DIGITAL CITIZENS: THE NEW RACE OF PEOPLE, by Mr. Donald, M.P.A.

Black Girl on computer

In a report on African Americans and technology, Aaron Smith of the PWEInternet.org summarized a series of demographic snapshots of technology use and adoption among different ethnic groups of adults in the United States.  Based on surveys the demographic snapshots offered a detailed look at a number of key subgroups within the African American population such as: men vs. women, old vs. young, low income vs. high income, and parents vs. non-parents.

The black/white “digital divide” continues to persist, but is not consistent across technology platforms or demographic groups.  The Digital Divide, seems to now be centered in Occupational Opportunities and not in access to technology.

It used to be that 4 to 5 times per day someone would ask you “what time is it?”  Respectfully, you would look at your watch and tell them. Once more people possessed watches the fewer requests.  Today, most people no longer wear a watch. Their Smart Cell Phones have absolutely replaced the need for a watch.

African Americans’ use of technology is now reaching or surpassing the same levels of other ethnic groups.  For the purposes of this article statements will compare African American technology usages in comparison to White Americans.

Statistically current day reports may reveal that African Americans trail whites by seven percentage points when it comes to overall internet use (87% of whites and 80% of blacks are internet users).  Statistics also reveal that there is a twelve percentage point gap when it comes to home High Speed Internet adoption.  The figures point to 74% of whites and 62% of blacks who have some sort of High Speed Internet connection at home.  At the same time, blacks and whites are on more equal footing when it comes to other types of access, especially on mobile platforms.

Within the sub-groups, the gap between whites and blacks when it comes to traditional measures of internet usage and High Speed Internet access is more pronounced among certain demographic subgroups than among others. Specifically, older African Americans as well as those who have not attended college are significantly less likely to go online or to have High Speed Internet access at home compared to whites with a similar demographic profile. African Americans age 65 and older have especially low adoption rates compared with whites. Just 45% of black seniors are internet users, and 30% have High Speed Internet access at home (among white seniors, 63% go online and more than 51% are High Speed Internet adopters).

On the other hand, young college-educated and higher-income African Americans are just as likely as their white counterparts to use the internet and to have High Speed Internet service at home. Some 86% of African Americans ages 18-29 are home High Speed Internet adopters as are 88% of black college graduates and 91% of African Americans with an annual household income of $45,000 or more per year. These figures are all well above the national average for High Speed Internet adoption and are identical to whites of similar ages, incomes, and education levels.

Twitter is especially popular among younger African Americans

Overall, 73% of African American internet users—and 96% of those ages 18-29 use a social networking site of some kind. African Americans have exhibited relatively high levels of Twitter use since we began tracking the service as a stand-alone platform and this continues to be the case; 22% of online blacks are Twitter users compared with 16% of online whites.

Black on Twitter

Younger African Americans in particular have especially high rates of Twitter use. Fully 40% of 18-29 year old African Americans who use the internet say that they use Twitter. That is 12 percentage points higher than the comparable figure for young whites (28% of whom are Twitter users). The mobile difference: 92% of African Americans own a cell phone, and 76% own a Smart Phone

In contrast to internet use and High Speed Internet adoption, blacks and whites are equally likely to own a cell phone of some kind. They also have identical rates of smartphone ownership. Some 92% of black adults are cell phone owners and 76% own a smartphone of some kind.

pretty young adult african girl with senior parents using tablet computer

Cell phone ownership is much more common than internet use among older African Americans.  Just 45% of African Americans ages 65 and older use the internet, but 77% are cell phone owners (most of these seniors own basic cell phones, as only 28% are smartphone owners).  Overall, 72% of all African Americans and 98% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 have either a High Speed Internet connection or a smartphone.

Conclusions and not just an observation…

The statistics supporting and the social belief that African Americans are behind in technology are not exactly accurate.  Statistically, if 70% of whites do something and 65% of blacks do something the relationship of these numbers to each respective population size would put blacks well ahead in proportion to their percent of the total U.S. population. 

What is making the difference is “Time to Device”.  African Americans for numerous reasons spend 25 to 35% more time on Mobile Phone Devices than any other race.  Factors such as higher unemployment, limited accesses to a computer, and digital social networking demands cause African Americans to exceed in Mobile Smart Phone usage and device knowledge.

African Americans can also be classified as the Smart Phone Savvy race of users.  While blacks only know 20% of the settings and functioning of a Desktop or Laptop Computer they typically know 80 to 90% of their Smart Phones features and settings.

Finally there is another strong benefit to African Americans and Cell Phone Use. Black Americans will teach each other.  African Americans jump at the opportunity to show their knowledge and smart phone skills.  They consider their knowledge equal or superior to others and if a Smart Phone Test were administered they would confidentially pass. 

Smart Phone Parenting:

Out of love and to teach her children a lesson a black mother banned cell phone usage in her house for 2 weeks.  To emphasize the importance of books, she gave her son a book to do a report for school.  The son came home with his first “D” ever.  When the mom asked him what happened he told her “the book you gave me only went up to 2005 and the teacher said my report was too outdated”.  She returned his smart phone and learned the lesson.

The Clouds and the new “Digital Race”:

As the non-tech savvy generation dies off the library becomes a place where knowledge used to be.  African Americans are becoming equally connected to others, too. However, they may never become those working and employed behind the scenes on servers, switches, routers, and hubs. Working behind the Clouds for the Black Americans is well beyond reach.  But wait there is a possible solution, Michael Jordan did it with the Tennis Shoe and Dr. Dre did it with Beats Audio.   Blacks are Branding Trend Setters and the “J Phone” (La-bron James) could be the next best thing…

Imagine your home with no Internet Connection or Land-Line-Telephone.  Image yourself being an adult without a Cell Phone. The disconnection would be extremely challenging…  Today you must be able to reach the Clouds to be a connected member of society.  In the clouds all ethnic races are connected and your ethnicity does not matter.  Via the Clouds your locality anywhere on the planet does not matter. 

Today you must be able to reach the Clouds to be included in the new “Digital Race” where the only difference between you and the next person is not skin color or ethnic group heritage, but the ability to “Digitally Connect in the Clouds”.   

The Clouds is where Racially Conscious People who have never interacted with other cultures can finally do so as equal “Digital Citizens”.

 

RACISM: 4TH GENERATION DIAGNOSIS AND PERSPECTIVE, by Kifon Emile, M.A.

 

Man Without a Tribe

In its simplest form, racism is discrimination based on the color of one’s skin. ‘The Fourth Generation Diagnosis’ [4G] will present the issue of racism by defining it as a historic process.

The process itself is put in place when a particular discriminatory paradigm is structured to govern the black race.

The structure aims to govern at any given time while it also elaborates a perspective which derives from its basic assumptions.

Generally, contact between different groups of people is usually characterized by polarization and its resultant tension. That tension is more likely to be greater when the distinguishing difference is race. The 4G diagnosis shall examine the case of racism particularly black people.

Over time, discrimination against black people has gone through four phases. The first phase was prior to 1884 before the present territorial boundaries were formed during the Berlin conference generally called the scramble for Africa.

During that period multipolar tensions existed between big and large tribes and ethnic groups. There also existed multipolar relations between a few empires, namely the Mali, Ashanti, Sokoto, Bamoun, Oyo, Kaabu, etc.

The ideological assumption of the colonial structure was expressed in a simple proposition: ‘Black men are primitive, uncivilized and in some cases not human enough’ [he did not have a soul, others claimed]. As a result of that assumption and its corresponding propaganda, Africans were treated, more or less, like other animals. There one purpose was narrowly defined as being of use to his conqueror.

Outside Africa, the story was the same. Blacks were made to be slaves till 1833 when it ended in England and in the United States when it was officially made illegal in 1865.

Under the two structures, the logic is the same. A was subhuman to be at the service of the superior human(s). Both structures were operative despite the fact that one group of Africans were in a foreign land and the other group of Africans were in their own land.

The second phase of discrimination was from 1884 until the 1960s when the new colonies of Africa got their independence. The second phase was also operative in the Americas from 1865 till the 1963 when segregation ended.

The discrimination paradigm was the same for the black race irrespective of the tribal region. It was admitted that Africans were human but with limited intellectual capacities. For example, in America, blacks were defined as 3/5 of a person while in Africa Africans were given just the limited potential that would enable them to better serve their colonial masters.

Thus it was concluded that there was no need to teach black people the sciences because either they could not understand science or conversely blacks would cease to be a servant if he had the same skills as his master.

 It is important to note that once the slaves were set free in the United States [1865], the whites still needed labor and resources. The plan was simple, instead of bringing more labor force into the America, they said: “let’s colonize them in the various southern states and make them work for us”. Such a internal colony would come to be called ‘sharecropping’.

Meanwhile in Europe, the Berlin conference was held. It divided Africa into pieces of flesh on which the western nations would feed. It is during this period that we could see many plantations being created all over Africa. In Cameroon, the first plantation was established by the Germans in 1907; that is, two decades after the Berlin conference.

In reality, the slave model industry that existed in the Americas had been transferred to Africa. In other words, there was no need to transport people into the new American continent anymore. Taking the war into the opponent’s land, into the heart of Africa, was the strategy. It was a more efficient method and preempted civil unrest in European nations.  

While blacks were segregated in the Americas, Africans were strategically segregated from white colonists and other tribes, but in their own land.

After the new territories got their independence in the 1960s, another system of neocolonialism was established. The new leaders were poorly educated on European strategy. They ignorantly signed military alliances with the west [Senegal], joint monetary policies [Cote d’Ivoire and Franc CFA as did all the French colonies], obliged the new government to consent with the colonizers for the appointment of new leaders [Cameroon], to hold the colonizers as privileged partners of trade in arms, public contracts and education etc [Cameroon, Guinea Conakry, and most of the French colonies], although they would be the worst partners when it came to concessions and progress.

This was the third phase of discrimination based on a strategy put in place to exploit Africa. This phase is marked by a skillful indebtedness, limiting economic possibilities and an unfair trade system called ‘free trade.’

Also, while segregation in the USA officially ended in 1963 the same pattern applied to African nations and remains the same infrastructure that was and is applied to blacks in the USA and other parts of the world, e.g., live in high debt, limited economic prospects, unfair deals disguised under the slogan of land of the free.

What is most important about these stages is that despite the fact that they underwent the same types of marginalization over different territories, the methods of struggle were similar.

Mountain of Africa

In some cases, they worked together. For example, W.E.B Dubois had championed the cause of African independence and worked with the newly elected leaders towards the construction of a free and better Africa   and for its children. It should be stated that during the Pan-African Congress in 1921 [Belgium], W.E.B. Dubois was present and he had always worked for the Pan African vision.

In 1927, a similar conference was held in New York where he was also present. He even represented Africa in the U.N.O. in 1946 through the N.A.A.C.P. after a dialogue with Walter White.

In the fourth generation diagnosis, Africa is on a different stage: no longer considered subhuman [1st stage], or just unfit to mingle with others [2nd stage] or should be openly discriminated against or cheated [3rd stage]; it is a stage where he is considered to be like all other human races but must prove himself, else he remains what he was considered to be.

This stage is the post neocolonialism in Africa, post social cruelty and institutional cruelty in the West, at least openly. More clearly, in the 4th generation, any African can create his own business and make it as big as he wishes [Dangote:23 billion net worth in 2014]. He is free to build his own school and teach what he wants, create industries and change his life as well as that of his fellow citizens.

In the West, the blacks are also on the verge of doing the same things; to establish themselves to some extent, the way they want and to attain the success and freedom they desired.

But the methods deployed by the west to subjugate have only changed forms. Therefore, in this 4G stage there are important questions that need to be asked. How much has the white man changed to make race relations better?

In the case of Africa, he is determined to get mainly natural resources after the trade of humans has become less viable.  It follows that, he has not changed his purpose that much. Also, how much have we Africans changed in order to oppose him more effectively?

This is the most important part. As it shows, we Africans have not changed that much! In fact, are we more united than before? Have we learned his secret on how to produce great weapons including the ultimate weapon – nuclear? Have we mastered his craft in creating things, changing materials into bright nice objects? Have we established the rule of law so that all feel protected? Have we stopped killing one another? Have we reduced our recreational habits in order to replace them with inventive and creative ones? To all these questions, the answer does not soundly strike the positive note.

It is rightful therefore to ask which is easier: to continue asking the other actor to change even when he shows unwillingness, or to change ourselves following a pattern that will automatically oblige the other to bow and comply?

Common sense opts for the second while at the same time it remains legitimate to call both parties to dialogue, to requests for reforms, and to apply political pressure to adjust for a more proportionate distribution of the wealth. It is also most necessary and urgent to invest in the right options: in ourselves and in each other.

The 4G Diagnosis addresses not our fathers who inherited the independence legacy, not for those who fought against segregation in the West under its brave leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X. The 4G is a discourse to us; it is the heritage of all the former three. We know the opponent; we know that we cannot oblige him to do all we want. But we know what it takes to change ourselves for the better; and we know the weakness of the other.

Mount-Kilimanjaro

We have discovered our potentials and we know what is keeping us down. We have come to understand that we can’t continue to blame others forever on what happens to us.

We have seen friends like us from Asia, south America and even the West, at times, less intelligent, but who nevertheless have great industries, have organized businesses, have stable families and have stood up to defend their own all the time. It is no one’s responsibility to defend us or to make us prosperous but ourselves.

In the 4G discourse we hold that, as W.E.B. Dubois championed the cause of Africans and their progress, it should be the responsibility of Africans to champion the prosperity of blacks outside the continent especially those who underwent slavery. But how can this be accomplished?  The answer is a simple one.

The answer is for us to build a great Africa. A peaceful, loving, united Africa wherein others can identify themselves with it without second thoughts and without shame.

The reason for this proposition is a key aspect in the 4G diagnosis which should be stated clearly: so long as Africa is poor, divided, exploited and at war with itself, others of African descent shall continue to be seen with the same disdain. We hold the responsibility to make a change. We shall solve the problem of racism by solving the problem of Africa, to a greater extent.

During the Japanese invasion of China [1937], the brutality was beyond measure. Chinese were slaughtered like sheep and maltreated like sub humans. It was a time when the Japanese had developed the idea of co-prosperity sphere which established their racial superiority. But today, when there is a slightest disagreement between china and Japan, the Japanese are the first to propose peace talks while the Chinese are quick to displaying war planes as a show of force. There has never been respect for other nations/people except when they rise to the status of power: military, political, industrial and economic. 

Our forefathers have fought the most difficult battles: against slavery, against segregation and against popular normative discrimination. What fight do we have today? Just to love one another more, protect each other, educate each other, and built our economic and political power.

Also, the 4G analysis presents the black question as a singular problem. It is not by solving one’s individual problem that the black question shall be solved. It is not an American problem, a UK problem, or a Ghanaian problem. While blacks are not allowed in certain areas in the US, in Kenya today, Africans are denied access in a Chinese restaurant inside Kenya during certain periods of the day. Not even Barack Obama as a president of the USA is safe from racism because he connects to that same group that suffers the same prejudices.

It is not the individual saving himself that the group shall be saved; it is the group saving itself that every individual shall be saved. But in order to do so, each person has to be the best he or she can make of themselves, for we cannot invest in corruption, idleness, and greed then expect the group to be at its best in relation to us.

It is a singular problem also because the blacks abroad cannot be fully liberated when Africa has not liberated itself, and for Africa to completely liberate itself, it must envisage unity of all its descents and elaborate strategies for their protection and prosperity.

The 4G is you and I. It is a generation that wants to create its own heroes like the Luther King Jr, Malcom X, Nkwame Nkruma, Mandela etc. It is a generation that is more open, that wants to assume responsibilities and make a change. It is a generation which holds that its potentials and positive possibilities cross in their time.  

That greater progress shall be achieved and that the history of the black race has not been completely written because a brighter part of it is still to come. This brighter part lies on him to create. And by doing so, he shall gain the respect that had been denied to his ancestors. It is a generation which believes that the relation between peoples/races is influenced significantly not by how they look but by what they have achieved. It is a power and materialistic dynamic where those with the instruments of power gain respect naturally: arms, money, and law.

It is our responsibility to leave to the 5th generation a legacy of which that they can be proud. One which will make them all believe that the story of the black man will not always be the same. That it will not be a story of occupying the last position in social hierarchies everywhere in the world.

It is a stage at which he and she shall rejoice at being at the top; for men and women do not generally feel morally compelled to respect others; but they are compelled to respect what others have achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFRICA: THE WORLD IS WATCHING US, by Kifon Emile

E.C.  Picture Out of Africa

“The world is watching at us, as we move through this highway of history, with thoughts that we commit the same errors of the past and somber into doom. Vigilance and governance is the key if we shall cross safely into the promise land of greatness.”

Ultimate Governance Code

It is not too long ago when we were the cradle of the world’s finest civilizations [3000 BC]. Men thronged from all over the world to come and to learn, admire, and contribute to the intellectual edifice that our people had designed through hard work and diligent ingenuity.

Even though most of us migrated to the south, we still kept the spirit of hard work and sacrifice. During this time, the world was still three dimensional. There was the North, Hellenistic; the East: mystic; and the South: holistic.

They were the dominant cultural standards which defined for us our perspective of the time. The world could be appreciated either through the rational model of the Hellenistic world, or through the mystical Asiatic model or again through a more comprehensive approach that considered the real as a whole comprising all models of reality.

After about five millennia, the world is now barely two dimensional. We can measure a predominance of the Greek world view harbored in the West and a very minimal reference to the Asiatic East. Or more strictly, the world has become one dimensional.

That two dimensional rational model characterizes capitalism, democracy and the instruments that go with them, e.g., debt money, industry, rule of law, human rights etc. It is a long process through which our role has been systematically reduced through the application of engineered strategies ranging from the cruelest to the most diplomatic the world has ever known. The consequence is that we are now more subject to state power and its police instruments of execution on all fronts.

But what actually went wrong? And what led to our decline and prolonged subjugation?

The genealogy of irregularities over thousands of years differs in variety and intensity from place to place. But some of these remain outstanding and are worth mentioning.

It should be mentioned that since the fall of the Egyptian civilization and other empires which had relative strength over its territories [Mali, Zulu etc], most of our societies were very vulnerable due to the limited educational, military and economic adaptation.

The educational limits were characterized by the fact that most of us had an oral tradition wherein detail knowledge was easily lost and its transmission often led to distortions and misappropriations. Knowledge is a cumulative process of experiences. Oral traditions made it hard and eventually impossible to build and enrich present generations with past experiences. This explains why the same errors were committed repeatedly by different people over different periods.

Military weakness was another vulnerability that exposed us to our neighbors and also put us at risk to foreigners against whom sticks and stones could do very little. Even though not all battles are won with weapons, having them always constitute a source of defense.

Concerning the economic strength, most of our economic activity was based on natural harvest: harvesting from nature, doing subsistence level agriculture and the primary mode of trade by barter. But what is more?

We created endless divisions among our own people in the name of tribes. Some were friendly while others were made to be enemies.

Like most cultures, tribes have always existed but they become dangerous when they become the sphere within which we define humanity, charity, justice and love. In such an isolated and free floating sphere, the other tribes naturally loses inherent human rights because he doesn’t belong to a particular tribe that holds a strategic power over a given territory.

It is precisely this artificial boundary that was exploited by the west when they landed on Africa in search for labor and minerals. None of our societies were left untouched. Everyone suffered the consequences of ignorance, division, and greed and the failure to have established a viable functional economic model not only made the trade of humans seem profitable but also normal.

But the world was watching us…hoping that we would learn from our past mistakes and make better decisions. We didn’t. And when we did, we never did so effectively. That is why the same people had to come back and domesticate us in our own homeland – what others call colonization.

Again, we were subjugated using the same old schemes by the same people while some of us saw in them good people who just wanted to make us better. Make us better?

The old tricks worked. Our knowledge failed us and our know-how didn’t defend us sufficiently. But then, we should remember there is no society that has not been penetrated by the western powers at varying degrees with the same objective.

Happy African Children

 

Thanks to the bravery of some among us, independence was won through blood and iron. Those brave ones have always existed but in most cases their merits are not illustrated enough nor appreciated even though they have served great causes over centuries.

From its very beginning to this day with independence, we came to understand that things shall change. We have come to understand that we have learned the game and that we now take our destinies seriously and put our fate in our own hands to make a difference in governance.

In other parts of the world people also fought for their independence and won it. Now it is time to give an account of our character and on what we have done with the power we have acquired, to educate our young, to expose them to freedom, and to transfer our natural resources to them.

At an age when most people have made tremendous progress, it is now our turn to make the moves that will raise us up.

The laws of nature have been deciphered; information has been made abundant and available; technology has been made cheap and easy to learn; and many great things have been discovered. Above all, we have men and women who have studied in the same schools as others and given the same practical skills. Today, ignorance cannot be tolerated as an excuse!

No one has asked us to discover gravity, it is has already been done; to invent laws of physics; to land on the moon; or to discover the cure for Ebola. No one has asked us to do these things but they watch us day and night.

Our greatest discovery lies simply in learning from our mistakes. To create cultures of good governance instead of ethnocentric ones; to apply the rule of law; to transform our own resources for the benefit of our own people, build good roads, schools, hospitals, take care of the sick and old, protect the weak and fight the opponents of yesterday, get unified, eliminate war and live in peace as children in one family. Is that too much? Just being what we are called to be by the natural principle which unites us all?

If we cannot do these things, then we are only justifying the fact that the others were right in all the wrongs they did to us and that we have confirmed that we are incapable of managing our own lives.

Africa Children Watching

 

I am Africa.  I watch over you and shall watch over you.  All I request of you is to change your ways and be a better African for yourself, your children (home and abroad) and in the world.

CAMEROON: THE GREAT PARADOX, by Kifon Emile

Camaroon 1

In 1884 I was colonized by the Germans who, with a reign of brutality, created plantations that served the citizens of their homeland. This was part of a sharing deal of Africa by the European countries.

During the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, France along with its allies won and I was again colonized by the French whose rule was characterized by duplicity and exploitation.

About 10% of my territory [north, west, south, and west] was under the British rule that, through indirect administration, showed little interest in the region.

From 1914-1960, French rule dominated my territory. The France made French the official language while English was made the official language of the portion it controlled.

For half a century, those two nations, skilled in the art of exploitation, taught a small group of my people how to manage an administration using the skills taught to them by the west while expanding the cocoa, banana, and coffee plantations left by the Germany.

The selected few who assisted the colonizers had a fragmented education and had never been the real rulers of my people. The colonizers worked in collaboration with their missionaries whose primary tool was the Christian religion. They indoctrinated my people in the art of submission, and blind faith in the absence of reasoning. Parallel to that the colonizers defined new rules while criminalizing most traditional values.                                    

While wondering why my people had been so vulnerable, I took delight in those who had the courage to fight for independence so that my name could be restored to its honorable state. As such, in 1960, I got my independence and my people were joyful to be liberated from the masters whose rule had demonstrated with clarity that it served primarily the interests of the colonizer.

camaroon 4

My first president Ahmadou Ahidjo, a young man known for his courage and ambitious moves, instituted a one party system: the Cameroon National Party, a practice which was common among my fellow states.

With the objective to unify a territory with almost 250 ethnic groups, one party seemed to be the best way to harmonize a heterogeneous social landscape, and the public administration played a great role in this integration. 

By 1982, Ahmadou Ahidjo resigned and assigned Paul Biya as the successor. A decade later, a wave of democratization was sweeping across many nations and I was not excluded. But despite many constitutional reforms designed to conform to democratic principles, Paul Biya is still in power, thereby making me, Cameroon, a new pontificate State, or more correctly a democratic caliphate where power is being concentrated disproportionately at the top and uprooted at the bottom.

The result of this is the destruction of the dream that my people had. Freeing themselves from their former colonial masters has led them into the snares of new masters who continue not only to neglect their own welfare but remain loyal to those former patrons who continue to exploit them using the present leaders – the comprador bureaucracy.

It is this system of bureaucracy that has led to the corruption of the idea of independence. Allegiance is still paid to the former colonial master who takes pride in the misery of my people to create a good name through dependence on charity, international aide, an activity already criminalized in its conception, execution, and evaluation.

Although I have been patient and in pain waiting for my people to grow in maturity, I have realized that I am running out of time and out of patience. I had said to myself that they had to make errors and learn from their mistakes but, regrettably, these mistakes seem to be normalized, internalized, and even institutionalized in some cases.

For example, the modification of the constitution in 2008 removed limitation to presidential mandates thereby giving the present caliph, who is already 81 years of age, the possibility to run for office again in 2018. That modification despite that fact he has a record of unmatched mediocrity in the domain of governance and economy.

To sustain such unconventional norms, intellectuals have been bought off or skillfully eliminated in order to limit critics. While journalists have been killed, and others driven into exile, the opposition has been carefully weakened thus leaving only the president to appear to be the most capable political man under the circumstances.

This patrimonial rule, rooted in a tradition of uncontested authority, pride, non discursive deliberations and inevitable corruption, puts me in a situation of paralysis where I remain immobile, angry, sad, frustrated, morose, and jealous. I feel that way especially when I see my brothers of the same age making progress: Indonesia, China, Dubai, Thailand, Brazil etc.

But then, I have always held that society always corrects itself. In fact, many other societies have corrected their past errors and have made progress and left their bad ways aside. With time and patience running against me, I have found this situation a little different and slow. When I question the fundamental nature of man, I see that it is one, and such a premise leads me to the conclusion that the processes shall be certainly different but the result shall be the same: change in favor of fellow man and society.

Camaroon 3

Before being optimistic, I have always reminded myself that it is still dark, and that the situation remains scary especially with regard to the urgency of the situation. For example; when agriculture flourished in the 70s, I remember officials from South Korea who came to visit my leaders to learn how they could make similar triumphs. But in a few years, South Korea had made progress in all domains of life while my own people languish under the ambush a deceitful rule. I feel betrayed.

While the per capita GDP of a South Korean is about $30.000.00 a year, that of my citizens is barely $1,300.00. But I have been generous enough. Although I have a vast territory with about 13% arable land of which just 2% is in active exploitation, my people still import almost 400,000 tons of rice at the cost of about $200 million.

Camaroon 2

 

My kindness has been boundless to my people, besides tolerance, I have given them gold, diamond, cobalt, aluminum, oil, bauxite, nickel, retile just to name a few. What my brothers and sisters in Japan have only up to 10%, I have them all in abundance. But it is not serving the best interest of my people. So, I have decided to keep my promise. These resources shall remain in my good earth, but if leaders don’t change their ways, they shall remain in servitude due to their own ignorance, greed, and injustice.

I am Cameroon, presently in a paradox;

A big nation with small realizations;

Many resources but little to show for it;

Too many intellectuals but few productions;

Fertile fields but hungry citizens;

Consume what I don’t produce but produce what I don’t consume;

Good laws but unjust application;

 

 

 

                                                                           

SELMA, AMERICA ON TRIAL, by Irfan Nur Ahmed

selma-movie

Handwritten in the back cover of my journal entitled “A Stolen Life” I have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In transcribing it, I did not pity my ancestry, who could not read or write during slavery, nor was I celebrating the triumphs of the Selma to Montgomery Marches of 1965. I was twenty-something and eager to affect change in how we treated abuse victims. I wanted to get a feel for what Dr. King himself must have been struggling with as he wrote his speech.

One thing director Ava DuVernay makes clear in her film Selma is the overwhelming faith Dr. King had in his country, in his community and in God. He had in had a youthful exuberance for securing the constitutional right of African Americans to vote in Selma, Alabama. He wrote his speeches not because he felt sorry for his people or because he wanted to be a superhero, but rather because he wanted to be with them under the sun. He wanted to understand his own and his brethren’s civil condition and from there make a social difference.

According to history, one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s resolves for change included leading thousands of Americans on a series of three marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965. The first march met with violent resistance from state troopers. The troopers yielded during the second march, but Dr. King turned away. He and those thousands prayed that not only they but their president, Congress, and the favor of future generations would also pass by those state troopers. Their prayers were answered in due process and the third march commenced. With the people of the United States as his witnesses, Dr. King led several more thousand people across the same bridge with the protection of the federal government. DuVernay makes this a turning point in the fortunes of the efforts of Dr. King and the SCLC clear in Selma for today’s youths. It is a strong point by which a man of faith, friendship and family leads a young nation of racially segregated cultures to a secured right to vote for everyone, and to their common civil rights being enacted into law, again.

History was accurately depicted in Selma through DuVeray’s use of real footage. Her efforts made identifiable any differences between actual events and cinematic ones for young adults. But she also affectionately treated the likely emotional reality of the footage cinematically. It is one thing for a student who believes in protest these days to imagine what it must have been like to be in the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King.  It is another to experience an artistic vision of being on Dr. King’s team of youthful activists.

For a youngster to be able to sink into the shoes of esteemed persons in any film, some dramatic accommodations must be considered. DuVernay makes such accommodations through her ironic but consistent and formally subtle blend of lighting, performances and video recording in this picture. Her use of hard and soft shadows, organic and inorganic personifications as well as camera angles that work on both sides of the line paint a multi-dimensional picture that includes documented history, indescribable human fear and relentless determination as they collectively tear down contemporary walls that define what is black and what is white in the south in the 1960’s.

The screenplay and the editing in Selma are less effective in conveying what must have been the heat of those days than DuVernay’s refined vision. One-liners occasionally hurt the quality of the piece as a whole. And, more importantly, the script blatantly exhibits Dr. King’s Selma speeches. While catering to the audience who wants to feel what it was like to sit through those speeches and move with them, this artistically exposes the temper lead actor David Oyelowo puts into his oral performance of Dr. King  which in turn results in a less original depiction of, however similar to, Dr. Martin Luther King’s famously articulate demeanor. Cutting in a few more voice-overs for the speeches might have improved this condition. What felt like a slow story at times could have been edited to the benefit of the film’s pace. That said, however, a number of modern-day slow-motion editing techniques make this film quite a positively edgy assembly of images and no doubt increasing the pace of the speeches would have clashed with that.

Casting and actor performance make Selma a Dr. Martin Luther King movie unlike its predecessors. It connects it to youthful passion for protest and revolution and also to the warm sense of camaraderie among activists. The film’s incorporation of modern-day techniques not only in editing but also in formulating makes it a Hollywood fresh.

Historically relevant and artistically compelling, I give Ava DuVernay’s Selma an Earth Colony review of six-and-a-half stars out of seven.     

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