Liberating voices from our past

One of the most influential books in my intellectual and activist life has been W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, published in 1903. This book not only opened my eyes wider to the challenge of racial justice but also endowed me with the tools I needed in order to discern between race hustlers and authentic justice activists. Du Bois is among the most revered founding fathers of Pan Afrikanism. He was there at the beginning structures of the men and women who organised themselves not only for diaspora emancipation projects, but worked tirelessly for the liberation of Afrika’s various countries, and his last days were spend in Ghana wherein he lies buried. Like many Pan Afrikanists of his day, and even many of us today, he was mostly concerned with the building of properly equipped and ideologically sound institutions for the development of Black people. I hereby would like to quote him where he wrote about the establishment of Afrikan American colleges.

The function of the Negro college, then, is clear. it must maintain the standards of popular education, it must seek the social regeneration of the Negro, and it must help in the solution of problems of race contact and co-operation. And finally, beyond all this, it must develop men. Above our modern socialism, and out of the worship of the mass, must persist and evolve that higher individualism which the centers of culture protect; there must come a loftier respect for the sovereign human soul that seeks to know itself and the world about it, that seeks a freedom for expansion and self development; that will love and hate and labor in its own way; untrammeled alike by old and new. 

Herein the longing of black men must have respect: the rich and bitter depth of their experience, the unknown treasures of their inner life, the strange rendings of nature they have seen, may give the world new points of view and make their loving, living and doing precious to all human hearts.” – page 73 ( The Souls of Black Folk )

When I read such words, written so long ago by men who strove for real justice and whose primary focus was on freeing their own kind yet whose scope was truly about freeing the whole human race, I shudder in shame. Somehow with all our technology and knowing, we have not really achieved the great feats that these men and women fought and worked so hard for. Yes of course there are many shining examples of Black excellence, there are now many schools and institutions that do great work in our communities globally, but the missing link is still unity of purpose. Many are either divided by religious dogma while others have perished through the corrosive egotistical character of their founders or inheritors. All in all, we are moving forward, but rather slowly or too gradually. This is why it appears as if the posturing and shock tactics of radical Black political activists are our main hope. Groups such as the Economic Freedom Fighter, the Black First Land First movement and others appear as the clearest choices for people who have long given up putting their hopes in standard political processes. But herein lies the difference between the likes of Marcus Garvey, Du Bois and other Pan Afrikan leaders of the past, while they were engaged in political processes, they were also engaged in community uplift projects that were entrepreneurial in nature, but above all that, they were also educators and institution builders, the foundations of which are strong because even after a century we still look to them for guidance.

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Up for air, Down for the money

chorus: deep into the core

we keep digging for more

so what, if we’ve died

a million times

at least we tried

 

someone deep in our tangled past decided

that wealth was stronger than death

the lie was repeated enough times

we now take it as indisputable fact

so true is our belief in the gold, silver and paper trail

we have trained our young to hold on to the dragons tail

or take the bull by the horns

ignoring the man with the crown of thorns

 

today there is hardly anything which is not up for sale

mothers sell their daughters and honor won’t prevail

presidents sell countries while peddling morality tales

miners have been slaughtered but leaders still come up for air

imibhalo yezinyanga

ngalamazwi uzobusa

ngalemisho uyobusiswa

shono phela mlobi wezimfihlo

kwashona bani wavusa wena

nethestamente elisha sha?

gazi leminikelo mithi yemi-

hla ngeminhla, zintelezi nemi-

hlambezo

mikhuleko nenhlambuluko

migidi namahubo

migcabo nemishanguzo

mihla  namalanga

mibhalo yezinyanga

empeleni kawusiyo Mbongi

bheka zandile nezinyosi zitinyela kwasani

noNgangezwe ukwesobukhosi

zifakazile nezanusi

thina balobi singofakazi bokuhle nokubi

izehlo ngezehlo, izinsizi namabika, iminjunju nemikhosi

lobani ke, nizishaya izihlakaniphi

amaqiniso ebe efihlwe emqubeni

emqulwini nokuqoshwe emigedeni

thorny love

i’ve attempted to write love poems

wading through the weeded pathways of my mind

to pick the finest blossoms

but my beloved only felt

the thorns in my roses

i dared to say that beauty

was in the green leaf

and pointed to the petals frailty

i said i loved the mud more than the flowing stream

the waning moon and the dancing shadows at noon

they are love poems tainted with lust, spirit and mirth

too far from the stars and too much like common earth

yet somehow i can still be devoted to what they say about love

the common kind

 

 

Love Poem in Earnest

may i love you like the bee

exploits the flower?

if i love you like a maestro

loses his mind to a melody

will you compose me

tuning and turning my passion to a symphony

and the din in my heart to an orchestra?

what if i love you like a revolutionary

loves the land

how much of my slogans and uncomfortable truths

will you tolerate

if my love were a religion

would you be a praise-worthy worshipper

as devoted to my shrine as i am to your temple

will you mythologize my contradictions

harmonize my half-truths and subdue my blatant lies?

let my love be your oxygen when you breathe i enter

and when you leave i return to dust.

Wild Beauty

Sky Reads

Another book I would recommend to read is called Wild Beauty: New and Selected Poems by Ntozake Shange.  She compiled a collection of poems that were new and poems from previous works.  The most unique about this poem was that it was written in English and Spanish.  The moment you start reading the first poem in Spanish, the English version is on the next page.  Definite read.

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