Category Archives: Ma’at and Ethics

Issues of ethics in the context of the ancient African moral code of Ma’at.

More Killing and More Dying in Black and Blue

BLM asks Stop Killing Us 3For many, the issue of police brutality and the social upheaval it brings was brought home with the killing of Michael Brown two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri, and the cell phone video-inspired emergence of a nationwide protest movement centered on police violence and abuse against Black people and other people of color.  Just before that, of course, was the killing of Trayvon Martin by police-wannabe George Zimmerman and the rise of Black Lives Matter as protests started spreading across the nation.  Some of us remember Abner Louima (1997), Amadou Diallo (1999) and Sean Bell (2006) in New York City, and Oscar Grant in Oakland and Adolph Grimes in New Orleans, both on New Year’s Day 2009.  For others, it was the 1991 beating of motorist Rodney King, the first time many of us ever saw videographic evidence of police brutality, and the 1992 Los Angeles “Rebellion” (or “riots”, depending on your perspective) that followed.  Those with more of a sense of history will recall the August 28, 1955 lynching of Emmett Till by an angry mob of White vigilantes, or the bombing of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, both under the direction of White hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan but clearly with the acquiescence of local law enforcement.  And those who want to go “all the way back” will point out the fact that the earliest municipal police departments were often commissioned to pursue runaway slaves in enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, a pursuit reminiscent of the slave catchers that kidnapped our Ancestors from Afrika in the first place.  Despite the recent killings of Martin, Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Tyrone West, Freddie Gray and so many other, lesser-known victims of police brutality over the last two years, the annual fireworks spectacle on July 4th seemed to provide a chance for many of us to marvel at the rockets’ red glare, revel in the belief in (or the illusion of) “one nation indivisible” and go back to sleep for a while.

But one day after Americans engaged in their often food-stuffed and drink-soaked Alton Sterling 1celebration of the independence of the United States, Alton Sterling (June 14, 1979 – July 5, 2016), known locally as “CD Man”, was shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as he was selling compact disks outside a convenience store.  This account of the events of that day comes from Wikipedia(

The owner of the store where the shooting occurred, Abdullah Muflahi, said that Sterling had started carrying a gun a few days prior to the event, because other CD vendors had been robbed recently. Muflahi also said that Sterling was “not the one causing trouble” during the situation that led to the police being called.

The police officers involved in the shooting were Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni. Lake had three years of law enforcement experience which included a previous shooting of an African-American male for which he was placed on department-mandated leave; Salamoni had four years of experience.[8] Salamoni and Lake had both been previously investigated, and cleared for use of excessive force.

At 12:35 p.m., at 2112 North Foster Drive, in the parking lot of Triple S Food Mart, Sterling was detained by Baton Rouge Police Department officers after an anonymous caller reported that a man believed to be Sterling was threatening him and waving or brandishing a handgun while in the process of selling CDs. Sterling was tasered by the officers, then the officer grabbed Sterling, who was of heavy build, and tackled him to the hood of a silver sedan and then to the ground. Sterling was pinned to the ground by both officers, with one kneeling on his chest and the other on his thigh, both attempting to control his arms.

One officer exclaimed, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” One of the officers yelled, “If you f##king move, I swear to God!” Then Salamoni was heard on the video saying, “Lake, he’s going for the gun!” One of the officers aimed his gun at Sterling’s body, then three gunshots are heard, and then the camera pans away; just before the camera pans back, three more gunshots are heard. The police officer sitting on Sterling’s chest is out of the picture, and the officer who drew the gun is about a meter away with his gun trained on Sterling, who has a clear gunshot wound in his chest. According to witness Abdullah Muflahi, the officers then retrieved a firearm from Sterling’s pocket. The officers then radioed for Emergency Medical Services.

According to Parish Coroner William Clark of East Baton Rouge, a preliminary autopsy on July 5th indicated that Sterling had died due to multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back.

Multiple bystander cell phones captured video of the shooting, in addition to store surveillance and officer body cameras. One of the bystander videos was filmed by a group called “Stop the Killing” which listens to police scanners and films crimes in progress as well as police interactions in an effort to reduce violence in the community. A second video was made available the day after the shooting by the store owner and eyewitness Abdullah Muflahi. In a statement to NBC News, Muflahi said that Sterling never wielded the gun or threatened the officers.

On the night of July 5, more than 100 demonstrators in Baton Rouge shouted “no justice, no peace,” set off fireworks, and blocked an intersection to protest Sterling’s death. Flowers and messages were left at the place of his death. …

On July 6, Black Lives Matter held a candlelight vigil in Baton Rouge, with chants of “We love Baton Rouge” and calls for justice.

Philando Castile 1Then, as though following the unfortunate tradition that one bad turn must lead to another, Philando Castile was killed by a Minnesota police officer during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop (

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. Castile was driving a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter as passengers when he was pulled over by Yanez and another officer. According to Reynolds, after being asked for his license and registration, Castile told the officer he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and had one in the car. Reynolds stated: “The officer said don’t move. As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.”

Diamond Reynolds live-streamed a video on Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. It shows her interacting with the armed officer as a mortally injured Castile lay slumped over, moaning slightly and bleeding from his left arm and side. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Castile’s death a homicide and said he had sustained multiple gunshot wounds. The office reported that Castile died at 9:37 p.m. CDT in the emergency room of the Hennepin County Medical Center, about 20 minutes after being shot.

Philando Divall Castile (July 16, 1983 – July 6, 2016) was 32 years old at the time of his death.[

Micah Xavier Johnson

Just as the nation was beginning yet another perfunctory discussion about the precariousness of Black lives at the hand of police, Micah Xavier Johnson rather brutally turned the tables (

On July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired upon a group of police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers and injuring nine others. Two bystanders were also wounded. Johnson was an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran who was reportedly angry over police shootings of black men and stated that he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. The shooting happened at the end of a peaceful Black Lives Matter-organized protest against police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, which had occurred in the preceding days.

Following the shooting, Johnson fled inside a building on the campus of El Centro College. Police followed him there, and a standoff ensued. In the early hours of July 8, police killed Johnson with a bomb attached to a remote control bomb disposal robot. It was the first time U.S. law enforcement used a robot to kill a suspect.

Reaction to the Shootings

National and international reaction to the shootings of Sterling, Castile and the Dallas police officers included public statements calling for racial justice from entertainers such as Nick Cannon, Snoop Dogg and even White rapper Macklemore; travel advisories from the governments of the Bahamas, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates that cited racial tensions in the United States; and a statement from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) condemning the killings of Sterling and Castile.  Protests in Baton Rouge led to arrests and some injuries as policed clashed with demonstrators (

On July 8, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a statement strongly condemning Sterling and Castile’s killings. Human rights expert Ricardo A. Sunga III, the current Chair of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, stated that the killings demonstrate “a high level of structural and institutional racism” in the U.S., adding that “the United States is far from recognizing the same rights for all its citizens. Existing measures to address racist crimes motivated by prejudice are insufficient and have failed to stop the killings”. …

Professor Peniel E. Joseph, founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, editorialized that “the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile evoke the past spectacle of lynching” and that for change to happen, Americans must confront the pain of black history. …

Louisiana U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond said that the footage of Sterling’s shooting is “deeply troubling” and called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the man’s death. Governor John Bel Edwards announced on July 6 that the Department of Justice would launch an investigation. A civil rights investigation was opened by the Department of Justice on July 7.

Again, from

Speaking shortly after the shootings of Sterling and Philando Castile, President Barack Obama did not comment on the specific incidents, but called upon the U.S. to “do better.” He also said “Americans should feel outraged at episodes of police brutality since they’re rooted in long-simmering racial discord.”

Gavin Eugene Long

Then, on July 17, Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, the city where Sterling had been killed by police 12 days earlier.  Three officers died, two of whom were members of the Baton Rouge Police Department and the third of whom was a deputy for the East Baton Rouge Sherriff’s Office.  Long was shot and killed by a SWAT officer during the shootout.  While some reports have linked him to so-called “Black separatist” organizations and have even attempted to blame Black Lives Matter for the shootings of police officers, others have pointed to the written statements of both men that they were acting alone, and a few people we have spoken with have cited the failure to release the recordings of police negotiations with Micah Xavier Johnson to bolster their belief that he and Long may have been “patsies” as part of a series of “false flag” attacks designed to stir up racial tensions in the United States, usher in a more authoritarian government and reverse whatever gains were made during the Obama administration in the area of racial justice.

Giuliani 4

The Right Wing’s Bombast

Needless to say, as these events were unfolding, the backlash against the police-brutality protests was steadily escalating, from the emergence of the hashtags “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” to public statements from elected and former-elected officials. Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, known throughout at least the Black community for his “zero-tolerance” stance toward so-called “Black thugs” while he covered for New York City police officers’ acts of brutality (Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and many others), appeared on Meet The Press on Sunday, July 17 to publicly declare that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” was “inherently racist”.  The slogans “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” began to gain in popularity, especially after two Black police officers publicly called for it at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, July 19.

Giuliani and others have also directly accused Black Lives Matter of placing a target BLM asks Stop Killing Us 2on the backs of police officers across the country and calling for the execution of police, despite no evidence whatsoever that any BLM activist has ever advocated for such a thing. But the racist vitriol didn’t stop there.  Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert declared that President Obama has repeatedly failed to unite Americans after tragedies like the shooting in Dallas (

“He has divided us more than ever,” Gohmert said July 15 on Fox Business Network. “Every time there’s been a tragic shooting by police, he has taken the chance to call out police.

“He always comes out against the cops. This administration has supported Black Lives Matter as even their leaders have called out for killing cops. The president has failed miserably as he’s been so divisive.”

Needless to say, Gohmert demonstrates here one apparent prerequisite for becoming a right-wing public official: the liberal (pun intended) and consistent use of wild exaggeration, inflammatory (and unfounded) accusation and bombast for the purpose of stirring up racial tension and paranoia.

The Police: From Conflict to Compassion

Meanwhile, police departments across the United States have gone to “high alert” as their paranoia towards Black protesters has increased.  Some might say that the recent events have forced police departments to become more conscious of the fear of being attacked and killed for no reason, something that Black motorists, pedestrians and children playing with toy guns have felt not only for the last two years, but for the past several decades.  The fact that no one should have to live with this fear should go without saying, although Black people, from entertainers to athletes to elected officials to the President of the United States are expected to say this on behalf of “blue lives” while there are relatively few prominent police officers consistently saying this on behalf of Black lives.  But there are some.

Police Capt Ray Lewis 1In spite of the multitude of bombastic comments that appear designed to increase tensions between the police and the citizenry (particularly the Black citizenry), there are White voices, and White police voices, that have swum against the current and have been raised against police brutality.  A consistent voice in opposition of late has been that of retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis (no, not the future Hall of Fame football player), who was once a self-admitted “brutal cop” who came to realize the abusive nature of his job and since that time has frequently been arrested, in full police uniform, while protesting against police brutality.  His Facebook page ( features a post that answered the question, Is “All Lives Matter” Racist?

You betcha! It’s an attempt by white racists, to frame blacks, as ONLY caring about black lives with their “Black Lives Matter” slogan. Anyone with a minimal knowledge of language, realizes that if that was the message that blacks wanted to convey, the slogan would read, “ONLY Black Lives Matter.”

Captain Lewis also wrote a post titled “Alton Sterling Would Be Alive Today If He Were White”:


The call was “anonymous,” and NO complainant was on the scene upon police arrival. The police had no reason to even question him, let alone immediately tackle him.

WITHOUT A COMPLAINANT, nor seeing the individual waving a gun at others, there is NO job here! WITHOUT A COMPLAINANT no arrest can be made. The report is written up as UNFOUNDED, and the officers resume patrol. PERIOD! END OF STORY! And Alton Sterling is alive.

How do we make sense of this?

Investigations continue in an effort to determine whether or not Micah Johnson and Gavin Long acted alone, as well as what caused them to embark on their violent anti-police campaigns aside from their connections to military service (Iraq, Afghanistan) and their shared outrage over the continuing police violence against Black civilians which usually went unpunished (the killers of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York were never even charged, while the killers of Freddie Gray in Baltimore have now been acquitted in all three trials that have run to completion as of this writing).

At the same time, some in the Pan-Afrikan community are dealing with how they should regard these two vigilantes. These men apparently saw themselves as acting in response to the terrorism Black communities feel subjected to at the hands of a “colonial” police force, but at the same time they men committed acts of terrorism themselves by firing upon people who had made no aggressive actions toward them.  Thus, they have been referred to as “cowards” by many in the mainstream press, as “martyrs” by some Black people who are themselves fed up with police violence against our communities, and as the “freest Black men on earth” by some who saw them as fighting back against the constraints put on us in our efforts to resist oppression.  We do not see them as “cowards” simply because they had to know what the response would be to their actions, they took these actions personally and in the field of conflict (as opposed to launching a drone from a comfortable control room to strike a village halfway around the world), and they both paid with their lives in the end.  We also do not see them as “martyrs” as use of that word would lend a degree of heroism to their actions than we see as warranted.  After all, ambushing any unsuspecting group of people, cops or not, who were actually demonstrating at least some solidarity with the protesters – more than most police departments do nationally – would be seen by most of us as against the principles of Ma’at and this not as an honorable act.  Too often, we see our young men come home from the theater of war damaged, as these men BLM and Police 1apparently did, and they turn their skills at combat inward on themselves or outward against their own communities or against the police.  And the result is often as we see here: a backlash against Black activism of any kind, an escalation of the militarization of police forces and a crackdown against the civil liberties of all those who would speak out in protest against the encroaching police state.  Instead, what our young battle-tested but combat-weary men and women must do is come “home” to their people, learn to use their skills for the defense of their community instead of the assault on an enemy they often misidentify and cannot defeat, help to teach our young people how to use their skills constructively for their people, defend our community leaders from the gang-bangers as well as the storm-troopers, and heal themselves and our communities at the same time.  In the face of heightened antagonism from the political right-wing, paranoia from the police and feelings of anger, confusion, misdirection, aggression and hopelessness from our own community, what we need now are safe spaces where we can share together, heal together, grow together and, most importantly, build together.  Now more than ever, especially with the prospect of a new president in the White House whom many Black people will either distrust or outright fear, it is important for us to, as Ancestor Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said decades ago, organize, organize, organize.

Commentary: US Global Justice & Restitution

PerAnkh House of Life Website Header 1
By Nb Ka Ra Christopher—A Concise Version Of An Extended Position Paper
October 1st, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary, originally written in 2008, remains relevant today.  Despite having entered a self-proclaimed “Post-Racial Society”, we still see all the ills that impacted upon people of Afrikan descent – poverty, crime, education, institutional racism, police brutality, disproportionate prosecution and punishment, political imprisonment, dispossession of Black Farmers and the increasing colonization of our Mother Continent by US-based multinational corporations.  Add to this the fact that the racial climate has suffered in the United States because of a social and political backlash against the Obama Administration (despite its own acquiescence to the right-wing political agenda), and we see evidence that, in many ways, life for Afrikan descendants is worse than before, and the need for both external and internal reparation is greater than ever.  Here, Baba Neb Ka Ra of Per Ankh Em Smai Tawi gives historical and spiritual perspective to the call for restitution and reparation from the world’s dominant superpower, one which became so largely by the unpaid labor of our Afrikan Ancestors. 


This commentary is being shared from a collective voice of Indigenous Afrakan ascended people at a time when many states, corporations and entities of the mainland United States of America are making verbal apologies for slavery and its long-lasting institutions that still impacted our social & economic life in 2008 and continue to do so today.

We greet you all with great peace, justice, love and harmony in the Name of Our Great Mother-Father Neter-Awe-All Nature: I Am That I Am The All In All:

This commentary is a synopsis of an extended treatise being addressed to the Honorable Judges and US Attorneys, executive, legislative and other judiciary agents, branches and representatives of the United States of America et. al.  Its main purpose is to inform your relative institutions of our position as Indigenous Afrakan Survivors of the unjust and criminal captivity and enslavement of our Indigenous Afrakan Ancestors. This commentary serves as the ra-initiation of a pursuit for a legal complaint, on behalf of our Indigenous Afrakan Ancestors and we as their ascendants (descendants) to be filed charging the entity and institution known as the Sovereign Government and Nation of the United States of America and other nations to include yet not be limited to: Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Islamic Leaders of Mecca-Arabia, Israelite Leaders of Aretz-Israel, and other nations, institutions, organizations, families, and entities that have committed mass crimes, criminal activities, genocide, oppression and racism against Indigenous Afrakans, Ameridians and other indigenous peoples, families and nations of huemanity. These mass murders, crimes and acts of genocide have no statutes of limitations.

This commentary is being written on behalf of the indigenous Afrakan Ancestors and their ascendants (descendants) who have not yet been vindicated for the organized, conscious and planned inhuemane injustices and crimes committed against our ancestors during the Indigenous Afrakan Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Holocaust-Maangamizi, the conquest of the Americas, the colonization of the Americas and Caribbean, the development of the modern nations of the western hemisphere inclusive of the United States of America, the colonization and neocolonialization of Afraka, and the partitioning of Afraka into more than 50 countries at the Berlin Conference of 1884. This is the beginning of a process for justice to be administered, restored and atoned for the victims that have suffered from the criminal activities that were consciously and systematically incorporated and utilized to expand European imperialism, supremacy, globalization and dominance over non-Europeans, such as the Indigenous Afrakans and their ascendants (descendants) and other Indigenous Peoples. Just a mere gesture of apology is not going to vindicate and be enough atonement for the souls and spirits of our ancestors when we look at the existing conditions of our Indigenous Afrakan Peoples on our continental homeland, our social conditions as their ascendants (descendants) in the Diaspora, and the inhuemane life conditions of other Indigenous Peoples of the Earth. The “wicked king” of the biblical “Exodus Story” did not just give an apology for the “enslavement” of Israel, nor did Germany just give the Jews a verbal apology for their holocaust mass murder and enslavement against the Jews pre, during and post-World War II.

We need for justice, atonement, and amends to be made to rectify the injustices and abuses, and manifestation of restitution for the unjust and inhuemane crimes committed against our Indigenous Afrakan ancestors. This needs to begin with communications (educational symposia, summit, public policy meetings, counsel, mediation et. al.) with those in authority so that we can begin to initiate and establish a process for this matter to be brought to the table in a proactive and intervention-driven international forum through an established International Court of Justice of Indigenous Afrakan People, other Indigenous Peoples, and the United Nations.

When we look at the existing conditions of the Indigenous Peoples of the countries and nations that have experienced the invasion, conquest, domination, illegal occupation of their homes and homeland, the exploitation and terrorism, as well as those that were unjustly torn from their indigenous homelands, one can see plainly the inhuemane conditions which they are still facing everyday for their survival. Our Indigenous homeland of Afraka, our Diasporic colonies and countries, the habitations of the indigenous peoples of the world are all experiencing a heavy unjust imbalance in economic poverty, healthcare, education, resource development, political unrest, housing shortages, environmental catastrophes, endemic human made plagues and diseases that are killing our populations in a genocidal and exterminating proportion. When we look at Europe, America and many of the so-called developed and industrial nations, we see the opposite. We see them thriving in material gains, education, health, economics, stable political structure, strong military powers etc. Simultaneously, we see them invading and oppressing other nations and distributing their wealth to others like themselves while depriving others that are not of their same hue and race. They need to “dig the log out of their own eyes before they can dig the speck out of others’ eyes.”

We have to do something and all things necessary to bring about a change for the betterment of our ascendants (descendants), ourselves and to vindicate our ancestors who did not have the right to seek justice and equality. We Indigenous Afrakans have to ra-spect that the purpose of the great amount of lives lost in the Indigenous Afrakan Transatlantic Slave Trade Holocaust-Maangamizi and the loss of lives during their resistance to their capture and enslavement does not go in vain. We have to utilize this experience to assist huemanity. Our sacrifices throughout the Maangamizi serve a greater purpose of saving us and our continental indigenous Afrakan homelands and Earth from genocide et. al.

Many of us are taught by our parents and elders of just and sound mind, that we should always strive to do the right thing. Now it is time for us to do the right and just thing for the Earth, the birthplace and cradle of Huemanity – Afraka, our ancestors, ourselves and most of all our children. We have been told that we must: “know the truth-(Maat)-so that the truth- (Maat)-can set us free.”

Though we may not have legions and battalions of visible warriors and troops, armed with the latest arsenal of military technology and weapons of mass destruction, we do have the faith in our Neter-Awe-the All Nature Supreme Mother Father Being, the I Am That I Am, the All In All and our sacred continental homeland, Afraka, our ancestral Wisdom and Guidance, our Present Selves and Elders and the hope of our youth and yet unborn. Dr. John Henrik Clarke taught:

“Africa is our center of gravity, our cultural and spiritual mother and father, our beating heart, no matter where we live on the face of this earth.”

We share with huemanity words of wisdom by two of our departed sages, scholars and orators, Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III:

In the United States, which is a nation composed of immigrants, the Africans have a special and tragic uniqueness. We are the only immigrants who came to America [Caribbean] against our will. We are the only immigrants who came with an invitation. The nature of this invitation, the chains, the filthy ships, the guns, and the vile sailors, who had no respect for our humanity, will not be discussed here. But the invitation was special just the same. When we arrived in America [Caribbean] we had no housing problem, no employment problem. There were plenty of jobs waiting for us, with no pay for nearly 300 years. Our contribution to the economy of the United States, the Caribbean Islands, and the world in general laid the basis for global capitalism in the modern scientific and technical world.”From Dr. Clarke’s Wisdom Teachings from Notes for an African World Revolution: Africans at the Crossroads (p171).

Mental bondage is invisible violence. Formal physical slavery has ended in the United States. Mental slavery continues to this present day. This slavery affects the minds of all people and, in one way, it is worse than physical slavery alone. That is, the person who is in mental bondage will be “self-contained.” Not only will that person fail to challenge beliefs and patterns of thought which control him, he will defend and protect those beliefs and patterns of thought virtually with his last dying effort.”—Dr. Asa Hilliard’s wisdom teachings from African Contributions to World Civilization by Tony Browder

Our Indigenous Afrakan Ancestors were brought to these western shores against their free will and by force to resolve a labor shortage problem of European capitalist nations and businesses. The decision to enslave the Afrakans as a captive labor force was a conscious business decision made by these nations, entities, systems, and individuals. The economic, political, social, health, educational, psychological, and spiritual problems that we the Indigenous Afrakans and other Indigenous Peoples are now experiencing are directly and indirectly related to the decisions made by these nations, entities, systems and individuals when they believed they were solving their immediate problem for a cheap labor source. However, their temporary resolution to that problem of several centuries ago has affected and caused a plethora of problems and injustices that need to be amended and reconciled. The nations, entities, corporations, and institutions that have benefited and are still benefiting need to become a part of the solution and not continue to be part of the problem. We must remember that in mathematics a problem is not resolved until both sides of the equation are equaled and balanced. The scales of justice need to be balanced so that justice is properly administered by those who claim to be “just” & democratic nations of freedom.

A final point for this commentary recommends that we heed the words of an Ancient wise one, the sage Kheti of Afraka-Khamet Nwt em Smai Tawi (NE Afraka/UAR/Egypt) from the book: Selections from The Husia by Dr. Maulana Karenga:

I. “Be skilled in speech so that you will succeed. The tongue of a man is his sword and effective speech is stronger than all fighting. None can overcome the skillful. A wise person is a school for the nobles and those who are aware of his knowledge do not attack him. No evil takes place when he is near. Truth comes to him in its essential form, shaped in the sayings of the ancestors.”

II. “Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, for the mind is trained through knowledge. Behold, their words endure in books. Open and read them and follow their wise counsel. For one who is taught becomes skilled. Do not be evil for kindness is good. Make the memory of you last through love of you. Multiply the people whom the city shelters, then god will be praised for your donations. And people will … give thanks for your goodness and pray for your health.”—(p.50-53)

In the Name of Our Awe- Mother –Father Neter-Awe-All Nature the Supreme Being of Creation and its administering powers and principalities, and in the Name of Our Most Holy and Sa-Ankhtified Noble and Glorified Ancestors and Ancestoresses, and in the Name of Our Living and Guiding Elders, and In the Name of Our Present Selves, Our Children and Our Yet Unborn, I greet all those who read these words with Maat Mer Hotep Hena Ankh Udja Seneb –Balanced Measure; Truth, Unity, Care & Merging; Peace and Highest Satisfaction; Together with Life Eternal, Strength & Stability, Health & Wellness.

Ra-spectfully in Maat as Truth, Djehuty as Wisdom and Seshait as the Practice of Truth and Wisdom,

I Am Neb Ka Ra Kherishetapheru, Sa Aset-Asar, The Widowers Son,
Tepi Her Sesh Em Per Ankh Em Smai Tawi Khamet Nwt
Head and Chief Scribe of the House of Life of the United Twin Lands (Smai Tawi) Sovereign Nation State of the Khametu Indigenous Black People Kountry-Afraka-Khamet Nwt

“Free men and women name themselves and their offspring with pride. Enslaved men and women carry their slave masters and slave mistresses identification tag (“name”) in shame though they don’t know it!” —Ancestral Elder C. K. Jochannan, the father of Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan

Per Ankh Em Smai Tawi can be contacted on the Web at

Africa: Claim No Easy Victories

The following commentary comes from the web site www.africafocus.orgWe have found AfricaFocus to be a valuable source of analysis of many of the issues that impact upon Afrika and Afrikan people today, from Cairo to Cape Town, from Senegal to Somalia, and across the Afrikan Diaspora.  The analyses, edited by William Minter, are sometimes controversial, but they are always thoroughly sourced and footnoted, and they examine today’s events in the context of Afrika’s historical and sociopolitical realities.  This commentary features William Minter’s reflection on the immortal words of Ancestor Amilcar Cabral, which have been paraphrased so often that they have practically become a mantra of Pan-Afrikan organizing: “Tell no lies … claim no easy victories.”

Africa: Claim No Easy Victories

AfricaFocus Logo


news • analysis • advocacy
AfricaFocus Bulletin: June 19, 2013 (130619) (Reposted from sources cited below)

AfricaFocus Editor’s Note

“Don’t tell lies. Fight lies when they are told. Don’t disguise difficulties, errors, and failures. Do not trust in easy victories nor in appearances. … Practice and defend the truth, always the truth, to militants, leaders, and the people, whatever the difficulties the knowledge of the truth can create.” – Amilcar Cabral, 1965

These words from Amilcar Cabral, more familiar in the shortened version “Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories,” have inspired many not only in Africa but also around the world. More than forty years after Cabral was assassinated and almost fifty years after he wrote these words, his counsel remains highly relevant to all seeking not only to analyze reality but to change it.

The brief essay below was written at the invitation of Firoze Manji and Bill Fletcher Jr. for their forthcoming book, with almost 40 contributors, due to be published later this year. I entitled my reflection “Telling No Lies is Not Easy.”

Coincidentally I am reading the new book by Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t. Silver is probably best known for his 538 blog in the New York Times ( which correctly predicted the electoral votes in the 2012 election [personal aside: my son, whose election blog ( college/) also correctly predicted the electoral votes with a similar methodology, gave me the Silver book for father’s day.)

In many respects, of course, Cabral and Silver have little in common. But Silver’s book, which deals with predictions in fields as widely dispersed as baseball, politics, economics, the weather, and climate change, clearly echoes several of Cabral’s central themes. Pay attention to reality, realize it is probably more complex than you think, and, above all, recognize that you may be wrong and be willing to correct course accordingly.

Silver cites a retrospective study of predictions by television pundits, showing that the most popular and self-confident pundits were also the least likely to make correct predictions. Few of us may aspire to be television pundits, but we should all regularly remind ourselves to pay attention to new data and new insights and to think again.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Telling No Lies is Not Easy: A Reflection on Following Cabral’s Watchwords
by William Minter
Editor, AfricaFocus Bulletin (

[Chapter to be published in the forthcoming book Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral, Edited by Firoze Manji and Bill Fletcher Jr. Dakar: CODESRIA/Daraja Press, 2013.  William Minter’s most recent book is No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000, coedited with Gail Hovey and Charles Cobb, Jr.]

Amilcar Cabral 6Although I was engaged with liberation struggles in Mozambique and Angola from the mid-1960s, I never had the opportunity to meet Amilcar Cabral. Nor have I ever visited the countries for whose freedom he lived and died. But like countless others in Africa and around the world, I have taken inspiration from the clear-minded guidance and analysis he provided while leading the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

For me the watchwords from Cabral that have meant the most are the call to “tell no lies, claim no easy victories.” There are many characteristics required for effective participation in struggles for social justice. But one is surely the determination to base one’s actions on an analysis of concrete realties, be honest with ourselves about difficulties we face, and, as Cabral noted in another context, “Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward … to preserve the future of their children.” [Guinea-Bissau: Toward Final Victory!: Selected Speeches and Documents from PAIGC  (Richmond, Canada: Liberation Support Movement, 1974), 32. Although appearing in the collection in the same text as “tell no lies,” this is in fact from another document, the Portuguese original of which I have been unable to locate.]

While I have often cited these words, the request for this article prompted me to look a bit deeper into the context and to seek out the Portuguese-language original of the “General Watchwords” for the party from which they were taken. Both the Portuguese and my translation into English are included at the end of this article.  It is clear “tell no lies” was not an isolated slogan, but part of a complex reflection on the need for criticism and self-criticism among members of the movement.

In trying to apply those guidelines today, in a context almost fifty years removed, we must, as Cabral insisted, take concrete realities into account. We  are far from the era of disciplined and apparently unified liberation movements (with both their strengths and weaknesses). While the goal of national political freedom has been attained, the broader goals for which Cabral fought are far from achieved, not least in Guinea-Bissau, which was the terrain of his party’s armed struggle.

With globalized communications, his further admonitions, such as “Do not hide anything from the masses of the people” and “Practice and defend the truth, always the truth, to militants, leaders, and the people, whatever the difficulties the knowledge of the truth can create” are just as hard to implement as in his time, and perhaps even more so. While PAIGC militants may have been able to address “the people” in gatherings in the bush, the constituencies for today’s social justice movements are almost always dispersed and diverse enough that they can hardly be gathered in one place. Messages through multiple technologies to “militants” and “the people” are inevitably seen,  heard, and interpreted or misinterpreted by multiple other audiences as well.

That said, I am convinced that the fundamental principles of Cabral’s guidance on criticism and self-criticism still apply. And these watchwords fit within the broader context of his determination to base strategy and action on sober analysis of realities. [See also “Start out from the reality of our land – to be realists,” in Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979) 44-63).] It is an eminently “scientific” approach, where theory is used not as a lazy substitute for empirical investigation but as a guide to it. It is an approach which recognized that the same formula could not be applied to situations as different as GuineaBissau and Cape Verde, or even to different regions within Guinea-Bissau.

It is also one in which fighting against an “enemy” never obscured the recognition that enemy forces were composed of human beings, many of whom might become friends under other circumstances. In this, Cabral shared the conviction of leaders such as Eduardo Mondlane and Samora Machel of Mozambique, that distinguishing friends and enemies on the basis of race, nationality, institutional affiliation, or other generic characteristics was a fundamental mistake. And that assuming individuals and political structures could not change was a recipe for failure in the struggle. “Know well our own strength and the enemy strength” was also a mandate to know how to win new allies, including among the enemy forces themselves.

This short essay can hardly be adequate for an extensive discussion of the application of Cabral’s principles to specific situations facing us today. But it would be incomplete without at least some mention of areas in which, in my opinion, progressive forces have been particularly weak in recent years, evading Cabral’s imperatives to investigate concrete realities and to speak the truth.

Let me very briefly address two areas, as examples. One concerns the international debates about political conflicts in Africa, including recent or forthcoming military interventions. The second is the sensitive issue of whether progressive as well as mainstream nongovernmental organizations are willing to live up to Cabral’s directives about truth-telling; or, in other words, to practice for themselves the accountability and transparency they freely demand of African and Western governments.

Every internal conflict on the continent features different narratives from parties to the conflict, which are taken up and propagated by international allies. It would be presumptuous for anyone to assume that there is one easy “truth” in the conflicts in Zimbabwe, Libya, or Mali – to cite only a few prominent examples. The only country of the three I know enough about and have enough personal trusted contacts in to write about at any length is Zimbabwe (see, for example, my 2010 article with Briggs Bomba: But in reposting material from other sources in AfricaFocus Bulletin, and providing brief introductory editor’s notes, I have to distinguish between analyses I regard as worth reading and those which are so dubious they should rank as “lies”, or at least, using a term also cited by Cabral, as based on superficial “appearances.” [You can see what I decided I thought worth reading, among sources available to me, at, and clicking on the relevant country name for the AfricaFocus Bulletins on the country.]

Perhaps I am remiss in not naming names falling among the latter. But they include those who, decades after ZANU-PF ceased to be a liberation movement to become the enforcer of a new repressive and oligarchical system, insist on supporting the incumbent regime in Zimbabwe simply because its critics include Western governments. It includes those who see developments in Libya as primarily the outcome of a Western plot and disregard the agency of Libyans themselves in his overthrow of Qaddafi, or dismiss his opponents as Western dupes. And it includes those who think there is any easy answer to the current question of whether to intervene and who should intervene against the Islamic extremists who have devastated Northern Mali.

Rejecting such interpretations as “lies”, or based on “appearances”, does not imply that there are not also real questions about the motives and strategies of other opposing forces, both internal and international. It is not a blanket endorsement of those who now oppose ZANU-PF or the Islamists in Northern Mali, or those who contributed to the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. It is simply to say that in none of these situations, or in other conflicts on the continent, is simply opposing what the United States does or what the West does a substitute for analysis of the concrete realities of each country, its surrounding region, and changing international power balances.  Progressives may and will reach different conclusions about the best course of action after making such analyses. But the ideological shortcut of making judgments based on “ideas in people’s heads” rather than analysis of complex realities, is clearly one that Amilcar Cabral would have rejected.

Finally, a few incomplete and admittedly inadequate words about non-governmental organizations and the pressures that work against transparency and accountability to broader constituencies. A high proportion of such groups, both mainstream and progressive, are governed by selfperpetuating boards of directors. For funding they depend either on a small number of large institutional donors (foundations or indirect government support) or fundraising appeals to a large number of individual donors, most of whom have no role apart from sending in their donations. In most cases, membership dues from a engaged and active membership are only a small proportion of income at best, and the role of such stakeholders in governance is most often token at best and commonly none at all. The boards of directors therefore may have little sense of accountability to their activist supporters or feel any real obligation to keep them informed.

It would be a mistake to interpret accountability and transparency as a dogmatic mandate to never have private internal discussions or to “tell everything”, regardless of the consequences. Despite his call below to tell the truth, regardless of the difficulties it may cause, Cabral was well aware of the need for discretion in public discussion of sensitive issues, such as the difficulties his party faced from host countries such as Senegal and Guinea (Conakry), or the support the struggle received from Cuba. Nevertheless, I think many nongovernmental organizations, including progressive ones, most often err on the side of secrecy in speaking with their supporters about difficulties faced.

For much of the history of the organizations with which I have been most involved over my time as an activist, most notably the predecessor organizations of Africa Action (Africa Fund, American Committee on Africa, Washington Office on Africa, and the Africa Policy Information Center), this structural flaw was balanced by the fact that foundation income was minimal and government income non-existent. The bulk of individual donations, both large and small, came from engaged activists who expected and received accountability from those governing the organizations, including regular reports on program and financial status.

Yet all progressive activists are well aware of crises in multiple organizations run by progressive people whose good intentions we respect, in which the constituencies who have helped build the organization are kept in the dark about current developments reflecting weaknesses. It would not be appropriate to go into details, so as not to violate Cabral’s companion insistence in the text below that criticism should not edge over into “intrigues.” But it is surely no secret to anyone concerned, for example, that those who contributed their writing skills to Pambazuka News over more than a decade have had no report from the governing board of Fahamu on the crisis which led to the resignation of the founding editor.

Most painful to many of us involved in Africa solidarity work in the United States has been the prolonged crisis at Africa Action. In August 2010 staff unexpectedly failed to receive their salaries. It was subsequently discovered that a reserved endowment had been fully drained, in part by fraud by an office manager and in part by use of endowment funds for operating expenses. Since then, the organization’s board has managed to keep a shell of the organization in existence. Yet more than two years later there has still been no coherent accounting to the organization’s constituency of what happened nor a strategy for the future which could address the crisis of confidence among former staff, board, and supporters of the organization. Despite the good intentions of the board members, it is likely that the failure to follow Cabral’s advice by confronting hard realities and “telling the truth” will have done as much or more damage to the organization as did the original financial crisis.

I am well aware that these brief remarks fall far short of any “full truth” or even a comprehensive analysis of any of the issues raised. But hopefully they may serve at least as a call to follow Cabral’s example in analyzing concrete realities more deeply rather than relying on appearances, and in using criticism constructively to learn from our own and other’s mistakes.

William Minter, Editor, AfricaFocus

Excerpts from Chapter VIII, “Apply Party Principles in Practice,” in General Watchwords, November 1965.

Portuguese original is in “Palavras de Ordem Gerais,” in P.A.I.G.C.: unidade e luta / Amilcar Cabral (Lisbon: Nova Aurora, 1974), 9-66.

English translation below by William Minter

[Alternate English translation of full text of “General Watchwords” is available in Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979), pages 246-249.]

1. Develop the spirit of criticism among activists and officials.

Give everyone at each level, the opportunity to criticize, give their opinion about the work and the behavior or actions of others. Accept criticism, wherever it comes from, as a contribution to improving the work of the Party, as an expression of active interest in the internal life of our organization. Remember always that to criticize is not to speak ill or engage in intrigues. Criticism is and must be the act of expressing one’s frank opinion openly, in front of those concerned, based on the facts and in the spirit of justice, in order to evaluate the thought and action of others, with the aim of improving that thought and action. Criticism is to build, to help build, to show genuine interest in the work of others and the improvement of that work.

Combat severely evil tongues, intrigues, ‘so-and-so says,’ unfair and unfounded criticism. To evaluate the thought and action of a comrade does not necessarily mean to speak ill of them. To speak highly, praise, encourage, or stimulate is also part of a critique. Always be vigilant against personal vanity and pride, but don’t stint on praise for those who deserve it. Offer praise gladly and frankly to all those whose thought and action serves well the progress of the party. …

Learn from the mistakes we make or that others make, to avoid making new mistakes, to not fall into the traps that others have fallen in. Criticizing someone does not mean setting yourself against them or victimizing them. It is showing that we are all interested in their work, that we are part of one corporate body, that one person’s mistakes affect us all, and that we are vigilant, as friends and comrades, to help them overcome their shortcomings and increasingly contribute to the improvement of the Party.

But critique (proof of the willingness of others to help us or our willingness to help others) should be supplemented by self-criticism (proof of our own willingness to help ourselves improve our thinking and our action).

Develop in all militants, leaders, and combatants, the spirit of self-criticism: the ability of each to make a concrete analysis of their own work, to distinguish good from bad, to recognize their own mistakes and to discover the causes and consequences of these errors. Making a self-criticism is not just to say “yes, I admit my fault, my mistake, and I apologize,” while getting ready to commit new faults and new errors. It is not to pretend to repent, while still being convinced that the other person just doesn’t understand. Nor should self-criticism be performed as a ritual, while continuing to make mistakes.

Self-criticism is not doing penance. It is an act of honesty, courage, camaraderie, and awareness of our responsibilities, a proof of our willingness to do our duty and do it well, a manifestation of our determination to be better every day and give our best contribution to the advancement of our Party. An honest self-criticism does not require absolution: it is a commitment we make to our conscience not to commit more errors, to accept our responsibilities to others, and to mobilize all our capabilities to do more and better. Self-criticism is to rebuild oneself to better serve.

4. Practice revolutionary democracy in all aspects of the life of the party.

Everyone responsible for leadership must assume their responsibilities with courage, should demand the respect of others for their activity, and should respect the work of others. Do not hide anything from the masses of the people. Don’t tell lies. Fight lies when they are told. Don’t disguise difficulties, errors, and failures. Do not trust in easy victories nor in appearances.

Revolutionary democracy demands that we fight opportunism and not tolerate errors, baseless excuses, friendships and camaraderie based on interests contrary to the interests of the Party and the people, or the conviction that any leader is irreplaceable.

Practice and defend the truth, always the truth, to militants, leaders, and the people, whatever the difficulties the knowledge of the truth can create.

Portuguese original:

1. Desenvolver o espirito da crítica entre os militantes e responsáveis.

Dar a todos, em cada nivel, a oportunidade de críticar, de dar a sua opinião sobre o trabalho e o comportamento ou a acção dos outros. Aceitar a crítica, donde quer qua ela venha, como uma contribuição para melhorar o trabalho do Partido, como uma manifestação de interesse active pela vida interna da nossa organização. Lembrar-se sempre que críticar não é dizer mal nem fazer intrigas. Críticar é e deve ser o acto de exprimir uma. opinião franca, aberta, diante dos interessados, com base nos factos e com espírito de justiça, para apreciar o pensamento e a acção dos outros, com o objectivo de melhorar esse pensamento e essa acção. Críticar é construir, ajudar a construir, fazer prova de interesse sincero pelo trabalho dos outros, pela melhoria desse trabalho.

Combater severamente a má lingua, a mania das intrigas, o ‘diz-que-diz,’ as críticas injustas e sem fundamento. Apreciar o pensamento e a acção dum camarada não é necessariamente dizer mal. Dizer bem, elogiar, encorajar, estimuar—também é críticar. Sempre vigilantes contra as vaidades e orgulhos pessoais, devemos no entanto poupar elogios a quem os merece. Elogiar com alegria, com franqueza. diante dos outros, todo aquele cujo pensamento e acção servem bem o progresso do Partido. Devemos igualmente aplicar uma crítica justa, denunciar francamente, censurar, condenar e exigir a condenação de todos aqueles que praticam actos contrários ao progresso e aos interesses do Partido; combater cara a cara os erros e faltas, ajudar os outros a melhorar o seu trabalho. Tirar lição de cada erro que cometemos ou que os outros cometem, para evitar cometer novos erros, para cairmos nas asneiras em que os outros cairam. críticar um camarada não quer dizer pôr-se contra o camarada, fazer um sacrificio em que o camarada é a vïtima: é mostrar-lhe que estamos todos interessados no seu trabalho, que somos um e um só corpo, que os erros dele prejudicam a nós todos, e que estamos vigilantes, como amigos e camaradas, para ajudé-lo a vencer as suas deficiências e a contribuir cada vez mais para que o Partido seja cada vez melhor. …

Mas a crítica (prova da vontade dos outros de nos ajudar ou da nossa vontade de ajudar os outros) deve ser completada pela autocrítica (prova da. nossa própria vontade de nos ajudarmos a nós mesmos a melhorar o nosso pensamento e a nossa acção).

Desenvolver em todos os militantes, responséveis e combatentes, o espirito da autocrítica: a. capacidade de cada um fazer uma análise concreta do seu pr6prio trabalho, de distinguir nele o que está bem do que está mal, de reconhecer os seus próprios erros e de descobrir as causas e as consequências desses erros. Fazer uma autocrítica. néo é apenas dizer sim, reconheço a minha falta, o meu erro—e peço perdão, ficando logo pronto para cometer novas faltas, novos erros. Não é fingir-se arrependido do mal que fez, e ficar, no fundo, convencido de que os outros é que n~ao o compreendem. Nem tão-pouco fazer autocrítica e fazer uma cerimónia para depois poder ficar com a. consciéncia tranquila e continuar a cometer erros.

Autocríticar-se não é pagar um responso ou uma bula nem é fazer penitência. A autocrítica é um acto de franqueza, de coragem, de camaradagem e de consciência das nossas responsabilidades, uma. prova. da nossa vontade de cumprir e de cumprir bem, uma manifestação da nossa. determinação de ser cada dia melhor e dar uma. melhor contribuição para o progresso do nosso Partido. Uma autocrítica sincera não exige necessariamente uma absolvição: é um compromisso que fazemos com a nossa consciência. para não cometermos mais erros; é fazer aceitar as nossas responsabilidades diante dos outros e mobilizar todas as nossas capacidades para. fazer mais e melhor. Autocríticar-se é reconstruir-se a si mesmo, para melhor servir.

4. Praticar, em todos os aspectos da vida do Partido, a democracia revolucionária.

Cada responsável deve assumir com coragem as suas responsabilidades, deve exigir dos outros o respeito pela sua actividade e deve respeitar a actividade dos outros. Não esconder nada às massas populares, não mentir, combater a mentira, não disfarçar as dificuldades, os erros e insucessos, não acreditar em vitárias fáceis, nem nas aparêcias.

A democracia revolucionária exige que devemos combater o oportunismo, a. tolerância diante dos erros, as desculpas sem fundamento, as amizades e a camaradagem com base em interesses contrários aos do Partido e do povo, a mania de que um ou outro responszivel é insubstituivel no seu posto.

Praticar e defender a verdade, sempre a verdade, diante dos militantes, dos responséveis, do povo, sejam quais forem as dificuldades que o conhecimento da verdade possa criar.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see