1. Magbaily Fyle responds to the remarks by Leonard Karshima Shilgba (Fyle is a Professor of History at Ohio State Univ. During the 1980s, he was Director of the Institute of African Studies, and Dean of the Arts Faculty at the University of his native Sierra Leone. A leading scholar on Sierra Leone, his two recent volumes introduce African history to a wider audience.)
"I was impressed at the breadth of information the writer has. I was also saddened about what he does not know, or would not accept. This is a testimony too that he still needs to go on seeking information about African history, for that would help to qualify some of his lamentable conclusion about the African. Many of his conclusions about the African are negative, based on a western lens from which he perceives Africa and the African, the issue he criticizes. For example, he states that many of the 300 nationalities in Nigeria "had no recognizable system of government before 1914," and so the British brought government. This is western propaganda that he has swallowed, and conclusions like this tarnish his exposition. How so does he define government? Does it or did it have to be analyzable in western conceptions of the institution? Were so-called "stateless societies" inferior to centralized structures similar to western types? The writer needs to examine again the role of anthropology and the western academy in bolstering the colonial project, sustained in various ways in the post-colonial era, of making Africans feel inferior to whites. The same elaboration developed with slavery and post slavery America in bringing similar feelings among African Americans. If we examine these closely, and the role of foreign interests in our governments in Africa, in introducing corruption in government, the roles of multi-national corporations, the IMF and World Bank in exploiting the resources of Africa and in keeping African systems dependent on the global system dominated and controlled by the Western world, maybe he would have a slightly different take on this issue. He would perhaps think less about blaming ourselves and become aware about the myriad reasons for squarely apportioning blame to developed world interests. This is one way we can start getting the African elite to start thinking straight, to begin the task of working against those horribly distorted perceptions Africans have been fed about themselves that have led to this sense of inferiority. But hey, who gets listened to in the communications system dominated and controlled in the west, it is people who speak like him and go back to religion to solve the problems. This is why Soyinka rightly says that fundamentalist Christianity is becoming one of the greatest dangers in Africa today."
The Noah Myth
"....but my fears lie in the black myth from the Period of Noah. I once had discarded the myth as an unprogressive elements in the mind of the blacks but each time I hear it been mentioned again the reality of the unprogressive nature of African leaders still appear to give credence to the debasing curse in the myth."
L M ADETONA,LECTURE IN ISLAMIC CONTEMPORARY STUDIES,
DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIONS,
LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITYaiwww.lateefadetona.8m.com
In responding to the remarks by Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (USA/Africa Dialogue No 4), Arnold Beichman posed a question:
"What country is doing it better? No answer? Is America being judged by an historical standard or by the looser standards of sociology?"