Old bigotry in a new skin

2011-01-22 14:01

Sentle Diakanyo’s attempt at resurrecting a new Africa on the basis of the ­blackness of skin tone is disappointing.

He has wasted ink because we can only guess where he wants to go with his diatribe.

There are several problems with his argument.

The first is his definition of who is African.

There’s a certain circularity in the way he builds up his argument.

First you describe the criteria you want to be part of the set of things, and then you simply ­insert the supposed evidence as confirming the definition or ­criteria within the set.

The facts he musters to defend his argument are all shaky.

Sometimes, Diakanyo has no evidence.

He simply resorts to asserting facts because he’s too ready to believe his own fiction, and hopes others will do the same.

Exclusionary politics on the basis of racial or ethnic ­chauvinism is no different from white racism and chauvinism.

It doesn’t make Diakanyo’s views progressive.

The last time we all looked, Africa was, and still is, a racially diverse ­continent.

Diakanyo’s selective and ­spurious use of historical facts is a way of bleaching people out of his definition of African on a whim.

He simply doesn’t like the idea of calling other shades African, despite the reality that these shades exist on the ground.

The absurdity takes on new heights by the rather crude comments that whites may have been cobbled together
from Chinese genes and that North Africans are not really African because they are Arab.

He obviously is ignorant to the fact that the word Arab is a classification of a group of people on the basis of their ­linguistic experiences rather than race.

He would be hard-pressed to blot out the Berbers, or the San for that matter, as ­rightful claimants to the title “African”.

The search for black essentialism or the “true ­African” will never bear fruit because there simply is no such thing.

It’s an artificial ­construct and a political ideal at best.

Diakanyo does the treacherous thing of introducing race ­essentialism into African ­identity politics in the hope that it will seal it once and for all.

It does not.

Diakanyo should, perhaps, spend more time and effort thinking of constructing a ­progressive politics in Africa – in which everybody willing to make sacrifices on behalf of progress can belong and those who commit injustices, whether white or black, are brought to book.

The only thing Diakanyo is doing is reinforcing yet another form of racial exclusivity, which is as spurious as the hypothesis he seeks to prove.

We should rather spend more time encouraging good human virtues than entertaining old chauvinisms dressed up as a progressive agenda.

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