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February 6, 2013

Africa, the cradle of human being.  Africa, arguably the proof of a claim of ‘variety is the spice of life’.  Africa, arguably, the Mosaic of humanity. Africa: in terms of resource, arguably the richest continent in the planet. But, enslaved, colonized and demonized by rest, actually by the west and finally being ‘a burden for the white man.’ The white man cry out loud for such Burden:

Take up the White Man’s burden-
The savage wars of peace-
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

On his mission of civilization of the uncivilized and backward dark, this White man declare that Africa is “… the land of childhood, which lying beyond the day of self-conscious history, is enveloped in the dark mantle of Night.” And sail in the sea. Sometimes the white man goanna crazy by instructing his chattels/colonies about the ‘right’ type of sexual intercourse – ‘man-on-‘top is ‘God’s favorite’ and we used to call it the Missionary position.

But, in this ‘land of childhood’, beyond the traditional African way of life there are global minds that glimmers in refute for the white man’s arrogance of setting a yoke in Africa for a decoy of civilizing it, there are Africans who shines ‘in the dark mantle of Night’, there are Africans who raise their voices in defense of Africa. Among these son and suns of Africa, I found Ali Mazrui an African scholar of EVERYTHING: Politics, Culture, History, Mythology, and almost everything.


In words of Seifudein Adem “He [Mazrui] is arguably one of the most original, versatile and productive African thinkers.” but also he has, on occasions, made intriguing and profound observations about Africa. Edward Said’s in his part showers his praise to Mazrui in the following manner.

 …for the first time in a history dominated by Western representations of Africa, an African was representing himself and Africa before a Western audience, precisely that audience whose society for several hundred years had pillaged, colonized, enslaved Africa.

Mazrui, is an African Intellectual who speaks Africanity in every aspect of life, in his own way as scholars used to call it as Mazruiana. Here in below is a litmus paper [Five Articles of Mazrui] to prove what they claim:

Should African political parties bear African names?

Africa between the Baobab tree and the Owl of Minerva: A Post-Colonial educational narrative

Who killed Democracy in Africa? Clues of the Past, Concerns of the Future

What’s in a name? European imperialism and the re-naming of Africa

Between the Arab Spring and the African Awakening: An Afro-Arab Renaissance

Mazrui’s Ethiopian link is immense but, his Ethiopian outlook had no similar image among different critics, for some he is an Ethiophobe and for others he is Ethiophile. Here I quote a long paragraph from Mazrui’s book Political Values and the Educated Class in Africa, as quoted by Seifudein Adem. It is about Mazrui records of his encounter with Ethiopian students:

…I was in Ethiopia in December 1973, a few months before the creeping coup started. I was invited to address the student body. An American colleague came to fetch me from my hotel. We arrived at the University. The students turned up not just in their hundreds but in their thousands. The mass of humanity that was there was surprising for a professorial lecture. When I looked behind me my American colleague had disappeared. The students were singing political songs and he had apparently decided discretion was the better part of valour. I ploughed through this mass of humanity, arrived at the front platform. It was one of the loneliest arrivals of my career because there was nobody there to meet me. I was bewildered, wondering what to do next, and then saw somebody else struggling to come across, accompanied by some other. It turned out he was my host—the professor of political science there. When he stood up on the platform to introduce me he was immediately shouted down. The students were insisting that the meeting had to be under their sponsorship, or it could not take place at all. My colleague asked me, ‘What do you think?’. I said, ‘If I were you I would let them preside’. He was worried, presumably about the impact of surrender on university opinion of him, but he did capitulate to the situation. What emerged in the course of that address, after students have taken over the chair and given their speeches, was that these were the most radical African students I had ever addressed. They gave me a fair hearing, listening to me to the end, and after that asked questions deliberately intended to embroil me in their own profound and understandable dissatisfaction with the Ethiopian imperial system as they knew it…This was the most direct and most blunt critique of an African government I had ever heard from students anywhere…

On the other hand Mazuri ‘The Ethiophobe’ had something to say what I used to call ‘The Arrogance of Ethiopians’ of denial of African identity:

Objectively, Ethiopians were a Black people, but subjectively they were in denial about their Blackness until Emperor Haile Silassie redefined their identity in the twentieth century. Ethiopia’s racial self-denial.

Please, Take a break and check these articles of Mazrui:

Democracy and the Politics of Petroleum

Civilization and the quest for creative synthesis: Between a global Dr. Jekyll and a global Mr. Hyde

Language and the Rule of Law: Convergence and Divergence

The end of the Cold War and the Rise of Democracy?  between Africa and the West

The Bondage of Boundaries

When we come back to Ethiopian link of Mazrui. By now he tries to compares Ethiopian Revolution with the Bolsheviks one, as of:

Although the differences from what happened in Russia were immense, the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974 was closer to the Russian Revolution of 1917 than anything else that had happened in Africa. Both revolutions overthrew ancient monarchical institutions; both revolutions confronted the opposition of a hostile external world; both of them had to confront hostile Orthodox Christian churches (The Ethiopia and the Russian national churches are both in the Orthodox tradition); both revolutions were followed by immense internal civil conflict; both revolutions were captured by extremely brutal dictators (Stalin and Mengistu Halile Maryam); and both revolutions finally ended with ethnic fragmentation in the body politic.

And he bounces to the present regime of Ethiopia to label it as a ‘taboo breaker’. As Mazrui observed, EPRDF broke two ‘taboos’:

[One] is the taboo of secession from an existing African state in the post-Colonial era—the independence of Eritrea with the full cooperation, if not enthusiastic blessing, of Ethiopia, of which it was once a crucial constituent province. The Eritrea flag was raised in May 1993 at a ceremony at which the President of Ethiopia was among the distinguished guests. This is the taboo of officially sanctioned ‘secession’. [The other] violated taboo is ethnic decentralization by a state which was previously unitary. Having lost Eritrea, the rest of Ethiopia is groping for a federal or confederal constitutional order within which “tribes” would have the kind of ethnic autonomy that African systems of government in the postcolonial era have persistently sought to deny them. This is the taboo of retribalization.

And Mazrui continues…


From → My Articles

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