Sunday, June 12, 2005

Ideas of Africa

Typical of my peoples response is that there is no point complaining about the Africa Commission and Live 8 . What are you going to do differently? A just, smart Alec question if there ever was one. The truth is Africa is a construct not an objective reality, a creation that morphs to the perception and dictates of the observer. On the map it does not appear in its central position or its true size neither does it logically or historically exclude what we now call the middle east. Even then it is cut further down into 'sub saharan' description to fully define the desired state of underdevelopment. So the first challenge will be to construct an Africa that emerges from our aspirations, grounded in our traditions and projected in the boldness of our efforts. An Africa based on what we know works in our context and driven by the grundnorm of our many different peoples. If you have ever seen President Mbeki's speech which now forms the basis of the tourism advert to South Africa you know, that is a rousing call if ever there was one, it should paint everything in coat of pride like harmattan over Abuja. Somewhere in that speech is the recognition that transformation starts with the Africa each one of us imagines.

To see this Africa we must first unlearn what passes for education, which is in fact indoctrination. As Fela said we need to get African eyes to see the real African things and lose the 'yeye eye wey we borrow'. It means even when we choose to borrow content we fit it into context. In large part most of the so called developments we introduce are part of the elite desire to mirror and represent westernization as progress. We forget that transformation occurs in the agreement of the multitude not the obsession of the few. We forget that in other epochs in which our people have exhibited their inherent genius from the Pyramids, to ancient Zimbabwe, from Nok to Timbuktu, from Axum to Ife bronze, Meroe, Kush, Shongey, Ghana, it was not the story of the elite. This was the genius of the workaday African, the Benin Artisan, Chaka's impis, Akhenatens priests, many faceless but inspired individuals who produced for idea and ideals challenging the stereotype of inferiority that we now wear without restraint. So now the dialogue is not for governments but in the informal and unrecorded transactions of market women and traders across the continent in the dusk to dawn sweat of their brows. We must inspire, encourage and encapsulate their productive efforts into the core of our transactions and economic data.

We must develop a pan African curriculum that is discussed at the AU parliament and ratified in every country based on our histories but also grounding the humanity and dignity of all our ethnic groups into the education of our children.

We must tell our own stories in all medium including a pan African radio band that has segments in all key languages and dialects so that people can discuss and deliberate across borders

Yes this are all intangibles and cultural. Our battle is not really in material, it is ideas. It is a battle between their idea of Africa and ours. It is from that inspirational idea of our Africa that what Senator Barack Obama calls the 'Audacity of Hope ' emerges without which we might as well lay down to be the story that scares children in the west to eat their greens.


Ogatee said...

I cannot but agree with you about the need to look at Africa, as Abami Eda suggests. Fela's timeless call for the genuinely African sutobiograhy, written from the wellspring of our collective historical experience is really a metaphor for his "Africa center of the world" proposition. And guess what, there is scientific proof that we all are indeed "Africans" encoded with the mitochrodial DNA of mother Africa. But enough of wistful historical musings, fastforward to today, yesterday and quite possibly tomorrow. Right now, truth to tell, Africa is in deep doo-doo. Which ever way you slice it, the hard emprical fact is that we are in touble. All credible developmental indicators suggest a continent that again has become the metphor for human suffering and misery. From Putin's recent remarks about cannibalism in Africa to the vengful philantrophy of the West, yet again intent on saving Africa from the Africans. The ideas of Africa or ideas about Africa all circle around the same anguish ladened theme-"the thirdworld of the third world." Since the concrete realities of Africa are often too painful to present as our offereings to tne common weal of humanity, we must necessarily proffer something else, somethin intangible, something like something else.. Ah... I get it! a metaphor! For me, Africa is much more than a geographic space, much more than a demographic statement. For me Africa transcends space and the ravages of time. Africa drawing its primodial relevance and strength from the crucible of humanity is an idea, an ancient enduring and all pervasive thought that is chmically bonded to the air we breath and hotwire to our respective DNAs. Perhaps that is why Africa is more metaphyical an idea that mathematical.

Imnakoya said...

Welcome to the blogoshere, Onibudo. From your posts, it appears we are in for some highly caffeinated musings. I have read / peruse throught some of your posts. I have some questions for you:
How best can Africa and Nigeria, in practical terms, move forward? I guess you are in the Diaspora just as me. If my assumption is right, what steps can we all take to facilitate our return home?
How can Nigerians in the Diaspora positively influence the sociopolitical terrain at home? Thanks.
You and others are invited to explore the blogoshere by visiting the Grandiose Parlor right here on blogger