“THE NEW AFRICANNESS” IN “NEW” SOUTH AFRICA

 MOTSOKO PHEKO

  On 3rd June 2012, a columnist of the City Press Newspaper wrote, “There are many ways of being African in South Africa…this Africanness is accessible to everyone who lives on the continent, whoever you are….It is not intuitively connected to descendants of Inkosi yamaXhosa uSandile or Shaka Zulu, but to Jan van Riebeeck too. This is what former President Thabo Mbeki defined it in his seminal speech, I am an African.”         

I will deal with the “I am an African” by former President Thabo Mbeki later. For now the question is are there many ways of being a British in Britain? Are there many ways of being a Chinese in China? Are the many ways of being a German in Germany or many ways of being a Russian in Russia whose minority dictates to the majority population? How would have the British or Russians reacted if the Nazis entered Britain and Russia declared themselves British or Russian on their Nazi terms, in their own many ways?

The delusion about national identity in South Africa stems from a falsified colonial history. It is exacerbated by the 1955 political manipulation by which a certain section of the leadership of colonised African people abandoned the anti-colonial struggle for a civil rights movement. They claimed that their country belongs equally to the colonisers and the colonised, the dispossessors and the dispossessed owners.

This is tantamount to saying that stolen goods can equally belong to armed thieves and their rightful owners. It is not magnanimity. It is betrayal of the dispossessed.

                                They Want “Africanness” On A Colonial Foundation

Where has this happened anywhere in the world, except where British imperialism seized this African country at gunpoint, consolidated its colonialism through the Union of South Africa Act 1909 and allocated its 349,837 colonial settlers 93% of the country and left five million Africans with 7% through the Native Land Act 1913 and additional 6% through the Native Trust Land Act 1936? This 13% has now been entrenched in section 25(7) of the present Eurocentric constitution misleadingly called “the best democratic constitution in the world.”

For people who are now equal partners to Africanness in their own ways; a British colonial official Earl Glen long made it clear that “The Africans are generally looked upon by Whites as an inferior race whose interests must be systematically disregarded when they come into competition with their own, and should be governed to the advantage of the superior race….For this reason two things must be afforded to white colonists obtaining LAND…the Kaffirs should be made to furnish as large and cheap labour as possible.”

As long as there is still this colossal political fraud that “We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white…And we, therefore, the people of South Africa black and white together, equals, countrymen and brothers adopt the Charter;” the land dispossessed Africans will wait for their authentic liberation to arrive until horses grow horns or there is a political explosion in this country.

                                                  African Afrcanness Exists

If there is no Africanness, then there are no Africans. Fortunately, Africanness exists among Africans on all fundamental issues of their life. They have suffered the holocaust of the European Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Colonialism and ongoing racism. That is why many regard themselves as Africans first and their clan or country identities as secondary. They are anti-tribalism and have intermarried among themselves unlike in the past and unlike others who have kept to themselves. They regard those who owe their allegiance only to Africa and respect the fundamental values of the African majority as Africans.

Africans belong together, whether they like it or not. Their survival and security depend very much on this togetherness, whatever problems they face in that togetherness. That is why they are all in the African Union. That is why the Organisation of African Unity was formed to decolonise the Continent. Pan Africanism , itself is a manifestation of fraternal solidarity among Africans and people of African descent.

The Global Diaspora African Summit that was held in Johannesburg on Africa Liberation Day 25 May 2012 is evidence that wherever Africans are, they share the same aspirations to restore Africa’s power to achieve the economic liberation of this continent and its technological advancement. So-called “New South Africa” cannot be an exception. Africanness is strongly related to Africanism, African Personality, Pan Africanism, African Nationalism, Africology, Afrocentricity, African Epistemology and Africentric view of the world.

                                              What Africa’s Great Leaders Have Said About Africanness

Let me now share briefly what some of Africa’s great leaders and visionaries have said about some of these concepts. On African personality Dr. Kwame Nkrumah said, “The desire of the African people to unite and to assert their personality in the context of the African community has made itself, felt everywhere.”  In March 1960 he added, “Ghana’s independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa and with the projection of African personality in the international community.”

On culture, Nkrumah said, “We are doing everything to revive our culture, but if this revival is to endure, it must be based on strong moral and spiritual foundation. Our moral and spiritual qualities

should not lag behind the progress we are making in the economic field.”

This is very important when one considers what is happening with corrupt people who have gone to politics for self-enrichment at the expense of the poor they claim to “liberate.”

When looking at the colonially destroyed African civilisations and its moral values, historian Arnold Tonybee wrote, “mankind may have to emulate Africans if world civilisation is to be saved.”

Africanness as Ubuntu/Botho is peculiarly African. It stems from a morality that teaches that people must do good and behave well towards one another. This is similar to Summum Bonum – doing the greatest good. It was a guide to Africans in ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Black pharaohs such as Menes who united the upper and lower ancient Egypt (Kemet or Mizraim).

That profound Pan Africanist scholar, Dr. Antony Muziwakhe Lembede observed that “Nationalism has been tested in the peoples’ struggles and fires and found to be the only effective weapon, the only antidote against foreign rule and imperialism. It is for that reason that great imperialistic powers feverishly endeavour with all their might to discourage and eradicate all nationalistic tendencies among their alien subjects; for that purpose huge and enormous sums of money are lavishly expended on propaganda against African nationalism which is dubbed as ‘narrow’, ’barbarous,’ ‘uncultured’ etc…

Some subjects become dupes of this sinister propaganda and consequently become tools or instruments of imperialism for great service they are highly praised, extolled and eulogised by the imperialist power and showered with such epithets as’ cultured’, ‘progressive’ ‘broadminded’ etc. …Africans are the natives of Africa from time immemorial. Africa belongs to them. Out of the heterogeneous tribes must emerge a homogeneous nation.”

In 1957 Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, the first President of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) addressed the annual conference of the Basutoland Congress Party in Lesotho. In pursuance of building this homogeneous African nation and discouraging tribalism, Sobukwe said:

“I wish, in opening this conference, to quote the caption which appears on ‘Mohlabani’ since it expresses so clearly the reason for our sustained struggle:

‘Ts’oara thebe e tiee oa Rasenate

Oa bona fats’e leno le ea ea’

(Hold firmly your shield, son of Rasenate.

You see your fatherland is being taken away from you).

Sobukwe continued, “The policy of divide and rule is pursued today….We see this policy pursued by the whites who keep on reminding us that this is a Zulu the proud descendant of Shaka, with a glorious military history and should have nothing to do with the cunning Basotho; that is told he is a Mosotho, a proud descendant of the wise Moshoeshoe, and the only people never conquered by either the black or white, and should not associate with the wild savage Zulus nor with the treacherous, thieving Xhosas. And yet they call us all ‘Kaffirs.’”

An Intelligent Colonialist Recognised Africanness

The British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan recognised Africanness or African Nationalism, when he spoke in the apartheid colonial parliament in Cape Town on 2nd February 1960. In his ‘wind of change’ speech, he said:

“The wind of change is blowing throughout Africa signalling to those temporarily in charge of affairs, we fleeting transient phantoms….The striking of all impressions I have formed since leaving London a month ago, is the strength of this African national consciousness. It may take different forms, but it is blowing throughout Africa. Whether we like or not, this growth of African consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact. Our national policies must take account of it.”

Macmillan concluded, “Of course, you (European colonial settlers), must understand it, as well as anyone. You are sprung from Europe the home of nationalism.”

                                  Relationship Of Africanness To Africanism And Pan Africanism

Africanness is related to Africanism and Pan African Nationalism. It is a reality. African Nationalism will not go away. It is the African weapon for attaining authentic liberation where Africans will control the riches of Africa for the benefit of the presently economically brutalised and criminally oppressed African people of this country and continent.

African Nationalism or Pan African Nationalism is a nationalism of self-determination. It has never been a nationalism of armed robbery and stealing of other peoples’ countries and riches. Pan African Nationalism is a nationalism of self-defence against imperialism and genocide. This nationalism views the personhood and humanity of African people as equal to that of any other people on this planet. Pan African Nationalism rejects with contempt, the racist philosophy that Africans are destined to exist in servitude to other human beings, whatever their skin colour, shape of their noses or texture of their hair.

African Nationalism does not look down on other members of the human race. It is not in conflict with genuine socialism that serves the interests of the poor and powerless. Pan African Nationalism is in conflict only with the superstition of “white supremacy” propagated by some pink or pale skinned people. These are the people who have practised vile systems such as slavery and colonialism. Pan African Nationalism is the privilege of the African people to love themselves and give their way of life preference.

                       Pixley ka Isaka Seme’s “I Am An African” 5th April 1906

Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme’s April 1906 “I am an African” (The Regeneration Of Africa), vibrates with Pan African resonance that the 1955 ANC leaders long denounced as “racism.” Seme’s oratory is in accord with the thinking of many great African thinkers and scholars on Africanness, such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Kwesi K. Prah, Kwame Nkrumah, Henry Sylvester Williams, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Patrice Lumumba, Robert Sobukwe, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Gasrvey, George Padmore, Dani Wadada Nabudere, C.L. R. James, Muziwakhe Lembede, Zephania Mothopeng and Edem Kodjo, the author of AFRICA TOMORROW.

In his famous oratory at the University of Columbia on The Regeneration Of Africa, Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme presented an African Renaissance that was first on this planet and was therefore, a civiliser of the whole mankind. It was destroyed by uncivilised external forces from outside Africa. Seme spoke of the regeneration of Africa not a renaissance that was a copycat of the belated “European Renaissance.” This European “renaissance” produced the darkness and inhumanity of the slave trade, colonialism and racism for Africans.

Dr. Seme took the bull by the horns and told the world the truth as it is. “Come with me to the ancient capital of Egypt, Thebes,” he proclaimed, “the city of the one hundred gates. The grandeur of its venerable ruins and gigantic proportions of its architecture reduces to insignificance the boasted monuments of other nations. The Pyramids of Egypt are structures to which the world presents nothing comparable. The mighty monuments seem to look with disdain on every other work of human art and with nature herself. All the glory of Egypt belongs to Africa and her people. These monuments are indestructible memories of their great and original genius.”

To this aspect of Africaness, Cheikh Anta Diop has declared, “Ancient Egypt was a Black civilisation.  The history of Black Africa will remain suspended in the air and cannot be written correctly until African historians dare connect it with the history of Egypt. The African historian who evades the problem of Egypt is neither modest nor objective or unruffled. He is cowardly and neurotic…Instead of presenting herself as an insolvent debtor that Black World (Africa) is the very initiator of Western Civilisation flaunted before us.”

                                      Thabo Mbeki’s “I am an African” 8th May 1996

Thabo Mbeki’s speech, “I am an African” has found deep sympathy and warm welcome among Pan Africanists. It is a step in the right direction, though he has never explained why he took so long to be “an African” and perhaps what he was before then. His speech however, also has some confusion. He claims to be a son of Africa, but also a son of colonialists like Jan van Reebieck. Colonialists dispossessed Africans of Africa and its riches. Mbeki uttered this conundrum in the midst of the offspring of colonialists still controlling the African land and its riches. In the midst of some these colonialists claiming that this African country was “empty” when they seized it from the Africans at gun point. These colonialists have seen nothing with entrenching African land dispossession in section 25(7) of their “New South Africa” Eurocentric Constitution.

Prof. Dani Wadada Nabudere of Marcus Garvey Pan African Institute in Uganda has pointed out

That Mbeki’s ‘I am an African’ speech “was aimed at adopting the Africanist ideological stance in view of the fact that the ANC as a ‘multi-racial’ organisation had tried to depict Pan Africanism, which was advocated by the Pan Africanist Congress and the Black Consciousness Movement –BCM of Steve Biko as ‘reactionary’ and ‘racist’….Mbeki in his ‘I am an African’ tried to demonstrate that non-racialism and Africanism…were not incompatible after all!”

 Mbeki’s Right Step Without Knowing Where It Leads

Commenting on Mbeki’s ‘I am an African’ speech, the late former Secretary-General of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC)! KhoisanX said, “I have the utmost respect for Thabo Mbeki, whom I regard as brother and a true noble son of Africa. He has taken the right step in the right direction without knowing where it leads….He must be congratulated and helped in his journey.”

!Khoisan X quoted for Mbeki a Khoisan proverb that says, “If your face is in the right direction, all you have to do is to keep walking.”

!Khoisan X expounded, “Africanism is the placement of Africans at the centre of their history, existence and future;  the uncovering of their true self; as well as the clarity and focus through which black people must see the world in order to be liberated masters of their destiny…Africanists do not allow their centre to be invaded under the pretext that they are ‘peddling good feelings’ to their exploiters.

We are not in the business of peddling good feelings. We soberly judge relevance, evaluate historical realism and apply suitable models for development and liberation. Liberatory political-speak must not seek to balance the concepts of enslavement with those of liberation. It must not befuddled. .Our Africanism, if it is to be fully liberatory, it will have to be Pan Africanism.”

This is well put and correctly articulated. Africanness with its sisters and brothers, Africanism, Pan Africanism, African Nationalism, African personality, Africology, Afrocentricity, African Epistemology and Africentric view of the world are anti-nobody. They are pro-Africa. For this position, Africans owe nobody any apology because Africanness is characterised by “Africa for Africans, Africans for humanity and humanity for God.”  Balancing truth with lies, freedom with oppression and justice with injustice is the road to destruction and national suicide.

I believe that is why that unique Personality, Jesus Christ whom Africans protected from King Herod’s attempt to murder; gave Him asylum in Africa said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall liberate you.” Africans who are ambivalent about Africanness and see nothing wrong with the brutal economic oppression and land dispossession, especially of the African majority in the “New South Africa,” “rainbow nation” of a “miracle” that has not happened in the African majority community, shall indeed, remain torn away from their past and propelled into a universe fashioned from outside, that suppresses their values. They will continue to be slaves of a cultural imperialism that marginalises them. They shall be forever the deformed images of others.

The African experience is that the invaders of Africa have always relentlessly pushed for command position in Africa, no matter how small their numbers. When they arrived in Africa by invasion, they taught, “While in Rome do as the Romans do.” Now in Africa, they want to do as they like? This arrogant behaviour must be brought to a swift end. The Africanness of the African people has been taken for docility for far too long.END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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