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I found Niamey itself dry and dusty and much more relaxed than Dakar and Cotonou. The roads were fair and there are

a lot of small white taxis. Most of the petroleum comes from Nigeria and Libya. There are suspicions about the French

and Libyan roles in stirring up strife in Niger by supporting a Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger.





Writings of Runoko Rashidi


Introduction to African Civilizations / African Presence in Early Asia / Introduction to the Study of African Classical Civilizations


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Niger and the National Museum of Niger

Letters from Runoko Rashidi



National Museum of Niger

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
How are you? Just a quick note to tell you that I am back in France safe and relatively sound. Today was a long travel day, starting in Niamey, Niger with a stop over in Burkina Faso and then a connecting flight in Casablanca. There were long delays on every leg of every flight and chaos in Morocco and my only large piece of luggage did not arrive. Hopefully it will come later tonight or tomorrow. So I am tired and just a little stressed. But I am okay and have a lot to share with you over the next few days. But right now, here are some of the highlights.

In Niger I arrived safe and sound but had to go through a few delays to get my visa. I stayed in an elegant African owned hotel. Everything was made of wood and painted gleaming white. The hotel owner is a great scholar.

I went to the National Museum of Niger. I went to the Grande Marche and the Petit Marche. I did some shopping. I did some resting. I finished Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers. I did a historic lecture. I had a sunset boat ride on the Niger River. I met and interviewed, for the first time, the people called the Wodaabe. You have surely seen them on TV or photos of them in books. These are the Fulanis that most closely retain their ancient traditions. This was fascinating. I also saw a lot of Tuaregsall of them Blackand had a chance to talk to a few. I was around Hausas most of the time. But the most important thing is that I saw the Niger Manuscripts. Not only did I see them but I held some of them in my hands, photographed them, and had a long interview with the director and assistant director of the African research institute that houses these priceless treasures.

There are more than four thousand of them. From what I gather these manuscripts are even more important than the more famous Timbuktu Manuscripts and contain original documents, some of them more than five hundred years old, on such subjects as history, science, sociology, and the life of the Prophet Muhammad by such scholars as Mahmud Kati, Abderahman Es-Sadi, Ahmed Baba and an African scholar that I had never heard of beforeCheikh Baye.

When I told the institute director that I intended to bring a group of sisters and brothers to Niger next year he told me that he would arrange a special conference and put all of the manuscripts on display! Now wouldn't be something!
And my guide in Niger throughout was a descendant of the Songhai Emperor Askia the Great who told me stories on the Niger about African voyages to the Americas before Columbus! Yes, it was that kind of trip!
So enough for now. I am okay and blessed big time±

In love of Sacred Africa,
Runoko Rashidi Okello, resting in France

19 December 2007

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Geographical, Historical, and Political Background

Greetings Family,
I have been here in France two nights now. I still have not recovered my luggage (maybe today) and I am suffering from the effects of one those head colds that I receive when I have been pushing myself for an extended period. But it is cold and quiet here and I am going to rest up big time, and have no travel plans until mid-January. So, before more of it fades away, I thought that I would take a little time to detail some more of my experience in Niger.

First, Niger is a very large land locked country located in north-central Africa. To the east it is bordered by Chad, to the northeast by Libya, to the northwest by Algeria, to the west by Mali, to the southwest by Burkina Faso and Benin, and to the south by Nigeria.
It has a population of about ten million people made up largely of Hausa, Djerma, Fulani, and Tuareg. It was colonized by France beginning in the nineteenth century and declared its independence in 1960. But French remains the official language. It has a lot of uranium.

Again, I want to thank Professor Hassane Souley—without whom the trip probably never would have happened. Brother Hassane is a brilliant Nigerien scholar based here in France. I met him a few months ago and doors just started to open after that. Indeed, one of the best things about living in France is that I am so close to Africa.

Niger is regarded as one of the poorest countries in the world. Unemployment averages about seventy percent and I was told that there is only about one doctor for every 100,000 people. Hard to believe, isn't it? But that is what I was told.
Niger is also listed very low regarding education. But one of the things that I liked about it is that, unlike numerous other African nations, history in Niger is taught from the time of the great African empires and not the arrival of the European. A lot of people know about the work of Cheikh Anta Diop.

Runoko and the Niger Manuscripts

Niger is an overwhelmingly Muslim country. When I arrived at the airport both inside and out there were throngs of people waiting to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca.
I did not get far beyond Niamey, the capital of Niger. Niamey straddles the Niger River. Over the river is the John F. Kennedy Bridge built a few decades ago by the United States.
I found Niamey itself dry and dusty and much more relaxed than Dakar and Cotonou. The roads were fair and there are a lot of small white taxis. Most of the petroleum comes from Nigeria and Libya. There are suspicions about the French and Libyan roles in stirring up strife in Niger by supporting a Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger.
I did not see a lot of foreign tourists in Niamey and I suspect that most tourists come to Niger to visit Agadiz, to the northwest of Niamey, rather than to Niamey itself. I hope to visit Agadiz in the not to distant future.
I enjoyed Niger a lot more than Mali, Benin, Togo, Senegal, and Burkina Faso—some of the other former French colonies that I've visited in the region. I found the pace of life relaxed and people very friendly. Of course, my principal companions in Niger had a lot to do with my success there as there were three or four brothers who never left my side whenever I went out. I could not have asked for more diligent companions and I will be forever grateful to them. If I had companions like this looking out for me in the other countries just mentioned I am sure that I would have benefited a lot more from my travels than I a actually did. If there is one lesson more apparent than ever before it is that if you go someone where you have never been before, don't speak the local language, don't know anybody, and have not done a lot of research you are almost sure to have a less than wonderful time if you don't have people looking out for you.

One of the observations I made in Niger was that neither France or the French are well-liked by the masses of people. France was a brutal and ruthless colonizer that slaughtered, raped, and pillaged and gave virtually nothing in return.

The food was good; the beer not very. Crime seemed to be rare. I was very impressed by the dignity of the people. I found the Wodaabe and the Tuareg the most interesting of the people that I met. To be honest with you I was expecting a lot of Arabs but almost every body was dark-complexioned. Some of the women were oh so beautiful. Just looking at one Fulani woman almost took my breath away! Even she had to laugh. And, thank god, I did not see the skin-bleaching that I found so common in Senegal. You do see a lot of it though in the music videos that bombard the TV screens, along with the deification of western clothes and jewelry, European standards of beauty, and sex, sex, sex. I found this very disturbing.

Men from the Wodaabe tribe prepare for a festival near Agadez, Niger  [© AP Images]

Finally, a little more about the Niger Manuscripts.  The collection is housed in the Institut Des Recherches en Sciences and Humains (IRSH) affiliated with the University of Niger. All of the manuscripts are written by Africans and they have been collected from much of northwest Africa and even Chad. Sadly, the government of Niger seems little interested. The manuscripts deal with such subjects as history, religion, grammar, geography, astronomy, sociology, and the history of West Africa.
Five hundred of the more than four thousand manuscripts in six volumes have been catalogued under the title Catalog of Islamic Manuscripts prepared by Dr. Hassane Mouleye and edited by Professor Ayman Fu'ad Sayyid, and published in London by the Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation in 2004.

The first two hundred manuscripts thus far catalogued focus on history and some of the illustrious authors include Mahmud Kati, Abderahman es-Sadi, Ahmed Baba,and Cheikh Baba. I believe that some of them are about the great African patriot Usman Dan Fodio. Some of the manuscripts are as long as fourteen hundred pages and are contained in tall metal file cabinets.  Most of the manuscripts are in Arabic but others are in Hausa and Tamashek and date to the fifteenth century. I held a few in my hands but was afraid that I would damage them. They are very fragile and some of them are bound in leather. They are truly some of sacred Africa's great treasures.

So this is the core of my experience in Niger. I have been to eighty-four countries now in search of the African heritage. And my lecture in Niamey makes forty-five countries that I have lectured in.

I am very proud of that. Among the next few new African travel destinations I am contemplating for 2008, in addition to Egypt, Ghana, and Morocco, are Cape Verde, Cameroon, Mauritania, Congo Brazzaville, and the biggest of them all—Nigeria.
Okay, enough for now. I gave you a lot today. Now it is time to relax a little and, in spite of the cold, I have tickets to a big Ethiopian concert tonight!

In love of Africa,

Runoko Rashidi

posted 23 December 2007

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Nomads Who Cultivate Beauty

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#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
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#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Eyes of Willie McGee

 A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South

By Alex Heard

An iconic criminal case—a black man sentenced to death for raping a white woman in Mississippi in 1945—exposes the roiling tensions of the early civil rights era in this provocative study. McGee's prosecution garnered international protests—he was championed by the Communist Party and defended by a young lawyer named Bella Abzug (later a New York City congresswoman and cofounder of the National Women's Political Caucus), while luminaries from William Faulkner to Albert Einstein spoke out for him—but journalist Heard (Apocalypse Pretty Soon) finds the saga rife with enigmas. The case against McGee, hinging on a possibly coerced confession, was weak and the legal proceedings marred by racial bias and intimidation. (During one of his trials, his lawyers fled for their lives without delivering summations.) But Heard contends that McGee's story—that he and the victim, Willette Hawkins, were having an affair—is equally shaky. The author's extensive research delves into the documentation of the case, the public debate surrounding it, and the recollections of McGee and Hawkins's family members. Heard finds no easy answers, but his nuanced, evocative portrait of the passions enveloping McGee's case is plenty revealing.—Publishers Weekly

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The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker

In this groundbreaking work, historian and scholar Rediker considers the relationships between the slave ship captain and his crew, between the sailors and the slaves, and among the captives themselves as they endured the violent, terror-filled and often deadly journey between the coasts of Africa and America. While he makes fresh use of those who left their mark in written records (Olaudah Equiano, James Field Stanfield, John Newton), Rediker is remarkably attentive to the experiences of the enslaved women, from whom we have no written accounts, and of the common seaman, who he says was a victim of the slave trade . . . and a victimizer. Regarding these vessels as a strange and potent combination of war machine, mobile prison, and factory, Rediker expands the scholarship on how the ships not only delivered millions of people to slavery, [but] prepared them for it. He engages readers in maritime detail (how ships were made, how crews were fed) and renders the archival (letters, logs and legal hearings) accessible. Painful as this powerful book often is, Rediker does not lose sight of the humanity of even the most egregious participants, from African traders to English merchants.— Publishers Weekly

Marcus Rediker is professor of maritime history at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987), The Many-Headed Hydra (2000), and Villains of All Nations (2005), books that explore seafaring, piracy, and the origins of globalization. In The Slave Ship, Rediker combines exhaustive research with an astute and highly readable synthesis of the material, balancing documentary snapshots with an ear for gripping narrative. Critics compare the impact of Rediker’s history, unique for its ship-deck perspective, to similarly compelling fictional accounts of slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage. Even scholars who have written on the subject defer to Rediker’s vast knowledge of the subject. Bottom line: The Slave Ship  is sure to become a classic of its subject.—Bookmarks Magazine  

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Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007

By Matthew Wasniewski

Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 beautifully prepared volume—is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress. Written for a general audience, this book contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan. Individual profiles are introduced by contextual essays that explain major events in congressional and U.S. history. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading "Former Black Members of Congress." Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth. The entire volume is 803 large folio pages in length and there are many illustrations. The book should be part of every library and research collection, and congressional scholars may well wish to obtain it for their personal libraries.Pictures—including rarely seen historical images—of each African American who has served in Congress—Bibliographies and references to manuscript collections for each Member—Statistical graphs and charts

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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