The maroon position

My intellectual genealogy is not traceable to Europe or any European thinker. Similarly, my position on the politics of most things can be summed up as the “maroon” position, that is the position of those Africans who, so determined to escape chattel slavery, that they fled the plantations and established free and independent communities in the swamps, hills, caves, and so on of the so-called “New World”.

Not content to be free while others suffered, many of the maroons would often wage war against the system of slavery. The maroons were advocates of African self-determination. They were advocates for the preservation and adaptation of African cultures and traditions. They realized that institution building was vital to their survival, thus they sustained families, grew food, defended their territories and so on. Their logic could be summed up as follows: The only means whereby we can fully actualize optimal living conditions for our people, is to live free of foreign domination.

Again, as stated, my position on most things is the maroon position. I see no separation between the imperatives of our ancestors and ourselves.

Afrihili reflections

Language is a domain of struggle. The dominance of the colonial languages establishes conceptual and political vectors that reinforces the dominance of Europeans. Liberating our consciousness also requires the decolonization of our worldview. Languages are tools in this endeavor.

One of the most immediate challenges that I see with respect to the reclamation of African languages in the Diaspora, is the question of learnability. Language is a domain of struggle. The dominance of the colonial languages establishes conceptual and political vectors that reinforces the dominance of Europeans. Liberating our consciousness also requires the decolonization of our worldview. Languages are tools in this endeavor.

This is one of the reasons why Attobrah’s Afrihili is an interesting case. He sought to construct an Esperanto-like African language to serve the ends of Pan-African communication. Afrihili utilized words from various African languages, along with a relatively simple grammar.

Here I elaborate on Afrihili and its potential significance: http://www.quora.com/Can-a-language-like-Es…/…/Kamau-Rashid….

In the 1967, a Ghanaian engineer named K.A. Kumi Attobrah created an artificial Pan-African language named El-Afrihili. His language drew upon a range of African languages from throughout the continent.

As someone who has some knowledge of several African languages, there are a number of things within the language that are immediately recognizable. Examples include the word “zuri” (from Swahili) for “nice, “papa” (from Twi) for good, “sabo” (from Hausa) for “new”, and so on.

There are a few articles that have been written about it (here: http://lingweenie.org/conlang/afrihili/ and ” 2014 ” April Fiat Lingua). Also, Attobrah’s manual for the language can be found in a few libraries.

Sadly, Attobrah’s project did not catch on. However, Swahili, due to its flexibility and diffusion, is the best candidate for a Pan-African language.

The question remains, as to whether Attobrah’s work should be revived and perhaps augmented for Africans today.

Vectors

Language is a domain of struggle. The dominance of the colonial languages establishes conceptual and political vectors that reinforces the dominance of Europeans. Liberating our consciousness also requires the decolonization of our worldview. Languages are tools in this endeavor.

The desert

The problem is that many of us know so little about who we are as a people, that we seek refuge in the desert. Those of us who understand the importance of an African worldview must show that the desert is a wasteland, not a safe haven, and lead our people to an oasis instead.

The corporate Hip Hop project

With respect to corporate Hip Hop, I would argue that what we are seeing is not “artistic expression”, but merely a corporate commodity. Further, that the commodification of art requires its necessary reduction. This reduction can be thought of as simplification, or as replication, or as distortion. Thus instead of being expressive of, and resonant with the myriad historical and cultural dynamics of Black cultures–which Hip Hop has historically been engaged with–what we now have is, I would suggest, is in the image and interest of corporate capitalism. From a certain point of view, whereas “art” is concerned and whereas issues of cultural tradition are concerned, this might be a soulless thing which looms before us. In this way, I think that Nas was correct–Hip Hop is dead. May she rest in peace.

Ambiguous group signifiers

Vapid concepts are often accompanied by nebulous articulations of necessary actions de-linked from the tradition of Black struggle that has sought to restore the African way (cultural reclamation) and reestablish our sovereignty (nationhood and independence).

Without end

In an anti-African context, one wherein the subject status of Africans vis-a-vis slavery and colonialism has established the operational conditions of our interactions with white institutions as one of perpetual dehumanization.

The deep well of African cultural knowledge

Many of us, in ignorance, assume that traditional African cultures provide nothing of value, especially when juxtaposed to the spectacle of the West. This would be a profoundly erroneous assumption.

Part of the reason why we must delve deeply into African knowledges is to rehabilitate our deficient conceptions of African culture. We must, as Dr. Karenga suggests, draw upon African culture as a resource, and not as a merely as a reference (though too few do even this).

Forgetfulness

Many of us exist as signifiers of what is often a forgotten or ignored past. As Cynthia Dillard asserts, in this era forgetfulness is encouraged. Loss of historical knowledge augments the malleability of human beings, enabling those with power to forge them into whatever material they desire. Some of us have suggested that such is not to be the fate of the descendants of the enslaved and the colonized. Herein, history becomes, as Anderson Thompson says, “a heavy weapon in the battle for freedom”.

Cultural penetration

To safeguard one’s own culture and its accompanying worldview is a necessary defense against processes of colonization. Cultural penetration, as a weapon of colonizers, remains one of the most effective means to undermine the ideational and structural capacities of any people.