Listen to an Audio Reading:
Whoever thought an African thought?
I have wondered.
Recently. While watching and listening to voices. Coming from the lungs of people charged with the crimes of continued exploitation. And voices from mouths that stand accused of standing idly. While Africa continues to be plundered.
You know it can sometimes easy to point fingers. And lay accusations in every which way.
In fact it’s quite cathartic.
It’s something that I’ve found we’ve become accustomed to. And our media reinforces this everyday.
You see our homes. Our streets. Our places of work. Are haunted by the Ghosts. And specters. Of colonizers. They are embodied in present day street names and statues that have managed to survive the test of time. They possess the skeletal structures of our economies. They remain as seemingly timeless victors. Hidden in plain sight. But residing in our very own shadows. Breathing doubt into the air, like the wind upon our faces.
It’s sometimes so easy. To be reactionary. If you call yourself an African. And commit to that position. It can get emotionally draining. And all consuming. Responding to each and ever casual, flippant blow of disrespect upon you. That hurts so disproportionately. Unfortunately the bullets from a single bigot pierce deeper than the embraces of love and support delivered onto you by ten. Those voices of antagonism, that have little direction, can cloud your judgement. And corrupt your attempt. To make actions that are Affirmative. And pursue conversations to entertain still forming alternatives.
But I guess it’s necessary to know your “enemy”, no?
After all you’ll need to be able to recognize what is “wrong”. In the context of a bigger picture. That is if you want to participate. In dialogues about Africa. To ride it of the associations of negativity, passivity; the drivers of self hate. I think that we are going to learn – if we haven’t already. That the “enemy” in fact wears many different shades. In fact the “enemy” is not only all around you. But within you too. If you can’t see it. Then, my friend, dig a little deeper.
Whoever thought and African Thought?
I often wonder sometimes. When listening to speeches delivered by White Africans. I listen. But more often than you might suspect. I feel within me a sense of great trepidation and hesitation. When I hear them speak about Africa. And no it’s not fair. Even simply knowing that truth. Doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.
I find myself sometimes listening to their explanation of the restrictions on the changes to institutions built firmly on colonial foundations. Of restrictions of changes to our Academic Institutions. Or restrictions on the economy. All too often by old white men. Whose voices in these spaces are often greeted with thoughts and irritations of my own that flirt dangerously and cross the line of attacks against their validity, flavoured generously by ad hominems. From time to time these thoughts leave my mouth. As if to protest their present presence and insistent position of authority in so many daily spaces.
What of the young white child. Born to the continent by 1,2 or more generations. Or the young white European educated and conscious, carrying the shame of the domination of his ancestors. Or her predecessors? What of them?
They too are surely my sisters and brothers. But given by the historically constructed divides. That separate our experiences of the world. In which we must now reside. How do we begin to trust one another, genuinely?
In building the African Identity. How does one receive the conscious White man? The conscious White Woman?
This is a question worth discussing I suspect.It isn’t as obviously dealt with as we might hope to suggest. Consider that for those who acknowledge inter-generational crimes. And commit their lives to atonement. We would really need to discuss one another, what role such a soul can take. In a manner that does not disrupt the construction of affirmative identities for those who have been denied it. That compromise can not be made in the haste of the White man who wishes to wash her hands of blood. This is a dichotomy that needn’t exist. But when these conversations manifest, it often does. We will need to work to actively avoid dominating conversations that act corrosively to our collectively defined objective.
We know. That even now. Whether they intend it or not. Well meaning as some may be. Their voices will carry more authority than perhaps it should. An authority that could betray their initial intentions.
But I wonder. Can they think African Thoughts?
And now what of the Africa Diaspora? Voices scattered across the globe. Scattered but connected. Over several seas with many names. Many of them descended from Africans brought to foreign shores on their knees. And the Africans who have started lives, families and professions. On new shores out of empowered choice. What of them?
Quite a number of the prominent contemporary voices on the African Identity. Seem to me to be found off the continent. I enjoy reading their perceptions and propositions of Affirmative Constructions. For many of those voices. I wonder how much they realise how they shape thought around the continent. Writing. Speaking. And thinking out loud. Providing asylum for minds that cannot be satisfied by what we have shoved down our throats in public newspapers or by our ambivalent national leaders. But what of them? What role do they have to play going forward? How can we connect the diaspora to access a network of diverse thought? Delivered from voices who speak to a shared experience at that level.
How do we access the voices that yearn for a construction of Africa. That in all truth. Never was.
How are the feet on the legs of African who walk on her soil each day. To embody the aspirational affirmations of the millions if not billions who in their hearts call African their home.
We must certainly remember, that while we build a new Africa, as a home in our image. That we welcome all those who seek solidarity with the spirit of these intentions. To grab a shovel. And start digging. To grab a pen. Start writing. And Designing.
But with all that said. I still wonder.
Who can think an African Thought?
When I think about the European Investors. Our multitude of NGOs supported by Western philanthropists. I wonder what they think about the Africa construct. What are they truly thinking? What are their intentions?
Can they think African Thoughts?
It seems to be clear though. That we need the resources to act on the injustices that require our immediate urgency. But how often do we opt to sell pieces of our souls. To buy a temporary solution. To buy wealth for the elites among us. To deffer more fundamental questions to a later date. How often do our leaders betray the philosophies that brought about what our history books tell us was the era of our various “democratic liberation” struggles. How often do those very same leaders. Take decisions without our participation. Without much meaningful deliberation.
So now to our many leaders. Those of you charged with great crimes of mass corruption and irreparable destruction. What of you? Can you still think African Thoughts?
While we are here. Let us not forget our recent most popular investor. “The Chinese.”
How much African soil have you now molded?
Cutting deals with our leaders. Undercutting local industries.
Marching on relentlessly as one by one they folded.
What role are you going to play going forward? How will you help us shape the continent?
What will you do with your influence over this space?
Can you think an African Thought?
And to you my African Child? Born here to this soil. Painted by the warmth of the sun that gives this Earth her life. Black brother and Black sister. What of you?
Amidst all your complexity. You are often framed with not much more than flippant simplicity. Painted with the same brush. I mean even I’m speaking, like “Africa is a country”, no? Haha.
Does it seem to you like your voices fall on deaf ears? Depending on what song it is you want to sing.
Does it seem like some shared words are treated with willful ignorance when delivered from your mouth?
Whenever your voice raises. Does it meet much more than sensationalised anger and fear?
Well.. Apparently “Africa is Rising”.. Have you heard? I read that phrase a lot these days. In fact I know even use it, albeit with a cautious tone in my heart… But know that many of our stories are breaking through the cracks of the walls that keep us hidden behind European borders. Now are you to take responsibility with what we have been asking for? For generations? As our anger and our arguments get louder and sharper. They are able to resonate with the harmonics of the songs of struggle sung all over this Earth. As the hymns from far away lands reach us. We must be prepare to speak in solidarity with them in turn.
And as the walls slowly begin to crumble. And fall.
Who will be the ones who can think these African Thoughts.. after all?