PUTTING AFRICANS UP OR DOWN AND BEING TRUTHFUL ABOUT THEM
In our contemporary world, there is no doubt that Europeans and white Americans look down on Africans. In their books they wrote about how Africa has not contributed any seminal idea to world civilization (Edward Gibbons, the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,1952).
Up to a point, Asians also put Africans down. Mahatma Gandhi, a man normally calm in demeanor, became extremely irate when his Indian people were considered black; he stated that Black people are savages and kaffirs and to compare them to Indians is to insult them (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/).
Africans respond differently to this near universal perception of them as an inferior people. Cheikh Anta Diop (African Origin of Civilization, 2019) responded with efforts to show that Africans began the first great human civilization, Egypt. His writings on Ancient Egypt tried extremely hard to show that since the Egyptians lived in Africa that they must be Africans. The problem is that their neighbors to the west and east were brown in color (Imazighen, Israelis, Arabs etc.). Their neighbors to the south, Nubians, were Black, all right; their neighbors in the north (Italians, Greeks etc.) were obviously white.
Since Egyptians, from time immemorial, mixed with their neighbors in the north, east, west and south it makes sense to suspect that they were brown?
The color of ancient Egyptians has not been solved. Something tells me that it must be like the Imazighen people’s color (brown).
People like Chancellor Williams (The Destruction of Black Civilization, Third World Press, 1992), John Henrik Clarke (African People in world history, 1993), Yosef Ben-Jochannan (Africa: Mother of Western Civilization, 1988), Ivan Van Sertima (They came before Columbus, 1976) and Molefi Kete Asante (An Afrocentric Manifesto: Toward an African Renaissance, 2007) clearly have positive perception of Africans.
Whereas some Africans respond to the perception that Africans have not conducted a great civilization with efforts to show that Africans, Egyptians, did, some Africans seize on every opportunity to demonstrate that Africans are as perceived by racists: incapable of civilization; everything that they say seem to put down Africans.
White folks already put down Africans so why would Africans join this parade of desecrating their people, what is the point? Is it the case that such persons have so internalized the characterization of Africans as nothing that they say that their people are not important? Some people can be socialized to internalize self-hatred and pretend to be like those who told them to hate themselves.
Nevertheless, in the extant world Africans are at the bottom of everything that people call civilization. People like me suspect that there must be a reason for this situation why Africans are the last to be civilized; since looking at Africans and the other races we do not see any differences beyond color, one asks whether their last status in civilization happened because they are to teach us something about human beings?
If you observe contemporary Africans, you notice that they seem to feel like they are worthless and then compensate with an obsessive-compulsive struggle to seem especially important. We see Africans, in Alfred Adler’s psychological categories (The Neurotic Constitution, 1921), going from a sense of false minus to a sense of equally false plus. Can we learn something about inferiority and superiority from Africans struggle with it?
Could it be that both inferiority and superiority are social constructs and not real and that people are something different from either perception of them?
In my judgement, people are not inferior and are not superior; what they are we do not know.
On earth, people live in bodies; those who live in bodies know that their bodies are not important because bodies will die, decay and disappear from existence. Aware of their existential nothingness they struggle to seem its opposite, to feel especially important.
Both worthlessness and worthiness are responses to the perception of the nature of the human body. The self in the human body is the one that makes the judgment that in his body he is nothing and that he might as well make his self in body especially important.
I posit that the self that makes the judgment of inferiority and superiority in body is apart from body; it is spirit.
When the spirit manifests in the body, upon birth of the human child, it feels inferior and then tries to make itself seem superior in body.
The spirit outside of the body has total worth. Spirit outside the body, indeed, manifested in body to feel the opposite of its nature; its nature is grandeur itself and it wants to experience nothingness hence manifested in body that is nothing. But while in body it could not accept that it is nothing hence it struggles to seem important in body and the result is its neurosis (delusion of grandeur).
What we can learn from this situation is that in body, in ego separated state, people are nothing but outside their bodies, outside separated states, in unified spirit self they are important.
Africans’ backwardness and their struggle to seem important despite their material backwardness, I submit, is meant to teach us that people have worth outside their bodies but not in their bodies and, therefore, we must treat all people as if they have worth, as if they are outside their bodies hence have worth.
It is not necessary to put Africans up or down; what is necessary is to learn a lesson from their human struggle to seem up because they feel down.
Africans who put their fellow African up are obviously wrong because in the material world Africans are backward; conversely, Africans who put their people down are accomplishing nothing useful; they are merely depressing their people.
People are neither up nor down, they are equal and the same in spirit; up and down can only obtain in the false world of bodies, living in the illusory universe of space, time, and matter.
I accept what my eyes show me, that in the contemporary world Africans are scientifically and technologically backward. This is something that most Africans do not want to acknowledge; indeed, they may even categorize me as among those who put Africans down. In their situation what they want to hear is whoever tells them that they are up and are better than the other races. Well, that approach is as deluded as telling people who are down that they are up and people who are up that they are down.
Truth ought to be stated without misconception of one’s motive. I do not hate Africans, I do not put them down, but I do see them as backward and work to get them up to par with the other races.
I am aware that there are Africans who hate themselves and hate their people because they are perceived to be down and want to be like those they perceive to be civilized, Europeans, and increasingly Asians. That is psychopathology. Mental Health lies in seeing all human beings, regardless of their race, gender, and age, as equal and the same.
In my spiritual psychology and existentialism there is a reason that something that happened to people happened to them. There must be a reason why Africans remained the most backward people.
Whatever that reason is, we are to learn from Africans lowliness that all people are equally important in spirit but are nothing in body.
It is truthful to state that in the contemporary world Africans are backward, and not deceive one’s self into seeing them as advanced; having stated that truth, one must, thereafter, work to bring Africans and African countries up to the level of developed Western countries.
Adler, Alfred (1921). The Neurotic Constitution.
Asante, Molefi (2007). An Afrocentric Manifesto: Toward an African Renaissance.
Clarke, John, Henrik (1993). African people in World History.
Diop, Cheikh, Anta (2019). The African Origin of Egyptian Civilization.
Gandhi, Mahatma (2015). (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/
Gibbons, Edward (1952). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, New York: Penguin.
Joachoannan, Yosef-Ben (1988). Africa Mother of Western Civilization.
Sertima, Ivan, Van (1976). They came before Columbus.
Williams, Chancellor (1992). The Destruction of Black Civilization.
May 12, 2022
What did Mahatma Gandhi think of Black people?
By Rama Lakshmi
September 3, 2015
Washington Post, Washington DC
Was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the revered leader of India’s freedom movement, a racist?
During his stay in South Africa, Gandhi routinely expressed “disdain for Africans,” says S. Anand, founder of Navayana, the publisher of the book titled “The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire.”
According to the book, Gandhi described black Africans as “savage,” “raw” and living a life of “indolence and nakedness,” and he campaigned relentlessly to prove to the British rulers that the Indian community in South Africa was superior to native black Africans. The book combs through Gandhi’s own writings during the period and government archives and paints a portrait that is at variance with how the world regards him today.
Much of the halo that surrounds Gandhi today is a result of clever repackaging, write the authors, Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, professors at the University of Johannesburg and the University of KwaZulu Natal.
“As we examined Gandhi’s actions and contemporary writings during his South African stay and compared these with what he wrote in his autobiography and ‘Satyagraha in South Africa,’ it was apparent that he indulged in some ‘tidying up.’ He was effectively rewriting his own history.”
Prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy says the book, which will hit stores next month, is “a serious challenge to the way we have been taught to think about Gandhi.”
Here is a sample of what Gandhi said about black South Africans:
* One of the first battles Gandhi fought after coming to South Africa was over the separate entrances for whites and blacks at the Durban post office. Gandhi objected that Indians were “classed with the natives of South Africa,” who he called the kaffirs, and demanded a separate entrance for Indians.
“We felt the indignity too much and … petitioned the authorities to do away with the invidious distinction, and they have now provided three separate entrances for natives, Asiatics and Europeans.”
* In a petition letter in 1895, Gandhi also expressed concern that a lower legal standing for Indians would result in degenerating “so much so that from their civilised habits, they would be degraded to the habits of the aboriginal Natives, and a generation hence, between the progeny of the Indians and the Natives, there will be very little difference in habits, and customs and thought.”
* In an open letter to the Natal Parliament in 1893, Gandhi wrote:
“I venture to point out that both the English and the Indians spring from a common stock, called the Indo-Aryan. … A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.”
* At a speech in Mumbai in 1896, Gandhi said that the Europeans in Natal wished “to degrade us to the level of the raw kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness.”
* Protesting the decision of Johannesburg municipal authorities to allow Africans to live alongside Indians, Gandhi wrote in 1904 that the council “must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.”
* In response to the White League’s agitation against Indian immigration and the proposed importation of Chinese labour, Gandhi wrote in 1903: “We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race.”
* Gandhi wrote in 1908 about his prison experience: “We were marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs. There, our garments were stamped with the letter “N,” which meant that we were being classed with the Natives. We were all prepared for hardships, but not for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed too much to put up with.”
* In 1939, Gandhi justified his counsel to the Indian community in South Africa against forming a non-European front: “I have no doubt about the soundness of my advice. However much one may sympathise with the Bantus, Indians cannot make common cause with them.”