By Lenrod Nzulu Baraka – Our great ancestor Malcolm X was very prescient when he reminded us that those who refused to treat us right will hardly ever teach us right. Another of our illustrious ancestors Marcus Garvey alluded to the same reality when he said that the oppressor will never teach the oppressed how to be free. Regrettably, Black governments on the African continent and in the Caribbean have been slow to incorporate the wisdom of our ancestors into political, religious, educational, judicial, cultural, and social policy.
The two great European tribal wars which for some strange reason were called world wars, served as catalysts for the mirage dubbed independence in both Africa and the Caribbean. The great European metropoles that had been built and enriched by the blood, sweat, and tears of colonial subjects, were all reduced to rubble. Not even the British, who boasted that the sun never set on the British Empire, were able to maintain their colonial possessions.
Former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean seized the moment and pressed home their advantage against their former colonial masters. Ghana started the domino effect in 1957 under the astute leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. Nation after nation in Africa and the Caribbean followed suit as the frenzy of flag and national anthem creation began in earnest.
Gradually, Black faces wearing blonde wigs replaced white faces wearing blonde wigs in the national parliaments and judicial system. The same systems that had been used by the colonial government were co-opted by the Black governments hook, line, and sinker. The blonde wigs worn by Black politicians and the Black legal fraternity basically gave the game away. Everything had changed yet paradoxically everything had remained the same.
Politically, Africans and Caribbean islanders were divided into warring factions called political parties. The farcical elections that were conducted brought out the worse in both the people and their elected officials. Chicanery and violence became endemic in what has become know as the silly season in Africa and the Caribbean, as politicians and their supporters sought to achieve power by any means necessary.
Some politicians, once they assumed the position of president of their country, acted as though it was a lifetime appointment and simply refused to relinquish power even after it was clear that the electorate had grown weary of them. State power was ruthlessly employed to silence anyone who challenge these political megalomaniacs. This of course explains why many African and Caribbean leaders were so quiet in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in the US. State violence was pretty much the way of life in Africa and the Caribbean.
Systems that were set up to ensure that the colonial class enjoyed the fat of the land were treated as inviolate. Ill gotten wealth and stollen land remained in the hands of the thieves and their descendants. The euphoria of attaining a Black ruling class blinded many politicians to what really needed to be done to achieve equity and economic equality for the masses.
Our educational systems mirrored the educational systems of our colonizers and exploiters. Lacking the resources to engage in research and development projects, we were forced to drink from streams which polluted our minds, divorced us from our African identity and instilled in us a dislike and a distaste for that which was birthed within us.
Many of us in the Diaspora enthusiastically gave up our original names, our original languages, much of our original culture, customs, mores and folkways. We imbibed the same contempt and disgust displayed by our colonizers when confronted by the original religious traditions of our African ancestors. To this day the average Black person in the Diaspora is willfully ignorant about the rich spiritual traditions found on the African continent.
Africa and the Caribbean can neither escape nor ignore the wisdom of the ancestors. Both Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X warned that a new Black paradigm is needed if Black people are to rise from the morass that seems to have us stuck in a loop of mediocrity and underachievement. Accelerating on the wrong trajectory that was embraced since independence will only result in greater failure and disillusionment. African and Caribbean states urgently need to go back to the genesis of their statehood and chart a new path that will ensure a more equitable distribution of the national economic pie.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Black Paradigm: New Thinking for a New Age.