established with its first Chairperson being Uazuva Kaumbi. During his tenure PACON has tried rudimentary to attract academics from Diaspora such as Prof. Horace Campbell, Runoko Rashidi. To date the only and probably the biggest project of PACON has been the movie ‘Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation’.

In the year 2005, PASS has also organized a historic first of its kind 17th All Afrika Students Conference (AASC) at the University of Namibia, in smart partnership with Unam, NANSO and National Youth Council. Previously, All Afrika Students Conferences used to take place only at the Caribbean Universities, Canada and the United States of America. Therefore, PASS’s Conference was the real attempt at bringing the students from the Diaspora and Continent to engage on matters of mutual consent.  It also tried to harbour notable Pan-Afrikanist such as Omali Yashitela, Chairperson of the Global Afrikan Congress Cikiah Thomas, and Kalenjin.

Did Pacon Kill Pan Afrikanism in Namibia?

This is a question that has been posed because there are serious concerns particularly amongst those who used to frequent the center during its formative years that the Center and more importantly the ideology of Pan-Afrikanism is under threat. In raising this question, we are keenly conscious of the dedication and hard work of those entrusted with the responsibility of PACON although on part-time basis. It is not to be understood that our take is against an individual person because Pan-Afrikanism is beyond that.

In our view, PACON in its entirety was supposed to be a Center for Pan-Afrikan education, teaching, studying, research and preservation of Afrikan history, culture and religion throughout the 13 Regions and beyond.

PACON’s rallying point and purpose was to teach the rich and diverse history and heritage of Afrikan people and their immense contribution to humanity. It should also touch on subjects as diverse as contemporary Afrikan economics and politics, religion, astronomy and science.

PACON as an Afrikan centered institution in Namibia was and is able to organize seminars and presentations to bring much needed educational material to the attention of local people as well as Afrikan people from the Diaspora who on a visit to Namibia should make it their mission to go to PACON, to learn more about their Afrikan culture and heritage. PACON is also important in the sense that it is the only institution of its type in Namibia since 1999/2000 to occupy a Pan-Afrikan agenda and is strategic to offer counter ideology academically, via research to the new anti-establishment organizations and other non-progressive counter revolutionaries. It must also be added that the success of PACON ought only not to be the preserve of Government but indeed it is the Center that our corporate citizens should be availing all the necessary resources to including financial and material support.

The role which PACON has played in the production of Namibia’s first ever internationally acclaimed film based on the life of our National Hero, H.E. Cde. Sam Nujoma, an icon of the Namibian Liberation Struggle, is commendable. However, above all and unfortunately, beyond the film, the activities of PACON have remained largely dormant in the last five years or so. For example, in the year 2006, there was only one Public Lecture that was initiated by our colleague Cde. Henny Seibeb, namely the Annual Sam Nujoma Public Lecture, which was eventually launched by the Founding Father, H.E. Cde. Sam Nujoma.

It is also notable that during the launch of the Annual Sam Nujoma Public Lecture, the Afro-Voice magazine was announced and even launched by the Founding Father with the promised that it shall be an ongoing magazine but up to date nothing came of it and Namibians are still waiting for the publication of the second edition. It is a sordid state of affairs that if we are not vigilant it will be possible that PACON may soon be infiltrated by neo-colonial agents who are hell-bent on decapacitating the institution from inside with the sole aim of surrendering it to the counter-revolutionaries and hogwash voodoo academics.

Today PACON is not able to command the space for which it was created for. It appears also that PACON, or perhaps some individuals, have made the organization to take a complete U-Turn against the ideals of Pan-Afrikanism and attacks its democratic kith and kin, and it seems at present to feed the neo-liberals and other moonlighting political projects, with vital information on our strategy and tactics, which cannot even offer a viable alternative to our people.

It is our wish and hope that the line Ministry and the Pan-Afrikan Students Society (PASS) through the Patron of PACON and other stakeholders would leave no stone unturned in realizing the patriotic ideals of Pan-Afrikanism within the context of Namibia. We call upon the students of the University of Namibia to register in their thousands and rally behind PASS in order to realize this vision.

A worldwide look throughout history will reveal the crucial involvement of students in sparking positive changes. Their success is due to the unique position that they hold in society. Students, with their exposure to wide-ranging information and access to educational tools and resources are better able to develop an understanding of the world lacking among the masses. Students, too, are in a unique position because they, for the most part, have not yet committed themselves to their career jobs. Kwame Ture stated in an address entitled, “Education as a Tool for Liberation”, that the purpose of education is “to lead one out of problems”. Once armed with the educational tools and an understanding of the problem as well as the solution, the student is prepared to use his or her youthful energy to unite with others and struggle for the betterment of all.

The students must engage in the new Pan-Afrikanism of the twenty-second century by taking a progressive stand on environmental issues and state of the world’s ecology and climate change. They must address the utilization of the natural resources of the world; our reliance on petro-chemicals and carbon-based technologies which foul the air and pollute our water; and storage of toxic wastes which shorten our lives of our children.

The Pan-Afrikan Students Society must, in a nutshell, remember that Pan-Afrikanism remains as an essential democratic vision, to deconstruct and uproot the inequalities of racism; to challenge the unpopular capitalist “New World Order” represented by the IMF, the Economic Hit Men and World Bank. Let the former student activists of PASS call a re-union to revitalize this once glorious society and craft its niche.

It is within this context that we are issuing a clarion call to all notable Pan-Afrikanist to mobilize in order to hasten the Pan-Afrikan agenda, amidst the negrophobic attacks that we are witnessing today in South Africa, the ethnic conflicts in Kenya, the derailment of peoples plan to implement emancipatory projects by the Western implanted agents in our eco-systems (economic) and voodoo economic planning by Western consultants to set us back. We must never capitulate and shall resist any attempt to negate us from the revolutionary journey of Pan-Afrikanism.

The Way Forward: Pan Africanism

In our view, all African countries and peoples must institutionalize Pan-Afrikanism in all facets of their lives. It should also include the deliberate gestures by African leaders (Presidents, former Presidents, Ministers, former Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, CEOs, MDs, Traditional Leaders, Musicians, Artists, etc) to become disciples of this Pan-Afrikanism gospel and for ordinary African peasants to be afforded the opportunity to travel Africa by attending AU or SADC summits etc.

In individual countries it also means that efforts by various African governments should include allowing the people from the north, south, west and east in each country to be on cultural exchanges within the country in the form of Pan African Bus or Cultural Libraries and so forth.

In conclusion, we find it instructive to once more borrow from Motsoko Pheko’s analysis of Pan-Afrikanism in which he draws attention to the lecture of a prominent Nigerian political scientist who reminded participants at the fifth Pan-African Colloquium in Ghana of the historical context of the 'European Renaissance', from which the so-called 'African renaissance' is trying to borrow and transpose its rationale. He pointed out that the 'European Renaissance' was the foundation of slavery, colonialism and racism. Africa has nothing to gain from this decadence, which was responsible for the worst holocaust of the African people in memory.

The inheritors of this inhuman 'renaissance' are still working hard to perpetuate the holocaust of the African people and the underdevelopment of Africa, which they inflicted through slavery, colonialism, apartheid and racism. Today these forces have their Pan-Europeanism through their European Union, making them a powerful economic bloc. They are integrating socially and politically, and working for a borderless Europe.

On the other hand, Africa is wallowing in the quagmire of underdevelopment, poverty, endless border wars, economic domination and the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This is because African leaders are dragging their feet on the implementation of Pan-Afrikanism and have made Africa a perpetual beggar of foreign 'aid'. Some of these leaders have become agents of neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism, whose instrument is 'globalisation'. Globalisation is just a new form of recolonising the African continent. There will continue to be an ideological and intellectual crisis in the African world until Africans understand Pan-Afrikanism, its value and benefits, and apply it to their many problems.

These include 'foreign debts', reparations, repatriation of African intellectual property from the museums of Europe, lack of continental railroads and air routes, intra-trade, communication and technological development among the African people and states.

The triumph of Pan-Afrikanism is the only way Africans can survive the foreign onslaught and live as a truly liberated people, will come out of the sweat and blood of the African people themselves.

As Dr. Kwame Nkrumah put it:

Only a united Africa can redeem its past glory, renew and reinforce its strength for the realisation of its destiny. We are today the richest and yet the poorest of continents, but in unity our continent could smile in a new era of prosperity and power.

posted 1 June 2008 

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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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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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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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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