- August 21, 2020
Telling a coherent history of Africa is an incredibly challenging undertaking. First off, the subgroups in the varying regions of Africa all have different identities, most of which are tied closer to tribe than skin colour. It even seems like Africa’s history is the story of the thousands of small tribes in the different regions of the continent.
Africa, as with her people, has always been a complex continent. Tribal barriers separated us long before the slaver and the coloniser did. Even in America today, not all people of African descent identify as African. Some have understandably dropped the ‘African’ tag because they cannot realistically trace their roots to any specific region on the continent.
And while movements like Black Lives Matter have managed to galvanise people to fight for common issues, we are yet to forge a common identity for all black people. In fact, we have not shared a common history since the transatlantic slave trade robbed Africa of more than ten million compatriots.
So how is it possible to do so now?
Truthfully, it is not entirely possible. It almost seems like Africa has lost too much to ever become one, not just as the home for all people of African descent, but also as the common factor in all their identities.
We have almost certainly lost the chance to tell the objective account of Africans’ way of life before the scramble and partition of Africa, seeing as all we ever had was our oral history, which is now being lost as older generations diminish. And yet, we must try and try harder.
We must be purposeful in using African heritage to forge a common identity for people of African descent. Like Marcus Garvey said; “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is a like a tree without roots.” Without the stability of a coherent history and culture, Africans cannot practically hope to rise to their rightful place on the world stage.
The telling of African history today is filled with the same dehumanising subliminal messaging that was used to avoid outcry back in Europe over human rights violations by explorers in Africa. It is the same history that we teach our children. And so, with every graduating year, we send out a new wave of African youths who believe that African tribes all lived in isolation until the white man came.
Today, we are giving ourselves the subliminal disdain for African culture that started being implanted when our history was written hundreds of years ago. In the continent of Africa, government policies post-independence seem to have followed pretty much the same footing as was established by colonial governments.
It has always been evident to those of us interested in the study of history that the history of any civilisation is built by the stories of the men and women within it who did great things. They become the influencers to whom we all look up. Think Barrack Obama, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and such key figures in the telling of black history.
Even though we were last united as a continent more than four hundred years ago, I have always found it interesting that we seem to share the same fate to this day. I don’t think there will ever be a time when one group of Africans fares much better than the rest. Whether you identify as African, African American, Caribbean American, or simply Black, it is time you recognise your African roots.
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