ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
North Africa is land we lost to the Arabs 14 centuries ago. The European attack on Libya is, therefore, not an attack on our land.
Furthermore, we are not Arabs, so the European attack on the Arabs in Libya, or on Arabs anywhere for that matter, is
not an attack on us. And we should not get all worked up about it.
Books by Chinweizu
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CAACBA Congratulates South Sudan
A Note from Chinweizu
CAACBA (the Committee Against Arab Colonialism in Black Africa) hereby heartily congratulates the people and Government of the Republic of South Sudan for winning their independence. We salute their courage and persistence in waging their protracted liberation war, which began in 1955; a war that has finally liberated them from the dungeons of Arab colonialism; Arab dungeons where, throughout the last two centuries, they suffered enslavement, racism, Arabization, religious persecution, second-class citizenship, genocide and other evils, ever since Egypts Mohammed Ali Pasha sent an expedition in 1821 to conquer Sudan.
South Sudan! O yeah!
In the land of the ancestors, the spirit of John Garang must be pleased at this victory that he masterminded.
We hear that Gen. Joseph Lagu, who co-started the Anya-nya phase of the war of liberation back in 1963, took part in the proclamation and celebration of your independence on July 9. We salute him.
We note with joy that about 15 Presidents and Prime Ministers of Black African countries came to the celebrations, including those of Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
Now that they have come and seen for themselves the dismal condition in which South Sudan was kept under Arab Colonialism, we urge them to mobilize help for South Sudans development and to prepare to provide diplomatic and military support to South Sudan if Khartoum dares to resume its war of colonialist aggression on South Sudan.
We also urge these black African presidents to mobilize Black World support for the African victims of Arab colonialism in other parts of Sudan, e.g., Darfur, South Kordofan, and Nubia so they too can liberate themselves.
We hope South Sudan will continue to resist Arab neo-colonialism wherever it rears its head, including in the African Union.
We pledge to continue and develop our work of educating Pan-Africanists on Arab imperialism and its horrors. And we, in particular, pledge to keep urging Pan-Africanists to support the struggles by the black Africans of Darfur, Abyei, Kordofan, etc. to liberate themselves from the racist Arab colonialist regime in Khartoum.
Coordinator of CAACBA
16 July 2011
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Parable of the Nigger Monkey, Python, and Eagle
You ask: What strategic and tactical advantages are possible for us in the current situation? By what means do we gain the advantage?
Thanks for raising these issues. I shall try my best to address them. . . . What I am aware of is the saying that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, or more accurately, a possible ally. And, even then, it takes astute diplomacy to turn him into your ally. Please check with any generals you know and find out the correct statementthey are, after all, the professional experts in this field.
By the way, unlike you, I am not interested in so-called visionary generals or leaders. You never know what demons brew the potions that give them visions. War is a deadly serious business, not an affair for visionaries. What we, the black race, sorely need and have long lacked are practical, down-to earth, realistic and sober generals and leaders. And we are at wareconomic, military, political, ideological, cultural, intellectual etc, and have been for two or more millennia, and have been losing non-stop all that time.
In any case, that saying about the enemy of your enemy does not apply to the present situation of the black race. Our situation is that of having two simultaneous white-race enemies; the Arabs and the Europeans. It is comparable to the situation in WWII when the USSR found itself with two ideological enemies: Nazi Germany and the Western Alliance. It was therefore obliged to make an alliance with the enemy that it considered less of a threat, and that could help it defeat what it judged to be its principal enemy. At first the USSR allied itself with Germany, but when Germany invaded the USSR, it allied itself with the West which could supply it with arms from the factories of the USA. Luckily, the West saw things much the same way and entered into alliance with its Soviet enemy and gave them the materiel to drive the Germans back to Berlin.
But these anti-German allies went their separate ways and resumed their enmity as soon as they had defeated and dismembered Germany, their common enemy. In our case, can the Arabs give us any help that would enable us defeat the Europeans? Can the Europeans give us any help that could help us defeat the Arabs? That should be the key to any decision as to which side, if any, to ally with. But I maintain that we are not even in a position to enter an alliance with either. We should stay neutral and see who beats the other, and take it from there. Thats the best way for us to take advantage of the situation. We have no need to get involved.
Those who think we should side with the Arabs should tell us why; should spell out the advantage of joining the Arab side which looks most likely to lose. As for the West, they don’t need us to help them. An elephant crushing a python has no use for a squirrels help. Why would they welcome an alliance with us? So why should we even try to side with them? In case you havent noticed, we are so weak that our proper concern should be to build up our basic economic and military capacity. We dont manufacture anything that counts in life, let alone that matters in warfare. Unlike our 19th century ancestors who resisted the European invaders, using the bows and arrows and spears they produced by themselves, we today dont produce any of the weapons used by our armies. We have lost the capacity to make even the bows and arrows and spears that our ancestors made in the 19th century. Without our foreign suppliers we can go to war only with our bare hands and teeth against tanks, ballistic missiles and atom bombs. We are not industrialized and so cant manufacture anything that matters today. Therefore, getting industrialized should be our top preoccupation.
The fundamental question we must answer is: what are the permanent interests of the black race? I would suggest that they are our physical security and prosperity, together with the power to guarantee both. These are what we have been unable to establish for our race for well over two millennia; as a result we have suffered invasions, defeats, massive enslavement, land expropriations, exploitation, humiliation and all the usual consequences of defeat in war.
An alliance with the weak Arabs is not in our interest; nor is a futile moralizing and pointing at the double standards of the world powers. Nor is the self-righteous enjoyment of our feeling of moral purityour presumed state of being untainted by the violent and bloody ways of the wicked world. If all this energy that many of us are squandering in moralizing on Libya and Palestine etc, could be channeled to finding out how to organize to industrialize our societies, we would be much better off. We have so many basic problems that should preoccupy us instead of the conflicts between Libya and the Europeans, and between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We should mind our own business.
Let us just begin with the matter of sheer physical survival. As we all know, AIDS is severely depopulating our societies in Africa and the diaspora. Why arent our progressive intellectuals focusing on such a basic task as eradicating AIDS from our societies? It can be done within a five-year campaign. The cure and vaccine have been patented in the USA. Why dont we get our governments to organize the eradication of AIDS using the cure and vaccine that have been on the shelves since the 1990s?
We cant, in our weakness, hope to eradicate Western imperialism or capitalism even in another century. Why dont we start with easier tasks, tasks for which the tools are available? If we secure our population against the ravages of AIDS, we can then proceed to the task of industrialization which would give us the economic and technological basis for doing many other vital things.
We need to be quite clear about one basic fact on which some of us are hopelessly confused: North Africa is land we lost to the Arabs 14 centuries ago. The European attack on Libya is, therefore, not an attack on our land. Furthermore, we are not Arabs, so the European attack on the Arabs in Libya, or on Arabs anywhere for that matter, is not an attack on us. And we should not get all worked up about it.
We should also recognize that whatever can reduce our enemies from two to one serves our interest, and should meet with our approval rather than outrage. So we should, in strict neutrality, watch from the sidelines as the Arabs and Europeans fight it out, and hope that only one of them is left standing at the end of it all.
While staying neutral, politically as well as emotionally, towards their Arab-European war, what might we do to advance our Black race interest? Besides waging a war on AIDS, we could take advantage of the Arabs pre-occupation with their war with Europe and help our people in Sudan and Mauritania to liberate themselves from Arab colonialism and enslavement. For that we dont even need to go into alliance with the West. We could source arms from China and Russia and send them to our fellow Africans who are resisting the Arabs in Darfur, Mauritania and other places.
For those who think it is in our interest to side with the Arabs, let me tell the Nigger Monkey parable, a parable about Nigger monkey, desert python and bald eagle:
Once upon a time, a nigger monkey sat high on his tree branch, plucking and munching fruits and heard, without being concerned, the desperate cries of another monkey who was being strangled on the ground by a python. Not long afterwards, the same python was snatched up by an eagle and thrown hard against a rock. As the python writhed in pain because of its broken spine, the nigger monkey was overcome with universal animal sympathy, and rushed down to nurse the injured python and to clamor against the viciousness of the predatory eagle. But as soon as the python was strong enough again, it promptly strangled and swallowed the nigger monkey.
Far too many of our vocal intelligentsia are obsessed with advocating justice for everybody on earth. Admirably magnanimous, but naïve, since we do not have the power to secure justice even for our race, let alone for any other people. We need to get rid of our obsession with moralizing, and get focused on seeking victory rather than justiceespecially justice for everybody else but ourselves. Without power we cannot enforce whatever notion of justice we have. Nor can we have victory over our enemies. So, shouldnt building up our own power be the first task on our agenda?
I hope these remarks help in addressing the issues you raised.
Yours in the service
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By Mende Nazer
Born into the Karko tribe in the Nuba mountains of northern Sudan, Nazer has written a straightforward, harrowing memoir that’s a sobering reminder that slavery still needs to be stamped out. The first, substantial section of the book concentrates on Nazer’s idyllic childhood, made all the more poignant for the misery readers know is to come. Nazer is presented as intelligent and headstrong, and her people as peaceful, generous and kind. In 1994, around age 12 (the Nuba do not keep birth records), Nazer was snatched by Arab raiders, raped and shipped to the nation’s capital, Khartoum, where she was installed as a maid for a wealthy suburban family. (For readers expecting her fate to include a grimy factory or barren field, the domesticity of her prison comes as a shock.)
To Nazer, the modern landscape of Khartoum could not possibly have been more alien; after all, she had never seen even a spoon, a mirror or a sink, much less a telephone or television set. Nazer’s urbane tormentorsmostly the pampered housewifebeat her frequently and dehumanized her in dozens of ways. They were affluent, petty, and calculatedly cruel, all in the name of “keeping up appearances.” The contrast between Nazer’s pleasant but “primitive” early life and the horrors she experienced in Khartoum could hardly be more stark; it’s an object lesson in the sometimes dehumanizing power of progress and creature comforts. After seven years, Nazer was sent to work in the U.K., where she contacted other Sudanese and eventually escaped to freedom. Her book is a profound meditation on the human ability to survive virtually any circumstances.Publishers Weekly
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of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America
By Francis Bok
Seven-year-old Francis Piol Bol Buk was living happily on his family’s southern Sudan farm. One day in 1986, he was sent on errands to the marketplace. There, a slave raid ripped him from his contented life and threw him into a wretched existence serving under a northern Sudanese Arab. After he escaped at age 17, Buk made his way to Cairo with a black market passport incorrectly listing his name as Bok and became a U.N. refugee allowed to settle in the U.S. in 1999.
Although he found contentment in Iowa among other refugees, the following year Bok decided to work with an American antislavery organization, and testified before Congress about the atrocities in Sudan. While this is a remarkable story, its power is conveyed most effectively through Bok’s simple retelling. His sincerity compels, especially when he describes the decade of mistreatment he endured. After two failed escape attempts, he’s told he’ll be killed in the morning, and while bound, he thinks of the morning ahead: “I would be dead and finally through with this place and this family. My mind preferred death.” Yet when his master changes his mind, Bok immediately starts plotting again. For all his emotional strength, though, Bok remains humble. He thanks God and everyone who helps him escape slavery. This is a powerful, exceptionally well-told story, equally riveting and heartbreaking. Although legal strides have been made, with the help of people like Bok, the persistence of slavery in the world makes this a work that can’t be ignored.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 26 July 2011