Swallowing A Bitter Pill: The Subtext in Kihura Nkuba’s When The African Wakes
Dedicated to all unsung heroes who lost or are still losing their lives for the existence of Africa By Rogers Atukunda, Department of Literature Makerere University, Kampala-Uganda firstname.lastname@example.org ―In the end it has come to this prophetic prediction. That in the days of perpetual slumber, the warriors will adopt a philosophy where, „to be or not to be‟ depends on whether one is known in Europe or accepted in America,‖ Kihura Nkuba; 1995: When The African Wakes (3). Abstract Scholars define text as the actual words on the page given their significance by the circumstances in which they were written or spoken. So, these circumstances, which include what has happened before the prevailing situation and their significance is the context. The context may give special significance to the words which will also be particularly meaningful because of what the audience/intended reader senses as the emotions behind those words. What the reader can read between the lines as it were is the subtext (the underlying meaning). The reader may also recognise particular speeches or utterances with a great thematic significance which forms the supertext. My main interest is in the ―subtext‖ as a powerful tool for enfranchisement. According to Wikipedia (Subtext (disambiguation) June 2011), subtext or undertone is the content of a book, play, musical work, film, video game, or television series which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds. David Baboulene, The Story Book - Guidance for Writers on Story Creation, Optimisation and Problem Resolution (2010: 1st edition ed.) defines subtext as ―the result of any form of gap in knowledge between any of the participants in a story; for example, between the author and a character, between two characters or between the audience and at least one character.‖ Linda Seger, in her book, Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath (Copyright © 2011) views subtext as ―the true meaning simmering underneath the words and actions. It‘s the real, unadulterated truth. The text is the tip of the iceberg, but the subtext is everything underneath that bubbles up and informs the text. It‘s the implicit meaning, rather than the explicit meaning. Great writing and great drama are subterranean. Subtext points to other meanings. The words we hear are meant to lead us to other layers. Conflict exists at this intersection of text and subtext.‖ According to writer and essayist, Charles Baxter; The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot (2007), subtext is ―the hidden subtextual overtones and undertones in fictional works haunted by the unspoken, the suppressed,
and the secreted.‖ He gives an example of a novel which he says is ―not a summary of its plot but a collection of instances, of luminous specific details that take us in the direction of the unsaid and unseen.‖ In Kihura Nkuba‘s When The African Wakes; you can easily sense the underneath or unexpressed emotions, thoughts, the mockery and other implicit ideas. With this special tool, he has succeeded in providing a social, political, cultural and economic commentary on the fate of Africa. His book therefore cuts across all audiences because references to the would-be openly offensive themes like sexual orientation (in case of young readers) are tacitly inserted in the narratives making the book appealing to a general audience. Similarly, he tackles more other themes for example looting and plundering by colonising powers, homosexuality, loss of identity, foreign religion, cultural erosion, moral decay, neocolonialism, passivity and resignation in the face of oppression as opposed to activism and the urge for liberation. Since the book calls for a massive revolution in our turbulent times when European and American powers are incessantly plundering and looting Africa more aggressively than before, the author deemed it necessary to embed meaning between the lines; to communicate symbolically and culturally to the target group without inciting personal harm from the aggrieved. With this metaphorical approach, he inspires the powerless and instills in them a sense of purpose and focus to an anticipated, almost unavoidable future revolution. Introduction Three cheers for this great writer of our times and one of the finest critical texts from an African author I have come across. When I gave this commentary to my friends for perusal, they dismissed it as misguided lunacy. With violent proclamations, they condemned me for ―crying over spilt milk‖ and inciting possible mayhem when the world, according to them, is moving towards a ―one global village‖. Kihura Nkuba quizzes: By the way, I forgot to ask, who decided that we are one world? (51). Many asserted that whatever happened in the past should be left in the past and the future embraced however it comes. To them, unless I forget the past, I cannot concentrate on my future happiness ―which is the most paramount human pursuit‖. Only one less educated colleague came to my rescue in a letter. To him, such friends ought to be buried in molten lead as traitors and enemies of the continent. ―Their responses are a sign of the new indoctrinated and Europeanised generation purposely tamed to live a life of make-believe and opulence. A people who don‘t know where they are coming from cannot claim to know where they are going. Our people say that the river moves at night because it has never carried out any sort of self-analysis to know what it is and why it even exists,‖ he stated. This unschooled friend then went on to write, ―Neo-colonialism is founded on a new myth of brainwashing to create uncritical minds that applaud anything that comes from western countries. A new breed of men and women has already been produced from this experimentation. All they do is eat, rejoice, sleep, excrete, make love and gamble as they prepare to enter the promised paradise. This flat road of ease relies entirely on the animal instinct of survival.‖ He actually gave me the courage not to be intimidated out of my line of thinking, reasoning and expression. According to this fellow, ‗we pay great respect and admiration to those mentally equipped
with knowledge of human progress not those armed with race, caste, power, riches and guns to subdue humanity‘. Definitely, my friend‘s letter signed off the subsequent sizzling commentary. Analysis and Synthesis As Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin (1995) warn: All post-colonial societies are still subject in one way or another to overt or subtle forms of neo-colonial domination, and independence has not solved this problem. (2). This subject has attracted hot debates amongst academics. According to Frantz Fanon, French West Indian psychiatrist and political theorist (1965:48), “Colonialism is not a thinking machine, nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state, and it will yield when confronted with greater violence.‖ Fanon also observes that colonialism is ―not merely physical occupation of a native territory, rather it subjugates the tradition, heritage, language, customs and thereby culture of people, and their very identity‖. In his critical book Wretched of the Earth (1965), he asserts, ―By the time a century or two of exploitation has passed, there comes about a veritable emaciation of the stock of national culture...the poverty of the people, national oppression and the inhibition of Culture are one and the same thing.‖ Back to our topic, Kihura Nkuba at first glance struck me like the Indian adept of wisdom, Mahatma Gandhi. Both sages want ―to cultivate the courage of dying without killing‖. Kihura aims at liberating the African‘s mind which has been arrested and imprisoned in the cells of inferiority complex and lack of insight; where they have caught a cold of psychological torture for many centuries. ―I am a prophet of correction…I am sent to lay before your immortal eyes…Truth…the only useful thing in liberating.‖(11 16). He doesn‘t seem to be alone in the struggle! The question of liberating an African‘s mind has been a crucial factor amongst the continent‘s hottest debates ever. Writers of all calibres have tackled this issue for generations. June Givanni (2000: 93-96) quotes Ngugi, Wa Thiongo ―Is the Decolonising of the mind a prerequisite for the independence of Thought and creative Practice of African Cinema?‖ It is therefore acknowledged that African Cinema has played a big role in the decolonisation of the mind ( Ngugi 95) argues, ―It is in African cinema, no matter what we think of its content, where on the whole, the African character has been restored to his language. It is on the screen where we encounter African people speaking their own languages, working out problems in their own language…‖ Ngugi is also certain that African cinema has already taken a giant stride in rejecting the neo-colonial notion that the African person has no language, that African people can express themselves only in foreign tongues. Equally so, some filmmakers like Haile Gerima, Sankofa (1993), have come up with a Sankofa metaphor or plainly stated: looking back to understand one‘s roots so as to formulate a new future. The text When The African Wakes revisits the greatness of Africa which we have been successfully indoctrinated to be ashamed of. Kihura Nkuba alludes to Rip Van Winkle, a lazy and good-natured Yankee who slept for 20 years (The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent: 1819-1820, a collection of short stories by Washington Irving). By the time this Yankee woke up, he found himself in a changed world. The allusion is aimed at reminding the African that there is need to wake up from that eternal sleep and reclaim what belongs to him. ―The disease of perpetual slumber has caught the Afrikan.‖(Nkuba: 56).
He needs to shake himself out of that sleep and start laying a foundation for future development: a new world where the freedom and independence of the mind is paramount. Kihura taps the greatness of African poetry in the poem Daily Reflections on Afrikan Wisdom. The poem calls upon the African to receive and conceive wisdom, restore what has been lost, clear his maliciously tainted name, understand the need for unity, recognise the enemy, bear the costs of confrontation and finally rise against the oppressor. Insubordination and exploitation are highly denounced. ―You are being asked to work so hard so that the people in Europe and America can work so little and ultimately they will not need to work at all. You are being asked to produce more so that you can earn much less; (which is the basic principle of IMF‘s so-called Structural Adjustment Programme‖). You are poor because someone forced you or tricked you into making him stinking rich.‖(Nkuba: 2). The black man has been manipulated into working extra hard to develop the white man‘s world. These are recurring themes in Ngugi Wa Thiongo‘s works which tackle neo-colonial independent Kenya. Ngugi poses as one of those African iconic writers who are bent on stamping colonial rule out of the continent. Ntongela Masilela in his paper, New Negro Modernity and New African Modernity presented to the University of Zurich and the University of Basel, quotes the Transvaal Native Educational Quarterly (March 1939:13), ―it is a time of transition, of migration of population, of expansion, of the rise of new horizons and new modes of thought and life. It is a time when an old indigenous culture clashes with a newer civilisation, when tradition faces powerful exotic influences. It is a time when men suddenly become conscious of the wealth of their threatened old culture, the glories of their forefathers, the richness of their tradition, the beauty of their art and song. It is a time when lamentations and groans, thrills and rejoicings, find expression in writing... He adds, ―It is a time when men discover in their history, great heroes whose activities are near enough to be of interest and meaning, but remote enough to form subjects of great, dispassionately passionate creative literature. It is a time when men realise they can preserve and glorify the past not by reverting back to it, but by immortalising it in art. It is a time when men embrace the old and seize upon the new; when they combine the native and alien, the traditional and the foreign, into something new and beautiful (italics, mine). It is a time when men become more of themselves by becoming transformed, when they retreat to advance, when they probe into their own life by looking outward at the wider world, when they sound the mute depths by gazing at the rising stars.‖ The real question is: when will that time come? When The African Wakes largely tackles the bad vices introduced by marauding Europeans in Africa. These range from mass murder, unnecessary bloodshed, stealing especially of minerals like gold, intrigue, lies, deceit, white mail, imperialism and white supremacy (Nkuba: 10). In the preface to Decolonizing the Mind (1990), Ngugi writes, ―…I am lamenting a neo-colonial situation which has meant the European bourgeoisie once again stealing our talents, geniuses as they have stolen our economies. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe stole art treasures from Africa to decorate their houses and museums; in the twentieth century Europe is stealing the treasures of the mind to enrich their languages and cultures. Africa needs back its economy, its politics, its culture, its languages and all its patriotic writer …” Perhaps he was defining the role and duty of the African critic: denouncing such holocausts that have ravaged our land destroying a society and denying us all chances of progress!
In the same spirit, Kihura calls upon the youth to shape a new future using the ―feather of truth on the famed scales of justice‖. To have in our mouths ―words of truth and wisdom‖ because he believes that goodness should be prescribed to those born good, leadership for those born ahead, service for the spiritual and eldership for those with Afrikaness. To him, we should be the ―architects of the moral and righteous society that we built before and we should build again, to live in and leave behind.‖(Nkuba: 11, 12 and 13). Who would dare deny the fact that Africa developed Europe and is now swiftly developing America, Asia and the rest of the world? Here is a series of observations from Walter Rodney‘s book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972) confirming the above assertion! British trade is a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation. Malachi Postlethwayt, The African Trade, the Great Pillar and Support of the British Plantation Trade in North America, 1745. If you were to lose each year more than 200 million livres that you now get from your colonies; if you had not the exclusive trade with your colonies to feed your manufactures, to maintain your navy, to keep your agriculture going, to repay for your imports, to provide for your luxury needs, to advantageously balance your trade with Europe and Asia, then 1 say it clearly, the kingdom would be irretrievably lost. Bishop Maury (of France): P:84 The relation between the degree of destitution of peoples of Africa and the length and nature of the exploitation they had to endure is evident. Africa remains marked by the crimes of the slave-traders: up to now, her potentialities are restricted by under-population. Ahmed Sekou Toure, Republic of Guinea, 1962, P:103 Sales operations in the United States and management of the fourteen (Unilever) plants are directed from Lever House on New York's fashionable Park Avenue. You look at this tall, striking, glass-and-steel structure and you wonder how many hours of underpaid black labour and how many thousands of tons of underpriced palm oil and peanuts and cocoa it cost to build it. W. Altheus Hunton, P:162 The black man certainly has to pay dear for carrying the white man's burden. George Padmore, (West Indian) Pan-Africanist, 1936. After looting and plundering all artifacts and beautiful items from our forefathers and heaping them in foreign museums, the white man introduced abstract art which, I believe, involves sketching objects on a piece of paper, colour painting and decorating. ―When European people who had just learnt the art of painting tried to imitate Afrikans and failed, they then went into the so-called abstract art.‖ (Nkuba: 18). Real African art involved carving wood, iron tools, moulding and sculpting to produce items like pots, plates, cups, smoking pipes, knives, axes and pangas to mention but a few. With this knowledge, the white man dashed back home and crafted exactly the same items using the stolen minerals. He then emblazoned the word ―modern‖ on the items and rushed back to Africa to sell. The tamed African then went on his knees, head bowed in a curtsey, arms raised in gratitude and bleated: indeed white means greatness! But the author is not yet pessimistic. ―In the battle for economic survival in Africa, there is no retreat, no surrender, no turning back no shoot ing from the back.‖ (Nkuba: 28).All these great artistic items disappeared with the emergence of formal education where we are enrolled into
schools, credited and awarded degrees for simply sketching an object on paper with a pencil. ―An elder who has no wisdom is like a steamer that has no fuel. It will sink and take a lot of people with it.‖ (Nkuba: 18). We appreciate and applaud modern technology (which is obviously important) but the internet, computers and televisions seem to indoctrinate more than they enlighten through nudity. ―If you don‘t like clothes, instead of wearing a mini-skirt, why not go naked?‖ Our girls have already succeeded in that! Children and elders alike watch pornographic content and the impact is deep. ―Are they not colonising Africans now? Are they not doing worse damage than they did? Are they not killing us with AIDS?‖ (Nkuba: 21, 50). Statistics maintain that AIDS is rampant in Africa and the life span has automatically lowered. Another conspiracy to wipe out the black race! The actors and actresses of pornographic movies have nothing to lose. The more nude pictures and sex orgies they shoot the more the money. ―Films that have black people playing servile kitchen roles with sympathetic white masters and devils are specifically aimed at taking you back to where you came from; Slavery.‖ (Nkuba: 19). Commando films are a propaganda prepared, packaged and sponsored by foreign states to advertise their might and dupe our young generation into believing that the white man is naturally born to dominate a black man. Ken McFarland in The Lucifer Files (1988: 11) affirms that ―here on our planet, violence is entertainment and life is cheap‖. The resultant effect is lack of self-esteem and a belief that wisdom and invention belongs exclusively to the white man. Any African who thinks otherwise is weird, creepy, a freak and a loser. Hollywood, in all its centuries of creation and documentation, has successfully brainwashed the world. Closely, this is reflected in our youths total lack of identity founded on the idea of ―fitting in‖ so immensely recycled in American films. They dream of aliens and green men from Mars. The author cites an example of the film Dracula (1931, Tod Browning) where white men lure white women to bed, have sex with them and later drink their blood to demonstrate the savagery and cannibalism that they project on blacks. ―Once a cannibal always a cannibal.‖ (Nkuba: 36). Kihura Nkuba thus employs the image of a snake to metaphorically demonstrate the harm and betrayal suffered by the blacks at the hands of dangerous, exploitative and poisonous whites. The solution to such a poisonous reptile would be hitting its head with a whip before it can finish off our people. ―He also happens to be the sole beneficiary of the genocidal and matricidal system that his forefathers put in place to wipe out our race.‖ The African has been victimised and subjected to all forms of inhuman maltreatment to a point that ―the inhabitants of these areas do not beha ve like human beings or people; they do not look like them‖ (Nkuba: 16, 17). For an African to be, for an African work to be recognised as great, he/it should be appreciated or enjoyed by a white man first. European wars came and Africans were forcefully taken to fight. Who? No one knows. Why? No one can tell either. They termed their wars ―world wars‖ simply because Africans participated as cooks, bullet proofs and pathfinders. The battles were purely European: their causes, motives, outbreaks and resolutions, all European. No African country had international disputes with Italy, Germany, AustriaHungary, Serbia, Japan, Spain, Britain, France or Russia except in the colonial field. They never fought to liberate themselves but to liberate whites from their monstrous brothers. Kihura Nkuba observes, ―…both
victor and vanquished of the other races, both aggressor and victim agree on one thing, our own extermination.‖ (25). Whites can normally disagree on other things but still agree on the elimination of blacks. Nonetheless, one thing still amazes me. Blacks are referred to as monkeys or apes; but why were they taken to die in wars of people? The refrain repeats over and over that when you live beside an anthill you automatically resemble it. What shall we then say of those who sought the help of the monkeys? Monkeys rescuing human lives! The English proverb insists that birds of the same feather flock together. So, were white apes and black apes marching side by side in these global wars? By the way, what‘s wrong with being black? I have watched commando films where whites adorn their bodies with black substances before attacking their enemies. Doesn‘t this connote that black is strength, bravery, greatness and skill? Why else would they treasure the black substance so much? ―Attack is the best defense. They are attacking your looks so that you cannot look at the real unsightly person.‖ (Nkuba: 79). Come to think of it, it amuses to see a people proud of lacking melanin or any other pigmentation in their skins! ―You fool, every disadvantage is a lesson to be used carefully.‖ ( Nkuba: 19). Their skins are pale because they lack that pigmentation which can only be given by sunlight, a rare thing in their dark cold and hostile world. Do you think they are proud of their bodies? Think again! No one trained Africans to rebel against the colonial governments but they were highly trained, armed, uniformed and shipped off to fight in a strange land with strange people without cause. ―We have given the white man the type of freedom that he has and we have collected less.‖ (Nkuba: 25) Our resources were depleted to facilitate his wars; he became rich and now utilises our poverty as a scapegoat for all the injustices showered onto us in various ways. When he gives back peanuts from the wealth he stole from us, he claims to have donated to us. Should we then keep quiet and bow our heads, arms raised in worship? Is that why blacks have no business in knowing what they know or writing about their findings? What was the price paid by an African in the struggle? Childish, useless presents or getting deceitfully gunned down for demanding their payment the way it happened in Senegal! Sembene Ousmane, Senegalese poet, novelist, and film director, considered the father of black African cinema, successfully dramatizes this treachery in his hit film, Camp de Thiaroye (1988). He also shows Africans refusing foreign aid and using their own resources in another powerful film, Guélwaar (1992). Let us wait and see whether the African continent will cease to exist because the west has stopped giving us foreign aid! The text also condemns homosexuality and lesbianism that are gaining ground in Europeanised African societies. According to the writer, Greek gods are believed to have been homosexuals which forced them to sleep with men leaving the women sexually starved. ―The women in Greece for example feeling rejected, would go to the Island of Lesbos where they would perfect the affairs of lesbianism.‖ (Nkuba: 40) Greek women like Sappho are legendary known for writing pornographic and romantic poems dedicated to women. Sappho felt sexual love for women from which arose the modern terms, ― lesbianism ―and ―sapphism‖ to describe female homosexuality. In many institutions of learning, the practice is already widespread although the few concerned persons are trying to demean it. We are not even allowed to embrace any literature condemning the vice. Its victims not only hate the opposite sex but also hate what they have become or feel hated by whoever sees
them. Many have already lost their lives. Newspapers that have dared fight the vice have not only lost sales but have also been closed down; the case of The Rolling Stone Uganda (2009-2010) owned by Makerere University graduates. African governments have been threatened with wars, embargos, sanctions and denial of foreign aid and donations if they do not embrace lesbianism and homosexuality. The Ugandan government in particular has been thoroughly threatened not to discuss or even interfere with activities of homosexuals. The Parliament was intimidated not to discuss or pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and neither would the President sign it. When a homosexual was murdered, the country stood on tenterhooks because ―super powers‖ got concerned and a minor national murder became an international issue running on the BBC, CNN and various media outlets in the Scandinavian countries. I believe CIA spies and UN observers are already in the country spying. To make a name these days is to become a homosexual or lesbian, to come out publically and announce your sexual perversion as implied in the very opening quotation to this essay. African filmmakers, poets, writers and publishers are making their marks by supporting or idolising homosexuality. They get all the funding they need, they are published in international journals, they are given international awards and broadcasted on world‘s greatest television channels. To become a successful politician or any career person is to be a homosexual or glorify homosexuality. Fame is nowadays inseparable from sexual distortion. I have been informed that our highly esteemed born-again pastors open up churches today and rush abroad with placards affirming their homosexual stance. They return the next day with huge sums of money and start recruiting young boys to act as their wives. Schools are receiving donations because they support homosexuality etc. unconfirmed sources also say that our Popes are not far behind in the game! Many more confessions hang in the air all around. According to the writer, when there is full emancipation of women and mutual understanding, these two vices will cease to suffice. Firstly, women will have full rights to make decisions and contribute to global development hence wont view sex as a form of exploitation but as a game played for pleasure and at leisure. Secondly, since both man and woman agree in all circumstances (have a mutual relationship) there is no need for one to deny the other the right to sexual pleasure. It is a tricky situation since money (the new God) is fully involved! A commentary is also made on incidences of artificialism. Scientists tell us that it is easy for a sperm to be mixed with an ovary in a test tube and give a new born baby or the mixture of two cells from different bodies to give the same results. Is it a revolt against nature or a scientific advancement? Some go under plastic surgery and later die of cancer; the case of world‘s pop star and America‘s icon Micheal Jackson. Should the world (Christian perspective) prepare for God‘s next onslaught the way it happened in Sodom and Gomorrah due to excessive ―wiseacring‖? The writer employs irony to show that slavery is not long lasting as Africans have been made to believe. ―I am a slave. I am a willing slave…if you told me to go where I will not be a slave, I won‘t go.‖ (Nkuba: 46) This shows the inability of individuals to make up their minds and fight for their freedom. This person who claims to hate freedom and love his current status of slavery cannot be the same person implied in: Africans went through the holocaust of enslavement, built Europeans‘ world and were robbed of everything that they had (Nkuba: 16).
Therefore, the enslaved need to take up this opportunity and avoid the postponement disease, ―…I will do this work tomorrow instead of today.‖ The author disagrees with the fact that mankind will always rally against oppression when the chance presents itself or when freedom doors start to cringe but: often it is that people who have long been oppressed will decide to remain in the state of imprisonment or nonknowledge assimilation than venture into radical ideas that can bring about improvement, albeit through hardship. The mission of modern leaders is to mislead and keep the masses ignorant so as to weaken them and rule them forever. Julia Griffiths (2006) quotes The Fugitive Slave Act Hon. Wm. Jay 27 Autographs for Freedom, Volume 2 (of 2) (1854) ―Few laws have ever been passed better calculated than this to harden the heart and benumb the conscience of every man who assists in its execution. It pours contempt upon the dictates of justice and humanity. It levels in the dust the barriers erected by the common law for the protection of personal liberty. Its victims are native born Americans, uncharged with crime. These men are seized, without notice, and instantly carried before an officer, by whom they are generally hurried off into a cruel bondage, for the remainder of their days, and sometimes without time being allowed for a parting interview with their families.‖ This used to be a case of Negroes in America but is now a case of all the powerless civilians all over the world. Whoever seizes power works hard to disorient the masses and establish absolutism! The whites claim to have freed slaves. When Britain (after enslaving Africans as carpenters, masons, Dockers, builders, boat makers and tailors in Liverpool) realised that Portugal would benefit from slaves, hence ordering Portugal to free slaves. Sheer malice! Also, the Industrial Revolution had reached its climax and people could be enslaved on their homeland to produce raw materials. Their labour in industries had been replaced by machines making their keep expensive. ―They became known as freed-reenslaved‖. (Nkuba: 69). Was the freeing of slaves on the agenda of the 1884 Berlin Conference? It is also a known fact that slave traders were Europeans and Asians (mostly Arabs). African kings who sold their people as slaves did it under pressure or empty promises from whites. You would either make some profit from them or they would be taken for free. Consequently, the modern slave was created through propaganda. There is another claim that the act was universal. Criminals in Europe were also sold as slaves but these were given special exceptional rights from black slaves. ―On the contrary, Afrikans were the ones dying, the ones impoverished, the ones stripped of everything that we had, cast in the fires of the furnace that was made hell for us for so many years.‖ All the blacks did was to develop Europe and America that now rushes to us with aid offers so that they can plunder our states the more. ―There were no African cotton fields in America, factories, railroads, mansions, tobacco fields in Brazil or sugar plantations in Jamaica and no antics for housing Negroes.‖ (Nkuba: 76) They went further to colonise (enslave) those that had remained behind. The writer alludes to William Lynch‘s speech delivered at James River Bank (USA), a slave owner, who elaborates how he found a slave hanging from a tree. ―You are not only losing valuable stocks by hangings…slaves are running away…‖ This was the kind of sympathy he could offer. He is the architect of the nastiest ―effective‖ methods for controlling slaves: fear, distrust and envy. ―…the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful.‖ (Nkuba: 155, 156).
Another slave owner, Frederick Douglas, gives hints on how to make a slave. ―Keep them sombre, sullen, abstracted, indifferent, uneducated not to develop suspicion and inquiry amongst them.‖ (Nkuba: 167). Thus niggers were to be whipped and installed with fear of God simply to make them obey. Women could not teach their infants their mother tongue. The role of a mother was only to bring up a child suited for slave labour. They have the audacity to feed us with false doctrines that men are equal or born free. The likes of Thomas Jefferson who wrote in the opening of the Declaration of Independence: ―We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations, and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.‖ These words come from a man who owned thousands of slaves on his family plantation at Shadwell in Albemarle County, Virginia. Maybe we should adopt the Christian concept: lucky are those who blindly believe without seeing for the kingdom of heaven is theirs? And the ―do as I say not as I do‖ garbage! Kihura Nkuba also highlights on a few chronic African diseases which have claimed the conscience of Africans and hindered development. It is such kind of ill-health that has killed the political, social, economic and cultural statuses of the blacks. A disease like Zungu-Zungu attacks fellows who lack a sense of self-identity. Such an individual does not know what he/she is, where he/she comes from or is going and waits for foreigners to give him/her a sense of direction. The individual does not know how to dress, eat or talk unless prescribed by a foreigner. Another disease is called Handa-Butaka which erases an individual‘s cultural norms. One cannot dance or sing an African song, cannot beat a drum but expertly knows how to play a piano. Our generation lies in this category. The next disease is curable. It is called Kwegomba. It is an illness that starts as an ―obsessive craving for something trivial‖ (Nkuba: 62). The victim develops a feeling that locally made goods are inferior, his crop products are of poor quality, the way he does things is primitive hence the need to adopt a foreign lifestyle. It has bred a hoard of copycats in Uganda. A whole nation of characterless copycats! Since the country is known as the Pearl of Africa, there is absolutely nothing that distinguishes a Ugandan from people of other countries because he/she will copy everything about them; manner of talking, walking, eating, dressing etc. As we speak now, he/she has taken the copying to an international level. Uniqueness is a taboo and a severe criminal offense here! The fourth disease is very acute and chronic. It is called Ndwaba. It is a reverse in spiritual behaviour in which a patient is overcome by a perpetual hallucination. It is a practice of believing that people can fester on human flesh as the ―bread of life‖ and drink the blood of a dead Jew as ―holy wine‖-a slight definition of cannibalism. It also involves the belief that a big white God can dominate inferior black gods. ―Victims will give up most of their possessions to Ndwaba perpetuators in order to buy themselves shares in their imagined havens of peace, where their souls go for judgment after death.‖ (Nkuba: 63). There is another serious disease called Baba which makes a patient imagine himself to be a master of all knowledge and will disagree with any tot of extra-wisdom they have never heard of. ―A man who has not
studied his people and their history may present himself as a master of culture and tradition.‖ (Nkuba: 65). The side effects of Baba can be summed up in one word Rato; where the sufferer considers his own things to be the best and his own traditions unquestionable. Some other curable disease is Kifaka. It causes men to lack a sense of family and community belonging. This can be cured by stopping taking alcohol, avoiding crowded places and abstaining from talking for the sake of attracting attention. The last tiny malady is called Shema which cripples the mind and makes people lose a sense of right and wrong. These diseases maybe chronic but the writer does not say they are incurable. With the right prescription (Africa is the source of all kinds of herbs with which world medicine is manufactured), the patients will be given a new lease of life. At last they can see how blind they have been. A radical Senegalese historian, Chiekh Anta Diop quotes Montessequi Rousseau, a French philosopher who asserted that, ―unless a conquered people has not lost its language, it can still hope.‖ (82). The subtext is that language is a common denominator. Kihura Nkuba strictly insists that we must learn our local languages before being awarded degrees for speaking a foreign language. Ngugi Wa Thiongo says, ―…equally important for our cultural renaissance is the teaching and study of African languages…language after all is a carrier of values fashioned by a people over a period of time…that a study of own languages is important for a meaningful self-image is increasingly being realised…increased study of African languages will inevitably make more Africans want to write in their mother tongues and through open new avenues for our creative imagination…‖(Homecoming). How then will our all-knowing white experts judge us? Back at university, I had a friend who did not know anything in his father ‘s language but was busy attending corresponding Latin, German, French and Spanish lessons. I don‘t blame him, the same way I don‘t blame myself for my inability to accurately read or write in my mother language. Chinua Achebe (1975: 61) observes, ―The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many kinds of use. The African writer should not aim to use English in a way that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning a form of English that is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience.‖ What does Achebe mean by ―universal English‖? Perhaps diluting the original language of the coloniser so that we forge our own ―Africanized English‖ through which we can express our views? Maybe, maybe not, since the dilution itself requires sophistication first in that language, the Cyprian Ekwensi way, because you cannot dilute something you have no mastery over. ―Adopting another person‘s language means that on the part of the adopter, one ends up getting a diluted version of what the new language offers; never being quite able to master it and internalise the gist of the new language.‖ (Nkuba: 84). Whose fault is it then? Our parents, teachers, curriculum developers and planners? When I was in primary three, our progressive and highly reputed school would not permit any utterances in the mother language. Several punishments were devised for those who spoke vernacular. We would be made to wear boards, plastic coins or manilas with the words ―I am stupid‖ inscribed upon them. I did not understand what the word ―vernacular‖ meant at that stage but I came to associate it with something evil and abominable. Those who would produce a few ungrammatical phrases or half-sentences were praised and given prizes.
Ngugi Wa Thiongo in his book, Decolonizing the Mind (1990), writes, ―…in Kenya, English became more than a language; it was the language and all others had to bow before it in deference…thus children were turned into witch hunters and in the process were being taught the lucrative value of being a traitor to one‘s immediate community…English became the main determinant of a child‘s progress up the ladder of formal education…English was the official vehicle and the magic formula to colonial elitedom…‖ As matters stand now, Chinese is soon taking over this legacy! Local languages were totally abolished. How then would I have mastered my mother tongue? That is why it is difficult for an individual to weigh his/her personality before accurately predicting the neighbours. We come from a conspiratorial background where self-analysis is completely out of the question. It is always; the whites do it or say it like this or that. We even aspire to speak like them when they never even dream of ever speaking like us. The whole education of the black child is a struggle to indoctrinate and force foreign languages on him/her. Then culture of course follows when the language has already been mastered. ―Afrikan people who dedicated themselves to studying Afrikan languages find it easy to learn and are struck by the apparent similarities.‖ (Nkuba: 83). At the university still, we reached a point where we were being asked to write oral stories from our cultures in our local languages and translate them to English later. You cannot believe the hubbub that followed as we flocked the Institute of Languages hunting for translators of our own mother tongues! Ironically, the translators too have their own fix. Nama (1989: 22) discusses the dilemma an African translator always faces ―From a nationalistic standpoint, there is a tinge of artistic and cultural betrayal in conveying the experiences of a particular society in the oppressor's tongue....‖ The dilemma an African graduate faces can be clearly explained by Albert Einstein (1934) who believes: The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth, would remain primitive and beastlike in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. ―Speaking a language also brings forward the whole question of thinking in another language and seeing the world and reporting it through the eyes of other people.‖ (Nkuba: 83). Nkuba and Einstein‘s arguments are clear. You need a language to think. This language is foreign and obviously you don‘t understand it. The result is that you will not think at all. Turn on your left and ask your neighbour if this dilemma is new to him/her as far ‗thinking in English‘ is concerned. From Einstein‘s comments, it appears to me that the African will get to a point of reading about African languages as a history stored in national museums. Where does this leave the African who no longer has a language to call his own? It is only after we have learnt our mother dialects and mastering them fully, that we can go ahead and study foreign ones. In Peter Abrahams‘ Mine Boy (1946), a novel that traces the evils of apartheid policy in South Africa, a white boss Paddy O‘shea tells his boss boy Xuma to ―act, think, reason and feel‖ like a man first and then later as a black man. But have we been given this opportunity?
The moment we are born, our immediate destiny is Kindergarten or Nursery school. There, we are brainwashed and filled with strange ideas that are totally inapplicable to our setting and world. We are forced to read stories about snow and ice, things most of us die without ever practically seeing face to face. They blur and completely kill our imagination because we cannot think of another world but ice and snow. And since there is no ice and snow to experiment with, then we cannot create. No wonder, at that age, we haven‘t mastered the workings of a white man‘s language and without that magic language, we cannot write anything. Ngugi Wa Thiongo quotes Obi Wali who says, ―…that the whole uncritical acceptance of English and French as the inevitable medium for educated African writing is misdirected, and has no chance of advancing African literature and culture…‖ This is supplemented by David Diop who argues that ―…the African creator, deprived of the use of his language and cut off from his people, might turn out to be early the representative of a literary trend of the conquering nation…colonisation which, when it can no longer keep its subjects in slavery, transforms them into docile intellectuals patterned after western literary fashions which besides, is another more subtle form of bastardisation…‖ (From an article published in Transition (10, Sept 1963)) Our academics have joined the conspiracy. According to Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegalese poet and president, ―…in our languages (ie African languages) the halo that surrounds the words is by nature merely that of sap and blood; French words send out thousands of rays like diamonds…‖ Chinua Achebe, in his essay, The African Writer and the English Language (1964) writes, ―Is it right that a man should abandon his mother tongue for someone else‘s? It looks like a dreadful betrayal and produces a guilty feeling. But for me there is no choice. I have been given the language and I intend to use it.‖ Our fate is yet to be decided. We need foreign languages for easy international communication, trade, academic interactions and diplomatic-oriented discussions. Germans learn French, the British learn Russian and vice versa, not as a forced curriculum-driven initiative but as a gesture for easy interaction if not political reasons. When the black man uses English in works of fiction, is it a curtsey or a prerequisite? This work will first be judged internationally by white critics before being considered worth reading. Perhaps this explains why African books rarely appear on the syllabus! Like Ndeye Touti in Ousmane Sembene‘s God‟s Bits of Wood (1960), our curriculum designers also concur with her belief that, ―African authors have nothing to teach.‖ The author deconstructs the two untouchable words ―hell‖ and ―heaven‖, which we are told are beyond human comprehension. Accordingly, hell is that place full of eternal suffering. Logically, the white man was successful in creating hell in Africa. ―They create a hell, with a culture of sex, rape, murder, serial killers and mass murderers, drugs, exploitation and victimisation.‖ Kihura further explains: There is one hell, which is European…from old times they have painted the picture of this place as hell, with snakes that have whiteheads, monsters that are Europeans…‖ (Nkuba: 90) The reverse is heaven, a place of eternal bliss. The very idea of man acquiring the deluding happiness drives people with that endless craving for such a place. And they will do anything to attain it. Ken McFarland in his book, The Lucifer Files (1988: 61) writes, ―Lazarus, David and Jesus all died. And the Bible clearly states that none of them went directly to Heaven. Yet today no sooner does a rock star or crime boss die, than a preacher somewhere rushes into supermarket tabloid print to assure us that his immortal soul has winged its way directly into the presence of god.‖
Many have lost their lives in the name of martyrs, saints and believers. You must be acquainted with saints Steven, Joan of Arc, James, Joseph etc and Uganda Martyrs (pages burnt on orders of Kabaka Mwanga at Namugongo). Not far ago, thousands were burnt alive by Joseph Kibwetele, a Ugandan selfappointed messiah whom God had sent personally to come down and return to heaven with a few righteous Ugandans. I believe they are now up there glorifying and singing eternal melodies! McFarland (60-61) writes, ―And even Jesus Himself, immediately after His resurrection, said to Mary of Magdala, ―Do not hold onto me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.‖ John 20:17. To clarify your doubts, the author goes ahead to shade more light to his argument. ―Let‘s take Lazarus…assuming that his soul flew swiftly to Heaven after his death, doesn‘t it seem monumentally unfair of Christ to recall him from bliss after four days, to live out the rest of his life on this wretched world?‖ In The Bible And Other Stories (P: 101), Nkuba challenges us about the actual location of the Garden of Eden. He cites the bible which holds that the Garden of Eden was in an area that produced a lot of gold. ―We say that Kemet (Egypt) extended up to Zimbabwe with the famed King Solomon‘s Mines.‖ His argument is clear: ‗Eden was East Afrika from Zimbabwe to Iran.‘ The ―holiness‖ of the Bible is another matter of controversy. The bible is very ambiguous and contradictory. Different people use it differently and it suits all their purposes. And what is this bible? A collection of oral tales, proverbs, myths, legends, poems, songs and folklore from the oral literature of the Hebrews, a group of tribes of Semitic stock that, according to tradition, migrated from Mesopotamia to Palestine during the 2nd millennium BC. McFarland argues that, ―The bible is just like any other book published on earth in that it contains printed words on paper between two covers.‖ (34) According to great scholars, Hebrew Literature is literature written by Jews in Hebrew and, by extension, certain theological and scholarly works translated from the Hebrew by Jewish scholars. Hebrew was the principal literary language and of course the language in the Christian bible until the 19th century, when European languages came into use. So, the Bible, also called the Holy Bible, is the ―sacred book or Scriptures of Judaism and of Christianity‖. McFarland further quotes Lucifer as saying, ―He calls His book of lies ―the word‖ and ―the truth‖. I call it propaganda. It‘s a whitewash, a cover up, a snow job.‖ (Database 5, File t -8835.300, Record 416 (Third Century A.D) 35) According to Encarta Encyclopedia, the term Bible is derived through Latin from the Greek biblia, or ―books‖, the diminutive form of byblos, the word for ―papyrus‖ or ―paper‖, which was exported from the ancient Phoenician port city of Biblos. By the time of the Middle Ages the books of the Bible were considered a unified entity. We are also told of the apocalypse as a distinctive genre that arose in Israel in the postexilic period, that is, after the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews from 586 to 538 BC. According to these sources, an apocalypse, or revelation, contains the disclosure of future events by means of a lengthy and detailed dream or vision report. It makes use of highly symbolic and often bizarre images, which in turn are explained and interpreted. So, in 1604 King James I, King of Scotland, commissioned a new revision of the English Bible; it was completed in 1611. Many more versions of the book followed up to present. The belief in the ―holy‖ bible raises a lot of questions given the background knowledge of the persecutions and repressions subjected to non-Catholics by the Pope in Rome and Papal states. Even the
Elizabethan writer will follow you dragging his feet considering the brutality exercised by Queen Elizabeth and her contemporaries (her predecessors and successors) who intended to promote Protestantism on the European continent by sacrificing other faiths. Some of us have our little faith compromised when vicars of God shed blood to force people to believe in a book. It is equally absurd for self-righteous people to do the worst and preach the best! The follower will easily lose a sense of direction because we all believe in good leaders being exemplary. The most evil kings and queens were all holy. I can‘t imagine the mayhem that would arise if you squealed your ―holy‖ garbage to the Jews who perished in Hitler‘s pigsties, furnaces, ovens and gas chambers termed as concentration camps! It is a universal truth, therefore, that every race had its traditional gods. Egypt, Israel, Greece and others all worshipped idols and sculptures. What puzzles most is where the idea of a Supreme God emanated! And how the white man was ―sent‖ by this white God to advertise his presence to people who already knew God? Every race still had this Supreme God and a hierarchy of the other small gods. Why is it unforgivable then for an individual to refuse the idea that a ―superior‖ Supreme White God can subjugate an ―inferior‖ Supreme Black God? Does that individual reserve the right to hold an exclusive conviction? This new God came with titles like Lord, His Holiness, His Grace and Father; all commonly used to refer to kings in ancient England. According to Kihura Nkuba, ―Knowledge cleans the brain just like water cleans the body.‖ (P: 124). As we have already discovered, geniuses sat down and pieced together ancient religious scribbling from Jewish literature and compiled the famous bible. Or would you have us believe that Adam held the book as the God of Israel jotted everything down? All the characters in the bible have Hebrew names and spoke Hebrew. I haven‘t met an Ojok or Segawa or Kihura Nkuba being praised in the bible. Whenever the Hebrews referred to god, he was either the god of Jacob or Elisa or Abraham or Joshua etc. All the items referred to are foreign. For example, bread and wine but I haven‘t heard of kalo (millet cake) or tonto (drink brewed from banana juice). In his book, Beyond Good and Evil, the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1909-1913), concurs that the Christian faith from the beginning, is the sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of spirit, it is at the same time subjection, self-derision, and self-mutilation. ―There is cruelty and religious Phoenicianism in this faith, which is adapted to a tender, many-sided, and very fastidious conscience, it takes for granted that the subjection of the spirit is indescribably PAINFUL… Modern men, with their obtuseness as regards all Christian nomenclature, have no longer the sense for the terribly superlative conception which was implied to an antique taste by the paradox of the formula, ―God on the Cross‖. Nietzsche commences thus: Hitherto there had never and nowhere been such boldness in inversion, nor anything at once so dreadful, questioning, and questionable as this formula: it promised a transvaluation of all ancient values--It was the Orient, the PROFOUND Orient, it was the Oriental slave who thus took revenge on Rome and its noble, light-minded toleration, on the Roman ―Catholicism‖ of non-faith, and it was always not the faith, but the freedom from the faith, the half-stoical and smiling indifference to the seriousness of the faith, which made the slaves indignant at their masters and revolt against them. Nietzsche adds, ―Enlightenment‖ causes revolt, for the slave desires the unconditioned, he understands nothing but the tyrannous, even in morals, he loves as he hates, without NUANCE, to the very depths, to the point of pain, to the point of sickness--his many HIDDEN sufferings make him revolt against the noble taste which seems to DENY suffering. The skepticism with regard to suffering, fundamentally only
an attitude of aristocratic morality, was not the least of the causes, also, of the last great slave-insurrection which began with the French Revolution. (P: 46) This slave, as implied by Nietzsche, was such Jewish carpenter, Jesus Christ, who took up a non-violence method of revolt against his Roman masters. His mission was simple: liberate Judea without bloodshed. Religion as usual is the best medium through which a people can be gathered together and indoctrinated to the point of martyrdom. The mission clearly succeeded. What went wrong was the canonisation of the Jew and as expected, myths will always be cooked up to exaggerate lives of heroes in legends at all times. The bible was then canonised in different times. Later the canonisation of a Jewish carpenter, Jesus Christ, a son, God planted in a virgin girl Mary, aided the belief in the bible to soar the more. Biologically, scientists say it is impossible for a woman to conceive without her ovary meeting male semen. But Jesus was a product of no such thing as sexual intercourse, really? Reliable sources say that Jesus was actually a revolutionary Jew trying to liberate his people from Roman domination and oppression. You will see Paul‘s letter to the Romans, the Romans who occupied Judea at the time! Jesus was tried and hanged by Romans, not Jews, why? This is a man who died on the cross to ―save‖ humanity that had sinned and continues to sin but he had a premeditated presentiment that he would retire in a cave and ―resurrect‖ on the third day and then ascend to heaven to meet his father. All was planned and well-thought out from the beginning. It was more of a setup, a game than a sacrifice. Isn‘t that why he had the audacity of asking his father to forgive his murderers because they knew not what they were doing? Okot p'Bitek, Ugandan poet, novelist, and social anthropologist, in his long narrative poem, Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol (1966, 67, 72), also puzzles with the idea of a white God and how he created the world. The main character of this poem, Lawino, an illiterate Acholi woman complains in chapter 8 (I am ignorant of the good word in the clean book) about her husband‘s contempt for her non-belief in a foreign religion. ―Ocol laughs at me because I cannot cross myself properly in the name of the father, and the son and the clean ghost.‖ Lawino argues that she doesn‘t know what this confession means; she doesn‘t want to become a slave to a woman (Virgin Mary) ―with whom I may share a man‖. She is avoiding all the hard chores girls are made to do in order to ―buy‖ a name in baptism or, as it happened one Sunday, she saw people drinking blood and exhuming corpses in the so-called Eucharist. (P: 110-114) In chapter 9, Lawino puzzles with the question of God‘s existence and the idea of creation. The catechist told her that there was nothing in the beginning, complete darkness and emptiness and then the hunchback (God) moulded things the same way her mother moulded pots. She recalls her mother always got the clay from the mouth of Oyitino River but wonders where this hunchback got his clay to mould Skyland and Earth and its people! Where did he get this clay when Skyland and Earth were not yet there? Where did he stand since Earth was not yet there? How did he dry up his moulded items when the sun, moon and stars were not yet there? What was there in the beginning before the hunchback moulded himself? How did he mould his head when he had not yet moulded his eyes, nose, ears and heart? How did he see the clay he used to mould his eyes? How did he think of the size of his head and the other parts of his body when he had not yet moulded his head? Where
did he get the arms to beat the clay that he used to mould his arms and where was he standing before he could mould his legs? (P: 129-142) Lawino says that the priest hates being asked such questions, the same way our modern ―born -agains‖ lose their heads when you arouse them to reason. ―But I swallow the questions, they burn inside me like a bee…and I tremble with anger.‖(P: 138) This is exactly how many people are aroused to stand back and critically revise what the catechist drilled them to repeat in their Sunday schools. According to McFarland, ―Secular humanism theorises that evil is normal-that it has been a natural part of human nature since the beginning of evolution…In this view of human nature, evil, and the universe, there is no room for the idea of a being called God.‖ (17) A German political philosopher and revolutionary, Karl Marx in his Selected Essays (1850/1926) writes thus: He who has only found a reflexion of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven where he looked for a superman, will no longer be willing to find only the semblance of himself, only the sub-human, where he seeks and ought to find his own reality. The foundation of the criticism of religion is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion indeed is man's self-consciousness and self-estimation while he has not found his feet in the universe. But Man is no abstract being, squatting outside the world. Man is the world of men, the State, society. This State, this society produces religion, which is an inverted world-consciousness, because they are an inverted world.‖ ―Religion,‖ continues Marx ―is the fantastic realisation of the human being, inasmuch as the human being possesses no true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious misery is in one mouth the expression of real misery, and in another is a protestation against real misery. Religion is the moan of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion, as the illusory happiness of the people, is the demand for their real happiness. The demand to abandon the illusions about their condition is a demand to abandon a condition which requires illusions. To the Kihura Nkuba, a missionary is a mercenary. A soldier who will fight for any country that offers him money! ―White people captured faraway lands with guns, bibles and Shakespeare.‖ (20). In Renkin‘s speech (the governor of Kinshasa in Belgian Congo) ―…your mission in Congo is not to teach the Negro the knowledge of God…‖ Why? Because Africans already knew God and had traditional gods! We observe that nothing like the spread of Christianity existed on the agenda of the missionaries. It was a pretext for colonialists to grab African lands and cart away Africa‘s resources. The African knew that killing, stealing, adultery and blasphemy were bad. ―Your role essentially,‖ continued Renkin, ―will be to easily facilitate the task of the administrative and industrial personnel.‖ (Nkuba: 172). The savages (Africans) would be made to believe that the kingdom of heaven was only for the poor. So they would give away all their possessions as tithe on Sundays in order to secure a place for their souls in the afterlife. The Africans were told the kingdom of God belonged not only to those who believe without seeing but also to the meek so as to keep them in constant fear of rebelling against whites. Renkin adds, ―They should feel like abandoning their juju and you will do your best to take them away at the same time.‖ (Nkuba: 173) And stock foreign museums with these religious symbols and artifacts! They were told to fear God (white masters) their sole protector. ―Most times God does not take revenge on his own behalf.‖ (Nkuba: 27).
The Negroes could be taught to be submissive to the missionary Father for they were children in his sight. Renkin commences, ―To prevent them from becoming rich, teach them that it is very impossible for a rich man to go to heaven and make them pay tithes for our own business investment.‖ (Nkuba: 172). The Negroes would be made to confess in order to detect those with a spirit of rebellion, their idols and statues were works of the devil that needed to be confiscated. Confiscated and taken to European museums where their creator, the devil, resides? Absolutely! In the first place, Africans did not know the devil, it is the white man who came with his devil and started propagandising his presence to us. Sometimes I think they will find us seated on God‘s right hand sipping at a cup of eternal bliss as they are directed to hell where their devil lives. Another fact that often throws me into a rage is; the bible is a story of Israelites, Egyptians (only because Moses was hidden here and Joseph, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus also sought refuge here) and Canaanites; but how the Italians, Germans, the French and the British came to monopolise the myth is quite disturbing. How they came to delve into this Jewish oral tale more than the Hebrews to the extent of preaching it to the Africans on gun point is quite mysterious. ―Convert the blacks always with a whip.‖ (Nkuba: 173). After slaughtering my neighbour, castrating my father, raping my mother and sisters, hanging my brother and terrorising my village, you then tell me that a God that sent you loves me! Are you crazy? Kihura Nkuba argues that missionaries ―instead of sowing success, they sowed confusion‖. (28). Why was it compulsory for blacks to abandon their harmless small gods for the big white harmful God? Harmful because anyone who never chose him or followed his rules strictly would burn in eternal brimstone and fire. A selfish God that left none an option but to either ally with him or stand against him! In logic, there is a neutral central ground where a participant neither belongs to the left nor to the right. But this God left no neutral ground for those who did not give a damn whether he existed or not. A vengeful God that would send all those who stood against him to eternal suffering! I had never thought about it, but there is no hell in the story of creation. He created it afterwards to have his revenge on Satan and other liberals who don‘t believe in his despotism. A jealous and malicious God that could not stand anyone else knowing or questioning his absolutism. A God so obsessed with an eternal desire to be praised and worshipped, that he would kill to protect his reputation and cultivate a culture of fear amidst his ―precious creations‖. Fear. That constant fear of the unknown, the fear that you wrong him seven hundred and seventy seven times each day (which he keeps noting in his big book), the fear that you are already guilty of the sins committed by your ancestors and the fear that when you die, your soul will go to him for judgment, yet no one will judge him for the wrongs done to humanity! McFarland elaborates on this constant fear thus, ―…a certain vague sadness and indefinite fear constantly haunts us. Fear, because we are not safe. Fear of the crime, disease, accidents or disasters that can snatch us or those we love-away at any moment.‖ (11) Albert Einstein in his book, The World as I See It, says, ―I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.‖
Einstein was also quoted in an Obituary in New York Times, (19 April 1955), saying, ― I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbour such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.‖ The benevolent missionaries were so concerned with the eternal happiness of the black man in paradise that they would even kill or impoverish him, if that is what it took. Why then were they killing and dying to grab mineral resources if rich men do not go to heaven? ―We must force them into submission and obedience,‖ Renkin concluded his speech (Nkuba: 173). Submission! Exactly what their white God demanded of a black man! Who were the blacks supposed to obey and submit to? Were these the same orders missionaries received from their God when he sent them to advertise his presence to a dark continent? But how come these barbarous colonialists who massacred women and children, burnt villages and executed kings in the ―pacification process‖ were too kind and merciful to help Africans go to heaven? Why did they take a lot of trouble to be killed by African diseases, wild animals and poor sanitation (curtsey of our primitivism) in order to inform monkeys and apes about heaven? Why didn‘t they, righteous and deserving as they are, go to eternal paradise without primitive black apes? Is Africa the shortest route to heaven? And, if so, will white people also mix with African apes when their souls go to heaven too? In his paper, Decolonisation of African Churches: The Nigerian Experience (1955-1975: 38) presented to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ogbu U. Kalu, writes: The relationship between missionary enterprise and the civilising and colonial project, of God and maxim guns (Johnston,1988) which inspite of ambiguities bred collusion, must be understood so as to perceive the roots of the stigma of foreigness which dogged the heels of the post-Independent Churches and like a wild dog, drove them from the public square and bred a culture of collusion and culture theologising while nationalists rampaged and predated upon the people in the ‗politics of the belly‘. Nsukka adds that ―To keep the African without vaunt, missionaries paid low salaries, did not invest in science and technical education and ignored the social sciences in their curricula. In summary, the passive revolution designed as a response in the era of decolonisation was sabotaged from a combined force of the implosion of the theological state, the creative ferment from the centre and the pneumatic challenge from the mouths of babes on the fringes of the power structure.‖ I have been, not once or twice, asked by students, friends, relatives and well-wishers, where I stand in matters of faith. Faith? I constantly wonder why my faith is such a priority! Why is it an issue of contemplation for all these categories of people? Faith to me is complete blind trust and sheepish loyalty to ‗something‘ whose rationality I am not sure of. A baseless belief in the superstitious! I grew up only to find that my parents had already taken sides for me as regards to my religious belonging. I was supposed to be a protestant as per their wish and not catholic or Muslim. I never cease to wonder whether it is so hard a choice for me to make. What reasons did they base on to choose for me a side? Do I share them? How I was unconsciously drawn into the God-Satan eternal combat is something beyond my comprehension. How I am left with no choice but either (God) or (Satan) is really amusing.
―A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.‖ (Albert Einstein, Religion and Science, New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930) Assuming I chose to drop the ‗brand religion‘ like a cow losing its brand number plate and I opt for no religion? What if I chose not to take part in the Lord-Lucifer skirmish and stand on neutral ground? Or are you insisting that there is no neutral ground in these matters? Are you saying that I cannot opt not to take or join any of the sides? I thought I had that right! Let us ask a question: what did the Europeans mean by civilising Africans? In a foreign magazine I read, a white man wrote that ―something that can be understood in five seconds by a white person can take a black man five minutes‖. This is true when we consider who wrote it? And why he wrote it? First of all, in what language is that ―something‖ said? With what purpose? And who is the sole beneficiary of the result? In their process of civilisation, they would educate and better behaviours of the savages. What did the savages learn? To speak English, eat, dress, talk, live, build houses, conduct marriages and prayers just like whites. In Grace Ogot‘s Land Without Thunder; honeymoons were invented simply because white girls wanted to eat the forbidden fruit without their parents constantly watching. Then our black girls ran mad over the idea that without a honeymoon, they would immediately divorce you in 24 hours after the unavoidable church wedding. We are products of an unquestioning unnatural system. These things already existed in African societies; people were already eating, speaking, dressing, worshipping and getting married. Which behaviours were made better? Africans were barbaric because they killed albinos, in Chinua Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart (1958), and threw them in the evil forest. The Egyptian Pharaoh had centuries back ordered the massacre of all Hebrew male children. But were the Africans also hanging and persecuting Jews in Venice and Christians in Scotland, Crimea, Spain, Ireland, France, Britain and other repressive states? They didn‘t have toilets but I haven‘t heard of one who boarded a ship to go to Britain and ease himself in a flash toilet. They were ignorant and needed formal education. Why don‘t you say education plainly? The Africans already had their informal education where knowledge and skills of survival were passed on to the young by the elders around the fire place. These strangers had nothing to tell Africans about Africa except if it was about their own dark cold environments and their unsocial people. By the way, I didn‘t know why they would kill to stay in Africa. Their climates are too hostile for human survival but hypocritically as expected, they make us hate our continent which, inside, they know is the best in the whole world. If they can successfully alienate us from our beautiful land and exterminate us forever, then Africa would be their unquestionable home and what a relief, at last! ―There never was a time when a Black man was not, there never will be time when Black people will cease to be.‖ (Nkuba: 13). Gullible and unsuspecting as Africans were (still are?), they believed that whites had actually come to civilise, modernise and Christianise them. They deposed mighty kings and replaced them with puppets who reign up-to-date; is that modernisation? They butchered innocent children and women, looted property and the continent‘s resources, disorganised the cultural structure and retarded the continent‘s development; is that civilisation?
They stole African artifacts and religious symbols of a people‘s beliefs, they asked Africans to believe in a white God and abandon their traditional gods, to bury their superstition and believe in statues of two Jews, Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the Holy Virgin Mary. I thought superstition ―is a belief in unseen and unknown forces that can be influenced by objects and rituals‖! Replacing superstitious wood and stones with superstitious sculptures of Jesus and his virgin mother, Mary, is that what they meant by Christianising Africans? Like specimens in laboratory experiments, they mixed up an African with their own lifestyle, modes of thinking and behaviour. Don‘t be alarmed when the elites tell you that they ―think in English‖. They sowed opportunism on African soil and uprooted liberalism and nationalism. When a patriotic African leader like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe stands against imperialistic and theft-driven western ideas, the other (I don‘t have a suitable word to term them) automatically stand against him for fear of losing foreign aid. They treat blacks with that superior air and racist attacks. They never intended to do anything good in Africa. When they trained clerks, messengers and guards, it was because they needed them to run their errands, write down the racist prejudicial observations and protect their lives from the ―barbaric native‖ who could drink their blood anytime chance presented itself. They trained teachers and catechists to help them indoctrinate and brainwash the natives. They largely succeeded in this: producing parrots called interpreters and blind sheep that went around bleating messages of the land of milk and honey (heaven) or SugarCandy Mountain in George Orwell‘s witty allegorical fable Animal Farm (1945) and a messiah; things they were not sure have ever existed. It seems an African is gifted when it comes to what Ngugi terms as ―parrotology‖. Training teachers was obviously a miscalculation for it resulted into an elite class that would later eat up the colonial enterprise. The educated started reading the colonial message between the lines and realised the kind of foolery embedded in these messages. They started to sensitise their people against this conspiracy that was intended to wipe them off the face of earth. These nationalists paid a heavy price for interpreting the veiled ruse and like Toundi in Ferdinand Oyono‘s House Boy (1956), for knowing more than what they were supposed to know; they were hanged, drowned, castrated, electrocuted, lynched, imprisoned and tortured to death. The end point would always be extermination. All in all, people‘s eyes had been opened and they started to demand for what was rightfully theirs. Unable to contain or put down the rising spirit of nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Black Consciousness, the scheming colonialists quickly retreated to their homes leaving behind what Ngugi Wa Thiongo calls ―watchdogs‖ (Devil on the Cross and I Will Marry When I Want) to protect and safeguard their interests. The African was fooled once more to believe that his country belonged to him. But our sly imperialist invented another tactic to pursue neo-colonialism. The remote control method. They put African leaders on pressure, threaten them with wars, sanctions and prosecution in the International Court of Justice (ICC), fund rebels to depose any government that prevents them from stealing its nation‘s resources and continue to manipulate them with cutting foreign aid. Then they get free gold, uranium, oil and diamonds in return. We all celebrate independence because it‘s a national holiday. Does it guarantee that we are practically independent? Don‘t you know that some of Africa‘s richest economies are fully controlled, managed and orchestrated by the whites? I will leave that question to be discussed further by scholars of political science.
The word ―teaching‖ as applied in their schools is subject to deconstruction. Let us say teaching means the systematic presentation of facts, ideas, skills, and techniques to students. What were the facts, ideas and skills in question here? That the white race was born to dominate other races? That the Africans had to turn their left cheek as well after being smacked on the right one? Or the fact that they had to give away their wealth to secure themselves places in paradise? Is teaching the same as diverting people from their ways of life, culture and expectations and channeling them into what you deem is right for them? Who determines right or wrong? And what has the African parent done to the children? The procedure is simple: born to go through the school system (primary, secondary, university) like a parrot and acquire Degrees, Masters or PhDs for purposes of showing off. The children‘s innocent brains are burdened with mysterious strange concepts and advised to just cram them if they cannot understand them. ―In the colonial society, education is such that it serves the colonialist.... In a regime of slavery, education was but one institution for forming slaves,‖ according to a statement of FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front) Department of Education and Culture: 1968. P: 223. According to Ivan Illich, ―they‖ (educators) school ―them‖ (learners) to confuse process and substance and once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. In his text Deschooling Society (1970:1), Illich observes thus, ―The pupil is thereby ―schooled‖ to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is ―schooled‖ to accept service in place of value.‖ ―Medical treatment,‖ continues Illich, ―is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.‖ Kihura argues that: The biggest, costliest and most important part of building and putting something together should be thinking and planning. Therefore, with our west-imposed education system, we are simply brainwashed and obviously, ‗when the mind is perverted, no clear thought can come out of it.‘ (Nkuba: 27, 32). Walter Rodney (1972:270) quotes Dr. Kofi Busia who elaborates more on this issue: At the end of my first year at secondary school (Mfantsipim, Cape Coast, Ghana), 1 went home to Wenchi for the Christmas vacation. 1 had not been home for four years, and on that visit, 1 became painfully aware of my isolation. 1 understood our community far less than the boys of my own age who had never been to school. Over the years, as 1 went through college and university, 1 felt increasingly that the education 1 received taught me more and more about Europe and less and less about my own society. Rodney also quotes a letter written by one Standard 6 leaver in the Central African Federation in 1960: After I had passed Standard 6, 1 spent the whole year at home because 1 could not get a place anywhere to further my education. At the beginning of this year I went to look for work but failed to get it again,
from January until now. If I had known that my education would have been useless, I would have told my father not to waste his money in educating me from the beginning to Standard 6.(P: 296) According to Rodney therefore, the purpose of the schools set up by the Society of Reformist Ulema in Algeria was that they should be modern and scientific, but at the same time present learning in the context of Arab and Algerian culture. Pupils at the Ulema schools began their lessons by singing together: Arabic is my language, Algeria is my country, Islam is my religion. It was no wonder, therefore, that the colonialists victimised pupils and parents, and took repressive measures on the grounds that those schools were also hotbeds of sedition. The missionaries asked for control of schools, because that was one of their drawing cards for the church itself and because they considered themselves as experts on the side of cultural imperialism (which they called ‗civilising‘). In the records of colonialism, he notes, it is not uncommon to encounter the following type of remark ―What need is there to educate the natives? You will give them the weapons to destroy you!‖ (Rodney: 300) Most of our talents have been compromised and buried in the ―scuffle to learn English‖ or the process we call education. It is extremely hard to tell what your talent is because the word ‗talent‘ sounds alien. Our ears are accustomed to ‗what did you do at the university?‘ and then we lean forward, our faces beaming with proud satisfaction, to explain the irrelevant courses that we attended. When employers ask us what we can do; we eagerly and self-importantly reply ―anything‖! ―Anything‖ because we have no specific skills to do a specific job! Individuals, who could have made excellent carpenters, masons, footballers, athletes, wrestlers etc, end up in a flat line of ―reasoning as one without any reason‖. When these young ones‘ poor heads fail to sustain them in the school system, they go back home to cultivate only to realise that the land was sold in the process of sending them to school. All along they were learning to know. But to know what? Anything and everything about nothing! Then, frustrated and desperate, they rash back to towns and camp in slums. With all that bile, they start exercising their own rough justice on unsuspecting citizens as they struggle to survive. Peter Abrahams in his autobiography, Tell Freedom (1954) demonstrates how his teacher had quizzed them about their future careers. ―I felt frightened. I was extremely self-conscious. I had reason to be. I wanted to be something that was reserved for Europeans only. I knew of non-European doctors and nurses, and even lawyers and professors. I had heard of Professor Jabavu, a Native professor. But I had never heard of any non-European being what I wanted to be.‖ So, young Abrahams stands up and to his teacher‘s surprise, he states, ―I want to be a writer so that I can write stories about everything. You know, like the stories in books. That will make me famous, and I'll have cakes and ginger beer for breakfast, and fish and chips for lunch, and a whole fowl at night. Then I'll be able to eat three times every day, and have shoes and a motor car, and live like the rich white people do. And then I want to wear a collar and tie. That's why I want to write stories.‖ Stephen Gray in his text The Long Eye of History (1990) quotes Abrahams stressing this point further in Return to Goli (29), ―These were cold, lifeless things that did not convey mood and feeling, pain and laughter; and, anyway, the libraries were full of books filled with figures and political treatises. I wanted to reach the hearts and minds of some of the 33,000,000 non-whites who live under the rule of the
3,000,000 whites in the vast areas of South, Central and East Africa. And I wanted to reach the hearts and minds of the whites too…‖ The absurdity of education and west-fashioned curricula remains a liability. We even are led to believe that civilisation started in the west. Actually, civilisation started in Egypt, Africa. Dot. Herodotus, Greek historian, known as the ―father of history‖ in his Histories, clearly states that Olympia Greeks are Egyptians who conquered Athens in 1783 BC. ―On his way back Se sostris (the Black Egyptian known in history as Senwosret who was also the founder of Athens 1987-1783 BC, who also rebuilt the temple of Amen at Karnak in stone) came to the river Phases…he detached a body of troops from his army and left them behind to settle…‖ Ancient Egypt is therefore universally acknowledged as one of the earliest and greatest civilisations, which began in about 3100 BC, flourished for over 2,000 years up until 1070 BC, and ended in about 30 BC. The Egyptians were rich in culture and so sophisticated, they already had spectacular monuments, skilled engineers, a well evolved system of government, irrigation schemes and picture-writing, were masters of astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. A manifestation of this civilisation can be traced from the numerous hieroglyphic writings covering the walls of tombs and temples, obelisks, and columns, and found on clay tablets. According to Encarta Encyclopaedia (2005), ancient Greece, is the homeland of the Greek civilisation that flourished c. 800-300 BC. ―Western civilisation is their heir, as it is not the heir of any other ancient civilisation, except (through scripture) that of the Jews.‖ Yet the same records show that this civilisation spread across Asia to north-western India through the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC (about three centuries after the Egyptian one). Herodotus, in his An Account Of Egypt, writes, ―Moreover, it is true also that the Egyptians were the first of men who made solemn assemblies and processions and approaches to the temples, and from them the Hellenes (Greeks) have learnt them, and my evidence for this is that the Egyptian celebrations of these have been held from a very ancient time, whereas the Hellenic were introduced but lately.‖ According to Herodotus, names of almost all the Greek gods came from Egypt: ‗for that it has come from the Barbarians I find by inquiry is true, and I am of opinion that most probably it has come from Egypt, because, except in the case of Poseidon and the Dioscuroi… and also of Hera and Hestia and Themis and the Charites and Nereids…except Poiseidon; but about this god the Hellenes learnt from the Libyans, for no people except the Libyans have had the name of Poseidon from the first and have paid honour to this god always.‘ You must remember the word ―Mesopotamia‖ in history lessons. According to Encarta Encyclopaedia (2005), Mesopotamia is a Greek word which means ―the land between the rivers‖, hence referring to the area in western Asia, lying between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, in which the world‘s earliest urban civilisations arose, around 3500 BC (four centuries after the Egyptian civilisation). It is thus recorded that Mesopotamia is ―the cradle of modern civilisation‖, was the centre of Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Chaldean civilisations (modern Iraq, south-eastern Turkey, and eastern Syria). Historians say that about 1800 BC, Egypt invaded and took control of Phoenicia in Mesopotamia. The Phoenicians were the greatest traders and sailors. They had industries manufacturing textiles and dyes, metalworking, and glassmaking. They started the idea of the alphabet and were also talented in
calligraphy (the art of fine handwriting) and perhaps the Egyptians incorporated their calligraphy into their own hieroglyphic writings. At around 3,100 BC, all kingdoms in the Nile Delta were unified by the legendary king, Menes with their capital at Memphis. The construction of the Great Pyramids in the period 2686 BC followed. At around 1554-1196 BC, the capital was moved to Thebes in Greece. The Greeks (after being civilised by Egyptians and because they were Egyptians too) carried on this civilisation and perfected ideas of democracy and philosophy, athletics, the theatre, tragedy and comedy, ideas of freedom and autonomy, and the practice of politics. By 800-750 BC, Greeks had also invented an alphabet and begun to become literate. They started writing epics, poetry, dramas and recording their myths and legends. According to Encarta Encyclopaedia (2005), the need for irrigation and self-defence led the ancient Mesopotamians to organise and build canals and walled settlements. The earliest settlement in the region is probably Eridu, but the most remarkable example is Erech (Uruk) in the south, where mud-brick temples were decorated with fine metalwork and stone carving, and where the earliest written Mesopotamian documents (3rd millennium BC) were found. The development of an administration also stimulated the invention of a form of writing, cuneiform. The Sumerians were probably responsible for this early urban culture, which spread north up the Euphrates. In the meantime, another empire was strengthening itself slowly by slowly. This empire was Persia and the Persians are believed to be Greeks. The empire, according to mythology, was established by a son of Zeus called Perseus. After severing the Gorgon, Medusa‘s head and killing the Kraken, a sea monster, Perseus headed to Asia where he founded the Persian Empire after his name. his descendant, Cyrus the Great of Persia, in 539 BC defeated Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar II and captured Babylon to control Mesopotamia. According to Encarta Encyclopaedia (2005), the collapse of Greece saw the rise of the Macedonian empire under King Philip II and later his son, Alexander the Great. After the assassination of his father, Alexander invaded Persia and defeated the Persians to conquer Asia. So the great civilisation spread. Then after the collapse of the Macedonian empire came the Romans who conquered Greece and absorbed or modelled themselves on the Greek culture to shape their own civilisation. Then Romans colonised the rest of the world including Germans, French and Britons whose later civilisations were automatically modelled upon that of their Roman colonisers. ―From the west‖ indeed! What ―west‖ are you squealing about? So, who actually civilised who? ―The creator created the world, the world created black people, Black people created culture and civilisations, in the end they created White people. White people created hell, hell brought chaos into the world and that is where we are right now.‖ ( Nkuba: 27). It is disheartening to learn that in the mission of ―civilising‖ Africans, no Egyptian or Greek names are mentioned! Isn‘t it extremely ironical that the French, Italians, British and Germans rushed to Africa to ―civilise‖ the mothers of civilisation? ―They cannot tell the truth about their history and we expect them to write the truth about ours.‖ (Nkuba: 93). And what exactly did they do during their long period of looting which they call civilisation? They built roads and railways to transport explorers to mineral areas and these infrastructures would later help in the transportation of raw materials back to their home countries. They disorganised the African socio-political
structures and created a breed of self-seekers and puppets they would later manipulate to continue plundering the continent‘s resources. Socially, they created another hoard of copycats who, as they aspire to sustain their acquired modern standards, will forever maintain a steady market for European manufactured goods. Thus conspiracies have flourished unquestioned. According to the official written British colonial history, the white man found us living in sack-like enclosures or caves, without latrines, schools or any sense of religious divination. Were these enclosures built on directives of architects from Europe? Agreed, we were as barbaric and as primitive as that, but which philosopher (since they had already passed the Age of Enlightenment) taught Africans how to rub wood and make fire, or pound gnuts, millet and cassava to get a delicious paste or how to clean their teeth or cover their private parts? Which institution in London, Paris, Rome and Berlin taught Africans how to hunt with bows, arrows, spears and how to craft these iron tools or tame wild dogs, goats, cattle, sheep, chicken or how to communicate using drums or how to cultivate food or gather fruits and roots from the forests or cure diseases using herbs or how to cut bark cloths off tree stems and use them as blankets or how to gather soft spongy grasses to use as mattresses? Is there a school in Milan, Munich, St Petersburg or Liverpool that taught Africans how to make gourds for storing milk, carve wood or make pottery from clay or wooden troughs for storing local beer? What is the name of that white doctor who told Africans that cinchona shrub cures malaria? Kihura Nkuba argues that Africans did not have physical diseases but psychological. ― So highly developed and technical was the knowledge that each family was taught medicine and pharmacology…today‘s doctors, are by their admission, just practicing medicine, they are not healers.‖ (66) Undeniably, they improved all these things but the claim that they introduced new things in Africa is null and hypocritical! Walter Rodney in his treatise, How Europe Undeveloped Africa (1972) affirms that “every people have shown a capacity for independently increasing their ability to live a more satisfactory life through exploiting the resources of nature‖. According to him; every continent independently participated in the early epochs of the extension of man‘s control over his environment-which means in effect that every continent can point to a period of economic development (P:11). He continues to observe that; a culture is a total way of life. It embraces what people ate and what they wore; the way they walked and the way they talked; the manner in which they treated death and greeted the new-born. It was at the level of scale that African manufactures had not made a breakthrough. That is to say, the cotton looms were small, the iron smelters were small, the pottery was turned slowly by hand and not on a wheel, etc. The larger states in Africa had the most effective political structures and greater capacity for producing food, clothing, minerals and other material artifacts (41, 54, and 56). ―To take but one example, when the Dutch visited the city of Benin they described it thus: The town seems to be very great. When you enter into it, you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam . . .The king's palace is a collection of buildings which occupy as much space as the town of Harlem, and which is enclosed with walls. There are numerous apartments for the Prince's ministers and fine galleries, most of which are as big as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam. They are supported by wooden pillars encased with copper,
where their victories are depicted, and which are carefully kept very clean. The town is composed of thirty main streets, very straight and 120 feet wide, apart from an infinity of small intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another, arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a looking-glass. Yet, it would be self-delusion to imagine that all things were exactly equal in Benin and in Holland.‖ (Rodney P: 81) If you think that learning our own history is insignificant, rarely will you convince me that European history is of any use. For all the time I have been out of university, no employer has asked me in an interview how many battles Napoleon the Great fought or to explain the rigid policies Bismarck used to unify Germany or anything related to Metternich‘s repressive system. I don‘t hope that my future employers will ask me about the failure of the aristocratic Bourbon Monarchy, Fascism or Nazism. If I am mistaken, then I should prepare myself in time for a great surprise. But at least, I need to know the name of my great grandfather (and his forefathers), which I don‘t, and the long line of kith and kin to understand the links that bind us. ―I don‘t want to study other people‘s histories or plays but ours.‖ (Nkuba:15). Psychologists insist that virtues like morality, optimism, collectivism, gaiety, social sense, cooperative communal aspirations and spirituality ought to be the high plane on which individuals measure their selfworth in a given society. According to Kihura Nkuba, black people have a corresponding cosmic connection, which enables them to tune into higher ideals, to link with the universe and hear and see things that other people have no chance of seeing. ―You should begin an Afrikan electronic industry, make your own combs and your own creams, you should develop your own construction capacity and make your own guns.‖ (Nkuba: 15). Kihura Nkuba then quotes the great Chiek Anta Diop who, in his book History Of Africa enlightens us about the conspiracies that have been sowed and nourished to boost white egotism and false supremacy. According to Diop, the method for diagnosing sterility in women as indicated in Carlsberg papyrus 4, was copied, word by word, by Hippocrates (greatest Greek physician of antiquity, regarded as the father of medicine) from the works of Egyptian physicians stored in the library of the Temple of Imhotep at Waste (Luzor). Furthermore, the Smith papyrus (Afrikan) speaks of forty eight cases of bone surgery and external pathology. Diop again argues that the ‗etymology of the world chemistry comes from Kemit which means black‘ (Nkuba: p127). Kemistry (the mystery of Kem) or medicine! Nkuba explores more similar cases. ―Centuries ago an Afrikan Glider plane invented by Pa-di-Imen, showcased in especial ―aero plane‖ exhibition at Cairo Museum was in place 2,300 years ago.‖ (P: 127). More so, the oldest mathematical script, that is over 20,000 years is from Zaire, called Ishango Bone. He also observes that in the Rhind papyrus (still Egyptian records); metallurgy, architecture, mathematics, astrology and astronomy were all perfected in Afrika before being duplicated by Europeans. ―The Zodiac signs (star signs) for example come from the Ethiopians of Waste. The example of their star drawings are now located in the Louvre Museum.‖ (P:127) By 1884, Samoure Toure, the king of Mandika Empire in West Africa, had already started manufacturing guns! The inferiority complex deeply planted in the African‘s mind stems from a conspiracy by an eccentric race to cultivate a culture of self-hate and despise for all that we are. What is it that the Africans would not have made? As a young boy, I grew up making all sorts of cars from banana tubers and at a later date,
I would make them from bicycle spikes. Which white school did I go to, to learn how to make banana fibre balls, wooden bicycles or for the case of elders, drums? Which white school taught my sisters how to make banana fibre dolls? Mind you, we did not have television sets to watch cartoons and movies that could teach these things; neither had we visited towns to see these items! Simple logic. According to Plato, Greek philosopher (The Republic), and his student Aristotle, Greek philosopher and scientist (Poetics), the original idea is with God and man imitates this idea because man‘s mind is closer to God‘s. According to these philosop hers, the ideal world is heaven and the perfect ideas all spring from God; what man does is a mere representation of the ideal world and its ideas. We had the knowledge and with time, this knowledge would have reached an advanced stage upon which we would make all the modern wonders. Ancient kingdoms were skilled in constructing stone castles and defense walls. Who says their grandchildren would not have built sky scrapers? The ancients knew how to tame horses and ride them for easy transportation; isn‘t that the same foundation upon which our students from Makerere university recently built on to make an electric car? Their predecessors had also made a vehicle that uses water instead of fuel. Where are they now? In Europe, America and Asia! And what are they doing there? Their heads being milked of any other ideas they could possess! I grew up hearing stories about a man called Kadogo in my home village. Kadogo, as the stories went, was so brilliant that he made a wooden airplane. He had not studied architecture from any white school but built the first stone and storied house in the region. What happened next was his disappearance. Stories later circulated that the whites had taken him to Germany. After many years, Kadogo came back and he could not even remember his name. Everyone was speaking of Kadogo, the sage and a nearby college, St Georges‘ Teachers College, called him to tutor teacher trainees. Kadogo accepted the offer but the more he tried to recall what was happening around him, the crazier he became. The college soon released him and he retired to his weed-covered home. Now, Kadogo is famously reputed for speaking with monkeys, the only neighbours he has. Not to be outrun by the elephant, the chameleon, in a known fable, climbed onto the elephant‘s tail and won the race in the end. As the refrain goes, if you want to kill a dog, begin by blocking its nose and the end will always justify the means. The African‘s eyes have been successfully blinded; th e more truth bypasses him, the more white superiority flourishes. In his epilogue, Kihura Nkuba demonstrates the greatness of African Literature through the poem Lamentations Of Animals (p: 144-154). The poem‘s subject matter explicates the destruction and deterioration of Africa by murderous, uncouth and ruthless invaders. ―Away are kings who sat on mountain tops, and held our fabric like a sisal rope.‖ (144). Kings headed African societies and the simile of ―sisal rope‖ confirms the fact that they were the links that bound people together. They headed institutions like marriage, law and education and the deposition of these kings marked the beginning of cultural erosion. ―Gone are the laws that blanketed our wilderness and here is perversity for us to harshness.‖ (145). We have lost contact with the etiquettes of eating, greeting, sharing, marriage, inheritance, education, house construction, trade, labour, sports and entertainment. The ―harshness‖ can be traced in the homosexuality
or sexual perversion, robbery, great loss of memory, gender and age confusion, all a result of the white man‘s influence. ―For all our joys have disappeared. Earth‘s upheavals bred rampant anarchy.‖ (145). The simplicity of African life was complicated by the interference of the western culture. People who used to gather in evenings and sing, dance and feast were made to provide forced labour on colonial farms, were chained and mistreated as slaves and many of them were murdered. The joys and happiness that used to be, gave way to hunger, misery, starvation, oppression and exploitation. ―Mountains gaped scarred with awe, valleys raved tumbling in disintegrating fragments.‖ (146). Mountains were pillaged to make roads, mine copper and gold hence their pollution. ―Rivers gashed and withered in swamping torrents, and our fabric was myopically changed in haste.‖ (146). Rivers were drained and irrigation channels established, swamps reclaimed to rear Friesian cattle, grow rice, cotton, sugarcanes and coffee; all aimed at providing the white man‘s industries with raw materials. ―Cut me now. Cut me then. It‘s long since the upheavals rocked and fragmented. And animals roamed like immigrants.‖ (148). In this case, animals are symbolic of the dehumanised Africans who were forced to flee their fertile lands and homes and taken to foreign countries to work as slaves. Others were put in concentration camps on their own land, the case of Bantustans (black homes and townships) in apartheid South Africa. The leaders responsible for the safety and holding their societies together were doomed. ―And there they were…sickened- they coughed…overwhelmed they perished.‖ (149). Many lost lives in slave-raids and on white farms. The metaphor of animals coughing and gnashing teeth clearly explains the anguish of the debased Africans in camps with poor living conditions and on white plantations where they were oppressed. Strong Africans who produced food for their communities were all taken away as slaves leaving the land gripped by famine and starvation. ―The swanky lion roared in protest and hid in twisted twigs.‖ (150). The few strong and brave warriors who rebelled against the white man were soon overpowered and defeated. The poet ends by calling upon comrades in the struggle to join hands, formulate their own systems, free and totally independent of foreign domination. The author then revisits the identity question and the mystery of identity crisis. He approaches cultural alienation and the need for cultural ―homecoming‖ both in the psychological, linguistic and historical aspects. ―Perfect cultural identity corresponds to the full simultaneous presence of these factors in the individual.‖ This stresses the ―Sankofa metaphor‖ we have already hinted on or the neck-twisting and looking over your shoulder to re-affirm your roots. He also alludes to Anta Diop to stretch the historical point further, ―the cultural cement, which is used to mean a people whole…‖ ( Nkuba: 80) thus historical conscience constitutes the safest and the most solid shield of cultural security for the people. According to the author, related to the identity question is the fear of return. Those who were taken as slaves cannot come back because most of them don‘t even remember where they came from. So me who have acquired a few niceties won‘t give them up for liberty‘s sake. ―The heart is always where one‘s wealth is.‖ Historians wrote that during the freeing of slaves, many refused the liberty heaped upon them and fought to continue working on plantations as slaves. ―Such is the perversion of Afrikan people that
some of our people in Europe and the Americas say give me ‗a mortgage or give me death‘.‖ (Nkuba: 47). Who can blame them? Children born in Europe are shaped consciously with images of monsters, snakes and scorpions which scare them into thinking that Africa is the last place you can go to. ―…while they are encouraging you to stay in Europe because they are no showers in Afrika, they are telling their own people, ‗don‘t even bother to have a shower, as long as you are in Afrika.‖ (Nkuba: 98) They are strategically indoctrinated and brainwashed to believe that their motherland is a hoard of disease, poverty and misery. They are totally prevented from linking up with their origin. ―No outsider can give you an accurate account of your own home.‖ (Nkuba: 99) They really want to come back home but they lack the courage. Kihura Nkuba believes: Liberation is the absence of fear and coercion. Ironically, those who prevent blacks from coming back are actually rushing to grab land in Africa and stay no matter what. ―And when they found that it (Africa) was even better, they did not want to leave.‖ ( Nkuba: 98) Some blacks have expressed their dying love and nostalgia for Africa through poems dedicated to their motherland. The speaker in David Diop‘s poem Africa, sings countless praises for this motherland he has never been to; Africa my Africa Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs Africa of whom my grandmother sings… I have never known you But your blood flows in my veins Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields The blood of your sweat The sweat of your work The work of your slavery The slavery of your children… And its fruit gradually acquires The bitter taste of liberty. The longing and pride to come back home is so eminent in the persona‘s tone. ―So, African child, we shall measure the extent of your indoctrination and your Europeanisation by your attitude to Africa.‖ (Nkuba: 98). Evaluation Of Kihura Nkuba’s Critics I decided to dedicate the last part of my essay to Kihura Nkuba‘s critics, most of whom are whites. They say only fire can drive out fire, so we need to meet his critics with a critical mind too. Most of them broke down and betrayed the rules of argument. The writer appeals mostly to reason and not to emotion; therefore, there is no genuine reason as to why these censors broke down and wailed like little girls as they condemned him so passionately. When the truth turns sour, it‘s understandable for victims to confide in sweet soothing lies. It is also understandable for humanity to express as much denial as possible whenever confronted with compromising situations. In short, it is logical for whites to hesitate in Swallowing A Bitter Pill no matter how sick they maybe!
“This Kihura Nkuba, whoever he is, shows how black writers can be dangerous. He had no business knowing what he knows and how dare he writes what he found. I am not a racist and have black friends, but the idea of blacks being first is scarcely,” Dr Les Savage. First of all, we need to credit this man‘s mother for the suitable name ―savage‖ that she gave to her son. Savage means fierce, violent and causing great harm. Primitive is its synonym. Why must he say ―black writers or black friends‖? Yet he contradicts and confuses himself for not being a racist? Sembene Ousmane in his masterpiece, Gods Bits of Wood (1960) clearly states that a black man is not an instrument of torture, like/dislike or discrimination by a white man. Why should this savage refute the idea of blacks being the first? Because it makes him want to piss in his pants! Whose business is it to know the maltreatment subjected to blacks during colonisation? Who can reflect upon it or condemn it if not the victims themselves? To understand people‘s problems, is to stand in their shoes; does this savage bear such courage? Alexander Pope in An Essay To Criticism (1711) states, ―The good critic...should be ―unbiased, learned, well-bred, sincere...modestly bold and humanly severe‖. He further cautions the critic to apply restraint while judging artistic works. ―Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such…‖ On competence of the critic, Pope writes, ―Let such teach others who themselves excel/And censure freely who have written well.‖ Instead of critiquing the work, our savage blames the author for ―knowing what he knows and writing about it‖. Stephen Gray in his treatise, The Making of Apartheid (6-10 February 1990) quotes Abrahams (Return to Goli), ―My business as a writer was with people, with human thoughts, conflicts, longings and strivings, not with causes. Painfully, I was slowly groping to a view of life that transcended my own personal problems as a member of one oppressed group of humanity. I felt that if I could see the whole scheme of things with the long eye of history I might be able to fit the problems of my own group into the general human scheme and, in so doing, become a writer.‖ In his commentary on The Novels of Chinua Achebe (1969), G.D Killam explains that the past informs the present by quoting Achebe, ―The writer‘s duty is not to beat this morning‘s headlines in topicality, it is to explore the depth of the human condition. In Africa, he cannot perform this task unless he has a proper sense of history.‖ Chinua Achebe in his essay, The Role of the Writer in a New Nation (1964), also observes thus: I believe that the writer should be concerned with the question of human values. One of the most distressing ills which afflict new nations is a confusion of values. We sometimes make the mistake of talking about values as though they were fixed and eternal…of course values are relative and in a constant state of flux.‖ G.A Heron, in a preface to Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, quotes Okot p‘Bitek (African Religions in Western Scholarship), ―during the very first lecture…the teacher kept referring to Africans or non western peoples as barbarians, savages, primitive tribes etc. I protested but to no avail.‖ So who else would clearly depict the culture of the Acholi than Okot himself? And having mastered western scholarship on Africa, who would successfully deconstruct western ideas and criticise the hypocrisy embedded in them better than Okot?
In his essay, Artist the Ruler (1986) Okot quotes an ex-catholic priest, Charles Davis, ―An author, if he is big enough, can do much for his fellow men. He can put words in their mouths and reason into their heads; he can fill their sleep with dreams so potent that when they wake they will go on living.‖ Well, having clearly understood the role of the writer in society, can we revisit Dr Savage‘s remark? Did this savage speak from an informed point of view or from mere innocence? The kind of innocence through which a child learns to speak its mother tongue, producing sounds for the sake of it, regardless of the consequent grammatical and sense implications! It‘s absurd then for this biased savage to take things way too personal instead of applying reason where it is required! “There are certain things worth fighting for. The idea of white supremacy has been rewarding that western civilisation is inconceivable without it. To kill white supremacy is tantamount to killing all why-T people. This book is a threat to western civilisation.” Prof Killson Whiteman. Nomenclature once again! ―kill son‖ ―whiteman‖. Now, let us try to reason with this ―killer‖ of a Whiteman. What exactly is worth fighting for? Dominating, plundering and looting of a people‘s wealth? Grabbing land in a place that is not your fatherland and murdering of people to forcefully colonise and exploit them? What is worth fighting for professor? Professor? With all those books and you still don‘t know the origin of civilisation? If this ―killer‖ mistakes civilisation as a western affair, then we have nothing to argue about. John Dryden, the most significant poet-critic of the late 17th century, in An Essay of Dramatick Poesie (1688), writes, ―…the task of the critic is to observe those excellencies which should delight a reasonable reader.‖ How can one then reason with a reader like Killson? Unless Kihura Nkuba speaks the truth which compromises all lies ever written by whites about their ―civilisation‖, I mean a period of looting, there is no way it can be a threat to all white people! This professor should learn from now on (since learning never stops till we are dead) that deception boomerangs! “I am a Christian who goes to church and believes in a white Jesus. I am not going to change that. But there comes a time when truth has to be told as Jesus said in the book of John. I wish I had read this book in my Sunday school.” Rev Tiny Brown. Reverend, I do share your pain but believe me; the world is not ready for such truth. Our Ugandan curriculum planners cannot put this book on the syllabus because the syllabus is dictated by Britain, a country the book attacks. If any curriculum planner was, say by mistake or experimentation, to include it on the syllabus, the government of Uganda would immediately be striped of the ―precious aid‖ or bombarded by UN (I mean America and Britain) at whatever pretext and oil from Albertine region cart away very fast. Then on the ground, the implicated curriculum developers would be tried in international criminal courts and hanged as world enemies and international traitors. Anyway, thank you Reverend Brown for not confusing facts with belief and replacing truth with superstition. I must say, this man is the greatest and most level-headed saint of all 20th century reformers. There is no distinction between Brown and Sir Thomas More, English statesman and writer, known for his religious stance against King Henry VIII that cost him his life. Thomas More knew the limits of faith versus reason and conscience. He opted for selfhood when he could simply substitute it with opportunism
and live happily ever after in eternal paradise. I will leave the concept of truth to be discussed by philosophers. What I know is that across the ages, man has found truth too bitter to digest. At the age of 13, Joan of Arc convinced a board of theologians that she had a divine mission to save France during the Hundred Years‟ War with England. She is celebrated by historians and religious people alike for having led the French in several military victories over the English in 1429. When she led an unauthorised campaign the following year, she was tried and convicted of heresy for answering to God before the Roman Catholic Church. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. George Bernard Shaw, Irish-born writer and Nobel laureate, in his play Saint Joan (1923) sees her as ―a combination of practical mystic, heretical saint, and inspired genius.‖ Another such example is Socrates, a Greek philosopher and teacher who died in Athens around 400 BC. In his Apology, Plato, a student to Socrates, explains how Socrates taught that every person has full knowledge of ultimate truth contained within the soul and needs only to be spurred to conscious reflection in order to become aware of it. His criticism of injustice in Athenian society led to his prosecution and a death sentence for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. He was forced to swallow a poisonous herb, hemlock. If you think these examples too ancient, then, I will remind you of Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand, Indian thinker, statesman, and nationalist leader later named the ―Mahatma‖. Mahatma Gandhi‘s campaign of non-violent civil resistance to British rule of India led to India‘s independence in 1947. As a lawyer, and later as a political activist, he effectively fought discrimination with his principles of truth, non-violence, and courage which he termed as the ―courage of dying without killing‖. He was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Martin Luther King, Jr, American clergyman and Nobel laureate, one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movement and a prominent advocate of non-violent resistance to racial oppression is another example. Martin Luther King, Jr., emerged as a leader of the American civil rights movement after organising the famous 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Throughout his career he pressed for equal treatment and improved circumstances for blacks, organising non-violent protests and delivering powerful speeches on the necessity of eradicating institutional racial inequalities. In 1963 King led a peaceful march between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, where he delivered his most famous speech, ―I Have a Dream‖. On April 4, 1968, King was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States (1961-1963) also fell victim of man‘s refusal to swallow bitter pills. President John F. Kennedy sent federal troops to Mississippi in 1962 to quell riots after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith. Meredith became the first black student to attend the institution. It was therefore clear that Kennedy was opposed to racial discrimination and supported equal rights between blacks and whites. This was too much to handle by the white majorities. On November 22, at 12:30 p.m. CST, while riding in an open limousine through Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot in the head and neck by a sniper or snipers. If you insist on an example closest to your nose, I shall give you Patrice Lumumba Emergy, first prime minister of the Republic of the Congo. Records show that in the early 1950s, Lumumba saw the political
future in terms of a multi-racial Belgian-Congolese union and he expounded these views in his book Congo My Country (1956). In 1957 Lumumba was imprisoned on a charge of embezzlement, almost certainly trumped-up. By the time of his release, and in response to increasing demands among urban Africans for an end to the colony‘s widespread racial discrimination, the Belgian authorities dec ided to allow African participation in limited local government elections in the colony‘s four principal cities in late 1957 and early 1958. In 1959, as riots swept the capital, Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), Lumumba was imprisoned for ―political agitation‖. He was released in January 1960 to attend a Round Table Conference in Brussels, where the Belgians agreed to independence on June 30, 1960. The Belgians flew in paratroopers to support Tshombe‘s secession and to protect Belgian lives and property in the rest of the country. Lumumba called for United Nations (UN) assistance, but the UN would not intervene either to end the secession or to expel the Belgians to no avail. When he turned to the Soviet Union, the United States‘ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) connived at his removal. They persuaded Kasavubu to dismiss Lumumba, who was then arrested by Army Chief of Staff Colonel Mobutu. By then in the pay of the CIA, Mobutu handed him over to Tshombe in Katanga where he was murdered in January 1961. Let us then leave the idea of ‗man accepting truth‘ alone! “Someone had to colonise the world and we did. Someone had to kill the blacks and we did. So what?” Dupe Butcher (Jewish fraternity). Nomenclature, friends! To ―dupe‖ is to trick or deceive and ―butcher‖ means to murder, slaughter or kill wantonly and cruelly. So, what shall we say to this accursed Jew? He is a descendant of a notorious race that engineered the hanging of the Jewish carpenter Jesus Christ accusing him of conspiring to snatch their kingdoms when he was actually fighting on their side. Their long history of betrayal and conspiracy can be traced across the ages. They betrayed Germany in World War I because of their self-seeking nature. You see treachery is a hereditary thing in their blood. Now this ―butcher‖ of a racist asks, ―So what?‖ Has he already forgotten the holocaust of the 1940s? Adolf Hitler, following their treason (stabbing Germany in the back), roasted Jews in ovens and furnaces, slaughtered millions like goats, starved them to death in concentration camps, hanged and terrorised them to the highest degree. Shall we then say, someone had to exterminate the Jews and Hitler did; so what? Irrefutably, the white man lacks the will and courage of swallowing this bitter pill yet he is sick with injustices, exploitation, racism and insubordination. Those who terrorised blacks in the colonial era also met their befitting ends. We are the new born, in a new environment, with new motives, attitudes and attributes. The struggle that started long before we were born still continues. I don‘t know for how long this confusion will last. These barbarians need us as much as we need them but unless our interaction is one with mutual understanding, then the worst is coming. Grains of freedom, democracy and justice have been harvested by African nations through blood and sweat. This is the spirit of liberation. Prince Otto Von Bismarck, the architect of Germany unification realised that all he needed was ―blood and iron‖ to bring together German states. Likewise, the work of liberating Africa will take more than a conference or an inspiring speech. Kihura assures us that,
―Liberating Africa in words is a quick solution to boredom.‖ (18). Okot (1986:20) believes that ―permanent bondage seems to be man‘s fate. Because he cannot escape he cannot be liberated, freed…‖ This dilemma is perhaps answered by Chinua Achebe in his essay, The Trouble with Nigeria (1983:6), ―Spurious patriotism is one of the hallmarks of Nigeria‘s privileged classes whose generally unearned positions of sudden power and wealth must seem unreal even to themselves. To lay the ghost of their insecurity they talk patriotically.‖ In Uganda, the Patriotism Club has been formed, sponsored and spread through schools where students are being drilled to keep singing eternal praises to the ruling party. People are paid money to entice or remind them of the obligations they owe to their country. [T]he moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters, the evil, cruel times will go never to come again. A free and gallant Congo will arise from the black soil, a free and gallant Congo—the black blossomed, the black seed. (Patrice Lumumba, cited in Henrik Clarke 87) Paulo Freire in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970:33) notes, ―One of the gravest obstacles to achievement of liberation is that oppressive reality absorbs those within it and thereby acts to submerge human beings‘ consciousness.‖ Let us turn to Mechthild Nagel‘s discussion of Steve Biko‘s essay; I Write What I Like. Under cross-examination at the same trial by the prosecutor, Steve Biko reveals his profession. When the security police asked him about his profession, upon detention, he answered: ―freedom fighter.‖ (The cop laughed.) When asked about his profession, Biko again said, ―freedom fighter—precisely because this is what the state wants me to do, to sit at home and think about my freedom rather than be involved in creative work‖ (Biko 123). ―Sitting at home‖ is of course the polite term for house arrest and banning; being forbidden to produce any letters or documents meant for dissemination for the movement and the anti-apartheid forces abroad. (Visions for a Postcolonial Africa: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.2, no.3, March 2008 page 71) The subjugation of Africans, both ancient and modern has never been mistaken. Freedom fighters have made this fact clear. Nelson Mandela in A Long Walk To Freedom (1986: 86) writes, ―The Bantustans are not intended to voice the aspirations of the African people; they are instruments of their subjection.‖ Before becoming the first black president of South Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela spent much of his life in prison for leading black opposition to the oppressive rule of the white minority government. Franz Fanon in his book, Black Skin, White Mask (1952: 142), presents a similar assessment on beingness, culture and consciousness: Every colonized people – in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality – find itself face to face with the language of the civilising nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country. The colonised is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country‘s cultural standards. (The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.4, no.7, November 2011) Jomo Kenyatta in Facing Mount Kenya (1938) explains a court scenario amongst the ―Gentlemen of the Jungle‖ in which Rt. Hon Mr Elephant displaced Man from his hut. The jurors, mostly wild beasts,
decided the case thus: In our opinion this dispute has arisen through a regrettable misunderstanding due to the backwardness of your ideas. We consider that Mr Elephant has fulfilled his sacred duty of protecting your interests. As it is clearly for your good that the space should be put to its most economic use, and as you yourself have not reached the stage of expansion which would enable you to fill it, we consider it necessary to arrange a compromise to suit both parties. Mr Elephant shall continue his occupation of your hut, but we give you permission to look for a site where you can build another hut more suited to your needs, and we will see that you are well protected. Man had tried to get a human representative on the Commission of Enquiry but “he was told that it was impossible, since no one from his side was well enough educated to understand the intricacy of jungle law.‖ And so, Man lost the case. He was forced to vacate the premises and let Mr Elephant develop his land (exactly the way it happened in the fertile Kenyan highlands). Left with no choice at all, Man built a bigger hut which was quickly occupied by all jungle lords. He then set it on fire and went home, saying, ―Peace is costly but it‘s worth the expense.‖ Conclusion The atrocious events of the past should provide us with lessons upon which the future shall be shaped. Walter Rodney (1972:144) says, ―For the only great men among the unfree and the oppressed, are those who struggle to destroy the oppressor.‖ Ngugi Wa Thiongo (1986:28) gives a cultural solution to language alienation. ―So, I would like to contribute towards the restoration of the harmony between aspects and divisions of language so as to restore the Kenyan child to his environment, understand it fully so as to be in position to change it for his collective good.‖ He further writes, ―…but African languages refused to die. They would not simply go the way of Latin to become the fossils for linguistic archeology to dig up, classify and argue about in the international conference…‖ This fact should cheer us up and keep us optimistic. The first step of the massive struggle was prepared and grounded by freedom fighters long before we were born. So what is next? Maybe, we should wait for ―The African to Wake‖ and take the last step towards his liberation: spiritual, cultural, economic and socio-political liberation. It may not happen now or tomorrow but surely, someday, probably long after we are dead and buried; our children will digest these words and rid themselves of the menace…
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