NES COMMENTARY No.45
Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES): May 25, 2019
Title: Celebrate Africa Day to Learn all of Africa’s Positive Contributions to the World!
by Mammo Muchie: DST/NRF SARChI Research Professor, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa & Chair of the Board of the Ethiopian Professional Association In Southern Africa (EPASA https://www.ethpasa.org/)
“I have often been accused of pursuing a “policy of the impossible.” However, I cannot believe in the impossibility of achieving African union any more than I could ever have thought of the impossibility of attaining African freedom. Africa must unite. We have before us not only an opportunity but a historic duty.” ((Nkrumah 1963: 231)
Every year on May 25, 2019, we have Africa day celebration. This year on Africa day the new president of South Africa will be inaugurated who will also be the president of the Africa Union; so Africa day can either be combined together or be celebrated a day before or after. South Africa should make both the day and the month the Africa unity and renaissance education driving time. We have been running the African Unity and Renaissance series of conferences annually and South African partners have all been paying for it. This has made us all feel very proud of South Africa for making tangible Pan-African contributions. We just did the 9th Africa Unity for Renaissance conference that the SARChI chair was a founding member continuing to contribute without fail for the last nine years.
As the education system does not value and include the rich knowledge, struggle and spiritual heritages of Africa, the Africa Day should open the possibility to become the education and learning day. How great it will be even beyond the day the full Month of May is allocated for all Africans to know each other and learn about the rich positive data, narratives and heritages of Africa. This knowledge that Africa created is critical to learn in order to change the mind-set of all Africans. It is time for Africans to know one another, trust each other and recognise and appreciate the rich knowledge, spiritual and struggle heritages that our ancestors created and left behind that we have failed to acknowledge. We should de-colonise the state, the universities and even the way we value what we manufacture and buy and sell. The Africa day can provide the opportunity to create the space and platform to exchange how we can move forward to bring back what has been ignored and excluded to make a big difference to harvest the rich wealth and resources of Africa to make all Africans live a sustainable well-being anchored quality of life and decent existence always and ever without fail. Innovate education, Educate all with creativity, invention, social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Create Smart, creative, inventive, innovative, entrepreneurial Africans to liberate fully Africa with full integration, knowledge and eradication of poverty, unemployment, inequality and carbon rich diet climate risks in developing united, renascent and sustainable Africa.
- Africa Day: Remove the Negative Data to Bring Back and Value the African Positive Data
Africa has not come out yet from the over 500 years of negative data based on the pessimism of description as well as a pessimism of prescription. There is still the condescending and often violent gaze from diagnosis to destiny about Africa’s past, present and future with an underlying tone of reproach and even unwelcome condemnation. There is a need to protest and resist against this negative projection.
Africans need to know where they are going. They must comprehend the difficult journey of where they come from. What do Africans see when they look back?’ They are often overwhelmed by seeing mainly the destructive 500 years of the dehumanising African experience. They rarely acknowledge, appreciate, recognise and promote the positive and constructive African knowledge heritage and contribution that the African ancestors created before the period of destruction. The current education system hardly recognises that this rich knowledge, and science and technology heritage ever existed. This positive heritage or data should be included systematically in the curriculum of African schools. It is disheartening to realise that the demand to change education policy in Africa often receives a lukewarm reception. The inclusion of the African knowledge heritage is much needed to design new models that prevent dependence and encourage creativity and innovation by African learners. The negative narrative emanating from the destructive period must end. The constructive and positive heritage must be resurrected and serve to educate and wean generations of Africans, starting from children from kindergarten and going up to the tertiary level.
The positive data is much needed to reject the negative legacy of colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, neo- colonialism and all the varieties of oppression that continue to affect the people. The positive data will change Africans from the way they think, to the way they look and work. African learners need to make a big difference by becoming Africans with agency, pride, dignity, self-reliance, self-confidence, freedom and interdependence. The Pan-African education system must capture critically both the heritages, the re-thinking of narratives and the future. Ethiopianism, Pan Africanism and African Renaissance, as three in one together, must provide the foundation and defining meta-narrative for rethinking, re-designing and re-engineering the completely African education system. Ways must be found to promote the Pan African education system across the world without excluding anyone by making sure all are encouraged, invited and welcomed.
The reason why we must resurrect the history and knowledge of the positive heritage and data is to learn that the African past contains rich sources of knowledge that are highly relevant for today and tomorrow. The rich knowledge exists but we were made not to know it. It is time to choose like the Africa Day to make all Africans to be exposed to the knowledge, struggle and spiritual heritages created in Africa and by Africans for all to grow up with learning always systematically without fail. This can indeed be achieved by consistently putting all of them together in the curriculum.
When past generations went to school, they never learned the following remarkable facts about Africa. Even today, we ask, who in Africa knows that Africa is the origin of humanity? Who knows that Africa has made discoveries in mathematics, astronomy, science and technology? Who knows that Africa is also the origin of universities? It is not me but astronomers and engineers from Western research universities that have acknowledged evidence that in many major inventions, Africans have made documented contributions.
Carbon steel was made 2,000 years ago in Tanzania: astronomical observations by the Dogons in Mali have been acknowledged by those scholars such as Carl Sagan of Cornel University: language, mathematical systems, architecture, agriculture, cattle rearing, navigation of inland waterways and open seas, medicine and communication, writing systems- in all these fields Africans have been inventors. The negative narrative that Africans have not been inventors must be rejected. There were also African fractals in West and Central Africa that have been demonstrated by repeating geometric patterns on various scales that have been used in textiles, paintings, sculpture, cosmologies, architecture, town planning. Today fractals are the basis of the World Wide Web. In Ethiopia, the mathematics that applies binary logic has been used for both computation and Meta physics. The Ethiopian method of mathematical calculation was released publicly by BBC4 with commentary by scholars from UK’s Open University. This ancient mathematics from Ethiopia demonstrated that Africans used binary logic of mathematical calculation, which is similar to what is behind today’s internet explorer and other computer -based systems.
African knowledge in agriculture is rich as this has been recognised and acknowledged fully by the US Academy of Science in 1996. The academy agrees that Africa has more native cereals than any other continent, has its own species of rice, as well as finger millet, and several dozen wild cereals whose grains are eaten. This is a food heritage that has fed people for generations, possibly stretching back to the origins of humankind.
Africa had a rich past before the destruction and the dehumanisation of Africans. It is high time that the positive data from the past is resurrected. The more Africans learn to unite and stand up together, the more there will be the opportunity for Africans to resurrect the positive data for undertaking and performing in the 21st century the constructive Pan-African transformation. Africa must reject epistemological marginalisation and overcome strongly the Africa failure narrative and dwelling on the negative data. It is important to recognise that Africans can be able to do so only if they are to re-engineer the entire education system by promoting Ethiopianism, Pan Africanism and African renaissance as three into one, and African unity expressed with the three foundations. Success of uniting the three into one will make a big difference. Then the Africa that the imperial- colonial builders rejected will become the cornerstone of the arch for creating a humane and civilised not only Africa but also the rest of the world.
- The Pan African Contribution from South Africa
Who knows that the first 1900 Pan-African Conference was not only organised by Henry Sylvester Williams but also by a South African female Pan-African activist Anne Victoria Kinloch? She was the co-founder with Sylvester Williams of the African Association that organised the first Pan-African Congress in 1900, but she is not included in all the narratives.
Who also knows that in 1906 Pixley ka Isaka Seme from South Africa initiated the African renaissance by writing a book on regeneration of Africa. He was also one of the earliest Africans to do his degree in an Ivy league university in New York City at Columbia University making major contributions to inspire Africans in America. Azikiwe from Nigeria wrote the book renascent Africa in 1937.Cheikh Anta Diop did his in 1966. The earlier contributions, however, all came from South Africa.
The end of apartheid also brought the Thabo Mbeki contributions to make Africa fully renascent. In fact, the most significant positive development for Africa after the end of the cold war is the emergence of South Africa from its apartheid era exclusion and isolation. Post–apartheid South Africa should have been the South Africa with the rest of Africa and conversely the rest of Africa also united fully with South Africa. The reason for this much needed closer integration is to strengthen both South Africa and the rest of Africa by combining all the needed energy to liberate Africa entirely from all the dangers of the colonial onslaught that has not been fully removed.
South Africa very much needs the rest of Africa to avoid being pushed aside itself from the harsh competition in the current fourth industrial revolution of the global economy. The strength of the South African economy making with the rest of Africa beneficial connections would help to insulate the weaker African economies by providing an alternative to the challenges of the African states facing the unequal lack of benefits from the current global economy. The relationship between South Africa and the rest of Africa can be mutually beneficial if both sides develop a Pan-African outlook, perspective and shared goal and interests.
The problem is thus twofold: First, South Africa has to evolve a Pan-African perspective from the debris of its apartheid past involving all sections of its communities. Second, the rest of Africa should be able to recognise the benefits and values in making the South African connection an important prod to enter the world economy on terms, for a change, not dictated against Africa’s best interests. Thus if South Africa evolves a clear Africa role, opportunities exist to adding new energy and vitality to conversations regarding the revival and renewal of African unity. Something like a second edition of Pan African ideals, potentialities and projections under the changed circumstances of the time can be fostered. This will open the opportunities for South Africa and its leaders to utilize their hard-earned reputation to repair Africa’s fractured identity, unity, future and destiny.
- Conflicts multiply in defending borders left from the scramble for Africa time of divide and rule
The borders are drawn cynically by outsiders in all parts of Africa. Families have even been divided and tribalism promoted to make divide and rule successful to benefit external actors. Why do Africans fight each other to protect borders others cynically drew to divide even families? The divide and rule divisive plot has plagued Africa with so many conflicts and wars. Africans should have united and rejected the borders.
There is a need to make an agreement where no African must not lose life to defend borders that others for their interest and not for African benefits. There must be full agreement never to fight one another to defend such borders. If the U.S.A. has the whole world in one state, why do we Africans fail to unite? China is united. India is united. Europe is united. Where is Africa now? We have the Africa Union, but we are not still united yet. Time to accelerate this unity. South Africa should help this unity process. Let South Africa herself also become South of Africa; then it can give big lessons for other Africans to follow up to do the same! They all must put Africa first and recognise they are all shaped with colonial mistakes.
Trade, mobility and currency still are big challenges to promote African sustainable, smart, innovative and sustainable development. They have not all agreed to sign the continental free trade zone. Africans still have not agreed to learn and speak the language the Africa Union has selected. Africa has its own alphabet, its own calendar and even long before the European enlightenment, there was the African enlightenment acknowledged by Western scholars.
The African union has not removed yet Anglophone, Lusophone, Francophone and Levantine Phone classifications. All Africans should agree to speak at least a few languages. There must be an agreement by all which languages to choose. Africa has an ancient Ge’ez alphabet and even a calendar system now still exists in current Ethiopia. These were created when ancient Ethiopia had the name Africa. Why not learn to use our own African alphabet, numbering system and calendar. Why stay locked in speaking colonial languages. We can use the current digital on line training to make all of us learn the African languages. We can enrich and develop the selected and chosen languages. Africa is not a phone. Africa is philia (love).
Africa’s spiritual heritage with values of Ubuntu can save not only Africa but also the world. Africa has the richest philosophy that will save the world.
The struggle heritage should be valued. Africans from all over have struggled from the time of slavery. They have won major anti-colonial battles from Haiti, South Africa and Ethiopia.
- The Struggle Heritage:125 Years of Adwa African Victory: Celebrate with Statues in the Africana World for the Leaders that Deserve
The great African Adwa victory will be celebrated as the 125 years in 2021. The 120 years’ celebration was done all over the world. In South Africa, former president brother Thabo Mbeki gave a well-researched and powerful presentation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=624BaD6wKIQ). The opportunity to celebrate the 125 years by erecting statues for the African leaders like Aste Menelik and Etigue Taitu in the different regions of Africa exists. It will be good as Ethiopianism was powerfully promoted in Southern Africa and after the 1896 Adwa Great African Victory, there was the second Ethiopia Manifesto, the erection of statues in Southern Africa should be accepted by the Government of South Africa. It will be exemplary to do it in order to promote the Pan-African and African unity for renaissance objective that all Africans must realise without fail. Africa Day and Africa Month should deliver tangible outputs.
- Time to Make African People own Africa: Set Up the African Sovereign Wealth Fund
Africa still loses every year billions with more than six times her resources taken away. All Africans must own rich Africa; not others should own Africa’s rich resources and wealth as it has been and has not ended. Ways must be found how to make all the people of Africa are enabled to own Africa’s rich resources. Norway created the sovereign wealth fund when it discovered oil in 1996 by making the people own the resources, not the states or private companies. Africa is super rich, if the people own Africa’s resources, they will all have their social well- being secured.
The solar energy even the Sahara can also provide free electricity for all of Africa by making at the same time the Sahara Deseret a green zone. We have the African Solar Energy network that is trying to promote this important project (www.ansole.org). The Sahara should unite Africa. It should not divide Africans. I was recently in Tunisia and shared this message. The African union has not removed yet Anglophone, Lusophone, Francophone and Levantine Phone classifications.
All Africans should agree to speak at least a few languages. There must be an agreement. Africa has an ancient Ge’ez alphabet and even a calendar system now still exists in current Ethiopia. These were created when ancient Ethiopia had the name Africa. Why not learn to use our own African alphabet, numbering system and calendar. The language selected Kiswahili should use the Ge’ez alphabet that a Swedish professor said is much better than the Roman/Latin alphabet. Why stay locked in speaking colonial languages. Africa is not a phone. Africa is philia (love).
Africa’s spiritual heritage with values of Ubuntu can save not only Africa but also the world. The spiritual heritage in Africa should also bring back all the rich values, traditions and indigenous knowledge. I recently visited the Hayk Estfanos Monastery that created so much knowledge about astronomy and all other physical and natural spheres of life. The knowledge is very rich but it is not accessible. Ways must be discovered to share the rich knowledge that combines spirituality with the natural world.
We should do all we can to also value our belief systems and traditions instead of copying mission churches that played a big role in promoting colonialism. Let our spiritual heritage be valued as our knowledge and struggle heritages. Together they will make Africa radiate moral, intellectual, and economic and political intelligence that will not only make Africa great but also the rest of Africa and the world.
- Concluding Remarks
Africans need to come together and know each other and remove all the negative obstructions that distract the unity and renaissance vision, mission and project identity. Time for all Africans to see and recognise themselves first as African human citizens and fast –track to create the one Africa nation. Now, Now, Now! It should have been done already but we should all work very hard to do it and make our people own Africa and create leadership qualities that serve rather than that steal; institutions and systems that we all value and learn to agree even if we disagree to discover and find a way to re-agree. If we Africans value Africa we should all be humble, honest, sincere and with integrity shape the future destiny of the rich Africa to stop forever and always to make the people poor. Let rich Africa make the people of Africa rich and let us transform, reform and perform to make sure we are out of the current paradox of having rich Africa with its resources flowing out while the people are poor. Let the betrayal of Africa by all who have been doing it for so long stop forever.
Decolonizing Africa should have been fully achieved with unity, freedom and liberation. Neo-colonialism, aid, loan and debt dependency continue with huge resource flight from Africa. Time to liberate Africa by making Africans to unite and own Africa now to go beyond all these unending dangers haunting rich Africa not enabled to change the poverty, inequality and unemployment of the people. It is unity and liberation time now. Let the Africa Day and Month highlight these liberation and unity values for all. Time now to unite and make Africa renascent without fail and use Africa Day to spread and share this important message to all in the world. Let Africa unite, regenerate and be renascent.