Commemorating Father’s Day: The Meaning of Manhood in the Context of the Black Cultural Revolution

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Appreciating this month of June is a good thing to do as it not only represents another day, week, month of our life and the possibilities that is before us; also with it comes a month of marking the recognition of fatherhood, on this Father’s Day (June 15th 2014), and by extension to a greater degree manhood. For if one is not a man, then it remains doubtful if they can fulfill the role of father. Thus, this writer brings forth this month’s commentary in a context and practice of struggle in a context of the Black Cultural Revolution which is defined in Kawaida Theory as:

The ideological and practical struggle to: 1) transform the cultural context in which people live; 2) transform the people in the process, making them self-conscious agents of their own liberation; and 3) build the institutional base to sustain and constantly expand that transformation, (Karenga, 1980).

Furthermore this writer’s point is offered as an act of self-conscious resistance to the overly stated pathological and pathogenic position on Black men and fathers that is initiated and perpetuated by the ruling race and class’s ongoing assault on the Black Man. Moreover, in the midst of the matrix of madness of the Eurocentric paradigm in this society, I argue that we of cultural, consciousness and moral vocation not be intoxicated by the structured consuming ourselves with non essential activities like that of barbecues, beaches, beer, mindless purchasing of Hallmark, Wal-Mart, or other corporate cards; and instead reflect upon a substantive position on what manhood is and fathers day should be about. And, in our demonstrating the idea and action of what it means to be Black men and fathers, we will by example provide models for those who currently are not up to par in terms of manhood, yet in struggle together; we will do as it teaches us in Kujichagulia. (Self-Determination); the second principle of the Nguzo Saba which that we will “define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves” and Nia (Purpose) the fifth principle of the Nguzo Saba which maintains that we “make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.” For in the final analysis manhood and fatherhood is inextricably linked; and without question they are both selfconscious, personal and social practice, and achievements. My position is rooted in Kawaida philosophy of which I am an adherent and advocate. However for reason of propriety, it is important to note that the 7 Fold Criteria of Black Manhood, that I use here in this article, as well as live my life in consistency with; is conceptualized by Dr. Maulana Karenga, nationally and internationally known and respected cultural nationalist and Afrocentric ethical philosopher who is the architect of Kawaida philosophy; and perhaps known most for his creation of Kwanzaa, and its core value system the Nguzo Saba.

Of necessity, it is critical to define what manhood is. We know in the wilderness of North America, manhood is perpetuated by false assumptions of physicality and/or genatalia which are merely the basis of maleness. Often time sexual prowess and performances have been misconstrued as a basis of manhood. This is irrational and certainly not in line with the best of African culture and thinking. Additionally the established order has wrongly asserted that one’s wealth and material gains defines manhood. Again this is merely an illusion established by a vulgar individualistic and materialistic corporate culture. Manhood thereby must be defined and made real, i.e. validated via a contextualization of social role and responsibilities in a communal context. In our position as Kawada advocate, there are seven vital roles and obligations which are both principles and practices, thus, the 7 Fold Criteria of Black Manhood.

First there is Respect for One’s Own Gender. This means being mindful and acting accordingly and creatively to the demands of being a man, and not doing anything to deform, mutilate, i.e. do damage to ones character. Secondly, there is Respect for One’s Species Half. Black men and women relationships are vital to the continuance of us as a definitive ethnic /cultural group, as it with all human species. While this is a second criteria; it is equal to the first criteria as an obligation to respect members of the opposite sex i.e. girls and women. I have argued elsewhere that women are the natural, spiritual, psychological and physical binary factor which makes man complete when related as nature, the universe, and the creators intended for us to be. Likewise as it is with us men, so it is that we are for women the half that completes them in their humanity and development. In short men and women are each other’s complimentary half’s. If indeed we are to heal and repair ourselves as men, it is imperative we do so in cooperation with our women and indeed this is endemic to our fulfilling our god given role of healing the world. Our cultural community enterprise in living, being devoted to one another, and struggle is as mandatory to our existence and development as sunlight, air, food, and water is indispensible to the flourishing of humanity and indeed the world.

Thirdly, is Moral Maturity, this is spiritual and moral grounding; that is to say having an ethical education and foundation upon which we think, feel, speak and act accordingly. It involves being respectful of the sacred and special, being other directed rather than self absorbed. It is in this realm of manhood where the Nguzo Saba as a value base and spiritual principles are conceptualized, internalized, and practiced in our daily living. Fourthly is Mental Maturity, which is intellectual rootedness. The third and fourth criteria of Black manhood accentuate that knowledge of self, society, and the world and being grounded in one’s own cultural views and values are indispensible to our living a dignified life as African men understanding and asserting ourselves in the world. Fifthly, is Provision, a man is compelled by culture, history and humanity to provide for his family and community, even in the midst of adverse impositions. Thus, men must be resourceful and this resourcefulness is not necessarily something to be accomplished in isolation but rather calling on the collective strength of community to meet the need I question.

Sixthly is Protection, here the emphasis is on always being security conscious and protective of one’s family, community, and culture. Protection is fundamental to manhood and clearly reflects the upmost respect for one’s family and community, especially its women and children. In 2004, in a lecture and discussion with political activist and professor, Angela Davis, who postulated that “men” were responsible for abusing women; I corrected her arguing that the abusive male is merely just that a male; and in fact an overgrown boy. For it is not merely chronological age that bring males into manhood; it is the practice of these seven criteria of manhood which I am outlining here that make a male transform from boy to man. And a man is respectful and protective of this woman, children i.e. his family and community. Lastly, is Leadership; this is a man’s role in his family and community and it is one characterized by right thinking and acting in taking initiative and decision making. This African leadership is not one of stifling and oppressive of women for that would be a contradiction to the best of African views and values. Evidence for this position on Black manhood and leadership is found early in our culture such as in the teachings of our heritage from ancient Kemet, found in Selections from The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt; where men are instructed in leadership in the family. The text says;

If you are wise and seek to make your house stable, love your wife fully and righteously. Do not order your wife around in your house when you know she keeps it in excellent order. How happy she is when you support her; and kindness and considerations will influence her better than force. Thus, every man who wishes to master his house must first master his emotions, (Karenga, 1989).

Furthermore, we see a similar axiom taught by perhaps Afro America’s best example of Black manhood, Minister Malcolm X/ El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Malcolm X teaching on the Nation of Islam’s educational system and the responsibilities of manhood in 1959 argues that;

Husband means taking care of your wife, earn what you need for your family and then your family respects you. Father means taking care of your children. Be a Man, for you are accepting the responsibilities of manhood; and your family will be proud of you and say that is my father and husband. Be a Man, (Malcolm X, 1959).

In closing, Fatherhood and Manhood are as posited earlier inextricably linked and one in order to be a father a male must first mature from boyhood to manhood. Given the historically awesome and divine role humans have bestowed upon us, men must constantly and continuously reconstruct themselves in the most dignified ways for we humans are created in divine image as all sacred text teach; and anything less than what is prescribed in this article is doing a disservice to African culture, and the best of its ethical and historical lessons, legacy, and our collective divinity. Therefore during this Fathers Day let’s reinforce those men we know who are walking upright with praise for doing the good of the creator, the ancestors, and the universe; and continue to be the model to be emulated as we Black Men in Motion Walk in the Way of Righteousness for our family, community, and culture!

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder of Kawaida African
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