By: Baba Derrick Jackson
The Importance of Beginnings
Recently, the Smithsonian Institute opened a new museum of Afrikan American history and culture. There are over 37000 artifacts on display which is quite impressive. It is my understanding that it took 12 years of politicking, planning, and fund-raising in order to bring this monument of history and culture to Afrikans in America into fruition. Kudos to those who were instrumental in making this happen. This is a very important chapter in our long Hi (gh) story and narrative. What I understand from those who were involved in the planning and production of the museum the exhibits only tell the story or narrative of Afrikans who came to America in the hauls of ships.
This saddens me if it is true, because no one should start their story or their narrative in the middle of the story. All people should start their Hi (gh) story from the beginning. When we understand our story from the beginning our oppressors cannot claim that our genius, our imagination and our creativity was a product of our enslavement. In this way we truly pay homage to our ancestors, to our yet unborn and to our children who should be the reason why we tell our story. When we start our narrative from the beginning then we find "The Creator" involved in our coming into existence. We can then see the Creator as the source of our genius, our imagination and our creativity.
We must tell our story from a time period in history known by many historians and anthropologist as pre-colonial Afrika. We must always ask and answer the question "what were we doing before the first person of European ancestry ever showed-up?" It is important to know that we had our own language, our own sense of family, culture, systems of Government and administration. We were planting, farming and cultivating crops. We had our own sense of the "Creator". We were designing and creating what many have called the first civilizations known to the world long before the first person of European ancestry ever stepped out of their nomadic, cave dwelling life style.
Despite being subjected to the harshest and most cruel system of enslavement, our genius, our imagination and our creativity was displayed in how we knew how to plant and when to plant. How we knew how to build and develop cities, lay road and use the healing arts to administer medicine to the sick. It is our genius, imagination and creativity in knowing how to cook food from the scraps that our enslavers threw away that sustains some of us today. When I think of the many times I would look in the refrigerator and see nothing to eat and my Mother would come right behind me and see a whole meal to cook for her family. That is the everyday genius, imagination and creativity that show ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
When we know about pre-colonial Afrika we begin to understand how is it that two years after the end of the civil war we were sending people to congress. We were building institutions of education and rebuilding families not based on our oppressors understanding of family, but on our understanding of family. Our understanding of family is what Dr. Wade Nobles calls the "extended - self". The first 50 years after emancipation is one of the most important time periods in our history and cultural development in America but it can never be fully understood until we know and understand what we accomplished before the first person of European ancestry ever knew the Afrikan being.
We are not the by- product of our enslavement, we are in the image of our Creator. Our Hi (gh) story begins at the foothills of the mountains of the moon known as Kilimanjaro. We owe it to our ancestors, our children, our yet unborn, and most of all we owe to our Creator (No matter the name we give this Divine entity) to start from the Beginning. I will go to the museum and I highly recommend that we all go. Just remember, this is only a chapter in our Hi (gh) story. It is not our whole story.