50s to 90s Interesting

Malcolm X’s Diary Entries on Kuwait

A few years ago I posted a postcard sent by Malcolm X while he was in Kuwait in 1964 while on a personal and spiritual journey through the Middle East and West Africa. There isn’t very much information on his visit, and I haven’t been able to find any photos, but I did find his entries on Kuwait from his travel diary:

Thurs. Sept. 24
“Abdullah picked me up in his taxi. I stopped at the airport to check my reservations, was recognized by one of the clerks who immediately introduced me to others, including Mr. Khan, head of the local PAL (Pakistan) office. We had coffee & he told me of the pending Pakistan, Iran bloc that is forming & will later form with the Arabs. My ticket was re- routed thru Bahrain. I toured Aramco again had breakfast there, went into the city (?) to buy papers. Thurs & Fri is a holiday with Aramco. Finally caught the plane, stopped in Bahrain for 1 hr. & then arrived in Kuwait at 6:10 pm & checked into the Phoenicia Hotel. All of the clerks knew who I was (I don’t know how) and treated me very well. All of the Arabs refer to me as ‘Zgieeme Muslim fi America’ [?] After dinner in the hotel’s very exotic restaurant I finally got____Demardash on the phone. He’ll see me tomorrow. I’ve been frantic all evening because I lost my ‘health certificate.’ It was left either at the Sudanese Consulate in Jeddah or at the airport customs by the protocol officer.
“I’m anti-racism whether it’s practiced by capitalist, communist or socialist. China ambassador to Ghana: ‘Don’t be a racist. It’s a struggle between oppressed people of all colors against oppressor of all colors.’ If he was a racist, since the press had projected me in the image of an extreme racist, racism would have the natural & wisest approach from him, but instead He approached the problem objective as a human being.

“When we all learn to think as human beings instead of as capitalists, communists & socialists this will then be a world for all human beings.

“It takes some of the same poison to counteract (same as antidote) poison. Europeanism has been such a strong poison for centuries it now becomes essential to emphasize Africanism to counteract it & Arabism to counteract Zionism, socialism to counteract capitalism etc. Orientalism or Darkism to counter-balance Occidentalism or whitism…thus the present escalating world struggle (cold war).”

Fri. Sept 25
“Two brothers from the hotel took me to the main mosque for Jumah prayers where I met Faisal who had been to the States twice. He asked me if knew Malcolm X & was shocked when I told him my name. We discussed the race problem & the Zionists. Back at the hotel I napped, still worried about my health certificate & how much or where it might hold me up. I walked around Kuwait by myself (I had the UAA check my reservations for Tues—okay) and when I returned Hameed Demerdash had phoned, he came by at 8 pm and we talked until 9 pm. He seemed more at ease than when we first met in Cairo. He asked me for the news article in the Jeddah paper (Bilal) to show it to the government officials tomorrow. I went down to a lonely dinner at 9:15.”

Sat. Sept. 26
“I went early (7:30 am) to the American Embassy & explained about my health certificate to a Mr. Waterman. He never asked me any ‘personal’ questions, didn’t even show any sign of recognition. By 8:30 he had called my hotel, advising me to go to the American Mission Hospital near my hotel and a Dr. Pennings there could help me. I went immediately. Dr. Pennings asked me outright if I was Malcolm X. They gave me a couple of shots and told me to call Monday (28th) for the certificate. At 3 pm some local newspapers reporters came to interview me. I spent most of the day in my room writing & napping. The hotel owner (a Palestinian) acted as interpreter. He irked me when he asked why (a Muslim leader) I didn’t know Arabic. I politely (with ice) pointed out that the Arabs had never taken the initiative to set up schools in American to teach Arabic like the Jews and others have. At 8 pm Yusuf______took me to dinner at an exotic basement restaurant. One would not even know of its existence: the entrance was inside of another ordinary looking restaurant. We discussed religion, politics: The Saudis, Nasser, Zionists, Americans, Pakistanis, etc.”

Sunday Sept. 27
“I went past the Sudanese Embassy and the Saudi Embassy seeking more information about my last health certificate. Between 4 & 5 pm I tried to get a call thru to the Sudanese Embassy in Jeddah to no avail. Demerdash finally called & said would see some of the foreign ministry officials tomorrow. That’s a relief because I’ve been very idle ever since arriving in Kuwait and have been beginning to feel I was wasting my time. In fact, had I had my health certificate I’d have been on the next plane out. I started even to look for a movie about 8 pm & bellhop (who likes me & asked for me to pose for some pictures with him) came to see me & said movies were forbidden (Harum) for Muslims. I asked him what the difference between the movies and the TV’s in people’s home. He thought there was a difference, so I went to the TV room instead. There was a Lebanese lady there too who could speak ‘bits’ of English. She was wealthy, a Christian and very shrewdly critical of her fellow Arabs.”

Mon. Sept 28
“Demerdash came at 8:30 am and took me to the foreign ministry. The secretary, Muhammad F. Al-Herbish, had seen me on TV in London & immediately became friendly & helpful. He took me to see ______ and while there two more came in. One was the son-in-law of HE Prince Gabis Al- Sabbah, and the other HE Rashid, their ambassador to the UN. They were cordial, attentive & seemed sympathetic. Since a special cabinet meeting was being held it was impossible to see the ministers but Herbish kept calling until he got the Minister of WAKF [?] on the phone & he agreed to see me after the cabinet meeting. He spoke ‘some’ English, so I conversed mostly thru a young interpreter who had been educated in Calif. I had some cards made, watched TV with the Somali diplomat (ambassador?) and the Lebanese aristocrat. She was frightened when one of the bellhops told her I was a Muslim, because last nite she had ‘talked too much’ about the leaders in the Muslim countries (Ben Bella, etc.) and I had sat & listened, playing dumb.”

Tues. Sept 29
“My plane left Kuwait & arrived in Beirut on schedule.

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