Some memorable episodes of reflection

In coming to this reasoning, there are some memorable episodes in getting to the point of nation building. Over the last few centuries, the works of scholars, spokesmen, community activists, and religious missions have continued to remind us of our collective experiences of oneness.

In the 1870’s and 1880’s, intellectual Ethiopianist, Edward Wilmot Blyden represented the first of a long line of brilliant Caribbean intellectuals who contributed toward the development of an ideology of Pan-Africanism through the study of Christian doctrine while living in the US, Europe, and West Africa. Many free Africans in the west were inspired to return to build Africa from the knowledge of Ethiopianism and experience gained in the west. Blyden gave American Blacks a new vision of themselves in relation to their ancestral home of Ethiopia, and Africans as well, were given a new vision of themselves as part of a wider identity than they had previously perceived. The Negro in Ancient History expanded the Ethiopianist movement in Black churches, the emigration movement to Africa and various expressions of Black nationalism. Edward Blydens recasting of Ethiopianisms began by sharing the earliest traditions of the more civilized nations of antiquity where the name Ethiopia could be found. The entire continent was referred to as Ethiopia.

The annals of the Egyptian priests were full of references to Ethiopia, the nations of inner Asia, on the Euphrates and Tigris. The Ethiopians were celebrated in verses of Greek poets as the most just of men, the favorites of the gods in classical literature (1970 p.58 Drake).

When Homer, for example, spread the word west and south, Black Africans—Ethiopians—had occupied the northern provinces of Africa, crossed the great desert, penetrated into the Sudan, and made their way to the West Coast. The ancient Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, and those enslaved were all descendants of the first civilizers; those called Ethiopians participating in the Greek and Roman armies as Black generals played prominent roles in the ancient world. Blyden wrote about the Arabic Islamic world and discussed the myth of Black inferiority to justify the transatlantic slave trade, answering the question of who are we, but not why some of us lost our identity. Is it economic and geographic determinism that put the North American Africans in a different place, a different sensibility as the Atlantians? That question persists today.

Blyden ultimately saw it as the suffering of the people of the African world within the Christian myths to redeem all men through the Black man’s sufferation as in forgiving the murder of nine black people in church praying with a shot in their back in the hope of teaching a humanity to others.

When Ethiopianism and Christian based concepts of Providential Design and Black Messianism are replaced by Marxist based versions of Pan-Africanism and œsecular Black Messianism, we have one set of religious myths or worldviews substituted for another. At the 1974 Pan African Meeting in Tanzania, the Americans demonstrated the myth remained. They could not rally with those from the the continent and the Caribbean, but saw themselves intimately connected to North America and American Black Nationalism (personal conversation with Mama Forika (2016). The Negritude Francophone movements, Pan-Africanisms in the English Caribbean, Black Power in the U.S. assumed political importance.

One must credit Garvey with the work and initiative of such organizing which influenced these movements in the early twentieth century. Marcus Garvey’s work expressed in the anthem of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association the collectivity of Africa. Garvey’s son has again recently made a strong plea to outgoing President Obama to grant a presidential pardon to the late Marcus Mosiah Garvey, viewed as a champion for people of African descent in the first half of the 20th century. Convinced Garvey was victimized by the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover for his activities in endeavoring to establish the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation for economic development and unity of African people worldwide. The Black Star was to transport goods and people throughout Africa and the America’s. Garvey had a tremendous impact in the US and Central America.

Thereafter perhaps this is where African American consciousness changed. I remember when my grandparent elders whispered about marching with Garvey in New York City. Certainly in terms of some of the icons that followed in North America, Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. and even Stokely Carmichael felt their suffering would save America and the world. They had become entangled with European populations on lands they shared. Are we the sacrifice within the new geographic context was the question? One might reflect that many of the movements which followed certainly were. The Panther Party to name one but many others.

W.E.B. DuBois, Black elder statesman, who became a communist and emigrated to Ghana in his 90’s elaborated on how the suffering of blacks in America was to show white men how real socialism would work. Those who suffered the most had the most to teach. African Americans did not embrace the Pan Africanism movements of the Caribbean, and today they do not rally around The Diaspora identity in mass numbers. As the diversity of geographic movements have increased cross culturally in virtually all areas the question of what has racial categories taught us remains? African populations are at the bottom. What is of interest is to study when is that not the case.

Written by: Ida Tafari

Stay informed by joining the movement and get your AFRIKIN SWAG here.