PDA

View Full Version : Afrocentric (i.e. the Africa centred perspective) - Main Debate Thread



Ishola Taiwo
Mar 25, 2008, 09:41 PM
It is my opinion that the most logical position from which a person of African ethnicity can view the larger world is one which is based firmly on the perspective that is currently described as Afrocentric.

I will seek to convince, in the course of this debate, that to be Afrocentric should overide all other ideologies/religions that have their power-centres outside the continent of Africa.

I institute this debate in the hope that in its course, we may obtain (for the record) on this site, the plain facts and reasoning behind which some have based their negative outlook towards the concept in the title. It is my intention to show the illogicality of such reasoning (especially when coming from ones who claim to be Africans).

POSTULATES
In the context of this debate, used as "a hypothesis advanced as a premise in a train of reasoning."

1.00: On Perspectives

1.01: Every sentient being has a perspective. A perspective, in the context of this reasoning, is described as the coordinates within a mind from which the nature of awareness is determined as its owner relates objectively and subjectively to phenomena that occur in its immediate environment (and in the larger world around it).

1.02: Not all sentient beings are aware of the true scale of the world outside of their immediate environment. For some, this limited awareness is due to the restrictions of physical being (e.g. most mammals cannot reside permanently under water) but, for others, this limited awareness is due to voluntary or, imposed ignorance.

1.03: Where the outside world has no noticeable effects on a being, then to be of limited awareness need not necessarily be detrimental. However, when the outside world is conspicuous by its relentless demands and noticeable effects, then to be fully aware of the nature of all external entities and of the grand intentions behind their interventions is a primary necessity. As is the way of thinking that guides the inception and implementation of ones tailored responses.

1.00: All humans are hard-wired to be religious.

2.010: I assert that for all the various peoples of the Earth, the true religion that guides the aims of the societies they create is based around/on ethnicity.

2.011: I assert that the concept of religion was created for the reason of giving humanity a perspective from which sense can be made of the surrounding Universe and, that the reason this specialised form of awareness was required was so that long-term purpose could/can be determined.

2.012: I therefore identify as a religion anything that attempts to place the everyday existence of man within a framework of that which outspans human lifetimes and normal experience.

2.013: The concepts that we now call religion (or ideology) existed in our communities long before any of those terms entered our vocabulary. I tried (in my not very skilful way) to unpack the terms as a way of expressing the opinion that religion is actually something that involves a lot more than 'holy' books, praying, hymning, or even belief in a Supreme Being.

Our religion is actually however we live. And, how we live (or aspire to live) is moulded by how we view ourselves and the larger world around us.


2.02: I assert that identity is the main component of religion. That we define the highest deity by what we assume to be the highest ideals that we can aspire to as a people and, that we identify the Earthly incarnation of this deity with ourselves (and our physical form).

2.030: I assert that all humans are hard-wired to be religious.

2.031: That even those of us who identify ourselves as atheists are simply adherents of a new label that has been appended to the mind-set/concept that was first described as "religious".

2.032: That all we have done, in our atheist incarnations, is remove the image of a Supreme Being from our conception of religion.

2.033: That in its place, we have put what we currently describe as "scientific facts"; the majority of which were/are derived from theories (i.e. ways of thought that are also largely dependant on 'faith' - [COLOR=slategray]"a belief in things not seen").

2.04: I also identify allegedly 'godless' ideologies like communism to be nothing more than offshoots of the religious instinct. In other words, I identify all ideology to be a form of religion.

2.05: Now, since even those who would claim to have no religion will hardly deny having an ideology, and if it is accepted that paragraphs [1.01 and the set of 2.01x] are two halves of a whole, then we can see how in all matters of relating to the universe at large, perspective and the awareness it breeds are everything.

2.06: We all have basic needs and desires (some material in nature and others from what is called the spirit). And, in most organized human communities/Kingdoms/States (past and present), those who took it upon themselves to secure place and livelihood for members of their community have found various ways to manipulate the instincts of their fellow humans in order that they may move the community in whatever direction they thought was best suited to its long or short term interests .

2.07: Instincts as we know breed emotion. Fear has been used to move people. Fear is still being used to move people. Hunger (and of course the fear of hunger) has been used....is being used. Pride, anger, greed...I could go on to list a host of other psychological tools....


2.08: I am not proposing Afrocentricism as a new 'religion' but because I have recognized (as many other have) that our acquired religions/ideologies have been (and still are) one of the greatest factors behind our continued stagnation.

3.00: What it means to be Afrocentric

3.010: To be Afrocentric means that a person is one who seeks to relate with the world at large on the basis of how this world at large impacts on him/her self as an African being.

3.011: I propose that the alternatives to the Afrocentric view can be divided into two species. These are, the ideal and the real.

3.012: The ideal view is the humanity-centred view and, when we are governed by this way of perceiving, we are compelled to act in ways that affirm our knowledge that all humans are the same and should be given the same opportunities in all realms of human existence/organisation.

3.013: It is difficult to see any reason why this view should not immediately prevail however, we need not be told that at this moment in human time, the ideal view prevails no where on Earth. What we have as a reality is the existence of perspectives that are basically fed by the impulse to establish, on as wide a global scale as possible, a dispensation that is most favourable to the members of whatever ethnicity one belongs to.

To speak in favour of an Africa centred perspective does not mean that one is promoting an fanatical adherence to non-inclusive and static African cultural norms. Unlike what many who (instinctively) oppose this idea would like us all to believe, to be Afrocentric means a lot more than wearing danshiki, throwing Black Power salutes and calling the 'white' man a devil.



4.00: Africans have no universal philosophies

4.010: I assert that the human species can be divided into two.
a) Those that have been subsumed within the instinctive agenda of other ethnicities; and
b) Those who are actively engaged in subsuming others within the instinctive agenda of their ethnicity.



4.011: Africans are currently placed within the first category and, this is because, unlike those from the second category, Africans consistently fail to act collectively while in pursuit of the instinctive agenda of all living things (i.e. to survive and to thrive).

4.012: I propose that the primary reason things are like this is because unlike others, during this particular epoch of human history, Africans have not articulated an indigenous common purpose (bound up as religion/ideology) or a basic universal philosophy that selfishly places the creations of their own mind (past and present) at the centre of the Universe.

5.00: Africans will flounder until they have a self-centered philosophy

5.01: I come now to the reason I have persistently used the word "religion" as I sought to make my points. The human instincts that are nourished by the concept described as "religion" is a tool. Since I have equated religion with ideology and, since I now further place within the orbit of this equation the concept of principles, I can also say that the human instincts that are nourished by the concepts described as ideology [COLOR=slategray](i.e. formalised ideals) or principles, are also tools.

5.02: I repeat, in a more succinct manner: Human instincts are tools.

5.03: The present is a child of the past and the parent of the future. All are inextricably linked. The Arabs derived an Arabocentric perspective and sold it as the basis of a religion to whoever was willing to buy. The Europeans, more cleverly, derived various Eurocentric perspectives and sold them as religion or ideology to all who would buy. Right now, as we are witness the conflict between these two tools of dominance, we can also see on the sidelines (for now) how other societies, notably the Hindu and the Chinese are guarding their borders with views that can best be described as Indocentric and Sinocentric. While we may not be certain that either society will become like the second category described in [4.010] above, we can be certain that they are now in little danger of falling within the first category.

5.04: I conclude by saying until we Africans subscribe to a way of thinking that selfishly places the creations of our own minds (past and present) at the centre of the Universe, then we as a collective stand no chance of departing from the ranks of ones who may best be described as floundering prey.

Costs of not being Afrocentric as defined

5.05: Otherwise, for as long as we are governed by people who are basically Eurocentric or Arabocentric in outlook, we will remain within our assigned role in the drama the authors/caretakers of those views conceived/nourish.

5.06: Africa, as it is now, is teasingly near to being in as ideal a state as can be dreamed of by the masters of the proposed global village. Anyone who is in doubt of what this ideal condition will look like ought to do some reading on what has been happening in Central Africa.



Benefits of being Afrocentric as defined

The immediate practical benefit that would accrue to us from having African governments that are Africa/African centred will be seen in the way the wealth of the land is deployed first (and last) for the benefit of the indigenes.

Big-K
Mar 26, 2008, 04:55 PM
May I request observers/supporters/clarifiers to continue to post to the discussion thread at:
http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/board/crucible/45646-afrocentric-i-e-africa-centred-perspective.html

SLB, Please post your first response to the parallel thread and when your response is clarified and cleaned up, it'll be included on this thread

Tola Odejayi
Mar 27, 2008, 07:50 AM
Hi Eja,

I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to give any response of any kind to this thread till the weekend.

If this is too long to wait, then I'll gracefully withdraw from the debate. However, it need not end - anyone else who is interested can step in.

Ishola Taiwo
Mar 27, 2008, 09:13 AM
Hi Eja,

I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to give any response of any kind to this thread till the weekend.

If this is too long to wait, then I'll gracefully withdraw from the debate. However, it need not end - anyone else who is interested can step in.

Greetings Shoko,

I don't mind waiting till the weekend.

Tola Odejayi
Apr 1, 2008, 03:24 AM
Eja,

Sorry for the late response. My original quotes are in green; your responses are in blue; and my latest responses are inline in black.



I must make the point that we do not usually use one single ideology in processing information and directing our thoughts, words and actions. A Yoruba Muslim, for example may see the world through a Yoruba prism one day, and a Muslim prism the next.

1.01 Agreed. But what I am proposing is for the universal adoption of a third and overriding prism. Ideally, we should see ourselves as firstly African and then Yoruba or, as firstly African and then a Muslim. Also, at all times, where there is a conflict between the two identities, the identity that perceives through the African prism should win.

I question whether it is possible for someone to feel a stronger affiliation to an identity which is shared by such a large number of people that they have relatively little in common than an identity which is only shared by people with the same language. I also question the point in proposing an idea that is likely to founder because of the difficulty in implementing it for this reason.



While early religious ideologies may have arisen within particular ethnicities, there are today many religious ideologies which have been adopted by many different ethnicities. This is so much the case that in many cases, these multi-ethnic religious ideologies have as much importance (if not more) than the values of the ethnic group, especially because there is a fusion between the values of the ideology and the values of the ethnic group. So I cannot agree that in these cases that the society is driven primarily by ethnicity.

2.01 What you are omitting is the fact that the original narrative theme of these religions, even though they now boast multi-ethnic congregations, have hardly changed from when they were first conceived. The fact that Africans had to establish their own denominations/sects before they could give their worship flavours from their own cultural backgrounds goes a long way to proving the insularity of these religions.

I'm unsure exactly what you mean here by 'narrative theme', so I will decline to respond on this point. In any case, this was just raised as a side issue, so I won't pursue it any further.



First of all, the concept of an 'African' ideology is too large and vague for the individual African to relate to. How do you formulate a common African ideology from the thousands of different ethnic groups in the continent? A starting point for such an ideology might be that it supports any measure that is pro-Africa - but is this enough to base an ideology that must govern the many thoughts, words and actions of the Yoruba man in Nigeria or the Dinka man in the Sudan? I believe that he is more likely to be allied to his ethnic group's values which is closer to him and which he has known all his life than some high-level ideology that just sprang up from nowhere recently.

3.01 The premise of the ongoing Nigerian project relies on the expectation that at some time in the future, the Yoruba man will come to view the Kanuri man as a fellow national. That in time, they will develop a mutual regard for each other a compatriots. I put it to you that the differences you perceive between the values of the Yoruba man and the Dinka man are roughly of the same magnitude as that which presently exists between the Yoruba and the Kanuri. In spite of everything, we have come some ways in Nigeria in the years since our various communities were welded together. We would have come a lot further were it not for the fact that those of our so-called 'founding fathers' who had the chance, always lost their nerve (to put it kindly) and, more often than not, took the easy option of playing petty ethnic champion(s) rather than creator(s) of a new nation.

When you say

"the Yoruba man will come to view the Kanuri man as a fellow national."

are you saying that sometime in the future, the Yoruba man will regard the Kanuri man with as much affinity as he will regard his fellow Yoruba man? If so, I think you underestimate the strength of ethnic feeling amongst citizens of a multi-ethnic nation. I think that it is possible that the ethnic groups in a nation will come to tolerate each other, or even develop an intra-national affinity, but such an affinity will always be weaker than the affinity that the members of an ethnic group have for each other.

Look at the UK, for example - the Scots and English have lived together for hundreds of years; they share the same language and religion (although not the same denomination). They are relatively well off, so they are not as easy to polarise. Yet they still maintain stronger affinities to their groups than they do to the concept of Britishness. So not only do I not believe that such an affinity will develop between people of different ethnicities, I also believe (as I have already stated) that it is highly unlikely to develop between peoples who not only do not have a shared cultural history but who do not have a shared national history.



Secondly, I question whether such high-level ideologies have any real meaning for the people in particular regions. You speak of Eurocentrism and Arabocentrism - but if we look at the many conflicts and animosities that exist within Europe and the Arab world, this must surely contradict this view of pan-regional ideology. Indeed, I should ask you - what exactly is Eurocentrism? Is it possible that you are taking incidences of where one or several European nations act in concert and assuming that there is a solidarity between all European nations? You should know that most nations interests are different, so sometimes they will act in concert (and give the impression of regional solidarity), but many times they will act in opposition. I cannot see the point in pushing for Africa to adopt such a model - indeed, I could accuse you of being Euro- or Arabo- centric insofar that you want Africa to copy these regions in adopting a pan-regional ideology.

4.01 I will answer you by challenging you to find me one instance in 500 years of history where one set of Europeans has gone to war with another set of Europeans for the benefit of Africans or, in defence of the rights of Africans.

4.02 You may also wish to examine the history of Arabs for the same occurrences. Compare the number you will arrive at (0) with the amount of wars/conflicts Africans have fought with each other for the benefit of Europeans and Arabs. Keep in mind also the number of wars and conflicts that are going on right now among Africans who are fighting each for the benefit of the commercial interests of non-Africans.

4.03 The number you arrived at (0) is all the description you need for any question that seeks to discover how Euro- or Arabo- centrism primarily manifests. In short, they may fight each other over the spoils but, they will never fight in defence of what they know to be the spoils.

I'm confused by your last paragraph. So if two European nations refuse to fight on behalf of an African nation, they are being Eurocentric, rather than just looking out for their own national self-interests? Because that is the reason nations fight - for their national interest - and this is rarely overriden by a regional interest.

Whatever the number of European people or nations fighting on behalf of African people or nations, it doesn't invalidate what I have said about Eurocentrism being a very weak 'binding force' which is certainly subordinate to national or ethnic sentiment.



Thirdly, you seem to believe that just because the immediate source of a particular ideology is a particular culture, the ideology is infused with the values of that culture. This is not necessarily the case. For example, if you look at Christianity (which is an ideology that has been directly transmitted to Africa via Europe), this itself is an ideology that had its origins in the Middle-East. Are we to say that the values espoused in Christianity are specifically Eurocentric in nature, values like forgiveness, loving thy neighbour or believing that belief in Jesus Christ's sacrifice offers redemption for sins?

5.01 You make a common mistake here of not taking the effect the Reformation had on European thought into full consideration even as you seek to lay out what you see as the dominant characteristics of what is known as Christianity. There is much that we could talk about on this topic but for the sake of brevity, I will restrict myself to just one element: The Calvinist idea of pre-destination, when applied not just to individuals but also to 'racial' groups went a long way in justifying the treatment that was meted out to the indigenes of lands that were settled by European colonists from Protestant countries. Of course, prior to this, there had been the Papal Bull that had divided the entire 'uncivilised' world up between the adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. I am sure that you are aware of the history of countries like Mexico, Peru and the Caribbean islands and, of the way the classification of their indigenes as literal spawn of Satan had led in some parts to their total extermination at the hands of so-called Christians.

5.02 In short, the 'Christianity' that carried Europe into the world outside the European homelands was one that had little to do with values like forgiveness, loving thy neighbour and absolutely nothing to do with being Christlike. Truth is, the values that were transmitted under the guise of Christianity had more to do with the values that had first been introduced to the world outside Europe by Alexander the Greek.

And as the Europeans themselves have told us, the Greeks were the fathers of European civilization.

I think that there is a difference in using Christianity to justify barbaric treatment (which you have just described here) and changing Christianity so that the values it espouses are mostly distinctly European in nature (which is what I am saying has not happened). I thought that your argument was that these religions had values which made the adoptees of these religions unconsciously become proponents of the culture from which the religion emanated? I am unaware of any strand of Christianity that was adopted by Africans which was dominated with values that were exclusively European.



Fourthly, let us even assume that such ideologies have values that are exclusive to their culture of origin. You seem to disregard the ability of the recipient African society to customise and adapt the ideology to suit its own culture. For example, you have churches like the Cherubim and Seraphim church in Nigeria which are distinctly Yoruba in their style of worship. Indeed, this process of cultural assimilation and adaptation is how societies have evolved from time immemorial - including, of course, the societies that have 'exported' their ideologies to other places.

6.01 In fact, I am relying on the ability of recipient African societies to customise and adapt ideas in ways that would enhance the positive growth of their communities. However, there is a difference between doing this and simply adopting prescriptions that were devised for environments that are unlike our own. I would ask if, from your experience, you could say if we have been doing the latter or the former.

I think most cultures do a lot of the former. In fact, I cannot understand how it is possible for a people to adopt a totally alien culture with practices that are difficult to understand and execute - and not change or discard some of these practices after a while. Sure, the process of change may not always be well designed; it may not always be for the long term benefit of the people; but it will happen.

6.02 I would also ask if you agree that being centred on the reality of our own environment, its requirements (and its indigenous advantages) would help or hinder us as we seek to adapt ourselves, in ways most beneficial to ourselves, to the times we find ourselves in.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'being centred on the reality of our environment'. I think that we don't have a choice - we do live in just one reality, whether we may choose to acknowledge it or not - whether we like that reality or not. I don't think that a person's grasp of reality is necessarily helped or hindered by adopting one particular worldview or the other, especially if that world view had an agenda which was at odds with the truth of the reality.

Anyhow, I don't think that cultural change is about what is beneficial in the long term to the people who practice the culture. I think it is more about what is easy to practice; what fits in with the world view of the people adopting the culture; what offers short term material benefits; what earns immediate gains in social status. This applies just as much for Africans as for Europeans, i.e. I don't think that Europeans have adopted the culture that they have adopted because it is necessarily to their material advantage. I think it is fortunate that it is to their advantage - but if cultural change was purely dictated on the potential benefits, there are a lot of cultural practices that Europeans would not be engaging in right now.



Fifthly, let us even assume that such ideologies cannot be adapted and customised by the recipient African society. It is still wrong to assume that such ideologies completely displace the existing values held by the society. What happens in most cases is that the member of such society adopts multiple world views - in many cases, he is comfortable using the imported worldview alongside his native cultural values. In fact, even without the adoption of an external 'foreign' ideology, humans beings adopt multiple world views anyway in dealing with the real world. An Urhobo software developer will adopt a different world view when dealing with a Belarussian software developer than he would adopt when dealing with an Urhobo accountant.

Sixthly, the idea that members of a society should give primacy to the values espoused by an Afrocentric ideology is a severely limiting one. What if there is an idea or product of a particular culture which can materially benefit members of an African society if it replaces the equivalent idea/product in Africa? Should that society hold to its Afrocentric ideals in this case? I believe that to do so is to impoverish the society and put it at a disadvantage - because as in the real world, an organisation can only grow if there is a continuous influx of new ideas which enable that organisation to respond to the changing world.

You may respond with the argument that an African society in this case can accept the good aspects of such external societies while remaining pro-African. That would smack of hypocrisy to me - picking and choosing what aspects of an external society count or don't count as 'corrupting' the purity of a pro-African stance. I believe that once a society adopts any aspect of a external culture, it is undergoing cultural change - no matter how small it may be. And this is neither a bad thing, nor is it necessarily a one way thing either.

7.01 I will answer the above paragraphs at one go since they basically deal with the same theme. In expounding this theme, you have had to place some convenient limitations on the idea of being Afrocentric. For example, I have neither used the word 'purity' or linked such a word to the phrase "pro-African stance". But I am grateful to you for providing several examples of the type of wrongful assumptions that are often used as whipping poles by opponents of the Afrocentric idea who are themselves short on reasons to justify their opposition.

7.02 There is no reason why an Afrocentric person would refuse to adapt what is useful just because it came from outside. One of the side-effects of becoming self-conscious is that you learn the true story of your own people through time. The oldest standing buildings in the world were built by Africans. As shown by the late Cheikh Anta Diop [ref: Civilization or Barbarism], there is no way the ancient Africans in Kemet (and Sudan) could have built their great pyramids without a deep knowledge of geometry.

We therefore know that what is called "Pythagoras Theorem" was in fact taught to the Greek Pythagoras by some teacher in Kemet. There are many other examples of such transferred knowledge from Africans to the founders of the civilizations that later denigrated them.

7.03 A realist view is to look upon knowledge as a river. The source may be far from where you reside but, as long as it flows by where you presently stand, why should you not use it? I see no hypocrisy in this view. Especially since I am not engaged in advocating for a return to the days of 'purity'.

I'm glad that you do not take the view that Afrocentrism is not about purity of culture. It appears though, that you believe it has more to do with giving primacy to the interest of Africans above any other group, so that the Afrocentrist will do whatever he has to do in order to advance the interests of Africans.

However, I have already pointed out my issues with this stance, i.e. I do not think it is likely that an African will subordinate his ethnic group's interest or his nation's interest to Africa's interest. Look at a purely African matter, such as deploying troops to Somalia to ensure the peace, and see how unwilling African governments have been to act.

There is also the issue of defining what is in Africa's interest. Should an African pursue an action if it not only benefits Africa but benefits other regional entities that Africa is in competition with? Should an African pursue an action if it benefits one part of Africa and disadvantages another part? The conflict in the latter question would not arise if we viewed Africa as a patchwork of different groups, each with their own different (sometimes competing) interests rather than a single group bound by a single interest.



Lastly, I believe the the quest for an Afrocentric ideology is a major distraction from what should be the main tasks of these societies - creating an environment where its citizens are free to exercise their full potential in order to create wealth for themselves and others. It may be that you believe that forging and spreading this ideology will do that - in fact, you point to India and China as powers that are increasingly asserting their 'Indocentrism' and 'Sinocentrism'.

However, I put it to you that a country does not first establish a nationalistic ideology then use it to advance materially. These two usually happen side-by-side - in fact, it is usually the material progress of a nation that makes its citizens feel confident about embracing a nationalistic ideology, as has been observed in Russia. The point is that this material progress can occur in African nations without an Afrocentric ideology being in place first - you may observe that not all African nations are in the same predicament. So I believe it is better for African nations to seek the kingdom of material prosperity first by ensuring and protecting personal property and freedoms, and all other things - including a pride in confidence in being African or Nigerian - will be added unto its citizens.

8.01 When you say that not all African countries are in the same predicament, you ignore the fact that there is not one single African country that is capable at this time of defending its territory from outside invasion by non-Africans without the assistance of some other non-Africans (whose support would of course be based on their own strategic interests - meaning that if in the midst of the conflict, the support given and the interests no longer coincide, the support will be withdrawn).

I disagree with you. If Liechtenstein (a non-African country) was to dare invade South Africa (an African country), it would surely receive a pounding in return. :)

But seriously, the predicament I was referring to had nothing to do with territorial defence (given that direct territorial aggression from non-African countries is rare nowadays). When I say that not all African countries are in the same predicament, the predicament I refer to is the material well being (or lack of it) of their citizens. Specifically, what I mean that they have attained varying degrees of success in ensuring that their citizens are materially well off.

8.02 I also disagree with what you say about material progress preceding national consciousness. In fact, an awareness of a common fate is what gives birth to the energising morale that enables citizens (at all levels of society) to make the sacrifices that bring about collective material progress.

Yes, it is possible that citizens of a country can still feel energised without being materially well off (for example, if they have just come out of a war against their nation) - but are you saying that material progress has no relationship to how confident and proud a people feel about their nation? Do you think it is easier to energise people and fill them with a sense of identity when they are feeling despondent about their material well-being than when they see visible signs of progress? And even if a form of energisation is needed for material progress to occur, what is wrong with deriving this energisation from national or ethnic pride, rather than striving for an African identity to achieve this? Is national or ethnic pride not sufficient?

8.03 You used the example of Russia, but you forget that the solid foundations for Russia's material progress came about during the decades when it was under attack first from anti-Revolutionary forces, and then by Nazi Germany. It was during these decades that Russians, in a great patriotic fervour that had been missing during the later centuries of decadent Tsarist rule, dragged their country from been a largely agrarian nation into becoming an industrial powerhouse.

I have acknowledged in the previous paragraphs that there are other things that motivate people to become filled with feeling about their nation. But I assert that how Russians felt about their nation in the 1990's during Yeltsin's decade of chaos is very different from how they feel about it today; and that is largely due to how materially well off they feel under Putin.



9.01 I conclude with a description of what the Afrocentric ideal offers: It can be compared to a common language that unites a people who once upon a time found it hard to get along because they did not have a means of easy communication. And the beauty of it is, there are many varied paths but, they all lead to the same destination.

Languages have different purposes for different people. For some, it is merely a tool that helps them communicate, with no more emotional significance than the spoon that they use to eat, or the soap that they use to bathe. For others, it has deep cultural significance - it is imbued with many cultural values and ideas that have special meaning to a particular group.

Whether it is worthwhile to pursue or even possible to attain the dream of a language that has such a significance to people is something that I very much doubt. On the other hand, the pursuit of material progress will definitely translate to the kind of power that makes it difficult for external powers to manipulate African nations.

Ishola Taiwo
Apr 2, 2008, 06:44 AM
Greetings SLB, Big-K, I hope you all don't mind but I will be making my response in two parts.

It is kind of a long response and I think it might be best to present the first part and then carry on working on the second. A benefit of this is that the reader can avoid scroll fatigue...:smile:.

************************************************** ***********************

1.00:
I question whether it is possible for someone to feel a stronger affiliation to an identity which is shared by such a large number of people that they have relatively little in common than an identity which is only shared by people with the same language. I also question the point in proposing an idea that is likely to founder because of the difficulty in implementing it for this reason.

1.01: At this moment in time, of course you are right. But, while we may recognise the obvious fact that most people living right now are incapable (or unwilling/unable) to acknowledge this strong affiliation to their African identity, we must also be aware of the possibility that generations to come need not be committed to this same myopic awareness.

1.02: During the times when Yoruba were unaware the tenets of Islam, they had little in common with Syrians (for example) who were Muslims. Now, we find that a Yoruba person who has memorised the Koran in Arabic, easily finds common ground with the Pakistani person who has done the same.

1.03: If the necessary apparatus is set up, there is no reason why African people cannot in time come to be bound together by the ideals of an affiliation that is more logical, natural and beneficial.

2.00:
I'm unsure exactly what you mean here by 'narrative theme', so I will decline to respond on this point. In any case, this was just raised as a side issue, so I won't pursue it any further.

2.01: I will explain further : An aspect of the narrative theme of Islam and Christianity is the assumption that Jerusalem and Mecca are the holiest places on Earth. The fact that none of these 'holy places' are within African borders or, with significantly influential African populations and, the fact that their conventional histories include no mention of any notable doctrinal contributions from persons of any recognisable African heritage, is in my opinion another from the mechanisms that automatically inculcates an inferiority complex and self-hatred within many African adherents of those ideologies.

2.02: It should be noted that when a person's self-regard is of a similar magnitude to their self-hatred, the hatred will be transferred to an image.

2.03: Since self-hatred inevitably leads to self-harm, such a person, while driven by their self-regard to work hard for their own progress, will also seek (by commission or omission) to ensure that nothing of lasting goodness is done to the environment that contains the object(s) that their self-hatred has been transferred to.

2.04: Also, the narrative themes of these ideologies allegedly lays out a grand plan for man (and mankind) not only in this life, but in the afterlife. Again, it must be noted that these so called divinely inspired revelations contain no features within them that are specifically identified with named African cultures. The logical conclusion to be drawn from this omission by the authors of these narratives cannot be but to assume that the Almighty never spoke to Africans.

2.05: This is the assumption that has led several of us towards the faux-logical conclusion that the only agencies through which Africans came about their own religions were none other than those described in the Semitic scriptures as 'satanic' or 'demonic'.

2.06: Therefore, many an African addict to the Semitic products has had no other choice than to vehemently denounce his/her own religious heritage as being wholly evil.

2.07: And, of course, since what they are condemning was first promulgated by people who look exactly like what they see in the mirror every morning and, more importantly, by people who look just like those same people they see on the streets of Lagos, Kano, Owerri and Abuja.......[ref: 2.03].

3.00:
When you say "the Yoruba man will come to view the Kanuri man as a fellow national" are you saying that sometime in the future, the Yoruba man will regard the Kanuri man with as much affinity as he will regard his fellow Yoruba man? If so, I think you underestimate the strength of ethnic feeling amongst citizens of a multi-ethnic nation. I think that it is possible that the ethnic groups in a nation will come to tolerate each other, or even develop an intra-national affinity, but such an affinity will always be weaker than the affinity that the members of an ethnic group have for each other.

Look at the UK, for example - the Scots and English have lived together for hundreds of years; they share the same language and religion (although not the same denomination). They are relatively well off, so they are not as easy to polarise. Yet they still maintain stronger affinities to their groups than they do to the concept of Britishness. So not only do I not believe that such an affinity will develop between people of different ethnicities, I also believe (as I have already stated) that it is highly unlikely to develop between peoples who not only do not have a shared cultural history but who do not have a shared national history.

3.01: Again, your premise is based on a view of history as a static object. The Yoruba were not always "Yoruba". According to various historical sources, the name Yoruba originally referred solely to the people of Oyo. To the Ijebu who lived at the time this label was first minted, the Oyo were regarded as foreigners. The Ijebu in fact had structures set up to prevent entry or passage through their kingdoms (on the pain of immediate death) by those who are today referred to as fellow Yoruba.

3.02: And the same goes for another example that you gave: The English were not always "the English". The name in fact originally belonged to a distinct Germanic tribe (the Aenglish - spelling from Bernard Cornwell) whose first mass-migration to Britain happened 500 years after the end of formal Roman rule over the island.

3.03: The people who are today called the English were once warring tribes from not only Germany, but also Celtic tribes from Britain, Danes, Normans, etc. Each of which had their own distinct languages, dialects, customs, and ideas of nationality.

3.04: Therefore, since the present identity called English, like the present identity called Yoruba, was formed out of circumstance and deliberate policy over many generations, there is no reason to assume that in time, those presently known as Yoruba, Kanuri or Dinka will not eventually arrive at some mutually useful collective identity. Of course, this is never something that happens blindly. As already stated, the drawing up and implementation of a deliberate policy is one of the creative factors.

4.00:
I'm confused by your last paragraph. So if two European nations refuse to fight on behalf of an African nation, they are being Eurocentric, rather than just looking out for their own national self-interests? Because that is the reason nations fight - for their national interest - and this is rarely overridden by a regional interest.

Whatever the number of European people or nations fighting on behalf of African people or nations, it doesn't invalidate what I have said about Eurocentrism being a very weak 'binding force' which is certainly subordinate to national or ethnic sentiment.

4.01: I don't see the confusion. What is national interest? And more importantly, how do we become aware of what our national interest is?

4.02: It is the acknowledgement of a shared national interest that led to the formation of the super-nation called the EU. The fact that an awareness of this common interest has been around for long was what I was driving at when I asked you to name one instance when European nations had warred against each other for the sake of non-European entities.

4.03: The strength (or weakness) of this binding force can be deduced by simply considering the fact that European peoples have been active within our environment for several centuries now during which, they have fought many wars with each other. Out of these many wars, over these many centuries, you are unable to find one instance when they have fought each other for our sake. Now, we cannot say they do not like fighting each other. No, they simply possess an awareness that permits them to see no reason why they should fight each other for the profit of non-Europeans.

4.04: Unlike us. There is no single war going on in Africa right now, or in the immediate past, that has not been either directly (or indirectly) fought for the benefit of outside interests.


Conclusion to come later today.

Ishola Taiwo
Apr 5, 2008, 09:59 AM
5.00:
I think that there is a difference in using Christianity to justify barbaric treatment (which you have just described here) and changing Christianity so that the values it espouses are mostly distinctly European in nature (which is what I am saying has not happened). I thought that your argument was that these religions had values which made the adoptees of these religions unconsciously become proponents of the culture from which the religion emanated? I am unaware of any strand of Christianity that was adopted by Africans which was dominated with values that were exclusively European.

5.01: An immediate example that springs to mind are the festivals marked by Christians around the world. Each of the major ones (i.e. Christmas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#Pre-Christian_origins) and Easter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oestre)) are directly derived from the pagan religions of pre-Christian Europe. By adopting festivals that are actually nothing other than disguised forms of Europe's ancient pagan culture, the adherents of Christianity have become proponents of Europe's indigenous culture (even as they scorn their own indigenous culture).

5.02: As for values that are mostly distinctly European, I will refer again to those values that came out of the Reformation in Europe. Values that shaped the nature of what we now call government, education, justice, commerce, religion, politics, etc.

5.03: For as long as our current discourse regarding any of the subjects outlined above remains shaped by definitions that were originally manufactured by the European Reformation and its latter incarnations, then our values will remain shaped by ideas that were originally set forth by the European Reformation. This is why, when we look (for example) at issues like personal freedom, land rights, marriage, and the rule of law, we can see a clear difference between how each of these was viewed by our indigenous communities in the past and, how each presently manifests as a result of the values we have inherited from the imperialists who manufactured our countries.

6.00:
I think most cultures do a lot of the former. In fact, I cannot understand how it is possible for a people to adopt a totally alien culture with practices that are difficult to understand and execute - and not change or discard some of these practices after a while. Sure, the process of change may not always be well designed; it may not always be for the long term benefit of the people; but it will happen.

6.01: I would refute the above by giving the current ongoing difficulty being experienced by the Yoruba in ridding themselves of mis-leaders that are not only corrupt but also deliriously incompetent as an example from within one of our communities of an effect that can be traced to a totally alien culture that is hard to execute or understand. Also, if we take Chinua Achebe's Thing Fall Apart as a faithful account of indigenous social organisation amongst the Igbo, we can see that it was not only the Yoruba who had an effective means of checking the ill-effects of two-legged locusts within their communities. While we may recognise the benefits of losing certain retrogressive features from our cultures as a result of imperialism, we must also recognise that the present environment that we bewail is a child of the societal organisations that were imposed/modified by the same imperialists.

6:02: Regarding what you said about the process of change, I propose that a process that is neither well-designed or for the long-term benefit of the people is not one that should be allowed to happen. What would be the point of such a process?

7.00:
I'm not sure what you mean by 'being centred on the reality of our environment'. I think that we don't have a choice - we do live in just one reality, whether we may choose to acknowledge it or not - whether we like that reality or not. I don't think that a person's grasp of reality is necessarily helped or hindered by adopting one particular world-view or the other, especially if that world view had an agenda which was at odds with the truth of the reality.

Anyhow, I don't think that cultural change is about what is beneficial in the long term to the people who practice the culture. I think it is more about what is easy to practice; what fits in with the world view of the people adopting the culture; what offers short term material benefits; what earns immediate gains in social status. This applies just as much for Africans as for Europeans, i.e. I don't think that Europeans have adopted the culture that they have adopted because it is necessarily to their material advantage. I think it is fortunate that it is to their advantage - but if cultural change was purely dictated on the potential benefits, there are a lot of cultural practices that Europeans would not be engaging in right now.

7.01: Being centred on the reality of our environment extends from the mildly trivial : e.g. Africans in a tropical/hot country dressed in corporate uniforms (suit and tie) that were designed for the inhabitants of temperate/cold countries, to the mildly serious: the construction of buildings with costly materials (e.g. cement) that were originally manufactured for use in climates where the natural storage of heat via the usage of specific building material (i.e. cement) was necessary while ignoring easily available local materials that are best suited to keeping our buildings naturally cool. The effect of which is the wastage of energy that we require to cool these heat storing buildings. I will not recount in detail the many serious side-effects of this lack of consciousness as I am not only striving to keep my words to a manageable level but, I am also trying to avoid raising my blood pressure by allowing myself to re-collect the many unsuitable projects we have been saddled with; projects that are copied point-for-point from environments that are nothing like ours. In short, when we are not centred on our environment, we are incapable of perceiving both what needs to done to enhance that environment and, the best way to go about it. We either throw away resources (which includes people), or we mis-use them.

7.02: I am in general agreement with the argument presented in the second paragraph of [7.00]. But, it should be noted that just like rust, the people who seek to mold the evolution of European cultures never sleep and that they all have agendas. While it is true that in certain cases these agendas do not always benefit European societies, we should recognise that in those cases, dependent non-European societies are rarely (and never altruistically) offered long-term benefits. Meanwhile, out of the ones that do benefit the European collective, I am sure that if we look deeply, we will find that they rarely benefit non-Europeans. And where they do, they more often than not only confer their blessings on a select few.

8.00:
I'm glad that you do not take the view that Afrocentrism is not about purity of culture. It appears though, that you believe it has more to do with giving primacy to the interest of Africans above any other group, so that the Afrocentrist will do whatever he has to do in order to advance the interests of Africans.

8.01: What is wrong with Africans giving primacy to their own interests above those of any other groups? As long as we are not devising policies that deprive others of what rightly belongs to them , why should we not put our collective self first? As one who has already stated that we have no choice with regards to the reality we live in [7.00], and, as one who surely knows that every group gives primacy to its own interests in this particular reality we're living in, what reason could you have for thinking Africans should be the exception? Are you saying that in this particular instance, we Africans should ignore the reality in which we find ourselves?

9.00:
However, I have already pointed out my issues with this stance, i.e. I do not think it is likely that an African will subordinate his ethnic group's interest or his nation's interest to Africa's interest. Look at a purely African matter, such as deploying troops to Somalia to ensure the peace, and see how unwilling African governments have been to act.

9.01: Once again, I identify another of your statements as being one that comes from a view of history and culture as static objects. What you use as an example (the unwillingness of Africans governments to deploy troops to Somalia) would not be an issue in a future where the majority of African leaders/peoples are Afrocentrists. In other words, you are ignoring the effects that a well implemented policy of re-orientation would have over time. After all, it has taken less than 50 years to turn parts of Nigeria into the dominions of shallow scripture-drunk 'Christians' and 'Muslims'.

10.00:
There is also the issue of defining what is in Africa's interest. Should an African pursue an action if it not only benefits Africa but benefits other regional entities that Africa is in competition with? Should an African pursue an action if it benefits one part of Africa and disadvantages another part? The conflict in the latter question would not arise if we viewed Africa as a patchwork of different groups, each with their own different (sometimes competing) interests rather than a single group bound by a single interest.

10.01: Defining what is in Africa's interests is something that would only be confusing to ones who have no intention of pursuing those interests. There is no sphere of human activities where what best serves the community is not always clear to see. From Education to Business, the easiest thing to perceive is what is required in the short and long term. If I can sit down and know what would be best for me to enhance my career, my family life and, my peace of mind, then what is stopping one who has taken upon him/her self the task of leadership from doing the same for the collective? And, if they are not able to do this thing, then why are they there?

10.02: If a person who is engaged in trade is allowed to do what is best for his/her going concern (as long as in so doing, they do not harm those who did them no harm), then why should the African collective not be allowed to what is best it without concern for those who are in competition with it? Are those who have entered into competition with us not "in it to win it"? Or, are there two meanings to the concept of competition?

10.03: A perspective that puts petty intra-African ethnic rivalries into context within the realities of the inevitable global order would make it impossible for anyone in his/her right mind to continue viewing Africa as a patchwork of different groups that must fight to the death. Without doubt, there will be differences, there will be occasions when actions that benefit one region comes at a cost to another. This is where a rightful re-orientation becomes important. If people can be convinced that a man called Jesus was crucified, resurrected and then ascended to Heaven, then surely they can also be convinced that true wealth is the health of the whole collective. If this can be done, then the paradigm within which various competing interests will unfold will not be one that permits for the type of pointless "do or die" mentality that has permeated so much of our current world.

11.00:
I disagree with you. If Liechtenstein (a non-African country) was to dare invade South Africa (an African country), it would surely receive a pounding in return.

But seriously, the predicament I was referring to had nothing to do with territorial defence (given that direct territorial aggression from non-African countries is rare nowadays). When I say that not all African countries are in the same predicament, the predicament I refer to is the material well being (or lack of it) of their citizens. Specifically, what I mean that they have attained varying degrees of success in ensuring that their citizens are materially well off.

11.01: SLB , I am sure that if we checked, we would find that tiny Liechtenstein is one of the current owners of South Africa...As far as material well-being goes, the fact of the matter is that regardless of the numbers that make up their respective elites, such elites form a tiny minority of many African countries. To really overstand what this means, look at how many African countries the UN has placed in the "Low" region of the list of countries by human development index (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index#Low). In other words, looked at on a global scale, Africans (collectively) are the underclass.

12.00:
Yes, it is possible that citizens of a country can still feel energised without being materially well off (for example, if they have just come out of a war against their nation) - but are you saying that material progress has no relationship to how confident and proud a people feel about their nation? Do you think it is easier to energise people and fill them with a sense of identity when they are feeling despondent about their material well-being than when they see visible signs of progress? And even if a form of energisation is needed for material progress to occur, what is wrong with deriving this energisation from national or ethnic pride, rather than striving for an African identity to achieve this? Is national or ethnic pride not sufficient?

12.01: Despondent people are energised and filled with a sense of identity everyday in churches, mosques, personal growth seminars, and various shrines. People have been energised and filled with a sense of identity for decades and our communities have largely had little to nothing to show for it. While material progress does have an effect on how people feel about themselves, it would be hard to point to some aspect of material progress that is serving this purpose in any present-day African country for the majority of the populations that live in those countries.

12.02: Our ethnic pride is what causes some of us to come out in defense of criminals whose stupidity in greed would be highly comedic were it not for the tragic consequences that follow their actions. As for national pride, I have already asked in the post that precedes this why we can visualise in time, the union of Yoruba and Kanuri as Nigerians but cannot visualise in time, the union of Yoruba and Dinka as Africans. If 'national' pride is only sufficient, then African pride, with the wider scope it offers, is extravagantly sufficient.

13.00:
I have acknowledged in the previous paragraphs that there are other things that motivate people to become filled with feeling about their nation. But I assert that how Russians felt about their nation in the 1990's during Yeltsin's decade of chaos is very different from how they feel about it today; and that is largely due to how materially well off they feel under Putin.

13.01: Yes, Russians feel better than themselves under Putin than they did under Yeltsin, they are also said to be materially better off but, in saying this, you are actually making my point for me: You cannot fail to have noticed that a lot of Putin's economic policies were based around the recovering of those state assets that had been auctioned off under Yeltsin. Putin cut back the levels of ownership that foreign based multi-nationals had been allowed and he curtailed their rights to acquire future resources. While it may be true that he then gave these assets and advantages into the control of those close to him, the Russian people supported him because he couched everything he did in nationalist terms. In other words, Putin let it be known that he did what he did out of his love for his nation (i.e. the ideal preceded the physical act and thus the material result).

14.00:
Languages have different purposes for different people. For some, it is merely a tool that helps them communicate, with no more emotional significance than the spoon that they use to eat, or the soap that they use to bathe. For others, it has deep cultural significance - it is imbued with many cultural values and ideas that have special meaning to a particular group.

Whether it is worthwhile to pursue or even possible to attain the dream of a language that has such a significance to people is something that I very much doubt. On the other hand, the pursuit of material progress will definitely translate to the kind of power that makes it difficult for external powers to manipulate African nations.

14.01 Actually, I was not referring to spoken language. I used the concept of language as a metaphor. I was trying to relate the fact that we describe what we perceive to ourselves through the filters that stand between what we observe and that part of our mind where we process our perceptions. We process data continuously and, what I am saying is that the Afrocentric view is a 'language' through which we can filter data to our collective benefit.

Tola Odejayi
Apr 12, 2008, 08:54 AM
Eja,

Sorry for the delay. Because of time constraints, this will be the first part of my penultimate post on this thread. My original posts are in green, your reponses are in blue, my responses to these are in black.

1.00:
I question whether it is possible for someone to feel a stronger affiliation to an identity which is shared by such a large number of people that they have relatively little in common than an identity which is only shared by people with the same language. I also question the point in proposing an idea that is likely to founder because of the difficulty in implementing it for this reason.

1.01: At this moment in time, of course you are right. But, while we may recognise the obvious fact that most people living right now are incapable (or unwilling/unable) to acknowledge this strong affiliation to their African identity, we must also be aware of the possibility that generations to come need not be committed to this same myopic awareness.

1.02: During the times when Yoruba were unaware the tenets of Islam, they had little in common with Syrians (for example) who were Muslims. Now, we find that a Yoruba person who has memorised the Koran in Arabic, easily finds common ground with the Pakistani person who has done the same.

1.03: If the necessary apparatus is set up, there is no reason why African people cannot in time come to be bound together by the ideals of an affiliation that is more logical, natural and beneficial.

The question is not whether it is possible for a Yoruba man to share a common African identity with a Dinka or a Lingala man; it is whether such an African identity is likely to be stronger than their Yoruba identity. I do not think is - and as such, in a case where the the Yoruba people need to subordinate their interests to a larger African interest, they will not do so. This will challenge the strength of such an African identity.

I take your example of the Yoruba muslim who has common ground with his Syrian counterpart - but I believe that most Yoruba muslims can relate better to a Yoruba Christian (who understands better the environment they have grown up with and the concepts embodied in their language) than a Syrian muslim.



3.00:
Quote:
When you say "the Yoruba man will come to view the Kanuri man as a fellow national" are you saying that sometime in the future, the Yoruba man will regard the Kanuri man with as much affinity as he will regard his fellow Yoruba man? If so, I think you underestimate the strength of ethnic feeling amongst citizens of a multi-ethnic nation. I think that it is possible that the ethnic groups in a nation will come to tolerate each other, or even develop an intra-national affinity, but such an affinity will always be weaker than the affinity that the members of an ethnic group have for each other.

Look at the UK, for example - the Scots and English have lived together for hundreds of years; they share the same language and religion (although not the same denomination). They are relatively well off, so they are not as easy to polarise. Yet they still maintain stronger affinities to their groups than they do to the concept of Britishness. So not only do I not believe that such an affinity will develop between people of different ethnicities, I also believe (as I have already stated) that it is highly unlikely to develop between peoples who not only do not have a shared cultural history but who do not have a shared national history.

3.01: Again, your premise is based on a view of history as a static object. The Yoruba were not always "Yoruba". According to various historical sources, the name Yoruba originally referred solely to the people of Oyo. To the Ijebu who lived at the time this label was first minted, the Oyo were regarded as foreigners. The Ijebu in fact had structures set up to prevent entry or passage through their kingdoms (on the pain of immediate death) by those who are today referred to as fellow Yoruba.

3.02: And the same goes for another example that you gave: The English were not always "the English". The name in fact originally belonged to a distinct Germanic tribe (the Aenglish - spelling from Bernard Cornwell) whose first mass-migration to Britain happened 500 years after the end of formal Roman rule over the island.

3.03: The people who are today called the English were once warring tribes from not only Germany, but also Celtic tribes from Britain, Danes, Normans, etc. Each of which had their own distinct languages, dialects, customs, and ideas of nationality.

3.04: Therefore, since the present identity called English, like the present identity called Yoruba, was formed out of circumstance and deliberate policy over many generations, there is no reason to assume that in time, those presently known as Yoruba, Kanuri or Dinka will not eventually arrive at some mutually useful collective identity. Of course, this is never something that happens blindly. As already stated, the drawing up and implementation of a deliberate policy is one of the creative factors.

I don't disagree that the way people view themselves changes over time. Ultimately, group identities develop because people see that they have something in common with other people (whether this thing they have in common has been voluntarily acquired or imposed upon them). The point I was making (which I have made already and which I will make again) is that the affinities to the more local identities are much stronger than the affinities to the more global identities.

Even right now, the Yoruba and Kanuri do share a collective identity - being Nigerian. However, what I cannot see is that this identity will ever be stronger than their ethnic identities - unless such identities are wiped out in a frenzy of intermarriage, or some Supreme Dictator arises to impose some sort of artificial identity upon them. In the unlikely event that either of those occurences took place, new local identities will still arise based on the shared experiences of those who live in a particular locality, because as humans we relate to things on a local scale.



4.00:
Quote:
I'm confused by your last paragraph. So if two European nations refuse to fight on behalf of an African nation, they are being Eurocentric, rather than just looking out for their own national self-interests? Because that is the reason nations fight - for their national interest - and this is rarely overridden by a regional interest.

Whatever the number of European people or nations fighting on behalf of African people or nations, it doesn't invalidate what I have said about Eurocentrism being a very weak 'binding force' which is certainly subordinate to national or ethnic sentiment.

4.01: I don't see the confusion. What is national interest? And more importantly, how do we become aware of what our national interest is?

4.02: It is the acknowledgement of a shared national interest that led to the formation of the super-nation called the EU. The fact that an awareness of this common interest has been around for long was what I was driving at when I asked you to name one instance when European nations had warred against each other for the sake of non-European entities.

4.03: The strength (or weakness) of this binding force can be deduced by simply considering the fact that European peoples have been active within our environment for several centuries now during which, they have fought many wars with each other. Out of these many wars, over these many centuries, you are unable to find one instance when they have fought each other for our sake. Now, we cannot say they do not like fighting each other. No, they simply possess an awareness that permits them to see no reason why they should fight each other for the profit of non-Europeans.

4.04: Unlike us. There is no single war going on in Africa right now, or in the immediate past, that has not been either directly (or indirectly) fought for the benefit of outside interests.

I think that groups of people usually decide that because of similar physical and cultural characteristics, they feel more comfortable allying with each other. However, such alliances may only run so deep. For example, imagine the following scenario:

Europe and Africa are made up of nations that have comparable military power. In this scenario, an African nation nation gives Britain exclusive access to an exclusive resource that it controls. This exclusive access creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and fuels the economy of in Britain.

Then one day, the African nation decides it no longer wants to deal with Britain, and says that it will be speaking to France and Germany in order to get a better deal. Will Britain willingly accept the potential damage to its economy that this switch will cause? Will France and Germany say "Oh no - we can't consider this deal that would hurt our dear fellow nation Britain"? No - it is more likely that whatever shared European identity there may be will be overriden by national interest of all nations in order to secure the favourable deal for themselves.

You may say that this is an unlikely scenario, anyway. But it is only unlikely because African nations do not currently have the military power to rule out another alternative, i.e. Britain invading the African nation and forcibly taking control of the resource (which would avoid any conflict with France). This is why when I consider the fact that Europeans have never fought a war for the benefit of Africans, I link this more to the fact that Africa has never been powerful enough to merit such a war being fought than because of any tacit agreement between Europeans not to fight amongst themselves.

Tola Odejayi
Apr 15, 2008, 09:24 AM
5.00:
Quote:
I think that there is a difference in using Christianity to justify barbaric treatment (which you have just described here) and changing Christianity so that the values it espouses are mostly distinctly European in nature (which is what I am saying has not happened). I thought that your argument was that these religions had values which made the adoptees of these religions unconsciously become proponents of the culture from which the religion emanated? I am unaware of any strand of Christianity that was adopted by Africans which was dominated with values that were exclusively European.

5.01: An immediate example that springs to mind are the festivals marked by Christians around the world. Each of the major ones (i.e. Christmas and Easter) are directly derived from the pagan religions of pre-Christian Europe. By adopting festivals that are actually nothing other than disguised forms of Europe's ancient pagan culture, the adherents of Christianity have become proponents of Europe's indigenous culture (even as they scorn their own indigenous culture).

5.02: As for values that are mostly distinctly European, I will refer again to those values that came out of the Reformation in Europe. Values that shaped the nature of what we now call government, education, justice, commerce, religion, politics, etc.

5.03: For as long as our current discourse regarding any of the subjects outlined above remains shaped by definitions that were originally manufactured by the European Reformation and its latter incarnations, then our values will remain shaped by ideas that were originally set forth by the European Reformation. This is why, when we look (for example) at issues like personal freedom, land rights, marriage, and the rule of law, we can see a clear difference between how each of these was viewed by our indigenous communities in the past and, how each presently manifests as a result of the values we have inherited from the imperialists who manufactured our countries.

I don't want to pursue this argument too far, as it is somewhat tangential to the main debate. But I should point out that while you have mentioned some values which are distinctly European in Christianity (something which I don't disagree with), I do not think that these are the dominant values of Christianity. I would have thought that the central theme of Christianity (or at least, the version that was exported to Africa by missionaries) was how God loved the world so much that He wished to save it from sin. But I guess what you consider the dominant value depends very much on your interpretation of Christianity.

Anyhow, here is something to think about. If as you say, Europe could take a religion which did not have its origins in Europe, infuse it with European values and then successfully use this religion as a vector for their culture, what is to say that the same model cannot be employed by Africans? In other words, does it really matter what values the imported religion has, if it can again be successfully infused with values of the indigenous community?




6.00:
Quote:
I think most cultures do a lot of the former. In fact, I cannot understand how it is possible for a people to adopt a totally alien culture with practices that are difficult to understand and execute - and not change or discard some of these practices after a while. Sure, the process of change may not always be well designed; it may not always be for the long term benefit of the people; but it will happen.

6.01: I would refute the above by giving the current ongoing difficulty being experienced by the Yoruba in ridding themselves of mis-leaders that are not only corrupt but also deliriously incompetent as an example from within one of our communities of an effect that can be traced to a totally alien culture that is hard to execute or understand. Also, if we take Chinua Achebe's Thing Fall Apart as a faithful account of indigenous social organisation amongst the Igbo, we can see that it was not only the Yoruba who had an effective means of checking the ill-effects of two-legged locusts within their communities. While we may recognise the benefits of losing certain retrogressive features from our cultures as a result of imperialism, we must also recognise that the present environment that we bewail is a child of the societal organisations that were imposed/modified by the same imperialists.

6:02: Regarding what you said about the process of change, I propose that a process that is neither well-designed or for the long-term benefit of the people is not one that should be allowed to happen. What would be the point of such a process?

I don't understand your refutation. My point was not that the importation of the alien culture was beneficial. My point was that it was not immutable, especially if it was difficult to understand and execute its practices. So if our leaders found it very easy to replace their existing means of getting rid of corrupt leaders with new ways that they could understand and execute as a result of the importation of these cultures, they would do so.

And I raised this point in response to your earlier point:

"However, there is a difference between doing this and simply adopting prescriptions that were devised for environments that are unlike our own."

So I am making the point that societies do not simply adopt imported prescriptions. It is of course unfortunate and undesirable that the changes they may make to these prescriptions are not always for the best, but I'm not describing what I would like to happen - I'm describing what actually does happen for the reasons I had described earlier here:

"Anyhow, I don't think that cultural change is about what is beneficial in the long term to the people who practice the culture. I think it is more about what is easy to practice; what fits in with the world view of the people adopting the culture; what offers short term material benefits; what earns immediate gains in social status."

Of course, someone might propose that the existing African culture (with all its foreign practices) should be completely erased from the minds of Africans and be replaced by a well-thought out culture, all of whose practices had the interests of Africans at heart. Leaving aside the matter of how to decide what is best for the millions of Africans on the continent - each with their own backgrounds, preferences and beliefs - I'd be very interested in hearing how such an idea would be implemented.



7.00:
Quote:
I'm not sure what you mean by 'being centred on the reality of our environment'. I think that we don't have a choice - we do live in just one reality, whether we may choose to acknowledge it or not - whether we like that reality or not. I don't think that a person's grasp of reality is necessarily helped or hindered by adopting one particular world-view or the other, especially if that world view had an agenda which was at odds with the truth of the reality.

Anyhow, I don't think that cultural change is about what is beneficial in the long term to the people who practice the culture. I think it is more about what is easy to practice; what fits in with the world view of the people adopting the culture; what offers short term material benefits; what earns immediate gains in social status. This applies just as much for Africans as for Europeans, i.e. I don't think that Europeans have adopted the culture that they have adopted because it is necessarily to their material advantage. I think it is fortunate that it is to their advantage - but if cultural change was purely dictated on the potential benefits, there are a lot of cultural practices that Europeans would not be engaging in right now.

7.01: Being centred on the reality of our environment extends from the mildly trivial : e.g. Africans in a tropical/hot country dressed in corporate uniforms (suit and tie) that were designed for the inhabitants of temperate/cold countries, to the mildly serious: the construction of buildings with costly materials (e.g. cement) that were originally manufactured for use in climates where the natural storage of heat via the usage of specific building material (i.e. cement) was necessary while ignoring easily available local materials that are best suited to keeping our buildings naturally cool. The effect of which is the wastage of energy that we require to cool these heat storing buildings.

I will not recount in detail the many serious side-effects of this lack of consciousness as I am not only striving to keep my words to a manageable level but, I am also trying to avoid raising my blood pressure by allowing myself to re-collect the many unsuitable projects we have been saddled with; projects that are copied point-for-point from environments that are nothing like ours. In short, when we are not centred on our environment, we are incapable of perceiving both what needs to done to enhance that environment and, the best way to go about it. We either throw away resources (which includes people), or we mis-use them.

I understand better what you mean now, and you have my sympathies - I have observed similar illogical behaviour myself. But I think that most people (not just Africans) are actually not centered on their environment in the way you describe. They live from day to day, not really sitting down to think about the world beyond their immediate environment. The problem lies when it is the leaders of Africa that don't show this behaviour - but that's another argument for another day.

But being 'centered on one's own reality' would mean understanding the complex and multi-dimensional nature of that reality. Sure, the African may recognise that reality consists of regional entities - but it also consists of national, ethnic and local entities as well.

7.02: I am in general agreement with the argument presented in the second paragraph of [7.00]. But, it should be noted that just like rust, the people who seek to mold the evolution of European cultures never sleep and that they all have agendas. While it is true that in certain cases these agendas do not always benefit European societies, we should recognise that in those cases, dependent non-European societies are rarely (and never altruistically) offered long-term benefits. Meanwhile, out of the ones that do benefit the European collective, I am sure that if we look deeply, we will find that they rarely benefit non-Europeans. And where they do, they more often than not only confer their blessings on a select few.

I don't think that cultural spread and evolution involves 'someone' deciding or controlling which practice of a foreign culture should be spread or not spread to Africa, depending on whether it benefitted or didn't benefit Africans. Cultural change is way too unpredictable for that, despite governments and organisations best efforts. Let's be clear that we're talking about ideas and practices, not tangible things like technology or material resources that can be locked away. If so, I don't quite understand how someone can prevent a large number of people from copying an idea or force them to copy an idea.



8.00:
Quote:
I'm glad that you do not take the view that Afrocentrism is not about purity of culture. It appears though, that you believe it has more to do with giving primacy to the interest of Africans above any other group, so that the Afrocentrist will do whatever he has to do in order to advance the interests of Africans.

8.01: What is wrong with Africans giving primacy to their own interests above those of any other groups? As long as we are not devising policies that deprive others of what rightly belongs to them , why should we not put our collective self first? As one who has already stated that we have no choice with regards to the reality we live in [7.00], and, as one who surely knows that every group gives primacy to its own interests in this particular reality we're living in, what reason could you have for thinking Africans should be the exception? Are you saying that in this particular instance, we Africans should ignore the reality in which we find ourselves?

My issue isn't with a group of people putting their interests above any other - it is the nature of the group itself. I have no doubt that there are occasions when it is imperative that Africans act in concert, e.g. when negotiating agreements with similar sized regional entities, but as I have said elsewhere, I think the group is too large and disparate for this 'group-first' policy to be applicable in other scenarios.



9.00:
Quote:
However, I have already pointed out my issues with this stance, i.e. I do not think it is likely that an African will subordinate his ethnic group's interest or his nation's interest to Africa's interest. Look at a purely African matter, such as deploying troops to Somalia to ensure the peace, and see how unwilling African governments have been to act.

9.01: Once again, I identify another of your statements as being one that comes from a view of history and culture as static objects. What you use as an example (the unwillingness of Africans governments to deploy troops to Somalia) would not be an issue in a future where the majority of African leaders/peoples are Afrocentrists. In other words, you are ignoring the effects that a well implemented policy of re-orientation would have over time. After all, it has taken less than 50 years to turn parts of Nigeria into the dominions of shallow scripture-drunk 'Christians' and 'Muslims'.

I think one thing that is missing in your picture of an Africa led by Afrocentrist leaders is exactly how this will come about. Note that Christianity and Islam were two well-defined ideologies that were more or less imposed by external agencies. Are you suggesting that the spread of a similar Afrocentrist ideology would follow similar lines? Remember that the idea of Afrocentrism isn't exactly new - and yet, it seems to have made little headway up till now. Are you suggesting that perhaps someone should forge the Afrocentric ideals into a tight set of beliefs so that they can be spread like any other religion or ideology?




10.00:
Quote:
There is also the issue of defining what is in Africa's interest. Should an African pursue an action if it not only benefits Africa but benefits other regional entities that Africa is in competition with? Should an African pursue an action if it benefits one part of Africa and disadvantages another part? The conflict in the latter question would not arise if we viewed Africa as a patchwork of different groups, each with their own different (sometimes competing) interests rather than a single group bound by a single interest.

10.01: Defining what is in Africa's interests is something that would only be confusing to ones who have no intention of pursuing those interests. There is no sphere of human activities where what best serves the community is not always clear to see. From Education to Business, the easiest thing to perceive is what is required in the short and long term. If I can sit down and know what would be best for me to enhance my career, my family life and, my peace of mind, then what is stopping one who has taken upon him/her self the task of leadership from doing the same for the collective? And, if they are not able to do this thing, then why are they there?

I disagree with the bolded bit. Even on an individual level, it is not always clear what is in one's best interests - otherwise, why do so many people make disastrous choices? And it only gets more difficult when the 'community' in whose best interests the decision must be made is as varied and complex as the 'community' of African people. I'm not saying that there aren't occasions where a decision has to be taken on behalf of Africans (see my earlier example about when negotiating with other regional blocs), but I don't believe that it is desirable to think 'Afrocentric' even at levels where such thinking is unnecessary (e.g. an inter-clan dispute).

10.02: If a person who is engaged in trade is allowed to do what is best for his/her going concern (as long as in so doing, they do not harm those who did them no harm), then why should the African collective not be allowed to what is best it without concern for those who are in competition with it? Are those who have entered into competition with us not "in it to win it"? Or, are there two meanings to the concept of competition?

10.03: A perspective that puts petty intra-African ethnic rivalries into context within the realities of the inevitable global order would make it impossible for anyone in his/her right mind to continue viewing Africa as a patchwork of different groups that must fight to the death. Without doubt, there will be differences, there will be occasions when actions that benefit one region comes at a cost to another. This is where a rightful re-orientation becomes important. If people can be convinced that a man called Jesus was crucified, resurrected and then ascended to Heaven, then surely they can also be convinced that true wealth is the health of the whole collective. If this can be done, then the paradigm within which various competing interests will unfold will not be one that permits for the type of pointless "do or die" mentality that has permeated so much of our current world.

From what you've written above, it seems that you believe that part of Africa's problems is that it is perceived as a fragmented entity whose divisions can easily be exploited. Well, I have no problem at all with seeing Africa as a fragmented entity, but I see no reason why such an entity needs to exploitable. I see the subdivisions of such an entity - be they ethnic groups, artificial nations, city states, whatever - recognising that from time to time, they need to form alliances for their mutual interest, as the occasion arises, e.g. when an exploiter arrives on the scene hoping to pit entity against entity.

In other words, what I am proposing is a flexibility in the formation of these relationships that allows the right entity to be formed for the right purpose. A North African entity might be better placed at dealing with a group of Mediterranean countries over the access to the Mediterranean sea; if other European countries got involved, then the North African entity could be expanded to a fully African entity. But I have no desire to see such larger entities extend its role to beyond where it is needed. An Ewe man shouldn't need to be told that he should feel as much of a kinship towards a Zulu man as he does towards his fellow Ewe man when there is no immediate reason for him to feel this way.



12.00:
Quote:
Yes, it is possible that citizens of a country can still feel energised without being materially well off (for example, if they have just come out of a war against their nation) - but are you saying that material progress has no relationship to how confident and proud a people feel about their nation? Do you think it is easier to energise people and fill them with a sense of identity when they are feeling despondent about their material well-being than when they see visible signs of progress? And even if a form of energisation is needed for material progress to occur, what is wrong with deriving this energisation from national or ethnic pride, rather than striving for an African identity to achieve this? Is national or ethnic pride not sufficient?

12.01: Despondent people are energised and filled with a sense of identity everyday in churches, mosques, personal growth seminars, and various shrines. People have been energised and filled with a sense of identity for decades and our communities have largely had little to nothing to show for it. While material progress does have an effect on how people feel about themselves, it would be hard to point to some aspect of material progress that is serving this purpose in any present-day African country for the majority of the populations that live in those countries.

Eja, I'm afraid you didn't answer my question. The question was about relatives - I don't doubt that it is possible for people to feel energised, even when poor, but I asked if they felt more or less energised if they were materially well off. Or do you feel that material progress actually makes citizens feel less good about their country?

12.02: Our ethnic pride is what causes some of us to come out in defense of criminals whose stupidity in greed would be highly comedic were it not for the tragic consequences that follow their actions.

Well, remember that just as ethnic pride may make people defend ethnic criminals, so also continental pride may make Africans defend African criminals as well. The source of energisation can have both good and bad effects both at the local and the global level.

As for national pride, I have already asked in the post that precedes this why we can visualise in time, the union of Yoruba and Kanuri as Nigerians but cannot visualise in time, the union of Yoruba and Dinka as Africans. If 'national' pride is only sufficient, then African pride, with the wider scope it offers, is extravagantly sufficient.

I have already addressed this issue earlier, but I'll restate what I said: the bond between people in a more global entity (Yoruba and Kanuri) is not as strong as people in a more local entity (Egba man and Ijebu man). I have less reason to believe that it will be stronger between people in an even more global entity like Africa.



14.00:
Quote:
Languages have different purposes for different people. For some, it is merely a tool that helps them communicate, with no more emotional significance than the spoon that they use to eat, or the soap that they use to bathe. For others, it has deep cultural significance - it is imbued with many cultural values and ideas that have special meaning to a particular group.Whether it is worthwhile to pursue or even possible to attain the dream of a language that has such a significance to people is something that I very much doubt. On the other hand, the pursuit of material progress will definitely translate to the kind of power that makes it difficult for external powers to manipulate African nations.

14.01 Actually, I was not referring to spoken language. I used the concept of language as a metaphor. I was trying to relate the fact that we describe what we perceive to ourselves through the filters that stand between what we observe and that part of our mind where we process our perceptions. We process data continuously and, what I am saying is that the Afrocentric view is a 'language' through which we can filter data to our collective benefit.

It is one of the languages we can use - I would not like it to be seen as the only language, to the exclusion of others.

Ishola Taiwo
May 1, 2008, 10:35 PM
The first part of a two-part response. As usual, SLB is in quotes and my response to each quote follows immediately below.


1.00: The question is not whether it is possible for a Yoruba man to share a common African identity with a Dinka or a Lingala man; it is whether such an African identity is likely to be stronger than their Yoruba identity. I do not think is - and as such, in a case where the the Yoruba people need to subordinate their interests to a larger African interest, they will not do so. This will challenge the strength of such an African identity.

I take your example of the Yoruba Muslim who has common ground with his Syrian counterpart - but I believe that most Yoruba Muslims can relate better to a Yoruba Christian (who understands better the environment they have grown up with and the concepts embodied in their language) than a Syrian Muslim.

1.01: Early on in this debate, Palamedes introduced the concept of memes. I would like to present now a definition of this concept :

"A meme consists of any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity. Memes propagate themselves and can move through a "culture" in a manner similar to the behavior of a virus. As a unit of cultural evolution, a meme in some ways resembles a gene. Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Selfish Gene, recounts how and why he coined the term meme to describe how one might extend Darwinian principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing-fashions, and the technology of building arches.

Meme-theorists contend that memes evolve by natural selection (similarly to Darwinian biological evolution) through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an individual entity's reproductive success. So with memes, some ideas will propagate less successfully and become extinct, while others will survive, spread, and, for better or for worse, mutate. "Memeticists argue that the memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive; rather, those memes that replicate the most effectively spread best, which allows for the possibility that successful memes may prove detrimental to their hosts." " - SOURCE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme)

First, I would like to call again on the fact that the people today called Yoruba were not always known as such. In other words, there was a time, not so long ago, when there existed no such thing as the Yoruba identity that we know today. What led to the near universal adoption of this identity amongst the people now so described can be said to be an effect of an operational meme. And, just as being an Ijebu man does not conflict with being a Yoruba man, there is no reason why being an African should create any type of challenge to the self-identity of a Yoruba or Dinka person.

When I am speak of an African identity, I am not speaking of something that has to perform a role similar to that which is performed by the Yoruba or the Dinka identity. Those two operate primarily on an individual to individual level.

They were conceived initially to provide the individual with tools of communication and socialisation with those other individuals that were in closest proximity to him/her. Now, when we are talking about an African identity, we are talking about something that works on a secondary (but also vital) level.

It is something that will provide individual societies with the socialisation tools best suited to finding a common purpose with other societies that the world has already placed in a basket with them.

In other words, to most outside of our African societies, we are all 'n*****s'/'abd'. We have already been differentiated. However, this unity that we have been forced into is the unity of the dispossessed and the soon-to-be dispossessed. What Afrocentricism proposes is that we flip the script and go from being ones united in 'corruption', 'tribal' warfare and chronic under-development (etc.) to being ones united in a common positive purpose.

I will also note as an aside that it is funny how the only time our 'brothers' of a paler tone do not like to see us trying to get together are those times when we seek to find a common solution to the common problems that we face.

They do not mind seeing us get together at festivals of music and dance or, in refugee camps.

However, that being said, we need not be concerned about their feelings or alleged 'fears'; we are in the crap together and, we might as well look to find a way out together instead of carrying on with the succubus infested fantasies that has some of us convinced that time and the good graces of our pale-skinned Christian/Islamic/Democratic/philanthropic brethren will sort our problems out.


2.00: I don't disagree that the way people view themselves changes over time. Ultimately, group identities develop because people see that they have something in common with other people (whether this thing they have in common has been voluntarily acquired or imposed upon them). The point I was making (which I have made already and which I will make again) is that the affinities to the more local identities are much stronger than the affinities to the more global identities.

Even right now, the Yoruba and Kanuri do share a collective identity - being Nigerian. However, what I cannot see is that this identity will ever be stronger than their ethnic identities - unless such identities are wiped out in a frenzy of intermarriage, or some Supreme Dictator arises to impose some sort of artificial identity upon them.

In the unlikely event that either of those occurrences took place, new local identities will still arise based on the shared experiences of those who live in a particular locality, because as humans we relate to things on a local scale.


2.01: We both agree that the Yoruba and Kanuri do already share a common identity (i.e. that of the Nigerian).

Putting aside for a minute the fact that this inherited identity was imposed upon their ancestors by entities who meant no good (and therefore incorporated cancer cells into the national DNA at the design stage), that identity does exist now and, we can even say that within a minority who have been exposed to a specific environment together, this Nigerian identity is quite strong. While accepting this, we need not ignore the fact that for a sizable proportion of these so-called de-tribalised Nigerians, the manifestation of Nigerianess that we have witnessed in them has largely involved the ways in which they have cooperated with each other in an indiscriminate orgy of looting that knows no ethnic boundaries.

The main proposition of the Afrocentric ideal is that just as the British, French, Portuguese, Arab and American imperialists have created a specie of compradors within each of the bordered prisons that they locked African peoples up in, so too can those who wish to reverse the situation create a specie of African-centred thinkers and activists who will re-define through word and action, both what it means to be an African and what is required on a day to day basis (and in the long term) if we are indeed to see Africa and African peoples world-wide step beyond their current existence as hermit-crabs.

And, as I have already stated, just as it took time to create both the common Nigerian identity and, the comprador mentality so will it will take time to create the common African identity and, the mentality that will serve as an antidote to the comprador state of mind.

The seeds of what presently exist were not planted within our lifetimes. We need not expect to see the fruition of the seeds of what we plant today. What is important is that we pay scrupulous attention to the design of the "memes" that will serve to create (and propagate) a hospitable environment for the components that will create the type of society we desire. This is the best we can do.


3.00: I think that groups of people usually decide that because of similar physical and cultural characteristics, they feel more comfortable allying with each other. However, such alliances may only run so deep. For example, imagine the following scenario:

Europe and Africa are made up of nations that have comparable military power. In this scenario, an African nation nation gives Britain exclusive access to an exclusive resource that it controls. This exclusive access creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and fuels the economy of in Britain.

Then one day, the African nation decides it no longer wants to deal with Britain, and says that it will be speaking to France and Germany in order to get a better deal. Will Britain willingly accept the potential damage to its economy that this switch will cause? Will France and Germany say "Oh no - we can't consider this deal that would hurt our dear fellow nation Britain"? No - it is more likely that whatever shared European identity there may be will be overridden by national interest of all nations in order to secure the favourable deal for themselves.

You may say that this is an unlikely scenario, anyway. But it is only unlikely because African nations do not currently have the military power to rule out another alternative, i.e. Britain invading the African nation and forcibly taking control of the resource (which would avoid any conflict with France). This is why when I consider the fact that Europeans have never fought a war for the benefit of Africans, I link this more to the fact that Africa has never been powerful enough to merit such a war being fought than because of any tacit
agreement between Europeans not to fight amongst themselves.

3.01: The example you give actually starts out describing the reality of what we have seen. Britain fought many wars with France and Spain (from the 16th century onwards) over control of trade routes and outposts. It was in the course of these wars that places like Elmina in Ghana, Jamaica and Gibraltar (to give a few examples) changed hands between these European countries. These wars were fought over exclusive access that would confer economic advantages on one European country over another. That is one thing. What I am talking about is the kind of war that we Africans fight (and have fought) amongst ourselves. Wars that turned out to ultimately serve the national interest of one non-African country or another.

Now, if you go further and ask questions about the causes of these wars and, about the sources of the fuel that kept/keep the fires burning, you will find that the answers, more often than not, will include tales of the activities of prominent players who originate from outside Africa.

Why are we so easy to manipulate? And, why is it that Africans still remain unable to manipulate the outside world (even if just for the reason of getting a fair deal)?

Could one of the main reasons lie within this persistent inability of ours to see a collective Self within the current global dispensation? Yes, could it in fact be that the reason no part of Africa has ever been 'powerful' enough to manipulate (or compel) others to act against their own interests is because no part of Africa in this modern age has been ruled for a decisive amount of time by a leadership who put the interests of their people foremost with no apology?

Could the weakness of Africa-centred thinking amongst the leadership class be a cause of the powerlessness that you describe?

[In responding to the religious component of the debate, you said the following]

4.00: I don't want to pursue this argument too far, as it is somewhat tangential to the main debate. But I should point out that while you have mentioned some values which are distinctly European in Christianity (something which I don't disagree with), I do not think that these are the dominant values of Christianity. I would have thought that the central theme of Christianity (or at least, the version that was exported to Africa by missionaries) was how God loved the world so much that He wished to save it from sin. But I guess what you consider the dominant value depends very much on your interpretation of Christianity.

Anyhow, here is something to think about. If as you say, Europe could take a religion which did not have its origins in Europe, infuse it with European values and then successfully use this religion as a vector for their culture, what is to say that the same model cannot be employed by Africans? In other words, does it really matter what values the imported religion has, if it can again be successfully infused with values of the indigenous community?

4.01: With all due respect, I would disagree with the assertion that the role played by alien ideologies (AKA religions) is tangential to the main debate. I will start by noting that this so called central theme of Christianity did not actually originate with Christianity and that, the one thing original about Christianity(along with Judaism and Islam) is the scale of its plagiarism and the lengths to which it has gone to cover up the fact that it presents (and presented) nothing new to the worlds outside Europe and the Middle East.

If this is true, if the transmission of its so-called values is in reality nothing other than a mission to bring sand to the Sahara desert, then we have to wonder about the nature (and the purpose) of what is actually hidden in the sand.

The delivery of which, I think, is the real mission.

The reason why we cannot say this argument is being pursued too far is that the methodologies by which these two ideologies impinged upon the national consciousness of peoples outside Europe and the Middle East is at the centre of what we are talking about today. The very fact that we today are still seeking to separate the wholly European ideology that was deceptively called Christianity from its true purpose in the hope of finding some unique message from 'God' to all humanity shows how far gone we are into delusion.

"The Isis Papers" (http://www.africanbookstore.net/the_isis_papers.asp) by Dr Frances Cress-Welsing still remains a good source for a forensic examination of what the mis-named Christianity is actually all about. Also, the works of Chiekh Anta Diop (http://books.google.co.uk/books?as_auth=Cheikh+Anta+Diop&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=author-navigational&hl=en) gives good accounts of the plagiarism that is at the engine room of all the semitic ideologies.

The power that created us already spoke to us in the languages of our ancestors. But for many of us, those messages, were tainted by the propaganda that described our ancestors as ones who followed 'satanic' practices.

This was the first step on our road to disorientation.

You may now ask yourself why, when the genocidal depredations of those who claimed to be Christians and Muslims are being discussed, some adherents of those two ideologies are always quick to either inform us that these things were done in the days when knowledge was less perfect or, that in fact those who had performed these acts were not 'true' Christians (or Muslims). Yet, every evil done under the sun by ones who follow the traditional religions (be it in the distant past or in the present) taints all who follow traditional religions.

In short, to discuss the weird hold of Semitic/Euro ideologies have on some Africans goes to the very heart of the "colonial mentality" that is holding back the mass development of authentic Africa-centred minds.


5.00: I don't understand your refutation. My point was not that the importation of the alien culture was beneficial. My point was that it was not immutable, especially if it was difficult to understand and execute its practices. So if our leaders found it very easy to replace their existing means of getting rid of corrupt leaders with new ways that they could understand and execute as a result of the importation of these cultures, they would do so.

And I raised this point in response to your earlier point:

"However, there is a difference between doing this and simply adopting prescriptions that were devised for environments that are unlike our own."

So I am making the point that societies do not simply adopt imported prescriptions. It is of course unfortunate and undesirable that the changes they may make to these prescriptions are not always for the best, but I'm not describing what I would like to happen - I'm describing what actually does happen for the reasons I had described earlier here:

"Anyhow, I don't think that cultural change is about what is beneficial in the long term to the people who practice the culture. I think it is more about what is easy to practice; what fits in with the world view of the people adopting the culture; what offers short term material benefits; what earns immediate gains in social status."

Of course, someone might propose that the existing African culture (with all its foreign practices) should be completely erased from the minds of Africans and be replaced by a well-thought out culture, all of whose practices had the interests of Africans at heart. Leaving aside the matter of how to decide what is best for the millions of Africans on the continent - each with their own backgrounds, preferences and beliefs - I'd be very interested in hearing how such an idea would be implemented.

5.01: What you call "difficult to understand and hard to execute" may also be simply referred to as unsuitable.

What would also follow the realisation that these unsuitable cultures were not immutable might be a process that is similar (within our own specific environment) to what we are talking about when we speak of the emergence of an Africa-centred way of thinking.

As for us importing cultures that would enable us to get rid of corrupt and incompetent leaders, I would like to know from which community in the world you propose we import this culture from. Since it can be easily verified that most of these so-called developed countries are actually ridden with great corruption and inequalities, I wonder from which of them we would be best served by learning from.

A mistake that is often made is to ascribe social progress in these countries as being solely due to the efforts of the leadership and the hard work of the populace. What is sometimes not taken into consideration are the historical facts behind the present material wealth of the countries that we are seeking to import developmental culture from.

We fail to take into account the vital part that was played by the many centuries of unpaid (and lowly paid) labour that built up the infrastructures of these countries. We also forget the piracy (actual and paper) that saw (ans still sees) real wealth being transferred from lands like ours into the lands where the cultures we seek to import originated from.

In short, even though we are all members of the human species, our conditions are not the same and, as anyone with a basic knowledge of arithmetic would know, with the exception of 1, other like numbers undergoing a dissimilar operation will always produce disparate results [e.g. 2 + 1 will never be the same as 2 - 1].

And finally, to answer my own question, we may be best served, if we decide that we need to supplement what we already have culture-wise with something from outside, by looking towards those parts of the world that had passed through similar experiences to the ones we had.

When we do this, we may find that the most prominent feature of the renaissance of those communities was a decision to deal with the rest of the world while holding as supreme their own interests and perspectives.


6.00: I understand better what you mean now, and you have my sympathies - I have observed similar illogical behavior myself. But I think that most people (not just Africans) are actually not centered on their environment in the way you describe. They live from day to day, not really sitting down to think about the world beyond their immediate environment. The problem lies when it is the leaders of Africa that don't show this behavior - but that's another argument for another day.

But being 'centered on one's own reality' would mean understanding the complex and multi-dimensional nature of that reality. Sure, the African may recognise that reality consists of regional entities - but it also consists of national, ethnic and local entities as well.

6.01: Even if it were true that most people (and not just Africans) are not centred on their environment, the reason why those in societies that are described as 'developed' are allowed this luxury is because they have people in leadership positions who are so centred. For example, what is called 'freedom' in the USA is currently being paid for by a global hegemony that is enforced by the US military (and other organs of extra-territorial coercion). Just as in the beginning, this 'great experiment in human freedom' was paid for with the life-blood, sweat, and tears of millions of African captives and indigenous peoples.


7.00:I don't think that cultural spread and evolution involves 'someone' deciding or controlling which practice of a foreign culture should be spread or not spread to Africa, depending on whether it benefited or didn't benefit Africans. Cultural change is way too unpredictable for that, despite governments and organisations best efforts. Let's be clear that we're talking about ideas and practices, not tangible things like technology or material resources that can be locked away. If so, I don't quite understand how someone can prevent a large number of people from copying an idea or force them to copy an idea.

7.01: I am sure that you are aware of the role played by media, cultural organisations (which include churches and mosques), and formal education in molding the character and perspective of individuals and hence societies.

While there is no one 'someone', there is most definitely an objective behind the actions of those who give out the donations that are used to construct mosques, set up radio-stations and even web-sites.

As a youth, I loved reading fiction and I would take every opportunity to look for books.

I remember the types of books I used to find in the school library at my school, at my sister's school and at the school where a relative worked. I remember finding numerous books about Tarzan, Tintin, the 'heroic' Victorian travelers/'white' angels of mercy in the "Dark Continent" and, the super 'heroic' Voortrekkers who had faced up to and defeated 'barbaric' Zulus and other 'black savages' in South Africa. I remember that these books had all been donated to the school libraries.

What type of effect do you think reading such books had on the conception I was developing about the world?

Do you think it was by accident that books like these littered not only the school libraries but also the market-places in what was said to be the leading city of a leading African country?

When and how would you say national character is formed? I ask even though I am certain that you are well aware of the role played by those who devise mythology in the creation of national and supra-national identity. I am also sure that you know that ones who control the information that shapes awareness, control perspective.

Ishola Taiwo
May 5, 2008, 09:29 PM
9.00: I think one thing that is missing in your picture of an Africa led by Afrocentrist leaders is exactly how this will come about. Note that Christianity and Islam were two well-defined ideologies that were more or less imposed by external agencies. Are you suggesting that the spread of a similar Afrocentrist ideology would follow similar lines? Remember that the idea of Afrocentrism isn't exactly new - and yet, it seems to have made little headway up till now. Are you suggesting that perhaps someone should forge the Afrocentric ideals into a tight set of beliefs so that they can be spread like any other religion or ideology?

9.01: First off, I would say again that the ideals Christianity and Islam claim to espouse (i.e. brotherly love, justice for all, etc.) are not new; they are in fact ideals that are old as the first human civilizations. And, I would also say (with great confidence) that from looking at the state of the world today, it is plain to see that none of these ideologies have made much headway with regards to their stated purpose.... Therefore, while some may see this as a good enough reason to recommend the writing-off of these ideologies (due to their non-performance), I will only say at this point that I would not recommend using either as a template for the propagation of an ideal.

Also, for any one person to seek to "forge the Afrocentric ideals into a tight set of beliefs..." could end up being like what is described as "trying to reinvent the wheel.." As Denker pointed out earlier, there has already been copious amounts written about the idea of Afrocentricism.

From the times of Marcus Garvey, we will find not only writings but also implemented ideas that were meant to provide a mechanism for Africans to achieve autonomy. And, if we look further back in history at the motivations behind the activities of Africans like Queen Nzinga (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nzinga_of_Ndongo_and_Matamba), Nat Turner (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASturner.htm), Nanny (http://www.moeyc.gov.jm/heroes/nanny.htm), and King Nana, and, if we contemplate the type of awareness that had formulated the world-view of Haiti's revolutionary generation in the late 18th and early 19th century, we will find antecedents of what we today describe as Afrocentricism.

In other words, while the label may be relatively new, the ideals it speaks of are as old as the first Africans who became aware of the skin-based antagonism that was inherent in the character of those non-Africans who in those days took upon themselves the roles of 'natural' ruler.


10.00: I disagree with the bolded bit. Even on an individual level, it is not always clear what is in one's best interests - otherwise, why do so many people make disastrous choices? And it only gets more difficult when the 'community' in whose best interests the decision must be made is as varied and complex as the 'community' of African people. I'm not saying that there aren't occasions where a decision has to be taken on behalf of Africans (see my earlier example about when negotiating with other regional blocs), but I don't believe that it is desirable to think 'Afrocentric' even at levels where such thinking is unnecessary (e.g. an inter-clan dispute).

10.01: It could be argued that seeking to frame "inter-clan disputes" (and other such disgusting 'tribal' conflicts) within a world-view that is shaped by the Afrocentric ideal would aid the resolution of such conflicts.

If an ideal can make it easier for people to see how such conflicts generally benefit malevolent outside entities who have taken advantage of such situations from time immemorial to benefit themselves, then would it not be beneficial to us all if such an ideal is propagated?

Therefore, I continue to assert that there is no better way to seek a resolution to senseless intra-African conflict than the argument that reminds antagonists of the longer term benefits that would come out of a cooperation that is based on an acknowledgment of the many things they have in common as Africans.

And, if the awareness of a couple of generations can be affected by an education curriculum that strives to inculcate such a perspective in all minds that pass through it, then I believe that the likely recurrence in the future of petty-ethnic conflicts between African communities would be greatly lessened.

As for the bit where you say what is in a person's best interests is not always clear, I would at first agree then, I would ask if you think people who do not yet know what is in their own best interest have any right to seek leadership positions within their community.

I mean, if a person does not know where they are going, why should they seek to lead others?

In fact, isn't one of the biggest factors behind our problems as a community this continual emergence of miseducated/directionless persons seeking and acquiring leadership positions? How hard is it for a person sitting at a table with foreign-based mining company to decide on what deal best suits the community he/she represents? How hard is it for a person sitting at conference with foreign bankers to decide on what type of financial arrangements best suits the community he/she comes from? How hard is it for the religious 'leader' to decide on what precepts and examples would best suit the people he is meant to provide with guidance?

How hard are these things if such people are ones who actually know what is what?


11.00: From what you've written above, it seems that you believe that part of Africa's problems is that it is perceived as a fragmented entity whose divisions can easily be exploited. Well, I have no problem at all with seeing Africa as a fragmented entity, but I see no reason why such an entity needs to exploitable. I see the subdivisions of such an entity - be they ethnic groups, artificial nations, city states, whatever - recognising that from time to time, they need to form alliances for their mutual interest, as the occasion arises, e.g. when an exploiter arrives on the scene hoping to pit entity against entity.

In other words, what I am proposing is a flexibility in the formation of these relationships that allows the right entity to be formed for the right purpose. A North African entity might be better placed at dealing with a group of Mediterranean countries over the access to the Mediterranean sea; if other European countries got involved, then the North African entity could be expanded to a fully African entity. But I have no desire to see such larger entities extend its role to beyond where it is needed. An Ewe man shouldn't need to be told that he should feel as much of a kinship towards a Zulu man as he does towards his fellow Ewe man when there is no immediate reason for him to feel this way.

11.01: There is no reason why a fragmented entity needs to be exploitable...true. In a world where justice and fair-play reigns, this would hold. But, in the world we actually live in, fragmented entities are shark food and have been so for centuries. "Divide and Rule" was a maxim of the Roman Empire and it is one that its inheritors faithfully stuck to in the centuries that followed its formal demise.

While meaning no disrespect, I would like to say here (again) that while to the casual view, your proposals look as if they were based on the world as it is, a slightly deeper examination reveals a relationship between what you propose as being the order of things and a perspective that is based on unfounded optimistic expectations of some hypothetical world order that does not exist and, has never existed.

It is the world that we live in that created the historical circumstances that speak loudly of the necessity for the development of a feeling of kinship between the Ewe man, the Zulu man and every other man or woman that is originally from an indigenous African root.

A necessity, I assert, that is a matter of the highest primary urgency.

The only cause for reasoning otherwise would be if one were of the school of thought that disputes how the fragmentation of our communities (along lines of petty ethnicity) remains a vital component of our current inability to create environments that foster collective human development.

And in truth, the flexibility that you propose is one that already exists. This flexibility is one that comes about as a result of the fact that we are already subdivided into various culturally self-sufficient ethnic groupings. And, other groupings that you speak of (like the North African entity) already exists. The question now is, do these groupings still serve the best interests of the African peoples in this age of Time? Or, would we be best served by seeking new ways of relating with one another?


12.00: Eja, I'm afraid you didn't answer my question. The question was about relatives - I don't doubt that it is possible for people to feel energised, even when poor, but I asked if they felt more or less energised if they were materially well off. Or do you feel that material progress actually makes citizens feel less good about their country?

12.01: Putting aside for now the proven fact that material wealth is not a guarantor of mental or spiritual health, if we check the historical paths of those countries that are now described as "economic success stories", we will find that they all had one thing in common. They all started out as 'poor'. Then, they developed an ethos; a consensus about their 'nation' and its place in the Universe. Armed with this, they confronted other human communities and the nature around them. Now, and this is an important point, while some from their population became fabulously wealthy as a result of these interactions with the outside world, others remained mired in relative poverty. However, the fact that they did not get anywhere near as richly rewarded as their leaders did not stop, and has not stopped the poorer citizens of 'developed' countries from feeling good about their country.

There are people in the military of every developed country who come from deprived backgrounds yet, if you ask them why they are in the Army, you will get answers along the line of "...to defend my flag/country/freedom...etc."

Even when the 'freedom' they claim to be defending remains nothing but a myth, it is a well loved myth: They will kill or die for their flag/country even though it has never given them or any of their ancestors any material reward.

In short, material progress is not all it takes to make a people feel good about their nation or country.

Tola Odejayi
May 8, 2008, 08:57 AM
Hm...

Eja, I suggested that you post a summing up of your arguments, but you posted a rejoinder to mine. Anyhow, I will follow my suggestion and post my summing-up argument. Of course, you are free to post yours, but then there's now an unfairness to the debate in that you have made more submissions than I have. Oh well...



Anyway, here is my final summing up argument:

1. I believe that each African should be free to seek happiness in whichever way he chooses, as long as he does not harm his fellow man.

2. I believe that the manner in which each African achieves this happiness is entirely up to him, and is not something that can or should be prescribed by external agencies.

3. However, I recognise that some the actions of some agencies - wittingly or otherwise - serve to curb the freedom of the African to seek this happiness.

4. I believe that these agencies take all sorts of forms and originate from all sorts of locations, both from within and without Africa.

5. Because some of these agencies are quite formidable, it is necessary for Africans to adopt an attitude and act in concert in order to prevent the actions of these agencies from depriving them of the freedom to seek happiness.

6. In some instances, these agencies will take the form of continental powers whose actions affect Africans as a whole. In this instance, it is beneficial for Africans throughout the continent to adopt to adopt the right attitude and act in concert.

7. However, in other instances, the agents themselves may be other Africans who share a particular set of characteristics (nationality, culture, religion). In this case, their action may affect another set of Africans who also share a particular set of characteristics. In this case, it is beneficial for the affected Africans to adopt the right attitude and act together.

8. What is interesting is that in each case, the group that is being affected assumes an externally-defined identity which it is 'given' by the external agency. For example, if all Yoruba people decide that they are going to fight everyone who lives in Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states and the people in these states band together to resist these attacks, then a new identity has been created which is shared exclusively by the people in these states.

9. Obviously, the nature of the response taken the affected group will vary, depending on the external agency and the effect of its actions. In some cases, it may not even be necessary for all the affected people to act in concert (even though it may be beneficial to do so).

10. This means that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all attitude and action in reponse to these varying external agencies.

11. It certainly means that the idea of adopting an Afrocentrist policy that might be useful when dealing with external continental powers will not work as well when dealing with the situation outlined in point 7.

12. The Afrocentrist idea also suffers from the inflexibility of assuming that a group of people's interests are aligned purely along continental lines. What if Arabs who are physically located in North Africa decide that they wish to align with other groups in the Middle East who share their culture and religion? How effective is it to assume that they should adopt an Afrocentrist attitude?

13. But the question arises as to whether there is merit in adopting an Afrocentrist attitude in situations where there is not a conflict between Africa and other continental powers. It could be argued that Afrocentrism is a powerful force in awakening the pride of the African and spurring him to achieving success in a range of endeavours so that he can see Africa's name held up high.

14. However, there are just as many other forces that could serve the same purpose. For example, a person's desire to see his ethnic group, religion or nation exalted by his achievements is an even more powerful driving force, given that a person has a stronger attachment to these than to an entire continent. He may even be driven by the desire for pure self-glory or a desire to help humankind as a whole, and have no need for culture-based ideals.

15. I certainly have no objection to private, committed individuals spending effort in developing a coherent Afrocentrist ideology that they propagate to all Africans. After all, I value above everything else the right of people to act freely as long as they do not coerce others to do what they want them to do; I also respect the right of people to adopt whatever ideology they wish, as long as they are not coerced into doing so.

16. However, I do not believe that this by itself is the shortest and most effective route to the ideal that I mention in point 1.

17. Instead, I believe that Africans should constitute themselves into communities, groups and societies with the aim of obtaining *economic power*, as I believe that this is the foundation of all other achievements that will lead to a climate in which the African is free to seek happiness.

18. Such groups may be formed within the existing recognised political entities, or they may actually be the political entities. They may be motivated or driven by whatever ideology they choose, be it ethnic, religious or whatever. However, the caveat is that such an ideology does not without provocation seek to violate the right of other individuals to pursue happiness.

19. With economic power, it also becomes harder for external agencies to deliberately or otherwise pursue actions which could prevent Africans from seeking happiness. Such power also means that Africans feel more confident about themselves, leading to the attainment of more economic power. So I believe this a much more worthwhile endeavour to focus on.

And with that, I take my leave of this thread. I'd like to thank Eja for joining me in this debate, and I'd also like to thank anyone else who has taken the time to read the submissions made so far, and I hope it has been a rewarding experience for you all.

Regards,

Shoko

Ishola Taiwo
May 12, 2008, 04:43 PM
INTRODUCTION
I thank my opponent SLB for an engaging debate. I also thank all who have participated either by contributing or, by witnessing. A big thank you also to the extremely even-tempered moderator Big-K. He put his trust in us being able to finish what we started and so, put no undue pressure on us.

I am glad that we have not let him down.

PART 1
Let me start speaking of an overstanding I have of Afrocentrism; like Wayfarer, I identify it as a way of seeing that is inextricably linked with the state of being of those who are called "black".... those who in my other posts I identified as the only group of people that can be correctly referred to as Africans.

However, during the cause of this debate, some have tried to convince us that a person who differs by phenotype from the ones described as "blacks" can also lay claim to the description of "African". We are told that the label "Africa" is simply geographic and that it has nothing to do with phenotype. Now, like many other things, if this is accepted as a valid topic for argument, that is to say, if we remain uncertain with regards to the question of what an African is, the conversation we start may be one that outlasts our life-time. And, its conclusion may be one that we never bargained for.

Recently in South Africa, a Caucasian woman recently brought a lawsuit against the Forum of Black Journalists because she was not allowed to join. She won. (http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=337848&area=/insight/insight__comment_and_analysis/)

This ruling, if it stands, is one that can be applied to all other organisations set up by African people in South Africa. Now, the thing to note here is not so much that 'whites' can join organisations that 'blacks' set up for themselves, it is that the very word 'black' itself, in South Africa at least, no longer means what it used to mean.

Like in the UK where the Southall Black Sisters is an organisation for Indian women, the Forum of Black Journalists may in time become a group whose membership consists of a sizable number of Caucasians.

So, just as we are allegedly not the only ones who are Africans, a court in South Africa has just prophesied that in time, we will not be the only ones who are "black". A prophecy aleady foretold by Indians in the UK. So, what is left for us?

And why do we still we have to ask ourselves questions like this? Why is our self-definition a matter to be discussed and negotiated with others who are not our kind? Why should aliens to Africa have any kind of input into how we define ourselves and how we define what is not us?

One short answer to all these questions is that the arena determines the mode of battle.

You do not fight in the water how you would fight on land, therefore, if all your weapons are presently suited for fighting on land, you stay out of the water (until you are equipped to fight in the water).

In order that we become properly equipped for the hard struggles that we face as a collective, it is necessary that we start with a proper perspective not only of the present, but also of the past. By seeing where a thing originated from, we can foretell where it is going.

PART 2 : Black Supremacy?
One thing that must never become obscured is the reason why it became necessary for peoples of African origin to seek out a way of perceiving that acknowledged the differences between themselves and those who are not of African origins. As previously stated, we were not the ones who initiated the division of the human species into those who should be accorded certain privileges because of a particular range in phenotype and, those who should be denied those privileges because they fell outside of that pre-determined range.

In trying to make sense of those who see life like this and, of the world they have brought into being, we have gone from making excuses for these people to denying the existence of such a way of thinking as a systemic phenomenon. All the better to permit ourselves the luxury of either opting out of the struggle totally or, of limiting our participation in it.

We have gone from accepting that such a way of thinking is strictly the preserve of the educationally deprived to coming out with statements implying that such a way of thinking is largely a thing of the past. We are then enjoined to avoid any way of thinking that is predicated upon the existence of this now extinct phenomenon...we are cautioned against the possibility that in continuing to highlight the effects of racism/'white' supremacy, we are liable to become racists and 'black' supremacists.

In all of these, we have been wrong. Racism/'white' supremacy exists and is as well-entrenched as it ever was. All that has changed is some of its modes of expression and operational procedures. Racism/'white' supremacy still exists because even though its most prominent offshoots may have been cut off, its deep roots have never been attacked.

To overstand why this is so, we must first realise that the inability to comprehend the humanity of 'the other' (i.e those who are not 'white') is the main characteristic of the being whose awareness of self is as a 'white person'. This failure of comprehension is overwhelming. It is total and even when you come across one who makes all the right noises, it is still there. The noises are the same as the clumsy movements you see in some dance-halls when ones who do not feel the vibe try to dance.

This is the key to overstanding why such people can lie about, steal from and kill 'the other' without losing the conception of themselves as being 'good people'. As long as they are not harming other 'whites' (i.e. other humans) they cannot be that bad. And even when they harm other 'whites', as long as it can be 'proved' that this was done with the sincere intention of securing the future prosperity of the 'white race', then yes, you can still wear the white hat. You are still a 'good' person.

If we view world history through the lens of eyes seasoned by this misconception, we easily comprehend why Australia, on being 'discovered', could be labeled as 'empty'. Why the enslavement of Africans is still seen by some as a great favour done - after all, "we had them come live with us" (where "us" means 'whites' i.e. humans) or, sadder still, "they had us come live with them" (where "us" in this case refers to the self-defined ignorant negro).

With the best intentions, you may attempt to reason with minds like this but you will find yourself caught up in a futile cycle - one where you keep re-phrasing the simple points that underly your reality. Wasting your time.

Therefore, it is best to disengage from dialogues with these kind of minds. There should be no doubts about where they are coming from and where they intend to go.

It is best that we disengage from a futile dialogues that seeks an equitable common ground with that which is incapable of comprehending such a concept.

To speak of the necessity for this disengagement is not a statement of supremacy. Rather, it comes from the realisation that a way of doing things has not worked and that we need to find another way.

Ishola Taiwo
May 12, 2008, 04:54 PM
PART 3
Afrocentricism, as previously stated, is a process of introspection. To be more explicit, it is an internal dialogue that seeks the most logical position from which we can relate to phenomena outside of the African world.

When, for example, your developmental strategies are based on the level of wealth that outsiders permit you to accumulate, you have given the power to determine the level and pace of your development to outsiders. When, as in the case with Nigeria, our development is predicated upon how much oil we sell to non-African entities, we deny ourselves the ability to devise a strategy that is wholly dependent on our own innate strengths.

Our collective destiny is therefore dependent on the strengths and weaknesses of those outside our borders [Eg: the national currency - which is given value by the American dollar].

This means that we will grow (or, have the potential to grow) only when these outside entities are weak or, when it serves their best interests to permit us a specific level of growth.

Now, to be ones whose growth is dependent on the weakness of others is not by itself a bad thing to be...provided that you have the ability and wherewithal to induce weaknesses in others. This, after all, is how the West grew. However, if you are not capable of inducing the necessary levels and intensities of weakness in others that this strategy of growth depends on, if in fact, luck and circumstance are the only things that provides you with such a situation, then in truth, you do not have a strategy for growth and development.

Africa needs not rely on fortunate circumstances or on the weakness/generosity of others for its positive growth, and, Africa should not be a tool for the enhancement of the strengths of others.

Realistically speaking, there is nothing Africa needs from the outside world. There is nothing we can get from the worlds outside our Africa that we cannot get (immediately or eventually) from within our environment and from within ourselves.

We have been made to believe that the mechanisms and symbols that were manufactured by the same entities who devised the current global order are necessary for our survival when in fact, it is those who manufactured such instruments that cannot survive without them.

It is time that we start looking at the world with a knowledge that integrates past realities with our present situation. An African centered perspective of ourselves and the world around us is the only one that allows us to do this in a way that places our interests above those of all others.

To place our interests above the interests of all others sounds cold but, a ruthlessness in all intellectual processes is a prerequisite if we are going to see beyond the veils of sentimental attachments and non-existent amity that are currently being used to make us place high hopes in the coming of a better world. We would be better off seeing the world as it truly is because, from that more immediately realistic and useful perspective, we will be able to do what is necessary to bring about the creation of a better world.