NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 119

Outside the formal system of schools and universities, any group of awakening intellectuals can form study groups, pool resources to acquire copies of key documents, and study them, learning the enabling languages and such scripts as hieroglyphics whenever necessary. Nothing prevents us from expanding our knowledge of ourselves this way, and nothing prevents us from sharing the information we find with millions of others, using whatever skills we possess, in whatever fields we choose: music, fiction, films, video, blogs…. Finally, we need to clear up some confusion about African liberation. What, precisely, are we talking about? We live in a world where every year, in fifty-three different places on the continent of Africa, states celebrate The answer is that the Nkrumahs and Tourés worked hard indeed to liberate Africa, but they did not have the steam and the resources they needed to reach the goal of real liberation. Some of their generation worked directly to strengthen the Berlin system of division. Some were waylaid and manipulated into shifting their vision from the salutary but difficult goal of African unity, to the easier but self-defeating one of entrenching the existing colonial boundaries. The best we can say is that their generation of African politicians pointed the way to African unity, but in practice they were not able to lead us there. It is silly as well as heartless to blame them for not reaching the goal; they started the journey. Reaching the destination is a task that remains for new generations to accomplish. It is work that can only be done by persons and groups able, from the start, to see themselves as Africans, to think as Africans, to plan as Africans, to work steadily toward their goal as Africans, and in general, to live, not just talk, as Africans. There is no suggestion here that anyone who can read hieroglyphs and talk about ancient Egyptian philosophy is ready to unify Africa. There are Egyptologists convinced that only their small tribe came from ancient Egypt, that theirs is the beauty and grace of ancient Egyptians, but that other Africans do not belong, and they and only they, deserve to inherit the glory of a splendid past. We need not concern ourselves with such souls. What interests us is the promise that persons who take the trouble to immerse themselves in the real history and culture of Africa, from antiquity to now, acquire the intellectual tools needed to explore innovative ways to the future we need to make. The work of removing the divisive Berlin barriers, bringing African resources under African control, and making sure that the continent’s resources serve to lift the continent’s population into a humane life, will no doubt be more complicated than the straightforward anti-colonial struggles of the mid-twentieth century. It will require a knowledgeable generation of conscious Africans, able to turn themselves into skilled organizers, and determined to keep working steadily until they reach their goal: a united Africa, home to a people that knows its history from the beginnings of recorded time, and knows enough about its cultural resources to understand that in order to find the intellectual resources any society needs to build its future, it need not go cadging concepts from alien sources. What we have to do, to start with, is to remember our dismembered heritage. n 2009. Armah, Ayi Kweh. “Remembering the Dismembered Continent.” Remembering the Dismembered Continent. Popeguine: Per Ankh, 2010. 9-38. Print. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE Pending the rise of such African institutions of higher learning, what can any interested intellectual do? The work required to awaken African society from the slumber of divisions to the vitality of united thinking and action is initially a task of memory. We need to retrieve our murdered memory, to revive our starved recollection of our potential. We can do this by accessing and discussing the real documents of our history and philosophy. It’s cool to be able to do this as students on scholarships. But few schools and universities offer African children scholarships if their quest is self-knowledge. When was the last time you heard of an African high school graduate being offered a scholarship to study Egyptology? their liberation from colonial rule. Nkrumah, Kaunda, Nyerere, Lumumba, Keita and Touré are all celebrated as heroes who freed us from foreign oppression. If they freed us, why are we still talking about our liberation as if it still lay in the future? 117 state of half-life, half-death, as its vital resources get steadily drained away. Our universities, set to help us vegetate, are national universities; to help us live, they would have to become, or to be replaced by, African universities.