What comes to mind when you hear the word Harambee? Ironically, Harambee is the Swahili cry for freedom, calling our people to come together to work collectively for our independence. It was used for the first government of Kenya emancipated from British Colonization on December 12, 1963 but don’t worry I’m going to talk about the Gorilla in a minute. Earlier that same year, on March 13, Cassius, Marcellus Clay stretched his professional record to 19 and 0 after defeating Doug Jones. The following year he would face Sonny Liston, in which he shook up the world with one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, also in that year he told the world to call him Muhammad Ali. He said that he no longer wanted to wear the name that was given to his family by force. Ali refused to fight in a war for the freedom of others, and was called a traitor, stripped of the title he earned as a champion athlete, and his professional license. On June 4th, 2016 he passed away due to respiratory complications brought on by a 35 year battle with Parkinson’s disease. Now I know what you are thinking but just hold on I’m going to get to that Gorilla in a minute.
The day after Ali’s passing, Deshauna Barber, a 26 year old Army Reserve Captain was named Miss USA. Born 8 years after Ali’s retirement, she proudly wears her name and uniform and has been willfully trained to kill people for America. Barber is the 8th black woman to wear the sash and crown. A contest born in the 20’s, that was exclusively for white competitors, and no black women competed for its first 50 years, now in 2016, a time where cornrows have become chic, thick lips and big butts have become the new standard of beauty, and twerk classes have become all the rage, the question asked by Twitter is “Why is there a Miss Black America contest? Can white women compete in that? Is that not racism? They ask. “Did she win because she is black?” From their point of view, when it is not uncommon, for an ignorant black man to catcall a white woman, and say something stupid like “Damn, you got a fat ass for a white girl”, and not have his brains beat out of his head and his body dumped in a river, like Emmet Till in 1955, just 5 years after women of color were allowed to be objectified equally in Miss America pageants, certainly there is no reason to have Miss Black America pageants, or BET, or Black History Month, or The Wiz, that’s discrimination. Right?
Which just about brings me to the topic of the Gorilla, but first can we address the little 3 year old boy that accidentally fell into the gorilla ghetto, or concrete jungle as you prefer. Where were his neglectful parents? Surely his Father must be responsible for his misbehavior, his criminal record certainly indicates such. Certainly his mother was expecting the zoo to babysit her unruly brats while she gallivants through the facility unaware of his whereabouts, or she simply has too many children to take care of. Harambee, was killed by the zoo keepers, not on May 31st 2016, but in the reconstruction era, or was it in Greenwood Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921, Harambee was killed when we sold Hip Hop to the highest bidder, when Freeway Rick Ross decided he’d partner with the Reagan Administration and the CIA in the Iran Contra Affair. Willie Lynch syndrome killed Harambee, The Prison Industrial Complex killed Harambee, COINTELPRO killed Harambee, Police Brutality and corruption killed Harambee, distorted negative images in the media killed Harambee, no not the Gorilla, the word means African Unity, it means come together, it means collective responsibility, but in reality it means whatever you want it to mean because you’ve got it locked up in your White Supremacist system and culture, a zoo that we are allowed to live within our enclosure, so it can mean whatever you say it means, it can go where you want it to go, or it will be killed. Shot like an unpredictable wild beast. Although its intentions seem pure, seem protective, seem to be in the right place, you just cannot take that chance with Harambee.
Now about that beautifully magnificent 400 pound animal that was struck down on May 31st in the tragic circumstances that led to his life being taken. The same hypocrites travel to Africa, and kill the Elephant, or the Mighty Black Rhino, endangered species, for their tusks or their horns, or the King of the Jungle, the Lion for sport, but don’t you spare that little black boy’s life for our precious Harambee that we have captured for our amusement. African Unity, I mean, Harambee is for us to look at, at the Super Bowl or NBA finals, not your liberation. Harambee is what they named a Gorilla, they captured for amusement, and they cannot risk a little black boy getting to close to Harambee, the Gorilla, or African Unity.
It does not matter if you win Olympic gold medals, become a world champion, it doesn’t matter if you win a beauty contest, if you refuse to fight or volunteer to fight, it doesn’t matter if you are Muslim or Christian, if you wear their name or take a new name, Harambee does not belong to you.