Mississippi in Africa
Mississippi in Africa by Alan Huffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mississippi in Africa details the extremely fascinating story of enslaved black people who were repatriated back to Africa in the early to mid 19th century and who, eventually, became the “founders” of the country known as Liberia. In 1836, one Isaac Ross, a plantation owner in Mississippi, died. In his will, he specified that the humans he held in bondage should be freed and passage would be paid for their relocation to Africa, if they so chose. By 1849, 200 of the 225 enslaved had emigrated to Liberia. Huffman details the histories of these settlers, as they are known, as they transition into becoming Americo-Liberians.

One of the more stunning premises in the book is that a prime cause of the Liberian Civil War was the undemocratic control of Liberia’s economic, military and political infrastructure, etc by the the Americo-Liberians. However, as unsettled as I was by that assertion, I could not deny the fact that they were very oriented toward America and American culture. They built houses in Liberia that were replicas of the ones they built their former owners. Their names were (and continue to be) of European origin. Upon declaring themselves free from the American Colonization Society in 1847, the Americo-Liberians did the same thing the fighters of the American Revolution did – declare themselves free from tyranny while holding people in bondage (the ward system).

It seems so predictable a behavior that I am left wondering how it is that the family of Fela Kuti, whose ancestors were also repatriated, managed to re-integrate into African society so successfully that they are integral to an understanding of modern Nigeria.

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Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres – as I frequently approach history through literature. So it was with excitement that I opened Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie. I knew next to nothing about the backdrop to the novel, the Biafra war. I definitely didn’t know that it was Igbo-based. However, understanding my lack of knowledge, I took what Ama Ata Aidoo wrote in Our Sister Killjoy to be true; that Nigeria "not only has all the characteristics which nearly every African country has but also possesses these characteristics in bolder outline".

I have to admit I was a bit thrown for a loop when the Biafran characters would talk about Nigeria and Nigerians as The Other. Then I remembered a discussion I had with someone about Watch for Me on the Mountain by Forrest Carter. In that book, a fictional rendering of Geronimo’s life, Mexicans were consistently referred to in the negative. I didn’t get that either until I was made to understand that Mexico, as a country, was imposed on Indigenous people from without. Once I understood that, the negative perception of Mexico made a whole lot of sense. It was the same with Nigerian and Nigerians. I have to admit, though, to a little discomfort in understanding (and potentially agreeing with) the Biafran struggle for Independence from Nigeria. After all, one of the giants of African Independence, Kwame Nkrumah, believed strongly in a United States of Africa. Half of a Yellow sun raised questions such as should such a structure be based on the 1885 carving up of Africa?

Originally, I had planned to write an intricate review. However, I must admit, that reading the book soon became a chore. It wasn’t due to book being well over 500 pages. Even though the story was very interesting, the writing itself was unable to hold my interest for a sustained amount of time. Considering all the publicity Adichie has received, I expected a literary masterpiece.Now, don’t get me wrong. It is definitely worth reading; especially for folks like me who look at literature as more than just a good story. It just dragged at several points during the read.

The Epic of Askia Mohammed
I came across this epic piece of orature while looking for the epic about Sundjata. Askia Mohammed is one of those giants of African history routinely referred as worthy of emulation and/or respect. However, upon concluding the read, I had the opinion that he was very hawk-like in his promotion of Islam. There is repeated mention of “Every village that follows his orders, that accepts his wishes, he conquers them, he moves on. Every village that refuses his demand, he conquers it, he burns it, he moves on. Until the day-Mamar [Askia] did that until, until, until, until the day he arrived at the Red Sea.” (298-302) I interpret the consecutive “untils” to signify that it was a repeated event that happened over time. Considering how long it took for caravans to traverse the distance from West Africa to Mecca, undoubtedly it happened not only over an extended period of time but also over an extended expanse of land. The devastation left in the wake of such excursions in arson leads me to question the respect paid to this historical figure.

The above statement notwithstanding, I did find the epic interesting in the view it provided of West Africa. It provided me with a basis for doing further research into the era and times and for that and the new perspective, it is appreciated.

“Africans, in the diaspora and on the continent, were soon to be recipients of this linguistic logic of conquest, with two results: linguicide in the case of the diaspora and linguistic famine, or linguifam, on the continent. Linguicide is the linguistic equivalent of genocide. Genocide involves conscious acts of physical massacre; linguicide, conscious acts of language liquidation. Linguicide, writes Skutnabb-Kanga, ‘implies that there are agents involved in causing the death of languages.’ ”

Dismembering Practices: Planting European Memory in Africa

Something Torn and New

Ngũgĩ  wa Thiong’o

Conquering Europe?

September 27, 2009

Every so often I come across something inside a book that makes me feel good about being myself…my best self, that is. So I’ve decided that those quotes, concepts, etc are worthy of being shared a la the revolutionary daily thoughts group operated by Mwalimu Baruti.

This one is from John Henrik Clarke’s book: Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust.

There are Africans educated in Africa with African money who are scattered all over the world; they want to be everything but Africans. They have turned Africa over to a bunch of thugs. Coup after coup after coup. Who is going to give Africa the stability that it needs? I maintain – and this might be away from the subject – that there is no solution for African people, except for some form of Pan African Nationalism, no matter how you cut it. No matter what island you’re from, no matter what religion you belong to…we must develop a concept of our Pan Africanism that cuts across all religious, political, social, fraternity, sorority lines and allows us to proudly face the world as one people.

and…

Africans and other non-European people must plan and strategize for a New World Order distinctly their own that will be developed by them, for them. Our mission should not be to conquer Europe but to contain Europe within its borders and let it be known that anything Europe wants from other parts of the world can be had through honorable trade.

If we understand our mission, I think we will become aware of the fact that we are in a position to give the world a new humanity that will bring into being a new world of safety and respect for all people.

Heady, isn’t it?

Referencing Chapter V: Could Egyptian Civilization Be of Asian Origin?

I just finished reading Chapter V: Could Egyptian Civilization Be of Asian Origin. In this blog, I’m going to focus on the Tower of Babel in ancient Babylon. The reason for this is because it provides a clear case of the depth of the lies of western civilization.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1563)

 This is what the Bible (King James Version) states about the Tower of Babel:

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.  So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

 

 

I read this and immediately have a ton of questions/thoughts. The fact that an astronomical observatory is considered an affront to god suggests to me that the people who wrote the above subjects of that god had no need of knowledge of the stars and couldn’t understand the need for such knowledge as anything other than people interesting only in “making a name”. Evidently they didn’t need the stars to guide goats and sheep from one watering hole to another.

Now, regarding this matter of “one language” and “one speech”, that certainly does sound idyllic on the surface. It sure would be nice if I spoke the same language as someone from China. We could communicate as if we were from the same place and thereby liquidate any spice-of-life cultural differences.   Sounds like something that the English only advocates would praise. Doesn’t their god work on their behalf in slaughtering the different just the Hebrew’s god?

 

Blog 1 to be cont’d…