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Afrocentrism & the African Renaissance Movement

Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

August 20, 2012

Afrocentrism & the African Renaissance Movement

Definitions

If we refer to the basic definition of Afrocentrism in the Wikipedia, we immediately notice that the movement is considered as a "cultural ideology" and a "worldview". As such, it is characterized as "a response to global (Eurocentric/Orientalist) racist attitudes about African people and their historical contributions".

Going through the aforementioned entry (which is however deeply biased against both, African History and the movement of Afrocentrism itself), we also notice that parts of the article focus also on

a. History

b. "African-centered education"

c. Afrocentric theology

d. Views on race and the Pan-African identity

e. Afrocentrism and Ancient Egypt

f. Hamitic hypothesis

If we now report to Wikipedia´s entry on the African Renaissance movement, we find the definition "the concept that African people and nations must overcome the current challenges confronting the continent and achieve cultural, scientific, economic, etc. renewal".

Interconnectedness of the two movements

Based on the aforementioned, we can conclude that, if the African Renaissance movement wants to bring forth a socio-political rebirth across the Black Continent, the members and the associated institutions of the African Renaissance will eventually achieve their goals, only in case they stick to their own African identity, which has first to be properly assessed without Western biases and oversights, and then widely diffused by means of educational textbooks, University courses, and the subsequent popularization through the African publishing houses and mass media.

In other words, for the African Renaissance to be ´African´, the African Renaissance movement has to first delve in the Afrocentrist movement and in the related search for true and unbiased African History, and then extend the Afrocentrist movement in many key fields whereto the Afrocentrist movement theoreticians has not contributed significantly or at all.

It is certain that the Afrocentrist movement started from the academic discipline of History, which means a small section of the Humanities. It is far closer to an academic ´school´ that suggests a fresh reading of African History (by far more truthful and less biased than the European colonialist pseudo-History) than to a systematized social reform movement or a political ideology.

Progressively, Afrocentrism expanded in other spheres, namely Philosophy, Theology, and Social Anthropology, but it always failed to systematize its aspects into a coherent ideology able to encompass all the types of theoretical concerns, academic disciplines, and social affairs. At its best, Afrocentrist theorists tackled issues pertaining to education and cultural ideology, but again there they rather focused on the contents, but not on the method of successfully implementing ´African-centered education´ across the continent.

Although the Afrocentrist theorists´ criticism of cultural and educational issues across Africa is solid and strong, it remains limited in the sphere of academic debate and public discourse against globalism. In fact, Afrocentrism never focused on the socio-political methods, demarches, acts and steps needed for the implementation of the declared targets of the Afrocentrist theorists.

Although very active in universities and congresses, the Afrocentrist theorists were rather secluded from their respective African societies, and at times, they did not even imagine the vast gap between their (definitely true and correct) observation and the end result they so much wished for.

The African Renaissance movement-related associations, institutions and activists, if they want to offer substantive contents to their political wishes and declarations, have to utilize the Afrocentrist theorists´ standpoint, extend the Afrocentrist criticism to all aspects of sociopolitical activity, and systematize / contextualize their sociopolitical targets, by attributing to their theory truthful and hitherto prohibited contents and specific proposals that go far beyond the present level of wishful thinking.

Dimensions of Afrocentrist Renaissance

African Renaissance will never be achieved, as long as the present mutual ignorance and indifference among Africans persists. At the present level, Africans hardly communicate with one another. Certainly, there is evidence of communication, but mere observation can convince anyone that this sort of superficial communication means practically speaking no effective, no constructive communication. This situation is highly beneficial to the colonial powers, and overwhelmingly detrimental to the African nations.

Language

It is simple paranoia that Africans will one day know one another better (let alone sufficiently), if ´communication´ among Africans is effectuated in English or French, e.g. the languages of the loathsome colonial tyranny, identity dismantle, and cultural – national destruction. Between two nations, the only true and effective communication has to be effectuated in the two nations´ respective languages.

Many have discussed about the perspectives of the African Union, and many suggested some unification progress similar to that of the European Union. If we leave aside the grave pathology of the European Union system, and we merely examine the communication system applied to all the European processes since 1956, we will certainly conclude that the communications effectuated between two European countries were always based exclusively on bilingual exchange. Who can imagine a German and an Italian ministers communicating in English? Who can picture an English and a Dutch ministers communicating in German?

To make a better comparison with the deplorable situation that currently prevails in neo-colonial Africa, we should wonder whether it could be possible in a European Union meeting for ministers and premiers to use Russian and Chinese (the national languages of two non EU member states) in order to communicate with one another.

Yet, English and French are as much alien to Africa as Russian and Chinese are foreign to the European Union.

Indigenous African languages to be the Only Official Languages of African States

This automatically leads us to the great issue of national language used at the level of political daily life across Africa. One must not forget that all the African states are neo-colonial fabrications and that, as long as they stay as such, they will effectively prevent any type of African Renaissance. They have been formed, structured and geared for that.

Before the African states start communicating among themselves efficiently, the various nations that have been included within the African states must be fully and proportionally represented in the local administration, and their representatives must be considered among themselves as fully accredited partners in every sense. And they must communicate properly, using their different languages in their own communication. English and French must be imperatively abolished as national languages or administrative languages in each and every African state.

Before eliminating mutual ignorance among Africans, it is essential to eliminate mutual ignorance among the different nations that live in the same state. This will happen through a vast restructuring of the local educational system. Every African language used by at least 5% of the population of a country must be declared as official language, and must be eligible as optional language at the level of local primary and secondary education in all the provinces of the state whereby it is not the native language.

 



Afrocentrist Renaissance means predilection for African linguistic pluralism, and rejection of the alien linguistic singularity.

Instead of following unachievable chimeras, it is better to undertake a systematic effort to materialize step by step policies that will bring forth a real, not fake, African Renaissance. In the same manner, European Renaissance before 500 years was achieved by means of institutionalization of local languages (Italian, German, French, Catalan, Spanish, etc.), at the detriment of the then international language (Latin), African Renaissance tomorrow will be achieved by means of the irrevocable imposition of the linguistic treasure of the Black Continent in all its diversity, and the elimination of the alien, colonial languages. It will certainly take an entire generation to get it done, if obstacles are successfully dealt with.

Inter-African Mutual Linguistic Familiarization

While terms of linguistic parity are to be accepted as official policy within African multilingual states, it is evidently necessary for all the African nations to become better acquainted with one another.

Afrocentrist Renaissance Education will have to consider ways of implementing in Africa policies that have been successfully implemented in Europe, in view of mutual comprehension and familiarization. I will herewith offer some examples.

In how many universities of France is Ancient Greek taught at all the levels up to the doctoral level?

In so many universities of Nigeria, Morocco, Somalia, and Mozambique should Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic be taught up to the doctoral level.

In how many universities of Germany is Medieval Greek (the language of the Eastern Roman Empire) taught at all the levels up to the doctoral level?

In so many universities of Algeria, Congo, South Africa, and Madagascar should Coptic (the Christian language of Egypt) be taught up to the doctoral level.

In how many universities of Italy is Modern Spanish taught as language and literature up to the doctoral level, and in how many Italian universities´ departments is Spanish used for local students to be specialized in Translation / Interpretation?

In so many universities of Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania, and Angola should Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, Igbo, Amazight (Berber), Somali and Oromo be taught up to the doctoral level, and in so many universities´ departments should these languages be used for local students to be specialized in Translation / Interpretation?

It would be quite useful for African Renaissance activists to take into consideration the number of existing official languages in the European Union; for 27 member states, there are 23 official languages, 6 semi-official languages, and no less than 40 officially accepted as ´minority languages´!

Of course, it would be absolutely futile if tomorrow morning the African Union in a theatrical gesture imitated the European Union´s practices of linguistic parity, inter-connectedness, and mutual comprehension. Similar developments necessitate concerted multilateral effort and time.

A proper step toward that direction would be the convocation of an extraordinary meeting of African native speakers and linguistic specialists that would result in a solemn call for existing universities in all the African countries to open new departments of African studies, featuring hitherto untaught African languages and literatures.

Inter-African Mutual Historical Familiarization

A parallel demarche should also be undertaken at the level of History – Archaeology. It is impossible to speak of an African Renaissance and underestimate the serious problems deriving from the vast ignorance every African has of the other Africans, every African state has of the other African states, and every African nation has of the other African nations.

While there are presently in Cairo more than 15 (fifteen) European archaeological schools and institutes focusing on Egyptology, Coptology and Islamology, and undertaking excavations, publications and other related activities, there are no Nigerian, South African, Algerian, Moroccan, Cameroonian, Tanzanian or Sudanese archaeological schools and institutes based in Cairo and specializing in the said fields.

Similarly, in many other African countries, there are European, American, Canadian and Australian research missions and institutions specializing in local archaeology, history, social anthropology, linguistics, etc., but there is no Egyptian archeological school in Nigeria, no Moroccan archeological school in Sudan, no Ghanaian archeological school in Tanzania, and no Angolan archeological school in Mali.

Solving the aforementioned divide is precondition to the popularization of the inter-African knowledge and mutual comprehension. African Specialists of African History, Archaeology, Religion, Literature, must be formed in the first place, by means of scholarships and studentships linked to post-doctoral research and employment in institutions specializing on other African nations.

Only then, the African countries that will first undertake such programs will be able to have accredited authors to properly write about true African History, Art History, Philosophy, Literature, Religion and Folklore for the manuals of the primary and secondary education, for the university manuals, and for the general public (books, newspapers and magazines).

Only then, the African countries that will first undertake such programs will be able to have internationally accredited scholars able to contribute in great numbers to the international academic publications and periodicals, and even outnumber the European specialists on Africa.

Only through the formation of the aforementioned background, e.g. an entire new African educational class, African languages like Somali, Hausa, Amazight, Oromo, Arabic and Igbo will be in a position to be offered as optional foreign languages for the schoolchildren of the primary and secondary education in diverse countries like Zimbabwe, Senegal, Uganda, Madagascar and Gambia.

Only this development can effectively reduce African academic, educational, linguistic, cultural, artistic, intellectual, and sociopolitical dependence on the colonial states of England, France and America.

To the aforementioned many other programs can certainly be added; folklore interconnectedness, religious – spiritual interconnectedness, artistic interconnectedness, and so on. These developments will herald an economic interconnectedness of wider scope with common infrastructure projects in Transportation (Inter-Saharan railway and highways, Mediterranean – Cape Town railway and highways), Energy (inter-African Energy Market), and Tourism. This will subsequently herald the rise a true African Union that will be at the antipodes of the present, homonymous scheme of tyrants, gangsters, and genocide executers that is shamefully based in the capital of the world´s most abominable tyranny, Abyssinia (Fake Ethiopia).

 

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