In DepthColumnsThe total emancipation of Africa


Posted on Monday, 17 October 2011 09:45

The total emancipation of Africa

William Manful

Langston Hughes' poem is an attempt to define himself to a segregated America where his existential lot is one of discrimination and social rejection because of the color of his skin. Born black in a world that abhorred his race he had to assert himself to prove that he belonged and was truly worthy of the American dream.

The bitter truth is that almost a century after Mr. Hughes conceived of these rhymes the sitting President of the United States of America Mr. Barack Obama had to produce a Hawaiian birth certificate to prove that 'he too is America'. The reality of the black man in the Diaspora unfortunately is still predicated on prejudice, discrimination and persistent harassment from the ruling white elite to prove that he does indeed belong to the world that he dwells in.

I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed. I, too, am America.

I, too, am America could easily read I, too am Brazil or I too am Britain or Jamaica or any other country where a black population has been made to feel marginalized and ostracized longing for tolerance and basic human rights.

Langston Hughes' refrain therefore applies to all people of color emanating from a social treatment that is not based on intellect or social accomplishment but rather on the color of one's skin. His poetic gasp for recognition gives credence to the immortal lyrics of Peter Tosh when Mr. Tosh cries to his fellow black underlings in one of his famous songs that no matter where they come from as long as they are black, they remain Africans; referring to the failed attempts by people of color to gain acceptance beyond the African continent. The immortal lyrics of the great reggae artiste also serve as a good reminder of the intrinsic link existing between the image of the black man and the image of Africa.

Unfortunately, so smeared is the portrayal of the continent that not all black people in the Diaspora are ready to take heed of Mr. Tosh's call.

Indeed, there are those brothers and sisters who would rather remain minions in the Western world than seek identification with the motherland. Another lamentable fact that goes against the grain of the black struggle, breaking the front of the black race and making it easier for oppressors to triumph and perpetuate the cycle of oppression and discrimination.

Not too long ago Danny Welbeck born to Ghanaian parents residing in England failed to contribute his quota to the black struggle by opting to feature for the English national team. This follows similar defections by Jerome Boateng of Bayern Munich choosing Germany over Ghana, Solomon Odonkor doing same and many more.

These defections transcend the world of sports and apply to qualified professionals such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, intellectuals whose massive skills would have done the motherland, Africa a world of good. Let us hope that, they would not be called upon one day to prove their right to belong like their ancestors before them.

For if the sitting President of America's experience proves anything, it is that the black man does not necessarily endear himself to the white man by playing the role of loyal servant.

When Africans abroad commit their skills and abilities to the betterment of the Western world they deny Africa the opportunity to grow and they deny themselves the chance to gain respect and acceptance from the oppressor that they are so desperately trying to please.

The pending revolution that will change the image, the condition, the definition, the essence and the being of the black man particularly as it relates to Africa will only be forthcoming when black people residing in all corners of the globe join in the struggle for the emancipation of the black race.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 October 2011 10:11

William Manful

William Manful

William Manful is a human rights advocate committed to the democratization of Africa. He has worked as a contributing columnist for afrik- and talkafrique. He holds degrees in french and spanish as well as international relations from the University of Cambridge. Mr manful also writes on philosophy, sports and cinema. He is currently working for the Government of Ghana.


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