On the 4th of October 2018, I gave a Black History Month talk, in which I argued that the ‘celebration’ of Black History Month should be more than an act of remembrance of voices at the margins but must have bringing about radical transformations as an ultimate aim. Especially in the context of such celebration by a university and within a university. And especially in the International Decade of People of African Descent.
Black History Month has become a shrine of not-forgetting, a horological monument and testament to the vast and varied multitude who preceded us all across this terrestrial space. It is a month-long resurrection of memories of the departed, of those who wore our skin and went ahead of us to draw back the night under which we had been flung, and ensure that we have the measure of freedoms that we have today. But it also gives us an overt opportunity to look to the future to chart a way forward for a people with full knowledge of where our people have been, the dreams they have dreamed, the hopes, the victories, the tragedies and triumphs of the past.
To do the above, I suggest that we make use of certain tools – Decolonisation and Afrofuturism, whilst standing guard against their co-optation. We can only take up these tools if we make ourselves intellectually sound in their literary currency; use that intellectual range to disseminate and contextualise Pan-African ideas leaving no voices at the margins; ensuring that critical work of our voices are acknowledged and given life and permanence through citation. As Sara Ahmed says, citation is a way of ‘reproducing the world around certain bodies’. Put differently, because knowledge was the first frontier of our unfreedom, it must be the first frontier of our freedom. We must intellectually speak the world we want to see into being. As we all agreed on the day, we must: READ, WRITE, CITE.
To whit, a reading list: (to which I will continue to add to and please send your suggestions. Thank you!)
Achille, Mbembe. “On the postcolony.” Berkeley, University of California (2001).
Adebisi Foluke. “The Meaning of ‘Together‘”. Foluke’s African Skies. 2018.
Adebisi, Foluke. “The Middle Passage: Or What We Lost To The Waters“. Foluke’s African Skies, 2018.
Adejumobi, Saheed A. “The Pan-African Congress,” in Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations, Nina Mjagkij, ed. (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001).
Adi, Hakim, and Marika Sherwood. Pan-African history: Political figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787. Routledge, 2003.
Africa Gender Institute, Feminist Africa 19 Pan-Africanism and Feminism Issue 19: September 2014
Akala, Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, (2018), Hachette
Andrews, Kehinde. “Beyond Pan-Africanism: Garveyism, Malcolm X and the end of the colonial nation state.” Third World Quarterly 38, no. 11 (2017): 2501-2516.
Asante, Molefi Kete. Afrocentricity. 2nd ed. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1988.
Baldwin, James. Collected essays. Vol. 2. Library of America, 1998.
Biney, Ama. The political and social thought of Kwame Nkrumah. Springer, 2011.
Biko, Steve. “Black consciousness and the quest for true humanity.” (1973): 87-98.
Biko, Steve. “The definition of black consciousness.” The African Philosophy Reader 360 (1998).
Biko, Steve. I write what I like: Selected writings. University of Chicago Press, 2015.
Black Panther  dir Ryan Coogler
Blain, Keisha N. Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.
Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on colonialism. NYU Press, 2001.
Davies, Carole Boyce. “Pan‐Africanism, transnational black feminism and the limits of culturalist analyses in African gender discourses.” Feminist Africa 19 (2014): 78-93.
Dei, Sefa George. “Afrocentricity: A cornerstone of pedagogy.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 25, no. 1 (1994): 3-28.
Dei, George Sefa. “Indigenous anti-colonial knowledge as ‘heritage knowledge’ for promoting Black/African education in diasporic contexts.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012).
Dei, G.J.S., 2017. Reframing Blackness and Black solidarities through anti-colonial and decolonial prisms (Vol. 4). New York, NY: Springer.
Dei, George J. Sefa. Teaching Africa: Towards a transgressive pedagogy. Vol. 9. Springer Science & Business Media, 2009.
Diop, Cheikh Anta. “Precolonial Black Africa: A comparative study of the political and social systems of Europe and Black Africa, from antiquity to the formations of modern states.” Westport, Conn: L. Hill (1987).
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. Souls of black folk. Routledge, 2015.
Eddo-Lodge, Reni. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
Fanon, Frantz. The wretched of the earth. Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2007.
Fanon, Frantz. Black skin, white masks. Grove press, 2008.
Garvey, Marcus. The philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey, or, Africa for the Africans. Vol. 1. The Majority Press, 1986.
Hirsch, Afua. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. Vintage, 2018.
Lorde, Audre. Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Crossing Press, 2012.
Mazama, Ama. “The Afrocentric paradigm: Contours and definitions.” Journal of Black Studies 31, no. 4 (2001): 387-405.
Mudimbe, V Y. The invention of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
Mudimbe, Valentin Yves. The idea of Africa. Indiana University Press, 1994.
Nangwaya, Ajamu, ‘Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding the Missing Women’
Nkrumah, Kwame, Roberta Arrigoni, and Giorgio Napolitano. Africa must unite. London: Heinemann, 1963.
Nyerere, Julius K. “A United States of Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 1, no. 1 (1963): 1-6.
Olusoga, David. Black and British: A forgotten history. Macmillan, 2016.
Oyěwùmí, Oyèrónkẹ́. The invention of women: Making an African sense of western gender discourses. U of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Vol. 239. London, 1972.
Sankara, Thomas. “Women’s liberation and the African freedom struggle.” (1990).
Sankara, Thomas. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983-87. Pathfinder Pr, 1988.
Senghor, Léopold Sédar. “Negritude and African socialism.” The African Philosophy Reader (1998): 438-448.
Sherwood, Marika. “Pan-African Conferences, 1900-1953: What did ‘Pan-Africanism’ Mean?.” The Journal of Pan African Studies 4, no. 10 (2012): 106-126.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can the subaltern speak?.” Can the subaltern speak? Reflections on the history of an idea(1988): 21-78.
The 13th: Director – Ava DuVernay
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization is not a metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society 1, no. 1 (2012).
Ture, Kwame, and Ekwueme Michael Thelwell. “Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism.” (2007).
X. Malcolm, with Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965).
Yaszek, Lisa. “Afrofuturism, science fiction, and the history of the future.” Socialism and Democracy 20, no. 3 (2006): 41-60.
We must read as if our lives depend on it. Because they literally do. But the beauty of our lives are also found in our togetherness. The meaning of freedom is found in together. In searching for our own pan-Africanism, we should know what has been done, and where our people have been, what they believed, what they thought and theorised… so that we can go forward together.
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu
We are who we are because we are we.
How long before we realise that Sade, Aretha, Makeba and Nina sing the same songs of survival?
How long before we begin to question why the strains of a Sophiatown symphony turn up in the melody of Motown music?
Why the rhythm of a Benoinise Balafon can be heard in Belafonte’s version of La Bamba? How long before we understand that Tubman and Tambo, Stokely and Senghor were fighting for one liberation?
That King and Sankara, Malcolm and Lumumba were killed for the same vision of freedom?
How long will we keep seeing Africa as a place of darkness rather than the origin of light?
How long before we realise that our freedom lies together?
‘Together’ is the rhythm of all African music,
‘Together’ is the hidden meaning in every African’s name,
Africa and her diaspora,
The other and her other,
‘Together’ is the cadence of every African language.
‘Together’ is the completeness of every African soul…
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu
We are who we are… together.