Sunday, August 15, 2010


According to Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the dismemberment of Africa was “simultaneously the foundation, fuel, and consequence of Europe’s capitalist modernity.”  The two stages of its dismemberment are: the separation of the continent of Africa and its diaspora and the individual African from his memory.   It is through this dismemberment that the wholeness of the African subject is destroyed and its double cultural decapitation influences and shapes our perspectives on Africa.  The process of re-membering is restoring memory and relinking.

In the mid 19th century, when Europe began to lose control of its former colonies it turned to Africa for resources due to their development of a culture of scarcity.  This is when Europeans began to systematically dispossess Africans of natural resources in Africa.  This was called African colonialism.  Colonialism is another attempt at controlling a peoples memory.  “The colonizing presence sought to induce a historical amnesia on the colonized by mutilating the memory of the colonized; and where that failed, it dismembered it, and then tried to re-member it to the colonizer’s definition of the world.  Therefore in retrospect, Europe technically does not exist.

When I first met Dr. Carr, he introduced me to the term "Being Present" Being Present is being aware of one’s immediate genealogy, which is “the basis of human identity and, according to Kemetic and subsequent African cultural edict, the trace evidence of the genetic relationship between the Creator and the living person.”  “A people without a consciousness of their Being in the World, can easily be guided by another to wherever the guide wants to take him, even to his own extinction”, according to the Heideggerian phrase.  With this in mind, one must realize that racial self-assertion is the necessary first step in the reclamation of a positive self-awareness.  Racism was a conscious class ideology of imperialism, colonialism, and colonial relations & it is race that was, is, and could be used as a means of diminishing the self-evaluation of the dominated.  This is clearly delineated by the creation of whiteness.  Ethnicity literally means “other” from the Greek word heathen.  Non black ethnicity, whiteness, is a social category created for black ethnicity to be the opposite.  “Black” is not race, it is culture.  This is how Europeans began to dismember the memory of Africans.

“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.  Europeans claimed their ways to be better than that of Africans and systematically dismembered them by imposing the psychological idea that Europeans were of the superior class and in order to survive or make it in the world Africans would have to conform to Europeans ideas in every way.  This is delineated by institutions in the very beginning of a child’s education.  American schools institute fundaments of European imperial rule in which they socialize African children to identify with European values.  The educational institutions aim at getting students to modify their memories to appreciate European superiority especially through literature and history, to the point of inevitably acquiring the reflex to think that the vast topic of Literature was English literature and there was no other being in existence until the Europeans creating history where they began.  Literature, like all other subjects focused on the English versions and was used to express racial superiority by the Europeans.

Memory resides in language and is clarified by language.  Language is a mutual form of communication.  Every society may have one main language but different classes of people may create their own type of language, a form of slang for example, giving their society multiple forms of language.  Some African governments have a problem with the multiple languages.  They have a fear of intensifying the divisions created by different languages.  As a result, most governments tend to pretend that African languages do not exist or try to force monolingualism.  However, the solution is not to bury the languages and the means of African memory under European ideologies, but rather the solution lies in translation.  “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.  Ultimately, the re-membering of memory can only be successful only if the keepers of memory, ie. African writers, musicians, and artists, share their memory.

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