The news that the New African editor, Baffour Ankomah, has been banned (NA, Oct & Nov) from attending the Zimbabwe Book Fair by the donors of the annual event, shouldn't hit our ears with complete surprise. His sin? Presenting a wrap-up speech at the donor-funded fair of which contents translate as criticising the West of ill intention against Africa.
Celebrating African heroes, dead and alive, whom the West demonises--a celebration intended to raise the conscience and consciousness of Africans as far as our unequal relationship with the West (politically, economically and diplomatically) is concerned--will not naturally appeal to the donors. That's why I am not surprised to hear that they want to cut their funding.
In his postscript to Walter Rodney's celebrated treatise, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Abdulrahman Babu (of Tanzania) said: "After reading the harrowing account of the brutalities of slavery, of subjugation, of deprivation and humiliation, when whole civilisations were crushed in order to serve the imperialist interests of the West ... it becomes absolutely clear that the only way out of our current impasse is through a revolutionary path--a complete break with the system which is responsible for all our past and present misery ... Our action must be related to our concrete experience and we must not give way to metaphysical hopes and wishes--hoping and wishing that the monster who has been after us throughout our history will someday change into a lamb; he won't ..."
Yet Africa hoped and still hopes for the monster to change to a harmless lamb while its true nationalists and heroes were (and are) being killed, sabotaged, ousted and derided. The banning of the New African editor is a continuation of that infamous game (at least in Africa) of treating the African as a child who perpetually will not stand on his own two feet.
When the likes of Ankomah now attempt to rise "above the triffling" and to redefine the reality from a slave's perspective, they commit a sin of talking back to the "massa". This forced me to go back to a recent speech that my president, William Benjamin Mkapa, presented at the University of Lesotho which exhorted African intellectuals and academics to be engaged in rethinking the continent's future.
I reject the view by a Western writer, Patrick Marnham, who in his book, Fantastic Invasion: Dispatches from Africa, maintains that Africa has been an elusive entity from the Western...