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Grits, Fufu, Injera Bread, and PanAfricanism
ADWA In Perspective

Mar 07 – Mar 20, 2024
suwareh jabai


Grits, Fufu, Injera Bread, and PanAfricanism

More than 30 years ago, I met my friend Suwareh Jabai. He was in the United States from The Gambia studying where I worked.  As we became friends, we would sit around a bowl and eat. He and the other Gambians would eat Benechin with their hands; me with a spoon.

As we all got to know each other, I would not eat fufu. And they would not eat grits.

In their Gambian apartment, they were Gambians; I was an American.

We are Africans. 
End of Game.

But, when they came to school where I worked, there were people from around the world.  One day, Jabai and I made it clear - - as he had differences with some non Africans. 

What we made clear: That when we are in his apartment, he is a Gambian and will not force me to eat fufu and I will not force him to eat grits. However, when we sit at the table of international humanhood, we are Africans.  Full-time. End of game.

So, today, I look forward to meeting new friends here at the Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. And, I have a package of instant grits in my hand.

Yes, this is often in my suitcase when I head for The Gambia where I still spend time to visit Jabai - - when not doing other things such as the installing this pan-African exhibit at the Juffureh Slavery Museum.

Yes, I like history. And, I first learned of the Battle of Adwa from a film by Haile Gerima. And, I have since internalized the struggle as similar to one in my beloved hometown of Gary, Indiana. Just as your ancestors defeated the notion that Blacks were incapable of defeating Whites, so did my ancestors in the City of Gary when Richard Gordon Hatcher became of the first of two Blacks elected mayors of a major American city.

Also, historically interesting, you know the Battle of Adwa took place in 1896. However, did you know it was the same year that the US Supreme Court said the Blacks had NO rights a White had to respect?

So today, with my new friends including Solomon Hailemariam, I may only taste, but not eat the Injera bread. And, I promise to again not to pull out my bag of grits.

And, today, I am proud to celebrate in this Ethiopian Embassy your earned victory of Adwa. And when we leave this building, I hope we continue to celebrate our victory at Adwa.  Full stop.  End of game.
Young delivered this message at the 128th Adwa Celebration, Adwa Victory of the Black People;  Saturday, March 2, 2024; Embassy of Ethiopia; Washington, D.C.

Suwareh Jabai’s response after reading this on Facebook: “When I saw the post I nearly cried, remembering the old days. Thanks Wayne. It’s good to have good memories.”

ADWA In Perspective

In 1804, the Haitians defeated the French and the Haitians became the symbol of modern African resistance.

The better-known Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 resulted in 13 European countries plus the United States agreeing to claims by 7 of the 14 countries to control portions of Africa.

Four years after the Berlin Conference, in 1889, Ethiopia and Italy signed a treaty recognizing Italy's claim over the Italian occupied coastal colony of Eritrea.

In that same year, 1889, another bilateral agreement, this one between Britain and France delimited the border between Gambia and Senegal, and between the Lagos and Dahomey. The agreement explains why the Smiling Coast of Africa, The Gambia, is surrounded by Senegal on three sides.

Seven year later, Ethiopia defeated the Italian invading force Sunday, March 1, 1896, near the town of Adwa. And Ethiopia rightfully became the newest symbol of African resistance to European, White supremacist aggression.

The Battle of Adwa took place in 1896. The same year that the US Supreme Court said the Blacks had NO rights a White had to respect?
In the same year, The US Supreme Court rules in the  Plessy v. Ferguson case that separate but equal laws are not unconstitutional and that a Black man had no rights that a White man had to respect.

john c robinson

In April 1935, just before World War II started (1939 to 1945), Italy invaded Ethiopia again.  Among his many acts, Emperor Haile Selassie wired an official invitation to Chicago-based John C. Robinson offering him an officer's commission in the fledging Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson accepted and was later named the commander of the Air Force and played a role in the foundation of Ethiopian Airlines. Because of his work and influence in aviation, Robinson is often considered the Father of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Father of Ethiopian Airlines.

Italy eventually ruled Ethiopia from 1936 to 1940 when Selassie and an army of Ethiopian Free Forces entered the capital city, Addis Ababa.

The treaty signed in Paris by the Italian Republic and the victorious powers of World War II on February 10, 1947, included formal Italian recognition of Ethiopian independence and an agreement to pay $25,000,000 in reparations.
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