“We who believe in Freedom cannot rest!” Those are the powerful words of Ella Baker, a Shero of one of many Afrikan world movements. Afrikan people are always making pathways towards Freedom. Perhaps this is because Afrikan people remain enslaved in some way, shape or form. It’s easy to speak of being free, yet challenging to actually do something about not being enslaved. If there is some aspect of you that is not free, then you are still enslaved. And if Afrikan people in different parts of the world are not free, then you too remain enslaved, “none of us are free if one of us in chains (Solomon Burke, 2002),” are words Afrikan people need to remember and live by. Ella Baker was one among many Afrikan women who lived by those words in the work she did in organizing Afrikan youth. She was one of many who did something to assist Afrikan people in continuing to fight and strategize for the Freedom of Afrikan people.
Since, I believe in Freedom, then it is for this reason, that I cannot rest. The many unsung Sheroes of Afrikan world movements towards freedom remain unheard of, unknown, with their names not called upon to guide us towards that Freedom that we desire. One Afrikan Shero who desired her Freedom was Assata Shakur. Her definition is what will be referred to in this writing.
Freedom! You askin me about freedom. Askin me about freedom?
I’ll be honest with you. I know a whole more about what freedom isn’t than about what it is, cause I’ve never been free.
I can only share my vision with you of the future, about what freedom is.
Uhh, the way I see it, freedom is– is the right to grow, is the right to
Freedom is -is the right to be yourself, to be who you are,
to be who you wanna be, to do what you wanna do. [fade out]
~Common; “A Song For Assata
Afrikan people can say “We are Free!” However, according to the song lyrics, we are not! While we have many rights, worldwide, as a whole many of our rights are suppressed, oppressed and obliterated. Assata Shakur is right, Afrikan people know more about what freedom isn’t than what it is, cause we’ve never been Free! We have never been Free, because, we have been at rest! We, Afrikan people are not Free, because we remain at rest! Ella Baker said, “We who believe in Freedom, cannot rest!” Yet we are resting, why are Afrikan people resting?
Afrikan people are resting because we have bought into the idea of equal inclusion, an idea that is false and of non-beneficence to our existence. We think we are Free because we have been allowed to participate in unequal access to American societal amenities designed to keep our children and our families “at rest!” Whereas there was no allowance for many of our ancestors to read, write nor know of our Afrikan life stories, now the same remains under the guise of education that is miseducation. Afrikan people are resting because we have bought into the idea of enslavement being a thing of the past while at the same time we don’t recognize peonage systems, debtor prisons and the fact that the most profitable item on the American stock exchange remains Afrikan bodies via the Prison Industrial Complex second to the harvesting of Afrikan body parts. We, Afrikan people, cannot continue “resting!”
How can we stop resting? We must celebrate various aspects of our Freedom while continuing to fight for all of our Freedom. Wazazi (Parents) must teach our watoto (children) about the heroes and sheroes of their direct blood circles (Kwesi Ra Nehem Ptah Akhan, 2014) We must choose our own days of celebration beginning with our direct ancestors and elders in our own families, again this is the responsibility of the wazazi and mzees (elders) of our families. We must connect our youth to our elders, to our ancestors, to those “beautiful ones who are yet unborn (Ayi Kwei Armah, 1989).” These are ways to gain our Freedom. We must be persistent, diligent and tenacious in our efforts as after all, this is our life, our legacies, our all.
Let’s start now by continuing the legacy of Ella Baker. Commit to celebrating Ebɔbira-Oforisuo 15, 13015 or April 15, 2015 as “Ella Baker Day!” Start by signing the petition http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/supportellabakerday/. Gather your families and the youth together annually on this day. Have a family gather around watching films about groups and organizations that Ella Baker helped to form, read excerpts of books about Ella Baker, create an Ella Baker app, compare her to more Afrikan Sheroes, design an Ella Baker comic book, teach the youth the Ella Baker song “We Who Believe In Freedom,” by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Design t-shirts with Ella Baker quotes; make an Ella Baker calendar using Afrikan time, words and dates. There so much we can do towards contributing to the Freedom of Afrikan people, the idea is to start somewhere and now!!! Remember, “We who believe in Freedom Cannot rest!”
Akhan, Kwesi Ra Nehem Ptah. (2014) Afuraka/Afuraitkait: The Origin of the Term ‘Afrika’ http://odwirafo.com
Armah, Ayi Kwei. (1989). The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/264587.The_Beautyful_Ones_Are_Not_ Yet_Born
Burke, Solomon. (2002) “None of us Are Free” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFkmRp_G2uo
*Mafundikwa, Saki. (2007). Afrikan Alphabets: The Story of Writing in Afrika. New York.: Mark Batty Publisher *(Africa is spelled Afrika in African languages.)
Names of Months and Days in Akan. http://scriptsource.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=entry_detail&uid=zxtx5mg2wj
Shakur, Assata. https://libcom.org/files/assataauto.pdf
Sweet Honey in the Rock . (1988) Ella’s Song/We Who Believe In Freedom http://ellabakercenter.org/blog/2013/12/ellas-song-we-who-believe-in-freedom-cannot-rest-until-it-comes