Saturday, October 29, 2011

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on Race (1967)

Daniel P. Moynihan

On February 9, 1967, the New York Times reported, "Lost Opportunity For Rights Cited," by Thomas A. Johnson: Daniel P. Moynihan, author of a controversial report on the Negro family, said in an article published yesterday that an opportunity to make a "total commitment to the cause of Negro equality" was lost 28 months ago because of the short-sightedness of civil rights leaders, Negro and white.

The article in the February issue of Commentary magazine says the nation was ready in June, 1965, to make this commitment after President Johnson, in a speech to the graduating class of Howard University in Washington, made a strong appeal for genuine equality for the Negro.
Mr. Moynihan called the speech "a bold beginning." But he said that before "half a year had passed the initiative was in ruins, and after a year and a half it is settled that nothing whatever came of it."

In the speech, Mr. Johnson called a White House conference, "To Fulfill These Rights." Mr. Moynihan, a former Assistant Secretary of Labor participated at both a planning conference at the White House in November, 1965, and the full-scale conference in June, 1966.

Daniel P. Moynihan

Widespread Objections-- At about the time of the President's speech, Mr. Moynihan wrote in Commentary, his report was published although it was intended to be an internal Labor Department document. It elicited widespread Negro objections for its contention that Negro families were becoming increasingly matriarchical and that family life among Negroes was disintegrating.

Although the report was first issued in 100 copies, it was later published by the Government Printing Office in the fall of 1965.

The report said 300 years of slavery and injustice had resulted in a "tangle of pathology" that would require a unified national effort to correct. Some Negro objections to the report, Mr. Moynihan said, actually put the blame on the Negroes for problems afflicting the race.
Negro objections to the report, Mr. Moynihan wrote in the Commentary article, contributed to the failure of the White House conference.

He [Moynihan] wrote: "This time the opposition emanated from the supposed proponents of such a commitment: from Negro leaders unable to comprehend their opportunity; from civil rights militants, Negro and white, caught up in a frenzy of arrogance and nihilism; and from white liberals unwilling to expend a jot of prestige to do a difficult but dangerous job that had to be done, and could have been done. But was not."

Furor Over Report--Mr. Moynihan stresses in the article that the furor over his report contributed to the failure to take advantage of the opportunity to win national support.
The reasons Mr. Moynihan cited for his belief that the nation was ready to follow Mr. Johnson's lead were that he had been "overwhelmingly elected the preceding fall and given the largest majorities in the House and Senate since those of the early Congresses that enacted the New Deal" and that the speech followed years of civil rights demonstrations in the South that were "unassailable in their justice."

The author was pessimistic about immediate progress for Negro aspirations in the United States because of the white backlash.

"It appears," he wrote, "that the nation may be in the process of reproducing the tragic events of the Reconstruction: giving to Negroes the forms of legal equality, but withholding the economic and political resources which are the bases of social equality."

He noted that white Americans generally feel that Negroes "have received enough for the time being."

Mr. Moynihan, 39 years old, is director of the John Center for Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A Commentary official said the article was Mr. Moynihan's first public statement on the controversy that began in 1965. The official said Commentary is an independent magazine of thought and opinion that is published as a public service by the American Jewish Committee.
Mr. Moynihan said yesterday in a telephone interview that he had written the Commentary article because he felt advocates of civil rights should face up to the truth that "we missed a golden opportunity but that we can't give up.
"We must retrench to do the job right," he added.(source: New York Times)

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on Race (1967)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stokely Carmichael

The End Of Colonialism In Africa

THE 1950's The 1950's was a time of accelerated political change. At the end of the Second World War there were only three independent countries in Africa:
  • Liberia, which had been founded by freed slaves and declared itself independent in 1847.
  • Ethiopia, which was an ancient territory, had never been colonized by a European power despite the attempts of the Italians in the 1880's and 1930's
  • and Egypt, which had achieved independence in 1922.In 1951
Libya was granted independence from Hitler's former ally, war-weary Italy. Egypt renounced its historic control over Sudan. Britain had little choice then but to grant full independence to Sudan in 1956. In the same year, Morocco and Tunisia became independent of France.

Leaders of Indian Nationalism, Ghandi and Nehru, 1948.

INFLUENCES: INDIA: The country which made the biggest impact on African nationalists was India which was led to independence by Mahatma Gandhi in 1947. His confident doctrine of nonviolence, and his track record battling racial prejudice in South Africa made him a hugely influential model among African nationalists. He was assassinated in January 1948.

1945 Pan-African Congress , Chorlton Town Hall in Manchester England.

PAN-AFRICANS: Already in 1945 at the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester, UK, there were a number of delegates who were later to bring their countries to independence. These included Hastings Banda (later President of Malawi), Kwame Nkrumah (later President of Ghana), Obafemi Awolowo (later Premier of the South West Region Nigeria) and Jomo Kenyatta (later President of Kenya).

But nobody could have predicted that within fifteen years of the meeting in Manchester, the vast majority of African countries would be independent. In the early 1950's, Julius Nyerere estimated that complete independence would not happen until the 1980's.

AFRICA & USA & SOVIET UNION: On the world stage America wanted an end to colonialism for reasons of free trade (easy access to African markets which had previously bought from Europe) and political influence. The Soviet Union wanted an end to colonialism and capitalism for reasons of ideology and to increase its sphere of influence.

While African nationalists took a pragmatic view of soviet style communism, the British government was concerned about the Soviet influence on Africa. And where African nationalists met with resistance or persecution from Europe, many welcomed the support and interest of the Soviet Union.

AFRICA & USA & SOVIET UNION: "…generally speaking, it is the detribalised native who responds best to communism, as he misses the narrow confines of tribal life and a leader on whom to bestow loyalty. This gives the Rand, with its inflow of immigrant labour, its special importance in the diffusion of communism in Africa…

Communism has made the least progress where the influence of Islam is strongest. Though in the past year the communist picture has been one of retrogression on some fronts, there are signs of increased interest in anti-colonialism from Moscow." --British Foreign and Colonial Office, Notes on the Aims, Strategy and Procedure of the Communists in Africa, 1 May 1950.
(source: BBC)

THE WIND OF CHANGE (the end of colonialism in africa) 1

Thursday, October 27, 2011

African Slave Trade Beads

From Trade Beads, The History of Trade Beads

The earliest known beads were made from materials such as bone, teeth, ivory, seeds, wood, stone, and resins from a variety of insects and plants. The purpose of the first beads worn is believed to have been protection against uncontrollable events such as harsh weather, to enhance beauty, and as a show of status in the society.

People started using trade beads when trade routes were established and there was a need for currency. However, most of the trade beads in the market today were used even while there were other currencies. These were used by Europeans to trade with people who did not know about currency such as Africans and Native American Indians.

In Africa, trade beads were used in West Africa by Europeans who got them from Venice, Holland, and Bohemia. They used millions of beads to trade with Africans for slaves, services, and goods such as palm oil, gold, and ivory. The trade with Africans was so vital that some of the beads were made specifically for Africans. These include Millefiori trade beads, Chevron trade beads, striped melons trade beads, feather trade beads, and eye beads. Other trade beads reached Africa from India through Arab Traders. The Venetians dominated production of trade beads, especially those used in Africa.

The trade was successful because Africans placed a lot of intrinsic value on decorative items. They used these beads as a currency, as a measure of wealth, as a store of wealth, as decorative items, and to show status in the society. Trade beads used in Africa also go by the name slave beads because they were exchanged for slaves. This was between the sixteenth and the twentieth century.

The first recorded case of use of Trade beads in America is by Christopher Columbus who wrote in his log on October 12, 1492 that he had given San Salvador natives glass trade beads to impress them. Native American Indians had used beads in the past and so they readily accepted trade beads from the European in exchange for fur, horse, and other items. Native American Indians used these beads to decorate their clothes and their baskets, to trade within themselves, and to beautify themselves.

Trade beads were made from different materials and in different styles and colors, depending on who was commissioning them. Glass was the most commonly used material. Apart from the United States and Africa, trade beads are also found in Canada and Latin America.

The beginning of today’s trade in trade beads can be traced in the late 60's to early 70's. This was when global travel took root and many young people went to exotic places and brought back treasures such as beads. Some of these ‘hippies’ began importing beads and other ornaments to their countries. Once the beads were popularized, people researched on them to get the original trade beads and these are very expensive today. African traders brought large quantities of these beads to the west when they grew in popularity.

Many people are making trade beads that mimic the original trade beads. To get the genuine beads, do not expect flawlessness, buy from an established online or offline jewelry store, and consult a professional jeweler before making a purchase. (source: Trade Beads)

From the fifteenth century, glass beads were used as currency by European explorers, traders and missionaries to buy objects from local people all over the world, in particular in Africa. There, glass beads were traded for incense, ivory, tortoiseshell, rhinoceros horn, palm and coconut oils, timber, gold, and slaves.  (source:

A Trade Currency: Cowry Shells

Certain types of seashells have been used by natives as currency on every continent of the world except Antarctica. This Kikuyu woman is in traditional dress showing hundreds of Cowrie shells. (Photo: Flickr user wayfaring stranger.)

According to Ingrid Van Damme, a Member of the Museum staff of the National Bank of Belgium, "Cowry Shells, a trade currency": The Museum of the National Bank is probably not the first thing that crosses your mind when you are talking about shells. And yet, apart from a large number of coins and banknotes it also possesses a nice collection of primitive means of payments. Within this category of traditional money the cowry shell is one the most renowned representatives.

Cowrie shells, African ring money and ancient gold money

Long before our era the cowry shell was known as an instrument of payment and a symbol of wealth and power. This monetary usage continued until the 20th century. If we look a bit closer into these shells it is absolutely not astonishing that varieties as the cypraea moneta or cypraea annulus were beloved means of payments and eventually became in some cases huge competitors of metal currencies. All characteristics of money, i.e. durability, handiness or convenience, recognizability and divisibility are embodied in these small shells. In comparison with foodstuff or feathers which can fall prey to vermin, shells withstand easily frequent handling. They are small and very easy to transport and their alluring form and looks offer them a perfect protection against forgery. Besides, counting was not always absolutely necessary. As the shells almost all had the same shape and size weighing often sufficed to determine the value of a payment.

Cypraea moneta (cowrie).

According to local preferences and agreements, cowry shells could also been packed or stringed to larger unities. On the Bengalese market e.g. large payments were made in baskets full of cowries, each one containing approx. 12.000 shells. Due to it’s peculiar form the cowry was also considered to be a fertility symbol, which made it extremely popular with a number of peoples.

Gourd Ornament with Cowrie Shells

The cowry which is indigenious in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans travelled by land and by sea and gradually spread out its realm. It became the most commonly used means of payment of the trading nations of the Old World. The cowry was accepted in large parts of Asia, Africa, Oceania and in some scattered places in Europe. Chinese bronze objects, the oldest dating back to the 13th century B.C., inform us about this monetary usage. This tradition has also left its traces in the written Chinese language. Simplified representations of the cowry are part of the characters for words with a strongly economic meaning, as e.g. money, coin, buy, value…

Cowry shell collecting and trading became a real industry on the Maldives. Both men and women were involved and had their own responsibilities. Women wove mats of the leaves of the coconut trees which were put on the watersurface. Little molluscs covered these mats but before they could be harvested the mats were left on the beaches to dry. Once completely dried out the shells were ready to start their lives as currencies.

1200 B.C.: COWRIE SHELLS: The first use of cowries, the shells of a mollusk that was widely available in the shallow waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, was in China. Historically, many societies have used cowries as money, and even as recently as the middle of this century, cowries have been used in some parts of Africa. The cowrie is the most widely and longest used currency in history.

The largest part of this Maldive production was exported by local seamen to the main distribution centre of Bengal. Important question: what was the value of this commodity? The law of supply and demand, one of the basic laws of economics, played a dominant rôle. In areas far away from production or trade centers, a few cowries would buy a cow whereas in the Maldives itself a few hundred thousands equalled a gold dinar. Along the northeast trade route caravans of Arab traders introduced the cowry in the African inland but it were the Portugese, English, French and Dutch who promoted the cowry to the currency for commercial transactions, as e.g. trading in slaves, gold and other goods. The massive import of cowries along the African Westcoast however caused a few disruptions both sides of the trade route: whereas India had to deal with serious shortages in the 17th century local African currencies lost their values or even disappeared completely in favour of the cowries. The cowry continued to play its monetary rôle until the 20th century but the financial world has not completely turned its back on this popular currency. Its memory is, amongst others, kept alive in the façade of the Central Bank of West African Countries in Bamako, Mali or… in museums dedicated to money. (source: the National Bank of Belgium)

Cypraea moneta (cowrie)

Cowrie shells were the longest and most widely used currency of all times. In China they were circulating as money from the 2nd millennium BC. From there they spread over Thailand and Vietnam to the Indian subcontinent; finally they came into use also on the Philippines, the Maldives, in New Guinea, the South Seas and in Africa. On the African continent, cowrie money remained in circulation until the mid-20th century. Many cowries found on archeological sites are pierced like the specimen shown here, as they were also used for decorating clothes or tied together in strings for the payment of larger sums.

Shell Traders

Shell Traders from Willy Millard on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Copper was the "red gold" of Africa and had been both mined there and traded across the Sahara by Italian and Arab merchants. The early Portuguese explorers of the 1470s observed that copper bracelets and leg-bands were the principal money all along the west African coast. They were usually worn by women to display their husband's wealth. The Portuguese crown contracted with manufacturers in Antwerp and elsewhere to produce crescent rings with flared ends of wearable size which came to be called "manilla," after the Latin manus (hand) or from monilia, plural of monile (necklace).

Manilla. Manillas were brass bracelet-shaped objects used by Europeans in trade with West Africa, from about the 16th century to the 1930s. They were made in Europe, perhaps based on an African original.Once Bristol entered the African trade, manillas were made locally for export to West Africa.

Records of a contract between the Portuguese government and Erasmus Schetz of Antwerp, who supplied the Portuguese factory at Mina with as many as 150,000 manillas per year, are widely quoted. The standard in 1529 was supposedly about 240m long, about 13m gauge, weighing 600 gram. However, no examples of torque-shaped bracelets in this weight range are known today, and a wreck dated to 1524 carried manillas of typical form but only slightly flared, averaging 306 grams.
Do these heavy Schetz manillas even exist today, and if so, what do they look like? Duchateau, Royal Art of Benin, shows a plaque with a European holding two pieces with barely flared ends whose apparent size could match these specifications, while p.15 ilustrates five pieces of conventional form, but without scale. Then, too, the Dutch participated in the trade. Did they get their manillas from nearby Antweerp as well, or did they use something different.

Objects used as currency were sometimes also in themselves desirable objects, frequently used for body ornamentation. In west Africa from the fourteenth century, copper bracelets were used as currency. After the arrival of Portuguese and other European traders, great numbers of these manillas (the Portuguese word for bracelet) were produced in Europe to trade in west Africa. This iron manilla was made in England, for trade with the Igbo people of Nigeria to obtain palm oil and ivory. The ship carrying this manilla from England to Africa was wrecked off the coast of Ireland in 1836. (

Manilla typology is a largely unexplored subject. While trader and traveler accounts are both plentiful and specific as to names and relative values, no drawings or detailed descriptions have survived which could link these accounts to specific manilla types found today. Historians and economists emphasize patterns of trade and show no interest in the specific appearance or variations among trade goods. Collectors rely on a confusing and incomplete chart by Johansson, Nigerian Currencies, unsourced, but reproduced endlessly, including in scholarly works. When I asked Johansson in 2007 about his sources, he said he could not remember. The chart shows nine named pieces, and he cites other types by area of use, which are not shown.

Twisted Manilla. Manillas, a type of currency in Africa.

Distinguishing factors are thickness and the diameter and degree of flare to the ends, size / weight, and shape. I believe that there really are few discreet types, mainly an evolutionary process: from large to small, heavy to light, crude to finished; end flare subtle to exaggerated, and footprint wide and rounded to small and elongated. The proliferation of African names is probably due more to regional customs than actual manufacturing practices. My own approach has been to examine and sort thousands of pieces obtained from different places over time, and try to apply the names in Johansson's chart, where possible, to varieties as found.

Attitude sketchbook detail - shackles and manillas.

Manillas, a type of currency in Africa

The bracelet is the most common money form in Africa. It served the important monetary functions of portability and wealth display.Variants of this form were accepted virtually everywhere in Africa, with the result that today it is often difficult to know where a particular type originated or was used, and to what extent it was either money or jewelry. My essay African Bracelet Money: Unanswered Questions surveys what we do know about bracelets and manillas. For purposes of this listing I have somewhat arbitrarily sorted out the Calabar rod pieces (perhaps earliest bracelet forms), the manillas (best documented as money), and legbands (differently worn) as separate categories. Detailed Offering of Bracelet Money is under construction.


Slave Cemetary Discovered

Slave Cemetary Discovered

Watkins Slave Cemetery, Maryland

The Mt. Tabor Church, where the remains were reburied, is located at 1421 St. Stephens Church Road in Crownsville, Maryland
At this site, anonymously buried slaves were found during road construction in 1960. These unclaimed individuals were associated with the Locust Grove plantation founded by 1848. The remains were reburied at Mt. Tabor Church in nearby Chesterfield. Loss of identity in life and death typified the enslaved African-American population in Maryland prior to the Civil War.

Watkins Slave Cemetary Marker Photo, Click for full size

Midway Plantation Slave Cemetery

Midway Plantation Slave Cemetery

A short distance east of this marker is the site of the Midway Plantation slave cemetery which holds the remains of many of the African Americans who labored on the 1000 acre plantation in the bonds of slavery during the mid-nineteenth century.

By 1850 some 38 slaves toiled on the plantation and through their efforts Lysander McGavock's Midway thrived and boasted of 600 acres of improved farmland and produced cash crops of corn and tobacco.
Brentwood was once home to the Midway, a large 1000-acre plantation owned by Lysander MacGavock, who owned some 38 slaves. These were buried in this small cemetery. As can be seen in the background, Midway has been mostly lost to development. The city of Brentwood originally planned to obliterate this cemetery as well, but after complaints, it decided instead to reroute Murray Avenue around the site, and added this monument to the graveyard.

The City of Brentwood restored this cemetery to honor the unsung heroes who came from Africa and labored on the Midway Plantation in the 1850's. They survived the horrors of the Middle Passage; endured the shackles of slavery; raised their children; honored their parents to make America a better place.

We deeply appreciate their contributions to the world.

In 1992, the City of Brentwood restored this site which was part of the old Midway Plantation back before the Civil War. The old plantation encompassed much of what is now Princeton Hills Estates, McGavock Farms and Brentwood Country Club Estates. The ante-bellum home built by the plantation's owner is now the centerpiece for The Brentwood Country Club.

Film Review of "Adanggaman": Africans Making Slaves of Africans

From the New York Times, on 11 July 2001, "Film Review: Africans Making Slaves of Africans," by Elvis Mitchell--The historic drama ''Adanggaman,'' which starts a two-week run at Film Forum today, is about an African whose village is captured and its inhabitants forced into slavery by the African collaborator Adanggaman (Rasmane Ouedraogo). Traitorous and arbitrary, Adanggaman has a round face that constantly calls out for the rum the Dutch traders ply him with.

The film's Ivory Coast-born director, Roger Gnoan M'Bala -- who wrote the screenplay with Jean-Marie Adlaffi and Bertin Akaffou -- blends truth and fiction, and the storytelling is so simple that its directness feels fresh and rousing. The scenes of Africans marching in chains and stocks, monitored by other Africans, are a shock and linger in your mind for days afterward.

Mr. M'Bala has found a novel way of involving the audience. He uses rhythms and songs and other types of sounds throughout the picture for aural texture to contrast with the horrors on screen; there's a lovely and unforgettable song over the opening credits with gentle strumming and chants. His use of sound is a shrewd gambit, and his rejection of the noisy and oppressive crunch of the too loud sound mixing we hear in most American films pays off.

In this 17th-century story of the oppressive slave trading among African tribes, we're introduced to Ossei (Ziable Honore Goore Bi) by hearing his voice in the distance. The camera slowly moves over to the spot where he pleads with and eventually cajoles his girlfriend into delaying her afternoon fishing trip for an exploration of another type. Afterward, as she goes off to join the fishing group -- who cast man-size nets into the waters as they chant folk rhythms -- he peeks out of the brush with a sly smile on his face. He's a man used to getting what he wants.

And he doesn't want to marry Adjo (Nicole Suzis Menyeng), the woman his family -- with the exception of his mother -- is determined to pair him off with. His mother, Mo Akassi (Albertine N'Guessan), tries to be a bit more understanding, if only because she's annoyed by tribal sanctimony. But for the most part, there's ridicule about Ossei's affections for one of a lower class: ''The bad blood of that slave will not tarnish our noble blood.''

Ossei refuses the forced marriage at the last minute, and he's beaten and banished. He trails off into the wilderness, alone and ashamed. After Ossei wanders off, his village is attacked, his father and girlfriend and others are slain and the remaining villagers are taken as slaves. The pillagers are led by a group of women in orange robes with close-cropped hair and ridges of braids studded with white shells across the top. In one of the most upsetting scenes, the young village women scoot across the ground on their haunches and scream as they're being circled by the invaders.

Mr. M'Bala uses lots of long shots to communicate the action, instead of punching up ''Adanggaman'' with stuttered editing to contrive tension. He lets the film work at its own pace, though there is an opening jolt as we see one of Ossei's tribesmen being bound and gagged. The image of an African being trussed up for servitude by other Africans is deeply discomforting, and Mr. M'Bala exploits the power of that rare image.

Ossei plots to free his mother and tracks the movements of the native slavers. His mission is the beginning of his maturation from brat to motivated adult, woven into one of the many gripping plot turns the movie takes. The narrative motion is tricky; first it canters, then shifts into a heady, quick gallop. What's most fascinating about ''Adanggaman'' are the scenes that feel like anecdotal rest stops but that are actually building into a nuanced and engrossing whole.

Adanggaman (movie) Mo Akassi (Albertine N'Guessan).

Directed by Roger Gnoan M'Bala; written (in Bambara, Baule and French, with English subtitles) by Mr. M'Bala, Jean-Marie Adlaffi and Bertin Akaffou; director of photography, Mohammed Soudani; edited by Monika Goux; music by Lokua Kanza; produced by Tiziana Soudani; released by New Yorker Films. At the Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Sixth Avenue, South Village. Running time: 90 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Ziable Honore Goore Bi (Ossei), Albertine N'Guessan (Ossei's Mother), Mylene-Perside Boti Kouame (Naka) and Rasmane Ouedraogo (King Adanggaman). [source: New York Times,]

Adanggaman is an unblinking look at an under acknowledged underside of African history: the active role of black Africans in supplying human cargo for the European slave trade. Deftly blending fact, myth, and personal drama, the story centers on Ossei, a strong-willed young man forbidden by his father from marrying the lower-caste woman he loves. When his village is pillaged by slave traders, Ossei sets out after the raiding party, his quest leading him to the stronghold of the dreaded King Adanggaman, an arrogant despot who thrives on the slave trade and uses fierce female warriors to enforce his power.

One of these Amazons, herself a former slave, falls in love with Ossei, and the couple escape into the bush, where they lead a paradisiacal but precarious existence in the shadow of Adanggaman's vengeance. Though presented with fable-like clarity, the film's analysis of traditional African life is subtle and ambivalent: the seemingly idyllic village society is built upon a structure of patriarchal authority and caste discrimination that already contains the seeds of Adanggaman's greater tyranny.

Adanggaman (movie) Captured slave.

A particularly fascinating historical sidelight shows women in positions of strength and skill, both as fisherwomen in Ossei's village and as formidable warriors in Adanggaman's army. Africa is shown to contain extraordinary possibilities for both freedom and tyranny, and the film's power derives from the way it places an inspiring dream of independence alongside a bitter account of that dream's betrayal. (source: New Yorker Films)

Uit de erfenis van slavernij: Adanggaman 1/19


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