Monday, September 26, 2011

Michael L. Lomax and Howard's 144th Convocation

Practice of Freedom and Justice: The Black Diaspora

For nearly 35 years, Richard L. Wright, Ph.D. has taught students at Howard University.
This week, we had the opportunity to share in his wealth of knowledge about black education and segregation,as well as what students can do to take a stand for themselves and the history of our school.
Dr. Wright began by stating how the decline in the black community began with desegregation. After desegregation, the black community was no longer sticking up for each other, they weren't the close brothers and sisters they used to be, but rather distant relatives as they fought for their own survival in a new world, trying to get ahead. They weren't responsible for their own education any longer, and the education progressively declined.
He also told us that we have an obligation to be the most powerful intellectual we can be, so that we can secure the liberation of our people, and he assured us that it is an extreme privilege to be black, and to be at a university and not to take that for granted.
Dr. Wright went on to say that some students might not like the way things turn out at Howard University and he told us to do something about it! He said not to leave angry, but through active engagement, we can provide liberation for ourselves, and others who might face the same problems. If you accept frustration, you will keep being frustrated.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Howard University's 144th Opening Convocation

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund, was the guest speaker at this year's opening convocation who focused on the significance of HBCUs in the community and the need for them to succeed. He spoke with efforts zoning in on the necessity that HBCUs, particularly those in high standings such as Howard University and Morehouse College, live up to their legacies by propelling students to excel beyond the simple goal of graduation, such that HBCUs can receive the funding that they need and deserve.

Secondly, Dr. Lomax spoke on the need for alumni to give back to the universities that they attended, in order to further support future generations to come. I found Dr. Lomax’s comments on the concept of HBCUs “talking the talk, but sometimes failing to walk the walk” to be the most compelling. I can agree that only with the same hard work and dedication that filled the alumni who built the deep-rooted legacies of HBCUs, can we as a student body continue to further support the greatness of these colleges that we have chosen to attend.

Week Five: Political and Social Activism at Howard University

Dr. Richard L. Wright used this week's lecture period to discuss the implications of segregation on the African-American community, how students' social and political activism drives have shifted in this generation, and what should be done to recenter ourselves as a student body who is mindful of both our privilege and opportunity as members of the Mecca.

Dr. Wright described segregation as being an institution which drove the African-American community to support one another and push for the importance of education above all costs. Education during the times of segregation was a literal tool that would give a black student any hopes of bettering their future standing in society. At this day in age it is blatantly apparent that a shift in values has occured, that is to say that the institution of education is more commonly undervalued and taken for granted. In my opinion, the most impactful thing that I can do as a member of this generation, with the opportunities that I have to attend a university, is to wholly dedicate myself to my studies.

Dr. Wright, who has not only been a professor at Howard University since 1976, but is also a graduate of the Mecca himself, spent a great deal of his lecture talking on the way that student advocacy roles have drifted from a core value. Howard has always been an institution of excellence, but students have not always been so entirely involved with social and political standings based upon Dr. Wright's presentation. Not until the Civil Rights Movement in the later 20th century did Howard take on a strong role of social and political advocacy in the community. It was a point to be made by Dr. Wright that the sense of communal responsibility that once existed in students of the Mecca has in many ways faded, and it is the current generations duty to revive that spirit.

While I can appreciate the moral that Dr. Wright discussed and promoted, I also do believe that there is a difference between a giving spirit to show appreciation of a community and a required sense of indebtedness to it. I believe that the work that I do as a student at the end of the day is to first improve myself and secondly to benefit others. I do not say this in order to be selfish, but instead to recognize the fact that I can not help others without first being sufficient in my own capabilities.

Practices of Freedom and Justice: The Black Diaspora - Week 5 Lecture

Practices of Freedom and Justice: The Black Diaspora
Week 5 Lecture

The Class of 2015 was privileged to have Dr. Richard Wright speak at our week five lecture. This lecture was titled Practices of Freedom and Justice: The Black Diaspora and Dr. Wright focused on three main points. These were the education of African Americans, educational segregation, and the history of Howard University.

Dr. Richard L. Wright is a professor in the Department of Speech Communication and Culture at Howard University. He is also alum of Howard University; graduating in 1964 with a degree in Spanish, French minor. He then went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Latin American studies and a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics at the University of Texas in Austin. He is an asset to the Mecca’s faculty and serves on Howard University’s Board of Trustees.

Education for African Americans wasn’t always as accessible as it is today. We now look at education as a right, but during the times of Dr. Wright, education was a privilege that few blacks had access to. The burden of excelling academically was twice as great on African Americans because they had to be the best in the black community, as well as the best when compared to other races. Many blacks broke this barrier and received their degrees of higher education, though. These disadvantages to our race did not break our ambitious and hardworking nature.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities are a direct result of educational segregation. Traditionally, African Americans were not admitted into the predominately white colleges and universities during times of segregation. African American leaders and educators then went on to found colleges and universities dedicated to the education of African Americans and people of African descent. Cheney University in Pennsylvania was the first HBCU established in the United States in 1837. These schools are known for their capacity to produce African American scholars and leaders.

Dr. Wright also explained how Howard became a politically active university. This began with the visit of legendary Malcolm X. Before he visited, the Mecca was not very active in politics or the political community. Then Malcolm lectured before the student body about what they could do to change the community and even the world. His inspirational words hung in Howard student’s minds and led them to take interest in political affairs. This resulted in Howard becoming a more politically active school with a bigger imprint in politics.

This lecture by Dr. Richard Wright is one of my favorites so far. He is an excellent speaker and knows how to keep a large group of college freshman interested; which is an impressive skill. His lecture discussed both historical and contemporary topics, and how they relate to us as students. Motivation at its finest.

Howard University's 144th Opening Convocation

Howard University’s 144th Opening Convocation

Howard University’s 144th Opening Convocation was held in Cramton Auditorium on Friday, September 23, 2011. The keynote speaker was the president and chief executive of UNCF, Dr. Lomax. UNCF is an abbreviation for the United Negro College Fund. The convocation is an event that marks the 144th academic year at the Mecca.

UNCF is a nonprofit foundation that awards scholarships to African American students attending HBCU’s. These scholarships start at the undergraduate levels and are dispersed all the way to the doctorate levels. UNCF proves to be a great financial resource to many students. Ironically, Howard University is not a member of UNCF.

Dr. Lomax spoke about an array of topics including the goals and missions of Howard University, the responsibility of students before and after graduation, and our common mission as African American people. He made giving back a main theme of his lecture and aimed to motivate and inspire us.

Alumni, staff, and current students were also recognized and honored during the convocation. It is important to me to see people who were once in my shoes. Convocation also educated me on the history of Howard and the legacy of the Mecca. Convocation will have an impact on how I approach my education from here on.

Political Activism At Howard

Dr. Richard Wright truly revived our Freshman Seminar. His lesson was highly unexpected but was very powerful. As a political science major, Dr. Wright's insights about the past Howard student political activism truly had me inspired to stand up and be heard.

Howard University has been one of the most politically involved schools in our nation. The peak of HU's political activism took place during the Civil Rights Era. A huge inspirational portion of the lecture occurred when Dr. Wright discussed about the visit of Malcolm X to Howard University. Malcolm X spoke before Howard when it was politically inactive school. He was the catalyst of change for Howard. Malcolm spoke to the students about what they can do, not only to change their own community, but also how they can change their world.

Dr. Wright also spoke about the impact of HBCUs in the African American society. As I stated in my previous post, HBCUs were established as a result of the segregation of education. Most Black students were not able to attend the white universities or colleges. This led alas led to the rise of many powerful African American leaders who were products of HBCUs. As a student in one of the most powerful HBCUs in the world, I have to continue the legacy of all of the students and leaders who came before me. I have scheduled a meeting with Dr. Wright as go-to guy for advice to my COAS Vice Presidential Campaign.

Convocation #144 - HowardU

On Friday, September 23, 2o11 I witnessed Howard University's 144 Opening Convocation. The keynote speaker was Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., who is president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund. UNCF awards more than 10,000 scholarships through more than 400 scholarship, internship, fellowship and institutional grants that support students at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. Dr. Lomax spoke about the mission and impact of HBCUs.

HBCUs were established as a result of the segregation of education. Most Black students were not able to attend the white universities or colleges. This led alas led to the rise of many powerful African American leaders who were products of HBCUs. As a student in one of the most powerful HBCUs in the world, I have to continue the legacy of all of the students and leaders who came before me. Dr. Lomax reminded us that we must prosper at our university, excel, but remember to give back. “Howard was there for you, now Howard needs you."

I will be there for my university.

Dannie Bolden's Week 5

This weeks Freshman seminar was presented by Dr. Richard Wright. Dr. Wright talked to the students about Education, Segregation, and Howard University.

Dr. Wright told the students about his era in time, when it was a privilege for an African American to obtain a degree. African Americans had to work hard to be better not only among themselves, but also among all other races. This is because nothing was easy for them. I enjoyed this portion of the lecture because I feel that this is the same way today. It made me realize the contemporariness of his lecture.

Dr. Wright also discussed segregation. The rise of HBCUs began because of the segregation of education. An African American usually was not able to attend a traditional “white” university or college. This is why there are so many leaders among the African American community that came from HBCU schools. This made me feel great, learning about the struggle turned conquered victory of African American education. The efforts of those leaders led to a more diverse college and secondary education.

A huge inspirational portion of the lecture occurred when Dr. Wright discussed about the visit of Malcolm X to Howard University. Before Malcolm X spoke before the school, it was a very politically inactive school. Malcolm spoke to the students about what they can do, not only to change their own community, but also how they can change their world. This inspired the Howard student body to begin to work on becoming a more politically active school. This portion of the lecture really expressed the origins of Howard politically activeness.

Overall I gave Dr. Wright a 10 out of 10, because he really took a new approach on speaking to the students on a more welcome tone. This included the non use of power points when expressing ideals. I was very impressed with Dr. Wright and I hope he will come back and give us another lecture. We were very lucky to have him speak to us. Thank You Dr. Wright.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Howard University's 144th Opening Convocation

On September 23 2011 I attended the Opening Convocation for Howard University. This convocation marked the beginning of the 144th academic year at Howard University. The speakers including the President of the UNCF  Michael Lomax and many other guests. The President of the UNCF took the opportunity to explain Howard University's goals and ideals and how we as students will progress with these ideas for not only our inner community, but also our global community.

The convocation was also an opportunity to honor alumni,staff, and current students. An intrinsic portion of the convocation dealt with the importance of HBCU's and its graduates. Not only did this education topic apply to HBCU's, but also to other schools in America. They discussed how alumni should give back to the university, and how the current students are the future of America. This convocation was a great experience for me and I learned a lot about Howard's history and legacy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week 4 - Abandonment and Dismemberment: "Something Torn & New" Lecture By Dr. Beatty

Abandonment & Dismemberment: "Something Torn & New"
Lecture by Dr. Beatty

On my first blog post, this lecture was one that I mentioned I had great interest in, and after hearing the lecture by Dr. Beatty I was assured that my interest had good means. Dr. Beatty discussed 3 main concepts that summarized the entire jest of information he was teaching. They were: the dismemberment of African natives to (from) their homeland, also known as the Middle Passage, the African dispora, and the effects of dismemberment to our culture.

Africans were taken by force from their native lands and displaced on colonial lands where they would become slaves. Colonial Europeans forced their ways of life on to the Africans in hope of breaking their cultural and community ties. They thought that this forced assimilation would render us helpless, hopeless, and thus easier to control. But Europeans were in for a wake up call whe it was discovered that the bond of the African community wasn't as weak as they thought.

The African dispora placed African's throughout the world and began in the 16th century. As time passed, by 1776, five out of six people in what would become America, were African descent. This separation did not break the spirit of the people to continue their cultural ways, though. African traditions continued in these new settings and societies of slaves called Maroon societies, were created. These societies practiced their culture's traditions, teachings, and ways of life. In their new condition of life, slaves continued to sing, dance, tell stories, and practice the ideals of their native cultures.

The oppression of African's through dismemberment was unsuccessful. As a people, we managed to maintain our roots through times of such peril. The structure and roles of family were kept in tact, as well as science and technology skills, and the language. We even went as far as to create new teachings, cultural significances, and traditions. As a race, we are strong and our capturers belief that we weren't was a grave mistake.

Kelvonna Goode

Week Four: Abandonment and Dismemberment

Dr. Beatty discussed three primary areas that stood out during his lecture on the concepts of African abandonment and dismemberment: the Middle Passage, creating the African diaspora in the Americas, and cultural maintenance. The Middle Passage, the physical journey that displaced Africans across the globe, was the first step in attempting to remove Africans from their native cultures, as it literally took them away from their motherland. In order to assimilate Africans with their new roles under enslavement, the Europeans that ruled them made efforts to overlap their customs into the lives of Africans in areas such as Christian religion and laboring, militaristic social structure. By imposing European views on the Africans, the ideal would have it that slave drivers would be able to control them more effectively, by erasing their cultural bindings, which strengthened their community; however, these communal ties, demonstrated by Dr. Beatty, were not so easily destroyed.

The African diaspora took native Africans to all parts of the globe, particularly the New World. Between 1492-1776, five out of six people in the New World were African (Beatty). Unlike the Jewish diaspora, that of the Africans was involuntary. Despite the drastic changes that occurred among the African diaspora, traditional elements of African culture remained through family roles, science and technology, and speech. "Speaking in tongues," medicine men and women, banjoes and drums, Vodun, and water baptisms all demonstrate elements of culture that remained in the New World in which Africans were displaced. The significance lies in the strength and prevalence which existed so deeply rooted within the traditions of African customs, allowing for them to transcend time, distance, and new teachings.

The Accidents Of History Make Us What We Are Today

Historical Accident: The dismemberment of African Natives to their homeland
What Makes Us Today: What Africans did after they were dismembered

The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world - predominantly to the Americas, and also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe.
The dispersion of Africans during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade and others enroute to India as slaves and source of labor. People of African descent with their own communities outside the African continent are also referred to as being part of the Diaspora. Post-slavery communities were developed and, thus, called Maroon communities.

Such personages as these, however, constitute only a tiny fraction of those who combined African ancestry in some manner with Native American culture. Among the earliest were the “Maroon” populations that developed in the Atlantic coastal areas from Brazil to Virginia, and in the Caribbean, during the time of the slave trade.

As a West Coast Native, I had never heard of the Maroon communities that exist on the East Coast. This reminds of the Native American reservations that exist in our country today. Before this Freshman Seminar, I had not the slightest clue about the complexity of Black History. I feel proud to know that people whom look just like me, have been full of wisdom and knowledge for generations.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 4- Abandonment & Dismemberment

This week I will once again summarize and identify 3 key points from the Freshman Seminar lecture of this week. The points highlighted were: the dismemberment of african natives to their homeland, how the natives brought african cultures with them, and what they did after they were dismembered.

The African diaspora unlike the Jewish diaspora wad not voluntary. The Africans were taken from their homeland to work as slaves or servants in foreign regions. This dismemberment from their society would create a psychological rift for the descendants of the captured Africans. The African diaspora began in the 16th century. This diaspora was thought to have left the captives mentally crippled.

The diaspora, although thought to have left the captives mentally crippled, did not keep the Africans from practicing their native traditions. These traditions include music, song, dancing, community, and sharing among their people. Researchers such as Michael Gomez have given a bigger insight into this ordeal. The Africans did end up mixing some cultural aspects with their new foreign cultural environment. Yet, these original traditions still continue to this day in modern times.

After the African's were dismembered, some went on to be sent to foreign countries to be slaves or workers (as stated above). There were a few whom ended up creating their own societies. These societies were called Maroon societies. Maroon societies were founded in Brazil, Jamaica, and many other lands. These societies all embodied the original culture from which they came.

These aspects of the African Diaspora have taught me new things, such as the feeling of loss researchers tend to attribute to the African captives. Maroon societies were also very foreign to me until I was introduced to this lecture. When taking in all this information, it makes me feel proud to be of African descent. Regardless of being held captive or being taken away from our original homeland, we as a people still strive and progress through dark times. I would like to personally thank Dr. Mario Beatty for his lecture, Thank You.

Dannie Bolden II

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week Three- Omoluabi: Self Actualization and Communal Responsibility

Dr. Segun Gbadegesin discussed three key areas in his lecture: the story of Iwa, the distinctions between wisdom, intellect, and knowledge, as well as the concepts of omoluabi. In the story of Iwa, her husband Orunmila, the Yoruban god of wisdom, mistreats her, and as a result loses her. The remainder of the tale tells of Orunmila coming to a point of realization that without his wife, he is of little value. The true significance of the story lies in its symbolism, as Iwa represents good character, so that when she leaves her husband, his standing as a moral man with purpose diminishes. The stories moral supports the basis of many ancient African cultures, which are driven goals of self-actualization and communal response.

Secondly, Dr. Gbadegesin, distinguishes between the concepts of wisdom, intellect, and knowledge. In essence, he describes knowledge as being "factual information without insight into their supporting reasons", intellect as the possession of knowledge with appreciation to its relevance to broader society, but lacking the skills to use them harmoniously. Based upon these definitions, it is apparent that wisdom is upheld as being the most valuable, due to its ability to apply information and facts to reckon with the common good. Wisdom is among the driving forces in African cultures as it requires both insight and commitment to the common good of the community.

The all-encompassing theme of the word omoluabi can be better recognized when the word is broken down into syllables: Omo Olu Iwa Bi, meaning "a child begotten of the chief of Iwa." Someone in possession of the traits of omoluabi is self-disciplined, with great character, and in possession of "practical wisdom" that is they are able to put their knowledge good use, by supporting their communities.

Omoluabi: Self-actualization and Communal Responsibility.

Segun Gbadegesin presented a number of different concepts during this second lecture. He reiterated the research question, told us the difference between wisdom and knowledge, how Egypt had principles long before most cultures and the concept of Iwa, or a person’s own own character.
How have scholars across the various fields of study advanced and transformed academic knowledge related to enduring problems of the human condition? This is the research question, to which we must discover an answer through these lectures. Through transformation, people should help to change the world. Instead of just advancing a field of study it the notions of that field should be completely shifted. These fields of study include things like natural sciences, divinity or fine arts.
Building on Dr. Carr’s lecture of African brilliance and Egypt’s scholars, Professor Gbadegesin pointed out that before Muhammad or Jesus was born to this Earth, the Egyptians had beliefs in deities such as MA ‘at and Ramses the Great. Also, before the Ten Commandments were engraved on stone and before Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, The Egyptians had the Principles of MA ‘at and the Book of Instruction.
Lastly, he talked about Iwa, which is the character of a person. A person must have this Iwa inside of them, or they are not living their own life. The concept of Iwa introduces the responsibility an individual must have towards himself, and to the community, which goes back to the initial reasoning of this lecture of self-actualization and communal responsibility.
A person should have good character, because this represents inner beauty, and is also the essence of religion.

A Strong Vision Of Growth

I personally feel that this week's lecture was not delivered effectively in comparison to the powerful presentation by Dr. Carr. However, the lecture covered the various fields of study and how they have contributed to the understanding of the human conditioning. As a result of a non-effective presentation and unclarity of the, I was unable to grasp very much info. Although, the key point of the lecture was the evaluation of how we as a race and as a species can contribute and impact the progress of the human conditioning positively throughout this world.

Despite the delivery of the presentation, the two lectures had a strong vision of growth within the African community. As mentioned last week, I have learned that we as students stand on the shoulders of all those who have come before us. Not only our families and those who have shaped our personal lives, but also our ancestors of Africa and the elders of the Howard University Legacy. We as a African-Americans must continue to progress and build on to the legacy of those whom have come before us and shaped our lives.

Week 3 Post: Omoluabi: Self Actualization and Communal Responsibility

In this week's post I will identify and summarize at least 3 key points of the lecture given to us by Dr. Segun Gbadegesin.

The three key points given to us this week that were most identifiable (to me) were the research question, Antef the philosopher of kimet, and the Omoluabi child.

The research question that was posed stated, “How have scholars across the various fields of study advanced and transformed academic knowledge related to enduring problems of the human condition?” (Dr. Gbadegesin PPT). It was explained to us that the various fields of study have contributed to the understanding of the human conditioning (more specifically to Africans). The focal point of this question was to evaluate how we as a race and as a species can contribute and impact the progress of the human conditioning positively throughout this world.

Antef the Philosopher was from a location in Egypt called Kimet. The slide on a powerpoint gave me the feeling that Antef was a very observant man. In a selection that was read to us, it can be noted that not only was Antef a philosopher but that he knew what it takes to become a philosopher as described on a manuscript known as “the inscription of Antef”.

The Omoluabi child was one born to a chief of iwa (a god). The Omoluabi was very well disciplined in mannerisms as well as academics. The Omoluabi child is also meant to impact those around it in a positive manner. The Omoluabi child is one whom we should strive to align our mannerisms with.

Dr. Carr and Dr. Gbadegesin had many correlations between their lectures. Both of the lectures had a sense of urgency for a growth of knowledge within the African community. This growth can not only help us learn more about our ancestors, but also it can help us learn more about ourselves. I had the impression that this will encourage many of us to do wonderful things while on our tenure here on earth.

Dannie Bolden II

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mbongi: Learning Wisdom and the African World Experience

Since all humans are thought to have originated in Africa, Dr. Carr acknowledges that "Human brilliance must be connected to African brilliance." This concept, along with that of the Mbongi and memory, provided the framework for this lecture.
Africa as the source of all life, and thus the ultimate source of all brilliance and excellence is clearly presented to be the focus of Dr. Carr's lecture, and it became apparent to us that Africa provided the source of our present knowledge. The biggest example is probably our modern day writing system and mathematics, which are know thought to have been derived from Egypt.
Translated literally, Mbongi means a "house without rooms." But it has a much deeper meaning than this; Mbongi is the collective consciousness of all the knowledge our ancestors have compiled for our use, along with the addition our own generation has amassed. Now we know that our law and order, culture and education have all been derived from this African concept of Mbongi, or the "common shelter" as Dr. Carr puts it. The concept of Mbongi can be further broken down into more specific notions. I have just provided the example of "Boko," by showing how Mbongi is broken down. This is exactly what 'boko' means to break or to cut, especially in regards to solving a problem. Other notions include creating shelter in order to protect (Yemba), mixing and assembling (Lusanga), and inhaling especially in regards to healing properties (Kioto).
The Afrcian diaspora did not destroy these ancestral ways of life, and it may have in fact made them stronger in some ways. Enslaved Africans created new languages, such as Patois, Creole and Ebonics, in stead of their oppresion, thus further empowering the concept of African brilliance. Though the whites may have tried to break theier spirit, it did not work and the Mbongi continues today.

Learning, Wisdom, and The African World Experience Lecture Blog Entry #2

Learning, Wisdom, and The African World Experience

“Fruitful learning experiences involve more than the acquisition of academic knowledge. They facilitate the gaining of wisdom, helping to build an enduring capacity to apply learning to meet communal challenges.” (Syllabus, 1) Well what does this mean? In my own words, to encompass all aspects of learning, concepts other than those of the academic nature must be taught and ingrained into our minds in order to equip us with the tools to become contributing, educated members of society. Dr. Carr said it best, “Learning and wisdom is the celebration of life through the mastery of it.” Being alive gives us the chance to learn about the world around us, take it by storm, and gain wisdom through our years. The ability to do that is a celebration in itself.

In this lecture, I learned small parts of the richness of African history. “To be African is to be brilliant and excellent.” (Carr) As members of the black heritage, no one has been reading and writing longer than us. In addition, the originating basis of modern civilization is Africana. These facts led me to add, “To be African is to be a founder, a creator, and a leader.” So, human brilliance must be connected to African brilliance, if we are the true originators of such things. As well as the notion that human excellence is tied to African excellence. But with this being true, why are we as a people so crippled today, I thought. Then Dr. Carr answered my question with this statement: “The most serious threat to African dignity is the domain of intellectual ability.” With realization of our abilities as a people, backed with wisdom from our history, our dignity is indestructible. The challenge is that this knowledge is rarely known. We must close the gap between our current performance and our true capability to reach maximum potential.

In conclusion, the Mbongi is one of the many tools that will help us reach that. An Mbongi is a physical and intellectual space, or a common shelter which constitutes many traditional African functions. There is no privacy in the Mbongi; everything is shared or is a shared space. I feel that the rules of the Mbongi support and enforce responsibility and “togetherness”; two characteristics that can be used positively in regaining strength in numbers as African-Americans in today’s world.

Remember, “What you think belongs to you, what you say belongs to the public.” – Traditional Kongo

Kelvonna Goode


This week leading up to Labor Day Weekend has been truly insightful. From our seminar lecture on Wednesday, to my first chapel service at Howard University on Sunday. I have learned that we as students stand on the shoulders of all those who have come before us. Not only our families and those who have shaped our personal lives, but also our ancestors of Africa and the elders of the Howard University Legacy. These are TRULY some huge shoes to fill to not only be as good as the past, but to build onto and be better.

"Every Howard student must take him. It was a truly inspirational experience. Courses and professors like this are the reason you attend an HBCU."- Student Entry on

It wasn't until wednesday's lecture, by Dr. Gregory Carr, that it actually clicked in my head, where I am. Coming to the Mecca I had never heard of this man that I was soon to find out that so many people spoke highly of. After hearing this man's credentials, what he stood for, and after witnessing how he delivers his messages, I was truly inspired. Growing up without my father in my household, and after experiencing certain life encounters with male figures, I have never truly valued the word of another man. Not all men, just some. I often see myself. However, this man changed my mentality. His lesson consisted of several things, all covered within a 50 min time frame.

In short, those topics were:
  1. Mbongi - a room with no barriers in which one may speak only with clarity and authority.
  • The Mbongi is the place where one looks for and finds solutions to problems.
  • In the Mbongi, everyone has the right and the responsibility to speak up.
2. African wisdom and learning tie into each other in aspects of understanding ourselves as well as the universe.

It is truly a blessing to be here at Howard University. There are so many things to smile about and to be proud of at this HBCU. I too am taking the challenge. The challenge to not only be as good as the past, but to build onto and be better, has been accepted. #ChallengeAccepted
David Thomas
Political Science
Oakland, CA

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week Two: Learning, Wisdom, and the African World

Open. Purposeful. Culture.

These are the three most significant elements that I took away from Dr. Carr's moving lecture. It's hard to let sleepy eyes drift or weary minds wander when such a man of enthusiasm such as him has been elected to speak. The lecture floated from specific areas of ancient culture onto more recent rituals found still alive in present day, but the ongoing concept which tied them together was the Mbongi.

Rather than vicariously drift into a speech of African pride and historical facts, I am more drawn to what the lecture spoke of on a notion of global connection. While African decent may dwindle back to the ancestral blood of nearly the entire human population, it is the heart of such that brings us together as a people. Mbongi. The gatherings in order to solve a common goal that cross all cultural boundaries and language barriers. Not a day in time has passed that man has not struggled with questions of great to minor significance, seeking to reach a common conclusion on the matter. As someone of numerous mixed heritages, I can especially appreciate the sense of unity that threaded through Dr. Carr's lecture. Strength is from education of not only oneself but of his peers as well and pride will not take you half as far as understanding.

Learning, Wisdom, and the African World Blog Post

There are three points I would like to cover in this week's post: Mbongi, African wisdom, and African learning.

An Mbongi is a room with no barriers in which one may speak only with clarity and authority. An Mbongi is essentially a classroom whom’s sole purpose is to teach,  as well to give a dwelling space of learning to all individuals inhabiting it. An Mbongi is what holds together the community, laws, and social aspects of each and every person who inhabits it. In this respect tot he Mbongit, Dr. Greg Carr has stated:“What you think belongs to you, what you say belongs to the public.”

African wisdom has been incorporated into various cultures and societies throughout history. We have also been exposed to such wisdom, but not nearly enough to fully understand how to use this wisdom. African wisdom and African learning correlate to each other in aspects of understanding ourselves as well as the universe. We were introduced to a few terms by Dr. Greg Carr this week including: 

Boko: To “break” or “cut” (as in the deciding of solutions to problems)  

Yemba: To create a shelter in order to cover and protect 

Lusanga: To mix, to put together, to assemble 

Kioto: To inhale (e.g. to intake a healing property)

These terms relate to the Mbongi, as well as the African learning and wisdom incorporated into the Mbongi, which in turn creates a human being of sound mind. These techniques were implemented by ancient Africans and still live on inside of our hearts and minds, only if we can rediscover and use these techniques to our advantage to benefit mankind and ourselves.

Dannie Bolden II