June 2014 – Page 3 of 5

Maya Angelou
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Chapter 40
[Malcolm X + Leaving Ghana]

Malcolm was a prompt and exciting correspondent, using the mails to inform, instruct, and encourage us. His letters were weighty with news and rich in details of his daily life. The United States was on the brink of making great changes, and the time was ripe for the Organization of Afro-American Unity. His family was wonderful and it just might be increasing. Death threats were proliferating in his post box and he changed his telephone number frequently to protect his wife from vulgar and frightening callers.
Some of his letters were plain directives:

A young painter named Tom Feelings is coming to Ghana. Do everything you can for him. I am counting on you.
The U.S. State Department is sending James Farmer to Ghana. The Ambassador will pick out special people for him to see and special places he should go. I want you all to collect him and show him around. Treat him as you treated me. I am counting on you.

There were good people working for the OAAU, full of energy and enthusiasm, but none had the organizational skills to set up and run an efficient office. What they needed was an experienced coordinator.
He didn’t mention that I had worked as Northern Coordinator for Martin Luther King’s SCLC. By omitting the reminder, he forced me to speculate upon my possible value to the organization. I went to Julian for advice. He said:
— I suspect we’ll all be home soon. Africa was here when we arrived and it’s not going anywhere. You can always come back.
Alice’s letter from Ethiopia pushed me closer to my decision. She wrote that Malcolm came through Addis, looking good but harried and still traveling without a companion.
— If he gets that OAAU in shape, he’d be sure to have people around him. Like you and Julian, I’m worried for his safety.
My Ghanaian friends said they would be sorry to see me go, but they understood that my people’s struggle came first.
I thought long and carefully before I came to a final decision.
My son convinced me, and had nearly succeeded in convincing himself, that he was a grown man. He was either doing brilliant work at the university or, when he was distracted, none at all. He was a character, in a drama of his own composition, and was living the plot as it unfolded. Even if  he forgot his lines, his mannishness wouldn’t allow him to accept prompting.
When I told him I was thinking of returning to the United States, he had smiled broadly.
— Yes, Mom. It is time for you to go back home.
His only frown came when I said I would pay up his tuition and leave him a solid bank account.
— I’m really sorry I have to take your money, Mother, but someday … someday.
Visions of future affluence danced in his eyes. The little boy and even the rambunctious teenager had strutted upon the stage and exited. This new leading man did not need a mother as supporting actress in his scene. He welcomed having the stage to himself at last.

It seemed that I had gotten all Africa had to give me. I had met people and made friends. Efua, Kwesi Brew, T. D. Bafoo and Nana had woven themselves as important strands into the fabric of my life. I had gotten to know and love the children of Africa, from Baby Joe to the clever Kojo, the bouncing Abena, the grave Ralph and the ladylike Esi Rieter. They had given me their affection and instructed me on the positive power of literally knowing one’s place.
Sheikhali had provided African romance, and Comfort’s life and her death had proved the reality of African illusion. Alice and Vicki and Julian and Ana Livia would return to the United States someday and we would stir up our cauldron of old love and old arguments, and not one whit of steam would have been lost during our separation. I had seen the African moon grow red as fire over the black hills at Aburi and listened to African priests implore God in rhythm and voices which carried me back to Calvary Baptist Church in San Francisco.

If the heart of Africa still remained allusive, my search for it had brought me closer to understanding myself and other human beings. The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. It impels mighty ambitions  and dangerous capers. We amass great fortunes at the cost of our souls, or risk our lives in drug dens from London’s Soho, to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. We shout in Baptist churches, wear yarmulkes and wigs and argue even the tiniest points in the Torah, or worship the sun and refuse to kill cows for the starving. Hoping that by doing these things, home will find us acceptable or failing that, that we will forget our awful yearning for it.

My mind was made up. I would go back to the United States as soon as possible.

Continued …

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Maya Angelou
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Chapter 34
[Berlin Volksopera plays
Jean Genet’s The Blacks]

The cable from New York City shook the blues away. It read:

“Berlin Volksopera wants original company Blacks, four days, stop. Venice Biennale, three days, stop. Ticket paid, plus salary. Can you come?”

It was signed: Sidney Bernstein. Three years earlier, I had been a member of a cast which successfully presented Jean Genet’s The Blacks scathing play in New York City. At first, I gave little thought to either the play or the other actors. I was ecstatic with the thought of separating myself from Guy and his brand new grown-up ways.
I rushed to talk to Alice, who was brimming with her own excitement. She had accepted the job in Ethiopia and had decided to stop in Egypt on her way to Addis Ababa. A conference of nonaligned countries would be meeting in Cairo. By adding a little money to my pre-paid ticket I could meet her there after I left Venice. The prospect of seeing Joe and Bahnti Williamson again was exhilarating. The Liberian couple had been brother and sister to me during my stay in Egypt. David Du Bois, the son of Shirley Graham and stepson of Dr. Du Bois, also lived in Cairo and we had been very close friends. A visit to Cairo sounded like the real answer to the malaise which had descended around me. When I learned that Julian and Ana Livia were also going to attend the Cairo conference, it was clear that I would accept Bernstein’s offer and rearrange my ticket to stop in Egypt on my return to Ghana.
I took delight from the flicker of worry which crossed Guy’s face. I had told him that I was leaving for Germany and Italy and Egypt. He recovered too soon to please me.
— Have a wonderful time, Mom. A wonderful time.
Since the Ghanaian pound could not be exchanged on the international market, I swapped my cash with a friend for his Nigerian pounds and packed my new flamboyant African clothes and my gifts of gold jewelry. I was going to meet a group of sophisticated New York actors, some of whom were my friends, and I meant to strut.
I became nervous only when I thought of the years since I had been on the stage. (Playing Mother Courage in Ghana’s National Theatre didn’t really count.) The other actors, all brilliant and ferociously ambitious, had moved around New York City’s theatres, competing with professionals and growing with each role. Their names and work had become known and lauded. I decided to spend two days in Frankfurt, boning up on the play, or those actors would run me off the stage.

Roscoe Lee Browne, 1922-2007Roscoe Lee Browne, 1922-2007

The trip on Lufthansa was a test in discomfort. The flight stewards spoke excellent English and were solicitous without being intrusive, but I kept my eyes on the script in my lap, and let my mind wander from the German accents to John Hersey’s book The Wall which had gripped me with horror in my youth. I listened to the speech of the passengers returning to their fatherland and remembered the black and white photographs of emaciated human beings rescued from Auschwitz. It was distressing. In Ghana I worked hard at forgiving those African chiefs who collaborated in the slave trade centuries before, but couldn’t find it in my heart to exonerate the stewardesses who were toddlers at the time of the Holocaust. Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.
I rehearsed in a small pension in Frankfurt until the lines came automatically to my mind and my tongue. I had learned years before that if I was to act in a play it was wise to memorize every part, even the scenes in which I did not appear. The resulting confidence would spill over into my own role.

Cicely TysonCicely Tyson

Berlin, with its cold temperature, its high-rises, wide, clean avenues and White, White people was exactly what I wanted to see and where I needed to be. I began to relax even as I was being driven from the airport to the Hilton Hotel. When I arrived at my destination I found wide, carpeted corridors, a large, well-furnished bedroom and a bathroom white as a Protestant heaven.
I thought of some Africans I had met who so loved the glories of Europe, they were too immobilized to construct a splendid African future.
This was easy to understand. Europe had ruled long, had brought to Africa a language, a religion, modern ideas of medicine, and its own pervading self-love. How could one suggest in one’s own secret heart that Whites were not gods, descending from heaven, and like gods, bringing bounty on one hand and brutality on the other? That was the way of the gods.
After a bath, I dressed in my most glorious pale lavender silk Grand Boubou, and went down to meet the cast.
Raymond St. Jacques was still so handsome he looked as if he had been sculpted, then cast in copper. Cecily Tyson was smaller than I remembered and much more glamorous. We embraced and laughed at finding ourselves, of all places, in Germany. Godfrey Cambridge had been unable to come to Berlin because he was in a Broadway show, but Lex Monson and Jay Flash Riley pulled me off the floor with their embraces, and the young Lou Gossett, one half legs and the other smiles, bounced up and down to see me. James Earl Jones and I exchanged our customary cool salutes. Years before in New York City we had worked successfully creating a distance which time had not narrowed.
— Lady! Ah, my Lady!
A sonorous voice completed the welcome I had been seeking. Roscoe Lee Browne entered the rehearsal room and I nearly shouted. He had lost none of his princely air nor elegant good looks. He laughed outright when he saw me, and he spoke to me as he spoke to all women; as if we were Fairie Queens.
We embraced and walked away from the cast and began to tell each other of our current lives. We went to a bar and ordered drinks. Roscoe had heard rumors of my recent divorce, and was genuinely sorry to find that they were founded on fact. He asked about my acceptance in Ghana, adding that he had known President Nkrumah when they had both studied at Lincoln University.

Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008

I had prepared a tale for the cast, which had Africans and Black Americans lovingly striding arm in arm up a golden staircase to an all sepia paradise inhabited with black-robed Black saints strumming on ebony harps. I had no need to lie to Roscoe, who would have seen through the fiction anyway.
— We have it good, very good, or bad. Heartbreakingly bad.
Roscoe made his face long.
— Africans find it hard to forgive us slavery, don’t they?
He took my hand and said:
— I thought you would have known that. My dear, they can’t forgive us, and even more  terrible, they can’t forgive themselves. They’re like the young here in this tragic country. They will never forgive their parents for what they did to the Jews, and they can’t forgive the Jews for surviving and being a living testament to human bestiality.
He patted my hand.
— Now, dear lady, tell me the good side—but first let me hear the story you’re going to tell everyone else.
He laughed when I said I’d spare him the part about all of the Black Americans climbing aboard a chariot and humming our way to heaven.
He said:
— Not unless they cast me as De Lawd.
It was wonderful to laugh again, and particularly sweet to laugh Black American rueful laughter in Germany.
The Blacks translated into German became Die Negers. Posters were on bold display throughout Berlin which made the cast snicker behind Black hands. Lex said:
— It’s a good thing they’re speaking German. The first American cracker that comes up to me and says ‘I saw you in de Niggers’ is going to get a nigger beating that’ll make him do a million novenas.
That was particularly funny coming from Monson who played the Catholic priest in the play, coached the actors in church liturgy and whose youth as a devoted acolyte still influenced his adult mannerisms.

Louis Gossett, Jr. raymond-st-jacques-250
Raymond St. Jacques, 1930-1990
James Earl Jones

Helen Martin, who had the role of the Black Queen and whose sharp tongue was an instrument to be avoided, said:
— I hope these Germans don’t think they’re getting away with something. We know who they are and what they’re saying. I hope I don’t have to read them the real Riot Act before it’s finished.
I listened and participated in the sardonic responses and realized again the difference between the Black American and the African. Over centuries of oppression we had developed a doctrine of resistance which included false docility and sarcasm. We also had a most un-African trait: we were nearly always ready and willing to fight. Too frequently we fought among ourselves, rendering our neighborhoods dangerous to traverse. But Whites knew that our bellicosity could disperse into other places, on jobs, in elevators, on buses, and in social gatherings.
Single White men seldom physically threatened single Black men, saying “You know they will cut you.”
An ancient joke among Blacks told of a bigot who was chided by his friends for calling all Blacks “niggers.”
— But that’s what they are, he announced.
— What do you call the minister of the venerable White Rock Baptist Church?
The bigot answered:
—  A nigger.
— And the president of the Black university?
— A nigger.
— And the award-winning scientist?
— A nigger, was the reply.
— And that Black man standing over there watching us with a knife in his hand?
— Oh, I call him, ‘Sir.’
Black American insouciance was the one missing element in  West Africa. Courtesy and form, traditional dignity, respectful dismissal and history were the apparent ropes holding their society close and nearly impenetrable. But my people had been unable to guard against intrusions of any sort, so we had developed audacious defenses which lay just under the skin. At any moment they might seep through the pores and show themselves without regard to propriety, manners or even physical safety. I had missed those thrilling attitudes, without being aware of their absence.”

Continued …

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Maya Angelou
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Chapter 31
[Malcolm X – Part 3]

The Chinese Residency was festive with lights and music on Malcolm’s last night in Ghana and our jollity matched the atmosphere. Vicki was being courted by the Chinese delegation. They offered her a trip to China and an opportunity to stay there and teach. Alice had applied for a job with the E.C.A., based in Addis Ababa, and her chances looked good.
We wore our prettiest dresses and best smiles and when we entered the large salon our hosts greeted us as if they had hardly been able to await our arrival. (After a few minutes I noticed that they greeted each new guest as generously.) Julian and Ana Livia were already there with Malcolm mingling in the crowded room. Drinks were brought on large trays and a pretty variety of foods waited on buffets.
The Cuban ambassador and his glamorous wife were talking earnestly with Malcolm when Shirley Du Bois entered. She was a medium-sized, light brown-skinned woman with large eyes, a long attractive face and the confidence of Mount Kilimanjaro. After being welcomed by those in her path, she walked immediately to Malcolm and, taking him by the arm, guided him to a corner where they sat.
The guests swirled around each other, exchanging conversational partners as if they were participants in a jamboree. After nearly an hour, Shirley and Malcolm emerged from their retreat and rejoined the party.
Shirley said loudly:
— This man is brilliant. I am taking him for my son. He must meet Kwame. They have too much in common not to meet.
On that decisive statement she took her leave. Malcolm spent a few more minutes talking with our hosts, then Julian said since Malcolm was to travel the next morning he would drive him to the Continental Hotel.
I was in a rage when I drove my housemates home.
— Are you ready for Shirley Du Bois? ‘I’m taking him for my son.’ Hell, before she wouldn’t even see him. I can’t stand that.
Alice and Vicki let me rant alone. I didn’t mind that they acted indifferent to Shirley’s belated acceptance of Malcolm, I was enjoying my anger.
We were ready for bed when the telephone rang. Alice answered it, while Vicki and I stood by nervously. No one in Accra telephoned after eleven o’clock, save to announce a crisis.
Alice hung up the phone and turned to us. She was somewhere between laughing and crying.
— Kwame Nkrumah will see Malcolm at nine o’clock in the morning. Julian is taking him to Flagstaff House.
Vicki whooped and hollered, “Success! Success!” She grabbed me, then Alice, then me again. Alice was a little stunned and I was furious.
I said:
— Shirley went straight home and called the President and told him he had to see Malcolm. She could have done that a week ago, but no.
Alice agreed, but Vicki said:
— Better late than never. You all ought to be celebrating, I say.
For me sleep was difficult difficult that night. My bed was lumpy with anger and my pillow a rock of intemperate umbrage.
The next morning we met Malcolm after his visit with President Nkrumah. The bright sunshine, the bougainvillaea and the singing birds around the hotel didn’t brighten my countenance. I claimed to be saddened by Malcolm’s pending departure, but in fact my heart was still hardened to Shirley Du Bois. Rather than inquire about the Nkrumah interview, I stood apart pouting, while Alice snapped photos and Julian put Malcolm’s luggage in the car. A convoy of limousines glided up importantly to the hotel’s porte-cochere. Small flags waved from the hoods of luxury cars, which meant that each car carried an ambassador.
Alice said there must be some diplomatic meeting, and began to pose Malcolm and Julian for a picture. As she finished, the Nigerian High Commissioner approached.
— My people, good morning. Brother Malcolm, morning. A few of us have come to accompany you to the airport.
The gesture was so unexpected that even Malcolm was speechless.
The Nigerian diplomat continued:
— The Chinese, Guinea, Yugoslav, Mali, Cuban, Algerian and Egyptian ambassadors are here. Others wanted to come but national matters detained them. We will pull up and onto the road as you will want to ride with your friends. We will follow.
Julian was the first to speak to Malcolm after the High Commissioner left us.
— Man, we ought to pay you for this visit. You’ve given this poor group of Black exiles some status. Forty-five minutes with the president and now a convoy of limousines to see you to the airport. Man! We were living here before, but after your visit we have really arrived.
We were all laughing with pleasure when we heard the familiar sounds of Black American speech. We turned around and saw Muhammad Ali coming out of the hotel with a large retinue of Black men. They were all talking and joking among themselves. One minute after we saw them, they saw Malcolm.
The moment froze, as if caught on a daguerreotype, and the next minutes moved as a slow montage. Muhammad stopped, then turned and spoke to a companion. His friends looked at him. Then they looked back at Malcolm. Malcolm also stopped, but he didn’t speak to us, nor did any of us have the presence of mind to say anything to him. Malcolm had told us that after he severed ties to the Nation of Islam, many of his former friends had become hostile.
Muhammad and his group were the first to turn away. They started walking toward a row of parked cars. Malcolm, with a rush, left us and headed toward the departing men. We followed Malcolm. He shouted:
— Brother Muhammad. Brother Muhammad.
Muhammad and his companions stopped and turned to face Malcolm.
— Brother, I still love you, and you are still the greatest. Malcolm smiled a sad little smile. Muhammad looked hard at Malcolm, and shook his head.
— You left the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. That was the wrong thing to do, Brother Malcolm.
His face and voice were also sad. Malcolm had been his supporter and hero. Disappointment and hurt lay on Muhammad’s face like dust. Abruptly, he turned and walked away. His coterie followed. After a few steps they began talking again, loudly.
Malcolm’s shoulders sagged and his face was suddenly gloomy.
— I’ve lost a lot. A lot. Almost too much.
He led us back to my car.
— I want to ride with Maya and Julian. We’ll meet at the airport.
Alice and the other friends rode with Ana Livia and three six-footers tried to be comfortable in my little Fiat. Even when we saw the diplomat’s limousines following us, the heavy mood seemed destined to stay.
Malcolm broke the silence.
— Now, Sister, what do you think of Shirley Du Bois? The question gave me a chance to articulate my anger, and I let loose. I spoke of her lack of faith, her lack of identity with Black “American struggle, her isolation from her people, her pride at sitting in the catbird seat in Ghana. Malcolm let me continue until my tirade wound down.
— Now, Sister, I thought you were smart, but I see you are very childish, dangerously immature.
He had not spoken so harshly before to anyone in Ghana—I was shocked.
— Have you considered that her husband has only been dead a few months? Have you considered that at her age she needs some time to consider that she is walking around wounded, limping for the first time in many years on one leg?
Tears were bathing my face, not for the sad picture Malcolm was drawing of Shirley, but for myself as the object of his displeasure.
Julian, from his uncomfortable seat in the back of the car, put his hand on my shoulder gently:
— Keep your eyes on the road.
Malcolm said:
— Sister, listen and listen carefully. Picture American racism as a mountain. Now slice that mountain from the top to the bottom and open it like a door. Do you see all the lines, the strata?
I could hardly see the road ahead, but I nodded.
— Those are the strata of American life and we are being attacked on each one. We need people on each level to fight our battle. Don’t be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.
His voice had become more explanatory and less accusatory.
— When you hear that the Urban League or the NAACP is giving a formal banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria, I know you won’t go, but don’t knock them. They give scholarships to poor Black children. One of those recipients might become a Julian Mayfield, or a Maya Angelou, or a Malcolm X. You understand?
I would have died rather than say I disagreed. I said:
— I will think about that.
He said:
— I can’t ask anymore. I admire all of you. Our people can be proud. Julian will tell you about my meeting with Nkrumah. I wanted to ride with you to encourage you to broaden your thinking. You are too good a woman to think small. You know we, I mean in the United States and elsewhere, are in need of hard thinkers. Serious thinkers, who are not timid. We are called upon to defend ourselves all the time. In every arena.
Malcolm had lost his harshness and seemed to be reflecting rather than addressing either me or Julian.
Julian asked him if Muhammad’s actions at the hotel came as a surprise, and Malcolm did not answer directly.
— He is young. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is his prophet and his father, I understand. Be kind to him for his sake, and mine. He has a place in my heart.
At the airport, the ambassadors and other well-wishers swooped him away. Alice had time to arrange him for one last photo and we all shook his hand and hugged him.
Julian said in a forbidding tone:
— Man, I don’t like to see you traveling alone. You know there’s a price on your head.
Malcolm smiled.
— No one can guard anyone’s life. Not even his own. Only Allah can protect. And He has let me slide so far.
He smiled for us all and then was gone.
The letdown affected our speech. There seemed to be no words to describe what we were feeling. We regarded each other with embarrassment. Malcolm’s presence had elevated us, but with his departure, we were what we had been before: a little group of Black folks, looking for a home.

Continued …

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Maya Angelou
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Chapter 30
[Malcolm X – Part 2]

Accra, August 1963. Malcolm X (center), wearing a turban and traditional robe, and holding a Koran given to him by Alhaji Isa Wali, Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana (right). Dowuona Hammond, GhanaAccra, August 1963. Elhadj Malick El-Shabbaz, formerly Malcolm X, (center), wearing a turban and traditional robe, and holding a Quran offered by Alhaji Isa Wali (1929-1967), Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana (right), while Dowuona Hammond, Ghana’s Minister of Education (left) looks on.

When Malcolm met Nana Nketsia the two men acted magnetized. I had not heard Nana speak so quietly nor seen Malcolm listen so deeply. Each man grew in the other’s presence and when I took Malcolm to his hotel, he said:
— Now I have met African royalty. A chiefs True, true. He knows his people and he loves them, and they love him.
Malcolm’s face wore a mask of wistfulness so telling I had to look away.
Lesley arranged for him to speak at Legon University, and that night the auditorium was filled with students, lecturers and some townsfolk. Since Malcolm was the guest of the young Marxist League, the organization’s representative spoke first. The young man quoted Karl Marx with such force, he seemed to have taken on his subject’s persona. The crowd became impatient, but Malcolm sat on the stage calmly listening to the speaker.
Guy had given me the honor of agreeing to sit near me. He and his Ghanaian friends were equally anxious for the Marxist to leave the podium so that Malcolm could speak, and they began to murmur. I coughed to get Guy’s attention, but he looked at me and frowned. His scowl said “Don’t reprimand me in public. Don’t embarrass me.” He was right. He was nineteen and each of us had labored with some success to create new ways to talk to each other. Nature was guiding his hands to loosen the maternal bonds, and although I felt if I was freed from the stay of motherhood, I might fly away like a feather in the wind, with trepidation, I too tried to let my child become his own man.
Finally, Lesley Lacy introduced Malcolm and immediately his oratorical skill captured the audience. The years in prison, in mosques, on street corners, at college lecterns and before television cameras had produced a charismatic speaker who could play an audience as great musicians play instruments. He spoke moderately loud, then thundered, whispered, then roared. He used the imagery of Black American Baptist preachers and the logic of university intellectuals. He spoke of America, White and Black Americans, racism, hate and the awful need to be treated as humans.
When he finished the audience rose. A group of students which included Guy, began to chant the football cheer, “Asante Kotoko.”
Malcolm quieted the crowd and asked for questions.
He met each question squarely. The audience applauded. A faculty member asked why Malcolm incited people to violence. Why did he preach violence? He answered:
— I am responding to violence. If your house is on fire and I come to warn you, why should you accuse me of setting the fire? You should thank me for my concern. Maybe you can put out the fire before it is too late.
The Africans relished Malcolm’s use of proverbs. His answers were as considered and detailed as his address had been. Then a student stood:
— Mr. Malcolm X, what I don’t understand is why you call yourself Black. You look more like a White man than a Negro.
The young man sat down and a few embarrassed titters and some disapproving groans could be heard on the dark floor.
At first Malcolm laughed. He opened his mouth wide and laughed loud and long.
— Little brother, I’ve been waiting for that question since I landed in Africa, and while many people thought it, you’re the first person who had the nerve to ask. I commend your courage. Well, let’s look at it. At home, that is, in that place where I was born, I’ve been called by Whites a yellow nigger, a light-skinned nigger, a red uppity nigger, a fair-skinned seditious nigger, but never until now have I been called a White man. I mean, Whites who should know their own have never made the mistake of overlooking my African blood. It is a strange sensation to have to explain, in Africa, the effects of slavery, and maybe the young man who asked the question is the only person who really needs an explanation, but if there are others, I suggest that you all listen carefully.
As slaves, we were the property of slave masters. Our men were worked to death, our women were raped, then worked to death, and many of our children were born looking like me. The slave master fathers denied their children, but fortunately we retained enough Africanisms to believe that the mother’s child was our child, no matter who or what the father had been.
Before I became a Muslim, when I was hustling on the streets of America, because of my color, Black people called me mariney, and Detroit Red. Some even cussed me out and called me unprintable names, but nobody tried to give me away to White folks. I was accepted. Now, my point is, if Whites who should know don’t claim me, and Blacks who should know do claim me, I think it’s clear where I belong. I am a Black man. Notice, I don’t say Black American, I don’t consider myself a democrat, a republican, or an American. I am a Black Muslim man of African heritage. Next?
Black Americans led the applause and soon the entire audience was standing, clapping and laughing its approval.
Malcolm’s time was perforated in orderly sections like postage stamps. He went to see Lesley at Legon, visited with Sarah and Bobby Lee in their home, called upon Alphaeus and Dorothy Hunton and still had energy many evenings to fill Julian’s living room with a fluency of strong language and his always unexpected humor.
We congratulated ourselves on our successes, but commiserated over our largest failure. Despite all our efforts we were not able to get Malcolm an audience with Kwame Nkrumah.
Some thought that the President’s reluctance to meet the radical Black leader stemmed from a desire to stay in America’s good graces. That idea was argued down since Nkrumah’s policies tended decidedly toward nonalignment. There were as many Russians in Ghana as Americans, and they seemed to be treated equally.
Julian tried to reach Shirley Graham Du Bois, but she was not available. Mrs. Du Bois could have arranged a meeting in seconds. She and the president were family-close. It was said that Nkrumah called her “little mother,” and that she telephoned him each night at bedtime. Ana Livia, the late Doctor Du Bois’ doctor, telephoned her and even went to the Du Bois home, but Shirley was as elusive as smoke in a high wind. I accused her of being deliberately inaccessible, but after my friends said that my paranoia had gotten out of hand again, I kept my thoughts to myself.
The Nigerian High Commissioner, Alhadji Isa Wali, invited Malcolm to lunch and a few of us tagged along. We sat in the Residency dining room, watching our leader work a subtle charm on the already enchanted diplomat.
It was clear that Malcolm had a number of integrated personae. None was contradictory to the others, but each was different. When he sat with me after a long day of interviews and meetings, he was a big brother advisor, suggesting that it was time for me to come home.
— The country needs you. Our people need you. Alice and Julian and Max Bond and Sylvia, you should all come home. You have seen Africa, bring it home and  teach our people about the homeland.
He talked of his family.
— Betty is the sweetest woman in the world, and the girls. Did I show you these pictures?
Each time I would deny that I had seen the photographs and each time he would point out and name his daughters.
In the late evenings, he was like a traveling salesman or a soldier on duty, a family man, sadly away from those he loved most.
But in the larger formal company of Black American expatriates, he told humorous stories about Whites and about himself. He entertained easily and was quick to laugh.
On stages, he spoke fiercely against oppression and for revolution.
— I am neither a fanatic nor a dreamer. I am a Black man who loves justice and loves his people.
And with the Nigerian High Commissioner, who at five feet stood fourteen inches shorter than Malcolm, he was a large attentive son, explaining himself endearingly to his small father.
— We have much work to do at home. Even as you have your work here in Africa. We are lambs in a den of wolves. We will need your help. Only with the help of Africa and Africans can we succeed in freeing ourselves. His voice was soft, his volume low, still he spoke with force.
After lunch we gathered on the veranda so that Alice could take her photographs for history. The ambassador presented Malcolm with a grand boubou, which he quickly put on. The rich robe which had fallen to the floor when worn by High Commissioner Alhadji Isa Wali came just below Malcolm’s knees. Both men laughed at the difference in size, but the ambassador said:
— Some are big, some are small, but we are all one.

Continued …

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Mallam Sanusi Lamiɗo SanusiMallam Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi, the new Emir of Kano

The ousted central bank governor and prominent government critic, Lamiɗo Sanusi, has been named as the new Emir of Kano in Nigeria.

The Emir is one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the country’s largely Muslim north.

As bank governor, Sanusi had levelled accusations of high-level fraud and was suspended.

As bank governor, Mr Sanusi had levelled accusations of high-level fraud and was suspended in February.

The previous Emir, al-Haji Ado Bayero, died after a long illness at the age of 83 on Friday.

Lamido Sanusi’s reforms

Mr Sanusi made sweeping reforms during his time as the Central Bank Governor, tackling widespread fraud in the financial sector. Recently, he alleged that corruption within Nigeria’s petroleum industry meant that the oil production did not match its revenue and so billions of dollars had gone missing.

This move did not go down well with President Goodluck Jonathan, who responded by suspending him.

Now assuming the throne in Kano, Lamiɗo Sanusi’s frosty relations with the president will be closely watched ahead of next year’s presidential elections.


After the Sultan of Sokoto, the emir of Kano is the second-highest Islamic authority in Nigeria.

The state government in Kano made the decision after four “kingmakers” had met and submitted nominees.

Those eligible had to be male members of the Ibrahim Dabo family — whose clans include the Bayeros and Sanusis.

Correspondents say Nigeria’s traditional leaders hold few constitutional powers, but are able to exert significant influence especially in the north where they are seen as custodians of both religion and tradition.

One of Mr Sanusi’s key roles will be helping tackle the mounting insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the north.

The group has accused traditional Muslim rulers of failing to enforce its strict interpretation of the Koran.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to suspend Mr Sanusi from the bank on accusations of financial recklessness and misconduct had led to concern among international investors.

Al-Haji Ado Bayero had been on the throne in the northern city since 1963.

He was the longest-serving emir in Kano’s history and sought to reduce tensions with Nigeria’s Christians.

He was also a critic of Boko Haram and survived an assassination attempt last year blamed on the Islamist group.

Tomi Oladipo
BBC News, Abuja

Yet to be crowned Emir of Kano, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, appointed on 3 June 2009 and suspended from office by President Goodluck Jonathan on 20 February 2014 after exposing a $20 billion fraud committed by the president’s associates in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).
He is the grandson Sir Muhammadu Sunusi the 11th Emir of Kano state. He is a career banker and ranking Fulani nobleman, and also serves as a respected Islamic scholar.
The global financial intelligence magazine, The Banker, published by the Financial Times, has conferred on Sanusi two awards, the global award for Central Bank Governor of the Year, as well as for Central Bank Governor of the Year for Africa.
The TIME magazine also listed Sanusi in its TIMES 100 list of most influential people of 2011.


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