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.

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).


I believe that there is a great desolation in our souls that results from our failure to create a sovereign expression of our peoplehood. Absent territorial sovereignty, we are and will remain subject to the caprice of more powerful groups. Nationhood is no guarantee of happiness or security, but it reflects a more determined pursuit of these things.

Kawaida and Pan-Africanism

A compelling proposal from Kawaida: An Introductory Outline by Maulana Karenga. Sadly, much of this remains in the realm of the conceptual rather than the actual.

D. Build Pan-Africanism – As Pan-Africanists, we must build Pan-Africanism as a global project, not just a continental one. Any serious and successful Pan-Africanism must be rooted in and reflective of the following basic principles and practice:

1. unity and struggle of Africans wherever they are;

2. acceptance of the principle that the greatest contribution to the liberation of African peoples is the liberation struggle each people wages to liberate itself, and thus;

3. acquire the effective capacity to aid others still struggling. In a word, the overall struggle for African liberation is one, but a people must begin the struggle wherever they are.

4. development of mutually beneficial cooperative efforts between Continental and Diasporan African.

Kawaida proposals at FESTAC: a. permanent Afro-American observer status at OAU; b. All African People’s Convention-international as distinct from continental (OAU) – Continental and Diasporan; c. Pan-African University-Continental and Diasporan; d. Diasporan Studies in all African universities as African Studies in West; e. Continental and Diasporan common language – Swahili; f. developmental capital – for all Africans; g. African people’s lobby-for all Africans; h. African people’s skills bank-for all Africans; i. support in the UN-and other international bodies by African countries for Afro-Americans and other Diasporan Africans and other concrete support (political pressure, capital, information, asylum, etc. where possible).

5. recognition and response to the fact that in the final analysis, each people is its own liberator. A people that cannot save itself is lost forever.


“Every people should be the originators of their own designs, the projector of their own schemes, and creators of the events that lead to their destiny—the consummation of their desires.”
-Martin Robeson Delany


What does it mean to struggle for “equality”, “inclusion”, or “justice” in a society with a history of colonialism, enslavement, and sexism? How does such a struggle not simply seek to reform, amend, or slightly adjust the adjust the social order rather than subvert it? Does not the discourse of reform necessarily reenforce the perceived legitimacy of the existing order? And does this sense of legitimacy constrain the capacity of social actors to envision and construct a truly emancipatory society? I begin with these histories, because they are not a past truly removed from the present, as they are relived and re-inscribed daily.

Denmark Vessey wasn’t interested in reform. Neither was Harriet Tubman. Neither was Marcus and Amy Jacques Garvey. The reformist position necessarily precludes the tactics or philosophy of radicalism. Can a people who have experienced the dispossession and dehumanization that Africans in this country have endured afford to be reformist? What is the cost of seeking to adjust a society that daily feasts on the Black body? What viable future emerges from this vacuous path?