Sankara, An African Revolutionary

​If you have heard of Thomas Sankara but don't know much about him and his life, Ernest Harsch's "Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary" (2014) is a useful introduction. However, the book is quite brief (152 pages in a small sized book) - it is part of the Short Histories of Africa series. For a more detailed understanding, I would recommend the publication of his speeches and writings (which I will blog about in a future post). What this book does, which his speeches and writings do not, is provide some context, such as his time in Madagascar). Some notes:

"Sankara advanced his political education through more than books and discussions. He was able to personally witness revolutionary change. His last year in Madagascar coincided with an unprecedented period of political upheaval marked by peasant revolts, general strikes, huge public demonstrations against a conservative pro-French regime, and finally a military takeover that steadily brought ever more radical officers into high positions of power." (p. 28)

"There was little difference between colonial rule and "neocolonial society," Sankara said, except that some nationals had taken over as the agents of foreign domination. While the twenty-three years of Upper Volta's independence was "a paradise for the wealthy minority, for the majority - the people - it is a barely tolerable hell."" (p. 54)

"Although the northeast had unexploited manganese deposits, the World Bank and other donor agencies considered extension of the railway to be uneconomical, and therefore declined to fund it. The Sankara government hoped to change their minds by building an additional 100 kilometers of track from Ouagadougou to Kaya through its own financing and labor mobilization." (p. 76)

"At a time when many African leaders behaved like supplicants eager to do anything to attract Western financing, the Burkinabe government insisted that national priorities came first. As the five-year plan put it, Burkina Faso's development strategy had to "base itself on national resources, both human and material, to build the new society."" (p. 91)

"Justin Damo Barro, who was finance minister during Sankara's first year, later revealed that he had tried on four occasions to persuade the president to ask for assistance from the International Monetary Fund, but Sankara declined on the grounds that IMF "conditionality" would spell the end of the revolution, by shifting decisions over basic economic policy away from Burkinabe and toward an external entity." (p. 92)

Regarding seeking partnerships with other governments, Sankara said: "What is essential is to develop a relationship of equals, mutually beneficial, without paternalism on one side or an inferiority complex on the other." (p. 112-113)

"...many African countries originally took the loans, at steep interest rates, on the advice of Western financial experts, who ultimately bore responsibility for the mushrooming of the debt. "Those who led us into debt were gambling, as if they were in a casino. As long as they were winning, there was no problem. Now that they're losing their bets, they demand repayment." Individually, African countries would be too weak to refuse to pay, Sankara pointed out. So he proposed that African leaders stand together and create a "united front" against the debt. The OAU never followed Sankara's advice..." (p. 122)

An African Renaissance: Ngugi wa Thiong'o

​Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the most important voices on language and decolonization. His works include Decolonizing the Mind (1986) and Theory and Politics of Knowing (2012). This post shares some notes on his 2009 Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance (copy appears available here).

"colonialists did not literally cut off the heads of the colonized or physically bury them alive. Rather, they dismembered the colonized from memory, turning their heads upside down and burying all the memories they carried. Wherever they went, in their voyages of land, sea, and mind, Europeans planted their own memories on whatever they contacted." (p. 7)

"In his attempt to remake the land and its peoples in his image, the conqueror acquires and asserts the right to name the land and its subjects, demanding that the subjugated accept the names and culture of the conqueror. When Japan occupied Korea in 1906, it banned Korean names and required the colonized to take on Japanese ones. But one might ask: What is in a name? It is said that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet; however, the truth is that its identity would no longer be expressed in terms of roses but, instead, would assume that of the new name. Names have everything to do with how we identify objects, classify them, and remember them." (p. 9)

"Africans, in the diaspora and on the continent, were soon to be the recipients of this linguistic logic of conquest, with two results: linguicide in the case of the diaspora and linguistic famine, or linguifam, on the continent." (p. 17)

"In the continent as a whole, the postcolonial slumber would not be disturbed by memories of the African holocaust. Slavery and colonialism become events of shame, of guilt. Their memory is shut up in a crypt, a collective psychic tomb, which is what Oduche symbolically does when he shuts the python, a central image of his people's cosmic view, in a box." (p. 61)

"Pan-Africanism has not outlived its mission. Seen as an economic, political, cultural, and psychological re-membering vision, it should continue to guide remembering practices. Economic Pan-Africanism will translate into a network of communications—air, sea, land, telephone, Internet—that ease intracontinental movements of peoples, goods, businesses, and services. Africa becomes a power bloc able to negotiate on an equal basis with all other global economies. But this is impossible without a powerful political union, as championed by Kwame Nkrumah." (p. 88-89)

"In the year 2000, a number of African scholars and writers met in Eritrea and came up with the Asmara Declaration on African Languages and Literatures, a ten-point document that begins by calling on African languages to take on the duty, challenge, and responsibility of speaking for the continent. It then lists nine other conditions—including recognition of the vitality, equality, and diversity of African languages as a basis for the future empowerment of African peoples; the necessity of communication among African languages and their development at all levels of the schooling system; promotion of research, science, and technology in African languages; and the necessity of democracy and gender equality in the development of African languages—and it concludes by emphasizing that African languages are essential for the decolonization of African minds as well as for the African renaissance." (p. 93)

"Memory resides in language and is clarified by language. By incorporating the colonial world into the international capitalist order and relations, with itself as the center of such order and relations, the imperialist West also subjected the rest of the world to its memory through a vast naming system. It planted its memory on our landscape. Egoli became Johannesburg. The great East African Lake, known by the Luo people as Namlolwe, became Lake Victoria." (p. 113)

"We have languages, but our keepers of memory feel that they cannot store knowledge, emotions, and intellect in African languages. It is like possessing a granary but, at harvest, storing your produce in somebody else's granary." (p. 114)

"We must produce knowledge in African languages and then use translation as a means of conversation in and among African languages. We must also translate from European and Asian languages into our own, for our languages must not remain isolated from the mainstream of progressive human thought in the languages and cultures of the globe." (p. 124)

Between the World and Me

​Ta-Nehisi Coates' book on the Obama years (We Were Eight Years in Power, 2017) attracted the scorn of Cornell West. Coates' earlier book, Between the World and Me (2015), is a bestseller. In the form of a letter to his son, the book tells his journey of his own experiences and reflections of being Black in America. A few notes from that 2015 work:

"the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. It does not matter if the destruction is the result of an unfortunate overreaction. It does not matter if it originates in a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction springs from a foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without the proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Turn into a dark stairwell and your body can be destroyed. The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions. And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible." (p. 9)"Fail to comprehend the streets and you gave up your body now. But fail to comprehend the schools and you gave up your body later. I suffered at the hands of both, but I resent the schools more." (p. 25)

"Our teachers urged us toward the example of freedom marchers, Freedom Riders, and Freedom Summers, and it seemed that the month could not pass without a series of films dedicated to the glories of being beaten on camera. The black people in these films seemed to love the worst things in life - love the dogs that rent their children apart, the tear gas that clawed at their lungs, the firehorses that tore off their clothes and tumbled them into the streets. They seemed to love the men who raped them, the women who cursed them, love the children who spat on them, the terrorists that bombed them. Why are they showing this to us? Why were only our heroes nonviolent?" (p. 32)

"We were black, beyond the visible spectrum, beyond civilization. Our history was interior because we were inferior, which is to say our bodies were inferior." (p. 43-44)

"A legacy of plunder, a network of laws and traditions, a heritage, a Dream, murdered Prince Jones as sure as it murders black people in North Lawndale with frightening regularity. "Black-on-black crime" is jargon, violence to language, which vanishes the men who engineered the covenants, who fixed the loans, who planned the projects, who built the streets and sold red ink by the barrel. And this should not surprise us. The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return." (p. 110)

A Dying Colonialism - Fanon (1959)

Fanon is well known for his Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and Wretched of the Earth (1961). Another of his works, A Dying Colonialism (1957), seems less spoken about (originally titled L'An Cinq, de la Revolution Algerienne). The first chapter reminded me of Said's Orientalism, which was written much later (1978). Going back to Orientalism, none of Fanon's work is cited, although Edward Said cites a work about Fanon. Fanon certainly enabled the type of work that Said did in Orientalism, but it seems he did not attribute the connection directly (although there are many direction connections in Chapter 1). Some notes from Fanon's A Dying Colonialism (1957):

"In the colonialist program, it was the woman who was given the historic mission of shaking up the Algerian man. Converting the woman, winning her over to the foreign values, wrenching her free from her status, was at the same time achieving a real power over the man and attaining a practical, effective means of destructuring Algerian culture." (p. 39)

"Every new Algerian woman unveiled announced to the occupier an Algerian society whose systems of defense were in the process of dislocation, open and breached. Every veil that fell, every body that became liberated from the traditional embrace of the haik, every face that that offered itself to the bold and impatient glance of the occupier, was a negative expression of the fact that Algeria was beginning to deny herself and was accepting the rape of the colonizer. Algerian society with every abandoned veil seemed to express its willingness to attend to the master's school and to decide to change its habits under the occupier's direction and patronage." (p. 42-43)

"Before 1954, a radio in an Algerian house was the mark of Europeanization in progress, of vulnerability. It was the conscious opening to the influence of the dominator, to his pressure. It was the decision to give voice to the occupier. Having a radio meant accepting being besieged from within by the colonizer. It meant demonstrating that one chose cohabitation within the colonial framework. It meant, beyond any doubt, surrendering to the occupier." (p. 92-93)

"The tactic adopted by French colonialism since the beginning of the Revolution has had the result of separating the people from each other, of fragmenting them, with the sole objective of making any cohesion impossible." (p. 118)

"This stay in France turned out in the end to be very profitable. It confirmed for me what I already sensed: that I was not French, that I had never been French. Language, culture - these are not enough to make you belong to a people. Something more is needed: a common life, common experiences and memories, common aims. All this I lacked in France. My stay in France showed me that I belonged to an Algerian community, showed me that I was a stranger in France." (p. 175)

Nkrumah - The Struggle Continues

​This is the third of Kwame Nkrumah's publications I have shared notes on. The first was the Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968) and the second was Class Struggle in Africa (1970). This post shares some notes from The Struggle Continues (1973), a collection of short publications that were written between 1949 to 1968. A reprinted chapter "The Big Lie" should be required reading. Some notes:

"In our present vigorous struggle for Self-Government, nothing strikes so much terror into the hearts of the imperialists and their agents than the term Positive Action... The term Positive Action has been erroneously and maliciously publicised no doubt, by the imperialists and their concealed agent-provocateurs and stooges. The political renegades, enemies of the Convention People's Party for that matter of Ghana's freedom, have diabolically publicised that the C.P.P.'s programme of positive action means riot, looting and disturbances, in a word violence." (p. 5)

"In Africa, we thought we could achieve freedom and independence, and our ultimate goals of unity and socialism by peaceful means. This has landed us in the grip of neocolonialism. We could not succeed using non-violent methods. The same power structure which is blocking the efforts of African-Americans in the United States is also now throwing road-blocks in Africa's way. Imperialism, neo-colonialism, settler domination and racialism seek to bring us down and re-subjugate us." (41-42)

"The fact that our enemies decided finally on subversion and violence as the only effective way in which to achieve their objective of halting the Ghanaian revolution and bringing Ghana into the neo-colonialist fold, is a measure of the success of our economic policies. We had proved that we were strong enough to develop independently, not only without foreign tutelage, but also in the context of active imperialist and neo-colonialist resistance." (p. 73)

"Fanon did not mean non-commitment or non-alignment in the commonly accepted sense, though both have come to be associated with the term. The very mention of the "Third World" suggests to some a kind of passivity, a non-participation, an opting out of the conflict between the two worlds of capitalism and socialism. It is this concept which seems to have led to most of the misuse of the term "Third World", and renders its use so misleading. There is no middle road between capitalism and socialism...The expression first came to be widely used when two Conferences of Non-Aligned States had been held" [1961 and 1964] (p. 74-75)

Class Struggle in Africa

Kwame Nkrumah wrote a number of books and pamphlets. Here are a few notes from his "Class Struggle in Africa" (1970):

"Many members of the African bourgeoisie are employed by foreign firms and have, therefore, a direct financial stake in the continuance of the foreign economic exploitation of Africa. Others, notably in the civil service, trading and mining firms, the armed forces, the police and in the professions, are committed to capitalism because of their background, their western education, and their shared experience and enjoyment of positions of privilege. They are mesmerised by capitalist institutions and organisations. They ape the way of life of their old colonial masters, and are determined to preserve the status and power inherited from them." (p. 12)

"While a racist social structure is not inherent in the colonial situation, it is inseparable from capitalist economic development. For race is inextricably linked with class exploitation; in a racist-capitalist power structure, capitalist exploitation and race oppression are complementary; the removal of one ensures the removal of the other." (p. 27)

"A distinction must be made between tribes and tribalism. The clan is the extended family, and the tribe is the extended clan with the same ethnic language within a territory. There were tribes in Africa before imperialist penetration, but no "tribalism" in the modern sense. Tribalism arose from colonialism, which exploited feudal and tribal survivals to combat the growth of national liberation movements." (p. 59)

"In the era of neocolonialism, tribalism is exploited by the bourgeois ruling classes as an instrument of power politics, and as a useful outlet for the discontent of the masses. Many of the so-called tribal conflicts in modern Africa are in reality class forces brought into conflict by the transition from colonialism to neocolonialism. Tribalism is the result, not the cause, of underdevelopment. In the majority of "tribal" conflicts, the source is the exploiting bourgeois or feudal minority in co-operation with imperialists and neocolonialists seeking to promote their joint class interests." (p. 59-60)

"The methods of neocolonialism are economic control, in the form of "aid", "loans", trade and banking; the stranglehold of indigenous economies through vast international interlocking corporations; political direction through puppet governments; social penetration through the cultivation of an indigenous bourgeoisie, the imposition of "defence" agreements, and the setting up of military and air bases; ideological expansion through the mass communication media of press, radio and television - the emphasis being on anti-Communism; the fomenting of discord between countries and tribes; and through collective imperialism" (p. 70-71)

"Great historical advance is seldom, if ever, achieved without high cost in effort and lives; and those who argue that the transition from capitalism to socialism can be accomplished without the use of force are under a delusion." (p. 80)

"Under neocolonialism a new form of violence is being used against the peoples of Africa. It takes the form of indirect political domination through indigenous bourgeoisie and puppet governments teleguided and marionetted by neocolonialists; direct economic exploitation through an extension of the operation of giant interlocking corporations; and through all manner of other insidious ways such as the control of mass communications media, and ideological penetration. In these circumstances, the need for armed struggle has arisen once more. For the liberation and unification of Africa cannot be achieved by consent, by moral precept or moral conquest. It is only through the resort to arms that Africa can rid itself once and for all of remaining vestiges of colonialism, and of imperialism and neocolonialism; and a socialist society be established in a free and united continent." (p. 87)

Theory and the Politics of Knowing

​Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the most influential and read postcolonial literary critics. His Decolonizing the Mind (1986) is essential reading. He has also penned many works of fiction and theatre, as well as other non-fiction works. The following are some notes from his 2012 Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing (which is drawn from four talks given in the Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory.

"Poor theory may simply remind us that density of words is not the same thing as complexity of thought; that such density, sometimes, can obscure clarity of thought. I like Taoism because the thought carried in the deceptively simple writing is anything but simple or static. I would like to think of poor theory as the Taoism of theory. Like Taoism, poor theory need not be static." (p. 3)

"Globalectics is derived from the shape of the globe. On its surface there is no one center; any point is equally a center. As for the internal center of the globe, all points on the surface are equidistant to it—like the spokes of a bicycle wheel that meet at the hub. Globalectics combines the global and the dialectical to describe a mutually affecting dialogue, or multi-logue, in the phenomena of nature and nurture in a global space that's rapidly transcending that of the artificially bounded, as nation and region." (p. 8)

"The use of knowledge to obscure reality and force a certain perception of reality as the norm is not a matter of parables in philosophy, theater, and fiction. During the era of slave trade and plantation slavery, there were tons of publications that rationalized it as the norm, so much so that later, in the American Declaration of Independence, the word people clearly did not include African Americans, indigenous peoples, or women." (p. 30)

"That is precisely the point. It is less the content of what's taught or even how it is taught than the power relationship" (p. 38).

"It is a process of continuous alienation from the base, a continuous process of looking at oneself from the outside of self or with the lenses of a stranger. One may end up identifying with the foreign base as the starting point toward self, that is from another self toward one self, rather than the local being the starting point, from self to other selves." (p. 39)

Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare

​One of the great leaders and thinkers of the liberation struggle across Africa was Kwame Nkrumah, who would become President of Ghana. He has penned several works, one of which is "Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare" (1968). Reading this book makes clear why writings such as this are not as commonly on reading lists as are others, as pacifist and co-operative propaganda are tools in the neocolonialist enterprise. Nkrumah is notably absent from lists of African authors with the most mentions. A full copy of the book appears to be available here. Some notes:

"capitalism proceeded to introduce not only internal reforms, but external reforms designed to raise the extra money needed for the establishment and the maintenance of the welfare state at home. In other words, modern capitalism had come to depend more heavily than before on the exploitation of the material and human resources of the colonial territories." (p. 5)

"as far as the imperialists are concerned the real solution to the problem of continued exploitation through concessions and reform lies in the concept of "sham-independence". A state can be said to be a neo-colonialist or client state if it is independent de jure and dependent de facto. It is a state where political power lies in the conservative forces of the former colony and where economic power remains under the control of international finance capital. In other words, the country continues to be economically exploited by interests which are alien to the majority of the ex-colonised population but are intrinsic to the world capitalist sector. Such a state is in the grip of neocolonialism. It has become a client state." (p. 7-8)

"Psychological attacks are made through the agency of broadcasting stations like the BBC, Voice of Germany, and above all, Voice of America, which pursues its brainwashing mission through newsreels, interviews and other "informative" programmes at all hours of the day and night, on all wavelengths and in many languages, including "special English". The war of words is supplemented by written propaganda using a wide range of political devices such as embassy bulletins, pseudo "revolutionary" publications, studies on "nationalism" and on "African socialism", the literature spread by the so-called independent and liberal publishers, "cultural" and "civic education" centres, and other imperialist subversive organisations. The paper war penetrates into every town and village, and into the remotest parts of the "bush". It spreads in the form of free distributions of propaganda films praising the qualities of western civilisation and culture. These are some of the ways in which the psychological terrain is prepared." (p. 17)

"The problem is not whether one is born or is not born a natural revolutionary fighter. The problem is not whether revolutionaries are naturally suited to Africa, or Africa to revolutionary warfare. Predestination of this sort never exists. The fact is that revolutionary warfare is the key to African freedom and is the only way in which the total liberation and unity of the African continent can be achieved." (p. 20-21)

"The nationalist phase is a necessary step in the liberation struggle, but must never be regarded as the final solution to the problem raised by the economic and political exploitation of our peoples. For nationalism is narrow in its application. It works within the geopolitical framework produced by the colonial powers which culminated in the carveup agreed upon in 1884 at the Berlin Conference, where today's political maps of Africa were drawn. The various peoples of Africa cannot be, and historically never have been, confined behind rigid frontiers sealing off territories labelled "Nigeria", "Togo", "Senegal", and so on. The natural movements of the African peoples and of their societies have from time immemorial swept along extensive axes as for example from the Nile to the Congo, from Senegal to the Niger, and from the Congo to the Zambesi." (p. 25)

"The struggle will entail hardship and suffering, but it is a phase through which we must pass if we are to accelerate the achievement of a radical, qualitative transformation of the liberation movement." (p. 59)

"Instead of promoting hierarchic, coercive and follow-like sheep relationships, our training will seek to develop an intelligent, egalitarian, critical and self-critical outlook within the armed forces. Our fighters will be self-disciplined, revolutionary men and women." (p. 70)

"Discipline. There must be no abuse of power of any kind. A freedom fighter who steals, loots, rapes or commits any other crime against the community must be tried and severely punished. It should be explained that such a breakdown in discipline endangers the whole revolutionary movement. Discipline comes from inner conviction. It is not a gift, but can be acquired by education, exercise and life in the guerrilla unit." (p. 112)

"The fully-trained guerrilla is armed both ideologically and physically for the revolutionary struggle. The tactics of guerrilla warfare rest in the main with him. With the support of the masses, and with unified direction of the revolutionary party, he is invincible." (p. 122)

Food Aid in Sudan

Darfur has received food aid for one of the longest running periods anywhere. Decades has passed and the crisis of insecurity and malnutrition continue. Long-time humanitarian practitioner, turned academic, Susanne Jaspars, authored "Food Aid in Sudan: A History of Power, Politics and Profit" in 2018 to distill the complex story. The book is readable and presents clear cases for moving beyond the technical approach to humanitarian assistance. One limitation is the reliance upon qualitative data (which is valuable, undoubtedly), however readers might be interested to see some more quantitative data (and from a variety of sources). Nonetheless, well worth reading for those interested in the topic area and/or Darfur. Some notes:

"Food aid can address food shortages and malnutrition but also has intended and unintended political effects. These political effects range from the geopolitical functions of food aid during the Cold War and – more recently – the War on Terror (WoT) to support countries friendly to the West, to the manipulation of food aid in internal conflict. Despite aims of doing the opposite, food aid tends to support the more powerful and exclude the weak amongst crisis-affected populations." (p. 9)

"According to government officials, the Sudanisation of aid began as early as 1988, following the 'invasion' of international NGOs during the 1985 famine, with the aim of handing over the distribution of relief to local NGOs (Informants 17 and 22, 2012). This was formalised in the first half of 1990, when the Sudan government issued a policy paper on the future of INGOs in the country, which introduced the concept of twinning them with local NGOS. [sic]" (p. 98)

"President Al-Bashir announced that aid would be Sudanised. National NGOs took over much of the work of the expelled NGOs. In North Darfur, for example, the food distribution previously carried out by Action Contre La Faim (as WFP's implementing partner) was taken over by the Sudan Red Crescent and Africa Humanitarian Action (an African NGO). German Agro Action entered into new arrangements with local NGOs. Key elements of Sudanisation appear to be the requirements that INGOs should employ mainly Sudanese staff and work with local partners. When interviewed in 2014, the Director-General of HAC explained that he saw Sudanisation as Sudanese taking the initiative for intervention and responsibility for end delivery, while international staff could monitor." (p. 98)

"The establishment of the national strategic grain reserve has been an essential component of the Sudanisation of food aid. A local strategic grain reserve was first attempted in the late 1980s in response to the Western-dominated relief operation in 1985; this was managed by the Agricultural Bank of Sudan and had the aim of action as a buffer against crop failures and stabilising the market. It was a direct response to dependence on Western food aid." (p. 99)

"In the early 1990s, the government resisted emergency food aid because it conflicted with the self-sufficiency aims of the Islamist regime, causing a stand-off between the government and aid agencies during the 1991 famine." (p. 104)

"…despite the efforts of international agencies in the 1980s and 1990s, most people in Darfur received little or no food aid and instead had to rely on their own strategies and became further impoverished. Government food aid was limited and prioritised government staff or those whose support it needed. Food aid in the livelihoods regime of practices, however, did produce a highly trained group of Sudanese aid professionals, who represented and lobbied on behalf of drought- and famine-affected populations, aiming to improve both government and donor responses. Other than training of Sudanese aid professionals, and government initiatives to provide and control food aid, it appears that the main effect of international food aid in the 1980s and 1990s in Sudan was the economic benefits for central government, traders and transporters" (p. 128)

"Government representatives always referred to international food aid as a political tool that provides support to rebel movements, threatens the government's sovereignty and makes the country dependent on food imports… Government officials also linked the politicisation to more subtle ways of undermining the Sudan government. Humanitarian intervention was twice referred to as a Trojan horse, first during OLS and later during the Darfur crisis. Food aid was perceived as a means of infiltration that allowed the enemy, Western governments, to weaken Sudan's government." (p. 159)

The Fire Next Time

Notes from Baldwin's 1962 two essays in The Fire Next Time, the first a letter to his nephew and the second a longer piece that reflects on engagements with faith and identity:

"Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?" (p. 94)

"Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that, for the heart of the matter is here, and the root of my dispute with my country. You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity." (p. 7)

"The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority, but to their inhumanity and fear." (p. 8)

"Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them, gets its teeth into doctrines and rends them; time reveals the foundations on which any kingdom rests, and eats at those foundations, and it destroys doctrines by proving them to be untrue." (p. 51)

"The word "independence" in Africa and the word "integration" here are almost equally meaningless; that is, Europe has not yet left Africa, and black men here are not yet free. And both of these last statements are undeniable facts, related facts, containing the gravest implications for us all." (p. 87)

"I know that what I am asking is impossible. But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand—and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible." (p. 104)

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