By Hudson George
Sometimes I wonder what we really know about Africa, since we live in the Diaspora as people of African origins. Since our ancestors were taken from Africa by force, we the children of oppressed slaves have become creolised and, although we dream about Africa as our home, we have lost the true ingredients of African culture.
The dream of returning to Africa will always remain in us as a sort of utopia, as some famous blacks in the United States and the Caribbean advocated that we must go back to the motherland, while they too were creolised and did not understand the complexity of African people and society. Great Pan Africanists such as Sylvester of Trinidad and Tobago and later on Marcus Garvey of Jamaica, who preached back to Africa.
However, these two great black Caribbean activists could not see the bigger picture, why Africans on the continent are so disunited. Additionally, they could not analyse the power and control of African people by the colonisers was more forceful and ruthless than in the Americas, due to the great wealth and resources the African continent possesses that the colonisers want.
In my youthful years I experienced the Bob Marley era and the Rastafarian movement that advocated repatriation of Africans in the Diaspora back to Africa. The Rastafarian movement spread the message of back to Ethiopia and they praised former Ethiopian Emperor King Haile Selassie as the God-sent saviour of African people.
As a youth I enjoyed the reggae music, but I never accepted the Rastafarian teachings about Africans in the Diaspora going back to Africa. At an early age I had an understanding of African and Caribbean history and the geographical location of the slave trade from the west coast of Africa to the Americas. Therefore, I always had the suspicion that we black people in the western world did not come from that special African country, Ethiopia.
In addition, I observed the Rastafarians’ diet, which is vegetarian, and I began to do my own research to find out if there are in tribes in Africa that are vegetarians, and I could find none. Continental Africans eat a lot of wild meat because they have a long history of centuries hunting buffalo, deer, antelope and other wild animals as a source of food. As a matter of fact, Africa has the largest species of wild and domesticated animals and meat as a protein diet is always available for Africans to eat.
The advocacy of smoking marijuana as a holy herb also had me puzzled. Based on oral tradition history handed down to us by our parents and grandparents, they never told us that our ancestors participated in smoking marijuana. However, my parents told me at an early age that marijuana was used by East Indians when they were brought to the Caribbean to work on the sugar plantations. The East Indians used marijuana as a form of ritual when they worshipped a particular Hindu god. However, black people were never involved in Hindu worship.
As we black people in the Americas continue to search for greater connection to Africa, some among us seem to embrace the teaching of Islam, without reading and doing any research to see there is a parallel between Islam and Christianity, as religions used by foreign colonisers to control and conquer land and resources on the African continent. Being as we are a creolised people searching for our African roots, culture and identity, many among us grab at ideologies that seem to be anti-western culture, without understanding the real living experience of the other foreign cultures we embrace.
Now that the Rastafarian movement and teachings have spread widely throughout the western world, it has not really make a big impact on the lifestyle of continental Africans, because they are grounded in some forms of indigenous culture that we blacks in the Americas lost during slavery and colonisation in the past centuries. For example, blacks in the western world do not have any idea how palm wine taste. We never chew khat as some Africans on the Horn of Africa do on a daily basis. Yet still, some blacks among us smoke marijuana and praise Africa with the hopes of repatriation in the future.
Unfortunately, as we continue to dream about going back to Africa and to be more Africanised, we are basically destroying the African culture that remains within our society. The majority of young blacks in the Americas today do not participate in the old Negro spirituality as our grandparents did. They lack the knowledge of the African spirituality that our grandparents held on to during the days of colonisation, when black people used to congregate and pray in one voice, with one goal, for the same cause.
Today as I look around, I see my black sisters wearing artificial straight hair, while covering the beautiful coarse curly African hair they are genetically born with. Some young black youths have rings pierced in their nose, lips and eyebrows. In addition, they have tattoos all over their body without a clue why they are piercing their skin with life-lasting marks that one day they might greatly regret.
Unfortunately, as we people in the western world dream about going back to our African roots, the further we are distancing ourselves from mother Africa. It is a shame. It is sad but that is a fact. While we keep searching for Africa, we are losing our African roots.
June 07, 2012