(Editor’s note: The following article is our transcription, with limited paraphrasing, of the presentation delivered by Dr. Marimba Ani at the July 2011 Association of Black Psychologists Annual Convention, on the topic African people’s sovereignty.)
Culture is the organization of human experience. It is the supreme ideological force and political mechanism for collective group development. Without our cultural and historical connections we are not a people!
Culture is the immune system of a race. Like a petri dish, it is an environment that grows a specific organism. It is the armor that protects a people against genocide. It tells us who we will live for and who we will die for.
Our culture is the grounding of our historical self-consciousness. African culture is the unique expression of the African soul. It cultivates, nurtures and cares for the African soul as nothing else can! It makes us part of the global African family. It imparts to us the power of our ancestors. It has got to be the foundation of any educational system that we have!
It is the basis of our sovereignty!!!
The Maafa (The African Holocaust), and its ongoing ramifications, destroyed/destroys our collective memory, leaving us possessed by European definitions of ourselves and all of life: obsessed with being “American;” lacking vision beyond academia; not willing or capable of envisioning “nation;” too much tied to the visionless-ness of integrationists, and the kumbaya crowd.
WE NEED TO REBUILD OUR CULTURAL IMMUNE SYSTEM!!!
WHEN WE TRANSFORM OURSELVES, ALL OTHERS AND ALL ELSE MUST TRANSFORM ALSO!!!
Whatever progress we were making in the rebuilding of our culture during the Black Power/Black Consciousness movement has been derailed, suspended and reversed between 2004-2010, as too many Black folks fell into a 1950-ish, individualistic, glory-seeking, integrationist, assimilationist way of thinking. November 8, 2008 was an extremely important date, serving in a very large way to erase four decades (40 years!) of struggle, vision and progress.
With the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, our “leader” (in the minds of too many Black folks) is also the leader of our enemies — an absurdity too large for too many to navigate. That absurdity has become an ill-wind, further collapsing the sails of our ability to aggressively critique the country’s non-stop political savagery for fear of criticizing him also in the process (criticism that he may, indeed, need and deserve!!!).
Dr. Ani recommended the book, “Sovereign Evolution,” by Ezrah Aharone, as an important work to help us understand this: A people lacking sovereign consciousness become mirrors, puppets and parrots of whatever system under which they reside. She urged the cultivation of understanding and vision relative to ushering in a “new-old” sovereignty movement in 2011; to organize for accountability and overcome “loose cannon-ism;” to put cultural/political classes into operation throughout our communities; to become disciplined warriors for our people and our ancestors.
She cited these historical and contemporary warrior-scholars:
Chinweizu, Nigerian pan-African philosopher: The problem of the 21st century is the problem of Black Power – how to build it and enough of it to stop the extermination of Blacks that is now in progress, and to guarantee the survival, dignity and sovereignty of the Black world.
ASAR Marcus Mosiah Garvey: We need an African super-state to provide for and protect the well-being of African people.
ASAR Dr. John Henrik Clarke: All Africans living outside the Continent must be dedicated to the cause. It cannot be left to Africans who live in Africa. This should be a world mission of African people wherever they are on the face of the earth.
ASET Mama Gerri Price (Nana Akua Afria): The essence of African revolutionary activity is to destroy that which destroys us and to rebuild within an African context an African tradition. . . We have survived because of our imagination, inventiveness and spiritual energy. . . The African revolution is a process, not an event. Our revolutionary responsibility is to let every word and action be political and filled with a meaning that adds to the revolutionary process. . . . The African revolution is like a sacred ritual, calling together the ancestors and the living, wherever we are on this earth.
Dr. Ani urged us to remember: When we choose to be born African, we promise to engage in victorious struggle to restore our peoplehood!!! Envision those victories: universal health care for all African people; revolutionary educational system; economic self-reliance; defense capability on every front – political, militarily, and otherwise.
IT CAN BE REAL IF WE MAKE IT REAL!!!
(Other speakers on this topic included: Mark Bolden, Ezrah Aharone, Ozi Egbuna, D. Noble, Glen Ford, Parek Maduot, Quito Swan, Jared Ball, and Senfo Tonkam.
At the following link you can listen to all speakers on the topic — http://www.voxunion.com/?p=3905&cpage=1#comment-8335)