The Nguzo Saba & the Moral Vision of Malcolm X: Wake Up, Clean Up and Stand Up:

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May 19th 1925 was the day the earth was blessed with the birth of Minister Malcolm X. Thus, the month of May is a time for us to rightly reflect upon the life and legacy of Malcolm X.

Malcolm, the fire prophet, moral teacher, a quintessential model of Black manhood was many things as an Afro American who worked, studied and struggle to build a truly just and moral society. An incisive critic of the hypocrisy that he referred to as not the American dream but rather the American nightmare was timely without question; and very much needed during his life and nonetheless remains so much needed now in these times of America’s nightmarish hypocrisy.

A hypocrisy evidenced by the crisis of continued cutbacks in education, mental and medical health care services, and other critical human service; and increasing poverty. Yet the nation’s prison industrial complex steadily grows as a major investment opportunity on the New York stock Exchange via Correctional Corporation America and the Wackenhut Corporations.

And let us not exclude the continued damage ad degradation to the environment the establish order does all for the sake of making money. The acts of oppression cited here directly affect the Black community, other communities of color and the poor as an oppressed group in general. Consequently then, during our reflection of his legacy and lessons evolving from out of his texts of lived history, let us look at the moral vision of Malcolm X.

Malcolm X taught us so many invaluable lessons on many issues. Of those lessons, Malcolm X gave us a straightforward and manageable prescription to follow that would and is efficient in every aspect of our life. It is summed up in his call for Black people to Wake Up, Clean Up, and Stand Up! In 1963, then as the national spokesperson for the Nation of Islam (NOI); in his speech titled God’s Judgment of White America (The Chickens Come Home to Roost),Malcolm X states that;

They know that The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s divine message will make our people (1) wake up, (2) clean up, (3) stand up. They know that once The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is able to resurrect the Negro from this mental grave of ignorance, by teaching him the truth about himself and his real enemy, the Negro will then be able to see and think for himself. Once the Negro learns to think for himself, he will no longer allow the white liberal to use him as a helpless football in the white man’s crooked game of “power politics.

Thus, Malcolm X’s instruction to wake up, clean up, and stand up is a call for Afro Americans to engage in the process of becoming educated the right way, becoming morally grounded, and ethically focused in our thought, and social practice. These three precepts are culturally conceived and put forward to the masses in order for us to rescue and reconstruct ourselves as a dignity bearing people with identity, purpose, and direction.

Moreover, they are inclusive of our embracing as an idea and practice what later came to be constructed by Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder and national chair of the Organization Us, as the Three Ends Of Black Power; Self Respect, Self Determination, And Self Defense. Malcolm’s conception of wake up, clean up, and stand up he lectured on and taught in the Nation of Islam and more so after his separation from the (NOI).

Wake Up is the first step as it is essentially our call to education. In 1964 in his speech at the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Malcolm X contends that “Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self respect.” Moreover, he maintains, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today. We must recapture our heritage and our identity if we are ever to liberate ourselves from the bonds of white supremacy. We must launch a cultural revolution to unbrainwash an entire people.” Malcolm X’s call for us to wake up is call for our becoming mentally mature! To be mentally mature is for us to become constant and continuous students, learning knowledge and building wisdom, and engaging and confronting the world in order to understand our self, society, and the world in order to assert our self into the world.

As argued by Dr. Karenga and the Organization Us a cultural revolution is critical to our liberation and must precede the political revolution. Thus, in support of the necessity of cultural revolution I also propose the necessity of cultural revolution to not only resist external oppression we face but also to struggle against and heal our community from the cultural-psychosis that so many have succumbed to within our community.

For in the final analysis, it is the waking up, being educated the right way that will lead to our continued resistance, healing ourselves, and empowering our people on a personal, communitarian and political scale. Waking up will exemplify to us and the world that we are conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are central objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the Afro Americans. Moreover, we will continue building bridges of understanding and unity.

Thus, we become conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our people for their total advancement in all spheres of human endeavor. Malcolm X’s lesson on clean up logically follows our educational process and is call for becoming morally mature. That is as indicated earlier becoming morally grounded, and ethically focused in our thought, and social practice. In current times and evolving from specifically out of the Afro American experience; this moral grounding start first with our embracing the most paramount set of Afrocentric values known in contemporary times, the Nguzo Saba; The Seven Principles of Black Community Development. Their author, Dr. Karenga posits them as “the moral minimum set of principles Black people need in order to rescue and reconstruct our daily life.” Thus, these seven principles, which can, and are supported and reinforced by our folks various paths of spiritual, grounding, are crucial in our reclaiming and maintaining our self-respect.

Finally, stand up is a call for once we become mentally mature, and morally mature, (waking up and cleaning up),this of necessity requires our commitment to being proactive in our defining, and defending our aspirations, interest, and achievement in every area conceivable of human thought and practice, in other words Standing Up! On the idea of our standing up, Minister Malcolm states, “Since self preservation is the first law of nature, we assert the Afro American’s right to self defense.” Self-defense in an Afrocentric cultural context is social, political, and economic. As Malcolm posits “”Basically, there are two kinds of power that count in America: economic power and political power, with social power being derived from those two. In order for the Afro-Americans to control their destiny, they must be able to control and affect the decisions, which control their destiny: economic and political power. This can only be done through organization.” Thus, the organization emphasis of Malcolm X here is interpreted as our rebuilding and maintaining a movement of liberation struggle. Some say the movement is dead, I argue differently.

In contrast, there are many who have continued to struggle in various ways. Additionally, there are newcomers picking up the baton of work, study, and struggle for a better level of human life. So in praise to the those seasoned soldiers fighting the good fight and the new troops of triumph in our struggle I say Pamoja Tutashindana (Swahili for together we will win); for as Min Malcolm so eloquently teaches, Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, And We declare our right on this earth...to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary!”

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida
African Ministries. For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail