This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Asar Imhotep (July 25, 2012)
The MOCHA-Versity Institute of Philosophy and Research
There is very little that is more important for any people to know than their history, culture, traditions and language; for without such knowledge, one remains naked and defenseless before the world. –Marcus Tillus Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)
The African-American Cultural Development Project (AACDP) is an ongoing national venture which seeks to consciously create a viable and robust African-American culture (see Imhotep 2009).1 I have discussed the nature of culture and why African-Americans need to develop one in other publications (Imhotep 2009, 2012), so I will not go in-depth here. I will, however, provide a brief context for which the themes brought out in this essay are relevant. The aim here is to provide a national organizing framework by which to teach Africana-Studies (and phenomena in general) in a
Who I call the Bakala, Nkala, or Nkale. Page 1 of 13
manner that better reflects the holistic approach to categorizing and studying life as done historically by African people. Dr. Amos Wilson (1998) reminds us that culture is a social machine, a power grid or system. It is a holistic system which is composed of a number of sub-systems which are organically related to each other. I argue that a culture is simply the ways by which a population solves its problems and meets the challenges of its environment. It is a set of rules and procedures, together with a supporting set of ideas and values, designed to create a certain type of society and a certain type of human-being. For Dr. Wade Nobles, culture can be defined as follows: Culture is a process representing the vast structure of behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, habits, beliefs, customs, language, rituals ceremonies and practices peculiar to a particular group of people and which provides them with a “general design for living and patterns for interpreting reality.”2 It is the latter part of Nobles’ definition of culture that concerns us and sets the tone for our discourse here today: [culture as the] “patterns for interpreting reality.” In my 2009 publication The Bakala of North America, The Living Suns of Vitality: In Search of a Meaningful Name for AfricanAmericans, I argued that there were essentially 9 Laws of Culture.3 These 9 Laws are as follows:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Culture is conscious of itself. Culture is a collective and relatively agreed upon method(s) of expression and problem solving techniques. Culture is rooted in a philosophy of purpose. This means all aspects of the culture serve a purpose and is intended to develop a certain type of human being (and society in general). Culture has a cosmology/cosmogony. Culture has its own unique language that encapsulates how that population interprets reality. Culture has social and physical institutions that maintain and nurture current and future forms of expression. Culture must forever be expanding and contracting. The cultural elements of expression must be ritualized. Ritual keeps the history and philosophy of the people in the collective memory. Rituals help to strengthen bonds within the community; between its members and their ancestors. Culture has a constituency, who are somewhat conservative in nature, who are the living memory of the culture and who can reorient the culture when it begins to stray from its foundational principles. These constituencies are the living libraries that pass on the history from one generation to another. Lastly, culture has a formal rite of passage so members of the community have clear points in time that mark one’s development and maturity within that community. The rites of passage formally introduces the finer points of the culture, prepares them to adequately handle and develop power within the culture, introduces the members of the corporate community to their purpose and
Nobles, personal communication. I also added 5 primary objectives of culture. I argue that Culture is the institutionalized organization of the physical and social forces of life that aim to: 1) aid the human person in developing one’s powers of being, 2) provide tools that enable one to tower over life’s challenges, 3) encourages one to celebrate life’s beauties, 4) fertilizes one’s seeds of greatness and 5) encourages the person to discover new more satisfying dimensions of being human. Dr. Wilson sees culture as having primarily one objective, and that is the obtaining and maintaining of power.
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relationship to the opposite sex, the community, the earth and their duties as parents; and finally, it provides an environment from which the individual can discover knowledge of self.
The two laws that undergird this discussion are numbers 4 (cosmology) and 5 (language used to interpret reality). As Nobles notes in his article, “The Infusion of African and African American Content: A Question of Content and Intent”:
The system of culture teaches the people to recognize phenomena and to respect certain logical relations amongst phenomena.
This discussion is about developing a centralized methodology and framework for recognizing phenomena, demonstrating the relationship between phenomena and categorizing these relationships in a way that can be used as a pedagogical tool in all stages of learning (from pre-k to the university level) in African/African-American based learning institutions. Not only do we want to make this a part of our educational milieu, but we want to be able to translate this into common experience: into the general culture. In other words, this is about education and education—as well as curriculum development—are cultural phenomena. We aim not to simply ‘infuse’ culture into the curriculum, but to make our culture THE curriculum. My hope is that the following framework will be utilized in the structure of curriculum creation in our schools and in the ‘communiversity’ at large. This is where cosmology/cosmogony and language become important in this discussion.
THE ROLE OF COSMOLOGY AND LANGUAGE
Cosmology is the academic discipline that seeks to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order. Cosmogony (or cosmogeny) is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence, or origin, of the cosmos or universe, or about how what sentient beings perceive as "reality" came to be. I would add that cosmology/cosmogony, from an African perspective, also includes theories for man’s place and purpose within this creation/universe. So African cosmology/cosmogony is not only concerned with how the universe was formed (continues to form), but speculates what we as human beings are supposed to be doing and learning inside this matrix: our overall purpose. Cosmology is central to a culture’s worldview and being. The role of cosmology’s importance is central to the framework of Africana Psychology, a sub-discipline of Africana Studies. Joseph Baldwin reaffirms its role by stating that:
African psychology is defined as a system of knowledge (philosophy, definitions, concepts, models, procedures and practice) concerning the nature of the social universe from the perspective of African Cosmology. ‘African Cosmology’ thus provides the conceptualphilosophical framework for African (Black) psychology.4
Daniel McCall, in the introduction of the book Writing African History, notes the need to understand cosmology when writing about African people. He goes on to state:
Joseph A. Baldwin, “African (Black) Psychology: Issues and Synthesis,” Journal of Black Studies 16, no. 3 (1986), 243. Page 3 of 13
Africanizing history must begin with a holistic attempt to understand the total world view and cosmology of African peoples, for without looking at their oral history in the total context of their thought we cannot understand the meaning that that history has for them, and why they have preserved it. (Philips, 2005: 16) (emphasis mine).
As Malidoma Somé of Burkina Faso notes in his work The Healing Wisdom of Africa:
Cultures define themselves in terms of the ways their people perceive the cosmos…The cosmology I am concerned with in this chapter is so essential to Dagara wisdom that little makes sense without it; the cosmology is the foundational model for life itself. (Somé 1999: 163) (emphasis mine).
Dr. Kimbwadende K. Bunseki Fu-Kiau of the Kongo echoes the sentiments of Malidoma Somé in his work African Cosmology of the Bantu Kongo. He reminds us that:
Understanding the world view of a people is the cornerstone for understanding their culture. (FuKiau 2001: 129)
In terms of language, it is a people’s language that crystallizes the organization of the structures of the universe and a people’s educational structure is reflective of how they see the universe. A people’s language is its soul and character. The ideas behind the words used in association with certain phenomena can tell you a lot about how they see themselves in relation to said phenomena. For example, in the United States the earth is simply known as the “third rock from the sun.” The word earth simply means “dirt, soil, dry land, ground.” The implication is that, although we know there is life here, the earth itself is not alive; it is seen as an object with little significance, a thing to be conquered. This is probably why many in the European communities do not have an earth honoring culture and feel that they can destroy the earth as long as they can make money doing so. The paradigm is totally different among the Bantu-Kongo and it is reflected in the name given to the earth by the Kongo people. Our planet, for those who have been initiated into the ancient African schools, is a futu dia n’kisi diakanga Kalunga mu diambu dia moyo “a sachet (parcel) of medicines tied up by Kalunga (God) for life on earth” (Fu-Kiau, 2003: 111). There is a stark difference between this planet being seen as “dirt” versus a futu (sachet) of medicine for life. The very phrase forces you to think differently about the earth, and more importantly, how you treat the earth as it is your source of healing and life. The earth is alive and should be treated with care. If one destroys the environment, one is also destroying the sources necessary for good health and well-being. We therefore try not to “bite the hand that feeds us.” All of these philosophies are imbedded in the language and it is our perception of the environment around us, channeled through our language and culture, which shapes our behavior and attitudes towards that environment and the life inside of it. This leads us into the meat of our discussion which we will continue in the next section.
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Western philosophy is concerned with trying to answer three basic questions: ‘What exists?', ‘How do I know?', and ‘What is valuable? Each of these questions is a discipline unto themselves, respectively known as ontology, epistemology and axiology. Other disciplines are noted in the quest of understanding. We have already mentioned cosmology, but there is also logic (reasoning) and teleology which is the science of becoming, or the theory that everything acts for an end purpose. All of these research interests together constitute a people’s worldview (the way people make sense of reality and their lived experience). It is my contention that all research and educational disciplines, no matter the name, is really concerned with the study of being or ontology. In other words, all other disciplines (or branches of philosophy) are sub-disciplines of ontology: they all exist to better understand ontology. Put another way, epistemology, cosmology, axiology, logic, teleology, etc., are the research tools used to understand ontology.
The etymological root of ontology is the Greek word ontos which means “being.” However, this root does not have an Indo-European origin. It is my contention that this word is a ‘borrowing’ from Africa and it derives from the word ntu which means “life, being, existence, etc.” We are familiar with this root from the word bantu which means “people” or “human-beings” in the plural (the singular being muntu). But what is being according to general African consensus? Mogobe Ramose illuminates this notion of being within an African context. He notes that:
…African philosophy is consistent with the philosophic position that motion is the principle of be-ing. According to this understanding, the condition of be-ing with regard to every entity means that to be is to be in the condition of-ness. Whatever is perceived as a whole is always a whole-ness in the sense that it ex-ists and per-sists towards that which it is yet to be. Because this is the characteristic of every existing entity be-ing is to be understood always as a whole-ness. (Coetzee and Roux, 2003: 380) (emphasis mine)
In other words, to be is to have motion. This association is crystallized in the ancient Egyptian word (and deity) known as xpr “to exist, being, evolution, be, come into being, occur, happen, change, exist, come to pass, etc.” This term is also present in Cameroon among the Basaâ-Bantu in the following forms:
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Egyptian xpr = happen, become, (to) transform Derivative terms xpri = sunrise xhpr.t xprw = form
Corresponding Basaâ [h3lba] = become, (to) transform Derivative terms [kohl], [h3gba], [HeLa] [Hehl], [Kola], [Kolba], [kobla], refer to the idea of comparison, equivalence, meaning, to untie; [H3L (l3l)] = transform; [kobl3] = match, reply, [Kobol] = result; [kobra] = hold on to ...
In the ciLuba-Bantu language this is known variously as: Vulule / fulula (ku-) "change"; vunda (ku-) "take shape, becoming fat/high"; Vudila (ku-) "multiply"; CidiVwile "existence itself"; ciVwa, mu diVwa "become"; KadiVwile "Existent itself; Auto-Generator"; KaVwidila "why we exist." In the Zulu language it is called weMvwelo “evolution” and among the Yoruba of Nigeria it is simply known as Ifa. According to Janheinz Jahn, in his book Muntu: African Culture and the Western World (1961: 101), ntu is the universal force that never occurs apart from its manifestations. It is that force in which Being and beings coalesce. Put another way, ntu is both product and producer. For Ramose (Coetzee and Roux, 2003: 271, 272), ntu is concrete being that temporarily becomes. We say temporarily because to be is to be constantly in motion. Being is never a static thing, but a constant unfolding and becoming. In other words, there is no thing at absolute rest when it applies to ntu (at least microscopically). With this said, ntu can therefore be equated with energy. Energy (the potential to do work), as we know it from a modern science perspective, cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change form (Law of the Conservation of Energy); and energy is constantly in motion, moving as a result of various forces compelling its activity. This is reinforced by Jahn who notes that ntu expresses, not the effect of these forces, but their being.
But the forces act continually, and are constantly effective. Only if one could call a halt to the whole universe, if life suddenly stood still, would ntu be revealed. (Jahn, 1961: 101)
For the Bantu people, force and matter are not separate entities or concepts. This can be applied to African systems in general. I argue in my soon to be published work—Ogun, African Fire Philosophy and the Meaning of KMT—that the basis of all African spiritual and knowledge systems, and by extension cultural systems, are grounded in the science of perpetual evolution; in other words, motion and its causes. This is the spirit behind ntu. This concept is reaffirmed by Ramose when he states:
Therefore the view adopted by African epistemology is that knowledge is (the) understanding of the nature of forces and their (cosmic) interaction. True wisdom, hence knowledge, lies in ontological knowledge; it is the intelligence of forces, of their hierarchy, their cohesion and their interaction’. (Coetzee and Roux, 2003: 307) (emphasis mine)
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What Ramose confirms, in many ways, is that ontology is the greater study by which all other disciplines fall and seek to understand. This ontology, the knowledge of forces and motion, is at the heart of indigenous African studies. This conceptualization is what I want to reintroduce into the African-American psyche through a shared Africana/African-American Studies category schema called ntuology, “the study of the nature NTU”; being and motion. Ntu-Ology is simply Ontology, but from the African conceptual position that all things and concepts are united under ntu. The discipline of Ntu-Ology can also be called Longa-wa-Ntu or Bwalu-Bwa-Ntu (ciLuba longa "study"; Bwalu "science, business, history"; wa (connective morpheme synonymous with the preposition "of"); ntu "being"). We choose ntu over ontos because ntu has an already built in framework rooted in African tradition and classificatory systems. It was Franz Fanon who wrote: "to speak a language is to assume its world and carry the weight of its civilization." By using the African variation of the term (ntu), it automatically orients us to birthplace of this concept and its more expansive senses not present in the Greek adaptation. Using African terminology allows us to reinforce the notion that African languages and concepts can be used to interpret reality just as well or better than ones created by Europeans. Abdul Karim Bangura, in his article “Ubuntugogy: An African Educational Paradigm That Transcends Pedagogy, Andragogy, Ergonagy and Heutagogy,” reinforces the usage of African languages as a means of freeing the African from the dependency of Eurocentric paradigms for interpreting reality when he states:
African languages shall, therefore, be at the center of developing our knowledge sites. Language, as Amilcar Cabrai rightly pointed out, is at the center of articulating a people's culture. He also noted that the African Revolution would have been impossible without African people resorting to their cultures to resist domination. Culture is, therefore, a revolutionary force in society. It is because language has remained an "unresolved issue" in Africa's development that present day education has remained an alien system….We must, therefore, be diligent in making sure that, as Mwalimu Carter G. Woodson once urged us in The Mis-education of the Negro, our students are no longer made to scoff at our African languages. Indeed, Professor Kwesi K. Prah has argued consistently over many years that the absence of African languages has been the "key missing link" in African development.
THE CATEGORIZATION OF NTUOLOGICAL STUDIES
In his description of the philosophy of the Bantu people of Rwanda, Alexis Kagame 5 informs us that the notion of ntu can be divided into four main categories. These categories are rooted in the structure of Bantu languages which are classificatory languages known for their elaborate determinative noun prefixes. The categorizations are as follows: Mu-Ntu "the intelligent being" (human being) Ki-Ntu "the non-intelligent being" (things) Ha-Ntu "the localizing being" (place-time) Ku-Ntu "the modal being" (manner of being)
Muntu, Kintu, Hantu and Kuntu are the four categories of African Philosophy. All being, all essence, in whatever form it is conceived, can be subsumed under one of these categories. Nothing can be
In La Philosophie Bantu-Rwandaise de l’Etre. Bruxelles, 1956. Page 7 of 13
conceived outside of them (Jahn, 1961: 100). A brief breakdown of each of the categories of being is warranted at this point. MUNTU: Is a force endowed with intelligence and has power over speech (nommo, afose, odu, mdw, etc.). This category includes human beings, the spirit of the ancestors, orishas, loas, nTrw, niombo and the Divine itself (the Great Muntu). Umuntu is the specific entity which continues to conduct an inquiry into being, experience, knowledge, and truth. It is the maker of politics, religion and law. KINTU: Is a category that embraces those forces which cannot act for themselves and which can become active only on the command of a muntu. This category includes plants, animals, minerals, tools, objects of customary usage, and so on: in other words, a thing. These objects do not have will like muntu. It should be noted that in some African cultures, like the Dagara and the Amazulu, the trees would be put into the muntu category as they are endowed with intelligence. HANTU: Space and time fall into this category. Hantu is the force which localizes spatially and temporally every event and every motion. Since all beings are forces, everything is constantly in motion and must be within a specific spatial reality. KUNTU: Refers to the state or quality of being modal (mode, manner or form). Kuntu, I interpret, is the state or quality of being of that which has been fashioned/created. 6 It is a force seen in such things as beauty and laughter. Within this context, kuntu can be understood as one of the primary forms of sensation, such as vision or touch. In terms of academic disciplines, a few examples can be grouped as follows:
Muntu Humanities History Linguistics Literature Philosophy Religion Anthropology Archaeology Area studies Cultural and ethnic studies Economics Gender and sexuality studies Political science Psychology Sociology Divinity Education Family and consumer science
Kintu Space science Earth sciences Life sciences Chemistry Physics Computer sciences Archaeology Agriculture Architecture and Design Business Environmental studies and Forestry Health science Human physical Transportation Economics
Hantu Space science Physics Logic Mathematics Statistics Systems science Geography Engineering Public administration Journalism, media studies and communication Library and museum studies Transportation
Kuntu Visual arts Performing arts Architecture and Design performance and recreation Psychology Fashion Poetry Photography
I think kuntu is best understood by examining the word manner: c.1200, "kind, sort, variety," from Anglo-Fr. manere, O.Fr. maniere "fashion, method, manner, way; appearance, bearing; custom" (12c., Mod.Fr. manière), from V.L. *manaria (cf. Sp. manera, Port. maneira, It. maniera), from fem. of L. manuarius "belonging to the hand," from manus "hand" (see manual (adj.)). The French word was borrowed by other Germanic languages, e.g. Du. manier, Ger. manier, Swed. maner. Page 8 of 13
Law Military sciences Social work Public administration Journalism, media studies and communication
There is ultimately going to be some overlap between the disciplines and their ntuological categories. This is to be expected as the framework sees all phenomena as intricately related, as part of a whole. This is reflective of the general African approach to reality which Jahn reaffirms when he states that:
Philosophy, theology, politics, social theory, land law, medicine, psychology, birth and burial, all find themselves logically concatenated in a system so tight that to subtract one item from the whole is to paralyze the structure of the whole” (Jahn, 1961: 97)
An ideal approach to the study of any phenomenon, for us, would be to understand said phenomenon within the context of each of the ntuological categories above. For instance, if we wanted to study and better understand the life of Malcolm X, we could posit research questions in this manner: MUNTU: What does it mean to be human in the African-American sense and how close did Malcolm come to this idealization? In what ways did his religion and political background shape his approach to the liberation of African people? How did his relationship with his parents and siblings shape his attitudes towards family and friends within the Nation of Islam? Within the community at large? What did Malcolm constitute as knowledge? What were his methods for learning? How did he apply what he learned for the use of African people? KINTU: What products and/or services did Malcolm create in order to support his family? What physical institutions were set up by Malcolm and how were these able to further his cause? What was his attitude towards material goods and their purpose in the struggle? HANTU: How did growing up in Oklahoma, Michigan and New York shape the personality and experiences of Malcolm? How did growing up in the 30’s and 40’s shape and inform Malcolm’s mission? In what ways did prison shape his attitudes given the age he was during his incarceration? Speculate as to how Malcolm’s life would have been different had he grew up in Los Angeles or in Texas during the same time period? Would Malcolm still have been as effective if he discovered Islam as a teenager vs. an adult? Speculate on how different Malcolm would be if he was Christian or practicing a more indigenous African religion during his life-time? If Malcolm was a woman, in this era, with the same education, history and personality, how different would history be? KUNTU: What was the demeanor of Malcolm? His countenance? What was the response to his style of delivery during his speeches? How would you categorize his style? How did the people feel around Malcolm? How did he feel around the people? How did his mannerisms affect his ability to recruit members into the NOI? Did Malcolm engage in any artistic endeavors? By posing the questions within our framework of ntu, we are forced to think more holistically about Malcolm. It forces us to place Malcolm in a context that addresses his humanity, education, gender, Page 9 of 13
level of service, age, geography, economics and personality. All of these things come together to create Muntu-Malcolm. This method of questioning can apply to the ‘hard’ sciences as well. For instance, when examining evolutionary theory (in the study of biology), one could ask: MUNTU: How, when and in what ways have homo-sapiens-sapiens evolved over the years? In what ways are we evolving currently and can we anticipate the evolution of another hominid species? What separates human intelligence from all of the other sentient beings on the planet earth? KINTU: What environmental agents must be in place for certain biological changes to occur? What chemical processes must take place within the DNA molecule for certain changes to occur within the sequence of the nucleotide bases? How has the evolution of human technology effected the physical environment? HANTU: What evolutionary processes are occurring now, that could not have happened, say 100 million years ago on earth and why? KUNTU: How did human culture evolve? How did thought evolve? Do animals and insects have a sense of ‘style’ like humans do? From where did laughter and sadness evolve? What are their physiological and psychic functions? The ntuological framework fosters a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to examining world phenomena. And if this approach is to be common-place among African-Americans, then we need to be able to incorporate this philosophy into the everyday activities of African-Americans. That will be an ongoing project that I hope this article will help to facilitate.
NTUOLOGY’S ROLE IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND AFRICANA STUDIES
As it stands currently, African-Americans do not have their own way of categorizing reality. Our sense of reality is fundamentally that of the dominant colonial paradigm which is not holistic or oriented towards relationships. This is because we do not have our own cosmological framework and terminology to articulate its relationships. While there have been theories articulating a general African world-view, little, if any, attempts have been made to set in motion and establish an African-American world-view accessible to the common African-American person and applicable to their experience. We seek to change this by first penetrating the academic discipline of Africana-Studies, which we envision sometime in the near future would have a common curriculum to be taught in our homes, academic departments and independent educational institutions. Africana Studies organizes itself as an interdisciplinary discipline concerned with the development of an accurate description of the Africana condition, while also providing prescriptive solutions for transforming Africana reality (Carroll, 2010: 110). In other words, not only is Africana Studies an agent for the accumulation of data on the lives of African people, it is also a conduit by which one translates inspiration into experience. The aim of this ntuological project, as Dr. Nobles would articulate it, is to create a Culturally Consistent Educational Practice. A culturally consistent educational practice is a systematic process of developing and stimulating the knowledge, skill, ability, attitude and character necessary for students to undertake socially-defined, goal-oriented and culturally-meaningful activities. Page 10 of 13
We believe that this can be realized and beneficial effects are produced when, as Dr. Hassimi O. Maiga articulates,7 the language of education is the language of culture. That is when the content and pedagogy permit students to see themselves and to experience their cultural heritage in the curriculum. We do not want ntu to be something that students study when they go to school, but to live when they are at the home, at the super market, watching a film at the theatre, etc. It has to be part of the fabric of their being. Dr. Nobles adds to this concept by stating that:
A curricula infused with African and African-American content must systematically guide the transmission of information and knowledge while simultaneously reinforcing in AfricanAmerican students the desire to learn and encouraging the adoption of behaviors and attitudes consistent with the historical excellence of African people.
In other words, we want the curricula to help shape the behavior and attitudes of AfricanAmericans. A culturally consistent educational practice has three primary goals and it is designed to: 1. achieve mastery of all aspects of human functions, 2. to reproduce themselves in the objective world; and, 3. to make explicit their character/personality. Our aim is to develop a type of human-being (muntu) that has the intellectual capacity and visionary insight to see the underlying webs that connect us all and to be able to use that knowledge to create products, services and policies that foster a more life honoring, expansive and more meaningful existence. In this regard we have recovered a term and concept (ntu, ntuology) from the hearts and minds of our ancestral pool of wisdom and resituated it in a way that it can serve the African-American more holistically and not in an isolated way, as separate fields of inquiry like in the Eurocentric tradition. This is in keeping with the concept of, what Nobles calls, being Culturally Congruent. This refers to the need for services and programming to be in agreement and consistent with the cultural reality of the community being served. In order for ntuology to be part of the cultural reality of African-American people, it must be the core curriculum of our educational institutions. The core curriculum is a program of studies in which a number of courses are unified by and subordinated to a “central theme.” This central theme, for us, would be ntu or bwalu-bwa-ntu (ntuology). As I have stated previously, culture is the agreed upon means by which a population solves its problems. One problem that we as African-Americans have is in viewing the world as disconnected and fragmented. This fragmentation, in many ways, is responsible for the lack of economic support and fragile human relations in many African-American population centers. Based on scientific inquiry into the nature of the universe, we understand that the universe is a unity and all things are connected and affected by each other. Therefore, we want to instill a sense
Hassimi O. Maiga, “When the Language of Education is Not the Language of Culture: The Epistemology of Systems of Knowledge and Pedagogy.” Mali Symposium on Applied Sciences (MSAS). 2004. pp.349374. Page 11 of 13
of unity and interdependence into the minds of African-American people and one way to do that is to structure our activities and curriculum with this theme in mind. We do this not only on the basis of empirical evidence, but on grounds of tradition and continuity. African people have always seen reality in a unified and in relational ways. There was no area of life not seen to have influence or inform another area of life. As Jahn notes, in regards to the African world-view: Philosophy, theology, politics, social theory, land law, medicine, psychology, birth and burial, all find themselves logically concatenated in a system so tight that to subtract one item from the whole is to paralyze the structure of the whole. (Jahn, 1961: 97) This paradigm, I feel, in many ways, has been lost to the African-American due to our sojourn in America. Ntuology attempts to rescue and resituate this paradigm in the lives of African-Americans in meaningful and more expansive ways.
Ntuology is the study of the nature of being. All human inquiries are concerned with ntu or how phenomena be, began, has been and is becoming. The nature of being is divided into four interrelated categories: muntu (human/intelligent-being), kintu (things), hantu (space-time), and kuntu (modal-being). We use these categories to force the association in our minds that all things are related and when searching for solutions to human problems, one should keep these relationships in mind. There are two primary challenges we aim to tackle ntuologically: 1) Creating and refining an overall African-American cultural paradigm, and 2) infusing it into the minds and integrating it into the common practices of the general African-American population. It needs to be to the point where the people would recognize it as their cultural world-view (first law of culture: culture is conscious of itself). This is just a preliminary essay on the concept and I look forward to your critiques and suggestions for improving the paradigm.
Asar Imhotep is a computer programmer and Africana researcher from Houston, TX whose research focus is the cultural, linguistic and philosophical links between the Ancient Egyptian civilizations and modern BaNtu cultures of central and South Africa. He is the founder of the MOCHA-Versity Institute of Philosophy and Research and the Madu-Ndela Institute for the Advancement of Science and Culture. He is also the author of The Bakala of North America, the Living Suns of Vitality: In Search for a Meaningful Name for AfricanAmericans, Passion of the Christ or Passion of Osiris: The Kongo Origins of the Jesus Myth and Ogun, African Fire Philosophy and the Meaning of KMT. Asar is a noted speaker and philosopher and is currently organizing efforts in a nation-wide venture titled The AfricanAmerican Cultural Development Project—a national project aimed at creating a framework for an African-American culture which will help vitally stimulate the economic, political, scientific and cultural spheres of African-American life in the United States.
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Bangaru, Abdul Karim. “Ubuntugogy: An African Educational Paradigm that Transcends Pedagogy, Andragogy, Ergonagy and Heutagogy.” Journal of Third World Studies, October 2005. Carroll, Karanja K. “A Genealogical Analysis of the Worldview Framework in African-centered Psychology.” In The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.3, no.8, June 2010 Coetzee, P.H., and Roux, A.P.J. (Eds.). (2003) The African Philosophy Reader, 2nd Edition. Routlege. New York, NY. Conyers, James L. (Ed.). (2003). Afrocentricity and the Academy: Essays on Theory and Practice. McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers. Jefferson, NC. Fatumnbi, Awo Fa'lokun. (1993). Esu-Elegba: Ifa and the Divine Messenger. Original Pubns. Fu-Kiau, Kimbwadende K. (2003). Self-Healing Power and Therapy: Old Teachings from Africa. Inprint Editions. Baltimore, MD. Jahn, Janheinz (1961). Muntu: African Culture and the Western World. Grove Press, Inc. New York, NY. Maiga, Hassimi O. “When the Language of Education is Not the Language of Culture: The Epistemology of Systems of Knowledge and Pedagogy.” Mali Symposium on Applied Sciences (MSAS). 2004. pp.349-374. Ngara, Constantine. "African Ways of Knowing and Pedagogy Revisited." Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, 2007, 2(2), pp. 7-20. Nobles, Wade. “The Infusion of African and African-American Content: A Question of Content and Intent.” Nobles, Wade (1978) "African Consciousness and Liberation Struggles: Implications for the development and construction of Scientific Paradigms Part One." Presented at the Fanon Research and Development Institute, Port of Spain, Trinidad. An examination of the relationship between culture, worldview, and the development and use of science. Philips, John E. (Ed.). (2005). Writing African History. University of Rochester Press. Rochester, NY. Wilson, Amos. (1998). Blueprint For Black Power: A Moral, Political and Economic Imperative for the Twenty-First-Century. African World InfoSystems. New York, NY.
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