Afrocentricity: The Last Resort
Date: Monday, June 20 @ 20:17:42 UTC
By Onochie A. Onuorah
In the beginning there was Afrocentricity. In fact the beginning was afrocentricity. We the people of African descent are a very spiritual people. Our roots go way beyond the biblical chronicles; over 100000 years before the existence of the founding ancestors of the varied nations of people on earth today. Every continent has vestiges of the affluent and dynamic civilizations that Africans have modeled, from as far North as Russia to the simmering heat of the Australian desert.
Now ... I find the need to address how the word civilization is a widely misused and misconstrued terminology. The commonly held notion that industrialized societies are civilized is just dead wrong and as it appears, it could be due to a contradictory definition giving in our dictionaries. The dictionary definition presents urban societies as a bona fide model of what a civilized society should be. I still do not understand how any urbanized society can be considered a civilization. To me it kind of defies logic. I have had the privilege to live a couple of years in a rural as well as an urban environment.
The amount of ecological damage perpetrated by urban dwellers is full proof that the ancient wisdom that enabled so called primitive societies to live in balance and honour with nature has been lost. Ecological destruction implies a lack of reverence for life but should we call a society that does not revere life a civilization? A society where neighbors can live side by side for ten yrs without even knowing each others names is not civilized. A society where its citizens are compelled to slave for chopped up pieces of wood preferably called money is in no way civilized. A society where the natural wealth of the land is unevenly distributed, leading to inhumane class boundaries that cause the opprobrium and misery of those victimized is far from civilized. Most importantly a society built on slave labor or stolen land can never be a civilized society.
My idea of a civilization, of which I suppose is the ideal, is one where the community structure has been consummated to a degree of Godliness. It is a niche occupied by individuals whom are aware of the God in themselves and hence deal with each other in honor and respect. A society should be considered civilized if its co-inhabitants live in close communion to mother Earth. Rest assured, we certainly do not expect life in a civilized society to be in any way complex or complicated. Apparently from observation, it ironically appears that the so called third world nations still have vestiges of a long lost civilization.
There are a number of terms that we use these days that are equally misused and utterly convoluted, like the term "coloured people". Well, the last time I checked white was a colour, in fact those referred to as coloured are not the ones that turn pink in the winter, yellow during the summer and white during spring. So in reality it is the white folks that are coloured. Similarly the term progress has suffered unimaginable abuse; the end does not justify the means....the means justifies the means. May be the American public would not have re-elected bush if they understood that what ever economic and socio-political advantages his war on terrorism incurs on his administration will not venerate him and his cohorts of the atrocious crimes committed against the people of Iraq, same goes for industry and technology.
The benefits we get from industry and technology should not serve to justify the callous savagery of these institutions on us and our environment. Equally true is the fact that albeit claims of potential health and economic benefits of animal research, G.M foods and stem cell research, these are sciences that retard the evolution of man kind. If these scientists feel the need to play God then it is required of them to understand comprehensively all knowledge associated with genes, which include physical and spiritual connections, otherwise what ever they do in their little labs are guaranteed to have catastrophic implications. I hope we pay better attention to the terminologies we use and on that note, I bring forward the predicated term Afrocentricity.
Who is an Afrocentric? What is the Afrocentric philosophy? How vital is it in the struggle for the emancipation of the mind, body and soul of an individual of African descent? Before I delve into the meaning of the term Afrocentricity and how it is an integral part of our struggle, let me say for the record, that complete and thorough mastery of this idea or philosophy is the gate way to this great and promising future of ours. I call this century the critical century. It is this century that the faith of humanity will be determined, however the future cannot be predicted because it is comprised of infinite possibilities and probabilities but nonetheless a future of choice and intent can be created. Afrocentricity is simply the individual, sincere and persistent effort of a black African (black person) to be self knowledgeable. It is a philosophy of truth, of dignity, of humanity, of Godliness. It is a philosophy that can enable those willing to create a future that counteracts a past of humiliation and a present of subjugation thus it is a movement that seeks to redefine the contributions of Africans, as interpreted by Africans, to world history thereby expunging contemporary views of Africa as being a mere creation of Europe which leads to the relegation of African world view, philosophies and culture to the peripherals of European constructs.
Eventually those of us whom are in the Afrocentric state of mind would contemplate, among other questions, what kind off world do we want our posterity to inherit? What are our priorities? Should we master foreign philosophies to the detriment of our own home grown and carefully established traditional philosophies? Are you really black and proud if you have no knowledge of your self? Let us not confuse false pride with dignity. You cannot be black and proud if you wear skin toning cosmetics or itchy European wigs in an attempt to be what society has conditioned your psyche to believe is the palatable definition of beauty in contemporary human society. What really is your pride if your name bears know relation to your identity? It becomes obvious that the story is indeed greater than the warrior when we analyze the out come of centuries of a conspiring plot to distort and repackage the history and philosophies of the people of African descent (black people) which may take a life time to rectify. They say the world is now a global village, true, but whose global village? I do not want to be part of a global village that leans extremely toward absolute homogeny and hegemony of the culture, politics and economics of one nation of people (people of European decent) over all others.
White supremacy can be seen every where in our various societies; it is in the media, in the educational institutions, in the foreign trade policies, it is the roots of most of the wars that have ravaged and are still ravaging the so called developing nations, in fact it is, in varied ways, manifested in our every day lives. White supremacy has fueled the European economy for centuries. The established racial hierarchy in existence during the European renaissance brought grounds for the mass enslavement and subsequent colonization of black Africans and native Indians. Then as is now, notable personalities of European descent .i.e. Hegel, Thomas Jefferson; scholars, clergies, doctors, philosophers were among the class of people to promote and push for the bigoted philosophies of white supremacy.
The slave trade was not a trade; it was a black holocaust that involved a perpetual psychological aggression coupled with excessive social violence against black Africans for over six hundred years. The slave trade was the greatest mass kidnapping and genocide of a people that has ever been known to man and it is the most savage form of mans inhumanity to man. Humans of all types and caliber from kings to thieves had their lives disrupted only to be sold like cattle's and sheep's, branded, chained, herded and packed like every day commodities in the deck of the ship allotted to animal shelter, that is, to the Europeans it was as simple as this; if the humanity, freedom and life of 100 million Africans is what it takes to globalize then so be it, in other words, the aforementioned fundamental rights of not only human beings but animals too was less valuable than the realization of the idea of capitalism and this reality still persists today.
The question "Why Africans" inevitably comes up as one recounts these historical facts.. It is certain that outsiders like the medieval and contemporary European pirates could not have exploited the human and material resources of the African continent without strong support from the inside. Some claim that Africans were involved in the barbaric black holocaust but may I remind those in support of such notions that no African society was built on slave labour notwithstanding its source hence assuming that Africans participated with all intent in the black holocaust cannot be a sound assumption since history does not corroborate such assumptions. Moreover, the preceding argument is trivial since it tends to elude the mind of the fundamental fact that monstrous crimes where committed against the men, women and children of black Africa and even if some Africans participated their actions were triggered by the influence of the Europeans involved just like our corrupt politicians today emulate the most vile of western character. Just as in the case of the Jewish holocaust, though some Jews connived with Hitler's henchmen does not justify the actions of the Nazis. Also note that the imperialist attitude of Europeans was in existence way before the black holocaust (slave trade). Others may argue that it was a need for labour in the Americas and Caribbean that initiated the black holocaust. While it is true that labour was needed in these stolen lands or colonies as it is often called it did not have to be forced free labour. Some groups like the kkk have attempted to use the bible to justify slavery along with all other terrorist acts being perpetrated by white supremacists; the slave owners in America at that time were all Christians who regarded their terrorists acts as a fulfillment of Gods will on Earth and it still amazes me how a significant fraction of the African America population currently identify with a religion their slave masters used to justify their enslavement. The same can be said about those of us that identify with Islam given that it was during the Islamic renaissance that the black holocaust in eastern Africa emerged.
In candor, it is quite disquieting to see black folks identify with the same racist ideas and philosophies that were fiercely resisted by our ancestors and are central to the breakdown of previously existing African civilization. Ideas such as capitalism and consumerism are not African. Every nation of people have indigenous ideas and philosophies just as every land have ancestral spirits as a presiding governing council over the affairs of the land such as human relations and human interactions with the land. If a people fail to preserve their traditional beliefs, communion with their ancestors which plays a pivotal role in their evolutionary process on earth cannot be maintained. Moreover, the dangers inherent in adopting foreign philosophies to the detriment of ones participation in his/her traditional philosophies can lead to the destabilization of a particular institution or all institutions in any given civilization. This destabilization can persist for several generations. A classic example is how a number of African nationalities have given up indigenous economic systems that are socialist in nature i.e. trade by barter in favour of capitalism. This shift has inevitably left these states paralyzed; and to some extent ungovernable. Big financial institutions such as the imf and world bank can be seen as external forces whose sole purpose is to assert imported guide lines and policies in regards to how self proclaimed capitalist states in Africa (and other so called developing countries) should work towards their idea of what a capitalist state should be.
The government in these states are usually coerced into privatizing all parastatals on which the welfare of the public depends on but the funny thing is that most of their proposed guide lines are not applied to western capitalist economies, for example tariffs and subsidies to farmers are strongly disapproved of by the policy makers in the imf and world bank but turn around and encourage them in the western economies in whose interest they are working for. The philosophy of capitalism is centered around individualism, entrepreneurship and aggrandizement of profit by any means necessary. Such a philosophy permits companies to own country/territories that belong to the natives, these native may have settled in the region in question for millennia past and as sources show most African colonies were actually owned by companies. This is not an African philosophy. The preservation of the African culture requires steadfastness and dignity; it requires an Afrocentric perspective on societal norms. I believe that all fix ideas are wrong and with this in mind it is natural for the culture of a people to evolve but what it evolves to should be entirely up to the people. There are particular traditional beliefs that have to change with time and this change should be under the discretion of the custodians of the culture.
Every individual of African descent have fallen victim to mental slavery to some degree however some have chosen to become even more severely enslaved mentally while others have begun the process of decolonization. White supremacy is well established in every black nation. Africans never had independence since the pre-black holocaust, in fact the independence that the African countries obtained from European colonies in recent history was actually a mere permission to take over and run a Eurocentric construct that's why the presumed independent states of Africa exhibit all characteristics that define a neo-colonial state. For instance, barristers in Nigeria wear European wigs with styling that date back to fifteenth century Europe, in school our kids are taught about European inventors/discoveries, Eurocentric philosophies and ideas. The elders today do not careless about teaching the children about their ancestral beliefs and in fact Africans are now more Christian or Moslem than the missionaries and Arabs that forced these philosophies upon their ancestors. While it is true that Christianity started in Africa and that there is a lot of correlation between the teachings of the Quran and bible with those of our ancestors the fact still remains that it still remains a stolen and repackaged philosophy that needs to be reviewed and reformulated in an African context with the help and guidance of our ancestors.
Coming back to the million dollar question: what about our children? Who are their role models? What are they taught in school? Why are the elders not educating the youth with wisdom? Probably it is because they were not educated with wisdom either. I guess a better question is when will this cycle of unconsciousness end? Our ancestors believed that it should take a village to raise a child; apparently the village no longer cares for the child in contemporary human society. To live by the philosophies of capitalism is to be individual and indifferent towards the well being of the children and their environment, it is important to understand that it is ones responsibility to be aware of the potential implications of the philosophies one lives by. In other words ignorance is certainly no excuse. For instance if you're a capitalist and your oblivious to the fact that your support of globalization automatically translates into your directly funding and participating in the current genocide in Iraq being perpetrated by American troops, then you should have your self to blame. Why have we not given enough thought as to how we expect our progenies to survive in a world of pollution, greed and consumerism? How long will this myopic vision last?
The cynosure of our entire struggle should be the children. The African child, just like every other child, should have a right to education and an opportunity to harness any talent he/she may posses. African schools are suffused with children with unimaginable gifts/talent which could be developed to a standard that guarantees world recognition and respect, unfortunately those who occupy positions where in these objectives could be implemented effectually are lost in their world of megalomania. Equally perplexing is the fact that African governments unconscionably allot more funds to the military than to the education and discipline of the child. Parents can only do so much in training or schooling a child on the ethos of his/her nation and it is the educational institutions obligation to see to it that the aspect of schooling that parents do not have the capabilities to fulfill is compensated. The educational curriculums as well as the course materials need restructuring, restructuring is not brain surgery. All that is required is some vision and will.
Ideas have the propensity to exaggerate the complexity or complicatedness of life but it is as simple as this; if we the black nation desire a glorious and Godly future, common sense(though nothing is common about it) will tell you that it can only be manifested through the children hence careful attention should be paid to their well being. The African child needs to know how the philosophies, inventions, discoveries, artistic artifacts/ingenuity and marshal prowess of their ancestors has been stolen, copied , repackage and resold to them the descendants for five hundred centuries and going. He should be taught to be both a dreamer and doer since a lack of complementation retards the evolutionary process of the individual. He/she should know that some individuals are irredeemable, without conscience, wisdom and empathy. The African child must understand that while some individuals' posses all physical attributes that make them seem like a brother they could posses a mentality counteracting theirs hence may pose a threat to their well being. They must understand that they are responsible for their short comings and actions this in turn should connote that no body, physical or nonphysical, can pay restitution for their crimes both in a spiritual and physical sense nor can any being, physical or nonphysical, fight their enemies for them. He/she should know that white supremacy is actually a consequence of inferiority complex and extreme jealousy that has been around before and after the so called "slave trade".
I call the slave trade the second black holocaust, the first being the bloody tribulations black Africans in northern Africa went through as they lead an insurrection to block the intrusion of the conquering, war mongering people of European descent and later the Arabian religious fanatics which lead to a subsequent mass migration of black Africans down south. This hostility still persists in the usurped Arabianized North Africa. Black people in parts of Northern Africa are still being sold into slavery by the Arabians however this atrocity is equally perpetrated by black people in Northern states such as Sudan and in this case we are dealing with black people that are so deluded by foreign philosophies that their fellow brother is considered sub-human and made to be a slave thereof because they do not share the same philosophies. The causality of this enmity that exists between the black folks in Northern Africa can easily be traced to the time when these regions in question experienced the intrusion of foreign philosophies, because prior to this these same regions never had such levels of violence between its co-inhabitants. As these events play out it does not come as a surprise that other black African states do not intervene in the spirit of togetherness since they too are experiencing the repercussions associated with the acceptance of foreign ideas. This is a vicious cycle that should not be neglected any further.
Our politicians came from African homes hence what ever they are doing at the office is what they learnt growing up. What happened to our communities to the extent that they produce profane, vile and morally bankrupt politicians and leaders? What happened was that we have lost the philosophies that are required for maintaining a structured society. Just one hundred and fifty years ago we had societies devoid of the police/army, a committee comprised of youths was the law enforcements, the elders were judges and individual success was always beneficial to others in the community. Today our kids aspire to be western, investing so much time and resources trying to be western. Tomorrow our kids will be the leaders at war with them selves and their neighbors due to an under developed knowledge of self and the surroundings. In western schools black students are encouraged to go into sports or entertainment, now imagine how difficult it is for a black child to aspire to be a scientist/pioneer when all their life he or she: has been taught about how Europeans discovered and invented every thing in the world, has been made to believe in and worship the god of the Jews whose image is often depicted as a white, blue eyed, blonde hair Caucasian male about the age of 3 4 years, has had his ancestral name changed and replaced with western names, has been taught that his nation has not made any significant contribution to the world, has- as a result of miseducation- remained oblivious to the fact that science was the gift of Africans to the world.
It is the responsibility of the elders to make our children aware of the many pioneering works of black Africans which include the oldest architectural marvel, the pyramids, designed by Imhotep who is also considered the father of science. The word chemistry for instance comes from the word kemet (original name of Egypt) meaning "black man science", the second oldest book still in reprint , "the element" was written by an African who never stepped out of Egypt named Euclid though the author is currently given an European identity. The first author of a mathematics text book was Ahmes a black African, Papyrus is the first paper used as far back as we are able to recall by black Egyptian scribes to take chronicles, the father of Russian literature by the name of Aleksandr sergeyevich was of African descent and Jesus was a black African who lead a socialist movement called the church against the slave economy of Rome but today every thing the church stands for is convoluted and misrepresented. The North Pole was discovered by a black African.
The ancestors of the black nation had a comprehensive knowledge of the healing properties of plants, this specialty was an extraordinary ability possessed by a few chosen. These knowledgeable and spiritual individuals usually had progenies that posses those genes that are responsible for this extraordinary ability, that is, it is a gift attained through inheritance. Now there is good news and bad news, the bad news is that most of this ancient knowledge has been stolen in several ways; one being how the sacred materials that kept the bond, knowledge and wisdom within the family was looted by the savage imperial mercenaries from Europe on a mission to effectuate white supremacy through Eurocentric philosophies and constructs, currently these materials are ubiquitously located and confiscated in many European museums.
How utterly unconscionable is it that black African nations complaisantly pay hundreds of millions of dollars to expatriate these materials that rightfully belongs to them, it is just like asking a victim of theft to pay the thief before the stolen property can be returned. This is outrageously unjust. Equally baffling is our collective indifference toward the fact that the very same objects and materials that our ancestors believed were a vital part of the evolutionary process of they and their posterity are the same objects and material that are used for business as usual in Europe. The good news though is that all hope is not lost, what needs to happen is for like minded souls to speak with one voice and fight for the same cause which includes but not limited to the realization of the Afrocentric philosophies of truth.
The Afrocentric is aware of the truth delivered by the following words "power to the people" or more precisely "power belongs to the people", the fact that it is the people and not a good government that makes a great nation can never be over emphasized. We have to teach our children how to guard their culture and the best way to teach is by example, we can help cultivate their dignity and hence confidence by schooling them on the many achievements of their people both past and present. They should know that a number of our every day necessities where invented by black Africans i.e. the ironing board, the shoe lasting machine, the comb, the brush the dust pan, the mop, clothes dryer, pencils, fountain pens and sharpeners, printing press, the lawn mower, the automatic gear shift, the internal combustion engines, the traffic light, the refrigerator, the heating furnace, the air conditioner, the electric trolley, the elevator, the letter drop mail box, post making and canceling machine, the filament within the light bulb, the science of blood preservation, the first blood bank, the first open heart surgery was performed by a black doctor Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the first super computer capable of processing billions of information within seconds by using about 65300 micro processors was invented by a Nigerian scientist named Dr. Philip Emeagwali.
The above inventions are off course a mere scratch of the surface. Much more inventions and discoveries remain unlisted, some remain unknown due to suppression or theft; instances where individuals whom are not of black African descent are unduly credited for the work of a black African abound. Thus, now is the time to take full control in the consolidation of our educational institutions in our respective home land. Technocrats of black African descent in the diasporas languishing their skills in-and developing-western economies should see the need for their presence and direct participation in the continent. They should see the need to share what ever valuable knowledge/technique that they have acquired in the diasporas.
I have come to the conclusion that intellect and wisdom are two very distinct faculties, that is, an intellectual can lack wisdom and this condition describes what the term "educated fool" denotes. You are an educated fool if you fail to apply your invaluable knowledge to the development of your native land that is in desperate need of your services. You are an educated fool if you use your knowledge in a destructive manner toward your fellow human being or the environment at large. We see abuse of talent in almost every profession. It can be seen in the music industry were artistic creations are made to delude the children and keep them unconscious of reality. In this same industry we find gifted individuals who have sold their soul for specially chopped up wood called money. Abuse of talent is definitely prevalent in the academic institutions and now what today's youth are being taught in the schools is non truth which is contrary to the institutions motto that states "education is the pursuit of truth".
Why are the youth not taught that doing nothing about the injustice around them is in itself injustice? Why are they not taught how to be community oriented and why are students in the west who are originally from the so called developing countries required to pay twice the tuition fees if they are not citizens, I do not see how an institution that conspires to tenaciously restrict its knowledge from certain groups of people out of unwarranted fear can at the same time claim to be in pursuit of truth, What truth? How do we define truth? How is it that a school in a multi-cultural society can have a disproportionate number of one group of people as teachers and an under representation of a particular group of citizens in the academic institutions, such a system would definitely have a demoralizing effect on the mind of children from those under represented groups; a majority being of black African heritage. Thus, it is of my opinion that the school boards in these societies in question should be charged and prosecuted for systematized racism and conspiring to digress the evolution(in every sense of the word)of a people by keeping them dependent on imported skills and services.
As these predicaments that confront the black nation perpetuates with out respite the need for togetherness within the black nation is ever growing strong. Black African countries need to establish an organization similar to the OAU of which its primary function should include but not limited to the consolidation of trans national trading between the countries involved, the monitoring and support of a systematic change from capitalism to socialism, to provide a plat form from which the collective fight for reparations and the return of stolen artifacts, treasures and sacred materials will be advanced, these are but a few functions such an organization should implement effectually. Furthermore, our technocrats whom are skilled in economics should propose ways to promote local investments as well as traditional trade systems within communities. It should be understood that a socialist economy whereby the way of life of the people is reflected is an African system and that there is nothing new about it. This economic system allows the even distribution of the wealth of the land between all nations under one government.
It should also be understood that ideas/philosophies are real, ideas have sources and these sources can be restricted and endemic to specific geopolitical areas. Just as most black African nations do not support inter-ethnic marriages for warranted reasons, black African nations should equally discourage inter-ideological marriage for reasons that correlate with the very same reasons why they do not approve of inter-ethnic marriage. Any well meaning person should know that half casts are never fully accepted by both sides of their family and similarly, ideas cannot be manifested fully unless they are yours by inheritance. In other words, an idea may sustain a given nation because it belongs to them but at the same time that same idea could destabilize another nation which it does not belong to. Most of the problems that have befallen the African continent is the result of a perpetual forceful imposition of foreign ideas/philosophies(be it Arabic or western) on the natives for centuries and today these century old ideas/philosophies are now imbued in the African culture and institutions, they have been systematized; hence, cogent dismantling of these immiscible ideas/philosophies should first be done on a personal level, that is, every black African should, by obligation, strive to change their own world because guess what no messiah is going to come blazing through the sky to fix all the damage that has been done by us(man kind) to our minds, body and surroundings.
No body can change the world but individuals can change their own respective worlds and here in one finds the philosophies of Afrocentricity becomes indispensable to our struggle for liberation because there in lies the guide lines necessary to achieve such a feat.
Reprinted with the author's permission from: