Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marcus, Mark Us

Marcus, Mark Us

He was born in the beautiful hills of St. Anne's Bay, JA
Until he made his way to Harlem, where he founded the UNIA
Everywhere he traveled, he saw his people were on the bottom
Shut out of opportunities, sharecropping sugar and cotton
He said that before black people could make any real gains
They first had to break loose from all of their colonial chains
The blood stains endorsed by a white Geezus and preacherman
The same system that stole human cargo from the Motherland
So Marcus said to now see God through their unique vision
With a new understanding to reclaim the word Christian

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
Teach the youths what the colors mean
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because the whole world must see
There's no peace until Afrikan Unity

Marcus said look to the East for the crowning of a new king
It was Negus Nagast, H.I.M. Selassie and the Empress Menen
For years he told of the many things left out of his-story
Like Afrikan science and art taught at Timbuktu's university
Black dignity, it was the concept erased by the slave trade
Replaced by Eurocentric eccentrics and their own masquerade
Marcus would not behave, he gave the people the eyes to see
That for hundreds of years they were denied the opportunity
He said education was the equation to end black frustration
So he said rise up, take an occupation and build up a nation

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
So we can live the Afrikan dream
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because the whole world must see
Your words have revealed prophecy

Marcus said the words, One God! One Aim! One Destiny!
A call for all Afrikans to know about their true identity
He said to leave behind Babylon and the westernized mind
Promoting repatriation, he then began the Black Star Line
He said to be self-reliant, and to do things for yourself
To take care of your family, community, and your health
Establish some type of business and accumulate some wealth
Organize and centralize, have racial pride, move and achieve
Fight until the tides of ignorance and doubt begin to recede
Have leaders of your own, because the rest are contemptuous
Marcus said that the Negro is sleeping on his own intelligence

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
Teach the youths what the colors mean
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because all of the world must see
There's no peace until Afrikan Unity

He inspired the freedom fighters, and he led the Garveyites
Among them the first Rastas who fought for truth and rights
He led them in his uniform, gold epaulettes and plumed hat
Like a field marshal taking on Mystery Babylon in full combat
He strived to build up Jamaica and the Afrikans in the West
Then take them back to Afrika where they could live the best
His opinions and philosophy reveal humanity could not be free
Unless we see that we're all children of Mama Afrika originally
So we must follow Mister Garvey and accomplish what we will
For the whole world is Afrika, and we are a Mighty Race still

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
So we can live the Afrikan dream
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because the whole world must see
Your words have revealed prophecy

(c) 2010

August 17th is the Earthstrong (Birthday) of the Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a national hero of Jamaica, and prophet in the Rastafari movement. He truly was the black redeemer whose mission it was to uplift Africans at home and abroad. Everyone should know Marcus, no matter your origin or complexion because the direction he gave to the African people is ultimately the same direction all of humanity must move in. One God! One Aim! One Destiny! ...Hail Up Marcus!

Marcus Garvey

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stranger To The Familiar

There have been stories for thousands of years of the archetypal stranger. Imagine a traveler from a distant land somehow finding his way to a place where he is an obvious outsider. He appears to be quite different from those amongst him and unaccustomed to the ways of the people he encounters. As he tries to learn and understand, he may become frustrated because it all seems so different from what he knows. After being in this foreign land for enough time, a few things may happen. He may assimilate after having mastered the new culture and choose to become a part of it. He may live uncomfortably on the fringe of that society, involved in it for the sake of his livelihood, but still considered the stranger. Finally, he may decide to return to his homeland after finding that he cannot compromise his ways in order to fit in.

Sometimes I feel like this proverbial stranger, but the strange thing is, I feel like it within my very own society. Actually it is harder now to define this society, since most of what we now see is not just on a national scale, but on a global scale... pushed by economics and commercialism. I may even dare to say that the world is becoming Americanized, or at least Westernized. With these changes the modern world appears to become more and more alien each day. We have become so self-absorbed with the artificial things of our own creation. We thrive on materialism. We have freedoms like never before and yet seldom are these freedoms tempered by any idea of morality or in the very least, character.

I saw a commercial not too long ago that actually advertised an internet network for infidelity. At first I thought it was a joke, because it was presented as a cartoon, but then I looked up the ambiguous website name online and it was indeed a service that was specifically designed to set up affairs for people in relationships. Needless to say, I was shocked. But then again, why should I be shocked at all? Our society has promoted this type of behavior for years in movies, music, magazines, and other forms of pop culture. We have exposed ourselves to these things, and to our youth, and eventually we have made these behaviors and lifestyles quite normal for us. In spite of this radical change, we still scoff at traditions and practices from ancient times, whether cultural or faith based. We parody what others hold as sacred.

I find it strange that some people would find my own trod of Rastafari bizarre and ridiculous, or for that matter, my very belief in God Himself, and yet they readily accept things which may have once been considered social and cultural taboos such as imprisonment, drunkenness, sexual orientation, obscenities, promiscuity, sexual practices, abortion, body alterations, atheism, etc. Now, it is not my position to judge what is right or wrong, nor will I express my opinions on the aforementioned… but why should my personal belief and ways of life seem so peculiar to members of this society that have accepted things far beyond that in terms of behavior and perhaps negative social impact? It makes no sense.

I believe it has a lot to do with the vanity of humankind. We have bartered in our beliefs in order to achieve our own advantages and comforts in life. Principal no longer plays an import role in our behaviors and instead we are ruled by our own illusions of high-mindedness. Our ideas of liberty and the pursuit of happiness have gone far beyond the idea of living naturally free and doing what we feel necessary to live a peaceful and humble life to our own liking. What really is behind all this? What shapes our identities and causes us to decide to turn the tables on what is considered normal and strange in this modern time? If it is self-destructive, if it is vain, if it is selfish, if it is wicked, hypocritical, and unjust… then that is what in Rastafari we call the concept of Babylon.

H.I.M. Haile Selassie I once said, “unless we find the requisite courage and fixity of purpose to rise above our petty selves; we shall be broken on the wheel of our own invention, slaves of our own despotism.” The system of Babylon is one created by mankind, fashioned by those who strive to get ahead at the expense of others, created out of the lowest of desires, slowly ebbing away at our integrity, our character, and our dignity until we accept the lies, the immorality, the foolishness, and treat it as the most normal thing in the world. It is mental slavery. It is a slavery that affects everyone, no matter their race, color or creed. Sometimes it is very subtle, and sometimes it is very obvious. Even things that are not intrinsically immoral in themselves are eating away at us, like indifference and ignorance. Yet the only way to navigate out of the confusion is to be aware that Babylon does indeed exist and is having an impact on our world.

I wish to escape from Babylon, because I am a stranger here... it is not where I belong. I would rather roam through forested hills, drink from flowing streams of water, and eat freshly picked fruit from the trees. I would rather hear the birds and the creatures and get lost in Creation. I would rather sit amongst the elders and learn from them. I would rather be amongst people who love and respect one another, who praise the Most High, who look after the youths and guide them in ways that are beneficial to themselves and to the greater society. It all may seem utopian and absurd, but this is the lifestyle that allowed for people to live and progress for thousands of years. It was the way we grew up, it was the steady balance to those civilizations consumed by greed and warfare. This desire to go back to a place such as this, namely Africa, is called repatriation in Rastafari. Men like the great Marcus Garvey (who we honor tomorrow on his birthday) told his followers in the African Diaspora to return to the Motherland and escape from this Babylon society that allowed racism, segregation, and injustice and to collect together as a nation that would be able to stand against oppression and regain Africa’s glory. Some things have changed for the better, Garvey would be surprised, but other things remain the same and more dangerously some things are now merely cloaked in deception. Babylon is alive and well, poisoning every nation’s well with that deception.

Africa itself is in trouble, plagued by problems from its colonial past and by warmongers vying for power. Yet where there is hope, there is life. There are still areas of Africa where people live naturally and peacefully, even as there are other parts of the world where this happens too. Movements such as Rastafari have even made in impact in the belly of the beast, like Europe for instance, where many people are changing their attitudes on life. However, in Rastafari we also believe in repatriating mentally and spiritually if not physically. The elders believed very much that physical repatriation would free them from the problems, but in this global Babylonian society we now must consider a Zion State of Mind… becoming a stranger to the familiar and breaking down Babylon’s walls. Good will always prevail, and we can start by changing our attitudes and by freeing up our communities today.

Repatriation Is A Must!,

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Impotence Of Mankind

Earlier this summer, a bredren and I were reasoning together and we got to looking at the night sky. The stars appeared bright and gleaming and then we started to talk about what it must have been like for thousands of years with these stars as the main means of navigation and the inspiration for mathematics, science, engineering and so many other things. A learned person could look up at the heavens and tell you their location, the season, and knew the patterns of constellations. However when we looked, outside of noticing the dippers and the North Star and maybe a planet, we were both completely ignorant to these things the ancients once regarded as the most basic facts. Even simple farmers and shepherds sitting around their fires would have known the night’s display. They may have not known exactly what stars were, but the twinkling canopy that covered all the earth was studied by all of the civilizations with wonder. When did we trade in this vast knowledge and curiosity... these tools and skills? GPS navigation is available to anyone who can afford it and we can find our location in an instant via satellite whether we are in the Amazon rainforest or the vast ocean. Besides, we can barely notice the stars now with so many artificial lights overpowering the night where we live. This is but one example of something that we’ve traded in for ease and convenience. Yet, have we jeopardized the very progress of humanity for the sake of having more amenities? Has mankind become impotent?

The whole world has gone soft... overexposed and mentally obese. Humanity has become distracted by nonsense and the comforts of life, and because of it we are confounded by the basic essentials that once brought us forward throughout thousands of years of history. Understandably, technology is something that improves and the older ways of doing things become archaic and needlessly complex, but now even our attitudes have changed. Instead of searching for truths and studying things for ourselves, we click our way through Wikipedia and trust it for our answers while we forget whatever we found and its significance within a few minutes. There should be no reason to "reinvent the wheel", but now we don’t even have to spend our time learning how. Our news media is more about opinions, gossip and sensationalism instead of informing people of real issues of society and situations across the globe. People know more about a celebrity’s sex life than relief efforts in Haiti or conflict in the Congo. We trust the internet to network us with friends and lovers and we are rarely shy to expose everything to them, but we can barely socialize in a normal environment. How come you can update me on what you’re eating for a snack but you can’t greet me in the street? Everybody can post some foolish video clip on YouTube, but cannot bother to do something remotely constructive or innovative. If all that energy and time went into something intelligent we just might be all better for it. We don’t know where our food comes from, but we sure know how to eat it all. We don’t know how things are made or what resources are used to create them, but we all use them. We can’t stop an oil spill but we laugh at the notion of God. In fact, we have even lost touch with ourselves to the point where we now watch reality shows to tell us what reality is. No matter if people say that it is only entertainment, if you watch it enough you will begin to judge things based on the norms you are most exposed to... which for some is MTV and so on. We allow ourselves to be herded around like cattle, barely aware of our existence and being overfed by corporations and systems that exploit our abilities and intelligence.

I am no purist by any means. I am part of a generation that clearly has more at their fingertips than any before us. I use the internet for learning, socializing and entertainment. I rely on digital maps. I use technology in all kinds of ways, my laptop, cell phone, iPod, my blog, etc. and it is all great. There is nothing wrong with having these benefits. Yet at the same time I know that I do not possess the ability to do many other things that are considered the bedrock of civilization. The less I know, the more dependent I become, the more unsure I become, the less innovative I become. I don’t expect us all to be expert navigators or botanists, but it seems as if our drive to learn and achieve as a whole is lost. As a teacher, I see this often in our younger generation, who dismiss the work it takes to become educated and productive as a waste of their time, time that they would rather use on frivolous things. Lacking common sense and responsibility is a much bigger problem than our growing inability to do things for ourselves because we can relearn how to do certain things. If we bothered to cultivate the earth and sustain ourselves, if we could build and repair more, if we read more and studied things for ourselves more, if we truly socialized more, wondered more, created more, and had more faith in the Creator, then we will probably continue marching on for thousands of years more. If not, our impotence may eventually lead to our demise. When we lose the spirit behind our humanity, we lose ourselves… There is an African proverb that says, "a child who is carried on the back won’t know how far the journey is". Let us each get up and walk the rest of this journey on our own two feet... before Segway machines replace our ability to even take a step.

Backward Never, Forward Ever,