Black Literature: Hughes, Cullen, Baraka, and Madhubuti

The term “Jazzoetry” was coined by the Last Poets, who used it as the name of one of their albums. The term was applied to the revolutionary style of poetry with a jazz background that they had popularized during their 70s heyday. While the term may not have applied so much to the written word, particularly that before it, there were black poets who wrote with an afrocentric flow and fervor that was inspiration and insightful.

Amiri Baraka is one such poet and is considered the founding father of the Black Arts Movement. He was born Everett LeRoi Jones, in Newark, New Jersey, October 7, 1934.

Baraka (still writing under his given name of LeRoi Jones) found success early, winning the Obie In 1964 for his racially-charged play, “The Dutchman,” which focused on the brief, but volatile rapport between a young black man and a blonde temptress. He later opened a school that emphasized blackness in an artistic, musical, poetic and dramatic context.

He later divorced his (white) wife and adopted a more nationalist perspective and changed his name to Imamu Amiri Baraka. He remarried, to Sylvia Robinson, who adopted the name Amina Baraka.

In 1961 Baraka had his work, “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note” published. Two years later came, “Blues People.” But his real notoriety came when his poetry took on a stance similar to that of the Black Muslim Movement and took on what many labeled an “Anti-Semitic” tenor. Since then he has published 17 other books, including “Four Black Revolutionary Plays” (1969), “Raise Race Rays Raize: Essays Since 1965, 1971,” “The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka” (1984), and “Somebody Blew Up America” (2001).

In 2002 Baraka was named Poet Laureate of New Jersey. One of his detractors is negro lickspittle and anti-affirmative Action crusader,. Ward Connerly. He described Baraka as, “One of America’s premier haters and anti-Semites,” in reference to the poem, “Somebody Blew Up America.” That particular work accused Israel of having prior knowledge of the 911 attacks and did nothing to alert Americans. Because of the ensuing controversy, Baraka resigned his post in 2003.

Connerly elaborated: “the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts formed a panel that appointed this “artist” as poet laureate. That’s right. They appointed him to this prestigious paid position ($10,000 for a two-year term, no less) in spite of the fact that he had published dozens of anti-Jewish, anti-white, pro-Black Panther screeds during the last 25 years…Did they really think his hate-infused, Jew-bashing, hip-hop-like lyrics were truly poetic?…Now I’m starting to wonder if there aren’t more Amiri Barakas out there, dishing out filth and hate under the guise of a poet laureate of another state. It wouldn’t hurt any of us to check this out.”

Technically different, Countee Cullen was born in Louisville, Kentucky, March 30, 1903, (though for most of his life he claimed New York City as his birthplace. Along with Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar. Among others, Cullen was one of the stars of the Harlem Renaissance. During this time He published several books of poetry, “Color” (1925), “Copper Sun” (1927) and “The Ballad of the Brown Girl” (1927)..

While his themes were black, many believed he “wrote white.” Cullen experimented with sonnets, quatrains, and other poetic forms and was influenced by John Keats. However, his work often dealt with racial issues.”

One such poem is “Simon the Cyrenian Speaks”:

He never spoke a word to me / And yet He called my name /
He never gave a sign to me / And yet I knew and came.

At first I said, “I will not bear / His cross upon my back /
He only seeks to place it there / Because my skin is black.

But He was dying for a dream / And He was very meek,
And in His eyes there shone a gleam / Men journey far to seek.

It was Himself my pity bought / I did for Christ alone
What all of Rome could not have wrought / With bruise of lash or stone.

There is a symmetry and flow to his words. It is simple yet powerful in its expression of suffering. Cullen died in 1946, falling victim to high blood pressure.

Haki R. Madhubuti is a poet who has risen to literary prominence in the Black Arts Movement. He gained his first successes writing poetry during the 60’s and early 70’s writing under his given name, Don L. Lee (He changed his name in 1973). He is also an essayist and is founder of and editor at Third World Press, the oldest Black publishing company in the Unites States. He is also a noted lecturer and educator, serving as the director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Chicago State University.

Madhubuti was born in Little Rock, Arkansas February 23, 1942, but was raised in Detroit. He started his literary career in 1967 with the publication of a collection of essays titled, “Think Black.” Some of his other poetic offerings include the collections, “We Walk the Way of the World,” and “Don’t Cry, Scream.” He has published 18 other books including, “Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous,” “The African American Family in Transition,” and “Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption.”

His perspective is decidedly pro-black, seeking to raise issues for discussion and dissemination. One of his conscious-raising works is “Change Up,” which says:

let’s go for ourselves/
both cheeks are broken now./
move past the corner bar,/
let yr/split lift u above that quick high./

He again takes a point-blank approach in “My Brothers, My Brothers”:

my brothers/
my brothers i will not tell you/
who to love or not love/
i will only say to you/
Black women have not been/
loved enough./
i will say to you/
we are at war & that/
Black men in america are/
being removed from the/

Madhubuti states, “We are only equipped to survive, but survival is not enough. We go to malls and stores to buy products from people who don’t even like us…We are buying stuff and we worship ownership. But first we must take ownership of ourselves–when you don’t know yourself, you have no ownership of yourself. If all Black children were made aware of their culture and history beyond the context of slavery, they would rise above the limited frustrations of others and themselves.”

James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He died May 22, 1967 of cancer. During that 65-year span he created a vast body of work that includes more than 25 books (16 were poetry books), twenty plays, several autobiographical works and radio and television scripts. Some of his most notable works are “The Big Sea,” “I Wonder As I Wander,” “Shakespeare In Harlem” and “The Best of Simple.”

At age 17 he went to Mexico for a year, and despite being with his father found it not to his liking. He also served a hitch in the army and traveled the world, including several trips to Russia and to Africa. The latter influenced his writing, especially in the poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”

Langston began writing poetry in the eighth grade. Years later and against his father’s wishes, he dropped out of Columbia University. Shortly thereafter his first poem (“The Negro Speaks of Rivers”) was published. Known primarily as a poet, Hughes earned distinction by penning plays, essays and novels as well. He created a series of books on a dim-witted character he called, Jess B. Simple.

But his most well-known work is the poem, “A Dream Deferred”:

What happens to a dream deferred?/
Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore– / And then run? /
Does it stink like rotten meat? / Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet? /
Maybe it just sags / like a heavy load./
Or does it explode?

Hughes asserted, “We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren’t, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too… If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how and we stand on the top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

Hughes heyday was in the 20’s. After a trip to Africa in 1923, he returned and flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. He took a job working under Carter G. Woodson, editor of the Journal of, but returned to Harlem in 1926. He also returned to school (University of Pennsylvania), earning his B.A. degree three years later.

The influence of these four men is alive and well, their works srving as an impetus for today’s new cadre of black poets.

Paul P. Reuben, “Amiri Baraka / LeRoi Jones,” Perspectives in American Literature, chapter 10

Ward Connerly, “Amiri Baraka Hits a New Low,” The Washington Times, October 11, 2002

Amiri Baraka profile, Wikipedia

Biography of Langston Hughes, Wikipedia

Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako), “Langston Hughes” No additional information available

How Internet Brokers and Agents Kill Petroleum Deals and Oil Deals As Intermediaries in Trading

Overzealous and Misguided Joker Broker Types and Agents Are Often the Biggest Obstacles in Successfully Closing Deals or Making Money in Oil Trading


According studies, primarily because of the central role that the Internet has played in international trading, the real market for the intermediaries or middlemen in the international ‘secondary’ market trading has been collapsing quite rapidly in recent times. Estimates from such experts and accounts by experienced trader, assert that the year 2000 was the last “good year” for the intermediary in the business. Kamal J. Southall, for example, maintains that “after 2000, the critical mass of brokers and traders who were ill-informed and poorly trained, as well as of fraudulently applied offers and scams, reached the point that real end-buyers manufacturers and suppliers simply stopped responding [to intermediaries] except in exceptional cases.”

Southall estimates, citing another experts’ calculation, that out of some one million individuals currently trying to make it as brokers or trade intermediaries in the world, “perhaps no more than 1% has the training and skill needed to ever close a deal… [meaning that] the overwhelming majority, are trading blindly, [hence] deals are collapsing… and more to the point, [oil dealers are] being defrauded – sometimes massively”

In point of fact, the general consensus among experts, is that previously, before the current advent of the predominance of the Internet in international trading when facsimile and telex trading were the supreme medium for the business, there had existed a reasonably robust and viable market, although small, for the intermediary agent. Such that it was rather common for an intermediary to occasionally get to a contract closing stage and to close deals and earn at least reasonable commission incomes. But that there has NOT been such an intermediary market lately for some years now, since the new Internet era. But rather, that such a market for the intermediary has essentially been dead for all but the most skilled and experienced intermediary in the market today – killed in part, though by no means completely, by the preeminent use of the Internet medium by the Internet trader and intermediary.

In short, the new reality of today is that while, in the days before the Internet, the average broker, agent or other intermediary or ‘middleman’ involved in international trading generally and successfully closed deals and earned decent income with at least some modest frequency, quite to the contrary, such broker or agent or other intermediary who operate in this current Internet era, on the other hand, hardly closes any deals or earns any income in the business any more.

And what factors account for this phenomenon – for the fact that these brokers and other intermediaries generally make no sales or income in this Internet era?.


There are many factors which account for this. Briefly summed up, they range from the dramatically increased number of scams and fraudsters in the business, made much easier by the shield of anonymity provided by the Internet, to relative lack of proper training, skills or knowledge in the fundamentals of the business prevalent among the modern class of brokers and other intermediaries as a result of the easiness of requisite qualification for one to become an Internet “broker” or intermediary, to the element of the increased pervasiveness of “The Joker Broker” mentality and behavior among the Internet-era brokers, agents & other intermediaries. However, all these various causative factors being duly considered, perhaps the single, overarching, most paramount consideration accounting for the woeful failure and inability of the modern broker and the intermediary to successfully do business, could simply be subsumed into this one central theme and be summed up as follows: the use of, and reliance upon, badly flawed and erroneous methodology, rules and procedures for oil deals on the part of the modern class of intermediaries in doing business – a class of intermediaries that is often typically notorious for being particularly untrained, misguided and uninformed as to the actual and proper way of doing the business.

Most unfortunately, frequently the end result of the above reality, is that by largely relying upon and using such misguided and badly flawed methodology and procedures in doing business, such brokers and agents, who are notorious, as well, for often being overzealous, self-consumed and desperate to find a buyer or make a quick commission at all costs, essentially become, themselves, actually the biggest obstacles to themselves and fellow brokers and agents in successfully closing deals or making money in the oil trading business!


Broadly speaking, there are a few basic identifiable major ways in which this rather awesome phenomenon of the modern overzealous and misguided Internet broker or agent constituting an obstacle in successfully doing business, frequently manifests itself.


But, probably the most impactful but pervasive way and manner in which the overzealous and misguided broker/agent intermediary frequently constitutes himself (or herself), whether intentionally or unintentionally, into a crippling obstacle, rather than an aid or facilitator, to successfully doing petroleum deals or closing one, is basically by their use of methodology and procedures which are badly flawed and erroneous, unrealistic, unreal, impracticable, and oftentimes downright pie-in-the-sky like and comical.

A classic example of that, is the frequent resort by many Internet brokers and agents to use of the arcane procedures such as the ‘LOI,’ ‘ICPO,’ ‘NCND,’ ‘BCL,’ etc., in doing business. According to many respected experts and seasoned practitioners in the trading field, the employment of procedures such as these by any supplier or intermediary, is virtually an automatic marker which immediately gives away the user as a trade amateur or intermediary and a failure who not only lacks the requisite training or knowledge of the proper trading procedures, but who apparently has never successfully closed any deals, and never will. In deed, to a seasoned buyer (or the agent of one), getting a sales offer from a supplier or agent which opens with such terms and procedures, is typically a clear marker which automatically sets off an alarm bell in such a buyer’s head, spelling danger and potential doom to the buyer. As one expert put is, “In fact the presence of many of these terms are considered to be signs of Advance Fee Fraud, by knowledgeable players and law enforcement.”

This is how an intermediary who admitted to being a failed Joker-Broker with a prior record of a string of failures, but who later acquired the proper training and became a reformed broker, and is now a successful multi-deal closer, sums it up, writing in the website:

“When a deal starts off with ‘send ICPO with BCL or Soft Probe, NCND and IMFPA,’ this is ‘broker language.’ Those that know broker language know what this means: ‘I’m a joker broker. I don’t have any real product for sale, and I don’t know anyone who has any, so I want you to give me an Irrevocable Purchase Order with your full financial details disclosed, so I can run around with your order and your money in my hands, looking for product, and the next thing you see will be your company and banking details exposed to the whole world, running around unsecured on the Internet between thousands of other joker brokers.’ “

Fundamentally, the primary reason that the use of such procedures are generally viewed by experts as badly flawed and improper, and as often constituting the biggest obstacles to many a broker or agent in successfully closing deals or making money in oil trading business, is rather simple: those procedures and methodology are simply inappropriate or unworkable and impracticable, pure and simple! They are inappropriate and unworkable within the context of the real world of business environment in which they are trying to operate or do business. And consequently, because those procedures and methodology are of such nature, they invariably fail, and inevitably never work. Why? Basically, because suppliers who receive such stupid procedures from intermediaries or potential buyers, being already sickened by those kinds of procedures, just can’t be bothered to reply to them, while similarly, the end buyers won’t be bothered with replying to equally stupid and sickening offers from sellers. In consequence, the result is that the only people supposedly ‘trading’ are merely the misguided intermediaries passing around make-belief ‘deals’ from one misguided intermediary to another, essentially consisting, for the most part, of shoving around the usual inappropriate or unworkable procedures like the ‘LOI.’ ‘BCL,’ ‘ICPO,’ and unverified ‘POP.’

In deed, say some experts – most of whom often characterize these procedures in derogatory terms like ‘unsafe,’ ‘impracticable,’ ‘misguided,’ and ‘misused’ – many a time even the intermediaries, themselves, who employ these terms and procedures are fully well aware that they have not been able to close a deal in months, even years, of using these badly flawed terms and procedures, and probably never will. But yet, these experts add, these intermediaries will not admit that these methods are flawed and have not gotten them any deals in the past, and each new intermediary in the ‘broker chain’ just continues, any way, to pass the flawed copied methods down the unending ‘daisy chain,’ from one broker/agent intermediary to the other in their make-belief ‘deals’ and ‘trading.’


Given the central reality we’ve just sketched above to the effect that these procedures and methodology are often inappropriate or unworkable, and that they invariably result in failure and no income on the part of the Internet intermediaries, a major curious question of immense relevance, is this: Why then? Why then is it that these Internet intermediaries generally refuse to use the correct oil deal procedures but plunge ahead, any way, and still engage in doing business using precisely those same badly flawed and unproductive procedures? Or, to put it another way, what forces or interests apparently impel them to keep conducting business that way, any way, such that, in effect, by conducting business that way, that precise role that such intermediaries play generally makes them, whether wittingly or unwittingly, a prime obstacle on their own path, and on the path of most other intermediaries, in being able to close deals or to earn income?

THE ANSWER? The basic reason, in a word, is largely related to the personal financial self-interest of the intermediaries, and the desperate selfish desire on their part to quickly land a real supplier or secure a commission income by any and all means whatsoever.

Many insightful experts and keen observers have noted, for example, that many of these arcane procedures being employed by these Internet intermediaries (the LOI, ICPO, BCL, NCND, etc), are actually usually not initiated or required by the principal traders (i.e., the buyer or the seller) involved in the business, but are merely the personal inventions and initiatives of the overzealous intermediary types created, designed, improvised, and used largely by them to gain for themselves some undue control in the trading process, and, most importantly for them, to avoid “circumvention” by other intermediaries in a deal, and, thereby to create or justify getting paid a commission income, themselves, in a deal.


A good case in point for illustrating the above point, is the frequent resort to the use of the so-called “LOI” (Letter of Intent) by Internet agents and intermediaries in initiating trade offers. The use of the LOI (Letter of Intent) document is a central procedure common among many present-day Internet brokers and intermediaries, and some sellers, as well. Basically, these brokers and intermediaries would frequently demand that any intending or interested buyer should first present the LOI document in showing and initiating an interest in a trade offer or making a purchase. And, according to such intermediaries, intending buyers should do so because, they say, by signing such a document at the very beginning of the selling process and handing it over (through them, of course!) to a supposed supplier of a product, that gesture, they claim, constitute a great demonstration of legitimacy of interest on the part of the would-be buyer, and would be showing that he (she) is “serious” about making a purchase.

Yet, except for these Internet traders and intermediaries who habitually persist in using these procedures, virtually all credible and respected experts in the industry point out – and, to my knowledge, no credible sellers or buyers, or even intermediaries, dispute this fact or have proven otherwise – that this document is essentially a legally worthless, meaningless, and even dangerous piece of paper, which is of no legal force or effect whatsoever, and is legally nonbinding and absolutely unenforceable upon any of the relevant parties involved in a deal, whether it be the signer of the document (the buyer), or the seller to whom it is given, or the intermediary.

Which, again, logically evokes the original question, WHY? Why then do these Internet traders and intermediaries continue to use or insist on prospective buyers using the LOI procedure in initiating their trade deals and offers, even though it is not only an absolutely worthless procedure that is of no real effect or legal meaning to any credible buyer, but essentially constitutes a major obstacle to a serious intermediary in ever being able to close a deal, and even though this document squarely falls under the infamous category of the kinds of procedures that are, in the words of Davide Papa and other respected experts on the subject, so “unsafe, inappropriate, impracticable, unworkable and misused,” that “anyone attempting to do business with these types of intermediaries [who use them], will also be unable to close a deal or collect a cent in commissions, no matter how long they trade for or how hard they try.”?

The answer is that the central clue simply lies directly in the reality imbedded in this statement by Toby Winson, a keen analyst of the issue, in his essay titled, the “Joker-Broker-Land”: “More than 95% of the time, the LOI is written by a broker, not by the seller, and, for the most part, these brokers have just cut and pasted information that they obtained from other brokers. Thus all of the conflicts and errors in the [LOI] are copied and pass[ed] along from joker to joker.”

In other words, invariably, these intermediaries insist and persist in using the LOI and other similarly ill-fitted joker broker type documents (when, in fact, all rational reasons would dictate otherwise), mainly for reasons that are simply selfish and somewhat personal and have absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with wanting to do good, legitimate, successful business or wanting to attain any level of wholesomeness relating to the business, itself. Nor anything having to do with the securing, preservation or “protection” of the legitimate interests of the supplier involved in the deal. But, rather, have everything to do with their own personal, selfish financial self-interest and agenda, and with their own obsessive concern with landing for themselves a legitimate supplier and/or buyer of a product and for earning a commission.

The point is that the evidence is strong that often times, many overzealous, super ambitious, aggressive brokers and agents, especially the obscure or scam-oriented ones, who represent themselves as sellers’ representatives or mandates largely through Internet contacts or communication, or even claim to be the actual crude Sellers, themselves, employ the LOI merely as a tool to quickly “corner and box in” a prospective buyer to commit to a purchase deal with them right upfront. That is, to commit before the prospective buyer may possibly demand that they provide their business profile or show him something tangible to demonstrate that they really represent, or are, legitimate sellers. Thus, such intermediaries, or sellers, would persistently demand that the prospective buyers hurry and issue them an LOI right upfront purportedly as proof that they are “serious” about making the purchase. And, as for the intermediary himself, what he deems as the most critically important matter for him is that, by having that LOI document signed and submitted to him (presumably for the intermediary’s onward transmission of it to the supposed “seller” of the product), the intermediary himself – and NOT necessarily the supposed supplier or seller – shall have quickly “cornered and boxed in” the prospective buyer and secured his commitment to the intermediary, even if not to the buyer.

Many a time, especially in a case involving a supposed seller who is either a fake seller or does not actually have any crude in hand yet, or an unscrupulous aspiring seller’s agent or broker who actually has not acquired a crude supplier (seller) yet, buyers may issue a purported ‘seller’ an LOI only to find out that there is no seller on the other end. This happens a lot in situations where you have an hungry or overzealous agent or facilitator who is still struggling to get a real supplier, and by extracting this LOI from an unsuspecting buyer, this facilitator can commit the buyer to the agent or facilitator only for him then to start hustling to find a seller or supplier.


There is another basic major way in which the new role of the overzealous, misguided Internet broker or agent as an obstacle to successfully doing business, frequently manifests itself. And that is the pernicious effects often brought about by the phenomenon of the long string or chain of brokers, agents, and middlemen often involved in the process, with most of them undercutting each other.

Many a time, the offers presented by an intermediary for an oil deal, would come with one long chain after another of too many people who go by different titles, such as “broker,” “mandate,” “agent,” “facilitator.” But, what is worst, is that, partly as a result of the virtual lack of any objective requirements for qualification for wearing the mantle of being a “broker,” or “agent” or “middleman” in the trade today, and the ease of entry into Internet trading, such Internet intermediaries generally tend to function in a climate of little or no rules or standards at all and of loose or no ethics, in which the “dog eat dog” mentality seem to prevail – a climate in which each broker, agent, or mandate, being only selfishly concerned with just his own personal gains and self-interest, is constantly trying to undercut and circumvent the other in deals. Thus, often leading to the ultimate detriment of ALL the parties involved in an offer, as ALL of them, as a whole, and not just one party or the other, invariably wind up the losers since NO deal at all is had with any buyer.

To be sure, the issue of an intermediary potentially being “circumvented” by another, or by a principal, is a legitimate issue absolutely worthy of concern and attention by any intermediary involved in a trading deal, more especially in a petroleum deal which is an industry that is particularly notorious for being a hotbed of get-rich-quick day dreamers and unscrupulous gold diggers who are not particularly noted for their great ethics, high training or education, or great character. Absolutely and categorically so! However, the central point to be made here is that legitimate concern about possible circumvention need not necessarily be allowed, however, to degenerate into obsessive paranoia that should cripple making all progress in a deal, and that there is, actually, a more proper and effective way and strategy by which that all-important ‘circumvention’ issue could be better addressed and would virtually eliminate the possibility of circumvention of any intermediary in a deal.

For our present purposes here, what is relevant to note is that the characteristic phenomenon of having a long chain of too many people as intermediaries in a deal, each selfish, distrusting and suspicious of the other and unwilling to collaborate and yield needed information to the other, often presents profound and insurmountable problem, essentially making the intermediary, himself, the major hindrance and obstacle to working out a deal or closing one. Principally, when such phenomenon rears its unfortunate head in a deal, it critically slows down the distribution of information, or even brings it to an absolute halt, thus completely crippling and ending any prospects of having any deal. Furthermore, the issue of ‘commission fee splitting’ arrangement becomes more intense and furiously contentious in such situations, as most of the intermediaries in the chains, gripped by fear, selfishness, frustration and personal greed, tussle over the issue of which group takes how much or what share of the fictional “commission” – a commission which is, in the first place, merely a figment of everyone’s imagination at this point since nothing is yet to be, and nothing may, in fact, ever, ever be in the end, after all that empty noise and hype is done!

This kind of scenario would happen even if, and where, a deal seems genuine and otherwise promising and complete with all the elements of being potentially successful. Thus, a legitimate buyer might need a product and require the broker or agent who brought him the deal to provide certain vital information, or to authenticate it. But because the buyer, or the intermediary, has to go through a long chain of many hands before he could get the requisite information – a problem which, by the way, a trained, experienced and self-confident intermediary could easily solve by setting up a ‘step back’ arrangement – it soon makes the deal unable to move forward and the buyer to lose trust, or otherwise destroys trust among the principals and the intermediaries involved in the deal, thus effectively killing the deal.


Other basic ways in which the new role of the overzealous, misguided Internet broker or agent as an obstacle to successfully doing business, frequently manifests itself, would include the following:

1. Presentation of Unverified Material with No Due Diligence

This is one of the most notorious hallmarks of the ‘joker broker’ type brokers and agents who typically operate on the Internet today – they generally present offers, ‘SPA’ contracts, and ‘deals’ that lack any VERIFICATION whatsoever, or one upon which any DUE DILIGENCE has been done as to their authenticity, genuineness or intrinsic worth or value, if any at all. Thus, as these intermediaries are able to send hundreds, even thousands, of email offers simultaneously to several dealers, with virtually none verified or even verifiable, one major result of this is that, in the noted words of one expert, “Suppliers can’t be bothered to reply to dubious purchase offers or requests for quotes. Similarly, the end buyers won’t reply to equally stupid offers.” And thus, resulting in a failed market, with no deals generally closed by most intermediaries, nor any commission income ever being earned by any!

2. Lack of Knowledge of Product:

Frequently, the intermediary who comes offering a ‘deal’ or bearing an ‘SPA’ Contract form, woefully lacks any working knowledge of the petroleum product or market that he (or she) purports to be selling – matters like the standard quality specification of the product, or its current price in the world market, the production capacity of crude for a country, and the like (not to speak, of course, of having knowledge of the proper methodology, rules or procedures of the business). Clearly, how can one market a product that one knows nothing about? Often, the stark ignorance of the intermediary is soon exposed when such an intermediary gets asked certain basic, elementary questions by the interested buyer or his agent and the intermediary comes back, usually after several days of inaction, with something like, ‘I’ve sent your questions to my seller, and I’m waiting to get seller’s reply’!

Or, even worse still, a buyer whose interest in an offer might have become ignited in the deal, might place a phone call to the intermediary wanting to ascertain if he is knowledgeable about certain aspects or facts of the product or offer that the intermediary purports to market since it’s been amply shown that an experienced trader could get a fair assessment of the seriousness or genuineness of a supplier or the offer he’s peddling by merely ‘feeling the pulse’ of the supplier or his purported representative through a mere telephone conversation. However, being that the average Internet intermediary often lacks the requisite knowledge about the petroleum product he purports to market (not to speak of knowledge of the rules and procedures of the realm of international trade, generally), far more often than not, the intermediary losses the opportunity to cultivate the crucial trust and credibility factor with the buyer through mere demonstration of knowledge about the product or offer he purports to market


In sum, the overriding, pivotal, critical challenge of every Internet intermediary or seller, broker, agent or other intermediary who operates in the “secondary” international oil trading market today and desires to succeed, is to be sure to use the correct petroleum deal procedures, and that he (or she) does NOT, himself, for reasons of parochial selfish considerations, constitute the real obstacle to conducting legitimate business with credible buyers. But rather, that he constitutes, in stead – essentially by dent of the kind of working procedures he employs and proffers – an aid, comfort, and actual facilitator to legitimate business operatives and to doing legitimate business with legitimate buyers..

The Primary Duty of the Intermediary in Internet Oil Trading and Refined Petroleum Product Deals


Most experts and keen analysts of the industry often lament and bemoan one nagging fundamental shortcoming of the modern Internet-era class of brokers, agents and other intermediaries – namely, that, as a class, they tend to be overly handicapped and plagued by a general lack of education, training, knowledge and proper information concerning the true nature and workings of international trade, and of its fundamentals and basic procedures.

Mr. R. Ambardar, a broker experienced for over 10 years in international market development and advisory services who has personally closed several petroleum deals, calls “lack of experience and knowledge” one of the principal primary reasons why many brokers and facilitators fail in crude oil endeavors and never close any deals. “Many people are attracted into this business because of [the tales they hear about the] kind of money one can earn on account of successful deals,” Ambardar asserts. “Many agents fail, [however], to understand that requirements to succeed in this business are very demanding, [and that] only those who have years of hands-on experience and thorough knowledge of the industry can strive to do well as middle-men.”

Echoing what almost every other respected expert in the field emphatically asserts, Ambardar adds, that “To become a ‘Facilitator’ in oil business,… what you actually need is right knowledge and expertise [since this is what will help] you hook up genuine buyers and sellers. One should be in the industry for long to have acquired knowledge related to the dynamics of this business.”

In the same vein, Davide Papa, the co-author with Lona Elliot of “International Trade & the Successful Intermediary,” one of the most prominent experts in the field today on the basic methodology and procedures of international trading by brokers and intermediaries, asserts that,

“Without the requisite knowledge of the correct trading procedures, you [the broker or agent/intermediary] are simply wasting your time by attempting to trade. The vast majority of traders you will meet on the Internet don’t know how to close a deal. Most don’t even know how to start a deal correctly, let alone bringing one to a successful conclusion.”

Consequently, says Mr. Papa, “Anyone attempting to do business with these types of intermediaries [or with their procedures] will also be unable to close a deal or collect a cent in commission, no matter how long they trade for or how hard they try.”

What Misguided Agents and Intermediaries erroneously think is “trading”

Yet, as a factual matter, most (in deed, just about ALL) brokers and intermediaries that one meets on the Internet who claim they have oil to sell, or who, for example, flood my Consultancy Office with “offers” and “deals” by the dozens every hour of the day each day, haven’t got even the foggiest clue of what is actually involved in proper trading, or how it works or is done. Almost to a man or woman, they essentially think that all there is to oil “trading,” is basically the accumulation of any number of some copied generic documents – ‘SPAs,’ ‘LOI,’ ‘FCO,’ ‘ICPO,’ and what have you – with almost none ever verified, and passing them around on the Internet to potential buyers or their agents, asking them to “just sign,” “just sign”! In deed, what is even worse, they hardly ever have the foggiest idea of even what their PROPER function and duty is, or should be, as an intermediary in the modern Internet era of TOO MUCH information and data, but TOO LITTLE quality or genuine information and data!


Quite oddly enough, one of the major but most fundamental ways in which this woeful pervasive lack of knowledge and information of the fundamentals and proper procedures manifests itself on the part of the intermediaries, is the awesome lack of knowledge among them concerning even the basic purpose and proper function or duty which the modern intermediary is supposed to serve for the oil trader and in the marketplace. Most Internet intermediaries are NOT even aware of what EXACTLY that is!


First, let us start with looking at the “traditional” role and function of the intermediary in the marketplace. This description of the duties and functions of a facilitator given by Sam Nelson, the author of a noted primer on oil trading that’s commonly used by many brokers and agents, best represents, perhaps, the conception of the traditional primary function of the intermediary in oil deals:

“Facilitating a business [by a Facilitator] is an act of arranging business activities as contained in a contract and bringing two parties into an agreement towards the smooth implementation of a contract as defined by the contract procedures… The facilitator is the individual, or group of people, arranging business activities as contained in a contract and bringing two parties into a mutual agreement towards the smooth implementation of a contract as defined in the procedures of the contract… There are people who work as facilitators in different kinds of business transactions, for example, ‘Currency trading.’ “

Nelson adds that, as a Facilitator on the seller’s side, for example, “the seller depends on you to find a reputable buyer. You, as the facilitator, become the hub for these deals. Honesty is required on your part. You can facilitate a deal as a buyer or seller’s facilitator but I will advise you not to be on both sides at the same time for the same deal. That will be an absolute greed.”

Robert McAngus, the Chairman and CEO of the McAngus Group, a Marbella, Spain-based global conglomerate actively engaged in the business of primary commodities, including oil products, through its network of offices and partners in Africa, Europe, the Far and Middle East, and the Americas, gives his own description of the usual traditional role of the intermediary, this way: “a broker’s entire job is to help a petroleum company’s trading department find or sell oil and related products so that he will receive a commission when the deal comes together.”

In other words, by traditional standards, the primary role and function of the intermediary in the so-called “secondary” market petroleum trading operations, is simply the “sourcing” function – that is, the job of finding the suppliers of the product and matching them with intending buyers, in return for which the sourcing broker or agent will receive commission payments for successfully completed deals.


But here’s the central point to be made here, however. And that is this: That this old, “traditional” role and function of the broker or the intermediary in crude oil and petroleum products deals have changed in this current era of the Internet – and in a big, big and drastic way! And anyone who operates in the oil trade industry today as a broker, agent or other intermediary without knowing, or understanding or recognizing this critical modern-era reality, or who continues to operate as though, as in the past, all that is required of him is just to find a seller and “match” him with a buyer, or vice versa, totally misses the mark as to his proper place or function today in the marketplace, or his true market value or worth.

In deed, in this writer’s studied assessment, much of the problems and negative aspects (the so-called ‘dark side’) of the international commodities trading business that have often been primarily attributed to the role and involvement of the modern intermediaries’ in the business – the inability of most to successfully close deals or to make a commission, the involvement of many in scams and fake offers, etc – can be directly traced to this factor alone: namely, the failure on the part of the intermediary, whether knowingly or otherwise, to modify and adjust his business tactics and method of operation to align with this new “paradigm” shift of the current Internet era market place.

I’LL SUM IT UP SIMPLY THIS WAY, IN A NUTSHELL: True, in the past, BEFORE the present-day business ethics of the computer/Internet-era, what the average traders viewed to be the more important need and service from an intermediary – and one about which, therefore, the trader primarily sought and employed the services of the intermediary for – was primarily to obtain trade leads and contact sources for business prospects. But in this present post-Internet era, however, what the average trader now primarily wants and needs from the broker or intermediary, is not so much the trade leads or contact sources. But, rather, he primarily needs and wants the broker/agent intermediary to get him trade leads or contact sources and information that are duly verified or verifiable. Or, to put it another way, the trader’s primary need and most vital interest in an intermediary today, is for the broker and intermediary to aid and assist him in verifying and doing DUE DILIGENCE on the trade leads and opportunities or contact sources that are now generally available in superabundance, whether online or offline.

Jeffrey P. Graham, President of JPG Consulting, a Philadelphia-based international business consulting and research firm, makes that point rather quite clearly in his classic 1997 essay titled, “Evaluating Trade Leads.” Graham, who was one of the first to make that profound observation, states that with the coming of the Internet, the major issue and concern of international traders significantly became, NOT having too few or an insufficient number of trade leads on the buying or selling of a particular product or service, but having too many and too much of it. And that with that profound change, the central issue for the world traders became the ability and facility of traders – and the brokers, agents and intermediaries who work for them – to carry out good DUE DILIGENCE on the trade leads presented by or about a company or product, and being able to do competent evaluation on such company or product as to its genuineness and quality.

Thirty years ago, Graham says (meaning before the Internet became a factor), there were far fewer companies doing business as traders and intermediaries, and, secondly, the task of finding out how credible a company was, was a simple matter of just checking the telex address and obtaining some bank references on the company.
However, Graham adds, all that has drastically changed – thanks, or no thanks, to the Internet!

Graham sums up this view this way:

“Until very recently, gaining access to reliable sources of trade leads was a very expensive and time-consuming proposition for many small and medium sized companies (SME’s). In the United States, [for example], the Department of Commerce was the sole purveyor of trade leads… companies paid a monthly subscription fee then in order to gain access to what was available, whether it was appropriate or not. [However], with the proliferation of trade lead sources available on the World Wide Web (WWW), access to trade leads is no longer a problem. What has not changed, however, is the time involved in handling trade leads.

Enthusiastic proponents of the Internet will always tell anybody willing to suspend common sense that more is better. What is wrong with this concept… is the assumption that the additional information provided by the Internet can be easily assimilated into a business enterprise and made useful without any cost whatsoever; [or that], therefore, the proliferation of trade leads now available on the [Internet]… should translate into more and better opportunities for everybody. [The reality, however, has been that] Nothing could be further from the truth, because the real problem with trade leads, is that most of them are of questionable value.”

Asserting that “a trade lead in 1997 means something quite different than it did in 1977,” Graham adds that:

“The Internet presents troubling issues even for the most experienced international business people because of the enormous amount of misleading information which is pumped into the system; a system which is not yet ready to process this amount of information. One issue is, really, [about being able] to evaluate the company which posts the trade lead and this is now a very tedious process… Since 1993, when the browser technology really began to take off and the Internet began to seriously emerge as a marketplace, the changes have been staggering… It is not unusual for people who are just wishfully thinking, to write and post trade leads which are designed primarily to elicit responses. These ‘companies’ [put out]… what many call ‘trade leads’ but which almost always turn out to be worthless junk… Such postings can send companies on time consuming and very expensive fishing expeditions which yield no sales and have little potential for future business as well.”

TRANSLATED: In short, the central point made by experts and keen students of modern trade history, is that the role and purpose of the intermediary in the Internet-era international commodities trading, have undergone some drastic, even staggering, fundamental change – a ‘paradigm shift” or change – from, say, the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to these days. In that previous era, a relatively few buying and selling trade leads existed which consisted really of just information posted on on-line bulletin boards and from the U.S. department of commerce trade publications. But by the mid 1990’s, with the rise of the World Wide Web, the Internet and Usenet gradually but steadily assumed more useful role for business purposes. The Internet soon emerged as a major and central marketplace itself, consequently making the need for, and expense of, subscribing to trade leads a thing of the past.

But, in making the subscription to and expense of trade leads a thing of the past, the Internet brought about, however, a host of other big challenges of its own – it has made the task and process of evaluating the trade lead or opportunity that’s posted online considerably more difficult than it was, compared to the pre-Internet times of 30 years ago, such that today, while the sheer volume of trade leads and information available is gigantic, and the buying or selling of leads from around the world can be solicited at low-cost or practically for free, being able to evaluate the authenticity and actual worth and value of such information is the central task and challenge of the time.


In short, summed up very simply, the central point is that, in terms of the business needs and desires of today’s world traders, there has been a gradual but drastic “paradigm shift” or a major change, over the past two to three decades of transitioning to the Internet era, and hence, in what the average world trader wants and requires from their brokers and intermediaries and the Primary Duty of the Intermediary in Internet Oil Trading. Today, what they (the traders) principally want and desire from their intermediaries, is not so much obtaining some sheer “raw data” concerning any trade leads or contacts, or merely what the volume and “quantity” of trade leads or offers they’re provided is, since the average trader generally has access already to such material in overabundant supply. But, rather, what they want and desire most particularly, is “quality data,” meaning data that shall have already been properly vetted and verified, data for which a good deal of “due diligence” shall have already been done on.

That is, long gone are the old days of the “traditional” role and function of the sourcing broker or agent when his primary role was only to obtain trade leads or offers about a product or business prospect and just try to “match” them with, or, in deed, more accurately stated, just ‘dump them on,’ a seller or buyer – without first verifying or authenticating them, or first doing even a minimal amount of due diligence on them as to their actual worth and legitimacy. For the credible or authentic buyer or seller today, that traditional approach will not suffice or be even remotely acceptable any more.


Yet, that profound new reality notwithstanding, that is precisely what many a sourcing broker and agent – in deed, the vast majority of them – who operate in the Internet crude oil and petroleum products trading business today, largely do: they merely go around dutifully but indiscriminately collecting and amassing SPA (Sales and Purchase Agreement) documents, ‘LOI,’ ‘ICPO,’ and ‘POP’ documents, and other copied similar documents, from any and every conceivable sources they can find on the Internet, and simply passing them over to any prospective buyers they can reach, virtually with nothing ever vetted or evaluated by them concerning the reliability of the information being peddled, or the bona fides of the providers or originators of the documents or the even actual existence, availability or authenticity of the product claimed. No DUE DILIGENCE ever done by the broker/agent intermediaries on the offers presented and represented in those “documents”! To the vast majority of these brokers and agents on the Internet, notorious for largely being uninformed and non-knowledgeably in the business, this is what and all they think is “trading.”!

Frequently, the most that the Internet broker or agent (or trader) who sends in the offer would add, is that he or she would throw in some meaningless, worthless, self-serving statements such as: “This is an authentic seller.” “I can assure you this seller has excellent reputation and is reliable.” Some would even claim something like, “We just successfully concluded another deal like this with this seller.” Yet, as a rule, no shred of concrete evidence whatsoever, much less any proof, is ever provided by such broker or agent to substantiate or back up any of such statements and claims – and therefore still making them (i.e., the intermediary and the offer they might have presented) not only just as worthless in the eyes of any credible buyer viewing the offer, but additionally irritating and time-wasting to them, since virtually no credible buyer in the business would view such representations as worth even one dime, any way!

Think of the image of the scornful “Joker Broker” role in the present-day international trading described by Kamal J. Southall, in his book on trade and financial fraud and the ‘Joker Broker.’ The image of individuals (call them brokers, agents, mandates, facilitators, etc) “who knowingly or unknowingly peddles and plies deals and products that, in the vast majority of instances, are non-existent, or badly defined… [and go] plying deals often involving a string of brokers from one end of the planet to another, and yet not a single one has verified the very existence of the goods at hand.”


By and large, most unfortunately the modern Internet broker/agent intermediaries largely fail to provide the current market (i.e., the legitimate buyers and sellers in the industry) “what the market actually wants,” pure and simple. Namely, they woefully fail frequently to provide and serve the primary duty of the intermediary in Internet oil trading, to serve their Number #1 and most appropriate and most important function for the trader, which is, basically, to help do the essential DUE DILIGENCE on the trade leads or offers or information they provide or come across, before or when they pass them on to the trader, and to have fully evaluated and verified such material before hand as to their authenticity, reliability, and intrinsic worth and legitimacy.

And the result? Predictably, largely as a result of such woeful mass failure to provide the current commodities market “what the market actually wants,” the average broker and agent today often invariably is unable to close any deals with any traders, month-after-month, even after years and years of doing the business. Or, worse still, partly because of this general failure on their part to legitimately make sales or legitimately earn any commission income, many of these brokers and agents often resort, wittingly or otherwise, to the act of defrauding and scamming other innocent traders and the peddling of fake offers.

And what then might be the remedy for this?

As a broker or agent today, if you wish to be able to make any progress and to close any deals with any credible traders, the first and foremost thing you should at the very least know, is what should be, and is, your most important and proper duty and function as an intermediary in this Internet era. And then, quickly get yourself back to that crucial business of serving that purpose and function for the traders. You had better got yourself back to serving what should be your Number #1 and most proper and valued function to traders’ and providing the current market (the legitimate buyers and sellers in the market) “what the market” of the present-era actually “wants.” Which is, in a word, to provide the traders trade leads, offers and information that you shall have properly evaluated, verified, and shall have subjected to the requisite due diligence as to their authenticity, reliability, and intrinsic worth and legitimacy, before you submit them to buyer (or a supplier, as the case may be). Or, to put it another way, be sure NEVER to provide any such material to traders UNLESS you’ve first done your proper due diligence on such material – since, in short, doing proper due diligence is really your principal job and value, your ONLY function, as a broker/agent intermediary! And if you do this – and ONLY if you follow this basic procedure in doing business – will you be able to see progress with credible buyers as they will be more inclined even to look at the offers you present or to consider them, and not just toss them in the proverbial waste paper basket outright, unconsidered and unread.