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Speech: The Allegory of the Zoo Lion

In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“Nea ope se obedi hene daakye no, firi ase sue som ansa” (“He who wants to be king in the future must first learn to serve.”) — African Proverb

A few months ago, I was invited to write and perform a speech on Education for an African event.  I was promised a handsome reward.  I had been playing with this idea of the parallel between the Zoo Lion and the African, so I began writing the Speech.  When I learned how ultimately the African event was European financed (though African-led as it was a University) I declined the offer.  I have bills, yes, but I also have integrity and my safety to consider.  I stopped working as fervently on the speech, although I realized it would make an excellent 300th post.  Here is the result after I considered the subject for months and explored the nuances of its implication.  Please, if you love this speech, donate something and join the ABS.  This is my 300th post.

Speech: The Allegory of the Zoo Lion
By Onitaset Kumat

“The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth is Nature.” This Wisdom comes through our Ancestors from the Nile Valley High Culture, Originating in Uganda then Flowing to Egypt–Kemet–“The Black Land.”

When your Ancestors tell you “The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth is Nature” or when they tell you “Always watch and follow Nature,” and if you are socialized in an urban environment like I was, your next step is clear: go find an animal. I went to the Zoo.

I was pointed to the Lions, but I saw no Lions. There are no Lions in Zoos. There are Lion look-a-likes, but there are no Lions. Lions are the Kings and Queens of the Jungle, meaning they are the Kings and Queens of the Struggle. Yet Zoo Lions don’t know a thing about struggle.

At the Zoo there are Zookeepers and there are Lions. And if it is not clear that this is an Allegory, at the Zoo I went to, you can talk to the Lions.

So I went to a Lion and said, “Brother, that Zookeeper oppresses you.”

And the Lion said, “Get out of here with that.”

So I said, “But doesn’t the Zookeeper decide who among your Race is unfit for your Society when you should be making that decision?”

And the Lion responded, “Sure, but–he’s right most of the time. Young Male Lions are too rebellious. They ought to be Punished. We are Criminals! We can not handle our own. The Zookeeper is impartial. Zookeepers are Civil. I feel safer among them! Look at the statistics they publish and you’ll understand why they are the moral authority in this Zoo.”

So I said, “Well, how about how the Zookeeper in the construction of your habitat and the limitations on your potential, decides what and where you will eat? Shouldn’t you make that decision?”

And the Lion responded, “Sure, but–despite the imposed limits, my palate is satisfied with what food I am made to afford. The Zookeeper feeds me what I need to eat. If Lions were in charge, we would not have a balanced diet. We don’t think that way. The Zookeeper has studied us and so he knows us better than we know ourselves. Zookeepers have technology, Lions don’t. Were we in charge, we’d only eat chicken. Just look at Circus Lions, and you’ll see how irresponsible Lions are.”

So I said, “Be that as it may, what about how the Zookeeper, in controlling your perspective, makes you and yours unaware that you are a Magnificent Race in Africa? Just hear yourself. Shouldn’t Lions decide what images of you gain currency among you?”

And the Lion responded, “Sure, but–through the Zookeepers I’ve heard about Africa. The Lions in Africa live in Worse Zoos. If you think we have it bad. They have it worse. In addition, their Circus Acts aren’t as developed. No. Their Circus Lions aren’t fed as much as ours are. Here, in America, a Lion has an unprecedented opportunity to be a Circus Act. Here we can aspire to be entertainers. It’s humiliating to most of us. But our best don’t mind. They understand, and they communicate to us, that we were made to entertain our Zookeepers. Lions were never anything more!”

I angrily said, “Brother, you got it all wrong.”

And the Lion challenged me with an angrier, “How?”

So I came close and asked, “You don’t think you’re oppressed?”

And he said, “No.”

So I said, with dramatic pause, “Brother, you’re in a Cage.”

And believe it or not, the Lion said, “Well so is the Zookeeper.”

Now Lions have an answer for almost everything. And I understand how, a Lion restrained to a Zoo, can think that the Zookeeper is also restrained to the Zoo. So I explained, “Brother, after the Zookeeper weeds, feeds, and misleads you, the Zookeeper is at Liberty to do any- and everything else.”

The African had no answer. Someone might think, the Oppression of African people by Europeans is incomparable to the Oppression of Lions by Zookeepers. And they are right. Because the American African is more oppressed than the Zoo Lion. The reason is Education.

In the African Blood Siblings, an Organization for the Self-Determination of African people, a Core Tenet reads “Education transmits Natural Philosophy otherwise it’s Mis-Education.” That is, Education transmit Knowledge of Nature or Knowledge of Self, otherwise it’s not Education at all. By this definition, the American African is more mis-Educated than the Zoo Lion.

For a Lion is the King of the Jungle. And even in a Zoo, he is occasionally reminded of his place in the World. Whether it is a rebellious Lion from Africa or his inner urge to eat his Zookeeper, the Lion may not live as a King, but he knows he is a King.

What do American Africans know of Africans? Of what do they perceive Africans to be Kings and Queens? Where are the living examples of Kemet? Of Songhay? Of Nabta Playa? Of the Blameless? Why is it that a Lion can bite the Zookeeper who feeds him, but a European can rape an African woman, sue her twenty-five years later, and Jet Magazine, a Black Magazine, will publish “Tawana Brawley’s $430K Lie?” Why?

Lady Lugard, a European, wrote,

“The fame of the Ethiopians was widespread in ancient history. Herodotus describes them as “the tallest, most beautiful and long-lived of the human races,” and before Herodotus, Homer, in even more flattering language, described them as “the most just of men; the favorite of the gods.” The annals of all the great early nations of Asia Minor are full of them. The Mosaic records allude to them frequently; but while they are described as the most powerful, the most just, and the most beautiful of the human race, they are constantly spoken of as black, and there seems to be no other conclusion to be drawn, than that at that remote period of history the leading race of the Western world was a black race.”

Now the Lion can see real Lions. Where in America can we see real Africans?

This is the goal of Education.

Yet, “Knowledge of Self” is easier said than done.

At some point, a Lion in a Zoo will stop fighting. He’ll stop roaring. He’ll stop biting. He’ll sit down as you walk into the back of his cage and turn your back. At some point, he is just not a Lion. For the most part, Africans in America are not the Africans of the Ancient World. And we have no cognizance of what it meant to be an African of the Ancient World. So struggle among those Africans who only look like Africans is a futile endeavor. That is, a Lion longing for the Savannah can not salvage anything from Zookeepers. You’ll never see a Lion in the Savannah with an exercise ball. In parallel, an African longing for Liberty can not salvage anything from Europeans. Our error then is when we try to build within the Zoo when there is nothing in Prison that can resemble Freedom.

If you want to Educate Africans, don’t start with a School. Because there are not enough Africans to be enrolled in that school. The truth is, a Lion in a Zoo is thoroughly disappointed with other Lions. Lions fight in Zoos. They kill each other in Zoos. They don’t respect Lion customs in Zoos. A son may sleep with his own mother in Zoos. The Lions answer to Zookeepers in Zoos. Lions are despicable in Zoos. That is what captivity does. And without Africans for your school you will be thoroughly disappointed in your investment. The conditions of captivity demand that you are disappointed. Your Africans will fight each other. They will kill each other. They won’t respect their customs. A son may sleep with his mother. Your Africans will answer to Europeans. You will be disappointed. And through your disappointment, you will begin to Hate your own people. This is where you find most American Africans.

Because African people are an Oppressed people,don’t start with a school, start with a team. A Zoo Lion must know what a Free Lion is, before he struggles for Freedom. Until he knows he will not be serious about Freedom. Nat Turner did not start preaching Liberation in his Plantation. No, during his time, Meritorious Manumission, the law that granted traitors freedom was in effect. Meritorious Manumission stands to this day. You build a school and you’ll get a scandal paid for through your tax dollars. Nat Turner did not vocalize Liberation. Nat Turner observed our ancestors, discerned the trustworthy and nearly ended Slavery in Virginia! His first step was team building. Another great African, Harriet Tubman herself said, ”I grew up like a neglected weed, ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. Now that I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is.”

Harriet Tubman joined a team for Liberation. And you know she had difficulties taking our ancestors out of bondage. Some didn’t know they were in bondage. Today, few know we are Oppressed. We can’t begin with institutions. We must begin with Africans. Only when you are an African in an Organization which understands what African Freedom means, can you then build the institutions in your community. You can’t put the cart before the horse. The cart can’t lead the horse.

So on the point of Education, the Educator must concern herself with the reality of Liberated African people, otherwise even the best intentioned endeavor will fail.

We must start where we are. We are Zoo Lions and we need to become Lions. We can not be Lions in a Zoo, so we must escape the Zoo. The only worthwhile Education for the Zoo Lion is how to escape the Zoo. What Lions do or did is only important inasmuch as it contributes to that Lion’s escape from the Zoo. The Lion needs to learn how to fight and how his enemies fight; how to survive and how his enemies survive; how to get Power for himself and how his enemies get Power; how to wage War and how his enemies wage War; how to win battles and how to make his enemies lose battles; how to Organize his forces and how to Disorganize his enemies'; how to Separate and how to make his enemies want to Separate. The Zoo Lion ignorant of these things will never Liberate another Lion.

What do you think would happen, if a Zoo Lion, understanding the Zookeeper’s guard, feigned an injury to lead Zookeepers to escort the feigner out, then divers other Lions slaughtered the lot, brought there family out, countered the snipers and followed their mapping to freedom? What if this happened at ten international Zoos on one Monday? How many Zoos can afford to keep Lions after that?

Here the American African is in America and the American European can not only afford to keep that African in America under European Domination; he’s making a much larger profit off of the American African than he is the Zoo Lion. Your Education should make your lack of Liberty a Liability. Right now, your Education does otherwise. That is Mis-Education. “Always watch and follow Nature.” In Nature, there is no single greatest Predator. Everything has its limit. It’s upon you to learn the limits of your Predator and seek and develop the Organization that empowers its Membership outside those limits.

The African Blood Siblings is such an Organization. Were we in a Zoo, we would be the Zoo Lions who closest approximated Lionhood, who gave the Zookeepers no opportunity to counteract, who increased the cost of maintence into unaffordable, who sparked the misery of the cage and the Zookeeper’s routine, who led the eventual insurrection for Lionkind’s freedom! That’s who we would be in a Zoo, but as Africans of this world, and an international African Race at that, the African Blood Siblings is the international African Organization that has the Battle Plan to Liberate African people and construct for our Posterity Prosperous, Independent African Communities at Home and Abroad. Education for the African requires Membership in Racial Organization. As its Founder, I encourage you to Join the African Blood Siblings.

Let us finish with a recitation of Martin Delany’s Battle Cry,

“I am for war–war upon the whites. ‘I come to bring deliverance to the captive and freedom to the bond.’ Your destiny is my destiny; the end of one will be the end of all. . . . In contemplation of our condition, my heart is sorrowful to sadness. But my determination is fixed; I will never leave you. An overwhelming power of our oppressors or some stern adversity, breathren, may force you to forsake me, but even then will I not leave you. I will take me to the mountains, and there in the dreary seclusion of the wilderness, though alone, will I stand firmly in defense of our cause. Buckle on your armor then, and stand ready for the fight! Finally, brethren, I may eventually go down to a disappointed and untimely, but never to a coward’s or a traitor’s grave! God’s will be done.”