African History Month Discussion Paper
African History Month365 Concepts
Negro History Week was initiated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. His goal was enlightening the descendants of slavery to their history that had been neglected, resulting in him creating a Negro History Week in February 1926. At first, he was met with a lukewarm response. Dr. Carter worked diligently for over twenty years promoting his dream. His brain child has since been enhanced into a Black History Month (1976) in the United States, and was followed by Great Britain (1987), although it is celebrated in October, along with Canada, who joined in 1995. Notably, countries in Europe, South America, and Africa have also acknowledged Dr. Carter’s life-long dedication.
He was given credit for being the father of Black History Month (BHM.) and that is justified. Notably, he died in 1950 (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950) not having any knowledge of the present-day celebrations in his honour. Surely Dr. Carter would approve acknowledgement of his life-long dedicated work. Suffice to say, his Negro History Week has been eternalised as a concept.
Now it is time to extend his concept even further. In his era, he could only use the word Negro. After his death, the concept transformed from a week into a month together with using Black. Black became beautiful in the 1960s and slowly replaced Negro. In 2017, we can enhance Dr. Carter’s concept even further by embracing African to define descendants of slavery as well as the victims of colonialism. The crowning adulation would include history from the beginning of civilisations until the present-day. The thoughts of these enhancements surely were impossible during Dr. Carter era in 1926.
To be more effective, the established celebrations and festivities should be continued. At the same time, his concepts can be presented any time during the year, putting it on par with all other cultures’ history. Let us pause and give adulation and homage to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Negro History Week in 1926, and also the African-British history month along with Canada’s celebrations, as well as paying tribute to countless activists, organisations and governmental agencies that observe this tradition annually. African communities everywhere owe them all a debt of gratitude.
Most importantly, existing annual celebrations and traditions still will be recognised and continued as usual, but unified into a global African historical arena. Significantly, the concept would present ancient, and medieval history right up to the present-day.
Mindfully, we must give homage to our ancestors, and for the sake of our unity, the tragedies of slavery and colonialism should be shared among all the communities. Most importantly, 365-day concepts will be on par with other culture’s history. After all, they do not celebrate their history in one month, and neither should the Africans.
Factually, it would be advantageous for victims of slavery and colonialism to embrace their ethnicity by accepting African as an unifying cultural definition. Notably, the Diaspora victims were identified as Africans before slavery and colonialism. Besides, the history of Africa has been written by many individuals of different races, economic, and religious organisations but from their own political perspectives.
Today, there isn’t a shared history among Africans dispersed around the world that solely is taken from the perspectives of Africans, whether they are at home, in Africa, or elsewhere in the universe. AHM 365-day concepts would be the platform where history will be disseminated from their view point, to counter the negative mental conditioning that has been systematically institutionalised during slavery and colonialism. In order for these concepts to be effective, it must be internalised daily, and monthly, and all year round encompassing history before and after the Diaspora.
For further enlightenment, history has to be presented BEFORE Arab and European conquest. It is important all communities should learn and understand their history from their own perspective, beginning at the origin of mankind, together with ancient, medieval, and contemporary histories along with slavery and colonialism. It is essential the youth, teenagers and adults along with the senior citizens should know how the PAST has affected their present-day living environment.
First on the agenda is to address allegations that Africans have no history nor made any contributions to humanity. Interesting enough, mankind had its beginning in the Rift Valley in East Africa, which produced the oldest human fossils Dinkenesh (known throughout the western world as Lucy), and also, a generation of archeological findings done by the Leakey family. Notably these discoveries were in the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia and Kenya. Furthermore, Africa is the home of over 300 kingdoms, civilizations and empires, some lasting millenniums and others only a few centuries. Mindfully, there is a plethora of African kingdoms and civilizations to choose for the concepts.
Among them are Nubia, in the north, Ethiopia and the Kilwa city states on the east coast, along with Moutapa in the south together with West African medieval kingdoms among them Ghana, Mali, Kanem, Songhay, Kanem-Bonu, Ashanti, Yoruba, Congo, and so forth.
Another element of the Diaspora is Africans who migrated from conflict seeking a better way of life. Among many brothers and sisters on the continent and others living abroad, their situations are strikingly similar. The Diaspora around the world has caused its victims to suffer through the same economic, social and political oppression. These displaced victims will learn much from an African History Month along with its concepts. It will give them an understanding of the past, improve their socioeconomic endeavors that will increase exchanges of information between each other.
The Diaspora residual effect is the lack of education, unemployment, denial of civil liberties, disproportional shares of police brutality and proportionately more occupants in the penal systems; and also, relegated to second-class citizenship with no hope of being integrated within the mainstream of the respective societies. These conditions are manifested and institutionalised by the slave and master mind set.
In the contemporary world, the victims of the Diaspora have been simulated into foreign cultures, different ideologies and assume new identities. This affects the whole dynamics of Africa, its people and the victims of the Diaspora. Although, cultures have been altered or sometimes lost. Most importantly, the continual presentations of AHM. along with its concepts would be a unifying catalyst without any boundaries. This philosophy will allow communities to learn their history in accordance with their circumstances.
Furthermore, it should be institutionalised and incorporated into our daily activities.
Appropriately, concepts should be every day, week, and month during the year. Suffice to say there should not be any boundaries nor time constraints. This will, allow Africa’s historical assets to be shared among its people worldwide. More importantly, these endeavors are more feasible than ever because of modern technology of the internet, that host international media, blogs and other means of positive exchanges.
Our youth as well as adults within the African communities will benefit by learning a variety of meaningful events about their culture. These events will be nurtured and planted for prospective generations to harvest. Those future generations would not have to deal with silly allegations that Africans have no history or participated in the development of mankind. Mindful, a concept is never ending, and this enhancement would be the ultimate compliment for Dr. Carter G. Woodson Negro History Week.
African History Month
“Africans and persons of African descent must assume the primary responsibility and leadership in historical research….if we are to continue to leave practically all important historical research and writing concerning the black race to the white man, then we must be prepared to accept, uncomplainingly, the white man’s point of view.” – Chancellor Williams, African Historian
African history month is a separate entity and should not be confused with Black History Month, an annual observance in the United States, Canada, as well as, communities in Europe and United Kingdom, honouring important celebrations and events within the history of the African Diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States, Canada and most other places in February and the United Kingdom in October.
Let us pause and give homage to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Negro History Week in 1926, and the African-British history month was introduced in 1987 by Linda Bellos – both are appreciated in our contemporary world. And also, we must pay tribute to countless activists, organisations and governmental agencies that commemorate and celebrate annually. African communities everywhere owe them a debt of gratitude.
However, we must not forget our ancestors and its history. If we do, we are negating thousands and thousand of years of our heritage. Africa is complex with over 2000 cultures, with different languages, traditions, and having histories of their own.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, history was written by the Europeans that was mostly distortions and misconceptions in order to justify and maintain their dominance over the world. Therefore, it’s important for Africans from all walks of life to re-learn history from their own perspective.
African history month’s function is to address this issue, and “MONTH” will be every month. In other words, it will begin January 1st and ending December 31st. Most importantly, existing celebrations, and histories should be unified into one cultural forum. During a year, every day, week and month will have its own importance presenting history, from ancient cultures to the present-day. However, there will be two sacred days: January 1st and March 1st. Both having their own significance.
January 1st 1804 is to celebrate the Saint Dominique slaves who won their independence from France, declaring the Republic of Haiti in honour of the original inhabitants. Thus marking the only time in history Africans fought and won their independence from a European power.
And also, on March 1st 1896, Emperor Menelik II and his Empress Taytu decisively defeated the Italians on the battle field in Adowa, Ethiopia – the only African country that entered into the 20th century that escaped Colonialism. Additionally, Ethiopia not only won independence but maintained their culture, including their written language and calendar. Indeed, these two events are special and should be recognised by Africans worldwide. Besides these sacred days, The last seven days in December will be honoring Kwanza. The other remaining days will be optional from established worldwide traditions, serving several purposes.
One is given homage to already existing holidays around the world to appreciate and recognise. The other, Africans worldwide will enlighten each other’s cultures.
Another, is exposing heroes that have been carefully hidden. Here are some examples: Marcus Garvey’s mass-movement (Jamaica), Kwame Nkrumah, father of African nationalism (Ghana), and Haile Selassie created Organisation of African Unity (OAU), later became African Union (AU), (Ethiopia).
Finally, when new artefacts and contemporary events of importance will be presented under the banner of an African history month. Most importantly, this cultural forum will present the histories of the Diaspora and Africa under one umbrella. Before proceeding, in order to learn African history, Arab and European conquest must be understood.
However, one historical element that is hardly mentioned was the Arab invasion of north Africa, followed by the Trans-Sahara slave trade that began earlier, and lasted longer than the European Slave Trade. Consequently, geographies of the world have been changed due to these events. In the Americas, the world recognises current occupants are not the native inhabitants. On the contrary, the world has the impression that Arabs are indigenous to North Africa.
In the contemporary world, North Africa is the home of six Arab countries. South America and North America was created by the Diasporas. And also, Africa was partitioned into over fifty countries by the Berlin conference in 1884.
To some degree, Africans are still living these legacies because its history has been the most suppressed in the world. The deliberate distortion was designed to fit in with a Western perception of Africa that continues to cultivate disunity by perpetuating a view of Africa and African people as unorganised, uncivil, unoriginal, and sub-human.
Words like “Negro” and “boy” were used to dehumanise and a disconnection from Africa. This attack lasted for generations, causing a devastating effect everywhere.
The teaching of African history in the Diaspora during colonialism was forbidden. African culture was removed and substituted with various Western cultures. In the Americas, Columbus’s so-called discovery was glorified, and in England, the focus was on accomplishments of Queen Victoria, and Admiral Nelson exploits, and in France, it was Napoleon Bonaparte’s achievements.
Europeans have always robbed Africans of their accomplishments by crediting foreigners or non-Africans. Among them are the pyramids, Carthage, Moorish empires, and African kingdoms, and also the Great Zimbabwe and Kilwa ruins in east Africa.
Most disturbing is the continuation of specious claims even when the evidence and artefacts contradict the distortions. As far as they’re concerned, Africa’s history and achievements are too magnificent for them to acknowledge, despite the fact they know the origin is African. In the past, there were historians who unravelled distortions about history that is now available for everyone to appreciate. Among these historians were John Henrik Clarke, Chancellor Williams, J A Rogers, Asa Hillard II, Chekh Ada Diop, Ivan Van Sertima and many others. Today, there are scores of historians who elect to attack these organised allegations and report history accurately.
Significantly, Africans from all walks of life must identify and learn basic events that have been grossly misrepresented. World history began at the heart of Africa and spread throughout the continent. The main method of development was its waterways of the Nile, Niger and the Congo Rivers. And the world benefitted from the development of farming, domestication of animals and fishing and these contributions led the development of other civilisations. There were over 300 kingdoms and Empires at both ends of the continent, some lasting only for a few centuries others flourished for millenniums.
Despite irrefutable evidence in today’s world, on the lips of other races, even though not often verbalised, Africans have not made any meaningful contributions to modern civilisation. However, these issues have been addressed generations ago by noted historians as previously stated, and also, the internet is constantly unravelling distortions and misconceptions at an accelerating pace. In today’s world, there is no need to acknowledge these silly allegations.
Africa and its history are thousands of years old and because of modern technology it’s expanding in both directions. Everyday, new discoveries and ancient artefacts are being found, and African history month can be the cultural forum to identify and incorporate them into on going presentations.
Now is the time for Africans worldwide to codify their history into one gigantic cultural forum. African history month is the inclusion of heroes, heroines, celebrations and events in all five continents. Most importantly, hidden and less-known aspects of histories will be unveiled and presented into African global communities.
Currently, African-Americans and Africans celebrate a multitude of holidays, heroes and events throughout the world. Among them are Black History month, (USA, Canada, Europe in February and Great Britain in October), Dr. King (USA) Kwanza (Global), Zumbi dos Palmares Day, (Brazil), Saba Saba (Tanzania), Jomo Kenyetta (Kenya) or African day (many African countries).
There are a number of vacant days that could be used to celebrate and honour heroes such as Gaspo Yanga (Mexico), Abdias de Nasciemento (Brazil), Malcolm X (USA), Marcus Garvey (Jamaica), Olaudah Equiano (Great Britain), Patrice Lumumba (Zaire), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Haile Selassie (Ethiopia) and so forth. Additionally, certain weeks could be dedicated to over 300 kingdoms and empires.
With certainty, African History Month would be a positive undertaking not only enlightening the contemporary world but also, laying foundations for future generations. Most importantly, it would benefit Africans everywhere.
This is an open invitation for collaboration with activists, organisations, religious communities, newspapers, blogs, institutions, governmental agencies, and media to garner efforts to make this event a reality. Together with modern technology, the internet, phone and teleconferencing have made global communications affordable and accessible.
Now is the time for Africans to codify their history into one gigantic forum. Additionally, and more importantly, it will help abate constant bombardment of negative media that discharges specious allegations against Africans worldwide.
As previously stated, “Boy” and “Negro” were used during Western domination for obvious reasons that were exposed. In the 60’s black was substituted for Negro and now its time for another progression. The next step is to reclaim African ethnicity.
Although, Africans were forced to embrace other European cultures, it does not change ethnicity. This also applies to other cultures that migrated, for example, they’re referred to by their separate ethnic group. After scores of generations, they’re still referenced by their own culture, such as, Chinese, Japanese, English, German and so on. Moreover, Diaspora victims exact location is impossible to identify. Suffice to say, African should be used definitively with appropriate sub-categories. Here are a few examples: African-Brazilian, or African-Cuban, African-Mexican and African-European, and African-Asian. Naturally, Africans on the continent is self-explanatory – Nigerian, South African, Kenyan, Ghanaian and so forth.
Notably, when “black Africa” is used, it’s presupposing that there is a “white Africa”. Most importantly, when referencing ethnicity, the descriptive word should ALWAYS be “African.” The usage of African is essential because it reconnects culture, at home and abroad. When examining black closely, it’s only a colour that promotes division. And also, when accepted, it is an imposed division among Africans because it has no connection to land or culture. Contrarily, when using African, it recognises all aspects of one’s culture.
Once more, the usage removes the contention that ancient civilisations and ruins in Africa are not African. When Africans take charge of their ethnicity, these specious allegations will be ignored. And also, when black is replaced, it would be ridiculous saying Egypt, Carthage or Great Zimbabwe are not African when their origin is located on African soil.
One last point, every culture throughout the world defines their own ethnicity, and Africans should not be an exception. Especially, when the Japanese, Chinese or Koreans are never questioned. Significantly, these three cultures are distinctly different. Nevertheless, not one identifies themselves as being yellow. They’re recognized as Asians.
Finally, ownership would negate the nonsense that Egypt, Carthage, Great Zimbabwe, Ethiopia or the Moorish civilisations are not African. We have rejected Negro and now it’s time to put aside black, and reclaim African ethnicity.
Why African History Month?
In today’s world, we’ve accepted foreign cultures, different ideologies and embraced new identities. The whole dynamics of Africa, its people, and victims of the Diaspora have dramatically changed. A new geography has been created in North and South America, together with the partitioning of Africa into over fifty countries, and other Africans are scattered around the world. Consequently, modern history is a reflection of the European conquest, according to their interpretations. Therefore, African History Month is necessary.
By Sabamya Jaugu
‘Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.’ – Chancellor Williams
‘Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: Slavery and the Rise of European Capitalism’ – John Henrik Clarke
‘When We Ruled: The Ancient and Medieval History of Black Civilisations’ – Robin Walker
‘Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa’ – John Henrik Clarke
‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ – Walter Rodney
‘Capitalism and Slavery’ – Eric Williams
‘A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present’ – Ward Churchill
‘The Mis-education of the Negro’ – Carter Woodson
© African History Month 2012-2013
Click to read Black History Month Discussion Paper 3
Click to read African History Month Discussion Paper 4