African Cultural Calendar blog

What Will It Take?

One of the things that it is going to take for us to overcome our little trouble -- if we can borrow a line from Bob Marley -- is for us to become conscious. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month referred to it as “radical”. Regardless of what you called it, being conscious of who we are and who you are, is one of the things that is required if we are to be a whole people again.

Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X knew that their followers needed to be woken up and they had a good idea. Replace the follower’s name with an X. An X is not the way to go, it does not connect us to who we are but they were right. The single best, if not the only, way to become a conscious person is to change your name. Change your name to an African name and over night you would become a conscious person and well on your way to be the type of “radical negro” that the father of Black History Month called on us to be, the type of “radicalism that comes from within”. How would choosing an African name, as opposed to an Arab or European one, make you a conscious person? First you would have to break through your own self-oppression. You will have to kill off the old name, let’s say Marvin Christion for example, before you could become a conscious Ngunda Nmeregini. Think about how often someone calls you by your name and you do not respond? You respond to that sound even when you are not the one being called. Think of the titles attached to that sound, son Marvin, uncle Marvin, father Marvin, the list goes on and they all add up to human being. The reason why Kunta Kinte had to become Toby is not because it was easier for his oppressor to call him Toby. When they turn a Kunta into a Toby, they turn a free human being into a slave. That act turns a human being into a thing that could be owned by other humans. All of the titles attached to the sound of your name make you a human being but when the name itself was given to make you a slave, then it too has to be overcome. If you can kill off your self-oppression, if you can kill off Marvin and become Ngunda and respond only when you hear that sound; then you have become a conscious person.

Over coming self-oppression is a big step towards consciousness. You will be conscious of who you are and all the facts you know about your history will give you confidence in yourself. Marcus Garvey said, “if you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life”. The next step is more difficult than overcoming your self-oppression. The next step requires you to demonstrate that you have overcome your self-oppression and have gained confidence. You will need all the confidence in self you could find because the next step is telling the world. You should be prepared for you are going to lose friends and you may never have close friends again. A person who is a mental slave is loved by the world but a conscious, self-respected; self-reliance person is only respected not loved. You are going to find that getting official documents in your new name will open you to addition scrutiny. It will start with the clerk in the driver’s licence or passport office. There will be all kinds of reasons why you cannot choose a name for yourself and stand on your own foundation. They will ask is that a Canadian name, in the past they would have asked if that is a Christian name? Same question, same meaning, same objective, they have not changed, they do not need to; they still think that you are the slave. You may learn that you are not free enough to name yourself. After you get the documents change and you are able to stand on your own foundation in person and on paper, you will find that you are much more aware of who you are. What you will learn along the way is how the world has conspired to keep you in the place that they have chosen for you. The difference between a Kunta and a Toby would be very clear to you. The choice is to be a free human being or a mentally dependent and enslaved one.

Along the way you will discover that the world we live in thinks it is all about them. This is one of the tools that the enemy uses to keep us from looking after ourselves; no matter what we do, they make it about them. Not only will they make becoming who you are and standing on your own foundation about them, they will say that you are doing it not because of your self knowledge but because you hate them. Don’t try to reason with them, tell them what your name is and leave it at that. You do not owe your enslaver an explanation for not wanting to be his slave. Other than killing off your self-oppression, there is one other step that is extremely difficult. That is telling your employer that you are no longer called Marvin Christion; your name is Ngunda Nmeregini. It’s almost guaranteed that he will say to you that he can’t call you that! Then, he will asked you, what can he call you? Resist, this is a challenge. He suspects that you have not truly killed off your self-oppression. Resist don’t let convenience for others start you on the path to killing off your conscious self.

Once you have achieved this, things that are a part of your culture will have more meaning to you. You will think about how to support ‘who you are’, with the money you spent. You will become a seeker of knowledge. You will find a sense of peace if not spirituality and you will discover some great books and may even try to learn an African language. But nothing you do after this would have a greater impact on ‘who you are’. You are standing on your own foundation and that is because you choose to do something for yourself. You have taken personal responsibility to over come mental slavery and to hold the line in your people’s struggle to be whole again. From here on in, when we speak of our greatness you will be able to count yourself among our greatest.


Garvey 28, 502 otd.