Removing the old landmarks

Feature Article Removing the old landmarks

The Jewish ancestor Solomon, for reasons best known to Jews and Christians, is credited as being the wisest man ever to have lived. Solomon’s stature among the sagacious probably stems from the allegation that he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Considering the world class education one woman can give to the average man, the knowledge transfer potential of one thousand women in Solomon’s harem is off the charts.

When not engaged in his taxing domestic bedroom regime, Solomon is reported to have written many proverbs. One of the sage bits of advice passed on to Jews and Christians from the trembling hand of Solomon was the prohibition against removing old land marks. Solomon’s landmark proverb was merely a rebranding of an earlier prohibition issues by Moses, one of the premier ancestors of the Jews.

Moses was crystal clear in the Torah that Jews should not remove the ancient landmarks carved out by the ancestors. Moses was equally unambivalent about experimentation with the deities of other nations and about forgetting the history and ancestral heritage handed down to the Jewish people. The continuity of Jewish spiritual and cultural heritage was so important that observant Jews use to wear verses of their scriptures encased in small black leather boxes on their bodies.

The Babylonian captivity, the Persian, Greek, and Roman conquests, the dispersal from Jerusalem, the pogroms in Europe and elsewhere, and the Jewish Holocaust all contributed to the hardships of Jews down through the centuries. It is widely believed that it was the tenacity with which Jews held onto their spiritual and cultural traditions that facilitated their survival as a national group. Even though many Jews today identify as atheists, some Jewish practices are still observed even by the more secularly minded Jews.

People of African ancestry unlike the Jews, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Indians, and the First Citizens of the Americas seem willfully ignorant about the value of maintaining the old landmarks carved out by their revered ancestors. Jews, Chinese, Indians and First Citizens have all suffered periods of foreign domination. Western cultural penetration impacted each of these civilizations but a majority of the people in each of these civilizational groups clung to the old ways of their ancestors. They refused to remove the old landmarks.

African people, as though to give credence to the calumny that Sub-Saharan Africa had not been troubled by civilization, gravitated towards the religious, philosophical, cultural and linguistic practices of the Asiatic, Arab, and European invaders. The majority of people of African ancestry are unique in their almost fanatical adherence to a way of life imposed on them by the same people who invaded, enslaved, colonized and exploited African people.

Thanks to the stellar work of great Afrocentric scholars like Cheikh Anta Diop, Ivan Van Sertima, Maulana Karenga, John Henrik Clarke, Dr Ben-Jochannan, Chancellor Williams, Molefi Kate Asante and others, people of African ancestry are now being confronted with the undeniable fact that Africa is the cradle of human civilization. All of the ancient river valley civilization including the Nile Valley civilization were the products of people of color, whose origins could be traced to the African continent.

The African continent is therefore no Johnny-Come-Lately to the civilization party. Any concept in ethics, morality and religion that can uplift the human spirit is represented among the many people on the African continent. Jews, Arabs, and Christians did not introduced Africans to God. Africans were already well versed in the best concepts found within the Abrahamic faith traditions.

Jews, Chinese, and Indians, who as groups, have largely maintained their old ancestral landmark are making their mark in the modern world. People of African ancestry regrettably have removed their old ancestral landmarks and have replaced them with new landmarks imposed upon them by their oppressors. Ironically, people of African ancestry, need not succumb to the prevarications of the Western imperialists who seek to equate success with emulating Western ways. Like the Chinese and the Indians, people of African ancestry can also chart a course to success rooted deeply in the old landmarks carved out by the revered ancestors of the African people.

Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of Oreos, Coconuts, and Negropeans: Rediscovering Our African Identity.