Reflections on Kujichagulia: Self-Determination
“To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.”
Naming: What’s in a name. If you’ve been visiting my blog, you’ll see that I post under the name Dumi. Dumi is not a nickname, it’s my name. Sometimes people ask me, “What’s your real name?” To which I will respond, “Dumi Eyi di yiye.” As they look on with bewilderment I remind them that I am called by many names, but all serve the same purpose. Dumi was given to me by a council of elders in an African rites of passage and means, “I am the Northeast wind, pushing, cajoling, and inspiring greatness in myself and others.” My surname is Eyi di yiye, which means, “We set the standard this time.” I often go by Dumi, because it calls unto me to live up to the meaning of my name as well as affirms to me that I am on the path to doing the work that is necessary for myself and my people.
Creating: I’m old school in my belief that we, people of African descent, are some of the greatest creators on the planet both historically and contemporarily. And I don’t just mean, we created the Nile civilization, so we’re great, I’m talking about things as recent as Afrofuturism, we are truly amazing. But beyond the artistic, I often wonder what will we need to create to transform our reality? I stress our creation, because the revolution will not organically occur, all revolutions and revolution inspired changes come from hard work which, for our people, usually come from mental and spiritual work. This is difficult to conceive when the worlds’ financial markets are in crisis, the world is war-torn, and people’s spiritual work consists more of proselytizing than loving reflection. This year I will be pushing to create things, both material and immaterial, for the transformation of my community in the area of education.
Speaking: In the past year, I’ve been blessed to get into multiple spaces: universities, tv, radio, etc. to share my perspective. From a number of folks I’ve been asked, “aren’t you scared what you say, will get you in trouble?” Well, no. In reality, what I say 9 times out of 10 is what most of my people are thinking and feeling, so I feel comforted knowing that I can contribute to the process of adding to the stew of Black voices in the public sphere. Does that mean I’ll be perfect in my commentary, scholarship, or blog rantings? Absolutely not, it is my goal to stimulate thought and thoughtfully respond to critique. All our our voices and thoughts contribute to fabric of the social world, so I look forward to my words and perspectives to be sharpened by my allies and enemies in the struggle.
Those are just some thoughts I’ve been having on self-determination. I know it could mean so many things to different people, what are you thinking?