The gift and curse of being woke

My definition of “woke” is: a person who is aware and conscious of the systems of oppression that operate in the world.

The type of oppression I care most about is that of African people all over the globe.

The road to “wokeness” is tumultuous, and although it is a long and difficult journey, it is necessary. It requires work, lots of reading and questioning.

My personal journey started after reading “The African Origin of Civilization” by Cheikh Anta Diop.

It wasn't an easy read. I was angry at all of the lies and misinformation I had to ingurgitate at school. I was angry because that mis-education led me to hate my being African and Africa, so I decided that I would re-educate myself.

I read, researched, took part in conferences, watched documentaries, asked my parents and an unknown sense of African pride started taking life. I was being reborn. And it felt good. It felt right.

I am not an expert and it may be difficult for me to convey my ideas but I know Africa and I know what is happening there. I know her past, what she went through during slavery and colonialism and how the yoke of neo-colonialism, neo-imperialism and capitalism is still strangling us.

The weight of so much knowledge, however, can be sometimes too heavy for my little shoulders to carry. It is frustrating to see something others cannot see, to know so much whilst being unable to do anything. It's difficult to find like-minded people who share my vision and passion and it's very simple to be misunderstood and be dismissed as crazy, a dreamer or someone who simply hates white people, when in reality the only thing that is driving me is the love for African people.

I have to do all I can to wake other Africans up because as Malcolm X said: “The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake the people up first, then you'll get action.”

Knowledge alone is useless if we can't do something practical with it.

One day I was checking my Facebook feed and I read Ntokozo Sbo Qwabe's statuses.

It was as if they were speaking to me because of the accuracy and also because I was going through depression at the time.

He wrote:

“The burden of consciousness can sometimes be too much. Too depressing. Collapsing.

In fact, sometimes I think about what I'd give to be able to take off the conscious spectacles with which I see the world. How normal, consistent & fun life would be without seeing all the overwhelming injustices.
The biggest burden, however, is coping with the reality of losing friends, family, baes, potential baes & all other persons your unconscious self could have lived happily ever after with.

You sometimes think: but surely this is unfair? Why can't I be conscious AND keep my people? Why can't life continue being 'normal'?

Well, it probably never can. The prize of consciousness is often the disposal of the world as you knew it. Certain relationships often just have to be relegated to the dustbins of history.

But then I remember that being on the other side wasn't vibing either. How not knowing wasn't better. How consciousness saved me from a state of social death. And so I learn to be fine.
Conscious, depressed but fine.
Conscious, suffocated but fine.
Conscious but fine.

Diary of a conscious black body.”

Once you're woke you can't reverse the awakening process. And that's fine. That's what we have to do. We must wake up.