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Yahya Jammeh: A Messiah Of African Dictatorship

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Molefi Asante: The Lion Who Refused To Buy The Hunters’ Stories About The Forest

By

Toyin Falola

Africa, a continent noted for its immense natural wealth and potential—symbolized by vast arable lands, precious minerals, and a young vibrant population—has failed to fully utilize these assets in achieving progressive socio-economic transformation after sixty years of self-rule. One central reason identified for this misfortune is the prevalent cases of bad leadership. Except for few occasions of exemplary stewardship from the likes of Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, and John Kufuor, Africa’s post-independence leadership history has comprised a litany of sit-tight despotic and kleptocratic regimes—both military and civilian. This tragedy of Africa’s leadership situation is even more apparent when one considers that, about half-a-century or so ago, the indigenous political forces of then nascent African nation-states rallied around ideals of freedom, equality, and good governance to protest against the injustice of colonial rule and demand independence.

The unfortunate post-independence tradition of tyrannical leadership in Africa has followed a pattern where, after independence, a charismatic figure from a politically (sometimes numerically) dominant ethnic group of a typical multi-ethnic post-colonial African state becomes president and assumes complete control of economic and political power through a network of patrimonial/client-patron relationships, and the use of state’s instruments of coercion. Firmly in place, such leaders then initiate constitutional reforms which accord them extensive powers and provide a cover of legitimacy for undemocratic draconian practices. Consequently, protests from politically and, most times, numerically less privileged ethnocultural groups, who are alienated and subjected to deprivation and abuse through the self-perpetuating intrigues of the incumbent, provide the basis for a military coup (take-over), the only other means (after death) of changing such sit-tight leaders.

With military governments, the experience is also mostly similar. Taking a leaf from the ousted dictator’s book, the “interim” military government promises to hand over power after righting the political mess of the ousted government. As such, it schedules transition/handover dates that are repeatedly post-postponed until such a time when its head can, with some confidence, arrange for a transition process—complete with a constitutional coup—that guarantees his/her emergence as president. Such a government, with its military background and extensive constitutional powers, becomes nearly impossible to replace through ballot. It deploys every option available to remain in power, and even when, by some chance, it does lose at the ballot, it voids the election.

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However, from the 1990s, Africa has recorded significant transformations in the political systems of many of its countries. These changes involved the collapse of several military and civilian dictatorships, as well as the emergence of rule-of-law-based governments, such as South Africa’s non-racial democracy. Notwithstanding these (democratic) gains , many countries in Africa have continued to struggle with deepening and institutionalizing democracy. As such, there is yet very little check on government impunity, especially in the areas of the abuse of executive power and human rights violations.

At the far left are countries like Togo, Uganda, Cameroon, Chad, and until recently, the Gambia, which are still under the despotic regimes of sit-tight “leaders.” These countries have remained notorious for their hostile political environments, economic hardship, poor records of human rights, and an ever-present threat of conflict. They not only symbolize the threat to Africa’s blossoming democratic culture, but also stand as an inspiration for other despotic ambitions yet lying fallow. As constant reminders that Africa yet faces the possibility of sliding back to the pre-1990s levels of authoritarianism, the event of a political transition in any of these countries mentioned above represents hope; as another vital step away from Africa’s leadership albatross.

One country where recent political developments best capture this patent threat to Africa’s democratic gains is The Gambia. A small, English-speaking, West African country with at least ten different ethnic groups, the Gambia (named after the Gambia River) won its independence from Britain in 1965. And in the more than five decades of its independent existence has had only three presidents! The Gambia’s venture into what has become a long and perilous post-independence leadership history began with the tenure of Dawda Jawara, the country’s first president who went on to rule for almost four decades between 1965 and 1994. Under Dawda Jawara, the country was, for all appearances, a liberal democracy. The political atmosphere was, in principle, one of competitive politicking, complete with regular elections into five-year tenures. However, it was a one-party monopoly state where power was centered around the dominant figure of President Jawara and his People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

READ ALSO: Molefi Asante: Breathing Africa, Living Blackness

With monopoly control over government resources and a dictatorial communications regulations policy, the president’s party maintained an undue advantage over the opposition, which was left weak and in constant danger of being declared subversive. Jawara’s government also imposed strict restrictions on civil society and the activities of political organizations. It was embroiled in numerous allegations of misconduct, including vote-buying, opposition intimidation, and election tampering. And with no limit set for terms, Dawda Jawara was able to perpetuate himself in office as president of the Gambia for thirty-nine years until the Yahya Jammeh-led military coup of 1994.
Twenty-nine-year-old Yahya Jammeh, lieutenant officer and leader of the Armed Forces Provisional Council (AFPC), seized power through a bloodless coup d’état in 1994. Having assumed power, Jammeh, as military dictator (1994-1996), set out to consolidate his power.

Beginning with a suspension of the constitution, Jammeh went ahead to round up and detain some of his superiors in the military. He also placed Jawara’s ministers under house arrest, banned political activities, and announced a four-year transition period to democratic civilian rule. The four-year transition period was later reviewed and reduced to two years in January of 1995 by the National Consultative Committee (NCC). In April, three months after, a Constitutional Review Commission was established. The resultant constitution, which was drawn up to accentuate Jammeh’s economic and political power, allowed for multi-party elections, a limitless number of five-year tenures, and allowed the president to appoint judges directly. Then, Jammeh tactfully retired from the military at the rank of colonel, just a month before the presidential elections of September 1996. He contested during the elections and was declared the winner by an electoral commission of his own selection.

As civilian president, Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia with an iron fist. His reign of terror was enacted through a litany of draconian laws and anti-people policies that infringed on the people’s rights to information, expression, and interaction. Typical of a brutal authoritarian regime, Jammeh’s government sought to control information coming in and going out of The Gambia. It reduced state-owned communication networks (both television and radio) to government (Jammeh’s) propaganda outlets and moved to suppress the “independent” press by enacting laws that undermined their operations. Some of these laws included the 1994 Newspaper Act (reviewed again in 2004), which made it mandatory for news agencies’ owners to pay expensive registration fees yearly; the National Media Communication Act, which required journalists to divulge confidential information to the police and judicial authorities; and the 2004 Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill, which stipulated prison terms for defamation and sedition.

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Following the enactment of these laws, there were several attacks on the country’s independent press and its personnel. As the years passed and Jammeh successfully influenced the outcome of election after election, his hold over The Gambia’s grew even more resolute. With the aid of armed groups like the defunct “Green Boys,” some state security agencies such as the Police Intervention Unit of the Gambian’s police force, the Serious Crimes Unit, and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Jammeh enacted his diabolic reign of terror. Individuals and journalists who criticized his government were picked up to undisclosed locations, never to be heard from again. Before long, it became a practice for Jammeh’s rivals at the polls to seek refuge outside the country. Yahya Jammeh gradually reduced The Gambia to his personal fiefdom and started to equate any criticism on his person as sedition, disturbing the nation’s peace.

After a botched coup attempt in 2006, Jammeh became even more resolute in his oppressive strategies against the Gambian populace. People were jailed without trial, there were allegations of extrajudicial killings, and journalists disappeared without traces. Famous amongst his victims were the April 2000 student massacre; the over fifty West African migrants from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Senegal murdered by the NIA; the one thousand Gambian citizens arrested and tortured on allegations of witchcraft; journalists Deyda Hydara and Ebrima Manneh; and the victims of Jammeh’s fictitious HIV/AIDS cure. These do not include other allegations of rape, embezzlement, and cases of summary detentions for indefinite periods. By and large, Yahya Jammeh became a symbol of all that was wrong with democracy in Africa.

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Hence, when in 2017, the ECOWAS and its member countries decided to defend the outcome of the Gambia’s elections, that action was welcomed across Africa as a win for democracy and a move towards the future of respectable and responsible leadership in Africa. To all supporters of democracy, another ruthless dictator had been removed, a cause to celebrate, and the celebrations were heard even beyond the shores of the Gambia and Africa.

Imagine, therefore, the amount of shock and disbelief that greeted the news that Yahya Jammeh has formed some coalition with the incumbent president with the possibility of a return from exile in Equatorial Guinea. Is there even a small chance of this materializing barely four years after his removal? Where is the justice for Jammeh’s victims? What is the message being communicated to other dictatorial regimes and ambitions? What does this portend for the future of democracy in Africa? Should donor agencies continue to support the current government? These and other issues haunt the minds of serious Africans. For the Gambian people, on whose behalf I am writing, the horror can be imagined. With the memories yet fresh and the inquisitions having not yielded the whole truth, whatever faith the people have in the principles of democracy and government stands a good chance of being lost forever, which can also produce a multiplier effect in other African countries.

Whatever other speculations as to the consequence of Yahya Jammeh’s return to the Gambia might be, it is, without doubt, a reinforcement of the position of dictators in Africa. Apart from the fact that a Jammeh return would undermine all the democratic efforts and gains already recorded in the Gambia, there is a chance of a Jammeh revenge campaign that can spark off deadly conflicts between pro- and anti-Jammeh factions. The fragility of ethnic divisions will escalate into full-blown hostilities. About this “second coming” for Yahya Jammeh, Africa must have a rethink, especially for the sake of the long-suffering Gambian people and for the future of peace and democracy in Africa. This unholy alliance between Adama Barrow, who publicly stated that hypocrisy defines democracy, and Jammeh, who demonstrated that the purpose of power is to destroy institutions, is the foundation of what may end up as the greatest calamity to befall The Gambia since 1965.

 

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Opinion

Why I Love Kids

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Why I Love Kids

By

Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

I love kids. I love childhood. I love children. I refer to real kids, the unsoiled ones. The ones who see this world as a world of no impossibilities. Daddy is a hero, a magician. With daddy around they can get all they need, all they want. The ones who say ‘I will tell daddy for you’. If they tell daddy for you, daddy will deal with you. Or the ones who say ‘Mommy said I should tell you that she is not in the house! And unwittingly cause a war between two families!

I love their unspoilt nature, their innocence, their simplicity, and their lack of pretence. With them you know where you stand. They will not scheme against you nor hatch an evil plot to destroy you or derail your career. They will not envy your successful life. They do not pad things. They may make things up for their world to flow. But they do not mean to destroy your world. Their world is governed by truth, truth as they see it. They may be, they are often naïve but they are genuine. They may not act right. But they keep no malice. They trust adults. They believe adults. They want to be like adults in some respects. Yet in their world, the mindset of the adult is dangerous!

When daddy has no car, it is because daddy does not need a car. Not because he cannot afford one. When daddy says ‘there’s no money’, they say to ‘daddy go to the bank and take money’. and to dad’s ‘There’s no fuel in the car! they say ‘Let us go to the fuel station to take fuel! They do not have fake identities. They are who they are. They are, they could be fun to be with, especially if you are a grandfather, not obliged to pay their fees or be with them twenty-four hours. They make you forget the uglies of the world. You stay with the beautiful, the good, the kind, and the testimony of sainthood. In the world of kids, there is no malice. In malice, be like children. In understanding be like men. So, the Apostle Paul says. The assumption is that all men have understanding. We know however that sometimes, the naivety of a child is more powerful than the wicked understanding of an adult. It is our peril. It is our doom. Adults rule the world. Not children. Wish they could rule the world!

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Some powerful men, like most rich men, treat women like kids. Their kids. Their play thing. Their toy. The gambit is money. Influence. Access. The women look at them in awe. Treat them with awe. They exhibit the innocence and charm of the kid. They throw up the charm of a kid. The men fall for it. They lap it up. They fall for it. And the relationship becomes sweet, remains sweet. Until when the innocence disappears, that is, when the woman discovers the web of deceit, lies, and cunning. Innocence or the appearance of innocence in a woman portrays the image of the child, the vulnerable. It makes men want to protect them.

Childhood is innocence. It ought to be innocence, that is, a child ought to be innocent. Childhood is synonymous with innocence. At some point innocence disappears. They grow out of it, into the adult world. Like the children in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies in which Ralph ‘wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of a man’s heart’ as the beast in children rises to the surface and dominates the landscape, their lives, their stay in the wild.  Maturity comes. Maturity? Perhaps, not maturity. Savagery. Exposure to the greed in the world. The hate. The jealousy. The spite. The bile, hidden one. You could be an adult without being mature. But you cannot be a child without innocence. Once innocence is lost, the sanctity of the contract between childhood and innocence evaporates. Golding also writes about ‘the world, that understandable and lawful world’, which ’was slipping away!

The child is the man. The child is the father of the man. This is belief in the future. It is hope. It is faith.  It is a seed that is planted to be nurtured when, if all circumstances are equal. It is no apotheosis of any kind, no epiphany; nothing near it. It is no divine revelation, no. It is the reality that we contend with daily. That hope is humanity. That hope is the future of humanity, the earth, the cosmos. So, when we destroy the kid, we destroy the future. Not in the physical sense may be. But in essence. To be sure there are consequences.

The kid dies in the child that is exposed to or plunged into the ugly dangers and filth of the adult world before the age of innocence naturally ends. And that is the plight of our world. Our fall. Our doom. Our death. Too many things kill innocence. Sheer brigandage rules the airwaves through the power of technology. Social media. Blogs. Porn sites. Wars and rumours of wars. The smartphone. The Internet. Brigands in power. Disappearance of sacred values or nonrecognition of sacred values. Muscles of the adult world squeeze life out of the chest of values, of decent codes, of mentorship.

There is a sense in which an adult loses innocence after trauma. This is another form of innocence. Experience, sometimes traumatic, opens the eyes to the realities of existence. Or when a sibling or a close friend or blood relation betrays you. Or when the husband is discovered for who he really is. Something gives, something dies, something flies away. Never to return. It is a story of no return often, even when there is forgiveness. Their spirit cannot rise to that level.

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So, I love children. I love the kids. And I want them to enjoy the beauty of innocence as long as they are Naturally entitled to it. We should guarantee childhood. But we are destroying the world of kids. The kid in Nigeria. In northeast Nigeria. The kid growing up in the wild killings in Owerri. The killing fields of Kaduna. In Jos. And the ones abducted from school. Innocence is destroyed, not lost. And they will never be balanced adults because there was no fitting transition. There was no transition. There was a staccato of shots. Suddenly that blind belief in the world of no impossibilities vanished in a puff. It is not a story to be told, neither now nor in the future!

There are tears for destroyed or murdered childhood. Tears for a compromised and destroyed adulthood. So, when a young adult breaks down or cannot face the world or cannot handle a family or cannot handle his kids or remains tied to the apron strings of their parents, where rests the blame? Has blaming exculpated the guilty or the vanquished? The answer is not blowing in the wind!

Loss of innocence is inevitable as the child grows into adulthood. But a destroyed innocence is a scar that not even time can heal. ‘The death of innocence causes an imbalance’, writes Bowers, ‘and initiates an internal war that manifests differently in each individual, but almost always includes anger, withdrawal and severe depression’. What have we done to innocence in the land?

 

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Opinion

The Audacity Of False Prophets

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The Audacity Of False Prophets

Dear Omoh Giwa,

Would you think it satirical to ask how you are faring (considering the state of affairs in Nigeria)? I bring you warm tidings from Osalobuwa (though He dissociates himself from the filth and treachery of a particular individual that claims to be led by the spirit of God).

I do not envisage a response from the Lioness of Lisabi or the great Awo (like the gods of ancient Greece, there are weightier issues than those iterated in your previous missives like our bets on the VAT brouhaha).

I am contacting from Nirvana as I could not but notice in your tirades, a disconcerting notion. (Digressively, are you really surprised that over fifteen million Nigerians voted not once but twice the nepotistic general or is this your weak attempt at humour?)

I have been called ‘Father of Pentecostalism in Nigeria’ several times and it is on this authority I want to discuss the subject of Christianity in Nigeria. How can you honestly expect a response from He who is addressed as the Holy One of Israel while wallowing in your filth like swine (blocked drainages or heaps of refuse on major roads?

You are an unclean lot spiritually and physically) However, this is insignificant compared to my reason for writing. I am bothered about the increase in false prophets and the gullibility of the sheep.

READ ALSO: Dear General Sanni Abacha

When our messiah charged Peter with the care of the flock, it was under the impression that as a religious leader, he would lead and act in the footsteps of the Nazarene but consider the perversion today. I understand the epistle of Paul to Timothy prophesizes that men would be lovers of themselves and practice heresy and idolatry but should this be associated with men of the cloth? The role of the priest is to act as ambassador between the sheep and the master of the flock but these wolves are more interested in exploiting and extorting the flock than caring for them.

Remember how politicians hoarded palliatives during the lockdown from the pandemic (do not get me started on the importance of cleanliness and abstinence which you are now being compelled to obey but at what cost?), well how did your general overseers care for you (you weren’t expecting anything or the miracle of the five loaves and two fish doesn’t apply to you?)

Instead they capitalised on avenues to ensure the steady inflow of wealth through tithes and offerings. You don’t believe me? Did one of them not recently boast that he acquired not one but two private jets during the pandemic as though that is a reflection of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

A nation enormously blessed with vast reserves of mineral resources yet is the poverty capital of the world coincidentally boasts of elegantly constructed cathedrals but has less than a tenth of the total number of churches in factories that could improve the economy and standard of living.

Is this not the same church leader smeared in a sex scandal of funding the rich and extravagant life of a certain actress? We particularly like the social media captions of “small girl big God” when they speak of their blessings and source of their lifestyles.

Ironically, the blessings are from the pulpit (a gathering of the widow’s mite. Jokes! Jokes! Relax, humouris not reserved for the living).

What about the one that was exposed as a sexual predator, preying on young girls (you’d probably remember him as the ‘Krest’ Pastor?) and intimidating them when they go public?

The feigned public outrage and anger lasted mere weeks and the nation carried on, business as usual and service continued as usual. Is he not back on the pulpit and his cathedral bursting at the seams? What about priests that not only engage in fornicating with women but have added young impressionable boys to their list of victims?

I especially like the one that calls himself “liquid metal” and has turned his church services into a carousal. One time he claimed to be casting demons out of a member and kept kicking and throwing the victim on chairs as though the erring demon is physical and could feel the torture. Do you remember a certain pastor that asked her congregation to tap into her special anointing of rearing virgins (I’m as confused as you are) for a paltry sum of one thousand dollars as though God’s blessings could be repackaged for sale like exotic wine?

How can you be comfortable with the denigration of Christianity? Was the blood of Jesus shed for this? This reminds me of Simon the Sorcerer who attempted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit but was rebuked by Peter but look at stomach-infrastructure deacons.

My lengthy harangue seems to have gone off-track because I wanted to address the role of religious leaders in the political affairs of a nation. A certain influential religious leader has been tagged ‘Kingmaker’ because a sitting president and British prime minister knelt before him for re-election success (coincidentally didn’t go as planned).

I wish to remind you of the biblical story of Elijah and Ahab where the prophet faced the dictator without fear even though he knew the implications of such actions. You do remember that Elijah went into hiding for fear of his life and pleaded with God to take his life? What do these clerics do with their influence? Amass more wealth, influence and build bigger cathedrals during economic hardship and political unrest/instability when they have been charged with speaking truth to the powers that be. Do they even consider creating avenues for
economic growth for their members? I guess they have no intention of inheriting the kingdom
of God (the Beatitudes).

My daughter, men of the cassock have become influencers for politicians and have no regard for God whom they profess to call. Have they forgotten the prophecy that God’s judgment will start from the church? When did the pulpit become a poverty alleviation scheme?

How did the church get to this point where one cannot differentiate the heathens from the righteous? When did we lose focus and sight of the goal?

I think it is time to get off your knees in reverence to your religious leaders (I like how you are quick to quote ‘touch not my anointed…’ does having a pulpit make one God’s anointed?) and take the bull by the horns. Our Father considers the prayer of the unrighteous an abomination.

Yours in His Vineyard, Benson Idahosa.

Giwa is of the Department of English, University of Lagos.

 

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Opinion

Molefi Asante: The Lion Who Refused To Buy The Hunters’ Stories About The Forest

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Molefi Asante: The Lion Who Refused To Buy The Hunters’ Stories About The Forest
Professor Toyin Falola

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

A CONVERSATION WITH MOLEFI ASANTE, PART 1

By

Toyin Falola

Molefi Asante: The Lion Who Refused To Buy The Hunters’ Stories About The Forest

Molefi Asante

Africans have a famous saying that “until the lion talks, every story will glorify the hunter.” This is a multifaceted maxim that more than sums up the nuances of this world. It defines how stories are told, and histories are recorded. Guided by this maxim, a careful analysis of seemingly historical facts will reveal that the so-called facts might have underlying truths in them; however, they are not the facts. Sadly, Africans, who are the proponents of the opening maxim, have been in the position of the marginalized lion for a long time. In what follows, I present how Asante has constructed the pyramid of his intellectual contributions. I could not have been able to compose this piece unless I fully understood his way of thinking.

To Molefi Asante, history has it that Africa is one of the earliest sources of civilization. From the Mesopotamians to the Egyptians, civilization was well-founded on the African continent, millennia before the Industrial Revolution of Europe. When the world was still young, and humans were hardly any other thing aside from hunters and gatherers, Africans, especially Egyptians, had advanced civilization. They had their system of writing in hieroglyphics. Some engineers and mathematicians made the construction of pyramids a scientific possibility, not to forget the medical professionals. Egypt had its system of government, one of the fundamental qualities of a civilized society. To Asante, this is where we must begin not just the history of Africa but of the world itself.

Histories are eroded, and people are forgotten, and so it was for the early African civilization. By the natural law of evolution and perhaps the mal-decisions of some of the empire’s leaders and decision-makers, the empire fell into oblivion. Power shifted hands, and Europe became the center of world civilization. If the story of the European civilization had ended there, perhaps Asante would not have emerged as a proponent of the “Out of Africa” thesis. However, the Europeans, in the natural order of things and as humans, became insatiable. After exploring and conquering their territory, they stretched their tentacles to other territories and exploited them. First, because to humans, superiority is defined by how many humans or human territories they have subdued. Second, because growth means the expansion and the attendant inability of available resources to meet the territory’s needs. So it was that the Europeans arrived in Africa, initially as curious explorers who wanted to get familiar with new territories and trade goods. The initially clear conception of meeting new people and exploring new worlds translated into a burning need to ravage, exploit, dominate, capture, and grow exponentially at the expense of others. There were the long and arduous years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and how they brought humans’ brute nature and inhumanity to the fore.

READ ALSO: Molefi Asante: Breathing Africa, Living Blackness

As if the dehumanization of the trans-Atlantic slave trade era was not enough, there came the infamous Berlin conference of 1884 to 1885 and the unscrupulous sharing of the African continent among European countries. The centuries of colonization in Africa severely impacted Africans’ sense of identity, consciousness, being, culture, traditions, and continued development. Beyond this, an almost unforgivable impact of colonization on Africa was the deliberate misrepresentation and presentation of Africa to the world. Early European observers in Africa presented the continent as a barbaric one. Essays upon essays were written to portray Africans as needy and hopeless, and people who would have gone into extinction but for the supposed intervention of the Europeans. Indeed, the West brought us the modern form of education. However, Africa would not have declined, so argued many Afrocentric scholars, if the Westerners had not come to the continent. Some argue that Africa would have been better off and way more developed than it currently is if the Europeans had not colonized the continent.

In yet another argument by another set of scholars, the westernized education of Africans is perhaps the only good thing that colonialism brought to Africa. Of course, this same westernized education has severely impacted African thought patterns, beliefs, and ways of life. The Europeans handpicked Africans whom they believed were outliers and gave them European scholarships. After being schooled in the West, these Africans returned home, and with their return came an awakening and an intellectual revolution. The education of these select Africans brought about a much-needed reawakening. African scholars received a jolt in their subconscious; they were awakened to the realities that faced the African continent and the African people, how the Europeans had exploited, marginalized, and misrepresented Africa. Questions started sprouting from all angles. Curious Africans started gaining access to those malicious and mal-informant books of purported history, and so began a counter intellectual attack. The likes of Aime Cesaire, Leopold Sedar Senghor, David Diop, Kenneth Dike, Herbert Macaulay, J. F. Ade-Ajayi, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, and Nnamdi Azikiwe took to arms. They deployed knowledge and the education they got–the same tool used to train them–to re-write African history and counter the malicious records made about Africa.

Africa gained independence between the mid and late 20th century. However, the fact remains that Africa is yet to be free from some problems plaguing it. Post-independence has seen the rise of historians and African scholars, people who have taken up battle with the ruining political ideology of Africa and the corrupt and destructive governance militating against the growth of the continent. The attention has shifted from debunking racist and condescending fausse history of Africa to battling destructive African leaders, unscrupulous policies, and a host of other problems facing the continent.

In the face of all these, the lions have not forgotten that the hunter is lurking and has not ceased to tell the story in a way that glorifies the hunter and maligns the lion. This move of the hunter is visible to us; it is all over the media. The malnourished children; war; seizure of power; hunger; crises; and how the media projects them. However, lions still look the hunter in the face and choose to tell their story and that of their species. Lions who have defied all odds to glorify what needs to be glorified about their history and current story. Of these lions, Molefi Asante stands tall.

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Molefi Asante–the father of Afrocentrism. If Afrocentrism gained flesh, received the breath of life, and became human, then it would be to the credit of Molefi Asante. I doubt if I have ever met, discussed with, or studied a man who is as passionate and proud of Africa as Molefi Asante. Is it his dedication? Asante has dedicated his life, intellectual prowess, time, and resources to the study of Africa and Afrocentrism. He is living proof of the amazingness of Africa. We often hear and read people’s thoughts on Africa, of how beautiful and rich the continent is in culture and human resources. If this were true of Africa, then Africans should be proud of their continent, and their actions, discourses, exploits, and manner of engagement should reflect this pride.

There is a lamentable eroding in the cultures, beliefs, and values that were once dear to Africans and guided our inter-relationships. To what are we losing our core values as Africans? People who have lost their values would soon lose their identity, and then the abyss of oblivion will not be so far away. In an age where we are fast losing the values that bind us and guide us, there are lions like Molefi Asante, roaring and reminiscing, reminding us of our history, who we are, and whom our forefathers used to be. Of communalism, the Ubuntu spirit, of how only the unity of fingers guarantees one of a resounding fist thump on one’s chest. Molefi is an African vanguard. Molefi Asante is like the baobab, with long-stretching roots that reach Sudan in the North-East, Nigeria in the West, and Costa Rica through the blissfulness of marriage. Asante’s contributions to Africa through scholarly works can never be forgotten. He is a proud and respected son of the soil and one of the most respected prides of African lions.

This Sunday, September 19, 2021, we will be hosting Molefi Asante on another edition of the Toyin Falola Interviews. And this is something I rarely say–I am personally looking forward to this interview to see the eloquent Asante prove his Africanness once more. Please do join us too for a conversation with this eminent philosopher.

 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

11:00 AM Austin CST

Register and Watch:

https://www.tfinterviews.com/post/molefi-asante

Join via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85124202652

Watch on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tfinterviews/live

Watch on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2lvX7A2iVndiCq0NfFcb0w/live

Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

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