Fellow Africans and friends of Africa liberation starts by “Decolonizing The Mind,” to borrow the title of a must-read book by Ngugi wa Thiong’o the Kenyan intellectual and author.
Africans why do we in the 21st century still have a “Lake Victoria” in Uganda and a “Victoria Falls” in Zimbabwe?
These are just two of the many African wonders that need to be renamed or restored to their original ones.
A parallel campaign must be the recovery of Africa’s artifacts–which is an ongoing campaign–now housed or displayed in the world’s leading museums.
The time is now as the world is going through revolutionary re-examination of past injustices, oppression, demonization, and exploitation following the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American, by a racist European American police officer Derek Chauvin, in the U.S.
How can Africans talk of Pan-African unity without first reclaiming Africa’s past? Do you see a lake Samori Ture or Thomas Sankara in France or a Mount Nehanda or Lake Nkrumah in Britain? These were iconic resisters of European imperialism in the 19th century and 20th century.
Last year, in April, while visiting London I posed for a photo in front of a river the natives call “Thames.” I posted the photo on my Facebook page and declared I’d renamed that body of water “Gulu River,” after my great ancestral hometown in Uganda.
The post got hundreds of “likes.” Someone tweeted it and it has since been retweeted several thousands of times. It also became a “story” when The Wire, The Daily Nation, and other outlets wrote about it. The BBC also carried an item under the headline “Ugandan ‘explorer renames London river.’” Thereafter, Africans started posing in front of monuments and rivers throughout Europe and renaming them after African icons.
I imagine people liked my “discovery” because they felt I was giving the British a title ”taste of their own medicine.” After the global Covid-19 lockdowns end, I plan to resume my exploration so I can discover and rename more landmarks in Europe and here in the United States.
But I want us to also start reclaiming Africa’s natural wonders which were arrogantly renamed by European so-called explorers. They were taken by African guides to “discover,” lakes, rivers, and mountains which they then renamed (including Lake Victoria). Even though Africans naively assisted them, they wrote terrible things about the Africans once they returned to Europe, as I document in my book “The Hearts of Darkness How White Writers Created The Racist Image of Africa,” (third edition coming soon).
For example, Samuel Baker, the virulently racist British imperialist wrote in “Albert Nyanza,” his 1866 book: “I wish the black sympathisers in England could see Africa’s inmost heart as I do, much of their sympathy would subside… Human nature viewed in its crude state as pictured amongst African savages is quite on a level with that of the brute, and not to be compared with the noble character of the dog. There is neither gratitude, pity, love, nor self-denial; no idea of duty; no religion; but covetousness, ingratitude, selfishness, and cruelty. All are thieves, idle, envious, and ready to plunder and enslave their weaker neighbours.”
Yet today in the 21st century, there’s a secondary school named after Samuel Baker in Uganda, and a few years ago alumni raised money for his statue which stands on the school’s campus. So even in death, Baker still mocks the so-called “natives.”
There are many African heroes and sheroes who deserve the honorific given to Queen Victoria, including: Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Samora Machel, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Kenneth Kaunda, Winnie Mandela, Nehanda, Yaa Asantewaa, Nzingah, and many others.
Nehanda was an anti-colonial resistance leader executed, at the age of 58 by the British in Zimbabwe during Queen Victoria’s era. She was then beheaded and her skull shipped off to England. Don’t you think the spectacular falls deserves to bear her name instead of that of Victoria whose imperial agents murdered her?
The world is undergoing dramatic transformation since the murder of George Floyd. Here in the U.S. and around the world people are denouncing historical exploitation and the symbols that celebrate that ugly era and its contemporary manifestations.
In Belgium the statue of Leopold II, king of the Belgians was pulled down. He presided over a homicidal Imperial regime in Congo that wiped out as many as 10 million Congolese. In Britain the statue of a trader in enslaved Africans, Edward Colston, was dumped into the river.
In Africa, this process started a few years ago, with chants of #RhodesMustFall— and down came his statue in South Africa.
If you haven’t read the works of the late Professor Anta Diop, start with “The African Origins of Civilization,” or listen to his interviews on YouTube, including the one with Listervel Middleton.
Africans after you’ve been schooled by Anta Diop you will never tolerate a “Lake Victoria,” or “Victoria Falls” in Africa.
Seek Ye First Mental liberation, than all else, including economic and political empowerment shall be added.
Start a campaign to honor African icons in your country.
This is the time to reclaim Africa!
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Feel free to reach me via [email protected]