Tuesday, November 21, 2017

History & Videos Of The Limbo: Trinidad & Tobago's National Dance

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents information about the limbo dance and showcases two videos of limbo songs and five videos of limbo performances.

This post was previously published in 2012 with the title "Focus On Julia Edwards and The Traditional Limbo Dance"

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and entertainment purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and special thanks to the memory of Trinidadian Julia Edwards, who was an influential pioneer of the limbo dance. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

"Limbo is a traditional popular dance contest that was known to be originated on the island of Trinidad.
The dance originated as an event that took place at wakes in Trinidad and Tobago, and was popularized by dance pioneer Julia Edwards[1] (known as the First Lady of Limbo) and her company which appeared in several films, in particular Fire Down Below (1957), and toured widely in the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Africa in the 1960s and later. The film Julia and Joyce (2010) by Trinidadian/American dance researcher/choreographer Sonja Dumas features the evolution of the Limbo and the contribution of Julia Edwards to the explosion of its popularity.

A horizontal bar, known as the limbo bar, is placed atop two vertical bars. All contestants must attempt to go under the bar with their backs facing toward the floor. Whoever knocks the bar off or falls is eliminated from the contest. When passing under the bar, players must bend backwards. No part of their bodies is allowed to touch the bar and no part other than their feet may touch the ground. After everyone has completed their turns, the bar is lowered slightly and the contest continues. The contest ends when only one person can successfully "limbo" under the bar without penalty.

Traditionally, the limbo dance began at the lowest possible bar height and the bar was gradually raised, signifying an emergence from death into life. In its adaptation to the world of entertainment, troupes began reversing the traditional order. Julia Edwards added a number of features that are now considered standard, such as human 'bars' formed by the limbs of other dancers and the use of fire in the performance of limbo. Limbo dancers generally move and respond to a number of specific Afro-Caribbean drum patterns. As Limbo gained popularity as a tourist activity and a form of entertainment, pop music began using Caribbean rhythms to respond to the emerging craze in the United States. One major example is the song "Limbo Rock" (recorded by Chubby Checker), which became a number 2 charted hit on the Billboard Top 100, from which emerged the popular quote/chant that is associated with limbo which Checker also helped to popularize: "How low can you go?" Limbo was brought into the mainstream by Trinidadian Calypsonian Brigo (Samuel Abrahams) with his popular Soca song "Limbo Break"

Limbo is unofficially considered the national dance of Trinidad and Tobago,[citation needed] which refers to itself as the land of limbo, steelpan (steel drums), and calypso


As Limbo spread out of Trinidad and Tobago to the wider world and the big screen, in several other Caribbean islands, such as Barbados and Jamaica, limbo became a major part of the tourism package. Indeed, in Jamaica, the trendy limbo music of the 1950s was often based on a clave rhythm. It is also widely heard in Jamaican mento recorded in the 1950s, in songs such as "Limbo" by Lord Tickler and Calypsonians or "Limbo" by Denzil Laing & the Wrigglers, as well as many other songs not directly related to the limbo dance theme. Limbo is still practiced and presented by numerous dance troupes in the context of the Prime Minister's Best Village Competition and during the Carnival season in Trinidad and Tobago.

In touristic presentations, professional limbo dancers often invite spectators to participate after their presentation. The massive popularity of limbo emerges directly from this audience participation. In recent years, limbo dancing has been conducted as a social "icebreaker" game for tourists at Caribbean and other tropical resorts. The winning dancer often receives a prize.

The name comes directly from the Trinidad dialect of English; Merriam–Webster lists the etymology as "English of Trinidad & Barbados; akin to Jamaican English limba to bend, from English limber".[2]

The word 'limbo' dates back to the 1950s. It is conjectured that limbo is a West Indian English derivative of 'limber'. Limber is a sixteenth-century word used in the dialectical sense to refer to a cart shaft, alluding to its to and fro motion:
"Consistent with certain African beliefs, the dance reflects the whole cycle of life....The dancers move under a pole that is gradually lowered from chest level, and they emerge on the other side, as their heads clear the pole, as in the triumph of life over death".[3]

This dance is also used as a funeral dance and may be related to the African legba or legua dance.[4]
The limbo dates back to the mid to late 1800s in Trinidad. It achieved mainstream popularity during the 1950s. An alternative explanation of the name is suggested; that the version of the limbo performed in nineteenth century Trinidad was meant to symbolize slaves entering the galleys of a slave ship, or a spirit crossing over into the afterworld, or "limbo", but no literary reference is known to substantiate this postulated linkage."...

"Julia [Edwards] describes the Limbo as Trinidad and Tobago's only true national dance, originally performed at wakes. the limbo was done for nine nights, where some mourners said prayers and others danced the limbo. On the first night, the bar would be at its lowest and would be gradually raised each successive night. This symbolized the elevation of the soul of the dearly departed from its lowest levels on earth to the highest in heaven. When the bar was at it's highest, it was declared victory night, signifying life's triumph over death. On that victory night, the bongo was danced.

As a purely artistic endeavour, this did not sustain rapt attention because the climax came at the beginning, not at the end. Julia turned the dance on its head by using sticks to prop up the bar and the beginning at the highest point, while alluringly working her way down. Of course the costuming had to be more attractive than the mournful black and white, and consequently Helen Humphrey was brought in to do costuming that was more vibrant, and which is today being associated with the dance all over the world. Holly Betaudier, who was the first person to encourage her to dance professionally, came into the troupe to bring his tremendous organizational skills, and they introduced the signature song "I want somebody to Limbo like me". Julia further experimented, first introducing the flaming limbo and later the human limbo.

These Julia took to every corner of the globe, from Dakar to London, Japan to India and from North and South America to Europe. Julia and her troupe not only gave command performances to appreciative audiences, but in its wake brought HONOR and glory to the country's Dance by stamping Trinidad and Tobago as the "Land of Limbo"...
Unfortunately, I haven't found any film clips of Julia Edwards.

Example #1: Frankie Anderson - The Limbo Song

DrQuickbeam, Published on Oct 27, 2010
This song is also known as "Limbo Like Me".

Example #2: Chubby Checker - Limbo Rock (6 February 1963)

MattTheSaiyan, Published on Dec 5, 2016

Chubby Checker lip-syncs "Limbo Rock" and is awkwardly interviewed, in this clip from the Australian version of "Bandstand". A kinescope recording.

These videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dated video given first.

Example #1: Princess Shemika Limbo Interview

Tropicalxplosion, Published on Nov 29, 2009
This interview features Shemika Charles, born in Trinidad and raised in Buffalo, New York. Note that the narrator for this video mentioned that the limbo was traditionally only danced by men. Female physiques create more challenges to getting under very low limbo bars.

Example #2: Exclusive & Exciting Live Limbo Dancing Video

Published on Jun 11, 2011

The art of Limbo dancing is a skill that requires fitness and a flair for excitement. MNI Alive captured some exclusive video of the real art of Limbo dancing performed by the Tassa Drummers & Dancers, at the 2011 Carassauga Festival of Cultures.

Example #3: Limbo Dance

Tashema Wallace, Published on Nov 12, 2011

ujamma dancers performing for Sesame Flyers


Karel Douglas, Published on Mar 18, 2015

BEST Village Trinidad Limbo

Example #5: North West Laventille Folk Performers

103FMTrinidad, Published on Jul 23, 2015

The North West Laventille Folk Performers rocked the NCC's VIP Lounge with their limbo performance last night at the launch of Carnival 2016.

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Visitors comments are welcome.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bob Marley - "Zimbabwe" (video, lyrics, comment)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a video of Bob Marley singing "Zimbabwe"

The content of this post is presented for cultural, linguistic, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Robert Nesta Marley for his musical legacy and thanks to the publisher of this video.

One love to the citizens of Zimbabwe during this historical time.
Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Ousts Mugabe, Party Sources Say
The 93-year-old leader has ruled the country for the last 37 years.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Bob Marley - Zimbabwe

b1bek, Published on Oct 24, 2010

Bob Marley - Zimbabwe. 1979-21-07 Amandla Festival - Harvard Stadium, Boston, MA


(Robert Nesta Marley)

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,
And in this judgement there is no partiality.
So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little struggle,
'Cause that's the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Brother, you're right, you're right,
You're right, you're right, you're so right!
We gon' fight (we gon' fight), we'll have to fight (we gon' fight),
We gonna fight (we gon' fight), fight for our rights!

Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe);
Set it up in (Zimbabwe);
Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah.

No more internal power struggle;
We come together to overcome the little trouble.
Soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionary,
'Cause I don't want my people to be contrary.

And, brother, you're right, you're right,
You're right, you're right, you're so right!
We'll 'ave to fight (we gon' fight), we gonna fight (we gon' fight)
We'll 'ave to fight (we gon' fight), fighting for our rights!

Mash it up in-a (Zimbabwe);
Natty trash it in-a (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
I'n'I a-liberate Zimbabwe.

(Brother, you're right,) you're right,
You're right, you're right, you're so right!
We gon' fight (we gon' fight), we'll 'ave to fight (we gon' fight),
We gonna fight (we gon' fight), fighting for our rights!

To divide and rule could only tear us apart;
In everyman chest, mm - there beats a heart.
So soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionaries;
And I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.

Brother, you're right, you're right,
You're right, you're right, you're so right!
We'll 'ave to fight (we gon' fight), we gonna fight (we gon' fight),
We'll 'ave to fight (we gon' fight), fighting for our rights!

Natty trash it in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Mash it up in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Set it up in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Natty dub it in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe).

Set it up in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Every man got a right to decide his own destiny.

Here's information about the word "natty" that I included in a discussion thread about Bob Marley's song "Natty Dread" that I started in 2007 on Mudcat's folk music forum

"Subject: RE: Natty Dread
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 11:07 PM has this definition for 'natty':

"nat·ty (năt'ē)
adj., -ti·er, -ti·est.
Neat, trim, and smart; dapper.

[Perhaps variant of obsolete netty, from net, elegant, from Middle English, from Old French. See neat1.]

nattily nat'ti·ly adv.
nattiness nat'ti·ness n.

The adjective natty has one meaning:

Meaning #1: marked by smartness in dress and manners
Synonyms: dapper, dashing, jaunty, raffish, rakish, smart, spiffy, snappy, spruce"

-snip- provides this information about the origin and meaning of the word 'natty':

"Most etymologists seem to favor the explanation that the word is a variation of the obsolete netty "neat, elegant" from Middle English net "clean, tidy" (14th century). This would make it a relative of modern English neat, which also comes from Middle English net. Net also meant "neat, clean" in Old French, hence modern French nettoyer, "to clean". The source of the Old French word is Latin nitidus "elegant, shiny", from the verb nitere "shine".

Interestingly, neat dates from the 16th century, while natty first appears in the 18th century in Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: "Natty lads, young thieves or pickpockets." The Indo-European root here is *nei- "to shine", which may have given English the word lilac, from Persian nil "indigo"."
Based on those definitions, my sense is that Bob Marley was encouraging the Black revolutionaries in Zimbabwe to take over that nation in a neat, efficient, and dashing way.

Whether that happened then, it appears to be happening now.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

Internet Quotes About The European Children's Game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man"/"Beware The Black Man"

Edited by Azizi Powell

Revised November 19, 2017 8:57 AM ET

This pancocojams post presents a compilation of internet quotes that I've found about the European children's game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man". In some quotes this game is called "Beware The Black Man".

In the online quotes that I've found (as of November 18, 2017) the European countries where children have played or still play the game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man"/"Beware The Black Man" are Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Finland, and, Austria.

The content of this post is presented to raise awareness of this game for socio-cultural purposes and NOT for recreational purposes as I fully admit that I would prefer that children not play this game.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Pancocojams Editor's Note:
Except for the first two examples, these quotes are given in no particular order. A few editorial comments are added after some of these quotes and numbers have been assigned to these quotes for referencing purposes. With the exception of the first two examples, I retrieved all of these examples from the internet on November 18, 2017.

Example #1:
From Afro.Germany – Being black and German | DW Documentary
DW Documentary, Published on Mar 29, 2017

Black and German: news anchor Jana Pareigis has spent her entire life being asked about her skin color. What is it like to be black in Germany? What needs to change?

“Where are you from?” Afro-German journalist Jana Pareigis has heard that question since her early childhood. And she’s not alone. Black people have been living in Germany for around 400 years, and today there are an estimated one million Germans with dark skin. But they still get asked the latently racist question, "Where are you from?”

Jana Pareigis is familiar with the undercurrents of racism in the western world. When she was a child, the Afro-German TV presenter also thought her skin color was a disadvantage. "When I was young, I wanted to be white,” she says.

Parageis takes us on a trip through Germany from its colonial past up to the present day, visiting other dark-skinned Germans to talk about their experiences. They include rapper Samy Deluxe, pro footballer Gerald Asamoah and Theodor Michael, who lived as a black man in the Third Reich. They talk about what it’s like to be black in Germany.”
Quote at 2:01-2:26 of this video:
Jana Pareigis: "I mean I always had a lot of friends. I remember in kindergarten that um we played these funny games like “Who’s Afraid Of The Black Man” and “Ten Little Negroes” it’s called in German. So um I remember sometimes they run after me and said “Jana Africana” it’s something like “Jana is an African. Jana is an African". And the problem is that “African” meant something bad.
This quote from this documentary reminded me of the first time that I had read about the game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man" (in 2008; Read Example #2 below). This documentary's quote about that game motivated me to search for additional online mentions of this game and then publish this pancocojams compilation.

Click for Part I of a two part pancocojams series that presents comments from the discussion thread for the above mentioned YouTube video and discussion threads for two other YouTube videos about growing up Black in Germany. The link for Part II of that series is given in that post. Part II presents selected comments from the same three YouTube videos' discussion threads about being a Black adult in Germany or in certain other European nations.

Example #2
[given "as is" with spelling errors]

a) Subject: Folklore: The Devil The Color Black
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 09:57 AM

The purpose of this thread is to explore the old belief that the devil and demons were the color black.

I'm interested in any recollections people may have of any supersitions, proverbs, folk songs, or children's rhymes, and children's games that refer to the devil, demons, witches being black (with no disrespect intended for those who are Wicca).

I'm also interested in any references to religious songs,folk songs, proverbs, or children's rhymes of the color white being good (pure) and black being evil (impure).

The impetus for my [current] research of this subject is a 2008 query that I found last night on an anti-rascist parents blog. The query was from an American mother living in Germany who requested information about a German children's game similar to tag called "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man". I'll post that query in my next post to this thread, and explain how that query led me to this subject.

I'll also provide a number of hyperlinks and excerpts from online sources that I have found on this subject. And of course, I hope that others will also do so.

By the way, I used Mudcat's search engine to try to identify any previous discussion thread on this subject, but didn't find any. If there is such a thread (or threads, or posts withing others threads) I would appreciate someone identifying them.

Thanks in advance for your participation in this thread.

b) Subject: RE: Folklore: The Devil The Color Black
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 10:07 AM

Here is the query that I referred to in my first post to this thread:

"# 15. Sue armstrong wrote:

I live in Germany and was horrified to hear that my son was playing an (apparently common game ) in his gym class called "who's afraid of the black man?"

I told the teacher that I personally found the words offensive and that coloured children in the class might also feel really bizarre singing these words.

Her reply was that she had explained to all the class beforehand that the song was about a chimneysweep and none of the kids had a problem with it and were completely happy.

She basically told me I was overreacting and making an racial issue where there wasnt one.

I am lost for words. I have a meeting with her next week to discuss further.

I am not quite sure though how to get through to her as she obviously does not see a problem there.

I talked to my son who is asian about it and he understood what she had said and was okay with playing the game, but definitely understood how some might find it offensive.

What would you advise me to say to the teacher?"

Posted 18 Sep 2008 at 5:55 am*
Anti-Racist Parent "Ask ARP: Is it wrong to sing this children's rhyme?"


There are no responses to this query to date (though I probably will attempt a response summarizing my theory that "the black man" in this children's game originally was the devil, and then likely morphed to refer to a dark skinned person, perhaps a "gypsy"."

c) Subject: RE: Folklore: The Devil The Color Black
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM

Here is what I posted last night in the Wikipedia talk section about the children's game "Tag" (with several additions of omitted words):

"As an African American I have concerns about the game "Who's afraid of the Black man" even if it really was/is about chimney sweeps.

I found another online mention of that game here: about attitudes among some White Americans in the South about Obama winning the Presidential election Die Welt, Germany "White Southerners Still Don't Trust Obama"By Katja Ridderbusch' Translated By Ron Argentati' 19 January 2009

See this note at the end of the article (made because the reporter said that the interviewer still "was afraid of black men": ..."the German children's game "Wer hat Angst vor dem schwarzen Mann," or, "Who's afraid of the black man" is similar to the American kid's game "tag" where the object is to avoid being touched by the "monster." Misunderstood political correctness has also reached this facet of German culture and the adjective "black" is now increasingly being replaced by "wild," or "evil" although the original game had nothing to do with race."

I then found a mention of "Whose afraid of black man" in this google book:

"Death bringing the plague (or should one say, the plague bringing death?) survives in the game of German and Swiss children "Who's afraid of the black man?" (Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann?) pg 14 The gender of death: a cultural history in art and literature - by Karl Siegfried Guthke" ? 1999's+game+%22who's+afraid+of+the+black+man%22&sou

A reader's review of this book also mentions that game by the "Who's afraid of the black man" name:

Ancient and Modern Britons: Volume One (Ancient & Modern Britons) by David Mac Ritchie (Paperback - March 15, 1991)


Finally, I found a reference to the game "Who's afraid of the black man" this google book: Twentieth-century theatre: a sourcebook By Richard Drain:'s+game+%22who's+afraid+of+the+black+man%22&s

In the sentence I refer to that game is described as a "ridiculous party game" [for adults] p.186 To say: "should I go to the theatre today?"isn't the same thing as: "I've got to go to the theatre today. With an obligation to go to the theatre like that, the citizen concerned gives up of his free wil all those other stupid evening pastimes, like skittles, cards, pub politics, romantic rendezvous, not forgetting ridiculous party games that just waste your time like "Who's afraid of the black man?", "Tailor lend me your wife", and so on."

I'd love to know more. The teacher's comments about the "Black man" [originally?] prreferring to chimney sweeps" is probably not correct, since chimney sweeps (who, because of their profession) were blackened by soot were thought to be good luck, particularly seeing them at the first of the new year, but maybe at other times.I've read that this is because in some European cultures chimney sweeps also carried baskets of shamrocks at certain times...Anyway, that superstition about it being good luck to see a chimney sweep at the first of the new year morphed into the belief that a dark haired man entering your door the first of the new year meant good luck etc. My point is that the chimney sweep origin doesn't wash with me (if you'll excuse that expression). I think the "black man" reference was probably a demon or a monster or the devil. But I have no sources for this.

Again, I hope that someone adds more information to this. And maybe one way of doing so is to mention the game and hopefully some German people or other people will add what they remember or know about it now-since it appears that it is still being played-but hopefully with a name change."
-This is the end of my quotes about that game on that Mudcat forum.-

*This page no longer exists as of at least 11/18/2017. Another archived "" page with a similar title “Is it wrong to sing this rhyme?" refers to the children's game “brown girl in the ring”

I recall that I attempted to write a response to this blog post as noted above, but I had difficulty using the response feature on that website. I'm not sure if my response to that blog post was ever published and I don't have a copy of that response.

In addition to the theories that I mentioned above about the possible meaning of "black man" in that game- theories that I wasn't sure were correct then and still am not sure are correct now- the gist of my response was probably that I hoped children wouldn't play the game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man". I hoped then and still hope now that instead of playing "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man", that game would be replaced by very similar tag games such as "What Time Is Is Mr. Wolf" because, whether or not "the black man" who is referenced in this game actually was or is meant to refer to a Black man, that game as it is titled and described could have negative psychological and sociological impact on children playing that game who are Black or dark skinned AND children who are White or other races.

** If a reader review of the 1884 book Ancient and Modern Britons: Volume One by David Mac Ritchie mentioned the children's game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man", I can't find it now. It's possible that I extrapolated from reading some of these reviews that a game in which a "black man" chases children who aren't black until his touch turns them black may be a memorialization of a time when members of a dark skinned race conquered lighter skinned people or White people. Some such history appears to be documented in the 1884 book Ancient And Modern Britons. Here's one brief reader review of that book:
"5.0 out of 5 starsThey will not teach this in your Rockefeller owned schools ...
ByWalt Lomaxon June 16, 2015
They will not teach this in your Rockefeller owned schools of North America. This is literature that scholars have for their private collection and know full well but further the reconstructed history of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Hegemony to enforce the Secret Treaty Verona, Doctrine of Discovery, Romanus Pontifex, Codes Noir etc etc. Bro David Macritchie is a Mason and was highly maligned and condemned by his peers for exposing that many Nobles from Western Asia (Western Europe) were Moors. The Danes, Dubh, Silures (Celts), Picts well all Moors and swarthy in complexion. Masonic Libraries have images of King George III with an Afro and he is clearly a Moor."
I've added two similar readers' review of this book in the comment section of this post because they may provide an explanation as to why "black man" was used as the name of the character who chases people in the children's game "Who's Afraid Of The Black Man Game"/"Beware The Black Man".

Example #3 [This post includes a video of children playing with words in Slovene ? or German ?]
January 24, 2013 · by sloveniaabcwellbeing · in Comenius, Games, School, Slovenia. ·
"Participants: 1 Black man and up to 30 children (or more)

Equipment: Outdoor (or larger gym); a playground with two lines

Instructions: We choose a hunter – the Black man. He stands on one of the lines and the other pupils stand on the other line which is on the other side of the playground. The Black man asks: >>Who’s afraid of the Black man?Nobody!And what if he comes?Then we’ll run away!<< and they run to the other side of the playground. The Black man runs to the other side, too, and while he runs, he tries to catch them. Whoever is caught becomes his assistant ad helps him to catch the others. All the players, including the Black man, can run only towards the other side of the playground. They’re not allowed to return to the start line. If they do, they have to join the Black man and become his assistants. The person, who is caught last, becomes the Black man in the next game."


Example #4: [selected comments]
From Common schoolyard games in Germany
a) Started by Showem, 1 May 2008
Posted 1 May 2008
"My sister-in-law is teaching German in Australia to primary school kids and wants to lighten up the curriculum by playing some games. She was wondering if there are any specific schoolyard games that kids in Germany would play? I couldn't think of anything in particular (having not really been around kids in school much) other than "Fang", the name for tag. Any other ideas or game names?"

b) blowwavedave
Isarvorstadt, Munich
Posted 5 May 2008
"Apparently there's one called "Beware of the black man"...seems to be pretty popular here, although don't quite think that's very PC..."

c) Freising
Posted 5 May 2008
..."Wer hat Angst vorm Bösen Wolf (instead of "Beware the black man")
The wolf stands on one side of a playing field, the sheep on the other
Wolf: "Wer hat Angst vorm Bösen Wolf."
Sheep: "Keiner!"
Wolf: "Und wenn er aber kommt?"
Sheep: "Dann laufen wir davon."

Now all the sheep try to reach the other side, and the wolf tries to catch as many as he can. Every caugth sheep turns into a wolf and has to help to catch the others in the next round."....

d) Guest meikeerik
Posted 9 May 2008
blowwavedave said:
Apparently there's one called "Beware of the black man"...seems to be pretty popular here, although don't quite think that's very PC...
I always thought "der schwarze Mann" was death incarnate or "the black death" or something like this. I'm pretty sure it's not referring to anyone's skin color, but maybe I'm just naive? :unsure:"

e) Freising
Posted 9 May 2008
"It´s the german bogeyman. He has been around for centuries in fairy books, ghost stories, etc. He might also be the devil. "Der schwarze Mann" is supposed to scare children, and he is probably more scary, when they dont exactly know what it is. I dont think that children would have had any reason to be especially scared of Africans...

On the other hand, I imagine that in the USA for example, a kid hearing the expression "the black man" might get a different idea about what it means."

Example #5
From Children Away from Home: A Sourcebook of Residential Treatment
Editors: James K. Whittaker, Albert E. Trieschman
Aldine, 1972; no page number given
“Lotspiech: At the risk of bringing up Jung’s name, do these games follow symbolic structure patterns, such as dream patterns follow?

Lorenz: “Some do. For instance, the game “Who’s Afraid of the Black Man”. It is one of those infectious games in which you put a group of children at one end of a long alley and one single child, who represents the black man, at the other end; then they must change places. The whole group has to get to the other side of the alley, and the black man has to touch one or more of them, who, in the process, are thus converted into black men. I have been told by the Austrian educator, Meister, that this game was a symbol of pox and that it was played as a sort of religious ceremony symbolizing infectious diseases.

Fremont-Smith: There get to be more and more black men?

Lonenz: Yes, until all of them are on the same side. The more children have become black, the less chance the rest of them have to escape being infected with blackness."

Example #6:
From Who’s afraid of the black man!?” “Kuka pelkää mustaa miestä?!”
"That was a game when I was a kid. I guess it still could be, but I don’t go into kindergartens, so I don’t know what kids play these days. There are two safe zones and the Black Man is in the middle, whenever the Black Man shouts “Who’s afraid of the Black Man?!” you must change the safe zone and the Black Man can make you another Black Man if they catch you. This repeats until everybody is a Black Man.

It was brought to my attention that some people think that the game is racist, and I get why they say that. (The Black Man is apparently originally Saint Jacob, who is traditionally thought to make the water get cold after the summer. Practically nobody knows this though.) But at the same time, I haven’t met anyone who actually thought the Black Man was an actual black person when playing the game either.

My Black Man was quite mannequin-like with a featureless face and black fumes coming out of it. Horrifying in retrospect, but it was fun enough as a kid. Others have described monsters from their nightmares too, others just thought of it as some regular person with black clothes like Batman and lastly a chimney sweeper is a common interpretation.

I guess a few reasons as to why people don’t quite so easily associate the rhyme actual Black people are:
Musta (lit. black) isn’t even that commonly used for black people. I’ve heard that tummaihoinen (lit. dark-skinned) is preferred, although I am not sure. Finnish racial politics are mostly skewed towards immigration, so actual racial monikers are rarer anyway.

Musta (lit. black) has the meaning of dirty and tarnished. If you say that “something is all black” in Finnish, you will mean it is covered in dust and soot and it needs to be cleaned. This goes a long way to explain the chimney sweeper interpretation of the rhyme.

Black people aren’t exactly plentiful in most places in Finland. If you live in the country side the ratio of all POC to ethnic Finns is probably without exaggeration as low as 1:200. In the cities the situation is different but I think 10% is probably too high an estimate. It is hard to say for sure, since the Finnish Census Bureau doesn’t keep racial statistics.

Obviously though, times change and people gather new ideas (and meet new people, more importantly for this case). What to me was a creepy but great game might ruin someone else’s day. So I went looking for what people have come up with:
“Who’s afraid of the octopus!?” (note: in Finnish octopus is mustekala or ink-fish)
“Who’s afraid of ice man?!”
“Who’s afraid of the forest troll?!”
“Who’s afraid of Groke?!”
The octopus one is the most common, and kind of clever since it ends up using the stem from the word black innocuously. Though, I must say I don’t feel like a flubbery octopus is even remotely as threatening as the faceless, oozing obsidian mannequin I conjured up in my mind, so that one doesn’t really satisfy me. An actual monster like the Iceman or a Troll is much, MUCH better.

Opinions, followers?

“Who’s afraid of Slenderman?!”
That blog post has no comments as of this date (November 18, 2017).
I added line spaces to enhance the readability of that blog post.

Example #7
Parents slam school over 'racist' game
Meritxell Mir
17 October 2011
"The parents of children who attend a primary school in Valais in southern Switzerland have complained over the use of a game entitled "Who’s afraid of the black man?", a hide-and-seek game they argue is “racist".

Hedi Putallaz, the parent of a pupil at a primary school in Monthey first became aware of the game, used by teachers in a gymnastics class, back in 2010.

He complained to the head of the school, who instructed the teachers to suggest that the game should instead be called "The wolf in sheep’s clothing", according to a report in the La Tribune de Genève daily.

But in a recent class, one of Putallaz’s son’s teachers again suggested playing the game entitled "Who’s afraid of the black man?"

According to the head of the school, the staff member concerned was an external coordinator, so he was not aware of the directive.

This was however the final straw for Putallaz and his wife, who is of afro-American origin. Now the couple want the educational authorities in Valais to issue an “official directive” to change the name of the game in all the schools in the canton, where it is still widely used.

“The Valais should not be considered the Mississipi of Switzerland,” say the parents in their request to the cantonal authorities because they consider the game to be a throwback to a racist past many blacks had to overcome.

“If the game was called ‘Are you afraid of the Jew’or ‘of the homosexual’, how would people react?” Putallaz said.

Jean-François Lovey, chief of the Department of Education of Valais, is yet to review, but he told La Tribune de Genève that he does not see the situation in the same way: “Honestly, it is a harmless game,” he said.

“The reasoning of these parents shows the extreme [political] correctness of our society,” Lovey added.

The Putallaz family is now awaiting a resolution from the educational authorities in Valais, but they have already warned that if their petition is not accepted, they will bring the issue in front of the European Court of Human Rights."
I don't know what the outcome was for this formal complaint.

Example #8
Jamiere Abney; Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Who's afraid of the black man...
"Apparently this is children's game here in Europe (Germany/Austria?). So here's the story...

Marvin, Jose, and I are driving on our way to a local school where we are teaching kids the fundamentals of flag football to build the relationship between the Seals football club and local youth. We were discussing drills or games we could have the kids do today during the hour or so we have with them. We talk about different versions of tag using the flags vs just taggin the individual or playing some type of capture the flag type game w/ the football being the "flag". Then Marvin explains to us a tag like game, similar to something I've played w/ a twist. It's call "Who's afraid of the black man". What makes it hilarious is that Marvin is a black guy from Austria and apparently growing up he often played this and would be the sole individual picked as the "tagger" since he was the fastest growing up. The basic rules of the game are as such:

The game begins w/ a single tagger ("the black man" or Marvin, an actual black man in this case lol)
The sole tagger tags others who then also become taggers or "black men"
The initial single tagger states: "who's afraid of the black man". The group responds: "Nobody" . The tagger then says: "What will you do if he chases you". And the group shouts: "run". And the game of tag begins.

Now this sounds somewhat horrible, but we all died laughing at the cheer irony that A) Marvin often was the initial tagger at his school and B) that this game was allowed to be played at all w/ a name and back/forth responses like that. Ahh good times w/ my roommates.”
Posted by Jamiere Abney at 1:23 PM
A photograph of Jamiere Abney is placed next to his name attesting to the fact that this writer is a Black man.

Example #9
From Schoolyard Games from Germany
Who is afraid of the big "black man" (It's a synonym for one child.)
It's a game for 10 - 40 children. There is a field like a rectangular.The "black man" is standing on one side of the rectangular. The children are standing opposite of the man.The man calls:"Who is afraid of the big "black man ?" The children answer: "Nobody !" Than they run to that "black man" and try to pass him without being caught by him. The children who were caught by the man belonge to the team of the "black man" now. the last child who wasn't caught is the winner."

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Two South Africa History.Org Articles & One Wikipedia Excerpt About The Black Consciousness Movement In South Africa

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases excerpts from three online articles about the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa.

The content of this post is presented for historical, socio-cultural, and educational purposes.

I quote online articles and excerpts of online articles to point out those articles to this blog's readers. I encourage you to read these entire articles.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

These excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.

Excerpt #1:
From The Ideology of the Black Consciousness Movement
"The emergence of the Black Consciousness movement that swept across the country in the 1970s can best be explained in the context of the events from 1960 onwards. After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, the National Party (NP) government, which was formed in 1947, intensified its repression to curb widespread civil unrest. It did this by passing harsher laws, extending its use of torture, imprisonment and detentions without trial.

By the late 1960s, the government had jailed, banned or exiled the majority of the Liberation Movement’s leaders. In response to this, an intensified wave of tyranny, and a new set of organisations emerged. These organisations filled the vacuum created by the government’s suppression of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. United loosely around a set of ideas described as “Black Consciousness,” these organisations helped to educate and organise Black people, particularly the youth. In fact, the eruption of the Black Consciousness Movement signalled an end to the quiescence that followed the banning of the black political movements.

The BCM urged a defiant rejection of apartheid, especially among Black workers and the youth. The South African Students Organisation (SASO) - an arm of the movement - was founded by Black students who refused to join NUSAS, another student led organization. At the same time, Black workers began to organise trade unions in defiance of anti-strike laws. In 1973, there were strikes throughout the nation, in cities like Durban. The collapse of Portuguese colonialism and the victories of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in Mozambique, and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in Angola, stimulated further activity against apartheid. This culminated in the Soweto Uprising of 1976.

In 1976, student protests against Bantu education in Soweto, the Johannesburg informal settlement reserved for Africans, led to a two-year uprising that spread to Black townships across the country. The protests encompassed all Black grievances against the apartheid system, and in that period police reportedly killed many protesters, including schoolchildren. Workers then mobilised to protest police killings of innocent demonstrators.

In the following year, boycotts and unrest among students and teachers grew after Steve Biko, a leader of SASO, died in a Pretoria detention cell. He had been detained by the police under the Terrorism Act, and after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the 1990s, it was revealed that he was tortured and killed by police. Within a month of Biko’s death, the government had detained scores of people and banned 18 Black Consciousness organizations, as well as two newspapers with a wide Black readership.

The Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa is synonymous with its founder, Biko. From the beginning of Biko’s political life until his death, he remains one of the indisputable icons of the Black struggle against apartheid. As leader of the movement, he instilled courage among the masses to fight an unjust system under the banner of Black Consciousness. Defining Black Consciousness is no mean task. However, a broad understanding of the concept can be made from Biko’s speeches and writings, including those of his close friends and other writers."

Last updated : 12-Sep-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 20-Mar-2011

Excerpt #2
From The Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa
"The landscape of Black political activity in the 1960s was different that of the previous decade. The apartheid government had banished the Black resistance movements, in particular the ANC and the PAC. Black leaders, who were not imprisoned by the state, fled into exile. A barrage of restrictive legislation effectively silenced Black opposition through bannings, arrests, and the imprisonment of leaders. South Africa's economy grew and benefited White South Africans. For Black South Africans, however, the suffering continued.

Ironically, the seeds of Black resistance in the 1960s could be found at the ‘bush campuses’, like those at the University of the North and Zululand University. These institutions, created under the Extension of the University Education Act, Act 45 of 1959, became the breeding ground of Black resistance that was to become a force in the 1970s. Influenced by the American Black Power movement, the likes of Malcolm X, and closer to home by Frantz Fanon, Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyere and Kwame Nkrumah, a new framework of student thinking emerged. In South Africa, it was the late Anthony Lembede's Africanism that was a crucial influence in these universities.

Biko’s ideas became the major rallying point behind a pressure group that became known in South Africa as the BCM. From 17 years of age, up until his death on 12 September 1977, Biko had an illustrious political career spanning about 14 years. He came into the political limelight in 1963, the year that witnessed a rise in the Poqo-led unrest in his home area. Poqo was the armed wing of the PAC, similar to the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK, or “Spear of the Nation”).

Biko had just entered Lovedale College when his brother was arrested and jailed on suspicion of outlawed Poqo activity. He was interrogated by the police and subsequently expelled. This marked the beginning of Biko’s resentment against white authority. In 1964, he went to Marianhill in Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and attended a private Roman Catholic school, Saint Francis College. Although he found meaning in Christian principles, Biko, who was an articulate young man, resented the influence of whites thought on determining an African’s future.

As an advocate of the Black Consciousness (BC) philosophy - together with other literate Africans residing in the major urban centres - Biko developed into a highly respected intellectual in the 1960s. Biko began his search for self-identity, and hoped to build up the pride of Black culture - a culture that was scornfully viewed by the settler regime. Biko and his student colleagues had been receptive to the political ideas expressed by many Black intellectuals, and learned to use the emotional power of the message of Black Consciousness.

As a result, these ideas and slogans filtered down to a much broader group of socially underprivileged people, who were angry and impatient for meaningful action. This restructured consciousness emerged among students, beginning with those at Fort Hare and later the Durban Medical School (Natal University). These students constituted the new African petty bourgeoisie class."

Last updated : 31-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 10-Jun-2011

Excerpt #3:

Note: This excerpt doesn’t include any content from these two significant sub-sections of this page: "Early years: 1960–76" and “The Soweto uprising and after: 1976–present"

“The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) was a grassroots anti-Apartheid activist movement that emerged in South Africa in the mid-1960s out of the political vacuum created by the jailing and banning of the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress leadership after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.[1] The BCM represented a social movement for political consciousness.


The Black Consciousness Movement started to develop during the late 1960s, and was led by Steve Biko, a black medical student, and Barney Pityana. During this period, which overlapped with Apartheid, the ANC had committed to an armed struggle through its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, but this small guerrilla army was neither able to seize and hold territory in South Africa nor to win significant concessions through its efforts. The ANC had been banned by Apartheid leaders, and although the famed Freedom Charter remained in circulation in spite of attempts to censor it, for many students, the ANC had disappeared.


The term Black Consciousness stems from American educator W. E. B. Du Bois's evaluation of the double consciousness of American blacks being taught what they feel inside to be lies about the weakness and cowardice of their race. Du Bois echoed Civil War era black nationalist Martin Delany's insistence that black people take pride in their blackness as an important step in their personal liberation. This line of thought was also reflected in the Pan-Africanist, Marcus Garvey, as well as Harlem Renaissance philosopher Alain Locke and in the salons of the sisters, Paulette and Jane Nardal in Paris.[3] Biko's understanding of these thinkers was further shaped through the lens of postcolonial thinkers such as Frantz Fanon, Léopold Senghor, and Aimé Césaire. Biko reflects the concern for the existential struggle of the black person as a human being, dignified and proud of his blackness, in spite of the oppression of colonialism. The aim of this global movement of black thinkers was to build black consciousness and African consciousness, which they felt had been suppressed under colonialism.[4]

Part of the insight of the Black Consciousness Movement was in understanding that black liberation would not only come from imagining and fighting for structural political changes, as older movements like the ANC [African National Congress] did, but also from psychological transformation in the minds of black people themselves. This analysis suggested that to take power, black people had to believe in the value of their blackness. That is, if black people believed in democracy, but did not believe in their own value, they would not truly be committed to gaining power.[5]


...along with political action, a major component of the Black Consciousness Movement was its Black Community Programs, which included the organisation of community medical clinics, aiding entrepreneurs, and holding "consciousness" classes and adult education literacy classes.

Another important component of psychological liberation was to embrace blackness by insisting that black people lead movements of black liberation. This meant rejecting the fervent "non-racialism" of the ANC in favour of asking whites to understand and support, but not to take leadership in, the Black Consciousness Movement. A parallel can be seen in the United States, where student leaders of later phases of SNCC, and black nationalists such as Malcolm X, rejected white participation in organisations that intended to build black power. While the ANC viewed white participation in its struggle as part of enacting the non-racial future for which it was fighting, the Black Consciousness view was that even well-intentioned white people often re-enacted the paternalism of the society in which they lived. This view held that in a profoundly racialised society, black people had to first liberate themselves and gain psychological, physical and political power for themselves before "non-racial" organisations could truly be non-racial.

Biko's BCM had much in common with other left-wing African nationalist movements of the time, such as Amílcar Cabral's PAIGC and Huey Newton's Black Panther Party.


Controversies and criticism
Criticisms of the Movement sometimes mirror similar observations of the Black Consciousness Movement in the United States.[19] On one side, it was argued that the Movement would stagnate into black racialism, aggravate racial tensions and attract repression by the apartheid regime. Further, the objective of the Movement was to perpetuate a racial divide – apartheid for the Blacks, equivalent to that which existed under the National Party rule. Other detractors thought the Movement-based heavily on student idealism, but with little grassroots support among the masses, and few consistent links to the mass trade-union movement.[18]

Assessments of the movement[20] note that it failed to achieve several of its key objectives. It did not bring down the apartheid regime, nor did its appeal to other non-white groups as "people of color" gain much traction. Its focus on blackness as the major organising principle was very much downplayed by Nelson Mandela and his successors who to the contrary emphasised the multi-racial balance needed for the post-apartheid nation. The community programs fostered by the movement were very small in scope and were subordinated to the demands of protest and indoctrination. Its leadership and structure was essentially liquidated, and it failed to bridge the tribal gap in any *large-scale* way, although certainly small groups and individuals collaborated across tribes.

After much blood shed and property destroyed, critics charged that the Movement did nothing more than raise "awareness" of some issues, while accomplishing little in the way of sustained mass organisation, or of practical benefit for the masses. Some detractors also assert that Black consciousness ideas are out-dated, hindering the new multi-racial South Africa.[21]


Defenses of the Black Consciousness Movement
Defenders of the BCM by contrast held that charges of impracticality failed to grasp the universal power of an idea – the idea of freedom and liberation for blacks. This was Biko's reply to many of the Movement's critics. Indeed, Biko rejected the "practicality" charge as an example of the compromises that hindered and delayed black liberation, saying in 1977: "We have been successful to the extent that we have diminished the element of fear in the minds of black people."[18]

Defenders of the movement argued that blackness was the best, most energetic organising principle that was available at the time, in contrast to laborious legal, non-violent and petition based integrationist approach used by white dominated moderate groups.

Biko made no bones about the 'consciousness' aspect of the movement and in this limited respect he is similar to Huey P. Newton of the Black Panthers in the United States. What was important to Biko and other leaders, was not creating yet another political party or group squabbling over local spoils, but a fundamental mobilisation and change in attitude and outlook of the black oppressed and destitute. Some contemporary BCM leaders claim that its principles are currently relevant and decry what they see as evidence of 'sellout' in the new South Africa. (See AZAPO reference below).


Black Consciousness in literature
...In comparison with the Black Power movement in the United States, the Black Consciousness movement felt little need to reconstruct any sort of golden cultural heritage. African linguistic and cultural traditions were alive and well in the country. Short stories published predominantly in Drum magazine had led to the 1950s being called the Drum decade, and future Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer was beginning to become active. The fallout from the Sharpeville massacre led to many of those artists entering exile, but the political oppression of the resistance itself led to a new growth of black South African Literature. In the 1970s, Staffrider magazine became the dominant forum for the publication of BC literature, mostly in the form of poetry and short stories. Book clubs, youth associations, and clandestine street-to-street exchange became popular. Various authors explored the Soweto riots in novels, including Miriam Tlali, Mothobi Mutloatse and Mbulelo Mzamane. But the most compelling force in Black Consciousness prose was the short story, now adapted to teach political morals. Mtutuzeli Matshoba famously wrote, "Do not say to me that I am a man." An important theme of Black Consciousness literature was the rediscovery of the ordinary, which can be used to describe the work of Njabulo Ndebele.[24]

However, it was in poetry that the Black Consciousness Movement first found its voice. In a sense, this was a modern update of an old tradition, since several of South Africa's African languages had long traditions of performed poetry.


A main tenet of the Black Consciousness Movement itself was the development of black culture, and thus black literature. The cleavages in South African society were real, and the poets and writers of the BCM saw themselves as spokespersons for blacks in the country. They refused to be beholden to proper grammar and style, searching for black aesthetics and black literary values.[24] The attempt to awaken a black cultural identity was thus inextricably tied up with the development of black literature.”...

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