Blogging


 

In 1998 when I was planning my pilgrimage to West Africa, I was warned against visiting Mauritania. It was explained to me that slavery against the “Black” African population was still practised there by the “White” Arabs and I could therefore put my self at risk. The fear was not so much my abduction and enslavement, but certainly blatant discrimination in a hostile environment where I would have no protection by (or from) the law. Needless to say, I avoided Mauritania.  

I subsequently read a book by Samuel Cotton entitled: Silent Terror: A Journey into Contemporary African Slavery”. Published in 1999, it highlighted his research into the dynamics of modern day slavery in Mauritania and Sudan. I recently read “Slave: My True Story” by Mende Nazer, a horrifying autobiography of her 1993 abduction and enslavement in Sudan at age 12, and her flight to freedom 7 years later while working for a Sudanese diplomat in London England.

I have also read a number of articles on the issue of child slavery in West Africa today. While the system of slavery in Mauritania and Sudan is based primarily on historical and traditional social systems, the phenomenon of child slavery in West African countries is based on poverty. Parents sell their children into slavery for a few dollars and false promises that they will only be working part-time, taken care of and sent to school. It’s ironic that I had visited Ghana during my pilgrimage and toured a number of the slave castles along the coast. I even visited the slave castle in the Kormance Region, where it is very likely that my ancestor(s) were housed before being shipped off to Jamaica as slaves. Today, Ghana is one of the West African countries that has a serious problem with child slavery.   

I would like to share an indepth report from last month on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website (CBC.ca), concerning this issues of modern day slavery and child trafficking in West Africa. The link is here. There are links to the 3 articles penned by David Gutnick which discusses these topics in detail. You will also find links to previous CBC articles and other resource materials about modern day slavery. 

Here is a another link to a case study and other articles by the BBC World Service pertaining to Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Freedom From Slavery”

The challenge now becomes: “now that we know, what are we going to do or can do about it?”  Suggestions are welcomed.              

 

Here are some of the jewels from Africa that has enriched my life:

My favourite online African magazine, The African Executive. Here are 2 of this month’s articles that may be of interest:   

Tribalism in Africa: A Western Creation? 

Is Democracy Working in Africa? 

Blogs:

Africa Beat: political and economic development by an Afro-optimist;

Blog Africa: wide variety of African blogs; 

Le Pangolin: French blogger from Senegal;

Ore’s Notes: Nigerian woman living in Lagos;

Poefrika: a weblog of creative African-inspired writing; 

What an African Woman Thinks: one of my favourites. This blogger in Kenya really personalizes the fears and aspirations of those who are currently experiencing the events in that country. A must read!

Books:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Why Are We So Blest both by Ayi Kwei Armah

Weep Not, Child by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

God’s Bit’s of Wood by Sembene Ousmane

Death and the King’s Horsemen; Madmen and Specialists. Both are by Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka

Long Walk To Freedom. The autobiography of Nelson Mandela

The Wretched Of The Earth by Frantz Fanon

Civilization and Barbarism by Cheikh Anta Diop

West Africa Traditional Religion by T.N.O. Quarcoopome  

Music:

Femi Kuti: Nigerian Afrobeat and Jazz artist.

Angelique Kidjo: Beninese singer and songwriter who performs a variety of afrostyles.

Salif Keita: Albino Malian singer and songwriter with a sweet voice that fits well with his buoyant beats. 

Youssou N’Dour: Senegalese musician who is a modern day Griot.

Miriam Makeba: South African singer, actress, anti-Apartheid activist who was at one time married to Stokley Carmichael.

Hugh Masekela: South Africa Jazz composer and musician, known for his skillz on the trumpet.

Interactive

A Day in the Life of Africa: On February 28th 2002, 100 photojournalists captured the essense of Africa in a 24 hour period. Enter the Gallery at this site and click on each of the 10 Timezones to enjoy some of the magnificent photos.This effort was to raise funds and awareness of the AIDS-HIV crisis on the continent. A photo book is available for sale with proceeds going to Africa AIDS Education Fund.      

On Thursday 08th February, LAPD Officer Randal Simmons was killed in the line of duty. He was a member of a SWAT unit and was responding to an occurrence where a mentally disturbed man had already killed three of his family members. Another officer James Veenstra was also critically wounded. The gunman was eventually killed by other officers.

Officer Simmons, who was 51 years old, is survived by his wife, two teenage children, parents and three sisters. He was also an ordained minister and led the children’s outreach services at his church. This ministry served about 1500 children every weekend in poor L.A. neighbourhoods with food, toys, gospel CDs, bible lessons, puppet shows and games. 

We usually hear (and highlight) the negative things the police are involved with as it relates to our community. Lets not forget those who are positive role models and heroes in life… as well as in death. Say a prayer for his family and colleagues… and also the family of the gunman, Edwin Rivera.  

“We knew that image would grab attention, but I didn’t anticipate the enormity of it,” Dave Seanor, vice president and editor of the weekly magazine, said from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. “There’s been a huge, negative reaction,” he said. “I’ve gotten so many e-mails. It’s a little overwhelming.”

Read article here.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-14

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

 

 

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

It took me a while to be able to sit down and formulate the topic for this month’s carnival topic, but here it is. I wanted come up with something positive to reflect upon, in relation for both the out-going and the upcoming year. Most of us have just come through the Thanksgiving festivities and are now gearing up for the holiday season and new year.

I read a lot of different materials. I read a lot of blogs also…. and there is a dominant  undercurrent of negativity (I know some would call it: controversy) in the media, whether it is print or visual, and especially in the most popular blogs. But it’s understandable because controversy and negativity sells. It get’s the attention. That’s the way our societal mentality has developed…. so we are subconsciously and consciously programmed to focus on the bad…. the negative…. the so-called controversial. So I ain’t mad at yah! However I would like to end the year by asking us here to flip the script, stop drinking the koolaid for a moment, clear our minds and refocus our perspective, and seriously reflect on what are some of the things we are thankful for in 2007, and what are we hopeful for in 2008? What are the achievements in 2007 you are most proud of and what do you hope to achieve in 2008? It can be either personal, as a community you identify with or both…. and please don’t take it as you’re making some sort of new year’s resolution. That’s not the point of this exercise.

Please have the link to your post submitted by next Tuesday 11 December  at Afrospear@hotmail.com, and the carnival date will be Thursday 13 December.

Here is my submission.

I was inspired to re-read “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson in an effort to gain some understanding/perspective to what I was observing in the actions of those of African descent in the Diaspora, as well as the Motherland. Misogynous and self-destructive rap lyrics, debates on the viability if the “N” word among us, brutal acts of violence, genocide, exploitation, oppression etc. , are only some of the things we do to each other. Not that these things don’t happen in other communities, but I am not concerned about those other communities right now. I look at our communities around the world and the self-destructive behaviours which we indulge in and it breaks my heart. The question for me isn’t so much: how did we get here? It’s more: why are we still here and why do we always return here?

I was all set to do a post on chapters 8 and 9 of the book, “Professional Education Discouraged” and “Political Education Neglected”, and how they relate to how we as a people are mis-educated today and how we can re-educate ourselves on these points in an effort to begin to move from here. Then I started following the discussions involving our brother, Francis Holland and his ongoing conflict with DailyKos and My LeftWing. I never understood his obsession with the white liberal democratic blog site DailyKos and his being banned from there. He made it his personal crusade to demolish DK and now he is banned from another white liberal democratic blog site, My LeftWing. He was now on another crusade against them and was calling for support. 

Although most Black/Afro-bloggers counseled and advised Francis to not waste his energy engaged in this conflict, but to focus that energy on Black endeavours, I couldn’t understand why he refused to see that this was a more valuable use of his time and energy. The more I read, the more I meditated on it, the more I had to ask myself: “is this the manifestation, the living example of a “mis-educated Negro in the 21st Century”. The more I saw it in this way, the more I understood the roots of his obsession. Now, this is not a personal attack against Francis. I like and respect Francis and the work he is doing within the Afrosphere and Blackosphere. This is just my view from the outside, using this situation involving Francis and these white liberal blog sites as a backdrop, at what I believe drives a significant portion of the African-American psyche. So let me share what I see as 3 aspects that reflect our “mis-education” today: 1) The allegiance of the majority of Black America to the Democratic Party; 2) Our inability to strategize effectively while engaged in the “Art of War”; 3) The bitter fruits of our mis-education. Then I will present what I think we need to do to re-educate ourselves. 

The allegiance of the majority of Black America to the Democratic Party

“Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised…. The Negro should use his vote rather than give it away to reward the dead for some favors done in the distant past.” Carter G. Woodson

These words by Woodson are so profound, however they are lost on the majority of Black America. DailyKos and My LeftWing are white/eurocentric based liberal websites which spew certain ideals of the Democratic Party and therefore attract those in the majority population who identify with those ideals. Whether these white liberal websites are attractive to African-Americans who hold some or most of the same ideals, isn’t the point. The issue is: why the obsession with wanting to be embraced by them? Why debase and demean ourselves to beg for them to give us a voice in their realm? This is what I see by Francis’s obsession. Regardless of whether what he says on their sites is true or not…. whether his challenging of their hypocrisy is noble or not…. whether his perspective brings an alternate but just as significant way of seeing the world or not…. his efforts on their sites is a waste of time and energy. They don’t want to hear it. They dismiss it. Historically and even more so today (DON’T be fooled by the white liberal media creation: “Obamamania”), the voice of the “Negro” has never mattered in any segment of White America, so why should it matter in the Whitosphere…. especially the white liberal segment of the Whitosphere. So they banned him from commenting on their space. Are we surprised? Did we expect anything different to occur?

Francis’s campaign against DailyKos and My LeftWing reminds me of the efforts of a jilted lover, who has now become a stalker…. and his former lover, is now his prey. He will do all that he can, use all his energy and resources to discredit and demonize his former lover. If he can’t have her, no-one else can! And Francis is not alone in his “mis-educated” allegiance and obsession to the white liberal cause. Recently I have seen 2 members of the Afrosphere Bloggers Association cancel their membership for no other reason than an admitted Black Republican was given the opportunity to join their collective! The program of “divide and conquer” is still alive and healthy within the Black/African community at large and with our Afrosphere in particular. Blue vs. Red; Bloods vs. Crips; Hutus vs. Tutsis; Africans vs. African-Americans; African-Americans vs. Afro-Caribbeans; Black Christians vs. Black Muslims; Black liberals vs. Black conservatives etc. 

Our inability to strategize effectively while engaged in the “Art of War”

“In general, whoever occupies the battleground first and awaits the enemy will be at ease; whoever occupies the battleground afterward and must race to the conflict will be fatigued. Thus one who excels at warfare compels men and is not compelled by other men. Sun-Tzu. The Art of War. 

The liberal Whitosphere is not our battleground. They own it. They control it. They manipulate it. They can allow and censure whichever voices they so desire. Are we still so “mis-educated” to believe that it is only through the white man and whatever system(s) he controls – such as the liberal whitosphere, that we can be effective in our struggles? That it is to them and through them alone, that our voices can only have any credibility and therefore needs to be heard…. and acknowledged? And if they do deny us that voice, if they censure and ban us, are we still so “mis-educated” to believe that it is noble to galvanize all our forces to take the fight to their battleground…. for an already lost cause! What is the point of a “mis-educated” strategy to “piss off white liberals” on their own battleground? What is so “radical” about wrapping oneself in the cloak of self-martyrdom? 

“The Negroes have always had sufficient reason to be radical, and it looks silly to see them taking up the cause of others who pretend that they are interested in the Negro when they merely mean to use the race as a means to an end.” Carter G. Woodson

What is truly “radical” is focusing our visions, efforts and energies on creating our own spaces, cells and collectives, to work together, regardless of politics, religion, ideology, gender, orientation, ethnicity, culture, etc., for our own progress! From these bases of operations which are in our control, we can launch our attacks, both offensive and defensive ones, against the system to struggle for pertinent and substantive victories. Naive? Far-fetched? Well look at the successes of the Afrosphere efforts in regards to Kenneth Foster and Shaquanda Cotton. These efforts prove that we have the skills, knowledge, abilities, wisdom to be powerful in our own right… through our own “Afrosphere”…. to bring the fight to those who would oppress and abuse us…. to make a real difference…. to “compel men”…. 

The bitter fruits of our mis-education

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his own special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

Self-delusion and self-destruction are the fruits of the mis-educated Negro. I observed how Francis deluded himself in believing that the 120 daily hits his “Truth about Kos” blog receives is an indication that whites, so-called progressives and Republicans, “are looking for information that they can print at their own blogs against Markos Moulitsas to buttress their belief that Markos Moultisas simply isn’t who he pretends to be.” He goes on to state that: “My “Truth About Kos” blog is providing leadership and information to those who want to discredit and reject this white supremacist blogger. One of the ways they are becoming aware of this information is because I post links at white blogs.  If they could completely prevent me from posting these links, then they could prevent me from disseminating the information I have discovered to white people. What stands out most to me in regards to these comments, are that all of these efforts are being done for the benefit of white people. (Interestingly enough, on Meet the Press on the Sunday of that same week, there was a debate between Markos and the Black former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., now Chairman of the Democratic Leadreship Council, on the direction of the Democratic Party. Markos had Ford sounding like a right wing Nazi sympathizer! lol! However, there was no mention of Markos’s CIA connection or any campaign(s) against his website.)    

I also observed how Francis’s obsession with his crusade against DailyKos and My LeftWing began to sow dissention and polarization within the Afrosphere. He went on to accuse another Black blogger who didn’t support his positions regarding DailyKos and My LeftWing, as defending “CIA-trained Markos Moulitsas” and subsequently refered to her as a “house slave”. This all lead to some calling for his banning in the Afrosphere also, while others declared that if he was banned, then they didn’t want to be a part of the Afrosphere. The seeds of self-destruction had been sown. Thankfully the Afrosphere weathered this storm…. this time. 

So how do we proceed from here today? How do we begin a successful process of re-education. Work and Patience! Let me humbly defer to the words of Carter G. Woodson on this matter, which he wrote in 1933. They are still applicable today:

“The Negro, whether in Africa or America, must be directed toward a serious examination of the fundamentals of education, religion, literature and philosophy as they have been expounded to him. He must be sufficiently enlightened to determine for himself whether these forces have come into his life to bless him or to bless his oppressor. After learning the facts in the case, the Negro must develop the power of execution to deal with these matters as do people of vision. Problems of great importance cannot be worked out in a day. Questions of great moment must be met with far-reaching plans.”                                      

I did a post previously over at the Afrospear on cyber-activism. I wanted to raise the issue of the real and perceived dangers associated with blogging about topics that may catch the attention of government agencies, primarily in the “West”. For me this discussion was primarily an intellectual exercise. Here is an email I received from a fellow AfroSpear member from a country in Africa:        

“Bloggers are not exactly appericiated in my part of the world so I was hoping to remain anonymous. When I first started blogging, I didn’t think that my identity will be a problem but in in 2006, some bloggers were jailed in Egypt. My blog is usually random, sometimes political but I never directly criticize governments however, there is more censorship now and after some long conversations with concerned friends and family members, I decided to stick to “kizzie” and never mention my real name n personal information.”

This is indeed troubling. In this age where reaching out to others around the world through cyberspace can happen in a matter of seconds…. of sharing ideas, exchanging information…. which can have the effect of bringing power to truth…. the pen (keyboard) is certainly mightier than the sword (gun) in moving and changing people…. in inspiring the masses…. (here is an interesting post from Field Negro on the “keyboard revolution”) So yes, governments are fearful. Some more than others. Hence the threat to life in some parts of the world for engaging in this activity. 

The above email has given me cause to reflect…. not so much on how good I have it here in Canada…. the non-existent possibility of arrest, torture or other physical reprecussions for blogging on political and social topics…. but on my responsibility to write what I “feel” concerning what I “see” and understand about issues, that others may not or cannot do.

May Allah keep you and your family safe “Kizzie”.    

I read a very troubling article in the African Executive on the growth of human sacrifice in Liberia. Culled from the article:

Locally called “Gboyo” – the practice of killing people so that their body parts can be extracted and offered as sacrifices to bring power, wealth and success has not been addressed by Liberian elites. This has made the practice to grow to such an extent that on June 29, 2005, prior to Liberia’s current democratic dispensation, its interim leader, Gyude Bryant, warned any aspiring presidential candidates tempted to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices that they would be executed. “If you think you can take somebody’s life in order to be president, or the speaker (of parliament) or a senator, without anything being done to you, then you are fooling yourself,” he warned. 

The highlight of Liberia’s human sacrifice was supremely seen during the 14-year vicious civil war (1989-2003), where a mixture of the negative aspects of Liberia’s traditional cultural values and the criminal behaviour of its mindless “Big Men,” who have the cultural belief, like most Africa societies, that it is culturally right to sacrifice their victims for their various ambitions prevailed. In this atmosphere, child soldiers ate their victims’ hearts and other body parts for spiritual powers.  

How is the oldest “Republic in Africa,” supposed to be a shining light of Africa, so challenged by negative cultural practices that threaten to undo its developmental gains? That the growth in human sacrifice appears not to go away 150 years after independence shows that Liberia is yet to have a wholistic grasp of its cultural values (positive or negative) that drive the foundations of development.

                                                                                                                                                                The article written by Kofi Akosah-Sarpong of the Expo Times Independent Sierra Leone is very troubling to say the least. It confirms once more what the Bible states about the “heart of man” in Jeremiah 17:9:

                                                                                                                                                               “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

 

John Smulo asked me to participate in this meme…. which I am more than happy to do:

  1. He sacrificed his life for me out of unconditional love, so that I could have a personal relationship with God;
  2. He revolutionized religious behaviour through the “Sermon on the Mount”;
  3. He “called” it as He “saw” it, regardless (and knowing) of the consequences;
  4. He challenged the rigidity, religiosity and hypocrisy of the religious leadership of his day;
  5. He accepts me as I am, while expects me to be the best I can be through Him.

I now tag anyone who is inspired to share in this topic. Please let me know if you do.

Asa. 

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.