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
A-B-C-D: PANAFEST 1994
By Kalamu ya Salaam
A: Why Did I Say That?
I have come to kill you."
He laughs at my
"Why do you laugh? I am
serious. My arrival means your demise. Your death."
He chuckles, "Old
"Oh don't take yourself
Pause. My eyes flare
Ghanaian red as if cosmetically colored with the extract
of a traditional root.
Tarzan waves a manicured hand. Did you notice how
hands are never dirty? "OK. 'Sir!' Shall I call you sir?
I don't mean anything honorable by it. You know my
contempt. I know my contempt. But I shall lie to you and
call you 'sir' if that makes you feel better."
I face him down. "Your
He beats his chest.
A lion roars. The
elephants arrive. A blonde scurries in and adjusts his
"Do you think my right
or my left side is better?"
We pause as
poses, standing still until the director shouts "cut."
off the set,
takes me by the arm, "Come, let me show you something."
We walk for a few days
along the coast past twenty-eight castles. I keep him in
front of me.
"Well? You know, we
couldn't have done all of this alone."
I am not going to
debate my history with him. "Are you ready to die?"
"Oh, that again."
I've come to kill you."
"You can't kill me."
can't kill me because I am you and you are me. You are
don't you get it? Of course you don't. You think you're
free. You think you're African."
I advance. Which weapon
should I use. Maybe my bare hands. Yes.
the only Africa you grew up knowing. Novels. Comic
Books. Movies. Television. You can't kill how you grew
up. Remember swinging on a rope and yelling like me?"
He yells and beats his
"Remember the dumb spear chuckers? That was your Uncle
Robert. I gave you two choices: you could be me or you
could be them. You could be oog-la-boog-la or you could
"Let's have a drink.
Brandy would be nice, don't you think?"
"How long did it take
you to realize that you had no choices?"
I don't know why I
couldn't answer him. Why I didn't just kill him right
know I've learned all of your languages and you've
forgotten all of your languages. Dreadful, isn't it? All
you have is my tongue."
Tarzan takes his tongue
out of his mouth and sits it on the table.
pick it up old man. Come, come now. Really it won't bite
you. Teeth bite. Tongues don't. Oh, you know sticks and
stones, and all that rot. Oh don't be a twit, go on try
it. Give it a go."
He nods at me. The
tongue is wagging on the table.
"Pick me up. Pick me
up. Pick me up."
Tarzan smiles. Nods to
me again. Looks away.
I raise my knife.
Tarzan turns calmly, looks at me, smiles, raises his
"Cheers, old chap. And
good luck. God knows, you will bloody well need it."
fades to dust. The brandy glass is empty. I am standing
with the stupid knife in my hand and you enter the room.
my voice but not my tongue. I look on the table.
Tarzan's tongue is gone. I turn to face you and break
the silence of our communication with two words.
white American ever thinks that any other race is wholly
civilized until he wears the white man's clothes, eats
the white man's food, speaks the white man's language,
and professes the white man's religion." said Booker T.
Washington in his classic book,
Up From Slavery. To which, it is both highly
accurate and unfortunately necessary to add, "no Negro
either." No Negro ever thinks he is wholly civilized
regard, those of us who think of ourselves as human
beings "just like Whites", who think of ourselves as
capable of achieving civilization, have not arrived
until we have ceased being ourselves.
we never ever fully succeed at either arriving in
civilization or leaving our selves. We are forever late,
forever leaving. Never making a clean getaway and never
able to recline in rest knowing that we have achieved
the finished line.
Negro there is no finish precisely because the Negro
wishes to be other than what the Negro is. And no one
can be that. No one can be other than what they are. No
matter how much they master impersonation, they are
still an imitation. Sometimes technically dazzling, even
self-delusionally so. Sometimes able to fool all who
witness them. But deep inside, no matter. Because at
some point, the lights go down, the audience leaves, the
stage is emptied of actors, and one is left to face the
truth. We are what we are, regardless of what we want to
be or what we pretend to be.
Besides, there are no Black Tarzans. By definition
(the epitome of the "all knowing" and mythically
powerful colonizer) is not a Negro. Not Black. Not
African. And no mastery of language, no matter how
elegant, will ever transform us into what we are not.
B: Going to Meet the Man
invited to participate in
1994 in Ghana. The official invite comes from John
Darkey, the director. I had met Mr. Darkey at an October
1993 Cultural Groundings conference in New York City
which was organized through the initiative of Marta
Vega, Executive Director of the Caribbean Cultural
Center. Marta Vega called me and asked me to stand in
for her at PANAFEST. She felt that I could represent our
efforts because I was one of the founding members of the
Global Network for Cultural Equity and a contributor to
Voices from the Battlefront, a book of essays on
multiculturalism and the fight for cultural equity. Even
though there is less than a month to prepare, I had been
hoping to go. At that point I began seriously
reorganizing my schedule and started the process of
getting immunizations. The only catch was that other
than the form invitation in the mail, I had received no
direct contact. Would I be accepted as a delegate in
place of Ms. Vega? Which of the two chartered flights?
What specific time schedule? Would I present a paper?
to go but it's difficult to get information.
Communication is almost non-existent. More often than
not we can't even get a fax through. There is a constant
busy signal on the phone lines, even two in the morning.
to the Ghana Embassy in New York invariably result in a
ten minute roundabout through a voice mail system with a
prerecorded message that tells you how much the visa
costs but neglects to supply an address. Finally, and
after numerous and expensive efforts, in the "soon come"
way endemic to underdevelopment, direct contact is made.
I receive a comforting call from Julialynne Walker. Ms.
Walker, a sister from the States, is the director for
the Ghana division of the School for International
Learning and volunteer coordinator for PANAFEST.
Julialynne Walker tells me the time and date of my
presentation, and confirms that all of the necessary
information has been received. Her assurances and
information fuel my fire—obviously this was meant to be.
The first step of a
long journey is made.
three days after I arrive in Ghana, I find out that from
the logistics and administrative standpoint, Ms. Walker
is the key person. Working with a staff of Ghanaians,
Ms. Walker is the funnel through which most of the day
to day colloquium related problems are triaged. In fact,
we first meet by what initially seems accident. I'm
sitting in the temporary secretariat office in Cape
Coast waiting to find out where our housing assignment
is and she strides through on a reconnaissance mission.
"I was just passing through to see if anyone needed any
help and spotted you." As the week wears on, I realize
that she was not "just passing through," she was making
sure that as much as possible every detail was nailed
down and that whatever had come loose was at least
Julialynne Walker has been in Ghana for awhile and is
easily the most skilled administrator that we encounter
during PANAFEST. Not the least of her skills includes
dealing with African (continental and Diaspora) male
egos which are threatened by her self-assured,
efficient, and effective leadership. Over and over
again, situation after situation makes clear that
quiet-fire Julialynne Walker is the engine moving the
train down the track.
woman is at the center of the inner workings is no
surprise, because in most of the African world, on the
continent and abroad, in a cross-gender but not
inaccurate sense, a central truth reigns: the woman is
also "the man."
C: Foreign Exchange
Felicia opens the sea blue piece of kente with symbols
woven into the fabric, Nia turns her back to the cloth.
"I don't want to see. I don't want to see it." One of
those moments so overwhelming that you turn away because
you know you cannot resist.
not a shopper. I don't buy much of anything that is not
either a book, a recording, computer software, or a
piece of equipment. I especially am not much on buying
clothes and fabric. Nevertheless, as soon as it is fully
open, I convince myself that it would be wise to splurge
and buy this gigantic piece of kente. It's big enough to
serve as a spread for a king sized bed and beautiful
enough to hang in a museum or art shop.
Marketeer Felicia Kissi is a quintessential vendor at
the Accra Art Center Market. Originally from
she makes her living selling fabric, mainly
in the bustling capital city marketplace. Before our
trip is over both Nia and I will revisit Felicia's stall
and buy other pieces from her. Tourists are the main
customers for these vendors.
market work is hard. The vendors arrive very early in
the morning, set up their stalls, hanging fabric,
articles of clothing, accessories, artifacts, and
whatnots as high as twenty feet. Items are layered one
on top the other. They sell all day and then completely
break down their stall at night. In general, families
work together and it is the women who seem to be in
walk past stall after stall, down the narrow aisles,
your eyes beguiled by the seemingly endless array of
African textiles and artifacts, choosing what to buy and
which stall to buy from is mostly happenstance and the
vicissitudes of personal preference.
course, the vendors call out to you, invite you to stand
in their small six foot square stalls, and greet you as
"brother," "sister," promising the best deal in the
market. And "deal" it is. There are no marked prices in
the market. Everything is an amiable haggle. The vendors
start high expecting that the customer will demand a
reduced price. The negotiating is part of the buying
loves the exchange. It's exasperating to me. Just tell
me the price and then I will decide if I want to pay it.
Although haggling back and forth turns me off, the blue
kente puts even me in the mood. Felicia on one side.
Nia and I on the other. We begin the bargain dance.
is no way I would ever have bought this piece of
kente in the United States even though I might have
admired it and desired it if I had seen it. First of
all, this is not a piece one would find in a bookstore
or small boutique which are generally the places from
which I buy African material. I have never bought
material from a museum or art shop. Moreover, the
Stateside price for a piece such as this blue kente
would undoubtedly be prohibitive. It's hard to believe
it's me about to spend over $100 dollars for fabric. But
here I am on a dirt field in downtown Accra, Ghana at an
open air market shopping at a level I've never before
done in my life.
bargain and end up getting two small pieces plus the
impressive, gigantic-sized piece for a total of US$200.
Back in the states, one of the small pieces alone would
cost more than we have paid for the whole lot.
Wednesday, 7 December 1994, our first day in Ghana and
we are shopping. There is nothing on the
until the formal opening on Friday in Cape Coast.
Recalling my trip to Tanzania for the 6th Pan African
Congress, I encourage Nia to shop today—which is a
little like encouraging a fish to swim. I tell her how
prices were actually cheaper when we first arrived at
6PAC than when we left. I suspect the influx of tourists
for PANAFEST will be met with a similar rise in the
prices that the market will bear. It's basic supply and
demand economics. When there are lots of people with the
money and the willingness to buy, you can charge more
than when the number of people, the amount of spending
money and the willingness to buy is less.
visit a number of stalls, including one recommended to
us by Steve Bowser, a friend of mine from Atlanta who is
chief of security at Spelman College and who was
Ghana. Our first day in Ghana, Nia and I do more
shopping together than we have done in our almost four
years together. And the vendors are waiting for us.
masks, including some "old-looking" dusty masks
which the owner invites us to view inside a small wooden
enclosure. This is their living. The vendors know that
the more "authentic" the sculpture looks, the higher the
price they can demand. I am no authority on traditional
African sculpture, so I can't even begin to identify
styles and quality of workmanship. In cases like this I
just go with my gut feelings. What I like, what I don't.
We don't buy any masks.
also shown some
Asafo Flags. One set of three seems to be authentic.
The fabric is worn. The embroidery and appliqués do not
have a "finished" or "highly crafted" look. The lines
are curvy rather than machine straight. Again, although
I am no authority, these seem to be real. They are
probably a very good buy for someone who is into art and
knows the value, but they don't really appeal to me. I
an hour or so of perusing the back end of the market
where the sculpture and handicrafts stalls are located,
we end up buying a leather grip which we get for US$24.
We use it to carry the two outfits and a few smaller
items which we had bought in the fabric section. The
grip is a source of admiration everywhere we go. When we
arrive back in the States, getting on the flight from
New York to Atlanta, a group of three women ask Nia
where she got it. They want to buy the bag, but Nia's
purchasing the bag, we return to the fabric area to
bargain for two dress dashikis, one is a magnificent
brown fabric with cowry shells. I end up paying US$80
for two shirts. The pricing started at $60 for just the
cowry shell shirt. Throughout our two weeks in Ghana, in
and out of various stalls, including making the rounds
at the trade exhibition, we don't run into anything like
the cowry shell shirt.
look at a large bed spread sized piece of red wool-like
fabric which has appliqués on it. It's starting price is
well over $100. We like it but pass. Our last stop is
back to the stall where we saw an impressive piece of
kente for $60 when we first came in.
spent hours going through the entire market. We are now
back to this beautiful piece of kente. Nia and I decide
to get it. The vendor shows us another piece which is
almost as impressive and offers us a deal if we buy
both. I am debating on whether I'm ready to spend $110
for two shawl size pieces of kente.
thinks it's a sound investment. I don't know. We have a
very limited amount of money and if we spend over $300
dollars the first day, it might prove to be a very big
mistake. I'm on the verge of changing my mind. I start
looking around. Rather than taking advantage of a great
deal, this just might be the licking of a sucker, and
it's simply my minute to be born.
looking up and down and all around. I've never ever in
my life spent this much for fabric. I really don't know
how to act. Then I spy a piece of blue way up at the
top. I can only see the color and a part of some design
in bright golden yellow. Maybe the pieces we're about to
buy aren't the best pieces. "May I see that blue piece?"
One of our main
activities in Accra was shopping! We joked that it was a
contribution to the Ghanaian economy.
foreign exchange generated from shopping for Ghanaian
produced textiles, handicrafts and artifacts is
potentially a major piece of Ghana's economic puzzle.
Many, many developing countries, who generally produce
one or two crops for export, are trying to figure out
how to use tourism to generate foreign exchange at
significant levels without suffering the moral
debilitation that usually accompanies tourism.
tourism becomes a main source of foreign exchange,
inevitably, at best, the country becomes a family
oriented amusement park. At worse—and unfortunately
worse is the norm—as tourism grows the country spirals
socially downward becoming a mixture of brothel, gaming
den, and vacation spot for moneyed people who cheaply
"buy" natives to serve up and satisfy exotic/erotic
the past two decades, the island nations of the
Caribbean have initiated numerous efforts to define and
implement cultural tourism. Ideally, cultural tourism is
benign in both its moral and material effects on the
host society. Most cultural tourism efforts have
centered around music festivals and national holiday
celebrations such as jazz festivals in
St. Lucia, or
Over" in Barbados and
"Carnival" in Trinidad.
theory, groups of people who have an interest in the
ethnicity and heritage of the islands will attend these
events as participants and not just as "idle rich
consumers." The sad truth is that cultural tourism has
been a failure.
Cuba, cultural tourism has led to a massive reappearance
of prostitution and to the commodification of
Afro-Cuban religious rituals and artifacts. For a
specific fee, a tourist can be initiated into the
religion during their ten day visit. Or, for a specific
fee, a tourist can fulfill an exotic/erotic fantasy with
a readily available young Cuban woman.
debates are raging between cultural activists and
government bureaucrats. The activists see the crass
commercializing and commodification of the culture as a
death blow. The bureaucrats on the other hand encourage,
if not demand, that every cultural activity that
receives any government support must in one way or
another pay for itself through attracting the tourist
dollar. Moreover, overt negatives such as black market
activities, prostitution, and drug trafficking are
broadly tolerated. This is a sad, but true, state of
affairs in a revolutionary, socialist country which has
been economically squeezed well past the breaking point.
To a greater or lesser degree the situation is the same
all over the Caribbean.
worse part about this development is that the foreign
exchange generated from cultural tourism is relatively
modest, if not insignificant. We people of color
wherever we are found literally sell ourselves, our
flesh, our dignity, our human spirit and in return
receive barely enough money to survive, and never enough
money to develop. Moreover, the cruelest twist of the
tourism trap is that, in an effort to build hotels,
convention centers, upgrade roads, provide "first class"
transportation and guides, install air conditioning and
insure an abundant supply of hot water, plus keep on
hand a broad array of succulent meals day and night, our
developing countries end up going deeper in debt to the
governments and corporations of the tourists to whom we
than a "good time," we produce little that the tourist
wants to buy. Most of the money that is generated from
this type of tourism is made by those who own and
operate the capital intensive areas of the tourist
economy: the international transporters, the hotels and
resorts, and the management of exclusive tourist
activities and events.
governments posses neither the resources nor the skills
required to compete with multinational corporations. The
airline companies, for example, of small countries are
severely limited in their ability to match price
discounts and services offered by the major American and
European airlines. Governments are completely out of
their league in running hotels and resorts. Usually the
results of such efforts are both wasteful of valuable
resources and hopelessly amateur by comparison to the
Hiltons, Marriotts, Meridians, and hundreds of other
hotel and resort chains which operate internationally.
Moreover, the cultural events which are produced to
attract the tourists often end up alienating our own
people. Local people are too poor to buy tickets to and
participate in the very events which were setup to
attract foreign exchange.
Additionally, the actual cash return on investments in
festivals and specially staged events has been far less
than projected. I speak from the experience of helping
to organize festival and special events in the Caribbean
and also from my background of growing up and working in
New Orleans, a city which is economically defined and
sociologically influenced by tourism.
of the Caribbean cases, we were unable to attract the
quantity of tourists needed to sustain and profit from
the events. Additionally, we ended up either importing
culture that was alien to the host country or
presenting commercialized replications of indigenous
culture for the entertainment of tourists whose tastes
are geared toward hedonism. In New Orleans we on the
ground are unable to compete with the major tourist
infrastructures. Thus, we end up filling service slots
in the cultural tourism scheme.
Moreover, despite the rhetoric to the contrary,
competing for the foreign exchange of the tourist dollar
becomes the major, if not sole, preoccupation of the
managers of cultural tourism.
PANAFEST exhibited some of the negative aspects outlined
above, especially 1.) the inability of government civil
servants to plan and manage cultural activities and 2.)
the alienation of local people from the performances and
the second, biennial PANAFEST. In 1992 it had been
mostly in Accra. The secretariat decided, I suspect
based on government suggestions, to decentralize
PANAFEST 1994. Performances were held in five or six
different cities. The colloquium was held at the
University of Cape Coast except for one day of
presentations in Kumasi. Opening and closing activities
were held in Accra with an ongoing trade fair,
exhibitions, film festival, and concerts in the capital
city. Stevie Wonder, for example, was scheduled to
perform in Accra.
idea seemed to be to spread everything around and also
to figure a way to develop the Cape Coast area where the
two main castles are located: Cape Coast and Elmina. The
actuality was that it was almost unmanageable. In Accra
many of the performances were sparsely attended because
of the pricing structure and because the people who
could have afforded the concerts and who were also most
interested in PANAFEST were in Cape Coast attending the
planning committee found itself right up to and past
opening day making "structural adjustments." The
government guaranteed money was not received until two
weeks before the event, meaning that there was very
little hard promotion outside of Ghana. For example,
even though Ghana Airlines offered a very reasonable
$1200 dollar round-trip, direct flight from New York, we
received the specific information only three weeks
before our departure date.
PANAFEST came into some fierce criticism from Ghanaians
who felt that 94 was a step backward in comparison to
the first one.
1992 the first PANAFEST was more successful in
organizing programs that encouraged and achieved major
participation by locals in PANAFEST activities. But in
the second year, most of the events were sparsely
attended by Ghanaians. Ticket pricing was one major
reason. But also the level of coordination with and
involvement of local associations and organizations was
minimized. The colloquium, for example, which was held
at the University of Cape Coast had very little
attendance from students at the University. There were
no organized outreach activities to present the wide
range of guests to the Ghanaian people through
educational, religious, social or other indigenous
regard, Ghana is neither unique nor even particularly
bad at planning and administration. It's just that most
of the people who were in charge of planning and
administration were civil servants and tended to think
in discreet, status quo, exclusive paradigms. They did
what they had been trained to do. They did only what
they knew how to do and what was acceptable to
Fortunately, the diversity of PANAFEST participants and
the rural location of Cape Coast offered a great deal of
informal interchange between visitors and villagers.
Everywhere we walked, people welcomed us, talked to us.
Perhaps in 1996,
PANAFEST will build on the positives of people to people
exchanges. Perhaps they will send us into schools and
community centers to learn from and share our
experiences with local people. Even on the level of peer
to peer networking and workshoping, there were literally
thousands of missed opportunities.
other hand, part of the reason we were able to see the
potential of these opportunities is because a large and
diverse body of us had been invited to PANAFEST. This
grouping is a critical mass which unavoidably sets off
sparks, some of which will die out, but some of which
will catch fire in the hearts and minds of one, two,
twenty or however many participants. Some of us will not
only be emotionally touched, we will also be motivated
to action as a result of our PANAFEST experience in
Regardless of the numerous snafus and programmatic
inadequacies, once in motion, PANAFEST brings literally
hundreds of Africans from the Diaspora into direct
contact with Ghana, a contact which is destined to
produce long term impact important to future development
of both the host and the visitors. Get enough of the
Diaspora there, and we'll figure out for ourselves how
to make something happen.
African reintegration of the Diaspora is an experimental
process; the results cannot be premeditated nor
quantified, or even qualified, in advance. The raw
experience of Africa, the rock of our Diaspora
experiences: our ignorances and assumptions, our
nostalgia and romanticism, our postmodern aggressiveness
and Western temperaments. The rock of all of that
hitting the hard realities of Africa will produce the
spark required to resuscitate
fired in the hearts and minds of PANAFEST participants
no one can predict. But what is clear is that the
PANAFEST experience will touch some in significant ways,
and we will leave Africa burning with a determination to
reclaim Africa within ourselves wherever we are.
Possibly, a handful of us will even physically return to
work temporarily, if not to live permanently.
main success with PANAFEST was that it invested in the
cost to get us there. Sponsoring PANAFEST was an
economic risk on the one hand, but, from another
perspective, sponsorship was also a necessary step in
Ghanaian national development, a step of healing, a step
of re-completing, reuniting, rebuilding through
embracing the diaspora. We in the diaspora have our own
problems to sort out with the actualization of Pan
Africanism and this sorting out process sometimes blinds
us to the difficulties that continental Africa has with
Pan Africanism real.
of its history and because PANAFEST seems as though it
will outlive FESTAC and similar efforts at Pan African
cultural celebration, all of PANAFEST's deficiencies
stood out in bold relief and were closely inspected by
both friend and foe. Were Ghana not sponsoring PANAFEST,
there would be nothing to criticize.
was a legitimate concern for the health and future of
PANAFEST in the criticisms of participants. Some of the
general criticism from non-participants, however, was
not intended as a critique to help improve PANAFEST, but
rather was an attack whose objective was to bury
PANAFEST. Undoubtedly there are those in Ghana who would
prefer that PANAFEST not exist at all. There are those
who think it is a wasteful and unnecessary event. Such
critics are particularly distrustful of involving large
numbers of diaspora Africans. So, while we acknowledge
the shortcomings, we must also resolutely support
Overall, PANAFEST is a good thing, and potentially could
become a major, if not "the" major Pan African event. At
the end of the colloquium there was even a criticism and
suggestion session designed to elicit both honest
assessment of the positive and negatives of the event,
as well as to encourage participants to make suggestions
for future PANAFEST activities.
Monday, December 19 – Wednesday,
December 21, 1994
|PANAFEST: An apology . . . and a
celebration of the Soul.
COMPARED TO OTHER cultural fiestas like the
Nottinghill Gate festival in London, (a
purely West Indian affair), or the Rio
Carnival in Brazil, or Mardi Grass in the
USA, our Pan-African Historical Festival,
PANAFEST, is a minor cantata of Kindergarten
But the executions of these
bigger events, which are annual
celebrations, have been remarkable in their
flawlessness. Baring the occasional run-ins
with the British Police by revelers, the
Nottinghill Gate festival in the British
capital, an explosive fusion of sounds,
culture and magic that involves thousands of
performers and groups with elaborate
paraphernalia has been exquisite
presentations by our fellow brothers and
sisters in England.
Sadly, our own cultural festival
which took two years of high-brow
preparation to put together will probably be
remembered as an epic failure.
event which the average Ghanaian, indeed the
African on the continent sought to present
as a vehicle for the breaking of bread with
the rest of the African Family may be
antithetical to the very theme we set out
Almost without exception, the
performers and the visitors, high and low,
low and high have had legitimate cause to
complain about the unparalleled paucity in
preparations, and huge personal
frustrations. They were promised the moon,
but they didn't even get past the clouds.
President went on
record to voice his own disappointment.
Unfortunately, he also did not fail to
beguile our soul brothers with some
tangential vituperations about death and grasscutters in his speech at Cape Coast. We
apologise on his behalf. He is our
President. We tolerate him. He goes off at
times, but well, he is the only
have got at the moment.
GHANAIAN CHRONICLE wishes to apologise
most sincerely for this floppy, scrappy
preparations and the anguish it has caused
For those who were deceived and
became the victims of sleight-of-tongue
officialdom, we want to say 'Yepamo kyew'.
Let us just hope that they can write it off
as the price of a pilgrimage to the
they see the visit more in terms of a
celebration of soul, the return of brothers
and sisters uprooted in decades gone past
into slavery, now returning completely
liberated and strengthened to the Original
family home. A home with all its problems,
its difficulties, its shortcomings, but the
Original Home all the same.
Again, we implore participants,
visitors, our guests, our brothers and
sisters not to characterise this Panaflop as
indicative of the much-touted African
failure story. This was a government
enterprise that had virtually zero private
sector participation. Our government is now
realising the wisdom in turning over the
'commanding heights' of our economy to
private hands. At the Head of the National
Commission of Culture which has oversight of
PANAFEST, is one Lieutenant-General whom
every Ghanaian kid knows as a monumental
failure. And we are not that surprised that
he could not arrest this failure as well.
Next time, there will not be a Mr. John
"Octopus" Darkey to personally engage in
outright silly things like personally
violently seizing video recorders as he did
last Thursday and arrogating to himself a
hundred tasks he cannot execute. He will run
away when we start our own inquisition when
you are all gone back to your 'civilisation'.
We are sorry. We will do a
better job next time, but let the spirit of
brotherhood and unity remain and continue to
glow as you begin your return journeys.
Accentuate the positive in your accounts and
testimonies to the folks back home. Tell
them there are no marauding gunmen and
colonies of drug junkies, that our school
kids do not know what guns are, let alone
take them to school as is the case in all
the inner cities in the United States. But
also tell them of the filth and stench in
our cities, our struggles, the bankruptcy of
our leadership, and the shimmering mirage of
the so-called Economic Star-Pupil of the IMF
(International Monetary Fund). Please come
back. We love you [p. 5].
FREE PRESS (Accra, Ghana)
December 16 to December 22, 1994
BEHIND THE PANAFEST JINGLE
Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, one of the
sages of our time, a Nobel laureate, who
once lamented, "While America is reaching
for the moon, Tanzania is reaching for the
village". This saying sums up the tragedy
not of Tanzania alone but most of Africa as
In his vision, Nyerere no doubt
sees the village of old where the people
only scratch the surface of the earth for
their bare existence on a few headloads of
produce; where for their music, the village
folks thwack the surface of tympanic
parchment upon dug-out stems for percussion,
and blow wind through wooden flute, and sing
and dance with frenzied abandon; the village
where for their entertainment, the young
folks gather by moonlight at the village
centre, sing, clap, and dance; where girls
of ripen age, heavily adorned with rich
beads, and baring the sexy parts of their
bodies, are paraded through the village
under the Dipo or Otofo custom; the village
where little children sit under the shade of
the compound tree to learn ABC, and the
elderly drink palm wine or pito.
Yea, Nyerere must be seeing the
village where the folks worship their chiefs
like demigods, who decide the destiny of
every soul, and whose word must be obeyed;
the chiefs who having been adorned with
riches are carried in palanquin on festive
occasions and when they die, seven heads
must carry their dead body in his grave; the
village where the farming, fishing and
hunting men and women retire to rest at
night in the thatched-roofed mud huts.
But, O, when shall we leave this
village in which we all live to where it
belongs, and set our eyes towards the moon?,
Nyerere would lament.
By setting our eyes towards the
moon, Nyerere would want Africa to look
forward not backward for development and
Nyerere's lamentation to PANAFEST and its
theme "The re-emergence of African
civilisation" the crucial question one would
ask is, is this the right time in Ghana's
political, social, and economic tragedy to
devote such enormous time and resources to
promote "The Re-emergence of African
Civilisation" on such a huge Panafestic
Is it right to spend billions of
cedis in promoting "The Emergence of African
Civilisation" while the economy is in
shambles and inflation has become the order
of the day, making life not worth living for
the people, and parents cannot pay school
Is it right to spend billions of
cedis to organise PANAFEST while the people
live in abject poverty, and while our
hospitals lack the basic materials and
equipment to look after the sick and the
people cannot pay for the cost of health
What do we benefit from the
billions wasted on PANAFEST while our young
men and women roam the streets without jobs,
some of them taking to peddling dog chains.
educational institutions—from JSS to the
Universities—have a chilling story to tell.
No classroom accommodation, no equipment, no
text-books, yet billions of cedis have been
thrown into the PANAFEST drain.
Where is the wisdom in sinking
billions of cedis in a white elephant like
PANAFEST while our police force lack
vehicles, men, and even the stationery
needed to establish and maintain law and
order in the community, and while the
defiled environment breeds diseases?
Can a country in need such as
Ghana, begging for money all over the
world, waste so much money on such a
hopeless venture as PANAFEST just to satisfy
the appetite of a tyrant for ceremony and
adulation, and his admirers from the
from all indications, PANAFEST is being
organized also to enable our brothers and
sisters from the Diaspora to see and
participate in "The Emergence of African
Civilsation", it is fitting to bring under
focus their entire relationship, their
attitude towards Africans as brothers and
sisters, and advancement of the continent.
It is, indeed, sad that African
Americans have nothing to show the world
even as a memorial to their roots, a
contribution for the development of Africa,
to make the motherland a place worth living
in not for Africans alone but for themselves
It is true that although African
Americans had lived for centuries in America
as slaves from Africa, whenever they come
around to Africa they are shocked to see the
backwardness of the motherland their
forefathers left behind centuries ago.
Indeed, they find their social conditions
far more advanced than those of the brothers
and sisters back home.
A few of them like W.E.B. Du-Bois
and Marcus Garvey, concerned with this
situation, have in the past made suggestions
for the emancipation, advancement, and
development of Africa, yet these patriots
met with strong rebuff from the majority,
led by the likes of Booker T. Washington and
So a Black Endowment Bank for
Africa Development that could have saved
Africa from World Bank imperialism in the
20th century for instance, never was.
since the second half of this century, there
have been Black Americans of substance who
could have contributed greatly towards
Africa's well-being. From Paul Robeson,
Louis Satchmo Armstrong, Bill Cosby, to
Michael Jackson; from Jesse Owens, Joe
Louis, Don King, to Mike Tyson; and many
others, including businessmen, fund raising
shows could have been and tournaments
organised to raise billions of dollars into
an African endowment fund, but all that
Interestingly, the luckiest
Ghana had been was when Farrakhan
contributed 50 dollars (yes 50 dollars!) in
1992 towards an appeal for funds at the
W.E.B. Du-Bois centre. One, therefore,
clearly sees the mischief done by
in donating as much as 50,000 dollars to
Priscilla Kruize and her Heritage Museum in
It is indeed painful to think
that Ghana gains nothing from the
camera-bearing, cap-wearing bespectacled
African Americans who are occasionally
invited to take part in festivities like
PANAFEST, many of them addicted to taking
photographs of dancers, and collecting
sculptural pieces and other art works back
Perhaps, next time round, Ghana would need
the good services of notaries like
Marva Collins, and
Johnette B. Cole, in the field of
Amiri Baraka and
Maya Angelow [sic], in the field of Arts
Carol Moseley Braun,
Maxine Waters, in politics;
Coretta Scott King,
Anita Hill, social activists;
Cardiss Collins and
Joan B. Johnson, in the business fields
and not singers, clowns, and clappers.
In any case, may we have the
pleasure to welcome our brothers and sisters
from the Diaspora who have come all the way
to join in the fray, and the raping of the
national coffers as it is believed to serve
other political ends in the name of PANAFEST.
O' what a great contribution to the cause of
the motherland [p. 6].
what PANAFEST wanted to do was encourage capital
investment in Ghana by people in the Diaspora. A number
of Ghanaian officials were focusing in this direction
rather than on raw tourism. Part of the reason is
conditions: Ghana does not have a tourism infrastructure
in place. In Cape Coast there was not one hotel which
could offer the two hundred or so rooms required to
house most of the colloquium participants and performers
in one place. The new hotel complex which was scheduled
to be completed and which would have been large enough
to accommodate the participants, unfortunately was not
recognizes they need serious development. Fortunately,
they also are proud of their own culture and social
traditions. They are not looking for "fast food"
newly opened theatre/cultural center in
Coast, there was a Taco Bell restaurant. It was
toward the rear of the building. I sought it out because
I wanted to see how Ghana was handling multinational
corporate participation in the national developmental
process. There was nothing Taco Bell about the
restaurant. There was no quick anything. The food was
Ghanaian for the most part. There was not one "Tex-Mex"
item on the menu. No Taco Bell napkins, imprinted paper
products, or the like. In fact, if a small sign on the
door didn't say Taco Bell, there would have been
absolutely no way to know that this was a Taco Bell. And
then, maybe it wasn't a Taco Bell. Maybe somebody just
decided to call the place Taco Bell.
Accra and the
Coast area there are few Western fast food
restaurants. I don't personally remember seeing any,
although I'm sure some do exist. In fact, I saw more
computer billboards and businesses than burger or
chicken advertisements and businesses. Coca-cola, of
course, is there but Ghana has an indigenous product
which favorably competes. "Citro" is a lemon/lime
beverage which I liked better than either "Sprite" or
case, rather than rely solely on a large influx of
multinational franchises, Ghana is hoping to attract
capital investment from the
African Diaspora. Ghana has all kinds of
developmental opportunities for those with modest (by
Diaspora standards) amounts of capital who are willing
to work at long term development. Opportunities abound
in a numerous areas, from agriculture to retailing,
medicine to tourism, transportation to compact disc
manufacturing. Ghana has both the need and the desire to
involve Diaspora Africans.
brings us back to shopping. Nia and I bought quite a few
items in Ghana which were far more substantial than
tourist trinkets and souvenirs. Ghanaian textiles,
particularly the kente cloth, has significant retailing
potential. Unlike other examples of "African print
material," kente is actually manufactured in Ghana
rather than merely designed by and for Africans but
manufactured somewhere in Europe or Asia. Moreover,
Africans in the Diaspora are predisposed to wearing the
material as both a fashion statement and an expression
of ethnic pride. Finally, kente is part of the
traditional Ghanaian culture. Although tourist oriented
kente (with Greek fraternity/sorority slogans, Christian
quotes, and the like) abound in the marketplace, kente
was not originally created to sell to tourists.
potential of cultural tourism will never bear fruit as
long as the emphasis is on "selling" entertainment to
tourists. Selling entertainment invariably leads to
decadence and hedonism. Ideally, like some of the
emerging industrialized Asian nations, we would also
like for African countries to be in the business of
exporting technical equipment, such as computers. But,
at the moment, that's an unrealistic dream. What is
within our grasp is the encouragement of capital
linkages between continental and Diaspora Africans.
number of reasons, ranging from the negatives of our
deteriorating social conditions where we live to the
positives of ethnic pride in our motherland, Africans in
the Diaspora will increase our interaction with the
continent. Moreover, when we go to Africa, we will also
want to bring Africa back with us. As more and more of
us go, that pool of those who have returned and immersed
ourselves into Africa's reality will produce individuals
and opportunities which will result in serious capital
travel around the United States, whether traveling by
car via interstate, or especially when flying through
various airports, two characteristics strike me: one,
the enormous size and level of development of the United
States, and, two, the fact that America is in no way
willing, prepared or even minimally inclined to share
the resources and material development built up in the
a small town like
Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, which doesn't
even register as a major city by U.S. standards. In
terms of physical infrastructure, Baton Rouge is light
years ahead of
the capital of Ghana. There are literally thousands of
American cities the size of Baton Rouge with fully
functioning airports, higher educational institutions,
health and sanitation, communications and other
industrial infrastructure. Although this density of
development would be extraordinary in any other country
in the world, most of we African Americans are
blissfully unaware of the immensity and import of
America's industrial infrastructure.
many, many ways, because all we really know about
industrialism is consumerism, African Americans are
unaware of what industrial development entails. We don't
think about heavy machinery manufacturing,
transportation concerns, sanitation, general utilities,
medical services, and on and on. I remember reading one
of the Sandinista writers who talked about the
bewildering process of administering newly liberated
mettle of any revolution is most severely tested not in
the armed struggle phase, but rather in the
reconstruction phase. This is where Africa needs the
most help, and this is precisely where the bulk of we
African Americans are deficient simply because we have
not been in management and skilled labor but rather
traditionally we have been relegated to being the brawn
and brute strength of the American economy.
level of material standard of living, we are, of course,
very aware of being "better off" than most people in the
world, and especially "better off" than Africa. Yet our
"better off-ness" is both relative and solely material
rather than absolute and social. As citizens of the
U.S.A. we have some (depending on our particular
financial wherewithal) access to the "good life" and
some enjoyment of the material trappings of a modern
industrial society manifested as a so-called high
standard of living. Yet our relationships to the wealth
and means of production, the infrastructure that makes
all this possible, is tenuous at best. Whatever access
we have is generally one of proximity or of being a
"servant of the system" (whether as Joint Chief of Staff
or Supreme Court Justice does nothing to change the
ultimate reality that our participation in the affairs
of the ruling class is to serve at their pleasure and to
do their bidding).
is a big difference between being close to power or
serving the interests of power and actually sharing
power. Indeed, when looked at in detail and on an
economic basis, those of us who live poor and Black in
the inner cities of America have a standard of living
(in terms of health care, life expectancy and other
measures of social wellbeing) which is amazingly similar
to our brothers and sisters in major cities throughout
sub-Sahara Africa. We neither control nor produce, and
therefore are dependents in relationship to America's
industrial standard of living.
Finally, to whatever degree we are better off, it is
only in possession of material things. In terms of
social wellbeing, in terms of individual and collective
sanity, in terms of mental health and community, morals
and ethics, well, let's just say things ain't what they
used to be for African Americans at the end of the 20th
century. Confronted by Africa's underdevelopment in an
industrial sense combined with our own penchant for the
material trappings of the so-called good life, Africa
quickly teaches the Diaspora that African Americans in
general are the "whitest" Africans in the world. Our up
side is that we have greater access to "things." Our
downside is that our proximity to American power and
mores has bleached us spiritually and socially.
African Americans allegedly being better off than
continental Africans focuses not only on our
relationship to U.S. industrial development and our
adoption of an American consciousness, but also we
should focus on and question the cost of that
development—the whole world has suffered so that those
of us in America can live as we do, even those of us who
have limited access to and share very little of the
wealth and power of America.
recent rise of the
Republican Party in America is further reinforcement
that there will be no sharing of this wealth. From coast
to coast, border to border, I go into what is left of
the "Black community" and I am saddened. While we were
never in a position to compete, at least, during the
first half of the 20th century, we African Americans
were building an internal economic infrastructure.
Today, with far more political freedom, we have
regressed into a state of near peonage, into an economic
serfdom which is most accurately measured by noting
deficiencies and lacks.
of us who try to start businesses find ourselves
severely outclassed and hampered not just by a lack of
expertise and capital, but also hampered by having to
compete with fully developed multinationals who are
becoming increasingly adroit at employing niche
marketing schemes designed to sew up the African
American market. If we are to develop and compete as a
people, it just seems that there is so very little room
for growth available to us in the United States. People
talk about opportunity, but what kind of opportunity do
we have when we are first generation business people
going up against the major, minor and even bush leagues
of Wall Street corporations? Africa is a much more
sensible and level playing field in terms of competition
and also in terms of need.
African developmental terms, a $50,000 project is
serious and significant. In the USA, that amount barely
qualifies as venture capital in business development.
African Americans who want to develop businesses and
make serious money, stand a much better chance at
competing and succeeding in Ghana than they do in the
home of the brave and the land of the free.
they are not discouraging or overlooking the tourist
dollar, at this historical moment, Ghana is seeking
African Americans to make venture capital, developmental
investments in Ghana. There is both a genuine need and a
genuine desire for an infusion of Diaspora African
skills and capital. When it comes to foreign exchange,
the Pan African potential is enormous.
suggest that South Africa will be the new "promised
land." My particular reading is that South Africa will
see blood shed and rough times before it sees a real
improvement in the lives of African people. The White
controlled, industrial infrastructure which makes South
Africa so attractive to investors is also the major
obstacle for indigenous African development. Although I
am not a prophet, the clash of Black expectations for a
significant increase in their standard of living versus
White determination to hold on to wealth and economic
power is an obvious and unavoidable obstacle in the path
of South African national development.
Although Ghana is certainly not the only African country
which is desirous of and could benefit from an infusion
of Diaspora capital and skills, psychologically, Ghana
is the most prepared to make use of the unique Diaspora
configuration of foreign exchange. Some refer to this as
the "Israel" model.
basic foundation of a large Diaspora able to offer
capital and political support is a point we and Jews
have in common, there are also significant differences,
not the least of which is the fact that Israel is one
state, while Africa is a continent made up of many
states. More important than logistical questions is the
fact that the Jews as a people have never had a serious
inferiority complex about themselves nor have they, as a
people, been brainwashed into believing that the White
man's ice is colder, the White man's businesses are
better, and the White man's brains are smarter. While
individual Jews have displayed feelings of guilt and
inadequacy, Jews as a people always cast themselves as
"the chosen" ones. Yes, they might suffer
disproportionately to others, but they never considered
themselves the cursed tribe of "Ham."
was the underlying point of the movie
Schindler's List. In terms of business acumen,
the movie portrayed Schindler as a figurehead whose
business was actually run by a Jewish accountant.
Moreover, throughout the movie, every time a specific
skill was needed a "persecuted Jew" was presented who,
when given the chance, competently and admirably
fulfilled the job.
fact, even when not given the chance, the Jews were
portrayed as "more skilled" than their German
persecutors. This was the point of the concentration
camp scene in which a young Jewish woman steps forward
to offer her architectural expertise. She speaks up to
correct the construction methods used in erecting a
building. The German commander listens to her, weighs
her advice, cold-bloodedly shoots her dead, and then
directs the soldiers and prisoners to follow the advice
of the murdered architect. The point of the scene was
not just the capricious cruelty of the German military
officer, but also to portray the intelligence of the
Jewish victim. Thus,
Schindler's List reinforces the intelligence and
skills of Jews and fights against any suggestion of
Africans, both continental and Diaspora, have a much
tougher battle to fight. By Western industrialized
standards of education and skills, we are not only
generally underdeveloped, we also have serious and
deep-seated feelings of intrinsic inferiority. In short,
we believe ourselves not just ignorant but fundamentally
stupid. In this regard, the attraction of the Diaspora
African is our access to and possession of Western
education and capital.
Regardless of how inadequate we in the Diaspora may feel
within the nations of our birth, the fact is, in terms
of education and skills, the Diaspora is the advanced
sector of the African world. We are both an emotional
and a material asset to African development. This is
obvious. However, we are also a problem for African
development because, to date, the continent has not
fully faced the history or traumatic effects of the
slave trade on all of Africa. Underlying every exchange
at PANAFEST was a groping with the difficulty of
settling the issue of Diaspora reintegration into the
Monday, December 12, 1994
|PANAFEST IS TO EXPOSE THE TRUE
. He touched on the second theme of PANAFEST
'94—'Uniting the African Family'—and said
that endeavor should not just be an exercise
in nostalgia for lost years, but should
strengthen Africans' determination to work
together for the development of the
continent and raise the dignity of people of
African descent [p. 1].
is beginning to face the full ramifications of the
horror and trauma of the slave trade's devastating
historic disruption, and through facing the truth, is
beginning to welcome the return of the Diaspora. The
fact that Ghana is actively courting the Diaspora is a
major league statement in and of itself.
extends a hand of welcome, and when
people on the street spontaneously do the same, the
point is driven home in ways which are difficult to
explain in rational terms but which are emotionally
Africans need serious help, most of us seldom think of
each other. In the midst of Ghanaian economic
development deliberations, the push to expand Pan
Africanism from romantic cultural concepts and nation
bound political expressions to encompass international
economic development is a bold move.
"feeling of self worth" that results from Black people
struggling to live and work with each other across
"tribal" lines is an unbelievably potent tonic. This
invigorating brew gives a higher and healthier meaning
to the phrase "foreign exchange."
D: Are You Here for PANAFEST?
Angela Lee lives in
Canada. She has been telling us she knows the mayor of
Accra. Not bragging. Simply sharing information.
I like Angela's
eating dinner. A man dressed in a batakari, a
traditional Ghanaian shirt, and who looks like James
Earl Jones' cousin, comes over to our table.
Nat Amarteifio, the mayor of Accra.
the night is over he drives us around the city. Treats
us to a drink at a ritzy hotel after he has driven us
through the various sections of town including the
poorest sections that most politicians would try to
drive, we talk.
him what is the murder rate.
Honestly. He doesn't know. Never had to think about
Ghana the policemen don't carry guns. The thieves—what
few of them there are—don't carry guns either, not if
they want to live. In Ghana they execute armed robbers.
The second day we were there a newspaper headline
trumpeted a murder—a crowd caught a thief and beat him
have a drug problem?
you would recognize as a problem. Ghanaians think
marijuana makes you crazy. Ghana's major drug related
problem is the increasing numbers of Ghanaians working
as smugglers hired to carry hard drugs into Western
is non-existent. In fact, most people don't even smoke
cigarettes. It's refreshingly astounding to see
thousands and thousands of Black, non-smokers.
Do you have a health
Sanitation mainly. But
no plagues or anything of that sort.
What do you need most?
comment on the walking variety stores. Almost every
conceivable product hawked up and down the lanes between
cars on crowded Accra main streets. Toilet paper. No
problem. Batteries. Chain link fencing. Light bulbs. A
moving Walmart of sandaled entrepreneurs giving a new
meaning to retail marketing.
people want us to shut them down.
people in government. But you know those young people
stand there all day in the hot sun selling their wares.
I'd much rather they're doing that, making honest money,
than hitting people in the head.
never been driven around by a mayor before.
hotel when we stop for drinks, we run into Jane. We were
going in. The mayor was first and then the four of us:
Angela, Nia and me, and Norbusse Philip, a Toronto,
Canada based Caribbean writer from Tobago, Trinidad. As
we approached the door, a small party of people were
coming out. One White woman spoke to us. Really, she
spoke to the mayor. Pointing to his flowing, striped
batakari which hit him mid thigh.
"Oh, you're here for
The mayor was cool.
"No. I live here."
Leave it to Jane to
assume that the Ghanaian mayor of Accra was visiting
Africa on vacation.
Where did she think she
was, in the delusions of her mind?
Who did Jane think she
she think we were: the American Negro extras come to
audition for spear chuckers in Tarzan's next movie, the
one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, set in modern times
where he battles the warlords who are creating more
misery than the spear chuckers can carry?
Jane feel safe enough to handle up on us like that?
Walking back to the car around eleven p.m. in a city of
over two and a half million residents, the overwhelming
majority of them poor. The parking lot was a long
corridor lying parallel to the street. The car sat
quietly. Untouched. A quarter block away a lone sentry
with a simple, soft-white beamed, flashlight motions
that all is well. We were safe. The car was there. Good
impressed, Nourbusse said. In the States, women out at
night, for whatever reason, going to their car in the
parking lot, in the parking garage, a block and a half
away from the hotel, across the street, women in the
States walking at night to their car— that's an ordeal.
well after midnight, when we are at an atonement
function, all of us feel safe. We don't speak the
language. We are in the poorest part of town. Standing
in crowds. No policemen around. Lights only on the
periphery. When the camera people shut down the
floodlights we are in semi darkness. Walking willy-nilly
about without a clue to specifically where we are. We
feel safe. Not just me in my burly male Blackness. But
the sisters too: Nia, Norbusse, Stephanie. We all feel
safe. Ghana feels safe.
the Novatel Hotel—a French oasis of material insolence
offering a "continental" (as in "the" continent)
cultural experience for US$120 a night—another Jane in
painted face, spandex slacks, and jangling jewelry feels
safe enough to walk her little unattractive pet dog
through the lobby, out the front door, and who knows
where from there.
in Cape Coast, young European students will attend all
the functions and walk safely away at night through the
dark streets and on the pitch dark road sides.
of the colloquium sessions May Ayim, an Afro-German
(half Ghanaian / half German) talks about Germany's
rising tide of racist attacks. About the two thousand
people of African descent that Hitler put in
concentration camps. About how a unified Germany is not
the healthiest place for people of color. "With the
collapse of the GDR, racism has erupted into open
violence and became more strong in East Germany than in
West Germany. Some people say that the open racist
violence is a problem of the East which the West has
been infected with. This is not true, and I am asking
myself how West Germans would have reacted, if after the
reunification their traditions, values, and ways of
thinking would have been declared to be wrong and
Meanwhile back in the
States—the United States is not the healthiest place for
people of color.
And even though Jane
thinks the mayor is a tourist, Ghana is a safe place
regardless of your color.
Isn't that the way the
world should be?
Regardless of color.
* * * *
hGhana 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.
* * *
* * * *
Ghana Music Video /
The Curse of Gold—Ghana /
Rice Farming in Afife, Ghana
Busy Internet Ghana /
Africa Open for Business—Ghana
African Slave Castle /
But Equal /
Mastering A Continent /
of Gold /
The King and the City /
The Bible and The Gun
West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A
History to 1850
African Slave Trade: Precolonial History,
By Basil Davidson
The Slave Ship
* * * * *
music website >
writing website >
daily blog >
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the
rosy picture of race embodied in Barack
Obama's political success and Oprah
Winfrey's financial success, legal
scholar Alexander argues vigorously and
persuasively that [w]e have not ended
racial caste in America; we have merely
redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial
segregation has been replaced by mass
incarceration as a system of social
control (More African Americans are
under correctional control today... than
were enslaved in 1850). Alexander
reviews American racial history from the
colonies to the Clinton administration,
delineating its transformation into the
war on drugs. She offers an acute
analysis of the effect of this mass
incarceration upon former inmates who
will be discriminated against, legally,
for the rest of their lives, denied
employment, housing, education, and
public benefits. Most provocatively, she
reveals how both the move toward
colorblindness and affirmative action
may blur our vision of injustice: most
Americans know and don't know the truth
about mass incarceration—but her
carefully researched, deeply engaging,
and thoroughly readable book should
* * * * *
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
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
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 /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
posted 1 August 2010