Friday, August 6, 2010

The Eloquence of the Scribes

Today was our first full day of class in Aswan. Aswan in comparison to Cairo is a lot less fast paced and calmer. The environment gives us a chance to relax and take it all in. Today in class we discussed memory, translation, and how to become scribes.

Memory is the link between the past and the present, between space and time, and it is the base of our dreams. Without a reconnection with African memory, there is no wholeness. This connectedness is essential to linking African intellectual work and memory because it is through this preservation of memory that traditions are spread from generation to generation, increasing the decrease in the beliefs of the forced European based society present day generations are raised in. According to Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in his book, Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance, “Language is a communication system and carrier of culture by virtue of being simultaneously the means and carrier of memory…To starve or kill a language is to starve and kill a people’s memory bank.” This is how the Europeans imposed their ideologies on African people-they tried to erase every strength of the African, socially, mentally, physically and replace it with that of their own. “Translation is the language of languages, a language through which all languages can speak to one another.” It is through the translation of works directly written in African languages that a shared modernized heritage will emerge.

For one of the first times since we started this journey, I think everyone was has having their own individual epiphany and coming to their own understanding of exactly what we came here for: to not only learn our history that the Europeans have tried to erase but to know it, embrace it, and share it. We must become scribes taking back the knowledge-the truth they tried to make us forget, and share it in order to preserve and affirm our ways of knowing. Protecting their memory and maintaining their ways of knowing is a prime example of how our ancestors preserve and affirm their way of life. They did this by learning to survive and passing along this memory as we must do for the next generation. I think our ancestors agreed wholeheartedly because with this discussion we created an undeniable energy that definitely affected them in some kind of way. This was seen by the unexpected sand storm that occurred during class. I believe that this was due to the connectedness we established in the room to not only each other but also to our ancestors.

At the end of the day after dinner, we continued embracing this connectedness by coordinating a trip to the market in which the majority of us participated. The merchants were not nearly as annoying and did not harass us as much as those who followed us around when we visited the pyramids. We were still referred to as “cousin” though and this time were not asked if we had husbands but rather to give kisses. A few of them thought I was Nubian or Egyptian surprisingly. However, on a good note, my friends and I mastered the art of bargaining & hustled the hustlers. I cannot wait to show everyone what I got!

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