Saturday, May 31, 2008

The shaky ties that bind us

In April I caught a glimpse of the ‘Geneva of Africa.’ Arusha, or A- Town as it is also fondly called, was dazzling. Colorful hotels were in the making, nay, remaking. I even saw a mason carve a sculptor of a monkey onto a gate of one of the hotels!

All this face-lifting has to do with the upcoming 8th Leon H. Sullivan Summit. ‘The Summit of a Lifetime’ as its Presidential Host has dubbed it is set to attract at least 500 delegates. Curiously, most of them are coming as potential African-American investors.

I am packing as I write this article. By the time this column reaches the subeditor I will be on my way to Arusha. From what I have seen in the media it seems the city will be glittering than when I last saw it. But I won’t see much of it because I will only be passing by the city. In fact I will be going to witness firsthand the plight of Arusha residents who are forced to give way to investors.

Ironically, we are strengthening the ties that bind us to our brothers and sisters from the African Diaspora while the very ties that bind us as Africans/Tanzanians are shaking. Actually it is the shaking of our ties as African people that led to some of our chiefs and merchants of death such as Tippu Tippu to sell our people into slavery in the first place. Is history repeating itself?

Those who forget history, declares George Santayana, are condemned to repeat it. What will stop me from repeating the history of complicity to slavery if I forget that my great-great- grandmother Namphombe was taken into slavery? Her crime was only to tarry a little longer in the market till her merchandise could be sold out.

Didn’t she know that the ancient era of trading freely with traders from Persia and China was over? Was she oblivious to the fact the famed trading routes from the coast to the interior had been turned into slave routes? When I revisit these routes I wonder where Namphombe was taken to and how she struggled against captivity. It could be in other parts of Africa, Asia or the Americas. It is this historical experience of struggling against slavery, racism and imperilialism that has forged ties that bind Africans across Africa and its Diaspora.

Now as our visitors brace for a warm homecoming in Arusha wouldn’t it be better if they learn how warmly we are to our people? Won’t we all be happy to discredit the negativity about the way we treated victims of slavery? But how can we show that we are not primarily responsible for slavery if we mistreat our people as if they are slaves in their own land?

Consider these gruesome incidents documented by Mkombozi: “22 year-old James had sharp sticks inserted into his mouth to keep his screams from being heard during a beating that could have cost him his life”; “16 year-old John was assaulted so badly that he could not walk.”; “Paul and Frank, both clients of Mkombozi, were arrested at the market place where they daily make an honest living by vending. They are now in prison charged with gambling.”

All this has to do with the whitewash preparation for the summit. It is as if our welcoming adage ‘mgeni njoo mgeni apone,’ that is, ‘let the visitor come so that the host can be healed’ is a mere sarcastic rhetoric. Eve since the World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) affirmed that our salvation out of poverty lies in attracting foreign direct investments we can hardly think beyond foreign capital.

Just let them in. Give them hectares of land, thousand of hectares to farm jatropha. It doesn’t really matter that biofuels will fuel hunger. Why should it matter now hunger is globalized?

Grant them a golden opportunity to dig black holes in our mines. It doesn’t really matter that they merely pay 3 % royalty and evade the 30 % corporate tax by declaring loss. Why should it matter when the Tanzania Chamber of Minerals and Energy affirms that “Tanzania is currently exploiting only 4% of the gold potential” (The Citizen 26/03/08)?

But if it doesn’t matter that for “about a year now, 200 families have been living in tents at a church compound after their houses were pulled down to pave way for large scale mining” (The Citizen 18/05/08) when will it matter? When will it matter if doesn’t matter now that children are dying of malnutrition because we are not paying enough attention to food production?

I am not sure if these issues will be discussed at the summit. After all it is primarily a business conference. But business is about people. Due to its humanity, human capital is worth more than any amount of foreign capital we can amass. I believe our kith and kin from the African Diaspora will be sensitive enough to our human capital that is prone to displacement by investors.

My belief is based on their contribution to the human emancipation project in the context of Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanist African-Americans, from Alexander Crumell to William E. B. Du Bois, believed that our futures are intimately linked and hence it is their moral duty to seek the prosperity of Africa. They did so during our nationalistic struggles for independence. Afterwards their Peace Corps left the highways of America to tread the byways of our then Ujamaa villages.

How on earth can our potential African-American investors betray this rich legacy? How can our collective conscience facilitate such a betrayal by displacing our fellow citizens? In as much as the useful support of our African diasporic family is warmly welcomed, ultimately our salvation lies within our country. Let’s invest in the people as our drivers of change.

Appeared in The Citizen 30/05/08 as 'The shaky ties that bind Africans'

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

South African Xenophobia - The Aftermarth

The dust has settled in South Africa. The army has been brought in and together with strong police action; the once peaceful townships still reminds one of the “worst moment” this rainbow nation has ever experienced. It is a weird thing to come to grips with; no single South African leader has been associated with this crime against our fellow brothers and sisters. So far no single organized group with a unique identity has taken responsibility. More than 50 people have died, mostly foreigners and a few South Africans, we still do not know what triggered this seemingly organized attacks.

Our Intelligence Services claim they predicted the uprising and informed the police. The police claim the information was not substantial to warrant preemptive action, however some survivors claim that they were tipped off and escaped before the mayhem. Finally President Mbeki has addressed the nation, but many of us still wonder what exactly led to all this. Indeed, South Africa has opened a new chapter, nobody can tell how it will be concluded, I personally believe South Africa has slid down a path of no return. This nation has been deflowered; no amount of PR will bring back its innocence.

Forgive me for being a pessimist; let me state why I believe my country can never be the same again:

  • South Africa has shown that when the chips are low, it is happy to pass the blame to others.
  • The African brotherhood has been betrayed, and every South African effort to prove otherwise will always be scoffed at, after all, South Africa has proven beyond doubt that they could never be trusted by the rest of Africa and they see other Africans as a "problem".
  • The other South African minorities, Vendas, Shangaans, Whites, Indians etc can never ever feel safe nor welcome again in their own country.
  • Very soon, the middle class black South Africans will also keep wondering whether they are next, after all, they “made it” and “forgot about the poor majority” in their nice suburban houses

I keep wondering what could possibly happen to me when I go visit Malawi, Mozambique or Zimbabwe again. How will the clerk at the border look at me, will I ever be safe walking through the streets of Harare? Will Bafana Bafana, our national soccer team ever be welcome again in the DRC?

Indeed South Africa has cast a shadow over the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Giants like Julius Nyerere and Leopold Senghor of Senegal will be ashamed to see this. There is hope that the new ANC leadership will try to reverse the image of this country. I really hope and pray they do.

Thabo Mbeki will certainly go down as the man who led South Africa through some of its best and the very worst of times. I am sorry that history will remember his inability to appeal to his people and galvanize them around an ideal, his inability to rise tall above all sorts of the crisis as his defining moments. Be it HIV/AIDS, be it Zimbabwe, be it crime, be it electricity crisis, Mbeki will carry this legacy around his neck and possibly to the grave. Some of us will remember the economic boom under Mbeki, but sadly, some will point to the recent xenophobic attacks as a true reflection of his economic and political legacy.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mkahawa wa Vitabu wa Soma

Kampuni ya uchapishaji ya E & D LTD iko mbioni kuzindua shirika la kukuza usomaji na maendeleo mnamo tarehe 6 - 13 Juni 2008. Tukio hilo litakalochukua juma zima litafanyika katika 'mkahawa wa vitabu' (book cafe) wa Soma ambao nao utazinduliwa rasmi wakati huo mara tu baada ya ujenzi wake kukamilika rasmi. Mkahawa huo upo Mikocheni Reagent sehemu ya Mlingotini Closure.

Usomaji unaoongelewa hapa sio usomaji wa vitabu na ripoti tu, bali ni usomaji wa fasihi (literature), sanaa (art) na utamaduni(culture) wa jamii kwa ujumla katika namna iliyo pana zaidi. Usomaji wa aina hii unaichukulia jamii kama kitabu ambacho wanajamii wanashirikiana katika kukiandika na kukisoma kwa njia mbalimbali kama vile kwa kutunga au kusikiliza hadithi, mashairi, nyimbo na ngoma; kuandaa au kutazama vipindi kwenye runinga (television) na jukwaani (theatre); kuumba au kupitia maandishi na vielelezo kama vile picha na vinyago (sculptors).

Ni dhahiri kuwa usomaji huu mpana utachochea vuguvugu (movement) la kuibua, kukuza, kuhamasisha na kuenzi aina zote za fasihi, yaani fasihi andishi na simulizi. Historia inadhihirisha kuwa kuna uhusiano wa kina kati ya vuguvugu la aina hii na maendeleo ya jamii husika kwa ujumla. Hivyo basi itakuwa vyema kama tutatumia fursa hii kwa namna moja au nyingine ili kusukuma gurudumu la maendeleo ya jamii yetu.

Soma inakaribisha mtu yoyote ambaye anajisikia kujitolea kushiriki katika kuwezesha au/na kuandaa baadhi ya programu za vuguvugu hilo. Programu mojawapo itakuwa ni ya kuandaa wasifu (profiles) wa wanafasihi kama vile waandishi wa vitabu, wasimulizi, waigizaji na waimbaji. Kila juma kutakuwa na tukio katika 'mkahawa wa vitabu wa soma' ambalo litakuwa limejikita katika wasifu wa mwanafasihi wa juma hilo. Wigo wa namna ya kuandaa wasifu ni mpana na unategemea mawazo na ubunifu (creativity) wa mtu atakayejitolea kuandaa wasifu huo. Hivyo, unaweza kuwa nia makala gazeti, kipindi katika runinga na kadhalika. Inatazamiwa kuwa katika kila juma angalau kutakuwa na wasifu mmoja katika gazeti la Kiswahili au/na la Kiingereza.

"Tunakaribisha vikundi mbalimbali vyenye nia ya kuvinjari nyanja zote za kijamii na kiutamaduni na umuhimu wake kwetu kihistoria pamoja na kwa mstakabali wa jamii yetu; ikiwa ni pamoja na maisha na mahusiano yetu ya kijamii yalivyo hivi sasa. Tungependa kupata tarehe na andiko fupi—aya moja au mbili zinazoelezea mada pamoja na majina ya wawezeshaji wakuu/watoa mada na anuani zao kwa ajili ya ufuatiliaji—sababu nyngine ni kutuwezesha kuandaa na kusambaza ratiba kila mwezi. Karibuni sana." - Demere Kitunga, Mkurugenzi Mtendaji wa E & D Ltd na mratibu wa Soma Book Cafe

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nishati Uoto na Haki za Ardhi kwa Wazalishaji Wadogo

Hivi karibuni nilitumiwa makala iliyokuwa ikieleza juu ya unyakuzi wa ardhi kwa ajili ya kuzalisha mazao yanayotumika kutengeneza nishati uoto (biofuels) kaskazini mwa Ghana. Katika makala hiyo, Bakari Nyari (Vice Chairman of Regional Advisory and Information Networks Systems RAINS), anaelezea juu ya Kampuni ya nishati uoto ya Kinorway na namna kampuni hii ilivyofanikiwa kumrubuni Chifu wa eneo hilo kwa kutumia mbinu ile ile iliyotumiwa na Karl Peters kwa Chifu Mangungo wa Msovero.

Kama ilivyo nchini Tanzania, msukumo wa kuelekea katika nishati mbadala umetokana na masuala ya kiuchumi na mabadiliko ya hali ya hewa katika dunia. Kupanda kwa bei ya mafuta katika soko la dunia na mabadiliko hasi ya hali ya hewa duniani vimechangia kwa kiasi kikubwa wimbi la utafutaji nishati mbadala ili kukabiliana na uchafuzi wa hali ya hewa na pia kuleta uhuru katika matumizi ya nishati. Bila kuwa na mikakati madhubuti na sera za kushughulikia suala hili nchi za Kiafrika zimejikuta zinaingia katika mchezo ambao hazikushiriki katika maandalizi yake.

Katika makala hiyo ndugu Nyari anaeleza kwamba Kampuni hiyo inayojulikana kwa jina la Biofuel Afrika (Nishati uoto Afrika) ambayo ni tawi la Biofuel Norway ilijipatia umilki wa jumla ya hekta 38,000 baada ya kumrubuni Chifu wa eneo hilo aliyesaini makubaliano hayo kwa kidole gumba! Baada ya kuisoma makala hiyo nilijifunza mambo mengi hasa nikifananisha mazingira ya Ghana na Tanzania ama walau eneo hilo na aina ya mbinu zilizotumika kuwafanya wakazi wa eneo hilo na Chifu wao kukubali kutoa ardhi yao kwa ajili ya kuzalisha Jatropha (Mibono).

Jambo la kwanza nililojifunza ni kwamba kuna athari za kimazingira kwa jamii hasa katika maeneo ya vijijini. Mabadiliko ya hali ya hewa yanayosababisha mfumo wa mvua usiotabirika umeongeza ugumu wa maisha kwa jamii zetu hasa vijijini. Kutokana na hali hii na kukosa msaada kutoka serikalini jamii katika maeneo ya vijijini zimejikuta katika hali ya kuvutwa na ahadi za uongo kutoka kwa yeyote anayeweza kuahidi miujiza ya kuwatoa katika matatizo yanayowakabili. Kwa mfano, nilipata fursa ya kuongea na wakazi wa Kisarawe katika kijiji cha Mtamba ambapo nilitaka kujua vigezo vinavyotumika katika kugawa ardhi ya kijiji. Kwa mujibu wa wajumbe hao wa serikali ya kijiji, wao hutoa ardhi kwa mtu anayeweza kutatua sehemu ya matatizo yanayowakabili kwa mfano kama wana tatizo la maji, shule, zahanati barabara, n.k mwombaji akijitolea kujenga ama kisima cha maji ama nyumba ya mwalimu anapata ardhi bila kipingamizi chochote. Katika mazingira kama haya ni rahisi sana kwa wanavijiji kurubuniwa kutoa ardhi.

Pili, nimejifunza kuwa mashabiki wa nishati uoto wanatumia kisingizio cha ajira na kipato. Hii imekuwa ni mojawapo ya silaha inayotumiwa na wawekezaji walio wengi, ukiachilia mbali ushawishi wao kwa serikali juu ya ajira watakazozalisha na kipato kitakachopatikana kwa maana ya kodi kwa serikali. Hivyo, inakuwa ni rahisi zaidi kwao kuwashawishi wanavijiji juu ya suala zima la ajira na kipato kwa maana ya soko kwa mazao yao ama bidhaa mbalimbali wanazozalisha. Katika nchi yetu mbinu hii ya kurubuni kwa maana ya kutoa ajira na ongezeko la kipato imetumika katika maeneo mbalimbali. Kwa mfano, katika Wilaya ya Rufiji wanavijiji katika vijiji vinavyopakana na hifadhi ya Seleous na vinginevyo kwenye ukanda huo waliahidiwa ahadi za ajira na kipato pindi watakaporidhia kutoa maeneo yao kwa kampuni ya nishati uoto kwa jina la SEKAB. Mheshimiwa Rais katika ziara yake katika kijiji cha Mloka, mojawapo ya vijiji vilivyopokea ma ombi ya ardhi kutoka katika kampuni hii kwa lengo la kuzalisha mazao ya nishati uoto, alirudia dhana hii ya ajira na kipato na pia kuimarishwa kwa miundombinu pindi wawekezaji watakapoanza uzalishaji!

Pamoja na ahadi hizo katika baadhi ya vijiji, serikali za vijiji kupitia kwa Mkutano mkuu wa kijiji wamekataa kuridhia maombi hayo mpaka vijiji vyao vipimwe na waweze kuwa na mpango bora wa matumizi ya ardhi. Swali la kujiuliza ni je wataweza kupingana na nguvu hizi na vishawishi hivi mpaka lini ili hali Serikali kuu imeridhia juu ya suala hili?

Tofauti kati ya uzoefu wa Tanzania na wa Ghana kama ulivyotolewa katika makala niliyoitaja hapo awali ni kwamba Serikali kuu yao imeridhia lakini haijajihusisha moja kwa moja katika kufuatilia utekelezwaji wa makubaliano hayo na makampuni. Kama tunavyoshuhudia, kwa upande wa Tanzania suala hili limepewa kipaumbele na serikali. Katika mustakabali huu haki za wazalishaji wadogo kama wakulima na wafugaji zitapewa ulinzi unaohitajika? Kulingana na matamshi ya viongozi wetu inaonekana hiyo ndio picha wanayotaka sisi kama wananchi tuiamini, lakini hali ya mambo sivyo ilivyo!

Wakati ambao serikali inajinasibu kwamba ipo katika kuandaa sera kwa ajili ya nishati uoto tayari makampuni ya kigeni na ya ndani yapo katika hatua mbalimbali za kujipatia ardhi kutoka katika vijiji na mashamba yaliyokuwa chini ya serikali na yaliyopona kubinafsishwa! wakati tunafahamu kabisa kwamba sera ndio dira, mwongozo utakaoelekeza nini kifanyike, kwa namna gani na kwa malengo yepi hata haujaandaliwa tayari ardhi ya vijiji kumi na moja katika wilaya ya Kisarawe itahaulishwa na vijiji husika itabidi kupisha mwekezaji, kwa jina la SUN BIOFUELS, ambayo ni kampuni ya nishati uoto ya Kiingereza. Vilevile tayari makampuni mbalimbali yapo katika mikoa tofauti hapa Tanzania na mengine yalishaanza uzalishaji. Bila shaka ushauri wa GTZ hapa ndio uliozingatiwa, yaani mchakato wa kujifunza kwa kutenda (learning-by-doing process) ukurasa wa 122 (Liquid Biofuel for Transportation in Tanzania GTZ Report 2005).

Athari za hali hii zimeanza kujitokeza ambapo baadhi ya wawekezaji katika mashamba makubwa ya mpunga nao wamevutiwa na nishati uoto na hivyo wanakusudia kuacha mazao ya asili katika maeneo waliyochukua. Hii imejitokeza katika shamba la Kampunga katika wilaya ya Mbarali mkoani Mbeya. Ikumbukwe kwamba shamba hili lilibinafsishwa katika mazingira ya upinzani mkubwa kutoka kwa wananchi walioomba Serikali iwaruhusu waendelee kuzalisha mpunga. Serikali haikuwa na muda wa kusikiliza kilio hicho pamoja na sauti za wadau mbalimbali. Leo hii kuna mawazo ya kwamba makosa yalifanyika katika ubinafsishaji wa shamba hilo. Wadau walio wengi wakiwemo wasimamizi wa bonde la mto Rufiji wanaishauri serikali ipitie mkataba wake na mwekezaji huyo na ikiwezekana warudishiwe wazalishaji wadogo waliokuwa katika shamba hilo wakati likiwa chini ya usimamizi wa NAFCO.

Katika mazingira ya sasa duniani ambako tunasikia juu ya ongezeko la bei ya chakula, je katika fikra za watunga sera wetu kuna hata mmoja anayefikiria kwamba kama tukizalisha chakula cha kutosha tunaweza kupata soko la uhakika na tukapiga hatua mbele? Mbona kwa Marekani mojawapo ya silaha kubwa huwa ni chakula? Ama katika kuiga utamaduni wa kitandawizi hili la uzalishaji wa chakula halina mashiko? Wazalishaji wadogo ni moja tu kati ya makundi ambayo yapo katika wakati mgumu kwa sasa juu ya uwekezaji katika nishati uoto. Mwelekeo wa makampuni yaliyo mengi ni kujinyakulia ardhi za vijiji na sio vinginevyo. Hivyo ni vyema tukaelimishana kuwa suala la kutoa matumaini yasiyo na msingi ili kuwafanya wananchi waishi kwa matumaini ya kupata faida kubwa kutokana na nishati uoto halipo. Ushahidi unaonyesha kwamba wawekezaji wengi macho yao yapo katika kujitwalia ardhi za vijiji kwa ajili ya faida zao binafsi.

Mwandishi: Bernard Baha

Friday, May 16, 2008

Can Pan-Africanism withhold the Lure of Secession?

The issue of the Zanzibar Accord, or Mwafaka/Muafaka as it is known in Kiswahili, has taken a serious twist after 12 Pemba elders were recently detained after calling for the secession of their island. It is claimed – although there is a serious debate on the constitutionality/legality of this claim – that their call is tantamount to treason. According to Media reports, the whereabouts of the detainees remains a mystery. It is also reported that 10,000 Pemba residents who also signed the secession petition will also surrender themselves to the police. This is a heroic way of protesting and supporting the detainees.

Some political commentators have called for a serious consideration of the issues raised by the Pemba elders. Professor Issa G. Shivji, the author of a recent book on Pan Africanism or Pragmatism? Lessons of Tanganyika-Zanzibar Union, was quoted by the Media as saying these issues are legitimate or something to that effect. By the way, this is how his timely controversial book, which I haven’t yet finished reading, starts to describes the historical nature of the Pemba unrest:

The other major difference between Unguja and Pemba was that while Pemba had 80 percent of clove trees and produced around 80 percent of clove crop, it received very little by way of services and development. Shirazi [“original inhabitants of the islands who trace their origins to Shiraz in Iran” – Shivji 2008: 12] leaders, even during colonial times, often complained of lack of services…Infrastructure development was concentrated in the Zanzibar City which was the political hub and seat of the Government. It is interesting to note that the rise of the rich peasantry in Pemba, composed both of Arab and Shirazis, provided the potential for the development of clove agriculture on a capitalist basis but was constantly stunted by the state controlled by the landed ruling class backed by imperialism. The extreme uneven development between the two islands and fairly integrated ethnic class structure considerably informed the politics of Pemba. Developments, as we shall see, after the revolution further exacerbated this cleavage in a protracted period of political strife which continues to this day (Shivji 2008: 18).

Helen Kijo-Bisimba, the Executive Director of Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), also believes that it is important to listen to the concerns of the Pemba elders. In a bold, albeit legally calculated interview, she had this to say:

Legally speaking to demand secession is treasonous, but we must go beyond those legal technicalities by addressing the real causes of such demands (The Citizen 14 May 2008)

The resurfacing of the nagging Pemba Question in relation to the Zanzibar Question is another wake cup call to rethink our troubled Zanzibar-Tanganyika union. More significantly, it is a wake up call to rethink our African Identity/Identities in the context of the Pan-African call for African Unity. But as I asked somewhere else in regard to contradictory approaches to various secessions: African unity at what Cost?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Usione Vyaelea Vimeundwa!

Vitambaa vye Kente: Usione Vimevaliwa Vimefumwa!

A Philosophy of Conflict Prevention

Conflict Prevention is better than Conflict Resolution

God in African Cosmology

"Except God" - Ghana Symbology

Slavery: The Burden of Memory

From the 'Twin Castles' in Ghana

Monday, May 5, 2008

Professor Eze: A Belated Tribute to a Postracial Philosopher

It came as a shock, nay, a blow to discover that the person I was trying to contact passed away five months ago, just a month after what happened to be our last email exchange. In the so-called highly globalizing world of Information Communication Technology, where news travels so fast through the digital highway, it is ironic that the news of the tragedy reached me in such a slow and crude way. After attending a lively International Conference on African Culture and Development (ICACD) I instinctively felt my former visiting professor of African philosophy at the Center for African Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) will be interested in reading my conference paper on 'Engendering Sustainable Development through Struggles for Cultural Liberty' especially its section on 'African Cultural Identity as Double Consciousness'. So, I emailed him. But the email bounced. I couldn't understand why it did so given the fact that such a reliable email server always allow my email to go through. As usual was just a click away with its quick answers. That is when and how I learnt of the untimely death of Professor Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze (1963-2007).

I first met Professor Eze at UCT in 2003 when I was doing my postgraduate Honors degree in African Studies. As a distinguished visiting Professor, he came to introduce African Philosophy as a part of a Masters course on 'Problematizing the Study of Africa'. After glancing at the course outline, I felt the 'opportunist' urge to take the course and learn firsthand from one of the then emerging gurus of African Philosophy for in moments like those/these a student in this side of Africa can hardly learn directly 'at the feet' of the established gurus such as Paulin J. Hountondji, Valentin Y. Mudimbe, Kwasi Wiredu or even Ernest Wamba dia Wamba. I almost lost that opportunity just because I was an Honors student and the course was meant for 'Masters' students. Thanks to academic reasonableness after some serious negotiations CAS allowed me to take the course which has proved to be an eye opener in my intellectual life.

On the first day of the course there he was, holding a book with an image that has stuck in my mind. It is an image of a man facing the horizon. You don't get to see his face. You only see his back and the vast landscape in front of him - the object of his gaze. As our discussion with Professor Eze on the challenges of 'Historicizing Africa' revealed, it is an image that captures the complexities of observing the elusive past with respect to the present and the future. By the way, the title of the book is The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past by John Lewis Gaddis. In the book the author asserts that in a sense the past is something we can never have as in relive, retrieve or rerun because by the time we have become aware of what has happened it is already inaccessible. Therefore we can only represent it by portraying it as a near or distance landscape. In other words, the "best you can do, whether with a prince or a landscape or the past, is to represent reality: to smooth over the details, to look for larger patterns, to consider how you can use what you see for your own purposes." (Gaddis 2002: 7)

Indeed this is what Professor Eze attempted to teach us, to represent the African reality for our own (African) purposes. As his own work attest, he made this his lifelong endeavor given the fact that Africa and Africans have been misrepresented for quite a long time. We had a glimpse of this endeavour on a session he rhetorically titled 'Deracializing or Multiracializing Africa?' in which he introduced us to his edited book on Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader. Here he collected/selected key works of European philosophers of humanity as a way of unmasking their misrepresentation of humanity in general and Africans in particular. Concerning Professor Eze's endeavour, Ngugi wa Thiong'o had this to say in his keynote address on Europhone or African Memory: The Challenge of the Pan-Africanist Intellectual in the Era of Globalization :

Wherever Europe went in the globe, it planted its memory. It did so first on the landscape: Europe mapped, surveyed the lay of the land, and then named it...The result is really the subjection of the colonized to Europe's memory (to paraphrase Sylver Winter), its conceptualization of the world, including its notions of democracy, its conception of the state in the form of the nation state, or its conception of rationality, epistemology, say its organization of knowledge, including methods of organizing and coding that knowledge. Here it is not a question of whether those notions are right or wrong, just or unjust, enlightening or not, but they are the results of the colonizer's gaze, shaped by his field of experience and expectations. It is knowledge shaped by the colonial context of its acquisition...Note how even the thinking about the world by the philosophers of the Enlightenment, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, the whole lot, including later, the great dissector of rationality, Hegel himself, is shaped by their years of reading explorer and missionary narratives of other places. The work of the Nigerian philosopher-scholar Eze, particularly his piece on the color of reason, should be a must for studies of genealogies of Western rationality and epistemology.

I found Professor Eze's session intellectually stimulating to the extent that I wrote my examination paper on it in which I attempted to 'represent' African identity with respect to the then ongoing bitter quarrels on the subject that was insinuated by Achilles Mbembe's controversial Africa's Modes of Self-Writing , Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Wonders of the African World and Garvin Kitching's Why I gave up African Studies.

In the Ubuntu/Ujamaa spirit of nurturing potential upcoming African Philosophers, Professor Eze asked me to jointly write some entries for The Edinburgh Dictionary of Continent Philosophy. However, after I linked up with the editor, John Protevi, Professor Eze encouraged me to write the entries on African Socialism, Negritude, Frantz Fanon and Aime Cesaire single-handedly while he went ahead to write an entry on Race Theory. In this entry his endeavour to theorize a postracial future is evident. He traces the evolution of what he describes as a polyvalent category of 'race', unmasking how it could inconsistently be used to describe a religious group as in the case of the Jews, a national group as in the case of the Nazi, a linguistic group as in the case of the Ibo, a political economic class as in the case of the Indian Aryan's castes, and ethnic or ethnic/ethnographic identity as in Enoch Powell's idea of the English, a cohort of alleles as in population studies and a universal as in the 'human race'. He thus distinguishes 3 different conceptions of race i.e. the myth of race, the modern science of race and a critical theory of race. After refuting the illusions and biases of the first two conceptions, he puts his weight on the third notion which denies the biological foundation of race. Professor Eze saw this conceptualization of race as a social construction used to propagate certain social practices as the most serviceable theory of race. He thus concluded that to "transcend race through critical understanding is thus to unmask its claims to normative legitimacy and to contain the damaging and unjust effects of its social currency."

The last time I heard from Professor Eze was when he wrote an email to me in November 2007, confirming his acceptance to write a reference letter for my application for a PhD program. Even though there was a waiver to allow me to read it, I didn't get to read it. Oh how I wish I could have read it then. All in all it is my hope that the new generation of African philosophers will endeavour to carry forward his work of Achieving Our Humanity. Concerning this unfinished project, he wrote this timely advice in his CAS seminar presentation at UCT on 'The Language of History as an Epistemological Problem' in 2003 way back when he had no idea that one of - if not - the greatest threats to humanity will rob him his dear life at a tender intellectual age of 44:

In Achieving Our Humanity: The Idea of the Postracial Future...I mentioned that I would develop a model of historical reason that could escape a racialization of reason. Hence the 'postracial' reason I had in mind, not necessarily - though this, too, would be desirable - postracial peoples and cultures. Whether or not this larger anthropological and cultural project is at all possible - and I happen to think that it is: that, I believe, is the New Project of Enlightenment for our time, and perhaps for all times, and I say this for the benefit of anyone looking for "big" projects in which to engage one's life work. But whether or not such a New Project of Enlightenment is merely a utopia, it is a question separate and apart from the first, more modest, one: the possibility of conceptualising a form of a historical reason, reasonableness, and rationality not tied to race. They would not be tied to race not because racial experiences do not at this time matter, but because of the power of the rational potential of history itself. If what is called historical experience becomes increasingly more rational and ethical, I have no doubt that identities (I do not mean merely the differences in our appearances) based on racialism could disappear altogether, freeing culture and social institutions to become more of what they should be: shared, communicative, spaces of temporality on the basis of which peoples and nations and groups of interests and sensibilities may make themselves in greater and greater freedom. This, certainly, is my own hope for peoples in places like Africa and the rest of the poorer parts of the planet that have very little to loose in the current orders of social and cultural realities marked, in too many places still, with racial, religious, and market fundamentalism.

Let us achieve our Humanity for after all Humanity was originally made in the image of Divinity!

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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