Archive for the ‘BLACKS IN MELANESIA’ Category


March 6, 2014

Lupita Nyong’o Delivers Moving Speech About How She Learned To Love The Color Of Her Skin

The Oscar nominated actress spoke candidly in her Black Women in Hollywood acceptance speech about her struggle to understand her own beauty.

posted on February 28, 2014 at 12:58

Yesterday, Lupita Nyong’o won the Essence Magazine Black Women In Hollywood Breakthrough Performance Award.

And while she has fast become one of the most idolized women on the red carpet in years…Lupita told the audience that she has not always felt that comfortable with the color of her skin.

Here is the full transcript of her beautifully honest speech.

I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.

And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then Alek Wek came on the international scene. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for light skin prevailed, to the beholders that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.

And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside, that there is no shade in that beauty.

Confirmed: Lupita could not be more beautiful.


April 6, 2011





Traditional Attire of Nigerian and African Men
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By Philipo
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See all 14 photos

Surprisingly, most men in Nigeria especially Lagos State wear the traditional Yoruba cloths. This comes in various styles and designs. They have different names depending on the type of design like:

Agbada – this is a 4-piece Nigerian Agbada apparel that is made up of hat, buba, flowing Agbada and pants with embroidery.

Babariga – This is men’s 4-piece African Babariga clothing apparel comprising a Hat, long-sleeved shirt, flowing Buba and pants with embroidery.

3-piece Gbarie outfit. Hand-loomed Aso Oke material with matching embroidery.

They are suitable for special occasions and events. Have you seen what the Nigerian women wear? See this


June 11, 2010

Author Chara NyAshia Sanjo






By Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade


“It’s beautiful to be black.”

It is the color of strength and pride.

I will say it out loud. I don’t have to hide.

I love me, and the color that I represent.

Look at me, there is nothing like it.

What you see is not an illusion.

It’s a gift from GOD, don’t ever confuse it.

“It’s beautiful to be black.”

It is the color of fame and envy.

If I wasn’t black, I wouldn’t be me.

Black is the color of power and authority.

It is so outstanding, thank you LORD for blessing me.

I’ll shout it to the world, I’m proud of what I am.

Those who are in vain will never understand.

“It’s beautiful to be black”

It is the color of confidence and style.

I have been blessed, by my ancestor from the Nile.

I am scenic from the inside out.

These verses are true, I don’t have any doubt.

There is no one who can change my mind.

Black has been beautiful since the begging of time.

“It’s beautiful to be black.”

It is the color of honor and grace.

This is one thing that cannot be taken away.

By Chara NyAshia Sanjo


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Black and Beautiful by Hilesha S. Humphreys
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This entry was posted on August 12, 2007 at 3:06 pm and is filed under AFRICA, BLACK CHILDREN, BLACK CULTURE, BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL!, BLACK MEN, BLACK NATIONALISM, BLACK PEOPLE, BLACK WOMEN, THE BLACK RACE. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Edit this entry.

The face of Afrika Says:
May 4, 2008 at 2:54 am | Reply edit It is beautiful to be black indeed! I hope you don’t mind if I use your poem on my blog, dedicated to celebrate the beauty of African people and of the African continent. Please check the Website and contact us at

jameka little Says:
March 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Reply edit love the poem it describes me and the way that i feel, it’s very intresting to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

khadijah Says:
May 19, 2009 at 12:27 am | Reply edit i love the poem i hope it will inspire many
can i use your poem for my group “black is beautiful?”

daijahenry Says:
January 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Reply edit i love the poem and i hope other people do to and i hope they love to be black

from mirrors of
Poet, Song Writer and Screenplay/Stage Play Writer

Chara NyAshia Sanjo (born August 27, 1965) is an African American author, poet, song writer and screenplay/stage play writer. She is best know for her novel Reclamation of Africa’s Royalty 323 BC and her inspiring poem “It’s Beautiful to be Black.” She began writing at the age of eleven.

Sanjo was born in Cleveland, OH, as Carla Benita Burton, but decided to reclaim her African name Chara NyAshia Sanjo once she was inspired by the true beauty of African History. Her name translates to (Beautiful African princess of purpose who appreciates her past) Chara, the daughter of Anita Cozzette Moore, a hair dresser and elementary school janitor and Albert Carl Burton whose career is unknown seeing that Chara never established a relationship with her father. Her mother died in 2005 of Lung Cancer.

Chara attended John Adams High School and later transferred and graduated from West Technical High School in Cleveland OH. After high school, she attended and graduated from Cuyahoga Community College with an Associates of Art Degree (liberal arts-music & theater). She later attended and graduated from Myers University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Information Processing Systems.

Chara had every intention on finishing what she started in the arts but had allowed other to discourage her dreams when she became a statistic as a single parent. From this, she took on various jobs working as a secretary, customer service, fitness instructor and she has also worked in various administrative positions in the Medical Industry to support her son.

Before her mother’s death in 2005, she encouraged Chara to get back into the arts and to write the stories that she so loved. Chara took her mother’s advice and decided that she didn’t want to look back on her life and be a victim of Should of would of could of so she pulled an old novel that she started in 1998 off her book shelf and felt compelled to finish it. Chara dedicated that book to her mother.

In 2007 Chara made many attempts to get her book published, but all she heard was no or not interested. After being turned down, Chara decided to self publish her story because she was determined for the world to hear it. Today we know this novel/stage play as Reclamation of Africa’s Royalty 323 BC.

Chara was determined not to let anyone discourage her from making her dreams a reality. In 2008 she launched her own production company called Chara NyAshia Sanjo’s Entertainment Empire. She completed her first poetry book titled Verses of a Black Voice in 2009.

Website Designed by Mirrors of Expression Publishing (A Finham Enterprise Company) Logo by Tyson Brazille © 2009 at Homestead™ Make a Website for Your Business

The Headwear of Beautiful Black Yoruban/ Nigerian Women!!

May 15, 2009

These ladies do style, they are about class. They are ready to flaunt.
They’ve come prepared to show their
hats off. Brace yourself for the most
beautiful and vibrant, bright set of
colors. Oh, and the styles of the headwraps will make you want to
go purchase scarves for them.

It’s like a festival. It will make you want to dance, just maybe.
It’s a parade of glorious scarf hats.
The hats are so beautiful it will make
you lose gravity, just kidding, but they
are really really gorgeous.


April 9, 2009




About the Council of Independent Black Institutions (CIBI)
Founded in 1972, the Council of Independent Black Institutions (CIBI) is an umbrella organization for independent Afrikan-centered schools and individuals who are advocates for Afrikan-centered education. CIBI members are found primarily throughout the United States. Most of our institutional members are full-time Afrikan-centered independent schools. Our institutional membership also includes a number of part-time and supplementary schools. These schools enroll students at all levels from pre-kindergarten through secondary. The heaviest concentration, however, is at the elementary level.

CIBI activities include:

• Bi-annual conferences (in odd numbered years) designed to educate members of the Afrikan community about issues and prospects in Afrikan-centered education in general and specifically in CIBI. Unlike the convention, the conference is open to the public;

• Bi-annual conventions (in even numbered years) provide educators from CIBI schools and elsewhere opportunities to share information on curricula and other Afrikan centered education related matters. CIBI also installs its incoming Ndundu (leadership council) members during its convention;

• The Walimu Development Institute (WDI) attracts teachers in CIBI schools as well as CIBI home schools. CIBI also organizes intensive, on-site workshops for African-centered educators;

• Semi-annual publication of a newsletter, FUNDISHA! TEACH!, provides a forum for curriculum innovations, book reviews, news about member schools and other features pertaining to people of Afrikan ancestry.

• Annual Science Expositions held each year in April. During each Science Expo, children from the various member schools have an opportunity to display their science projects in a uniquely non-competitive environment in which they are evaluated according to criteria based upon the Nguzo Saba.

• A speakers’ bureau;

• An alumni association for graduates of CIBI institutions;

• Consultation and technical assistance to those operating or wishing to open independent Afrikan-centered schools. Services are also available to public and private schools or to any institution or group that serves children of Afrikan descent.

CIBI member contributions help make it possible to publish some of the outstanding Afrikan-centered curriculum materials that have been developed and used effectively over the years by teachers in institutions affiliated with CIBI as well as in other schools. CIBI’s social studies curriculum guide, Positive Afrikan Images for Children, published in 1990, is an example.

CIBI Mission Statement (Approved January 14, 1995)
Definition, Standards and Interpretations

• To define Afrikan-Centered Education
• To establish appropriate terminology, conditions, interpretations and standards consistent with the definition


• To vigorously promote the philosophy of Afrikan-centered education as defined by the organization
• To serve as the primary regional, national, and international spokesperson for the Afrikan- centered education movement and the institutions associated with that movement


• To establish Afrikan-centered standards and procedures for the certification of educational institutions, program, initiatives, organizations, etc.
• To establish Afrikan-centered standards and procedures for the certification of instructional and administrative personnel associated with educational institutions or programs

Curriculum Development and Standardization

• To develop and promote an Afrikan-centered curriculum philosophy
• To establish appropriate definitions and terminology associated with that philosophy
• To establish an Afrikan-centered curriculum design and methods for its implementation and evaluation
• To establish Afrikan-centered curricula for all ages (infancy through post-graduate levels) and in all subject areas
• To sponsor and/or facilitate the development of curriculum materials consistent with the design and content of Afrikan-centered curricula

Academic Performance Standards and Evaluation

• To establish academic performance standards consistent with the philosophy and design of the Afrikan-centered Curriculum
• To sponsor and/or facilitate the design of appropriate performance and diagnostic instruments, and procedures for the measurement of academic performance
• To establish standards and appropriate instruments for the evaluation of curriculum design and operations, instruction, and administration within Afrikan-centered educational institutions

National and International System Development and Coordination

• To facilitate the development and linkage of Afrikan-centered institutions world-wide through staff and student development programs, exchange programs, expositions, conventions, computer networking, bulk purchasing, joint investments and fundraising, etc.
• To establish designs, criteria, procedures, models, and necessary training\orientation programs that facilitate the development of viable institutions of Afrikan-centered education and culture.
• To serve as that administrative vehicle that coordinates the affairs of a national and international system of Afrikan-centered education.

CIBI’s Definition of Afrikan Centered Education: A Position Statement (Adopted November 11, 1994)
CIBI defines Afrikan-centered education as the means by which Afrikan culture — including the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills needed to maintain and perpetuate it throughout the nation building process — is developed and advanced through practice. Its aim, therefore, is to build commitment and competency within present and future generations to support the struggle for liberation and nationhood. We define nation building as the conscious and focused application of our people’s collective resources, energies, and knowledge to the task of liberating and developing the psychic and physical space that we identify as ours. Nation building encompasses both the reconstruction of Afrikan culture and the development of a progressive and sovereign state structure consistent with that culture.

We, in CIBI, further believe, that in practice, Afrikan-centered education:
1) acknowledges Afrikan spirituality as an essential aspect of our uniqueness as a people and makes it an instrument of our liberation (Richards, 1989; Clarke, 1991; Anwisye, 1993; Ani, 1994);
2) facilitates participation in the affairs of nations and defining (or redefining) reality on our own terms, in our own time and in our own interests (Karenga, 1980);
3) prepares Afrikans “for self-reliance, nation maintenance, and nation management in every regard” (Clarke, 1991, p. 62);
4) emphasizes the fundamental relationship between the strength of our families and the strength of our nation;
5) ensures that the historic role and function of the customs, traditions, rituals and ceremonies — that have protected and preserved our culture; facilitated our spiritual expression; ensured harmony in our social relations; prepared our people to meet their responsibilities as adult members of our culture; and sustained the continuity of Afrikan life over successive generations — are understood and made relevant to the challenges that confront us in our time;
6) emphasizes that Afrikan identity is embedded in the continuity of Afrikan cultural history and that Afrikan cultural history represents a distinct reality continually evolving from the experiences of all Afrikan people wherever they are and have been on the planet across time and generations;
7) focuses on the “knowledge and discovery of historical truths; through comparison; hypothesizing and testing through debate, trial, and application; through analysis and synthesis; through creative and critical thinking; through problem resolution processes; and through final evaluation and decision making”
(Akoto, 1992, p. 116);
8) can only be systematically facilitated by people who themselves are consciously engaged in the process of Afrikan-centered personal transformation;
9) is a process dependent upon human perception and interpretation [Thus, it follows that a curriculum can not be Afrikan-centered independent of our capacity to perceive and interpret it in an Afrikan-centered manner (Shujaa, 1992)];
10) embraces the traditional wisdom that “children are the reward of life” and it is, therefore, an expression of our unconditional love for them. In order to best serve Afrikan children our methods must reflect the best understandings that we have of how they develop and learn biologically, spiritually and culturally.


Akoto, K. A. (1992) Nation building: Theory and practice in Afrikan-centered education. Washington, DC: Pan- Afrikan World Institute.

Ani, M. (1994). Yurugu: An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Anwisye, S. (1993). Education is more than the three “R”s. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, 2, 97-101.

Clarke, J. H. (1991). African world revolution: Africans at the crossroads. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Karenga, M. (1980). Kawaida theory: An introductory outline. Inglewood, CA: Kawaida Publications.

Richards, D. M. (1989). Let the circle be unbroken: African spirituality in the diaspora. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press. (originally published in 1980)

Shujaa, M. J. (1992). Afrocentric transformation and parental choice in African American independent schools. The Journal of Negro Education, (61)2, 148-159.

How CIBI Defines “Independent” As it Relates to the Fiscal Affairs of Independent Afrikan Centered Educational Institutions
An Afrikan-Centered educational institution is considered by CIBI to be “independent” in the context of its fiscal affairs, if:

a. The programmatic emphasis of the institution is directed toward nation building and the security of liberated space.

b. Pan-Afrikan nationalist interests determine institutional decisions about soliciting, accepting and investing funds.
c. The operational budget (i.e., that which includes the rent/lease/mortgage, payroll, utilities, kwk (etc.)) is funded primarily from sources within and controlled by the Pan-Afrikan community in order to ensure that the ability of the institution to maintain itself is contingent upon Afrikan people.


March 7, 2009




Friday, March 6, 2009
PhotObama: Michelle Obama’s high school prom date was no Barack

By GottaLaff

Prom Night! 18-year-old beauty named Michelle Robinson: Check. Flirty low-cut dress slashed to the thigh: Check. Handsome prom date: Check. David Upchurch instead of Barack Obama: Ruh-roh!

Back then, [Upchurch] recalls Michelle exhibited the drive that would take her from a rough Chicago neighbourhood to Harvard University and on to a law career where she would later meet her husband, Barack Obama.

David said: ‘I grew up with Michelle and her brother Craig. We were neighbours, and our families were close.

‘When Michelle was in the middle of her junior year, we began dating and continued to date for a year-and-a-half.

‘Michelle knew what she wanted and after graduation she was off to Princeton University. I couldn’t stand in her way.’

Perhaps mindful that her husband is the President, David refuses to ‘kiss and tell’ about their time together.

He says he can’t even remember if he received a goodnight kiss after the prom.
The romance ended when Michelle went off to Princeton to study sociology. […]

‘I wished the best for Michelle because she has always been a wonderful person,’ he said.

‘I always knew Michelle was special and would make a difference in the world.’ […]

David, a divorced father-of-three from Colorado Springs, Colorado, says he finds it hard to believe his prom date ended up in the White House.

‘I cannot tell you how proud I am of her and her husband. I have never met Barack, but I have to say, he is a very lucky man,’ he said.

David Upchurch: The Pete Best of dating.

Posted by GottaLaff at 12:31 PM
Labels: david upchurch, first lady michelle obama, high school, prom
GottaLaff said…
He came THIS close… ; )

He sounds like a sweet man.

March 6, 2009 12:45 PM
Anonymous said…
LOL! I didn’t look close enough at first and just saw the mustache and thought, God Barack looks like crap with a mustache!

March 6, 2009 1:09 PM
Clancy said…
Oh, that dress! Let me tell you, prom pictures should be destroyed within five years of their taking. Every once in a while, mom likes to pull out my junior prom pics, in which I’m dressed in a 18th century period clothes (because I really loved my girlfriend).

March 6, 2009 1:15 PM
Dr. President said…
look at those long ass legs, go girl!

March 6, 2009 2:20 PM
Dr. President said…
look at those long ass legs, go girl!

March 6, 2009 2:20 PM
Anonymous said…
She looks as though she did not age a day. What is ya secret GF?

March 6, 2009 5:34 PM
Belinda said…
I wonder if President Obama is the jealous type. I bet he would pimp slap someone over his woman. I Already know Michelle would snatch a woman bald.

March 6, 2009 9:35 PM

African AMerican Art the way to your heart!!

February 27, 2009

African-American Art

African-American Art - Port. Of Self

African American Art

African-American Art


Wanda Bush 'The Queen', African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Wanda Bush 'Angst', African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Jasmine Zenoi-Schofill 'Rosa', African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Tony Thompson 'Mother Africa', African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Beautiful Mother.2007

Jesus is Black, See! (If you know history, Black people are the first race so ofcourse you know Jesus is Black) Pictures here!

February 26, 2009

Black Jesus

Black Jesus


Black Madonna

The Black Madonna ABove, Below
Black Jesus Pictures!


Black Jesus3


Black Jesus and the Rastafarian Disciples



January 14, 2009


Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Not Just A Dream: Obama Sparks Black Men To Action
NASHVILLE, Tenn — An actor turns a dilapidated, inner-city mosque into a theater in just a few days. A 20-year-old buckles down on his studies at a historically black college after his mother dies of cancer. A community organizer decides his plan to create thousands of green jobs is too modest and enlarges it twenty-fold.
Not Just A Dream: Obama Sparks Black Men To Action
NASHVILLE, Tenn — An actor turns a dilapidated, inner-city mosque into a theater in just a few days. A 20-year-old buckles down on his studies at a historically black college after his mother dies of cancer. A community organizer decides his plan to create thousands of green jobs is too modest and enlarges it twenty-fold.

Barack Obama’s election to the White House is the very realization of what so many black fathers have told their sons to aspire to for years, even if often it was just a confidence-booster, not meant to be taken literally. And long before he wrapped up the contest, his candidacy had driven these three black men and others to actions they say they might not have taken without his example.

Jeff Obafemi Carr, who had been a successful actor in New York, was debating whether to return there or stay in Nashville, where he wanted to turn a run-down mosque into Nashville’s first black theater in a century. It was an ambitious and daunting idea considering that some in the neighborhood figured the building would wind up as a liquor store or a thrift shop.

Then the 41-year-old remembered a conversation he had with Obama during an Ohio campaign stop. The then-Democratic nominee encouraged him to keep working on his project.

“He told me that we’re going to make a big change for the country with my help,” Carr recalled.

When Carr returned from that event, he put his plan in motion. With the help of community volunteers, donated time from professional builders and materials from corporations, Carr set a date for construction and built the Amun Ra Theatre. Its first major performance will be next month with “Gem of the Ocean,” by American playwright August Wilson.

Throughout the process, Carr said he and the workers repeated Obama’s slogan: “Yes we can.” Now the theater’s Web site proclaims, “Yes, We Did!”

Justin Bowers, a junior at historically black Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., was thinking about dropping out after his mother died of cancer two years ago at age 48.

“It was a lot of stress,” Bowers said. “I was struggling. It was really hard.”

A friend pointed out Obama’s perseverance after the president-elect lost his 53-year-old mother to cancer. Bowers said the story motivated him to stay in school and study harder to honor his mom.

“I know she would have wanted me to press on with my life regardless of what adversities might come,” said Bowers, 20, who is majoring in accounting and marketing. “That’s just how I was raised. And clearly, that’s how Barack was raised.”

Van Jones, 40, founded Green For All, a national program that seeks to create clean energy jobs. His Oakland, Calif.,-based program, which employs 25 people and has an operating budget of $4.5 million, was instrumental in passing a portion of a national energy bill, called the Green Jobs Act. It will use up to $125 million to train 30,000 people in jobs such as installing solar panels and retrofitting buildings to make them more environmentally friendly.

With Obama’s election, Jones decided to shop a $33 billion proposal before Congress that would hire about 600,000 over the next two years for similar work.

“I wouldn’t have believed in myself enough to come forward with an idea that bold,” Jones said. “But now, you’ve got somebody who’s up there, who’s telling people, ‘Let’s be bold.’

“The ceiling has come off. We can dream of … bringing new technologies and new jobs into communities that have been left behind. Yes we can.”

Obama’s historic run has provided ammunition for black fathers, too, who can point to it in motivating the next generation of black men. Will Rodgers, a communications manager at an electric company in Tampa, Fla., said he takes every opportunity to talk to his 12-year-old son about Obama and “how our nation has transformed.”

“I want him to understand the gravity of what’s happened,” said Rodgers, who boasts of having been a conservative Republican who never voted for a Democrat for president until Obama.

“He can really be anything he wants to, even president of the United States.”


September 18, 2008


Restoring The Dignity Of Africa

BY Sule E. Egya

Brain Gain for the African Renaissance, Edited by Okello Oculi and Yakubu Nasidi; published by Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria; 447 pages.

What we know of socio-cultural and scientific civilisation today, it has been established, started from Africa. Per Ankh, the house of life, in the ancient Egypt was a brain-home from where knowledge spread to other parts of the world. World-class African thinkers such as Cheik Anta Diop, Ayi Kwei Armah and Theophile Obenga have persistently forged a narrative to connect us to that glorious past. Regrettably, their narrative, what Armah calls “the way,” is countervailed by forces that have retrogressively reduced the height of Africa. The Africa that housed intellection in the past, as absurd as it sounds, is now a pitiable shadow of itself, its intellectuals driven to continental self-enslavement. During the slavery of the past, the white people came and captured Africans, but in the present slavery Africans willingly present themselves to the white people as slaves. It is the exodus to the West; it is the brain drain Africa suffers from.

To stem the tide of intellectual erosion as a result of the brain-drain phenomenon, Africa Vision 525, a non-governmental think-tank based in Kenya and Nigeria, has initiated what it calls Brain Gain book project. Part of the objective of this project, according to Okello Oculi and Yakubu Nasidi, editors of the first book in the series, is “to contribute to ameliorating [the crisis of brain drain] by drawing back into African universities intellectual products of the African Diaspora and Africanist scholars resident outside Africa” (ix). Contributions by outstanding scholars on the continent are also brought into the pool of intellectual productions the project injects into a system that is practically comatose. This first volume of the project demonstrates the feasibility and, indeed, the fruition of a concerted effort to reconstruct the canon of intellection in Africa. Here is a conscious response to a continent’s moral, ethical and intellectual failures; a measured criticism that validates the notion of inward positivism and a pragmatic approach to Africa’s solutions to Africa’s problems.

The theme of this volume is “Issues in Governance.” A crucial angle from which to begin the business of renaissance in Africa, you may say. The choice is vital. Governance is perhaps the most derailed sphere in the evolution of nationhood in Africa. It is a continental weakness—really, an insurmountable vice—that reduces one of the wealthiest continents in the world to beggardom. The choice of scholars to tackle these issues Brain Gain has made is both appealing and gratifying. The names are intimidating: Ali Mazrui, Toyin Falola, Okwudiba Nnoli, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, P. Anyang Nyongo’o, Okechukwu Ibeanu, Crawford Young, and others. In their diverse themes and styles, tones and tenors, these intellectuals engage the readers in profound dialogues that evaluate and define the course of governance in Africa.

Falola’s “Writing and Teaching National History in Africa in an Era of Global History” is a primal discourse. The eminent, globe-trotting scholar returns home, patriotic, having been exposed to the sophistry of globalisation. Beginning his argument from the existence of nation-states, in spite of what he refers to as the “ambiguities” surrounding them, Falola harps on the conspiracy of the globalists to undermine, and consequently nullify, national historiography. In doing this, he undresses globalisation and presents her to us in her full nakedness, with all her ugly joints. The scholar informs us that “[it] is the weak nations [in the sense we see all nations of Africa] that are being asked to adjust, to subordinate their national histories to the threatening agenda of a global world and a global history” (58). In this design, globalisation weakens weaker nations and strengthens stronger ones, insofar as the concept of globalisation is continuously fashioned and manoeuvred by the powerful nations of the world. A powerful nation, then, upstages her history to what Falola calls “metanarrative”. In this premise, the less powerful nations must evolve a history to confront the many lies and infamies of globalisation, and with resilient intellectualism and vigorous historiography. A further antidote, pragmatic in its chemistry, is offered here:

We have to keep decolonizing African historiography, to turn to indigenous creativity and ideas, to empower the marginalized voices, to shed light on the tremendous energy and success represented by popular cultures, market women, craft workers, and local cultivators, among others. Oral history should not be abandoned in the face of global history. Students and researchers must contribute to our understanding of a variety of topics: migration flows within Africa and nation-states; regional conflicts; ethnic and religious divisions; inter- and intra-national relations within Africa; development and modernization; processes of democratization and participatory practices; neoliberal reforms; cultural transformations; market and economic networks; the Cold War and its aftermath; ecological history and sustainable development; and mass communication. (Italics mine, 77-78)

It seems like a thesis that will liberate nation-states in Africa from what one may call globalism i.e. the dishonest rhetoric of globalisation. But many Africa-based students and scholars, as some of the essays in Brain Gain attest, have been engaging in the enterprise Falola proposes, except that the overall socio-political climate of Africa does not welcome—and, indeed, kills—intellectual activities meant to forge a liberated and equitable nationhood.

It is this hostile climate in Africa that Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja draws our attention to in his “Challenges to State Building in Africa”. His discourse is clear and familiar to us. His first sentence opens the wound we have been nursing for long: “After three to five decades of self-rule, the people of Africa have yet to see the fulfilment of their expectations of independence for full citizenship rights” (87). This is painfully true. The eminent scholar goes on to outline some of the factors responsible for this condition. The problems are home-based, though mostly engendered by the hypocritical posture of the West, Africa’s chief coloniser. Greed and Dishonesty, the twin sisters, are the hot-legged prostitutes cradling African leaders on their laps. They caused the disillusionment of the post-independence era, lengthened to destructive militarisation, which has begotten anaemic democracies in Africa. Nzogola-Ntalaja neatly ties this to the globalisation-syndrome Falola has expounded: “contrary to the political vision of Amilcar Cabral and other progressive founding fathers of African independence, post-colonial rulers have not transformed the inherited structures of the state and the economy to serve the deepest aspirations of their peoples instead of the interests of the dominant classes of the world system, with which these rulers tend to identify” (88). The gist is simply that African leaders, since independence, have set their visions abroad to cater for their greed and the interest of their colonial masters. Nzogola-Ntalaja believes that Africa is yet to severe its umbilical cord from the West and that is one of its greatest problems. He harks back to the early rhetoric of Pan-Africanism, reminding us of the good intentions of the fighters of independence, giving us an insight into the stupendous wealth waiting for Africa at the dawn of independence, and he regrets that Africa today is a famished continent whose children troop to the West in search of food and survival. Really, every section of Nzogola-Ntalaja’s essay echoes the ignominy that Africa Vision 525 intends to redeem with its book projects. Part of Nzogola-Ntalaja’s suggestion for a better Africa is that “a successful development strategy [for Africa] requires a radical break with the past, that is, with the authoritarian and predatory character of the colonial state, as well as the promotion of egalitarian and participatory values” (107).

Some of the essays in Brain Gain are very revealing. Okechukwu Ibeanu’s “Petroleum, Politics and Development in the Niger Delta” is an eye-opener for non-Nigerians whose knowledge of the Niger Delta conundrum is what the radio brings to them. The depth of Ibeanu’s research and the clarity of his language are such that you will see, most graphically, the situation in the Niger Delta today. “ECOMOG Operations in the Resolution of Conflicts in West Africa”, by Gani Yoroms, is another eye-opener for those who have heard much but have known less about Africa’s peace-keeping operations in Africa. Deftly expository, Yoroms’s essay is different from most others because of its tone which is less critical. Yoroms is interested in furnishing us with facts with which we can conclude that Africa, after all, can tackle its crises, although what we see of Somalia and Darfur today confounds us. But no matter what we see today, if we read Yoroms’s essay, we are likely to agree with him that “it is important to acknowledge that ECOMOG operations were indeed path breaking approaches to peace keeping in Africa” (373).

Other essays, such as Kristen Timothy’s “Defending Diversity, Sustaining Consensus: NGOs at the Beijing Women’s Conference and Beyond”; P. Anyang Nyong’o’s “Good Governance for Whom? How Presidential Authoritarianism Perpetuates Elitist Politics in Africa”; and Adagbo Ogbu Onoja’s “The Commonwealth Intervention in the Zimbabwe Land Reform Crisis: Africa’s Security in the Post Cold War Era” give us profound education on issues that are here with us and yet we know just little about them. Beyond the depth of the researches collected in this book, the spread, which is an attempt to embrace all facets of political life of Africa, is a commendable feat.

With about fifteen essays, the book is one that every scholar and thinker, irrespective of the field of specialisation, ought to possess and give it a prominent space on his/her shelf. Perhaps, those who need the service of this book most are the politicians and the policy-makers of present-day Africa who have become persistently noisy and noisome about reforms. The book will help them reform themselves, and give them a lead-way towards the evolution of a genuinely democratic norm in Africa.

Sule E. Egya, Ph.D, writer and scholar, teaches in the Department of English, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nasarawa State.

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