What does Nation-Building Involve?


Many Black Nationalists like myself talk about building a nation… This sounds like a noble task, but what does it mean, and what factors does doing so involve? These are the type of high-level questions serious Nationalists must debate/discuss in the 21st century as we struggle to survive and emancipate ourselves from the United States empire. This essay will briefly outline these concerns.

First, what is a nation? The word derives from the Latin term “Natio,” which describes people, tribe or kin.” in a modern sense, a nation is a large group of people that share a common language, culture, geography, kinship, historical experience, etc..

By that definition, Blacks in the U. S.. constitute a nation (albeit a dormant one). Clearly our definition needs expansion.

A modern nation is no mere grouping of similar people with similar values and interests within common geographic boundaries. Nations as we know them, have formal governing structures, and a common historical narrative, along with official institutions that regulate, monitor and enforce economic, defense, political and social operations.

We can agree that all of these national operations, while tangible, are in effect, based on philosophical and theoretical concepts. Of course, political pundits and corporate media networks will never concede this point. They want us all to drink the red/white/blue Kool-aid and believe that capitalism, the two-party Democratic Republican system, and the U.S. methods of education, healthcare, and justice are innate and organic. Lies. In truth, all of these are ideas and philosophies developed by white economists and political scientists which the nation adopted, utilized and sold to citizens as indisputable truths.

Those who speak of nation-building must develop new theories or modify existing ones. We must give serious thought to a number of issues, some of which I outline below. This abbreviated outline demonstrates just how complex and intricate is the project of creating a new nation. As you read over this, think about all the time we waste debating non-productive matters, when we have more crucial issues pending.

-How do we create a system of training competent doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical professionals?
-We must create a network of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.
-How do we coordinate communications between them?
-How do we make sure all citizens have adequate and affordable (or free) healthcare?

-How will our government be structured?
-what are the officers and their responsibilities?
-How do we guard against corruption?
-How and how often are leaders elected?

-What economic system do we use?
-How form of currency do we use, if any?
-How do we care for the indigent, elderly and disabled?
-Do we tax citizens and if so, how much and for what purposes?
-What are the natural resources at our disposal? How do we access and use these resources?
-How do we prevent or address hunger, homelessness and severe poverty?

– What curriculum(s) do we use?
-how do we identify suitable educational materials?
-What system do we create to recruit and train competent teachers?
-How do we fund and evaluate schools?
-Do we use a public, private or mixed system of education?
-How do we assist students with learning disabilities or academic deficiencies?

These are just a few general topics and questions.. We haven’t addressed law, agriculture, foreign policy, housing, national defense or employment.

The point is that nation building is a complex process requiring sound theory and the creation of effective systems for millions of people… In addition to these things, we also must address how to promote shared national values and a national culture.

One day soon – after our irrelevant debates and often fundamentalist posturing subsides – we will get to the serious work of nation building.


Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment.

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “What does Nation-Building Involve?

  1. This is a great post brother! You brought up some very interesting and important points. These are great questions that need to be asked if we are serious about changing our condition. More people need to read this post. I’ll have to share this on Twitter. Thank you for this great information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s