Agents

I watched and participated in a Zoom discussion of Judas and the Black Messiah tonight. One of the points that I raised is that William O’Neal exemplifies the betrayer archetype. Men/women such as he have been an ever-present menace for African people. They are a recurring response of Europeans to the struggle for African freedom.

We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that agents and traitors will disappear or cease to be consequential at any point in our movement. Quite often, much like O’Neal himself, such persons will rise to prominence within the organizations and movements that they have been set against. We should even consider that such individuals will fabricate movements so as to sow seeds of confusion, discord, and facilitate misdirection.

At best, we can carry out our work in a such a manner that limits the destructive capacity of traitors. One partial solution to this is to engage in struggle in a manner that is highly decentralized, characterized by independent yet ideologically aligned collectives, groups working towards a common aim, yet who maintain localized organizational structures characterized by collective forms of governance.

This is perhaps easier said than done. Dynamic work often coheres around a visionary mind. Their genius is an asset to our struggle, yet in our adversary’s aim to maintain our oppression, they are often targeted and imprisoned or killed in the hopes that their deaths will destroy the movement. There will always be people like Chairman Fred Hampton who animate the imaginations of the people and who articulate a vision of a future free from the fetters of oppression. Such individuals will also be targeted by the state. The key, the principle challenge is to ensure the survival and expansion of the movement beyond the deaths of inspiring leaders, beyond the acts of sabotage by traitors, and beyond the machinations of our enemies. To demonstrate through work and determination that “You can kill the revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution.”

Echo chambers

One of the things that continually intrigues me about social media is how truth claims are held to be intrinsically valid within their echo chambers of congruence. Such a phenomenon preceded social media and the internet, yet the former has greatly exacerbated it.

Treachery

Treachery has long been a nemesis of African movements for self-determination. Traitors have often aligned themselves with the revolutionary struggles only as a means to pursue counterrevolutionary ends. These traitors have, invariably, placed their own self-aggrandizement over the interests of the masses. Their actions have also reinforced European dominance.

Such patterns persist in the present day. In fact, the politics of tepid multiculturalism and the ethos of atomistic individualism provides a convenient ideological cover for such acts today. Individuals who become exponents of such positions are often celebrated. Their visibility is often strategically useful in the propagation of a debilitating confusion and alienation, which negates a consciousness of who we are–Africans–and a commitment to what we should be doing– reclaiming our culture and  restoring our sovereignty.

No praxis more revolutionary

I consider no praxis more revolutionary than the model provided by the African maroons throughout the Americas who left for us an audacious legacy of struggle for us to study and learn from today.

The “Asian-ness” of the martial arts

A year or so ago I journeyed to Madison, Wisconsin to purchase a book from Dr. Edward Powe. The book was entitled, “Combat Games of Northern Nigeria“. My interest was to learn more about the combat traditions of the Hausa people. The Hausa have one of the most rich martial cultures that I know of on the continent with traditions of boxing, wrestling, blade-fighting and stick-fighting.

In truth, I only recently learned of their stick-fighting through a friend, Da’Mon Stith. This was very enlightening and increased my interest in the combat traditions of the Hausa. Interestingly, while I did locate videos of this art online, they were curiously labled as “Karate”. This is what I mean by the “Asian-ness” of the martial arts. Not that there are no African martial arts, but that the concept of “martial arts” as a kind of social activity is generally dominated by Asian representations. This can be attributed to the film industry (beginning in the 1970s), the formalization of the arts (beginning perhaps with Jigoro Kano in the early 20th Century), and their commercialization (primarily in 20th Century) in places like Hong Kong, the US, and Europe. As a consequence of these developments, for many of our people, “martial arts” inherently refer to Asian combat traditions, so much so that many Black fighting traditions are sometimes not perceived as such. This is true throughout the African world.

Ancestral guidance on speaking truth

Throughout my life I have seen many people hide behind ideals and beliefs of “truth” as a way to justify abusive behavior. In fact, they may use their supposedly superior claims to truth as a way of explain away their actions as something other than abuse.

I think that we should all be concerned with truth. We find that truth was held as one of the highest concerns of our ancestors. However, I also know that our ancestors gave us a great deal of guidance pertaining to our speech. They told us to use 𓌃𓄤 (mdw nfr) “good speech”, to practice ìwà pẹ̀lẹ́ (gentle character) with our loved ones. There was a reason for this. Harsh words can create enmity where love once dwelled. Intemperate speech erodes respect where esteem once stood. Our ancestors knew this from observing reality. They did not say speak falsely. They said “𓆓𓂧𓁦”, (Djed Maat), “Speak truth”. They also said that speech should be “measured”. I think that they knew what they were talking about.

So one should and must “Speak truth”. But one must also be mindful of how one’s character is formed and expressed by one’s speech. “Truth” cannot be used to justify suban bɔne (bad character).