When the Chips Fall

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What Africans are Learning from the Pursuits of Men like Dr. Martin Luther King

Hey there people! It feels like ages but I am so glad that I got an opportunity to share something on this sensitive topic. First and foremost, Happy New Year, or as we would say in my country Baraka za Mwaka Mpya Kwenu (Blessings of the new year to you all)!

As the first post on my blog, I want to set the pace for a series of thought-provoking and inspiring pieces throughout the year. This is the first of many that I hope will get the world thinking a little bit more of my voice as a member of the black-African community.

For a long time now, people of African descent have been identified every now and then as “African”; a clear example of this is seen in it’s use as an adjective to describe members of the black community who reside in the US, naming them “African Americans”. As okay as it sounds, it isn’t the full story surrounding the terminology.

African American is not necessarily a substitute for the indicator of people group. Black is the race, African is related to the continent and as such does not make an excellent substitute for the truth. Our identity is black. The question then remains, why do we escape it so?

I was privileged enough to hear from people who have had negative encounters with some people from other racial backgrounds and what they have observed is worth noting. One of the first things that they observed is that black is associated with the worst things imaginable (think about it a little bit…’black plague’, ‘black coal’, ‘black sludge’). I’m sure you get the point. It is very hard to associate oneself with that word…and what seems to happen is that these negative connotations associated with the color itself are somehow pasted onto those whose skin is labeled black or dark (note the words used). This is how Africa itself gained its identity as the ‘Dark Continent’…not a cool name.

But should we run? Martin Luther King Jr showed the African American community–no, scratch that!–the world! That race does and can never determine one’s contribution to society (content of an individual’s character supersedes the color of one’s skin). It is on this very basis that black as a color has over the years been associated with cool, hip, fun and stylish…and it is on this very basis that my fellow black people ought to realise that there is hope for our people. Not because of change of use of the word black, but because of the potential of the black community to be more (so far I feel like we have been up to a lot of “doing”). We are either getting hyped up about immediate wealth/riches or clinging to titles or forms of power.

In us uniting and working together, we can show the world what we are made of as fellow citizens of the world and coequal members of the human race. Africa is probably the richest continent but we underestimate it because we underestimate ourselves. Racial slurs and awful history has affected us negatively and it doesn’t matter whether you were born in Africa or in the West…we’ve suffered but here we are. It’s about time we own our identity as one people and stop bickering and allowing divisions of no consequence to destroy us.

We know pain, we know labor and we know intelligence. How can we let divisions reign in our midst…we are one! All other races ought to work together in like fashion and help destroy the chains that have kept us in fear.

In Jesus’ words, let us love one another…

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COLOR AND LOVE

THE COLORED RENAISSANCE

Where do we start?

It seems to me that Black History Month (BHM) needs an entire make-over. I know that the first criticism I’ll receive on this is that I am not African American descent. But, even with that in mind, I consider that observation a half-truth for I do share half of that fact. I am African. It’s very difficult to dissociate the first half of the identity from its heritage; that’s where my argument finds its footing. We do share something in common and its more than a heritage issue…it’s a history issue.

I feel in my heart that it’s about time we talked about it, this history that we share for I do think that if we came clean we could truly become a team. First, we’re African and that means we do share a common pigment…oh man! Where do we start? If it isn’t colonisation and marginalization, or being made to fight ourselves, or being turned into slaves on stolen land…how can we say that we aren’t familiar and share the same painful history? I do acknowledge that there are slight differences between us but we are still one blood.

It is fascinating to me how much pain we’ve had to endure and yet in the midst of it all we have found a way to emerge stronger. Now, take a minute and think about it, whether it was Martin Luther King or Malcom X, we had individuals in what we could call black history who made a difference in the world and not just our communities. Whether it was the Pan African movement in the African continent or the Civil Rights movement, there is more than meets the eye. We have worked out our situations in relatively the same way but here is where we haven’t gotten it…we haven’t made ourselves family once more.

Yes, as family we do have our issues and we do make our mistakes. It has been way too long and there is a need to re-unite ourselves by coming together and mending any cracks in our relationship. Obama, an African made history and we all saw him as a black president loved by all…Africans of American and African descent did acknowledge the potential for unity between both blacks when he led as the first black president. Now that he’s left he will be sorely missed, but here’s where it gets interesting; we are a people rich in history and quoting from some of our greatest minds, we were told we didn’t have a history and that we were backward, but look who’s surprising the world? For to be told by others who knew nothing of our people and our culture. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means racist, I believe that we all need each other. But there is a distorted, evil history that sort to rob us of our identity, divide us as people and re-define us.

It is concerning this evil that I write this post. I write saying first that I love you all for reading this, regardless of race. I consider you special and brothers and sisters in need of the one thing Black History Month has in common with the month of February—that is LOVE. Now in a time of division and unrest in matters regarding race and unity…we need to learn from our past to forge forward.

Here’s where we start. We have to start talking. We have to reach and be real with each other. We have to forgive each other and love whole-heartedly for that is the only adhesive in a world thriving from division. We have to learn from our rich past, and moreso from our ancestors because, yes, we do have a rich history.

What are we waiting for? I extend my hand to you now.ColoredDrinking.jpg

WHERE IS THE LOVE?

LOVE IN A TIME OF HATE

Where is the love?

Did light lose the fight and flee,

And our sight we in three,

Appoint our vision to division,

Divide our eyes to see without inhibition,

The thigh that brings a high,

The lust that imprisons in thirst,

Does love truly dwell in such a lie?

 

When lives are snuffed out,

When children’s’ cried are hushed out,

When there is more to crush and destroy,

Than there is to mush and employ

To one’s heart,

Is love surely present,

When all we have is our hearts

And we hesitate?

Does love really dwell in such a mess?

 

Is love so abstract

That it cannot distract?

So aloof

To elate that special person’s feelings through the roof?

No,

Says the heart,

It cannot be! Says the mind,

We need it says the individual,

We are broken says humanity,

Let me in, says love

How can you go on without me?

WHAT ‘GANGLAND’ HAS TO SAY ABOUT KENYA’S POTENTIAL

WHEN ALL WE NEED IS A CAPABLE GROUP OF LEADERS FOR THE NEXT PHASE…

“You know originally, the gangs were created to protect everybody in the community. There was lynching and bombing going on and the gangs were there to protect. What people don’t understand is that a lot of the leaders died. Medgar Evers (has been shot), Bunchy Carter (has been shot), Fred Hampton (has been shot), MLK (has been shot in Memphis Tennessee). These youngsters didn’t have any direction. No leaders to look up to so they imploded on themselves”

-Lecrae

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Lecrae CC3…When the Christian Artists Get Real

It’s amazing how personal this song is, personal in the sense that it speaks from the heart about the heartbreaking effects of the difficulties being faced by many in the U.S. right now. Many of these difficulties are not recent as many of us would think because each and every single one of them have caused strains in inter-ethnic relationships. These strains are presented as being brought about (primarily) by a quest for identity–an identity in a new land/time period. Whereas in the past great leaders emerged who helped make a difference and level the grounds for those from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, the need to progress, evolve and adapt is urgent.

So much crime has taken place because of hatred and indifference. These things, as the song would point out, have not helped lessen the burden being borne by either side of the conflict. Although these things are of great concern, the song would rightly point out that “it was a crooked system like this that left the King of kings bloodless”, a straight up nod to the fact that the systems in place that deny us the rights to be treated as human beings, regardless of race/ethnicity need to be acknowledged. Not only are they to be acknowledged but undone altogether.

Kenya’s current interest in advancing the nation falls under one oddly similar situation as the U.S.; it needs to accept and take advantage of its diversity. With over 40 tribes, each possessing sub-tribes of their own, Kenya’s diversity is as beautiful as the view of a rose in a kaleidoscope: Each mirror reflection interacts with another reflection from another angle and thus creates a beautiful view.Why tribal politics lets us down is yet to be understood, but the fact is, the power has been and always remains in the hands of the people to change things. Although, like the U.S., there were those who came before to fight the oppressive laws and systems that denied the people equal rights as the rest, Kenya can build right now and today from that great history and become greater.

Although there are issues that have kept many suppressed and kept under the feet of oppressive powers and laws, there still remains a great chance that they can rise up again and produce amazing people. As though things couldn’t get any stranger, Obama was Kenyan and became the president of the U.S. for two whole terms. Whereas some disagree as to his heritage, they should remember that Kenya, like the U.S. had great leaders that suffered to give the people freedom. No one bred from this beautiful land is without worth and value (forgive me here, I am letting loose on my patriotism here. I am Kenyan after all!).

Hence, if Obama can lead, so can any one in the world, but it starts here. No more crime, No more violence. No more pitiful fighting and squabbling. No more lying. No more corruption and stealing. No more negative tribal politics. No more extortion. No more robbing the people. As Lecrae and Propaganda’s ‘Gangland’ rightly point out, Jesus is the best example to learn from regarding leadership and making a difference, as well as living a life worthy of God in the midst of difficulty. This, I believe is what the Gospel of Jesus offers my people and the world today.

Why don’t we make a difference by tackling our issues differently?

Why don’t we dare to be better?

Why don’t we dare to love?

Why don’t we dare to share when it hurts?

Why don’t we dare to be different?