I think it’s fair to say that the age-old Pan-African rhetoric of “Africa for the Africans” can be finally put to rest. It’s dead and buried. Africa hasn’t been for Africans for centuries, and now, it seems that Africa belongs to anyone with enough money to buy up all its land – which is predominately those who possess that old money; generational colonial wealth. It seems that the average African is not the least bit interested in reclaiming their stolen legacy, or even shaping a new one. Indeed the enslavment period and colonialism has had its toll on the conciousness of African people, but…actually there are no buts; it was all pretty messed up.
Now, don’t go mistaking this for Stockholm syndrome, but you really have to give Jack his jacket – colonialism was a brilliat idea. Africans have been wiped clean of their entire value system and given a new one. Even after the wave of Pan-Africanism that swept over the 20th century that might have had you thinking that the level of ambition of African people, leaders in particular, would have stretched further than just political independence; in most cases it hasn’t. It seems that the main concern for many Africans is to please the supernatural beings imposed on them during colonialism, and chasing the elusive idea of wealth. God and money, in that order. Now in no way am I trying to dictate what should and shouldn’t be important to people; but for the small fraction of the population who wonder why Africans remain subservient in their own land, why Africa still has the highest rate of almost every disease and debilitating condition known to humanity, and why Africans in the diaspora are still so disconnected with their ancestral identity; must be asking why so little has changed since colonial times apart from the faces in political rule. Even the laws are the same.
So upon analysis of contemporary Africa, you find there are two faces. The first face is quite content with their current neo-colonial existence. These would be the aspiring middle class – those who still believe there is something to benefit from this decrepid system that isn’t even working in the countries that came up with it. The second face is that of the traditionalist – those that yearn to go back to a time before the Europeans (but surprisingly not the Arabs) came and conquered – back to that glorified and deeply mystified time when Africans ruled as Kings and Queens. This face can also often be found among the Afrocentric diaspora, who long to take Africa back to that ancient era, and start rebuilding our entire civilisation from scratch.
There is something terribly wrong with both these faces – one embraces the idea of accepting a system that was never designed for our prosperity – or even our presence apart from being the work horses/burden bearers; and the other is simply impossible – life does not move backwards. Plus it also bears the qustion: if we go back to this archaic way of living, who is to say that the African holocaust won’t happen all over again?
So is there a third face? Is there an alternative to these two forms of existence? I would like to think so. I would like to think that there is a New African; a progressive African – who is undeniably proud of their African heritage and the legacies of their ancestors, yet determined to forge a new way of thinking and living, where Africans are free and equal in the eyes of all people, and not just defined by their poverty and colonial monkey suits. Let’s keep this in mind and continue to explore the idea of a New African identity.
“We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations, but to our fellow people within the human community” – H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I
AfroPlanet was a cabinet minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the time of independence. After the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, he fled into the forests to escape capture. While there, he ingested a rare precious metal, which gave him immortality. He has since been on a one man mission throughout the African continent, contributing in any way he can. He currently writes for Afreecan Read.