Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940, born Saint Ann’s, Jamaica) was a Black Renaissance Man: energetic, intense, full of creative ideas – and “all over the map”. A political leader, prosyletizer, journalist, publisher, and all-round entrepreneur, he was most especially a passionate, moralizing orator.
Dusé Mohamed Ali (1866-1945), the Egyptian-Sudanese founder of the African Times and Orient Review (in London in 1912) was one of Garvey’s mentors during the Jamaican’s time in England; Garvey’s pan-African and Black Nationalist thrust owed much to Ali’s example.
Though Garvey found himself on the wrong side of the NAACP’s W.E.B. DuBois (calling DuBois’ mulatto-ness “a monstrosity” ) and on the right side of Edward Young Clarke (Imperial Wizard of the KKK) – “repatriation” of “Africans” from the U.S.A. “back to” Liberia being the agreed goal – still, Garvey’s legacy has been much more solid than the sometimes madcap careenings of his tumultuous life.
However one perceives, weighs, accepts or judge’s this complex thinker’s worldview, Garvey nevertheless gives good advice to all of us in the following poem…
. . .
Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) “Those Who Know”
You may not know, and that is all
That causes you to fail in life;
All men should know, and thus not fall
The victims of the heartless strife.
Know what? Know what is right and wrong,
Know just the things that daily count,
That go to make all life a song,
And cause the wise to climb the mount.
To make man know, is task, indeed,
For some are prone to waste all time:
It’s only few who see the need
To probe and probe, then climb and climb.
The midnight light, the daily grind,
Are tasks that count for real success
In life of those not left behind,
Whom Nature chooses then to bless.
The failing men you meet each day,
Who curse their fate, and damn the rest,
Are just the sleeping ones who play
While others work to reach the best.
All life must be a useful plan,
That calls for daily, serious work –
The work that wrings the best from man –
The work that cowards often shirk.
All honour to the men who know,
By seeking after Nature’s truths.
In wisdom they shall ever grow,
While others hum the awful ‘blues’.
Go now and search for what there is –
The knowledge of the Universe.
Make it yours, as the other, his;
And be as good, but not the worse.
. . . . .
Image: Bruce Patrick Jones: Silhouette of Marcus Garvey