The term African centred will never be very far away from any discussion about Pattigift or any discussion we have both internally and with the wider world. This post is not meant to be a deep discussion on the concept but more about opening a window to those of the African family interested in exploring the subject. I should point out that this is a voyage of discovery fore us as well. We too are part of the great disconnect from our source.
Where we differ from many of our brothers and sisters is that we are actively seeking to reconnect. We wish to stand on the ground of the last twenty thousand years of recorded history; not be defined by the last five hundred years.
This is our small beginning in a discussion we hope becomes wider and deeper about what it means to be African and what is an appropriate African centred response to any of life’s challenges
An interesting place to start would be why we consider the concept of African centredness as important in this day and age.
Lets set the scene, the historian John Henrik Clarke said that in the ‘15th and 16th century Europeans not only colonized much of the world, they colonized information about the world. They developed monopoly control over concepts and images. The hallmark of their colonization in this regard was the colonization of the image of God.
Europe became the centre of civilization and other people’s opinions worldview, images and concepts became marginalised. They came to be considered primitive. The concept of race prior to this time was unknown, people did not see themselves as belonging to a particular race. This is a European invention. However before the ‘I’m not an African I’m a human being” chorus start up; let us not forget that although this was an invention, its impact has been most definitely real.
They have spent the last 500 hundred years explaining us as without culture, having not made any significant contribution to human history. As a people worthy of subjugation and that ‘progress’ has been down to them
And they now have many of us believing it.
The legacy of that world domination for persons of African heritage is that many of us cannot conceive of a reality other than a European one. Most of us in this country only speak a European language and if we learn another it’s most likely not an African language. The majority of African and Caribbean nations govern themselves in a non-African language and our leaders wear Non African clothes. We have taken on non-African political and religious systems. Virtually all of our centres of religion are in other peoples lands. Even the religious texts that we follow are in the original languages of non-Africans.
We gave our children and ourselves names that have nothing to do with Africa.
So although we say that we are free from enslavement and colonization; on the surface physical symbols of incarceration, the psychological incarceration continues. Our ways of being, doing, seeing, feeling and knowing were degraded, considered useless and replaced by someone’ else’s.
But as we tell our children there are always two sides to every story to consider (wonder why we don’t practice that?).
African centred where do I begin. Firstly by making clear what we believe it is not. Africa is a continent not a country. It is made up of thousands of ethnic groups each with a distinct outlook on life. Although many scholars argue there are many similarities between African groups just different ways of expressing the same beliefs.
Secondly African centred does not mean that we are anti anybody; it means that we are pro African. In any non African culture particularly European, if one’s is pro something you must be against something else. Being African centred is not ‘better than’ it is ‘different to’; we hope you are able to make the distinction.
Being African centred is to seek to look at life’s challenges from an African perspective, just as a European or Asian person would do from theirs.
That is easier said than done; we are having to work in a manner that has ben denied us for over 500 hundred years whilst at the same time being mindful that many of our ways of thinking are someone else’s.
To quote Ama Mazama “the challenge is monumental: our liberation, Afrocentricity contends, rests upon our ability to systematically displace European ways of thinking, being, feeling, etc., and consciously replace them with ways that are germane to our own African cultural experience;
I’m sure there are people out there who will say why bother; yes it was terrible times, but that was then. That’s just how the way the world is now.
My simple response is why not; why should someone else decide that what Africans bring to the world is not worth the bother. We have a recorded history going back thousands of years so I think its more than likely that we took some time out from singing and dancing to ponder some of life’s challenges. Most of us don’t know what our responses to those challenges were because other people decided that it went against their thinking and we should also be separated from them.
But what if we had some very insightful things to say about issues that are still relevant today. For example how do man and women relate to each in a way that is mutually beneficial? How do we prepare children for life’s challenges? How do we cope with challenges life brings in a way that doesn’t harm ourselves or other people? Wouldn’t you want to know some of these things, bearing in mind that the supposedly ‘greatest civilization ever’ appears to not have any workable answers.
Well we did do some thinking in between the singing and dancing.
As we go along we will share with you what we have to come to learn and continue to learn (we do after all have a lot of catching up to do); and that African centredness will not seem so strange but will allow you to tap into an abundance of knowledge.
Hetepu (peace and many blessings)