"The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say"
- J.R.R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Friday, 13 April 2012

Because I am African

I am an Afrikan because the beauty is without equal

On Friday I attended a debate, and there a very interesting and somewhat offending motion was raised. Because it was a debate, and the views raised there are not necessarily the views of the people who presented them, I kept my peace. But I still feel I have to clarify a few issues and dispel some myths which have become embedded in African minds.

The motion was: “African cultures were primitive and contributed nothing to civilisation”.

What I gathered is that people are under the (wrong) impression that civilisation and all things modern are western. That African cultures were – and still are- uncivilised is not only false, it also borders on the ridiculous.

I realised that people don’t know what was started, developed and perfected in Egypt, that people don’t realise that there were places of higher learning in Timbuktu as early as the 13th century. I realised that people don’t appreciate African efforts towards the advancement of science, mathematics and the other arts. I came to the sad realisation, made more painful by the applauding that came after the points raised by those who were for the motion, that we Africans have, over the years, forgotten what we have accomplished and that through deliberate and sometimes unintentional ‘misinformation’ we have come to consider our cultures as uncivilised.

What of the concept of Ubuntu?

Whilst global civilisation is a result of thousands of years of collective efforts from various cultures and individuals, the role played by Africa and African cultures is significant.

It is not my intention, or the intention of this article, to say that Africa contributed the most to global civilisation; rather I hope to enlighten my brothers and sisters, to make them more appreciative and proud of their history, culture and what they are.

Everyone should be proud of their roots and beginnings, for those beginnings make us what we are.
I had to say this because, like Thabo Mbeki said,

“I am an African; I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land”

Because I am an African, and I consider it a geographical blessing to be born here.

Because I am African, not because my skin is black, but because I believe in Ubuntu, in the togetherness of mankind.

I am an African- a proud one too- because I feel most at home here, because I find the beauty of Africa’s sunsets, it’s flora and fauna, it’s people and its environment without equal.

I am an African because I find profound the ancient wisdom of its people; because here, more than anywhere else, people treat each other like family.

I am an African not only because I am proud of my motherland and all that we have achieved but also because I am not ashamed of our failures, nor do I deny our shortcomings.

I am an African because that is who I am.

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