‘Nam’ is ‘man’ spelt backwards, man in disguise, man who has to reverse his consciousness as the capsule reverses its direction in order to enter in to the new world in a disguised or altered state of consciousness. ‘Nam’ also suggests ‘root,’ or beginning, because of ‘yam,’ the African ‘yam,’ ‘nyam,’ to eat, and the whole culture contained in it. It is then able to expand itself back from ‘nam’ to ‘name,’ which is another form of ‘name’: the name you once had has lost its ‘e,’ that fragile part of itself, eaten by Prospero, eaten by the conquistadores, but preserving its essentialness, its alpha, its ‘a’ protected by those two intransigent consonants ’n’ and ‘m.’ The vibrations ‘nmnmnm’ are what you get before the beginning of the world. And that ‘nam’ can return to ‘name’ and the god ‘Nyame.’ And so it is possible to conceive of our history not only being capsuled and contracted, but finally expanding once more outwards.

Kamau Brathwaite

quoted in Brent Hayes Edwards’s “The Race for Space: Sun Ra’s poetry,” The Immeasurable Equation, 2005

original source: “History, the Caribbean Writer and X/Self,” Crisis and Creativity in the New Literatures in English (ed. Geoffrey Davis and Hena Maes-Jelinek), 1990

Shiraz Abdullahi Gallab