Elders' Corner: "Ego Starvation and Arrogance"
Nana Burnett Gallman
There are three basic types of people that I’ve encountered in the Afrikan centered world. Before getting into the heart and purpose of this article, however, let me first describe what I feel is the ideal type.
My ideal Afrikan centered pan-Afrikanist is an intellectually curious person who loves and is dedicated to the recovery of the sovereignty of all Afrikan people. They work within their own area of interest/expertise to further those goals without thought to getting rewarded or credit for this work. They understand that at this point in time, substantial changes and advancements will probably not be seen by them or even their children. They strive to positively influence the mindset of their children so that their grandchildren will benefit. They work in a dedicated manner, not for riches or recognition but for the quiet satisfaction of knowing that they have furthered Afrikan people from what Jacob Carruthers called, “the mess we’re in.”
If one receives honors or respect for their labors, its nice…but should not be sought after.
Unfortunately, today, too many highly visible people, who claim to be Afrikan centered or Pan-Afrikan are working for notoriety, fame and money, “pimping” our culture. This basic type also comes with a significant degree of power that is frequently misused and abused. The current disrespect that many young people have for the term “Hotep” is a prime example. These hucksters and snake oil salesmen have used their natural gifts and charisma to take advantage of sincere naïve young men and women, leaving bitterness and chaos in their wake. This exemplifies “pimping” our culture much like many so-called men of God “pimp” religion.
Finally, there is the “savior.” The “savior” may approach elders with an idea in such a way as to ignore—and not even inquire—whether the idea has been tried before or even if it is under way. The disrespect for the experiences and previous work of elders contributes to the stasis and lack of progress of our people. Perhaps the reason is related to immaturity but at the same time, there are young people who are mature enough to not need the constant attention.
It is entirely possible that the “saviors” mean well, but the “intent” vs “content” test must show consistency. As an elder, I realize that as long as the destination is the same, there is more than one way to get there. Dr. Frances Cress Welsing frequently discussed the, Nine Areas of Human Activity, so we know that if we consider Health as well as Environment, there are at least now eleven areas that must be dealt with.
Honest, sincere and respectful communication is an answer to this profound quandry. It makes no sense for each generation to try to rediscover the wheel. There MUST be orderly intergenerational communication in order to facilitate the intergenerational transmission of knowledge.