To a certain extent, in the first installment of this series, we touched on various subjects, including such sensitive ideas as skin bleaching, cultural amnesia, politics of language in preserving cultural memory, internalization of inferiority complex, cultural appropriation, and, more generally, sociology of knowledge. Principally, though, we broached some of these topics in the generalized context of white standards of beauty, in other words, as part of the social framework of cultural critique that has become normative aesthetics in the African world. What is more, anorexia and bulimia are two other key Western cultural imports, invisible and invisible, which are greatly impacting, if negatively, the architectonics of female anatomy. We do also know how modernized diet narrows the hips of growing females and makes childbirth an obstetric nightmare. ? ? ? ?
Why should a public figure, Apostle Kojo Safo, founding evangelist-entrepreneur of Kristo Asafo (Christ Reformed Church), come across as Michael Jackson, 50 Cents, and Rev. Al Sharpton, in one complete package, bearing the conked hair of Al Sharpton, the blanched skin of Michael Jackson, and the chains of 50 Cents? What are our music and movie industries doing to reverse these stiflingly negative trends? What has become of the directorial and production adroitness of Spike Lee, Kwaw Ansah, Ousmane Sembene, Manthia Diawara, Haile Gerima, Molefi Kete Asante, Jr., and Safi Faye in the global African community? Anyway, let?s briefly shift the focus of our discourse to another equally important matter: Mr. Barack Obama?s epochal election to the executive office may not have signaled the advent of post-racial America yet, as Tim Wise forcefully argues in ?Colorblind? and ?Between Barack and a Hard Place,? nevertheless, the knowledge of Mr. Barack Obama?s as part African, specifically, a Luo, alone, may eliminate, by all odds, his being considered a hopeful presidential material in Kenya.
That?s how far America has come after the emotionally-long journey of slavery and of the Doll Experiments, the latter to which we devoted some considerable analytic and explanatory space in the prequel. Therefore, in general, Kenya and Africa should learn from the American precedent, because our invoked exemplars on political equalitarianism and social justice, both of which we have explored elsewhere, directly work into the political economy of national development. That said, let?s set our digression aside and quickly proceed to matters of topical relevancy as well as of contextual immediacy: What makes it so easy for the African-born child in America to reject his culture timorously while the American child accepts his or hers courageously? For instance, why does ?Michael Kofi Tenkorang? refuse to answer to ?Kofi? in the presence of his American friends, preferring to be called ?Michael? instead? Otherwise, why does he dutifully answer to ?Kofi? in his friends? absence? Could cultural disorientation or shock be the explanation??
Barring any comprehensive response of a satisfactory nature, let?s proceed to look at the questions another way: What has the biracial presidency of Mr. Obama, for instance, got to do with Afrocentric psychosocialization, health of African psychology, reinforcement or elevation of confidence in the African soul, or cultural conscientization of the youth? Actually, we invoke these examples to illustrate how a triangle of relationship, defined by three apical variables, the impressionable minds of children, of culture, and of ethnicity/race, that?s, multiculturalism, should function within the analytic locale of theoretical constraints. This is not only a pragmatic recourse, but a developmentally-appropriate query, an essential fact, as well. So, now, failing inclusion of additional sociocultural variables, for reasons of analytic simplicity, we may necessarily have to agree, going by the standards of our earlier arguments, that unfamiliar cultural and linguistic conventions may induce a potentialization of investigational disinterest as far as a Child?s growing curiosity of a certain subject, mathematics or science, say, is concerned.
Consequently, in the best interest of national and personal development, what do we do, as a nation, in terms of bettering the mind of the African child through Afrocentric pedagogization? Elsewhere, we have alluded to some social variables, namely political elitism, leadership crisis, intellectual inertia, and political incompetence (corruption), as four notable retrogressive spokes embedded in the wheel of national development. Again, in a way, we believe, as elsewhere, that these four constitutive parameters sever the umbilical fluidity shared between the ?head? of society, leadership, and the ?moral conscience of society,? the people. In other words, we are quick to dismiss the political economy of grassroots participation in the social equation of national development. It is no news that this kind of arrogance and of elitist intellectualism is typical of a segment of our intelligentsia. In fact, no nation has had lasting success with development without populist, if active, involution of its citizens.
Structural functionalism holds that every human being is important in the social matrix of national development. A criminal, for instance, has a positive role, direct or indirect, to play in society. That is to say, debriefing a criminal, say, may yield useful information for combating crime in society. Alternatively, a law-abiding citizen may serve as a positive model for the criminal in society. In fact, the theorizing of Ama Mazama, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, Maulana Karenga, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, and Molefi Kete Asante, to name but seven, on the affirmative allocation of grassroots conscientization in a labyrinth of national forwardism cannot replace political convenience and ethnic trivialities, granted that grassroots conscientization, a political exchange rate, is itself manifestly power?economic, political, and social?and respect.
The activist politics of the Dalai Lama, Gabriel Prosser, Gustavo Gutierrez, Sojourner Truth, Cesar Chavez, Paul Bogle, Javier Sicilia, Harriet Tubman, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jeremiah Wright, Camilo Torres Restrepo, Dedan Kimathi, Toussaint L?Ouverture, Denmark Vessey, Walter Sisulu, Malcolm X, Nat Turner, and Julius Malema underscores our point. Obviously, these analytic trajectories should naturally lead us to the social relevance of Afrocentric theory in pedagogy. Lest we be misunderstood, Afrocentricity does not necessarily connote a rejection of the non-African world, as its ill-informed detractors are wont to imply. Fundamentally, it means centering or rooting African Personality in the fertile soil of African historical, spiritual, material, and cultural consciousness. This is not Senghorian Negritude, however. Afrocentricity is a theory firmly grounded in scientific objectivity. Among other useful observations, cultural critics note that contradictions in African societies are typical of non-African societies, too. Dambisa Moyo?s ?How the West Lost,? Amartye Sen?s? ?Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions,? and Yasheng Huang?s ?The China Growth Fantasy? instantiates this view.
Moreover, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley have demonstrated how poverty constitutes a major problem for the American republic (See ?The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto?). That aside, superstitious systems like witchcraft are not exclusively African, either. ?One of the most serious problems in the late-sixthteen-century country-side was the increase in witch-hunting, which was largely a phenomenon of the villages and small towns, not the cities?and most of the victims were from the lower classes, but most lower-class people were quick to cooperate with the judges and denounce others as witches,? Prof. Frederic J. Baumgartner writes in ?France in the Sixteenth Century,? p.269, adding: ?The extensive use of torture in witch trials intensified the witch craze by producing long lists of alleged accomplices, but there were other powerful elements as well. One was the bitter religious strife, in which each side denounced the other as doing the work of the devil.?
That quote usefully exemplifies Ghana?s ?Witch Camps? and degree of spiritual randomness by which women are disproportionately labeled witches. Among other reasons, Prof. Baumgartner cites ?the deep economic crises of the period? as one of the primary factors contributing to witch-hunting. He writes: ?Marginal members of society?were far more likely to be accused. The usual victim of the witch-hunt was an old woman who was a poor, widowed beggar. Probably without family and lacking protectors, the poor widow had to resort to begging, but that had its risks in an era when few had enough for survival themselves.? Isn?t this provocatively interesting in the Ghanaian context? Further, the following quote represents the emotional habitualness which accompanied the enterprise of witch-hinging: ?Should any harm come to the family in the days after they refuse alms to a beggar, perhaps with curses from her, the family would blame the beggar and accuse her of being a witch,? Prof. Baumgartner adds.
Interestingly, this may explain why Dr. Vijay Lal, a UCLA and University of New Delhi professor, believes the West, quite provocatively, attempts to define the relative modernity of non-Western societies by the standards of Western pre-modernity, such as the illiberal society of France which Prof. Baumgartner so painstakingly delineates. But Western pre-modernity is still integral to the cultural psychology of Western modernity, the ?collective conscious? of ?mile Durkheim, sort of, though technically it is couched in profaned linguistic garments of ectopic connotations. A good example is the Manhattan-based The Church of Satan, which, though, dabbles in LaVeyan Satanism, is conveniently classified an atheistic philosophical organization. It?s Bible, ?The Satanic Bible,? so-called, has come under attack from sections of the American public. Yet we are persistently told its philosophical practices and belief system do not entail the worship of Satan. The Council of American Witches is another such controversial organization. Finally, Gerald Gardner?s Wicca, a Neo-paganistic duotheistic religious body whose systems of beliefs and practices are based on cultural adherence to ?witchcraft,? where the word ?wicca? originates from ?wicce,? meaning ?wizard? or ?witch? in Old English, is worth mentioning.
This is not as if we are toying with the creatively-entertaining fantasies of J.K. Rowling?s serial ?Harry Potter.? Neither are we dealing with Zora Neale Hurston?s ?The Three Witches,? which, more or less, assumes the same phenomenological plane of stultifying dread as the ?witch? or ?wizard? on AB Crentsil?s danceable track ?Any?n? or ?Ofie Nipa? on Obuoba JA Adofo?s beautiful tune ?Ofie Nipa See Woa,? both of which seriously deal with ?witchcraft? in spiritual or metaphysical sense, nor are we dealing with the formidable Haitian (African American) Marie Laveau, whose grave is believed to be the second most frequented site after Elvis Presley?s, this, according to Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The story of the three witches in Shakespeare?s ?Macbeth? and those in Middleton?s ?The Witch? are closely familiar. The Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte of Haitian Vodoo and Nang Tani, a female spirit in Thai folklore, belong in a class of their own. All three express different attitudes of generous ontology toward the living for the most part. However, there is no precise phenomenological definition of ?witchcraft? as it swings haphazardly between philosophical questions of cultural fluidity and of existential mercuriality depending on time, place, behavioral geography, and cultural ecology, among others.
Yet, it, too, that is, the Council of American Witches, says it does not worship Satan or the devil. What, then, do witchcraft and Satanism mean or have in common? Generally, why should America perceive the Church of Satan as Mr. Heathcliff, the monstrous protagonist of Emile Bront??s class ?Wuthering Heights?? What is so wuthering about the Church of Satan? Yet, the doctrinal and theological shenanigans of the David Koreshes, Jim Joneses, and Sun Myung Moons are well known. Once again, their provocative ideas on eschatology and millennialism, for example, may be as dangerous to society as most of the groundless accusations we level against the female sex in our own African context. Magic is another controversial area. Many of us probably grew up perceiving magic as a structural process raised on a psycho-visual system of foundational supernaturalism. We now know magic is basically a conflation of science (physics), mathematics, psychology, public speaking (the art of communication), special effects, etc. It?s probably why magic is properly referred to as illusionism these days and a magician an illusionist.
More fundamentally, the West views ?witchcraft? as a form of magic, an argument we advanced in the first installment. Unfortunately, pervasively entrenched belief in ?witchcraft? in designated locales of Ghana (Africa) contributes to ?underdevelopment,? because individuals with disposable financial and logistic resources are scared to invest them in such areas. Even the excessive promotion of science over spirituality as an exclusive creative response to either the challenges of modernity or the mercuriality of nature is materially questionable and intellectually misplaced. Science is not an end in itself; it?s merely a means. In other words, science can be ?god? but not ?God?; science can be ?Okonkwo? but not ?Things Fall Apart.? To be more precise, science does not have all the answers to life?s manifold complexities. For instance, the complex nature of oncology, a point we have already mentioned in the prequel, has driven a section of American medical science to the therapeutic exigencies of holistic medicine, in which evaluative considerations of the spiritual constitution of a patient competes with his or her mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Namely, spirituality shares curative space with scientific rationalism in a section of modernized medical science. Consequently, in this context, Leopold Senghor?s ?Emotion is African what reason is Greek? vanishes into thin air!
Furthermore, science does not fully capture the supernatural complexities of near-death experiences, extra-sensory perception, and the like. In fact, parapsychologists have no clue where exactly to start defining the medicalized locationality of these phenomena. Pointedly, the limitations of science is partly one major reason we have brilliant and accomplished scientists as theistic evolutionists, men and women, who, unlike atheistic evolutionists, believe a supernatural being created the universe and set it in motion, uninterrupted, as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, for all intents and purposes, argued. Indeed, the tree we call ?science? itself is partially rooted in the silt of unproven conjectures, cult of rationality (reason), hellenologophobia, superstition, cult of personality, and political lies.? A good example is what Prof. Chandra Kant Raju has to say about political deployment of ?hypothesis? in Western science: ?Why do people continue to believe a story contrary to all facts?? he asks, answering: ?Because people resist change. How? They accumulate hypothesis to ?save the story.? It?s a ?theorem? of the philosophy of science that any story, however fantastic and contrary to fact, can be saved for any length of time by accumulating sufficiently many hypotheses.?
Other times the seemingly internal contradictions we observe in and between societies is purely a political question of semantics. For example, Africa?s ?bribery? is America?s ?lobbying?; ?witchcraft? in Africa is more or less extra-sensory perception or parapsychology in the West; ?corruption? in Africa is ?financial irregularity? in the West; ?unbalanced diet? in Africa is ?junk food? in America; Africa?s ?ghettoes? are America?s ?inner cities,? and so forth. In effect, these topical ideas on ?witchcraft? and ?science? as well as the afore-cited comparative questions are systems of thought which our students should know. That we have our challenges does not necessarily make Africa the worst of continental societies. Indeed, every nation-state on the planet, rich or poor, exhibits dichotomous internality of ?developed? and ?underdeveloped? economies. Africa?s are no exception! As a result, let?s begin to raise our children responsibly to love African societies by teaching them how to make them better. On the other hand, we do acknowledge the fact that billboards of Albert Einstein and Karl Marx are advertorial fixtures in the Chinese popular imagination.
Yet, Confucius is the ultimate subterranean definer of Chinese cultural, political, and psychosocial normatives, as is evidently the case to those interested in Sinology. Imperial examinations conducted during the Sui and Tang Dynasties to select public officials in ancient China?s is probably well known. Thus, we argue that the political economy of Chinese capitalism and socialism, for instance, are merely critical Confucian reinterpretation of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, respectively, within the Chinese experimental environment. This is exactly what African culture should also be doing, not indiscriminate deglutition of Western ideas. Similarly, ancient Korea, Japan, and Vietnam had parallel systems of public examinations in place prior to the advent of modernity. However, Prof. Windbush Raymond, an Afrocentric psychologist, has shown how members of the Poro Society, of Liberia and Sierra Leon, effectively raise psychologically strong, culturally centered, and socially responsible African males via a system of vigorous pedagogy based on nativist culture (See ?The Warrior Method?).
Yet war, greed, resource curse, and capitalism would nearly tear the smallest unit of these two societies, the family, into senseless smithereens of mutual antagonism. That having being said, secret parallel societies, the Yassi and Sande (or Bubdu), exist exclusively for women. Over all, issues of morality, sense of community, women participatory interests in politics, respect, personal hygiene, and appropriate sexual behavior are a few of the topics taught to these boys and girls. Of course, pedagogical transmission of these topical modules are age-specific! We invoke these exemplars and other creative ones to show the West did not entirely make the world of modernity. Technically, modernity is a product of creative collaboration, conscious and unconscious, between non-consanguineous societies. In other words, every non-Western culture had possessed its own internal evolutionary ingredients, namely transformative potential, for modernization even before the advent of Western imperialism, colonialism, and Eurocentrism.
On the other hand, according to Prof. Josef Ben-Jochannan, in ancient Black Egypt, for instance, Egyptian scholar-priests entered universities and graduated after forty-two-years of active studies, somewhat similar to Asian imperial examinations. As a matter of fact, this explains why Egyptian civilization was able to produce some of the greatest historical personalities such as Imhotep and Moses, the latter being an Egyptian priest. Sigmund Freud, a Jew and the father of psychoanalysis, saw monotheism and Moses as autochthonously Egyptian. Well, we do also know that, according to one school of thought, the longest-running civilization is China?s. But isn?t it alternatively true that ancient Black Egypt probably created the greatest civilization in human history? As well, advanced civilizations as those of the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs, in the Western Hemisphere, were equally great and powerful, so were the great civilizations of ancient Ghana, Songhai, Mali, etc. Literacy was not strange to those societies though it appeared in limited form. But how did these largely non-Western societies create these great civilizations without intellectual and cultural input from the West?
Conversely, is it not also equally true that modern Western civilization is, in and of itself, if not arguably, an extension of non-Western civilizations, particularly those of ancient Africa, specifically ancient Egypt? Moreover, the ?civilizing mission? excuse invoked by Europe as moral justification for its virtual enslavement and colonization of the world has not withstood the test of time and axiology of commonsense. In principle, the incapacitating brutality of European colonization in the America?s does probably minimize the comparative scale of brutality, of human sacrifice, that is, which the Mayans are believed to have practiced, a historicity Mel Gibson?s tried to substantiate via his movie ?Apocalypto.? In reality, human sacrifice has never been restricted exclusively to Africa, Asia, or pre-Columbian America. Europe has had its own fair share of human sacrifices.
Affirmatively, Father Bartolome de las Cases? ?History of the Indies? and ?A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies? contradict the post-modernist gloss conveniently put on colonial America as far as the calculated extermination of Native Americans are concerned. This was why the late Hugo Chavez, in 2003, asked Latin America not to commemorate Columbus Day. Finally, Max. I. Dimont, a Jew, has demonstrated through his popular work, ?Jews, God and History,? how God used the offering of Isaac by Abraham to end human sacrifice which Jews used to practice in ancient times by asking him to use a ram instead of Isaac. ?Therefore, given these hard facts, why does Europe continue to claim its colonization of the America?s was justified because, among other reasons, it completely eliminated brutalities such as the human sacrifices practiced by the Mayans? We also know what European colonization did to Australian Aborigines.
What happened in Central Africa, the Congo, at the hand of King Leopold ll, as Adams Hochschild?s ?King Leopold?s Ghost? tells us, or, better yet, as Mark Mazower?s ?Dark Continent: Europe?s Twentieth Century? reveals to us about the debilitating negatives of certain aspects of Western civilization? Indeed, George Orwell?s ?Burmese Days,? one of the finest, most powerful novelistic accounts of Western imperialism and colonialism, in our opinion, and one of his influential essays, ?Shooting An Elephant,? together, constitute realistic post-colonial literary appendages to the afore-cited, Orwell?s, Mazower?s, and Hochschild?s. Unfortunately, many of the current negative happenings in Africa are direct throwbacks to the advent of colonialism and imperialism on the shores of Africa. This is not to be necessarily construed as dabbling in philosophical romanticism or intellectual idleness, however. It?s merely to say the facts are rooted in colonial history. More interestingly, neo-colonial distortions exemplified by Gabriel Garcia Marquez?s ?One Hundred Years of Solitude,? the poetic tour de force of Derek Walcott?s ?Omeros,? and the poetic protest of Dennis Brutus? ?Poetry and Protest,? represent creative systems of critique, in fact of ancient and modern societies.
Further, the Ethiopian ?Kebra Nagast,? Herman Hesse?s ?Siddhartha,? D.T. Niane?s ?Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali,? Mazisi Kunene?s ?Emperor Shaka the Great: A Zulu Epic? and ?Anthem of the Decades: A Zulu Epic,? and Okomfo Anokye?s life are emblematic of the transformative power of spiritual psychology. That is, the triumph of human psychospiritual weakness over powerful countervailing forces in and political vicissitudes of society. Importantly, these great historical leaders, already mentioned above, are worthy of emulation by the youth. Put another way, our educational institutions, therefore, need to explore spirituality, given that it has a role to play in society. This is unavoidable. But, what exactly must have driven Kwegyir Aggrey, a renowned educator, to question Africa?s uncritical imitation of whiteness? Let?s put this question aside and move to something else. Prof. Chandra Kant Raju?s ?Ending Academic Imperialism: A Beginning? is a must-read for educators. He writes: ?Academic imperialism begins with Western education, which has not been seriously challenged in the hard sciences. Colonialism changed the system of education to stabilize Western rule through indoctrination.? This measured indictment is both Asantean and Diopian in analytic scope.
Prof. Raju continues: ?The change was possible just because a large section of the colonized elite had already swallowed the 18th-Century racist history, that only the West had innovated science. That bad history was bolstered by a bad philosophy of science, both fundamentally warped by the religious fanaticism which overwhelmed Europe from the Crusades in the 11th century until the 17th century.? In fact, Ama Mazama?s edited volume, ?Essays In Honor of an Intellectual Warrior: Molefi Kete Asante,? a biographic anthology honoring Asante?s transformatively radical approach to intellection and prolific scholarship, directly speaks to the near-success of Afrocentric theory in stripping scholarship and learning, in general, of its trinketry of Eurocentric mythologies. Let?s note that the embryonic strength of a fruit does not necessarily lie in how good taste buds and brain interpret sensory messengers, rather it?s its seeds, because, as we all are probably aware, a seed potentially defines a fruit as well as gives birth to it, the fruit.
?In that case, a fruit potentially ceases to exist if the embryonic life of its seeds is essentially snuffed out. Symbolically, the aura of Eurocentrism, ?the fruit,? manifested through the institutions of slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and neocolonialism, has apparently eclipsed the erstwhile ?pristine? cultural spiritology of African personality, ?the seed.? Therefore, Asante, Diop, Mazama, Morrison, Awoonor, Karenga, Nkrumah, Obenga, Thiong?o, Armah, etc., have asked us to retrieve ?the seed,? a formidable task, which, we believe, is possible if not carried out via Afrocentric consciousness then via Afrocentric Pan-Africanism. Kwame Nkrumah achieved a lot for the African world through Afrocentric Pan-Africanism. However, Africanism is not nearly as theoretically potent an investigative tool as Afrocentric theory in effectively carrying out our restorative project. Toni Morrison talks to us through ?Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination.?
Finally, Prof. V.Y. Mudimbe?s ?The Invention of Africa? is a typical instance of methodological Africanism, another misleading phraseology for Eurocentric Africanism. Then again, Fyodor Dostoyevsky?s novelistic corpus, of which ?Crime and Punishment? is probably his best-known, exposes the internal contradictions inherent in personal-decision making and how they reflect on the whole of society, directly and indirectly. Critical interpretation of these creative works reveals what societies and human psychology have in common. Therefore, we will do well if we begin to prod our students to study them (and several others), for intellectual cosmopolitanism, in other words, what we shall call multiculturalism, is required in Africa, too! Let?s teach our children that beauty or aesthetics is not only of biology, but also of mathematics and science, as Bertrand Russell, a philosopher and mathematician, and Richard Feynman, a Nobel laureate physicist, said of mathematical science! Also, the history, culture, and language of the Akan is not more important than that those of Dagombas, Igbos, Ewes, Zulus, Gas, say. Oneness and inclusiveness are what, especially the African world, need.
We shall return?