Wakanda Forever!

Nearly one year later and we’re still feeling the aftershocks from Wakanda. The Black Panther was just one in a series of movies depicting Black people in a variety of roles not seen since the era of Blaxploitation. This time around the roles are better, as is the acting and the CGI.


From the very beginnings of the film industry Black people have been featured in some of the most popular movies, even if they were really White folks in blackface. The movie that has defined what a feature film should be was  D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation.” [1915] The roles that “Black people” played in that film were not just subservient, they were downright scandalous, as the charcoal faced actors portrayed Black congressmen who were shiftless, lazy and lecherous. They had a particular lust for White women, which was a major them of the movie.

Eventually, Black folks were able to play the roles of the Tarzan natives, etc., but never a leading role or the role of the primary protagonist. “Gone with the Wind,” basically a remake of “The Birth of a Nation,” featured Hattie McDaniel as a Black Mammy character, who actually won an Oscar for her role, but again it was strictly in a supporting role.

During the era of Paul Robeson, arguably the world’s greatest singer, he did play roles in a number of feature films, but in some cases the roles were so bad that he had to hide during the premiere of the film, from sheer embarrassment. From that point on he decided he had to have the last say on the final cut, in order to avoid future embarrassing situations. His best movie was “Jericho.” [1937] That movie did not win him an Oscar, nor did he become famous for it. He was much more famous for his stage roles in “The Emperor Jones” and “Othello,” neither of which did much to dispel the myth of the lazy, ignorant Negroes portrayed in those early blockbusters, like “The Birth of a Nation.” During the time he was playing roles on the big screen, he was considered to be the first “successful” Black male actor. Unfortunately, he made his money playing the role of Stepin Fetchit, a lazy, shiftless, no account nigger.

SIDNEY POITIERAfter going to Europe to fight the Nazis and their fascist axis of evil, the attitudes of Colored people about their portrayal on the stage and screen changed, as well as their attitude towards the segregationist policies in place all over the South. This was the beginning of a series of ground breaking movies featuring Sidney Poitier. During his era, from all indications, an unwritten rule was in place, much like in sports, that there could only be 1 male Negro star at a time. Other Negroes whose careers began to flourish during that time included Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Dorothy Dandridge and Eartha Kitt.

By the time the 60’s rolled around Black folks were ready for something different, but the doors remained locked, unless you were ready to be a pimp, ho, mammy, maid, chauffeur, criminal or, even worse, a rapist. At the height of the 60’s, from 1968, on into the early 70’s, Blaxploitation was the rule. So, real Black people appeared on the screen, but typically as caricatures of themselves. Examples include “Superfly,” a movie about a pimp trying to get out of the game; Shaft, a Black detective, superhero type, etc. There were also a number of movies starring Black women, typically with names like Chocolate, Candy, Cleopatra Jones, etc., always strong, domineering, kickass women.


It wasn’t until Spike Lee came along and independently produced his movie “She’s Gotta Have It,” that realistic roles started to become the norm. [1986] Before that the roles Black people played were comical, to say the least. We could be sounding boards for the White actors or comic relief, in most cases, but to play a fully developed character exhibiting all the exigencies of a typical human being, I don’t think so. Robert Townsend was right behind him with “The Hollywood Shuffle.” [1987] Their films were not enough to change Hollywood on their own, but they were groundbreaking, in much the same way as “The Black Panther” is today.

Other African American filmmakers used their films as a template and began producing independent films, as well. John Singleton set the tone in the 90’s when he came out with “Boys in the Hood.” [1991] With each success, limited as they were by finances and the ability to distribute their films the way major studios do, they had an impact on the major studios, who now have deals with a number of Black directors and actor/directors. Over the period of the last 30 years the pace has increased from 1 or 2/year to the point where you really need to break out a score card, just to keep up.

Films with Black stars are becoming commonplace to the point where it seems a Black star is a prerequisite to success. Comedy shows and rap concerts have become places for many Black actors to showcase their skills.


“The Black Panther” is paving a new path to success for films with all Black casts that are not necessarily stars. Two of the main stars in “The Black Panther” are veteran actors, but definitely do not have the drawing power of a Denzel, Ice Cube or even Terrence Blanchard. What they did have was a good story.

Historically accurate, it was not. Culturally varied, definitely. Impactful, very. I’ve been surprised at the effect it’s had on the youth. They’ve gone from denigrating Africa and Africans to revering them, to a certain extent. The question now, is how do we keep this going and capitalize on their initial excitement?

Wakanda Forever!







The Untold Story of Black History Month

The true origins of Black History Month have been shrouded in mystery long enough. Painstaking research has revealed “Negro History Week” and Black History Month are about the same as a Cadillac and a Ford. On February 15th, 2020 Kent State University will officially recognize the role Kent State’s Black students, faculty and staff played in establishing Black History Month as an annual nationally recognized event. The event will take place in Cartwright Hall from 3-6 pm and will feature Dean E. Timothy Moore, emeritus professor and Dr. Silas Ashley; the current Director of the Department of Pan-African Studies, Dr. Amoaba Gooden and Kent State’s 13th President, Dr. Todd Diacon.

BIRTH OF A NATION - FIRST TIME IN SOUND“Negro History Week” was founded 10 years after the premiere of “The Birth of a Nation” (AKA “The Clansman”). “Birth of a Nation” was considered to be an accurate representation of Negro History, even though many of the “Negroes” were actors in blackface, portraying stereotypically lazy, wicked Negroes.

Annual screenings of “The Birth of a Nation” and minstrel shows, with performers in blackface were the norm at schools across the country, including Kent. Ironically, the last performance of blackface minstrelsy was on February 1st, 1985 in E. Stump Theatre and produced by Kent’s School of Theatre. Black veterans interested in coming to Kent could apply for accommodations in the dorms, but were always denied. In fact, housing anywhere outside Kent’s fledgling ghetto, on the Southend was impossible. The Robinhood, a popular spot across the street from Kent’s main gate, had a “no Negro rule.” Even Oscar Ritchie, the only Negro professor at Kent, had to live in Canton, Ohio. Things were so bad that Dr. Ritchie engaged in civil protests over the citywide policy.

Before he left this mortal realm Dr. Milton Wilson was hired as an assistant professor in psychology. From 1964 to 1968 Milt Wilson and Dr. Oscar Ritchie were the only Black faculty members, on an otherwise segregated campus.

Dr. Wilson was fast tracked to a position as Dean of Human Relations, following the Black Student Walkout of 1968. He was a dean “without portfolio”, for there was no department of Human Relations. It appears that his real task was to keep the natives at bay and act as their spokesperson. 

The students had a set of demands, which included a Black Cultural Center and a Black Studies Department. The administration did not want to accede to either demand, so they looked for ways to stall for time.


When they hired Dr. Edward W. Crosby to create a Black Studies Department they thought they had someone they could easily manipulate, far from it. Dr. Crosby decided to work with the students in helping them achieve their goals. The first Black History Month celebration came about as a result of this clash of ideologies and cultures. Black students like Dwayne White, Erwind Blount, Carl Gregory and others worked in tandem with Dr. Crosby to create  three institutions, which included a Black Studies Department, Black Cultural Center and Black History Month. 

INVOLVEMENT 2 YEARS LATER COVERIn Dean Wilson’s Involvement 2/Years Later he mentions an aha moment he had when talking to graduate student Nelson Stevens at a “Negro History Week” celebration, in 1969. However, there’s no record of such an event occurring, except in 1955. However, both of them were present for Malcolm X Day on February 25th, 1969. Could this be where Dean Wilson’s aha moment occurred? 

On February 2nd, 1970 the first celebration of Black History for an entire month anywhere took place, in Kent, Ohio. The event was sponsored by the Institute for African American Affairs, Black United Students and the Center for Human Relations. 

“Negro History Week” was typically celebrated in the segregated schools of the south. Northern schools, segregated or not, did not celebrate “Negro History Week.” There’s nothing on record about riots in schools over “Negro History Week,” ostensibly because they were relegated to the segregated schools of the south. 

The historical record gives us a very different picture when it comes to Black History Month. There were a number of issues with Black History Month. The word Black, in the late 60’s was considered to be radical. To call oneself Black or demand others describe you that way were fighting words. Many did not like being called Black, while others didn’t like having to call Negroes Black. Even though the Chicago Style Manual clearly leaves open the option of using Black with a capital “b,” most editors continue to leave it uncapitalized. 

Black Watch bulletin board in the Center of Pan-African Culture from the 1970’s

Secondly, there was an issue with bringing all this “unauthorized” and therefore “fake” history into a setting with Whites who typically denied the facts, even when there was a ton of evidence contradicting the accepted history of many scientific inventions, etc. 

Last, but not least is the issue of not just having to deal with this type of activity for 1 day/year, but for an entire month. Everyone knows what happens if you “give a mouse a cookie.” Imagine what would happen if you “gave a Negro a month,” Black History might just become real history.

What’s Behind Our Logo?

We picked our logo because of the direct relationship between the Amasunzu hairstyle and the Khepresh crown of the Egyptians. In our historical research we’ve been able to find East African hairstyles that match each of the crowns of the pharaohs. The Amasunzu, in particular is one of the most distinctive and requires the typical helicoid hair that is specific to African people. Check out the video below for a detailed history of the Amasunzu in Rwanda, one of a number of countries where the hairstyle is still being worn.

Amasunzu Is the Retro-Future of Hair _

Hairstyles in traditional societies are more than a personal choice, they are symbols of status and position in society. The Amasunzu had been banned during colonial times, for just this reason. The goal of banning it was to replace the social hierarchy already in place for a colonial hierarchy.

Decades later the Amasunzu is having a resurgence, as a way of expressing national pride. We chose an image comparing a man wearing the Amasunzu with an image of one of the pharaohs of Egypt’s 18th dynasty to show that there was and still is a connection between the ancient Egyptians and the peoples of Central Africa. This connection has been denied

by many European scholars over the years and was but another way to minimize the importance of African traditional cultures, while claiming a connection to one of Africa’s most advanced civilizations.   

Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 1.32.08 AM

Blakfacts is about the business of revealing these lost connections and accomplishments of African peoples around the world. We hope that all who visit our website will get something positive from our posts, videos, blogs and the educational products we sell here.

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Wherever We are, Africa is There

AFRICA OHIO MARKER 6-21I’ve been saying this for years. Not only do I say it, I believe it. Truthfully, I’ve only been to Africa once, for six weeks, 50 years ago. However, that trip changed my life, forever. The things we did and saw have stuck with me, like glue.

Before I went, my idea of Africa was straight out of Hollywood. No one had really talked to me about Africa, even though I do remember having met some when I was still in elementary school, but I never asked them anything about where they were from, or what it was like. I wasn’t that interested, at 8 years old.

When my parents first told me we were going, the first thing on my mind was what would I do for 6 weeks, without a TV to watch. Soon after we arrived I found TV and Coca Cola had reached Africa before we did, so that was not a problem. I also realized there where no African shows, just a lot of American reruns, like “I Love Lucy.” I decided it was stupid to lock myself in a room watching reruns I’d already seen, with a whole new world right outside my window. The one thing I recall really had an impact was when we’d meet very dark skinned Africans and they would ask us what part of Africa we were from? To them it was as obvious as the noses on our faces that we were from Africa, just not from around there.

POLLY JACKSON - UNDERGROUND RAILROAD CONDUCTOROver the last 50 years, since I returned from Africa, I’ve tried to learn as much about Africa as I could, from the music, literature and politics to the languages, religion and culture. I’ve met Africans from nearly every part of Africa and seen many TV shows and  movies about Africa. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realized how much those of us born outside of the African continent are similar to those who were born in The Motherland.

Well, today I was talking with my mother and she explained how she discovered Africa, Ohio. I’d heard of Africatowns before in Alabama and attempts to recognize Little Africas in L.A. and Detroit. I’m also keenly aware of Black towns all over the country, including California’s Allensworth and a number of Black towns in the Midwest, as well. Africatown, Ohio was not on my list, however. Apparently, there’s been an attempt to wipe the town and the memory of it off of the map. Seeing as how I just heard of it, I can’t say how significant her discovery is, but it does appear to have some historical significance.

People like Aunt Polly Jackson lived there. From what I can tell it appears that she moved there before slavery ended and that she fought off an attempt to recapture her with a blade. The 1 photo I’ve found of her, so far, shows her with a very serious, “I wish you would” look on her face, much like the photos of Harriet Tubman in her old age.

So, for those who think Africa is just too far away to visit, I say, “why not take a trip to Africa, Ohio,” or one of the many other African villages in the USA? If you come to our house you’ll see, wherever we are Africa is there, in spirit and in fact.

The Next Thing at the Olympics

Duke Kahanamoku made a name for himself as a great swimmer at the 16th Olympic Games, held in Stockholm Sweden. At a time when Hawaiians were considered to be part of a Black underclass it was indeed unusual for him to be a major competitor in the Olympics.

Depending on which depiction of him you see he may look more or less White. In this depiction it’s clearly seen just how dark the original Hawaiians were. With their oftentimes straight hair, over the years he’s been Anglicized and obscured from the annals of history, as anything more than a distant legend. This was nothing new, it had happened many times before. We’ve seen the same thing in the official record of every other sport, including baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, etc.

In the 2020 Summer Olympics the cultural appropriation of surfing is sure to enter its final phase, unless people actually make some noise and reclaim this heritage. Cultural appropriation is not so much a matter of engaging in a cultural activity of another group of people, it’s the total exclusion of those people from the national popular database. This is the cruelest blow.

Why do I bring this up? I’m bringing it up because Black people have been excluded from so much of American life, in reality and virtual reality, that it’s mind boggling to think about it. In some areas it’s more obvious than others. In modern America, Black people and water sports are about as mutually exclusive as oil and water. No matter what you do that oil is going to return to the surface.

In the early 20th century it was a popular fact that Black people were physically and mentally inferior to White people. This is why there had never been a Black boxing champion before Jack Johnson. The same went for bicycling, baseball and hockey, for which there are plenty of examples of Black athletes participating at the highest levels.

In each and every case exclusionary polices were put in place to make sure Black athletes never gained dominance. This begs the question, why was all this done? It took a lot of time and energy to prove a point that was ludicrous in the first place. It seems to me there’s some insecurity there that needs to be addressed.

Duke Kahanamoku gave the Olympic Board a proposal to include surfing in 1912. So, it only took the Olympics gods 117 years to decide it needed to be done. The Duke gave lessons to all comers, because he did not see them as a threat. My only question is, will he get treated with the same respect? Will they talk incessantly about him and his brothers, like they do for the originators of other events? Will statues be made of him and if so what will he look like?

We’re glad to hear that surfing is entering the realm of the Olympics as a full-fledged sport, we just don’t want the originators to be written out of the history books, like we’ve seen others written off, as if they didn’t exist.

Fahrenheit 451, a Novel Come to Life in 2019

It’s official books are now a thing of the past. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse I hear that our youth are now “well employed” to cannibalize and burn books, while our local school libraries are not selectively removing books from the libraries, they’re removing the majority of books from the shelves right along with the shelves themselves.

A few years back I went to my alma mater, Kent State University, looking for a particular book and noticed many of the book shelves had been removed from the stacks and replaced with tables and chairs for students to study, with their laptops. I also noted the absence of magazines, newspapers and eventually the entire area where back issues of newspapers could be accessed disappeared, as well. I found out many of the books had been moved to an offsite storage facility and now had to be requested online. At the beginning of last year I was in the library scanning some pages out of a book and found myself in the midst of a full blown party, with pizza and a DJ.

Apparently, I had stumbled into “A Night At the Library,” a kind of introduction for new students to the Kent State Library. This was quite a shock, seeing as how it was the first weekend of the school year. I had expected a nice quite scanning session at the library, not a hip hop festival, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t know what went on above the first floor where I was, but that whole floor had already been transformed, with the addition of a Starbucks, removal of the card catalog and the installation of rows and rows of computer terminals, that now fill nearly the entire floor, except for “The One Stop,” the 21st Century registrar.

So, changes in the library have been going on for some time now, with the addition of maker spaces, where students can access 3D printers, photo enlargement equipment, audio and video recording equipment, etc. This article is not about change, it’s about the current purging of books from school libraries and classrooms, altogether. This is something that I never thought I would live to see happening, but it’s happening right under our noses with nary a peep out of the public, as if everyone is in agreement with these new policies.

The Book Purge of 2019 is happening as we speak yet librarians in general seem unaware or just don’t care. It’s hard to say which, because I have yet to find a librarian that is aware of the overall situation. The ones I have talked to are knowledgeable about their little corner of the universe, but totally unaware that a full on bibliocide is occurring, as we speak.

As an homeschooling parent and bibliophile libraries have been an indispensable part of my life. We did not have the resources to purchase all the books we used to check out from our local library. When we went to the library every 2 weeks we usually had so many books on hold that they had to bring them out on a separate cart, just for us. We’re talking about literally checking out grocery bags full of books every week. Without free public libraries we would have been hard pressed to provide a quality education for our children.

From what I’m hearing the purged books are being sent to other countries in Africa and possibly elsewhere. Our loss is their gain. I hope they use them wisely. Meanwhile, even more disturbing than all of the above was the news that not only are books being purged and sent overseas, but that there are local companies who are in the business of cannibalizing books and burning them. Yes, you heard that right, burning them, not recycling them or anything environmentally friendly like that, but actually creating more toxic smoke for us to breathe.

Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury in 1953 about life in the year 1999, when books are banned and firemen are paid to burn books, exclusively, since all books are banned. It’s a dystopian idea, whose time has come. Since the dawning of the computer age pundits have been foretelling of a new paperless society, but most of us never dreamed it would come in a fiery blaze. The remake of the movie came out in 2018, starring Michael B. Jordan as a fireman named Montag. Needless to say it’s quite timely, seeing as how we’re now in the midst of another era of book burning, 21st century style, under a wanna be autocrat, we call Forty-five.

At the time he wrote the book Bradbury was concerned about the possibility of book burning in the United States, during the McCarthy Era. Years later he also “described the book as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature.” Here we are now in the midst of a social media age in which 140 characters constitutes a meaningful exchange of ideas and anything longer than that is clearly not worth reading. Might as well burn it!

Does Learning Stop at the Classroom Door?

I’ve been working with children for over 40 years. My students have taught me a lot over the years. One of the first things I learned was that one of the roots for the word education is educere, meaning, to lead out. I have recently discovered that the word education has more than one root word. Another root word for education is educare, meaning, to train or mold.

These two competing ideas represent the polar opposites of education. There’s been a lot of talk around the question of which one is more important, self-expression or the ability to follow instructions. In the end, both approaches have their good and bad points and for the most part, both are called upon every day, by educators from Seattle to Savannah. However, when it comes to realtime practices in the classroom, the ability to follow instructions wins. The question is why? Continue reading “Does Learning Stop at the Classroom Door?”

Kuumba House, Birthplace of Black History Month, 1970-2019

Kuumba House - Black United Students 1st Black Culture Center 1969To the uninformed it may appear that Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month. In reality this is not the case. Negro History Week was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1926, by February of 1969 it was sorely in need of major renovation. Black students and faculty at Kent State recognized this need and made some necessary updates to what had been a week-long celebration of Negro History, as if that was all the time our history deserved. As of the date of this article, Black History Month has been celebrated for nearly 50 years at Kent State. It all began with Black United Students’ (BUS) takeover of the Student Activity Center (SAC), on November 13, 1968.Continue reading “Kuumba House, Birthplace of Black History Month, 1970-2019”

The Origin of Black History Month & Its Impact

The story of Black History Month has yet to be fully researched or written. For most of my life the history of Black History Month has been obscure, to say the least. Forty nine years after it’s inception it’s history is still unknown to most people. Even the most erudite scholars cannot answer the question of who, when, where or why it was started.

Everyone can agree on the fact that it was Carter G. Woodson that created Negro History Week as a promotional effort for the study of “Negro History” in public schools. In 1926, the year of the first celebration of Negro History Week, the idea that Negro people had a history was considered ludicrous. The idea that Negroes had no history was just as ludicrous to Carter G. Woodson. He had studied it, written about it and even founded an organization dedicated to the study of Negro history. His organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., was called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).

For decades, Woodson and the ASNLH led a movement to legitimize the study of Black history, particularly in public schools. Negro History Week was his primary promotional tool. He used it to open the school house doors and introduce people to an idea that had not been part of their curriculum, when they were in school. As a teacher, I realize how difficult this is, because teachers do not like change, no matter how many lectures, seminars or workshops they attend, touting the latest educational innovations, unless they think it will make their jobs a lot easier.

He picked the month of February, because two people claimed that month as the month of their birth, Frederick Douglass (2/14) and Abraham Lincoln (2/12). The first celebration was a low key affair, but it seemed like a worthwhile prospect. Every year since, the ASNLH created a theme for the week and sent promotional all over the country.

So, how did this one week celebration become a month long affair? Continue reading “The Origin of Black History Month & Its Impact”

What Messages Are Hidden in Games

Things we think about the least can often be the most important. The education of our children begins long before they ever enter a school. We teach them what to eat and how to eat it. We teach them nursery rhymes, songs and games. These are the first things a child learns and the last thing an adult remembers in old age. They stick with us like glue, become a part of us and determine how we look at the world.

BRUSHING WITH LICORICE STICKAs a school teacher I work with children of all ages and see how they learn and what they learn from K-12th grades. Oftentimes, I learn as much as I teach. Recently I was in a 4th grade classroom and the children were curious about my chewstick. Due to time constraints I don’t always have time to do a full lesson on chewsticks, but the conversation quickly went south when the child wanted to know if I was from Africa. To be frank, I get that question all the time and usually have an insightful answer. That was not the case today. Before I could respond the child wanted to know if we had food in our country because, as far as he knew, we were all starving over there.

I didn’t take offense at the question, but I questioned the logic behind it, that there could be countries in the world where millions of people live and don’t have food. It’s not logical, but it’s what he sees on T.V. everyday. I say all of this to illustrate a point. If we do not inform ourselves, we cannot inform our children and they are left to paint a picture of the world based on the information they receive through the media. Their worldview, in the end, will be no broader than that of Donald Trump and his ilk.

In this same classroom, I noted they had a version of Monopoly for the children to play, called Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition. What caught my attention is that there were no South American, African or Caribbean cities, as if Canada, the U.S., Europe and a few Asian cities made up the entire world. It says, right on the box that the cities were picked based on a poll. One has to wonder who was polled? There are 2 versions I know of that focus on African cities, namely Lagos, Nigeria and Capetown, S.A., but I have to wonder if this is a good thing. Monopolies are outlawed in the U.S., so why would we want to encourage the development of monopolies in Africa?

MONOPOLY WORLD EDITION - HERE & NOWWhen I was growing up I loved to play Monopoly. It was a lot of fun. We usually never finished a game, but it was fun going around the board buying up pieces of property and waiting for people to land on them, so we could collect rent and if we were lucky, break their bank. Monopoly only has one goal, to be the big winner with ALL the property and ALL the money. At that point it’s not much fun anymore, because you own everything and nobody else can even afford to continue play.

Children learn a lot from T.V. and other media outlets, but they learn just as much, if not more, from the games they play. When I first started working with children it became obvious to me that Monopoly was not a good game to use as a teaching tool. I used it for a limited time as I fed them information that would allow them to play other games, like oware, The Black Community Game and The Afrika Puzzle Map Game. All games have goals and rules. The rules are structured, in order to make it challenging to achieve the goal. Everyone likes to play challenging games, as long as there’s an equal chance that any one of the players can win. A combination of skill and luck make games especially enjoyable. Some games have more of one than the other or may be exclusively based on luck or skill. Monopoly and The Black Community Game require a combination of skill and luck, while Oware and The Afrika Puzzle Map Game require more skill than luck.

Whether it takes more skill or luck to play a game determines the level of engagement of the players. The rules to games determine the ultimate goal of the game. The rules also determine what it takes to achieve said goal. The steps it takes to play the game can have a long-lasting effect on the players. Children’s attitudes and perspective are shaped and molded by the games they play.

OWARE BOARDOware and a number of related versions on the basic theme are all over Africa. In Ethiopia fathers make the boards and give them to their sons, for use when they get married. In the Congo the game has been used to end internecine strife. Introduced by one of the great leaders of the Congo, it became synonymous with him. In Uganda it’s called omweso and is played by the Kabaka during life and death deliberations in his palace. It’s a game that doubles as a calculator and can have as few as 6 holes, in 1 row or as many as 160 holes in 4 rows.


Oware has always occupied a prominent role in society being regarded as a game of the Kings of Asante and Denkyira. Warri is the Akan word for being married. The folklore behind the name oware is an Ashanti legend, which states a man and a woman wanted to have more time to play the game oware so they decided to get married.

Versions of oware have been documented in more than 100 countries and go back over 3,000 years to ancient Egypt, Sumer and Troy. They continue to be played on every continent, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. In order to win Monopoly and oware one person must end up with all of the money and property or seeds, in the case of oware. The difference is in how this is accomplished. In Monopoly it’s O.K. to purposely bankrupt your opponent. In oware and opponent who runs out of seeds must be fed by their opponent in a legal move, if possible. If and only if it’s not possible to make a legal move that feeds ones opponent, the game is over. That’s when the counting begins, as players reset the board and see who has “extra” seeds.

Oware is the world’s oldest board game and counting tool, as well. It’s affiliated with calculus, which means counting bead and the abacus, which is no more than counting beads on sticks. In fact, it’s the oldest form of abacus, as well. It’s use has been documented in nearly every country in Africa, much of Asia and the entire Caribbean, as well as North and South America. More versions of the game, including the 2, 3, 4 and 6 row versions have been documented across the African continent, particularly in Ethiopia and Congo, where more versions are played than anywhere else.

THE BLACK COMMUNITY GAMEThe Black Community Game is based on cooperative economics and community development. Without beating anyone over the head, The Black Community Game promotes peace-in-the-hood and community development at the same time. It’s message is an important one, as our children are deluged with capitalist dreams and goals. Cooperation and self-help are not only in short supply, they’re rarely spoken of, as the current government has been top loaded with capitalists, more concerned about their own bottom line, than the good of the country.

Last, but not least, there’s a game produced by the late Kwaku Amenhotep, in the late 70’s, known as the Afrika Puzzle Map Game. As our children are given no positive way to look at Africa the most prominent images they do see are of starving Ethiopian children. Their relationship with Africa is negative, to say the least. To call them African is one of the worst insults possible. Many immigrants from the Caribbean teach this to their children using sayings like, “You can be anything you want in America. Just don’t be poor.” In America this translates to, just don’t be African.


AFRIKA PUZZLE MAP GAMEThe Afrika Puzzle Map Game was one of the best teaching tools available to me, in the late 70’s, when I wanted to teach children about Africa. It quickly dawned on me that there were a number of problems in relating African folktales. First of all there was a language barrier, in terms of the names of the characters. Then there was lack of knowledge of the countries and proper pronunciation of their names. Once those major obstacles were overcome there was still a difference in perspective, landscape, flora and fauna that made it nearly impossible to teach African folklore, without properly setting the stage. The Afrika Puzzle Map Game was a welcome tool I could use to orient the children to the various African countries and begin the process of familiarizing them with the names, languages and folklore of Africa. The game was pure genius and a welcome tool in teaching children about the continent of Africa and its peoples.

Many people say the only kinds of games we can give our children have to have murder and mayhem as the final objective. This is not what I’ve experienced over the years. I’ve introduced to a number of games and activities where no one dies, yet they enjoy the activity, just as much, if not more than any computer game. Teachers today are struggling with the idea of arming themselves in school, just to make it through the day. Why is it that this is so important in the U.S., but not in Canada or even Mexico? In the “most advanced nation in the world” guns and gun violence in schools, is a major problem, while less advanced nations don’t have this problem? In fact, Japan doesn’t even have a need to track the number of shootings, because it amounts to 1/year, for a country of 120 million, that’s highly urbanized! Something’s wrong in America, not just with the games people play, but with the access to firearms, in general. Maybe giving our children different games can begin a process of lowering the death toll. It worked with oware in the Congo, maybe it can work here too.