Thursday, March 21, 2019

Africa: The Next 1,000 Years

I have been bouncing an idea around my head for a number of months now.  And, as I sit here in Accra, Ghana I feel I should commit the essence of the idea to writing. The shaping of Africa’s next 1,000 years rests with us, and if we are to shape it, then we must begin to effectively change the current narrative around Africa.

Africa In Space
 - Source: Selamta Magazine (Jan/Feb 2019)

Before the Common Era (BCE)
African civilizations have been documented to date back as far as 5,000 years Before the Common Era (BCE) by modern archaeologist and historians. This may not be widely known, but these are facts that have been verified by science, and the evidence confirms that a number of these civilizations have been along the Nile, a river that is approximately 6,650 km (4,132 miles) in length, and is the longest river in Africa and in the world, of which only 22% of the Nile's course runs through Egypt. While Egyptian civilizations may be the more known, and because of racism, disputed as being African in origin, the facts substantiate that the early culture of Egypt came down the Nile and not up the Nile. Prof Ivan Van Sertima was one of many scholars who made every effort to share this fact and he speaks to this in the video below:

It is documented that there are more pyramids to be found in the territories of modern day Sudan among the Nubians than there are in all of Egypt, and it is also documented that the massive stone monoliths that ancient Egyptians would have called tekhen or tekhenu, that we now call obelisks, that have become so familiar in cities across the world, were first to be found among the people further up the Nile (Nubia, Eritrea and modern day northern Ethiopia). 

Nile Valley Obelisks

Unlike the current demographic of 21st century Cairo, there is hardly any room for an honest dispute that the people further up the Nile and over into the nation of modern day Sudan are connected by culture to the people and cultures in other parts of the African continent.  It remains unfortunate that the word about the accomplishments of these peoples in history does not quite make it on to become common knowledge. My purpose in recalling these facts is to illustrate that Africans are not new to the concept of civilization.  For a comprehensive overview of this history I think the UNESCO General History of Africa gives a good survey of Africa’s history throughout the centuries.

The Common Era (CE)
In the period of the Common Era (CE) there also existed many African civilizations and empires across the continent, from the commonly called Moors in the north, Aksum in the east, to the Akan in the west, and the Zulus in the south.  This short post naming 7 Influential African Empires gives a quick summary of a few of these kingdoms.

African Empires Before 1884

The arrival of the slave traders and colonists interrupted African history, and we are better off dealing with our current context if we understand their arrival as such. At the 1884-85 Berlin Conference, that was a meeting between European nations to create rules on how to peacefully divide Africa among them for colonization, the European nations executed the division of Africa among themselves - with no Africans present. The result in effect is the division of Africa as we have today.
Africa Before and After Partition

By 1957, led by Ghana a new independence movement began with more African nations, using the same borders established by the Europeans as their borders for their newly independent states. By 1980 a majority of African nations had become independent of Europe, at least in form, if not in substance.  Using this broad sweep therefore, one could argue that the continent effectively endured direct European rule from 1885-1980, a period of 95 years.  I don’t want to be held hard to this estimate, but it serves my larger point, and the contention of this post, that, for peoples who have had at the very least 4,000 years of history (3,000 BCE + 2,000 CE) in some form or fashion, how can we rationally fix our identities around a period of 95 years of European colonization? For how much longer can this be justified? I do not believe that this can reasonably stand to scrutiny as we move forward.

Literal Translation of Country Names

Africa's Next 1,000 Years
Therefore, it is in the context of this background that I support positions that seek to peacefully rid the African continent of these very arbitrary and artificial borders imposed by the colonizers.  Like Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah and HIM Emperor Haile Selassie, I also support positions that encourage the formation unions among the African peoples who currently inhabit the space, and who are often family and tribesmen and women across borders.  Julius Malema makes some very good points in the video below when he speaks of African unity with a borderless continent that facilitates business and trade, with a single currency, and a united leadership:

I support the pan-African vision. I support intra-continental trade and most importantly, I support a policy that seeks to have some of the more widely spoken African languages become the common language across the African continent. If you believe it is possible then it can be done.  There ought to be a policy to contain the use of European languages to limited spheres and give the African languages primacy when conducting the business of Africa in the African continent, if only because at its most basic it is a justifiable human right to celebrate one's culture and heritage.

If we are to make these hopes and visions realties for the next 1,000 years then we need to act boldly and decisively to bring these into being.  The good thing is that the change we seek is still within reach. 

Useful African Statistics

To make this change, I challenge each African that for each negative story he or she posts about Africa, they should google and find at least two positive stories to repost on their timeline. Even after natural disasters Africans have always picked themselves up and moved on with their lives. The narrative of the hapless natives is played out. This is not a story we need to keep repeating, and we certainly don’t need to keep sharing them, because we are more than suffering.  There are many positive stories and we are better off helping our people by share those.

Selmata, March 2019
Africa Moves Closer to Becoming a Free Trade Zone
 - Source: Selamta Magazine (Mar/Apr 2019)

The story of Africa for the next 1,000 years is for us ordinary Africans to write. I will end this post with this 5-minute video clip that was a part of the Great African Leadership Series by Prof P.L.O. Lumumba who speaks to how we can make the immediate vision of the United States of Africa real.

Walk good.