Access to History

Looking back. Not too far actually. I remember. Taking an elective in International Relations in the final year of my Engineering programme.. Just to pick up some credits, you know?.. Partially fulfilling my interest in making sense of the Political mess around me.

I remember

Sitting in a lecture. Listening to one of my favourite lecturers. A white woman. Introducing to me, the history of the formation of African states. The conference of Berlin. For the first time at 22 years old.

I remember

My jaw literally dropping. Thinking “what the fuck. This changes everything”. And for me it most certainly did. I felt indignant. I feel indignant. About it. Humiliated and ashamed I hadn’t gone looking sooner..

Early on in life I had slotted into the sciences stream in and out of school. Gorging myself on the history of invention and marvelling at the history of the Universe and enjoying to discover our explanations of the “physical laws”. I had completely missed out. I had shut out a vital part of my education.

Sadly it had been too easy, there wasn’t much available and everyone under the sun encouraged the narrow scientific focus as mathematics and the physical sciences enjoyed their time en vogue.

But now, upon this late – urgent discovery, suddenly many things started to make sense..

I thought back to

My time in Kisoro in Uganda, sitting in the car with my father and my uncle. On our way to visit family in Rwanda, just over the border. Meters away. Travelling from the British colony to the French colony. Switching the sides of the roads we drove on. Making our way to visit family who shared our blood, our shades and our names. But separated.

I remember

Feeling like a light had been shone directly into my face. Blinding me and angering me. But at the same time allowing dark suppressed figures in my subconscious to be seen. Confirming my suspicion of our artificial borders burnt into our homelands long ago. With fires of Greed and Hatred. Then reapproiated. And re-painted. By so called liberation heroes.

I remember

In my undergraduate. I dedicated a great deal of time and resources to working with disadvantaged schools in and around Cape Town, South Africa. Working primarily in a tutoring environment – We’ll talk about that experience another time. So, one of the most unsettling feelings I had came not when we discussed Mathematics or Physics. It came when we discussed History and Geography. Particularly on the continent. There seemed to be a very limited, narrow perspective on “Africa” beyond say.. Zimbabwe and maybe the present goings on of good ol’ Robert Mugabe.. In fact when I look back to my own public education, I don’t remember being taught much about Africa that wasn’t about the colonisers. I guess beyond token references to phrases like Ubuntu.. That somehow when juxtaposed to the rest of what we were presented with.. Just felt strange.

Tell me.

What on Earth is going on here with our access to history?

Many of my family. My teachers an loved ones. If asked would tell me, for sure, that they don’t see Africa in this simplistic 1 dimensional way.

Yet when there children are fed this simple doctrine by our civic caretakers why do they not have anything to say?

Surely, somehow this is a crime we are committing.
Idly watching our children develop without a fair context. Living. Just sitting.

The omissions of important truths for the lives of many citizens for me is tantamount to a violent lie against our people.

Don’t bother teaching young people about “Development” or “Equality”.. That is unless you make an effort to provide the history to how it is that we even got here.

I’m not talking about lumping things into a subject or forcing readings in Industrialised schools and classrooms.

I’m talking about exposing and providing young “Africans” with more information from which to actually choose.

I see the role of the Arts absolutely crucial for this purpose. A dynamic concerted effort needs to be made to provide historical context for the millions how are so obviously. Painfully disconnected.

We need somehow to sever the ties between Access to History and Capital

Through the initial phases of my life as a curious “African” child.. I took to science as a means to understand the world.. I was told that this is view that will allow you to see things with some kind of objective purity.
I’ve since come to learn that damaging world views that drive me to separate myself from my context are dealt with a bizarre level of impunity.

Access to History
A fundamental Human Right?
Without this we will lose the battle for Justice. We must fight.

Access to History
My friend. Who on Earth are you?
Who am I? – You ask. Without our context how the fuck are we supposed to know

Access to History
Has been a failing on us to live up to our responsibility.
To work to bring a necessary balance we will need hard work from souls. To act with integrity.

Access to History
A task that most definitely will require all our creativity.
No more forcing this necessary ammunition into faulty silver bullets. No more naïveté.

Access to History
What must we do?
First things first. Get off your couch. Get away from your screen.
Walk outside.
Talk. Learn. Act.
And Damn it. Let’s provide.

Access to History


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