Umkhonto we Sizwe! (Spear of the Nation)
Independent Afrikan centered parenting and education

Self definition for Afrikan families

“Therefore, as centered, self-defining Afrikans, we must ask why we are still using the term “Middle Passage” to describe this horrific trip. We are no longer using “slave trade” to identify the whole experience and what issued from it. We say “Maafa” for this. So, why do we still say “Middle Passage?”If we are to be an empowered, self-defining people, we need to carefully determine the language we use to describe our ordeal for ourselves. No one else should or can do this for us. Words used by others for their relatively minor tragedies, in a society dominated by their mass media interests, take focal priority over ours, when ours are defined using the same words. (Very few individuals associate the word “holocaust,” which simply means the mass slaughter of a people, with what happened to Afrikans even though what happened to european Jews was statistically insignificant by comparison.)

Terms designed by others to describe what happened to us for us usually grossly miss the mark of what actually happened to us, making the perpetrators, who control the description of what happened, appear much more humane than they are.
Equally important, concepts not given in the language (family of languages) of our people are inadequate to explain our thoughts as an Afrikan people. People who study Afrikan language know this. Language is not only denotative, but also connotative. For Afrikans, connotations carry ourstorical, spiritual weight. A people’s language is their way of describing the world through their evolved way of thinking. Afrikans and Europeans see the world through different eyes. We are different people. Only an Afrikan language can best describe what we know and see.

Many of us recognize that the term “Middle Passage” is no more than a euphemism softening the horrendous psychological feeling that part of the Maafa spent on the Kemetic Ocean naturally brings. We know that for untrained ears it subconsciously feels more like an mundane leisure cruise than the horrid journey that it was. “Middle” in no way connotes the horror Afrikans experienced. It is a neutral word indicating nothing more than location (middle – between Afrika and this land), while “passage” indicates only a place traveled.
“Slave trade” is no different. First and foremost, trade indicates equal and/or fair exchange of goods and services. We weren’t traded by any economic measure. We were stolen.

Theft is not trade. Europeans may, from their vantage point, call it trade. They handled both ends of the “exchange,” and both sides benefitted (or, rather, as family, they all benefitted, no matter which side received more). So, they can say that they traded with each other. We, on the other hand, should know that this “trade” in no way benefitted us. We were the merchandise. Along with profit, the “slave trade’s” prime directive was to destroy us and any connection we had with Our Motherland so that we would slave for others with blind devotion. If for this reason alone, we would be fools to consciously follow their linguistic lead.

Therefore, to view the “Middle Passage” with an Afrikan mind, we will use the Twi (a language of the Akan people of West Afrika) term Ntoreasee Otuko (pronounced n-tor-ah-ee- see oh-too-koh) to describe this horrific event in ourstory. Literally, Ntoreasee Otuko means a “genocidal forced emigration/exile/ captivity. “ This fits the depiction we are seeking because it speaks to both intent and process. The way in which we were captured and brought here was against every fiber of our will and fully intended to destroy all psychological and genetic memory of ourselves. It makes no difference whether we use this particular Afrikan term or another. What is important is that we use Afrikan terminology.

Jegna Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti
Kebuka!: Remembering the Middle Passage Through the Eyes of Our Ancestors

(Reposted via the “Revolutionary Daily Thoughts” yahoo group by Jegna Mwalimu Baruti)

You can order All of Jegna Mwalimu Baruti’s books at his website: You can also find some short videos and lectures by him at his youtube channel.


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