By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
December 05, 2011
As the UN-sponsored “International Year for People of African Descent” (2011) gradually comes to an end, historiography suggests that African people must deal with these fundamental questions: “Who am I here and now?; Am I all I can be?”, Am I really who i am? (and) Why am I here?”
In this specific regard, people of African descent need to confront the issues of originality versus nationality. For “a people limited in their view point and without a collective vision going into the 21st century will, indeed perish.”
As deceased Afri-centric African-American scholar/historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke opines: “There is no solution for African people, except for some form of Pan African Nationalism, no matter how you cut it. No matter what island you’re from, no matter what state you’re from, no matter what religion you belong to, we must develop a concept of Pan African Nationalism that cuts across all religious, political, social, fraternity ,sorority lines and allows us to proudly face the world as one people.”
And as the deceased African-Trinbagonian Pan-Africanist Kwame Ture once warned: “If you don’t know who you are, you would not know what your interests are.”
The fact of the matter is that a people without a sense of history are ill-equipped to visualize and plan a future because of an unclear and distorted/mis-educated picture of their past. A people without the knowledge of “having done” will have grave difficulty acknowledging the motivation of “can do.”
In essence, originality refers to our inherited Africanness; it is a gift from Mother Africa – “the cradle of civilization.” It also represents 99.9 per cent of the totality of the history of African people on the planet.
On the other hand, nationality is an accident of birth as a direct result of the European enslavement of African people or the European slave trade. It represents an indictment from Father Europe. It also represents only 0.1 per cent of the totality of the history of African people on the planet.
In other words, the only reason why Africans here are Trinbagonians is simply because their European slave ship landed and unloaded their forefathers on the plantations in Trinidad and Tobago. That’s it. Ergo, their nationality is a mere accident because if their European slave ship had landed and unloaded their forefathers on plantations in another Caribbean country, then, they would have a different nationality today.
The stark historical reality is that Africa is our Home, our Originality; Trinidad and Tobago is our Destination, our Nationality. As such, the descendants of our African forefathers are African-Trinbagonians, period. The ahistorical, Euro-centric label “Afro-Trinbagonian” does not apply. It does not even compute. We are Africans, period.
Our African forefathers were brought from the Continent of Africa. According to the annals of world history, there has never been a Continent named “Afro” or Afro-Land. We are Africans first—our Orignality, then, we have been transformed into being Trinbagonians, Jamaicans, Cubans, Brazilians, etc, by accident— our Nationality.
The truth be told: In the B.C. era of Originality, Africans were powerful and Europeans were powerless. Africa ( as in ancient Kemet/Egypt) was the Subject of world history while Europe was the Object of world history. Conversely, in the A.D. era of Nationality, Africans are powerless and Europeans are powerful. Africa is the Object of world history while Europe is now the Subject of world history. Furthermore, as “part of the manifestation of the evil genius of Europe”, for the past five hundred years and counting, world scholarship, albeit Euro-centric global mis-education, has been governed by His-Story.
Nevertheless, as the Afri-centric African-American scholar/historian Dr. Marimba Ani correctly admonishes :”You’re not an African because you’re born in Africa. You’re an African because Africa is born in you. It’s in your genes, your DNA, your entire biological make-up. Whether you like it or not, that’s the way it is. Indeed, if [African-Trinbagonians] were to embrace this truth with open arms my, my, my what a wonderful thing [that would be].”
In the final analysis, it is to be hoped that the descendants of those Africans who were enslaved on the plantations in Trinidad and Tobago would internalize their Africanness and begin to refer to themselves as African-Trinbagonian from 2012, ad infinitum. If this Afri-centric turnabout does not become a reality, then, the celebration of 2011 as the “International Year for People of African Descent” would just tantamount to a colossal exercise in historical-ancestral futility.
As the adage strongly asserts, whatever “circumscribes the circumference of your mind, controls the diameter of your thinking.” Now is the time for African- Trinbagonians to think, act and live out Africa, 24-7-365.
“Africans of the world unite; we have nothing to lose but our minds.”
Shem Hotep (” I go in peace”).
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.