Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Rise of the Africans

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A Book review

Unless the lions learn how to write”, asserts author Joshua Ngoma, “the hunters will always write their stories.” With this Kenyan proverb, Ngoma begins his 138-page book The Rise of the Africans (2012, Seaburn Publishing).

This book, among other things, explains the four principles that Africans should coalesce around to ensure the inevitable and imminent rise of their continent. These pillars are not new. Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah was among the first to espouse them. These ideals formed the basis for what would later become the rallying cry of Pan-Africanism. Other African leaders and academicians parroted these ideals as well. It is, therefore, quite interesting that half a century later, Ngoma would still find these ideas relevant.

Ngoma is telling a story from his own perspective and the perspective of many Africans. We must all find this positively praiseworthy as a way to begin a conversation on important issues affecting our continent. The author explains African history in a clear and concise manner. He also attempts to explain difficulties Africa faces. Ngoma also deals with the hopes and dreams of Africa’s one billion people. In this book, we see the important imprint of his father, his friends and his brief involved in Zambian politics. He has also done well to do some comparative analysis of both Africa and Asia. His research is impeccable. Certainly, Ngoma’s passion for Africa is unquestionably sizzling.

However, we must join a conversation he has started. For the most part, the four pillars he is espousing as the foundation to direct Africa’s rise have now been discredited. Nkrumahism is no longer defensible. The basic foundation of Pan-Africanism, the perspective from which Ngoma writes, is no longer relevant to 21st century Africa. Africa does not need ideals predicated by futile Pan-Africanist doctrines. Africa needs newer and fresher outlook on its role in the global village. Having been frustrated with pan-Africanism, we must go beyond it and perhaps coalesce around post-Africanism (see Denis Ekpo). Post-Africanism seeks to redeem the African from the illusion of comparison. It interrogates the cracks in the shaky foundations of pan-Africanism. It sees no reason why Africa’s development should be predicated upon definitions imposed by the very people she claims to be free from.

The fear of Imperialism?

The first of the four pillars is predicated on the idea that there should be “a new Africa, independent and absolutely free from imperialism, organized on a continental scale”. This does sound very good and attractive. However, it is rhetoric loaded with no practical value. As an ideological pillar it flops very miserably. In modern Africa, the Africanists and the Pan-Africanists would like us to believe that European imperialism is Africa’s number one enemy. This might have been the case in 1960 but it is certainly no longer the case. Africa must bury an incessant obsession with the fear of imperialists. Modern Africa cannot claim to be free while at the same time being possessed by an irrational paranoia of the motives of the White skin. I see no connection, whatsoever, between Mugabe’s fear of Europe with his desire to assault his political enemy Tsvangarai using state police. I just do not see the connection between imperialism and the senseless killing going on in Juba, South Sudan today. It would be ridiculous to claim that all the problems in Africa are as a result of the imperialists. Is it the imperialists spending on Zuma’s Nkandla estate? What about the arbitrary arrests of Zambians for possessing Vermox? Is it an imperialist move too?

A modern African is not going to tolerate the nonsense of the fear of imperialism as a way for African leaders to deny basic liberties to the people of Africa. The blame game should end, and Africa should take responsibility.

United Africa

This then should bring me to my next objection to Ngoma’s Africanism: the idea that Africa must be organized on a continental scale, founded upon the “conception of a One and United Africa”. The idea that Africa must be one and united is perhaps the greatest falsehood Africa has inherited from the colonialist. The Africans, themselves, never conceived a united Africa and they never needed to. It was a zygote of European imperialism. It is Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold II who hallucinated of a united Africa “from Cape to Cairo.” For one thing, a united Africa was and still is, far easier to exploit than independent states. Africa as discovered by the colonialist was too volatile to colonize. It had to take some form of “unity” to easily exploit African resources and the Africans themselves. Before Africa jumps on this united Africa bandwagon, we need to ask ourselves how we came to believe that we must be one and united. Africa is not a country and should never be one. We were never meant to be a country. As stated by Ngoma himself, Africa is a complex continent with different cultures and countries. How then did he come to conclude that a united Africa is in Africans’ best interest?

An African science and technology

The third, pillar is indeed powerful. Africa must draw its strength from modern science and technology. It is quite interesting though that the first casualty of African independence was science and technology. Ngoma highlights the importance of science to the development of Africa. But what he needed to stress even more is the fact that personal apprenticeship is the only way we can actualize the strength of science and technology. To have this strength, Africans do not need to reinvent the wheels of science. Africans must learn from those with strengths in science and technology. This is what Africa needed. But instead of keeping the European innovators in Africa, most of these so called founding fathers of Africa, hounded away Europeans and claimed that they would instead grow their own indigenous “science and technology”. This was disaster, and it showed. Within the decade of independence Kaunda “Zambianized” and “Africanized” by giving crucial science and technology positions to our people who had no clue about science and technology. That is not the way to grow innovation. In a globalized world, innovation in science and technology belongs to everybody. No one country should regard themselves as inferior simply because they have borrowed or stolen technology from others. As noted by Ngoma himself, South Korea is what it is today due to its liberal use of Western technology and patents. Africans must admit that the 1970s and 1980s folly of chasing Whites out of Africa was unreasonable and was a direct attack on Africa’s own opportunity for innovation. Africa needs to be freed from this belief that in order for us to have value, we must make better and newer discoveries than Westerners. Borrowing from Denis Ekpo (2005), there is no need for an African formula for making cement if a Germany has already discovered one. And copying this cement formula from Germany is not a sign that Africa is weak!

The individual and the Community

The fourth pillar should be challenged as well. How did Africa come to believe the idea that “the free development of each individual is conditioned by the free development of all”? What does this even mean? Post-Africanism challenges the misunderstood idea that to the African the individual is not as important as the community. Africans must come to an understanding that they are a “person” first before they become a community of “persons”.

Africa has been misunderstood as loving community so much as to obliterate the personal value of an individual. The idea that a human being, as a single African being, is important and has personal value should be the bedrock of African development. It is individuals that form a community and not a community the individual. People should not be used as sacrifices at the altar of an abstract nation-state or community; rather it is the individuals whose value should predicate community vision and value. A Post-African society takes the view that Africa must respect the person in order to sustain the community.

Ngoma has started a worthy conversation. I have joined in it. And I hope that many Zambians and other Africans will buy his book and read for themselves why Africa should rise. For me, however, Post-Africanism is newer and fresher to help Africa’s rise. The era of pan-Africanism is over.

By Elias Munshya wa Munshya

Source: Culture, Politics, Law & Theology

26 COMMENTS

  1. Yaaaaaaaaawwwwwnnnn !

    To think that someone had enough time on their hands to scribble a load of “rhetoric loaded with no practical value”.
    LOL

    • Long and wide yawn implies something is not only uninteresting but morbidly boring.
      But after listening to some gibberish under own breath, the writer lol.

      Analysis: Sign of mental instability

  2. Good afternoon

    The conversation is worthy indeed and I will also join in anytime.

    I have a lot to say but I will restrict my comment to the first pillar for today. I think it is the most important of the four, though Elias wants to brush it aside like many Africans like to do. Are they so blind or do they just refuse to see how western imperialism in it’s many forms is and has always been the main cause of Africa’s misery and the conflicts on the continent?

    Why deny, when even the western leaders themselves admit? Sometime this year, the British foreign Secretary and the Queen pledged to pay 19 million Pounds compensation for the atrocities comitted against theMau Mau freedom fighters.

    • @nine chale, like you i have a lot to say whenever issues border around the so called african continent. Imperilasim has indeed killed the continent and it still does. its unfortunate that Elias does not see it still. well, maybe because it has somewhat changed its face from the conversational “the horse, rider and the whip” view to an evolved “donkey and carrot view”. it may seem that the imperialist hold on the so called african is weak now hence donkey as compared to horse, but they are still riding us.They dont need the cracker and whip anymore because the chains are on the mind and all they do is dangle a carrot and we run chasing after so perceived glory i.e western culture and way of life a.k.a industrialised world.Imagine in the 21 centruy africans still carry white people…

    • like Elias. And when you ask him, he will tell you that we live in a global village. the world has changed. but if that is the case why then is it that, i up to now have never seen a caucasian with a so called “african” name like bwalya, chileshe chinedu, ogbanje. so do you mean to tell me they the whites dont live in this global billage. these are the chains they have on your mind, and believe it or not. it was all carefully planned, that by the time they remove the chains on your feet,they would have put chains on your mind. dont under estimate the enemy elias. he is wicked and ruthless, the best you can do is accept it. up to date we still call our continent africa, a name give to it by the imperialists. countries get independent and change names, what of the continent?what does it

    • mean that it still carries a name given it by the imperialists. is it symbolic that we are still their colonies. why havent we bothered to change the name? And the answer lies in the treachery and damage done by the imperilaist. yo have forgotten your own history, you only know that which is given you by the imperialists and that where you want to find your identity and where you should be. Elias dont think it is all mere conincidence that it is so, it was all proerly thought of. the enemy i say again is real and the best you and i can do is be alive to that fact and see how we handle him in this and the coming centuries. Study your history in detail and not the shallow theirstory disguised as ours they give you dating back to say maybe 500 years ago. Go beyond that, thousands of years!!!!

    • Nine Chale Iv also seen Elias’s view, and really when we refuse to accept that imperialism is still in full effect today, and is still fully exploitating our continents through various subtle and covert means just goes to show the long lasting effects of colonialism, the last 500 years in which we have been under invasion have really colonised our minds.. we think like the conqueror, talk like him, eat and dress like him. We are sick, and need redemption.

  3. “My decision to destroy the authority of the blacks in Saint Domingue (Haiti) is not so much based on considerations of commerce and money, as on the need to block for ever the march of the blacks in the world.”

    Napoleon Bonaparte

    • Thanks Elias for bringing post-Africanism into this debate. I think the time has come for us to let Africa think and speak differently about itself otherwise we keep on recycling the same mediocrities and then blame the west for our fate. More than 50 years of Africanism has only succeeded in making us smaller and smaller by the day. The question is, if we don’t think differently and do something different today, how are we going to change tomorrow?

    • @denis ekpo – i agree with you only on the part where you say we stand up for ourselves and be our own people. Because what you call the africanism of 50 years is surely not our problem, we thought we could integrate with the imperialists but they can never and do not want to see us as their equal. they will change the rules of the game on you so as to keep you down and if you dont believe me,take a look around again. who controls, the diamonds market, the prices of precious metals and the likes? The western world is not our friend, they are our enemies. the first part was to kick them out of our land and now we should keep them off our minds. An invader,criminal who rapes your wife and children,steals your property and destroys your home as no room in it after you rise and defeat him.

    • Fortunately, the Blacks, Afrikans of Haiti did majestically crash Napoleon Bonaparte and made the republic of Haiti the first free nation of Black men and women..

  4. Talent is the V8 engine of competitiveness and innovation for today’s globally connected mobile economy. Those that have mastered the development of skills inside their countries and lowered the barriers to entry for foreign talent are creating vibrant and sustainable economies. What is shocking is how Zambia’ s President (MCS) and his government operatives disrespect professionals. The PF govt is seeking to send to jail one of Zambia’s best brains Professor Chirwa on trumped up charges. Chirwa is to blame for giving what is precious to pigs and dogs.

  5. I easily get bored with any article with recessive use of words and jargon, so I’ll cut the chase and get to the bone.
    1.) Zambianisation: – I am no fan of KK, but to insinuate that Zambianisation was generally a ‘disaster’ is misleading. Zambianisation had its time and place. It was necessary to do it just as it was necessary for USA to come up with ‘Affirmative Action’. What should be debated upon is to what extent was it implemented? Did it go in overdrive?
    2.) A United Africa: – This is premised in the fact that history has shown there are more economical advantages than disadvantages in working as trading blocks on our planet as opposed to working as a multiplicity of individual Countries. Period. That is why North America has a trading block, Europe has a trading block, Asia has…

  6. Cont’d……….Asia has a trading block…etc.
    3.) Global Village:- I have not read Ngoma’s book ‘The Rise Of The Africans’ but I can say this much about the future with absolute certainty. The single biggest equalizer is going to be due to the Information Age we are now in. We will be neither Africans nor Europeans, nor Asians, nor Americans. We will simply be humans on earth.

    • How true. I was not thrilled by the one party state but when you see what s happened in South Sudan you realise how vulnerable any young nation is. Kaunda just had to have a plan for uniting various tribes. The one party state had its time or we wouldn’t be where we are. Its now up to us to move forward. One Africa has more advantages than the one product nations that we are. Industrialisation has dismally failed because Europe s import needs from Africa divide us.
      However when we will start seeing ourselves as just humans we should watch out! One or a few cultures are bound to dominate and ours will be killed. This is because Africans are the only ones willing to surrender their values and adopt others’ So ba Elias must think about his name and the slavery it symbolises and…

    • …portends. The Global village is bound to have Europe and America dominating while we Africans watch. Just check right now whose thoughts are ruling? On democracy which democracy is being propagated? On polygamy on homosexuality age of consent etc? Just about everything is Western. You adopt it or you will face sanctions.

    • ..we need to wake up and start admiring ourselves as Africans before accepting the concept of a global village. Economically the one industry nations that we are only slow us down.

    • John Kolala and Slow Speed above I m wondering why my posts are coming under your names. I think my computer has captured your identities after I stored some of your previous blogs. 4giv me
      love
      igher Taller

  7. African countries do not need to unit to develop Africa. Actually, Countries working as a separate entity will be advantageous to the Continent.

    All Africa needs is a trading block that will be formed with a strong foundation. However, for this to work, Africa needs true democracy.

    We need to respect each others views and respect that we cannot all agree on the same things but we can learn to negotiate and give a little.

  8. One more thing, Africa needs to carry on with its story telling to pass on history to the younger generation and we need to educate our people on the importance of keeping written records for future reference.

  9. Imperialism? United Africa?
    The author toughs are frozen in the past. There is new “imperialism” from the East. As to unite Africa, there is more chance of hell freezing than current African rulers solving tribalism.

  10. ..we need to wake up and start admiring ourselves as Africans before accepting the concept of a global village. Economically the one industry nations that we are only slow us down.

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