Continued from: Mental Enslavement: The
A common misconception, assiduously perpetuated, is that Africans never produced a written language. Perhaps a quote from the chapter submitted by this writer in Ebonics and Language Education provides an appropriate answer:
The myth that Africans do not possess a scribal tradition is exploded by the very fact of the Medew Netjer, which is the first language ever to be written in this world. Further, a number of African scripts demonstrate a writing tradition of considerable extent. These include the ancient Moroetic script of Nubia, the Ge'ez and Amharic scripts of Ethiopia, and from more historically recent times, the Manding script in Senegal and Mali, the Vai script in Liberia, the Mende script in Sierra Leone, the Bamoun script in Cameroon … the Nsibidi script in Nigeria … [and] …the Afaka script invented by Afaka, a maroon from Suriname. To maintain the fiction that Africans do not possess a scribal tradition is effectively to maintain that the inventors of writing could not and did not write (p.60).
Additionally, the writing system of the Benin and Edo people of southern Nigeria has been brought to this writer's attention since the above was published. Even more recent news indicate that there is even more evidence that Africans in Kemet, ancient Egypt, before anyone else, developed writing and what would become the 'Roman' alphabet. So, beginning over 5, 000 years ago - and one must stress before anyone else - Africans have therefore deployed writing for a variety of purposes: spiritual texts, mathematics, literature, accounts, philosophy, indeed for almost anything for which writing is used today. Papyrus, from which the word paper is derived, stone (for carving), bone, bark and leather were some of the materials used to write upon.
The real history of Africa, and therefore of the world, proclaims something quite different. Ausir, whom the Greeks called Osiris, was the world's first risen saviour, close to 5,000 years ago. Murdered by his brother Setekh, whom Greeks called Seth, from which modern Europe gets Satan, Osiris' dismembered body was put together again by his wife Auset (Greek Isis) with the assistance of her sister Nepthys. Ausir is temporarily rejuvenated enough to secure a posthumous paternity with the birth of his son, Heru (Greek Horus). Ausir becomes King of the afterlife and acts in judgement of the soul of everyone. His son Heru becomes temporal king.
Besides being the obvious prototype of Jesus and His passion, this ancient Egyptian story shows the high regard Africans had for women. It is very important to note that women were equally represented in the hierarchy of spirituality - as in most other things - in Kemet, where, like in the rest of Africa when undisturbed by outside influences, women were generally valued equally with men. It is certainly significant that Arab and European in their religious practise do not include women at the top of their hierarchies.
Putahhotep, Kagemni, Kheti, Neferti and many other ancient Egyptians were outstanding spiritual leaders in Kemet. So too were Ogotemmêli of the Dogon in modern day Mali and numerous others from other parts of Africa. From Kemet we must also note Imhotep, a name which means 'He who comes in Peace', the first multi genius known to the world. He was an architect, builder of the first pyramid, Prime Minister of Egypt and a sage, a medical practitioner and the real father of medicine if there is such a thing, for Hippocrates, who is paraded by white supremacist scholarship as the father of medicine, was, like many other Greek scholars made famous by white supremacy, including Pythagoras and Plato, schooled in Kemet by Africans. Imhotep was deified in Greek tradition as Asklepios. Pharaoh Akhenaton introduced monotheism to the world over 1500 years before Jesus Christ. All of these Africans were, in parlance well known to most Guyanese, big time spiritual heavyweights. It is a pity that so many Africans appear not to know them and many others, for such knowledge undermines the racist white supremacist vision of the world that holds Africans in the worst form of captivity.
The Ten Commandments are a precis of the Declarations of Innocence which were an integral part of Nile Valley spiritual system. Many passages from the Bible are copies from Nile Valley writings that existed long before the time of the Bible. There is compelling evidence for the conclusion of some authorities that Buddah was one of those Africans who lived in India long before the advent there of the Aryans and who provided many of the bases of Indian culture.
An enquiring mind, which unfortunately is not to be associated with anyone who accepts the white supremacist worldview, ought to ask some obvious questions of documents easily available to all. For example, what happened to Jesus Christ between the ages of 13, when he disappears from the Bible, and 33, when he reappears to begin his ministry? Other authorities say that he was in Kemet (Egypt) and India, where he learnt much. Certainly, Christianity, Islam and Judaism are built upon principles and often upon practices first observed by Africans in the Nile Valley thousands of years ago. These include the ideas of Resurrection, Heaven and Hell, Divine Judgement of the soul, the creation myth, divine conception, the trinity, and others. Many of the big time spiritual heavyweights of Christianity and Islam turn out to have been at least heavily influenced by Africans. It will require more space than is available in this entire issue of Emancipation to merely discuss these normally unacknowledged religious borrowings and influences from Africans.
Yet some jaundiced views reduce this tradition to 'tribal' customs, ancestor worship, the worship of trees, stones, snakes and the ocean and other natural forces and elements. The above is enough refutation of this partial and highly misleading view of Africans. However, it would be good to ponder upon what Christians do in relation to Jesus and the saints. Are these latter not ancestors who are worshipped? Of what materials are the Christian crosses, statues and altars made? Do Christians not therefore bow down to wood, stone, etc. when they worship? And what do practitioners of Islam do with regards to the Kaba, the most sacred object to all Muslims? Do we always remember that the Kaba is a black stone?
For 1500 years Christians have been busy 'drinking the blood of Christ' and 'eating His flesh', yet falsely accusing Africans and Native Americans of cannibalism. For those who suffer from this cockeyed view of the world, Africans worship 'idols' while others have 'religious icons'; Africans have 'cults' while others have 'sects'; Africans worship a multitude of gods while others have one god and a number of saints.
The examples are not confined to 'religion'; they are almost inexhaustible and cover every aspect of human endeavour. In each one of these instances the only real difference between what Africans are said to do or have is the perception articulated in the terminology, not the material reality. In this racist worldview when Africans do something it is negative, degenerate; when the same thing is practiced by others it is quite okay. This ideology of prejudice is constantly betrayed by such contradictions.
Psychologists of all persuasions recognise a process of mental conditioning they refer to as the Self Fulfilling Prophesy. Simply stated, it says that whenever someone, who is thought to be important by another person, persistently represents that person in a particular way, that person will grow to behave in ways that fulfil and confirm the expectation thus created and predicted. The person thought to be important is called a significant other in this jargon. Africans have been persistently and insistently misrepresented by persons they have been taught to regard as important and who have been and continue to be undoubtedly very influential in their lives. Parsons, parents, teachers and even entire institutions fall into this category. Some of these influential persons are themselves Africans who have been indoctrinated with these negative views of themselves, very often in the form of stereotypes. It does not help that most Africans are unaware of this process. This insidious nature of much of this conditioning makes it more difficult for it to be detected and treated.
The results of this process of mental conditioning through mis-education and faulty socialisation is seen most clearly in the hideously deformed personality type Guyanese will recognise as the Afro Saxon: those Africans who run from their race and try to achieve the impossible and become more European than the Europeans. Anyone who has been convinced that his or her past is empty, backward, shameful and indeed totally negative will normally resist any attempt to revisit that past. Such a person will hate his or her identity, hate himself or herself, his/her culture and his/her heritage, will not knowingly participate in these and will resist any attempt to validate them.
This mindset adds another rung of difficulty to the process of rectification. Franz Fanon, an African born in Martinique, has written profoundly upon the resulting mass psychological illness in Black Skin White Masks. This condition is not undiagnosed by Guyanese. Martin Carter called it 'A Question of Self Contempt' in an article in New World Quarterly,26 May, 1966 and also referred to it as 'the scorn of [the] self', which he linked directly to 'the oppressor's hate' in his famous poem, I come from the Nigger Yard. These and other works that examine this illness ought to be recommended reading for anyone interested in finding out more about the mental condition of Africans in today's world.
Some Africans, particularly those in the Diaspora, have begun to react against this negative view of Africa and of themselves that is so relentlessly propagated. One trend within this reaction is the romantization of Africa and its history, preferring to see only glittering empires and great heroes where there also other, less grandiose but equally accurate statements of the human condition. But it has not been everyone in this growing number of conscious Africans who appear to suffer from this obsession. There has also been more mature and accurate scholarship from within this community of African centered scholars and intellectual workers. Yet this writer would rather have a thousand Africans obsessed by romantization, bad as that would be, than have only one who is completely taken over by the white supremacist view of the world, including oneself and one's own history.
The reason is that the obsession that expresses itself as romantization is the result of Africans moving to reclaim their history, themselves, their future. The white supremacist worldview, on the other hand, ensures that the vast majority of its victims remain bound by ignorance, intellectual, psychological and cultural destitution and spiritual and material poverty - and the misery that arises directly from this condition. It is true, though, that Africans can indeed boast about this glittering past, this line of luminaries and heroes, these traditions and a spirituality going back the longest time. Some have done. But that would be only part of the African truth. For like any other group of people, Africa has had its vagabonds, its misfits and its failures. But Africa has achieved far more that most people have been permitted to recognise or to know.
....to be continued
By Kimani Nehusi
First published in African Holocaust