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Reshaping our Identity

Afrikan people are rising out of a pit of centuries of oppressive slavery and colonialism that has remained one of the greatest stumbling blocks to the progress of our people, and all people, even in the 21st century. Afrikan people who were brought to the New World centuries ago were severely brutalized physically, but the dehumanization and the trauma that their psyches had to endure have been etched on the faces of all subsequent generations.
The Europeans, in their quest for external power, used certain ideological apparatus to condition the slave to be submissive and obedient. This apparatus was designed to make the recipient feel inferior to his oppressors, and therefore his miserable condition was justified. The modern equivalents of this ideological apparatus, the Church, the Family, the Education System and the Media, have played a major role in enslaving, degrading and oppressing not only Africans, but also other ethnic groups, conditioning us to act in ways that belittle our identity. The oppression and suppression aimed at Afrikan people have continued to this day, and the Afrikan mind has continually laboured under the relentless bombardment of the reactionary forces of neo-colonialism.

The implications of a continued colonial mentality that promotes divisiveness instead of unity are very serious as we look to forge our unique identity in this world where technology has greatly accelerated the movement towards Globalisation.

If we honestly ask ourselves if our educational system has made us better human beings who are not reluctant to associate with the motherland, proud of our diverse social and cultural identity. unafraid to unite on the basis of our diversity, the answer must be a resounding no. The educational system has greatly contributed to our loss of identity, making us ashamed of our Afrikanness, churning out societal misfits who are terribly vulnerable to the glittery conglomeration of distractions that are so prevalent in this society.

Our loss of identity has meant the perpetuation of an obscene popular culture, complete with expletive-laced music, scantily clad women gyrating in music videos and fetes, and fast food outlets on every busy corner. It has meant the myriad importation of American values, and the over-importation of American food, much of which is genetically modified. It has meant a breakdown of the social fabric causing broken homes and communities, crime, drug abuse, and domestic violence. Our loss of identity has spawned a materialistic society, void of spirituality, separated by the invisible borders of class, where power lies in the hands of a select few while the majority suffers, powerless in a society that offers them neither justice nor recourse.

There are Afrikans who have attained influential positions in the corporate world and in government, but most of them lack the necessary consciousness and clarity of vision to empower the people around them, and so they remain unmoved, trapped in upper-class aspirations.

So where do we go from here? How do we reclaim our Afrikan identity and forge genuine unity and love among the diverse units that make up the Afrikan Diaspora? How can we give our youths something more meaningful and positive than what BET, MTV and CNN have to offer? How do we awaken them from their slumber and give them meaningful tools to deal with the challenges of this rapidly globalising world? How do we face the growing problems of HIV/AIDS, unemployment, injustice, illiteracy, crime, and ignorance? How can we encourage our people to embrace their diverse heritage and cultures which are so rich and relevant in these modern technological times?

Re-education must be a top priority in our efforts to reclaim our identity and empower our people to stand tall on the world plateau and make meaningful and positive contributions towards humanity. We must formulate a specific educational policy tailored to fit our unique experiences, a policy with the depth of vision to take us forward in this 21st century. It is imperative that we abandon looking at ourselves and the world through the eyes of the old colonials, and seek to formulate our own vision, untainted by the biases of Eurocentricity.

This new understanding of our history, of our culture and its important role in shaping who we are, will allow us to genuinely interact and appreciate the cultures of all peoples of the world. Our history textbooks must teach our people that Afrika has made momentous contributions to world civilization, that what we as a people have done, we can do again. This is the role of history: it must teach us our past mistakes so that we do not make them again, and inspire us to higher intellectual, social and spiritual ideals. For the liberation of our people worldwide we must draw on the intellectual heritage of the whole world, beginning, of course, with our own.

Boundaries are shrinking and the world is headed down a blinkered road of globalization. Nation is rising up against nation, people against people, and it is against this perilous backdrop that our actions must be anchored by a common belief in the Supreme Being, the source of all consciousness.

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