Wordweb dictionary defines culture as the “attitudes and behaviours that are characteristic of a particular social group.” I think this is a very straightforward definition but are the said attitudes and behaviours acquired or genetic? Also, is culture based on reason? Is it dictated by nature, since every culture evolved differently depending on the geographic location of a people? Is “deity” also a product of culture?
Since abnormal behaviour is behaviour that does not conform to the culture of one’s society, we would be correct to label one as “normal” if one woke up tomorrow morning and saw every neighbour walking backwards, and also immediately starts walking backward. That’s probably the new “normal.”
So in a society what is right is what is done by the majority not necessarily what is “good,” reasonable or sound. I think the advancement of a culture directly reflects how accommodating its actors are of reason. Now my last question to the reader: Do humans have a definite, eternal or unchanging nature? If so, what is this nature? I want to be enlightened.
I promised to make some of Kwame Nkrumah’s ebooks available to some of you. The links are at the end of this post. When Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 many of his books were burnt so most Africans haven’t likely read him. His name appears in the Internet Encyclopeadia of Philosophy as a panAfrican thinker who was first to define “neo-colonialism”. In “Consciencism” Nkrumah traces the history of philosophy from Thales through to Aristotle and makes a brilliant defence of where African philosophy fits. Below are some of Nkrumah’s books. I have also added other books which I think will help readers understand the African existential problem better. “Lumumba’s Last Days” chronicles a series of events that led to the arrest and execution of Congo’s first prime minister. This happened in the full glare of United Nations which did nothing to save Lumumba.
In “The Dual Mandate” and “The East Africa Protectorate”, the European authors present Africa as a big zoo, where humans mingle indistinguishably with wild animals and their job as colonialists was to bring “civilization” to these “savages.” The question arises: “What is the purpose of the life of the African if everything he does today is to serve neocolonial interests?” Our history, culture, language, identity, art, philosophy etc has been wiped out. We only need to thank nature – the African hot and humid climate, mosquitoes and typhoid for driving away the colonialists. They would have taken over everything we owned.
I’m aware this blog has a most enlightened following so if interested, download and read the ebooks yourself. Things have not changed much in Africa today. My conclusion is that Black Africa, as a whole has no economic future if this system of affair continues and if there is no continental unity. But of course your conclusion might be different from mine after reading, in which case you may share your conclusions. Happy weekend!
1. “The Dual Mandate” by F.D. Lugard: https://app.box.com/s/7othpl63h3u43pmtw9cqv86x56f7qa33
2. “Consciencism” by Kwame Nkrumah: https://app.box.com/s/63jd38r6ov6uyz6322knz2bk6r1ddsez
3. “Africa Must Unite” by Kwame Nkrumah: https://app.box.com/s/heuvmvtbqf8t20z1sv1r4hc5zf62cg6s
4. “Axioms” of Kwame Nkrumah: https://app.box.com/s/r0jpqdp90a6mc3p0wkyhquw8vd10rjk3
5. “Neocoloniasm”: https://app.box.com/s/t6asodo9tjfzy93f3wa56ijxhz3z4i8l
6. “The East Africa Protectorate”: https://app.box.com/s/t062xkg7w9y0rxpgltxez6f0ohedy95h
7. “Neocolonialism – The Last Stage of Imperialism” by Kwame Nkrumah: https://app.box.com/s/von6ztg7q3k4h1umg0cnimycyhzutepw
8. “The Struggle Continuous” by Kwame Nkrumah: https://app.box.com/s/9ec6wtbnyf8rg826x6zgahsvmb6gty7x
9. “Lumumba’s Last Days”: https://app.box.com/s/prb7uqzicutzk2nqswelltoqhphezsjn
Many of you who have been following this blog for long know that the last time I advertised my books was about four years ago. This is because I feel a little awkward promoting my own books. I honestly don’t write for money. To write is to present a case and you need a judge to assess if the case has merit. One cannot be one’s own judge. But until I find a judge, I have to do the awkward job of advertising my own books.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention for a brief announcement. Are you bored? Do you want to read something new and interesting. Do you want to understand other people’s experience of life. Look no further. Buy my books. I have written three books on literature (Anthologies) and one on business management (Research). All my books have paperback and epub editions and can be found here: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/tawia_tsekumah
Why should you buy my books?
1. Because you will never be bored reading my books. My books are an antidote to boredom.
2. Because listening to me complain about my life in Africa will make you feel better about yours.
3. Because my writing is honest and you will get new perspectives and insights into the common problems of our collective existence.
4. Because those who read my works said it’s funny and easy to understand and they enjoyed it.
5. Because half of the money from selling my books is donated to CWC Children’s Home, an Orphanage in Ghana. Which means you contribute to the betterment of humanity when you buy my books.
If you’re interested click this link: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/tawia_tsekumah to get a copy now. All the books you see when you click on the link are also available on other online book stores such as Amazon, iBookstore, Barnes and Noble and others.
Lastly, if you’re a literary/book agent, editor, publisher, or critic and for some reason you want to contact me, you can do so through this email: freedombooks2000[at]gmail.com
Thank you and enjoy the weekend.
The premise of the existence or nonexistence of a single supreme being as is postulated in philosophy is in, and of itself, an erroneous premise. This is why the theist against atheist arguments will continue perpetually. Pantheism has instead been relegated to the field of theology.
When asked whether there is a god, the indegenous African answers that there are spirits or forces. He does not specify whether a force is omnipresent, omniscient or omnipotent etc. This is because he believes spirit forces are metamorphous (what appears good suddenly becomes evil and vice versa) and are also associated with a particular tribe or race. The gods are brought down to the level of human understanding and they even partake in human activities. The indigenous African never conceives of or gives serious thought to the idea of an all umbrella spirit figure. He believes there could never be an all emcompassing spirit force who presides over such diverse life forms across space and time with myriad weaknesses and strengths, whose chief activities are characterised by brutal predation or the “survival of the fittest.”
To the practical mind, metaphysics cannot solve any real world problem because it is an abstract conception and when elevated to the apex it completely breaks off from reality (observable phenomena). This is why I think as long as metaphysical arguments concentrate on a single all encompassesing supreme being there will be no end or solution to those arguments. It’s like trying to tie the lose ends of something that cannot tied.
Three things make slavery in the Americas horrendous and different: (1) It was instutionalized (2) It was extremely inhumane, slaves were treated as animals (3) It was continentwide and organised. When the ship docked and the slaves were brought out in tattered clothes – men, women and children, the first thing a slave master normally does is to crash the slaves’ spirit by killing one right in front of them. That way he effectively puts a stop to their desire to reason. Reason is salvation because it tells the slave to attack his master in order earn his freedom. But as a result of crashing their spirit, for the next 400 years the slaves had to stop reasoning in order to preserve their own lives. They simply obeyed instructions. When the master needed more hands on the farm he simply put one man together with a dozen women in a shack and forced them to copulate.
Today, some try to justify slavery by arguing that it existed in Africa long before the slave trade. That may be correct but indigenous African slavery was completely different: (1) Slaves were not worked to death (2) Slaves were released upon expiration of their term of service (3) A brave slave who fought in defence of his master’s tribe could rise to become a king and (4) African slavery was not institutionalized or codified. It was a tribal affair. No slave was wilfully released or granted any rights in the west until the late 19th century. They were kept to work on the farm and were forbidden to read. A slave risks being killed for reading a book. Many people also quite unnecessarily differentiate between slavery and colonialism. Both are fueled by same motives: hegemony and exploitation. The only difference is the venue. Slavery took place away from Africa. Colonialism took place in Africa.
After the slave trade and slavery the black race lost its dignity. Today, all over the world, Africans or people of African descent are not accorded any genuine respect. It’s partly due to slavery and also due to the behaviour of some black people. In the days of slavery, they did provide clothes, shoes, a farm house, a language, a name, a religion, a culture, a god, a civilization (actually humanization according to them) and even today they continue to provide all of these including skin lightening creams etc. so in case one wanted to actually look white, one could do that. Did Africans not have a history, a culture, a language, a religion and a beautiful black skin before they arived in the new world? The black race must understand who they are, where they are from and where they are going. To do this they need to read more and with all due respect, turn the ‘reason switch’ back on.
Further reading: The works of Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Dubois etc.
I visited a museum this week where an exhibition was being held. It was called the Museum of Science and Technology. I knew some of the artists who exhibited and I was happy to see them again.
By the way, what is the role of art in society? To excite, inspire, communicate or provoke change? Enjoy!
I really liked this ink sketch of a girl carrying yams. It was done in I think 1940. I like the crude and original look of the work.
Another indigenous theme of ‘pouring palmwine’. I think the beauty of painting lies in a certain sensitivity of the artist that translates into capturing everyday activity in an exceptional form.
Market scene. Ghanaian markets are very overcrowded and this artist captured that perfectly. Actually it was done by a very renowned painter who I read about in my art history class in high school.
Pencil drawing by a younger artist. I think the subject matter here is beauty. You can clearly see differences in themes between the young and old artists.
Indigenous clay masks. These look like they are singing.
Clay Sculptures – possibly ancestral figures
Another sculture. I like this one, his eyes are partially closed and he does look like a politician I know.
Dyed fabric depicting a fat woman. In Ghana, gaining weight and looking curvy is trendy.
A model of a ship
At first I thought these were live snails crawling up to the ceiling but I realised they were shells glued by the artist to the pillar and the ceiling.
British colonial relic. It must have been used in WW1.
This is the entrance to the Museum of Science and Technology. Happy weekend to especially you. You know yourself. That’s all folks.
In this post I shall briefly explain how our African ancestors conceived of human personality and personhood. First of all, our ancestors were ideologically both creationists and evolutionists. They believe that the supreme God (Mawu) and his servant gods created the universe and everything in it. Man was created as an imperfect being and kept in a cave. Initially he could not speak but could only growl or make grunting noises like an animal. With time man emerged out of his cave and acquired human qualities such as bipedal locomotion, speech, thought, reason, conscience and virtue etc. This implies that the earliest man was probably a hominid. This concept contrasts sharply with the Christian creation story at Genesis 1, where everything was said to have been created almost instantly and perfectly. How then do we explain genetic defects such as premordial dwarfism, hunchbacks etc. and when I was Little I knew a man with twelve toes and twelve fingers. I bet all this people will wish they were not “perfect.”
Within African setup, when a baby is born, he or she is considered a non human visitor until after eight days. If the baby dies before the 8th day no funeral was held and no one was expected to cry or weep. The idea is that the baby is an animal – comprising pure ID (Instinctual Drives in freudian terms) and not fully human yet. Within the child’s ID is the mother’s blood, the father’ spirit and a soul from God. So the child is formed by three components coming from three different sources. The child’s life, as he survives and grows, is perpertually animated by these three factors. When he or she grows old and eventually dies, he loses the blood and spirit which he acquired from his parents but his soul is not lost. It returns to Mawu (the Supreme God) who is believed to dwell beyond the stars. The servant gods that dwell among the people and take possesion of animals, trees, rocks and rivers are never called “Mawu” but rather “Trorwo” meaning deities.
Please note that the practices described here are carried out by the Ewe tribe to which I belong. Different tribes have different ideas and practices though the differences are not very drastic. Also there are two forms of African personality: Indigenous African personality lived by our ancestors and contemporary post colonial personality emphatically espoused by Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Senghor, Julius Nyerere etc. which stems from indigenous roots.
I visited an art gallery very recently and felt the influence of Europeanisation even on African art. I didn’t feel a deep connection with our arts anymore. Although these visual artists seem very creative, only few retained indigenous African themes such as libation, warfare, hunting, weaving, farming, fertility etc in their paintings. I think the appropriate term for these paintings should be “Europeanised paintings.” But maybe I’m wrong. It could also be that the artists are focusing on commercial appeal. Whatever the issue is we cannot blame the artist as he or she is simply mirroring society. The images have been added below for your viewing pleasure.
I think these are fishing boats at the shore.
African woman (notice the backside)
This depicts an annual deer hunting festival by one of the tribes in Ghana. Can you see the live deer on their shoulders?
Trio women feature a lot in paintings by Ghanaian painters. I don’t know what the obsession is with a woman’s backside. Almost every painting I saw depicting a full size woman showed the back of the woman. Maybe it’s true that Black/African men love women with big booty. Personally, I can’t say I care about size of booty.
This is a ghetto scene
Metal Figurines (drummers)
Looks like cubism. I don’t know what you see but I see sorrow.
Fabric, I think it’s hand woven.
African women are known to be very hardworking and I think they must be depicted as such not just making faces as seen in the painting. Our art has moved from communicating essence to simply communicating pleasure or evoking emotion…… And who is this guy in the shot?
O it’s me.
This is the entrance to the gallery. The name of the gallery is Nubuke Foundation. They have been commited to preserving and promoting art in Ghana for over ten years and they always offer a friendly and warm environment for all visitors. That’s all folks.
The indegenous non-westernised African cares not much for the significance of celestial bodies. It’s clear from where the sun rises every morning and where it sets. It’s clear whether it’s a full moon or it’s half or a crescent. But he makes no clear connection between these objects and an evolving universe. There was never a sun god or a moon god in any African tribal theological constructs. Instead, concerntration was on immediate surroundings – the trees, the rivers, the sea, the animals and rocks etc. In fact they believed in something which could be immedietely experienced such as peace, love, success, fertility, health and they had gods of such attributes. We could say that everything in African world at the time was a social construct. Objectivity was still subject to interpretations.
Mythologies, fables and fairy tales involving animal characters informs us that our ancestors sensed a connection between humans and animals long before genetics descovered that. Their actions guided by animalistic totems implied that they viewed the animal society as an extension of the human society. All organisms are possessed by a life force called ‘spirit’. Spirits could take possesion of anything they desired. Even today the typical indegenous African considers certain animals as an embodiment of spirits or higher ancestral beings. A bird standing at the window could be an anamorphous spirit agent visiting the family and carrying a message. Ofcourse this notion is completely fallacious to the scientific mind but there are interesting observations similar to those supplied by the theory of evolution. This concerns the metamorphosis of organisms. Whereas Darwin’s theory claims that phylogenesis is gradual and takes millions of years, our ancestors believed such transformations are instantaneous. But bottom line is transformations do occur.
These ideas extend even to what we call the world of ancestors, the netherworld or hades or the grave which we all dread. To the African the world of the dead is not far. It’s like a basement or an area below the deck of the ship of existence which one could shuffle anytime in a spiritual sense. Therefore our dead ancestors are not believed to be really dead, they have just changed form from physical to spiritual. The spiritual forms the substructure for the physical. The interesting thing is that these ancestors do not wait to rise in the future and save the living. Instead, they rise everyday, they metamorphose into other creatures everyday, they aid and guide the living everyday. A cat, a bird or a lizard or even a beetle etc. are not just animals one could disregard and exterminate. They are all metamorphous agents having a connection to humans. As someone who likes nature I find this concept more inspiring.