Five years ago tonight. Seems so long ago…

Requiescat in pace.

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Fulani jihads


Fulani jihad states in West Africa, circa 1830.

The Fulani jihads (fl. 1725-1862) were holy wars fought mainly by the Fulbe or Fulani people of West Africa to spread Islam. It is why Guinea, Senegal, Mali and northern Nigeria are now heavily Muslim. The jihads did not bring Islam to West Africa, but their conquests and schools did spread it to the masses.

They ruled five main caliphates (I use the Wikipedia spellings in this post):

  • Futa Toro (Senegal)
  • Futa Jallon (Guinea)
  • Kaarta (Senegal, Mali)
  • Masina (Mali)
  • Sokoto (Nigeria)

They reached their height in the early 1800s, later to be taken over by the French and British during the Scramble for Africa (1876-1914).


The Fulani belt in West Africa.


The Fulani were cattle herders from Senegal. By 1600 they had spread across the grasslands south of the Sahara all the way to northern Nigeria and Lake Chad. Not in a genocidal wave, like Anglo Americans, but as immigrants into other lands. That meant they were often outnumbered and taken advantage of, like being made slaves – a fact that would later help drive the jihads.

Islam: Some of the Fulani took to trade and learned of Islam. Islam had been in West Africa for hundreds of years, but by 1700 it was mainly the religion of merchants. Their Islam was highly syncretic or “impure”, keeping many older African beliefs and customs.


Seku Amadou

Rise of scholars: To help support and spread Islam, the Fulani founded schools in Futa Jallon. That led to the rise of scholars and missionaries and the founding of yet other schools across the Fulani belt.

The most famous scholars were holy men with huge followings who became the leaders of jihads:

  • Usman dan Fodio (1754-1817) – took over the Hausa city-states, founding Sokoto
  • Seku Amadou (c. 1776-1845) – founder of Masina, taking over the old imperial cities of Jenne and Timbuktu of the long-gone Songhay Empire (1468-1591).
  • al-Hajj Umar Tall (c. 1797–1864) – of Futa Toro, took over Kaarta and Masina.

They taught:

  • jihad – Muslims had a duty to overthrow rulers who were not Muslim or who practised an impure form of Islam.
  • sharia – society should be remade according to Muslim law.

They in turn drew on the ideas of two earlier scholars:

  • Muhammad al-Maghili (c. 1440 – c. 1505) – a Berber who helped to convert Fulani rulers. He divided the world into the house of Islam and the house of war. He shaped their idea of jihad (see above).
  • Mukhtar al-Kunti (1729-1811) – of Timbuktu. His writings became the last word on religion – bringing war on Timbuktu twice!

Appeal: the Fulani jihad message had great appeal for:

  • Muslims – who saw it as the will of Allah.
  • Fulanis – who suffered under the French, Bambara, Hausa and Tuaregs.
  • slaves – who were promised freedom.

Even non-Muslims and non-Fulanis, sick of unjust rulers or heavy taxes, were drawn to the cause.


jihad re-enactment.

Horses: What made all of this more than pie in the sky is that the Fulani had the best cavalry in West Africa.


Guns: What brought all of this to a crashing end is that the French and British could make more and better guns than the Fulani.

– Abagond, 2017.

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Dorothy Counts


Dorothy Counts (1942- ) was the first Black person to go Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina in the southern US. That was on September 4th 1957. Pictures of her first day made the news worldwide, calling James Baldwin back from Paris:

“I could simply no longer sit around Paris discussing the Algerian and the black American problem. Everybody was paying their dues, and it was time I went home and paid mine.”

On that morning she put on a blue dress her grandmother had made her, prayed and remembered her father’s words:

“Hold your head up high. You’re not less than anyone else.”

Streets near the school were blocked. She had to walk the last two blocks. Whites were spitting on her, calling her names, throwing sticks and stones and milk cartons, telling her to go back to Africa. She was not afraid. She did not get angry. She just kept walking. By the time she got to the front door, spit was dripping off the bottom of her dress.




Once in school it got no better. People pushed her, jeered at her, threw things at her when she was not looking. Teachers acted like she was not there, even when she raised her hand, even when boys were spitting in her food.




Two White girls befriended her – but then unfriended her when they started getting harassed too.


On the fourth day someone hit her in the back of the head with a sharp object. Now they were trying to actually hurt her. When she got to the car to go home she saw the back window smashed – with her brother inside. Now she was afraid.


“I did not feel I was being protected in any way within the confines of the school because there were adults there and they did nothing.”

Neither the school nor the police were willing to protect her. Unlike Ruby Bridges there were no US Marshals. Unlike the Little Rock Nine, there was no army protection. So her father sent her north to live with relatives to go to an already integrated high school near Philadelphia.

The experience made her not bitter but better, determined “to make sure that bad things don’t happen to other children.” She went to university and became a preschool teacher and social worker. She still lives near the high school.

Two Whites asked for her forgiveness in later years. She told them she had forgiven them long ago.

Desegregation: The county schools would go on to fight school desegregation all the way to the Supreme Court, which forced it on them in 1971 in Swann v Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. But then in 1999 the courts overturned it.

By 2010 Counts was saying of her granddaughter’s high school:

“At the beginning of the school year, they would go for weeks without books, for weeks without enough chairs for everyone in the classroom. When I heard about that I thought, Lord, this brings back memories.”

Now in her 70s, she is still fighting for desegregation, frustrated but determined.


Dorothy Counts-Scoggins at 70.

– Abagond, 2017

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Statements made by US President Trump during his first month in office that PolitiFact has rated as False, Mostly False or Pants on Fire:

January 20th 2017:

“We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth … of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”


Mostly False: Not by the typical measures.

January 22nd:

“The media … sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.”


False: Unprecedented tough words.

January 23rd:

“In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent.”


Mostly False: Most recent data shows a decline.

January 26th:

“Here in Philadelphia murder has been steady — I mean — just terribly increasing.”


False: They were the third-lowest last year since 1990.

January 26th:

Says ICE and border patrol officers “unanimously endorsed me for president.”


Mostly False: Support from unions, but not from all members.

January 29th:

“If you were a Muslim, you could come in, if you were a Christian, it was impossible.”


False: Christian refugees have entered US.

January 30th:

“My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”


Mostly False: Obama was more specific and narrower.

February 6th:

Says “109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers” were affected by the immigration executive order.


False: More like 60,000+.

February 6th:

Terrorism and terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have “gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported.”


Pants on Fire: An abundance of coverage.

February 7th:

“Smart! ‘Kuwait issues its own Trump-esque visa ban for five Muslim-majority countries.’ “


Mostly False: Kuwait move was old news, at best.

February 7th:

“I have already saved more than $700 million when I got involved in the negotiation on the F-35.”


Mostly False: Savings already in the works.

February 8th:

“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.”


False: This is wrong.

February 9th:

Says CNN’s Chris Cuomo “never asked” Sen. Richard Blumenthal about Blumenthal’s misstatements on his own service in Vietnam.


False: Cuomo did ask about it.

February 12th:

“While on FAKE NEWS @CNN, Bernie Sanders was cut off for using the term fake news to describe the network. They said technical difficulties!”


False: Sanders was mocking Trump.

February 16th:

The media has “a lower approval rate than Congress.”


Mostly False: Congress wins a race to the bottom.

February 19th:

“Look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”


False: Bowling Green massacre, part two.

And this does not even count the stuff said on his behalf by his spokesman Sean “Alternative Facts” Spicer or adviser Kellyanne “Bowling Green Massacre” Conway.

Nor does it count Trump’s Mind-Bender of the Month (February 16th):

“The leaks are absolutely real, but the news is fake.”

Republican Bubble: According to an Emerson College poll that came out on Feburary 7th, 91% of registered Republican voters think the Trump Administration is truthful, while 88% think the press is untruthful.

Tom the Dancing Bug 1326 trump mysteries - leak is real news is fake

Tom the Dancing Bug 1326 trump mysteries – leak is real news is fake. Click to enlarge.

– Abagond, 2017.

Source: PolitiFactEmerson College, YouTube.

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impeach-nixon-buttonThere are six main ways to remove a US president, short of overthrowing the government, here listed from the most frequently successful to the least:

Method #1: Term limit

  • Time required: up to ten years
  • Examples: Obama (2017), Bush (2009), Clinton (2001), Reagan (1989), Eisenhower (1961), etc.
  • Remarks: Thanks to George Washington, the first president, the custom was to step down after eight years in office. Only Franklin Roosevelt was president longer (12 years). In 1951 the 22nd Amendment to the constitution set the limit to two and a half four-year terms (10 years).

Method #2: Voting the president out of office.

  • Time required: up to four years
  • Examples: Bush (1992), Carter (1980), Ford (1976), Hoover (1932), etc.
  • Remarks: The chief means provided by the constitution, though it is way easier to win an election as president than as a challenger (see term limits). The election for president takes place every four years, the next one in 2020. There are no recall elections for president.

Method #3: Assassination

  • Time required: a few seconds (but would take days to months to prepare)
  • Examples: Kennedy (1963), McKinley (1901), Garfield (1881), Lincoln (1865).
  • Remarks: To date this has been done by shooting the president. The US is awash in guns, but the president is heavily guarded, increasingly so with each attempt and more so now because of the fear of terrorism since 9/11.

Method #4: Getting the president to step down

  • Time required: months to years (because of some sort of scandal)
  • Examples: Nixon (1974), Johnson (1968), etc.
  • Remarks: In 1968 Johnson decided not to run for a re-election, the Vietnam War having made him deeply disliked. In 1974 Nixon resigned after leaders of his own party in Congress persuaded him to step down – though by then there was clear proof that he was behind the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, a crime, enough to carry out:

Method #5: Impeachment and trial

  • Time required: months
  • Examples: Bill Clinton (1998) and Andrew Johnson (1868) were both impeached but neither were convicted
  • Remarks: Article II, Section 4 of the constitution:

    “The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    It takes a majority of the House of Representatives to impeach and then two-thirds of the Senate to convict after trying him for the crime. Generally speaking, about a third of the president’s own party would have to agree to convict.

Method #6: 25th Amendment

  • Time required:  days, maybe weeks
  • Examples: none so far
  • Remarks: If the president goes mad or is otherwise unable to carry out his duties, he can be removed by the vice president and a majority vote of the cabinet (the president’s top advisers) and a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. Downside: Would only work in clear-cut cases, particularly since the cabinet is generally packed with loyalists.

For those keeping track at home:

  • House: 55% Republican
  • Senate: 52% Republican

The 2018 mid-term elections are unlikely to change it that much: the House is deeply gerrymandered to favour Republicans while in the Senate 25 Democrats and Independents will be up for re-election compared to only 9 Republicans.


Source: LA Times

– Abagond, 2017.

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This went to #1 on the US pop chart in 1971, to #2 on the R&B chart and #4 in Britain. An extremely well known song in the US, probably better known than either Isaac Hayes or the film it came from, “Shaft” (1971). Hayes wanted the song to get across that John Shaft was “a relentless character always on the prowl, always on the move.”

Instruments are by the Bar-Kays, who used to back Otis Redding. Backing vocals by Dawn (Stax session singers Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson), who backed Tony Orlando.

The video is from the beginning of the film. It shows Times Square in New York in January 1971. At the 4:00 minute mark you can see Naomi Sims on the cover of Essence, a magazine which director Gordon Parks had a hand in founding.

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Who’s the black private dick
That’s a sex machine to all the chicks?
You’re damn right
Who is the man
That would risk his neck for his brother man?
Can ya dig it?
Who’s the cat that won’t cop out
When there’s danger all about
Right on
You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother
(Shut your mouth)
But I’m talkin’ about Shaft
(Then we can dig it)
He’s a complicated man
But no one understands him but his woman
(John Shaft)

Source: Songfacts.

Do Brown lives matter?


Do Brown lives matter? By Brown, with a capital B, I mean non-Black POC (people of colour) in the US, anyone who is neither Black nor White: Latinos, Asians, Natives, Muslims, Others, etc. And, the way things are going, maybe Jews too.

Note: Strictly speaking Latinos and Muslims are not races, but in the US in the 2010s they are close enough, certainly close enough for the purposes of this post. “Muslim”, by the way, includes Sikhs, and any Arab person, since most Islamophobes do not know the difference.

It should go without saying that Brown lives matter. But over and over again, whenever I do a post on Brown lives, some commenter, sooner or later, is going to inform me that said Brown people do not like Black people, meaning that I should not waste my breath on them.

But Brown lives do matter:

  1. Because all lives matter. While it is understandable that Blacks will be mainly concerned about Blacks, Asians about Asians, Whites about Whites, and so on, that concern should never be so narrow and limited as to shut out concern for others. Pro-Black should not mean anti-Brown. After all, if it is wrong to be against Black people because of their skin colour, it is wrong to be against anyone else because of their skin colour.
  2. Because racism against any strengthens racism against all. It is all part of the same mindset – White supremacy. Although racism takes different forms against different races, racism tends to weaken or strengthen as a whole. At least in the US. The Chinese Exclusion Act, for example, was passed at the same time as Jim Crow laws. Likewise, the Immigration Act of 1965 was passed during the Civil Rights Era.

Part of why I do posts on Brown people is because White people are not as good at hiding their anti-Brown racism, particularly their Islamophobia. It gives me a better understanding of their much better-hidden anti-Black racism.

Divide and rule: In the US people of colour either hang together or they will hang separately. So long as Whites are able to divide people of colour against each other, Whites will rule, no matter how small their numbers.

I used to think 2042 would be some kind of turning point, the year Whites become less than half the US. I no longer believe that. The rise of Donald Trump makes clear that a good number of Brown people (and some Blacks too) will vote for an open racist.

Counter-frames: I need to do a proper post on Brown Trump voters (and Black ones too), but it seems that many Asians and Latinos are too new to the country to fully understand what is going on. They have weak counter-frames, as sociologist Joe Feagin would say. They trust Whites too much and believe in the fool’s gold of becoming honorary Whites. They have not lived through enough US history to learn the hard way.

– Abagond, 2017.

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