By Abimbola Lagunju
It is an unfortunate fact of our existence as Blacks that African contribution to human history has been and is being actively negated by the drivers of current civilization. Eurocentrism that neatly carved out every other race from any contribution to human development has had to grudgingly accept the role of Asians and Arabs in the development of human history. This reluctant acceptance stems not only from scholar and historical evidence, but from the current development level of these States. But not so for Africans. The adoption of the languages of colonialists as official languages of African States, the espousal of their religions, the embrace of the political and economic models have further convinced Eurocentrists that Africans had nothing to be proud of before they set their feet on our soil. Even when confronted with contrary evidence as was provided by Cheick Anta Diop, these Eurocentrists backed by their governments go to extreme lengths of historical distortion and manipulation to not only deny any African role in human development but also to demonize the purveyor of such ideas.
Georges Curvier, a French biologist, once wrote, “The African manifestly approaches the monkey tribe. The hordes of which this variety is composed have always remained in a complete state of barbarism…”. America’s Thomas Jefferson also shared this position and said, “…I advance it therefore as a suspicion only that the blacks whether originally a distinct race or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments of the mind and body…” Georg Wilhem Hegel in his Philosophy of History, said this of Black Africans: “….their condition is capable of no development of culture, and as we see them at this day, such they have always been…” The Vatican, through Pope Julius II after having declared at the beginning of 16th century (1512) that Indians in South America could be considered the sons and daughters of Adam and thus could not be enslaved, but that Black Africans could be enslaved as they were not of Adam and Eve, recanted in 18th century by advancing the doctrine that indeed, Africans could also be considered as children of Adam and Eve, but that they were the accursed sons of Ham (Genesis 9: 18-27). Africans came and continue to be viewed as objects of history. Any role of Black Africans as agents of history is either actively negated (and backed by “research”) or given a Eurocentric twist when physical facts make induced amnesia impossible.
Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president put the Eurocentric cards on the table for the Africans to see when he declared on 26th July 2007, in a speech in Dakar, Senegal that “The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history. The African peasant, who for thousands of years has lived according to the seasons, whose life ideal was to be in harmony with nature, only knew the eternal renewal of time, rhythmed by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words. In this imaginary world where everything starts over and over again there is no place for human adventure or for the idea of progress. This man (the traditional African) never launched himself towards the future. The idea never came to him to get out of this repetition and to invent his own destiny. … Africa’s challenge is to enter to a greater extent into history. Africa…is to realise that the golden age that Africa is forever recalling will not return because it has never existed.”
But we, Africans know that we have always contributed to human history. We have been contributing since Man came out of the Rift Valley. We know that as each day passes, we contribute as individuals and as groups to human development. We contribute through their language and culture to human development. More importantly and unknown to them is our contribution to all aspects of human endeavor through our language, arts, culture and knowledge.
Eurocentrists have always claimed that our history is oral that has no value as human memory fails over centuries, but we know that in addition to oral we have monuments (the pyramids), we have written evidence, (the hieroglyphs), and we gave the world the concept of monotheism years before Moses (Akhenaten, whose life resembles ours – “after his death, his monuments were dismantled and hidden, his statues were destroyed, and his name excluded from the king lists”).
Like other civilizations before it, this current civilization will also elcipse out either as a natural phenomenon beyond human knowledge or more likely as a result of destruction of the planet by humans. Whichever way it happens, we will be history someday.
Yesterday, I read a very interesting story about Martin Kunze, an Austrian, who has developed a unique way of storing knowledge for the future on ceramic tiles in the oldest salt-mine in the world. The initiative is called “Memory of Mankind” (MOM), and it accepts texts, music, cultural events, personal stories, books, blogs for storage. It is a storage designed to transmit who and what we are now to those who will come behind us (here on this planet if it exists or from outer space).
Africans must be present in the future; so I am appealing to all my readers who write, sing, produce any form of art or science to take this opportunity and store your materials for the future. I do not know Martin, but I am really fascinated by his idea. You can read more about MOM on www.memory-of-mankind.com
I want my books, this article you are reading now, as well as my entire blog to be read by the creatures of the future 500, 000 years from now.