When you were making your great strides in the machinery that is the U.S.A, I watched from your father’s land in Kenya. I watched initially with great fear as those around me cheered in jubilation. I thought myself a coward for being so scared. I feared that, like many before you, you would become a conveniently vilified symbol of what your image does not represent. I feared for the dignity of millions of our African sisters and brothers in the U.S.A for whom promised democracy, redress and reparation have still to be realized. And I feared for your life. We heard, below your King overtones, your Malcolm words and subtle gestures, so that even veteran Black nationalists were singing your praises. And I feared their unwavering optimism, while realizing in your unmatched mobilization how ineffective we had been.
It was a hard truth to swallow. But those times taught me so much about who I am, where I am and what I am holding onto. I learnt that an anchor should hold you but cannot lead you. I learnt that Malcolm’s relevance is not in our outdated Black Power salute, nor our rhetoric, not even in our unapologetic counter to a five hundred year old system of oppression, but that his relevance is in our ability to make his words our own, today, in this time, in our own deeds….
Which is why there are generations like ours, a generation whose manifest destiny is seemingly and simply to remember: to carry from our grandmothers to our daughters the resistance cry of generations. Now, brother Barack, the winds of change are slowly raising the dust. And we have seen people on a move, attempting to rock the foundation of injustice. You have been a character in this determining act in the theatre of humankind. And as the curtain is drawn on African awakening spreading from Guinea, Madagascar and Mozambique to Africa’s North, the world has begun to pay attention. Now is when we will all decide which way history will fall and whether the lion or the hunter will live to tell the tale. I know where you have stood, I know where I will stand.
Read the whole letter here