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Dr. Greg Carr
AFRO 005 sec 02
How do we Undertake the Study of African Experience?
ABSTRACT: We undertake the study of the African experience by studying the history of African people and by evaluating time periods to make sense of the African experience. We should know the origin of our people and understand what they knew so we can explain what is happening today. We also should understand the dismemberment of Africa and how that affected African peoples' cultural identity.
CRITICAL REVIEW OF SCHOLARSHIP: I could answer framing question by pulling out points from Ngugi WA Thiong'o Something Torn and New and Gregg E. Carr's Towards an Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Normative Theory. Something Torn and New helped me understand the need to preserve our identity as Africans and not allow the Europeans to take away our cultural heritage and identity. Something Torn and New is a very thought-provoking book as it discusses in-depth the quest for African renaissance(rebirth).
From the book Towards an Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Normative Theory, I understood how African people maintained their "self" throughout history despite the hardship that they been through. The book also made it clear that Africans will still face more hardship but it's only through unity that they will be able to win the fight against racism.
Both books were very helpful in answering the framing question. Something torn and new made use of native stories to explain African experiences. Towards an Intellectual History of African Studies gave three major macro-episodic challenges face by Africans over the course of their encounter with the West which were helpful; however, I had difficulty understanding some concepts discussed in this book.
DISCUSSION: We study African experiences because it applies to and affects everybody. To undertake the study of African experiences one must understand the dismemberment of African people from their origin and culture. From Something Torn and New, "The dismemberment of Africa occurred in two stages. During the first of these, the African personhood was divided into two halves: the continent and its diaspora." Dismemberment began in the colonial eras because of the need of slaves to work on land stolen from the native Americans and the Caribbean. Africans were colonized and taken away from their continent to work as slaves. Africans were also stripped off their memory. According to Dr. Carr "when someone's memory is cut off the notion of who they are is going to be informed by other people". The name of an object has everything to do with how it is identified, classified, and remembered. The memory of Africans was cut off by the oppressors by changing the names of Africans therefore changing their identities. African art works were stolen and taken to be stored in British museums; this is also to deprive Africans of their memory.
Time and space also helps to understand the study of African experiences. The challenge of time and space is miseducation. For example, the challenge of time and space erased the genealogy of Phillis Wheatley as a Muslim. Her name was changed from Fatima to Phillis, after the name of the boat that brought her, and Wheatley after the name of her master. Her first two languages were Wolof and Arabic but she was made to learn new languages like English, Latin, Greek. From Something torn and New, "Africans, in the diaspora and on the continent, were soon to be the recipients of this linguistic logic of conquest, with two results: linguicide in the case of the diaspora and linguistic famine, or linguifam, on the continent". The forcing of Africans to learn and communicate in different languages other than their cultural language is Linguicide. But a situation where the older ones do not teach the younger ones the language of their origin, it is referred to as Linguifam. The challenge of time and space also creates blackness as the primary maker for power relationship.
"African deep thought must now speak for itself. Rather than set up interview schedule containing the great issue of European Philosophical enquiry, African champions must break the chain that links African idea to European ideas and listen to the voice of the ancestors without European interpreters".
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