The Brothers
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The Brothers

Our History is Often ‘Hidden’ with the People

or How we got The Africans: A Triple Heritage on YouTube for our people’s viewing


hile we often lament the many aspects of our culture that have been wiped away due to 12 generations of chattel slavery, there are still some very African thangs about us. For this Epilogue we’re only going to focus on one: Oral History.

If you really want to know anything about anything in the Black community, you’re not going to find that info in a book somewhere. Nope. Nor are you going to find it neatly posted online for your consumption. Not going to happen. When the European experienced this culture, they assumed that we were a history-less people. But the reality was the Griots of West Africa carried and passed on centuries of their people’s history.

A great example of that is the Epic of Sundiata, the origin story of Mali which was retold for over 500+ years.

Same thing goes for us here. The only place you’re going to find the real skinny with Black people is…talking to Black people. You wanna know what Malcolm X was like in Philadelphia before he took over the Mosque in New York (and why he had to leave the City of Brotherly Love), well…you’re going to have to earn the trust of the people who knew him. Ask people from Harlem — Harlem history — they can recite history 30 years before they were born.

I searched far and wide for The Africans: A Triple Heritage. I went nine to fifteen pages in on Vimeo and YouTube. I even went as far as editing the little ten minute snippets together to make a complete episode (which still was missing the last minute and end credits). Not being able to find the the series anywhere and the fact that so many of my people had never heard of Ali Mazrui’s epic Doc is what made me write this piece.

Before I post my pieces I send them to a select few that I trust, one of whom is my Barber, Sayeed Malik, and this was the exchange between he and I:

SM: Excellent Read

Me: Al Hamdulillah. Shukran.

SM: Do you own this series.

Me: No one does that I know. I’ve hobbled together the pieces I could find online.

SM: I got you brotha!

Me: Oh you own it?

SM: Indeed!

Me: Negro.

Sayeed had bought a copy from an older gentleman, Mau, who would “refurbish old vhs tapes and convert to DVD.” You’ve seen these type of venders on 125th Street or Germantown and Broad. The brothers with tons of DVDs from lectures of the local street Philosophers to vintage Malcolm X speeches — and they also have old Black documentaries.

This is a world that most white folk know nothing about.

And it’s a world that many of us look down on. We usually avoid that rickety table (it’s always rickety) full of hand printed DVDs with photos that have been photocopied so many times, have lost so much detail that they could be abstract paintings. Prices for these DVDs are almost always an Alexander Hamilton.

I can’t say that I’ve ever bought anything from one of these tables…but I’m grateful that Sayeed did and I’m grateful that he made some copies for me. So keep that in mind, the next time you walk by one of these tables they are doing what Annenberg and no one else has done, preserving our history, valuing what is important to us when no one else has.

I wrote that you can’t find The Africans on YouTube…but now I feel it’s my duty to make them available to you. Remember, Hyperlinks are your friend.

The Africans: A Triple Heritage — Programs 1–9

Program 1, The Nature of a Continent: Geography’s influence on history is the topic of this episode, which explores the roles that water, desert, and equatorial climate have played in developing African culture and civilization.

Program 2, A Legacy of Lifestyles: What constitutes “family” in African culture? This segment examines matrilineal, patrilineal, and polygamous traditions as well as the impact of modern cities on family ties

Program 3, New Gods: The roles of Christian missionaries, Western secularism, Muslim sects, Egyptian pharaohs, and native religions are discussed in visits to Senegal, Zaire, and Egypt.

Program 4, Tools of Exploitation: This program traces the colonial economic legacy, the development of slavery, and European control of Africa’s natural resources, with special attention to the roles played by Belgium and Great Britain.

Program 5, New Conflicts: Urbanization, warrior traditions, European-created national boundaries, the Islamic jihad tradition, and nationalist movements are problems of Africa’s post-colonial period, examined in this episode.

Program 6, In Search of Stability: In a continent where more than 70 coups have taken place in the last 30 years, the question of governing effectively is critical. This segment compares African military regimes, one-party states, Marxism in Mozambique, and the styles of the presidents of Tanzania and Zaire.

Program 7, A Garden of Eden in Decay: More than 70 million Africans suffer from malnutrition while their countries export food to Europe. Economic and agricultural failures and successes are examined in Algeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.

Program 8, A Clash of Cultures: In every area of life — dress, behavior, law, worship, and language — Africans have a triple heritage that often sends conflicting signals. The African struggle to evolve new, effective, and essentially African ways of doing things is the topic of this episode.

Program 9, Global Africa: Africa’s role in international politics and economics, from U.N. participation to cobalt production and the political crisis in South Africa, is the focus of this concluding episode. Other issues include the International Monetary Fund, food aid, and tourism.



The Brothers will discuss any and everything, whether it’s comics, movies, or even one’s favorite falafel spot. We will show you what you already know — Black men have perspective; greater still, a VOICE.

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