Okello Oculi
Executive Director

It has been a season of the big strong Mamas going
home to join Mzee Kenyata, Albert Luthuli, W.E.B
Dubois, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa
and other ancestors in that space Ali A. Mazrui once
named "AfterAfrica". About three months ago, Rosa
Parks, an African-American woman who in 1952
stubbornly refused to accept the humiliation of
getting up from heat seat on a bus to stand so that a
white passenger could sit down while a bus ran along,
died or "went home, to be free!".

Her arrest by the Police roused her black community
into walking to work and church and market by refusing
to give their money to buses owned by racist white
businessmen. This collective refusal and resolve to
terminate gratuitous insult and degradation lasted a
historic three long years: fruits of a tenacity which
creators of American legend tend to treat with nasty

From within the womb of those long,long,long walks to
new politics, was born the fire and rhetoric of a
young Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. He
and his team of pastor-politicians grouped in the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, would invent
a politics of luring into their fight the American
federal government to come down and whip and crack
racial dictatorship in the South of America. The Civil
Rights Movement was from then on sent out marching and
burning down symbols of poverty and racial oppression
all across America.

In 1968 King was assassinated. Many have accused Edgar
Hoover, the head of the American federal police force,
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, of directing
the murder. He had been planting stories in newspapers
about King having connections with the Communist Party
in America, and thereby with the Soviet Union: the
Enemy Number One of capitalist America. Hoover had
also been waving about photographs of Reverend King in
the athletics of sex with streams of women. With
King's death his wife, Coreta Scott King, stepped
forward to the boat of his legacy across the trubulent
sea of American culture.

"She became the embodiment, or the personification
keeping the mission, the message, the philosophy, the
discipline of non-violence in the forefront", said
John Lewis, a member of the American Congress who was
a student leader when King stormed through American
politics. Coretta King, university trained in music,
was an activist who was a strong voice urging her
young husband forward during the bus boycott, and
using the passions he had aroused as currency to buy
political support from President John F. Kennedy and
his successor Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson used his
political skills and debts others owed him from long
years of being a leaders in Congress, to get the Civil
Right Act passed into law.

Coretta King had both physical courage and political
hunger for change to benefit her people. By 1985, a
long 17 years after the death of her husband, she
would be arrested for demonstrating in protest against
apartheid infront of the South African embassy in
Washington. Like her husband coming over to Ghana to
meet Kwame Nkrumah and link the politics on
anti-colonialism and anti-racism in Africa to that of
struggle for internal freedom, dignity and economic
prosperity for black peoples inside America, she had
joined those out on the streets singing the "Happy
Birthday" song by Steve Wonder for imprisoned Nelson

Coretta is being remembered more for he successful
struggle to have January 15, her husband's birthday,
become legislated as a national holiday in America.
She fought the fight against white racist politicians
from both South and North of America, who never
forgave King for rousing African-Americans into
following the light shone from the silent fire in the
soul, heart and mind of a black woman in 1952, and
learning to bleed and burn American cities as they

She also took 13 years to build the Martin Luther King
Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta as a
monument to her husband's cross carried for "uplifting
of the human race, non-violence in human affairs, and

It is telling that both Rosa Parks and Coretta King
died when George Bush, the third Republican president
since Ronald Raegan, has come back to demolish all the
economic and social opportunities which the civil
rights struggle had promised African-Americans. Bush's
"privatization" drive has again privatized to black
Americans a poverty which had been built around them
by white people using government power to promote and
defend (often with collective arson, lyncings,police
dogs, guns and police batons) their own political
power, wealth and educational opportunities. Old bones
and hearts grow weary in the face of wickeness and
relentless greed.

It is a sad commentary that none of the African
governments honoured Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott
King; such powerful vessels in African womanhood. Too
often the millions of Africans who, since the late
1960s, run to America for the so-called "greener
pastures", do not see on the blades of grass on those
pastures the torrents of blood of brutalised
African-American school children, maids in white
peoples homes, black men with bodies sculptured and
emaciated by engineered unemployment and organised
insult by white men and women, Christian pastors tired
of telling their flock to shout to God for help;
as they fought for freedom, for access to good
education, good housing and good incomes. May these
women forgive them, forgive us all,for they and we
know not the dry and brutal history of the black soul
in America. May they, through their whispers of
ancestors, lead us to open gates to knowledge for the
defence of freedom and dignity.