Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Marvin X poem in Arabic/English: The Origin of Blackness, translated by Ali Sheriff Bey of BAM West, 1966

The Origin of Blackness
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Sudan la al lawn
black is not a color
lawn kuli min sudan
all colors come from black
sudan al harakat
black is a rhythm
al marna tambura
a drum beat.
al awwal sudan kalam
the first word was black
al awwal rajuli sudan
the first man was black
Allah sudan
God is black
Sudan ilmi akhi
black knows its brother
anta mufail mashay min sudan
you can't run from black
anta mufail ghaybaw min sudan
you can't hide from black
ka umma sudan
your mama is black
ka abu sudan
your father is black
ka burka sudan
your shadow is black
al atum ra'a wa sami sudan
the things you see and hear are black
al atum mufail ra'a wa sami sudan
the things you can't see and hear are black
sudan al asil
black is reality
--Marvin X, 1966
from the collection Woman--Man's Best Friend by El Muhajir (Marvin X),  Al Kitab Sudan Press (Black Bird Press), 1972, San Francisco. The translator, Ali Sheriff Bey, was Marvin X's first Arabic teacher who gave him the name Nazzam Al Sudan. Bey was the chief Islamic, Arabic and Urdu instructor at Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco, 1966. Of course the guru of BAM West was the Muslim career criminal Alonzo Harris Batin, immortalized in a play about Batin and Eldridge Cleaver by Earl Anthony. Batin recruited most of the BAM West players into the Nation of Islam, including Hillery X. Broadous, Duncan X. Barber, Ethna X. Wyatt and Marvin X.

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