_20160420_130043This article was originally published in the New Afrikan Community Bulletin (NACB) in August 1995. The NACB was the publication of The Freedom Network, a cadre of New Afrikans who organized in the Michigan state prison system during the 1990s. The late Omowale Diop Ankobia was a cadre member. This article was one in a series in which Bro. Omowale expounded on limited topics.
I’m back. Proceeding from Cheikh Anta Diop’s explanation that group unity is the prerequisite to Liberation. Overstanding liberation to be LAND, INDEPENDENCE and UJAMAA, i seek to contribute to clarity. So let’s begin by kicking it about LAND.
There is a narrative in THE ART OF WAR which goes something like this:
An invading force approached a nation, stopped at its borders and sent emissaries to “negotiate”. The emissaries in negotiations with the King suggested they be given 10 one-hundered-li horses (a li is about 3/5 of a mile and these horses could cover that distance in a certain period of time — very strong and fast horses). The King consulted his advisors, who advised against giving up the horses. The King disagreed, asking what’s 10 horses for peace? We have horses to spare.”
The emissaries left with the horses. However, three days later they returned, This time they asked for one of the King’s wives. The King again consulted his advisors who advised against giving up the wife. The King responded, “A woman is not too much to pay for peace. We have many beautiful women.” *
The emissaries left and came back the next day and asked for 20 li of LAND. Saying that in such a vast nation 20 li was minuscule, The King consulted his advisors who agreed that the nation possessed much LAND and wouldn’t miss 20 li. The King had the advisors beheaded, mobilized the army and crushed the invaders, saying “LAND is the basis of the Nation. If the LAND is taken the people are destroyed. Not even 1 li of LAND can be taken without harm to THE PEOPLE.
One of New Afrika’s greatest Griots, Haki Madhubuti says, “LAND is the one thing nobody is making any more of.” A LANDless people are a homeless people. Dr. Ben’s statement that We can not be men in another man’s house is instructive. We cannot be Liberated on LAND controlled by others.
For clarity LAND is: 1) The solid ground of the earth. 2) The soil; the earth. 3) A Nation; b) a district or region inhabited by a particular people; c) territorial possession.
A Nation cannot realize itself without LAND. LAND that it owns and controls. Those of you familiar with the Moses story know it’s about LAND. Moses said God told him to tell the people to leave the LAND of the Egyptians and possess some LAND for themselves; LAND where they could practice and develop their culture. Where they could feed, clothe and house themselves the way they wanted.
There’s a song that keeps coming to my mind. It’s a song i first heard when i was in junior high, around 1963. The words are: This LAND is my LAND. God gave this LAND to me. This brave and ancient LAND to me. And if i must fight, i’ll fight to make this LAND my own. When i first heard it, it had no real meaning for me. i didn’t know who wrote it or why. i know now and although those who wrote it had/have no right to the LAND they were/are referring to, i understand the importance of THE LAND and the song.
We got a right to THE LAND We claim. Our labor and lives were expended in the territory which is now re­ferred to as south carolina, georgia, alabama, mississippi, and louisiana. Our ANCESTORS, who now reside in THE VILLAGE OF ETERNITY, gave that LAND to us. We inherited it from them. We must claim our legacy. If We must
fight to possess what is ours then We must fight. And We must fight with any means necessary and available. Conquerors have no rights the conquered are bound to respect.
The importance of LAND cannot be overemphasized. It is the “material basis upon which We can exercise Our collective will.” We can never fully realize ourselves, actualize ourselves, living on LAND governed by our historical/contemporary enemies. Affirmative action, enterprise zones, buying Black, etc., are tactics, not th1e objective. The objective is real Nationhood. That is, Nationhood on LAND that We govern. LAND on which We affirm ourselves. LAND on which enterprise is not restricted to zones. LAND where buyer and seller are Black. THE BLACK LAND: NEW AFRIKA.
Everything We need comes from the LAND. Food, clothing and shelter are produced from the resources of the earth. On the continent, before the coming of the european, LAND was held in common. It was shared and distributed in such a way that everyone had enough to adequately provide for themselves. The LAND belonged to THE PEOPLE and to sell it was unimaginable. We understood that THE LAND and THE PEOPLE were/are inseparable.
Dig, i know you Brothas and Sistas are asking, “What We gon do right now?” Control where We are as We move to New Afrika. Let’s take a look at detroit, We should change the name to New Kemet. But what We must do is exercise our collective will in detroit. Unashamedly, We should proclaim detroit Afrikan. Anything that is not beneficial to Afrikan People should not be in detroit, furthermore, only Afrikans should be in power in detroit. Foreign merchants should not be allowed to operate in detroit without paying what would be contributed by native merchants. It is about us. It is about Afrikan Survival, Development, and Enhancement.
*We did then and do now understand the extremely sexist aspect of this allegory and in no way endorse any policy that diminishes the value or humanity of women. In addition to upholding integrity of ancient story, we also felt that because our primary readership was prisoners — who because of their separation from and intense desire for female companionship — that such an analogy (truly unthinkable to the average prisoner) might increase the value of land in their understanding.