Dr Julius Garvey, youngest son of the Most Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, urged Black people in Azania to pride themselves in their glorious history which predates all human civilizations, in order to deal with their many challenges. “Afrika is the most important continent in the history of humanity and civilization”, Garvey said.
He was speaking on Afrikan Liberation Day (25 May) during the event of the 10th annual Robert Sobukwe Memorial Lecture at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg, King William’s Town.The event was truly a transcendental historic moment, a convergence of not only sacred bloodlines in Afrikan history, but also a moment of critical reflection on the contemporary relevance of Pan-Afrikanism.
Dr Garvey’s Lecture, titled “Introduction to a Pan-Afrikan Worldview”, began with an acknowledgement and invocation of the names of Pan-Afrikan revolutionaries who contributed in the fight against slavery, colonialism and apartheid like Marcus Garvey, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Mangaliso Sobukwe and Bantu Biko. These are the Afrikan freedom fighters whose zealous work culminated in the establishment of the Organization of Afrikan Unity (OAU), founded in Ethiopia to champion the cause of the continental liberation and unity of Afrikan people.
“Pan-Afrikanism links us together as Afrikan people in terms of lived experience, over thousands and thousands of years”, Garvey said.
Dr Garvey spoke about the important role of history in the development and civilization of any people, expounding significant achievements of the great Nile Valley civilizations of ancient Nubia, Ethiopia (Kush) and Egypt (Kemet) as examples of Afrikan historical greatness and cultural techno-scientific advancements.
“The current Monogenetic theory of human origins supported by archaeological and DNA evidence suggest that original Man was Black, born on the Afrikan continent, remained there for 150 000 years during which time he migrated within the continent and then 40 000 years ago he migrated outside the continent to Europe and Asia via the straits of Gibraltar and the Sinai Peninsula”.
In line with Cheik Anta Diop’s thesis on the Afrikan origins of humanity, Dr Garvey further explained that “Afrikans were the first people to see the light of day 200,000 years ago, began populating other continents 40,000 years ago and civilizing them 10,000 years ago”.
Dr Garvey gave a detailed account of the ontological and epistemological aspects of the early Arab and later European enslavement and colonization of the minds of Afrikan people. This includes the persistent intellectual and political characterization by whit Egyptologists of the Egyptian civilization as either Arabic or European. Not Black.
He further touched on what the Afrikan historian Dr Chancellor Williams’ book calls the ‘Destruction of Black Civilization’, giving a detailed historic account of ruthless invasions and the subsequent obliteration of ancient Afrikan civilizations by foreigners – from the early invasions of Black Egypt by the Hyksos Shepherds, the Maafa (Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade) and Otto von Bismarck’s colonialism.
These Afrikan civilizations were destroyed as part of the overall project of white supremacy, to perpetuate the psychotic idea of black inferiority and white superiority.
“The rupture in Afrikan society was thorough and in all areas: economic, political, social, religious and philosophical. This cultural imperialism was designed to produce permanent dependency and a conviction of inferiority. The trinitarian assailants were Christianity, capitalism and culture”.
Hence even today, in the so-called ‘post-independence’ era, Afrika remains highly dependent on Eurocentric ideas, thoughts, philosophies, theologies, political and socio-economic systems. As Dr Garvey it, “we have become incarcerated in a mindset that guarantees us a destiny of dependence and suboptimal performance”.
Fiercely decrying the deplorable state of Afrikan people in the world today, Garvey further highlighted that “the hegemony of Europe over Afrikan people has been systematized under the institutions of the U.N., the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and the international court at the Hague. This has given us neo-colonialism, globalization of the economic system and Europeanization of the consciousness of the world, i.e., domination of the world by Europe, its people and its ideas”.
Dr Julius Garvey elaborated that this this systematization of European hegemony resulted in the current state of neo-colonialism, globalization of the economic system and the Europeanization of the consciousness of the world. He then delved into the issue of Afrikan epistemology, ontology, intuition and wisdom showing how pre-colonial Afrikans perceived themselves and their reality as interconnected with the divine universal consciousness or God. The Greeks never understood this, hence their belief that logic and reason were the primary functions of the intellect.
Dr Garvey dismantled the hyperbolic concept of a so-called ‘European civilization’, quoting Matthew Arnold when he said: ‘civilization is the humanising of man in society’. He explained that “what Europe has produced is not this, but a technological civilization based on the values and philosophy of scientific materialism”. It is this inhumane technological civilization based on scientific materialism, devoid of spirituality, coupled with the exultation of logic and reason as supreme functions of the intellect, which continuously informs the European socio-economic, cultural and political ethos.
White supremacy is thus embedded and coded in the philosophical, ideological, religious, economic, social, intellectual and techno-political constructs of Euro-America and its thinkers; it dehumanizes Afrikan people, legitimizes and camouflages itself under the guise of universalism, progress, development and advancement.
Dr Julius Garvey explained that “our history, the longest in the world and the most glorious…gave us the basis for civilized living” He explained that Afrikans of the ancient world originated civilization, writing, spirituality, culture, philosophy, sociology, mathematics and the sciences of medicine, astronomy, alchemy, physics and chemistry. “From Kemetic Egypt and Nubia human civilization moved westward and gave rise to the Dogon, the Yoruba, the Ashanti, the Bambara, the Fon and great states such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu and the Hausa states”.
However, the dominant Eurocentric discourses and narratives subjugate Afrikan people, subvert Afrikan history and obliterate Afrikan consciousness – colonizing our minds. There is nothing civilized or civilizing in any of the philosophical, ideological, religious, economic, social, intellectual and techno-political constructs of white supremacy. Garvey concluded his powerful Lecture by urging Afrikan people not only to study their proper history, but to also return to what he calls ‘Afrikan Humanism’, an Afrikan-centred philosophical worldview projected and animated in our social relations as Ubuntu, Moyo, Maat or Ujaama.
“What is needed is a hermeneutic that comprehensively looks at our traditional time-honoured ontology, epistemology, values, cultural morays and lived historical experiences and interprets the messages and meanings that will allow us to reconstitute the dynamism of Afrikan culture in the forward flow of history”.
The ultimate battle is for the minds of our people.
By Thando Sipuye.
The author is an executive member of the Africentrik Study Group at the University of Sobukwe (Fort Hare). He is currently a History Masters Candidate at the Govan Mbeki Research & Development Centre under the South African Research Chairs Initiative at the University of Sobukwe (Fort Hare). He is a former Communications Officer for the Steve Biko Foundation.
(Photo Credits: Thando Sipuye)