6 September 2011
How are you? I am entering the fourth day of my second trip to Zimbabwe. My
first trip, in 2000, took me to Bulawayo and surrounding villages, the ruins
of Great Zimababwe and the magnificent (no other word comes close to
describing it) waterfalls of Mosi Oa Tunya ("The smoke that thunders"). This
time I am in the capital of Zimbabwe--Harare.
The occasion of my current visit to Zimbabwe is the Pedagogical Use of the
General History of Africa Project Consultation Meeting. Essentially, as I
understand it, sixty-five of Africa's most outstanding historians, educators,
linguists have been gathered here for a five day working session designed to
structure the curricula of Africa's social sciences classes, with the special
focus on history courses.
There are people here from every part of Africa. In the workshop that I
participated in today the chairs were from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Mali and Djibouti. Other participants were from Senegal, Burundi,
Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and
Of the sixty-five participants at the gathering I am the only way from the
Diaspora. The rest are all from Africa itself. Just why, of all the people
in the world who could have been invited (Molefi Asante, Henry Louis Gates,
Joyce King, Leonard Jeffries, just to name a few) I was selected I am still a
little puzzled by. Either way, I have been on something of a roll of late
and I am delighted to be here.
In the last twelve months I have taken two small groups to Egypt and been the
opening keynote speaker at the first ever Global Black Nationalities
Conference in Oshogo, Nigeria, the first keynote speaker at the historic
FESMAN Conference in Dakar, Senegal, and delivered major addresses in Bermuda
and Jamaica, Toronto and Montreal, Canada. Later this month I will give a
major presentation at the second Nile Valley Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Maybe it is just my time to shine.
In Zimbabwe right now we are being hosted by UNESCO and the Government of
Zimbabwe. We are housed in the finest hotel in Harare and I am content. It
is after 5:00 am here. I can't sleep and it seems like a good time to share
a long overdue letter with you.
The highlight of the gathering for me so far has been an audience with
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He formally opened the gathering. And
he did not disappoint. Yesterday afternoon he gave a powerful thirty minute
speech on the importance of African history. I am confident that Garvey,
Nkrumah, and Malcolm all would have been proud. I could see why white people
are afraid of this man! Among the memorable quotes I noted from his talker
were, "People are the makers of history, not historians." And, "You cannot
be a historian of Africans unless you share the cries and the laughter of
Africans." He impressed me as very strong Black man, a powerful African, and
I felt blessed to be in the audience.
I like Zimbabwe. It took thirty-one hours to get here. I flew from Los
Angeles, California to Munich, Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa before
arriving in Harare. The climate right now is warm and dry. People seem
pretty friendly and unpretentious. I love the music here and on Sunday
afternoon I enjoyed from the hotel lobby the spectacle of hundreds and
hundreds of men, women and children in their Sunday finest walking home from
But I have one major mission here and that is to see that the inclusion of
the African Diaspora in this major rewriting of history is not confined
solely to the enslavement experience. I have been preaching for years now
that to teach a child that their history begins with slavery is the greatest
crime that you can commit. No more of that. The movement of African people
out of African began tens of thousands of years ago. And I am determined to
play a role in seeing that we are never allowed to forget that.
I will keep you posted.
Many blessings sisters and brothers!
In love of Africa,
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