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Africa has paid a heavy price for colonialism and we cannot emphasise that sufficiently. But no episode in history is entirely negative and in this issue of Chiedza, various contributions have shown that colonialism has benefitted Africa in unexpected ways. One school of thought emphasises the concrete losses that Africa has paid in looted cultural artefacts and territorial sovereignties and more abstract losses in how we know ourselves and understand how the present relates to the past and can be shaped to anticipate the future. Other contributors, however, while acknowledging those losses argue from a premise that the colonial encounter was short and lasted barely one hundred years. Their argument is premised on the notion that surely Africa did win something given that colonialism lasted barely one hundred years, which is roughly 0,03% of the three hundred thousand years of Africa’s history and indeed opened up Africa to the world. Hence, though Africa lost some things, it did not lose its ability to recreate itself using its genius and creativity. Another school of thought claims that there is no gain in losing, for Africa has a historical trend of losing; it lost in the past in the pillage of cultural artefacts and dissettlement of territorial sovereignties, it continues to lose in the flow of talent to Europe and the United States of America, and it will continue to lose given the current state of events evident in the wars, social unrests, and clashes of military generals in the continent. Clearly, what underlies this issue is the theme of colonial loss, which is the tangible and intangible damages inflicted upon Africa by the practice of colonialism after the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885.
This issue raises and addresses some of these fundamental questions. What were some of the tangible and intangible things lost to colonialism? What does it mean to lose something and how does it feel to lose something? What was the intentionality behind colonialism - for the pillage of cultural artefacts and natural resources or purposive civilisation? Can Africa outgrow the damage induced by this gruesome intentionality of the colonialist? Is it possible to transcend the feeling of loss and how is this possible? In what ways are the effects of colonialism still evident today? What recovery measures could put Africa on upward mobility? It simply means that the following pages seek to identify and understand the tangible and intangible and whether it still loses to colonialism, and how we can conceal the scars that colonialism has left. It is the hope of this issue to inform some of the fundamental decisions and priorities that the continent of Africa ought to focus on and the important goals its institutions should serve.
Parnel Ledaga observes that constituents of material reality that were evident in African societies during colonialism were not the only losses wrought by colonialism; for he argues that some things have been lost that were obviously not material objects since it is established that artefacts were pillaged and territorial sovereignties were disrupted. Given that it is not only material objects that were lost, he argues that genius and creativity and habits of self-introspection are abstract objects that Africa lost as well to colonialism. According to him, “Besides the obvious pillage, death, and enslavement it [Western Colonialism] brought, it also caused the loss of pre-colonial African genius and creativity and a loss of that tendency to carry out genuine introspection to get a sense of one’s own identity and shape one’s relation to the world.” This implies that the loss of genius and creativity occasioned by colonialism led to a policy paralysis evident in the loss of the Rwandese Gracaca system, and the loss of self-introspection implies a loss of sense of purpose. Ledaga, nonetheless, says that Africans are not bound to be eternal losers, as there is hope at the end of the tunnel which is for Africans to recreate themselves using their current genius, creativity and introspection.
Africa could have lost some of its material objects and some abstract objects namely genius and creativity and introspection, Jean de la Croix Nsabimana argues that Africa retained its ability to test for the validity of knowledge. For him, there exists a peculiar epistemic system common to African societies' way of knowing, grasping the knowledgeable, and reflecting upon its nature and limit. So, to make a statement that there is a universal epistemology is a gross generalisation that is mutually exclusive of the peculiar epistemology of Africa. Nsabimana exposes the reader to the debate on African epistemology, an African way of knowing. On the one hand, he says that they are those who use Western categories and concepts to understand the experience of an African and judge from this worldview whether the experience has any epistemological basis. On the other hand, he says that they are those who adopt and use African cultures, concepts and categories as the basis for understanding and judging any experience of an African.
Remy Gontran thinks that the intentionality of colonialism was masked in vicious facades that claimed that the motive of colonialism was to civilise the African people. Gontran believes that all that was achieved in fact was an identity crisis that colonialism induced in many Africans. He argues that colonialism presented an alienating legacy that led to the loss of identity of the African peoples. Two questions underpin Gontran’s paper: what have been the deceits set in motion by colonialism and how has it achieved its ends, and what would be the scientific and humanist solution set in motion to restore that lost identity? The paper rests on these three propositions. First, it highlights the perfidious stratagems implemented by colonialism for the falsification of African history. Second, it analyzes the impact of this inherently vicious act. Lastly, it strives to plead singularly for the “ethical authenticity” of stories written by Africans themselves.
But of what significance is ethical authenticity to an African when Africa in itself is still losing on all fronts asks Tertsegha Anongu James. Anongu says that the Berlin Conference marked the beginning of Africa's loss because it lost before the battle began, given that it was not in the conference to defend itself. He goes on to say that during colonialism, Africa lost its valuable spirituality and its ways of knowing and thinking, and after colonialism, Africa continues to lose its medical doctors and skilled professionals to the same colonialists. Given these instances, Anongu holds that Africa has eventually lost the battle of the mind and the battle for socio-economic control. He believes that neocolonialism glares at the face of Africa and Africa responds with a smile.
Is there anything that Africa can do at all given that it did not bring upon itself colonialism or neocolonialism? Olivier Sempiga thinks that the world’s rich nations have a legal obligation to compensate poor nations for past and present wrongdoings. Sempiga examines how Africa has been impoverished by what he calls systematic exploitation. He says that by systematically impoverishing poor countries, rich nations threaten the ontological existence of poor nations, and this impoverishment results in all kinds of ills and sometimes death and is a kind of crime that has to be taken into consideration especially when the impoverishment becomes systematic. Sempiga claims that systemic impoverishment of others entails that those who impoverish others incur moral obligations to pay for the poverty they cause.
Herbert Nharo Shoko unpacks African identities, arguing that the African peoples were forced to exhibit certain identities and traits in the face of a dominant European colonialist culture which was perceived to be superior to the Africans. As a result, this led to the denial of the dignity of Africans and their capacity adequately to express themselves and be agents of their own identity was compromised. Shoko demonstrates that African identities are in crisis and suggests that the decolonial and liberation thought could be helpful in the full realisation of African identities.
In applying the tools of social analysis to Nigeria, Ikpodon Michael Akashi argues that the eyes of most Nigerians, especially business elites and politicians, are no longer alert, their hearts are no longer open, and their hands are no longer outstretched for the work of love across the country. If this was not the case, Ikpodon suggests, there would be no great disparities among Nigerians relating to solutions to human problems, promoting people’s dignity, and people as social animals. Ikpodon concludes that by seeing, judging, and acting, which are tools of social analysis, the great disparities can be ameliorated by business elites and politicians in Nigeria.
Tersoo Gwaza holds that there is hope for Africa despite losses of the past and the present. Hope, for Gwaza, suggests an ontological affirmation of a subject daring to expect a sustainable future because where there is life, there is hope and hope is the appropriate outcome of human courage. He says that with the courage to hope, the African people will affirm themselves, their life and their community in spite of odds that mitigate against this essential self-affirmation. Gwaza believes that Africans must be convinced that, despite all socio-historical factors, a better, brighter and more beautiful future is possible.
Negussie Andre Domnic exposes the reader to Fetha Nagast's brotherhood ecclesiology. Dominic says that according to Fetha Nagast the mission of the Church is to witness the mercy and love of God, where witnessing means demonstrating the love and compassion of God to one another as Jesus did on the cross. Accordingly, the ecclesiology of Fetha Nagast is a brotherhood ecclesiology and this brotherhood is not limited only to the Church family but the whole humanity. Thus, this brotherhood is not a ceremonial title, but rather an intellectual and spiritual unity of goals and ideas.
Kambona Grace Richard, Lucy Kimaro, and Emmanuel Wabanhu observe that there are lots of divorce cases and cohabitation issues in marriage and single parenting outside marriage. They believe that it is because traditional marriage values have been abandoned. They think that values such as respect, stability, and commitment are significant to marital life. They argue that they are values worth emulating from their studies of the Wasubi traditional marital values that Christian marriages across Africa could borrow from. These values, they hold, if well perceived, acquired, and practised could help to solve some of the problems Christian marriage suffers today.
We trust that the academic articles in this edition will provide original commentary on the diverse realities surrounding Africa and its Loss to Colonialism, whether past or present. We also hope they will make available the critical discourses which are indispensable if we are to attain the socio-economic and political development and coherence we greatly desire in Africa. Some of these articles also propose solutions to the problems surrounding colonialism. Other articles which do not directly address our theme also bring to our awareness topical issues so that by reflecting on them we can acquire more autonomy over our lives in Africa. These articles are followed by two book reviews, a movie review, and a poem. Parnel Ledaga reviews Colonisation et colonisés au Gabon coordinated by Fabrice Nguiabama Makaya. Eledi Victor reviews Africa’s Struggle for its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat by Bénédicte Savoy. Ikpodon Michael reviews Concussion directed by Peter Landesman. The poem, “Tribute to Africa” is by Ikpodon Michael.
A word of gratitude goes to the Editorial Board of Chiedza, Journal of Arrupe Jesuit University for their invaluable and unswerving support, availability and ardent commitment to the Journal. I remain thankful to Agber Thaddeus Igbalumun (Asst. Editor-in-Chief) for his prompt and forthcoming assistance and generosity; I Salute you. I also remain thankful and indebted to Victor Eledi for designing this issue and laud his relentless assistance in the layout process. I remain grateful to the venerable Anthony Chennells for his wise counsel and guidance as well as his unparalleled intellectual and academic prowess. I extend my gratitude to the administration of Arrupe Jesuit University, especially Dr Isaac Mutelo (Director of Research, Innovation, and Publication) and Dr Evaristus Ekwueme (Pro-Vice Chancellor Academics) for their continuous support. Finally, special thanks go to our authors. This issue is possible only because our contributors took the time to write on problems that they have pondered on and shared their insights with us. I greatly appreciate your invaluable contributions, patience and cooperation. Thank you so much our beloved authors. God bless Chiedza Journal in its endeavour to light up Africa and beyond.