Class Assignment: History Of Real Africa

african-guy-sittingWhat should we know about the history of the real Africa that we don’t know (or aren’t taught)? 

What does that say about the purposes (intended or unintended) of school curricula and about our alleged entrance into a post-racial world?

What I think that we should know about the real history of Africa is that Africa was not some wayward continent that needed to be rescued by outsiders from irrationality, illogicality, and concentrated barbarism. Africa, and much like some parts of the world, had civilized technologies and inventions—like, cotton weaving and the domestications of animals—and very complex communities and impressive governments. Africa was a very well civilized continent before colonization or the rhetoric of immaturity and waywardness was ascribed to it.

“I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complection than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation, ” said David Hume, a Scottish philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment (1685 – 1815). This period of so-called Enlightenment experienced huge explosions of radical thinking or awakenings in human thought—specifically, politics, philosophy, science, and communication. The men who were associated with such a period received and adopted their new discoveries from the Moors, a group of enlightened Africans who were perambulating not only Europe but the globe long before the age of Enlightenment. Their introduction of universal education, libraries, fashion, urban utilities, hygiene, cuisine, medicine, and other things, would eventually enable many nations—but specifically—Europe to later get out of the Dark Ages. But that’s neither here nor there.

Many European philosophers, historians, economists, etc, during the Age of Enlightenment knew and appreciated the brilliance and many contributions of the Moors but, and as you will later discover, had to adopt and weave together a narrative that would play down their contributions. Even people like Charles Darwin, once he caught whiff  of the narrative, would also do his part to perpetuate the narrative. He once wrote, “Since the dawn of history the Negro has owned the continent of Africa – rich beyond the dream of poet’s fancy, crunching acres of diamonds beneath his bare black feet and yet he never picked one up from the dust until a white man showed to him its glittering light.”

If we would to focus on one aspect of Africa; commerce and trade, we would see that Africa was a very advanced continent that need not rely on outsiders for its sustenance. Africa, according to john Thornton, an American historian who specialized in the histories of Africa, said that Africans would often trade iron, cloth, hides, copper, gold, gum, ivory, currency, swords, basins, and, yes, even slaves with Europe back in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. However, he explicitly stated that Europe “offered nothing to Africa that Africa did not already produce.” The importunity of the latter is clear; Africa was not dependent on the non-essential commodities of Europe to survive or even to thrive. The popularized narrative of Europe being the Ivy-drip of Africa’s many resources—and sustenance of its many economies by some involved in the new age enlightenment, like, G.F.W. Hegal, for example, was false and astronomically misleading.

If we would to focus on one aspect of Africa; commerce and trade, we would see that Africa was a very advanced continent that need not rely on outsiders for its sustenance. Africa, according to john Thornton, an American historian who specialized in the histories of Africa, said that Africans would often trade iron, cloth, hides, copper, gold, gum, ivory, currency, swords, basins, and, yes, even slaves with Europe back in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. However, he explicitly stated that Europe “offered nothing to Africa that Africa did not already produce.” The importunity of the latter is clear; Africa was not dependent on the non-essential commodities of Europe to survive or even to thrive. The popularized narrative of Europe being the Ivy-drip of Africa’s many resources—and sustenance of its many economies by some involved in the new age enlightenment, like, G.F.W. Hegal, for example, was false and astronomically misleading.

Commerce and trade was one aspect or canvas that the proclaimers of enlightenment painted Africa as wayward, immature and lacking of competence. Naturally, there were many others. Fortunately, I need not name them all—for if I do, and given our proper and commonsensical understanding of Africa’s complexities—it would evolve into something comical and defy commonsense. Which is exactly what the proclaimers of enlightenment knew in their hearts, but sought to perpetuate as a political campaign because it would later justify the expansion and exhibitions of colonization in Africa.

Now then, this backdrop of misconceptions and counter-factual rhetoric of Africa’s waywardness—although a few of us know it not to be true—is important in the school curricula because it is there that every generation receives it’s white supremacy manual on how to not only view Africa but to engage with its citizens and other sub-African groups who may look African. Also, such generation(s) when/and if they ever mature to rational adults, will eventually create certain parameters and policies that limits any opportunity to involve and—ultimately—absorb Africans or people of African descent into their societies—i.e., European or Western.

In contemporary America, and since the inception of a black president from two-thousand-eight to two-thousand-sixteen, we’ve all been—involuntarily—fanned with the air of attained egalitarianism and even spoon-fed with the diet of America being a post-racial society. The word post-racial, in my humble opinion, means that a society has finally accepted not only in words but in practice that people of color and other marginalized groups are human-beings who too deserve dignity and respect. But the more we look around and truly examine every sector of American life; economics, education, politics, poverty, transnational, labor, the justice system, law, etc, we will see that there is nothing post-racial about America.

  • Forty-five point eight percent of black children live in poverty.
  • In two-thousand-fourteen, African-Americans were more than twice as likely to be unemployed (11%) as their white, non-Hispanic counterparts (5%).
  • African Americans now constitute nearly one million of the total two-point-three million incarcerated population and African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.
  • Police killed at least one hundred and two unarmed black people in two-thousand-fifteen, nearly twice each week.
  • Thirty-seven percent of unarmed people killed by police were black in two-thousand-fifteen despite black people being only thirteen percent of the U.S. population,
  • Only ten of the one hundred and two cases in two-thousand-fifteen where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only two of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) resulted in convictions of officers involved. Only one of two officers convicted for their involvement in Matthew Ajibade’s death received jail time. He was sentenced to one year in jail and allowed to serve this time exclusively on weekends. Deputy Bates, who killed Eric Harris, will be sentenced May thirty-first, two-thousand-fifteen.

As you can see, those stats run counterintuitive to the rhetoric that America is post-racial. “The illusion of inclusion,” according to Dr. Umar Johnson, a pan-Africanist and school psychologist, “Makes us [Africans or people of African descent] believe that we’ve actually come further along than we had.” The political campaign to perpetuate Africa as uncivilized, wayward and incompetent—although that is not true–in our school curricula and elsewhere, is to, again, keep everyone believing the narrative from the Age of Enlightenment that Africa is truly backward and thus justifies the continuation of their resources being extracted.

Sources: Mapping Police Violence, DR. Umar Johnson, Feeding America, NAACP

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