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THE PROBLEM IS THE AFRICAN CULTURE

 

Prior to the Whiteman's arrival to the African continent, Africa was just a bunch of small villages with chiefs and kings at their heads. The chief or village leader was generally considered a superhuman. All power was surrendered to him by his people. He was given absolute powers including the right to life for his people. This African society of old, was essentially divided into two classes. There was a class for those who were considered better human beings –either because they were considered wealthy or more intelligent--and worthy of life.

This was usually the chief or king and his cohort of village elders. Then there was a class of those who were considered lesser human beings –mostly because of their lineage and economic stature –These were generally the society rejects, the slaves. This group of people was considered less worthy of life. In this primitive form of government, there was no freedom, no equal rights, and even in some cases no right to life.

The chief could decide at his whim who should live or die without having to justify his decision to anyone. He was the unique superhuman whose decision could not be debated, appealed, nor contradicted. It was a total and absolute surrender –more or less voluntary --of the people to the authority of the chief or king. When the chief died, in some cases, several other people were buried alive –or killed and buried--with him. As it was believed that the chief will continue to live in the after-life and needed continued protection in the afterworld. Succession to the chieftaincy was generally handled through the chief’s bloodline. In this primitive form of government, the chief generally had a small group of elders –considered wise men--, a group of people who protected him and possibly protected the village—some kind of an army—. He also had a doctor, usually a juju man who was believed to have some kind magical power and the ability to predict the future. This form of governance was not peculiar to Africa. Countries all over the world in ancient times had some form of primitive government more or less rudimentary. But history recorded more cruelties and barbaric behavior in the ancient African model.

So this was the state of affairs when the colonial master arrived. And many centuries later, we can surely agree that the African system of governance has somewhat improved even as we admit there is still ample room for progress.

I am cognizant of the absolute necessity to preserve some aspects of our culture and traditions of old, because they carry in them our cultural inheritance and some aspects of our identity of the past. Having said that, cultural values and traditions are not necessarily a collection static temporal values. They must evolve as we, the instruments of these cultures evolve. The culture was meant for us and not us for it, hence it must be evolutionally dynamic. The culture only came to existence to serve our aspirations at a point in time in the continuum of existence. As the human mind and spirit evolves, so must the culture and traditions if they were to maintain their relevance, lest they become an impediment, a culprit to own existence, an albatross that delays our progress.

It’s fair to say that we African people have long been victims of some aspects of our culture and traditions based on twisted beliefs such as superstition, witchcraft, excessive respect which amounts to the surrender of our dignity and respect to another fellow human being. This inherent weakness --of the mind and spirit-- of voluntary submission and surrender perhaps explains what made slavery and colonization so easily possible in Africa. The inferiority complex, that tendency to quickly surrender your dignity to others, the fear from within and the ignorance from without that take root in the depth of the human psyche is inextricably linked to the lack of knowledge of SELF, which is the fundamental principle that informs and guide the human behaviour from without, --the ethos--, even in the absence of any form of formal education.

This inherent weak --cognitive--state of mind, this predisposition of self abnegation and self surrender, this self-enslaving ethos, is perhaps what caused dictatorship to take root and flourish in the African continent so pervasively. I will argue that, it is in part, what fuels the unconscious or subconscious impulse of the African dictator. The believe that his people are inferior, ignorant, submissive, surrendering and fearful. Fearful of themselves, fearful of their humanity, fearful of death. Such a belief creates the most possible fertile ground imaginable for one man’s ego to dominate and conquer without any resistance from his peers. Overtime, the one man who holds all powers --in the absence of any accoountability or counter power--will inevitably become corrupt and abusive of his power. As power, especially without accountability will overtime corrupt the human mind. It’s almost like a reincarnation of the ancient pre-colonial mindset metamorphosed in modern era.

 

We, the people of Africa must begin to find the courage to stand for what we believe is right and just. We must not self-surrender, self-abnegate, or easily capitulate our dignity and our freedom, even unto an existential threat. Standing firm on what you believe is true, righteous, and just is how we bend the arc of morality towards justice. Fighting for your core beliefs is what causes the world to change.

 

When MAN arrives to knowledge of SELF, Oneness and Wholeness, his inner most being will inevitably overcome his inherent weakness of surrender, self submission, and self-enslavement, because he is able to connect with the feelings and impulses of his fellow human and will instinctively know and feel the pure equality between all human beings at the core. And in so doing, he acknowledges and agrees with himself --as his spirit bears witness in the bosom of his own being--that his own dignity and respect, his own humanity and mortality can not and must not be --easily--surrendered at any cost, even unto death. Because he is now truly free, free from within and from without. Free from tribalism, free from corruption, free from hate and envy, free from fear and death.

 

 

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