Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Frontline: Bush's War

Frontline: Bush's War, Original Broadcast March 24 & 25, 2008

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Now, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the full saga unfolds in the two-part FRONTLINE special Bush's War. Veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk draws on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism -- more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on Iraq and the war on terror. Combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, Bush's War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation's history.

"Parts of this history have been told before," Kirk says. "But no one has laid out the entire narrative to reveal in one epic story the scope and detail of how this war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and deep inside the government."

Bush's War is the sixth in a series of Iraq war stories from FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk, including Rumsfeld's War, The Torture Question, The Dark Side, The Lost Year in Iraq and

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gorée Senegal Diaspora

African Diaspora

The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world such as the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Much of the African diaspora is descended from people who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest percentage sent to Brazil. Brazil obtained 37% of all African slaves traded, and more than 3 million slaves were sent to Brazil.

The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

The Trans-Atlantic Slave trade resulted in a vast and as yet still unknown loss of life for African captives both in and outside of America. Approximately 8 million Africans were killed during their storage, shipment and initial landing in the New World. The amount of life lost in the actual procurement of slaves remains a mystery but may equal or exceed the amount actually enslaved. If such a figure is to be believed, the total number of deaths would be between 16 and 20 million. Most historians now agree that at least 12 million slaves left the continent between the fifteenth and nineteenth century, but 10 to 20% died on board ships. Thus a figure of 11 million slaves transported to the Americas is the nearest demonstrable figure historians can produce.

Goree Island, Dakar Senegal

Gorée is famous as a former center of the Atlantic slave trade from where many Africans were forcibly departed to the Americas. Gorée is a small island 900 m in length and 350 m in width sheltered by the Cape Vert Peninsula. Now part of the city of Dakar, it served for many centuries as one of the principal factories in the triangular trade between Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The House of Slaves

Gorée is best known as the location of the House of Slaves used as a holding and transfer point during the slave trade. The House of Slaves is one of the oldest houses on the island. The Door of No Return in the House of Slaves is said to be the final exit point of the slaves from Africa.

The House of Slaves is powerful, not because millions of slaves actually left through The Door of No Return, but because Africa's descendants have made this their place to honor them.

Descendent's of the Gorée Diaspora

The slaves from Gorée were destined essentially to the French colonies in the Caribbean (prominently Haiti) and in Louisiana, as well as to the Spanish colonies (Cuba essentially) and to the Portuguese colonies in Brazil. Very few African Americans from the U.S. have ancestors who went through Gorée, as the English colonists had other sources of "import" for their slaves. Those who can with most certainty consider Gorée as a transit point for their ancestors are the African Americans whose family are from the south of Louisiana, some of which actually still speak some sort of French. As African Americans have migrated a lot throughout the US in the last 100 years, it can be difficult to know with certainty which families were originally from French Louisiana.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience

Legendary scholar-activist W.E.B. Du Bois labored to complete an "Encyclopedia Africana" before his death in 1963. Just over 35 years later, two Harvard educators, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Ghanaian-born Kwame Anthony Appiah, have brought Du Bois' intellectual dream to life in Africana, the most complete and comprehensive record of the Pan-African diaspora compiled into one volume.

The two Harvard professors have commissioned and condensed more than 3000 articles by more than 400 scholars. Though the bulk of the entries are devoted to the African continent and its descendant cultures in Latin America, the Caribbean and North America, the encyclopedia also addresses the African presence in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.

Don't care where you come from
As long as you're a black man
You're an African

No mind your nationality
You have got the identity of an African

'Cause if you come from Clarendon
And if you come from Portland
And if you come from Westmoreland
You're an African

No mind your nationality
You've got the identity of an African

'Cause if you come Trinidad
And if you come from Nassau
And if you come from Cuba
You're an African

No mind your complexion
There is no rejection
You're an African

'Cause if your plexion High, High, High,
If your complexion low, low, low
And if your plexion in between
You're an African

No mind denomination
That is only segregation
You're an African

'Cause if you go to the Catholic
And if you go to the Methodist
And if you go to the Church of Gods
You're an African

No mind your nationality
You have got the identity of an African

Peter Tosh

Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Hardcover)
by Saidiya Hartman

Author Finds Heritage in Africa
News & Notes, January 23, 2007

" As part of NPR's Crossing the Divide series, author Saidiya Hartman talks about one of the oldest and deepest divides in America: slavery. In Hartman's new book, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, she returns to Ghana to do research, but instead finds personal transformation."

"In this rousing narrative, Berkeley professor Hartman traces first-hand the progress of her ancestors-forced migrants from the Gold Coast-in order to illuminate the history of the Atlantic slave trade. Chronicling her time in Ghana following the overland slave route from the hinterland to the Atlantic, Hartman admits early on to a naïve search for her identity: "Secretly I wanted to belong somewhere or, at least, I wanted a convenient explanation of why I felt like a stranger." Fortunately, Hartman eschews the simplification of such a quest, finding that Africa's American expatriates often find themselves more lost than when they started.

Instead, Hartman channels her longing into facing tough questions, nagging self-doubt and the horrors of the Middle Passage in a fascinating, beautifully told history of those millions whose own histories were revoked in "the process by which lives were destroyed and slaves born." Shifting between past and present, Hartman also considers the "afterlife of slavery," revealing Africa-and, through her transitive experience, America-as yet unhealed by de-colonization and abolition, but showing signs of hope. Hartman's mix of history and memoir has the feel of a good novel, told with charm and passion, and should reach out to anyone contemplating the meaning of identity, belonging and homeland."

W.E.B Du Bois, 1868-1963
(W.E.B = William Edward Burghardt)

W.E.B Du Bois, Citizen of Ghana

"Du Bois was invited to Ghana in 1961 by President Kwame Nkrumah to direct the Encyclopedia Africana, a government production, and a long-held dream of his. When, in 1963, he was refused a new U.S. passport, he and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, became citizens of Ghana, making him dual citizens of Ghana and the United States. Du Bois' health had declined in 1962, and on August 27, 1963, he died in Accra, Ghana at the age of ninety-five, one day before Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech."

Works by W.E.B. DuBois at Project Gutenberg:

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” W. E. B. Du Bois