Books by Kalamu ya
The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts
A Revolution of Black Poets
Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology
From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets
Our Music Is No Accident /
What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self
My Story My Song (CD)
* * * *
Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa But I
M-N-O-P-Q-R: PANAFEST 1994
By Kalamu ya
M: Always Don’t Last
colloquium on the first day I heard a paper by
Kwadwo Opoku Agyemang from the University of Cape
Coast. "Culture Under Siege: The Making Of Africa's
Heart Of Darkness" addressed the issue of how the slave
trade affected those who were left behind.
society that lives under a real and constant threat of
enslavement consists of potential slaves; and a society
of potential slaves will experience a psychological
development peculiar to the environment. The culture of
the besieged society will acquire certain
characteristics and tendencies in order to fight, adapt
to or in some way survive the catastrophe. When a
society is so placed and must bend all its strengths to
preserve its collective life and cannot grow beyond
shrill survival, then its culture will fold into itself;
it becomes a grim and conservative society, its people
huddle together, furtive and afraid, in a state of shock
and suffering traumata, a wounding.
spoke about the phobias resulting from this trauma. He
talked about moral breakdown. Moral stories that were
told to children. In these stories the thief doesn't get
caught nor punished.
suggests that the point of the story was to teach
children not to trust people. Why? Because, during the
period of the slave trade, the people you trust just
might be the ones to sell you into slavery.
the responses took exception. They offered no disproving
evidence. They didn't even offer alternate theories.
They just didn't want to accept that slavery had
affected those left behind to that extent.
Ghanaians are very, very proud of their traditions. But
suppose a lot of what was created, was created in
reaction and relation to the slave trade? Suppose
significant aspects of one's proud culture wasn't really
self-determined traditions but rather reactions to the
slave trade? Suppose negatively reacting to the slave
trade was a major part of one's cultural tradition?.
talked about scarification. A concept almost indelibly
identified with traditional Africa. Kwadwo searched for
the beginning of scarification. He found periods where
there was no
scarification. He found slave documents suggesting
that slave traders avoided slaves with unsightly scars.
He talked about "a little gem of a short story by the
Senegalese writer and filmmaker,
Sembene Ousmane," called "Tribal Scars or the
Voltaique" in which a father brutally scars his little
girl's face and body to protect her from slavery. He
talks about the absence of scarification in the New
World. He talked about how scarification was a survival
the question and answer period, I shared information I
had read in
The Bush Rebels, A Personal Account Of Black Revolt In
Africa by Barbara Cornwall, a freelance,
American journalist who walked through the bush with
Frelimo in Mozambique and PAIGC in Portuguese Guinea.
Fortunately we were met
by a Land Rover along the route and were
soon rolling to a halt at the edge of a
clearing where long columns of barefooted
Mozambican civilians had set down their
loads for barter. They were
Makondes from a tribe in
Cabo Delgado, a purportedly fierce
people who at puberty carve geometrical
designs across their faces and then rub
charcoal into the fresh wounds. The scarring
is done during a ceremony for both boys and
girls and the final result on their dark
skins is quite impressive. More startling at
first encounter are two additional
operations, both optional, during which a
metal peg is driven into the initiate's
upper lip and secured on each side by an
iron disc, then the teeth are filed to
points. The entire practice of maiming is a
custom dating from the slave trade era when
the Makondes hoped, often justifiably, that
slavers would pass them over because of
their grisly appearance. Their market price
would not have covered the cost of their
transport because few buyers would bid on a
fanged slave when more presentable ones were
available. (p. 20)
Kwadwo Opoku Agyemang stated that when it came to
analyzing the beginnings and origins of some social
practices, many, many Africans have an amnesia
surrounding the slave trade. They simply say "that's the
way things were always done."
Kwadwo Opoku Agyemang made me understand that
"always" is only five hundred years long. Always is
really not that long.
always is a Eurocentric concept used to justify their
dominance. Nothing that is material or social is
eternal. Everything must change. That law of life is our
greatest hope. Always don't last forever.
N: Under Siege Too
December 1994, the day Nia and I left for Ghana, New
Orleans, the murder capital of the United States had
reached 393 murders for the year. By the time we get
back on 20 December 1994, the murder rate will surely be
over 400. The overwhelming majority of these murders are
"Black on Black."
first the major barter item was the gun. Guns came to
Africa from Europe. Once in the hands of African
mercenaries, then the slave trade began in earnest.
Those who were without guns were preyed upon by those
who had them.
guns were everywhere, even though everyone did not have
a gun, and there was a complete breakdown of social
order in the face of constant marauding, constant
murdering and constant enslaving. The proliferation of
guns historically has resulted in social chaos.
make you feel funny, feel like you different, almost
invincible. Don't have to take nothing off nobody. Can
do whatever you want.
Gun culture is
aggression and instantaneous obliteration of whomever
moment of anger, if you got a gun, you pull the trigger.
Had it been a fist fight it would have been different.
You may even have knocked the man down, kicked him once
or twice, but rarely actually beat him to death with
your hands. But with a gun, umh. Let that fellow look at
you wrong, and, boy, he dead for sure. You fire him up.
stuff happens so fast, so fast.
culture is swift death even before you have time to
think about what you are doing. Put a gun in the hands
of a man who feels less of a man than "the man" and the
armed creature stiffens like an aroused prick.
the soldiers with guns in Ghana. You don't see them
often. Around the President, at some official function
when there are big people to protect. But wherever you
see them, the hard stance is the same. Gun eyes look at
you. Daring you to do something untoward, not to mention
flat out wrong.
Man with gun always
speaks in bullets.
Gun culture. The gun.
You walk around with a perpetual hard-on, always ready
to fuck someone.
O: The Forts and Castles of
the absence of any physical landmarks of
this historical journey into chaos, other
communities of African people may seek
refuge in collective amnesia as a natural
defence against the unbearable trauma of the
savageries of the slave trade. But for the
people of Ghana, there can be no escape from
a historical reality as palpable as the
slave castle. Ultimately, Ghana's Pan
African consciousness reaches far into a
fractured, deeply wounded collective
unconscious that insists on being uncovered
so that it may be healed back to wholeness.
The slave forts and castles are the most
immediate though confusing gateway into the
collective unconscious. To contemplate and,
above all, to penetrate the puzzling, even
frightening mystery of these monuments of
enslavement is to come to terms with our
history of fragmentation, the basis of Pan
African consciousness and struggle.
—Excerpt from Slave
Castle, African Historical Mindscape &
Literary Imagination by
Kofi Anyidoho, University of Ghana.
Built by the Portuguese, is the first of the slave
castles. I ask questions. The more I try to find out,
the less I learn. There is broad confusion as to how
many castles there are in Ghana. In West Africa.
Castles. These military forts which served as
administrative centers for colonial government and the
administration of the gold and slave trade, including
the temporary housing of items of trade: guns, beads,
alcohol, cloth from Europe and, sine qua non, gold and
human flesh from Africa's interior.
In Elmina I find
one small book,
Forts and Castles of Ghana by Albert
van Dantzig, and one small pamphlet, The
Castles Of Elmina by Tony Hyland of the
Department of Architecture, University of
Science & Technology, Kumasi.
In her prescient manner,
Nia somehow strikes up a conversation with
Albert van Dantzig who just happens to be
passing through at that time. I am upstairs
in the little gift shop, feeling prideful
because I have purchased these two writings
and a few other books about Ghana. When I
descend the steps clutching my catch, Nia
introduces me to Mr. Dantzig. He is seventy
some years old, from Holland, now living in
Ghana. We talk briefly. He autographs his
book for us.
Danzig's book focuses on a chronological
summary of the construction and
administration of the 50 forts and castles
suggests "To our knowledge the following list of
castles, forts and lodges—from west to east—could be
regarded as complete." Complete? Can there ever be a
complete history of the slave trade and all of the
institutions it engendered? For me Dantzig's book is a
beginning, a point of departure, an indication, a
partial map, the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Tradeposts, fortified or
not, have been built in various parts of the
world, but nowhere in such great numbers
along such a relatively short stretch of
coast. At various places, such as
Sekondi, forts were actually built
within gun-range of each other. Within three
centuries more than sixty castles, forts and
lodges were built along a stretch of coast
less than 300 miles (500 km) long. Many of
these buildings are still in existence at
the present, and if some of them could be
regarded as important individual monuments,
the whole chain of buildings, whether
intact, ruined or merely known as sites,
could be seen as a collective historical
monument unique in the world: the ancient
'shopping street' of West Africa. The
'shops' varied greatly in size and
importance. If some could be compared with
department stores, others were hardly more
than village stores. (p. vii)
The essential purpose of
all these buildings was to serve as
store-houses for goods brought from Europe
and bought on the Coast, and as living
quarters for a permanent commercial and
military staff. If the earliest of these
buildings were mainly fortified on the
land-side against enemies expected from that
side, soon the real danger appeared to come
rather from the side of the sea, in the form
of European competitors. During the
sixteenth century a growing number of French
and English ships came to trade in what was
supposed to be a Portuguese monopoly area.
An even more serious threat to Portuguese
supremacy on the Coast came from the Dutch,
who had arrived in large numbers on the
coast by the end of that century . . .(p.
It should be pointed out
that the Europeans did not have any
territorial jurisdiction beyond the walls of
their forts; the very land on which they
were built was only rented. Each European
nation tried to reserve exclusive trading
rights for itself with the local rulers. It
is therefore not surprising that political
disintegration set in all along the coast,
and consequently the tradeposts had to be
armed not only to drive competitors away,
but also to protect the traders inside the
forts or the people on whose territory they
were built against attacks by neighboring
It was also for
geographical reasons that all this European
commercial activity concentrated in this
relatively small area: first of all there is
the obvious fact that Ghana is the only area
where there are substantial gold deposits
comparatively near to the coast. But Ghana's
coast is also suitable for building forts
because it is rocky, thus providing building
material and strong natural foundations, and
access from the interior to the sea is not,
as in neighboring areas, interrupted by
lagoons and mangrove swamps . . . (p.
The 96 page
book has only eight indexed references to slavery, and
most of those are cursory.
Since 1876, down
through the current administration,
Christiansborg Castle has served as the seat of
Some castles are used
administrative offices, post offices and the like.
Others are museums and
Some are in total
Some are merely
decaying archeological sites.
Elmina has been recently painted and remodeled.
Ironically painted bright white. Whitewashed. Inside
there is a photo exhibit with a narrative. The exhibit
was created by the French. Plaques have been placed.
Some original plaques have been preserved. A few new
ones have been added. There is a sign listing the
kinds of subterranean rumblings bash the stones of
Elmina. Something, I can never get the straight of
the story to say exactly what the "thing" was, but
something about slavery was put up and then taken down.
Taken down allegedly because the Ghanaians didn't want
to offend whites.
Didn't want to offend.
living in Ghana are rightfully incensed by the
Elmina there is a beach party.
Butts shaking on sacred
Dr. Robert Lee who went to Ghana during Nkrumah's
days. Whose son and wife died in Ghana. Dr. Lee who has
spent over thirty years of his life in Ghana. Who
operated a clinic for the poor of Ghana. Dr. Lee's
pocket was picked during the solemn commemorative
program at the castle.
brass band played. People danced. The procession was not
was no written program. There were no informative
speeches. No story telling. No rituals of remembrance.
Frankly, this whole recognition effort is just now
seriously getting underway and Ghana is not quite sure
how to do it.
told: If anything substantial is to happen with respect
to the castles you people will have to make it happen.
It will not be given to you. You will have to take it.
They took the old door
down. They painted everything pretty and new.
When will the truth be
the stones of the castle our ancestral spirits are
entombed. They silently await excavation. Await our
seed is planted. I want to return to Ghana and do a
collaborative work with a Ghana scholar. I want to focus
on the impact of the slave trade on Africans, both
continental and Diaspora. Towards the end of our trip,
as the idea becomes clearer, I approach
Kwadwo Agyemang. He eagerly accepts.
on. There is no concise, point of origin history of the
slave trade, not to mention no afrocentric assessment of
the impact of slavery. Let's look at the real history,
who played what role. Let's investigate and meditate,
confront and come to grips with the positives and
negatives of our history.
significant as the castles are and as many of them as
there are in Ghana, there is a paucity of documentation.
This lack is a clear manifestation of Ghana's historic
amnesia. But also a clear manifestation of Diaspora
ignorance. Yet what goes around, comes around.
We were cast out. We
shall return. Like a stone flung at the sun. Like a
boomerang. Like a child separated from its mother.
history of people is movement. I can sense in the
Diaspora a slow turning. A serious seeking for
alternative. In conversations throughout our stay in
Ghana invariably the thoughts we expressed amongst
ourselves pivoted on the notion of moving. Africa, in
general, and Ghana, in particular, is a magnet.
here, but certainly relevance. The communal implosion
and resultant disintegration of social life in the
United States will invariably fling individuals away
from that center toward the peripheries where other
practical reasons: life and development. For historical
reasons: birth and essence. For cultural reasons:
temperament and lifestyle. For the love of self and
in all its contradictions, in all its weaknesses,
revulsions, convulsions, repulsions, internal chaos and
material un(der)development. Africa, remains a pulsing
heart attracting her blood, her brood, back to herself.
us will not voluntarily go—but more of us will return
than have ever thought about it since the fifties. A
significant number, providing leadership by example,
will begin the pilgrimage back into ourselves. Of that
number, some will remain and others won't, but life will
go on. America will continue downward and Africa will
keep struggling upward. This is not theory but the
inexorable march of the life force.
maturity there is decline and death. Before maturity
there is the opportunity for growth and development. Who
is in a period of "decline after maturity" and who is
struggling to develop? The distinction is plain.
Especially when we look at the African world
collectively, who we are, where we are, and what we have
to live for.
forts are brute manifestations of penetration. Male
movement into fecund earth. Testimony to the mauling of
Africa by marauders and by co-conspiratorial African
merchants and mercenaries.
a fort, I feel my foreignness, my estrangement from this
birth earth, but also I feel my essence, my connections.
Both rupture and rapprochement, as well as reentry and
individual, I was born in a nation of immigrants,
movement is my history—and yet everyday, folk in America
give you 57 arguments, 997 facts as to why going back to
Africa is unrealistic. Just five hundred years ago the
American migration started in earnest and now these
conquering nomads argue that migration is an exercise in
futility. The majority of Whites are less than five
generations on American soil. Most came not speaking
English and with only as much possessions as they could
carry. When nomads consul that it is foolish to migrate,
who should listen?
these forts here if moving here is so undesirable?
is more than gold in them there hills of Ghana.
itinerant preachers and blues bards used to forcefully
sing: "You got to move / When God get ready / You got to
it be that those castles, the last we saw of Africa,
those prisons where we were held, could it be, that
those symbols of slavery will become beacons,
lighthouses, guiding us back into ourselves?
Moreover, we are each
may need the Diaspora more than the Diaspora needs
Africa because Africa can never be whole until the
Diaspora is embraced.
purely a material level, our skills and resources are
needed. On a social level, because we are without
specific ethnic interest, we may be the only Africans
capable of helping Africa transcend the limitations of
tribalism. On a psychological level, we may be the
lever to force Africa to turn over the rocks of
colonialism and examine what has been hidden beneath. We
may be the epiphany that sparks the memory, that
shatters the amnesia, that cleanses the wound of
slavery, that immense maiming that arrested the
continent and continues to unbraid every developmental
effort that does not confront this awfulness.
Diaspora returns, the returning will force the host
to deal with a historic reality which, for so long, too
long, has been ignored. Perhaps it's a larger plan than
individuals in the Diaspora returning home "to drink
water from an ancient well" in hopes of quenching a
thirst for completion that no other liquid can satisfy.
Suppose that's only the romance.
the real deal is that Africa can not rise without us.
Suppose Africa needs us far more than any of us have yet
admitted. Far more than any of us have ever imagined or
we are the seed that must be planted in fertile soil,
the only stone upon which the future can be built. I do
not mean this as self flattery but rather as a
reflecting on a most terrible reality: what continent
can stand the removal of millions and millions and
millions of its strongest and still develop?
ironic manner befitting the convolutions of what it
means to be African, the Diaspora is the Africa that the
continent is struggling to become. The Africa concerned
with the whole of itself rather than self-defeatingly
focused on specific and antagonist ethnicities and
know. Fathoming this is more than my brain can contain.
All I know is that I want to know more. I want to return
and learn what I left, I want to return and understand
the origin of what I brought over with me. I want to
return. I am seeking myself.
Rummaging through the history of a fort. Sitting next to
a centuries old cannon. Standing in an empty storeroom,
perhaps in the very spot a not too distance ancestor
Everything I know
is nothing compared to the immensity of what this fort
teaches me I do not know. And the fort also teaches me
an even more brutal reckoning: as ignorant as I am, I
still know more about what happened then do the majority
of Africans on the continent. As ignorant as I am, I am
more aware of my
Africanness precisely because I have no African
nationality, no African ethnicity. I have no one tribe
or nation. I have all of them, and in having all I
transcend each one.
Both my consciousness and my
ignorance are deep. Deep knowing. Deep ignorance. But
that's no news; I'm African.
P: Stone Songs
the silent stone so
full of voices, the spirit
sound your insides feel
i am tempted to
go to the wall and tongue lick
stone in search of words
i want to piss on
dungeon floor, spit on dungeon
door, eye break stone down
stone stand, stand stone, stone
cold dead at the auction stand
stone cold dead still
The castles were the
seat of colonial government.
The Ghanaians never had
nor needed a word for jail or prison.
The castles were where
the prisons were.
The Akan word for
fortification is Aban.
Along the coast where
the castles were, the
coined a word for both the colonial government and for
Literally, "inside the
Prison: the government
We have a hell of a lot
of castles in America.
R: Family Values
There is something
about this man thing.
was a man. Tarzan left his woman behind. Eventually they
Jane, but Tarzan still dug
Jane didn't have any children. Then they sent boy.
One child. Tarzan. Jane. Cheeta. And boy. Never a girl.
The classic European nuclear family.
Most Ghanaian men don't
look or act anything like Tarzan. I'm closer to . . .
Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.
I'm in charge.
worked in my office literally until the last minute and
there was almost no time left to return to the
apartment, grab my unpacked bags, throw some clothes in
(I'm sure I left something), stop to pick up my son who
is caring for my car, and drive like crazy to get to the
airport on time. Nia had already called me to let me
know that I was late. This is her first trip to Africa.
This is my first trip to Ghana. We make the Delta
flight. With maybe two minutes to spare. No, I'm
exaggerating. It was something like five minutes to
plane stops in Atlanta.
Stephanie Hughley is going. Steve Browser meets her
there. He has recently returned from Ghana and gives her
some pictures to take back to share with folk. Gives us
both some good advice. I start feeling really, really
good about this trip.
Airlines is in the same terminal we arrive in on Delta.
Everything goes smoothly. I've been up all night, so I
slept from New Orleans to Atlanta. Slept from Atlanta to
New York. And plan to sleep on the way over from New
York to Accra.
then this Ghanaian brother gets on. He has on a big
black coat. A big black hat. He's got all kinds of bags
hanging off him. A little girl in tow. As he settles in,
I see that one of the "bags" is actually a baby cradled
against his stomach. The baby is two months old. Her
older sister is 18 months old.
man carefully unstraps. Unpacks with precision. And for
the next nine hours takes such loving care of those kids
that everybody complements him. He wasn't the only one
with kids on the plane. He wasn't even the only man
accompanying kids. But he was so beautiful to watch.
he loves his kids. He must. And they must love him. He
fed them. Changed them. Rocked them to sleep. They were
when I first saw him coming down the aisle I almost
passed him off as a hip cat dressed all in black with a
felt hat cocked to a bad lean. After we got off in
there was no doubt in my mind. This was a hip cat. A
Ghanaian man. And his lean was straight and tall.
the pear we must taste the pear. Knowledge is not the
result of simply and solely thinking but rather the
result of sensing and reflecting on our experiences.
Regardless of whether the tasting is a result of our own
direct experience or a vicarious tasting as a result of
the experiences of others, some mouth has to taste the
pear in order to fully know pearness, in order to fully
conceive of the pear as a pear.
is a world of difference between thinking of (or
imagining) how a pear tastes and knowing how a pear
tastes. Obviously, it is both necessary and important to
think, but thinking alone is insufficient. Moreover, if
we start off any social investigation simply with
thoughts then we have misled ourselves.
should start with "what is" (i.e., our social realities)
and think of ways to either maintain or change reality.
Maintain reality when it befits us and change reality
when it is necessary. So while we argue that the battle
is for the hearts and minds of our people, we also
understand that ultimately that battle is a battle to
influence the behavior of our people and to understand
and celebrate the historic and hereditary aspects of our
culture and ourselves, historic and hereditary aspects
which are beyond our control to fundamentally change.
fact that many of us (including some of our most notable
celebrities) have spent big bucks, long hours and
suffered painful operations in order to physically
change our appearance (e.g., the shapes of our nose and
lips, the color of our skin, the texture of our hair)
does nothing to alter the basic fact we are of a
specific ethnic heritage. Genetically, we are still what
we are, and, if we have children, they will not inherit
our surgically changed features, but rather will inherit
the features dictated by our ethnic DNA. The basic fact
is that individual thoughts and actions, no matter how
bizarre or deviant from the norm, do nothing to change
our essential make-up. Our ethnic identity remains
intact, regardless of how we alter our physical image.
The same applies to our history.
order to influence how people think, we must first
"recognize" and analyze our realities. Ignorance of our
social, historical and ethnic realities is the biggest
obstacle to our individual and collective development.
After surveying the field, then and only then are we
able to move forward with some degree of certainty in
terms of influencing both "how" and "what" people think.
surest way to change one's mind is to engage in
behaviors which indicate and reinforce the contemplated
change. In fact, we have not actually changed our minds
until we change our behavior, otherwise we have merely
only "thought about" changing our minds. This is why the
slave master is more concerned with controlling behavior
than with controlling thinking.
many of us it is popular to quote and misapply
Carter G. Woodson's observation about educating a
man to go to the back door and that once so educated,
the man will always seek the back door, and if he does
not find a back door, he will work to create a back
door. This backdoor observation is used to illustrate
the power of brainwashing the mind, but the truth is not
to be found in the power of the mind, but rather the
power of miseducation.
realize that miseducation is not simply a thought in the
master's mind put into the oppressed person's mind by
osmosis, but rather is transferred through the process
of dominant culture education which is itself a real
practice designed to institutionalize specific behavior.
The critical aspect of the backdoor theory is not what
the backdoor man "thinks" but rather the "process of
teaching" him to think the way he does, "and the social
reinforcements" which make sure that he continues to
think in backdoor ways.
the above is to deny the power of the mind, the power of
positive thinking (to use a well-worn catch phrase).
However, the real question is what does it take to reach
the hearts and minds of our people? How do we change
people's mind? How do we change our own minds?
Obviously, we must educate ourselves and reinforce the
education. Education is process, a learned behavior.
Moreover, from a philosophical standpoint, all thought
should start with an assessment or appreciation of
reality, then move to a critique of reality, then an
application of the critique, and then an assessment of
the success, or failure, of the application. This is not
a linear process in the sense that everything happens
sequentially, one, two and then three. Rather it is a
dialectical process in the sense that starting with what
is, we think about reality, move to change reality
and/or change our behavior in response to reality, and
then reevaluate reality in light of our "new thoughts"
which thoughts are actually our new behavior and our new
reality. So forth and so on.
Ghanaian brother caring for his children is engaged in
true revolutionary education. His thoughts about what it
means to be a man, about the relationship of fathers to
children, about the division of labor along gender
lines, about nurturing as a male activity, all of that
is profoundly affected by his behavior of actually
caring for his kids on the plane from New York to Accra.
of us who saw him were also affected. It may have caused
some of us to reexamine our ideas, or seeing him may
have reinforced some ideas we had. In any case, for him,
for his children, for all of us who witnessed him, and
for the future of the Pan Africa world, his social
behavior was the critical intervention altering reality.
level I don't know what brotherman thought about what he
was doing. On another level, I know that his thoughts
were profoundly human, profoundly caring, and ultimately
inspiring. In fact, his thoughts were revolutionary, not
because of what he thinks, but rather because of what he
does and how his doing informs and reorders the social
world. We need revolution in terms of social change, not
simply philosophical conjecture about what was, is and
could be. We need more brothers like brotherman, a baby
strapped to his stomach, showering his daughters with
nurturing attention that inculcates into them in
particular, and all others who observe him, a new and
revolutionary concept of African manhood.
Did you ever see
feed boy, change boy's diaper, rock boy to sleep? Well?
* * * *
Ghana became African's first country to gain
freedom in 1957 and has since grown tremendously both politically and
economically. Kwame Nkrumah is known as the country's founding father
and we meet his daughter Samia Nkrumah in our next story -- who is
determined to follow in her fathers footsteps.
If This Country Burns, We Burn
With It—Kuweni Serious
There is a difference between the
one who rents a house, and the one who owns a house. The
one who rents a house doesn't care if the walls crack
and crumble, they can always move to another house. The
one who owns a house knows that no one else will take
care of it, thus they paint the walls and mend the
cracks. More than 60% of Kenya's population consists of
young men and women like us. The problem is that we
behave like tenants of Kenya. We have let the older
generation tear this country apart. We have let them use
us to fight their battles. We have let them loot this
country. We have let them fool us into thinking that
we're not fit to run this country ourselves. So we hide
in our alcohol, in our religions and on the Internet as
if there is some other Kenya out there that we shall
move to when this one crumbles. We sit at home and wait
for others to fight for us on the streets. We want green
cards instead of voter's cards. We are angry, but we are
too scared to do anything about it. It is not Obama's
job to save this country. It is not the donors' job, and
the government has shown that it is not their job,
either. Responsibility is not shared, it is earned.
Freedom is not given, it is taken. When we decide we
want freedom, we will have to get it ourselves. Because
if this country burns, we burn with it.
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By Bob Marley
love, One heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Hear the children crying (One Love)
Hear the children crying (One Heart)
Sayin' give thanks and praise to the Lord
and I will feel all right
Sayin' let's get together and feel all right
Let them all pass all their dirty remarks
There is one question I'd really love to ask
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his
One Love, One Heart
Let's get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One Love)
So shall it be in the end (One Heart)
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I
will feel all right
One more thing
Let's get together to fight this Holy
Armageddon (One Love)
So when the Man comes there will be no no
doom (One Song)
Have pity on those whose chances grove
There ain't no hiding place from the Father
Sayin' One Love, One Heart
Let's get together and feel all right
I'm pleading to mankind (One Love)
Oh Lord (One Heart)
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I
will feel all right
Let's get together and feel all right
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you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry
about his actions. You don't have to tell him not to
stand here or go yonder. He will find his "proper place"
and will stay in it.—Carter
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Ghana Music Video /
The Curse of Gold—Ghana /
Rice Farming in Afife, Ghana
Busy Internet Ghana /
Africa Open for Business—Ghana
African Slave Castle /
West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A
History to 1850
African Slave Trade: Precolonial History,
By Basil Davidson
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Dentist Dr. Robert
Community in Ghana
In the mid-1950s, Dr. Robert
Lee, a dentist from South Carolina, moved to Ghana to escape
racism in the south. Over the next half century, Lee became
a fixture in the African-American community in the West
African country. Dr. Lee died on Monday, July 5th at the age
of 90. But few here in his home state, or in the States at
all, knew of his work. But in Ghana, he made a name for
himself. Dr. Robert Lee, trained as a dentist, moved to
Accra in the mid-1950s. Over the past half century, Lee
became a fixture in the black American ex-patriot community
Host Michel Martin talks to NPR West African correspondent
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about his life and legacy.
Dr. Robert Lee NPR Interview
African-American Community In Ghana
Dr Robert Lee passes on
Dr. Robert Lee (right)
in 2009 with Kwame Zulu Shabazz
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Cape Coast Castle. A Collection of Poems By Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang
Cape Coast Castle is one of
three slave castles on the coast of Ghana. The poet believes
that a place so savaged became a victim of society, and a
new orientation can only come about by breaking the ancient
silence. Naming the trauma involves him in exploring the
condition of the African world. Weaving an intricate network
of powerful images, his verse is both forceful and lyrical.
A teacher of literature at the University of Cape Coast, the
poet is acknowledged as a strong voice among the new
generation of African poets.
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music website >
writing website >
daily blog >
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The Slave Ship (Marcus Rediker) /John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk
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Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
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Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice." Hopes and
Prospects is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of
American empire and class domination, at
home and abroad, Chomsky continues a
longstanding and crucial work of
elucidation and activism . . .the
writing remains unswervingly rational
and principled throughout, and lends
bracing impetus to the real alternatives
* * * * *
Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam
By Fred A. Wilcox and Introduction by Noam Chomsky
Scorched Earth is the first book to chronicle the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese people and their environment, where, even today, more than 3 million people—including 500,000 children—are sick and dying from birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses that can be directly traced to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure. Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Vietnam War scholar Fred A. Wilcox examines long-term consequences for future generations, laying bare the ongoing monumental tragedy in Vietnam, and calls for the United States government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Wilcox also warns readers that unless we stop poisoning our air, food, and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen, and he urgently demands the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to compensate the victims of their greed and to stop using the Earth’s rivers, lakes, and oceans as toxic waste dumps. Vietnam has chosen August 10—the day that the US began spraying Agent Orange on Vietnam—as Agent Orange Day, to commemorate all its citizens who were affected by the deadly chemical. Scorched Earth will be released upon the third anniversary of this day, in honor of all those whose families have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this tragedy. Noam Chomsky & Fred Wilcox Book-TV
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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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
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
posted 8 August 2010