Monday, February 20, 2012



Racial Justice

Martin Luther King Jr.
Maicolm X

By Sabamya Jaugu
Sunday Feb 19th, 2012 1:35 PM
African History Month will counter Euro-centrism with historical truth. As well, it is important to embrace our culture and take ownership of our ethnicity.
Every February Black History Month is celebrated because of one man. In 1926, Dr. Carter Woodson created "Negro History Week" and in 1976 in it became Black History Month. The world in general and African people, in particular, owe him a debt of gratitude.

Unfortunately, during his time period, our minds were poisoned against Africa.

This is best exemplified by the following quote.

"Number one, first you have to realize that up until 1959 Africa was dominated by colonial powers. And by the colonial powers of Europe having complete control over Africa, they projected the image of Africa negatively. they projected Africa always in a negative light; jungles, savages, cannibals,. Nothing civilized.

Naturally it became negative to you and me and you and I began to hate it. We did not want anyone to tell us anything about Africa much less call us an African. And in hating Africa, and in hating the African we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it, because you cannot hate the roots of the tree and not hate the tree."
Malcom X.

Sub consciously we live a legacy of both slavery and colonialism. Furthermore, this celebration has become commercialized by corporations. Its Focus is mostly on becoming the first to break a racial barrier. Of course, we give homage when it's due, unfortunately the historical narrative is lost. Therefore, it's essential to learn history from an African perspective.

Just as Negro History Week grew into Black History month to address the changes in society. In the same spirit, we must continue Dr Carter's creation by extenuating it into an African History Month. The extenuation would include history of the one hundred and fifty million Africans in Latin America together with the fifty million in the Caribbean and more importantly the history of the motherland.

Not only will we build on Dr Carter's great legacy but by adding the motherland's culture and other history that have been neglected. Such as Africans in Latin America, where ninety percent of the slaves were sent, mostly in Brazil. The extenuation would encapsulate history from the dawn of time to the present.

Most notably, because of slavery and colonialism, the culture has been changed in the Americas and altered in Africa. This constitutes an urgent necessity for its people to learn their history from their own perspective. Moreover, modern history is a reflection of the European conquest, according to their interpretations. Learning history is more important than ever, because of the diversity, in Africa and Africans scattered around the world.

In our contemporary world, we have accepted foreign cultures, different ideologies and new identities. The whole dynamics of Africans, its people and the victims of the Diaspora has dramatically changed. A new geography has been created at the birth of the Americas, and over fifty countries in Africa. With the comprehension of African history, Euro-centrism has to be understood. Therefore, its sufficed to say. An African History Month would be appropriate. It is fundamental that we recall our past, in order to negotiate the future.

Euro-centrism really began in 1493, because the Christopher Columbus second voyage was a large-scale colonization project. So, this is the precursor of the European conquest that began with domination of what they called "The New World". Moreover, the conquest of the indigenous inhabitants would provide gold and other wealth to Europeans. Encourage by their successes, they embraced Euro centrism, using the gun to conquer and the bible to deceive.

Colonialism proved even more successful in later centuries, eventually reaching the level where Europeans could conquer and rule not only in Americas but also Africa. During this process, they realize that forcing their culture on their victims was more potent than their guns.

They renamed rivers, cities, lakes, created countries, named continents and forced their culture on all of their victims. And European endeavors in all of these continents continued to be hugely profitable. So Euro-centrism beliefs seemed to be continually confirmed as both true and useful, and they gradually evolved into the Euro-centrism world-model of modern times.

Euro-centrism's views of Africa were most famously expressed by Scottish philosopher David Hume:

"I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences."

Whilst some changed slightly over time, there were still some who continued to hold these derogatory views. In the 19th century, the German philosopher Hegel simply declared: "Africa is no historical part of the world."

Later, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Professor of History at Oxford University,

expressed openly the racist view that Africa has no history, as recently as 1963. When this model was fully developed, in the nineteenth century, it created its own conception of the history and geography of the entire world. And it became the mirror in which Europeans came to see themselves and their own past.

Before the European Conquest, Africa was abundant with homogeneous societies. Many cultures were uninterrupted for thousands of years. This changed dramatically when the slaves were scattered and forced to accept foreign cultures.

During the breaking-in-period, Africans were forced to learn different cultures, speaking a variety of European languages, forced to embrace Christianity and denied any connection with the motherland. In the frame work of colonialism, the Africans in Africa suffered a similar fate. That was implemented by educational institutions and missionaries.

It's most important, to confront and combat Euro-centrism in order to comprehend history from an African perspective. Equally, in importance's is to embrace and take ownership of our ethnicity.

Just think, several generations ago we were known as Negroes. The sixties was the era of African revolutionary wars and the Civil Rights Movements. Black was considered beautiful and slogans, like "we are black and proud" became prominent. Once, Negro was stigmatized and no longer accepted, black was embraced and substituted.

Imagine it required generations to accept being addressed as black instead of Negro. Unfortunately, neither word identifies land nor culture. Because, there isn't a Negro-land, nor Blackens-tan, nor Black-land. The most important factor it disconnects the African descendants from the motherland. Most notable, it, promotes and perpetuates the divide and conquer theme. Just as Negro has out lived its usefulness, so has "black" because it does not describe ethnicity. It is a color and nothing more.

On the most part, if we have kinky, coarse or nappy hair and facial features that consist of broad noses, thick lips and bodies contain melanin, the chemical that defines our pigmentation. Whether you are born in the motherland or not the ethnicity is still African.

Although, we were forced to embrace foreign cultures, does not change ethnicity . This also applies to other cultures that migrated to other societies. They are referred to by their separate ethnic group. After scores of generations, they're reference by their respective culture, such as, Chinese, Japanese, English, German and so on.

For the victims of the Diaspora, it is impossible to identify the exact location on the motherland. Therefore, the definitive word "African" should be used with its appropriate sub categories regardless if it refers to descendants from the Diaspora or those on the continent. Additionally, when the term black Africa is used, it's presupposing that there is a white Africa. Hence, when referencing ethnicity, the descriptive word should ALWAYS be "African."

The descendants should be identified by inserting African or Afro before their birth country. The following are examples; Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, etc. and conversely, the motherland's reference would be Nigerian, Ghanaian and so on.

Finally, taking ownership of the word, "African,"would negate the non-sense, that Egypt, Carthage, Great Zimbabwe, Ethiopia or the Moorish civilizations are not African.

Furthermore, the Japanese, Chinese or Koreans are never questioned about their ethnicity. Most notably, those three cultures are distinctly different. Not one of these groups identifies themselves as being yellow. They are considered Asians.

We must take charge of ethnicity as Africans, regardless if on the motherland or from the Diaspora. More importantly, together with Euro-centrism and understanding the importance of ethnicity are both keys in the development of African History Month.

Why an African History Month?
In order to compare the present African History Month proposal with the past, we must remember the conditions when Dr. Woodson created Negro History Week. Jim Crow, segregation and lynching were common. This was only a short time after the Berlin conference in 1884 that led to the partition of Africa.

Black Wall Street, also known as "Little Africa" was destroyed in 1921, and Marcus Garvey was convicted of mail fraud in 1925. The world was the recipient of the White Supremacy era of domination.

In this hostile atmosphere, in 1926, Dr Woodson almost single handed, created "Negro History Week". 1976, it was lengthened into a month-long celebration and renamed Black History Month. Britain adopted this holiday in 1987 when it emerged as part of the African Jubilee celebrations for the Marcus Garvey Centenary. Year's past and other countries such as Canada, France, Germany and Belgium joined the celebration of what is now known, as 'Black History Month.'

This was an outstanding achievement, and the Holiday served its purpose well. Obviously, the issues of Euro-centrism and Ethnicity could not be addressed in the white supremacy era.

Now its time to pass the baton and extenuate his legacy by incorporating culture and history of the motherland. To set the background for these transitions a brief encapsulation BEFORE and AFTER 1492 is necessary because the ancient geography and cultures were quite different.

In ancient history, the term 'African' would have had no meaning. People defined themselves as members of kingdoms and regions. Africa is presently recognized as the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization.

The continent is now recognized as the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization. We still marvel at the great achievements of Kemet, presently known as Egypt, and the most notable early civilizations, which first developed in the Nile valley over five thousand years ago.

However, even before the rise of Kemet it seems likely that an even more ancient Kingdom, known as Ta Seti, existed in what is today Nubia in Sudan. This may well have been the earliest state to exist anywhere in the world.

More importantly, the history of the motherland has been neglected in the present celebration. By substituting African and changing the narratives to substantive history from the dawn of time to the present, is African History Month's goal.

The continent continued on its own path of development, without significant external intervention until the fifteenth century. Some of the motherland's other civilizations, such as Kush, Axum, Mali, and Great Zimbabwe, flourished in the years before 1492.

In this early period Africans participated in extensive international trading networks and in trans-oceanic travel. Kilwa had established important trading relations with India, China and other parts of Asia long before these were disrupted by European intervention.

The Moors conquest of the Iberian peninsular began in the seven century and led to the occupation of much of Spain and Portugal for several centuries. The Moorish invasion re-introduced much of the knowledge of the ancient world to Europe. However, Spain expelled the Moors in 1492, the same year of Christopher Columbus voyage.

Finally, it's important to recognize two major omissions in the present celebrations. Primarily, the premise that black history began in 1620 with the arrival of the initial slaves in Jamestown, Virginia. Completely ignoring the Latin American slaves who arrived more than one hundred years earlier. Secondly, this assumption presupposes that there was no history before 1620. This cause a complete disconnects from Africa and its culture.

Western culture deliberately omits African history before 1492. Euro-centrism distorts Africa's views of history and importance of the continent itself. It is only in the last fifty years that it has been possible to redress these distortions and to begin to re-establish Africa's rightful place in world history.

The African history month will address; ancient Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Most importantly, history cannot be planned, however, it has a tendency to repeat itself. Therefore, it's important to learn from the past glories and bitter defeats, especially from mistakes and failures.

All the above mentioned are necessary to prepare for the future. If we continue to ignore history, then we will meander and drift. It's significant to learn African History in order to develop strategies and guidance for future generations.

It's important that Africans embrace their past from their own perspective and not influenced by Euro-centrism. Additionally, accepting ethnicity as Africans regardless if we were born on the motherland or aboard.

Conclusively, from Black to an African History Month is appropriate.

Author Sabamya Jaugu