No. 259 – On Grief and Connection

Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah

My Grandmama passed on Saturday. I thought I got all my tears out Saturday, but I’ll be grieving and celebrating her until my spirit feels it’s enough. While showering last night, I saw her smiling face and heard her say, “I’m proud of you, son. It’s going to be alright.” There were some extra water droplets in that shower. The weekend felt strange. Grandmama was on my mind and I was sad. Ahmaud Arbery was on my mind and I was numb. I still tried to make progress on my projects. Outside of cleaning and cooking some acceptable jollof rice, I felt like I was on a treadmill the rest of the weekend. So, I went to bed early last night.

This morning, I woke up thinking about black folks, how we’ve been in a low-grade state of mourning for hundreds of years, and the impact that has had on our productivity. Hundreds of thousands endured nearly 250 years of slavery. Folks lived through the failure of Reconstruction. Massacres in cities across the country. Jim Crow. Redlining. Prison industrial complex. Impunity for the killing of our people. It’s remarkable that black folks have created so much magic in the midst of this mourning.

What’s the salve?

During Jill Scott and Erykah Badu’s session Saturday, Ms. Scott described her mom as a healer. We’ve been applying salves to our wounds for a long time – healing ourselves. That session between Ms. Scott and Ms. Badu was a prime example.

I don’t think there’s a salve that we haven’t already been applying to ourselves. I do though believe there is more healing waiting for us in black folks in the Diaspora connecting with our cousins in Africa. We’re not alone in our grief. Black folks across Africa have been in a state of low-grade grief as well. Folks are navigating the vestiges of colonialism, including inconsistent leadership, resource extraction, muted voices on the global stage, and more.

It’s exhausting, yet folks across Africa have been applying their own salves for centuries as well. I’m pretty sure they’re similar to the ones we’ve been applying here in the US. We’ve been apart for so long, and have made attempts to connect over the centuries, though they’ve never quite stuck. It’s essential that we figure out how to make the connection stick.

So we saw that the first thing to do was to unite our people, not only unite us internally, but we have to be united with our brothers and sisters abroad. It was for that purpose that I spent five months in the Middle East and Africa during the summer. The trip was very enlightening, inspiring, and fruitful. I didn’t go into any African country, or any country in the Middle East for that matter, and run into any closed door, closed mind, or closed heart. I found a warm reception and an amazingly deep interest and sympathy for the Black man in this country in regards to our struggle for human rights.

Malcolm X

Hopefully, this resonates with some and eventually with a lot. If we can connect with our folks in Africa, I believe we’ll find the healing we need to no longer push for the structural changes needed in the US, Latin America, Europe, and wherever else black people are. We’ll restructure them.

No. 18: Not a Protectionist, But David Cameron’s Interest in Africa Makes Me Nervous

While reading an article on David Cameron’s visit to Africa, I just couldn’t help but see an image of British ships exploring the new world, landing on the African continent and thinking – “we’ve got free labor”.

Source: Slavery in America

The author follows Prime Minister Cameron on his trip to South Africa and Nigeria, highlighted by the fact that the Prime Minister brought with him the heads of several heavy hitters already doing business on the African continent – Vodacom, Barclays, and Diageo to name a few. Mr. Cameron’s theme throughout the trip was that Britain sees Africa in a new light – a trading partner, not just an aid recipient. Business leaders touted the economic opportunities on the continent, and expressed their wishlists of improved regulations to enable business to thrive.

The African continent’s countries are really making moves in growing their economies and improving governance. Those improvements are drawing increasing attention from Asia and the West, and it is increasingly important that African countries protect their interests. My recent trip to Uganda revealed the downside of China’s investment on the continent – socks that had holes after a week of wear. Again, it is increasingly important that African countries protect their interests.

Source: The Economist

Those of us in the Diaspora have an incredible opportunity to seize in serving our countries. Tons of us have studied the way the Asian, European, and American players work the markets, run governments, etc. We can work with Africans on the continent in serving as gatekeepers to ensure that non-African penetration of African countries is healthy.

Source: Marvel Comics

I look forward to working with you in some fashion. I’m sitting here with goosebumps as I watch childhood daydreams morph into reality.