Continued from last week's Mental Slavery: What Should Africa Do?
The one fact that Africans are the first people of this world is of tremendous significance. It means that Africans were the only people on Earth when history was begun, for Africans were the ones who began human history. It is also known that Africans were the inventors of civilisation and so gave humanity its humanity. Similar facts have been advanced to decisively refute white racist myths about Africans in almost every aspect of human endeavour and achievement: mathematics, language, medicine, agriculture, architecture, etc., etc., etc. Unbiased scholarship is demonstrating that Africans, especially in the
It is not merely the 'facts' employed by the white supremacist worldview that cause such grave offense. Below these lurks something far more dangerous and disturbing. That is the values and orientation of the most bigoted, racist and destructive of forces.
It would be fair to sum up the white supremacist position as saying that Africans have achieved little or nothing compared to other people. It must be clear that such views are not only very far from the truth. They also place those who hold them in the company of those who committed the Maafa: the holocaust of Africans, the largest crime in history which continues unto this day, as is demonstrated by the mental condition examined in this essay. Part of the crime is that the criminals try to deny it. And an important part of this denial is the denial of African history, African achievements, African competence, African humanity. The propagators of these views are the worst white supremacists or racists, for such were and are the beliefs of the enslavers of African people, those who committed genocide against Africans, Native Americans, the Aboriginies of Australia and other peoples.
It is evident that this vision of the world is severely limited and is securely bound by Arab centeredness and eurocentricism and white supremacy: a racist view of the world which pretends that Arabs and Europeans are responsible for all or almost all human achievements and that, conversely, other peoples have achieved little or nothing. Once someone accepts this dangerous nonsense then the inescapable conclusion is that Arabs and Europeans are inherently superior and 'others' are inherently inferior. This is the intellectual and ideological basis of Arab and European enslavement of Africans and colonisation of Africa and other, vast areas of the earth; some of the biggest crimes in human history. This is the core of Nazism of Hitler's
Europeans attempted to justify their barbarism by saying that the peoples they treated inhumanely were not humans or were an inferior branch of humanity. In order to 'prove' this alleged inhumanity or inferiority of peoples subjugated and exploited by force, Europeans produced 'histories' that basically distorted or denied the achievements of the other peoples.
Every institution in Europe and European dominated lands became involved in the propagation of this racist worldview: the church, the academy, the press, the law, etc. etc. After a while it became self- perpetuating. Europeans as well as non Europeans were and continue to be victimised by this scourge of humanity, so that today vast numbers of Europeans and non Europeans believe in this alleged superiority of Europeans and the alleged inferiority of non Europeans.
Many people believe that the dangers posed by colonialism ended with the attainment - or granting - of flags and anthems and the physical retreat of Europeans from positions of political power, but not cultural and economic power, in 'formerly' colonised countries. Part of the great tragedy of countries like
This mental affliction of many Africans is at the very basis of the condition that some Africans themselves decry: the apparent inability of Africans to launch self sustaining development for themselves, their families, communities, countries and continent. Yet is it known that Africans in the Nile
Development is a very complex process that is notoriously difficult to define accurately. But more and more experts are now agreeing that cultural independence and authenticity constitute essential ingredients in this process. The Japanese, Chinese and Asian 'Tigers' have all demonstrated in historically recent times how important it is to acquire concepts, technology, etc. from outside but apply then creatively to one's own culture and environment in general. These peoples have retained or regained their own languages and cultures - have retained or, whenever necessary, regained their identities, themselves. This process of acquiring materials, ideas, etc. from others and applying them creatively in their own environment without compromising their own cultural identity is exactly what Europeans also have been doing over the last six hundred years. This strongly suggests, some will say proves, that the loss of cultural self and of history condemns a people to permanent dependency and underdevelopment. It is therefore imperative that a people remain or regain themselves culturally if they are to develop themselves in any fundamental way.
The above conclusion may be stated another way. That is, that a people cannot acquire the positive vision of themselves, the cultural confidence and the motivation necessary to transform themselves according to that vision, if they remain cultural orphans or the cultural step children of others. Self reliance and motivation spring eternally from cultural security, that is, from authentic cultural identity, and each of these elements is a prerequisite for sustained self development, which is the only secure and so proper form of development. Africans who continue to suffer from mental enslavement, i. e. from the white supremacist worldview, are therefore in a very vulnerable and dangerous condition. They are incapable of developing themselves, their families, their communities, their people. Can anyone doubt that this has been the condition of the African elite in Africa and its Diaspora from since the time of colonisation? Is it possible to doubt that the relatively backward and underdeveloped nature of African communities and countries around the world provide irrefutable evidence of these truths?
Many African countries received their flags and anthems at about the same time as some of the Asian countries mentioned above. But while the Asian countries have been able to transform their flags and anthems into real independence African countries remain basket cases. Asian countries have developed their own languages and culture and nowhere in Asia is the language of a former coloniser the national language. In
The African elite is hardly African in the most fundamental of ways. Culturally, they are mostly Arab or European. These foreign oppressors are the sources of their values, their fashion, their idols, their models, their ideas and ideals. They invent nothing, for those who spend their lives imitating their oppressors cannot create anything. They are mostly not in favour of any fundamental change in the system that delivers some power and privilege to them and death and destruction to the great majority of Africans. They are contented to be the managers of neo colonial enterprises, including state structures, set up by others in the interests of others but in the lands of African people.
Everyone has a worldview, an ideology, a framework of values through which they perceive the world and react to it. This is so whether or not the person is conscious of it, or chooses to state it openly or clearly. Part of the trouble with many Africans is that they are unlikely to be aware of the presence, the origins and the functions of their worldview. Hence it is relatively easier for many to remain securely imprisoned by the worldview handed down by force many centuries ago by some of the worst criminals ever in this world and assiduously propagated since then, completely unaware that often what they see in the world, and almost always how they perceive it and react to it, have been predetermined by this system of values invented by mass murderers and their accomplices to serve their own deeply inhuman purposes. Completely circumscribed by a worldview ultimately handed down by the prejudiced they merely repeat eternally what has been propagated by the prejudiced. A really independent people will have to do better. If they are to stand on their own feet, a people - any people - will first have to look at the world with and see the world through their own eyes. They will have to liberate their own minds.
By Kimani Nehusi
First published in African Holocaust