Asa Said This…
Lubangakene, one of the issues among “us” that I find most fascinating is how we struggle to define ourselves in an effort to recapture our humanity. I would argue that “we”, the Black/African people of the Diaspora, are in a continual struggle to create an identity we are comfortable with, so our definitions of who and what we are forever changing. This is of-course due to being taken from our natural homeland, stripped of our natural culture, history, familial relationships, name, religion(s), and had foreign cultures, names and religions imposed upon us. In this process not only was our identity thrown into question, but more importantly, OUR HUMANITY! To enslave “us”, the Europeans (and let’s not forget the Arabs) societies at the time had to “dehumanize” us and the easiest way to do that, to begin this process of dehumanization was to label us, define us and call us by derogatory names. The past, present and future white supremacy mechanisms of dehumanizing definitions/names for us never fail to amuse me. We’ve gone from the blatant: “Niggers” to the “oh so subtle”: Racialized People!
I went through a process of self-actualization which culminated in 1997, when I made a pilgrimage to West Africa. This journey was very significant for me and it led to a spiritual and cultural rebirth. I saw myself in a new light and made a conscious decision to define myself as being of “African heritage”. During this pilgrimage I visited a village in Ghana and was given the name “Asabagna”, which means “Hunter”. I also visited a Mandingo village in Senegal and a griot gave me the name “Alatentou” which means “God is gracious”. So to acknowledged this new consciousness that had awaken within me, this new way that I saw the world, particularly the eurocentric-western world and my place within it, I took the African/Spiritual name: Asabagna Alatentou.
Since then I, Asabagna Alatentou, have grown, changed, transformed and developed as a man of African heritage. I deliberately address you by your African name: Lubangakene, (as well as Bygbaby as “Tafari”). It builds up within us human/cultural capital, by acknowledging our heritage through our names, more so than by our eurocentric (slave) names or through monikers which identify and I would dare say, TRAP US, in a mentality of continual struggle.
Peace my brother!