by Runoko Rashidi
25 December 2008
How are you? It is Xmas morning here in Los Angeles, it is raining, there is
plenty of food, I am with family, and I am okay. Indeed, I am blessed. A
couple or weeks ago I posted an update about the hospital stay of Dr. Yosef
ben-Jochannan. A couple of days ago I posted a tribute to Dr. Chancellor
James Williams. I also mentioned the soon to be birthdays of Cheikh Anta
Diop and John Henrik Clarke. I loved these giants and apparently a number of
you have felt likewise. For some reason I somehow neglected to mention Dr.
Carter G. Woodson, born on 19 December 1875.
Over the years I have been influenced by, interacted with, and, in some
cases, been fortunate to get to know a number of them, elders and ancestors,
(some extensively, others just in passing), including Ivan Van Sertima, Kefa
Nepthys, Leonard Jeffries, Clara Mann, John G. Jackson, Jan Carew, Charles B.
Copher, Jacob Hudson Carruthers, Edward Vivian Scobie, Nana Ekow Butweiku I,
William Mackey, George Simmonds, and numerous others, most recently Asa G.
Hilliard III and Charles Middleton.
Recently, I was able to spend a moment with Abdias Nascimento in Rio De
Janeiro. And these are just a few of them who lived in the Western
Hemisphere. Some of them, like John G. Jackson, died disillusioned and in
poverty, and I don't think that Doc Ben is in great financial shape either.
I bet that we could add a lot of names to this list. I am sure that there
are others in the United States, in Africa, the Caribbean, South America,
Europe, Australia, India, wherever Black people are--untold numbers of Black
women and men who made critical contributions to our consciousness but were
not so famous, either at home or abroad.
The question is: what do we owe these sisters and brothers who toiled their
lifetimes for us? Do we have a duty and obligation to look out for them when
they are in need? What do we do for their families? Of course, I think that
we really know the answers already. But we must always be seeking to
translate our lofty ideals into practice. We are pretty good about talking,
but are we as good about doing? And what are we capable of doing, or do you
think that we should be doing anything?
What do we do for the African scholars in need? How do we preserve their
archives? Exactly what do we do? What should we do?
Food for thought for you!
In love of Africa,
Runoko Rashidi Okello