“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana (The Life of Reason, 1905)
By: C. D. Ford
November is recognised as the National Veterans and Military Family Month in North America; November 11 is Remembrance Day across the world. During the month of November, many communities across America and Canada gather together to honour the contributions of the veterans, military families, and those who gave their lives in service and sacrificed themselves to defend our country and our freedom. It is with these sentiments that Genesis Advanced Performing Arts society (GAPAS), would like to launch the #rememberthe400 campaign formally.
Almost 25 years ago an Author/Director/Teacher, Shadrock Porter, wrote: “The Truth, the Lie and the Bible, 1995” which identified a pattern of 400 years, going as far back as 476 A.D. with the fall of the Roman empire, (the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem took place in 70 A.D. followed by the persecution of its people, then 400 years later, Rome fell). In this manner, touching briefly on Portugal, Haiti, Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Holland and Jamaica, Porter showed a correlation between the rise and fall of these nations. In his discourse, Porter revealed that these nations captured and sometimes enslaved a people, commonly known today as African-American or the descendants of Africans, that was subjection under the recent 400 years in the Americas. Porter argued that whenever they ruled over their people (referring to the Africans), that country was in poverty, and if governed by other nations, then those same Africans were the ones in poverty – the poorest in the land – these nations also declined.
This prophetic observation, unfortunately, remains true to this day, even in North America there are remnants of a racial divide, division amongst African-Americans who are also predominately the poorest of all the peoples that call America home. Notably, most countries in South America, the Caribbean and Africa still carry the stigma of an impoverished nation, where the people are mostly lost and destitute, in comparison to other non-western countries. “Let’s take a look in the historical container and search through the rubble of slavery and its 400 years and see what happened.” Porter 1995. Porter thus, urged his readers to take a deep dive and recognise the pattern affording us the opportunity to correct our mistakes, he states, “for only with this knowledge would we be able to correct our mistakes, because this 400 year that we are in, is crucial.” Porter 1995.
There are pockets of people between the USA and Canada that have been trying over the years to bring recognition to the 400 years, the Journey of a people, and the socio-economic factors that are affecting them today. Through this came the birth of the #rememberthe400 initiative. Ironically, on Monday, January 8, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law: H.R. 1242, the “400 Years of African-American History Commission Act, which establishes the 400 Years of African-American History Commission to plan activities to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African-Americans in the United States. One could speculate about the inception of the 400-year notion as it has an undeniable connection to Porters’ discovery. Nevertheless, this Act indirectly recognises the 400-year pattern of the plight of the descendants of those first Africans that landed on the shores of Virginia, the United States of America in August 1619, interestingly, there was no Commemoration Act for 395, 350 or even 300 years, just the 400th year.
This correlation is thought-provoking and should ignite a deep concern and generate a desire for understanding which would hopefully lead to healing. It enables us to remember the struggles of our fore-parents that came to this land and made great sacrifices so that we can live today. There is a grave concern because we take our lives for granted and seldom acknowledge the centuries of struggle that were endured for our sake - this is not something we should be taken lightly. Rememberthe400 initiative is about remembering the history of a people, a nation and the foundation of North America. It does not matter about the colour of one’s skin or culture, but rather the recognition that the plight of the descendants of the first Africans, is the foundation of this great nation.
We all must work together to ensure that this nation remains tremendous and not fall into despair, as with so many countries and peoples before, such as those identified in Porter's book. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand the history and true cultural identity of this people to unite and heal. So far, the things that we have done in the past has failed to join us as a people or nation, this is, therefore, an excellent opportunity to really seize the moment, a chance to make a difference, the power is in our hand to make that difference, this is the right time.
Join the movement!