The reality of life must include our acceptance that death is a part of our existence and all of us will taste of death as our divine essence returns to its source, Almighty God Allah.
But between the beginning of life and the final period is a question: What will we do with the time that God gives us? If we spend our time in trivial pursuits, our living and our dying are in vain. But if we devote ourselves to the higher values and bigger purpose–the cause of freedom, justice and equality and the reformation and upliftment of a fallen people–we are on a right course.
Baba Hannibal Afrik, born Harold E. Charles, departed this life June 27, after a lifetime of work for the freedom and development of Black people. The Chicago schoolteacher, instructor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and longtime activist was man on a right course.
During funeral services here July 9, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and family and friends of “Baba Hannibal” remembered him in services punctuated by a spirit of joy.
The Minister noted that the man and woman who find their purpose and fulfill it are indeed blessed individuals. He credited Baba Hannibal, a Nationalist and Pan Africanist, with helping him to find his purpose. When some wanted to take my life, it was Baba Hannibal and others who stood with me, the Minister said, recalling the late 1970s and early 1980s as he sought to rebuild the Nation of Islam.
Baba Hannibal worked with anyone who was about the business of progress for Black people, the Minister said, offering one of many lessons to be gleaned from the life of this great scholar, educator, institution builder and freedom fighter.
Labels did not deter Baba Hannibal from finding the path to unity and seeking to build a separate and independent nation for Black people, which is line with the will of God, Min. Farrakhan added.
Despite great personal pain and leg amputation, Baba Hannibal, who served in leadership with many Black organizations, began building a Black community when he left Chicago and went to live in Mississippi.
Commitment, tenacity, unity and selflessness are fine qualities and qualities worth emulating. These lessons can be drawn from the life of Baba Hannibal, who returned to Allah God in his 70s.
He helped establish Kwanzaa in the city of Chicago, led the Black Teachers Association in a successful community control movement, and co-founded the Black independent school Shule Ya Watoto on Chicago’s Westside.
In a letter written to several who loved him and wanted him to slow down as he advanced in age, Baba Hannibal offered a poignant reply. He acknowledged that perhaps their concern was warranted, but he continued, he would step back when others stepped forward and no Black Nationalist should be found failing to build the Black Nation in a real, material way.
His words were so powerful that at least two people who paid tribute to him spoke from the same letter and provided another powerful lesson. Our commitment must go beyond rhetoric or sympathy and into action and activity. We must work for the ideals and principles that we believe to change reality and strive to make our word our bond.
The body of Baba Hannibal has been returned to the earth and his essence has returned to Almighty God, but the lessons from his life remain and are worthy of study. We thank Allah God for this Nation Builder and brother and pray that we will use the lessons from his life to help effectuate the rise of our people–there could be no more fitting tribute to him.