Written by Solange Mbanefo | feature visual by Anelia Loubser
If you made the wise decision to click on this article, you are probably pissed-off about the title. You are probably secretly hoping to encounter a long satisfying list of African-American scientists that have effectively invented something. You are probably preparing your next Google search to prove me wrong…Unfortunately; your nerves might only heighten as I elaborate my point.
When I say Black men, I intend to address all people of colour that claim to know where they come from – in particular: we African brothers and sisters.
My curiosity originates from a collective question that most people of colour have probably had to face at least once in their lifetime.
The taboo yet displeasing question leaves one embarrassingly frustrated of their own personal inability to fluidly shoot back an obvious answer to any given invention by the generalised and redundant racial term of black men.
But where are we black brothers and sisters today? How can we start addressing the fundamental roots to the incomplete substance of our general knowledge, followed by our inability to answer the initial question without hesitation?
Hope is not yet lost. Hope? Yes, not despair, but Hope. Remember what it stands for?
The noun portrays the state of mind based on clinging to a mere possibility, no matter how little a chance that something may happen. Aspiration, Optimism, Conviction, Promise. (Dictionary, 2012) An expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large…Hope.
The verb, on the other hand, To Hope, represents anticipating a cherished desire with confidence. It is the aim, the intention, and the plan. (Thesaurus, 1995)
The following letter was sent from the noun: Hope and is addressed to our Verb: to Hope. Hope explains how our hope shall hopefully become a means to hope for a brighter future for Black Men. Here’s my message to you all as a starting point towards liberation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I firstly wish to thank you. Thank you for finally waking up. Thank you for having the pride to teach your language to your children. Thank you for drilling foundations in our youths by showing the boldness and wisdom of our ancestors. Thank you for putting FEAR in us, as we respect our elders and protect our siblings. Thank you for helping us grow up with all the right role models and inspiring achievements that have done nothing but incite us to do better and drill confidence for more generations to excel and shine brighter than before.
However, it is only in the darkest of moments that we have the crispest views of the glimpsing stars. Yes. We are in the phase of the darkest moments. But the stars are not being heard.
The rest of the world has seen the dance. The inequality is never going to shift. But we can.
As we now turn the finger and point straight at our own hearts, we can see how we are the sinking titanic drowning in ancestral generations of blood, post-colonial inferiority complexes, self-denial and self-hatred, shamefulness and violence, jealousy and envy and screams of hopelessness in a really helpless environment.
As the following generations of spoilt, bratty and confused successors mimic the stupidity and cowardice of their familial masters, the shoulders of our heritage crumble into garbage, low-to-no IQ, ambitious-less and sad. The future, our future is directed to the second slave age as the global discourse embraces the second machine age.
As an Inferior race, we come from a land of no resources where the weather is so harsh, cold and infertile; we need animal skin to keep us alive and protect our feet from frostbite and death. From the amount of sunlight we are exposed to, our skins are frail and age faster and our hair is made of no form or consistency. Our fields are so poor that even though the act of spitting on the ground is followed by the blossoming of some form of nutrition that embraces the circle of life, we dwell in famines. Our grounds are so dry that people must teach us how to fetch clean drinking water, even during the abundance of the rainy seasons.
Our women are so ugly that we embrace all means of hideousness…in the eyes of the beholder. Our people are so dumb and foolish that we have still achieved and invented nothing to contribute to society so far. Our voices are so feeble and our sense of rhythm is close to nothing worthy since Beethoven is the Alpha and ultimate Omega to the SOUL BEAT –That beating heart. The drum that pumps the symphonies of our original breath of existence. Yes. As the embodiment of culture and the veritable start to diversity of the vast minority, we have happily accepted to reduce our meaning to unwanted dust. Grains of sand stuck in your shoes that fulfil nothing more than to irritate you – continuously…
Slowly but surely, we will realise that we don’t need to occupy those smelly shoes with stinky toes! No More.
Resistance is a Right to fight for. By resisting falling into the deadly deaths that categorise, penalise, ostracise, vandalise, deface and mutilate, I cry for a halt! We cry for a pause in the storyline and demand some explanation of the facts.
The story is told from the winners’ point of view. As Our History is His Story read black to us in a foreign language. We accepted translations of what we knew not, persevering within an altered reality and believing the illusion as now our own.
Our truth already lies half asleep in the dawning of our knowledge. Stop seeking the teacher that gives his wisdom, but rather the one that leads you to the threshold of your mind. The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding. The musician may sing to you of the rhythm, which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear, which arrests the rhythm, nor the voice that echoes it. And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither. For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man. And even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth. (Kahlil, 1923)
To cut out of the metaphor, we need to educate ourselves. Our moral values, which are linked to dogma, reflect who we are as a people. Without roots, no tree shall grow tall or even manage to outlive the first winds of the seasons. Our foundations must be rooted and grown into you from childhood. Your family protects your childhood.
Who you are starts from the home, where one can feel confident to believe in who they are, where they are and how to get to where we dream and seek to be.
As the next generation of Black men has dawned, we are the children destined to build tomorrow’s present. To Black men, please listen to me as Africans and to you non-Africans, listen to me with open mind! (Fela, 1978) Remind yourselves that your children are not your children. We are the brothers and sisters of Life’s yearning for itself.
We may have come through you but not from you. And though we are with you now, we do not belong to you and the wrong choices you have made. You may give us your love but not your thoughts, for we have our own thoughts. You may house our bodies but not our souls… Our souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. (Kahlil, 1923)
Slavery starts in your conscious lack of reason and loss of passion to move. You are the master of your chains. And as I say YOU, never forget that GOD is within us, around us and between us. God is Love, the pure energy of Light. Follow the Light out of the valley of darkness and onto the path of the first age of freedom from our generational bonds.
The truth may set you free, but first, you go vex well well!
- Hope – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2018-03-02
- B. Kirkpatrick ed., Roget’s Thesaurus (1995) pp. 852–3
- Fela Kuti discography. Shuffering and Shmiling 1978. Retrieved 2018-03-02
- Kahlil, G. (1923). The prophet. Alfred A. Knopf.
- Pixel, V. (2009). Vimeo | The high-quality home for video hosting and watching. Clouds in black & white I Time Lapse. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from http://vimeo.com/1455516
- Loubser, Anelia. (2014, March 17). Alienation on Behance. Alienation. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from http://www.behance.net/AneLoubser
- African Sunset [Recorded by Zap Mama]. (1997, February 25). On Studio Album Seven [CD]. Marie Daulne, Yannick Fonderie, Michael Franti.
- African Drums (djembe, dunumba, instrumental) [Advertisement]. (2015, April 2). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqs3CevZjKs
“‘Alienation’ is a collection of portraits by Anelia Loubser, a photographer in Cape Town, that challenges the viewer by using creative tactics based on the concept:
‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’ – Wayne Dyer,”