Askia Touré

Askia Touré

“It is incumbent upon us to honor our elders and sages and ancestors… They are our strength, they are our vision, and our dignity.”

Askia Touré
Photo: C.B. Claiborne, 2004

Askia Touré was a founding architect of the Black Arts Movement, a black aesthetics theorist, and among the first cadre of scholars to pioneer Africana studies at a major United States university. Touré has also served as a co-editor of two black arts journals, Black Dialogue and the Journal of Black Poetry, and was a cultural theorist for The Liberator, an internationally focused Pan-African magazine. His poetry volumes include Juju: Magic Songs for the Black Nation (1972), Songhai (1972), From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance! (1990), Dawnsong! (1999), and African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots (2007). Receiving multiple awards for his work, such as an American Book Award, a Gwendolyn Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Stephen E. Henderson Poetry Award, Touré’s poetry has been published across the country and internationally, including in Paris, Rome, India, and The People’s Republic of China.

Oh Lord of Light! A Mystic Sage Returns to Realms of Eternity!

For the Master Sun Ra, Sonny Blount. May 22, 1914 to May 30th, 1993

He is sun-bright myth and Cosmic Light
the audaciousness of comets sweeping through the inky abyss
of night,
the Solar Lord as pharoah of magic, mega-sounds, harmonious
with spectacular delights and unbridled flights aboard
the Melanin rocketship bound for the funk planets.
Ja man of Jupiterian wisdom, crowned prince of immortal night: 
Lord Sun-Ra renamed, 
renowned, resplendent in sparkling, sequined satins;
solar disc ablaze like a living Uraeus, working his aural magic
among the tropic myths of reborn Kamities, in the kingdoms
of his liberated soul, in realms of resurgent Negritude, we
celebrate his audacity, his expanded vision of
Possibility; moving beyond plastic parameters
of Anglo blandness, into multidimensional 
space-time continuums, 
restoring the broad-ranged, epic Consciousness of Cosmic Music, 
embodied in a galaxy of master compositions, Alchemical
solos featuring Coltrane and Pharoah, 
Don and Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Sunny Murray, Milford Graves,
Marion Brown and myriad masters embracing
sacred pillars of the Sky Lords, Immortal Mansions of Ra. 

He has moved beyond us, riding Shango’s lightning into stellar
parameters; a Moon Lord, changing his coat. 
arrayed in cosmic colors; hanging with Tehuti, embracing azure robes
of Isis, soloing with Bird Diz Miles among expanses of inter-galactic
space ways, riding bursts of super-novas
brighter than a million mushroom bombs. A living Ancestor now
with Larry Neal, Henry Dumas
legendary visionaries embodying all of our
sterling strengths, imaginative flights, volcanic passion, spanning
generations of Captivity and Resistance, deep pain
wild joy—the Cosmic Lord resplendent among us; 
solar obelisk of myth, long-breath solar of God-voice sursing in 
symphonies of light, phoenix flight of bright Bennu, delighting
myriad choruses of angels, Orishas, who
dance upon sunbeams of his extended solos: O Lord of Light,
O Sun Prince transporting our tropic memories to emerald
mountains rising above primordial jungle dawns; 
O Sky Lord roaring a Horus mantra in a dark abyss of Caucasian-
Neanderthal hell;
O Father, Osirian mage waving your pharoanic baton above choruses of 
saxophones, possees of trumpet, bevies of thundering Afrikan drums
shaking the earth like Zulu legions. 

We mourn you when Whirlwinds roar and embrace our Marcus Garvey
rhapsodies above Middle Passage moans;
We mourn you when Midnight glides into our Consciousness wearing
a white gardenia above her
Billie Holiday face; when Sassy Vaughn launches her indigo-velvet
voice upon the mantras of our ecstasies.
We sing you, Father Ra-Osiris, asking that our memories continue 
in your voyages to farthest reaches of the Universe, that they
form a ring around your Solar Disc as
monumental love vibrations; for you are our heart, our elder sage
and parent, our cosmological thrust into parameters of Infinity, 
an epiphany of Cosmic compassion
mounting summits of Divinity, an archetypal surge of Harmony
within temples of Maatic Eternity;
in Pyramids and mythic shadows, in sunbursts and meteor showers, 
we wish you long life in transcendental vistas
amid pristine solos raising the Dead;
We ask that Ra, mounting
His Barque of Millions of Years, welcome His son
into infinite realms of joy, Mansions
of the Cosmic Knight!

1. Uraeus. A representation of the sacred asp on the headdress of Kemetic (Egyptian) rulers, symbolizing sovereignty.
2. Kamites. From Kamit ot Kemet (meaning the Black Land). The Kamites were the black people of the Black Land.
3. Ra. Ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) for Almighty God, Whose sacred symbol was the sun, as the Light of the Universe.
4. Shango. West Afrikan, Yoruba orisha symbolizing kingship, whose sacred presence was embodied in thunder and lightning bolts.
5. Tehuti. Thoth, Greek. The Kemetic neter who symbolized knowledge, ancient wisdom, mystery, measurement of the heavens, phases of the moon. 
6. Isis. Greek for Auset. The Nile Valley Civilization’s Great Mother, “Queen of Heaven,” “Throne of Kemer,” the queen and co-ruler with King Asar (Osiris, Greek). Humanity’s archetypal Back Madonna. 
7. Larry Neal, Henry "Ankh" Dumas. Two outstanding Afrikan American visionary epic poets, leaders in the 1960’s Black Arts cultural era. 
8. Obelisk. Greek for a monolithic, four sided Egyptian pillar, which tapers into a pyramid, symbolic of pharoanic authority. 
9. Bennu. Kemetic. The original divine bird, which served as an archetype for he later greek bird, the phoenix.
10. Orishas. Divine Beings of the West Afrikan Yorubax, paralleling the Kemetic neters and the Christian/Hebrew/Muslim angels.