Last week, news broke that American actor and martial arts master, Michael Jai White, was bestowed a chieftaincy title in the Akwamu Traditional Area during his recent visit to Ghana in December for the Full Circle Festival.
He was titled by the name Nana Akoto III Odopon, which means “the tree with strong roots that does not fear the storm.”
So proud of the honour, he returned to the United States and couldn’t stop sharing his wonderful experience during his time in Africa and how his visits to Ghana, which he said was the 8th African country he has visited so far, changed his perception of the continent.
He also urged other African Americans to change their perception of Africa and find time to visit the continent in order to better appreciate its heritage.
He compared his title in Africa to the knighthood from the Queen of England, saying the title in Africa surpasses the latter because of its age-long tradition and lineage – this and his other comments, however, did not go well with many critics who flooded his comment sessions with racial backlash.
The tough Hollywood bigshot in response to the comments has taken his time to write an expository post to educated his critics that his stance is unshaken and that indeed, Africa is a mother to all.
This is not the first time Black Americans are/or foreigners are being honored with traditional chieftaincy titles in Africa, Wesley Snipes and Rio Ferdinand have both received titles on their visits to Nigeria.
Below is the full statement to the critics:
With the recent pilgrimage to Ghana I shared with friends and new title given to me by the King of Akwamu, there have been some interesting negative responses from the black community. Though the positives far outweigh the negatives, I choose today to focus on those negative ones because I believe there is great power in studying this mindset to provide teachable moments.
We American born blacks were bred to hate our own people and ourselves. Self-deprivation is buried deep within our subconscious. We’ve found comfort in calling ourselves derogatory names and sabotage our own progress because we’ve been convinced we are unworthy of the same things whites or other nations enjoy. When Jews visit the Holocaust Museum or Israel, or Irish and Italian Americans travel to their homelands, there’s ZERO backlash from their communities and communities outside. Ask yourselves:WHY IS THERE ALWAYS BACKLASH FROM OUR OWN BLACK COMMUNITY WHENEVER WE HAVE PILGRAMIGES OUR HOMELAND?
This is not only from other blacks; it brings commentary from other communities who mysteriously seem entitled to chime in as well!
“Negative comments like; “Who do these Ni**ers think they are? They’re celebrating slavery! Africans were complicit in slavery as well! This is just a publicity stunt! They just want attention! etc.” Why all the hate? Why do folks care so much? It’s like we threatened them…AND WE HAVE! We have threatened them and other black folks to think better of us, therefore- better of themselves!
We American blacks are SUPPOSED to think negatively about being connected to our homeland because that’s how we were conditioned to think! We’re SUPPOSED to think; all Africa was, was slavery when only an extremely small portion of the continent was even involved in the slave trade. We’re SUPPOSED to see Africa as mainly “starving people and jungles.”
We may call ourselves African Americans but we are truly disconnected from Africa. I say WE because I’m not excluded! I thought “my people” came from South Carolina which I now see, is as stupid as a Chinese man saying his people came from Ohio! I tracked my heritage South Carolina was only a small part of my peoples journey that began in Ghana, a place that had kings well before Europe had theirs.
For me to be enstooled by the King Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III of Akwamu is far more relevant than if I were knighted by Queen Elizabeth who’s royal bloodline doesn’t go back as far. Ghana has been the 8th African country I’ve visited. They’ve all been astoundingly beautiful, with classy and very educated people who speak more languages than we do.Those of us that felt “some kind of way” maybe you can begin to direct that anger toward those orchestrators that made you hate who you are- those who’d find comfort in you hating your own people, and those who’d find it threatening for you to unite with your people in solidarity.
I believe the original culprits are long dead but their policies are alive and well. Please ask yourself; if Mark Wahlberg or Ben Affleck went back to their place of heritage would you care? They have a country that loves and embraces them. WE HAVE A WHOLE CONTINENT THAT LOVES AND EMBRACES US!
In Africa, a voice commands him to look around. The Voice: “Do you see any n*ggers?” He answers meekly “No.” The voice: “Do you know why? Because there aren’t any.”
– Richard Pryor.
Photo and Quote Credit: Face2Face Credit