Marcus Garvey : still relevant today

“Our success educationally, industrially and politically is based upon the protection of a nation founded by ourselves. And the nation can be nowhere else but in Africa.” Marcus Garvey

I love this photo of Garvey as it resembles my father –he resembles my father or more accurately, my father resembles him; they could have been brothers; therefore Garvey could have been my father; he is certainly my spiritual father. However, Garvey forged a path much wider than my biological father; he had a vision, insight and the tenacity to pursue his dreams, and thankfully for us –Garvey’s dreams still inspire us.

As a writer and intellectual, this Garvey quote resinates with me, especially when intellect is married with common sense then the whole world opens to one. But really what does Garvey mean by intelligence? It of course has its base with self-knowledge, as Garvey understood this to be the cornerstone of Black people’s liberation from enslavement whose primary goal was to reduce us by let us forget who we are truly and where we came from. The vast majority of us still don’t know the most basic things about our heritage, even today when so much is available to us.


Similarly, if one has no confidence in self, there is very little positive change one can accomplish. That is why it is so important to endow our children with knowledge about self, and help to bolster their self-confidence. Everything we hope to achieve is only possible with self-confidence; without it we will remain stagnant.

Throughout his life, Garvey tried and accomplished many things. Some will say he also failed at many things, but that is also the mark of a courageous and forward thinking person, who is not afraid to fail because s/he knows every failure leads us that closer to success. So thanks Marcus Garvey for doing and failing and doing more so we have the history of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL, commonly known as UNIA), which you founded and Presided over, and which was once the largest organisation of Black people throughout the Diaspora, and that inspired countless, and continues to do so even today.

There are many Garvey quotes that I find inspiring but these three in particular resonate with me:

“Africa for the Africans… at home and abroad!”

I hope the leaders of Africa will come to truly understand and reflect this very soon in the near future.

“A reading man and woman is a ready man and woman, but a writing man and woman is exact.”

We all need to ponder the meaning and implications between ready and exact.

And this finally quote below speaks to our future:

“There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation.”

How are we as individuals and as a society/nation measuring success, which must have a community component and an element of altruism. I don’t remember how old I was exactly when I was introduced to Garvey’s philosophy, but it feels as if he has been always around, and I know he will continue to be a beacon that sees me and others through to the other side.

Asé! May his words continue to guide…

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