Yorùbá philosophy and personal development

There are a variety of recommendations for personal development that recur in the Odù Ifá, a text of Yorùbá deep thought. These are listed below.
1. The cultivation of wisdom as a means of transcending suffering and difficulties.
2. A willingness to confront life’s challenges.
3. A commitment for doing good and acting to promote good in the world.
4. The maintenance of calmness and allowing for such calmness of mind to inform our deliberations.
5. Being attentive to important matters.
6. Recognizing that humanity is best and fully expressed by the practice of good character.
7. Recognizing our social obligations–that is our inescapable duties to the world around us.
For more insight on Yorùbá philosophy I recommend Odù Ifá: The Ethical Teachings by Maulana Karenga, Ifá Will Mend Our Broken World by Wande Abimbọla, and African Philosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities by Segun Gbadegesin.

The circular logic of conspiracy theories (the bizarre idea that Black people are indigenous to the Americas or our continued flight from being African)

I was attempting to explain to a brother who insists that African Americans are indigenous to the Americas that if this was true, our DNA would as dissimilar to continental Africans as the DNA of Blacks in Asia and Australia. I don’t know if he understood my point, which is that a separation of tens of thousands of years would have occasioned mutations that would have greatly differentiated us from our counterparts in Africa. We wouldn’t take DNA tests and have shared DNA with people from places like Ghana or Nigeria for instance.

Of course there are other elements of these arguments that are deeply flawed, but I found his perspective to be consistent with that of most people who I’ve encountered who believe all manner of conspiracy theories–1) documented evidence is fabricated by some seemingly omnipotent and hidden malevolent force, 2) unreliable and anecdotal sources are regarded as concrete evidence, and 3) a circular logic posits that a lack of evidence in support of the theory is evidence of the existence and scale of the conspiracy.


We talk about ideologies in terms of certain political orientations, but I think that it is important to explore the personal investments that people make in ideology–why these ideas appeal, what they provide psychologically and socially, etc. Ideologies are often refuges.

Reason against absolutism

Any set of conceptual, paradigmatic, philosophical, theoretical, or ideological premises, even if supposedly liberatory in origin or intent, if grounded in absolutist premises which pose simplistic responses to complex quandaries, can potentially become instruments of oppression.

One should guard one’s mind accordingly.

Language resources


Abibitumi: http://abibitumi.com

LearnAkan.com: https://www.learnakan.com/

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

Video Lessons: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-vyAPawT20CKpp9H-xjFlg?fbclid=IwAR079pHmTkHwrogp1k6rfyhwO46RpcAXel3vR7Se5YsK7lW_DgO396zfBgk



Fulani-English/English-Fulani Dictionary and Phrasebook: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0781813840/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A1JKVWH22E85VP&psc=1

Pulaar-English Dictionary: https://www.amazon.com/Pulaar-English-English-Pulaar-Standard-Dictionary-Hippocrene/dp/0781804795/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532305251&sr=8-1&keywords=pulaar

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

A free Fula textbook: https://www.livelingua.com/fsi/Fsi-FulaBasicCourse-StudentText.pdf

A free Pular textbook: http://www.ibamba.net/pular/manual.pdf



Teach Yourself Hausa: http://www.teachyourselfhausa.com/

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

English-Hausa Dictionary: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300047028/english-hausa-dictionary?fbclid=IwAR29l1Yo2Ph0kj9_wqI9PXsQ342GmEYzATLW9TaPlJCTpC6RUG1ygRS2Ir4

Hausa-English Dictionary: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300122466/hausa-english-dictionary?fbclid=IwAR2TlgJZvIMoR8EfzRH6gQgXUsZBJkyYDq3yc0h9Ka5WSUdqc3bIUK5SuvE

Hippocrene Hausa-English Dictionary: https://books.google.com/books?id=sJZkAAAAMAAJ&dq&fbclid=IwAR2EL0RM1xkuq6TFLbZm-GHNgiErv_WYhPy1bbhxeWR9nueE1ddAk2zyXwU



An Igbo phrasebook: https://wikitravel.org/en/Igbo_phrasebook?fbclid=IwAR0MHHBL3Vm2oPOk4OsVmb37swXj3Yi2gKCyjgKE8aRN6XLtTXXzUwnwUrQ

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

Various resources: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/igbo.htm?fbclid=IwAR36vUepU2488lBWsNHCDi6MU6PyGPvp_j2q_0kQyeD1p1k7VtETJKNy1Kw



Abibitumi: http://abibitumi.com

The Swahili Institute of Chicago: http://swahiliinstitute.org/

A free textbook from Kansas University: http://www2.ku.edu/~kiswahili/pdfs/all.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2ptAPg3yhurmaJkN4L84kP_dcOQYUZ9DzRtxApcnIy4OMzvVcg2vXPJBI

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

Various resources: https://allnet.uiowa.edu/swahili-language-and-culture-resources?fbclid=IwAR2Me1ONaBvwCiIOScXVJvFzH5lVE3VXCXqZfnmgevee-8cQsVWaA_eayKs


mdw nTr (Medu Netcher)

Abibitumi: http://abibitumi.com

The Kemetic Institute of Chicago: http://www.ki-chicago.org/

Sebat Rkhty Amen’s school: http://www.meduneter.com/

Mfundishi Jhwtyms’s mdw nTr classes: http://www.mfundishijhutymsmdwntchr.com

Middle Egyptian by James Allen: https://www.cambridge.org/hk/academic/subjects/languages-linguistics/arabic-and-middle-eastern-language-and-linguistics/middle-egyptian-introduction-language-and-culture-hieroglyphs-3rd-edition?format=PB&isbn=9781107663282



Abibitumi: http://abibitumi.com

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

Various resources: https://allnet.uiowa.edu/wolof-language-and-culture-resources?fbclid=IwAR3G1fxjMwpfP4A091PtpkMpcjd5jEjh3-OkiVlULwtN2vcRKGg2VZnYJk4

Video lessons: https://www.youtube.com/user/Moustaphasarr?fbclid=IwAR3Sqq0N4VWvJCqA3mb_lSVCPWZTTbR7NNLbgviEjCqaFPkcl-P4zOAHlVA



Abibitumi: http://abibitumi.com

A free textbook from the University of Texas at Austin: http://www.coerll.utexas.edu/yemi/index.php?fbclid=IwAR0aL7UAS3N3Mzh0viMJvY0s7xPjbAa37d3aQkyxWoMVgzieMzDuo51eyb8

A pronunciation guide: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Yoruba/Pronunciation?fbclid=IwAR0KtmJvprYAMB0nTHrYLxAxP3pIxdjjCV4E4G4o_-oim1AmCSG5m7F9TUQ

Textbooks from the National African Language Resource Center: https://nalrc.indiana.edu/resources/books-media/lets-speak.html

Various resources: https://allnet.uiowa.edu/yoruba-language-and-culture-resources?fbclid=IwAR1QjAGBnV62aI2TrA9E_aF1yQsLdiVwTDS7HBvqbllPL3-QGP_2zgFjzOM


Kujitiwala: An Afrikan Sovereignist interpretation of the Nguzo Saba


An Afrikan Sovereignist interpretation of the Nguzo Saba

UMOJA (“unity”) 
The Pan-Afrikanist Vision of Afrikan people throughout the world joining forces to fight for Afrikan Sovereignty and to build an Afrikan World Order.

KUJICHAGULIA (“self-determination”)
Afrikan people defining ourselves and determining our own destiny as a Sovereign people.

UJIMA (“collective work and responsibility”)
Afrikan people working together, being responsible to and for each other, and accepting a common system of accountability.

UJAMAA (“familyhood”)
Creating economic cooperatives based on the concept of Afrikan familyhood, interdependence, interrelationship, and village and national unity.

NIA (“purpose”)
Afrikan people sharing common goals that determine our commitments and guide our choices and decisions. This gives purpose to our lives and to our work, and tells us why we were born Afrikan.

KUUMBA (“creativity”)
To think with Afrikan minds and to create from our Afrikan-center. When we practice this principle, we no longer imitate europeans. We find our own way.

IMANI (“faith”)
To believe in the Vision of Afrikan Sovereignty, and to have the passion and the wer (“will,” “heart”) to bring it into being.

Mama Marimba Ani

Religious absolutism

Many of us are beset by a static notion of “tradition“, one that does not effectively account for the exchanges that have occurred between Africa and the world. The most common manifestation of this are the “new holy wars“, but these manifest themselves in other problematic ways.

I recall learning about efforts to purge the Swahili of its Arabic and Farsi loan words. For someone who is driven by a quest for an imagined cultural purity, perhaps this makes sense, but this is only one way to look at things. The development of the language in its present form reveals the complexity, the multiple textures of the East African coast–the centuries of exchanges between there and the broader Indian Ocean world. Mugane’s Story of Swahili discusses this at length wherein he posits that the language reflects the cosmopolitanism of the coast.

I fear that for those of us who are the crusaders for an imagined cultural purity, that there is a deep underestimation of the resiliency of the African way in the face of outside cultures. I do not believe that this is a logical premise. Take for instance Hampâté Bâ’s magnificent work Kaidara. We find in this tale the Fulani tradition, one which reveals a synergy between Islamic & indigenous influences. It is far from the narrative of irreconcilable realities that many have suggested must characterize these two.

Consider also the various Black “radical” traditions that have gained expression through Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Whether we are speaking of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, or others–are these not instances of African agency in the US?

I argue that for African people, these religious faiths have been utilized as mediums of our culture and political agency. I do not see them in a deterministic lens, that is that these have inevitably been means of cultural corruption or degradation, but the quite the contrary. I argue that our interaction with these faiths has–in the best of times–evidenced a synergy between our irrepressible striving for self-determination, our rich and varied cultural traditions, and the ideals and traditions of these faiths themselves. Thus I do not consider Malcolm X’s Islam, or Bishop Turner’s Christianity, or Boukman’s Vodun, or even John G. Jackson’s atheism arbitrary. Similarly, I do not see our capacity as being negated via these religious vehicles, but rather providing them a means of expression.

Ultimately, if we are serious about getting free, we have to consider the idiocy of a politics of religious absolutism–that is that all African people must acquiesce to one’s own preferred religious dogma. This is not only improbable, it is corrosive of potential unity.


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.

Kwanzaa as a reflection upon past and future

Originally printed in the newsletter of Indigo Homeschool Association.

Kwanzaa represents a contribution to the on-going process of re-Africanization that many Africans in the U.S have been undertaking in the wake of the maafa—the interrelated processes of enslavement, colonialism, and their aftermaths. Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa, sought to create a shared cultural experience among Africans in the United States that would serve to remind them of their African heritage, reinforce values which would serve to advance their struggle for liberation, and demonstrate the capacity of a self-determining people to create moments in time and space where they declare their intent to reflect upon themselves, their legacy, and their future.

The experience of Africans in the U.S. has been characterized as an incessant assault upon their minds, bodies, and institutions. Yet despite these efforts we have consistently looked back, struggling to reclaim an African heritage many thought lost to us. This is evident in the 19th Century when Martin R. Delany attempted to lay claim to ancient Egypt as a quintessentially Black civilization. In fact Delany’s 1859 visit to west Africa was an attempt to establish a settlement for African Americans desirous of leaving the U.S. Thus Delany’s efforts represent a process of looking back and forwards to Africa—looking back for the African American past, and looking forward for the African American future.
In short, Kwanzaa provides an occasion to engage in such lofty reflection. It enables us to take account of our past deeds, and to commit ourselves to a future which seeks to restore African people to their traditional greatness.