“The time has come for the [African] to forget and cast behind him his hero worship and adoration of other races, and to start out immediately to create and emulate heroes of his own. Any race that accepts the thoughts of another race automatically becomes the slave race of that other race. As men think, so they do react above the things around them. It is no wonder that the [African] acts so peculiarly within our present civilization, because he has been trained and taught to accept the thoughts of a race that has made itself by assumption superior. The [African] during the time of slavery accepted his thoughts and opinions from the white race, by so doing he admitted into his system the idea of the superiority of a master in relationship to a slave. In one instance he was freed, that is, from chattel slavery, but up to the time of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, (UNIA) he was not free in mind.


“African Fundamentalism” seeks to emancipate the [African] from the thoughts of others who are encouraging him to act on their opinions and thoughts. Any race that has succeeded in the world—speaking of the ancient world up to the present world, will tell you that they succeeded by thinking and acting for themselves… they will tell you that their ability to rise above others and to establish themselves in the world was only made possible through the fact that they thought and acted for themselves.  We who have studied the trend of world events, seriously recommend to the [African] that he can only do this when he starts to think and act for himself. He must create around him his own philosophy—the semblance of everything that he desires for himself. That is what “AFRICAN FUNDAMENTALISM” seeks to do—establish a creed, as a guide, so that you will make few mistakes, in the world. Because if you act on the thoughts of others, so long will they remain your superiors…




To emancipate yourselves form that you must accept something original, something racially your own, and that is what we want you the [Africans]…to do—accept a Philosophy entirely your own, serviceable to your actions and cease imitating the thoughts of others. The other races have made their heroes, we also can create our own heroes and point our people to them as examples because of their noble deeds. The UNIA is seeking to put the [African] in his right position.


There is nothing that man cannot do if he applies himself rigorously to do it. We are therefore inspiring you to apply yourselves consistently… what you have decided to do. The other peoples do not live their lives by chance; they have a Creed to guide them. Our race is the only one that has not done that, and so long as we continue the slack methods, so long will we be the slave of the world.


The UNIA makes the recommendation and I honestly support this recommendation, there is such glory and honour for the [African] to attain in the world, as have been achieved and attained by any other race. There is nothing in natures’ law so limited as to prevent the [African] enjoying what the other people are enjoying, which they obtained through method. The white race has a system, a method, a code of ethics laid down for the child to go by. When the child comes into the world, this Creed is set out for him to follow and he is trained thereby, so you will not wonder that the white race has reached such a height in civilization… The white child is given private tuitions in the knowledge of life. There is no man in the world of one race who will impart to the members of another race the things that would enable that race to launch out successfully in life to compare itself with his race. The [African] must understand that he is standing by himself.


If he is to enjoy the best out of life, he must create for himself, and he can only create for himself when he has given to the world his philosophy, and code to guide him. And I can recommend to you nothing more enhancing than the Creed we have laid down in “African Fundamentalism.” If you will absorb it you will get inspiration to guide you and your children… You, the [African] bring children into the world without any policy to guide them, when they should have inherited from their fathers a Creed, a policy to advance the race. You will make excuse that you have been [colonized or] in slavery for [over 400]  years. We excuse you for that; but you have been emancipated now, and it is time that you were able to stand upon the same level as the other peoples, understanding nature and nature’s law. When you get to understand that, you will no longer be the cringing creature as others would have you be, but a master. The opportunity is yours, you can lift your selves any height, as others have done; it is only for you to summon the courage and absorb these things, which are at your doors, and so merit the blessing of God.


Africa has produced countless numbers of men and women in war and in peace whose luster and bravery outshine that of any other people. Then why not see good in ourselves? We must inspire a literature and promulgate a doctrine of our own without any apologies to the powers that be. The right is ours and God’s.


…The race has a history, the proudest history in the world. The [African] has a history which enables him to compare himself with any other race. He stands topmost among other men because he with the father of our civilization. This however is no credit to us because we have not lived up to the glories of our fathers. But we ought to feel proud when we remember that our fathers gave the first civilization to the world.




Africa, the Scribes tell us today and history has told us, had been the cradle of civilization. When all Europe was in darkness: was a settlement of cannibals and barbarians, Africa held up the torch of civilization, the [African] was the teacher of the ages, the blessed man of the Continents. Of the many Continents of the world, Africa stands out most prominently as the leader. All other Continents copied their civilization from Africa. And so if not in modern days, in ancient days Africa produced heroes and martyrs that we in any age should be proud of. As I suggested… we should not accept any exemplary characters from any race because they are only borrowed from Africa when it was great. And if they could have borrowed from our civilization and produced heroes and saints for us to imitate, there is no reason why the [African] should not lean upon his shoulders, accepting his leaders from his own men and women who have led the path of civilization for centuries.




We have heard of great leaders, but in all times no leaders have stood out as the African leaders. The greatest leaders of ancient days who brought Rome to tears were not white men, they were the father Hamilcar and the son, Hannibal—two great leaders who made the Romans so fearful that at one period of Roman History no Roman could sleep comfortably because he was afraid that he would wake up a slave of Carthage. These are only two examples that have come out of Africa in war; but in Science and in Art, Africa claims a position Par excellence. Whatsoever the German, the Englishman, the Italian boast of they will tell you, if they wish to be truthful, that they take credit for these things only because they were able to copy them from the Africans. Up to now they are excavating to discover the mysteries that once stood out in Africa in the time of the Pharaohs. During that time Africa occupied a unique position in history. They will try to tell you that the Pharaohs were white, but the mummified characteristics of the Pharaohs were black men.




Those of you who have travelled must have noticed that the people of Mediterranean Europe are darker than the people of Northern Europe. This is because they have come in closer contact with the people of Africa. The people of Italy are dark; the people of southern Spain are darker than those of Northern Spain; the people of southern France are darker than those of Northern France, it is because when Africa was in her power it was easier for her to cross over to the southern parts of Europe conquering the people of Italy, of Spain and of France. The Spaniard, if he wants to tell you the truth, will tell you that up to today, he respects the black man. And when they talk of Saints, the patron saints of the Spaniard is a black man, for up to that time they had to look up to a black man, for up to that time they had to look up to a black man.


Prior to that day Homer tells us that when the Greeks were getting out of their swaddling clothes the Africans were the only companions they would keep because they were superior to them in intelligence, and they could gain knowledge form them.  And it is said that when a god was missing from Greece he was gone over to Africa to spend time with the Ethiopians. So whatsoever might have been the development in civilization you hold the credit that it was borrowed from your fathers, and if you are a true descendant of Africa you will be able to duplicate the deeds of your fathers. We inspire you to go forth into the world as others have done in the ages past and are doing now, and if you are courageous and bold you will take kindly to the deeds of your fathers.


I can repeat: “Africa has produced countless numbers of men and women in was and in peace whose luster and bravery outshine that of any other peoples” Therefore look to the colours of the Race; look to the colours of the [African] for your inspirations; look to the colours of that great Empire of Ethiopia that is now scattered all over the world; select our leaders from out of our own race; and not form the other races because others look down upon us contemptuously and scornfully when we have to follow them.




We must give up that silly idea of folding our hands and waiting upon God to do everything for us. If God intended that, He would not have given us a mind; He would not have given us intelligence; He would not have given us His soul; He would not have placed us here in the midst of creation, and surrounded us with all the beautiful things of nature. Whatsoever you want in life you must make up your mind to do it for yourself and accomplish it for yourself; whether it is rearing a home, expanding an Empire, if you want to do it, you must do it for yourself and then God will bless the effort because He will realize that you are using your intelligence for the best. That is my message to you.


SOURCE REFERENCE: Hall, Robert A., Bair, Barbara (Editors) MARCUS GARVEY: LIFE AND LESSIONS. University of California Press, 1987. P. 7-25


ARF EDITORICAL COMMENTS: The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey left a great legacy of leadership for Africans worldwide. His movement the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) is heralded as the largest international mass movement for black people of all times. He has been an inspiration to black leaders, including Elijah Muhammad, Kwame Nkrumah and Malcolm X; and his ideas are still relevant for present and future generations of Afrikans for the continual improvement of the race.


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