Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rudolph Lewis on Malian Dialogue

Dear Friends, I'm as dumb as a door knob when it comes to knowledge whether freedom  is expanding or contracting. Our present comfort and technology are as addictive as a drug that makes the good seems and evil and an evil a good. They tell me I was birthed in a culture that had destroyed all that identified my African ancestors and made them what they were, except for a few artifacts. Others tell me that they (in spirit) live in our drums, dances, and songs, and that all of that has become part of our DNA just as much as the space that they brought with them from the East.
We know much more about destruction of the body, than we do about the spirit. Of course, we know both more intimately with the entry in the 1990s of crack cocaine and HIV/AIDS. Whether we did it to ourselves or others did it to us, the blame game does not resolve the dilemma. Certainly, it leaves work for all of us to resolve and bring to an end. What I have on my mind is the continued discussion of the occupation of northern Mali and the ongoing destruction of the artifacts of African Sufi Islam by a few hundred fundamentalist Muslims, armed to the teeth, and beyond the control of the Malian government.
Marvin X has posted a discussion among Mustafa Ansari, Runoko Rashidi, and Chinweizu, three black intellectuals, that I have followed on the Blacklist. In response, here is what I wrote:
I do not care for the anti-Arab stance of Chinweizu or Runoko. Nor do I care for the Islamic defensive stance of Mustafa Ansari. Chinweizu and Runoko say that Arabs and Arabia have done Africa a wrong. Ansari says that Africa, including the Yoruba and Igbo of Nigeria, has done itself a wrong. Well, both are historic truths, outside of a racial context. Chenweizu and Runoko press the racial button to exaggeration. Ansari press the religion button to an exaggeration. Religious fanaticism is indeed involved in the politics of Mali and the destruction of African Islam (Sufi) artifacts, doubtless. No matter what the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) says, Arab states like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are involved in funding "Arab Terrorists." Second, there are Africans in Africa who identify more with Arabia than Africa, as we have seen in Darfur and in north Sudan. Here in America we have African Americans who identify more with Arabia and Arabs than they do the blues and African America culture. There are Africans black as night who think more in an Arabian and Pan Arabia frame than they think Africa and Pan-Africa. These latter nuts are involved in the destruction of Malian culture. And there are persons like Ansari who are throwing up a smokescreen for the involvement of Islamic fundamentalist elites. Now that's the truth of the matter.
But my theme is about the death of the body and the death of the spirit, the killing of the body and the killing of the spirit. There's always a small elite involved in this enterprise, as it was with Washington, Madison, and Jefferson, the fathers of our nation. It continues with persons like Mitt Romney and the Koch Brothers and the Republican Tea Party. We see what they try to do with their denying of health and education and work to the poor, the blacks, and the Hispanics. They want our consent for our own genocide, for our own death iof our body and spirit. Righteously, we booed Romney at the NAACP convention. Too respectfully, we did not run him out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered. We have too many Robert Smalls, great hearts and great nobility, among us.
Of course, like Obama, we can all walk and chew gum too. We can be concerned about our own welfare here in the States as well as be concerned about the legacy of our African ancestors left behind in Mali. We do not have to be like George Bush: give $32 billion to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa but ignore its ravaging impact in the 8th Ward of the District of Columbia, a couple miles from the White House. In these matters my views are constantly in flux. It was a good thing that George Bush did for African nations on the AIDS tip. Maybe Satan can have moments of clarity and charity as well, that does humanity a good. And yet remains a liar and a deceiver.
Below is another report from Mali, a link to the story.  "After Tombs, Arabs Now Destroying Timbuktu ’s Manuscripts"

I lived through the Rwandan genocide, which Bill Clinton ignored. (See poem below.) Many of us blame Clinton for his inaction. Hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved with a different U.S. policy. Today, many of us Pan-Africanists, like Molefi Asante, say that we should not appeal to Obama to send the Marines to Mali, for the War on Terror is just a ruse to steal the oil of non-European nations. Here we have another valid interest just as we had in Rwanda, Congo, Sierra Leone, and Darfur. If Africans will not act to stop the bloodshed  and impoverishment of African peasants, who will? They say they do not have the military resources to go to these spots of crises. If Africans as in the African Union do not have the military constitution to help the Mali government, nor do American Pan-Africanists, who does?
Are African artifacts, museums, and mausoleums worth the lives of American marines? That seems to be a politic that we must query in our soul of souls. I know that political correctness is not always the route we need to travel in crisis.
Loving you madly, Rudy
Rudolph Lewis, Editor
ChickenBones: A Journal 
Keeper of the Bones
                            —for Rwanda
                          By Rudolph Lewis

Spring has come, the tree flowers
in my backyard. I’m off to church
where no compromise, no forgiveness,
no mercy is the order of the day.
 In this museum, mausoleum
I am the overseer of the remains—
skulls stacked neatly like books,
brittle bones of family, of neighbors.
 It’s not the work I dreamed
when I was a child, filled with hope.
But families have been slaughtered—
night is filled with nightmarish images.
Death memories crowd out dreams—
in gardens, bedrooms, on highways
machetes shatter bone, shear muscle,
children brains thrash on holy walls.
 “Sin is real. It is bitter. It's a fire,”
an archbishop speaks of  Satan’s work.
It expands like space with dark matter,
in proportions of oceans & seas.
Nothing’s left on which dogs feast
or flies blow and maggots nest.
Yet hell lives on in hearts—the world
outside forgets the skeletal dead.
Brutal inquisition, subtle torture, ice
picks in the eyes of despised humanity,
clubs, knuckle dusters, guillotines live.
The self disappears in stages like flesh.
 An old man with only a few years,
I’ll too join the ancestors to find out
whether the dead will rise like Christ
to lead us heaven bound for eternity.
Until I sprout wings in another dream
I remain vigilant as keeper of the bones.

7 April 2004

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