Dear PoP


Hey PoP:

I’ve been living in the columbia heights/petworth area for about 6 months now and I always pass the Nation house located at Sherman and Park. Does anyone know what it is? There are always kids hanging around outside it and I just wanted to see if anyone knew anything about it.


Dear Curious,

I wondered the same thing back in April. I learned they have a great Web site that says:

“NationHouse was founded in July 1974 in Washington, D. C. NationHouse grew out of the student activism of Howard University community in the late 1960s.

We are one of the oldest independent Afrikan centered schools in the United States and in the DC metropolitan area serving the specific needs of children of Afrikan heritage from pre-school to twelfth grade. Today, NationHouse continues to serve families in the development and enculturation of responsible youth who are committed to their families, their community and their Afrikan culture/heritage.

Currently, NationHouse maintains three fully functioning programs. Watoto School, serving pre-kindergarten through fourth grade students and Sankofa Institute, for fifth through twelfth grade students, are the major programs. The Afrikan Youth Organization (AYO) provides after school activities for students.

Our graduates from Sankofa Institute, eighth grade and twelfth grade have gone on to be successful students at their matriculating high schools and colleges respectively. Amongst our alumni, we have, successful mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, doctors, future lawyers, teachers, musicians who have graduated at the top of their class…. Our graduates have attended B. Banneker H.S., Howard University, U.D.C., Hampton University, Spelman, Morgan State University, Coppin State, Cheney State University, etc…

True to its dedication to the preservation and transfer of Afrikan heritage, NationHouse has counted within its community families from all over Afrika and the diaspora; from Ethiopia, Azania, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Liberia and Gambia; the Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Jamaica; from Los Angeles to Miami, New Haven to Chicago and back again; from Anacostia and the Gold Coast, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia; and from all economic strata – professionals, students, and the unemployed. The common thread has been conscious will to protect, preserve and transmit our unique cultural heritage to our children and the broader world community.”


16 Comment

  • Afrikan? Is this really a school? With the shape Afrika is in, I do not know if maintaining their Afrikan culture/heritage is a good thing. Maybe they should focus on changing the culture or Afrika.

  • I’ve never heard one bad thing about this school though. In the 1980s it was one of the few things keeping the early Panther spirit alive when drug dealing and corruption had taken over everything.

  • Well, however its spelled, I wish there was much more of Afric/ka (and less of America – or rather gansta-misogyny-reverseracism etc.) in the African American culture..

    Its interesting how many African people I know have great difficulty identifying with the African-American community on various levels.

  • Well, anonymous. What are “we” really? I consider myself American by proxy…
    There is a book called “Lose Your Mother” (of course I cannot remember the author/historian’s name)-which I’d recommend. It is a thorough and thoughtful
    look at the slave trade, and the very complex and painful way in which African Americans are viewed by Africans.

  • Many of the rulers in Africa have been downright ruthless to the point of savagery. Mugabe is pretty damn gangsta if you ask me. Maybe that is where the African-Americans get it from.

    Today there is an article in the Post about how DC can not even seem to stage an election. Doesn’t that sound like some of the same ills that affect Zimbabwe?

  • Identity politics aside, what was this building’s originally used for?

    The bump-out windows seem to suggest it was a shop, or market. Does anyone know?

  • You can see how grand this one was and could be if that got rid of the nonsense at street level.

  • hoo boy, when I sound like a voice for loving thy neighbor, we’re in real trouble.

  • I mean… Nate… there’s actually a lot to be said for demagogues rising in response to very specific issues relating to colonial control of Africa. This is not meant to… allow insaniacs like Mugabe to get off scot free, but… but…

    Take a look at how the British protected (no, really) Botswana, Lesotho and the high commission territories of Swaziland from being taken over by South Africa. Particularly in Botswana, the… Tswana were really treated a lot better than any place in southern africa and lo and behold, their economy is booming for 30 years and their democracy is probably no worse than India. It all goes back to the Boer Wars and you end up with South Africa totally f’d and Rhodesia, aka Zimbabwe equally f’d. I’m not the kind of person who allows someone like Mugabe to run unchecked, he’s a monster… but… have you ever read the totally insane history of Liberia? How can we walk away from that without some pain in our hearts from our broken history, I don’t know…

  • Neener,
    I have read a good bit about some of the countries in Africa and the strife they are going through. I’d love to hear more. I have always been a fan of history. You can email me at [email protected] to tell me more. Gosh I hope revealing my email does not get me spammed.

    Anyway, I have always wanted to know why the Africans didn’t have some of the same sophisticated technology to fight back when the British and other colonizers entered Africa with guns, weaponry, supply lines of food, ships, etc?

  • Nate — have you checked out Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies”? It’s been a long time since I read it, but I know he offers a take on that question about what exactly was different between the various civilizations. No idea to what degree other scholars have agreed with his angle, but I remember it being a really interesting read.

  • animal mother,
    I am going to check out that book.

  • Great book! I’d also recommend ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ by Jared Diamond, its a case study on system dynamics as it applies to the rise and fall of civilizations throughout humanity. It also offers an “collapse-analysis” of contemporary societies based various factors. Its a thought provoking book in the sense that it doesn’t entirely place the credit or blame for humanities experiences within our hands but acknowledges ecological factors as well… just a suggestion.

  • Nate, I’m only an amateur historian but love African history in general and spend much of my time working on human rights issues there. In too few rambling and randomized sentences: I can say that the period of time right before Europeans started raping Africa was a tough one, the Sahara was expanding and Arab slavers were raiding from Arabia / Persia. Many African tribes (nations really) started migrating south, conflicting with the people who already lived there. I forget the swahili word for this period, but the translation is ‘The Hammering’. The swahili language itself, in all its forms, was created by all this mingling. Europeans never really invaded the interior of Africa, the disease factor kept them out, and thus they traded primarily guns and metal weapons to the interior tribes who used them in ongoing conflicts. The tribes offered to trade slaves primarily, also stuff like gold and gems. The idea of European slave raiding parties is largely false, in reality most slaves were captured and traded by neighboring tribes. Some of the most powerful families in Africa today are the descendants of the largest slave merchants. Most European outposts in the slavery era were on the coast. J. Diamonds Guns / Germs / Steel is a good read, as is his next book, Collapse. I also found the book King Leopolds Ghost to be fascinating, it describes the Belgian colony in what’s Congo today, amazing account of brutalities like you wouldn’t believe. Note that when Europeans left Africa, they often installed strongmen favorable to themselves, and leading to a tradition of strongmen ousting strongmen. Note our own CIA helped whack the original post-colonial president of Congo, leading to the infamous Mobutu Seso Seko. Its rumored the CIA station chief drove around with the presidents body in his trunk for a day or two looking to dump. Your tax dollars at work! Also, most African nations are strange constructs whose borders really don’t reflect the boundaries between peoples, which is a whole other story.

    Note the other book maybe of interest that would blow your noggin is The Known World, by Edward P Jones, which is a historical fiction piece on blacks who owned slaves, written by a guy in Alexandria and won the Pulitzer a few years back. Not sure why I bring that up but it really made an impression on me.

    Now that’s a ramble!

  • But it is a ramble of substance -youdontknowme. I dont think enough Americans know (or care) about this nation’s-ah-curious pattern of pimping some of the world’s biggest gangstas
    when it benefits the aforementioned. Does anyone remember when Saddam was Uncle Sam’s boy? (When he, Saddam, was knocking heads with Iran) The US also consistently refused to censure South Africa during the heyday of apartheid….

  • Anyway, I have always wanted to know why the Africans didn’t have some of the same sophisticated technology to fight back when the British and other colonizers entered Africa with guns, weaponry, supply lines of food, ships, etc?

    well, as a teacher of mine used to say, If you’re stuck inside your house in the middle of a 4 month Russian winter you do a lot of thinking, if you live in Hawaii you do a lot of fishing and swimming. Also warm weather played host to disease carrying insects and worse sanitation issues. Also, who owned the horses when.

    There are many history channel documentaries on Egypt’s military victories and defeats and the development of metallurgy. Egypt of course was right on the money as early as 6000 years ago, but they were just a little too remote and prone to destructive flooding. You get a place like Rome or Iran or Turkey in the middle of everything with lots of trade and lots of ideas as well as freezing weather when you need it and it’s sort of a win/win/win.

    I may not email you though.

Comments are closed.