527 to be exact. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley.
Until I started reading this book I must admit I knew little about Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little), also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. I am still yet to watch the Spike Lee Directed biopic starring Denzel Washington. *insert dramatic gasp*
I am fascinated by autobiographies. People everywhere lead interesting lives. I remember asking my grandfather about how he ended up living in Buhera and thinking well this should surely be in a book.
Malcolm X was an extremist. Whatever he set his mind to, he was consumed by wholly and in pursuit of its fulfillment he dedicated all his time and energy. Such people scare and intrigue me.
What I found particularly striking and unknown to me was that Malcolm X for 12 years was part of what one might describe as a cult, The Nation of Islam. He himself later realised that this religious organisation he belonged to was not representative of Islam practiced around the world after his trip to Mecca.
His life was certainly colourful, filled with many adventures in his early years and culminating in his mission to address the race issue in America. His time in New York as a street hustler was the most interesting to me because it read more as fiction than as fact.
Prison was Malcolm X’s road to Damascus, the place of his religious conversion and start of his 12 year devotion to Elijah Muhammad and The Nation of Islam. He himself goes on to say that prisoners make better converts than “free” men. I find it interesting because of how he committed his entire existence to this religion. I am no psychologist but I suppose in prison one is at their weakest and most vulnerable and therefore easy to convert.
Although a radical, Malcolm X did speak truthfully about the plight of black people at the hands of the white. His dedication to cause and principal are certainly admirable and after his overseas tour to Mecca and Africa it is refreshing to know that he realised that not all white people are devils, that people of all races can be equals and work together, that the socioeconomic and political situations affect race issues and need to be addressed.
Unfortunately approaching 50 years after the assassination of Malcolm X, black people world over and particularly in America still face the same challenges he faced in his day. It is equally sad and frustrating that as a race black people are still divided among ourselves. Throw a stone in Africa and one will start an ethnic or a religious conflict.
I said before that I like autobiographies and this one I just read is brilliant. Lengthy and tedious and repetitive in parts but brilliant. Malcolm X died a few months shy of his 40th birthday but he lived an extraordinary and in some parts exemplary life. By no means perfect but by all means admirable.
5/5 pages from me.
Next up #3 – A book of short stories.