And so I’m saying that, yes, colonialism was terrible, and I describe it as a legacy of wars,
but we ought to be moving away from that by now.—Wangari Maathai
The effects of colonialism past and present are visible all over Africa. It is not an overstatement when EdemKodjo, author of ‘Africa Tomorrow’ describes the condition of African as “torn away from his past, propelled into a universe fashioned from outside that suppresses his values, and dumbfounded by a cultural invasion that marginalises him. The African, is today the deformed image of others. ”
Africa is the Mother of Humanity. Africa is the cradle of the first human civilisation. The First Renaissance on this planet was the African Renaissance. Africa was “the first world” economically and technologically NOT the “third world” of paupers robbed of their lands and riches. Our ancestors builtthe pyramids which even in this 21st century no one can reproduce. Egyptian civilisation was a Black civilisation. The pharaohs were Black people. That is why that great African Egyptologist, Prof. Cheikh Anta Diop has written:
“The history of Black Africa will remain suspended in the air and will not be written correctly until African historians dare connect it with the history of Egypt”.
The African historian, who evades this, is neither modest nor objective or unruffled; he is ignorant, cowardly and neurotic.”The Zimbabwe Buildings that Africans built have been attributed to “foreigners” who vanished into thin air and cannot be found! The stubborn historical fact, however, is that these magnificent buildings were designed by Zimbabweans. The history of European colonization has been not only of land dispossession but of destroying African knowledge. For instance, the “Atlantic” Ocean was called the Ethiopian Sea as late as 1626 and the so- called “Indian” Ocean the Azanian Sea. George Murdock has written that Azanians stimulated tradewith the East. (‘Africa and Its Peoples and Their Cultural History’, pages 204 and 206). See also ‘General History Of Africa’ by J.KI Zerbo, pages 3O4, 3O6 AND 33O; Heinemann, California UNESCO 1981).In November 1999, some scholars at Yale University such as Prof. John Damell speculated about the origin of writing going back to 19OO B.C. These scholarscould not dispute that, whatever date was, the location was Africa – AlkebuLan, “the Mother of Nations.”
The well-known archaeologist in Kenya, Dr. L.S.B. Leakey long wrote, “The critics of Africa forget that men of science today are without exception, satisfied that Africa was the place of birth of man himself, and that for thousands of years…Africa was in the forefront of all world progress.”Affirming this fact, EdemKodjo, the author of Africa Tomorrow who is also a great researcher on Africa has written, “It is here in Africa that history began.
DESTRUCTION OF AFRICA BY IMPERIALISM
Africa was destroyed by imperialist Europe and is still being destroyed by Europe. Up to the 14th century A.D. Africa was ahead of Europe or on par with Europe militarily. The Romans used spears and weused spears in war. That famous Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar in adoration and admiration of the advanced Africa exclaimed, “ex Africa semper aliquidnovi!” (Out of Africa always something new!).Earlier educated Greeks received their education in Africa, to be precise in Mizraim (ancient Egypt). This is corroborated by “the father of European history,” Herodotus himself. He is supported by other ancienthistorians such as Diodorus.
The Colonizer and the Colonized, written in 1957 by Tunisian-born author Albert Memmi, is an eye-opener which points out various issues in African’s identity: During the period of colonization and colonial rule, the colonized is stripped of his/her identity. According to AimeCesaire’s concept of “thingification” the colonizer turns the colonized into an object, existing only as a function of the needs of the colonizer. In doing so, the colonizer instills in the colonized an inferiority complex that renders them submissive and prevents them fromacting to reverse colonialism. In essence, the colonizer rewrites history, thereby erasing the previous identity of the colonized. As a result, the colonized becomes “divorced from reality” (Memmi, 106).In school, children are educated about the history and past of the colonizers, while their own culture and history begin to disappear.In this way, they are conditioned that their inadequacy is what makes them unable to “assume a role in history” (Memmi,94).“ Colonization usurps any free role in…cultural and social responsibility” (Memmi, 91). This sense of inferiority strips them of any previous identity they possessed prior to colonization.The colonized individual is forced to learn the language of the colonizer if he wishes to succeed (or survive) in this “foreign” society. He/she is often punished or scorned for using his/her native language in public venues. Thus, further erasure of his/her past identity becomes inevitable. He/she is no longer permitted to function in his language of choice. When his/her specific language is taken from him/her, the psychological state of the colonized is severely altered.
Africa has suffered the worst genocide and holocaust at the hands of the architects of slavery and colonialism. What is called “European Renaissance” was the worst darkness for Africa’s people. Armed with the technology of the gun and the compass itcopied from China, Europe became a menace for Africa against her spears. So-called “civilised” Europe also claiming to be “Christian” came up with the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. There was massive loss of African population and skills. Some historians have estimated that the Gold Coast (today’s Ghana) alone, lost 5OOO to 6OOO of its people to slavery every year for four hundred years.
Prof. Walter Rodney asks a pertinent question: “What would have been Britain’s level of development had millions of her people been put to work as slaves out of their country over a period of four centuries?”As if slavery had not already done enough damage to Africa’s people, European leaders met in Germany from December 1884 to February 1885 at the imperialist Berlin Conference. The Belgian King Leopold stated the purpose of the Berlin Conference as “How we should divide among ourselves this magnificent African cake.”. Africa was thus plunged into another human tragedy. Through the Berlin Treaty of 26 February 1885, the European imperialists sliced Africa into “Portuguese Africa”, “British Africa”, “German Africa”, “Italian Africa,” “Spanish Africa”, “French Africa” and “Belgian Africa.” There was no Africa left for Africans except Ethiopia, encircled by paupers of land dispossessed people who were now the reservoir of cheap native labour for their dispossessors.Colonial brutality on the colonised Africans knew no bounds. Here are a few examples of atrocities committed against Africans bycolonialists. A British philosopher, Betrand Russell wrote about some of these colonial atrocities perpetrated by Belgium in the Congo in the name of “Western Christian Civilisation.” Russell wrote, “Each village was ordered by the authorities to collect andbring in a certain amount of rubber – as much as the men could bring in by neglecting all work for their own maintenance. If they failed to bring the required amount, their women were taken away and kept as hostages…in the harems of colonial government employees. If thismethod failed…troops were sent to the village to spread terror, if necessary by killing some of the men…they were ordered to bring one right hand amputated from an African victim for every cartridge used.” (Introduction To African Civilizations, John G. Jackson 31O-311) The result of these atrocities according to Sir H.H.Johnston was the reduction of the African population in the Congo from twenty million to nine million people in fifteen years.
Slavery and colonialism enriched Europe and reduced Africa to abject poverty. The riches of Africa and her raw materials fuelled the economies of imperialist countries. The British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill bore testimony to this fact when he said:“Our possession of the West Indies gave us the strength, the support, but especially the capital, the wealth, at the time when no other European nations possessed such reserve, which enabled us to come through the great struggles of the Napoleonic Wars.
The keen competition of commerce in the 18th and 19th centuries enabled us not only to acquire this appendage of possessions which we have, but also to lay the foundations of that commercial and financialleadership which when the world was young,…enabled us to make our great position in the world.” (‘The Long Road To Humanity’, by Stanton A.Coblentz page 325 and Introduction To African Civilisations John G. Jackson page 3O6)
To this minute, Africa’s riches are fuelling the economies of imperialist countries. Africans remain the poorest people in the world amidst their own riches in their own African Continent.
As the late President Kwame Nkrumah put it, “If Africa’s resources were used in her own development they would place Africa among the most modernised continents of the world. But Africa’s wealth is used for the development of overseas interests.”Under America’s Bill Clinton’s government Chief Moshood Abiola, a democratically elected Presidential candidate was prevented from taking power here in Nigeria. Abiola was a staunch defender of Africa’s economic liberation. In 1993, he convened the First Pan African Conference on Reparations. In his speech inter alia, he said:
“Our demand for reparations is based on the tripod of moral, historical and legal argument….Who knows what path Africa’s social development would have taken if great centres of African civilisation had notbeen destroyed in search of human cargo by Europeans? Who knows how our economics would have developed? “Chief Abiola added, “It is international law which compels Nigeria to pay its debts to Western banks. It is international law that must now demand Western nations to pay us what they have owed us for nearlysix centuries.”
A country that relies on aid? Death is better than that. It stops you from achieving yourpotential, just as colonialism did-Imran Khan
RAPE OF AFRICAN VALUES
Our `most cherished values` begin to end, the moment we become silent over the things that matter.–Martin Luther King Jr.
Dignity was paramount for African marriage. During the post-colonial era, African women and African fashion played an important role in showcasing Africa’s beauty in what was then referred to as “The pride of the African woman”. As the African fashion gained momentum, African women demonstrated the pride of their beauty, by dressing with dignity and making sure that all sensitive parts of their bodies were adequately covered. Practices such as indecent exposure; exposed cleavage, naked tummy, the exposure of all other sensitive body parts were completely unacceptable to the African woman who placed her dignity far above anything else. As a result African women were highly respected by society because dignity and respect were very essential requirements for them to find a responsible man for marriage. However, the advent of western civilization: hip-hop music, R&B, and indecent dressing portrayed by fashion, has recently cast a dark shadow over the pride of the African beauty. African women of today, both young and old can shamelessly walk the streets virtually naked in the name of fashion. Some even go to church improperly attired: luscious boobs exposed, transparent dresses, mini skirts and all manner of extreme body exposure that only seek to harass their male counterparts. They watch movies where such lifestyles are considered to be “hot” and “sexy”. Therefore the African woman thinks that it is alright to expose her precious assets for the world to behold even if it means risking her dignity. Little or no attention whatsoever is paid to human conscience. After all, being “sexy” is all that matters. They have suceeded in telling the African Woman that “Virginity is not dignity, but merely a lack of opportunity”, and she believed it hook, line and sinker.
The Cost of Africa’s Inferiority Complex
According to one estimate, African girls of today spend more money on fashion than what they spend on books and food combined. From pedicure to manicure,skin bleaching cosmetics, hair relaxers, wigs, weaves, eyelashes, nails, among others. Many women in the universities even go to the extreme: they blow part of their school fees on items that will make them look sexy. Take Nigeria for example, it is estimated that Nigeria has a population of about 155million with about 56% between the ages of 16-54 years old. Out of these age group women are more than 40million. The details are as follows:
Male = 44,296,228 Female = 42,534,542 —-Source: CIA’s World Fact Book.
At the same time, the African fashion has been thrown to the dogs. Africa therefore spends all these money to create jobs for Asia, Europe and the Americas, whilst unemployment and poverty is becoming the destiny of the African people. Africa needs mental revolution.
Bob Marley warned Africans to emancipate themselves from mental slavery, yet Africans wouldn’t listen.
This Piece is Written by Chijioke E. Amaechi