Record has it that civilization started in Africa (by Africans of course), but today you can see their backwardness in development. There have been a lot of problems owing to this backwardness.
What are the problems?
Things had already begun to fall apart before they actually fell apart because our fore-fathers predicted it at the coming of the white man. One of the problems of an African is corruption of mentality. The colonial masters taught Africans that they were backwards. Then, an African, having imbibed the concept of westernization over the years because of colonial background now begins to think that he is inferior. Imitation of his colonial master made him lose his real person. The African man’s background made him to develop wrong mindset. The colonial masters saw African man’s culture to be wrong and taught him to abandon, divorce, decamp and embrace modernization so as to see development. The white men fell to take cognizance of their own beginning. Therefore they misunderstood the real concept of development and modernization. They convinced Africans to drop their tradition and embrace their own way of living (culture). Africans followed because they were brainwashed. They never asked questions or raised hands in opposition. And having being found under the tutelage of the white men for centuries swallowed the whole idea, and fell for it hook, line and sinker. The whites did not consider the saying of Abraham Lincoln: “You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.” However, the African man’s agitation was that he was colonized, made inferior, and he developed the mindset that he cannot do well because of his black skin colour. These excuses entered into his subconscious mind and have deprived him a lot of opportunities over the centuries.
Where were Africans before the coming of the white man?
This is the question that will help the African man to rediscover himself. If nobody colonized Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, what and where were they before they colonized us? For much of recorded history, Europeans were a primitive bunch. For roughly a thousand years they passed through a dark age living in trivial villages, assisted by no real government, exploited by gangster lords, ignorant of the world beyond a day’s walk of their dirt floored shacks. With no written language of their own they were illiterates, superstitious, afraid of witches, magic spells, and a thousand forest spirits. Life was brutal, ugly and short. Earlier between about 1,000 BC (much earlier in Mesopotamia and Egypt) and when the Middle Ages began – sometime near 500 AD, tribal villages in Mediterranean Europe grew into city states, city states into nations, and nations into vast civilizing empires. Enduring civic institutions brought stability and prosperity to millions. Prosperity brought cosmopolitan cities, roads, travel, commerce, suburbs, learning, literature, drama, representative art, engineering, architecture, mathematics, philosophy and sophisticated religion.
Colonialism crept upon Africans, but after many years, Africans saw that they were not inferior to the whites and that led to the agitation of self-government, which they won. You don’t tell me that we had no technology, No! There was a specific kind of technology we were using before the coming of the white man though it was crude and not refined as that of the white man, but if they had allowed us to develop in our things, we would have been somewhere by now.
Whereas this piece is not about condemning colonialism, just as it is not about blaming our fore-fathers, one cannot gloss over the fact that colonialism has a great effect on us, Africans.
The old generation blames our age for lack of sacrificial and purposeful living without knowing that this present condition was achieved by the gradual and continuous degeneration of value, norms, culture and traditions of the land, that were in existence in the old years. Our continent is in shamble and I’m thinking “Who will spare me the knowledge of this cruel world where corruption excels? Who on earth can take it upon his shoulder to rescue our continent?” Africa is so blind that it cannot see the doom that lies on its track. So deaf that it cannot hear the rhythm of death. So numb that it cannot feel the tension in the air, the heat in atmosphere is getting hotter by every tick of the second but it seems no one has realized this.
Let me tell you some things that have baffled me most in this continent. I do not know why elected public officials defraud their people by betraying the trust they embedded in them. I do not know why most African nations wallow endlessly in the vicious cycle of poverty and suffer in the midst of plenty, (Plenty of what? Rich soil and mineral resources). I do not know why integrity, honour and truth are virtues alien to most African leaders. I do not know why men of courage have gone dumb.
They say that there is hope for a better tomorrow, but we must remember that today was yesterday’s tomorrow. We cannot reap where we did not sow, for neither God nor the spirits will grant us that favour. Tell me, fellow Africans, where do we go from here? What next? The life of many of us lay in waste, some are empty, some have no hope, some are living ghosts, some are helpless, and many only live for living sake, no nerve, no guts, no purpose, and no future. As expressed in Martin Luther King Jr. words “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he finds himself in a moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenges and controversy.” You, where do you stand in the moment such as this? Shall we fail to build posterity for the generations unborn because our fathers failed? Our greatest problem now is the dead silence of the faithful few and their inability to speak out boldly and do something about the state of things. My brothers, my sister, are you afraid to lead the much needed reformation, to effect the long awaited change? Here is a million dollar question for every Africa youth: what memories will you leaving Africa and the world with when the dreaded visitor knocks on your door? Think and weep for your life and future, for the day a lunatic discovers that he is mad is the day his solution begins.
Back to the main purpose for this piece, there is hope for Africa. Africa has hope of bouncing back and taking her rightful place or position in this world, exploring the potentialities and resources nature endowed her with. I have come with a message of hope. You are the hope for a better tomorrow. You are the stars in the darkened skies. You are the hope for Africa! Remember, problems produce prophets, challenges produce champions, and failure produces fathers of philosophy. Also remember, he that will move a mountain must first move himself. Until you discover that success is independent on external factors, you will never make waves in life. Success does not come from who you are, what you’ve got or where you are coming from. It comes from the way you think. It does not take the colour of the skin to survive; neither does it take racism, ethnicism nor geographic location to be a success. It takes character to fail and it also takes character to do exploit in life.
The place of character in the development of an African is that irrespective of the failures that has come upon him like a flood over the years, if he can stand up and develop right attitude, he can surmount any mountain that stands before him. It will be only God who can imagine the extent he can conquer the frontiers of life. An African should understand that he is not inferior to any other person in the other continents. He is not less important in any way whatsoever. What gives him an edge or equal position with his contemporaries from other continents is his character. Character has nothing to do with skin colour. God has given an African a position among the committee of nations. He has equal opportunity with any other youth anywhere in the world, but what will make him excel is his character. An African should see himself as a real full-fledged, functional human being created and endowed by God to function and live exploring and exploiting his environment. Character plays the role of molding an African, keeping him in shape to fit into the philosophies underlying his function.
An African should understand that what kills a man comes from within, and not without. There is nothing imposed upon a man that destroys him, but rather what destroys a man is what comes out from him – character. God created every man to do well where he is positioned by giving him the opportunity to explore his environment. It is what is in a man that develops that man and the same is capable of destroying him. An African has an opportunity to make use of the good things inside of him to do exploits in life and better the system that drives the progress of humanity. If he continues to look upon his skin colour, he won’t make any impressionistic impact.
What develops a country is found in that country, that’s the way God made life to be. An African mustn’t look up to any man or woman for his development or development of his land, though he can borrow ideas. While borrowing ideas, he must remember that idea is a respecter of culture and circumstance. What works well for him may not work well for another due to character, philosophies and overviews. He should however take his clues from plants which don’t do well in some soils. Here is an advice from Jacob Carruthers: “African champions must break the chain that links African ideas to European ones and listen to the voice of the ancestors without European interpreters.” An African should accept himself and be proud of his location. He should not fold his hands waiting for success, rather let him do those things that are required of him because success everywhere has principles, and if any man obeys those principles, he succeeds. So the principle of success is not a respecter of ethnicity, neither race nor geographical boundaries.
An African now stands a good platform to transform the fortune of this continent and that is why he should now go back and find out who he was and who he is. Future cannot be built without taking reminiscence of the past. So when he must have understood the happenings, the content and the developmental stage of his past, he has now created successfully a platform upon which he can stand to launch into the future. The previous years will now help him make projection into the future.
An African should look at himself so as to constructively identify his problem. Development is a process of looking INWARDS because when you look inwards, you will now discover your content, but when you continue looking outwards, you see your shortcomings and failures.
Furthermore, to see that we Africans realize our dreams of transforming our continent, we should do away with lies, greed, selfishness, corruption and segregation. We should learn to face reality. Aligning our dreams and imagination to reality is the only way to experience life. Remember, the truth will set you free, but it must first piss you off. Let’s learn to speak out against the evils that are happening. Martin Luther king, jnr wrote, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” In the face of evil, to silent is an even greater evil. Complacency is ever the enabler of darkest deeds. Lack of courage to confront evil shows that you, too, is evil. Invariably, the real man in us begins to die when we decide to be quiet in the face of evil. Let’s call a spade a spade, and not just a digging tool. We must remain disciplined. It takes hard discipline to stick to your values in this perilous time; because one way or the other, you may definitely see something that might make you change your views. Let’s all accept one another, understand one another, every language, every tongue. Let us invite the wanderer, “truth”, and be true to ourselves. Let’s forsake all worldly principles and seek that which is the only principal, “love”. Let’s share love amongst us and let that love seep into our souls and bring forth our inner light with which we are to conquer the impending darkness. Africa has hope! To every troubled soul, let’s declare peace. To every hopeless mind, let’s bring hope. To every hardened heart, let’s bring love, and to every dark spirit, let’s show forth our light.
Robert F. Kennedy concludes, “Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills – against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence. Yet many of the world’s great moments, of thoughts and actions, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and thirty-two year old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. ‘Give me a place to stand,’ said Archimedes, ‘and I will move the world.’ These men moved the world, and so we all can.” You can move Africa forward! You can better the system that is driving their progress! You are the hope of Africa!
© The Spirit of African Philosophy