Tag Archives: black consciousness

Self-Recovery

In this culture, the phrase ‘black woman’ is not synonymous with ‘tender,’ or ‘gentle.’ It’s as if those words couldn’t possibly speak to the reality of black females. –  bell hooks

  Self-recovery for a black female is an ongoing issue of raising consciousness and challenging the dominant culture, as well as caring for oneself in regards to health and wellness. It is not easy and even if, in our collective struggle in modern times, we are still fighting for equality and still fighting for our rights as human beings; we must heal.

   Resisting the dominant culture is arduous. It is omnipresent, trying to convince us of our inferiority. But we know better. We know we were great once, the African people, and we shall be great again. We know our history, and it is a start in raising consciousness and in establishing a counter-culture to racist, sexist patriarchal Western ideology. We may not yet fully envision what the future of a conscious, African woman who has been liberated looks like, and we cannot fathom it if we do not begin to heal.

   We must heal with love. We must heal with unity. Black women must love ourselves, love the very essence of woman. Know that we are woman. We must love our hair, our beautiful ebony skin, full lips, hips; and deep, dark eyes. We must love our African brothers, and see in them our allies and our kin. No more, you ain’t nothin but a good for nothing nigga; it’s about the I will rise, my brother, and you are coming with me. We must not be ashamed to unite. We cannot heal in isolation. There is no self-recovery, there is no revolution without each other.

   Every day as we struggle, and we resist; let us keep in mind the sweet fruits of liberty. Of love, happiness, security, health, well-being. Let us start now to taste that fruit, to be liberated African women and men. Let us transform ourselves, our heads held high. Living simply, living communally and consciously.

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Zai is Forever

In one account of Queen Nzinga’s life, she writes, “…Friends may betray you, mansions and servants may go; but zai (Knowledge) is forever”. This is true, what you learn cannot easily be extracted from your mind and it is up to us as Black adults to teach our young  queens and kings to love themselves and to know their history, before they learn to hate themselves and take part in a prevailing culture that downplays, ignores or misrepresents the Black people’s contributions and rich history.

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   It is imperative to provide literature for our young  queens and kings that represent their history, culture and faces. I did not grow up reading Rachel Isadora or books about Africa. I grew up reading Madeline and Caillou, and then series like Sweet Valley High. So, I’ve begun to stockpile dozens of Afro-centric children’s books for my son to cherish and read on his bookshelf. Knowledge is power.

 

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  Knowledge is power, and books are weapons. This may very well be why these books were kept out of our libraries. What will happen if a Black boy or girl reads empowering books and gains knowledge of how beautiful, strong, resourceful and intelligent Black people really are? That they can accomplish anything? That they do not  have to accept the things they cannot change, but change the things they cannot accept? It will be nothing short of a revolution, and we owe it to our children to implant the seeds of knowledge and inspiration in their minds. For they will move mountains.

Goodbye Slave Names!

   I decided to go to Service Canada last week to begin the legalized change of my French slave name to a West African name. I searched long and hard and found new African names for me and my 2 year old son who is of African-Iranian descent.

  I chose Nomolanga Achieng Eksenwe for myself because Nomolanga Achieng because it is Zulu for “sunny” and I’m an optimistic, cheery person born in the middle of summer. I also chose it because “Achieng” which means “sunlit” is reminiscent of the warm, chocolate brown skin I have. I chose the last name Eksenwe, which is a well known last name.

    My son’s new name Chilongola means “firstborn son” and his middle name Masego means “blessings”. I feel our African names are not just a powerful way of reclaiming our African identity that was stolen away, but of defying the racist social control that exists today. It is a constant reminder of our Blackness, our heritage and history. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone we encounter from colleagues, school peers and strangers.

    I have rid ourselves of the continuity of the Blanchette, Riviere and Dangleben slaveholding families that held dominance over my family for over a century by their French names. Therefore, what we achieve will be Black excellency, not that of our oppressors. They cannot bind us with their stamp no more.

I Ni Ce!

I ni ce! I ni ce means “hello” in the  Bambara language of Africa, spoken primarily by Malians (people of Mali). My paternal family that was enslaved and brought to Roseau, Dominica in the West Indies comes from Mali. Many people from Dominica (the original name of the  isle being Wai’tukubuli’ meaning “long is her body” in Kalinago” come from Mali, Guinea and Senegal in West Africa.
Since deciding to legally change my slave name to Nomolanga Achieng Eksenwe and my son’s French name to Chilongola Masego Eksenwe, I’ve begun to learn more about the rich history of Mali from the Mali Empire to present day traditions and customs. I know I cannot continue the African legacy of my ancestors “Davis and Celestine” without acquiring the knowledge to teach myself and my son Malian culture including the Bambara language, which is surprisingly easy to learn.

Just as Chinese-Canadians or Indian-Canadians practice some cultural aspects of their native heritage (as well as aspects of Western culture, inevitably); I too, want to teach my son about the rich ancient history of Africa from Menes and Thebes to Queen Candace of Ethiopia and Queen Tye.

   My family has ridiculed me about my newfound Black consciousness which begun ironically, in a rural White town I moved to where I clung to a wise, white Rastafarian woman with boundless knowledge of African and Black culture as well as four, beautiful Black Rastafarian children she has that are homeschooled and taught real Black history and critical thinking. It was her who lent me books on ancient Africa and encouraged me to change stubborn Westernized views about myself and my people. In the process, though I have much to learn, I have learned to be even prouder of being African.

   With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which, with a Black son, has sparked my interest and who I hold solidarity with, I began to read the works of Angela Y. Davis, Assata Shakur, Huey P. Newton, bell hooks, Frederick Douglass and others. This furthered my knowledge in racism and sexism and also helped me to see that my people are not just oppressed and without hope. We have fought long and hard since we were removed from Mother Africa. We did not readily accept slavery, we brave men and women and we continue to fight oppression and systemic racism today. So, I say, hello, to all my African brothers and sisters and to all our brothers and sisters because we are of one race: the human race. Unity and peace is what I strive the world, and self-acceptance and self-love of my Blackness is what I strive for in this blog.

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