Saturday, 5 March 2016

CRITIQUE OF 'AFROCENTRISM' BY COMRADE KRIBSOO DIALLO


10 things to keep in mind If you encounter Hotep people 

By Kribsoo Diallo



1. Hoteps think they are beyond reproach even when the people reproaching them are Africans and They think they know more about Africa than Africans.

2. Speaking of knowing things, here’s the thing they don’t actually know much and The kicker however is that they think they do They’ve watched tons of youtube videos from people like John Henri Clark, Runoko Rashidi, Phil Valentine, Ben-Jochannan and others on African identity and Maybe they read many of these “Afrakan” centered websites and books This is their scholarship The problem is that the people they hold in high regard are often wrong about a whole lot but they are venerated within the “conscious” community as preeminent scholars on Africa. It’s a very insular community and it becomes an echo chamber without checks and balances and what you get is massive group think.

3. Most of the Hoteps scholars study are not continental Africans and If they have studied African historians beyond someone like maybe Cheikh Anta Diop then I’d be surprised and There is a lot of pseudoscience babble in their research and here’s the thing and when you think these are the go to voices on African history then it should come as little surprise that this revisionist nonsense becomes near and dear to the hearts of the ankhs who swallowed it all This is their truth This information “awakened” them.

4. By default there is a patronizing and paternalistic tone “conscious” ankh types take when addressing Africans and they think they have unlocked the truth on African identity, history and faith/spiritual systems and Africans are just these lost people who have been swallowed up by Abrahamic faith systems and colonialism from the white man and Arabs and they have the answers, knowledge and truth. That’s offensive in many ways but what it boils down to is western exceptionalism. The rescuing and maintaining of “Afrakan” ways of life is to be done by people who probably haven’t stepped one foot on the continent, yet somehow know more than the Africans themselves and how does that work?

5. Hoteps are very literal. It’s always religions destroyed “Afrikan” spirituality. They live in a very black and white world. A world where the idea of syncretic faith systems or duality as a concept is lost on them and they would know about these practices if they actually shut up for once and spoke to Africans to learn a thing or two.

6. Hoteps do not respect the autonomy and agency of Africans. I’ll say it again Hoteps do not respect the autonomy and agency of Africans and If they did they would listen to Africans. In fact if they did, then continental African scholars would be centered in their movements. It’s quite weird to practice Pan-Africanism yet be completely dismissive of African people.

7. Pan-Africanism that dismisses African voices is what exactly? Well for one thing you’re likely to spell Africa as Afraka because based on your “studies” mired in pseudo-scientific research, you’ve come to understand that this is how things were and it’s a path to liberation and freedom to spell it as Afraka or whatever alternate spellings exist and they really believe this too. Revolution by spelling Africa with a K. The joke writes itself.

8. Hoteps discount actual African languages, spellings and writing systems. For instance, the people in what is now Southeastern Nigeria were not spelling “Afrika” in Nsibidi and did not refer to themselves as Afrikans and does your average ankh even know what Nsibidi is? What is Afraka to our ancestors in Southeastern Nigeria? Absolutely nothing but ankhs will use their kemetic pseudoscience and understanding/spelling of “Afrika” to blanket the entire continent as Afrikans.

9. You’re not going to have a sensible conversation with someone with a degree in watching youtube videos who thinks spelling Africa as “Afrika” actually does something. Save yourself the aggravation just point and laugh. No clear thinking person (especially Africans) takes them seriously.

10- "Although it is a commonplace for Hotep People who oppose socialism cause it's foreign ideology to claim that Karl Marx ignored racism, Marx in fact described the processes that created modern racism and his explanation of the rise of capitalism placed the African slave trade, the European extermination of indigenous people in the Americas and colonialism at its heart. In Capital, Marx writes: "The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of the continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of black skins are all things that characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production"

These fragments of Marx's writing give us a good start in understanding the Marxist explanation of the origins of racism. As the Trinidadian historian of slavery Eric Williams put it: "Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery." And, one should add, the consequence of modern slavery at the dawn of capitalism. While slavery existed as an economic system for thousands of years before the conquest of America, racism as we understand it today did not exist.

And Karl Marx also, explained:

The slave trade lasted for a little more than 400 years, from the mid-1400s, when the Portuguese made their first voyages down the African coast, to the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888.

Slave traders took as many as 12 million Africans by force to work on the plantations in South America, the Caribbean and North America. About 13 percent of slaves (1.5 million) died during the Middle Passage--the trip by boat from Africa to the New World. The African slave trade--involving African slave merchants, European slavers and New World planters in the traffic in human cargo--represented the greatest forced population transfer ever.

The charge that Africans "sold their own people" into slavery has become a standard canard against "politically correct" history that condemns the European role in the African slave trade. The first encounters of the Spanish and Portuguese, and later the English, with African kingdoms revolved around trade in goods. Only after the Europeans established New World plantations requiring huge labor gangs did the slave trade begin.

Onboard Africans were restricted in their movements so that they wouldn't combine to mutiny on the ship. In many slave ships, slaves were chained down, stacked like firewood with less than a foot between them. On the plantations, slaves were subjected to a regimen of 18-hour workdays. All members of slave families were set to work. Since the New World tobacco and sugar plantations operated nearly like factories, men, women and children were assigned tasks, from the fields to the processing mills.

Slaves were denied any rights. Throughout the colonies in the Caribbean to North America, laws were passed establishing a variety of common practices: Slaves were forbidden to carry weapons, they could marry only with the owner's permission, and their families could be broken up. They were forbidden to own property. Masters allowed slaves to cultivate vegetables and chickens, so the master wouldn't have to attend to their food needs. But they were forbidden even to sell for profit the products of their own gardens.

Some colonies encouraged religious instruction among slaves, but all of them made clear that a slave's conversion to Christianity didn't change their status as slaves. Other colonies discouraged religious instruction, especially when it became clear to the planters that church meetings were one of the chief ways that slaves planned conspiracies and revolts. It goes without saying that slaves had no political or civil rights, with no right to an education, to serve on juries, to vote or to run for public office.

The planters instituted barbaric regimes of repression to prevent any slave revolts. Slave catchers using tracker dogs would hunt down any slaves who tried to escape the plantation. The penalties for any form of slave resistance were extreme and deadly. One description of the penalties slaves faced in Barbados reports that rebellious slaves would be punished by "nailing them down on the ground with crooked sticks on every Limb, and then applying the Fire by degrees from Feet and Hands, burning them gradually up to the Head, whereby their pains are extravagant." Barbados planters could claim a reimbursement from the government of 25 pounds per slave executed.

The African slave trade helped to shape a wide variety of societies from modern Argentina to Canada. These differed in their use of slaves, the harshness of the regime imposed on slaves, and the degree of mixing of the races that custom and law permitted. But none of these became as virulently racist--insisting on racial separation and a strict color bars the English North American colonies that became the United State"

What I’m doing is asserting myself against people like who police African people and their identities the People who dive into our lives, our spaces and our conversations with their unsolicited opinions on our identities and who we are.

I’m talking about those Hotep Ankh people, I’ve been tolerant and patient for years but enough is enough, we as Africans have to pushback against people inaccurately using our ancestral customs and traditions. We have to pushback against people who spread misinformation about us, our customs and our identities. If we don’t, then who will?

Their garbage becomes the truth and if one looks around tumblr and social media it’s clear that this garbage is gaining traction. In addition these conscious Afrakan keep centering themselves in conversations about Africa and how does that work? If African voices aren’t centered in conversations on Africa, African cultures and traditions, then what the kind of conversation are you actually having? What are you talking about if people from the cultures you are adorning yourself with are dismissed and talked down to in a paternalistic manner? Their arrogance makes them think they know more about us than us. It is bizarre. It’s no different than Gaijin who watch anime, read manga and listen to J-pop who think they are now one with Japan. Except it’s not just a country like in the case of Japan, they are doing it with an entire continent and they keep multiplying and they keep spreading their nonsense and these guys build a following because a lot of impressionable people who are not African think what they are saying is knowledgeable.

When you’re coming with an empty slate, it probably does sound knowledgeable. Almost everyone who follows these “Afrakans” around are not Africans. Isn’t it interesting how that works? Do you think that’s a coincidence? Whenever there’s a symposium or get together of these “Afrikans” the one constant is the dearth of continental Africans with them and these people are infinitely unaware and the scary part is that they don’t know that they are and they will never know it because of their wild arrogance and dismissal towards Africans who know more than them about African identity. I’m not really concerned about these jokers in the grand scheme of things because they tend to fizzle out in time and you can only hold up tons of bullshit for so long before the weight makes your knees buckle.

What is worrying is that they always get a large and loyal following of young people who imbibe their nonsense and a large and loyal following that will in turn challenge African people about their identities like they are the authorities on it and not the Africans themselves and this happens because some joker on the internet started talking about “Afrikans” and it sounded right to them because they have no foundation to begin with.

No one teaches them about the vast and diverse continent of Africa and African people so whatever they hear becomes the default truth. Why they always hear nonsense first is a mystery. Why they always want to hear about Africa from non-Africans is also another mystery and figure that one out for yourself.

It doesn’t matter where in Africa the terminolgy, words or phrases come from and you don’t have to make a lick of sense. You can have Yoruba and Swahili in the same sentence. Why not? No one will question you. Only Africans that no one ever bothers to listen to will be able to tell that you’re full of shit. Why listen to them when you can listen to someone who thinks spelling Africa with a K is revolutionary? Just say things like Uhuru, Ase, Obatala, Shango, Harambe, Ogun, and Zulu!  African people are tired of this crap. Leave us and our things alone and stop turning our ancestral traditions into nonsense.
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Kribsoo Diallo can be contacted at afrikan.mapambano@gmail.com



Some Problematics of Afrocentrism and the United Front against Colonialism & Imperialism
An Introduction, by Sukant Chandan editor of Sons of Malcolm

I was sent this article above by comrade-brother Kribsoo Diallo, a Nubian comrade from Egypt whose comments over the years I respect. Having read through the draft of the article published above, I reflected that while I must publish this piece as it has been submitted to Sons of Malcolm respected brother, I am also cognisant of the problematics of raising the critique in the correct and most constructive manner. We are in an on-going inter-generational self-defensive war of liberation against colonialism and imperialism. Imperialist oppression constructs a hierarchy of oppression onto us that must be rejected and countered while at the same time through counter opposing imperialism we must seek the maximum unity of all oppressed peoples as one section of our peoples liberation is interdependent on another. This in my humble opinion, is the central strategy to employ, as has been employed by all our liberation movements.

At the same time, as imperialism goes into a clearly deeper crises, week by week, month by month, this deepening crisis is reflected amongst all western masses whereby we are seeing the development of all kinds of reactionary ideas and movements as responses to this crises, and also in a few places an upsurge of anti-imperialist struggle. The upsurge in the 'West' is seen mostly in the rise or re-rise of radical Black liberation politics and initiatives in the 'USA'. In these circles there is a growing contradiction between different forces, between liberals, separatists, socialists and many others. One growing contradiction is between those who are called Afrocentrists and those who claim that political self title (called disparagingly 'Hoteps' in the piece above) and the more socialist-oriented Black radicals / socialists / Pan-Africanists and anti-imperialists.

While Afican socialists / Pan-Africanists / Black radical leftists have taken up the tasks of the new wave of the Black liberation movement, the Afrocentrists with their conservative colonial ideas to gender, sexuality, women's liberation, petty capitalist orientation, essentialised and racialised divisiveness, lack of socialistic solutions for the Black and Brown working and poorer classes: all of this is a developing contradiction between these two contending forces in the same broad Black radical camp. These differences will and are continuing to develop, considering which perhaps there should be more constructive public debates as to these issues?

There is nothing wrong with 'centring' a world view and liberation framework on Africa and Africans, actually it would be positive. But the many criticisms of Afrocentrics and Afrocentrism often centres around the problematics of this internalising colonial and imperialist perceptions, projections and prejudices onto Africa and African people and their quest for liberation. These problematics are complex and multifaceted.

I believe in the strategy and framework and ethics of those who have actually delivered liberation for our peoples and homelands against colonialism and imperialism, such as Mao, Nkrumah, Nehru, Nasser, Mugabe, Ben Bella and Boumidienne, Gaddafi, Lenin, Kim Il Sung, Cabral, Sankara, Neto, Nujoma, Machel, Castro and many many others. In trying to develop a united front against imperialism, we find that there are many in radical circles who are against maximum unity and those who in principle want to divide our peoples into smaller and smaller circles. While there are many problems between clans, tribes, regions, religions, continents, countries, nations etc, there have been and continue to be those vested in working through these colonial and imperialist driven divisions to unite and liberate. However, many Afrocentrists like others who internalise coloniality and project it as 'radical' essentialise (generalise) North Africans, Christians/Christianity, Muslims/Islam, Asians, and they essentialise Africans below the Sahel/Sahara themselves. This does not help anyone or anything but imperialism, and it defeintely does not respect or give support to the liberation of African peoples. To give one example, Robert Mugabe is a Catholic (as was Hugo Chavez), but they do not see any natural contradiction between their faith and their radical anti-imperialist socialist ideology and practice. But others would literally campaign against and denounce this faith amongst African people. While all reactionary pro-imperialist interpretations of all faiths and belief systems should be critiqued, a total out of hand dismissal of such is not correct.

While Mugabe has always sought primary global unity and respect from China, as have others such as Nujoma, Machel, Nyerere and others, many Afrocentrists consider China a 'new colonialism' in Africa, and many even are campaigning against it as a bigger threat to Africa, while the actual leaders of African liberation such as Mugabe and the SADC / Frontline nations leadership consider it Africa's most important global ally. Either western-based Afrocetrists who espouse a line that fits perfectly with Western foreign policy are correct, or the African liberators of the African people on the continent are correct.

I advocated and continue to do so in the interests of all people who were and continue to be oppressed in Libya since the destruction of that leading radical African country by Nato and their allied supremacist death squads in 2011. Nato utilised lighter skinned Africans and people from the Middle East to conduct their ground operations led by Nato's military covert forces. One of their central acts was the mass persecution of all anti-Nato revolutionaries including the targeting of darker skinned Libyans and darker skinned non-Libyan Africans, an act that was given total white washed cover by the entire Western mainstream press and much of the western liberal and radical circles. I campaigned against this white supremacist violent role, and said there is a problem of internalised colonial hatred of some people in North Africa against darker skinned people. For this I was applauded and cheered on by many Afrocentrists. However, to date none of them have since 2011 been consistent in doing anything to campaign for justice of all the victims of Nato and their death squads, no solidarity or campaigning in defence of Black Libyans.

For example, the only darker skinned town in the entire North Africa was the town of Tawergha in Libya which had nearly 40,000 residents. It is no more, the residents are killed, raped, looted and scattered across the country and further afield. Despite my pleading for people to develop justice campaigns for these people, despite holding many an event about these issues for five years now, none of the Afrocentrists who were so delighted by the denunciation of some of the North Africa and Middle Eastern people supporting and playing the lynching troops for Nato have supported or conducted any on-going campaign. This experience gives one the feeling that some people had an agenda to use whatever material to attack North Africans and Muslims from the Middle East, utilise the Libyan issue to essentialise them, patronise the Nato and allied victims of darker skinned people, but then to date do next to nothing to actually work for justice and liberation of the attacked peoples. The reality is that despite the dearth of support to Libyans who have been persecuted, Libyans, darker skinned and lighter skinned and every shade in between are united in a struggle for justice against Nato, against death squads, and for the return to unity and liberation of Libya. This should be supported. Why are the Afrocentrists nowhere to be seen in this endeavour despite the noise they made on social media in 2011?

To close this introduction: one shouldn't do what many Afrocentrists do: throw the baby out with the bath water. ie., there is something to be positively learnt from some Afrocentrists. The New Afrikan radicals in the 'USA' have many interesting things to say. Robert F Williams and the Republic of New Afrika are leading and respected people and organisations for the liberation movement. The infamous Maulana Karenga and his camp have interesting things to say. Are they the forces, ideologies and allied to the actual African liberation on the continent? No. Didn't Malcolm X say that we have to be led by and learn at the feet of the actual liberation movements and leaderships across the world and African diaspora in the 'west' should especially learn from African leaderships who are delivering liberation? Yes. Should Malcolm X's father who was a radical but a Christian preacher be respected? Yes. Should Malcolm X himself who was greatly influenced by Islam and the Muslim world be respected as such and not denounced as associating with Islam and Muslims? Yes.

These are some of the issues that we are faced with. These are some of the issues that the new generations of Black and Brown youth who are entering this confusing and befuddling radical circles will encounter on their journey to sharpening their revolutionary minds that informs their practice. Perhaps the best we can do is start with the actual communities, ideologies, organisations and leaderships that have delivered concrete steps towards liberation and critically compare with that? Whatever the case, struggle is a science, and despite however much confusion that is created as the crises deepens, somewhere out of the mess more effective forms of struggle and ideology always emerge. Whatever can be done in that endeavour should be done.

Further reading: 
Pan-African socialism and anti-imperialists writings 
Walter Rodney
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney
- Towards the African Revolution, Frantz Fanon
- Mao Tse Tung, Selected Works
- Afrocentrism: mythical pasts and imagined homes (Verso, Howe, Stephen, 1998)

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