Save Your Breath
This morning, Mwalimu Baruti posted on Facebook an excerpt from his book, IWA: A Warriors Character. (Purchase at the link) This isn’t 3 1/2 minutes with 16 bars. It’s not a teenage pretense of depth that passes with those who’ve never swum in still, black waters. This is the real thing.
Some complex expression is so fundamentally correct that even those who generally have no taste for the complex find it delicious: Curry sauce, Dizzy Gillespie’s jazz standard and Hip Hop Intro, A Night in Tunisa, anything written by James Baldwin. I think, I hope, this is one such expression. Anyway, it’s what I’m feeling today and thinking everyday.
Seeing white folks for what they are. Not wasting breath on them. Breath is life.
“Warriors have to know just what is meant by the term ‘civilization’ in order to understand exactly what we are dealing with in this crude, despiritualized reality. We must remember that civilization is derived from the word ‘civil,’ which references the treatment of people toward each other. Any intelligent, feeling human who gives it some serious thought would naturally come to the conclusion that civilization should not be measured by the amount or level of mechanical technology a society produces or accumulates, the height of its buildings and monuments or the expanse of its empire or breadth of its domination. In agreement, many take a more human approach. They contend that the most important factor determining whether a society is a civilization or not is the quality of the life of its women. And, though this is a more than reasonable measuring rod, they have not gone far enough. They stopped short of the highest definition, one based on the conditions of the children. We say children because they are the most defenseless of all and are dependent on adults, both women and men, for their well-being. Therefore, as Afrikans conscious of the importance of definitions for perceptions, and as student-practitioners of our Ancestors’ family/child-centeredness, we must employ the knowledge of the children’s treatment foremost in our assessment of the degree to which a society is civilized. This will lead us to conclude that the state of their lives most reveals the human quality of the character of the society developed by their parents or those who rule their parents’ minds. When this more spiritually-grounded definition is used, if significant numbers of a society’s children are starving, homeless, mis- and diseducated, sexually violated, drugged or otherwise intoxicated, spoiled, obese, suicidal, incarcerated (and/or are on death row), then that society is not a true civilization. So, obviously, people lost in love with the West are using the wrong indicators for measuring civilization. Directly contributing to this convenient oversight, and central to our discussion here, is the point that civilization, defined in progressive, civil terms, takes quite a long time to develop/evolve. It does not happen overnight. There are no shortcuts, no easy roads leading to civilization. It is a phenomenal occurrence in extraordinary, almost geologic, time. In order for it to be all it should be, and is capable of being, it must pass the test of time. Just as individuals have to go through a correctly mastered epigenetic queue of stages in order to correctly develop fully, societies do also. However defined, ‘A complete article must have gone through various stages in its creation’ (Haya proverb). For example, according to one classic eurocentric model of cognitive development, there are four stages that individuals normally pass through in their cognitive development. The first is sensorimotor, which is said to occur between birth and two years of age. Here, the person becomes acquainted with how one’s body functions and gains control over these functions. An important lesson learned in the latter part of this stage is that just because something is removed from sight does not mean that it ceases to exist. Afterwards follows the preoperational stage between the ages of two and seven where the child begins to use language/symbols but remains basically egocentric in orientation toward others. The concrete operations stage occurs between seven and eleven years of age. This is where concepts gain importance and we begin to systematically connect this understanding with what exists in the environment in an meaningful (intellectually interactive) way. Many of us never go beyond this stage in our intellectual development. The final stage is the formal operations one. People who reach this point can think conceptually without having to actually see any manifestation of that thought. This is the cognitive domain of hypothesis, theory and abstraction. Even though all individuals are supposed to go through the stages in this order, the speed of their progression differs. And, in fact, some may even have to go back and repeat some incompletely learned process before moving forward. Regardless, this is an epigenetic process where each stage builds on the stage which preceded it and lays the foundation for whatever stage follows it. None can be skipped if an individual is to become fully developed cognitively (Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder, The Psychology of the Child, NY: Harcourt, 1969). So, too, do different ‘human’ groups go through stages of cognitive development (i.e., the development of their personality/mind in terms of self- and other-perception). If everything is similar in evolution and process, then, though there may be relatively more or fewer stages (and stage durations) marking the development of individuals, societies/nations and the cosmos, there is commonality/similarity in that such stages do indeed exist. They do follow a logical, natural, predetermined order. They are progressive. They have a universal reason for being. And they are all necessary for the full maturation of the being or entity. Therefore, distinct genocultural groups of people uniquely go through a series of epigenetic stages through which their mind is created. Moreover, in terms of the civilization concept, each stage has a primary, humanizing component, a dominant factor which moves a people together to better understand and embrace their spiritual and human (moral and ethical) essence. There are lessons within this component of which they must fully experience and learn from together in order to master their humanity and assimilate it as an essential part of their being. Without this experience and a mastery of its lessons, ways of wisdom which after a certain point can never be fully acquired, their existence lacks a true, dynamic, functional humanity. That traditionally Afrikans have prioritized the development of a person’s character, their humanity, versus Yurugu’s [white folks/oxyhominoids] greatest formative focus on the individual’s mechanical thinking, their individual survival self, is a good starting point for those who wish to study this core developmental difference. It is also instructive to note that those who are successful in overtaking others in their material or informational development, who do this by surreptitiously using the long established mechanical base of others while rejecting the significance of their accumulated humanity, are only able to take what they are capable of understanding and which fits their underdeveloped, immature interpretation of reality. (George G.M. James deftly spoke of this discrepancy in his explanation of Socrates’ persecution at the hands of his own when he made the grave mistake of trying to bring [as intact as he could] an Afrikan cosmology [way of knowing and purpose in thinking] that gave a human meaning to life into their limited consciousness. (Stolen Legacy, NY: Philosophical Library, 1954).) However, over time, their awareness of their human inferiority (especially spiritual, psychological and emotional, in terms of this particular discussion) has grown. But they sleep with deceit. That is the only way they know. So, it is only natural that, in the face of others’ humanity, they pretend. Only possessing the capacity to ape the humanity in others is a congenital psychopathic fault. Ignorantly and arrogantly displaying this mimicry as evidence of some existent humanity in them is an insult to our intelligence. It is a facade which well reflects the kind of mind the Tswana speak of in the proverb ‘He makes a ladder of other people’s backs.’ Human, like mechanical, technology (i.e., ways of doing things, i.e., technique) does not fully develop without extensive trial and error over thousands of generations. Considerate, balanced, lasting human technology, because of the intricacies of psychology, emotion and spirit involved in its realization, comes only through the greatest of meaningful, survivable suffering. The Yoruba proverb questioning, ‘You have wisdom, but you haven’t suffered? Who is your teacher?’ speaks to this universal. Yurugu has never experienced this humanizing experience. It’s ‘civilization’ is nothing more than a collection of simple advancements on the material legacy stolen from others. But it is completely without human substance and depth. It is a feral culture, bereft of emotional content. And, as is made mythologically clear, there is no escape or redemption/correction for what they have become and have always been. Today, after every attempt to humanize themselves in others’ eyes has failed, their incompleteness is becoming more and more obvious to the world. Nonetheless, still blindly rushing down the path of their proud tradition of deceitful arrogance, they diligently work to euroversalize their deficient (despiritualized, dehumanized) personality as normal and the human norm. At the same time, they continue to try to make up for their deficient humanity by pretending to embrace a forever lost human ‘side.’ But, as in Piaget’s model, they have reached far beyond the point of no return on the human component of civilization’s stages and this flaw in their being is beyond correction (something well pointed out in Marimba Ani’s rendering of the Dogon myth of Yurugu where it is stated that ‘Yurugu, forever incomplete, was doomed to perpetually search for the completeness that could never be his’ (Yurugu, ‘Author’s Note, italics mine)). And, of course, we should not be confused by either the initiative to make themselves human or the redefining of humanity along european lines. Their inhumanity is not something they truly want to correct anyway. Any humanizing movement they simulate can be little more than a social facade designed in the tradition of their rhetorical ethics to stave off revealing questions about their humanity until all others are completely brought in line with their callous sterility.“
Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti
IWA: A Warrior’s Character