In his celebrated history of Black America, There Is a River (1980), author Vincent Harding artfully employs the metaphor of a vast body of water containing various wayward arteries and streams in order to tell the story of the varying ways in which Africans responded first to the plight of kidnap and captivity and then to Jim Crow Apart-hate and terrorism in America. Harding’s purpose it to supply a purely historical perspective, and he does so magnificently.

However, his concept of varying streams flowing out of one great body is useful for our purpose on a psychological level as well. With this model, we can develop a clear perspective of the reality that Black people are not simply one united monolithic group; each vying for the same concept of freedom in the very same way.

There were as many responses to slavery and Jim Crow as there were ethnic groups stolen to the West during the Triangular Trade.  Yet, what we are able to discern from a historical point of view, are a number of elemental ‘types’ that contain their own peculiar arteries which as a whole help to guide our journey towards a more comprehensive understanding of the different motives that define the various coherent streams of African American thought.

These are the ‘New African’ archetypes developed over time as a direct psychological response to the plight of Africans during the Second Rise of Europe. Still, remaining amazingly resilient wherever it may be found is that first initial response which provides the supreme mother principle, in the archetype of repatriation.

It is from that deeply heart-felt desire to immediately return to the bosom of the African mother that all the other archetypes must dutifully flow.

The Maafa

Slavery, Dr. Na’im Akbar informs us “disrupted [the] African lifestyle” (1996). This ‘disruption’, or ‘Great [traumatic] Calamity’, ‘The Maafa’ as Dr. Marimba Ani aptly defines it (1994), has arguably had its greatest impact upon the distortion of the psycho-spiritual mytho-poetic foundations of more than 8,000 years of African Thought.

The impact of the destruction of African civilization upon the minds of African people cannot be underestimated; for nearly half a millennium Africans in America have been trapped in a kind of cultural lock box.  Trapped, it would seem in a netherworld that denies the pre-eminence of their own indigenous world culture.

This is what continues to encourage 90% of African Americans to persist in carry forth the surname of the men who most likely enslaved and abused their family. It is what encourages between 80 to 90% of Black women to begin at very young age a rather unique and bizarre practice of ritual suicide, destroying the spiral (spiritual) nature of their hair by applying toxic substances to their scalp, which seeps into the glands of the endocrine system and disrupts the natural mechanisms of the body which govern human growth.

It is what encourages 75 to 85% of African Americans to practice a re-formulated brand of African spirituality that often leaves them spiritually mum. What cannot be denied is the monumental impact that this enormously traumatic episode has had towards the repression of the African memory.

This is the first step in the process of creating a mind control slave. It is simply erroneous to assert that slaves were brought to America.  What is true is that Africans were brought to America; free African citizens who were then made into slaves through the grueling process of ‘slave making’. This must be understood before any true clarity can be brought to bear upon our rediscovery of the Map of Black Consciousness.

Nevertheless, it remains up to each and every individual to discover upon their own initiative just what the road to full restoration means to them in their own lives, and in the world in which we live.

Whether that means following the Bird of Sankofa (‘go back and fetch it’), that great symbol of self-discovery who flies with its head turned nobly backwards signifying a wholesome journey towards full African consciousness, or if it means abandoning all notions of any viable African past; simply because they have become convinced that there is no work deemed necessary to be done.

Still, Blackfolk remain a distinctly African people even when and where they don’t want to. The map is available to everyone nonetheless.

The African Personality

In spite of it all, there still can be said to exist what can arguably be called an ‘African personality’; containing a unique set of indigenous characteristics that can be observed throughout the world. Throughout time, wherever African people could be found more often than not, they brought with them an underlying communal concept of a unifying ‘life force’ that is still believed to permeate everything in the Universe.

In a purely aesthetic sense, we know this in America as the concept of ‘soul’. It has often been defined as the elaboration of concepts and ideas which are just far too profound to simply be expressed. On another level, this life force is reckoned in Taoist cosmology as the ‘chi’ or ‘ki’ as the animating life-force of the Universe.

Its antiquity however, is derived from the ‘ka’ of the ancient Egyptians, who called their land Kemit and are known to have given life to the first High Civilization known to humankind.  It is in Kemit (the old Blackland), where the foundations of the African personality exist.

“Africa was the birthplace of human civilization, and Kemit was its mouthpiece” (Massey, 1907). On a very fundamental level, Africans stolen to the West were immediately thrust into a contrary world. This in itself must have had an unquestionably traumatic effect. In contrast to the overwhelmingly patriarchical materialistic nature of European cultures, traditional African cultures are for the most part matriarchal, highly spiritual, and communal in nature.

In contrast to the notion “I think therefore I am!” (Descartes, 1950) Africans profess “I am because we are ----we are because I am!”  Dr. Oba T’ Shaka goes even further to take issue with the whole European academic definition of matriarchy in contradistinction to patriarchal points of view. He asserts that African societies are actually ‘twin-lineal’ in nature; whereas both male and female partners share what is an equal set of responsibilities within the culture (T’Shaka, 1995).

This is something that has confounded Europeans actors on the stage of history ever since the collapse of Ancient Kemetic society was precipitated by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE. One way to look at it is to understand that Africans believed that the ‘womb’ was the center of the Universe. Thus it was sacred to them.

This was a self-propelling principle propagated in the self-defense of a nation.  A woman living under the weight of this communal principle would naturally be taught to carry herself with an undeniable air of virtue. A man who might seek to abuse a woman would naturally feel the whole weight of the society come down upon him when he seeks to strike her.

Pornography of course, could never exist in this kind of culture, because the womb could never be allowed to be shown being publicly defiled. It is also a fact that in many African languages there has never existed a word for ‘rape’ simply because no one could ever conceive of committing such an act. This is the world from which Africans were stolen to the West.

This is not to say that this was a land of peace and paradise. Nevertheless, we must be able to appreciate the fact that Africans and European cultures have existed upon the world stage for centuries both coming from rather contrasting points of view.

The Two Cradle Theory

In 1974 at the Cairo Symposium on the Peopling of Ancient Egypt renowned Senegalese physicist and scholar Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (1923-1986), employed seven distinct disciplines to provide indisputable scientific proof that the Ancient Egyptians were indeed Black Africans (Diop, 1977).  No longer could this classical civilization honestly be described as ‘dark skinned Europeans’ Arabs, Asians, or simply some obscure group known to be ‘high yellow’ North Africans.

Diop provided indisputable proof that these were undeniably Black Africans, who had moved from the interior of the continent to people what is today misnamed as the ‘Middle East’. It is misnamed simply because it begs the question --- “Middle of what?” and “East of What?”

The answer of course is ‘Africa’. Diop’s work rendered forever moot the legacy of decades of racist interpretations that lay at the foundation of Western academia.  His work came upon the heels of the work of George G.M. James. In 1954, the very same year that the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, James published his groundbreaking treatise Stolen Legacy.

During the same time as the America’s public schools were being de-segregated by federal mandate, James in effect brought down the racist façade of centuries of Euro-centric scholarship. His thesis ultimately proved that the foundations of classical European philosophy actually began in Ancient Egypt.

“There is no such thing as Greek Philosophy he said there are only Greek interpretations of African thought” (1954).  James provided in-depth biographies of all the major thinkers of ancient Greece, including Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato in order to demonstrate that these were men who received their academic training through the Mystery School System of Ancient Kemit.

The idea brought forth by the German philosopher Hegel in The Philosophy of History (1837), that disingenuously stated that Africans “had no history to speak of” was shown to be nothing less than a racist fabrication of history, meant to justify the eventual colonization of much of the African continent.

It is important to understand as Dr. John Henirick Clarke explained that ‘after Europe colonized most of the world, she also colonized most of the information about the world” (1991). Dr. Clarke was adamant that as a means to understanding the plight of African people in the modern world, his students (which included Malcolm X) must come to an understanding of what it was that made Europe act out with such an unbridled colonialist attitude towards the rest of the world.

What our journey on the Map of Black Consciousness proves beyond anything else is that “the most important thing in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”1.

This has even greater significance in the realm of religious ideas. Before we venture into the spirit realm, and the way in which African people have come to view themselves, let us take a detour in order to discover just why the contemporary world has been shaped in the way that it has.