Happy Africa Day!

I am an African American with significant Native American background in my ancestry with the blood of ex-slaves running through my DNA. I am a second generation deep southerner from rural upstate New York 120kms South of the Canadian border which means if my paternal grandfather whom I am proudly named after hopped on one more freight train fleeing like my mom’s people did from the horrors of white deep southern terror I just might be standing before you as an African Canadian rather than as an African American.

This story of who I am and how I continue to be as a Pan African rooted in a minute slice of the Global African Diaspora has been a centered  identity narrative since the age of 7 maybe it was 8 when I ran home one day from a school in which I was the only black male child not only in 4th form class but in the 50 miles radius Lily white school district.There was my Mom now 97 going on 47 at the kitchen sink to greet me as I burst in the aroma smelling room to ask her a question as assigned by the teacher to go home and ask our parents and then return for show and tell presentations. Mom, where are we from? Mom, where are we from? Only a few years ago as I began to jot down memoir words did I realize the few seconds pause before Mom said your father and I will talk with you when he gets home from work after supper.It is then while sitting with me Dad and Mom broke the news to me. We came from slaves so we don’t know where we are from except we are from Africa.Rather than making me ashamed of having slaves as ancestors they made me proud to be Black and though poor found ways to buy my 3 sisters and I 3 maybe 4 sets of encyclopedias which became my impoverished working class self study liberal arts curriculum in which I became aware of African geography, cultures, and affairs.

African is what I am, have always be as I would discover through various levels of formal education from primary school through teaching at Yale and beyond Africa has remained on my mind, in my heart, and in the deepest wells of my soul marinated   as I began to travel in and out of the continent since the 1990s and finally settling in full time in 2014. I feel proud to be here on the continent which birthed my ancestors who were enslaved and those never caught in this crystalizing era in which we celebrate Africa day as this continent and Asia are the centered hot spots of the world in which we can hold our heads high, open our mouths wide, move our thoughts and feet into places beyond our wildest dreams.We can celebrate this day with melting fears and feelings of inferiority with plans we create and futures we design as much as we dare to do, as much as we have faith in God to do whatever we wish to do with no more stooping with silly demeaning smiles, no more asking for permission, no more seeking apologies for how my name is spelt or where I am from since I am a 21st century Pan African though proudly American though in the deepest roots in Africa as we stroll into the empowerment, the justice and peace we embrace as we love each other as the brothers and sisters we are and together we stand together in the physical and through Africanizing social media and more basically the 4th industrialization in ownership of means of production rather than solely as top often exploited neo-colonial   mass consumers.

So in celebration today of African heritage everywhere on and off the continent today let us draw our own pictures, paint our own portraits, write our own poetic prose, and sing our own melodies just because we can finally we can just step up to the plate, own the plate and own the playing field just because we can, when we Africans everywhere yes we can and therefore we will, we must and have the will like never before can. Happy this Day to all of you. As we all sit and stand as more than a mystical  Unity of one African, of one humanity  as one  African unity embedded in one humanity daily struggle without internalizing and being paralyzed by the struggle working daily towards  breaking out of dehumanizing shackles of colonialism and slavery gruesome both  physical and mental and work more diligently daily  in becoming a sustained authentically Unity of one African empirical making the world more humane and thus just  and doing so not only for we Africans but for every human being since for everyone Africa, the cradle of human kind anyways, anyhow should, must  one day become rather than North America or Europe become the beacon on the highest global hill  for  global   justice and peace since without justice there is no peace for forever more and then forevermore .Thanks so very much.

*Remarks during the dinner for  African and United Nations Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Mauritius hosted by Her Excellency Ambassador A.Borhan, Arab Republic of Egypt.

May 25, 2021

Prof. John H. Stanfield II
Prof. John H. Stanfield II
Director ASARPI: The Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas Mauritius and South Africa former University of Mauritius SSR Chair of African Studies