Friday, March 2, 2012

How Honoring Dr. King is Connected to Celebrating Ahmed Seku Ture and Amilcar Cabral

Black Buzz News Service
College Park, Maryland
March 2, 2012

Obi Egbuna, Jr.
As the Democratic Party’s machine inside and outside the African community just recently celebrated the 83rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to note that our former colonial and slave masters have immense difficulty accepting that while history certainly can be hidden, it can never be erased. This dynamic automatically puts all of Dr. King’s colleagues and relatives who are still with us in the flesh and who decided his birthday is the best platform to discuss his work and vision, on an unavoidable collision course with people all over the world who prefer to celebrate him on the day he was assassinated instead. What adds further insult to injury is that the memorial built in his honor is so close in proximity to memorials dedicated to a slave owner named Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, whose legacy in US presidential politics represents a political masquerade that has yet to be duplicated or surpassed.
One of the most damaging ideas ever propagated by US imperialism past or present is Lincoln freed Africans from slavery, mainly because of certain demonstrative gestures associated with this historical moment. There are two examples most worthy of in depth focus in relationship to this matter.  One is that Dr. Carter G. Woodson decided to establish African History month during the 2nd week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, and Barak Obama choosing to use Lincoln’s Bible to be sworn in as the 44th US President. In the case of Dr. Woodson we have a true fighter whose loyalty to African people can never be questioned, and those who bark up that tree obviously suffer from a severe case of self righteousness.  But his legitimizing of Lincoln resulted in President Obama politically showboating with Honest Abe’s good book during his inauguration without any parameters or shame.
While no African on earth is expecting the physical reappearance of Dr. King, as Christians await Jesus Christ’s return, in order to set the record straight concerning what he fought and stood for.  However, the logic of his memorial on the mall is the cultural and political equivalent of the Palestinian freedom fighter Yasser Arafat having a memorial in front of the Israeli Knisset (Israel’s Parliament) or the prophet Mohammed having a statue in front of the Vatican in Rome. A crucial part of our never ending struggle is to have the last word on our history, which happens to be a universal responsibility imposed on all people who have walked the planet.  We should also take pride in knowing that many who occupy this historical space will take steps to ensure future generations completely understand and continue Dr. King’s work on our behalf.  What this approach demands is that today’s historians, writers and activists whose political expression too often wreak of grandstanding and opportunism, will eventually reach the conclusion that writing our history the way its supposed to be written, is much more beneficial to our community worldwide as opposed to indulging in countless critiques aimed at boosting their reputations as experts on an array of topics.
Because Dr. King was a student and champion of non-violence, it is extremely vital to always connect his frontline service and contributions with the positive action campaigns in Ghana and Guinee, that not only put a permanent dent in the armor of British and French colonialism, but made Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Seku Ture the most feared African heads of state at the height of the anti-colonial movement on our beloved Motherland.  To  link  Dr. King  with  both  Nkrumah  and  Seku  Ture  is  actually  running  downhill  intellecually, especially  since  Dr.  King  made a cultural  pilgrimage to  Ghana  for  the  purpose of  attending  their independence celebration, and the CIA orchestrated coup that overthrew Nkrumah’s Government  on  February  24th  1966 when he was in route to Hanoi to present a proposal to end US imperialism’s brutal and genocidal war on Vietnam. Because courageously opposing the Vietnam War not only robbed the African world of a very special freedom fighter at the peak of his resistance, when  we  were  only  two  years  removed  from  losing Africa’s first government to free itself from settler colonial rule.  In this respect, Nkrumah and King, historically speaking, are joined at the hip forever. Through  this  powerful  connection  the  terrible message sent to African people that we always must look outward for clarity and inspiration when resisting oppression is put to rest, along with the biographical overview that Dr. King’s only influence on the question of civil disobedience was Mahathma Gandhi.
We can begin right this minute by making sure, on a Pan African scale, that our children are reminded that January 7th is Ahmed Seku Ture’s birthday and January 20th marks the assassination of Guinee Bissau’s bravest patriot Amilcar Cabral. Because the 1960’s generation remains the driving force behind teaching our history in educational, political and cultural circles, making a deliberate effort to aggressively share the value of Ture and Cabral around the same time as Dr. King’s birthday is celeberated should meet very little resistance.  The  only  opposition  we  anticipate  receiving   in  our  community  concerning  this  effort,  would  be  from  certain  elements  due  to  political  domestication  and   bribery,  have  already  come  out  of  the  closet  to  let  us  know  from  their  vantagepoint  Mother  Africa  takes  a  back  seat  to  Uncle  Sam.     In his autobiography Malcolm X correctly and respectfully refers to Ghana as a fountainhead of Pan Africanism.  While Malcolm’s claim is virtually impossible to challenge, the tenure of Guinee under Seku Ture is certainly worthy of equal praise and recognition.
There are two reasons this has not taken place already: Nkrumah is an English-speaking African, while Seku Ture is a French-speaking African.  Nkrumah is also a graduate of Lincoln University, a Historically Black College, and Seku Ture’s formal education took place on African soil. If we follow the example of Minister Louis Farrakhan this gap will be bridged in no time.  During his introduction of Seku Ture at an event in his honor at Howard University in 1982, Minister Farrakhan revealed to the audience that just as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is his spiritual father, Seku Ture is his political father.
In his recent HBO documentary Sing Your Song, the artist and activist Harry Belafonte reflected on the historic 10 member SNCC delegation that traveled to Guinee through his coordination, where he had the honor and privilege of having quality exchanges with Seku Ture and the leadership of the Democratic Party Of Guinee. Because it was none other than Seku Ture himself who taught us “the greatest crime one can commit is that of being ungrateful,” we must give Belafonte the highest level of praise for arranging SNCC’s visit to Guinee.  However it is rather curious that the documentary fails to mention that the 4th chairman of SNCC, Kwame Ture, spent the last 31 years of his natural life residing, studying and waging struggle in Guinee. Kwame Ture’s invitation to live in Guinee, came from none other than Seku Ture and Kwame Nkrumah.  This humble overture itself is equally, if not more historically significant than his decision to accept their once-in-a-lifetime offer. In his last statement to the African world entitled “Hell Yes We Are Going To Libya,” Kwame Ture discussed being criticized by many activists in the US for deciding to make Guinee his home.  At that point of their political development, Ture and Nkrumah obviously considered the Guinean Revolution a foreign policy issue. Before Ture’s transition to the ancestors in November of 1998, he was appointed the head advisor to the Democratic Party of Guinee, something he considered one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon him. He certainly lived up to the names of Kwame Nkrumah and Seku Ture, in deed as well as word.
Since SNCC’s approach to the Civil Rights Movement was considered by many to be on the cutting edge, they obviously felt right at home in Seku Ture’s presence, many dimensions of SNCC’s activity and outlook was compatible with Africa’s anti-colonial resistance. By deciding to form political parties on the battlefield, as opposed to creating fronts, unions, and movements, Seku Ture, Amilcar Cabral and of course Kwame Nkrumah raised the stakes surrounding political empowerment in Africa. During the same period in history, SNCC came to the conclusion that becoming Democrat meant rubbing shoulders with George Wallace, Ross Barnett, and Orval Farbus, therefore, establishing the Loundes County Freedom Organization (the first Black Panther Party) and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party on the path to self-determination. The decision Seku Ture and the PDG  made to vote no concerning the French Union referendum proposed by Charles DeGaulle, making Guinee the only colony of France in West Africa to opt for immediate and total independence, exemplified the slogan Black Power First coined by Frederick Douglass but popularized by SNCC in the 1960’s.
As the next US Presidential election steadily approaches and our community, who votes 95% democrat, are meeting around the clock to develop full proof voter registration and education strategies, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to finally study Nkrumah’s Covention People’s Party, Ture’s Democratic Party Of Guinee and Cabral’s Party For The Independence of Guinee and Cape Verde in order to expand our horizons. When Africans in the US learn that Seku Ture was expelled from school at the age of 14 for organizing a food strike, he automatically will be connected to our illustrious archives of young warriors like Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old who took part in a bus boycott in Montgomery months before Rosa Parks, or Lil Bobby Hutton the first recruit of the Black Panther Party for self defense, who was shot and killed by the police in Oakland, California on April 6, 1968, two days after Dr. King’s assassination. While frontline struggle is arguably our most significant and uplifting tradition, we rarely witness torches of resistance trickle their way down the nuclear family tree.  In this regard, both Seku Ture and Dr. King were truly blessed. The only difference is Dr King was passed the torch by his biological father who headed Atlanta’s NAACP chapter and the Pastor of Ebenezer’s Baptist Church.  Seku Ture followed the footsteps of his great-grandfather Samory Ture, who was the spark of the Guinean people revolting against French colonial domination.
The unyielding commitment that Dr. King had to the tactic of non-violence is irrefutable. What Seku Ture did in Guinee after independence sheds an entirely different light on the infamous discussion around King parting ways with Malcolm’s tactical stance best captured with four words, “By Any Means Necessary.” After Guinee’s independence from French colonial rule, Seku Ture established a people’s militia rooted in the premise that a truly patriotic people must be the extension of their military. If we strive to be objective and think beyond our comfort zone, the brilliance of this decision saved Guinee from an invasion plot engineered by the Portuguese, French and US Government called Operation Green Sea. There were between 350 to 420 Portugese soldiers committed to three objectives: the capturing of Amilcar Cabral, the rescue of Portugese mercenaries in Guinee Bissau, and the overthrow of Seku Ture. This is where the tone of our anti-war expression differs from what white liberals choose to swear by.  We are diametrically opposed to imperialist driven repression and violence, but gain confidence and motivation when our comrades throughout the world defeat them on the battlefield.
When Commandante Fidel Castro visited Guinee in May of 1972, he compared the manner in which the People of Guinee’s Militia in conjunction with their soldiers handled the invasion, as almost identical to the bravery Cuba demonstrated during the CIA’s cowardly Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 that was planned and carried out by the Kennedy administration. After all these years, many of us still marvel at one of Dr. King’s most utilized quotes from his speech during the March on Washington in 1963, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”  Seku Ture boldly took these exact sentiments to new unprecedented heights by eloquently stating “Fidel Castro, a white man, is more of a brother to me than Mobutu Sese Seko, an African.”
What Seku Ture and Nkrumah teach us is that even though they came to power through positive action campaigns, both of them understood the necessity of not only rock solid defense inside your territorial borders, but aiding liberation movements throughout Africa where the people would have been slaughtered by their colonial masters if they failed to take up arms. In his book, Class Struggle in Africa, Nkrumah documented all the liberation movements engaged in protracted armed struggle that he stood by faithfully until he was overthrown.  Both Nkrumah and Cabral were eternally grateful to Seku Ture.  Before the shock of the coup that ousted Nkrumah sank in, Seku Ture appointed him Guinee’s co-President. What helped the Cabral and the PAIGC’s guerilla fighters in Guinee Bissau maintain their resolve was a deep understanding that Seku Ture’s was equally devoted to the defeat of Portugese Colonialism in Guinee Bissau, as he was to maintaining the sovereignty of Guinea.
When speaking of Dr. King, we must make it our duty to share the compelling story of his mother, a schoolteacher certified by Hampton University, who forced to give up her job because she was married.  In those days female teachers could not be married and remain in that capacity. It is a tragedy that many of us who swear by Dr. King’s every word are not even aware that his mother was shot in cold blood while playing the organ in Ebenezer Baptist Church, only six years after we lost her son that fateful evening at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. From the very moment Seku Ture formed the PDG in Guinee, our sisters were the cornerstone of the revolution and constantly challenged the men in their lives to be part of the anti-colonial struggle.  If Alberta King had lived in Guinee instead of Atlanta, she would have been on the frontline, and Guinee under Seku Ture would have never treated female trailblazers like Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, Amelia Boynton Robinson and Queen Mother Moore as mere human footnotes in our history we feel compelled to mention just to save face.
The best practical example of this is after Nkrumah’s overthrow in Ghana, he was accompanied to Guinee by none other the widow of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, sister Shirley Graham DuBois, who was welcomed in both Ghana and Guinee the way Assata Shakur is in Cuba today. We must not forget that since Dr. Dorothy Height did not speak during the March on Washington, we were deprived of the opportunity to hear a sister’s point of view, and that it was the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, who urged Dr. King to share his dream because she already heard him express it publicly. Another awesome sister who witnessed firsthand the beauty of the Guinean people is none other than the revolutionary singer and icon Miriam Makeba who lived there during her marriage to Kwame Ture.  Another  bold  step  towards  total  women’s  empowerment in  Guinee  when  Seku  Ture  and  the  PDG  banned  polygamy  in  the  country,  because  the  common  sentiment  was  if  the  sisters  could  help  liberate  the  nation,  living  as  equals  made  the  revolutionary  process  come  full  circle.
As Jimmy Carter parades around the world today posing as the savior of the Palestinian people, compared to Seku Ture, to call him a Johnny-come-lately would be a gross understatement.  Seku Ture is one of the original co-sponsors of the UN Resolution 3379 Zionism is Racism, and was one of the first African Heads of State that called for breaking diplomatic ties with the Zionist State of Israel.  Because the  Zionist  state  of  Israel’s  propaganda  machine,  have  always  dangled  Dr.  King’s  position  on  the  1967  six  day  war, as  a  means  to  garner  more  support  for  their  conquering  and  persection  of  the  Palestinian  people.
Our  people’s  unwavering  solidarity  with  the  Palestinians.should  not  only  be  the  tip  of  the  iceberg,  this  means  intensifying  our  efforts  to  expose  the  genocidal  nature  of  Israel’s  foreign  and  African  policy,  which  in  the  final  analysis  is  the  best  compliment  to  the  Palestinians  never  ending  battle  to  attain  and  maintain  independence  and  self  determination.
We are fully aware that mother Africa is scarred by cultural tensions, or what our former colonial and slave masters call tribal warfare for the purpose of implying we are savages incapable of resolving our differences amicably.  We mourn the millions of Africans under the soil in Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Eritrea lost to senseless violence. What Seku Ture established in Guinee from 1958 to 1984 was a nation supremely loyal to Guinee and Africa as a whole, taking precedence over belonging to the Mandingo, Fulani or Sisu nations.
The life of Amilcar Cabral was certainly one of impact and quality.  His training as an agronomist and emphasis on teaching the masses of Guinee Bissau better farming techniques was strategically brilliant because this protected the PAIGC against the falsehoods being peddled by the Portugese colonial rulers who attempted damage control by labeling them terrorists. The story of Cabral and the PAIGC helps put in proper focus and context the need to support institutions that are part of the HBCU family, such as Tuskegee, FAMU, North Carolina A&T, and Prairie View A & M University, to name a few.  By  placing  such  a  strong  emphasis  on  agriculture  during  Guinee  Bissau’s  heroic  armed  struggle,  Cabral  and  the  PAIGC  paved  the  way  for  future revolutionaries  like the  late Thomas Sankara  who  during  time  he  served  as  the  President  of  Burkina  Faso,  made  the country  completely  food  self sufficient.  These  stories  automatically  link  Cabral  and  Sankara  to  George Washington Carver, especially during the 47 year period he directed the Agricultural Department of Tuskegee, at the behest of Booker T. Washington. We can only let our imaginations wander concerning Cabral and Carver developing and  maintaining  a working relationship, identical to the one that existed between Nkrumah and DuBois, which led to DuBois spending his final days developing Encyclopedia Africana with Ghana’s resources at his disposal. Because Carver  made  his  transition  to  the  ancestors  in  1943,  and  even  Cabral  himself  was  assassinated  8  months  before  Guinee  Bissau’s  declaration  of  independence, the  beautiful  site  of  Dr. Carver  utilizing  his  one  of  a  kind  skillset  on  authentic  African  soil  never  came to  pass.
It is safe to say that Cabral is smiling down on President Mugabe and people of Zimbabwe, who 12 years ago reclaimed 70% of the country’s most agriculturally resourceful land, from 4,500 white commercial farmers and returned it to 350,000 indigenous Zimbabwean families.
The mock communication exercises that Cabral used to train PAIGC militants to conduct, reminds Africans in the US of the door-to-door efforts of the Freedom Riders over 50 years ago.  It was a staple of each and every Civil Rights organization that ever  fought  to  change  our  conditions. It also sheds light on every organization from Marcus Garvey’s UNIA to the Nation of Islam, whose membership, when selling their newspapers and distributing literature all over the country, were required to attempt to share its organizational goals and visions and persuade you to join their ranks.
Because of their intense devotion to African Culture, both Seku Ture and Amilcar Cabral were visionaries wise well beyond their years.  When discussing the role of culture in the struggle in Guinee Bissau, Cabral stated “Liberation itself is an act of culture,” and Seku Ture in his essay A Dialectical Approach To Culture stated “Culture is the sum total of spiritual and material values obtained by humanity throughout its history.”
As it pertains to preserving our cultural integrity and space, the daughters and sons of Africa born and raised in the US, appear to have decided that hitching our star to Western popular culture has become their utmost priority.  It is by no means accidental that exactly one week after Dr. King’s birthday, a movie highlighting the Tuskeegee Airmen called Red Tails was released. The film is produced by George Lucas and the screen play was written by two of our own, John Ridley and Aaron McGruder. In addition to co-authoring Red Tails Ridley has written for the Martin Lawrence show, and movies like Bobby, Street Kings, Three Kings, Undercover Brother just to name a few.  Ridley also has 7 novels to his credit. The film’s other co-author is the creator of the brilliant and groundbreaking cartoon The Boondocks.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Ridley stated that an uncle of his was a Tuskeegee Airmen. A few years ago McGruder created a Boondocks episode about how Dr. King would be perceived by our people if he was alive today.  Since McGruder earned an undergraduate degree in African American Studies from the University of Maryland, he should ask himself if Dr. King would still consider the US Government the greatest purveyor of violence in the world? It appears that all of our cultural workers accept a mandate from the powers that be in Hollywood that before they call it quits, using their talents to pay homage to Uncle Sam, the idiot box, or the big screen is a prerequisite.
In the midst of the quarrel between filmmakers Spike Lee, who aggressively accused Perry of promoting coonery and buffoonery, and Tyler Perry concerning how Africans should be depicted in films we produce and direct, what somehow got lost is Lee deciding to become a pitchman for the US Navy. During the summer of 1999, Lee filmed and directed six commercials for the Navy for a campaign in conjunction with the advertising firm BBDO.  These commercials were shown in 16,000 theaters throughout the country. The commercial topics ranged from Life After the Navy, Education and Travel.  The general theme of the campaign was “Let the Journey Begin,” and the target was youth between the ages of 17 and 21. To ensure they hit the target, the Navy and BBDO aired commercials on the following TV stations: WB, ESPN, MTV, and of course BET.  The other strategic targets were slots during the NBA playoffs and NFL games for that upcoming season.  The Navy’s commanding officer Edward Brownlee discussed how Lee was able to connect with the audience they were trying to recruit. What can’t be overlooked is Lee voluntarily bid for this job, and Brownlee stated the Navy fell 7,000 recruits short of their goal the previous year.
It  would  be  interesting  to  hear  Spike  Lee’s  answer  to  an  extremely  important  political  question,  since  it’s  clear  he  wouldn’t  like  to  see  young  African   men   cross-dress  like  Tyler  Perry  when  he  plays  Madea,  does the  image  of  them  in  a  US  Navy  uniform  dropping  bombs  on  poor  and  innocent  people  all  over  the  world  make  him  sleep  better  at  night?
From the moment President Truman desegregated the US military, our former colonial slave masters have used their classrooms as laboratories to brainwash each and every one of us into believing it is our patriotic duty to die for the stars and stripes in every corner, all over the world. This is why you hear baseless rhethoric like “We don’t support the war but we support the troops” coming out of our people’s mouths. By continuing to make movies like Miracle at St Anna andRed Tails, Lee, McGruder and Ridley not only feed Hollywood’s pro-military frenzy, but demonstrate that the earlier victims of mis-guided patriots like Crispus Attucks, Peter Salem,  or  Cathay Williams, the female Buffalo Soldier, still have a looming influence on our community today. What they must understand is that for future generations of Africans a burial in Arlington Cemetery is an unwelcomed detour from the trail walked by Dr. King, Seku Ture and Amilcar Cabral.
As if the conventional warfare of US Imperialism isn’t enough to deal with, its diplomatic arm in the information age could perhaps be a bigger threat to world peace. This is why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointing NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar to serve as the cultural ambassador for the US State Department has extremely dangerous implications. Since the jump ball is how basketball games begin, we can start by examining Jabbar’s comments on the Libyan situation.  He stated, “What we did with President Obama’s tactics in Libya enabled them to obtain their goals and see us as people who were helpful and sticking up for the rights of the common people in Libya confronting a tyrant.” Prior to these remarks Jabbar made the following statement in defense of President Bush “a lot of people criticized him from the very first day he said he was not at war with Islam, he was dealing with terrorists who happen to be Muslim.”
Since Jabbar  has  earned  praise  for  both  his  intellect  and  appetite  for  knowledge,  one  wonders  if  he  has  ever  read  Seku  Ture’s  book  Islam  For  The  People’s  Benefit. These statements along with his choice to serve as the cultural face of the State Department imply Jabbar has undergone a complete political makeover, and he would like nothing more than to put his decision to boycott the 1968 olympics because of the Vietnam War behind him once and for all.  We now have to wonder if Jabbar might come out with a statement that he should  have  followed  the  course  of  the  NFL  player Pat Tillman, who gave up his football career and went to fight in Afghanistan.
It is no secret that for standing on the side of justice in his early 20′s, the NBA and corporate media went beyond the call of duty to make him feel underappreciated as an athlete. Just last year Jabbar voiced his displeasure concerning the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won five championships, who have yet to erect a statue in his honor.  Jabbar appeared to be disgruntled that Magic Johnson, Jerry West and the broadcaster Chick Hearn were honored with statues before him. It is deplorable that the State Department decided to appoint Jabbar Cultural Ambassador when he was feeling rejected by the sport that he had dedicated his entire life to, and he responds by condoning the bombing of Libya where people who share his faith were slaughtered like sheep.
The  Obama  administration  appears  to  have  developed  an  unofficial  project  that  could  be  labeled  Operation  Distance  Yourself   From  Your  Past.  It  would  be  a  tragedy  if  Maya  Angelou  goes  to  her  grave  being  remembered  solely  for  reciting  Phenomenal  Women at  Bill  Clinton’s  Inauguration  or  having  Obama  put  the  Presidential  Medal  of  Freedom  around  her  neck,  as  opposed  to  the  work  she  did  with  Julian  Mayfield  in  Ghana  on  the  African Review magazine.  Another dissapointing site  was  to  was  witness  another  Bill Russell, a protest  athlete  from  the  60′s  at  last  year’s  NBA  All  Star  Game  still  sporting  his  Presidential  Medal  of  Freedom  days  after  the  White  House  ceremony.  Russell  resembled  a  21st  century  athlete  or  entertainer  sporting  a  fancy  piece of  jewelry in bling-bling  mode.
We  applaud  Will  and  Jada  Pinkett  Smith  along  with  Jay-Z  for  financing  the  Broadway  play  centered  around  the  life  of  Fela Kuti.  Because the Smith family and Jay-Z provided the additional capital needed to complete this play, comparisons were made to how Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey and others stepped in and gave Spike Lee finances to complete Malcolm X.  Unfortunately, since then Cosby has become a self-appointed attack dog of our youth who are more than capable of making the transformation as Malcolm X did, from the trappings of the hood to the frontline of our liberation struggle.  But the  follow-up  must  be them coming  together  with  activists  in  their  peer groups  who  are  ready  to  wage cultural warfare with US Imperialism or  their  role  in  the  raping  and  plundering  of  Nigeria  and the African continent, such as Dead Prez and Immortal Technique.  This,  after all,  was  the  work what Fela and  his mother Fumilayo  Kuti  before him dedicated  their  entire  to  lives  in  the  first  place.  Let us remember what Cabral told us “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.”
Because greed, exploitation and war are the cornerstones of the US Imperialist value system, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has to work overtime, through attempting to bandage the government’s list of countless atrocities committed everywhere on the map. Since the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, which happens to be the same year Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in the Congo, the State Department began developing full proof strategies to seek out and train cultural mercenaries. As early as 1956 the legendary Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie served as the State Department’s Jazz Ambassador and was followed a few years later by Louis Armstrong.  However, it appeared Armstrong was having a change of heart when he accepted Nkrumah’s offer to become the dean of music at the University of Accra. Unlike Armstrong Gillespie truly blossomed into a cultural agent for US Imperialism, which was on display when he worked in clandestine fashion to help the trumpet player Arthuro Sandoval escape Cuba and seek asylum in the United States. The State Department now has a Hip-Hop ambassador position, that in partnership with gospel, bluegrass and jazz musicians will visit 40 countries this year as a partnership with American Voices.  These artists are baited to become double agents with their weapon of choice being song and dance. It was none other than Seku Ture who said “To be part of the African Revolution it is not enough to write a revolutionary song, you must fashion the song with the people and the songs will come of themselves and by themselves.”
Another issue with a similar twist is the Hip Hop artist and movie star Curtis “50 Cent”
Jackson’s pledge to feed 2.5 million children in Africa.  It  is  public  knowledge  that  our  brother  has  certainly  expanded  his  knowledge  base,  which  is  commendable, but we also hope  he  comes  across  Seku  Ture’s  statement  “An  African  Statesman  is  not  a naked  boy  begging  for  rich  capitalists.” Because Brother 50 has decided to tackle hunger in Africa, it would be interesting to get his response to US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe that were imposed as a vindictive response to Zimbabwe’s reclaiming land which rightfully belongs to them and no one else. Our  brother will  realize the  struggle  to  end  hunger  is  inextricably  linked  to  Africa’s  fight  to  become  liberated,  unified  and  socialist.  Our  hunger  for  those  goals  exceed  what  the  United  Nations  Food  Program  can  put  on  a  plate.
The artists who travel the world on behalf of the State Department, prior to this experience, have very little or no history whatsoever of organizing at the grass roots level to change US policy towards the countries they end up visiting as a result of these posts.    What this means is that their political points of references are either their artistic counterparts they meet and befriend in these countries or the public relations apparatus of the State Department  who denounce their governments because they clamor a more comfortable life in the US.  The distraction created by the artists talent and to their  craft,  cause them to loose site of  their  relationship  to  the  politics  on  the  ground  in  the  country. Due to the State Department’s traveling circus these artists either become loyalists and apologists for US Imperialism, or condemn US foreign policy when it’s convenient to do so.  We might even have to wait until they are on their death beds for them to speak truth to power. Some  of  these  artists  who  work  under  the  banner  of  the  State  Department may  find  themselves  at  the  crossroads  plagued  with  guilt,  and  as  a  result  could  try  to  transform  into  spooks  who  sat  by  the  door.  Others  might  proclaim  they have been double agents the entire time they have been in these  posts, and were seeking to penetrate the State Department the same way we maneuver  inside the Democratic  Party  and  Corporate  USA.  In the spirit of Dr.  King,  Amilcar  Cabral and  Ahmed  Seku  Ture we  seek  to  play  our  rightful  role  in  history  with  humility  and  dignity.
Obi Egbuna is the US Correspondent to the Herald (Zimbabwe’s National Newspaper), a US-based member of the Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association.  Egbuna is also a frequent contributor to Your World News.  He can be contacted via

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