‘Pen is mightier than the sword’

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For far too long, people of African descent have allowed others to tell our stories and decide on our worldview.

Back in the early 1900s Marcus Garvey knew that intelligence ruled the world and ignorance carried the burden. He believed that Black people would be eternally, abused, mistreated and taken advantage of if they did not acquire education and understood that Black people were starting with the handicap of slavery, with over 400 years of not being allowed to read and write. He believed that despite 400/500 years of mental and physical oppression, Black people should learn with urgency.

This need for a literate population is obvious, as is the need for our communities to tell our stories. We have a voice, we have imagination, we all have a story to tell. Yes I said all of us. It is time that we document our own ‘World View’ in books.

We have a rich legacy of writing and publishing our work - before transatlantic enslavement and colonisation of Africa, our ancestors invented paper from papyrus and inks from plants. Our published works go back thousands upon thousands of years, and can be found in great temples and pyramids in Egypt and in universities in Timbuktu. Thousands of years later when people of African descent were enslaved, and caught trying to learn to read or write they would be punished by the chopping off of a limb or worse death. Many of the enslaved soon learnt that the ‘Pen Was Mightier Than The Sword’. After all it was the pen that wrote the laws that made slavery legal. So being competent in letters they could challenge and re-write the laws that bound them. They sacrificed their lives to read and write, so I believe when we read and write we are paying respect to those who gave so much so that we could be here today and also to our ancient ancestors who thousands of years earlier left their mark on the great pyramids, temples and universities to let us know they were here first, they did it first and their descendants can do it again.

So whether it is an autobiography, biography, novel, How to do book or children’s story we must take up the pen and write now.

For more information on how to develop your skills as a writer, BIS Publications are organising a 1 Day Intensive Self-Publishing Course for African / African Caribbean Writers who want to self publish successfully. Please click here for more details.

Cindy Soso, BIS publications

(Please note that this is not an OBV event and OBV are not linked in any way to this event or to BIS publications).

Archived Comments

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You mean the same pyramids that were built by slaves?

"Our published works go back thousands upon thousands of years, and can be found in great temples and pyramids in Egypt"

You mean the same pyramids that were built by slaves - including an implemented policy of racial slavery affecting many Jews. Ancient Egypt, like many societies across the world at a similar period in history, was controlled by despotic rulers, whose individual will was often chosen above that of any majority - a pharaoh would believe himself to be all-important. Truely these were societies that not many people in the modern world would be comfortable with. Oh the hypocrisy; what a tangled narrative we weave.

Also, I will have you know that not all Black people have roots in the translantic slave trade - many Black people, the King of Lagos etc, even profited from the event. I suppose that an unscrupulous Black King can be just as bad as an unscrupulous White Businessman, both infact being unscrupulous businessmen in one form or another - 'racial' theories need not apply. I cannot believe that somebody who is attempting to reveal their intellectual side would end up forsaking all that we know about individual human psychology and instead revert to broad racialised generalisations. Please do not grossly and, indeed, offensively over-simplify such a complicated issue with one-dimensional statements.

"After all it was the pen that wrote the laws that made slavery legal." It was also the sword, cannon supplied by the Royal Navy that set in motion the worlds first modern human-trafficking prevention service - it is still in use to this day. Make of that what you will.

Yeah, I can throw cold water on you, yeah

Mummy is so proud Joshie. You really do give those nasty OBV contributors what for. Fancy those silly people thinking that celebrating your history and heritage isn't complex.

What's that? Jews cannot reflect on the Shoah because some Jews collaborated with the Nazi's. Tell them how it is Joshie. "I suppose that an unscrupulous Jewish collaborator can be just as bad as an unscrupulous Nazi SS officer, both infact being unscrupulous in one form or another - 'racial' theories need not apply". Well done sweetie.

"Please do not grossly and, indeed, offensively over-simplify such a complicated issue with one-dimensional statements". You told them sunny. What a big boy you are. How dare they? There should be more people like you to teach them.

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Now let's get serious.

Josh, refer to me to the websites where people (ideally, you) turn up and whine about how the Spartans "were controlled by despotic leaders" of whom "not many people in the modern world would be comfortable with". They clearly were despotic and had some awful practices, but people often celebrate what they were famed for instead.

Rather than accept that celebrating historical figures and achievements doesn't mean people believe they were perfect, you use this as yet another opportunity for another paternalistic diatribe.

The spirit of the article was about writing, and how that can be used to create liberation and justice. So on the topic of creativity, why don't you share some of your creative achievements and we'll be the judge. Just post the links in to a comment below. Easily done. That might distract you from being OBVs resident energy vampire for a few seconds.

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