Saturday, June 16, 2012
Free State News May, June 2012 samples
Ngugi wa Thiong'o in the Free State No matter how we look at it, Africa has come a long way from the days of near continental bondage to Europe, said Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o as he delivered the Africa Day Memorial Lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS) on Friday, May 28. “We celebrate Africa Day today in the context of over 60 years of Africa’s independence going to that of Morocco, Libya, Sudan and Ghana, all in the fifties to the present. “If the independence of Ghana is the more memorable in terms of its impact, it was because on the continent, it was first identifiably, unmistakably and unambiguously black nation to wrest independence from Europe,” Thiong’o said. He said Ghana was unique in that Kwame Nkrumah linked the independence of Ghana to that of the rest of the continent and had said Ghana’s uhuru was incomplete as long as the rest of the continent was not free. “In Nkrumah’s eyes the continent could not live with one part free and the other enslaved, a stance reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln, in a statement in the American civil war, that the nation could not endure half free and half enslaved. No leader of the already independent nation including nation building Liberia or the never colonized Ethiopia had ever linked the destiny of their country to that of the continent,” he said. He went on to say that Nkrumah and Nyerere assumed the integrity of the continent and took responsibility for Africa as a whole, a vision already assumed in the anthem Nkosi Sikelele Africa, whose lyrics and melody became the nearest thing to an African anthem. Thiong’o said despite Africa having the only two countries –South Africa and Libya- that have voluntarily given up a nuclear programme, Africa is still not accorded respect in terms of its position in the world as a major power play. “When NATO powers recently attacked and bombed Libya to submission, they were completely oblivious to the feeling and opinions of the African Union. It’s not a question of what one thinks of Kadafi; it’s the blatant almost arrogant disregard of the opinion of the AU, that stood out, in the unfolding drama enacted under the fig leaf cover of a United 4 nations resolutions, a situation not too dissimilar to the killing of Lumumba in the 1960’s. “Would this have happened if Africa had a united muscle to flex? Coincidence or not, the loudest drum beat for war came from France and Britain, both with a colonial and slave past, which means that their attitude to Africa is coloured by their experience of the past master-servant relationship to the continent,” Thiong’o said. He added that if ‘we’ want to know the standing of Africa in the world today, one does not need to question Africa’s seat in the security council or dramatic acts of military intervention but just to look at the attitudes towards blackness in Africa and the world today. “While others may bear the blame for this, Africa is also culpable in the negative standing of blackness in the world” Prof Thiong’o related his own experiences as a black writer having attended a conference for black writers at the Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda where many writers were often afraid to classify themselves as ‘black writers’. “When I came to see how African writing was often critiqued as lesser than or ‘good enough considering’,or that it was anthropology not literature, I begun to understand why some people would want to disclaim the label black or African, their way of clamoring to be judged by the same aesthetic criteria as any other writers. “I am aware that no writer sits down to see whether every word, sentence or image they put down is black enough; or to consciously erase the memory of experience that shaped the writer so that he or she can write like a writer. But there are moments when I want to stand on roof tops, tear off my clothes, and proclaim I am black writer, holding a banner with the words: I write primarily in an African language, Gikuyu; what of my fiction you now read in English is largely translation from the Gikuyu original. There are other moments when, even if I wanted to be just a writer, no drama of tearing off clothes and holding banner aloft, I am reminded of the fact of blackness: my blackness as a black writer,” the aging professor said. Prof Thiong’o related another story of racial intolerance directed towards him in America. One as a guest at a hotel wherein he was told to his face that the facility he was using was for “guests only” and the other incident occurred whilst in a queue at an ATM to withdraw money. Here, he was approached by a white man who demanded to go before him as he (Ngugi) was collecting a “welfare cheque”. Prof Thiong’o said it was the “absolute certainty” of these gentlemen that made him feel uneasy. “That self-certainty can condemn any one to early death. In that sense race would seem to trump class. The certainty is based on a negative profile of blackness taken so much for granted as normal that it no longer creates a doubt,” the Prof said He avowed that the perception and self-perception of blackness as negative is spread and intensified in the images of everyday; in the West, TV clips to illustrate famine, violent crimes and ethnic warfare, tend to draw from dark faces. “In commercials, TV dramas, in the cinema, one hardly ever sees a really dark person portraying beauty and positivity. A concession to blackness stops at various shades of light skin. No wonder this result in a knee jerk rejection of the African body,” he said. The professor said the negativity around blackness manifests itself in other ways such as where an African leader addresses a nation and for the sake of the ‘British and American’ ambassadors on the dais; they make the speech in English or French. This he said was because African leaders often associated European Languages with formality, dignity, serious discourse on the state of the nation, and African Languages with coarse speech, abuse and ridicule. “This negative perception and self-perception has roots in the history of enslavement and colonization. “The biggest sin, then, is not that certain groups of white people, and even the West as a whole, may have a negative view of blackness embedded in their psyche, the real sin is that the black bourgeoisie in Africa and the world should contribute to that negativity and even embrace it by becoming participants or shareholders in a multibillion industry built on black negativity. If it was a case of a few social foibles here and there, it would not matter, but in a post-colonial situation, the internalized negative view of the black body can have fatal consequences. “The images we have of each other, the images of self, the images we have of the world and history can often blind us not into seeing that reality,” he said. He said for Africa to heal, the African middleclass must give up the looting mentality inherited from the colonial era and political mercenary must give way to political visionary. He continued to say that Africa must rediscover and reconnect with Nkrumah’s dreams of a politically and economically united Africa, rooted in the working of people of Africa. “If we brought together the might of our African and global presence, there’s nothing that could stop Africa being an equal player in the globe. The world begins at home and home begins inside the castle of one’s skin,” said the Professor. - Dineo Mokgosi The Bookshelf (Column) With Kgang Abel Motheane Lights...cameras! Action!! It's been exciting times again in the F.S literary scene as a major film-making crew descended on the province to zero in on literary trends. The shooting scenes were done all over the place, including border landmarks, libraries, public places, even the forest, and the famed Qoopane Literary gallery. The filming crew gasped with disbelief as they took in the superb gallery with its countless profiles of key writers like Lebohang Thaisi, Kgang Motheane, Flaxman Qoopane T. Mafike and NMM Duman. Although the filming focused mainly on protagonist Omoseye Bolaji; other writers liberally featured were Pule Lechesa, Hector Kunene, Raselebeli Khotseng, and Qoopane. Winnie Mokhomo, Director of the movie,(from Little Pond Productions) said: “We are so proud and happy we came from Gauteng to do this documentary. The Free State is incredibly advanced when it comes to literature, and books," I refuse to be another statistic! By Reitumetse Mokhoantle When I state that I refuse to be another statistic, I'm actually referring to how I just don't want to be ordinary citizen who contributes nothing to the future generation. I refuse to be another young black South African female who gains knowledge of the world for her own pleasures nor give into the temptations of life and still be considered a Christian. I plan on being great, I care not to be less. I refuse to let the length of my skirt to define me. I refuse to make immature decisions based on selfish motives or make any arrogant choices under the influence of anything other than my heart. I want to be a black lady who can flip it from her "own person" to her "own boss." I want to take accountability for whatever consequences I might face. Now don't you dare judge me, for you don't know my pain. Our struggle is not our struggle anymore, seem it is now led by people who want to benefit from us; colonizing our vocabulary and limiting us in everything we do. I know where I'm going therefore I don't have to be what you want me to be because thanks to individuals like Nelson, Winnie, Hector, Albertina and Jesus...I am free to be what I want to be and have no regrets about it. My only regret is the stigma that many black females have set in the past, such as dropping out, bragging about who/where they were with last night, competing for the maternity ward, divorcing their parents, believing that a wealthy husband is the result to a luxurious, joyous life. NO! Personally, I believe that if my God needs me to work with the youth, help adults, to teach the children or just sit and learn; then I am there! The devil cannot defeat me. Sickness cannot stop me. People cannot disillusion me. Battles cannot beat me. Weather cannot weary me. Government cannot silence me. Money cannot buy me and hell can't handle me. I'm not bragging because I can back my words up. You see, I plan on becoming all that I was ordained to. Nevertheless, I refuse to become another statistic!
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