Today is Africa Day. It commemorates the day when the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963 in what could be regarded as the first summit of the African heads of state and government whose counties had attained independence by that day.
This year’s Africa day is particularly special because it marks 400 years since the first disruption of the continent through slavery.
According to Mayaki (2018), disruption and rupture are related. Arguing that the organic evolvement of Africa’s knowledge base was disrupted by exogenous forces including slavery, colonization and the 2 World Wars, he highlighted how African Trade, indigenous Science, technology and production process as well as culture were disrupted by these forces. Similarly emphasizing how the Berlin Conference of 1884 ruptured and fragmented the continent into 50 something African states he underscored how this rupture undermined the power of speaking as one continent by creating boundaries between each other. It can be argued that this rupture was not limited to the fragmentation of African states but also its knowledge, culture and traditions.
This rupture not only weakened African cultural beliefs and traditions among others but also exposed them to attack by other religions particularly Christianity which prepared the ground for the theft of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) and exploitation of Africa’s natural resources through colonization, neo-colonization and now through globalization.
Specifically the disruption and rupture of African culture which encompasses religion, IKS and traditional practices was done without any desegregation of good from harmful traditions and geared towards undermining the core values of African culture including Ubuntu.
Four Hundred years since the first disruption took place in form of slave trade, isn’t it time to revisit the African cultural disruption and rupture? This endeavour would open up space for conversations on how to retrieve what has been lost, reconstruct it and repackage for current crop of African youth so that they can understand it, draw from its knowledge, preserve it and be its custodians to bequeath to future generation of Africans.
It is a known fact that the disruption and rupture of the African culture was specifically used by imperialists, using Christianity as a tool to target and weaken the African governance and organizational ecosystem which was the custodian of the African cultural and traditional knowledge base to facilitate colonial rule and economic exploitation.
As a result, the African culture was attacked holistically and was branded backward, unchristian, uncivilized and unprogressively among others, and even evil without desegregating the progressive from harmful cultures and traditions.
Despite it withstanding attack, negative labelling and extermination, African culture has survived and though fragmented, distorted and sometimes misrepresented, it can be traced globally in one form or other through the practice of Ubuntu generally by people of African descent and particularly through food, dress, art, music and way of life in and out of the African continent. It has demonstrated great resilience and survived to show case some of its life’s sustaining values that are embedded in humanity and encapsulated it spiritually in the spirit of Ubuntu. It is for that reason that the African Union adopted an assembly decision on Shared Values in (2010/2011) to show case Africa positive contribution to the rest of the world through shared values.
In order to appreciate African culture in the 21st century through an African lens it is time to desegregate African traditional culture from a home-grown stand point and highlight positive African traditional cultures that need to be retained, reinforced and banked while also preserving them for Africa’s future generations.
Furthermore this initiative would not only inform the global and regional frameworks on Africa’s cherished values and positive heritage but also advocate for the appreciation of its contribution to humanity in the context of the AU decision on shared values and existing human rights instruments.
Subsequently a debate on the desegregation of African Traditional values is critical 400 years after the initial disruption in order to determine which African cultures and traditions have been lost, identify positive ones that should be retained and identify which negative and harmful traditions are still practice to fast track their eradication as well as protect and preserve the African spirit.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all sons and daughters of Africa a Happy Africa Day.
Bonne fête de l’Afrique
yawm ‘iifriqia saeid
Furaha ya Siku ya Afrika
Feliz Dia da África
#Resilience #LongLiveAfrica #BordelessAfrica #Africa