Being the son of a great pretender to a crown who is so able to fool half the Afrikan intelligentsia to the point that they give him columns to spit his gibberish and claim to be the founder of Afro-intelligence is such a tall order when you are just twenty-years-old but already aspire to adorn your being with the mantle of ghetto spokesperson. Or maybe that's brave - too damn brave.

Poet Molefi K Asante Jr is not different from his father, the self-proclaimed great scholar of everything Afrikan, Dr Molefi Kete Asante.
But unlike his father who claims to be the source of a knowledge management system that Afrikans, in their tiny villages over many centuries did not discover until a black-Amerikan engineered it, is currently focusing on colonizing black-Amerikan thought, one block at a time. Tall order for a novice.

I had the misfortune of reading his first poetry book titled Like Water Running Off My Back. I call it a misfortune because the time I wasted going through the text I could have used reading the Complete Works of Shakespeare for the sixty-sixth time. And the fact that nobody pays me to review such junk gets to me faster than a nigger saying 'that's because I'm black right'. The cover is eccentric and would win a Visual Art Award for Abstract Cover Design.

First of all, for better or worse, young Asante makes it a point to mention that he was born in (Harare) Zimbabwe which from where I'm standing is meant to warn us that he's as Afrikan as blood diamonds and as understanding of darkies whollistically because he's been around. However having been here does not make you an Afrikan ambassador. Young Asante, like his father in his essays makes a mistake of moralising a lot in his poetry book. It's such a hard fact and bitter pill to swallow that age is a big price we all have to pay for maturity. This is one area where there are no short-cuts. I'm a young man who thinks older Asante sucks because he comes from an obsolete school of thought and young Asante is barely out of nappies, and so does not make sense to some of us on two-wheeler bicycles already.

He starts off acknowledging his influences like Talib Kweli, Dead Prez,Chuck D (the one who last he checked pyramids were's built like the projects), Sarah Jones (the one who resists revolution happening between her thighs), KRS One (the one who says GOD means Get Own Definition), Mos Def and a lot of the folks we love to call consious rappers. He then mentions a few abstract poets who fuel his muse with unleaded energy. I must admit some of them I don't know while most of them I know with passion usually reserved for porn movies (as art).

But then his style and absent delivery sounds like Geronimo Jigaga providing lyrics on some Rose that Grew from Concrete recording. What do you make of this dangerous obsession with rhyming, 'if i could save time/ i would stuff minutes under my mattress/ and redefine backwards images of blackness'. You know, the same way I hate poetry from women which always reminds me that they are women, I reserve the same venom to darkie poetry that is always about reminding me that they are black. Man you are a darkie to the bone so it makes not difference mentioning it, you ain't gon' become darker or lighter. Too much echoeing simply means it worries you to death.

Then young Asante occupies the highest moral ground that would make Killimanjaro look like the Great Hole of Kimberely on an essay or is it prose called Dear Rapper. I would have loved to print the whole fart for your private puke session but I will mitigate the venom with serum. 'I'm writing this letter because the love I once had for you has been lost, and I am hopeful it can be regained... Theoretically, if you decided tomorrow that you were going to wear dashikis and condemn violence, the result would be a generation of non-violent Afrocentrists... Often times the realities of the messages you convey are false even to you, let's be realistic, You don't sell drugs! And there's a chance you never did, so why rap about it?... I see the results of the saturation when I try to tutor my young students, instead of listening to their homework assignments they'll recite lyrics about 'fucking bitches' and 'rocking ice', Yes, 2nd and 3rd graders, I know you are thinking. 'I'm not solely to blame for the violence, materialism, and sexual explotiation of black kids'. You're right, there are many other contributors that play a major role in destroying the minds of black youths. For example, radio stations, recording companies, and television channels all play major roles in this mental genocide. However, I've never had high moral expectations for large corporate entities that thrive on black exploitation. On the other hand, I've always had high expectations of my own brothers and sisters, but maybe I'm just naive. Sincerely, The Black Community'.

Why a young boy would try to carry such a heavy cross beats me to this day. Remember that Simon was forced to carry that stake and endured every moment of it on his bruised shoulders. I'm all for freedom of speech but young Asante abuses that freedom. All his poems are judgmental of black behaviour without any attempt to understand what makes the black person fail to tick or those who do so to tick like a Rolex watch? What went into that black dome that makes it difficult to infuse with pride? Why are those rappers claiming not to have fathers, to have criminal record and to have slung rocks? Why are lies more attractive to the truth for the young hustler in search of a recording deal. I look at young Asante and I think of how much Americans need a dose of Steve Bantu Biko, especially at this moment of 3030.

Like Water Running Off My Back is a manuscript (I wanted to say a classic typed manuscript) that I believe that when young Asante is old enough he can ruthlessly revisit and republish as a proper book instead of the Lost Gospel According to a Lost Son who's afraid of Light.

The moral high ground that both the father and son occupies, and given the people young Asante credits as his inspiration one is intrigued by a knowledge deficiency that seems to have engulfed the black communities in the Afrikan Diaspora. Yeah, I wanted to find an enlightened young writer in between the pages but I found a Tupac clone with a little academia. It is also enough why we need more black US Corps in Afrika who'll experience life from the discomfort of our shacks. The poetry collection is five years old this year and the more I critically read through the 47 pages (22 poems divided into Freedom Verses and Umfundalai Verses) it feels like it was actually written by a five year old born who was raised at Martha's Vineyard.

Like I said I'm all for expression and that's why I would advise you to get yourself a copy of this failure of human effort which is published by Africa World Press Inc and was retailing at US$12,95 then which should be ZAR90,65. It's ISBN 1-59221-007-4.

The young man is 25 years old this year and one hopes his novel, Freedom Diary shows that maturity. We'll search for it and do justice on its case.

1 comment:

  1. Tamieka Brown9/12/2007

    I'm shocked by the flagrant tone of this review.

    Asante, Jnr is one of my FAVORITE writers and he's done a lot since "Like Water..." including make award-winning films, write influencial non-fiction and become a professor by the age of 23. He also just wrote a film with Maya Angelou! This review, 5 years late, seems mean-spirited and I suppose that's why there have been no other responses. His website is www.mkasante.com and I suggest people learn for themselves what an awesome and beautiful human being this young man is.


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