Archive for the ‘BLACK NATIONALISM’ Category


November 20, 2007







The Afrikan people’s belief in a creator and theology makes them the most misunderstood people on the planet.
–Nana Ekow Butweiku I

The themes of Afrikan theology, Afrikan cosmogony and Afrikan philosophy in ancient and modern Afrika are the focus of the latest text by Nana Ekow Butweiku I–an Afrikan-centered scholar, traveller and activist currently residing in Bronx, New York. The author of 500 Years of European Behavior: Its Effect on Afrika and Afrikan People, Brother Nana is what might be called a “Race Man.” The term Race Man (a term not much in use today) applies to an Afrikan man totally dedicated and completely devoted to the uplift of his people (the Race). A Race Man places the interests of his people above all else. A Race Man embodies the words of that great nineteenth century champion of Afrika and the rights of Black people–Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden. In application to himself, Dr. Blyden emphatically stated that: “Let me forever be discarded by the Black race, and let me be condemned by the White, if I strive not with all my powers, if I put not forth all my energies to bring respect and dignity to the Negro race.” Nana Ekow Butweiku I embodies that tradition and fits into that mold. In Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony and Philosophy, Brother Nana speaks to us from the perspective of a Race Man. He addresses us as one of us; as an Afrikan elder speaking directly, without any intermediaries, to his Afrikan family.

Every Black person should visit Afrika at least once during their lifetime. It is a pilgrimage to our sacred motherland–the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization–and one is never the same afterwards. In Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony and Philosophy, Nana Ekow Butweiku I serves as our guide on a soul-searching journey. In a no nonsense approach Brother Nana holds no punches and minces no words. It might be observed that the text is characterized by plain speaking and righteous anger. Nana clearly realizes the urgent plight of Afrikan people around the globe, and makes it clear to all who would listen that the struggle of Afrikan people, whether at home or abroad, is not merely one of countless other unconnected struggles, but a single desperate planetary conflict with many fronts and innumerable battles.

Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony and Philosophy introduces us to Afrika’s past and present conditions, its ancient and modern traditions. Much of the text is the direct result of extensive on-site research, with key sections consisting of first-hand interviews with several of Afrika’s most learned griots and elders, including Elder Apourali of the Dogon Nation of Mali. Apourali, it should be known, is one of the Dogon elders interviewed decades earlier by the French anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen.

Out of necessity much of Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony and Philosophy is punctuated with the effects, the perils and the dangers of allowing others to perform the fundamental tasks of writing our history and interpreting Afrikan theology, cosmogony and philosophy for us. Brother Nana indicts the entire Caucasian sphere and speaks with scathing criticism and undisguised passion about the usurpation of Afrikan history and the desecration of Afrikan culture by flocks of human vultures from Europe. He notes that “The white race has used the Afrikan way of life to gain the confidence of the Afrikans, while at the same time they promote white superiority and black inferiority.”

Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony and Philosophy examines the works of many of the nineteenth and early twentieth European writers on Nile Valley civilizations, particularly George Rawlinson, Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge and James Henry Breasted, and their role in the partitioning of pharaonic Egypt from rest of the Afrikan continent. It is in large measure the body of publications of these writers that has formed much of the core of modern white supremacist ideology. Their historical works supplemented the accounts of European travelers to Afrika, such as Richard Francis Burton, Leo Frobenius and Robert Moffat. It should be no surprise then that Brother Nana condemns them so vehemently. As Brother Nana states in the chapter titled The Egotistical Paternalistic White Man: “One wonders how the egotistical attitude of a Newt Gingrich, United States Congressman, Speaker of the House, Senator Phil Gramm, or the paternalistic attitude of the liberal Rutgers University president Francis Lawrence developed. With a little research it is easy to see that Europeans developed these attitudes very early when they came in contact with Afrikans through lies they told themselves to inflate their egos. We are already familiar with early twentieth century European writers such as H.G. Wells, E.A. Wallis Budge, and James Henry Breasted and their assertion that the ancient Egyptians were somehow different from other Afrikans.”

Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony and Philosophy is an unapologetic and unbridled attempt to reclaim the religious, historical and cultural heritage of Afrikans for the Afrikans. The thirteen chapters of the work reflect years of intense study, in-depth observations and primary research about both Afrika and Afrikan people. Brother Nana journeys to Afrika frequently, not as a tourist, but as a seeker of the real Afrika. Via his travels and through his eyes he transports us to the Continent with him, making it come alive with a new vibrancy and an old dimension. With equal emphasis he stresses to us the importance of Afrikan people in seizing the initiative in the documentation, preservation and presentation of Afrikan history. He notes that: “White men have revised, and rewritten the bible time and time again. This was done in order to justify and meet their needs. Were they branded as revisionist? The difference here is that when their so-called philosophers and intellectuals made their revision it was from neo-reality to greater falsification, as opposed to Afrikan exposure of the truth from falsification to reality.”

Early in the Introduction we mentioned the great Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden. Let us now mention another Race Man–the late Dr. Chancellor James Williams. In his classic volume, The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race From 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D., Dr. Williams provided a set of guidelines for African-centered research specialists. As stated by Dr. Williams:

“In the `View from the Bridge’ and the final chapters, I make a more definite break from the `old line’ school of historians. To be objective and scientific, this school insists, the research scholar should do no more than present the comprehensive and fully documented results of his investigations. There should be no `subjective’ commentaries, no editorializing. Just present the factual data and leave the work to the readers to interpret or evaluate as they choose. This may not only be the correct viewpoint, but it is even beautiful for historians who represent the already arrived people who control the world. They can well afford the luxury of historical knowledge for knowledge’s sake–the great satisfaction that comes from just knowing how things came to be. But the Black historian, member of a race under perpetual siege and fighting an almost invisible war for survival, dare not follow in these footsteps of the master. Quite the contrary, after faithfully researching and piecing together the fragmented record of the race’s history, the task of critical analysis and interpretation should begin. What were our strengths in the past? In what respects were we most vulnerable? Where did we go wrong? And all this, like the study of history itself, must be for the express purpose of determining WHAT TO DO NOW. In short, the Black historian; if he is to serve his generation, must not hesitate to declare what he thinks the results of his studies mean. For even when our history shows us where we have been weak, it is also showing us how, through our own efforts, we can become strong again.”

Even before The Destruction of Black Civilization, in 1965 in Problems in African History, Dr. Williams wrote that: “Africans and persons of African descent must assume the primary responsibility and leadership in historical research….if we are to continue to leave practically all important historical research and writing concerning the black race to the white man, then we must be prepared to accept, uncomplainingly, the white man’s point of view.”

It is as though Dr. Williams spoke directly to Brother Nana and gave him a direct time-tested blueprint for the work that is to be done. According to Brother Nana, in the Preface to the text, “The research work that is required to set the record straight is long and difficult, but the tedious task must be done to undo hundreds of years of European distortions of the truth. It must be done if Afrikans are going to enter into the twenty-first century in their rightful position in world history. This book begins to address that task.”




Copyright © 1998 Runoko Rashidi. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 06, 2001.
Webpage design: Kenneth Ritchards


November 11, 2007


Stolen Legacy: An Introduction


Molefi Kete Asante

When George G. M. James wrote Stolen Legacy in l954 he had no awareness that his little book would become one of the most threatening pieces of literature ever published in the United States of America. Stolen Legacy was not dangerous in the sense that it called for revolution against oppression or that it promoted attacks on white racists. What distinguished the work of George G .M. James was the fact that it struck at the jugular of white Western notions of superiority. James may not have known that his work would have the impact it did on the world, but he knew that it was necessary to set the record straight about the ancient history of philosophy.
One could easily have overlooked James’ contribution to scholarship given the fact that he was a professor at a small African American college in Arkansas, a long way from the fabled halls of ivory or ebony in American education. Pine Bluff was neither Harvard nor Howard, and a professor who taught at the Arkansas school in the l950s was making a sacrifice in the name of education. But this had been the history of George G. M. James. He had come from Guyana, like so many intellectuals before and after, and was completely won over by the epic struggles of Africans in the United States.
James was not only a good teacher but he was an avid reader in the African and European classics. He knew very early in his career that something was wrong with the way the history of philosophy was written by European scholars. They had assumed that philosophy started with the Greeks and had written books establishing a lie as truth. This greatly disturbed the mind of George G. M. James. He was certain that the European writers had it wrong and knew that they knew that the record was distorted.. He saw it as the deliberate falsification of history.
What could he do to re-write the history? How could he contribute to the scholarship surrounding ancient Egypt and Greece? What could his contribution be to the emerging issues that had to be confronted by a new generation of African scholars? This was a massive undertaking that had to be done alongside his tremendous teaching load of at least five courses each semester. George G. M. James was a determined man. He could not allow the falsehoods about philosophy to remain unchallenged regardless of his workload.
Thus, during the turbulent l950s, the era of boycotts, the Klu Klux Klan, major Supreme Court hearings, and organized protests, the quiet scholar gathered his books on Ptahhotep, Merikare, Akhenaten, Amenemhat, Amenemope, Duauf, Thales, Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle, and sat down at his worn, pine desk to write.
James knew that Egypt predated Greece by thousands of years. He also knew that the great teachers of Egypt, Imhotep, Sonchis, Wennofer, Amenhotep, son of Hapu, and others had not sat around doing nothing for hundreds of years. There was nothing in the ancient record to indicate that the Africans in Egypt waited in a fog until the arrival of the Greeks before they started thinking, reflecting, and acting on the basis of their cognitions. James knew that the major centers of world philosophy long before Homer’s Iliad in 800 BC were the cities of On, Abydos, Mennefer, Waset, and Syene. In these sacred cities, the priests, who were also scribes, assembled to teach initiates the fundamentals of medicine, law, politics, geometry, architecture, sculpture, mathematics, and astronomy.
George G. M. James would plumb this knowledge base and arrive at the most provocative conclusion his research could afford, namely, there is no such thing as Greek philosophy, only stolen Egyptian philosophy.
Outrage white scholars would cry and ask, how could a black man in Arkansas come up with such a crazy idea? Alas, Stolen Legacy became one of the first African American books to be banned from the universities and colleges of America. Few whites would ever see the book and those who saw it would swear that it was part of some infamous plot, preferably by some outside power, to destroy white Western culture. What could be the reason for such venom against a small book? It is because James took seriously the work of the ancient scholars, African and European, in his assessment of the situation and those who responded in anger were actually hostile toward the ancients.
Herodotus, a 5th century BC Greek historian and traveler, had written in Book II of his History that the Greeks borrowed many ideas, concepts, and activities from the ancient Egyptians. They borrowed practices of medicine, philosophy, politics, hygiene, and architecture. Stolen Legacy is powerful in its assault because of the deliberate use of the title to draw attention to the fact that Greeks borrowed and yet the descendants of the early Greeks now claim that they do not know anything about what was borrowed. Consequently, they have stolen the legacy of Africa and now claim that it belongs to them. Ideas such as the wearing of long robes or gowns during academic exercises and the solemn processions for various ceremonies were African, not European, and yet Europe has often claimed these as its own.
When George G. M. James wrote about Stolen Legacy in the l950s he was doing as much as anyone to improve race relations. He knew that the only way race relations would be improved would be when white racial supremacy as a doctrine was overturned. Furthermore, James was convinced by science and history that the way whites had organized information and knowledge about the African world was racist. It was a deliberate attack and assault on the nature of the African person. But it was up to African people to find the methods of social reformation and African redemption.
Where best to discover the source of Africa’s power and energy than in the classical teachings of the African philosophers who lived before Thales, Socrates, or Plato? Thus, he gives to posterity a book of nine chapters that are filled to the brim with information gleaned from the major sources of knowledge in the Western and African worlds. This is not a made-up book; it is not an improper book as one librarian had said to an inquirer when asked why Stolen Legacy was not in the Cornell University library. Well, it is a proper book and given the standards of the l950s it was one of the best books written during that period. It was the primary intention of George G. M. James to overthrow the system that had oppressed Africans by concealing the truth about African history and culture. To expose what the white scholars had tried to conceal, James went into the ancient texts and came out with a profound statement of truth. We are deeply indebted to the courage of George G. M. James for leaving us a legacy of critical thinking and insight.

Study Questions
The following study questions are as relevant today as when George G. M. James wrote Stolen Legacy:
1. What were the aims James had for this project?
2. Who had Africans been taught to idolized as founders and fathers of philosophy and the arts and sciences?
3. What was Europe’s intention vis-à-vis the information that Africa was indeed the continent of the origin of human arts and sciences?
4. How could African people find what James called “social reformation”?
5. What is the meaning of African redemption in the mind of George G. M. James?
6. What were the principal ideas that had to be mastered by the student to achieve the level of consciousness that would bring about African redemption?
7. Why is James’ Stolen Legacy still relevant today?

Molefi Kete Asante, author of Egyptian Philosophers, is professor of African American Studies at Temple University. He is the author or editor of 48 books.


November 11, 2007


Runoko Rashidi






“The term Greek philosophy, to begin with, is a misnomer, for there is no such philosophy in existence.”
Dr. George Granville Monah James was born in Georgetown, Guyana, South America. He was the son of Reverend Linch B. and Margaret E. James.

George G.M. James earned Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Theology and Master of Arts degrees from Durham University in England and was a candidate there for the D.Litt degree. He conducted research at London University and did postgraduate work at Columbia University where he read for his Ph.D. Dr. James earned a teaching certificate in the State of New York to teach mathematics, Latin and Greek. James later served as Professor of Logic and Greek at Livingston College in Salisbury, North Carolina for two years, and eventually taught at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff.

Dr. James was the author of the widely circulated Stolen Legacy: The Greeks Were Not the Authors of Greek Philosophy, But the People of North Africa, Commonly Called the Egyptians – a controversial text originally published in 1954 and reprinted a number of times since.
Professor William Leo Hansberry reviewed Stolen Legacy in the Journal of Negro Education in 1955, and noted that:
“In Stolen Legacy an author with a passion for justice and truth champions a startling thesis with which most of the little volume’s readers – Hellenophiles in particular – will no doubt strongly disagree. In this work Professor James dares to contend and labor to prove, among others, that ‘the Greeks were not the authors of Greek philosophy’, that ‘so-called Greek philosophy’ was based in the main upon ideas and concepts which were borrowed without acknowledgement – indeed ‘stolen’ – by a few wayward and dishonest Greeks from the ancient Egyptians.”

Stolen Legacy was written during Dr. James’ tenure at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. As of today, there is not even a copy of the book in the University library. There is no statue or bust of Dr. James on the campus. There is no plaque of Dr. James adorning the campus walls. There is not even a certificate to note Dr. James’ existence or that he even lived. This is at an historically Black college!

Dr. James’s tragic death, under mysterious circumstances, reputedly, came shortly after Stolen Legacy’s publication. To date, no significant biography of James has been presented.


[1998] Runoko Rashidi. All Rights Reserved.
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October 28, 2007


An oasis of African-American soul in Israel’s desert
By Simona Kogan June 24, 2007

Members of the Dimona community – ‘It’s all about lifestyle, it’s all about life choices…’

Whitney Houston calls Israel ‘home’

Being Israeli is music to his ears

Sub-Saharan Africa blooms with Israel’s cooperation

African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem

Deep in the heart of Israel’s Negev desert, where you would expect to find mostly camels and sand, a community of expatriate black Americans has made a new life for itself in towns like Dimona, Arad and Mitzpe Ramon.

They call themselves the African Hebrew Israelites, but they are better known in Israel as the Black Hebrews, a 2,000-strong religious group dressed in colorful African prints made of natural fabrics like silk and linen according to their doctrine. And while it’s taken most of the 40 years they’ve been residing in Israel to feel like part of the country, today Black Hebrews can be found in many facets of Israeli society – from the army to the entertainment industry.

“We are a people who have pride and are able to point to certain successes that have been elusive for the African world,” says national spokesman Ahmadiel Ben-Yehuda, who lives in Dimona, but spent time in Ghana, South Africa, and other African locations studying African cultural connections and migration patterns.

The Black Hebrews movement originated in Chicago in 1966 when their leader Ben-Ami Ben-Yisrael, then a steel worker named Ben Carter, had a vision where the Archangel Gabriel revealed to him that African Americans were descended from the lost tribe of Judah. In 70 CE, the Israelites were exiled from Jerusalem by the Romans and ended up in West Africa where they were later transported to America as slaves.

“Our only form of expression left when we got to the Western Hemisphere was songs and our only songs were of places in Israel,” Ben-Yehuda told ISRAEL21c on a visit to Dimona. “We didn’t sing about Mawi or Timbuktu, we sang about Jericho and Jerusalem. This is part of a tradition that they carried with them from West Africa into the Americas. Ben-Ami’s vision was not born in a vacuum.”

After the vision, Ben-Ami felt he had to return to life in Israel in order to fulfill the prophecy to create what the Israelites call a “Kingdom of Yah” or God on earth. He and 30 followers headed towards Israel by way of Liberia, because the prophecies said they would return the same way they came.

“It was a difficult experience for those who came out of the urban areas in America. It was not a return back to Africa. It was a return back to God,” said Ben-Yehuda.

After a two and a half year respite in Liberia, the first group of Black Hebrews entered Israel in 1969, eventually settling in Dimona, a desert town of 30,000 created in 1955 to accommodate an influx of new immigrants to Israel.

The Israeli government denied the group Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return because the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has ruled they are not halachically Jewish. But by 1990, the Black Hebrews acquired temporary resident status in an agreement reached with the Israel Ministry of the Interior, and in 2004, that status was upgraded to permanent residency.

“Who defined that?” Ben-Yehuda says about the status issue. “We do not let others define for us who we are. That’s why we would not convert, because that would mean acknowledgement that we were not who we said we were. Our lifestyle and our history are validation enough.”

“We hope to be recognized as citizens but citizens have to be halachically Jewish. We’re hoping that will change,” says another community spokesperson, Avichaim Ben-Israel.

Even if the government does not consider the Black Hebrews true Israelis, they do and have even adopted Israeli names in place of their former American names. The first
member of the Black Israelite community to enlist in the IDF, Uriahu Butler, was inducted into the army in July 2004. He has been followed by 100 other enlistments.

Despite the obstacles, the community, which allows the practice of polygamy and forbids the use of birth control and other pharmaceuticals unless absolutely necessary, has multiplied more than 60 times over since it first came to the Negev.

The presence today is ubiquitous throughout the Israeli landscape. They have created a 40-person professional choir and R&B singing troupes which perform throughout the country and on TV. One member of the community, Eddie Butler, has represented Israel twice at the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

“I’m more than happy to represent the country I was born in. I love Jerusalem, I love Israel, I live for this country,” Butler told ISRAEL21c back in 2004 before his solo performance at the contest. “This is my home.”

Butler also represented Israel in the competition back in 1999 as part of a group, Eden, placing a respectable fifth.

The community, which maintains a strict vegan diet and exercise program, has also shown other ways to integrate into its adopted land, establishing famous vegan catering companies and restaurants throughout the country.

Regardless of their ongoing struggle for recognition, the African Hebrew Israelites continue to take pride in their practices and believe they will achieve their goal of becoming fully-fledged Israeli citizens this year.

“It’s all about lifestyle, it’s all about life choices, it’s all about an environment you can have control over,” Ben-Yehuda says with a smile. “We are certainly wanting and desiring to fulfill the prophecies that spoke about the great role of Israel to be a light unto other nations. That’s been our prophetic mission.”


October 22, 2007


KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Black Seminoles in the Bahamas


Published by (August 2005)

Rosalyn Howard. Black Seminoles in the Bahamas. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. xvii + 150 pp. Maps, figures, notes, bibliography, index. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-8130-2559-1; $24.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8130-2743-8.

Reviewed for H-LatAm by Steven C. Hahn, Department of History, St. Olaf College

I Never Knew …

“I never knew that there were Black Seminoles in the Bahamas!” (p. xiii) Such has been the near unanimous response to Rosalyn Howard’s revealing book, which (I must confess) elicited the same response from the present reviewer. While at one level a curiosity, Howard’s historical and cultural analysis of the residents of Andros Island in the Bahamas raises issues concerning identity, ethnogenesis, and race that transcend the boundaries of the tiny island community and widens our present view of the Black Seminole diaspora. Though her work is wanting in some respects, Howard nevertheless succeeds in her stated task of contributing to “a more inclusive perspective of ‘American’ ethnohistory” (p. xiii) that connects the experiences of Africans and Native Americans in a variety of New World landscapes.

As with many works that venture into new territory, Howard’s “mission” is one of giving voice, for the first time, to a people that have yet to be acknowledged as subjects worthy of historical inquiry. As Howard puts it, her aim is “to address the historical, structural amnesia that obscures African and indigenous peoples’ interactions and negates their integral roles in the historiography of the Americas and the Caribbean.” (pp. xvi-xvii). Also inherent to the project is Howard’s quest to “present for the first time an in-depth rendering of the essence of social memory that sustains Black Seminole heritage in Red Bays.”

Toward this end, Howard begins with a brief historical account of the “holocaust of European colonialism” (p. 2), including overviews of the rise of New World African slavery and the devastation that epidemic disease wrought upon the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her analysis then turns to the southern frontier of the British southern colonies, which developed plantation economies centered upon rice production and slave labor. While she notes that African slaves in North America tended less often than their counterparts elsewhere in the New World to employ marronage as a resistance strategy due to climate and geography (one might add demography), Howard rightfully identifies conditions on the southern frontier of North America that made marronage–and thus the formation of Black Seminole communities–possible. For one, while the majority of maroon communities consisted of Africans and Creoles, they could also take the form of alliances between African and indigenous peoples, who were numerous in the American south at that time. Moreover, the Spanish regime in Florida, beginning in 1693 with a Royal Decree promising protection and freedom to all enslaved who reached St. Augustine, drew escapees southward throughout much of the eighteenth century, leading to the formation of the first “legally sanctioned” free African community at Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose.

The focus then shifts to the formation of the Seminoles and their later alliance with African runaways. The Seminoles, composed of “dissidents” from the Creek nation, began migrating from their traditional homes in Alabama and Georgia as early as the 1730s to form new communities in northern Florida. African-American slaves, seeking solace in Florida to escape plantation slavery, later began fleeing to Seminole territory. Though former slaves acted in concert with the Seminoles, assumed some of their manners, and became “an integral part of the Seminole people” (p. 18), Howard is careful not to overestimate the degree to which the Black Seminoles became culturally “Indian.” Black Seminoles tended to live in separate communities, maintained the tradition of patrilineal descent, and retained African naming practices. Moreover, the integration of African and Indian peoples was forged in a climate of mutual hostility to the U.S., which saw Spanish-held Florida and its free Black Seminole communities as a threat to the institution of slavery. This fear among white Americans was in part responsible for the outbreak of the Patriots War of 1812, and three successive Seminole wars that ended only in 1855, after which the vast majority of the tribe were removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

While the majority of Seminoles–Black and Indian–were busy rebuilding their lives in Indian Territory, or fleeing from the U.S. military in the swamps of Florida, groups of Black Seminoles embarked upon what can only be described as a heroic migration to the Bahamas, which began as early as 1819, with the majority of immigrants arriving between 1821 and 1837. Initially classified in official British documents as “slaves” and detained in Nassau for one year, the Black Seminoles were eventually allowed to return to their landing place at Red Bays, Andros Island, to live as free people. That they were allowed to do so suggests that their destination was well chosen. As Howard explains, the experiences of African peoples in the Bahamas “deviated from the norm of West Indian plantation life” (p. 63) in a variety of ways that made the Bahamas–and Andros Island in particular–fertile ground for the establishment of free Black (and Black Seminole) communities. Thinly populated, Andros Island received an influx of Loyalist refugees who fled the American Revolution in 1783 and arrived at Andros in 1787. Many were slaveholders and initially the Loyalists sought to reestablish the plantation system they had enjoyed in North America. They failed to do so, however, due to Andros’s “rocky land, unyielding soil, and devastation caused by the chenille bug” (p. 62). After 1807, the island began receiving an influx of liberated Africans, the beneficiaries of British captures of Spanish slaving ships on the high seas. Though liberated African and white Loyalist communities remained strictly segregated, and many of the “liberated” Africans continued to work under open-ended indenture contracts akin to slavery, the presence of liberated African peoples set a precedent for African freedom, which was sanctioned legally in 1834 by the passage of the Abolition Act prohibiting slavery in all of the British colonies.

Among Howard’s more interesting contributions are the oral histories that document the Black Seminoles’ collective memory of this migration and their Seminole roots. Many of her informants adeptly recall the harshness of the slavery from which they fled. One elderly informant, for example, recalled hearing her elders describe the work regimen under slavery: “in slavery time, they have a white boss, like the master. So they would go out and they work and they do all they master’s work and sometime they be beaten” (p. 40). The lucidity of Black Seminole memories also applies to family genealogies. Many of Howard’s informants recall specific ancestors who made the voyage to Andros Island, and while memories are sometimes vague, virtually all members of the Black Seminole community can relate family oral traditions that affirm some degree of biological (“blood”) relationship to the Indian Seminoles. A feeling of kinship persists, as one of Howard’s informants, Alma Miller, relates “when I be young and be traveling [in Florida] and the Indian they begin owning me, as a part of them. Sometime I see them right here in Nassau. They come over on trips and I go in the States the same thing” (p. 40).

Upon establishing themselves on Andros Island, for the next century or more the Black Seminoles tended to live as they preferred: in isolation. Accessible only by boat or footpath until 1968, the Black Seminoles subsisted primarily by harvesting sponges, fishing, making grass baskets, and raising small crops such as corn, sesame seed, peas, and beans. They remained shadowy elements of the Bahamian population, earning the distinction “wild Indians” of Andros Island. Integration into the greater Bahamian community appears to have begun, however, in the 1950s and 1960s; first in 1953 with the formation of the first black majority Bahamian political party, the PLP (Progressive Liberal Party), which began drawing Andros islanders into the political process, and later in 1968, when a logging company cut a road to the principle Black Seminole community at Red Bays.These developments foreshadowed the soon-to-be-felt effects of national independence (gained in 1973) and globalization. Black Seminole communities today boast a thriving school system, the proliferation of small shops that sell dry and canned goods, and an enhanced subsistence economy generated by the sale of produce to members of the logging companies, which also employ members of the Black Seminole communities. Phone lines, of which there had been only one in 1998, have now been installed in many homes, and the Black Seminoles’ traditional wood-frame, thatch roof houses have been replaced by cement block or frame houses, complete with ceramic tile floors, and satellite dishes.

These developments have certainly transformed the lives of many people, but not all members of the community have benefited equally. Politically, this division can be seen in the rise of a new political party, the FNM (Free National Movement), which pursues economic uplift through integration into the global economy and draws much of its support from the black middle class. Interestingly, the Black Seminole communities that had formerly backed the PLP are now divided politically, and the FNM gained a majority of the votes in the 2002 election. This development, Howard suggests, signifies the beginnings of what is likely to be a continuing debate on the scope and nature of Bahamian integration into the global economy.

Howard’s historical narrative then shifts into a more ethnographic mode in chapter 5, where she discusses demography, kinship and social structure, gender norms, subsistence, and recreation. Especially valuable here is Howard’s discussion of marriage and kinship, which provides a basis for comparison with Black communities throughout the Western Hemisphere. Howard finds that the Black Seminoles’ kinship system is a rather flexible one. The islanders tend to confer kinship status–as brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts–to many men and women who are unrelated by blood or marriage, and the “adoption” of outsiders as members of family casts a wider net of kinship. Extramarital relations are also common; Howard finds that a majority of women in Red Bays have borne children from multiple unions and that the majority of men have extra-residential relations with women whom they dub “sweethearts.” Howard attributes this pattern in part to African traditions of polygamy and to slavery, whereby masters promoted the conception of children to increase the labor force. As a result, though a double-standard of sexual activity persists in this patriarchal society, women who bear children out of wedlock are generally not ostracized, nor do the men disown the children from extramarital unions, called “outside children” by the locals.

Howard’s final chapters (6-8) take up the important question of Black Seminole identity, which she rightly regards as a contextual problem. Bahamians in general tend to reject the label of “West Indian,” and many Afro-West Indians persistently deny the “African Presence” (p. 106) as being central to the region’s ethos. The Bahamas are therefore a “world between worlds” and its residents tend to identify themselves simply as “Bahamian.” The Black Seminoles, Howard finds, are no different, arguing that the fact of their Seminole heritage is “essentially a nonissue” and that they “unfailingly consider themselves to be ‘Bahamian'” (p. 109). Moreover, the Black Seminoles, while assertive of their Seminole heritage, currently have expressed little interest in becoming recognized members of the Seminole communities of the United States, suggesting the importance of place in the formation of their identity.

Howard’s book is most certainly eye-opening and a worthwhile read, but it is not without its shortcomings. While Howard rightly points out that this tendency on the part of Black Seminole Bahamians to emphasize the “Bahamian” aspect of their identity is evidence for the fluidity of identity formation, this same fact tends to call into question the extent to which these communities can justly be called “Seminole.” The Black Seminole Bahamians retain cultural traditions such as patrilineal descent and African naming patterns that are contrary to Seminole Indian practices, nor does any syncretism in religion or language appear to have occurred. What has been preserved, Howard argues, “is not necessarily tangibly evident, but is, rather, epistemological–a complex of knowledge, beliefs, and ways of knowing that derive from the synthesis of heritage and adaptation” (p. 119). Howard’s account, somewhat ironically, put me in mind of many white southerners who claim some form of “Indian” ancestry, but who do so in a nostalgic way that betrays the fact that they do not generally share in the wider culture and history of the Southern Indians. Therefore, it might have been equally, if not more fruitful for Howard to investigate the more tangible “African” elements of the Andros Islanders’ culture rather than their nostalgic recollection of their “Indian” past.

Moreover, scholars with expertise in Seminole and southeastern Indian history are likely to find her historical research into the formation of the Seminoles and Black Seminoles of the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries to be wanting, as her evidence is based on somewhat dated secondary materials and could have been buttressed by recent works by Claudio Saunt, Brent Weisman, and others. Howard also could have done a better job of pinning her historical narrative to a stricter chronology. She has a tendency to slip into the ethnographic present when discussing Black Seminole culture, leaving her discussion of it somewhat detached from the changes wrought by a century of life in the Bahamas and recent integration into the wider Bahamian and global communities. At times, important topics that might have allowed for her to delve deeply into that culture are overlooked, such as religion, to which she devotes less than one page. A fuller analysis of religious practices might have enabled her to find connections (or not) to Seminole belief systems, and, given the apparent importance of Christianity in the lives of her subjects (her most important informant, in fact, is a Baptist minister) would have allowed for fuller investigation of the Black Seminoles’ world view and identity.

These shortcomings aside, Howard’s book is valuable in that the story is compelling, presented succinctly, and it succeeds in its stated goal of giving voice to a people “without history.” Furthermore, her case study will certainly prove valuable to anyone doing comparative work in Caribbean ethnic history, and the histories of the African, Black Seminole, and Seminole diasporas, of which we can only expect more in the future. Howard sums it up best, stating that her book, “hopefully, provides a point of departure for future research into the unwritten stories of African and Native American encounters in the New World” (p. xvii). Indeed! Black Seminoles in the Bahamas is sure to leave readers eager to learn more and generate further studies about these intriguing peoples. We can only hope that Professor Howard will be among the first to take the challenge and delve more deeply into this interesting subject.

posted by Maximilian C. Forte | 7:00 PM

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October 21, 2007


Whitney on ‘spiritual visit’
28/05/2003 13:35 – (SA)

Click here to find out more!
# Whitney’s husband jailed
# Pop diva’s dad wants $100m
# Whitney: I abused drugs

Jerusalem – US pop diva Whitney Houston met with Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon at his Jerusalem residence on Tuesday evening while on a six-day visit to Israel at the invitation of a desert-dwelling black Hebrew sect.

Dressed in a distinctive vibrant red African costume, Houston, 40, told Sharon she was in Israel to “visit friends and family” among the polygamous black Hebrews, who have been living in Israel since 1969.

But, standing outside Sharon’s residence, Houston did not shake hands with Israel’s burly premier, leaving it to her husband the former singer Bobby Brown.

She was also due to meet with Israel’s hawkish Tourism Minister Benny Elon.

Houston and Brown arrived in Israel with their daughter on Sunday and went directly to the desert town of Dimona, which is home to the 2 000-strong sect and renowned for being the site of an Israeli nuclear plant.

“We arrived in Israel for a spiritual visit, to meet with our brothers and sisters in Dimona. We are very excited and looking forward to our visit,” the couple said.

Houston was also said to be planning a recording about Israel with several members of the community, which is known for its choirs and singing groups, they added.

On Monday, she visited the southern coastal town of Eilat, and is due to tour Jerusalem on Wednesday, taking in both Jewish and Christian holy sites in the Old City. Later in the week, she is to visit the Galilee and Jordan river areas, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Known as the Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem, the black Hebrews believe they are descended from one of the lost ten tribes of Israel as mentioned in the Bible.

Strict dietary laws forbid the consumption of meat and polygamy is permitted.

The group first came to Israel in 1969, and since then, members have earned a living through their celebrated professional gospel choir and rhythm and blues singing troupes.


October 17, 2007


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Black Hebrews Become Israelis
History of Israeli Dance

What are a group of African-Americans from Chicago doing living in Israel and fighting the Israeli government?

The Black Hebrews are a sect that believes that they are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel. The first Black Hebrews began arriving in Israel in 1969, entering the country on temporary visas. Today about 1250 members of the sect live in southern Israel and are led by Ben Ami Carter.

The Black Hebrews have their own special rules of conduct:

* polygamy is permitted
* leaders decree who will marry whom, perform weddings adn approve annulments
* birth control is forbidden.
* meat, dairy products, eggs and sugar may not be eaten, and members who are caught consuming these foods are punished
* Hebraic names must be adopted in place of former “slave names”
* women are responsibile for child-rearing and other family obligations
* infractions of rules are severely punished.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared that the Black Hebrews were not Jews, and therefore the sect’s members were not entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

Nevertheless, the Black Hebrew population in Dimona continued to grow due to their high birthrate and also because many of them, some with criminal backgrounds, illegally entered Israel using various forms of subterfuge. The Government of Israel avoided deporting the Black Hebrew members who lived in the country illegally, but at the same time also refrained from granting the Black Hebrews citizenship or permanent residency. During the tension that developed during the ’70s and especially the ’80s, some members of the sect engaged in anti-Israel activity and propaganda, aligning themselves with anti-Semitic groups. They claimed that the white Jews were “imposters”, and that they, the Black Hebrews, were the rightful inheritors of the land of Israel.

The Black Hebrews acquired legal status in an agreement reached with the Israel Ministry of the Interior in May 1990. According to that agreement, the Black Hebrews were initially granted tourist status with a B/1 visa which entitled them to employment; a year later they were given temporary resident status (A/5) for a period of five years. At the end of the five year period in 1995, their status was extended for another three years. In 1998, their status will come up for review.

Their current status gives them two special benefits.

They are entitled to stipends paid by Israel’s National Insurance Institute (social security) — such as child support, assistance to the handicapped, aid for the elderly, supplemental income, etc. Indeed, 830 members of the sect are receiving such benefits from the NII.

The Israel Ministry of Education assists and subsidizes the operation of a school for the Black Hebrew children. Today the school serves 700 pupils who study in 14 clases. The U.S. Congress has assisted this school by appropriating $1 million, half of which was designated for constructing the school facility.
The Black Hebrews derive their income from their famous choir, their seamsters’ workshop which provides the sect with its colorful clothing, and from their vegetarian restaurant in Arad’s commercial center, with an adjacent factory for vegetarian food products.

TEL AVIV, Aug. 8 (JTA) — There are 2,500 new permanent residents of the State of Israel, but not one of them is new to the Jewish state.
Israel’s Black Hebrews, a group that traces its origins through Chicago and, they claim, all the way back to the biblical Jewish kingdoms, have been given a home in the Jewish state.

Though the Black Hebrews began immigrating to Israel from the United States in 1969, it was only last week that the community in southern Israel was granted permanent residency status.

It has been 34 years of bitter struggle, community members say.

“It seems that we are now at the doorstep of citizenship,” says Atarah Yafah Kitanah, spokeswoman for the Black Hebrew community of Dimona.

“We are happy,” she says of the development. “We now move forward.”

As permanent residents, Black Hebrews can serve in the Israeli army and establish government-recognized villages, the Interior Ministry says.

Permanent resident status generally leads to full citizenship after an unspecified period of time, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Tova Ellinson said.

Many Black Hebrews say a Jewish past would help explain otherwise inscrutable aspects of their identity.

“My great-great-grandmother had a Hebrew name, and there were certain practices that were passed down from generation to generation that nobody understood,” Kitanah recalls.

“There were a lot of different things passed on, like my grandmother telling me our people — our ancestors — came from the Holy Land, and we have a history there, and one day we will return,” she said.

Black Hebrews say they are descendants of the Jews expelled by the Romans in 70 C.E. According to Black Hebrew legend, some of those Jews reached West Africa, and many generations later their descendants were among the slaves brought to the United States.

Few in the Jewish establishment accept the Black Hebrews’ claims, however, and Israel’s Rabbinate ruled that they are not halachically Jewish.

In 1966, the community’s spiritual leader, Ben-Ammi Ben-Israel, said he had a vision that it was time for the Black Hebrews to return to their “homeland” of Israel.

In 1967, he left Chicago along with 430 followers and led them deep into the Liberian bush to re-enact the Jewish exodus from Egypt.

“As our fathers needed to sojourn before passing into the Promised Land, to shed their slave mentality, so we had to sojourn in Liberia,” Ben-Israel once explained to the Jerusalem Post.

Community members stayed in the African bush for the next two years, braving heavy rains in leaky tents.

Ravaged by poverty, hunger and illness, they tried to learn to live off the land. Two years later — after nearly three-fourths of the group had returned to the United States — 120 of the Black Hebrews moved to Israel.

They were joined over the years by others who entered Israel as tourists and stayed on after their visas expired.

The Black Hebrews’ path toward Israeli citizenship has been long and arduous.

Originally offered citizenship under the Law of Return in 1969, the community’s status later was challenged and revoked. From 1973 through the early 1990s, the community had no legal status, and many members of the group — who had renounced their U.S. citizenship — were left stateless.

As a result, Black Hebrews could not hold legal jobs, send their children to Israeli schools or utilize national health care services.

The Black Hebrews’ cause was not helped by their insistence that they were the true Jews and that the Israelis were usurpers. As their case made its was through Israeli courts, they mounted a campaign against the state that many saw as vitriolic and anti-Semitic.

The community’s newspapers compared Israelis to Nazis and included images of money-grubbing Jews.

An Israeli government report issued in 1980 recommended that the Black Hebrews be taken through a gradual process of naturalization that would lead to citizenship. The government worried that deportation back to the United States might raise charges of racism.

The report’s recommendations were never implemented, however.

In 1989, then-Interior Minister Aryeh Deri visited Ben-Israel.

“There was an understanding, principles of agreement, between the community and the Ministry of the Interior,” Kitanah says. “The Ministry of the Interior was to grant us legal status.”

A year later, the ministry offered community members work permits, and in 1993 it granted them three-year temporary resident status.

“After temporary residency, we were to receive permanent residency and receive citizenship, but it didn’t go as planned,” Kitanah says.

Interior Ministry officials deny any such commitment.

They periodically extended the community’s temporary resident status, and in 1999 they offered community members Israeli identity cards. However, Many Black Hebrews said they weren’t able to get the cards.

The struggle for citizenship has been mired in controversy focused around the Black Hebrews’ purported lineage.

Early on, the Israeli Rabbinate determined that the Black Hebrews are not halachic Jews. Israel’s Supreme Court offered the community citizenship on the condition that they undergo formal Orthodox conversion.

But Ben-Israel refused, explaining that conversion would imply a rejection of the Black Hebrews’ lineage.

The Black Hebrews also resented being treated differently than the non-Jews among the more than 1 million immigrants who arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union during the 1990s. Though up to a quarter of the immigrants were not halachically Jewish, they were granted Israeli citizenship because of their family ties to Jews.

“Russian and other immigrants come in and introduce prostitution and other vices,” says Andrew Butler, a Black Hebrew performance artist living in Tel Aviv. “They don’t even want to abide by Jewish laws, and still Israel gives citizenship to them.”

Despite their struggles for acceptance, the Black Hebrews established a fast growing community. Members say it is deeply rooted in Biblical teachings, though they reject latter-day interpretations of the Bible, including such injunctions as the rabbinic prohibition against polygamy.

Adherents follow a strictly vegan diet; eschew caffeine, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; and experiment with no-salt days, sugar-free weeks and raw-food weeks.

According to a study by researchers from Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College, the Black Hebrews have an extremely low level of cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity.

In 1980, the community moved from overcrowded housing in Dimona to an abandoned absorption center nearby, which they cleaned and beautified.

The call their current environs the Village of Peace or the Island of Sanity, and it includes a vegan restaurant that is open to the public.

Community members say they welcome Israeli visitors and are involved in Dimona civic life.

Kitanah says that Black Hebrews “represent the city of Dimona and State of Israel.”

In 1999, for example, two Black Hebrews were part of the boy band that represented Israel at the Eurovision song contest — even though the two weren’t Israeli citizens.

One Black Hebrew youngster, Talila Bat-Israel, a young swimming champion, hopes to represent Israel in upcoming Olympic games.

Though her athletic ability may get her into the games, it remains to be seen whether or not Bat-Israel will be Israeli by then.

~ Lisa Katz


October 17, 2007



The history of the Garifuna (or Garifune) begins before the year 1635 on the island of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean. St. Vincent was inhabited by a tribe of Indians who called themselves Arawaks. The Kalipuna tribe from mainland South America invaded St. Vincent and conquered the Arawaks. The Arawak men were all killed and the Kalipuna warriors took the Arawak women as wives. The inhabitants of the island were then the union of these two tribes. The word “Garifuna”, which means “cassava eating people”, is probably descended from “Kalipuna”. The Spanish called these people “Caribes” (Caribs) which means cannibals and that is the word from which “Caribbean” is descended.

In the year 1635 two Spanish ships carrying Nigerian slaves shipwrecked on the island of St. Vincent. At first, the Spanish, Nigerians and Kalipuna fought one another but eventually learned to get along and intermarried, thus creating the Black Caribs.

At that time, St. Vincent was a British colony and the Caribs tried to establish independent control of the island. The French supported the Caribs and there were many battles between the Caribs and the British. The greatest battle took place in 1795 and both sides suffered great losses. In 1796 the Caribs and the French surrendered to the British.

The British now had a problem. The Caribs were free men with black skin and St. Vincent was populated by slave-owning Europeans. The idea of a group of free black men living among them on the island was unacceptable so the British decided to deport the Caribs. The British hunted down and rounded up the Caribs, killing hundreds in the process and destroying their homes and culture. The remaining 4,300 Caribs were shipped to Balliceaux where half of them died of yellow fever.

In 1797 the surviving Caribs were shipped to Roatan Island off the coast of Honduras. Along the way, the Spanish captured one of the British ships which was taken to Trujillo where the captured Caribs did well. Later, the Spanish captured Roatan Island from the British. The Spanish rounded up 1,700 Caribs on the island and brought them to Trujillo where laborers were much needed. The Spanish were not good farmers and Trujillo suffered accordingly. On the other hand, the Caribs were very skillful at farming so they went to work and did very well in Trujillo. Some of the Caribs were conscripted into the Spanish army where they served with distinction.

The first Caribs to arrive on the coast of Belize were brought there as woodcutters by the Spanish in 1802. They were put ashore in the area near Stann Creek and what is now Punta Gorda. At the time, Belize was held by the British and was called British Honduras. The Caribs continued to serve the Spanish army with distinction, earning medals of valor. At one point, the fortress at San Felipe (El Castillo de San Felipe) was commanded by a Carib. Gradually more Caribs moved to the Stann Creek area in British Honduras.

Because of their alignment with the Spanish, the Caribs found themselves on the wrong side of the political fence when Central America achieved independence from Spain. Those Caribs in Trujillo found themselves in the new country of Honduras where sentiments against Spain were strong. Large numbers of Caribs fled to the coast of Belize where other Caribs already lived in numbers. It is this migration that is celebrated annually as Garifuna Settlement Day. This is a major holiday in Garifuna communities celebrated on November 19th.

Gradually, the Caribs spread up and down the coast of Belize. During this century, some Caribs served on US and British merchant vessels during World War II and travelled the world. As a result, there are now small communities of Garifuna in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City.

The Garifuna culture is very strong with great emphasis on music, dance and story-telling and with its own brand of religion consisting of a mix of Catholicism, African and Indian beliefs. Because of their difference and independence, over the years the Garifuna have been feared and discriminated against by Guatemalans and variously accused of devil-worship, polygamy, voodoo and speaking a secret language.

In 1996, Garifuna Settlement Day was especially important. The government of Guatemala officially recognized the importance of the Garifuna community and President Arzu paid an official visit to the town of Livingston. The Garifuna culture is a unique treasure.

Rio Dulce Geography


Michael Coe, Breaking The Maya Code, (Thames and Hudson, US). The fascinating story of the long and difficult road to deciphering the Mayan spoken language. Some Mayan glyphs are hieroglyphic where single symbols have an inherent meaning, like a trademark or logo. But the Maya also had a phonetic alphabet composed of glyphs which was only decoded recently. This book is a page-turner despite the dryness of the subject matter.

Michael Coe, The Maya, (Thames and Hudson, US). A thorough look at what we have learned about the Maya thus far from one of the field’s leading archaeologists.

Anne LaBastille, Bird of the Maya, Folk Tales and Bird Identification, (West of the Wind Publications, US, 1993, ISBN 0-9632846-0-7). Along with detailed information on some of the common birds LaBastille includes a thorough species list with names in English, Spanish and Mayan. Half of the book is devoted to fascinating Mayan stories and legends about birds.

Albertina Saravia E., Popol Wuh, (Editorial Piedra Santa, Guatemala, Central America, 1980, ISBN 84-8377-095-4). Saravia learned to love the Popol Wuh as a child and her translation is very readable, suitable for adults or children.

Juan Luis Velásquez Muñoz, Nuevas Evidencias de la Ocupacion de la Cuencas del Lago de Izabal – Rio Dulce y Este del Rio Polichic, (Doctoral Thesis, Escuela de Historia, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 1995).


Abram S. Benenson, ed., Control of Communicable Diseases in Man. (American Public Health Assn., 1990).

Anne LaBastille, Birds of the Maya, Folk Tales and Bird Identification, (West of the Wind Publications, US, 1993, ISBN 0-9632846-0-7). Along with detailed information on some of the common birds LaBastille includes a thorough species list with names in English, Spanish and Mayan. Half of the book is devoted to fascinating Mayan stories and legends about birds.

Frank B. Smithe, The Birds of Tikal, (Natural History Press, US, 1966, Library of Congress 66-17459, available in bookstores in Antigua, Guatemala). Smithe spent several seasons in Tikal identifying birds. This book is quite thorough given the magnitude of the task. Good illustrations of some birds but more are needed.


Tom Barry and Deb Preusch, The Central American Fact Book, (Grove Press, New York, 1986, ISBN 0-8021-3038-0 pbk). Although a bit dated today, crammed with interesting facts and background to the economies and politics of Central America.

Walter La Feber, Inevitable Revolutions – The United States in Central America, (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, US, 1993, ISBN 0-393-03434-8 (cl) ISBN 0-393-30964-9 (pa). Excellent historical analysis of the involvement of the United States in the byzantine politics of Central America.

Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala, The Foreign Policy of Intervention, (University of Texas Press, US, 1995, ISBN 0-292-71083-6 pbk). Immerman started out to write an expose of the US backed coup in Guatemala in 1954. During his 10 years of research he discovered that the subject was much more complex than simply the US covertly supporting the United Fruit Company via the CIA.


Aldous Huxley, Beyond the Mexique Bay, (Harper Collins/Greenwood). Description of Huxley’s travels through Central America as seen through Huxley’s penetrating and opinionated eyes. A good read.

John Lloyd Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, (Century, US). Accounts of a 19th century American traveler which include some vivid descriptions of the most beautiful places in Central America.

Ronald Wright, Time Among the Maya, (Bodley Head / H. Holt and Company). An excellent book which will give you much insight into the ancient Maya as well as their plight in recent years in Guatemala.


Tom Brosnahan, Guatemala, Belize and Yucatan – La Ruta Maya, (Lonely Planet Publications, Australia, 1994, ISBN 0-86442-220-2). A good travel book that lives up to its title. Does not cover all of Guatemala.

Richard Mahler, Guatemala – A Natural Destination, (John Muir Publications, US, 1993, ISBN 1-56261-075-9). A good supplemental book. Lacks the detailed information needed by a traveler such as city maps, bus routes and other services.

Mark Whatmore, Peter Eltringham, Guatemala and Belize – The Rough Guide, (Rough Guides, Ltd., UK, 1993, ISBN 1-85828-045-1). The best guidebook for travelers to Guatemala – accurate and thorough.


Miguel Angel Asturias, El Papa Verde, (Verso / Routledge, Chapman and Hall). A well written illustrative look at United Fruit presented as a novel by the Nobel Prize winning Asturias.

Carlos Luis Fallas, Gentes y Gentecillas, A novel depicting life on a banana plantation.

Carlos Luis Fallas, Mamita Yunai: El Infierno de las Bananeras, A fast paced novel set in the Banana plantations of the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica illustrating the severe hardships and unfair treatment of the workers. Fallas was a labor organizer in Costa Rica during the 1930s and 40s.

Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala, The Foreign Policy of Intervention, (University of Texas Press, US, 1995, ISBN 0-292-71083-6 pbk). Immerman started out to write an expose of the US backed coup in Guatemala in 1954. During his 10 years of research he discovered the subject was much more complex than simply the US supporting the United Fruit Company via the CIA.

Walter La Feber, Inevitable Revolutions – The United States in Central America, (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, US, 1993, ISBN 0-393-03434-8 (cl) ISBN 0-393-30964-9 (pa). Excellent historical analysis of the involvement of the United States in the byzantine politics of Central America.

Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, A novel depicting life on a banana plantation.


Daniel Armas, DICCIONARIO de la expresión popular guatemalteca, (Editorial Piedra Santa, Guatemala, 1991). Fascinating dictionary of popular Guatemalan expressions and their usages. One or more examples are given for each. Very thorough and frank.

Teresa Catarella, Ph.D., Universal Spanish-English Dictionary, (Langenscheidt, Berlin, 1992).

Robert Hendrickson, The Ocean Almanac, (Doubleday, US, 1984, ISBN 0-385-14077-0). A reference book jammed with interesting facts, history and lore of the sea covering every topic from pirates to plankton.

Ramón Sopena, Diccionario ilustrado de la lengua española, (Editorial Ramón Sopena, Barcelona, 1974, 1987).


Instituto Geográfico Nacional de Guatemala, 1:250,000 Map, ND 16-1, Puerto Barrios, 1961, 1963, 1964

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map E754 2462 IV, Castillo San Felipe, 1990

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map 2463 III, Livingston, 1990

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map 2362 I, Rio Tunico, 1990

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map 2363 II, San Antonio Seja, 1990




October 16, 2007


The Black Saints of Nigeria
Friday, Jun. 18, 1965

Pending a new revelation, possible at any time, Mormons are committed to a certain degree of built-in segregation: Negroes cannot be admitted to the church’s priesthood. For this reason, Mormon missionaries have never tried very hard to make converts in black Africa. Yet Mormons also believe that Negroes may be admitted to the priesthood in heaven. This apparently is good enough for 7,000 Ibibio, Ibo and Efik tribesmen in eastern Nigeria, who have gone ahead to organize their own branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nigeria’s saints owe their knowledge of Mormonism to an itinerant team of Church of Christ missionaries who visited the town of Uyo in 1953 and left behind, among other books and tracts, a copy of Joseph Smith’s Own Story. Fascinated by the dramatic life of the Mormon prophet, Anie Dick Obot of Uyo decided to form a branch of the church in Nigeria, and wrote for more information to Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City. Mormon leaders sent back books explaining their laws and doctrines, and in 1959 dispatched to Africa Elder Lamar Williams, who was much impressed by the Nigerians’ zeal and orthodoxy. Since then, the Nigerian Saints, governed by Obot and a council of 75 elders, have established branches in six cities.

Church chiefs are somewhat at a loss on how to deal with their new African converts, especially since the Nigerian government will not give resident visas to any missionaries from the U.S. “This is quite a unique situation,” admits Hugh D. Brown, Mormon first counselor. One problem now is that in the absence of supervision from Utah the Nigerian Saints appear to be deviating somewhat from strict adherence to revelation. Some Nigerian Mormons practice polygamy—forbidden in the U.S. church since 1890—and the converts already seem to have established their own black hierarchy, priests and all. “I don’t have to wait for revelation to know that I am the natural head in Nigeria,” snaps Obot, who is accepted by his elders as their bishop. “Nigerian priests will run their own branch. This is their creation, and they are in their own country.”


October 10, 2007

My problem is that this site has grown so fast and I don’t yet have the money to get a laptop and internet connection which is expensive here in Nigeria- about 2,000dollars in all to keep up with servicing this site and posting and answering on time etc. Any BROTHERS/SISTERS who want to send me your widow’s mite toward this can contact me at:
I am praying about it and I know that Olodumare(GOD) will provide so I can give you the BLACK RACE the service you deserve!
Your SISTER, BLACK for the RACE,
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade

Oluwa ba wa se o . ASE! (God will work it out! in Yoruba. ASE=let it be so!)

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