An African Story
This is an African Story: it is also an Asian story and any cursory glance at the history of China, Vietnam, India, Africa, will see the testimony in tears and blood.
We are truly a colonial people whose sweat was cruelly exploited by the Western monopoly capital to build a monument called Western Civilization. We groaned while they ate, our skins were baked dry in the mine and plantations while they drank water in the shade. We built their cities for them and ourselves slept in the gutter. They scattered us all over the globe and then added insult to injury by coming to our homes and using superior technology, itself built on a black cargo ship across the middle passage, gunned us out and said our homes were theirs.
Let me for a few minutes confine myself in Kenya.Here, the missionary, the settler and the colonial governor came as three imperial missives of the western monopoly capital. The settler grabbed the land and used African labor. The coffee plantation workers were conscripted to fight in European wars. The European had the audacity to tell them to lift their eyes unto the Lord and sing Hallelujah-Amen!
In their books and in their schools, were the poetic and intellectual exultation of our humiliation and degradation. They sang of us as people without history and meaningful values. This was drummed into our hearts through their literature and schools.
In the name of that civilization, they destroyed our dances, our songs, our language and our poetry. This was not a case of wanton carelessness, it was calculated. Literature, songs, dances, stories, embody the image people have of themselves and of their place in the universe as they struggle to harness the energies of nature for their use.
Colonialism then systematically tried to kill the African individual and collective image of oneself, ‘get at our self hood’; that was the spiritual genocide. This made a few of our westernized bourgeois cry in the words of Okot P’ Bitek’s song of Ocol: “Mother, oh mother, why was I born black?”
But slowly, we are picking up the shatters and rebuilding what was once destroyed. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes but with wounded wings.
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