We are not all Africans: only black people are

2011-01-15 13:15

Henry Ford once said: “You can have any colour, as long as it is black.” Similarly, native inhabitants of Africa say: “You can be an African in any colour, as long as you are black.”

There has been a sudden demand for an African to come in a variety of colours.

During the days of slavery, when an African was a commodity, there was never a demand for him in any colour but black.

There is now an attempt in the 21st century to redefine the colour scheme of an African.

Now whites want to be classified as African too.

Historically, the term “African” never had any ambiguous meaning.

To Africans today it still does not have any ambiguous meaning.

Africans across the continent and in the diaspora have long understood its meaning to refer to them as black people.

African leaders from all walks of life who waged a relentless struggle against the thuggery of colonialism on the continent were of one mind.

When both Arabs and Europeans enslaved Africans and traded them as disposable commodities, there was never any misunderstanding with regard to who Africans were.

“The African is conditioned, by cultural and social institutions of centuries, to a freedom of which Europe has little conception, and it is not in his nature to accept serfdom forever.”

These are the words of Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya, from the conclusion to his book Facing Mount Kenya in 1938.

This historical revisionism by whites becomes even more problematic, given the recent archaeological evidence that challenges the traditional view that Africa?is?the?cradle?of?humankind.

Kenyatta does not appear to have suffered from the illusion that the term “African” referred to anyone else other than native inhabitants of Africa – the black people.

Palaeontologists have recently unearthed the oldest human fossil in China, said to be 60 000 years older than the next oldest homo sapien remains.

According to palaeontologists, the discovery suggests that anatomically modern humans arrived in China long before the species began acting human.

Popular theory among whites has been that their prehistoric ancestors came from Africa.

However, palaeontologists have concluded that the first Europeans were from Asia, not Africa.

The true origin of whites, ­according to archaeology, was not in Africa.

Given this history, it would make much more sense for whites to want to be reclassified as Chinese.

When white, Afrikaner ­supremacists displayed signs during apartheid saying “Europeans” and “Non-Europeans”, there was never any ambiguity around the term “European”.

All whites?understood?themselves?to be?Europeans,?other?than the few who stood on the side of Africans to fight segregation laws.

It is puzzling that whites readily accept African languages to be exclusively those commonly known as black languages, yet they cannot accept that the description “African” exclusively refers to black people.

I have generally understood whites in South Africa to be opposed to name changes.

They lambasted the ANC when it embarked on its name-changing adventure.

It seems a bit hypocritical that they now want to change their racial description and assume a new identity.

The need to belong is well understood and appreciated.

Africans embrace other races as their fellow countrymen whether white, Indian or Chinese in the hope for unity under one flag.

 Perhaps Africans should embark on a nationwide hug-giving exercise to reassure their white compatriots that they too belong in Africa – in any colour but black.

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