ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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


I did not say that the history of Africa was an orgy of violence. I only

said that black people in Africa were oppressed, and that if the black man

wants a better place to live he has to know his own history and not

define it by thinking the only enemy is white.



   Bound to Violence

Yambo Ouologuem

on Violence, Truth and Black History

Interviewed by Linda Kuehl

I interviewed Yambo Ouologuem in his publisher’s office in March, shortly after the American publication of his first novel, Bound to Violence (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), which won the Prix Renaudot in France and which has been acclaimed here as “the first truly African novel.” Surely it is an amazing book—for epic grandeur, the compression of seven-and-a-half centuries of African history from 1202 to 1947, when his fictitious nation, Nakem-Zuiko, is on the threshold of independence; for cultural sweep: legends, myths, chronicles, religious matter woven into an opulent narrative; for eloquence: the cadence and music of the prose, splendidly translated from the French by Ralph Manheim; and for pride and courage: the risk of a black man showing his own history with complexity, humor, and shrewdness that must indeed threaten platitudes and deceptions shared in his own native Mali as well as in Afro-America.


Linda: Is Bound to Violence  the first truly African novel, as it has been called?

Yambo: It’s not the first novel written by an African. It’s just that the others were written from the point of view of a native son, which is to say that if the writer was born in Senegal, he wrote about Senegal, and if he was born in Congo, he wrote about Congo. I never conceived of writing from the viewpoint of a Malian or in an African language though I don’t mean by this that I am not a nationalist. I only mean that you have to understand black history through a kind of unity. My book covers eight centuries and is at the same time a fresco, an epic, a legend, and a novel.

Linda: How much is absorbed from chronicles and documents?

Yambo: The book was not absorbed. These were ancient, Arabian, medieval, old Portuguese, and old Spanish manuscripts, and I condensed and raised them to the level of legend. Only from the point of view of form is it fiction, for it’s about history and politics. In fact, when I first gave it to my publisher, he said it was impossible to do that way because I gave names of real people involved in crime, people who killed and trained asps, so I had to change the names and make the actual countries into one imaginary one. I did give the real name of Saif—the dynasty in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan—and  the Saif still exists.

But I speak of the empire of Nakem-Zuiko which is an anagram. Most names have been reversed which is perhaps why, the day after my book won the prize in France, there was a military putsch in Mali, and many political meetings took place with everyone trying to see whether his own private life or his own murders or those of his predecessors were described.

Linda: Was it a coincidence that the putsch occurred the next day?

Yambo: I don’t say it was a coincidence. But the fact is that before giving me the prize the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and the Ambassadors in Africa and the Presidents of the Republics wanted to give me a prize for a basic documentary history. But, since in France, you cannot win two prizes for one book, the Ambassadors were asked not to give theirs because then I couldn’t get one for its literary value.

Anyway, for diplomatic reasons, my publisher didn’t want to emphasize political content. He had paid a lawyer to avoid trouble, and if, after that, the book was presented as a kind of secret about Africa, he would soon be involved in trials. But when it was published, I received many letters from Presidents of many Republics, each one thinking I had intended his own country.

Linda:How did Malians respond?

Yambo: Since it was the first time and Africans had won a major literary prize—and I was 28 at the time, competing against about 1000 French writers who were 50, 60, 70 years old—they felt proud. On the other hand, there were those who said, yes, what he says is true, but should he say it.

Linda: Why did they question this?

Yambo: Many of them belong to that category of people who define themselves in reference to what the white man thinks. They wanted to give the white an image of Africa that would flatter the white. But what people forget is that whites did not come to Africa after one year of fighting but after 28 years of fighting, and were then able to colonize because there was a division of states which had made slave trade possible. Sometimes there was collaboration between the white and black chiefs in order to conquer other states and share the benefits of that conquest. Whites played the game of being great reconcilers and black chiefs thought only of their own interest.

Linda: You have called African history prior to white imperialism an “orgy of violence.” Is this why some Africans and Afro-Americans may have objected to your book?

Yambo: I did not say that the history of Africa was an orgy of violence. I only said that black people in Africa were oppressed, and that if the black man wants a better place to live he has to know his own history and not define it by thinking the only enemy is white. He has enemies too among what they call black aristocracy, and the black man never was a Negro before the black aristocrat sold him as a slave. It was the black aristocrat who made black people become Negroes. If you look at the entire history, you find there were three stages of oppression: blacks oppressing blacks, Arabs oppressing blacks, and whites oppressing blacks. Which is why I said you cannot deal with a single country of a single region of a single tribe. You cannot write from the point of view of a nationalist language if you want this comprehensive vision.

Linda: If Africans themselves were responsible for slave trade—

Yambo: Excuse me. Let me say that Africans were not the only people in the world to be responsible because domestic slave trade—that is to say, internal slave trade—existed throughout the world. You know, of course, about France before the Revolution, and you know about Russia before the Revolution when Russians were sold as domestic slaves in the market and other public places. The only difference is that except for the black man there was no international traffic.

Linda: According to your book, Arabs falsified African history.

Yambo: I means that many mistakes have been made inside and out of Africa about the Arabs, Many people thought the Arabs were a mirror image image of African civilization. Look at the phenomenon of Cassius Clay—or, should I say, Muhammad Ali? Cassius Clay—or Muhammad Ali—thought that the best way to find his roots—which is to say, with Africa—was to go through Arabian civilization. But that’s a mistake. If he had read the Koran—the Holy Scriptures—he would have found in it a code defining the status of slaves, so that slave trade is inherent in Mohammedanism. It is as if a Jew—because he didn’t know his own history—referred to Hitler in order to discover his own identity. But this isn’t Muhammad Ali’s fault because the history presented to him didn’t show him that Arabs were the great slavetraders.

Linda: Is the black American’s affinity for Africa based upon ignorance and romanticism?

Yambo: No. What I am saying is that—to take an image, for example—if a mother loves her child, it doesn’t mean she loves a doll that gives her no trouble or that it is always clean, neat, and so forth. She knows a child is difficult to care for and that it happens to be dirty. But that doesn’t prevent her from loving her child.

Linda: However, does the Afro-American acknowledge the dirt?

Yambo: The dirt is not only in African history but in all history. Look at the Greek past. And the dirt doesn’t come from the people. It comes from the leaders, and the notables, the chiefs who oppress the crowd.

Linda: But Afro-Americans see oppression coming solely from whites and not at all from black notables or aristocrats.

A. Look, it took me a lot of courage to write this book which is about oppressors who were my own family and I did my best to be as universal as possible.

Linda: Did you see John Williams’ review in the Times Book Review? It confused me because he seemed to review a novel totally different from your own and appeared to be minimizing and making palatable, so to speak, what Afro-Americans may not wish to hear.

Yambo: I too was confused. But this is for Mr. John Williams to answer. I think you should ask him if he reviewed the novel

Linda: Did you feel pressure as an African from Mali to write history in your way?

Yambo: Not at all, because I’m involved in publishing textbooks. I want Blacks to be educated in their own context and not in reference to either Arabs or whites. Before we had books in which people used to say things like, “It’s noon. Father should come home soon.” Or, “It’s snowing outside. We are eating at the table.” How nice to be home while it is snowing outside.” And the children would ask the teacher, “What’s snow?” And the teacher would answer, “Snow is cotton, but cotton that melts.” And the children would ask, “Well, how can cotton melt?”

So, you see, this had nothing to do with their original culture. And even here, in this country, you have history written in English, seen through the eyes of English travelers. You have few publications that are translations from true authentic traditional ancient manuscripts or from African documents or from Ethiopian tradition or Islamic ancient manuscripts. You have things only seen from the point of view of whites.

Linda:Can you be proud of a history based upon violence perpetrated by the Saif—your representative tyrant?

Yambo: The problem is to know whether we men can really do something in the world in which we have been involved through violence. That’s the point. We are bound to violence, but need to think the matter over and see how to be human beings living in peace together. And those who want to find their roots should not define themselves in reference to the outside enemy—the white—since the enemy can be black also. In black America, I’m sure those who want to improve conditions of the black man do not think it’s a good thing, that, in the context of oppression, the whites present them with a few successful blacks in order to make them believe there is no problem at all.

Linda: This is a sophisticated perspective and difficult to base a revolution upon because—

A. On what can you bas a revolution?

Linda: Upon something more simplistic.

Yambo: But more realistic.

Linda: Reality simplified.

Yambo: How can you base a revolution on a life? What you do is just what Saif has been doing.

Linda: As a white American, I know my history and I am ashamed of—

Yambo: I beg your pardon. You say you are ashamed of your history, but you mean that you already know it and you judge—not from the point of view of historical fact—but from orals. They are two different disciplines. Politics has nothing to do with morality. I don’t know in any part of the world an honest politician because in politics you have compromise and when you compromise you cannot speak in terms of morals. You only speak in terms of efficiency and power.

Linda: However, if someone is trying to find his heritage when he has been cut off from it, indeed cut off from his entire past, then I see a dilemma if the history he discovers is not a noble one but, like all histories, violent. Where does that leave the person but in a precarious position?

A. Do you know that, in France, whites had been writing to tell me my book was the work of a revolutionary and that I wanted black to suppress all whites because blacks were so cunning and powerful and had such a great way of dealing with people that whites looked like puppets? And do you know that some people said I was a black Sade and that I was even dangerous because I didn’t dare put my photo on the French edition?

Linda:How did you answer them?

A. That I didn’t intend to be orthodox either politically or socially or from a racial viewpoint. If we really want to do something, we have to see ourselves as we are, and to be proud of oneself does not mean looking at one’s ugliness but at one’s whole.

Linda: Who perverted African history?

A. At the end of the Second World War, somebody wanted to give an ideal image of Africa, but not knowing how to do this, said that Africans were Egyptians, connecting Africa with the great Egyptian civilization. What he should have done was studied was studied traditional societies and shown ways in which they were great and not in connection with any other.

Linda: You have said that “Negro art found its patent nobility in the folklore of mercantile intellectualism,” and that masks made by Saifs were buried in mud and ponds and dragged up to be sold as if they were four centuries old. And that this was inspired by the European ethnologist represented by your character, Shrobenius, who “resuscitated an African universe . . . which has lost all living reality.”

A. Of course, dealing with art in this cunning way is not particular to African art but to all antiques though it is common throughout Africa. My character, Shrobenius is based in fact upon the German ethnologist, Leo Frobenius. I received a letter from his family thanking me for not mentioning that he had been kicked out of Africa for hiring gangsters and stealing. Frobenius was the consequence of the esthetic of primitive mentality, of those ethnologists who wrote about the black man as a nice silly boy adoring God, cut off from reality, living in the purity and innocence of the African world.

They studied head and facial angles to determine the connection between the Negro and animals. When people got fed up with this ideology, they tried to connect black and Greek civilization because by then blacks were helping whites fight two world wars. It’s like what happened during the Biafra War—sentimentality for suffering people—only at that time it wasn’t sentimentality for suffering Negroes but for people who were good friends. So it was also successful and that Frobenius was also successful and that ethnologists exploited African art for commercial ends.

Linda:Were you being satirical about Saif’s Jewish heritage?

A. No, because it was not imaginary since that heritage belongs to the history of Ethiopia, to the Negus of Ethiopia, Negus meaning King of Kings. The present Negus is called Haile Selassie, which means the power of trinity, so that you have all the religions which were the background of Christianity. I needed Saif’s Jewish background to parallel the three states of oppression I mentioned earlier, there being also three stages of religion—the Judaism being a kind of spring from which Christianity and Mohammedanism were connected through paganism.

Linda: You scatter exclamatory phrases throughout your narrative, phrases like “God curse his kingship!” and “God keep his soul!” and “Oh sacrilege!? Are these humorously intended?

A. They are a way of getting the rhythm of traditional African music as well as getting a spiritual thread and general trend of life. Suppose you are talking about something important and suddenly I say, “Now a message from your sponsor.” The humor is a way of making subtle hints and reminding the reader that we are dealing with a world in turmoil.

Linda: Were there any technical difficulties in writing this novel?

A. The technical difficulties came from not wanting to write a mere story. I wanted to convey the rhythm of Africa, the rhythm of the blues when I was singing despair, sometimes the rhythm of jazz. And, of course, it’s horrible to try to translate the beat of music and the idea of pure sound into phrases and sentences, though not because I was writing in French per se, but because French was for me a foreign language. I had to be somewhat half black and half white because I was dealing with a foreign civilization. But I understood the language is nothing but a tool and that one can be oneself by mastering it, and I was mastering French by giving it the very breath of the black past. So too could the black American master Western civilization, have a hold on it, put it at a distance, have a critical view of it, and so make it something different. I  don’t consider myself a Frenchman or a French writer. I am an African conscious of his whole history and tradition and that’s why nothing can offend me. I have a background on which to rest. And I am not boasting about that past or about my family but just showing it because that’s life. And what’s important in life is not making money but believing there are important things to be done and being linked with tradition because that’s what makes a man be a real man—not the fact that he’s universal. Universality begins with individuality. That is to say, it is when you are yourself that other people recognize themselves through your own humanity. If you belong to nothing, you are an artificial man.

Linda: On the other hand, tradition can restrict, even crush, individuality.

A. Individuality can conflict with tradition, but this is the western point of view, not the African. What is dramatic for me and for all Africans is that when your mother and father die, they leave a continuation of themselves, so that you keep things that have been given to you by that generation but can move further and take another step. For example, Konrad Lorenz, the scientist, has shown the differences between man and bees. Bees are very clever. They repeat their tradition, but they make no progress. In one thousand years the same bees are making homey. But what makes a man a man is that he has discovered light and light has led him to the wheel and the wheel has led him to something else, and that the man living in our century has all the feelings of that first man, Adam, but goes on opening and enriching them.

The individualistic tradition in Africa is connected to the ideal of the group, whereas here it’s the individual in relation to a group for a brief moment after which he forms a new group. So tradition here is more brief. As for the unity and strength of Africa, this cannot come from West Africa because that would mean it comes from England or France or Portugal or Spain because these countries have been in control. It must come from the unity of black Africans and Afro-Americans. This is the main concern of my book. To be bound to violence for the black man consists of being more conscious about himself, seeing things in a wide context and not from the point of view of a local tribe.

Linda: Why did you name your final chapter “Dawn”?

A. Because the country is going to be independent. And I chose the game of chess because it’s most representative of the medieval presence in the context of the modern strength of violence and non-violence through two characters—Saif and the Bishop—with Raymond-Spartacus Kassoumi in the background just elected as someone supposed to free the people. With dawn one thinks that tomorrow is another day. I used the game because it provides a double idea. You have everyone discovering the card of the other, because in order to move you have to know the other’s intention, and there’s another meaning of game which is a system played among other systems—a somewhat atomistic conception of all the substances of the world, the four elements of playing together.

Linda: Is Raymond-Spartacus equipped to play the game as well as Saif?

A. That’s the problem of violence and non-violence. You have men of love and men of bluff, and apparently the men of love have won at the end. The Bishop has won because Saif has thrown the trained asp inside the flute into the flames so that there is no longer death but dialogue. And then Spartacus knows Saif’s secret because the Bishop told him. Still, at the end of the dialogue, Saif has managed to be the last one to speak, so the debate is open. And let me say that violence is not barbarity. Violence is the way of knowing how to play the game of the other and outplaying him.

Linda: Do you personally have any taste for this game?

A. If I had a taste for this kind of game I think I would not have written the novel.

Source: Commonweal (11 June 1971)

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

Chiefs in Cape Coast, Ghana  /  Grand Durbar Parade

Guarding the Flame of Life / Strange Fruit Lynching Report

Contemporary African Immigrants to The United States  / African immigration to the United States

*   *   *   *   *

African RenaissanceKwame Nkrumah, Kenyatta, and the Old Order / God Save His Majesty  

For Kwame Nkrumah  / Night of the Giants /   The Legend of the Saifs  /  Interview with Yambo Ouologuem   

Yambo  Bio & Review     African Renaissance (Journal)

*   *   *   *   *


Our African Journey

We stood in El Mina slave dungeon, on the Cape Coast of Ghana on a recent trip to West Africa, overwhelmed by despair, grief, and rage. Without needing to verbalize it, we were both imagining what reaching this spot must have felt like for some long-ago, un-remembered African ancestor as she stood trembling on the precipice of an unknown and terrifyingly uncertain future.

It was hard to process the fact that for over three hundred years, millions of women, men and children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, brothers, potters, weavers, had begun their long and brutal journey of being captured, kidnapped, sold, and enslaved from the very spot where we now stood the portal now infamously known as the door of no return.
Growing a Global Heart

Belvie and Dedan at the Door of No Return

*   *   *   *   *


Bob Marley— Exodus

Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (19641974) and Bob Marley & the Wailers (19741981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited for helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement (of which he was a committed member), to a worldwide audience.

*   *   *   *   *


           By Bob Marley

Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!
Well uh, oh. let me tell you this:


Men and people will fight ya down (tell me why!)
When ya see Jah light. (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)
Let me tell you if you're not wrong; (then, why? )
Everything is all right.
So we gonna walk
All right!through de roads of creation:
We the generation (tell me why!)
Trod through great tribulation
trod through great tribulation.

Exodus! All right! Movement of Jah people!
Oh, yeah! o-oo, yeah! All right!
Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!

Yeah-yeah-yeah, well!
Open your eyes and look within.
Are you satisfied with the life you're living? uh!
We know where we're going, uh!
We know where we're from.
We're leaving Babylon,
We're going to our father's land.


One, Two, Three, Four
Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!
Movement of Jah people!
send us another Brother Moses!
Movement of Jah people!
from across the Red Sea!
Movement of Jah people!
send us another Brother Moses!
Movement of Jah people!
from across the Red Sea!
Movement of Jah people!

Exodus! All right! oo-oo-ooh! oo-ooh!
Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!
Exodus! All right!
Exodus! now, now, now, now!
Exodus! oh, yea-ea-ea-ea-ea-ea-eah!
Exodus! All right!
Exodus! uh-uh-uh-uh!


One, Two, Three, Four
Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!

Open your eyes and look within.
Are you satisfied with the life you're living?
We know where we're going;
We know where we're from.
We're leaving Babylon, yall!
We're going to our father's land.

Exodus! All right! Movement of Jah people!
Exodus! Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!

Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!

Jah come to break downpression,
Rule equality.
Wipe away transgression.
Set the captives free!

Exodus! All right, all right!
Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!
Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh, now, now, now, now!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!

Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! uh-uh-uh-uh!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people)!
Movement of Jah people! Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people)!
Movement of Jah people)!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!

*   *   *   *   *

The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker

Strange Fruit Lynching Report / Anniversary of a Lynching

  Willie McGhee Lynching  / My Grandfather's Execution

Dr. Robert Lee Interview / African American Dentist in Ghana

African Aid breeds African dependency

Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan-African Postcards

By Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (Author)

 Salim Ahmed Salim (Preface), Horace Campbell (Foreword)

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (1961-2009) was a Rhodes scholar and obtained his D. Phil in Politics from Oxford University. In 1990 he became Coordinator of the Africa Research and Information Bureau and the founding editor of Africa World Review. He co-founded and led Justice Africa's work, becoming its Executive Director in 2004, and combined this with his role as General Secretary of the Pan-African Movement. He was chair of the Centre for Democracy and Development and of the Pan-African Development Education and Advocacy Programme in Uganda and became the UN Millennium Development Campaign's Deputy Director in 2006.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

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

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

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

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

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

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

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

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

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

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

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *   *   *

Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted America—and much of the West—into a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about America’s status as the leading world power.

This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave. The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East.

*   *   *   *   *


Jefferson's Pillow

The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

By Roger W. Wilkins

 In Jefferson's Pillow, Wilkins returns to America's beginnings and the founding fathers who preached and fought for freedom, even though they owned other human beings and legally denied them their humanity. He asserts that the mythic accounts of the American Revolution have ignored slavery and oversimplified history until the heroes, be they the founders or the slaves in their service, are denied any human complexity. Wilkins offers a thoughtful analysis of this fundamental paradox through his exploration of the lives of George Washington, George Mason, James Madison, and of course Thomas Jefferson. He discusses how class, education, and personality allowed for the institution of slavery, unravels how we as Americans tell different sides of that story, and explores the confounding ability of that narrative to limit who we are and who we can become. An important intellectual history of America's founding, Jefferson's Pillow will change the way we view our nation and ourselves.

*   *   *   *   *

Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007

By Matthew Wasniewski

Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 beautifully prepared volume—is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress. Written for a general audience, this book contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan. Individual profiles are introduced by contextual essays that explain major events in congressional and U.S. history. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading "Former Black Members of Congress." Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth.

*   *   *   *   *

Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times. What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation?

What scares non-Muslims about openly supporting liberal voices within Islam? How did we get into the mess of tolerating intolerable customs, such as honor killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo?

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

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

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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


*   *   *   *   *

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

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

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


update 4 February 2012




Home  Transitional Writings on Africa

Related files: Interview of Yambo Ouologuem  The Legend of the Saifs  Night of the Giants  Yambo Bio and Reviews