About five years ago I decided that I was going to become a Pan-African. This all started when I first read ‘I Write What I Like’ by Steve Biko and for the past five years I have been obsessed with reading text written by people like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Frantz Fanon, Es’kia Mphahlele and many other prominent African Scholars on my quest to regain my African pride and “Black” Conscientiousness.
As a young African man trying to regain his African pride and “Black” consciousness I can tell you now that it is not as easy as a lot of people may think. Some people believe that reading these prominent African scholars and studying other African text and watching videos about the true history of Africa would be enough to wake up any slumbering soul but it’s not. There are a whole of things you have to deal with and a whole lot of obstacles you have overcome if you want to attain enlightenment so I thought I should share some of the things that I have gone through, which some of I am still going through and how I managed to get through some of them, and probably even get a heads up on what more to expect and how to deal with them from you guys.
The first big thing I had to deal with was the lack of access to some of the text written on the subject of African history and an even harder time accessing African text written by African scholars. You get to major books stores in the country and the ‘African Interest’ section is full of books written by a group of old “White” men who only give out their ‘academic’ opinion about situations that are happening in our continent, and they do this without putting into mind that most of these problems began when the “White” man decided that when the settled here they would fight for land that didn’t belong to them in the first place. African history is always told from the outside perspective and never that of the people whole live in the continent. When you go to these book stores and ask them why they don’t have any books that are written by African authors and scholars they will tell you that there aren’t a lot of African writers so you can’t expect to find a lot of African books.
One way I dealt with this is that I did a lot of research on African literature an I recently came across Angelo Fick’s Twitter account, @acfick72, where for Africa month he is running a campaign where he is giving out suggestions on books to read written by African people and so when I go to book stores I at least have an author’s name and a book title for my book hunts. I also avoid going to your “traditional” book stores and go to second hand book stores and I have managed to get some really good books there.
Another obstacle I have come across, which in true honesty I have no control over, is the education system in which I find myself in right now. Like most of you guys know I am a student at the University of Pretoria, soon to be the University of Tshwane if we have our way, and the curriculum found in our institutions of higher education in South Africa are a very big obstacles for the African child. It is very rare that one will find students being taught text written by African scholars in our universities and it becomes a big problem for students like me who work hard trying to take the things we learn and use them to help take the African continent forward. This issue is one that we as students have minimum, if not no, control over and thus have to succumb to being taught Western philosophies while African ones are neglected.
One way I have tried to play a part in solving this issue is by engaging policy makers and curriculum setters in trying to find out what progresses have been made in terms of Africanising the curriculum in our higher and basic education systems. I recently engages Prof Chika Sehoole who is a world renowned academic and Associate Professor & Chair of the Department of Education Management and Policy Studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, with regard to this issue and he said that they was a long way to go before we could see a proper transformation of our curriculum but progress is being made nonetheless.
One of the major challenges I have faced, and I am sure a lot of my Brothers and Sisters have faced it too, is trying to be a Pan-African in a system and society that was designed to look down on anything that does not resemble the West or its cultures. A system where women are not see as beautiful unless they have light skin, fake hair and fake nails, a system where even though we are told that one race will never oppress another we still find situations where people are advantaged all because of the color of their skin.
This is a fight we continually have to go through every day as Africans and it is a fight we can only win if we are joined together as Africans and fight the system that has made us hate ourselves so much that we are willing to bleach our skins so we can look like the White man.
There are other fights that people go through that I know nothing about and I would love to hear from people what they are so that I can be able prepare myself for what seems like is going to be the fight of my life because like I’ve said before I believe that the only that we are going to win this fight is if we stand together.
A luta continua!