Archive for December, 2013

R.I.P. Tom “Billy Jack” Laughlin (August 10, 1931 – December 12, 2013)

Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin

Los Angeles (CNN) — Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the “Billy Jack” films of the 1970s, died Thursday, his family confirmed Sunday. He was 82.

Laughlin’s Billy Jack character was a heroic Native American ex-Army Green Beret who used his karate skills to fight racism and oppression.

The second of the series — titled “Billy Jack” — was a low-budget independent film that became a box-office blockbuster in 1971. Laughlin’s vigilante character defends a counterculture “Freedom School” from townspeople who harass and discriminate against the Native American students.

The film was criticized by those who saw its central theme as a message that violence was an answer to injustice.

Laughlin resorted to renting theaters himself to show the film after Hollywood studios refused to distribute it.

The Billy Jack character first appeared in “The Born Losers” in 1967, fighting a motorcycle gang. Laughlin co-wrote and directed the film.

Laughlin later attempted a political career, putting his name on presidential primary ballots in 1992, 2004 and 2008.

Laughlin’s acting career began with TV and film roles in the 1950s, including a “lover boy” role in Sandra Dee’s 1959 beach movie “Gidget.”

His wife of 60 years, Delores Taylor, also acted in his “Billy Jack” films.

Laughlin died near his Thousand Oaks, California, home Thursday, his family said.

He is survived by his wife, three children and five grandchildren.

 

My Favorite part of Billy Jack

10 African Kings and Queens Whose Stories Must be Told on Film

Ta Seti

Ta Seti

Last month Nick Cannon expressed his disdain for movies such as “Django Unchained” and “12 Years a Slave,”  saying he’s tired of seeing Black people portrayed as slaves on film. Recognizing that African people’s history started prior to being enslaved, the actor tweeted that he would like to see Blacks portray  kings and queens in films instead.

“Why don’t they make movies about our African kings & queens? #OurHistory I would love to see a film about Akhenaton and his beautiful wife Queen Nefertiti! Or Cetewayo, a king who was a war hero. Im about to drive to my office right now and start the development! New Hollywood Trend, Black king and queen films! Starring Black people!!”

Below are 10 kings and queens whose extraordinary accomplishments would make great storylines for films.

King Hannibal

King Hannibal

 

King Hannibal is said to be the greatest military leader and strategist of all time. Hannibal was born in 247 B.C., during the beginning of the decline of Carthage, then a maritime power near present-day Tunis in North Africa. The Carthage population was a mix of Africans and Phoenicians who were great merchants, trading with India, the people of the Mediterranean and the Scilly Isles.

When he was very young, about 8 or 9, Hannibal accompanied his father Hamilclar in a battle against the Romans. Seventeen years later in 221 B.C., he succeeded his brother-in-law Hasdrubal, and became supreme commander of the peninsula.

Hannibal had 80,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry, and 40 African war elephants. He conquered major portions of Spain and France, and all of Italy, except for Rome.

Hannibal marched his army and war elephants through the Alps to surprise and conquer his enemies. In one battle, the Romans put 80,000 men on the field led by Scipio to defeat Hannibal. When Scipio attacked with his entire army, Hannibal had so studied the grounds that he arranged his African swordsmen and elephants to trampled and slaughter them.

After killing thousands of Roman soilders in lengthy battle, Hannibal took his own life rather than surrender when he was overwhelmed by the larger Roman army.
mansa-musa
King Mansa Musa I (Emperor Moses) was an important Malian king, ruling from 1312 to 1337 and expanding the Mali influence over the Niger city-states of Timbuktu, Gao, and Djenne.

Musa ruled the Mali Empire and was estimated to have been worth the equivalent of $400 billion in today’s currency, which makes him the richest man to ever walk this earth. The emperor was a master businessman and economist, and gained his wealth through Mali’s supply of gold, salt and ivory, the  main commodities for most of the world during that time.

Musa maintained a huge army that kept peace and policed the trade routes for his businesses. His armies pushed the borders of Mali from the Atlantic coast in the west; beyond the cities of Timbuktu and Gao in the east; and from the salt mines of Taghaza in the north to the gold mines of Wangar in the south.

Musa was also a major influence on the University of Timbuktu, the world’s first university and the major learning institution for not just of Africa but the world. Timbuktu became a meeting place of poets, scholars and artists of Africa and the Middle East. Even after Mali declined, Timbuktu remained the major learning center of Africa for many years.

 

Shaka Zzulu

Shaka Zzulu

Shaka, king of the Zulus, was born in 1787, the son of Zulu Chief Senzangakhona and his wife Nandi.  When Shaka was 26, his father died and left the throne to a son, Sijuana. Shaka ambushed and killed Sijuana, taking leadership of the Zulus. He came to power around 1818.

A strong leader and military innovator, Shaka is noted for revolutionizing 19th century Bantu warfare by first grouping regiments by age, and training his men to use standardized weapons and special tactics.

He invented the “assegai,” a short stabbing spear, and marched his regiments in tight formation, using large shields to fend off the enemies throwing spears. Over the years, Shaka’s troops earned such a reputation that many enemies would flee at the sight of them.

With cunning and confidence as his tools, Shaka built a small Zulu tribe into a powerful nation of more than a million people, and united all tribes in South Africa against European colonial rule. The Zulu nation continued to use Shaka’s innovations in wars after his death.

Yaa Asantewa

Yaa Asantewa

Near the end of the 19th century, the British exiled King Prempeh from the hinterlands of the Gold Coast (present day Ghana), in an attempt to take over. By 1900, still not gaining control, the British sent a governor to the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti, to demand the Golden Stool, the Ark of the Covenant for the Ashanti people.

The Golden Stool was the supreme symbol of the sovereignty and the independence of the Ashanti, a people who inhabited dense rain forests of what is now the central portion of Ghana. The governor in no way understood the sacred significance of the Golden Stool, which according to tradition, contained the soul of the Ashanti.

Nana Yaa Asantewa was present at the meeting with the governor and chiefs. When the meeting ended, and she was alone with the Ashanti chiefs, she said: “Now I have seen that some of you fear to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of old, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anoyke and Opulu Ware, Ashanti chiefs would not sit down to see their king taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared speak to Ashanti chiefs in the way the governor spoke to you chiefs this morning.”

Nana Yaa Asantewa’s speech stirred the men. She said, “If you men will not go forward, then we the women will. I will call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men until the last of us falls in the battlefields.”

The Ashantis, led by Nana Yaa Asantewa, fought very bravely.

 

King Ramses II and Queen Nefertari

King Ramses II and Queen Nefertari

King Ramesses II, also referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the 19th dynasty.  He reigned from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. His successors and later Egyptians called him the “Great Ancestor.” Ramesses II led several military expeditions into the Levant, reasserting Egyptian control over Canaan. He also led expeditions south into Nubia, commemorated in inscriptions at the temples at  Beit el-Wali and Gerf Hussein.

At age 14, Ramesses was appointed prince regent by his father Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his late teens and is known to have ruled Egypt for 66 years and 2 months, according to Egypt’s contemporary historical records. He was once reported to have lived to 99 years old.

Queen Nefertari was the Nubian queen from 1292 to 1225 B.C.  One of a many great Nubian queens, Nefertari is heralded as the queen who wed for peace. Her marriage to Ramesses II  began strictly as a political move, a sharing of power between two leaders.  But not only did it grow into one of the greatest royal love affairs in history, but brought the hundred year war between Nubia and Egypt to an end.

Their story was an armistice that lasted over a hundred years. Even today, a monument stands in Queen Nefertari’s honor. In fact, the temple which Ramesses built for her at Abu Simbel is one of the largest and most beautiful structures ever built to honor a wife.

Akhenaton

Akhenaton

Amenhotep IV, better known as “Akhenaton” is in some respects the most remarkable of the pharaohs.

Akhenaton is considered the founder of the first monotheistic religion. He ruled from approximately 1352 – 1336 B.C., coming into power after his father, Amenhotep III, died.  Akhenaton’s reign left a profound effect on Egypt and the entire world of his day. Thirteen hundred years before Christ, he preached and lived the gospel of perfect love, brotherhood, and truth. Two thousand years before Muhammed, he taught the doctrine of the “one God.” Three thousand years before Darwin, he sensed the unity that runs through all living things.

The account of Akhenaton is not complete without the story of his beautiful wife, Nefertiti. What is known is that the relationship between Akhenaton and Nefertiti was one of history’s first well-known love stories.

At the prompting of Akhenaton and Nefertiti, sculptors and artists began to recreate life in its natural state, instead of the rigid and lifeless forms of early Egyptian art.

 

Nubian Taharqa

Nubian Taharqa

Taharqa is probably one of the most famous rulers of Napatan Kush, reigning from 690 to 664 B.C..  At 16, this great Nubian king led his armies against the invading Assyrians in defense of his ally, Israel. This action earned him a place in the Bible (Isaiah 37:9, 2 Kings 19:9).

During his 25-year rule, Taharqa controlled the largest empire in ancient Africa. His power was equaled only by the Assyrians. These two forces were in constant conflict, but despite continuous warfare, Taharqa was able to initiate a building program throughout his empire, which was overwhelming in scope. The number and majesty of his building projects were legendary, with the greatest being the temple at Gebel Barkal in the Sudan. The temple was carved from rock and decorated with images of Taharqa over 100 feet high.

 

Queen Nzinga Mbande

Queen Nzinga Mbande

Queen Nzingha or “Amazon Queen of Matamba” was born in West Africa in 1583 and died 1663.  Many women ranked among the great rulers of Africa, including this Angolan queen who was an astute diplomat and excelled as a military leader. When the slave-hunting Portuguese attacked the army of her brother’s kingdom, Nzingha was sent to negotiate the peace. She did so with astonishing skill and political tact, despite the fact that her brother had her only child killed.

She later formed her own army against the Portuguese, and waged war for nearly 30 years. These battles were a unique moment in colonial history as Nzingha allied her nation with the Dutch, marking the first African-European alliance against a European oppressor. Nzingha continued to wield considerable influence among her subjects despite being forced into exile. Because of her quest for freedom and relentless drive to bring peace to her people, Nzingha remains a glimmering symbol of inspiration.

 

Makeda Queen of Sheba

Makeda Queen of Sheba

In 960 B.C., the nation that is now called Ethiopia came back upon the center of the stage of history. Ethiopia was then represented by a queen, who in some books is referred to as “Makeda” or “Belkis.” She is better known to the world as the queen of Sheba.

In his book, “World’s Great Men of Color,” J.A. Rogers , gives this description: “Out of the mists of 3,000 years, emerges this beautiful story of an African queen who, attracted by the fame of a Judean monarch, made a long journey to see him.”

The queen of Sheba is said to have undertaken a long and difficult journey to Jerusalem to learn from the wisdom of the great King Solomon.

Makeda and King Solomon were equally impressed with each other. Out of their relationship was born a son, Menelik I. This queen is said to have reigned over Sheba and Arabia as well as Ethiopia. The queen of Sheba’s capital was Debra Makeda, which she built for herself.

In Ethiopia’s church of Aksum , there is a copy of what is said to be one of the Tables of Law that Solomon gave to Menelik I.

The story of the queen of Sheba is deeply cherished in Ethiopia, as part of the national heritage. This African queen is mentioned in two holy books, the Bible and the Quran.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org

http://www.africanlegends.info

http://www.consciousplat.com

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela (1918- Dec. 5th, 2013)

Nelson Mandela  (July 18, 1918 – Dec. 5th, 2013)

20131205-190815.jpgBiography

Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

His father died when he was a child and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni. Hearing the elder’s stories of his ancestor’s valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom to give all school children “Christian” names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

Nelson Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest. He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943.

On his return to the Great Place at Mkhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn’t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away to Johannesburg instead arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, who introduced him to Lazar Sidelsky. He then did his articles through the firm of attorneys Witkin Eidelman and Sidelsky.

Meanwhile he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1948 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London and also did not complete that degree.

In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Nelson Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped formed the ANC Youth League.

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons Madiba Thembekile ‘Thembi’ and Makgatho and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. They effectively separated in 1955 and divorced in 1958.

Nelson Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its work the ANC adopted in 1949 a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action.

In 1952 he was chosen at the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his Deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months hard labour suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Nelson Mandela to practice law and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela and Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only able to secretly watch as the Freedom Charter was adopted at Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop of 156 activists on 5 December 1955, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mr. Mandela were acquitted on 29 March 1961.

On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest at Sharpeville against the pass laws. This led to the country’s first state of emergency on 31 March and the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress on 8 April. Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among the thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial on 14 June 1958 Nelson Mandela married a social worker Winnie Madikizela. They had two daughters Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the end of the Treason Trial Nelson Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg to speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a non-racial national convention, and to warn that should he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. As soon as he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial Nelson Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March. In the face of a massive mobilization of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation).

On 11 January 1962 using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Nelson Mandela left South Africa secretly. He travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August while returning from KwaZulu-Natal where he briefed ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip.

He was charged with leaving the country illegally and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment which he began serving in Pretoria Local Prison. On 27 May 1963 he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided a secret hide-out in Rivonia used by ANC and Communist Party activists and several of his comrades were arrested.

In October 1963 Nelson Mandela joined nine others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial.  Facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous ‘Speech from the Dock’ on 20 April 1964 became immortalized:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

On 11 June 1964 Nelson Mandela and seven other accused Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni were convicted and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment. Denis Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white while the others went to Robben Island.

Nelson Mandela’s mother died in 1968 and his eldest son Thembi in 1969. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 March 1982 Nelson Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he returned to the prison in November 1985 after prostate surgery Nelson Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee had visited him in hospital. Later Nelson Mandela initiated talks about an ultimate meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

In 1988 he was treated for Tuberculosis and was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a house at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. He was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC and nearly four months after the release of the remaining Rivonia comrades. Throughout his imprisonment he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release.

Nelson Mandela immersed himself into official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected ANC President to replace his ailing friend Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.

On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela-Rhodes Foundation.

In April 2007 his grandson Mandla Mandela became head of the Mvezo Traditional Council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life has been an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived, to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.