Discarding Broken Chains: Discovering Unbroken Connections
Posted: Monday, August 1, 2005
Khafra Kambon Lecture: Discarding Broken Chains: Discovering Unbroken Connections (final lecture of the Kwame Ture Memorial Lecture Series) July 21, 2005 – 7:30 p.m.
City Hall Auditorium, POS
by Chike Pilgrim
Kambon considered the question "Who are we?" as African people. He noted because of our struggles with identity and unity some people say our chains have not been broken. By chains he means the systems that oppress us and keep us from various freedoms. He said however, that when our condition now is compared with our condition under slavery, he believed that we have broken chains. He outlined the maroon history of Trinidad and Tobago, and noted that a lot of maroons hid in the caves in Paramin, the forested areas of the plains of Caroni and so on. Outside of Haiti, Jamaica (1734) had some of the most inspiring struggles. The 1832 rebellion with Sam Sharpe was also a significant and important one, especially because it precipitated the emancipation process. A female white visitor to the island of Jamaica noted that the question of freedom would be left to the slaves (enslaved persons); she said they best knew themselves and their circumstances.
Erasing the shame about Africa: Significant African Historians
Some people, Kambon noted, will say we benefited from chains, i.e. chattel slavery. He cited Morgan Freeman, who said, disappointingly: "I don't think my ancestors were dragged from Africa, I believe they jumped on the ships." after he visited Africa. Some people believe we got 'real languages,' religion and education after the trip to the West, and that now we are here we know about laws and civilization and so on. Kambon noted that this is tied to us believing that we are lesser than everyone else. He listed some ancestors who had broken the chain of misrepresentation of knowledge: Carter G. Woodson, J.A. Rogers, Professor Leonard Jeffries, Yosef Ben-Jochannan. Kambon stated that we should avail ourselves of this knowledge, and he felt it was a shame we didn't feel proud of our history before and even during slavery, and noted that it was simply tremendous. He said he didn't make a big deal of African being the first people, whether this was an act of God, the cosmos or fate. He said we can't claim that as particularly special because we didn't do it. But he noted it was an important point because everyone on earth has some black genetic material running through them, but cultural and historical evolution has divided us into sub-groups of history.
He felt everyone in the world was not as a result African, but had African genes in them. We have developed differently, and so it makes no political sense, he pointed out, to identify everyone as African. He mourned our hesitance or shame to call ourselves Africans and related the story of Marlon Black, who was beaten up outside an Australian night club by three white men, and was upset because the persons who had attacked him had mistaken him for an African. Kambon went on to claim his Africaness and said that we have a lot to be proud of, and the strength we have allowed us to endure through a slavery that may have made other groups extinct.
African inventors and unbroken African connections
He again went on to call the names of some African inventors, Like Jan Ernst Matzinger, who created the shoe-lasting machine. He called the name of George Washington Carver, who was one of the greatest geniuses of the 21st century, but was exchanged for a horse. Kambon pointed out some that chains are broken because we are physically no longer in bondage, and we have our ancestors to thank for that, because of their fight for freedom. He said that we must be careful to not re-embrace our chains, but seek to continue breaking more chains. He spoke about the genetic revolution that is coming and in a few years will be at its peak. This will create a situation where eyes, hair, and skin colour of a child can be selected in the womb. For now an unbroken connection to Africa is still the way we look, as well as our music. Kambon explained that scientifically, the music that is predominantly played in the world today is ALL African music. The food we eat, the way we walk, and our dances are all African. He explained that even when people shouted "Kaiso" when they heard good Calypso, this is really a derivative of the Hausa (West Africa) word, 'Kaito' (which is a shout of encouragement, or Bravo). He said that even when the old people say "Ah chuts," that is an African phrase. So he noted that we use the grammar of African languages and even the syntax (sentence structure), so even when we were talking "bad English" we were talking really good African, and it was a way to express ourselves that was really genuine. The patterns we make in our speech, for example repetition (dat ting small, small, small) is African. He also pointed out that the Orisa and Baptists are not the only African expressions of religion in the Caribbean, and cited the ceremonies for All Saints/ All Souls Day. He said that we are trying to deny something that is so real in ourselves, that it cannot be denied.
He said that the negative portrayals of Africa in the media, for example the Mexican stamp with a stupid, exaggerated character on it, are attacks on the African psyche. He said its not surprising that Mexican whites love this character. Also, in the Augsburg Zoo in Germany, they have set up a mock "African village", so people will go to a zoo and see "Africans" a real humiliation of our people. Kambon said that while some of these actions were just humiliating, others were very dangerous and effective as well.
The G8 Sham
At this point he introduced the G8 - Geldorf and Blair and company. He noted that the concert didn't even initially include Africans. The entire G8 and "Getting rid of poverty in Africa" campaign, whether it is celebrated as an achievement by some or not, everyone who looked on as a black person felt ashamed, no matter what we think we are, because what was done diminished our self-esteem and our selves in the eyes of others.
This exposed two things:
1. That there are still deep emotional and psychological connections with Africa, even among
those who want to deny it.
2. The reason Western Blacks don't want to be seen as Africans are because no one wants to identify with being childlike and helpless.
Kambon said that the G8 situation can be described as the most vicious psychological assault on Africans in recent times, a process that must likewise be psychologically reversed, by explaining the truth, that Tony Blair and Geldorf are aligned with the persons who are looting Africa:
1. Debt relief is a sham. The 50 Billion for debt relief for 18 countries goes partially to 14 on the continent. But these countries combined pay 30 Billion a year in loan repayments. The HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) were forced to do a number of things to participate in the programme, including wiping out all import duties (so sustenance agriculture is crushed by western foods and products) and the state is no longer allowed to support domestic industries, resulting in the privatization and sale of vital infrastructure such as water. Mozambique had a crisis with a privatized water company where after a flood, the company pulled out of the country. Tanzania had to take back a contract from BiWater (an English company) in May 2005, because the firm was not performing. Now Tanzania has to fight this multinational in court. They also had to spend money to put everything in order even before the company had set up.
2. The "Debt relief" programmes kill unions, and so the deregulation of labour sets up the population for serious exploitation.
3. The Governments of the countries cannot give preference to local suppliers.
They have thus created a situation for permanent underdevelopment, and in terms of concrete results - Kambon felt that there were no positive ones. He also pointed out that the situation was as followed: if a country got $1 in "debt relief", then that country would lose $1 in aid. Belgium and other European countries are even protesting this "giving". What they want is a system where they theoretically give you debt relief, but if you go against their policy, they withdraw that relief. In other words, the G8 will give you money only under certain conditions, and the other countries will only give you money if you stick to those conditions for the prescribed period of years.
Another problem Kambon outlined with the "debt relief" is that the G8 takes a look at your country and then prescribes what you need money for. He went on to predict that Africa, like Afghanistan and Haiti before it, will NEVER see the full 50 billion that was promised, because the G8 agreements/ statements are not legally binding. He said that even if the G8 gives a little part, they will channel it in order to maximise profits to themselves.
E-learning initiative in Kenya
Kambon went on to discuss an experiment in Kenya, where a satellite distributes electronic textbooks to children, because buying new books every year is too expensive. "The EduVision E-Learning System (EELS) is a low-cost electronic textbook system now being tested at the Mbita Point primary school in western Kenya. Students are issued hand-held devices wirelessly connected to the EELS "BaseStation," which itself has a satellite downlink for regular content updates." The company behind this programme (Worldspace Foundation) is owned by an Ethiopian entrepreneur, Noah Samora, Kambon noted. He said that this technology has been banned in the West, and so he demonstrated that real progress is not the desire of these nations.
Africa portrayed as the beggars of the world
Kambon went on to note that Africa is severely criticized and demonized in the media, but he said that most American media bodies were owned by Jewish persons, and that no country gets as much aid from America that Israel. Kambon said that if we supposed that Africa got 25 billion over a 45 year period, it would amount to (considering the interest over time) about 1 trillion dollars in aid. Note that Africa is made up of 54 countries, and has a population of over 800 million persons. He pointed out that Israel's population is between 6 and 7 million persons, and that over a 48 year period, since after the second World War, the country has received over 84 billion in aid. Kambon noted that if Africa had got the same aid as Israel, it would amount to 18 trillion dollars approximately. Kambon said that we are being made to look like the beggars of the world, and yet between 1949 and 1997, we have got nothing near the aid of the people who own the media that portrays Africa in such a negative light. AND, he added, they get reparations as well. The difference, he said, lies in the propaganda that is being used in an attempt to break the as yet unbroken connections, so that Africans in the diaspora will not return to the continent and assist it.
First heart transplant involves an African medical genius
In 1967, Kambon said in closing, the first heart transplant was performed in South Africa. Dr. Christiaan Barnard, a white man, got all the credit, but almost two decades later, he admitted that the heart transplant could not have been performed without the man who was assumed by everyone to be the cleaner, a Mr. Hamilton Naki. As the Associated Press noted on June 13, 2005: "Hamilton Naki, a former gardener who was so skilled in complicated surgery that he helped in the world's first human heart transplant, had to keep this secret in apartheid South Africa. "He has skills I don't have," Dr. Christiaan Barnard, who performed the heart operation, admitted this to the Associated Press in 1993. He went on to say: "If Hamilton had had the opportunity to perform, he would have probably become a brilliant surgeon."" Its truly a pity that Barnard was struck with this revelation and conscienced when he had already got all the credit for the operation, as well as the money and fame, while Hamilton Naki died penniless this year, 2005, still never promoted higher than the rank of a lab assistant, and still having to be a gardener to support his family.
14 year old African Millionaire
Kambon also mentioned Farrah Gray. He is a young African (American) who became a millionaire at 14 after his business, Farr-Out Foods, a specialty foods company targeting youth, hit sales of $1 million. At 15, he sold the business for approximately $1.5 million dollars in order to pursue other endeavors such as real estate investments and the purchase of “innercity," a youth-oriented magazine with a circulation of 300,000. He is now, in 2005, 20 years old, and plans to dedicate his life to uplifting poor communities.
Kambon used these examples to state that the good news about Africa doesn't make the news. In closing, he called the name of Marcus Garvey, who linked Africans across the globe before the internet, and before jet planes and grants, he raised money so Africans could travel and improve themselves. A magnificent example of self-sufficiency, and race first in a practical sense.
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