Celebrating 28 Days of Black Authors #Day10

bell hooks, all about love: new vision

Any time someone has the courage to write about love I find in it a difficulty that is unexplainable to comprehend.  Not because they are incapable of explaining their point but I just find that love is a tricky walk down a road with a revolutionary outcome that is often presented too abstract. But bell hooks does not present love in such a fashion in this text. She brings it raw and uncut, but with a level of texture that makes one feels as if they need to reassess their own ways of loving.

There are moments in the book where she has me questioning whether I even “love” my own wife because of her redefining of the contours of love. She has this place where she identifies that love is not just about attending to the needs of a love one but it is actually a specifying into the desired care of that person—speaking to their soul. This intended reshaping is a hard pill to swallow when one figures to, merely, show love through deeds rather than embracing the concrete forms of love in enfleshed tones of affirmation and appreciation.

Celebrating 28 Black Authors for Black History Month #Day9

Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, Mbongi: An African Traditional Political Institution: a Eureka to the African Crisis

Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau’s Mbongi: An African Traditional Political Institution: a Eureka to the African Crisis was one my first introductions to African thinking. Dr. Fu-Kiau introduces a way thinking that made up Congolese communities and provided communal strategies for change and resolution. This institution provided a justice and harmony that is unprecedented in democracy as we understand it in the United States. 

Dr. Fu Kiau defines the Mbongi as a “ ‘common ‘shelter’ of very simplistic architecture that one finds in the middle of almost every village in the Bantu countries in general and in Kongo region in particular. The construction is the physical living symbol of one of the most powerful and most important African traditional political institutions.” The Mbongi serves as place where the community can come and wrestle with their ideas and genius together, regardless of differences. The Mbongi was the place where elders displayed there wisdom, and respect was visible because it manifested in provision for the entire community. The Mbongi was not a gatekeeping agenda but an investment of the epistemological gifts of all within the community.

Dr. Fu Kiau introduces why the mbongi was pertinent and also why it has not received the necessary appreciation in contemporary society. As he states, “Modern Africa is often a stranger to itself, its so-called institutions are alien to it. The national economic disease spreading to many African states is not of African in origin. It is a disease generated by alien economic systems blindly adopted or being adopted by African leaders who have never sat inside an African ‘Mbongi’; a truly indigenous political institution.”

Celebrating 28 Black Authors for Black History Month #Day8

Daniel Black, The Coming

Daniel Black’s The Coming is beautifully uncomfortable. What I mean by that it is takes you on a journey through enslavement that makes you feel as if you have been captured, placed in shackles and locked in the belly of a slave ship. It is a fictional depiction of real trauma that begot Black life upon the shores of these yet to be unites states.

Black vividly details the most horrific experiences of enslavement with the skill of Coltrane playing the sax. He takes you to the belly of the slave ship and makes you smell the stench of the air until you are forced to go outside and spit because you feel as if “you can’t get the taste out of your mouth.” These are words and ways he explains the process of death without dying that those courageous souls endured on their voyage from their homeland.

The wisdom that exudes from the page as he writes, “…we fed and strengthened our own captors. We cannot claim naivete’. We cannot say we were people undeveloped. We cannot say there no signs. We can say only that we did no feed them. Sound wisdom was as common as the evening breeze.” One of the most poignantly presented messages came when he writes about how calculated the strategy to capture them was orchestrated. The order in which they people were captured: 1. The farmers-folks who knew the land 2. The healers- shamans who could heal the people, physically, mentally and most importantly spiritually3. The jali- those who told our story4. The warriors- our strength to fight back5. The artist- the one who told us we were beautiful 6. Orators and teachers- they were muted and chained7. Gatekeepers- were murdered on sight because they alerted everyone of troubleAnd everyone else with less noticeable gifts were slaughter: “keepers of knowledge, masters of spirit, gurus of assistance, guardians of order and balance.”