Africans and Identity

We want to carefully discuss our African identity because the answers we arrive at are fundamental to our Pan-Africanist objective. By defining our identity, we are defining our fighting force and ultimately we are defining the people for whom we fight. This is also the first step in the process of defining our enemy, which Sekou Touré named the “Anti-People.” These are essential definitions and in spite of the complexities involved, we have to get them right if we are to someday be free. I am sure all will agree that it will take all of us to defeat capitalism and imperialism. We can not, therefore, wage the struggle in a way that alienates sections of the people or push some who should be with us to the other side of the battle line.

Clearly, we have different levels of understanding. This is because some of us are only now awakening to the need to define ourselves. They know that we are not what we have been told and so they are looking at the options and trying to understand. These do not have a grounding to make a proper analysis. They have not yet done the research nor do they have the political experience to reconstruct our lost identity, history, or culture, and tend to think that what they know is all that needs to be known. This is natural and to be expected. The irony is that these very people represent the spark of our effort. Their enthusiasm and energy are what the struggle needs to spur us forward and provide us with hope for the future. In fact, it is their future we fight for because their future is our future.

Others, having begun to study and identify some initial truths, are ready to rush into battle without clearly identifying the enemy or the strategies and tactics used by the enemy to continue their domination of our land and our lives. These also include many of our youth who were born into a world in the midst of a war between the most oppressed of humankind and a vicious international elite that seeks to keep us enslaved and powerless. Some of these are also young of age, while others are politically young (new to the struggle). They are in the position of being in a sinking boat. They must bail water to keep from going down and they must keep rowing to reach the shore. These are young people who must learn to fight while fighting to learn. We must leave no stone unturned in our effort to give the proper understanding of who we are and how we must organize ourselves to carry the struggle forward.

As difficult as all of this sounds, it would be easy if the struggle was confined to these youthful sectors. It would be possible to offer simple explanations, demonstrations, and collective effort to overcome our inexperience and collective ignorance. We would simply have to bring these new troops up to speed and convince them to bring their youthful enthusiasm and boundless energy to the cause of the people’s redemption. But we fight more than the ignorance of youth and the arrogance of the emerging warriors. There are other, more dangerous, and cunning foes who also join in discussing our identity.

We have among us, internal enemies. Men and women who look like us, talk like us, and sometimes claim to lead us. These enemies within foster confusion, division, and chaos by promoting tribalism, narrow nationalism, and chauvinism. They speak of our freedom while working hand in hand with colonialists and imperialists. These agents of our enemies come in many forms. They are dishonest intellectuals who know the truth but choose to side with the oppressors. They are politicians, religious leaders, soldiers, criminals, and even some who claim to be revolutionaries. They are often articulate and tell us that our best interests are served by defining our identity according to where we are born, how much education we possess, our economic situation, and the color of our skin. They pit Africans at home against Africans abroad, African in the USA against Africans in the Caribbean, and Africans in South America against the African in Europe. They tell us we are black, colored, mulatto, and “purebred.” They also tell us that our future is tied to neoliberal reform, social integration, foreign investment, aid, and various welfare schemes. They foster dependency and promote fear. According to the lackeys, our only hope is to melt into the pot of societies dominated by our oppressors. Even when the traitors are not physically among us, their ideas filter into our discussion in the minds of our people who have been brainwashed by the mass media, consumer culture, and colonial education we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

All of these difficulties and more must be overcome as we strive to define ourselves. They can be dealt with by understanding and accepting one simple fact, WE ARE AFRICAN PEOPLE PERIOD. We are one people, who live in more than 120 countries, speak every language known to humankind, are in every social, political, and economic situation, composed of hundreds of tribes, having every shade of color. These things do not divide us or define us. They are aspects of who we are and speak to our diversity. This diversity is a strength that should bind us together in one struggle against a common enemy. We are Africans and if we are to prosper, develop, and be free we must unite as a mighty force for human dignity, respect, and power. We are not “niggers”, “blacks”, “coloreds”, “kaffirs”, “negroes”, “creoles” or “Afros”. We are Africans and refuse to let anyone outside of us or among us, tell us anything different.


End of discussion.

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Profession: Muralist/Artist, Writer, Poet, Lecturer Politics: Revolutionary Pan-Africanist and cadre in the All African People's Revolutionary Party Interests: Africa, Culture, Philosophies of Liberation Studies: Advanced Revolutionary Thought Mission: One Love!