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Baba Hannibal Tirus Afrik: The Epitome of African Fatherhood, Part 1

By Afohene Gimbu Kali Vernon

Presented by Omni-U Virtual University

I knew Ancestor Baba Hannibal Tirus Afrik almost all of my life. Our families attended the same church and I knew his mother, wife, and all of his children. At that time, I knew him as Harold Charles. As time passed, my family moved to the suburbs and we lost touch. When I began attending Malcolm X  College, in 1974, I kept hearing about some really “bad” brother named Hannibal that I “just had to meet.”  When , finally, I did meet him, he turned out to be the “Mr. Charles” from my childhood.

Baba Hannibal Afrik had the highest degree of personal integrity of any human being that I have ever met! He was the personification of Black Fatherhood, Manhood, and Leadership- or at least what it ought to be. I was/am a part of three different institutions which were started by Baba Hannibal: The Shule Ya Watoto Brotherhood; The Outdoor Leadership Skills Project; and the Bolozi Wazee Council of Elders. This article will be focused on the first two (2) groups).

While Mr. Charles Vernon was my biological father, I considered Baba Hannibal my "political father." Baba  Hannibal taught, through example, about fatherhood, manhood,  leadership, sacrifice, consistency, hard work, and integrity. His word was his bond. I never met anyone with a higher degree of personal integrity than Baba Hannibal Tirus Afrik.

The Shule Ya Watoto was an Independent Afrikan- centered school which was located on the West side of Chicago. The Shule Brotherhood was made up of some of the fathers of the children who attended the “Shule”. We were primarily responsible for the security of the Shule, the students, staff, building, and grounds.

The Outdoor Leadership Skills Project (OLSP) was an institution that explored wilderness survival training. Hannibal believed that slavery was based on dependency- not just chains. He also believed hat all life - giving and life - sustaining resources came into the Black community from outseide of it. He concluded that we are just as dependent on our adversaries now, as we were during chattel slavery itself! If they decide to cut us off,  what would/should we do ??? The Outdoor Leadership Skills Project was initiated in 1977 by Hannibal Afrik and Baba Nira Bota (Nick Howard). I am proud to have been a part of that initial activity. Among the things we taught were: 

● how to choose and organize a campsite

● how to locate and purify water

● plant identification for food, medicine, or poison

● physical development

● first aid; map reading

● compass reading; land navigation (combining map & compass reading)

● an obstacle course

● Shelter construction

● self-defense, and marksmanship.  

Phase 1 you learn to identify eatable plants - Phase 2, one of your meals consisted of plants that you picked and That is why moving from one phase or level of training was always voluntary. Phase 3 meant going into the “woods” for 24 to 48 hours equipped with only a knife,a compass, 10 matches, a personal defense weapon, and the clothes on your back. Only  one machete was provided for the group; you had to get your own food and  water. You also had build a shelter from the natural environment!!! Phase 4 involved organizing and instructing a Level 1 class. You had to organize and advertise the event, hold the orientation, and teach all of the classes! You were responsible for logistics, security, first aid- EVERYTHING!!! 

At the point that class members could pass Phase 4, they are now prepared to teach these skills elsewhere. We understood that we could not survive very long, if we were the only ones who had these skills. In 1980, we united with the Council of Independent Black Institutions (CIBI) which was a conglomeration of independent African Centered schools across the country. This greatly increased the number of people with whom we were able to share these skills.

Recommended Viewing: 

“Reflections on the Life of An Icon: Baba Hannibal Tirus Afrik, Part 1” featuring: Mzee Jamila Barbara Onyeali; Ancestor Chaplin Rasheed Akbar; Dr. Harold Pates with prayer and music by Brother Minister Rahim Aton/ Darrell“ Sax Preacher” Wllson.

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