I'm In Love With Bamako Lyrics
Some of the Holy City looked as ancient as time itself. Other parts of it resembled a modern Miami suburb. I cannot describe with what feelings I actually pressed my hands against the earth where thegreat Prophets had trod four thousand years before,"The Muslim from America" excited everywhere the most intense curiosity and interest. I was mistaken time and again for Cassius Clay. A local newspaper had printed a photograph of Cassius and me together at the United Nations. Through my chauffeur-guide-interpreter I was asked scores of questions about Cassius. Even children knew of him, and loved him there in the Muslim world. By popular demand, the cinemas throughout Africa and Asia had shown his fight. At that moment in young Cassius' career, he had captured the imagination and the support of the entire dark world.
My car took me to participate in special prayers at Mt. Arafat, and at Mina. The roads offered the wildest drives that I had ever known: nightmare traffic, brakes squealing, skidding cars, and horns blowing. (I believe that all of the driving in the Holy Land is done in the name of Allah.) I had begunto learn the prayers in Arabic; now, my biggest prayer difficulty was physical. The unaccustomedprayer posture had caused my big toe to swell, and it pained me.
But the Muslim world's customs no longer seemed strange to me. My hands now readily plucked upfood from a common dish shared with brother Muslims; I was drinking without hesitation from thesame glass as others; I was washing from the same little pitcher of water; and sleeping with eight or ten others on a mat in the open. I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overheadI lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land-every color,and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike-all snored in the same language.
I'll bet that in the parts of the Holy Land that I visited a million bottles of soft drinks were consumed-and ten million cigarettes must have been smoked. Particularly the Arab Muslims smoked constantly,even on the Hajj pilgrimage itself. The smoking evil wasn't invented in Prophet Muhammad's days-ifit had been, I believe he would have banned it.
It was the largest Hajj in history, I was later told. Kasem Gulek, of the Turkish Parliament, beamingwith pride, informed me that from Turkey alone over six hundred buses-over fifty thousand Muslims-had made the pilgrimage. I told him that I dreamed to see the day when shiploads and planeloads ofAmerican Muslims would come to Mecca for the Hajj.
There was a color pattern in the huge crowds. Once I happened to notice this, I closely observed itthereafter. Being from America made me intensely sensitive to matters of color. I saw that people wholooked alike drew together and most of the time stayed together. This was entirely voluntary; therebeing no other reason for it. But Africans were with Africans. Pakistanis were with Pakistanis. And soon. I tucked it into my mind that when I returned home I would tell Americans this observation; thatwhere true brotherhood existed among all colors, where no one felt segregated, where there was no"superiority" complex, no "inferiority" complex-then voluntarily, naturally, people of the same kindfelt drawn together by that which they had in common.
It is my intention that by the time of my next Hajj pilgrimage, I will have at least a working vocabularyof Arabic. In my ignorant, crippled condition in the Holy Land, I had been lucky to have met patientfriends who enabled me to talk by interpreting for me. Never before in my life had I felt so deaf anddumb as during the times when no interpreter was with me to tell me what was being said around me,or about me, or even _to_ me, by other Muslims-before they learned that "the Muslim from America"knew only a few prayers in Arabic and, beyond that, he could only nod and smile.
Behind my nods and smiles, though, I was doing some American-type thinking and reflection. I sawthat Islam's conversions around the world could double and triple if the colorfulness and the truespiritualness of the Hajj pilgrimage were properly advertised and communicated to the outside world.
I saw that the Arabs are poor at understanding the psychology of non-Arabs and the importance ofpublic relations. The Arabs said "_insha Allah_" ("God willing")-then they waited for converts. Evenby this means, Islam was on the march, but I knew that with improved public relations methods thenumber of new converts turning to Allah could be turned into millions.
Constantly, wherever I went, I was asked questions about America's racial discrimination. Even withmy background, I was astonished at the degree to which the major single image of America seemed tobe discrimination.
In a hundred different conversations in the Holy Land with Muslims high and low, and from around the world-and, later, when I got to Black Africa-I don't have to tell you never once did I bite mytongue or miss a single opportunity to tell the truth about the crimes, the evils and the indignities thatare suffered by the black man in America. Through my interpreter, I lost no opportunity to advertisethe American black man's real plight. I preached it on the mountain at Arafat, I preached it in the busylobby of the Jedda Palace Hotel. I would point at one after another-to bring it closer to home; "You . . .
you . . . you-because of your dark skin, in America you, too, would be called 'Negro.' You could bebombed and shot and cattle-prodded and fire-hosed and beaten because of your complexions."As some of the poorest pilgrims heard me preach, so did some of the Holy World's most importantpersonages. I talked at length with the blue-eyed, blond-haired Hussein Amini, Grand Mufti ofJerusalem. We were introduced on Mt. Arafat by Kasem Gulick of the Turkish Parliament. Both werelearned men; both were especially well-read on America. Kasem Gulick asked me why I had brokenwith Elijah Muhammad. I said that I preferred not to elaborate upon our differences, in the interests ofpreserving the American black man's unity. They both understood and accepted that.
I talked with the Mayor of Mecca, Sheikh Abdullah Eraif, who when he was a journalist had criticizedthe methods of the Mecca municipality-and Prince Faisal made him the Mayor, to see if he could doany better. Everyone generally acknowledged that Sheikh Eraif was doing fine. A filmed feature "TheMuslim From America" was made by Ahmed Horyallah and his partner Essid Muhammad of Tunis'
television station. In America once, in Chicago, Ahmed Horyallah had interviewed Elijah Muhammad.
The lobby of the Jedda Palace Hotel offered me frequent sizable informal audiences of important menfrom many different countries who were curious to hear the "American Muslim." I met many Africanswho had either spent some time in America, or who had heard other Africans' testimony aboutAmerica's treatment of the black man. I remember how before one large audience, one cabinetminister from Black Africa (he knew more about world-wide current events than anyone else I've evermet) told of his occasionally traveling in the United States, North and South, deliberately not wearinghis national dress. Just recalling the indignities he had met as a black man seemed to expose some rawnerve in this highly educated, dignified official. His eyes blazed in his passionate anger, his handshacked the air: "Why is the American black man so complacent about being trampled upon? Whydoesn't the American black man _fight_ to be a human being?"A Sudanese high official hugged me, "You champion the American black people!" An Indian officialwept in his compassion "for my brothers in your land." I reflected many, many times to myself uponhow the American Negro has been entirely brainwashed from ever seeing or thinking of himself, as heshould, as a part of the non-white peoples of the world. The American Negro has no conception of thehundreds of millions of other non-whites' concern for him: he has no conception of their feeling ofbrotherhood for and with him.
It was there in the Holy Land, and later in Africa, that I formed a conviction which I have had eversince-that a topmost requisite for any Negro leader in America ought to be extensive traveling in thenon-white lands on this earth, and the travel should include many conferences with the ranking menof those lands. I guarantee that any honest, open-minded Negro leader would return home with more effective thinking about alternative avenues to solutions of the American black man's problem. Aboveall, the Negro leaders would find that many non-white officials of the highest standing, especiallyAfricans, would tell them-privately-that they would be glad to throw their weight behind the Negrocause, in the United Nations, and in other ways. But these officials understandably feel that the Negroin America is so confused and divided that he doesn't himself know what his cause is. Again, it wasmainly Africans who variously expressed to me that no one would wish to be embarrassed trying tohelp a brother who shows no evidence that he wants that help-and who seems to refuse to cooperatein his own interests.
The American black "leader's" most critical problem is lack of imagination! His thinking, his strategies,if any, are always limited, at least basically, to only that which is either advised, or approved by thewhite man. And the first thing the American power structure doesn't want any Negroes to start isthinking _internationally_.
I think the single worst mistake of the American black organizations, and their leaders, is that theyhave failed to establish direct brotherhood lines of communication between the independent nationsof Africa and the American black people. Why, every day, the black African heads of state should bereceiving direct accounts of the latest developments in the American black man's struggles-instead ofthe U.S. State Department's releases to Africans which always imply that the American black man'sstruggle is being "solved."Two American authors, best-sellers in the Holy Land, had helped to spread and intensify the concernfor the American black man. James Baldwin's books, translated, had made a tremendous impact, ashad the book _Black Like Me_, by John Griffin. If you're unfamiliar with that book, it tells how thewhite man Griffin blackened his skin and spent two months traveling as a Negro about America; thenGriffin wrote of the experiences that he met. "A frightening experience!" I heard exclaimed many timesby people in the Holy World who had read the popular book. But I never heard it without openingtheir thinking further: "Well, if it was a frightening experience for him as nothing but a make-believeNegro for sixty days-then you think about what _real_ Negroes in America have gone through forfour hundred years."One honor that came to me, I had prayed for: His Eminence, Prince Faisal, invited me to a personalaudience with him.
As I entered the room, tall, handsome Prince Faisal came from behind his desk. I never will forget thereflection I had at that instant, that here was one of the world's most important men, and yet with hisdignity one saw clearly his sincere humility. He indicated for me a chair opposite from his. Ourinterpreter was the Deputy Chief of Protocol, Muhammad Abdul Azziz Maged, an Egyptian-bornArab, who looked like a Harlem Negro.
Prince Faisal impatiently gestured when I began stumbling for words trying to express my gratitudefor the great honor he had paid me in making me a guest of the State. It was only Muslim hospitalityto another Muslim, he explained, and I was an unusual Muslim from America. He asked me to understand above all that whatever he had done had been his pleasure, with no other motiveswhatever.
A gliding servant served a choice of two kinds of tea as Prince Faisal talked. His son, MuhammadFaisal, had "met" me on American television while attending a Northern California university. PrinceFaisal had read Egyptian writers' articles about the American "Black Muslims." "If what these writerssay is true, the Black Muslims have the wrong Islam," he said. I explained my role of the previoustwelve years, of helping to organize and to build the Nation of Islam. I said that my purpose formaking the Hajj was to get an understanding of true Islam. "That is good," Prince Faisal said, pointingout that there was an abundance of English-translation literature about Islam-so that there was noexcuse for ignorance, and no reason for sincere people to allow themselves to be misled.
The last of April, 1964, I flew to Beirut, the seaport capital of Lebanon. A part of me, I left behind in theHoly City of Mecca. And, in turn, I took away with me-forever-a part of Mecca.
I was on my way, now, to Nigeria, then Ghana. But some friends I had made in the Holy Land hadurged and insisted that I make some stops en route and I had agreed. For example, it had beenarranged that I would first stop and address the faculty and the students at the American Universityof Beirut.
In Beirut's Palm Beach Hotel, I luxuriated in my first long sleep since I had left America. Then, I wentwalking-fresh from weeks in the Holy Land: immediately my attention was struck by the mannerismsand attire of the Lebanese women. In the Holy Land, there had been the very modest, very feminineArabian women-and there was this sudden contrast of the half-French, half-Arab Lebanese womenwho projected in their dress and street manners more liberty, more boldness. I saw clearly the obviousEuropean influence upon the Lebanese culture. It showed me how any country's moral strength, or itsmoral weakness, is quickly measurable by the street attire and attitude of its women-especially itsyoung women. Wherever the spiritual values have been submerged, if not destroyed, by an emphasisupon the material things, invariably, the women reflect it. Witness the women, both young and old, inAmerica-where scarcely any moral values are left. There seems in most countries to be either oneextreme or the other. Truly a paradise could exist wherever material progress and spiritual valuescould be properly balanced.
I spoke at the University of Beirut the truth of the American black man's condition. I've previouslymade the comment that any experienced public speaker can feel his audience's reactions. As I spoke, Ifelt the subjective and defensive reactions of the American white students present-but gradually theirhostilities lessened as I continued to present the unassailable facts. But the students of Africanheritage-well, I'll _never_ get over how the African displays his emotions.
Later, with astonishment, I heard that the American press carried stories that my Beirut speech causeda "riot." What kind of a riot? I don't know how any reporter, in good conscience, could have cabled that across the ocean. The Beirut _Daily Star_ front-page report of my speech mentioned no "riot"because there was none. When I was done, the African students all but besieged me for autographs;some of them even hugged me. Never have even American Negro audiences accepted me as I havebeen accepted time and again by the less inhibited, more down-to-earth Africans.
From Beirut, I flew back to Cairo, and there I took a train to Alexandria, Egypt. I kept my camera busyduring each brief stopover. Finally I was on a plane to Nigeria.
During the six-hour flight, when I was not talking with the pilot (who had been a 1960 Olympicsswimmer), I sat with a passionately political African. He almost shouted in his fervor. "When peopleare in a stagnant state, and are being brought out of it, there is no _time_ for voting!" His central themewas that no new African nation, trying to decolonize itself, needed any political system that wouldpermit division and bickering. "The people don't know what the vote means! It is the job of theenlightened leaders to raise the people's intellect."In Lagos, I was greeted by Professor Essien-Udom of the Ibadan University. We were both happy tosee each other. We had met in the United States as he had researched the Nation of Islam for his book,_Black Nationalism_. At his home, that evening, a dinner was held in my honor, attended by otherprofessors and professional people. As we ate, a young doctor asked me if I knew that New YorkCity's press was highly upset about a recent killing in Harlem of a white woman-for which, accordingto the press, many were blaming me at least indirectly. An elderly white couple who owned a Harlemclothing store had been attacked by several young Negroes, and the wife was stabbed to death. Someof these young Negroes, apprehended by the police, had described themselves as belonging to anorganization they called "Blood Brothers." These youths, allegedly, had said or implied that they wereaffiliated with "Black Muslims" who had split away from the Nation of Islam to join up with me.
I told the dinner guests that it was my first word of any of it, but that I was not surprised whenviolence happened in any of America's ghettoes where black men had been living packed like animalsand treated like lepers. I said that the charge against me was typical white man scapegoat-seeking-thatwhenever something white men disliked happened in the black community, typically white publicattention was directed not at the cause, but at a selected scapegoat.
As for the "Blood Brothers," I said I considered all Negroes to be my blood brothers. I said that thewhite man's efforts to make my name poison actually succeeded only in making millions of blackpeople regard me like Joe Louis.
Speaking in the Ibadan University's Trenchard Hall, I urged that Africa's independent nations neededto see the necessity of helping to bring the Afro-American's case before the United Nations. I said thatjust as the American Jew is in political, economic, and cultural harmony with world Jewry, I wasconvinced that it was time for all Afro-Americans to join the world's Pan-Africanists. I said thatphysically we Afro-Americans might remain in America, fighting for our Constitutional rights, butthat philosophically and culturally we Afro-Americans badly needed to "return" to Africa-and todevelop a working unity in the framework of Pan-Africanism.
Young Africans asked me politically sharper questions than one hears from most American adults.
Then an astonishing thing happened when one old West Indian stood and began attacking me-forattacking America. "Shut up! Shut up!" students yelled, booing, and hissing. The old West Indian triedto express defiance of them, and in a sudden rush a group of students sprang up and were after him.
He barely escaped ahead of them. I never saw anything like it. Screaming at him, they ran him off thecampus. (Later, I found out that the old West Indian was married to a white woman, and he wastrying to get a job in some white-influenced agency which had put him up to challenge me. Then, Iunderstood his problem.)This wasn't the last time I'd see the Africans' almost fanatic expression of their political emotions.
Afterward, in the Students' Union, I was plied with questions, and I was made an honorary member ofthe Nigerian Muslim Students' Society. Right here in my wallet is my card: "Alhadji Malcolm X.
Registration No. M-138." With the membership, I was given a new name: "Omowale." It means, in theYoruba language, "the son who has come home." I meant it when I told them I had never received amore treasured honor.
Six hundred members of the Peace Corps were in Nigeria, I learned. Some white Peace Corpsmembers who talked with me were openly embarrassed at the guilt of their race in America. Amongthe twenty Negro Peace Corpsmen I talked with, a very impressive fellow to me was Larry Jackson, aMorgan StateCollege graduate from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who had joined the Peace Corps in 1962.
I made Nigerian radio and television program appearances. When I remember seeing black menoperating their _own_ communications agencies, a thrill still runs up my spine. The reporters whointerviewed me included an American Negro from _Newsweek_ magazine-his name was Williams.
Traveling through Africa, he had recently interviewed Prime Minister Nkrumah.
Talking with me privately, one group of Nigerian officials told me how skillfully the U.S. InformationAgency sought to spread among Africans the impression that American Negroes were steadilyadvancing, and that the race problem soon would be solved. One high official told me, "Our informedleaders and many, many others know otherwise." He said that behind the "diplomatic front" of everyAfrican U.N. official was recognition of the white man's gigantic duplicity and conspiracy to keep theworld's peoples of African heritage separated-both physically and ideologically-from each other.
"In your land, how many black people think about it that South and Central and North Americacontain over _eighty million_ people of African descent?" he asked me.
"The world's course will change the day the African-heritage peoples come together as brothers!"I never had heard that kind of global black thinking from any black man in America.
From Lagos, Nigeria, I flew on to Accra, Ghana.
I think that nowhere is the black continent's wealth and the natural beauty of its people richer than inGhana, which is so proudly the very fountainhead of Pan-Africanism.
I stepped off the plane into a jarring note. A red-faced American white man recognized me; he had thenerve to come up grabbing my hand and telling me in a molasses drawl that he was from Alabama,and then he invited me to his home for dinner!
My hotel's dining room, when I went to breakfast, was full of more of those whites-discussing Africa'suntapped wealth as though the African waiters had no ears. It nearly ruined my meal, thinking how inAmerica they sicked police dogs on black people, and threw bombs in black churches, while blockingthe doors of their white churches-and now, once again in the land where their forefathers had stolenblacks and thrown them into slavery, was that white man.
Right there at my Ghanaian breakfast table was where I made up my mind that as long as I was inAfrica, every time I opened my mouth, I was going to make things hot for that white man, grinningthrough his teeth wanting to exploit Africa again-it had been her human wealth the last time, now hewanted Africa's mineral wealth.
And I knew that my reacting as I did presented no conflict with the convictions of brotherhood whichI had gained in the Holy Land. The Muslims of "white" complexions who had changed my opinionswere men who had showed me that they practiced genuine brotherhood. And I knew that anyAmerican white man with a genuine brotherhood for a black man was hard to find, no matter howmuch he grinned.
The author Julian Mayfield seemed to be the leader of Ghana's little colony of Afro-Americanexpatriates. When I telephoned Mayfield, in what seemed no time at all I was sitting in his homesurrounded by about forty black American expatriates; they had been waiting for my arrival. Therewere business and professional people, such as the militant former Brooklynites Dr. and Mrs. RobertE. Lee, both of them dentists, who had given up their United States' citizenship. Such others as AliceWindom, Maya Angelou Make, Victoria Garvin, and Leslie Lacy had even formed a "Malcolm XCommittee" to guide me through a whirlwind calendar of appearances and social events.
In my briefcase here are some of the African press stories which had appeared when it was learnedthat I was en route:
"Malcolm X's name is almost as familiar to Ghanaians as the Southern dogs, fire hoses, cattle prods,people sticks, and the ugly, hate-contorted white faces. . . .""Malcolm X's decision to enter the mainstream of the struggle heralds a hopeful sign on thesickeningly dismal scene of brutalized, non-violent, passive resistance. . . ." "An extremely important fact is that Malcolm X is the first Afro-American leader of national standingto make an independent trip to Africa since Dr. Du Bois came to Ghana. This may be the beginning ofa new phase in our struggle. Let's make sure we don't give it less thought than the State Department isdoubtless giving it right now."And another: "Malcolm X is one of our most significant and militant leaders. We are in a battle. Effortswill be made to malign and discredit him. . . ."I simply couldn't believe this kind of reception five thousand miles from America! The officials of thepress had even arranged to pay my hotel expenses, and they would hear no objection that I made.
They included T. D. Baffoe, the Editor-in-Chief of the _Ghanaian Times_; G. T. Anim, the ManagingDirector of the Ghana News Agency; Kofi Batsa, the Editor of _Spark_ and the Secretary-General ofthe Pan-African Union of Journalists; and Mr. Cameron Duodu; and others. I could only thank themall. Then, during the beautiful dinner which had been prepared by Julian Mayfield's pretty PuertoRican wife, Ana Livia (she was in charge of Accra's district health program), I was plied withquestions by the eagerly interested black expatriates from America who had returned to MotherAfrica.
I can only wish that every American black man could have shared my ears, my eyes, and my emotionsthroughout the round of engagements which had been made for me in Ghana. And my point in sayingthis is not the reception that I personally received as an individual of whom they had heard, but it wasthe reception tendered to me as the symbol of the militant American black man, as I had the honor tobe regarded.
At a jam-packed press club conference, I believe the very first question was why had I split with ElijahMuhammad and the Nation of Islam. The Africans had heard such rumors as that Elijah Muhammadhad built a palace in Arizona. I straightened out that falsehood, and I avoided any criticism. I said thatour disagreement had been in terms of political direction and involvement in the extra-religiousstruggle for human rights. I said I respected the Nation of Islam for its having been a psychologicallyrevitalizing movement and a source of moral and social reform, and that Elijah Muhammad'sinfluence upon the American black man had been basic.
I stressed to the assembled press the need for mutual communication and support between theAfricans and Afro-Americans whose struggles were interlocked. I remember that in the pressconference, I used the word "Negro," and I was firmly corrected. "The word is not favored here, Mr.
Malcolm X. The term Afro-American has greater meaning, and dignity." I sincerely apologized. I don'tthink that I said "Negro" again as long as I was in Africa. I said that the 22 million Afro-Americans inthe United States could become for Africa a great positive force-while, in turn, the African nationscould and should exert positive force at diplomatic levels against America's racial discrimination. Isaid, "All of Africa unites in opposition to South Africa's apartheid, and to the oppression in thePortuguese territories. But you waste your time if you don't realize that Verwoerd and Salazar, andBritain and France, never could last a day if it were not for United States support. So until you expose the man in Washington, D.C., you haven't accomplished anything."I knew that the State Department's G. Mennen Williams was officially visiting in Africa. I said, "Takemy word for it-you be suspicious of all these American officials who come to Africa grinning in yourfaces when they don't grin in ours back home." I told them that my own father was murdered bywhites in the state of Michigan where G. Mennen Williams once was the Governor.
I was honored at the Ghana Club, by more press representatives and dignitaries. I was the guest at thehome of the late black American author Richard Wright's daughter, beautiful, slender, soft-voicedJulia, whose young French husband publishes a Ghanaian paper. Later, in Paris, I was to meet RichardWright's widow, Ellen, and a younger daughter, Rachel.
I talked with Ambassadors, at their embassies. The Algerian Ambassador impressed me as a man whowas dedicated totally to militancy, and to world revolution, as the way to solve the problems of theworld's oppressed masses. His perspective was attuned not just to Algerians, but to include the Afro-Americans and all others anywhere who were oppressed. The Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Huang Ha, amost perceptive, and also most militant man, focused upon the efforts of the West to divide Africansfrom the peoples of African heritage elsewhere. The Nigerian Ambassador was deeply concernedabout the Afro-Americans' plight in America. He had personal knowledge of their suffering, havinglived and studied in Washington, D.C. Similarly, the most sympathetic Mali Ambassador had been inNew York at the United Nations. I breakfasted with Dr. Makonnen of British Guiana. We discussedthe need for the type of Pan-African unity that would also include the Afro-Americans. And I had atalk in depth about Afro-American problems with Nana Nketsia, the Ghanaian Minister of Culture.
Once when I returned to my hotel, a New York City call was waiting for me from Mai Goode of theAmerican Broadcasting Company. Over the telephone Mai Goode asked me questions that I answeredfor his beeping tape recorder, about the "Blood Brothers" in Harlem, the rifle clubs for Negroes, andother subjects with which I was being kept identified in the American press.
In the University of Ghana's Great Hall, I addressed the largest audience that I would in Africa-mostlyAfricans, but also numerous whites. Before this audience, I tried my best to demolish the false imageof American race relations that I knew was spread by the U.S. Information Agency. I tried to impressupon them all the true picture of the Afro-American's plight at the hands of the white man. I workedon those whites there in the audience:
"I've never _seen_ so many whites so nice to so many blacks as you white people here in Africa. InAmerica, Afro-Americans are struggling for integration. They should come here-to Africa-and seehow you grin at Africans. You've really got integration here. But can you tell the Africans that inAmerica you grin at the black people? No, you can't! And you don't honestly like these Africans anybetter, either-but what you _do_ like is the _minerals_ Africa has under her soil. . . ."Those whites out in the audience turned pink and red. They knew I was telling the truth. "I'm not anti-American, and I didn't come here to _condemn_ America-I want to make that very clear!" I told them.
"I came here to tell the truth-and if the _truth_ condemns America, then she stands condemned!"One evening I met most of the officials in Ghana-all of those with whom I had previously talked, andmore-at a party that was given for me by the Honorable Kofi Baako, the Ghanaian Minister of Defense,and the Leader of the National Assembly. I was told that this was the first time such an honor wasaccorded to a foreigner since Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois had come to Ghana. There was music, dancing, andfine Ghanaian food. Several persons at the party were laughing among themselves, saying that at anearlier party that day, U.S. Ambassador Mahomey was knocking himself out being exceptionallyfriendly and jovial. Some thought that he was making a strong effort to counteract the truth aboutAmerica that I was telling every chance I got.
Then an invitation came to me which exceeded my wildest dream. I would never have imagined that Iwould actually have an opportunity to address the members of the Ghanaian Parliament!
I made my remarks brief-but I made them strong: "How can you condemn Portugal and South Africawhile our black people in America are being bitten by dogs and beaten with clubs?" I said I felt certainthat the only reason black Africans-our black brothers-could be so silent about what happened inAmerica was that they had been misinformed by the American government's propaganda agencies.
At the end of my talk, I heard "Yes! We support the Afro-American . . . morally, physically, materiallyif necessary!"In Ghana-or in all of black Africa-my highest single honor was an audience at the Castle withOsagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkru-mah.
Before seeing him, I was searched most thoroughly. I respected the type of security the Ghanaianserect around their leader. It gave me that much more respect for independent black men. Then, as Ientered Dr. Nkramah's long office, he came out from behind his desk at the far end. Dr. Nkrumahwore ordinary dress, his hand was extended and a smile was on his sensitive face. I pumped his hand.
We sat on a couch and talked. I knew that he was particularly well-informed on the Afro-American'splight, as for years he had lived and studied in America. We discussed the unity of Africans andpeoples of African descent. We agreed that Pan-Africanism was the key also to the problems of thoseof African heritage. I could feel the warm, likeable and very down-to-earth qualities of Dr. Nkrumah.
My time with him was up all too soon. I promised faithfully that when I returned to the United States,I would relay to Afro-Americans his personal warm regards.
That afternoon, thirty-nine miles away in Winneba, I spoke at the Kwame Nkrumah IdeologicalInstitute-where two hundred students were being trained to carry forward Ghana's intellectualrevolution, and here again occurred one of those astounding demonstrations of the young African'spolitical fervor. After I had spoken, during the question-and-answer period, some young Afro-American stood up, whom none there seemed to know. "I am an American Negro," he announcedhimself. Vaguely, he defended the American white man. The African students booed and harassedhim. Then instantly when the meeting was over, they cornered this fellow with verbal abuse, "Are you an agent of Rockefeller?" . . ."Stop corrupting our children!" (The fellow had turned out to be a localsecondary school teacher, placed in the job by an American agency.). . ."Come to this Institute for someorientation!" Temporarily, a teacher rescued the fellow-but then the students rushed him and drovehim away, shouting, "Stooge!" . . ."C.I.A." . . ."American agent!"Chinese Ambassador and Mrs. Huang Hua gave a state dinner in my honor. The guests included theCuban and the Algerian ambassadors, and also it was here that I met Mrs. W. E. B. Du Bois. After theexcellent dinner, three films were shown. One, a color film, depicted the People's Republic of China incelebration of its Fourteenth Anniversary. Prominently shown in this film was the militant formerNorth Carolina Afro-American Robert Williams, who has since taken refuge in Cuba after hisadvocacy that the American black people should take up arms to defend and protect themselves. Thesecond film focused upon the Chinese people's support for the Afro-American struggle. ChairmanMao Tse-tung was shown delivering his statement of that support, and the film offered sickeningmoments of graphic white brutality-police and civilian-to Afro-Americans who were demonstrating invarious U.S. cities, seeking civil rights. And the final film was a dramatic presentation of the AlgerianRevolution.
The "Malcolm X Committee" rushed me from the Chinese Embassy dinner to where a soiree in myhonor had already begun at the Press Club. It was my first sight of Ghanaians dancing the high-life. Ahigh and merry time was being had by everyone, and I was pressed to make a short speech. I stressedagain the need for unity between Africans and Afro-Americans. I cried out of my heart, "Now, dance!
Sing! But as you do-rememberMandela, remember Sobokwe! Remember Lumumba in his grave! Remember South Africans now injail!"I said, "You wonder why _I_ don't dance? Because I want you to remember twenty-two million Afro-Americans in the U.S.!"But I sure felt like dancing! The Ghanaians performed the high-life as if possessed. One pretty Africangirl sang "Blue Moon" like Sarah Vaughan. Sometimes the band sounded like Milt Jackson, sometimeslike Charlie Parker.
The next morning, a Saturday, I heard that Cassius Clay and his entourage had arrived. There was ahuge reception for him at the airport. I thought that if Cassius and I happened to meet, it would likelyprove embarrassing for Cassius, since he had elected to remain with Elijah Muhammad's version ofIslam. I would not have been embarrassed, but I knew that Cassius would have been forbidden toassociate with me. I knew that Cassius knew I had been with him, and for him, and believed in him,when those who later embraced him felt that he had no chance. I decided to avoid Cassius so as not toput him on the spot.
A luncheon was given for me that afternoon by the Nigerian High Commissioner, His ExcellencyAlhadji Isa Wall, a short, bespectacled, extremely warm and friendly man who had lived in Washington, D.C. for two years. After lunch, His Excellency spoke to the guests of his Americanencounters with discrimination, and of friendships he had made with Afro-Americans, and hereaffirmed the bonds between Africans and Afro-Americans.
His Excellency held up before the luncheon guests a large and handsome issue of an Americanmagazine, _Horizon_; it was opened to an article about the Nation of Islam, written by Dr. MorroeBerger of Princeton University. One full page was a photograph of me; the opposite full page was abeautiful color illustration of a black royal Nigerian Muslim, stalwart and handsome, of hundreds ofyears ago.
"When I look at these photographs, I know these two people are one," said His Excellency. "The onlydifference is in their attire-and one was born in America and the other in Africa.
"So to let everyone know that I believe we are brothers, I am going to give to Alhadji Malcolm X a robelike that worn by the Nigerian in this photo."I was overwhelmed by the splendor of the beautiful blue robe and the orange turban which HisExcellency then presented to me. I bent over so that he, a short man, could properly arrange the turbanon my head. His Excellency Alhadji Isa Wali also presented me with a two-volume translation of theHoly Quran. After this unforgettable luncheon, Mrs. Shirley Graham Du Bois drove me to her home,so that I could see and photograph the home where her famed late husband, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, hadspent his last days. Mrs. Du Bois, a writer, was the Director of Ghanaian television, which wasplanned for educational purposes. When Dr. Du Bois had come to Ghana, she told me, Dr. Nkrumahhad set up the aging great militant Afro-American scholar like a king, giving to Dr. Du Boiseverything he could wish for. Mrs. Du Bois told me that when Dr. Du Bois was failing fast, Dr.
Nkrumah had visited, and the two men had said good-bye, both knowing that one's death was near-and Dr. Nkrumah had gone away in tears.
My final Ghanaian social event was a beautiful party in my honor given by His Excellency Mr.
Armando Entralgo Gonzalez, the Cuban Ambassador to Ghana. The next morning-it was Sunday-the"Malcolm X Committee" was waiting at my hotel, to accompany me to the airport. As we left the hotel,we met Cassius Clay with some of his entourage, returning from his morning walk. Cassiusmomentarily seemed uncertain-then he spoke, something almost monosyllabic, like "How are you?" Itflashed through my mind how close we had been before the fight that had changed the course of hislife. I replied that I was fine-something like that-and that I hoped he was, which I sincerely meant.
Later on, I sent Cassius a message by wire, saying that I hoped that he would realize how much hewas loved by Muslims wherever they were; and that he would not let anyone use him and maneuverhim into saying and doing things to tarnish his image.
The "Malcolm X Committee" and I were exchanging goodbyes at the Accra airport when a smallmotorcade of _five Ambassadors_ arrived-to see me off! I no longer had any words.
In the plane, bound for Monrovia, Liberia, to spend a day, I knew that after what I had experienced in the Holy Land, the second most indelible memory I would carry back to America would be the Africaseething with serious awareness of itself, and of Africa's wealth, and of her power, and of her destinedrole in the world.
From Monrovia, I flew to Dakar, Senegal. The Senegalese in the airport, hearing about the Muslimfrom America, stood in line to shake my hand, and I signed many autographs. "Our people can't speakArabic, but we have Islam in our hearts," said one Senegalese. I told them that exactly described theirfellow Afro-American Muslims.
From Dakar, I flew to Morocco, where I spent a day sightseeing. I visited the famous Casbah, theghetto which had resulted when the ruling white French wouldn't let the dark-skinned natives intocertain areas of Casablanca. Thousands upon thousands of the subjugated natives were crowded intothe ghetto, in the same way that Harlem, in New York City, became America's Casbah.
It was Tuesday, May 19, 1964-my thirty-ninth birthday-when I arrived in Algiers. A lot of water hadgone under the bridge in those years. In some ways, I had had more experiences than a dozen men.
The taxi driver, while taking me to the Hotel Aletti, described the atrocities the French had committed,and personal measures that he had taken to get even. I walked around Algiers, hearing rank-and-fileexpressions of hatred for America for supporting the oppressors of the Algerians. They were truerevolutionists, not afraid of death. They had, for so long, faced death.
The Pan American jet which took me home-it was Flight 115-landed at New York's Kennedy AirTerminal on May 21, at 4:25 in the afternoon. We passengers filed off the plane and toward Customs.
When I saw the crowd of fifty or sixty reporters and photographers, I honestly wondered whatcelebrity I had been on the plane with.
But I was the "villain" they had come to meet.
In Harlem especially, and also in some other U.S. cities, the 1964 long, hot summer's predictedexplosions had begun. Article after article in the white man's press had cast me as a symbol-if not acausative agent-of the "revolt" and of the "violence" of the American black man, wherever it hadsprung up.
In the biggest press conference that I had ever experienced anywhere, the camera bulbs flashed, andthe reporters fired questions.
"Mr. Malcolm X, what about those 'Blood Brothers,' reportedly affiliated with your organization,reportedly trained for violence, who have killed innocent white people?" . . ."Mr. Malcolm X, whatabout your comment that Negroes should form rifle clubs? . . ."I answered the questions. I knew I was back in America again, hearing the subjective, scapegoat seeking questions of the white man. New York white youth were killing victims; that was a"sociological" problem. But when black youth killed somebody, the power structure was looking tohang somebody. When black men had been lynched or otherwise murdered in cold blood, it wasalways said, "Things will get better. "When whites had rifles in their homes, the Constitution gavethem the right to protect their home and themselves. But when black people even spoke of havingrifles in their homes, that was "ominous."I slipped in on the reporters something they hadn't been expecting. I said that the American black manneeded to quit thinking what the white man had taught him-which was that the black man had noalternative except to beg for his so-called "civil rights." I said that the American black man needed torecognize that he had a strong, airtight case to take the United States before the United Nations on aformal accusation of "denial of human rights"-and that if Angola and South Africa were precedentcases, then there would be no easy way that the U.S. could escape being censured, right on its ownhome ground.
Just as I had known, the press wanted to get me off that subject. I was asked about my "Letter FromMecca"-I was all set with a speech regarding that:
"I hope that once and for all my Hajj to the Holy City of Mecca has established our Muslim Mosque'sauthentic religious affiliation with the 750 million Muslims of the orthodox Islamic World. And I_know_ once and for all that the Black Africans look upon America's 22 million blacks as long-lost_brothers_! They _love_ us! They _study_ our struggle for freedom! They were so _happy_ to hearhow we are awakening from our long sleep-after so-called 'Christian' white America had taught us tobe _ashamed_ of our African brothers and homeland!
"Yes-I wrote a letter from Mecca. You're asking me 'Didn't you say that now you accept white men asbrothers?' Well, my answer is that in the Muslim World, I saw, I felt, and I wrote home how mythinking was broadened! Just as I wrote, I shared true, brotherly love with many white-complexionedMuslims who never gave a single thought to the race, or to the complexion, of another Muslim.
"My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the HolyLand, I saw what I never had seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all _races_, all _colors_,blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans-in _true_ brotherhood! In unity! Living as one!
Worshiping as one! No segregationists-no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret themeaning of those words.
"In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I never will be guilty of thatagain-as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of beingbrotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all whitepeople is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.
"Yes, I have been convinced that _some_ American whites do want to help cure the rampant racismwhich is on the path to _destroying_ this country!
"It was in the Holy World that my attitude was changed, by what I experienced there, and by what Iwitnessed there, in terms of brotherhood-not just brotherhood toward me, but brotherhood betweenall men, of all nationalities and complexions, who were there. And now that I am back in America, myattitude here concerning white people has to be governed by what my black brothers and I experiencehere, and what we witness here-in terms of brotherhood. The _problem_ here in America is that wemeet such a small minority of individual so-called 'good,' or 'brotherly' white people. Here in theUnited States, notwithstanding those few 'good' white people, it is the _collective_ 150 million whitepeople whom the _collective_ 22 million black people have to deal with!
"Why, here in America, the seeds of racism are so deeply rooted in the white people collectively, theirbelief that they are 'superior' in some way is so deeply rooted, that these things are in the nationalwhite subconsciousness. Many whites are even actually unaware of their own racism, until they facesome test, and then their racism emerges in one form or another.
"Listen! The white man's racism toward the black man here in America is what has got him in suchtrouble all over this world, with other non-white peoples. The white man can't separate himself fromthe stigma that he automatically feels about anyone, no matter who, who is not his color. And the nonwhite peoples of the world are sick of the condescending white man! That's why you've got all of thistrouble in places like Viet Nam. Or right here in the Western Hemisphere-probably 100 million peopleof African descent are divided against each other, taught by the white man to hate and to mistrusteach other. In the West Indies, Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela, all of South America, Central America! All ofthose lands are full of people with African blood! On the African continent, even, the white man hasmaneuvered to divide the black African from the brown Arab, to divide the so-called 'ChristianAfrican' from the Muslim African. Can you imagine what can happen, what would certainly happen,if all of these African-heritage peoples ever _realize_ their blood bonds, if they ever realize they allhave a common goal-if they ever _unite_?"The press was glad to get rid of me that day. I believe that the black brothers whom I had just recentlyleft in Africa would have felt that I did the subject justice. Nearly through the night, my telephone athome kept ringing. My black brothers and sisters around New York and in some other cities werecalling to congratulate me on what they had heard on the radio and television news broadcasts, andpeople, mostly white, were wanting to know if I would speak here or there.
The next day I was in my car driving along the freeway when at a red light another car pulledalongside. A white woman was driving and on the passenger's side, next to me, was a white man.
"_Malcolm X_!" he called out-and when I looked, he stuck his hand out of his car, across at me,grinning. "Do you mind shaking hands with a white man?" Imagine that! Just as the traffic light turnedgreen, I told him, "I don't mind shaking hands with human beings. Are you one?"
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