ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
You can’t have economic development where this tribe is fighting
that tribe, or this leader is fighting against that leader. You can’t have
that. Since my main business here is to improve the life of the ordinary
people in the villages, I have to have development..
Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda of Malawi
Africa’s Missionaries & Politicians
Albert Schweitzer Receives No Negro Applause
Dr. Banda Grandfather of New African Politics
Schweitzer on Race
On almost any list of the world’s great men, Albert Schweitzer, the physician-clergyman who has operated a hospital in Africa for the past half century, is habitually found–providing the maker of the list is not a Negro African.
One of the Schweitzer’s white admirers is Lisle Ramsey, 41, a St. Louis lay religious leader and businessman who returned last week from five days of conversations with Schweitzer during which the 88-year-old philosopher demonstrated by his ideas, and even more by his silences, why Negroes do not join in the applause.
“At this stage Africans have little need for advanced training,” Schweitzer said. “They need very elementary schools run along the old missionary plan, with the Africans going to school for a few hours every day and then going back to the fields. Agriculture, not science or industrialization, is their greatest need.”
Schweitzer, according to Ramsey, is perfectly satisfied with his agreement with the government of the Republic of Gabon that he is to heal, not to teach. His hospital serves Africans but is staffed entirely by white Europeans, except for two or three African laborers.
He does not train Africans as technicians and has not interest in doing so. He expressed no curiosity about the race struggle in Africa or anywhere else in the world.Though Schweitzer freely voiced opinions on foreign events and was precise in his condemnation o de Gaulle, Adenauer, and some Western arms policies, he spoke in only the vaguest terms about African leaders, even those outside Gabon. “Everybody’s playing politics, but nobody is working,” was all he would say. His attitude toward those with whom he comes in daily contact was summed up in his story of his orange trees: “I let the Africans pick all the fruit they want. You see, the good Lord has protected the trees. He made the Africans too lazy to pick them bare.” As one American Negro said last week, “Schweitzer has done marvelous humanitarian work in Africa in the past 50 years. But Africa has changed in that time. Schweitzer has not.”–Newsweek (8 April 1963) Albert Schweitzer
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Banda Grandfather of New African Politics
Dr. H. Kamzu Banda, born in what was then Nyasaland, got his education in the U.S. and Britain, and practiced medicine in London. He returned to his homeland in 1958–after an absence of 40 years–and led it to full independence by 1964. He became President when the new country was established as a republic and renamed Malawi.
The problems are not the same everywhere. You have to realize that Africa for years and years was occupied. there was no place where there was an organized state apart from Ethiopia and probably Liberia–but when one talked to Liberia, one talked about America.
But let us speak of Africa as Africa:
So, when you had only one or two organized states, you see that the idea of an organized state is a new thing in Africa. It is a thing that African people have to learn, and it so happens that it has come, not naturally, but artificially, in the same sense that we were under colonial powers for years and years and years.
It did not develop from the grass roots, this idea of an organized state; democracy did not originate with us. We had our own kind of democracy, but not originate with us. We had our own kind of democracy, but the kind you talk about.
To make things worse for us, we had economic problems. You, the Western powers, brought us a new kind of life totally different. As a result of that we have not got all the things that the ordinary people want. So, you have the economic aspect.
Then you have also, in other places, the old tribal conflicts.
As a result of all this, you get political instability, which to my mind, is the greatest danger in Africa today.
Therefore, those of us who believe in order think our first job is to see to it that there is political stability in the country. That means strong government, in order to insure stability and economic development. You can’t have economic development where this tribe is fighting that tribe, or this leader is fighting against that leader. You can’t have that. Since my main business here is to improve the life of the ordinary people in the villages, I have to have development..
To have development, I have to have money. I have not got money–the money has to come from outside. So the first thing I must create is political stability, at the price of anything else.
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Role of Outside Capital
For any forseeable future . . . real industrial development in the Western sense will be confined to South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbawe). Gradually, other countries in Africa will develop. Nigeria has great possibilities; so, too. has the Congo, and Ghana–some say even Guinea. Then there is Zambia. but that is in the distant future.
For myself, here in Malawi, agriculture. That is the basis of development. I have no ambition for steel mills here. But I don’t want to make my own corn flakes. So we are interested in those industries that have to do with agriculture. I am interested in those, but not in steel mills.
. . . . Any outside investment. Here there is no state socialism. I have said this many times: State socialism can work only under two conditions–absolute dictatorship or a highly sophisticated society. neither of these obtain anywhere in Africa. There is no country in Africa where there is absolute dictatorship.
Take Malawi: Some of my fellow Africans and some of the intellectuals in America and Britain accuse me of dictatorship. But have I ordered the people in Lilongwe to plant maize here or there? Socialism can work only when the state has absolute power to force both workers and employers to do what it wants them to do. The state must have absolute power to say, “You are going to plant this crop here,” and, after the crops have been harvested, so much must go to the state store and so much must be kept by the grower.
When you do that, yes; it will work. But here I can’t do that. People here are free to grow what they like. Workers here are free to work for whom they want to work. under these conditions, talking of state socialism is simply economic and political suicide, so far as I am concerned. It won’t work.
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I must be blunt. I lived in your country, went to high school, university and medical school there. I know something about your history. I know something about British history, also about the Germans and the French.
How long did it take the British to develop what they call Westminster democracy, the parliamentary system? You Americans took after the British, because you are really just an extension of Europe. You took the Westminster type of democracy to Virginia and the New England States and from there it spread out tot he West, to California. You chased the Spaniards, you chased the French, and then you took the whole thing over and you used basically British institutions. But how long did it take these British institutions to develop in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland?
Therefore it is wrong for the Americans or the British to suppose that just because you have this kind of system it must be exported all over the world–to Africa, to Indo-China, everywhere.
So, I am not interested in academic and theoretical democracy. I am interested in practical democracy, where my people can grow more food, sell where they want, improve their everyday life. And my people admit that they are much better off now than when I came back here in 1958. That is why anything I do, nobody opposes. I do not force them, but they see changes for themselves.
I am not going to talk about this declaration or that declaration, or humanism or anything. I am not talking–I am doing. Let others talk. Let those who will come after me try to explain what I did and why, I am interested in doing, that’s all.
Peace Between the Races
Basically, it is a question of leadership, and then of the people themselves, both white and black. But there must be leadership that knows what it is doing and is not afraid to say what it considers the right thing.
I don’t want to bore you with our history here, but, when we were part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, I came back here, called by my people to break up the Federation, and when I landed here in 1958 I did not beat about the bush. I told my people and the Europeans bluntly that I had come back home to do two things, I had also come to act as a bridge between these two things. I had also come to act as a bridge between the races–to bridge the gulf between my own people, the Africans, on the one hand, and the other races, the white men and the Indians, on the other.
That was what I said on the very first day. As I went along making speeches, I said my war was not a racial war, but a political war. I was not against the British as such, or against the white man, as such. But I was against the system of government under which a minority, just because they had white skins and education and money, were lording it over the majority. And I have maintained that policy ever since. I have preached to my people not to hate the white man.
Now that we are independent there is even no cause for friction. Fortunately for me, my people listened to me, and that is why the atmosphere is calm, friendly and quiet here.
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Africanization & Kicking out the Whites
I say we will not Africanize her for the sake of Africanization.
We are training our people. In fact, even when I was negotiating a constitution in London in 1960, I asked the then Colonial Secretary, Mr. Iain MacLeod, to help us establish what we call the Institute if Public Administration here, where we can train our own men.
I do not want to sack every European overnight before we have trained our own men. I do not want to sack anybody. My idea is to train our own people, and then when these people become efficient and know the job, and when the Europeans’ time of retirement comes, gradually to replace Europeans by our own Africans–not sacking everybody because he happens to have a white skin.
No. That is racialism in reverse. Then you get inefficiency in the service. I believe in Africanizing only when you have the men to man the services which the whites were manning before.
Jehovah’s Witness A Nuisance
You see, this is again where you Western people, the British and the Americans, don’t understand. In America nobody takes any notice of Jehovah’s Witnesses, because you have a highly organized state in which nobody cares. A. person can be a crank in America because the country is so well organized that nothing these cranks can do can affect anything. But here it is not like that.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a nuisance. If they just said, “do not believe in government,” or, “I do not want to be taxed,” nobody would say anything against them. But they do not stop at that. They go to others saying. “Don’t pay tax. You are a fool.”
We have here what we call a self-help scheme. You see we haven’t got the money to build schools or hospitals? Let the Government do that. Don’t you do that.” they others from doing things which are good for the community.
But not only that. Instead of sticking to their religion and preaching at their church, they go to other people’s houses, knock on the doors, and, despite people saying that they are Presbyterians or Anglicans or Catholics and don’t want to be preached to, they say:
“Oh, you are going to hell. I must come and save you.”
They insist on preaching to a man who does not want to listen. And when a man gets annoyed and beats them, they say:
“That is what I want you to do. I want you to beat me so that I can take you to the police so that you can be arrested.”
Well, it is this kind of thing which the Government would not tolerate, because people were being beaten.
Definitely, we have banned them. This is the fourth time they have been banned in this country. The first time they were banned was in 1906, then again in the 20s, then again in the 30s; so this is the fourth time now. They have been banned, released, banned because they have always been a nuisance here.
Miniskirts Banned in Malawi
Well, do you think that is decent for a woman to have a dress right up to her thighs? Is it decent?
Here we have our own ideas about what is decent and what indecent.
You know, I am really shocked. The British missionaries came here and said that the way our people dressed was indecent, and now they are doing worse things. They themselves turned right around and are doing worse things.
It is really most annoying–anything a white man does is right and anything a black man does is wrong.
Miniskirts? No, not here. This is one thing, just because you are white, you won’t introduce this here, no. No, we are not going to have that.
No, white men must not think that anything they do is right. No, not in Malawi. They must not come here and say that whatever they do is right. No. To me it is wrong. It is not decent.
Therefore we are banning it.
Source: U.S. News & World Report (13 May 1968)
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Hastings Kamuzu Banda (15 February 1898 25 November 1997) was the leader of Malawi and its predecessor state, Nyasaland, from 1961 to 1994. After receiving much of his education overseas, Banda returned to his home country (then British Nyasaland) to speak against colonialism and advocate for independence. In 1963, he was formally appointed as Nyasalands Prime Minister, and led the country to independence as Malawi a year later. Two years later, he proclaimed Malawi a republic with himself as president. He consolidated power and later declared Malawi a one party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1970, the MCP made him the partys President for Life. In 1971, he became President for Life of Malawi itself.
As a leader of the pro-Western bloc in Africa, he received support from the West during the Cold War. He generally supported womens rights, improved the countrys infrastructure, and maintained a good educational system relative to other African countries. However, he presided over one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. He also faced scorn for maintaining full diplomatic relations with apartheid-era South Africa.
By 1993, he was facing international pressure and widespread protest. A referendum ended his one party state, and a special assembly stripped him of his title. Banda ran for president in the democratic elections which followed, but was defeated.
He died in South Africa in 1997. His legacy remains controversial, with some hailing him as a national and African hero, while others denounce him as a tyrant and one of the most corrupt leaders in Africa’s entire history.
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
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#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
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#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
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#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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Though the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa began to claim independence in the late 1950s and 60s, autocratic and capricious leadership soon caused initial hope to fade, and Africa descended into its lost decades, a period of stagnation and despondency from which much of the continent has yet to recover. Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana, grew up alongside his nascent country and experienced this roller-coaster of fortunes. In this memoir, Mahama, the son of a member of parliament, recounts how affairs of state became real in his young mind on the day in 1966 when no one came to collect him from boarding schoolthe government had been overthrown, his father arrested, and his house confiscated.
In fluid, unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghanas recent history via entertaining and enlightening personal anecdotes: spying on his uncle impersonating a deity in order to cajole offerings of soup from the villagers hints at the power of religion; discussions with his schoolmates about confronting a bully form the nucleus of his political awakening. As he writes: The key to Africas survival has always been . . . in the story of its people, the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of our lives. The book draws to a close as the authors professional life begins. Publishers Weekly
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By Rita Dove
Selecting poets and poems to represent a century of poetry, especially the riotous twentieth century in America, is a massive undertaking fraught with peril and complication. Poet Rita Dove-a Pulitzer Prize- winning former U.S. poet laureate, professor, and presidential scholar- embarked on what became a consuming four-year odyssey. She reports on obstacles and discoveries in an exacting and forthright introduction, featuring striking quotes, vivid profiles, and a panoramic view of the evolution of poetic visions and styles that helped bring about social as well as artistic change […] Dove’s incisive perception of the role of poetry in cultural and social awakenings infuses this zestful and rigorous gathering of poems both necessary and unexpected by 180 American poets. This landmark anthology will instantly enhance and invigorate every poetry shelf or section.Booklist
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake.
She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.
Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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By Rita Dove
This 12th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient is her third book-length narrative poem: it follows the real career of the violin prodigy George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (17801860), a former pupil of Haydn, as well as the grandson/ of an African prince, or so his promoters and teachers in England said. Moving to Vienna during the Napoleonic Wars, the violinist met and befriended the famously moody Beethoven, who was prepared to dedicate his famously difficult Kreutzer Sonata to Bridgetower until a rivalry for the same woman drove them apart. Dove tells Bridgetower’s story, and some of Beethoven’s and Haydn’s, in a heterogenous profusion of short poems, some almost prosy, some glittering in their technique. In quatrains, a double villanelle, what looks like found text, short lines splayed all over a page and attractive description, Dove renders Bridgetower’s frustrated genius: Music played for the soul is sheer pleasure;/ to play merely for pleasure is nothing/ but work. Dove does not always achieve such subtletiesthose who loved her early work may think this book too long: few, though, will doubt the seriousness of her effort, her interest at once in the history of classical music and the changing meanings of race.Publishers Weekly
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By Walter Rodney
The late Guyanese writer, Walter Rodney had left us his great insights regarding the reasons for the underdevelopment of the African continent. His work finds equal footing with those of Frantz Fanon and to an extent that of the late Brazilian author and social activist, Paulo Freire in attempting to provide a critical insight, and a gainful analysis to the situation and reasons for the poverty on the African continent. This analysis, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not provides a means towards looking at the stalk realities of African underdevelopment. Rodney thesis that the trans-atlantic slave trade diminished the African manpower to attain development cannot be easily pushed under the carpet. Development is how a people within the means available to them, within their eco-context utilize their knowledge for the good of the totality. When their people is afflicted with disease or mass uprooting there is bound to be both biological and social ripple effects that would affect both the pace and nature of development. It is here that we realize that Rodney’s proposition underlines a crucial factor in explaining the reasons for the African state.
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By George Lamming
Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although
has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update13 August 2012