Ka ‘Ba

Imamu Amiri Baraka (1934-)

Written in a style similar to Spoken Word, Ka’ba forces members of the African American community to identify themselves. Baraka wrote during the 1960s, one of the “do or die” decades of the 1900s. His poetry was not the passive sort, which is why it belongs on this list. At the time it was written, Ka,ba, like many other poems Baraka wrote, did not simply make observations; it attacked them.

A closed window looks down
On a dirty courtyard, and black people
Call across or scream or walk across
Defying physics in the stream of their will

Our world is full of sound
Our world is more lovely than anyone’s
Though we suffer, and kill each other
And sometimes fail to walk the air

We are beautiful people
With African imaginations
Full of masks and dances and swelling chants

With African eyes, and noses, and arms,
Though we sprawl in grey chains in a place
Full of winters, when what we want is sun.

We have been captured,
Brothers. And we labor
To make our getaway, into
The ancient image, into a new

Correspondence with ourselves
And our black family. We read magic
Now we need the spells, to rise up
Return, destroy, and create. What will be

The sacred words?