By: Subhashini, Asstt. Editor-ICN
NEW DELHI: It is known that the development of language as a medium of expression is the key factor of communication and is also responsible for the growth of a culture as well as education. History itself is the witness in case of Africa, where language originated initially.
It is accepted in almost every part of the world that the language of Egypt influenced the Greek and Latin languages; even though these two languages are Indo-European. On a broader scale, the roots of most of the European languages like Greek, Latin, German and English are present in Cush African languages itself. But, these languages were further developed in the Central European area.
Most of the historians believe that the word “Africa” is derived from ‘Afri-uka’ which is from the ancient Egyptian language and it means ‘motherland’.
Before moving ahead, I would like to tell you one thing- the people of south east India, specially Andaman and Nicobar have a striking resemblance in their genetic aspects with the African natives, proving that we are not so different from the Africans.
Colonialism in Africa
We are very well acquainted with colonialism that once prevailed in various parts of the world, and it’s quite a vast subject. Africa is the territory where the impact of colonialism has been the worst, and Africa has been the most dreadful victim of colonialism. Even now, when colonialism has ended, it has caused a serious economic and cultural backwardness in the natural growth process of Africa, and has left it wounded. The Africans are still the victims of some sort of an undeclared economic colonialism, even after the political conclusion of colonialism.
This legacy of colonialism shattered the trend of the cultural development of Africa. It was believed that there was a lack of civilization in Africa. But, this was just from the Western point of view, which they perceived through their limited understanding about Africa. There was a fabricated structure in the African society which was based on their cultural values and mutually co-operation and understanding economic values. They were very simple in their way of living. Never could they imagine that the natural resources on their own motherland could ever be used to develop the political supremacy of some other class or race, not belonging to Africa. The simplicity and social fabric of Africa was severely attacked, and a culture of violence was introduced. The authoritarianism replaced the mutual co-operation and understanding of economic values.
Now if we throw some light on the economic aspects of Africa, we will notice that the colonialists from other parts of the world severely affected the structure of agriculture in Africa at first. The colonialists forced the African farmers to grow those crops which had a high demand in Europe. Since the Africans had little or no knowledge about the cultivation of those crops, this practice broke down their economic structure, which was largely based on agriculture. Apart from that, this practice of the colonialists somehow indirectly forced the Africans to mentally consider themselves as inferior beings. This had a direct impact on their culture.
The land, consisting of rich natural resources and simple people, which were mentally and physically healthy, became the supplier of raw materials to the West. This was the economic and social result of the brutal colonialism. The Africans were given the tag of uncivilized people. They were exploited by deception; and were merely considered as a class of physical laborers, that were only meant to toil incessantly.
As a consequence of growing crops according to the European needs, the Africans were not able to get the adequate nourishment that was necessary for their proper growth and health as per their geographical requirements. Slowly and gradually, Africa started turning into a region that was affected with malnutrition and hunger; and we are very well aware of the realities today.
After the Colonial Rule
As the current scenario suggests, the West not only provides aid to Africa, but also advertises it to a great extent. However, that aid is not even a small fraction of the amount of resources and materials that the West snatched away from Africa in the past two and a half centuries. The lower and middle class of the West had nothing to do with all the tyranny and injustice towards Africans, as they had experienced a similar sort of struggle in their own lives. Consequently, they developed an inner sympathy for the Africans.
Colonialism has always been the practice of the overambitious high class of the West, who were always scheming to earn wealth by ruling, suppressing and exploiting the not-so-clever people on the other side of the world. Even the Governments and the Monarchists of the West fully supported them in this activity.
In the present times, even though the world has become like a global village, yet this aid is indirectly establishing an owner-servant kind of a relation; and once again it is adversely affecting the ability, enthusiasm and passion of Africans to stand on their own. Despite the limited available technical resources and pressurized psychology, Africans too are innovative and creative people like those of the other nations.
What is actually happening since the last so many years is that the aid which is being provided is not being used efficiently and effectively. This aid goes into the hands of some selected people; and this fact is developing a sort of native colonialism in Africa.
Now a big question is, “where is all the money which is being supplied as aid to Africa coming from?” this money is being obtained from the pockets of those poor and middle class taxpayers of the West, who did not have any direct role in such activities of the past. They don’t even have a clear idea about the activities which are going on.
The Current Scenario
The economic and political situations that have prevailed in Africa since it gained independence from the colonialists did make a minor improvement in their living standards, however on the whole, it gave rise to an alarming class conflict and class division. On one hand, there’s a group that works strenuously and laboriously, but is still not able to afford the basic necessities and is struggling with immense poverty, because their reach is not extended to the elite class that consists of nothing else but the faces of neo-colonialism. On the other hand, there’s a group that is leading an easy going life by putting in a smaller amount of effort and is still enjoying all favours, just because they are closely connected with the elite class which is responsible for maintaining the aid from other nations.
Since self-rule, the children born in African families have lived their lives in utmost poverty and starvation, amidst the economic crisis. Consequently, they have developed an extreme resentment against the system. The uglier side of all this exhibits how a part of this young generation has found shelter in crime and fundamentalism to express themselves.
The internet and the social, broadcast and print media have been showing us glimpses of the extreme political instability, economic inconsistency, social class struggle, fiscal crimes and terrorism that have been prevailing persistently in the African countries. Therefore, instead of going into these intricate details, I would like to share the emotion that comes to my mind for the African countries.
To ameliorate the pre-existing conditions, first of all what is needed in the various societies of African countries are the scholars who can recognize the positive aspects of their traditions which they’ve inherited from their ancestors and also their specialties, even if those were initially perceived as unsophisticated, undeveloped or backward by the colonialists and neo colonialists. Apart from this, the scholars from other countries as well including India who are seriously concerned with the territorial problems of Africa could also extend a helping hand by advising the African scholars and social reformers about the various new reforms that could possibly improve Africa’s economy; and if found feasible should also be included in their social reform programs. This could be a start to free themselves from the influence of westernization.
Besides this, people could be made aware of the fact that their own traditional and cultural values should be given more importance than the western and foreign culture.
Thirdly, the resources present on their land should not be utilized, or rather exploited, as it was done during colonialism, when the West was mainly concerned with their own surpluses. Instead, these resources should be used as per the requirement of the local people.
Furthermore, the societies should come out from the feeling of not being able to keep up with the pace of development in other parts of the world, and there shouldn’t be a sense of inferiority in them. Alternatively, they themselves should determine their growth velocity, because ultimately what is important is:
- A co-operative society.
- Honestly earned resources as per the actual needs of a person or family.
- A healthy and blooming organic agriculture, where crops are grown according to the local requirement.
- Controlled industrial development according to their territorial requirements.
- Cultural development according to their own history, music, art, traditions and society.
- Most importantly, development and growth of their own languages, so that it could end the towering social disparities among the people, and help the society to move together.
It is said in Indian scriptures, “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” which means the whole world is but one family. I wish that would have been possible- Even if not the entire world, at least a major part of it. A place where the developed and developing nations consider African countries as their family and help them to develop according to their own culture and society, in a way that the African countries do not think of it as an obligation. It does seem utopian; however it could bring positive results once initiated.