Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Lion King

Years ago remember watching the movie "Lion King" with my nephew as he was just a "lil thundercat" at the time; this movie seemed ideal to show to him as at that time this particular Disney film was the only that had any connection to Africa; it seemed the perfect film for a young African American male to view.

On the surface the premise of film was simple enough, the lost son comes home to redeem his people or lions( in this case) but upon closer examination I could not help but see the various analogies that can be drawn between the plight of the protagonist and the "Prideland" and the condition of the modern African American man and the African American community at large.

In the opening of the film we are introduced to 3 very important characters; Mufasa, Simba and Scar. Mustafa the older stronger brother who is king of the Prideland, Simba the young heir apparent and Scar the weak, scheming conniving and cowardly puny younger brother that was jealous of the older brother's position and his strength. Musafa the careful and deliberate father that he was explains to his son the important of the circle of life his place in it and to extent this was the theology of this story.In the meanwhile, operating in his character of deception and hopes of ruling the wicked Scar schemes to and eventually kills Mustafa and in trickery convinces the young Simba to run off and go into exile. While in this exile Simba becomes other than his true self, for instance though he is a lion he loves to swim, he's a vegetarian and he has no pride to protect and in essence grows to be just a shadow of what he could and should be.

Let me stop, this situation is exactly what has historically happened to the African in the diaspora! Musfasa representative of the Glory of African history past the accomplishments and accolades of the ancestors, the pride and dignity of African manhood was epitomized in the character. The circle of life that Mufasa explains to Simba is representative of the strong sense of spirituality that is prevalent in all African culture. The wicked Scar is representative of the oppressor, our younger brother who has always been desirous of our position and place in this world, Who having successfully cut us off from our culture and history has ran us off to a place of exile and in exile like Simba we have become other than our true self. whereas we have access to opportunity we choose the hustle and crime, though we can go to any school we choose we would rather shuck and jive, our father before us gave their lives so we could vote but we are indifferent. Brothers of the past stood strong and protected the community via being present in the home to be a role model for their sons and a revered figure to their daughters, brothers now are content with "Friend of The Court" and "baby Daddy" status. We truly have forgotten and become other than our true selves!

Picking back up on the story, whilst Simba is in exile the prideland in the meanwhile has become overrun with hyenas (who by the way had been kept at bay by Mufasa) who Scar has unnaturally paired with the Lionness in the hunt which subsequently caused over hunting which has caused a famine among the lions and hyenas. The Lioness still working in her natural function but without proper leadership from the Lion has unfortunately partnered with the scavengers. This is the community, in a nutshell! Like the lioness the sisters are still working in their natural function as mothers and providers for their children, still striving despite still holding on to the image of a strong figure but yet and still partnered with the scavengers! The scavengers i.e. the "thug nigga" that they love so much that leaves them heart broken and possibly with children that aren't being properly fathered, that damages their self esteem in an effort to bring them so that they can be controlled and manipulated. No coincidence that the fastest growing prison population is young black women. In the meanwhile the pride land is in shambles! This unnatural pairing has destroyed the fabric of the community and now what was once a hope filled land of abundant life has become a dangerous wasteland!

Yet there is hope! We know the story ends when Simba returns after being put back in touch with the "Circle of Life" via an experience with his father The King and in this experience he learns that The King lives in him, he defeats the enemy and the prideland is restored and the balance is returned. Ironically all along the true enemy was not Scar but it was Simba, before SImba could even think to face off with Scar he had to first face himself and what he had created in consequence of his lack of presence.

In this day and age of the prison industrial complex, TrayVon Martin, Troy Davis and Mike Brown and the continued portrayal of "dangerous angry violence and stupid savage" black man in media one can easily reosrt to thinking that there is no hope for the community.

In a likewise manner there is hope in our community because there is always the potential for the brothers to come to their senses and retake their position of leadership and by being put in touch with The King! In knowing brothers will truly realize that they themselves are a reflections of The King, and if they can be inspired by Him they will be empowered by Him!

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.   

Romans 12:2

Friday, May 30, 2014

Defending The Black Church

Here recently I have noticed a trend that perhaps has always been around but now due to social media it seems at an all time high or at least more visible. What I speak of is the unmerited rage, illogical dissatisfaction and unrealistic criticism of The Black Church. As a disclaimer I am fully cognizant of various failings  of the Black Community and recognize that there is always room for growth and development. However I am of the opinion that many of us hold the church to a standard that GOD does not hold the church too. Many of us never gave the church a true chance let alone truly studied The Word, then we join these cults or false religious groups and give the lies of satan much more effort and attention than we ever gave GOD and the church. Some learn new languages, give absorbent amounts of money to leaders, get a new style of dress even change our names but when we were allegedly in church we got mad if service lasted too long, never attended Bible Study and if he collection plate was passed around we were simmering with anger. Some even refused to where dress clothes but could afford $300 plus jeans. 

Many allege that we worship a "white Jesus", that we steal money and are a haven for homosexual men and loose women. In honesty in a church you are prone to find a variety of individuals from different backgrounds with baggage from where they came from. Why is this? Because we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of the Coming of The Lord! Would you go to a barn and not expect to find feces? So why the hell are you going to church thinking that you will find perfect people? The point is that we are imperfect people serving a perfect GOD! Does the church ask for money? You better bet on it, why you may ask. Because we live in a world of balance sheets and bills, none of your would want to go to a church with no electricity. Whilst I will not lie and say that there aren't wolves in sheep's clothing (I will post on the false teachers on another article) and I will not lie we need to clean house but more importantly the people need to know GOD! If one knows GOD themselves they will not fall for the Barnum and Bailey charlatans fleecing them for the few dollars that they earn.

I understand that due to "Jim Crow" and Slavery the black church has had to play a role that no other church has had to play for its people, however the church is no where commanded by GOD to build the economic structure of the community, no where in scripture can you tell me that Jesus commanded the church to dabble in politics nor to accept the worlds standard of tolerance and alleged equality, no where does scripture say that we are promote so kind of Black Power revolution and espouse bigoted ignorance. No where is sacred scripture are we told that Christ is white.

Here is what we are commanded to do:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  
And also:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
 We are to receive power, personal power and GOD transforms our lives and in turn we change the world around us. How does that relate to the aforementioned ideas? well empowered people control the economy of their community, empowered people choose life and life perpetuating behaviors, empowered people are able to organize their community politically and be conscious of their history and place in society and if dissatisfied we have a greater power and can and will overcome!

Let the attacks stop, and let's cut the malarkey! When we en masse attended church our community was safe, when we were in church we had families (though imperfect), when we were in church we respected women and brothers had a semblance of dignity. For all the critics of the church; here is my question is the community better off now than when we by and large attended church and believed GOD?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Patrice Lumumba

In looking at the sheer scale of the abundant availability of natural resources in Sub-Saharan Africa, one could logically conclude that many of these nations located in this region of Africa should be numbered amongst the wealthiest. The reality however, is that material resources have not necessarily equated to economic growth and development in this region. How is it possible that on this continent: the cradle of humanity, the birthplace of great civilizations of antiquity; and that these people; the same people which gave birth empires such as Mali, or Ancient Ghana or Great Zimbabwe are seemingly unable to form long lasting stable economies and modern democratic nation states? Though there are several possible responses to the above quandary, regardless to the conclusion to which one arrives in order to understand the total picture one must understand colonialism, what is it, what its impact was and is and whether or not the effect of it can still be felt in the areas formerly controlled by it. The truth is that if were not for a few courageous freedom fighters the majority of the world’s people of color would be living in a country under direct control by foreign nations.

Ironically, when the topic of freedom fighters comes into conversation rarely is the name Patrice Lumumba mentioned amongst the greats. Though his term in office was brief there are but a few that have left the same indelible impression on the world scene as he did. Defiant in his stance for African self determination and unity, humble in character, powerful and graceful in presence; His Excellency Patrice Lumumba stands head and shoulders above the common perception of an African politician. Lumumba the first Prime Minister of the newly independent Republic of Congo found himself caught up in the midst of the machinations of the greater struggle between the two competing world powers. This greater struggle which would eventually cost him his life.

The film “Lumumba” is a very accurate portrayal of the greater struggle that Lumumba and others like him faced in seeking independence from colonial powers. This is a movie about transition and change. In it Patrice Lumumba transitions from being merely a member of the “civilized citizens class” accepted by colonial society to a political prisoner who was as a threat to the established societal structure and finally to controversial Prime Minister. The Congo transitions from being a colony to an allegedly independent republic. Though this idea of independence meant totally different things to the colonizers and the colonized, in fact there was a scene in which the Belgians are speaking and in their estimation “independence” was simply a word. At the same time the in the next room the Congolese were hopeful in their expectation of bright future for their nation to have a chance on the world scene as independent and prosperous.

 These differing ideas are articulated in the film most accurately in the scene that portrayed the independence ceremony. Whereas King Baudouin gave a speech that presented colonialism as a good thing and necessary for the civilizing of Africa which alluded to the implicit racism of the exploitive form of colonialism employed in the Congo, it almost seems as if the idea of independence he pictured was going to be the exact same system just ran by African “minions” of the Belgians choosing. Lumumba on the other hand spoke of the brutal nature colonialism recognizing that independence as a result of the sacrifice of the Congolese and presented his vision for true independence and self-determination.

How is it possible that such antithetical viewpoints could arise from viewing the same set of circumstances? The Belgian perspective is rooted in racism, when they arrived they found a complex culture with seemingly simple technology, surrounded in a land overflowing with natural resources. Originally a private possession of King Leopold I and eventually a colony of Belgium, The Congo soon proved to be a wise investment to the credit of King LĂ©opold. The wealth gained by the Belgians, was however gained at the expense of the native Congolese. The native Congolese were seemingly perceived as another commodity to be exploited. Therefore their conflicting ideas of what independence would mean is in actuality based on their understanding of the effects and execution of colonialism.

Colonialism being defined as political rule by another power other than the majority. It has a cultural aspect as the colonizers cultural mores and standards are imposed and viewed as superior whereas native cultural mores and standards are seen as sub-standard. There is also and economic component whereas the colonizers have created a captive market in which raw materials are exported and processed then sold back thus creating a perpetual cycle of dependence and seemingly subservience.

In fact it was a fear that the absence of Belgian authority would prompt a resurgence of native alleged “primitive” culture which would put Belgian interests at risk. While they may have intended to put an African face on their Belgian agenda they were not looking to lose any of their economic dominance. The Belgians set it up that the all the infrastructure was controlled by Belgians therefore there could never be a true expelling of a Belgian presence, Lumumba’s dreams would later be obscured by this deficiency which would work to set the stage for later events. The fear of what Lumumba meant to Belgian interests prompted his removal and eventual execution, the removing of a democratically elected official and the eventual installation of a Western backed dictator speak loud and clear to the long lasting effects of colonialism.

The eclipsing of Lumumba’s star was surpassed only by the rising of the star of Joseph Mobutu. Mobutu who in turn led the nation 32 years with an iron fist with the consent of the west. Though he was a strong proponent of the elevation of African cultural expression he was also infamous for his cult of personality, extravagant lifestyle and nepotism. Some say that he is the archetypical African “Big Man” or dictator for life.

These “Big Men” and their “kleptocracy” are vestiges of colonial rule by and large sponsored by the west, absolute in power and corrupt to the core. In the case of Mobutu one of the key things that helped propel him to prominence was his anti-communist stance which stood in stark contrast to Lumumba’s non-alignment allegedly socialist leaning. As this occurred at the height of the Cold War tensions this led to Lumumba’s death and Congo eventual used as a weapon against communism in Africa. In the eyes of the west this was more important than the plight of the people or their aspirations for independence. The absence of democracy for such an extended period has not only hampered the political development of Congo, but it has also conditioned the people to view government as something that exist to exploit the populace but also that change cannot come through dialogue but rather through the barrel of a gun and force.

Another long lasting effect of colonialism would stifled economic growth. While under the colonial system resources were shipped out a converted into goods to be sold back at a profit which worked to keep colony dependent on the Metropole. Under the dictatorial government that arose after the deposing of Lumumba, there was no true economic empowerment for the people of Congo. Mobutu though he nationalized industries placed relatives in control and funds were used as personal revenue, not only did this only serve a few individuals this also ended up resulting in hyperinflation which in turn increased corruption which ends up making it undesirable destination for business. All of which perpetuates a cycle of debt and dependence on the west leaving the dreams of Lumumba, and other pan-africanist leaders, deferred at best lost to the winds of time at worse.

Another lasting legacy of colonialism would be the boundaries and borders of the former colonies. At the times that colonial boundaries were draw they were draw without the input of people being colonized. This is especially significant in Africa where there is such a diversity in terms of tribal or ethnic groups, many of which have not enjoyed friendly or cordial relationships. This can work to the advantage of an outsider trying to control any area because it will the colonized will perhaps keep infighting which would allow the colonizers to come along as an alleged problem solver and peacemaker, also it is in this tense situation that a strong authoritarian leader can be used to keep order and again alludes. You see this exemplified in the various provinces of Congo that broke off (with the assistance of the former colonial powers) and declared independence. This alludes to the imposed national boundaries which alludes again to the far reaching legacy of colonialism. After having reviewed the facts it is evident that (at least) in the situation of Congo the legacy left by colonialism is a bitter sweet one. Prior to colonialism Congo was not a nation at all it was merely a geographic region inhabited by several different ethnic groups and though there may have been a local tribal kingdom this could not compare to the global stage as a semi-modern nation/state that Belgians brought into being. However there is not the only aspect of the colonial legacy left behind, as enumerated earlier many of the various issues that Congo experienced were resultant from the interference of the former colonialist in the early stage of independence (the Lumumba Assassination, Mobutu dictatorship, economic collapse, political repression). These event set the Congo back in terms of its growth and development in its path to self determination.