By SEYI BIOKU
“the only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa, for he has so much to look forward to” – Richard Mullin
This piece stems from a directed and properly guided desire to correct the misguided and to put aright minds awash by the fictions, feint convinctions and the lease beliefs in the diverse faces of the farce that continuously and repeatedly pervades every communication medium.
The faces of this farce have been adored in ignorance and adorned shamelessly without the thirst for the waters of knowledge and truth.
Africa the rich black continent and Africans, her very own, have always been regarded subjects of near irrelevance and backbenchers respectively. The so called Africans seem to have given in to the Eurocentric modes of life and have dwelled in the abode of forgetfulness not realizing that the vast majority of what is new in the world today are developments and futher developments of ideas deeply rooted in the most beautiful continent “AFRICA”.
Africans have been painted as the inferior race, the subservient continent, a breeding ground for a variety of hardcore criminals ranging from the murderers to the robbers, cybercriminals, rapists,terrorists ,drug addicts and even potential criminals for crimes not yet invented as it is common knowledge how terribly a badly behaved African is potrayed in relation to his white counterpart by the media. This is not new, this no news.
As a deeply concerned and highly patriotic African, I began to ruminate over these issues, seeking diligently the truth about “what came from Africa and what didn’t” with all of my heart and refusing to believe the non fiction about what had been wrongly plundered from Africa and the ills that had been wrongly ascribed to a race that I belong. Today I must say that my desire to seek the truth has led me to certain findings and conclusions.
Having drank from the fountain of knowledge of enigmas I consider as true sons of the soil amongst certain distinguished scholars, the erudite Prof Akin Oyebode and the rare Prof Akin ibidapo-Obe,during my sojourn as a student of law at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. I began to realize that not all that had been said was true and not all that is true has been said. The average African reading this piece would, by my guess, not be aware of credits owed to Africa by the entire world thus confirming the words of George Kimble that the darkest thing about Africa has been our ignorance of it. Thus the importance of what came from Africa and what didn’t is important.
One major thing that came from Africa is civilization though the eurocentrics may be quick to disagree. Scholars like Sheik Anta Diop, B.C.M James among several others have posited that Africa is indeed the bedrock of civilization, the foundation of a vast majority of the things we call modern. Examples of such foundational ideas abound. The alternative dispute resolution system of adjudication mistakenly deemed as foreign was stolen from the traditional African dispute resolution mechanism and repackaged. As a Nigerian I know as a fact that the traditional Nigerian societies believed mediation and amicable settlement of disputes between parties as against the prevalent court system today. In actual fact the system should be known as the African dispute resolution (ADR) which embodies the nature of the African to always live peaceably with his neighbor. The African is a peaceful being.
Research has also shown that activities like agriculture, architecture , perfume making, astronomy , mathematics amongst others developed from Africa. It was the Egyptians through the river nile bank that invented agriculture. They revealed to the world the concept of irrigation. What this means is that engineering was at the forefront of Egyptian civilization. The construction of the pyramids also reveal the architectural depth and ingenuity of the Egyptians. The credit belongs here in Africa.
It may be quite suprising but true that the oldest existing , and operating educational institution in the world is the university of Karueein, founded in 859AD in Fez, Morocco,in Africa. In fact the oldest treaty was concluded in 1296 Bc by Pharaoh Ramsel the second. Also traceable from Africa is the concept of sanctity of contract. These are a few amongst what was started in Africa.
Sadly Egypt experienced a revolt. Alexander the great defeated the Egyptian armies and looted away texts, artifacts to Greece which launched Greece into civilization. In fact the greeks learnt all they knew from the ancient Egypt. Thus what we have today is that the origin lies somewhere yet the glory lies somewhere else.
Africa is thus by all standards an intelligent continent parading highly successful individuals in every positive sphere of life ranging from business to the arts, entertainment and lifestyle, science and whatever industry you can think of. If I decide to come up with a list of names, you may never get to the end of this article. This leaves me certain that the African race is indeed a special one and all Africans should be proud to be who they are.
Furthermore beauty and strength, those twin ideological traits that all humans desire and desire to acquire or be associated with both in times historical and contemporary, are not only from Africa but reside here. Black is the only colour I know that is accurately described as beautiful. The African people are a beautiful people. The beauty of the African woman pervades her glowing dark skin dancing unabashedly through the curls of her natural hair, she is beautiful deep down to her soul. The strength of the African man is not just physical, it breaks the bounds of physicality, surging relentlessly into the realm of spirituality.
At this point I say that civilization, peace keeping, intelligence, beauty and strength are factors that came from Africa, they are traits that are deeply entrenched into ancient African arts, music and literature. Do not be dissuaded, Africans are not everything wrong we have been painted to be. Good things sprung from here, and the blackness of our skin is not an evidence of a darkness of heart! I AM AFRICAN, I AM BLACK , I AM PROUD.
If these factors came from Africa it simply implies that the level of negativity attached to Africans is strange to us. Whatever negativity exists in Africa has either been imported by misguided Africans or imposed by compelling forces from outside Africa. One recent example amongst others was the attempt to foist homosexuality on some African nations which was met by rejection by the legislators in different countries across the continent . at least we can still say no to some things. Negativity is alien to the African family except being negative to negative things!
Definitely and assuredly, I know that negativity is not African and did not spring from Africa.
Despite the above , the African is not totally blameless. A vast population of Africans are lost in Eurocentric/western identities and blind to the truth about Africa. African children are not taught to be African anymore. A lot of Africans do not appreciate their identity, rather they are engrossed in everything foreign, forgetting the richness of the black culture. The reason for this from my point of view is not far fetched. The bad portrayal of Africa and Africans by the foreign media takes the attention off the positivity of what stems from Africa. Its takes the attention off the negativity resident outside Africa and focuses it on the seemingly wrong things on our continent thus bringing to life the words of the fictional character Frank Underwood from the Tv show House of Cards that when you are fresh meat , kill and throw them something fresher. The fresher meat in this case is the over bloated negativity of Africa. Little wonder they try to kill the memory that one of the earliest forms of writing; hieroglyphics, started in Africa or that something as symbolic as the very first calendar was made and used in Africa by Africans and other such astronomical achievements and having killed these memories, they fling the bleeding African ideology at the sharks of eurocenticity, the fresher meat!
YES!! It is quite alright to learn positively from outside Africa as no man is an island but we must not forget who we are. The way we view ourselves is how the world will view us.
Yes!! We are not problem free but there is a need for us to focus on our strengths as a continent, objectively identifying our problems and intelligently proferring solutions and not letting the rest of the world decide for us who we truly are.
Africa is a beautiful continent filled with beautiful people. The things that came from Africa are positive and should always be. Negativity consequently did not come from here and should not thrive here. Raising an awareness on the positivity of Africa requires not only the efforts of the experienced and the aged in the continent, but the young, vibrant, adventurous and intelligent minds are called to join in the challenge of placing the microscope on all that makes us who we truly are. AFRICANS!!!!! BLACK!!!!!! PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!
*Seyi Bioku is a law graduate from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. An African with the passion for continental repositioning.