Reversing Academic Tyranny on Africa

Published on 23rd November 2009

Africans must think outside the box
To highlight the academic dilemma against Africans, it is necessary to just cite one of Europe’s key historians on slavery. The age of the work and the period it was written in seem to make little impression in universities today, who seem to neglect the social status of Africans in the time these so-called scholarly books were being written in. It also neglects to highlight the mindset of the authors of these works and their contribution to the obscuring and footnoting of African history and African contributions to civilization. Men who would be labeled by a self-determined African today are referenced and cited with little challenge. Despite all the new research and development, this dead racist scholarship is still held high as the authentic source on Africa.

 

The foundation of history of Africa cannot be studied outside of the dynamics of race and racism in the writings of African conquers. This is not to dismiss their entire work, but surely to raise the red flag of sincerity, and subsequently expose the agendas behind these scribbling. J.D. Fage sits high on this throne of Anti-African rhetoric:

 

“Today, however, some scholars assert that slavery did not have a wholly disastrous effect on those left behind in Africa .”

 

Imagine begging the question and stating that some scholars believed the Jewish Holocaust was not entirely disastrous. We must assume there is again some degree of salvation in the actions of the Europeans who saved Africa from savagery. It is like saying the Jewish Holocaust was beneficial because some Jews got senior position in the Nazi army, or slavery was good because Africans got free Caribbean cruises.

 

“At its peak, the Atlantic slave trade took about 90,000 slaves per year out of a total population of around 25 million in just Guinea , where the vast majority originated. This number was significant, yet only a moderate annual growth rate in population was enough to sustain it by replacement. Therefore, the slave trade is unlikely to have caused a decrease in the population of West Africa , though it may have reduced or even halted population growth in some regions.”

 

Again, we see the apology and denial of the consequences of enslavement. What this is saying is the harvesting of African people was done sustainably and that it had no demographic consequences on their birth rate. It would be worth mentioning that the most viral and healthiest members were exported overseas so it is inconceivable that it would not affect population demographics not to mention settlement patterns and human social potential.

 

"The Nok civilization is argued by some to prove that Africa had a civilization prior to the arrival of Europe.”

 

This kind of tone appears to vindicate Africa but it actually introduces reasonable doubt. Its references again the false notion of a primitive Africa as a half-valid hypothesis for it shows by implication that anything or everything in Africa has to be articulated by juxtaposition. African civilization does not require any proof or revolutionary rethink. This kind of reasoning follows from “he seems very educated for a black” or “you see they are not all savages.” What needs to be done is to expose the motives behind those removing African agency from the annals of world cultural contributions.

 

“For those left behind in Africa the standard of living increased substantially and the region became divided into highly centralized and powerful nation states, such as Dahomey and the Ashanti Confederacy. It also created a class of very wealthy and highly Europeanized traders who began to send their children to European Universities.

 

The contempt in Eurocentrism is so self-evident it almost needs no commentary to identify either intention or fallacies. It is be restated the source of this material comes from a respected seminal academic and authority on Africa. Before Europe, we know the Kanka Musa had gold reserves that made Ancient Mali one of the riches economies in the Ancient world. It is also a fact that Sankore was an African university so notable that Arabs and others came to study there. All of these non-direct facts retort the claims that contact with Europe brought power and education. Also the statement about Europeanized traders is intended by the author as a compliment, a kind of accession of the African from savage beast to Europeanized. Fage trips and stabs himself with his own pen and exposes and implements himself as one of the historical agents of academic racism that has distorted the African historical timeline.

 

Eurocentric contempt

 

By careful analysis, the European voice can be identified without seeing the face of the author. According to The Foundational Paradigm of Eurocentric Thought,  the European voice:

  • Patronizes African scholarship as childish and simplistic, treating it as a Pseudo-history. 
  • Maintains historical academic superiority even in absence of knowledge.
  • Invokes the paranoia clause and claims African people have a 'chip on their shoulder.'
  • Normalizes slavery and racism as a human problem thus mitigating their historical domination in racist manipulation. To merge class into race as it suits them.
  • Collapses collaborators, victims and perpetrators into one equally guilty entity.
  • Makes self-references to institutions Europeans control, such as the dictionary.
  • Stipulates, while retaining economic and political control, that race is redundant and that Africans are hung up too much on race, while they continue to exercise racism and profit from this exercise.
  • Elevates European mind to the whispers of prophets but considers  African mind as  the utterances of the mentally insane.
  • Never sees that an African can display genius outside of European authority." Mr X of Gabon is so smart; he was trained at Oxford."
  • Constantly sets Europeans as heroes in African history. Thus viewers relate more with the 'poor' South African reporter's family forgetting Steve Biko, a hero and symbol of resistance, in Cry Freedom. David Livingstone is also the savior of Africa; he single-handedly abolished all of the African/Arab slave trade.
  • Seeks technical errors such as spelling errors (when no academic error can be found) as a sign of  desperation when intellect fails.
  • Makes references to Africans who share European perspective  thus electing these individuals as authorities.
  • Labels those bearing information which serves in their disinterest as 'anger ridden.' Thus the African's are supposed to be over-emotional and deluded.
  • Always suggests the pattern of European domination is coincidence.
  • Cites rare and exotic examples of African behavior, which suits European argument
  • Makes references to social generalization created via cultural domination and oppression; “most black people don't see themselves as African” clearly a condition that Europeans were active agents in creating.
  • Leans on human individual responsibility thus saying “no one put a gun to Africans’ head” and Africans enslaving Africans is the fault of African people hence neglecting European participation in fostering and nurturing chaos between non-European people. ‘Blame reassignment’ simply put.
  • Employs character assassination as a tactic of distraction to shift the topic away from the areas that Europeans have no answer for or deliberately obfuscating issues in order just to confuse innocent minds. Hence Mugabe's inhumanity is brought in a conversation about European supremacy.
  • Labels non-mainstream ideas as extreme and radical.

African suicide

 

Today we have a few African academics that wear all the clothing of Africa but in almost every attempt remove the very agency from the continent they claim to protect. The culture of victim-hood is a mechanism at play within some of the most significant African academics.

 

The entire notion of “poor little Africa who was raped by Arabs and then Europeans” is a denial of African intelligence and agency. It stipulates indirectly that African have no sense, no judgment and no ability as a collective to act for self-determination or unity in the face of a collected foe. To believe that Islam and Christianity were forced down the throats of an unwilling people is as regressive and bigoted as the diatribes of Kant and Hume.

 

African people have demonstrated absolute agency and contribution to both Islam, Christianity as well as Judaism. The theory, which identifies these religions as foreign, is baseless and shallow. When we study the history of Western Europe we find their conversion to Christianity much later than Africa. Yet, in all of their writings, they claim authorship and agency in Christianity. We see Pakistanis doing this in Islam, even Chinese Muslims claim their noble inheritance in these faiths. The Chinese Muslims cite the Chinese greats like Zheng Ho and his contributions to Islam. Yet with some African academics, there is this suicidal strategy to undermine the degree of agency and influence of Africa on Islam.

 

They would rather remove it as foreign and thus collapsing the largest African kingdom of Songhai to obscurity, gone is Africa's claim to Timbuktu, Islamic Spain, Axsum, Sokoto and Ancient Mali. This anti-African rhetoric also infects the notability of Uthman Dan Fodio, Menelik Askia Muhammad, Thewdros, Bilal, Malik Sy, Selassie, Ahmadou Bamba, Sundiata, Seka Toure, The Mahdi of the Sudan, King Ezna, Emperor Fasiladas, the list is endless. But all of these people are removed from history, not to mention our recent greats such as Farrakhan, Dr. King, Garvey, El Hajj Malik Shabazz and Cheikh Anta Diop.

 

This again testifies to the fastidiousness of the cancer plaguing the disenfranchised Africans globally. No people in history are seen to do this. The Turks, who accepted Islam late in the day, made it their own and ruled with it.  The principle cornerstones of these faiths have African origins and agency but some like fools cast Africa's historical station into the wind, as "foreign, worthless, and out of Africa. " Sufism an influential branch of Islam is African in origin, testimony to the power of Africanistic theology on Islam. Ethiopia was one of the first Christian Kingdoms in the entire World! The Khans were successful because they integrated what worked in their favor, as did our ancestors. This planet is a fusion and dynamic collision of cultures and ideas, there is no purity.

 

Africans have succumbed to some of the greatest horrors in history but not the extent of being the exploited historical fodder of others; the perpetual victims in the entire annals of history.

 

Conclusion

 

It is the responsibility of the next generation of academics to re-interpret the works of their predecessors. This is not a duty exclusive to the victims of Eurocentric academic racism but rather to all. The plurality and multicultural world is far safer if we all exist in an environment of truth and fairness overriding the miss-motives of the past.

 

"We must sail the ship of truth on the sea of lies, against the tide of repetition."

 

The foundational paradigm must be truth; this is the driver for the next generation. We must sail the ship of truth on the sea of lies, against the tide of repetition, for this is the only way to erase the pre-assumed notion that washes and perverts the greatest human science--history.

By Owen 'Alik Shahadah 

Owen 'Alik Shahadah, is an African Cultural writer and a multi-award winning Filmmaker who documents African history and culture. Published with kind permission from African Holocaust


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