By Henry Ekwuruke
The rich and beautiful land of Africa has been an area of great concern and interest for great researchers through the centuries. In their study of Africa, these researchers have unanimously agreed that the African people have a common identity. This presents and makes the African what he is deriving mainly from what he has namely: The African thought and the African culture. This indeed, is the African identity. How ever, a puzzled observer, placing Africa side-by-side with the western countries, might be tempted to ask: Can Africa really meet the test of time? Do Africans have anything to offer to the modern world? Can it Africans and its countries stand the challenges of the modern times?
It is no longer in doubt that civilization of modern man began in Africa. Recorded history has it that Egypt was the first part of the world to be civilized. This was spurred on by their deep desire to delve into the mysteries of nature. Discovering nature is a fundamental aspect of the African thought and culture, as it is expressed in myths, fables and folk-tales. This is what gained Egyptians the prestige as the inventor of the science of Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry; the arts of time keeping and drainage system etc.
Their rational inquiry of the human mind gave rise to philosophy and modern principles of science. Their believe in natural occurrences such as reincarnation and in the immorality of the soul led them to preserve dead bodies as mummies, thereby giving rise to the modern practice of embalmment. Medical sciences were first practiced in Egypt. For instance, the first physician of antiquity of any fame was the black Egyptian named Imhotep. Imhotep, lived two thousand years before the Greek doctor Hippcrates, who is regarded as the father of medicine. They were also the first to do surgery (even brain surgery), and the Egyptians, as recorded in the papyrus of 1550 B.C., prescribed the first fertility control recipe. In addition to all these, Egypt possessed the world’s ever-biggest library, which then located in Alexandria, but was destroyed by the barbarians in the dark ages.
Using the inductive method, we could be justified to say that the ancient Egyptian civilization must have influenced the neighbouring African countries, in that it gave them the impetus to develop their own though and culture. Since many parts of Africa were “not yet discovered” during this period, these undiscovered parts must have developed their own thought and culture to a great extent.
This is evident in the fact that even before the advent of the so-called “colonial masters’ to Africa, Africans had had distinctive and well organized systems of government, religion, culture and ethical practices. As such, even before the coming of the “white people” to Africa, Africa had already been civilized. Besides, these facts might sound either ironical or satirical to a modern man who may wish to ask: Why is Africa then so underdeveloped?
The “white men” came to Africa under the auspices of establishing their own religion, but turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. As Jomo Kenyatta puts it: “when the missionaries came to Africa, Africans had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray by closing our eyes in Jesus’ name. When we prayed, they left the Bible in our hands and confiscated our land. As such, the Africans were deceived (not because they were fools but as the Psalmist would say: In his richness, man lacks wisdom. Reciprocally, Africans who are now discriminated against and are termed ” uncivilized” are known as tricksters worldwide.)
Having confiscated our land, the westerners deliberately put an end to African thought and culture, which was the basis of African civilization and uniqueness, and every effort was made to curtail positive and continual development of the traditional culture via the inculcation in us the great affinity to the western culture and contemptive negation for anything african. Our thought and cultural heritage were seen as fetish, Africans became slaves in their own land, seen as barbarians and were treated as such. This had a bad psychological effect on Africans as they stigmatized themselves as inferiors, especially before the “white people”, whom they called “masters”, in their own land.
Since then, Africans have turned their gaze to the cultures across the Atlantic, as the paradise on Earth. Finally, as could be recalled, the problem of the Israelites did not start until they demanded for a king like other nations. In other words, they abandoned their own way of life; their own identity and sought to be identified with other nations. Africans need to come back to their root, rethink and bring back their minds in the wake of their encounter and unanimously embark on a war against the total extinction of the African culture and identity, if AFRICA should survive!