My Heroes: Steve Biko and Malcolm X and the Great Africans of the 20th Century

Part 6 of the 10 things I wish I knew before I left Africa

1) Erwin Mcmanus

2) Kirk Franklin

3) Eric Wainaina

Malcolm X

I think in this, the 21st century, when we as black people can see so much negative within our community and find so much going wrong about us, we sometimes forget that the last century was almost entirely defined by our great forefathers. If you look through lists of the greatest people of the last century, there are almost always great black people such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Frantz Fanon, Patrice Lumumba, Tom Mboya, Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X.

Whereas my admiration is equally divided amongst so many of the great black people of the last 20th century, very few people have captivated my heart in the manner that Steve Biko and Malcolm X had. This is because:

1) Their Sincere Love for their Race: When I first encountered the works of these great men, it was when I was going through a stage of being really ashamed of my race. When I read Biko and his ideas of the Black Consciousness Movement, I almost cried in jubilation, ” I matter! I am special! This being black thing makes me special!” My exposure to Biko’s work is at most very superficial but all I really needed was quotes such as the one below to become a major fan:

Malcolm X

“Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time. Its essence is the realisation by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression – the blackness of their skin – and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude.”

“So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior.”

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Malcolm X was an entirely different case. In terms of Malcolm I was first exposed to his speeches (such as the Field Negroe/House Negroe speech) and by the time I watched the biopic Make it Plain, I had no doubt in my mind that though I may not have agreed with a lot of his ideas when he was in the Nation of Islam, deep in the core of his heart, he cared and existed to improve the lives of black people worldwide. That is why when he visited Africa in the middle of the century, he was given the name “Omowale”, meaning “the son returns home” in the Yoruba language.

Steve Biko

2) They Made Us Take Responsibility: Biko and Malcolm didn’t just want to make us feel special and leave us feeling good, they wanted us to take responsibility for our psychology, our education, our communities and our lives. That’s why Malcolm spoke about the African Americans separating from the rest of American society so that they could take absolute responsibility for how their communities were run.

Biko was also committed to freeing South Africa from the shackles of Apartheid, so much so that he was not only placed under house arrest but died at the hands of Apartheid’s barbaric foot soldiers.

3) They Were Men of Substance: These men always carried themselves with dignity and respect and were men who you would never be ashamed to tell your kids to look up to. With all due respect to Dr. King, he strayed from home quite a few times, and it amazes me that Malcolm, with his criminal background,never did the same. Educated, intelligent, classy brothers who had compassion in their heart and carried themselves with courage and conviction. Yup!

4) They Had COURAGE: I intend to write about this in future. In my opinion, Africa does not lack intellect or skill or even resources. One of the main thing that Africa lacks in my humble opinion is commitment and courage. Malcolm and Steve managed to effect major change over their societies at a time when freedom for black people was a myth told to children. They were both assassinated. But this wasn’t before the death threats and attempts on their lives while living in a society where police brutality was a way of life. I love the fact that courage such as theirs, especially in a day like today when we are much more free and doing much less with it, will forever remain in the history books to remind us that some people did it much tougher than we will ever have to.

Steve Biko in shackles

5) They Recorded their Ideas: If the great African thinkers of the 20th century never recorded their ideas we would never have had exposure to Black consciousness movement or Afrocentric thinking or Pan-African ideas or dives into the intellects of Garvey, Frantz Fannon, Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere. Can you imagine how much hopeless life would be for a lot of Africans if this were so.

6) They Worked Together Across National Boundaries: A Pan-African state seemed like a very probable idea in the middle of the century. This is because the Bikos, the Malcolms, the Dr. Kings, the Nkrumah’s and the Nyerere’s had all recognized our shared struggle as people of colour worldwide and agreed that it only made sense for us to come up with a solution together. Though I don’t think the possibility of a Pan-African state or Pan-African identity is dead, these guys looked like they were about to make it happen.

Malcolm X

7) They Gave Me Hope: Ultimately these guys gave a very lost teen some hope and helped restore some of the dignity that he had lost. They also excited me because through them I got the idea ingrained deeper into my head that one man’s actions can actually make a difference.

Please check out some of the work by some of these seminal thinkers and have that fire lit under your butt so you can go out there and make this world magnificent.

Be blessed and bless others,

Mwangi X

PS: I would love to know people’s thoughts on this email I received regarding Biofuels and food security. So leave a comment or get in touch with me and let me know your thoughts.

icon for podpress  Malcolm X - House Negroes and Field Negroes: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  Steve Biko interview: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  Malcolm X on Black Nationalism: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  Make it Plain (Part one) BEST DOCUMENTARY EVER ON MALCOLM X - FIND THE REST OF IT ON YOUTUBE: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  Life and Death of Steve Biko (Part one): Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


  • By Caustic Blonde, March 15, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

    Have you ever read the history of Malcom X?

    He was in the Nation of Islam. Unlike traditional Islam which rejects all forms of racism, the Nation of Islam declared that whites were the “devil by nature,” and that God was black. The Black Muslims predicted that in the near future a great war would take place in which whites would be destroyed and black people would rule the world through the benevolence of Allah, their creator. To prepare for this new order, the Nation of Islam stressed personal self-restraint, opposed the use of drugs and alcohol, and organized economic self-help enterprises that eventually included farms, food stores, restaurants, and small businesses.

    During the decade between 1955 and 1965, while most black leaders worked in the civil rights movement to integrate blacks into mainstream American life, Malcolm X preached the opposite. He maintained that Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian religious traditions on which it is based, was inherently racist. Constantly attacking mainstream civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X declared that nonviolence was the “philosophy of the fool.” In response to King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Malcolm X quipped, “While King was having a dream, the rest of us Negroes are having a nightmare.” Malcolm X believed that black people must develop their own society and ethical values, including the self-help, community-based enterprises that the Black Muslims supported. He also thought that African Americans should reject integration or cooperation with whites.

    If you view Malcom X from the surface he seemed like a decent man, he was empowering black people “to do the right thing.” But if you scatch below the surface he was a hate filled racist. You should never demean or downgrade one race in hopes that another race will prevail. Saying that Malcom X is a hero for black people is like saying the Ku Klux Klan is a hero for white people. I want to end this by saying, love who you are, but not at the expense of someone else.

  • By Mwangi, March 16, 2008 @ 12:40 am

    @Caustic: I am so glad you brought that up. The reason that I love Malcolm so much is because from studying his history, all throughout his life from entering the Nation of Islam all the way to his assassination, his heart was always filled with love for the black race.
    If you follow his history through and listen to what he was talking about after he had a falling out with the Nation of Islam, and after visiting Mecca, he spoke about how his eyes opened to how racist he was in the past and how this was contrary to Islam and his experience in Mecca where he ate and drank with whites blacks and people from all walks of life. Study the man right after he fell out with the Nation, that’s when you come to see the true character of Malcolm because even after he was betrayed by the man he loved most on this Earth – Elijah Muhamad-he went on serving the black race until he was shot.

    Hope this clarifies a few things for you.

  • By Nerimae, May 1, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

    Caustic Blonde I read only the first few lines of your response to know that you dont know the entire history of Malcolm X, lemme know if you need me to send you a copy of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X.
    Mwangi I honestly relate more with Malcolm than say Martin Luther coz Malcolm made me feel its ok to be black, intelligent, blunt, non conformist and independent thinker, I dont subscribe to the turn the other cheek theology but neither do I believe in being prejudiced. After my mum, Malcolm is my hero.
    Do you know where I can buy good Malcolm posters? Preferably the black and white ones.

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

    @Nerimae: As I said in my post, Malcolm X is hands down one of my favorite people ever. I actually relate more to Malcolm too. Malcolm actually made African people face their anger and their hurt and their self-loathing. And he did make it cool to be an intelligent, well dressed, articulate African who could blend as seamlessly in an African gathering as an Oxford University because you know you have nothing to prove.
    Whereas I feel that MLK was more of a visionary, working towards an ideal society founded on peace and love, I feel that MLK pandered way too much and was too concerned with ensuring that the community that was discriminating against him was comfortable.
    Malcolm didn’t care about comfort, he cared about getting results for black people all over the world. Anyway I can go on and on and on about what I love about Malcolm. Have you seen ‘Make it Plain’ yet?
    As for posters, check out this ebay page and tell me if you manage to get something that is to your liking:
    Malcolm X posters search results

  • By Vela, May 3, 2008 @ 7:49 am

    Hey Mwangi. Perharps if you find time you could try to discover Oliver Reginald Tambo. This man was an intellectual of unsurpassed standards, his sincerity and passion on the struggles of black Africans in South Africa supersedes his high skills of rhetoric. Mandela gets all the credit for killing the apartheid regime, but my or my was there a giant hardly ever spoken of, that held the movement tightly together at the times when it was very easy to despair. Try and find his speech to the UN on youtube, sadly he was speaking of the necessity of violence but there lies a giant. But you are on the money on Steve Biko I have often wondered how we (in South Africa) would had fared if he had lived. The youtube clip, which is also his last interview, details clearly how he saw South Africa. He says there should be no protectionists laws but South Africans should all rejoice as a people. See for instance the blogs on and there you will see the problems the South Africans are having today.

    But mine is a question perharps along the lines of Caustic Blonde. I have not looked at all the names in your list but lists of this sort tend to include the mahatma, M. K. Gandhi. Now I have no doubt of the greatness of this man as witnessed by monuments and statues put up around the world and South Africa in his honour. But in his earlier life this man had pure disdain for the africans in South Africa. He used the word Kaffir to refer to Black South Africans. Now writers and commentators and supporters of this man will make you believe that it was acceptable of other people to refer to africans as Kaffirs. Which he himself knew to be demeaning and deregotary. Yet it was not. My grandfather, who was a young boy around the 1900’s in Durban South African, hated throughout his life to be referred to in this way. As a subject of the British umpire Gandhi saw it necessary that he fight against the natives in what we call Bambatha uprisings. Now we can turn this ever which way but the fact of the matter here is he clearly displayed double standards.

    Now my question am I unfair in judging Gandhi as racist, considering that he “might” have changed his thinking towards the black South Africans with time. There is no evidence that he did, as opposed to Malcolm X who obvious saw the crookedness of his way after his visit to the holy lands. There is no known evidence that Gandhi attempted to correct his earlier writings and speeches. If you wonder why I bring this up maybe you should checkout Durban riots of January 1949. There is no clear link between the Gandhi and these but my grandfather would tell me that it was not completely unknown that an Indian person might belt an African if he or she wishes to make a point and hence the riots.

    Am I being prejudiced?

  • By Vela, May 3, 2008 @ 7:55 am

    “Now writers and commentators and supporters of this man will make you believe that it was acceptable of other people to refer to africans as Kaffirs. Which he himself knew to be demeaning and deregotary. Yet it was not.”

    I meant it was not ordinary to have black people called Kaffirs, this word is parallel to the N-word in the US.

    My poor sentence construction might be misleading.

  • By Mwangi, May 3, 2008 @ 8:09 am

    @Vela: Thank you for this nice long blessing of a comment. I know the name Oliver Tambo (is it Thambo or Tambo) is somewhere in my consciousness but only marginally, so please if you have any articles or links that you can refer to me, I would love to learn more about the man and perhaps even profile him and his work.
    No Ghandi was not on the list; I learned about Ghandi’s racism sometime earlier this year and that definitely put the man into an entirely different light in my eyes. No doubt the man is racist and looked down on us, according to the record.
    My 0.02: I don’t think that should stop us from learning from him, as he was an absolute genius but we shouldn’t necessarily put him on our pedestals either.
    I have never understood why a lot of Indians look down on African people. You would think with our shared history of oppression we would be nothing but brothers and friends but significant numbers of people from the sub-continent obviously don’t see us that way.

  • By who me, May 12, 2008 @ 6:32 am

    I love this article and even more so the comments that followed. It gives a really good insight into revolutionary activists. You get to see how easy it – not mentioning that it’s the norm, in the Hollywood movie age – to debase people to one fairytale nature. When everyone knows that we as humans have several characters. Some admirable others not so. If you only mention the good and white wash the rest, you don’t give a realistic picture. This may cause you to lose an otherwise better understanding of people.
    Maybe you’d like to do an article on the English language and how it describes all things evil as black. While all divine aspects are considered white. Is it the same in other cultures -i.e: languages.

  • By Mwangi, May 12, 2008 @ 6:53 am

    @who me: I agree that the media does have that habit of breaking people down into these faitytale caricatures e.g. Dr. King is a man who marched while stones were thrown at him until he made the “I have a dream”m speech and united all of America across racial lines. It takes a decision to investigate and understand to go deeper than that into the character of the man, his failings, his triumphs and his anxieties.
    Interestingly enough, I no longer believe that in this day and age, black is synonymous with evil or white with goodness. With the proliferation of the African American faces on television and music, being African and being “black” in nature or character has become quite cool and quite desirable. Though, unfortunately, it isn’t always for the right reasons (cue 50 Cent) I think we can safely say that to a large extent the belief that all black things = bad, all white things = good is gone. How else can you explain Obama ?

  • By JMCSwan, September 18, 2008 @ 1:59 am

    Food for Thought: What is Black Consciousness?

    “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
    Malcolm X

    “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
    Steve Biko, Speech in Cape Town, 1971

    “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”
    Malcolm X

    “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”
    Frederick Douglass

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”
    Frederick Douglass

    “I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.”
    Frederick Douglass

    “I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
    Harriet Tubman

    AIDS is a black depopulation virus
    US Ambassador Cameron Hume, 18 Oct 2002

    No Fucking Comment…Fuck You!
    Patricia de Lille, MP — response to Amb. Hume

    SA’s HIV Population is 5.6 million. But it could be 7.6 million. Half a million new infections are projected for this year. Around 370,000 Aids related deaths will occur in 2008, that’s 1014 people (a large high school) wiped out each day.
    Nick van der Leek, NVDL

    “Aids does not exist”
    Thabo Mbeki

    ‘A shower can prevent you getting AIDS.’
    Jacob Zuma

    “The Negro revolution is controlled by foxy white liberals, by the Government itself.”
    Malcolm X

    by Lara Johnstone

  • By Mwangi, September 18, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    @JMC Swan: I appreciate your leaving all these quotes. I would have loved to have heard from you and heard some of your thoughts….:) Welcome to tDA

  • By Vela, September 19, 2008 @ 3:19 am

    Mwangi, I had promised to find material on uBaba Oliver Reginal Tambo (ORT). I have to admit my failure. I suppose part of the reason is because he lead the ANC during the time it was considered a”terrorist” organisation, and hence information on him was suppressed. I saw a short clip on youtube of ORT adressing the UN, and that was it. His rhetoric skills have been likened to Obama’s (speech on race), particularly the art of not looking down to the audience.

    It is very sad that JMCSwan’s qoutes from the present day South African politicians actually look like lines from a (stupid-Kramer-like) stand-up comedian. I believe that it is ORT’s legacy that these politicians are destroying contrary to the popular belief that it is Mandela’s. Right up there is a line, and maybe JMCSwan can help us find the rightful owner, “I did not struggle to be poor”. That in my mind surmises everything.

    Also remembering that had Nobel Prizes been offered posthumously Steve Biko will have been South Africa’s first politician to get the award in 1978. So I dare say it also is Steve’s legacy that’s being destroyed.

    Sorry for being long Mwangi. I’m still looking for supporting material on ORT.

    I wonder if we could then assume that JMCSwan believes like Douglas in the Republican party?

  • By JMCSwan, September 19, 2008 @ 4:34 am

    [Sent by email, for others, if interested]

    Hi Mwangi,

    Pleasure for the quotes: So, if you seriously wanted to hear some of my thoughts on black consciousness issues; here’s an article I wrote on the issue — and unfortunately some black Nigerian ladies got so upset with me — I was banned from the BLACK LOOKS website.

    I imagine you being more Malcolm X Biko minded — in the real sense, as opposed to the groupies — may find it interesting; I certainly don’t expect total agreement.

    Anyway, let me know, what your thoughts are:

    Here is where you can find it: The toxic passive aggressive sycophantic hypocrisy of black (on black) racism by liberal progressive ‘Africanist community organizer’ black activists.

    And feel free to be as candid as you wish… I prefer honest opinions, especially if contrary; helps to get to the roots of the issues… not this political correctness that smothers real conversation.

    Kind Regards


  • By JMCSwan, September 19, 2008 @ 4:45 am


    I don’t ‘believe’ in any Political Party, I do support various principles of various political parties; but I don’t ‘believe’ in any of them.

    For as long as human nature worships power, and rewards the abuse of power, and considers power as the ultimate forms of success, and rewards subjugation; and people continue to breed in surplus of our ecological resources; and accordingly those in power consider the need to manage the ’surplus eaters/oxygen thieves’ by ways of lies, deceipt and propaganda; and ‘the people’ are so brainwashed, into consumerism and materialism, and so easily manipulated (for example after 9/11) to believe a towel head (my token of endearment for my ‘friend’ Osama) in a cave in Afghanistan, could overthrow the largest military establishment on the planet, with over 17 different intelligence agencies, and a multi-billion dollar budget, with 19 guys with boxcutters; then you have to be immensely stupid and brainwashed.

    So, while this state of affairs continues — and there ain’t much reason to imagine it ain’t going to — it is my opinion, that Frederick Douglass is indeed correct; that TPTB, will not give up any inch of power, without a fight.

    So, in that sense, I much prefer a Republican Party who are bluntly honest about this reality — thereby enabling more people to wake up to these realities (sort of like being slapped in the face); than the liberals, who are very good at hiding their greed for power, and abuse of it; and whom manage to brainwash many with their BS.

    The Republican Party (and I suspect there are some in the Republican Party who are doing this intentionally) has done more to wake ‘the people’ up, than many activists have; in fact, they are kind of like a gift of reality, that just keeps on giving….

    Harriet Tubman would say they are enabling more people to wake up to the reality that they are slaves…. Sort of like the house negro’s and the field negro’s — the house negro’s practiced their very own form of ‘we are superior’ BS against the field negro’s…

  • By Vela, September 19, 2008 @ 6:11 am

    Hi JMCSwan,

    I went to Worm Sosiety hoping to peruse and come back and write a rapid response. Unfortunately i cannot. I found the amount of information on that webpage mind-bogging. I’ll find time and educate myself even more. Some of the things I have only just thought about never dared mention. Like why the hell are “my own siblings” procreating like they are millionaires.

    But I digress. Infact, I had intended to ask you about “bailouts”, because to me they do not seem to fall within a non-interventionist administration yet a conservationist Republican government is dishing them left right and centre. What’s up with that? But then again I notice you wrote an open letter to the JSE and others on that subject. So I will try to read that letter.

    In short I’m afraid I agree with most of your beliefs, excerpt my only fear is the Von Mises solution does not acknowledge slavery, colonialism and the like and hence it says nothing about moving from point of onset of freedom to a point where we all compete equitably. And hence you get problems like Alexander in Johannesburg, New Orleans in the US and the like. People expecting a government to do for them, versus a government that is in all likelihood conservative in fiscal policy but wants to be elected by the poor and hence talks like they care. Don’t get me wrong I am not a restitutions advocate but let us be real, the ground is uneven.

    But I will read that webpage even more. Serious stuff. Sorry Mwangi for hi-jacking your platform.

  • By JMCSwan, September 19, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    Hi Vela,

    1. If the information is useful, it serves a purpose. I am one of those people who think you can’t solve a problem without going to the real nitty gritty..

    2. With me you can think and mention anything!! ;-)

    “Some of the things I have only just thought about never dared mention. Like why the hell are “my own siblings” procreating like they are millionaires.”

    Generally, it is as a result of either cultural indoctrination from a time period when that was useful, or it is as a result of religious, corporate or national slave and cannon fodder breeding indoctrination and brainwashing.

    This is one of the issues I really resent Nelson Mandela’s hypocrisy on. During apartheid he told black women to breed as many black children as possible…. He has never withdrawn that statement, to encourage them otherwise since 1994, and don’t think I haven’t asked.

    About bailouts: The current Republican party is not really conservative Republican, they are corporate welfare socialists. But I think they know the Financial Titanic is sinking, it’s just a matter of pushing a little when it needs a push, and when it may be crashing too quickly slowing; that is what I imagine is being done, from observation; but don’t quote me on it.

    But allot of it is also elite politics, who’s blackmailing who, who is buddies with who, who is in whose secret society, and that kind of thing.

    The one person in the Republican Party who is seriously conservative Republican, is Ron Paul (R-TX).

    The JSE, NYSE — all of them are a bunch of CROOKS and LIARS. They are HIghway Robbers, which is essentially what my letter says to them. The gambling halls in Las Vegas run by the Mafia are more efficiently and fairly regulated, than the JSE. I wouldn’t invest a penny in the JSE, if you put a gun to my head. Unless you are a member of the elite, and ‘in the know’ you are being brainwashed, and are a rat following the Pied Piper of Hamlin, to drown in the misery they have waiting for you.

    I have no idea what the Von MIses solution is. Sorry. I certainly acknowledge slavery, colonialism and the like, and competing equitably is what I am all about. But if there are only 3 billion of us competing for the same pie, as 6 billion, in the latter case, the competition is going to be much, much more ruthless… ;-) See my point? The less of us are, and not from abortion, and wars, etc, but from intentional loving procreation, where no child is conceived, who is not wanted……… hmmmm ;-)

    Alexandria in Johannesburg is simply a 20th century version of the concentration camps that the Jews lived in in Poland, just more ‘liberal’. It’s a ‘population policy’ solution… and with a goverment on the handout from JSE corporations…. the more poor, the more they can reduce wages, and enforce their conformity police to thoughts and opinions, at work.

    In my opinion, and from my experience, the politicians don’t care — they care about being elected, and to get elected they will say whatever the hell they think you want to hear. Don’t you know that statement from Hunt for Red October “I am a politician; if I’m not kissing babies, I’m stealing their lollipops.”

    I entirely agree the ground is uneven…

    We shall talk more, as time passes. Interesting thoughts.

  • By JMCSwan, September 19, 2008 @ 10:32 am

    In the context of Steve and Malcolm, and these issues;

    I wrote a short little blurb, “In God’s Name”: Profitting from Religious Disaster ($lave & Cannon Fodder Breeding); OR “Bringing Hope to Diepsloot”?, about the churchs ‘bringing Jesus’ to the poor in Diepfontein…

    If that interests anyone…. follow the link…


  • By Vela, September 20, 2008 @ 6:53 am

    Hi Lara,

    This has to be one of the worst roundabout ways of asking a simple question ever. But I have my reputation as witnessed in one of Mwangi’s responses to my reply.

    Here I go. I think it is not entirely true to say this post is about black consciousness. I think what Mwangi is doing here is very noble, he points out leaders he thinks made a difference to him and people in general. In so doing he is not afraid to point out those he feels underperformed, in most instances going against popular belief and doctrine (as taught to us by the new present day teacher – the media). I therefore say he (Mwangi) is also noble because he attempts to find his way through all the jungle of hype and defends his beliefs very well.

    The same is not true of me. A ‘drunk’ (I use this word merely to point how obvious this decision was, yet I missed it – not a true characterization of the person referred to here, even though he (the drunk) does prefer his brews over anything else) at a ’shebeen’ in Durban showed clearly why a Mandela presidency will be wrong for S. A. But I was so excited, with all the hype and freedom, it only is now that I realize the dangers of an “apologetic” administration in S. A. As you clearly point out in Ryland Fisher’s post on thoughtleader’s blog, two people of different races can have an argument without either being branded racist. So instead of looking for real reconcialition, which in my mind will involve, to steal from your logic, getting to the root causes and reasons of “why apartheid”, we got a president that tried to appease everybody. Promising stability to big business and free education, and free healthcare to the masses and delivering, well that is a subject for debate…but I will not be suprised if there was a study that showed South Africa’s education and system to be among the worst in the world. So it’s free alright but worthless. But the hype created around Mandela will make you believe that life in S. A, is better than anywhere else….Don’t get me wrong, Mandela has done a lot of good and I really do mean a lot, I just don’t believe he quite deserves the grade he gets accorded by everybody.

    To understand what I’m trying to say here, in so far as education is concerned, take “Walter Mokeana” and “Robert Marawa”, therein is the difference between public and private education in SA. I don’t have to know Walter went to school under a tree and Marawa went, probably to Hilton if not Michaelmas. (I so miss soccer, that’s the only disadvantage of being in the US.) Of course I am overly simplifying here (because of space), but after 15 years I really believe the country is worse than where it started. And also I don’t believe in public education and public health, so anybody who promises these has to be liar, but I do believe the ground has to be even.

    Now what I believe Mwangi is doing here is to point out leaders, and I agree with his list excerpt my list will have included the likes of Frantz Fanon, Aimie Cesaire, Goerge Orwell (whatever his real name was) and of course ORT and a few others. I believe ORT was a genuis, and a giant beyond measure and he might have been ruthless (at least from the one-sided opinion of the askari’s) but he was leading the struggle in the most unfortunate of times, so ruthlessness had it’s merits

    Let me just cut to the chase. I do not believe there is grounds of comparing McVeigh to Mandela, anywhere. So help me here and enlighten me.

  • By Mwangi - the Displaced African, September 21, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

    @Vela: Thanks for the kind words. Don’t worry about the inability to send the docs on ORT. I am sure once you have them, you’ll be able to send them through.

  • By JMCSwan, September 21, 2008 @ 9:01 pm


    I wrote a long response on black consciousness, and your thoughts on the McVeigh/Mandela issue; but don’t know if it has gone through — will wait and see; I’ll come and write it again.


  • By JMCSwan, September 21, 2008 @ 9:12 pm


    Appears it did not.

    Well, took me over an hour to write the previous lost one, so gonna make this short.

    ‘Black consciousness’: black being the adverb to ‘consciousness’, as the active verb, in my opinion black consciousness would be an awareness of the large ‘blackness’ in consciousness by so many to ‘consciousness’.

    Most people think that their ‘thoughts’ are ‘consciousness’. What do they know about the experiences of thier minds? The experiences of their ‘thoughts’? They think ‘who’ they are is their mind. Their mind is the decider of their identity; not their conscious aware being.

    As for your views on Mandela: Agreed, he did allot of good long time ago; now he is a hopeless pathetic fool. Not to mention his gutless coward silence as a ‘black leader’ about the mass murder genocide by biological warfare of millions of his ‘black people’. Pathetic two-faced gutless coward hypocrit, he has become.

    My comparison of McVeigh to Mandela, was the Mandela of the 60’s, of the Treason trial, of the man who had a bit of backbone.

    McVeigh in his own right — as a modern day John Brown, and the OKC bombing, as his Harpers Ferry.

    Unfortunately, unlike the slaves in John Brown’s days, many of whom knew they were slaves, the slaves in our current day and age, think they are ‘free’ because politicians talk about ‘freedom’. So, there were very, very few, to join McVeigh in his slave revolution against the current slavery institution — massive fascist corporate goverments. In fact, most of the slaves, for whose freedom he fought for — denounced him for fighting against the slave masters, for their freedom, and supported the goverment’s attempts to have him executed (or to executive McVeigh, if you don’t believe that he was not executed, and that his execution was faked).

    That’s my opinion, anyway…

  • By JMCSwan, September 21, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

    Vela (May 3rd, 2008 at 7:55 am)

    “Now writers and commentators and supporters of this man will make you believe that it was acceptable of other people to refer to africans as Kaffirs. Which he himself knew to be demeaning and deregotary. Yet it was not.”

    There are more than one interpretation and definition for the word ‘kaffir’. In my opinion, it depends ENTIRELY ON THE INTENTION OF THE PERSON USING THE TERM, whether it is demeaning, derogatory, insulting or racist.

    Agreed, the intention can not be any of the above, but the person on the receiving side, can consider the use thereof demeaning, derogatory, insulting or racist; and strangely, only at this point of the conversation, — if we consider the conversation in terms of INTENTION — will the conversation be imbued with racism, even if the words the person uses to respond to the original assumption of racism, are not in themselves ‘racist’, or derogatory, etc.

    For example, a KAFIR, is a very complimentary word in AFGHANISTAN, referring to a warrior like tribe, who speak a language that very little is known of.

    For me the use of KAFIR could be an extremely complimentary term; BUT OFTEN IF I USE IT, the person who has been complimented, doesn’t have the ‘BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS’ to know they have been complimented; because they are UNCONSCIOUS….

    As for using the term KAFFIR, when I consider someone — white or black — to be behaving like a monumental stupid moron, then I think the term is appropriate, and as a matter of honour, I don’t say it behind their backs, but to their face. And provide my reasons for my opinion.

    Also N word in America is in the ghetto, not an insult, but more like ‘brother’. When blacks in the ghetto called me nigger, I considered it a compliment; unless I could 100% conclude their intentions were malicious, and then I’d attempt to find out what I had done, for them to conclude as they did.

    Just my perspective.

  • By Mwangi - the Displaced African, September 22, 2008 @ 1:26 am

    @JMC Swan: Are you talking about, Timothy McVeigh, the OKC Bomber? If so, then that is definitely waaayyy out of the scope of this blog? I know almost nothing about the man or his actions and probably wouldn’t want to know, simply because regardless of his ideology it probably won’t have much effect on whether an African family has a meal…….

  • By Vela, September 22, 2008 @ 5:14 am

    Hi Lara,

    On Gandi/Kaffirs issue I have a little assignment for you. Go to the collected works of the Mahatma and search for the word. What you should find is that even though he used it himself to refer to the natives he objected to it’s use when directed to him (by a member of parliament (or of the Jo’burg city council)). Infact, he there, makes it clear that he found the use of the word demeaning. But my objection with the sanctification of the man in the South African context goes beyond that.

    The man clearly fought for the Indians, against the oppressors, but there also is clear evidence that he oppressed the natives. He fought against “The Kafir Market at Queen street” vehemently, in so doing ensuring that blacks remain consumers, and never become traders. A niche area he wanted to be taken by Indians. No wonder that in Durban City today there are Indian and white shops and black people are still reduced to consumers. And when commentators like Mbongeni Ngema attempt to start dialogue and establish an understanding, guess who jumps in and silence him and brand Ngema a racist. Funny ain’t it.

    Thanks for your lecture on the use of the word. But i don’t buy into the Irvin Khoza hype, Kaffir is not used in the townships not in any form.

  • By Vela, September 22, 2008 @ 6:03 am

    Hi Lara,

    On the Mandela/McVeigh issue. I brought this up and I agree it is not relevant to this blog where the intent is to highlight “Leaders” who could have improved “the African’s” life. Just that when I saw your name, I thought I remembered a Lara who wrote for the WSJ. You see,I am a scientist who has been thinking about journalism lately. But when I googled Lara it came up with letters to McVeigh leading me back to the Worm Sosiety website. But I still haven’t been able to ascertain whether the two Lara’s are the same. Help?

    Now I agree it is your opinion, but to me it still seems McVeigh took the easiest route out. He had all the options. he could engage the politicians, he could write to his congressman. As an example in fighting for his release you attempted to go to Washington, there is no record of trials and attempts of getting the President’s ear in whatever his grievances were. I usually try to keep an open mind about who i brand racist, terrorist and so on. From time to time some die and become matyrs and transcend the terrorist stigma. Unfortunately I don’t see how McVeigh could ever be seen (by myself) in a different light. Take Bill Ayers. I agree I don’t know what the beef of the weather underground was. But to me it seems Bill has decided to become part of the solution, getting involved in community organisation thereby getting the community directly involved in finding solutions to the problems that bother them.

    Now why I feel the comparison of Mandela to McVeigh is unfair is not only because McVeigh had all the options and Mandela did not. It had been clear to them (the ANC) that whatever they do the regime had no intention of talking or ever listening to them and even engaging them. Infact the only answer the regime had for them was gunpower and branding them communists. The regime used the same trick to kill Steve Biko, a man of peace, a man who would have been awarded Nobel Peace Prize had he lived just a little longer. Again I am oversimplifying, but you get the gist of the basis for my comparison.

    But maybe this issue we will take up in the worm society from now on.

  • By Vela, September 22, 2008 @ 6:12 am

    Hi Lara,

    Black Consciousness. I hear you and thank you.


  • By JMCSwan, September 22, 2008 @ 6:16 am

    Mwangi (September 22nd, 2008 at 1:26 am)

    Your comments about McVeigh are probably the dumbest things I have heard you ever say. Saying you don’t know something about someone is one thing; but following that statement where you have already stated YOUR IGNORANCE with a statement that YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW — IE YOU WANT TO REMAIN IGNORANT, classifies your CRITICAL THINKING CAPABILITIES AS BRAINDEAD…

    You probably don’t know much about John Brown either — and if NOT — Malcolm X would probably be directing his statement of



    There ain’t much more stupid than a black man who doesn’t know much about BLACK HISTORY…. and SAYS HE DOESN’T WANT TO KNOW…


  • By Mwangi, September 22, 2008 @ 6:21 am

    @Lara: Well you clearly didn’t come to make friends, LOL! Once upon a time I was completely obsessed with absorbing as much information as I could on as many important topic areas so that at every moment in time I was mentally prepared and knowledgeable on everything.

    Now my approach is quite simple, I focus on a problem and while I try to become a part of the actual, physical solution to the problem, I read up on it, study it, immerse myself in it, listen to experts etc etc and try to close my mind off to all other information that may inhibit my ability to focus on that problem.

    My problem is what I talk about on this blog, helping my fellow African immigrants and the various journeys and odysseys therein. I am glad I have the grounding I received in studying the works of various black consciousness, civil rights, Afrocentric thinkers and watching documentaries etc etc but at the moment it is not my focus.

    So, I will just make you aware that I am probably not the best person to discuss these issues with if you want to go into depth because I am not currently a student of that work.

    On a final note, don’t come to my home and disrespect and insult me, it’s not a good look and I don’t appreciate that.

  • By peetee, May 7, 2009 @ 10:40 pm

    Hi Mwangi,

    Here’s an audio recording of Oliver Tambo (introduction by H. Belafonte). What a beautiful voice, literally and figuratively.

  • By Mwangi, May 8, 2009 @ 4:59 am

    @peetee: Thanks for that :)

  • By Vela, May 9, 2009 @ 1:47 am

    Thanks Peetee. This is worth a watch. I wonder what he would have thought of the recent divisions in the ANC.


  • By One Black African, November 3, 2009 @ 9:32 am

    to Caustic Blonde…

    I am an African in American. Malcolm X was not a racist, but one thing I will say before I start me reponse. Malcolm Xs father was killed by white men, four of Malcolm Xs uncle were kill white men, yet Malcolm X never killed on white person.

    Malcolm X was actually quite right and years later we see intergration has failed African Americans. The Civil Rights leaders on the 1960s were more concerned with how white people felt than the own needs of their people, thats why African Americans in 2009, still have no acheived racial justice or economic justice for slavery and jim crow. White people fled the urban areas when intergregation begin and took control over black businesss, black schools and other things the black community could call their own. Thats why today African Americans have lost all the gains they have made economically in 1954, today we have the highest unemployment, high incarceration rate, we are underpresented in everything. I believe in Jesus Christ, but American Chrisity was rooted in a false doctrine was filled with racism, used to make Africans feel inferior to white people. Malcolm X told the truth, and the NOI told the truth, in that period, how many innocent blacks were getting bombed and killed.

    I find it funny that caustic blonde would call Malcolm X a racist for reacting like any human being would when their race is getting exterminated by whites. White American had segregated black people in the ghettos not Malcolm X, it was white people who had Hire White Only Signs in the south not Malcolm X, the American Government was the racist, Malcolm X reacted to it, and he told the truth, and the truths MalCOlm X spoke then, is true now. You want to talk about racist look at the slave owning authors of the American constitution…

    I find it funny how white people insult your intelligence, calling our great leader Malcolm X a racist because he told the truth and didnt want us to be docile slaves for white society. Africans in America are in 2009 largely segregated from white society, dependant on whites for jobs and thats how racist like blonde want it. Afrians must realize the freedom we want will upset white people, and I say so be it, because they damn sure arent losing sleep over insulting and being racist toward us.

    Saying that Malcom X is a hero for black people is like saying the Ku Klux Klan is a hero for white people. I want to end this by saying, love who you are, but not at the expense of someone else.

    Ku Klux Klan killed Malcolm X father, how many white men did Malcolm X kill???

    The NOI came about as a reaction to white racism, and the stuff they taught and said asa a whole was the truth, I dont agree with their religion but why do white racist make uneven comparisons….

    Ku Klux Klan killed black babies, women and innocent ment…. and the NOI is racist for calling those actions devil… Seem like a black person is racist if they want to defend themsleves against white racism, in that case you can call me a racist 10 fold

  • By One Black African, November 3, 2009 @ 9:40 am


    I want to challenge your accertion that Malcolm X was a racist when he was in the NOI, or that the NOI is racist.
    Racism is a power relationship between groups based upon color. It is a group concept and occurs when one group has so much power that it can force another group to do what it wants. Its purpose is the uneven and unfair distribution of power, privilege, land and wealth to Whites.

    That is my definition of Racism. I am trying to figure out how Malcolm X even when he was in the NOI was racist, and I want some examples of him controlling whites, stopping whites from getting jobs, killing whites, passing legislation in which put whites in aparthied…

    Malcolm X was never an racist, even when he was in the NOI, I think you should study all his work and put it in context with reality.. Sometimes the truth hurt, we African must drop our inferioir complex just because a white person bark at you. What she said was racist and was done to control your thinking, the last thing white people want is for Africans to unite around the ideas of Malcolm X, Thomas Sankara, Robert mugabe, and begin to get justice and equality……

    Google: Thomas Sankara

    Whites are very tricky and use alot of tricks to keep their power and wealth. I find it funny when I see a black man apologizing for Malcolm X to some white racist, if a white person think Malcolm X is racist, who cares, let her think, Malcolm X was our brother, not hers.

  • By admin, December 24, 2009 @ 11:03 pm

    @OBA: I agree with you 110% on your definition of racism..the power dynamic must exist and be enforced by one group at the expense of the other for racism to take place. I didn’t arrive at that definition until long after writing the article.

    I think now the term I would use is NOI was intolerant whereas the society was definitely racist.

  • By blacklove, February 1, 2010 @ 3:21 am

    I just wanna say a few words about some of the things i read today. First of all i love malcolm and would never consider him racist. He is one of the many black men that look up to aspire to be like. Patrice Lumumba, MLK, Nelson Mandela. I also admire Queen Ann NZINGHA for her rebellion against Portugese slave traders.I just wanna give thanks to the moderator of this website. I am an african man who’s family has been on theses shores for at least two hundred years, and i am excited to see a newly arrived african man who sees us as brothers and has not bought into the stereotypes that hollywood and the nightly news would have the whole world recognize as our behaviour. Just as i have not bought into stereotypes of my beautiful brothers and sisters from my motherland.I know as it seems you do to, that in order for us to change our situation we have to change the way we deal with one another. The great men and women who’ve come before us knew this and so did their enemies. Let’s unite

  • By admin, February 21, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    @blacklove: Thanks for stopping by and leaving such an awesome comment.

  • By One White Male, February 23, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

    Wow. What an insightful post/site/comments. From one white male that has always hoped/tried to be an ally: thank you!
    I have great respect for both Malcolm X and MLK. Despite apparent shortcomings in each, they were both giants among men and were each indispensible to the fundamental changes that took place in the civil rights movement. I find it sad that so often people try to set them up as being somehow diametrically opposed to one another. Obviously there were differences (many of them rather significant), but we often hear people treating the two as if you have to completely disregard one in order to hold up the other. I believe this is a false choice.

    I also agree that Gandhi, while not perfect, was a genius to be learned from (even geniuses sometimes have skeletons in the closet).

    But Biko seems to stand out to me. He was able to express thoughts about privilege and inequity in such a way that spoke to both black and white, powerful and powerless. He was both a visionary and a man of action. He taught us all (black and white, and brown, and red, etc) not only the inherent beauty and goodness of being Black, but also, and perhaps even more significantly, of being human.

    Again, thanks for all this wonderful food for thought.

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