A lost sense of identity

A lost sense of identity

Centre stage – Africa wants to be everything else but never its true self; Africa has imbibed all the strange habits and cultures from regions of the world it will never equal, or ever be like: for Africa was never meant to be equal to anyone else of these lands but can only ever gain meaningful progress if Africa looks for the source of power within itself. That there are discussions on global issues where Africa is only an honorary actor with a cameo role means that it was from the onset never about Africa.

The issue is only how Africa’s status as the natural and human resource centre can be extended. The discussions where Africa is involved are only there to serve as platforms for Africa to reveal the secrets to the maps where the vast reserves of knowledge and natural resources can be accessed.
This is one of the reasons why Africa’s children are never and have never been taught in a tongue (or tongues) that are primitive to them.

What has been real since pre-colonial times is that the stranger comes to the shore of the African land with the intention to impose not only their culture but also the norms and the customs, the habits and the tendencies, the books of knowledge and the language.

It does not matter how the African wrote before the advent of the old or the new colonist, all the new one ever comes to do is to ‘teach’ the African how to live and to understand the continent the African was born in. It is simple to understand this strange equation the past ten or more generations of Africans people have had to deal with, where the landlord is told by the tenant how to live and to run the errands related to their yard.

It is only Ethiopia out of the many African states that has more than less kept their knowledge base intact, by sticking to their script and largely using their mother tongue in almost every speech episode.

This has helped because it means that every new thing encountered is reduced to the language of the common people and is thus easy to translate and to interpret into knowledge that can be used for the benefit of the people.
In strange pseudo-English twang the children of the continent are taught to ‘ascend’ to the standards set by other parts of the world where traditional African mores and moral issues are not even understood.

The African has stood by as their culture, customs and lores were lost with the advent of the new ways of the marauding wanderer looking for something new and exotic. He and she (the African) stood by as their mores and their totems were reduced to the lowly status of being mere trinkets to adorn museum exhibitions and with a glass of some strange brew in a flute, the African speaks with the tongue of their coloniser as an expert on the very items that were stolen from their lands.

It is a strange affair this one, where one gets to be told by some academic how they should pronounce the words of their mother tongue, and how to articulate them in ink on paper to render them meaningful to the coloniser.

We must be the only continent in the world where our names are mispronounced without any form of retort. What instead happens is that many of us end up pronouncing indigenous names with a foreign accent, and I wonder: how long shall we go on playing the parrot and the parakeet to some strange masters? Shall each generation of Africans that comes along be subject to the desecration of their identity by forces that are in essence not even African?

Who forgets the true tongue of their land should never hope to gain the true understanding of the world. Who lets a stranger build walls on their land should be ready to at some point lose their land to the very stranger behind the walls. The fact of the matter is simple; no one is allowed to impose their norms on what is rightly not their place of normal habit.
What we should rather have is a mutual understanding of who stands where, where all of this mess hampering Africa’s true progress began, and how we shall come to see its end. It is of no benefit taking in new norms like a whore taking different members with each passing day for a pittance.

It has become a norm that we elect a beggar class into office, and honestly speaking, no African leader of state is exempt from this loathsome habit: all of them go cap in hand to beg everywhere they go.
Forget the audacity they have to go to the begging party flying first class, the reality is that the average African leader seems unwilling to find solutions to local problems from the population within. He or she would rather go begging for ‘aid’ than to establish some ‘self-help’ scheme to put food on the table and some income into the fiscus.
The moping sessions and pity-parties posing as conferences actually gain the African nothing but obesity, imbibing the free booze and refreshments, binging on four-course tea breaks and eight-course lunches and dinners in expensive hotels.

Forgetting to use their hand and poking at grains of rice with forks, the new African with a strange sense of etiquette is actually the product of what has been going on over the past few millennia following the fall of large empires such as ancient Egypt and other kingdoms that used to dot the African continent’s landscape.
Those kingdoms were great, and there were no beggars, for people never had to beg but could actually work for their daily bread. The false Eurocentric definitions of who built the pyramids actually define the craftsmen that hewed the huge blocks of sandstone from the quarries as slaves.
This is not true, the truth is that those men belonged to a clan of master-masons that were unequalled when it came to the craft and were therefore actually defined and honoured as a venerable class by the pharaohs.

The problem with gaining this type of knowledge is that the continent is cursed with the reality of a colonised teacher passing their colonised beliefs onto the next generation. Those who do not question what they heard in class actually end up even more ignorant, passing on their ignorance onto the next generation.
What Africa in fact needs to progress is an army of knowledgeable teachers, well-read leaders, and self-understanding citizens that never refrain from rising up against the injustice of eroded identities.

We cannot hope to progress if we carry on in the manner where the outside influences the inside: there is a reason why there is a difference between what is outside and what is inside, as much as there is a reason why there is a clear line of demarcation between dusk and dawn; the night and the day.
One of the best teachers I have come across is Cheik Antah Diop whose paper was mulled over by scholars and academics and professors for over ten years. Fools argued to the contrary when it came to his assertion that the Egyptians of old were actually Negroid and were not from the Middle-East.

Such a teacher as he is of the type that is very scarce these days where the teacher and the student are victims to technological advancement.
The continent speaks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but the continent does not have a single plant where the components to the devices are actually manufactured. Africa is only there to provide the raw material for the components of the new-age devices that the citizens of the continent are forced to later buy at exorbitant prices.
Lined up as sheep to a dip or shearing shed, Africans stampede to buy what is made from materials found on the continent (think of Black Friday).
Our forefathers are said to have done the same thing; lining for blankets at the various Frasers and other general dealers (Mabenkeleng) in the past. The blankets were manufactured from wool shorn off their sheep for a pittance, and the same buyer came back to sell the woven wool for a hefty fee. The raw material is sold off cheap, and it comes back more expensive than the larger majority’s purses can afford.

These trinkets then become objects of vanity, with Africans heckling over who has the best trinket: vanity of vanities and a vainglorious attempt at boosting one’s identity by affiliating with that which is actually exacerbating one’s poverty.

Such progressive minds as Thomas Sankara were actually hated for telling the fact that the only way Africa could progress as a state and continent was if the continent adopted and inward-looking approach when it came to issues of economic development.
He was killed (not assassinated) for telling this truth. Patrice Lumumba and Steve Biko were killed for sharing the same sentiment that the true liberation of Africa lay in the freeing of the mind of the African to the point where the citizens really understood themselves.

True freedom and progress comes with one understanding who they really are and what they really posses. It cannot come where the leaders always emphasise poverty instead of potential, where leaders are not ashamed of being perpertual beggars that use their position as a tool to gain funds to line their pockets with and not to ensure that the citizens actually gain a sense of autonomy when it comes to the issues of economic development and financial or similar stability.
The reality is that Africa was for a long time in slavery, and the misfortune is that it seems that the clutches of this prolonged slavery and colonisation never actually got out of the psyche of the African.

This is due to the fact many of the first class of teachers were actually colonised individuals that had sacrificed the indigenous way of living for the sake of sounding and behaving like the colonists.
The past was considered glorious in terms of its mannerism and patterns of etiquette and was thus continued. There was no effort to eradicate its shameful uppity ways as leaders such as Lumumba sought to do. Speaking of the past on the day of his country’s independence he stated:

This was our fate for eighty years of a colonial regime; our wounds are too fresh and too painful still for us to drive them from our memory. We have known harassing work, exacted in exchange for salaries which did not permit us to eat enough to drive away hunger, or to clothe ourselves, or to house ourselves decently, or to raise our children as creatures dear to us.
We fail to progress because we are stuck in old ways, the same divide and rule tactics the colonist used have found their new form in political party formations. Where we could unlearn the ways of those that oppressed us, personal interest takes over and the beat goes on as was planned by the colonist.

This is one of the reasons why the types of leaders we have seem to religiously rely on some outside help to keep their regimes in power.
What they conveniently forget is that nothing is for free in this world of the living. The law is “a favour for a favour/ you do for me, I do for you” as it was from the beginning. Of the decay of Africa as the most advanced civilisation in the world, the reality is that the African forgot himself or herself and in the process forgot of his true ability when it came to effecting change.
This has led to this point where the African seems to hold the false notion that the only help he or she will get will come from outside the continent, which is not true if the African were to look deep down within himself or herself.

We lost our sense of being because what was once considered wealth was declared as useless. What we knew as sacred was denigrated to the status of being named as heathen practice. What we knew to be beneficial in the practice of knowledge acquisition was named as useless and ineffective.
Self-doubt set in, and the continent was lost as the new confusing ways of the colonist with their strange patterns were adopted as core to the cultivation of African character.

Put up on the pedestal, the colonist became not only the lord but became also the master of the destinies of the Africans around himself. This has carried on to the present day where the African still believes that salvation shall come from without the borders of their land.
What the African fails to understand is that he or she should first know who they really are before accepting gifts from strangers, before thinking that the outside can save him or her. Keeping this mindset means that we are bound to unwittingly pass it on to the children, and the perpertual slavery of the continent will go on as it has for the past centuries.

Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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