A Medium Long Overdue

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro “Africa’s best, brightest and most committed intellectuals should get together on a regular basis to plan strategies for African survival. If we cannot do this successfully, then the continent will be forever left in the dust of history,” author and founder of the Afro-Centric Movement, Molefi Kete Asante wrote in an article headlined, “It’s Time For True African Think Tanks” which appeared in the City Press in May this year. “Yes, we may have fallen as a people, continent and empire. But once upon a time we sure ruled the world! Africa and its people shall rise again – but only if we study our history properly: take absolute pride in it, and learn from the mistakes and move on,” the Chairperson of the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia, Johannes Tjitjo, quoting Robin Walker in his book, When We Ruled, last week explained the idea behind the Dr Sam Nujoma Annual Public Lectures and the Afro-Voice Magazine during the launch. Although in different environments currently, the brothers have one thing in common which is common to all of us as Africans – the history of the colonisation of the African people, on the Continent and in the Diaspora. Not only that but also our continued marginalisation in the so-called global world. Coupled to this marginalisation is also our marginalisation as Africans in the production of ideas and knowledge. Not only have we been and are alien to our own development, but we also still suffer from colonial constipation of some sort where home-hatched ideas are considered inferior to ideas from outside, especially the ones tied to those apparently paying for our development. This is as if they never took anything out of this Continent, and still are not reaping any benefits from their association with the Continent. On the contrary, this association often touted as a partnership does not inherently advance African interest but as a matter of necessity allows the self-serving foreign interest to continue to dominate and thus benefit from the engagement. This is the context in which the initiative by Pacon should be seen and embraced. Not only have we as Africans been wanting in terms of participating in the production of ideas and knowledge, but we have also been wanting in terms of the platforms and mediums where and through which to manufacture and air these ideas. One medium in which we could express such ideas is the media but even the media has been the domain of a small self-serving clique to whom the real freedom of the Continent is alien. The starting point to such real freedom is the decolonisation of the mind of Africa. And this is where in Namibia the Dr Sam Nujoma Annual Lectures and Afro-Voice can catalyst an instrumental role. There is no denying that such a medium has been long overdue. The excuse often dangled is Namibians do not have a reading culture. Not in absolute terms. Simply they are not prepared to take everything thrown at them as reading material on its face value. For too long, they have been exposed to colonial propaganda that they have developed resistance against it. So when you want to throw something their way, you must be sure it is not wishy-washy, and is not only worth the paper it is written on but their while as well and not an affront to their intellect. So Brother Tjitjo and company must heed this if Afro-Voice is to avoid becoming yet another publication for its own sake to heap the publications’ refuse dump in the country. Taking from its ideals and if we remain true to those ideals, there is no denial that this is something we have been waiting for to, in the words of Brother Asante, secure the survival of Africa and by extension of the Land of the Brave. But there is a big IF. This is IF the magazine becomes a real platform for the free flow of constructive ideas in the true sense of academic freedom, uninhibited by the fear that seems to hold many of our intellectuals and social engineers hostage, hostage to their own conscience to the detriment of the well-being of the many wretched of our society. I cannot wait to lay my hands on the first edition. Happy Birthday Afro-Voice! “Where are the men and women of Africa (Namibia), indeed of Africa in general, who will stand up on the basis of an Afrocentric, that is, in the interest of Africa, and the Pan-African vision to call for an African resurgence based on our own values?” – Molefi Kete Asente (May, 2006)