Afrobeat Culture Federator


Monday 31 July 2017 by Mabinuori Idowu (aka ID)

As often underlined on this page; corruption the cancer that is devouring the African society and impedes the continent’s progress, is not new to today’s African vocabulary, and the denunciation of African leadership and their complicity in the wide-spread. Majority of the finger-pointing of the politico-financial corruptions are directed at those persons in charge of politics on the African continent, but from all indications this bad decease emanated from the Western Hemisphere.

Today; it has spread almost everywhere in the world, becoming a contemporary universal reality. In the last decades we agree, trust has completely evaporated from our public life, no-body believes the word of politicians, corporate leaders, bankers, religious figures, etc. And this applies to leaders in the Western Hemisphere too. They have in the majority been exposed as total frauds.

Governance in the world since the imposition of Western model of civilization had changed from the one based on public interest first to self-interest first. Politicians; and elected local government counsellors, up to the presidency have always emerged, the richest in their respective constituencies after leaving office. What has Western Civilization given us today?

If we follow European proclamation, on the reason why they went to colonize Africa namely: Africans were cannibals, heathens, waging wars between themselves and ruled by despotic kings. To justify the savage treatment; of Africans by Western (European & American powers) they had to re-write African history, calling our tradition savage and barbaric! What could be more savage and barbaric: endemic corruption, double-standards in the justice system, execution by electrocution, police or secret service extra-judicial killings, hangings and all forms of summary executions?

If one may ask; are all these methods in the capitalist system, symbols of CIVILIZATION OR BARBARISM? Incidentally a book title; from one of the many works of Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, who is perhaps the greatest in terms of scholarship on African civilization in the 20th Century. All scientific research; which Cheikh Anta Diop conducted on the historical foundations of African civilization, culminated in this important work, an affirmation of the Negro (Black) identity, whose title strongly marks the stake: Civilization or Barbarism?

Thanks to the scholarly works of the likes of Cheikh Anta Diop, anthropological and historical researches of the last few years have brought to light some facts about the historical and spiritual consciousness of ancient African societies. This was found to be a global and unitary consciousness, which included all the past history of man and nature, a socio-centric consciousness in as much as the objective of history was the construction and preservation of human society.

Civilization or Barbarism; deals with the issue of the anteriority, of Negro (Black) civilizations to any other known civilizations, the cultural unity of pre-colonial Black Africa, characteristics, structures of African social policies, their impacts on historical movements, plus the process of primitive accumulation, and the divorce of labour, the conditions of labour, internal contradictions, and thus explaining these examples as the engine of history in African societies.

Suffice it to recall here, some features common to African political and social institutions. Pre-colonial structures of African societies; could serve humanity as a model to move into the future - a consciousness where the future is the essential factor. But before we go into this epic work, it is important to ask the question: WHAT IS CIVILIZATION?

Alioun Diop; philosopher and founder of the French publishing house Editions Presence African, in a conference on African Religions as source of values and civilization held in Cotonu; Republic of Benin August 16 – 22, 1970 said: "Civilization is the awareness that defines for a set of peoples its common identity. It is the strength of their will to understand the universe through the same moral and intellectual grid and to forge their destiny together. It is their common historical creative ability, the responsibility that they have, to protect the same values. It’s so their willingness to set the policy of their civilization.”

To put it in a simple language, civilization is the opposite of barbarism and chaos. Civilization is an advanced stage of human society, where people live with a reasonable degree of organization and comfort and can think about things like education and art. Civilization covers a wide range of human achievement from the ancient Egyptians, to today’s so-called Western civilization and everything in between.

Dr. ben-Jochannan in his book ‘Black Man of the Nile’ wrote: “The African continent is no recent discovery; it is not a new word like Americas or Australia…While yet Europe was the home of wandering barbarians one of the most wonderful civilization on record had begun to work its destiny on the banks of the Nile…” When talking about African Civilization here; we have to bear in mind that we are not talking of African history with pre - Christian origin. In an attempt to keep all of the African nations south of the Sahara; to a history without pre -Christian origin, Western historians have falsely assigned Africa an origin of approximately 18th Century.

But again thanks to research works, we know that the West (Western Europeans) cannot love Africa, in their claim to civilize Africa they committed crimes and did things that are impossible to do to a fellow human. The depth of their crime; makes it impossible for them to love Africans and so, they had to re-write African history, this is what Cheikh Anta Diop calls the falsification of African History.

What model has the West laid-down in our today’s world? Western Civilization, can be defined as a capitalist society where morality is not capital, and this is the reason why in the last decades, trust has completely evaporated from our public life. As stated earlier, governance in the world since the imposition of Western model of civilization had changed from the one based on public interest first to self-interest first. This was not the standard laid down in Africa pre-colonial era.

There were not too many models of society before, apart from Black Egypt of the Pharaohs era and India. The Greeks 332 BC, Romans 30 BC, and Arab 47 AD models, would follow after the Black imperial advantage changed. Judging from history, our actual civilization model came from the role ancient Greco-Latin civilization played in Western Culture – a culture of domination, violence and barbarism.

Cheikh Anta Diop in Civilization or Barbarism; underlined the checks and balances in the system of governance in Africa before the arrival of Western values, with the example of the functions of an African king. While the royal function has obvious advantages, it is also regulated by a ritual so demanding that sometimes, on the whole, the fate of the king is not at all enviable.

Indeed, the actual killing of the king after a variable number of years of rule (eight in general), according to the regions, is not an exceptional fact: it persisted, here and there, through space and time, in pre-colonial Black Africa. Thus, traditional kingship was conceived, as priesthood with an obligation to serve the community, without having time to serve personal ambitions.

Corruption and all those non-democratic practices in world politics, a contemporary universal reality today can be curbed with same morale and constitutional rules expected from those seeking political office. Because when one decides to go into politics, there are two ways to do politics – either do politics for personal reason or doing politics for a common goal.

I can make politics for my own personal interest; or I can make politics for the general interest, collective interest - the interest of the people. Politicians today; educated and trained with Western model of governance, place their own interest before the interest of the whole nation - that’s the problem.

When you place your personal interest before the common interest you in-fact make compromises, sign contracts which alienates the interest of the people. But if you do politics for the common interest, you will make compromises in the interest of everyone - it is thus an affair of political clear-sightedness, driven by dedication. It is not enough to do politics for the sake of doing politics, if one wants to make a change in any society - it should entail honesty, dedication and patriotism.

Let’s take an example from the Jukun people of Nigeria. The Jukun traditionally possessed a complex system of offices, which had both a political and a religious aspect; the priesthood practiced an involved form of religion marked by diurnal and annual rounds of ritual and sacrifice. The king called Aka Uku, was until he became a member of northern Nigeria’s house of chiefs in 1947 a typical example of a semi-divine priest-king.

In Nigeria, where a secret council of the crown presided over by the high priest could decide the death of the king according to this rite, it happened that there was no shortage of candidates for succession to the throne. In other words, the fate of the king was not envied by the people, but seen as a service to the community. Wherever this custom has survived, the royal charge aroused very little covetousness and intrigue.

All the traditional African kings are designated by the clergy or the priestly caste because their legitimacy stems from the indigenous religion. This is especially true for ancient Nubians, Egypt, Nigeria (Yoruba, etc.). Even today, great African scholars consult these oracles, entrust their political or other destinies to masters of occultism, and disburse amazing amounts of money to reward these oracles: a primitiveness that one would think of another age, but which does not prevent us from discussing rationalism.

Culture is not static; it is subject to evolutions and innovations and while there are a lot of traditional practices in Africa that needs to be discarded at the same time, there are great deals of value in the African culture and tradition. These values are relevant to our collective advancement in the world as human beings, but they are systematically ignored because we are too egoist to admit that a people whom we once called barbarians have for so long been the masters of our today’s civilisation.

The eight years duration of two presidential mandates in the United States, is no-doubt borrowed from the structures of pre-colonial Africa.

Most recently in 1967; a young Nigerian king from the Jukun Kingdom, who had accepted the royal charge of his people, was a victim of the rigours of tradition. He was almost killed after the period of reign prescribed by the rite. Reporting the story; in Jeune Afrique magazine N°475 of 10 February 1970, p. 26. N. NGONO NGABISSION reported in this article that Malam Adi Bwaye, a Nigerian fifty-year-old from the Jukun tribe, from the centre of the country, a former science college professor had not closed his eyes for two years, exactly since 1967.

He was Aku Uka, that is to say king of the Jukuns, and had been chosen since 1961 among several candidates. He was then enthroned with all the pomp due to his rank. But the Jukun tradition means that Aku Uka reigns for only seven years and the king must be sacrificed at the end of his term. In the last month of his reign he is strangled in his sleep by the priest of worship. However, the Septennate had been finished since December 1967. Refusing to submit to the rite until the last extremity, Malam Adi Bwaye could only sleep with a revolver loaded under his pillow.

Traditionally; the decision of the council was notified to the king by the presentation of parrot eggs; He knew then that he ought to be suppressed, if not others would soon take charge of the execution of the sentence in his place. Thus, traditional kingship was conceived as a priesthood that are consecrated and dedicated to serve the community, without having time to serve personal ambitions.

The alerted Nigerian opinion was divided. A survey by the Lagos Sunday Times revealed that out of 500 responses, 55 per cent were for non-execution of the sentence, while 45 per cent were for. At the end of his life, which naturally ended on 18 January 1970, he was protected 24 hours a day by the Nigerian Federal Police.

Competition for the throne exists especially in countries where the eligible "class" has succeeded in circumventing tradition and replacing the symbolic ritual killing with the actual killing, such was the case in Egypt, from the Third Dynasty: We can see Saqqarah, in the funerary area of Djozer (2778 BC), the rounded route which was arranged for this purpose, and which the Fari (Pharaoh) was to traverse, to demonstrate his vigour and regeneration.

One can see the Pharaoh and the pursuers with whips running after him. The king must not be overtaken by his pursuers otherwise he would be whipped. African checks and balance, practices are the basis of this traditional practice.

In the neo-Sudanese states of Ghana, Mali and Songhai, where the actual killing had disappeared, the traces of this vitality practice are marked by the fact that a king can in no case be a physical diminutive (one-eyed, handicap, etc.). Even wounded in war, he must leave the throne until he is cured and designate or have appointed a temporary successor. Thus, vitality and the actual or symbolic killing resulting from it are traits common to African royalty from Egypt of the Fari (pharaoh) up to Africa pre-colonial era.

Unfortunately, post-colonial Africa is being ruled by modern-day despots with the complicity of Western powers, which prefer to keep these “leaders” in place in the name of “spreading democracy”. Africa has seen most of its leaders remaining in power for the longest times, and it seems as if the trend will continue well into the future if we continue to use Western model of governance. Although in recent years, we’ve seen certain African dictators successfully being removed from power, there are still quite a number of them that are able to circumvent the "rules" and continue to rule their respective nations.

Robert Mugabe

Muhammadu Buhari

Yoweri Museveni

Paul Biya

Abdelaziz Bouteflika

If we had entrenched these vitality, vigour, regeneration, and morale rules in our constitutions, we would have long said good-bye to sick Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, or President Robert Mugabe; who has been in power since 1980 and can barely stand on his feet, or the almost senile President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroon who lives permanently in Switzerland for “medical reasons” and only visits his country occasionally, and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who is wheel-chair ridden and cannot be photographed, etc.

Another proof that Western Civilization is based on falsehoods and double-standards: the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, or where else, are but one part of a supposedly universal effort to create world order by "spreading democracy".

The rhetoric implies that democracy is applicable in a standardised (Western) form, that it can succeed everywhere, that it can remedy today’s trans-national dilemmas, and that it can bring peace, rather than sow disorder. From the results, of Western lead wars in these countries mentioned above we know too well it cannot.

In the past, world history was mainly about the struggles between monarchs, nations and ideologies, such as seen with our so-called Western civilization. But after the end of the Cold War, world politics moved into a new phase, in which non-Western nations are no longer the exploited recipients of Western civilization but have become additional important actors joining the West to shape and move world history. Thus the expression, “Clash of Civilization!”

Africa was in the fore-front of world’s adventure and the black pharaohs who built the pyramids and had obsession for the world of the dead, contributed to the advancement of material civilization. It is important to read Ibn Battuta’s book: "Travels in the Sudan", he arrived in Africa in the 14th Century AD (he was an Arab-Spaniard), he wrote for people all over the world that he never saw anywhere in his travels any continent apart from African people who refused so-much injustice.

This is proof that Africans were the first people to launch and practice the concept of human rights, it was during the pre-colonial reigns of Soundiata Keita and Soumanguru Kanté, but Western writers would want us to believe that they invented the concept of human rights in the world and all the other bad ways and practices were invented by other members of humanity.

In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the obligation not to damage irrigation works is considered an ethical duty, on the same level as not to kill, not to commit adultery or sodomy. This is a fine example of a utilitarian origin of morality; one could almost speak of ecology, elevated at the level of a morality.

According to ancient African (Egyptian); in the universe the same vital force maintains, through the intermediary of royalty, the fertility of the earth, at the same time as that of the human species. According to Diodorus, Isis invented agriculture and the laws. The divinity of which emanates all these functions, in fact, royal and terrestrial, will be venerated as a condition of their constant realization.

Everyone is interested in the fulfilment of economic and techno-scientific tasks. These great African pioneers of civilization as we know it today taught the Greeks, several things which they would otherwise not have known - but the history of Africa has changed since.

As we can see in Africa today the discipline required to think and act big, has not yet become a part of our academic and intellectual traditions. The emphasis on our cultural heritage has to a large extent excluded the study of these heritages, and their development as vehicles of thought and agent of civilization. We are in the habit of repeating untruths about African languages for example because they suit our mental laziness.

Those of us who have been trained in the use of English, French, Spanish or German languages, will argue forcefully that those are international languages in which alone science and technology can be intelligently studied, if this is so I wander how ancient Egyptians built the pyramids.

If we speak today of the European linguistic unity, it is only at this profound level, freed up and returned to science by linguistic archaeology otherwise, French, English, Germans, Italians, Romans, Lithuanians, Russians, etc. Do not understand each other more than Walafs, Bambaras, Hausas, etc.

But African linguistic research in recent years has made it possible to attain a degree in which kinship, the African linguistic unity in the genetic sense, is as evident as that of the great Indo-European linguistic family. And we see the ways that are open, to the assertion and strengthening of African cultural identity.

Thanks to researches; Africans discovered very quickly, and to a great surprise, that it was a typically African negro language that was the oldest written in the history of humanity, 5300 years ago in Egypt, while the earliest ancient testimonies of an Indo-European language (Hittite) date back to the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty (1470 BC), probably under the influence, political and cultural domination of Asia Minor Egypt.

In any case, it is by studying the Egyptian-Nubian languages that the historical dimension which has hitherto been lacking in African studies is introduced. The resulting comparatives make it possible, every day that passes, to reinforce the feeling of linguistic unity of the Africans, and thus the sense of cultural identity of the Africans.

Considering that African society was based on communalism, the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity, unity, national cohesion, and respect for rights of groups, tolerance, dialogue and discussion, governments today should draw inspiration from these values!

Putting the subject of the barbaric past of every civilization in the same context, so that those who hold imperial powers today (Europe and America), could feel some sense of relief from their barbaric past is not the solution. The model of the world today, dictated by those who hold imperial advantage and the memories from: slave raids, colonisation and its consequences, has led humanity into a divided and shattered consciousness creating, the crucial problem of its reunification, reintegration, and therefore its reconstruction.

From the result stated above; of anthropological and historical researches of the last few years that have brought to light, facts about the historical and spiritual consciousness of ancient African societies, we have proof that another world devoid of all sorts of domination, violence, and barbarism perpetrated in the name of God, Allah, or Yahweh is possible.

Cheikh Anta Diop concluded this epic work by affirming: “For us, the return to Egypt in all domains is a primordial condition to reconcile African civilization with history, to be able to build a corpus of modern human sciences, to renew African culture. Far from delectation with the past, a look towards ancient Egypt is the best way to conceive and build our cultural future. Egypt will play in a newly thought African culture, the same role the ancient Greco-Latin played in Western Culture”.

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