I have often refuted this notion of nations, especially when it comes to the peoples of Afrika. What is a nation and can we find better definitions and peaceful resolutions to our own being, our constitutions as well as ensuring that we are not further exploited by foreign interests as Afrikans/AbaNtu? But beyond just my own pan-Afrikan interests, I believe that nationalism anywhere is a powerful inhibitor of progress and humane relations. It may sound like a contradiction coming from a pan Afrikanist as much of pan-Afrikanism has been fueled or driven by the protection and even projection of national sovereignty for formerly colonized peoples. But we may have inherited a lot of regressive ideas from our colonisers, and nationalism which may have been useful at some point of the struggle for independence, it has now become a thorn and a hindrance to Afrikan and global progress.
One of my favourite writer, Mario Vargas Llosa has been a vehement critic of the notion of nationalism. here is a piece from an interview:
““The basic idea of nationalism is wrong,” declares Vargas Llosa when we meet at his publisher’s offices in London. “The idea that to be born in a given place is a value in itself is ridiculous. Totally ridiculous! Now the Scots want to be independent. That would be very sad. I don’t think Scotland is going to be privileged by independence. On the contrary, this is not the march of time – the march of time is for the dissolution of frontiers, integration, common denominators. Nationalism appeals to the tribe, the basic primitive tribe. No, no, no, we must fight this – Scotland must fight this. But we must fight colonialism too,” he says, adding that he is in favour of European union despite the current crisis. “We have had almost 60 years of peace in Europe for the first time in history, which is a great achievement. Never forget, nationalism has produced the most brutal and cruel wars in history.””
The elder is very clear and articulate here, but I would like to share something that is constantly on my mind, regarding questions of security and progress in the continent of Africa. The Congolese and Ethiopian situations are always a tough subject, as they both have a long history of ethnic and class conflicts, many leaders there have tried various ways to force some kind of national unity among their people, history has proven that this tenuous arrangement has only served to make matters worse. This article looks at the Ethiopian situation in a similar manner.
Please read and respond. I will add my full thoughts later as I have written about this on other platforms.
“By interviewing people from different walks of life and approaches, I am trying to show that leadership is just as richly layered, diverse and multidimensional as humanity itself. A very often overlooked aspect of leadership is artistic leadership or any type of leadership that does not emanate from traditional quarters like politics or business. The fact of the matter is, we are all leaders and we show leadership best in ways that feel authentic to us and the contribution we are trying to make to the world. Trena Bolden-Fields, based in Minnesota in the United States, is one such leader. As an actor, writer, and coach who works with artists to help them unleash their artistic dreams and forms of expression, Ms. Bolden-Fields shows that we all have an immense contribution to make whether we’re sportspeople, actors, musicians, fine artists, writers, fashion designers and so on. Trena and I unpacked this topic via virtual means from the Villa Moji at the Fairlawns.
There’s a monolithic view of “leadership” it seems: often male, authoritarian, distant and not so inclusive. How would you define “artistic leadership” and what does it look like to you?
Yes, I agree. Also, with artists, once they become leaders or are recognized, they have to think about their platform and how that can multiply and amplify their views and what matters most to them. Through having a platform that is seen, your message will reach more people and I believe in promoting positive, supportive and helpful messages that help humanity and our world.”
Check out this article I wrote in one of my blogs and feel free to offer your views. The vision of a unified, peaceful and prosperous Afrikan continent is our only motivation. We can no longer bear to repeat Bob Marley’s lyrics “How Long Shall they kill our prophets why we stand aside and look.” Neither can we afford to keep complaining and blaming the past for our condition. Let’s Work.
Freeing ourselves from psychological slavery is a daily task. Firstly we have to know how we are victims of this slavery, secondly we have to see ourselves as the primary agents of our own emancipation. The next step in my opinion, is we have to continually educate ourselves, our families and communities regarding our history, present situation and collectively find solutions to our predicament. The question of Leadership always arises. In an age of fake news and false prophets as well as virtual reality we have to ask ourselves certain crucial questions. What are the characteristics or traits of the best leaders we can find among ourselves, because it still remains true what Marcus Garvey said, “None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds.” We have to be truthful and we have to expose the fakers and promote the realness.
Lately I have been watching with earnest concentration, some video’s from and about Dr Umar Ifatunde Johnson and thinking deeply about my own agency as a Pan-Afrikan activist. I am impressed as millions of others by the robust debates that the brother raises as well as his vision of establishing a Pan Afrikanist school for Black boys. When we hosted Dr Umar as The Institute of Afrikology in Kwa-Zulu I had several detractors to deal with. Most of the people who disagreed with Umar were Black feminists, Black radicals as well as people from the LGBTQ …community, yet our lectures were fully packed and great insights were shared among ourselves. I wrote a couple of essays about that and debated a few people in addition to speaking to Dr Umar in private regarding the concerns of all these people who follow our work. I still stand by my opinions, yet I have further concerns. The problem of viewing and judging each other or ourselves through European and white liberal eyes. We need to remain confrontational and factual as we carve our way towards Afrika’s liberation.
After posting some of the videos and debates on Umar on my Facebook timeline, I sat and meditated for a bit. The main realization and concern I have is not what Dr Umar Johnson said, but the problem of the Ego. Now everyone has a right to define and defend him or herself, but if we have a long term vision and seek to remain truthful, we have to become as transparent and as honest as possible firstly among ourselves. We owe no white people any explanations regarding our mission.
But I am writing today because I am watching videos of Dr John Hendrik Clarke, a scholar and activist of a much higher order. The videos that piqued my interest was the series titled The Million Man March and Fake Leadership, posted by Afrikanliberation*.
Dr Clarke is to me part of the foundations upon which brothers such as Dr Umar Johnson stand upon. Controversial mainly because they reveal things about the Black community which we are often afraid to confront. I will come back to the question of respect, egocentricity, the quality of our leadership and what we have to do to take progressive steps towards proper Black Power Pan Afrikanism. For now, please just listen to Mkhulu JHC.
Ankh Udja Seneb.