Africans today – individuals and institution alike –seek validation from outside the shores of the continent. They have come to define success as the “capacity to ape the cultures and attributes of Europeans or Arabs.” In that self-conflicting endeavor, the original content of being is lost, and life is lived in counterfeit. This derives from the colonization of the Being.
In Julius Caesar, Casca aptly stated: “Every bond man (slave), in his own hand, holds the sword to cancel his captivity.” The emancipation of the African humanity from the debilitating grips of meta-colonialism warrants a coordinated set of culture actions.
Bob Marley sang: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds…”
The colonial venture entails a contest of reality in three worlds: the world of things, of people, and of meaning. Driven firstly by economic motives, colonizers attacked the world of things to obtain raw materials and markets for manufactured goods.
To obtain cheap or free labor, the colonizer not only occupied the land but also assaulted the world of people to force submission.
Once they conquered the people and occupied the land, they assaulted the world of meaning because no system of oppression lasts without occupation of the mind and ontology (nature of being) of the oppressed.
The old and crude forms of colonial rule have changed to the more subtle and sophisticated (also more intense and expansive) form termed meta-colonialism: a consolidation of capitalism, liberal democracy, and Western Culture into a unified and globalized force for economic, political, and cultural domination.
In the meta-colonial environment, the primary target of domination is the total being of the colonized—economically, culturally, socially, and psychologically. The governing values, ethos, and ideology of meta-colonial ways of being include a connected and interdependent world with a shared set of international laws, markets, and monetary standards, formulated and governed by supposedly “neutral institutions” like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.
In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon observes that “there can only be occupied, distorted, and shriveled being (versus wholesome and healthy being) when so much of objective and subjective life—the economy, the political order, space and time, culture, knowledge, beauty, and even reason—are occupied.
Fanon continues, “Even when the colonized believe they are happily marching toward prosperity and redemption, it creates scary illusion or schizophrenia in the colonized and makes liberation and redemption far more complicated and difficult.”
Africa’s sages –Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Herbert Macaulay, Kenneth Kaunda, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela – may have fought and gained political independence for African states, but the battle, the challenge for the independence of the African “Being’’ is yet to be addressed. That battle for independence needs to be understood properly. It requires a new sense of culture – a reconstruction of edifices of national culture and character. It is to this battle to redress the colonization of the Being of Africa, that Africans need now turn to. And, culture is the most potent sword for the battle.
Culture refers to the training of the mind, and the social and religious structures and intellectual and artistic manifestations that characterize a society. To culture means to cultivate, to breed, with a view to improving quality, usually within a medium.
What Africans have suffered – from the days of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, through Colonialism, to the current global meta-colonial order– seems to have radically altered the African Being – the African Identity, according to Dr. Graham Hart, a policy strategist and public affairs analyst.
There has been a systematic erasure of the cultures of Africa, and a conscious supplanting with European and Arabian cultures and values.
Religion sits at the cornerstone of the coordinated set of culture actions required to truly decolonize and emancipate Africa. At the core of the human spirit, is the unyielding effort to bond with its source: spirituality.
Religion is organized as a human effort to achieve spiritually, but being fraught with human imperfections, it falls time and again to abuses. On the part of the Europeans, Christianity was weaponized to advance European imperialism in Africa.
The imperialists promoted Christianity and Islam as mainstream religions, and sidelined the African traditional worship systems as pagan religions.
On the part of Africans, the sustained pretense to adapt and adhere to the dictates of alien religions continues to breed dissonance in their humanity. Of a truth, there is no contemplating the real decolonization of Africa, without exerting some control over the African mind, and there is no greater or stronger agency for mind control than religion.
To truly serve Africa, post-colonial African states need to advance the propagation of the faiths which articulate and advance the purpose of the African States, not that of a foreign nation.
Yes, Africa holds in her hand the sword to cancel and free itself from captivity; that sword is in the culture. The challenge, however, is to strive to retrieve the cultures from the extensive corruption which they have suffered, and secure them through the agencies of nationalistic religions and education which speak to the African challenge – turning minds inward and regaining control of Africa’s minds and material resources – for the decolonization and benefit of Africa.