Friday, March 23, 2012


Your President is obviously playing election year politics with black life, trying to insure the black vote is solid so he can continue his policy of killing children around the world, e.g., Iraq,Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere too numerous to mention with the USA's trillion dollar military killing machine. If he cares so much about the sons that could be his son, why doesn't he call for an end to New York's stopping and frisking of 700,000 young black men like Trayvon Martin? After all, if they fail the "tone test" they could all end up like Trayvon. When stopped, depending on the tone of voice, black men can be arrested, released or killed.
Why doesn't he call for a general amnesty of the 2.4 million incarcerated black, brown and poor white sons locked down in the America gulags for mostly petty crimes committed while they were drug addicted and mentally ill?
Why doesn't he have a jobs program for his American sons, similar to the one he's offering the young men in Afghanistan if they will lay down their arms and pledge allegiance to the puppet Karzai regime? How can he offer the Taliban sons housing, jobs and education while his American sons are homeless, jobless, ignorant, drug addicted and mentally ill? Vote for me, I'll set you free!
--Marvin X

Obama on Trayvon Martin: ‘If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon’

President Obama, addressing the shooting of an unarmed Florida high school student, made a personal appeal for further investigation into an incident he described as a “tragedy.”
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Obama said from the Rose Garden, referring to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighborhood watch guard last month. “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”

The case has stirred immense passions nationwide for its racial element: Martin, who was black, was killed by George Zimmerman, 28, a Hispanic neighbor, who has since claimed self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged in the shooting.

Obama had refrained from commenting on the case, leaving it to Attorney General Eric Holder to navigate the details, and on Friday, Obama chose his words carefully. He did not declare the shooter guilty, and said it is “imperative that we investigate every aspect of this.”
Obama spoke directly to the parents of the young boy, who was walking back from a convenience store carrying candy and drinks when he was killed. The parents, Obama said, “are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to treat this with the seriousness it deserves.”
--Washington Post


Let's be clear, the infidels have lost the war in Afghanistan and shall exit in a manner similar to Vietnam, perhaps only slower thus more pitiful but shameful none the less. The Afghans thus maintain their tradition of defeating all occupiers since Alexander the Great.
--Marvin X

Western countries scramble for Afghan exits
By Fozil Mashrab

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - As international forces prepare for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Western countries are already in talks with Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors to bring their troops and military equipment back home.

The Pakistani route and the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) running through Central Asian countries are the two viable routes for international forces to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The United States and Afghanistan are in the process of negotiating an accord for a long-term US presence in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign combat forces are due to withdraw. The US wants some advisers and special forces to stay on.

There are also "emergency scenario options" in the event either or both of the Pakistani route or/and the NDN are closed. This would require airlifting military equipment to Ulyanovsk airport in Russia or even to a suitable military airport in India, and from there transporting it to the nearest port city.

The Pakistani route, which has remained closed since November 2011 after a "friendly fire incident" involving North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces at the AfPak border area which killed 26 Pakistani soldiers and wounded dozens others, was partially reopened earlier this year to allow the US and NATO to ship food items to Afghanistan.

Currently, both US and Pakistani authorities are in search of a mutually acceptable arrangement that would allow both sides to scale down negative feelings and fully reopen the Pakistani route.

Such an arrangement could include a sharp increase in transit fees for US and NATO convoys crossing Pakistani territory, while the US could also insist that Pakistani military forces provide stronger security for these convoys.

Meanwhile, Western governments have already started to cultivate Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors by dispatching their top military officials and defense ministers to various capitals.

Since the beginning of 2012, apart from frequent visits of US military officials to respective Central Asian countries, United Kingdom Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks and more recently Federal Defense Minister of Germany Thomas de Maiziere and Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak have visited Uzbekistan, the key Central Asian country that is part of the NDN. The UK deputy defense secretary is expected to visit Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the near future.

It has been reported that the US government has already secured the consent of some of the Central Asian countries to use their territory to bring heavy military equipment out of Afghanistan.

Other NATO member countries, especially those that have large military contingents in Afghanistan, such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Poland, are also trying to secure similar arrangements for themselves.

However, there have also been some dissenting voices among Western countries with regards to the costs involved in withdrawing troops and equipment from Afghanistan using the NDN though Central Asia.

In particular, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet was reported recently to have voiced his preference for using the Pakistani route in view of the higher costs involved for transporting military equipment through Central Asian countries compared to the Pakistani route.

France and other NATO countries' military officials have been quietly angry over various negative incidents involving US troops in Afghanistan recently; these they believe help fuel anti-US and anti-Western feelings in Afghanistan and put their troops at increased danger. The killing of several French soldiers by an Afghan trainee recently is a case in point.

Recently, the US government has intensified its efforts to reach out to the Pakistani government by resuming high-level talks to convince it to reopen the Pakistani route.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on the margins of the "Somali Conference" in London and the visit of General James Mattis, commander of US Central Command, to Pakistan in February are part of the bilateral efforts to mend ties.

Both sides seem to be slowly edging towards reconciliation, for their own reasons. After a decade of military cooperation with the US on Afghanistan, Pakistan seems to have developed dependency on the billions of dollars in US military and financial aid it receives and which was suspended last year when relations between the countries deteriorated precipitously.

What is more, Uzbekistan's "no" to allowing its territory to be used for the transit of "lethal" military equipment to and out of Afghanistan adds urgency to US efforts to talk sweet to Pakistan.

At the same time, the US plans to utilize the "Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan-Russia-Latvia" route bypassing Uzbekistan as an alternative to transport heavy military equipment out of Afghanistan.

Most probably, the US will strip everything "lethal" from its heavy military equipment to transport through Uzbekistan rather than take the long and tortuous route bypassing Uzbekistan though Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Moreover, in an effort to secure Central Asian countries' cooperation and goodwill for transporting equipment out of Afghanistan, the US and British governments have dangled the prospect of donating some of their military equipment to those countries that allow the transit of material. This would be in addition to transit and other fees paid to each Central Asian country.

The high cost involved aside, the NDN also some advantages over the Pakistani route - the security of the convoys.

Previously, frequent attacks by Pakistan based pro-Taliban militant groups on US and NATO convoys and scenes of burning trucks carrying fuel and other military vehicles were part of the picture for using the Pakistani route.

Therefore, the security of the convoys will be an important calculation for Western countries that wish to make an "honorable" and smooth exit from Afghanistan, rather than being seen as getting chased out of the country and plundered on the way out.

According to Western observers, both the NDN and the Pakistani routes will need to remain open to allow for a timely and orderly withdrawal of Western troops and military equipment from Afghanistan - the failure to reopen the Pakistani route might lead to the rescheduling of withdrawal deadlines.

Fozil Mashrab is a pseudonym used by an independent analyst based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Call for Papers: Africana/Black Studies Leadership

Volume 4 • Number 9 • 2012

The Journal of Pan African Studies ( has extended its call for papers for a special edition on ‘Leadership in Africana/Black Studies’. Thus, we call for papers that investigate the lived experiences of those who hold or held a leadership position in the construction of Africana/Black Studies. Contributions may come in the form of interviews, personal narratives, oral histories, multi-media presentations, and other means that extract the mission, goals, objectives and outcomes of Africana/Black Studies. And we also welcome self-reflective analysis and contributions from our new generation of leaders within Black Studies.
Our selection criteria involves: relevance to theme, clarity of paper, intellectual significance, and originality. Participants should send us a 50 word abstract by April 24, 2012, and their final paper by July 15, 2012 (the paper and abstract must include your name, affiliation, paper title, and e-mail address) to

Itibari M. Zulu, Th.D.
Senior Editor, The Journal of Pan African Studies;
Vice President, The African Diaspora Foundation;
Founding Member & Vice Chair, The Bennu Institute of

Stop and Frisk, the Old Black Codes

We know New York's Stop and Frisk law originated in the Black Codes of the American slave system, as much of American law and institutions, including the police who evolved from the slave catchers. It is shameful to know nearly 700,000

black and minority men were stopped by the NYPD last year. It is disgusting to watch it happen on the streets of New York, especially and mostly in black neighborhoods. It is indicative of life under occupation, similar to the Gaza Strip or the West Bank in occupied Palestine, or the old apartheid regime in South Africa.

Perhaps the NYPD should follow the example of the pass system used in South Africa or in San Francisco during the hunt for Patty Hearst: all black men in San Francisco were stopped and given a pass to carry while the hunt for the kidnapped rich white girl was on. I was stopped and given a pass to indicate the SFPD were familiar with me already so I could hurry on my business.

An old black woman once said, "It ain't so bad being black, it's just inconvenient." And so it is.
Aside from Henry Louis Gates, life is much different when a black lives in a white community, one is treated so very different by the police. I had a rich friend who lived in a affluent area of the Bay where few blacks lived. His teenage son was stopped repeatedly for driving with no license, no registration, no insurance and speeding. Each time the police simply called his father to come get his son and that was it. Isn't this wonderful? On one occasion I was babysitting this teenager when he had a party and the police came. Even though the teenagers were drinking and smoking weed, the officers only wanted to know if an adult was present. When I came to the door, the officers said, "Sir, thank you and have a nice evening."

The reemergence of Jim Crow laws represent a society in fear of itself, its children, especially those "other" children, simply because they are not wanted nor needed in the global economy. They are worth more in jail, prison and juvenile hall. The slave catchers returned the slaves to their owners, although they could kill them if they resisted, but they had to pay the owners for the loss of their property. Today, the Africans caught in the neo-slave system are worthless and thus can be killed by the police (slave catchers) or can kill themselves as in black on black homicide. Surely, there was no black on black homicide during the centuries of the American slave system. A black wouldn't think of killing another black owned by the white master.

How long can this go on, this low intensity war against North American Africans? Perhaps we should fill the jails and prisons, even though at this hour there are 2.4 million incarcerated, mostly black, brown and poor white. Would America then feel save and secure when all unneeded black men are off the streets, and of course their families would be placed in family prisons or community centers since the ghettos would quickly be gentrified with yuppies and buppies so that the American life can return to its normal state in the world of make believe.

The jails and prisons would then, of course, be places of education in revolution and critical thinking, where black men could configure a new life when the opportunity afforded itself. Resistance would grow to a point when a general amnesty would be forced upon the socalled American social order and probably a large population of the disaffected would be deported to some territory within or without these United States of America.
--Marvin X

Taking On Police Tactic, Critics Hit Racial Divide

ALBANY — Black and Latino lawmakers, fed up over the frequency with which New York City police officers are stopping and frisking minority men, are battling what they say is a racial divide as they push legislation to rein in the practice.

Victor Blue for The New York Times

Councilman Jumaane Williams spoke last month at a rally to change the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy.

The divide, they say, is largely informed by personal experience: many who object to the practice say that they have themselves been stopped by the police for reasons they believe were related to race.

Senator Kevin S. Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, recalled several occasions when, as a high school student walking home in Flatbush, he was stopped by the police, patted down, told to empty his pockets, produce identification and divulge his destination.

Assemblyman Karim Camara, a Democrat from Brooklyn, remembers greeting a woman who was walking down a street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, when, he said, officers in plain clothes approached him and demanded to know who he was, where he was going and whether he had any guns or drugs.

And when Senator Adriano Espaillat, a Manhattan Democrat, was just 14, he said, detectives threw him against a wall and patted him down in Washington Heights, in Manhattan, when he was on his way to buy a Dominican newspaper for his father.

The lawmakers say the racial imbalance with which stop-and-frisk is applied has a corollary effect: Many white legislators have remained silent on the issue, or have supported the police, revealing a racial gap over attitudes toward the practice.

“There is an ethnic divide on who’s being stopped and frisked, and there is an ethnic divide on who’s fighting against the policy,” said State Senator Eric L. Adams, a Democrat and a retired police captain from Brooklyn.

The lawmakers’ effort to set off a debate in Albany is taking place with an increased focus on the interplay between race and public safety. It was highlighted in New York by the fatal shooting last month of Ramarley Graham, 18, by a police officer in the Bronx, and nationally by the fatal shooting last month of Trayvon Martin, 17, by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida. The young men were unarmed.

“Both illustrate the perils of racial stereotyping when individuals are empowered with the capacity to make life and death decisions,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat. He said the shootings had “further emboldened legislators to continue to fight to deal with the out-of-control stop-and-frisk practices.”

The split among Albany lawmakers over the stop-and-frisk issue reflects a divide among New York City voters: according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on March 13, 59 percent of white voters approve of it, and 27 percent of black voters do.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, facing increased complaints about the practice, has pushed back hard against critics. Last week, assailed by the City Council over the practice, Mr. Kelly said that the policy was an important policing tool intended to reduce the violence that has victimized blacks and Hispanics, and that, “What I haven’t heard is any solution to the violence problems in these communities.”

“People are upset about being stopped,” he continued, “yet what is the answer?”

According to the Police Department, 96 percent of shooting victims last year, and 90 percent of murder victims, were minorities.

“There’s more police assigned to a place like East New York than, say, a precinct in Riverdale,” said the Police Department spokesman, Paul J. Browne, “so the police are going to be in a position to observe suspicious behavior more frequently.”

The Police Department has said that it conducted a record 684,330 stops last year, and that 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic. About 10 percent of the stops led to arrests or summonses and 1 percent to the recovery of a weapon, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has examined police data.

But the Police Department frames the numbers in a different way: last year, it said, it recovered 8,000 weapons, 800 of them handguns, via stops. And over the last decade, the number of murders has dropped by 51 percent, “in part because of stop, question and frisk,” Mr. Browne said.

Some white elected officials have strongly criticized the stop-and-frisk policy. They included the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, and the public advocate, Bill de Blasio, both of whom are likely candidates for mayor; and Brad Lander and Daniel Dromm, who are on the Council. Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens, has offered a bill that would make it illegal for the department to set a quota for the number of stops officers must make.

Mr. Stringer said it was important for elected officials “who look like me” to help broaden the coalition of New Yorkers fighting against stop-and-frisk.

But race continues to dominate discussion of the issue. Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, a black Democrat from Harlem, is still smarting over a legislative debate he had in 2008 with Assemblyman David R. Townsend Jr., a white Republican from central New York, on a proposal to prohibit racial profiling. Mr. Townsend said part of good police work involved questioning people who seemed out of place in a particular neighborhood, regardless of their race.

“If you were spotted in an affluent section of Oneida County where we don’t have minority people living, and you were driving around through these houses, and I was a law enforcement officer and a highway patrol, I would stop you to say, No. 1: ‘Are you lost? Is there something we can help you with, or what are you doing here?’ ” Mr. Townsend said to Mr. Wright.

Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law requiring police officials in New York City to no longer store the names and addresses of people stopped but not charged. Gov. David A. Paterson, the state’s first African-American governor, signed the measure despite objections not only from city officials, but also, he said, from an all-white panel advising him on the issue.

In a recent interview, Mr. Paterson, a Democrat, said his views of the measure were informed by his own experience, which included being stopped three times by the police.

“It’s a feeling of being degraded,” he said. “I think that’s what people who it hasn’t happened to don’t understand.”

Now, Mr. Jeffries is sponsoring a bill that would make it a violation, not a crime, to possess small quantities of marijuana in public view. The bill, he said, would curb the tens of thousands of arrests each year that result when officers stop people and ask them to empty their pockets, leading to the revelation of small amounts of marijuana.

Mr. Wright has been urging passage of a bill that would prohibit police officers from stopping people based solely on their race or ethnicity. Mr. Parker is behind legislation to create the post of inspector general for the police.

And in the Council, Jumaane D. Williams has introduced bills that would require officers to inform people they stop that they can refuse to be searched and make mandatory and citywide a pilot program in which officers give those stopped a business card with a phone number, in case they want to lodge a complaint.

Mr. Williams has had his own run-ins with police. He said he was stopped in Brooklyn last year, after he had bought a BMW, by officers who said, “We want to make sure it’s yours.” And, in an episode that drew widespread publicity, he was detained by the police last year after an argument with officers over whether he was allowed to use a closed sidewalk during the West Indian American Day Parade.

“We know that the legislation is not going to stop stop-and-frisk,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is provide more accountability with the N.Y.P.D. and their practices and policies.”

Forget Oil, The Water Wars are Here

U.S. Intelligence Report Warns of Global Water Tensions

WASHINGTON — The American intelligence community warned in a report released Thursday that problems with water could destabilize countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia over the next decade.

Increasing demand and competition caused by the world’s rising population and scarcities created by climate change and poor management threaten to disrupt economies and increase regional tensions, the report concludes.

Prepared at the request of the State Department, the report is based on a classified National Intelligence Estimate completed last October that reflected an increasing focus on environmental and other factors that threaten security. An estimate reflects the consensus judgment of all intelligence agencies.

While the report concluded that wars over water are unlikely in the coming decade, it said that countries could use water for political and economic leverage over neighbors and that major facilities like dams and desalination plants could become targets of terrorist attacks. Coupled with poverty and other social factors, problems with water could even contribute to the political failure of weaker nations.

The public report, unlike the classified version, did not specify countries at greatest risk for water-related disruption but analyzed conditions on major river basins in regions with high potential for conflict — from the Jordan to the Tigris and Euphrates to the Brahmaputra in South Asia.

“During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will almost certainly experience water problems — shortages, poor water quality, or floods — that will contribute to the risk of instability and state failure, and increase regional tensions,” the report said. “Additionally states will focus on addressing internal water-related social disruptions which will distract them from working with the United States on important policy objectives.”

The report warned that water shortages would become acute in some regions within the next decade, as demand continued to rise. While disputes over water have historically led to negotiated settlements over access, upstream countries will increasingly use dams and other projects “to obtain regional influence or preserve their water interests” over weaker countries downstream.

This is already happening on the Tigris and Euphrates, where Turkey, Syria and Iran have harnessed the headwaters of the two rivers that flow through Iraq.

The release was timed to the announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of a partnership to promote conservation and improved management in conjunction with corporations like Coca-Cola and Ford and nongovernmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy.

The report said that improvements in management — like the use of drip irrigation systems — could ease the potential for shortages, especially in agriculture, which accounts for 70 percent of the world’s water use.

Whitney and the Addiction to White Supremacy

How can you win, if you ain't right within?, says a recent rap song. And James Brown sang Money can't save you, but time will take you out! Why do so many artists, myself included, have the need for drugs and alcohol? Applause is not enough, money is not enough, and yes, sometimes love is not enough, especially when there is no love of self. It doesn't matter how many people love you when you don't love yourself. After the concert with fan applause is over, one often sits in the dressing room alone, exhausted and unhappy. At the performance of my play One Day in the Life at San Francisco's Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Dr. William H. Grier, co-author of the 60s classic Black Rage, asked me how I was doing. I said I don't know. Dr. Grier told his son, "I don't know what's wrong with Marvin, he's got Mayor Willie Brown opening his show, a packed audience and a Jaguar parked outside. What's wrong with him?" Some call it divine discontent, i.e., no matter how many blessings God bestows upon us, it is not enough. And then sometimes we are simply ungrateful bastards. And so we turn to drugs for comfort, to medicate, to reach that altered state of mind that the human touch cannot fulfill, or perhaps the human touch is not there, or perhaps we cannot touch that divine self that must be touched before we can enjoy the touch of another, the love of another, no matter it be husband, wife, children, friend or fans.

But we know the cause for our addiction is deeper than drugs or the trappings of materialism, it is something in the air that stinks like rotten meat, as Langston Hughes put it. Sometime when I'm in the South, I get that feeling that something ain't right up in here, in this blood soaked land, land of the slave system that endures to this day. Or is it that same feeling W.E.B. DuBois felt in China when Chairman Mao introduced him to a million people, "Thank you Chairman Mao for the great introduction, but in my country I am just a nigguh."

Did Whitney feel like just a nigguh, with all her talent, fame and fortune? May Allah grant you peace of mind, Whitney!
--Marvin X

Whitney Houston drowned after cocaine use, says coroner

A mourner holds up a poster of Whitney Houston in front of church where here funeral was held on 17 February 2012 The pop star was laid to rest in her home state of New Jersey after a star-studded funeral

Related Stories

Whitney Houston's death was caused by accidental drowning, but drug abuse and heart disease were also factors, a coroner has ruled.

Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey said drug tests indicated the 48-year-old US singer was a chronic cocaine user.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation over the cause of Houston's death.

She was found submerged in the bath of her Los Angeles hotel room on the eve of the Grammy Awards on 11 February.

In a statement, the LA County Coroner's office described Houston's manner of death as an "accident", adding that "no trauma or foul play is suspected".

The cause was cited as drowning and "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use".

Other drugs found in her blood included marijuana, as well as an anti-anxiety drug, a muscle relaxant and an allergy medication.

But these were not factors in her death, the coroner's statement said.

Patricia Houston, the singer's sister-in-law and manager, told the Associated Press news agency: "We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure."

The pop star was laid to rest at a cemetery in her home state of New Jersey after a funeral that was attended by celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige.

The singer, who was one of the world's best selling artists from the mid-1980s to late 1990s, had a long battle with drug addiction.

If We Must Die by Claude McKay

If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Claude McKay

Archives in India and Black America

What's happening in India applies to Black America as well. "Don't throw away shit!," Marvin X has advised North American Africans. The wealth of our people is in those letters, papers, photos, notebooks, scrapbooks in that old trunk grandma kept. But usually upon her transition, relatives will trash the house looking for money, gold and jewelry, then throw any papers in the trash. The paper is the gold, the treasure that shall last long after any money is spent by greedy relatives. Those papers reveal how we survived this slave system called America.

The archives of Marvin X are at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

March 22, 2012, 8:23 am

India’s Archives: How Did Things Get This Bad?

A farman or imperial directive issued by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb lies in a torn folder at the National Archives of India, New Delhi. The label reads, "It is very badly damaged and broken at places."Manpreet Romana for The New York TimesA farman or imperial directive issued by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb lies in a torn folder at the National Archives of India, New Delhi. The label reads, “It is very badly damaged and broken at places.”

Why has modern India had such a difficult time preserving its history?

Tridip Suhrud, professor who has written extensively on Mohandas K. Gandhi, blamed a lack of historical sensitivity for problems in his state. Gujarat’s local maharajas and business families, he remarked, did not place much importance on keeping records.

A letter written by Mahatma Gandhi at Birla House, Mumbai on September 23, 1945, part of the Sabarmati Ashram archives.Courtesy of Sabarmati AshramA letter written by Mahatma Gandhi at Birla House, Mumbai on September 23, 1945, part of the Sabarmati Ashram archives.

Consequently, there has been little interest in creating or patronizing archival institutions. Mr. Suhrud can only count three other scholars currently working at the Sabarmati Ashram Library in Ahmedabad, the principal repository of Gandhi’s personal papers (properly preserved in a locked, temperature-controlled room, he noted).

Murali Ranganathan, an independent researcher, based in Mumbai, pointed out that the pre-colonial tradition of archives and libraries was extremely strong elsewhere in India: dynasties in Maharashtra, Assam, and Mysore kept vast collections that still survive. Beginning around 1900, he argued, Indians started to become too poor to properly maintain their collections, although several institutions, such as the Khuda Bakhsh Library in Patna and the Saraswathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur (Tanjore), have maintained excellent traditions of preserving pre-British era books and manuscripts.

A leaf from a rare undated copy of the Holy Quran written in Kufic script, believed to be from the 9th century.Courtesy of Khuda Bakhsh Oriental LibraryA leaf from a rare undated copy of the Holy Quran written in Kufic script, believed to be from the 9th century.

Perhaps the most important factor has been India’s moribund bureaucracy. During the Raj, government archives were treated as repositories of sensitive information, carefully guarded by officials. This attitude did not change much after 1947. Bureaucrats censored scholars’ notes at the end of the workday. Remarkably, many files about nationalists, marked “confidential” by the British, remained inaccessible in the post-independence period. A certain colonial paranoia about free information access persists in the halls of many Indian government institutions.

The government, furthermore, failed to woo many of India’s qualified historians and preservationists, instead staffing its archives, museums, and libraries through bureaucratic and frequently highly politicized channels. As a result, many institutions remain what they were a hundred years ago — simple “godowns” (warehouses) of supposedly sensitive documents and artifacts, staffed by individuals resistant to innovation, openness, or a culture of scholarly investigation.

“When you think of the pace at which other nations are digitizing their archival collections, cataloging information, and disseminating knowledge to scholars and citizens, India is falling behind,” commented Durba Ghosh, a historian at Cornell University. “It is a shame that the Indian government has so severely under-invested in the improvement and maintenance of its archives. Given India’s growing prowess in software and technology and its aspirations for producing a highly educated public, the indifference to archives and India’s history can no longer be explained by a lack of expertise or wealth.”

Several private institutions have now harnessed increased funding opportunities, access to technology, and a new generation of trained archivists to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. Sabarmati Ashram and the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata, which has the papers of Subhas Chandra Bose, have digitized their collections, thereby preserving the letters of two of India’s preeminent independence leaders. One of the largest repositories of Jain manuscripts in the world, the Hemacandra Jnan Mandir in northern Gujarat, has also scanned its holdings. In addition to digitization, the Forbes Gujarati Sabha in Mumbai, home to a rare collection of Gujarati books and periodicals, has constructed a special chamber to mitigate the high acid content of Indian paper, one of the primary reasons why books in India fall apart so easily.

The digitization of manuscripts at the National Mission for Manuscripts in Delhi, which sources historical documents from Manuscript Partner Centres including the Forbes Gujarati Sabha in Mumbai.Courtesy of National Mission for ManuscriptsThe digitization of manuscripts at the National Mission for Manuscripts in Delhi, which sources historical documents from Manuscript Partner Centres including the Forbes Gujarati Sabha in Mumbai.

In addition to the National Archives, other government institutions are finally following suit. Digitization has been a popular first step for preservation since proper temperature control remains a challenge for many institutions. The Maharashtra State Archives in Mumbai, for example, is housed in an open-air structure built in 1888. Suprabha Agarwal, who became director of the Archives in July 2010, tried to install air-conditioning but ran against the strict heritage laws governing the building. Even utilizing fans, she noted, is problematic since the breeze tears apart brittle documents. As a result, the Archives bought a fleet of scanners and has started digitizing its oldest and most damaged collections. Aside from sending her staff to training seminars, Ms. Agarwal has also lobbied the government to build a modern, fully air-conditioned structure for the Archives in a Mumbai suburb and hopes to relocate the institution here around 2015.

Some of Maharashtra's oldest newspaper such as "Bombay Courier" and "The Bombay Durpun" have been preserved by the Maharashtra State Archives in Mumbai.Courtesy of Maharashtra State ArchivesSome of Maharashtra’s oldest newspaper such as “Bombay Courier” and “The Bombay Durpun” have been preserved by the Maharashtra State Archives in Mumbai.

Ultimately, Indian citizens themselves will need to play a much greater role in ensuring that their government properly maintains the country’s history. Mr. Guha is optimistic that this will happen. “It is now clear that a historical sensibility is developing amongst the Indian public,” he said, observing a surge in the number of history titles in Indian bookstores. “Now that more Indians are getting interested in history, people should play a part in helping preserve it. Private philanthropy is needed. Local pressure is needed for proper preservation.”

India has the resources and the talent, Mr. Guha noted, but the government needs to channel this into moribund institutions. “The leadership provided by Mushirul Hasan at the National Archives and Mahesh Rangarajan, the new director at the Nehru Library, shows that places can change,” he concluded. “If you have good archival historians in positions of authority, look at what can be done.”

Our Son,Trayvon Martin, Didn't Deserve to die

Sign our Petition

Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin

If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Claude McKay
  1. Signatures
    983,909 out of 1,000,000
    1. Florida's 18th District State's Attorney (+ 3 others)
      • Florida's 18th District State's Attorney (Norman Wolfinger)
      • Florida Attorney General (Pam Bondi)
      • Sanford Police Chief (Bill Lee)
      • US Attorney General (Eric Holder)
  2. Created By
    Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
    Sanford, FL

Our son didn't deserve to die.
Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn't doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands.

What makes Trayvon's death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing him, George Zimmerman, still hasn't been charged for Trayvon's killing.

That's why we started a petition on calling for Zimmerman's prosecution and trial. We aren't looking for revenge, we're looking for justice -- the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason.

Click here to join 900,000 people who have already signed our petition calling for justice for our son Trayvon.

No family should ever have to go through this nightmare. The law should protect everyone, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or what color their skin is.

With our petition at 900,000 signers so far, we've made important progress toward making some sense out of what happened. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate Trayvon's death, and so will the FBI and Department of Justice.

But Trayvon's killer is still free. The surest path to justice runs through Sanford, Florida, and through the office of State's Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who is responsible for bringing charges against Zimmerman. With your help, we believe he'll have no choice but to give Trayvon and his killer their days in court.

Please sign our petition calling on Florida authorities to prosecute our son's confessed killer.

Thank you so much.

- Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oakland's Townhall Meeting on Too Short's Pimpin'

Oakland’s Townhall on Misogyny, Teen Violence & the Influence of Rap Music w/ Too Short

Last night (March 14th 2012) the Oakland chapter of 100 Black Men and Safe Passages, an organization from ‘Tha Town’ that is in the forefront of dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault, hooked up with members of the Hip Hop community to hold a town hall meeting inside City Hall. The topic was Misogyny, Teen Violence and the influence Rap Music has on our behavior..
Lemme just say this from jump street.. what took place last night was riveting, honest, powerful and inspiring..It wasn’t a gripe session or a finger-pointing rap bashing occasion. It wasn’t an event where two generations (Hip Hop and Civil Rights) found themselves at odds blaming one another…
What you had at the Oakland Town Hall was a community who clearly understands there are important issues at hand impacting young minds and we have to go in another direction..
One of the highlights of the town hall was the discussion with Bay Area rap pioneer Too Short. But folks were clear from the beginning these issues are systemic and go way beyond one rapper, one magazine or one incident.. However, the recent controversy around Too Short giving explicit ‘fatherly advise‘ to middle school age boys in an online video hosted by rap publication XXL had put him on the hot seat..
Short said he takes full responsibility for his actions and wanted to be part of the conversation to help rectify and repair the damage and disappointment he caused.. Many felt he was candid and forthcoming with his remarks and the evening ended with him noting this is just a starting point and him appealing to other artists in the room to change direction, expand their horizons and re-define the legacy of Oakland rap..
Last night’s Town hall saw in addition to Too Short, other key stake holders including elected officials, community activists and local artists come together with a spirit of love, a desire to heal and eager to find ways to bring about brighter tomorrows..Some of the most powerful statements came from the young survivors of rape and sexual assault who shared their perspectives and solutions..
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson
During the Town hall, Alameda County supervisor Keith Carson along with a couple of members of 100 Black men set the tone, by discussing the harrowing statistics around sexual assault. Carson noted that every couple of minutes a woman is sexually assaulted. He said over 10 million kids had witnessed domestic violence and one out of 5 teenage girls has been assaulted..He also pointed out that since 2005 over 2 million boys/men have been sexually assaulted.
Carson surmised that the figures are probably much higher. he was just noting what had been reported. He also pointed out that rather than we point fingers and play the blame game, we come at this from the spirit of sparking dialogue with a goal of getting solutions to turn the tide..
Dereca Blackmon who is part of the We Are 44% Coalition gave a great presentation on the commodification of songs celebrating sexual abuse and degenerate behavior. She noted that many have come to see confuse videos with real life. She broke down how that impacts us all.
Dereca Blackmon
Afterwards Blackmon sat down with Too Short and had a 20 minute revealing discussion about the music industry, the role artists should take in turning things around and his own personal journey to understanding some of the issues being addressed. He talked about the XXL Controversy and eye-opening the conversation he had with writer Dream Hampton
The evening concluded with a panel discussion where we heard some power statements and solutions from young activists and artists, some of who are survivors of rape, sexual assault and violence.
The mood at the end of the evening was upbeat with many feeling very inspired. Sadly and in typical fashion some of that good energy was dampened by what was shown on the evening news. In particular KTVU and KPIX did what many described as hit pieces.. They left before the panel discussion that featured the young folks.. They didnt show any of the commentary from the survivors of rape and sexual assault who sat with Too Short and questioned him.. They totally ignored what everyone plainly stated the gathering was about.. It was not reflective of what took place last night. In fact the reporter from KTVU seemed hostile that folks were coming together to uplift and not take down.. I encourage all to watch the video of the Oakland Townhall to get a better understanding of what took place..
As your watching the video, we want folks to keep in mind what took place last night was by no means was a new or unique in terms of the topics discussed. Every couple of years something pops off and captures the attention of the media or activists and hence such discussions unfold.. A few years ago we saw this topic broached after radio host Don Imus went on air called women on a college basketball team, ‘Nappy Headed Hos‘. His remarks set off a firestorm with people calling for Imus to be fired. He in turn countered and claimed that he made the unsavory remarks because he was influenced by rap music.. That in turn lead to many of us having reflective self-examination type discussions.
A couple of years prior to Imus’s remarks, we had a situation involving rap star Nelly, who was shown on a video to his popular song ‘Tip Drill‘ swiping a credit card thru the cheeks of bikini clad dancer.. Again it set of a storm of controversy leading up to Spelman College rejecting him when he was scheduled to come on campus and do a Bone Marrow benefit and bring awareness to the plight of his cancer stricken sister..
We can go on and on citing examples where the activities of artists ranging from 2 Live Crew to NWA to 2Pac to Snoop Dogg to Jay-Z and 50 Cent, have led to town hall style meetings, vigorous radio and TV debates to Senate and Congressional Hearings…
As was mentioned earlier, last night’s Town Hall which was held in the chambers of the Oakland City Council came in the wake of incident last month involving Bay Area rap pioneer Too Short and XXL Magazine.. The magazine produced an online video that depicted Too Short dispensing ‘fatherly advise’ to young 12 & 13-year-old boys on how to ‘turn out young girls’ and ‘take it to the hole’..
Rosa, Joan and Marc-Are Part of the Newly formed We are the 44%
This outraged a number of Hip Hop generation Black and Latina activists, writers and scholars like Joan Morgan, Rosa Clemente and Dream Hampton to name a few, who felt that not only did this cross some major fault lines but was the nail in the coffin for what they saw as increasing attacks on young girls, women of color and women in general.
These aforementioned sisters linked up with other women and a growing number of male allies like Dr Marc Anthony Neal, Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele and filmmaker Byron Hurt to name a few who also who shared in the outrage to form the We Are the 44% Coalition.
We Are the 44% Coalition felt it was important that awareness be raised around the fact that 44% of sexual assault and rape survivors are under the age of 18 and that as a group they push to create a climate where what Too Short & XXL did is never repeated by other artists and publications.
XXL Editor and Chief Vanessa Satten
They demanded that Harris Publication which owns XXL take steps to fire the editor(Vanessa Satten) and donate space in the magazine to have issues of sexual assault to be adequately addressed.
They ‘blew the whistle’ on Too Short and demanded he educate himself and start working with organizations in our community that deal with sexual assault.
Soon after forming weekly online twitter chats started taking place with the hash tag #ItsBiggerThan2Short. It is there that many started come together to discuss these issues, demands and craft solutions.
During last nights town hall there was a call to action for all of us to not allow the daily assaults on women both verbal and physical become normalized. Many recognize there is currently an all out war on women both within our community and the society at large that is systemic and far-reaching..
We see attacks coming from law makers in Congress and the Senate where they hold all male panels on women’s reproductive health with them refusing to seat at least one woman to share insights and testimony.
We see legislatures in states like Arizona propose laws that would allow employers to fire a woman for taking birth control pills..
We see popular radio hosts and political leaders like Rush Limbaugh resort to publicly demeaning women by calling them ‘sluts’ and ‘prostitutes’ when he has a political disagreement.
We see many in our mainstream press as well as esteemed lawmakers at the highest echelons of power ignore and try to sweep under the carpet our military’s dirty secret.. Last year alone there were over 19 thousand sexual assaults.. A woman serving in our military is more likely to be sexually assaulted by our own male soldiers then be killed or wounded by enemy fire..
Now, 19 thousand is a staggering number, but one would not know that’s going down by looking at our mainstream news coverage.. an across the board news blackout about 20 thousand rapes that have taken place on military bases rapes of women in our military the large number of rapes in our own military.
Rev Harry Williams
This was part of the backdrop that led last night’s Oakland’s Town hall meeting …The other part to this was the fact that Oakland and the Bay Area has some ongoing issues that has led to many people talking. First this is a major hub for human trafficking..Recently Allen Temple Baptist Church had a couple of gatherings where over thousand people came out..According to Reverend Harry Williams who heads up the Street Disciple Ministry at AT which deals the rise in human trafficking, in this depressed economy and a competitive drug game that has been sewn up by international cartels making it hard to get supplies, many have turned to pimping. He noted that from his work many who are returning from prison after doing long stretches have stepped into this arena with young girls being a primary target..
This has been echoed by Diamond a local artist and promoter who is also peer leader at United Roots and the Sister Circle which counsels young women. In a recent round table discussion she noted that she has seen increased aggression toward women over the past couple of years. Like Williams she noted that many are returning home after being incarcerated 15-20 years under California’s harsh 3 strikes law, which has all but eliminated rehabilitation and education. For those who don’t know California’s 3 Strikes law was put into place back in 1994 after the kidnapping and murder of then 12-year-old Polly Klass.. Over 40 thousand men were put behind bars under it.. Diamond agreed with William’s assessment that many are jumping into the pimp game to try and make money….
Both Williams and Diamond noted that this all doubly compounded with the rise of ‘Sneaker Pimps‘. These are young boys 11, 12 and 13 out here pimping young girls of similar age. Some are working for older men, but many others have come up without parents and live on the streets with this being the only hustle they know.
This wasn’t the main topic of discussion during last night’s town hall, but its important to understand this as part of the local landscape and the pervasiveness of what they call Rape Culture.. Anyone interested in the discussion we had on this topic with front line workers like Rev Harry Williams and Diamond can watch the video we did at the link below
Overall shout out to everyone who came out and represented.. Special Shout out to Chuck Johnson who reached out to all of us and set the ground work for an important discussion..
Baba Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma'at "Take your righteous steps... and, let our Divine do the rest. Walk in Faith... on each and every day!"

Contents: The Black Chauncey Bailey Project's Book

Bay Area Writers, Artists, Activists: The Black Chauncey Bailey Project



El Muhajir (Marvin X, MA)
Black Bird Press
Release date: Summer 2012




1. Who Killed Chauncey Bailey, Part I and II

2. Exchange between Oakland Tribune Editor Martin Reynolds and Marvin X

3. Initial Reaction: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

4. The Cross and the Lynching Tree

5. Chauncey and Malcolm X
6. OPD Gang
7. Chauncey, A Shakespearean Tragedy
8. Thomas Steele's Book: Killing the Messenger
9. Why the White Chauncey Bailey Project and the Black Chauncey Bailey Project
10. No Crocodile Tears for Longmire
11. Trial Begins
12. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Chauncey Bailey Trial
13. Trial Is a Sham
14. Trial Ends, OPD Drama Begins
15. Chauncey Bailey, Rupert Murdoch, Media, Police and Politicians
16. The Monkey Mind Media and the World of Make Believe
17. Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. and JR, Minister of Mis-information
18. Summary and Conclusion
19. Notes
20. Bibliography

Monday, March 19, 2012

French President Sarkozy on Africa

Pres. Sarkozy on Africa // " nostalgia for a lost childhood paradise"
Address by Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, at the University of Dakar, Senegal, on July 26, 2007.

My dear friends, the black child of Camara Laye on his knees in the silence of the African night will know and understand that he can raise his head and look with confidence to the future. And this black child of Camara Laye will feel in himself the two parts of himself reconciled. And he will at last feel himself to be a human being like all members of humanity.

Ladies and gentlemen

Allow me first of all, to thank the Senegalese Government and people for their warm welcome. Allow me to thank the University of Dakar that allows me for the first time to address myself to the elite of the youth of Africa in the capacity of President of the French Republic.

I have come to talk to you with the frankness and sincerity that one owes to friends that one appreciates and respects. I appreciate and respect Africa and the Africans.

Between Senegal and France history has woven ties of a friendship that no one can undo. This friendship is strong and sincere. It is for this reason that I wanted to address, from Dakar, the fraternal greeting of France to all of Africa.

This evening I want to address myself to all the Africans who are so different the one from the other, who don’t have the same language, who don’t have the same religion, who don’t have the same customs, who don’t have the same culture, who don’t have the same history and yet recognize the other as being African. Here one finds the first mystery of Africa.

Yes, I want to address myself to all the people of this wounded continent and in particular to the youth, to you who have fought each other so much and often hated much, who at times still fight and hate each other but still recognize each other as brothers, in suffering, in humiliation, in revolt, in hope, in the sentiment that you are living a common destiny, brother through this mysterious faith that binds you to the African soil, a faith that transmits itself from generation to generation and which even exile cannot erase.

I have not come, youth of Africa, to lament with you the misfortunes of Africa. Because, Africa has no need of my laments. I have not come, youth of Africa, to take pity on your fate, because your fate is first of all in your hands. What would you do, proud youth of Africa, with my pity?

I have not come to erase the past because the past cannot be erased.

I have not come to deny mistakes or crimes – mistakes were made and crimes committed.

There was the black slave trade, there was slavery, men, women and children bought and sold as so much merchandise. And this crime was not only a crime against the Africans, it was a crime against man, it was a crime against all of humanity. And the black man that eternally “hears rising from the ship’s hold the chained curses, the sobs of the dying, the noise of one of them thrown into the sea”. This black man that can’t help repeating endlessly “and this country cried that we are brutal creatures”. This black man, I want to say here in Dakar, has the face of all humanity.

This suffering of the black man, and I don’t speak here in the sense of gender, I speak of man in the sense of a human being and off course of women and of man in its general use. This suffering of the black man is the suffering of all men. This open wound in the soul of the black man is an open wound in the soul of all men.

But no one can ask of the generations of today to expiate this crime perpetrated by past generations. No one can ask of the sons to repent for the mistakes of their fathers.

Youth of Africa, I have not come to talk to you about repentance. I have come to tell you that I consider the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity. I have come to tell you that your pain and your suffering are ours and therefore are mine.

I have come to propose to you to look together, as Africans and as French, beyond this pain and this suffering.

I have come to propose to you, youth of Africa not to forget this pain and this suffering that cannot be forgotten, but to move beyond it.

I have come to propose to you, youth of Africa, not to dwell on the past, but for us to draw together lessons from it in order to face the future together.

I have come, youth of Africa, to face with you our common history.

Africa is partly responsible for its own misfortune. People have killed each other in Africa at least as much in Europe. But it is true that a long time ago the Europeans came to Africa as conquerors. They took the land of your ancestors. They banished their gods, their languages, their beliefs, the customs of your forefathers. They told your forefathers what they had to think, what they had to believe, what they had to do. They have cut your forefathers from their past, they have torn their souls from their roots. They stole Africa’s spell. (Could also be translated as They killed Africa’s enthusiasm).

They were wrong.

They did not see the depth and the wealth of the African soul. They believed that they were superior, that they were more advanced, that they were progress, that they were civilisation.
They were wrong.

They wanted to convert the African, they wanted to make them in their image. They believed that they had all the rights and that they were all powerful, more powerful than the gods of Africa, more powerful than the African soul, more powerful than the sacred ties that men have woven patiently during thousands of years with the sky and earth of Africa, more powerful than the mysteries that came from the depths of time.

They were wrong.

They ruined a way of life. They ruined a marvellous imaginary world, they ruined an ancestral wisdom.

They were wrong.

They created anguish and misery. They fed hatred. They made it more difficult to open up to others, to exchange and to share because in order to open up oneself, to exchange and to share one must be sure of ones own identity, values and convictions. Before the coloniser, the colonised lost all confidence in himself, did not know who he was anymore, let himself be overwhelmed by fear of the other, by fear of the future.

The coloniser came, he took, he helped himself, he exploited. He pillaged resources and wealth that did not belong to him. He stripped the colonised of his personality, of his liberty, of his land, of the fruit of his labour.

The coloniser took, but I want to say with respect, that he also gave. He built bridges, roads, hospitals, dispensaries and schools. He turned virgin soil fertile. He gave of his effort, his work, his know-how. I want to say it here, not all the colonialists were thieves or exploiters.

There were among them evil men but there were also men of goodwill. People who believed they were fulfilling a civilising mission, people who believed they were doing good. They were wrong, but some were sincere. They believed to be giving freedom, but they were creating alienation. They believed they were breaking the chains of obscurantism, of superstition and of servitude. They were actually forging much heavier chains, they imposed a heavier servitude because it was the spirit, the soul that was enslaved. They believed they were giving love without seeing that they were sowing revolt and hatred.

Colonisation is not responsible for all the current difficulties of Africa. It is not responsible for the bloody wars between Africans, for the genocides, for the dictators, the fanaticism, the corruption, the prevarication, the waste and the pollution.

But, colonisation was a huge mistake that was paid for by the bitterness and the suffering of those who believed they had given all and did not understand why they were so hated.

Colonisation was a huge mistake that destroyed the colonised’s self-esteem and in his heart gave birth to this self-hatred that always results in hatred of others.

Colonisation was a huge mistake, but from it was born the embryo of a common destiny. And this idea is of particular importance to me.

Colonisation was a mistake that changed and intertwined the destinies of both Europe and Africa. And this common destiny was sealed by the blood of Africans that came to die in European wars.

And France does not forget this African blood spilled for its liberty.

No one can pretend that nothing happened.

No one can pretend that this mistake was not committed.

No one can pretend that this history did not transpire.

For better or for worse colonisation has transformed African and European.

Youth of Africa, you are heir to the most ancient African traditions and you are heir to all that the West has placed in the heart and soul of Africa.

Youth of Africa, European civilisation was wrong to believe itself to be superior to that of your ancestors, but now, the European civilisation belongs to you too.

Youth of Africa, do not yield to the temptation of purity (exclusivity) because it is a disease, it is a disease of the intellect that is the most dangerous in the world.

Youth of Africa, do not cut yourself off from that which enriches you, do not amputate a part of yourself. Purity (in the sense of exclusivity) is confinement, it is intolerance, it is a fantasy that leads to fanaticism.

I want to say to you, youth of Africa that the tragedy of Africa is not in the so-called inferiority of its art, its thought, its culture. Because, in what concerns art, thought and culture it is the West that learnt from Africa.

Modern art owes almost all to Africa. The influence of Africa contributed to changing not only the idea of beauty itself, not only the sense of rhythm, of music, of dance, but as Senghor said even the way of walking or laughing of the world in the 20th Century.

I therefore want to say, to the youth of Africa, that the tragedy of Africa does not come from the idea that the African soul would be impervious to logic and to reason. Because, the African is as logic and as reasonable as the European.

It is by drawing from the African imaginary world that your ancestors have left you, it is by drawing from their stories, their proverbs, their mythologies, their rites, by drawing from all these forms that, since the dawn of time were transmitted to and enriched generation after generation, that you will find the imagination and the power to invent a future for you. A unique future that does not resemble any other, where you will at last feel free, free youth of Africa to be yourselves, free to decide for yourselves.

I have come to tell you that you don’t have to be ashamed of the values of African civilisation, that they do not drag you down but elevate you, that they are an antidote to the materialism and the individualism that enslave modern man, that they are the most precious of legacies against the dehumanisation and the “uniformisation” of the world of today.

I have come to tell you that modern man, who experiences the need to reconcile himself with nature, has much to learn from the African that has lived in a symbiotic relationship with nature for thousands of years.

I came to tell you that this divide between two parts of yourselves is your greatest force, or your greatest weakness, according to the extent to which you bring yourself to unite them in a synthesis, or not.

But I also came to tell you that there are in you, youth of Africa, two legacies, two wisdoms, two traditions that have struggled with each other for a long time: that of Africa and that of Europe.

I came to tell you that this African part and European part of yourselves form your torn identity.

I did not come, youth of Africa, to lecture you.

I did not come to preach, but I came to tell you that the part of Europe that is in you is the fruit of a great sin of pride of the West, but that this part of Europe in you is not unworthy.

Because it is the call of freedom, of emancipation and of justice and of equality between women and men.

Because it is the call to reason and to the universal conscience.

The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history. The African peasant, who for thousands of years have lived according to the seasons, whose life ideal was to be in harmony with nature, only knew the eternal renewal of time, rhythmed by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words.

In this imaginary world where everything starts over and over again there is no place for human adventure or for the idea of progress.

In this universe where nature commands all, man escapes from the anguish of history that torments modern man, but he rests immobile in the centre of a static order where everything seems to have been written beforehand.

This man (the traditional African) never launched himself towards the future. The idea never came to him to get out of this repetition and to invent his own destiny.

The problem of Africa, and allow a friend of Africa to say it, is to be found here. Africa’s challenge is to enter to a greater extent into history. To take from it the energy, the force, the desire, the willingness to listen and to espouse its own history.

Africa’s problem is to stop always repeating, always mulling over, to liberate itself from the myth of the eternal return. It is to realise that the golden age that Africa is forever recalling will not return because it has never existed.

Africa’s problem is that it lives the present too much in nostalgia for a lost childhood paradise.

Africa’s problem is that too often it judges the present in terms of a purity of origin that is totally imaginary and that no one can hope to achieve.

Africa’s problem is not to invent for itself a more or less mythical past to help it to support the present, but to invent the future with suitable means.

Africa’s problem is not to prepare itself for the return of misfortune, as if that is supposed to repeat itself indefinitely, but to want to give itself the means to combat misfortune, because Africa has the right to happiness like all the other continents of the world.

Africa’s problem is to remain true to itself without remaining immobile.

Africa’s challenge is to learn to view its accession to the universal not as a denial of what it is but as an accomplishment.

Africa’s challenge is to learn to feel itself to be heir to all that which is universal in all human civilisations.

It is to appropriate for itself human rights, democracy, liberty, equality and justice as the common legacy of all civilisations and of all people.

It is to appropriate for itself modern science and technology as the product of all human intelligence.

Africa’s challenge is that of all civilisations, of all cultures, of all peoples that want to protect their identity without isolating themselves because they know that isolation is deadly.

Civilizations are great to the extent that they participate in the great mix of the human spirit.

The weakness of Africa, which has known so many brilliant civilizations on its soil, was for a long time not being able to participate fully in this great engagement. Africa has paid dearly for its disengagement from the world and that has rendered it so vulnerable. But from its misfortunes Africa has drawn new strength by re-engaging with itself. This re-engagement, regardless of the painful conditions of its origin, is the real force and the real chance for Africa at the moment when the first global civilisation is emerging.

The Muslim civilisation, Christianity and colonisation, beyond the crimes and mistakes that were committed in their name and that are not excusable, have opened the African heart and mentality to the universal and to history.

Youth of Africa, don’t let your future be stolen by those who only know how to combat intolerance with intolerance and racism with racism.

Youth of Africa, don’t let your future be stolen by those who want to deprive you of a history that also belong to you because it was the painful history of your parents, of your grandparents and those who went before.

Youth of Africa, don’t listen to those who want to remove Africa from its history in the name of tradition because an Africa where nothing changes anymore will again be condemned to servitude.

Youth of Africa, don’t listen to those who want to prevent you from taking your part in the human adventure, because without you, youth of Africa, who are the youth of the world, the human adventure will not be as wonderful.

Youth of Africa, don’t listen to those who want to deprive you of your roots and of your identity, want to erase all that is African, all the mystique, the religiousness, the sensitivity, the African mentality. Because in order to exchange it is necessary to have something to give, to talk to others, it is necessary to have something to say to them.

Youth of Africa, rather listen to the great voice of President Senghor who tried his whole life to reconcile the legacies and cultures at the cross-roads of which chance and the tragedies of history had placed Africa.

He, the child of Joal, who had been cradled by the rhapsodies of Griots said: “We are cultural half-breeds, and if we feel “in Black”, we express ourselves in French, because French is a language of universal vocation that addresses our message as much too the French as to others”.

He also said: “The French has given us the gift of their abstract words - so scarce in our maternal languages. Our words are naturally haloed with vigour and blood; French words radiate with a thousand fires, like diamonds, rockets that light up our nights”.

Thus spoke Leopold Senghor, who honoured all that which humanity understands of intelligence. This great poet and African wanted that Africa should start talking to all of humanity and wrote on its behalf poems in French for all people.

These poems were songs that spoke to all men of fabulous beings that guard fountains, sing in the rivers and hide in the trees.

Poems that made them hear the voices of the dead of the village and their ancestors.

Poems that lead through forests of symbols to return to the sources of the ancestral memory that every people hold at the core of its conscience like an adult holds at the core of his conscience the memory of childhood happiness.

Because every people have known this time of the eternal present, where they search not to dominate the universe but to live in harmony with it. The time of feeling, of instinct, of intuition. The time of mystery and initiation. Mystical times were the sacred and signs where everywhere. The time of magicians, sorcerers and shamans. The time when the spoken word was important because it was revered and repeated from generation to generation, and transmitted, from century to century, legends as ancient as the gods.

Africa has reminded all the peoples of the earth that they shared the same infancy. Africa has reawakened the simple joys thereof, the ephemeral happiness and this need, in which I believe so much, to believe rather than to understand, to feel rather than to reason, this need to be in harmony rather than to conquer.

Those who consider African culture to be backward, those who consider Africans to be big children, all those have forgotten that ancient Greece, which has taught us so much about the use of reason, also had its sorcerers, its diviners, its mysterious cults and secret societies, its mythology that came from the depths of time and from which we still draw today an inestimable treasure of human wisdom.

Africa, which also has its great dramatic poems and tragic legends, when listening to Sophocles, has heard a more familiar voice than it would have thought possible, and the West has recognized in African art forms of beauty that had been its a long time ago and that it felt the need to resuscitate.

Listen then, youth of Africa, how much Rimbaud is African when he places the colours on the vowels as your ancestors put colours on their masks. “Black mask, red mask, black and white masks”.

Open your eyes, youth of Africa, and don’t look anymore, as your elders do too often, at global civilisation as a threat to your identity but as something that belongs also to you.

When you would recognise within the universal wisdom also part of the wisdom that you received from your forefathers, and when you would have the will to make it grow, then will start what I wish to call the African Renaissance.

When you would proclaim that the African is not doomed to a tragic destiny and that everywhere in Africa there would be no other goal but happiness, then the African Renaissance will start.

When you, youth of Africa, would declare that there will be no other objective for an African policy but African unity, and the unity of the human species, then the African Renaissance will start.

When you would fully face the reality of Africa and come to grips with it, then the African Renaissance will start. Because the problem of Africa is that it has become a myth that everyone reconstructs for the requirements of their cause.

And this myth prevents one from facing the reality of Africa.

Africa’s reality is demographic growth that is too high for an economic growth that is too low.

Africa’s reality is that there is still too much famine, too much misery.

Africa’s reality is scarcity that provokes violence.

Africa’s reality is that development is too slow, agriculture produces too little, the shortage of roads, schools and hospitals.

Africa’s reality is a great waste of energy, of courage, of talent and of intelligence.

Africa’s reality is that of a great continent that has everything to succeed, but that does not succeed because it cannot free itself from its myths.

You and you only, youth of Africa, can achieve the Renaissance that Africa needs because only you have the force to do so.

I came to propose this Renaissance to you. I came to propose it to you so that we can achieve it together, because the African Renaissance depends to a large extent on the Renaissance of Europe and the Renaissance of the world.

I know the desire to leave that so many amongst you experience, confronted with the difficulties of Africa.

I know the temptation of exile that pushes so many young Africans to go to look elsewhere for what they don’t find here to maintain their families.

I know that it requires will and courage to attempt this adventure, to leave one’s fatherland, to leave the land where one was born and grew up, to leave behind the familiar places where one was happy, the love of a mother, a father or a brother and this solidarity, this warmth, and this communal spirit that are so strong in Africa.

I know that it requires strength of soul to confront this disorientation, this separation, this solitude.

I know what the majority of them must confront in terms of trials, difficulties and risks.

I know that some times they would go as far as to risk their lives to reach what they believe to be their dream.

I know that nothing would hold them back.

Because nothing would ever hold back the youth when they believe they are carried by their dreams.

I do not believe that the African youth are pushed to leave only by the need to flee misery.

I believe that the African youth leave, because, like all youth, they want to conquer the world.

Like all youth they have a taste for adventure and the open sea.

They want to go and see how the others live, think, work and study elsewhere.

Africa will not achieve its Renaissance by cutting the wings of its youth. But Africa has need of its youth.

The African Renaissance will start by teaching the African youth to live with the world, not to refuse it.

The African youth must feel that the world belongs to them as it does to all the youth of the world.

The African youth must feel that all will be possible, as all seemed possible to the men of the Renaissance.

Now, I know well that the African youth must not be the only youth in the world confined to home. They cannot be the only youth of the world that only have a choice between living clandestinely and withdrawing into themselves.

They must be able to acquire, outside of Africa, the competence and knowledge that they would not find in their country.

But they also owe it to Africa to place at its service the talents that they will have developed. It is necessary to return to build Africa, it is necessary to bring to the continent the knowledge, the competencies and the dynamism of these managers. It is necessary to put an end to the pillaging of the African elite of which Africa has need in order to develop.

The African youth do not want to be at the mercy of unscrupulous human traffickers who play with their lives.

What the youth of Africa want is that their dignity should be preserved. To be able to study, to work, to live decently. In the final analysis it is what all of Africa wants. Africa does not want charity or help or privileges.

What Africa wants and what it should be given are solidarity, understanding and respect.

Africa does not want that one should take charge of its future, think in its place or decide in its place.

What Africa wants is the same as what France wants: cooperation, association, a partnership between nations equal in rights and in duties.

African youth, do you want democracy, freedom, justice, law? It is up to you to decide this. France will not decide in your place. But if you choose democracy, freedom, justice and law, then France will join forces with you to build it.

Youth of Africa, globalisation such as it is, does not please you. Africa has paid too high a price dearly for the mirage of collectivism and “progressisme” to yield to that of laisser-faire.

Youth of Africa, you believe that free-trade is beneficial but that it is not a religion. You believe that competition is a means but not and end in itself. You don’t believe in laisser-faire. You know that if Africa is too naïve it would be condemned to become the prey of predators from all over the world and you don’t want that. You want a different globalisation, with more humanity, more justice and more rules.

I came to tell you that France also wants this. France wants to fight along with Europe, along with Africa and along with all those in the world who want to change globalisation. If Africa, France and Europe together want this, we shall succeed. But we cannot express this will (desire) for you.

African youth, you want development, growth, a higher standard of living?

But, do you really want it? Do you want that injustice, corruption and violence should end, property be respected and money be invested instead of embezzled.

Do you want that the state should again fulfil its responsibilities, that it should be freed from the bureaucracies that smother it, that it should be liberated from parasitism and clientism, that its authority be restored, that it rules the feudal powers and corporate lobbies.

Do you want that the rule of law should govern everywhere? That it allows everyone to know reasonably what to expect from others?

If you want this then France will be at your side to demand it, but no one is going to want it in your place.

Do you want that there should be no more famine in Africa, never again a single child who dies of hunger? Then find a way to be self-sufficient in food production. Develop food. Africa has firstly the need to produce food to feed itself. If that is what you want, youth of Africa, you hold between your hands the future of Africa and France will work with you to build this future.

Do you want to fight against pollution? Do you want that development be sustainable, that the current generations should no longer live to the detriment of future generations, that every country should pay the real cost of what it consumes and that clean technologies are developed? It is for you to decide this. But if you decide, France will be at your side.

Do you want peace on the African continent, collective security, the peaceful settlements of conflicts, an end to the infernal cycle of vengeance and of hate? It is for you, my African friends, to decide this. And if you decide (yes), France will be at your side like an unwavering friend, but France cannot want it in the place of Africa.

Do you want African unity? France also wants it because African unity will return Africa to the Africans.

What France wants with Africa is to confront the realities head-on, to conduct policies of reality and not policies of myths anymore.

What France wants to do with Africa is co-development, that is to say shared development.

France wants to have joint projects with Africa, joint centres of competitivity, joint universities and joint laboratories.

What France wants to do with Africa is to design a joint strategy within the globalisation process.

What France wants to do with Africa is a jointly negotiated policy on immigration, decided together so that African youth can be received in France and in all of Europe with dignity and respect.

What France wants to do with Africa is an alliance between French and African youth so that the world of tomorrow will be a better one.

What France wants to do with Africa is to prepare the advent of Eurafrique, this great common destiny that awaits Europe and Africa.

To those in Africa who regard with suspicion the great project of the Mediterranean Union that France has proposed to all countries bordering the Mediterranean, I want to say that in France’s spirit it is not at all about side-lining Africa, which extends south of the Sahara. On the contrary it is about making this Union the pivotal point of Eurafrique, the first stage of the greatest dream of peace and prosperity that Europeans and Africans are capable of conceiving together.

My dear friends, the black child of Camara Laye on his knees in the silence of the African night will know and understand that he can raise his head and look with confidence to the future. And this black child of Camara Laye will feel in himself the two parts of himself reconciled. And he will at last feel himself to be a human being like all members of humanity.

I thank you.

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