Marcus Garvey and the Ancestral African Sovereignty Imperative

“I will call into the past, far back to the beginning of time and beg them to come and help me … I will reach back and draw them into me and they must come, for at this moment, I am the whole reason they have existed at all.”
Cinque (Mende belief)
“If I die in Atlanta my work shall then only begin… for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Dr. Marimba Ani’s presentation on the life and legacy of the Most Honorable Marcus Garvey Jr. and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly appreciated her cultural discernment in delineating the ancestral mandate that directed and actuated the mind of the Perfector of our Faith. The Ancestral African Sovereignty Imperative perfectly assesses what Mr. Garvey himself articulated as the source and force behind all his miraculous achievements. In fact, if we examine his extraordinary life and legacy, we’ll see evidence of his ordination for nation-state formation everywhere.
Marcus Garvey’s prophetic birth on August 17, 1887 was the divine fulfillment of an ancestral prayer for a Savior to “not only to recover Africa for the Africans, but to rescue the souls of Africa’s sons and daughters from social, political, economic and spiritual bondage.” Born 2 years after the Berlin Conference, his parents named him “Mosiah” because they both had a vision he would one day lead his people like Moses. Young Marcus emulated his fiercely independent, self-educated, father of Maroon heritage and Mende descent, who also served as a community leader, and adored his mother whom he considered “too good for the world in which she lived.”
Affectionately known as “Mose” (meaning “born of a God”), young Marcus quickly elevated as a leader among his peers, mastered the craft of printing and began supervising men three times his age. However, it is while participating in a printers strike and serving as Secretary for the anti-colonial National Club of Jamaica, that Mr. Garvey began to develop a greater understanding of the concepts of nationhood, independence and sovereignty. His subsequent travels to the Americas further evinced him of the international scope of racial oppression and intensified his determination “that the black man would not continue to be kicked about by all the other races and nations of the world.”
In 1912, Mr. Garvey travelled throughout Europe and witnessed the industrial and military might of the Western nations as the war clouds began to loom. Mr. Garvey understood “that the breakdown of the policy in the Berlin Decree constituted one of the real causes that led up to the Great European War of 1914 – 1918, because God was not pleased with the method of the decree. Hence, the policy in practice resulted in creating jealousy and greed among the members of the then Family of Nations, themselves in their race to establish a monopoly over as great an area as they could acquire from our lands in Africa.”
It was with this understanding, while reading Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery, that ‘his doom of being a race leader dawned upon him.’ His soul was tormented by the inescapable question: “Where is the black man’s government? Where is his king and kingdom? Where is his President, his country and ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs? I could not find them, then I declared, “I will help to make them.”

On Fire With The Desire For Empire

Mr. Garvey described his above mentioned epiphany as: “My young and ambitious mind led me into flights of great imagination. I saw before me then, even as I do now, a new world of black men, not peons, serfs, dogs and slaves, but a nation of sturdy men making their impress upon civilization.” This transcendental, out-of-body experience has been interpreted in many ways over the years.
One of the sagacious, noble elders of the UNIA, Brother Cleophas Jacobs, is convinced that “the Honorable Marcus Garvey must have ‘Spiritually Traveled’ into the Future Realm of Africa’s 21st and 22nd Century and ‘Seen’ first hand, the Days of Africa’s Glory in its Fullness — received God’s Blessings — and Returned to Dwell with us, Inspirited as Carnal Man.” UNIA Elder Samuel Burton also speculated that ‘Marcus Garvey, by virtue of his purer inspiration, saw things that were hitherto invisible to others and so embodied them and subordinated himself to the noble cause of claiming a continent for the race amidst a race for the continent.’ Whatever the case, from that day forward, Mr. Garvey exercised complete obedience to his great commission and divine injunction and, in that moment, Africa’s curse had been reversed, a man became a Mystic, a movement was born.
On July 20, 1914, armed with the imperative and the tremendous odds of righteousness, Mr. Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities Imperial League “with the program of uniting all the Negro peoples of the world into one great body to establish a country and Government absolutely their own.” He also understood that, in order to emancipate us from consumer slavery, we must begin to produce whatever we consume. He once declared, “Without a solid industrial foundation, we (in America) are nothing more than a race of cultural tramps in the political gutter of the world, walking around dressed up in someone else’s civilization.” He would later go on to build an industrial and political empire in the citadel of white supremacy, hosting an international racial plebiscite, ratifying a Declarations of Rights, etc. while launching a shipping line, factories, grocery stores, etc.; never forsaking the “empire urge.”

African Fundamentalism

Understanding that “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots,” Mr. Garvey further demonstrated his submission to the divining spirit of the ancestors through a profound fondness for and application of traditional African ideals and symbolism. For example, his pivotal treatise Man Know Thyself (an expression inscribed above most temples in ancient Kemet) challenges white supremacy and reflects us as arbiters of our own destiny. Additionally, we find the Black Crosses Nurses adorned the Mmusuyidee, an Adinkra symbol meaning sanctity and blessings. Finally, Mr. Garvey’s exclusive, initiatic School of African Philosophy, replete with “42” lessons, coupled with his famous “ostrich feather” plumed hat and the Sphinx proudly displayed in the masthead of the Negro World Newspaper, suggests he was possibly channeling MAAT and establishing a Mystery School.
In conclusion, I believe Dr. Ani’s enlightening presentation elucidating the ancestrally derived, operating principle and spirit Mr. Garvey invoked to perform his many extraordinary deeds and accomplishments is indispensable from any serious study of his phenomenal life. While I’ve always considered Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior an extension of Mr. Garvey’s African Fundamentalism, which offers “ideological independence from white theories of history.” this lecture offers further insight into the metaphysical mind of the Mosiah, motivated by the Maafa to manifest MAAT.
With unmitigated faith in GOD (Garveyism Or Death), I have the honor of being,
Your Obedient Servant
Mwariama Kamau,
UNIA International Organizer
(202) 256 – 6380
“I am speaking to you as the man who founded and organized the UNIA. As the man who sacrificed and suffered to bring into existence the UNIA. I had a motive and purpose. It was not the money, because I could have gotten that for myself and been satisfied. It was not position, because I could have got that for myself. What is it?
It was the crying voice from the grave that said, ‘Garvey, we have suffered for 250 years for your day and for your time; we expect something from you at this hour.’ Let the world understand that Garvey hears the wail and the cry of millions of our forebears crying from the grave. For what? I will not tell you.
“Probably another Garvey will tell you.”
– The Most Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr
P. S. To view one of Dr. Marimba Ani’s presentations on Marcus Garvey and the Ancestral African Sovereignty Imperative, please click the link below: