Will the Real Father of Afrocentricity Please Stand

By Adeleke, Tunde | The Western Journal of Black Studies, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

Will the Real Father of Afrocentricity Please Stand


Adeleke, Tunde, The Western Journal of Black Studies


The Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) attributes human accomplishments to the activities of "Great men." He describes these great men as "the modelers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world." (Varieties of History: 101). Carlyle, therefore, defines history as "the biography of Great men." This Carlylean perspective shaped historical interpretations for centuries. Although, later generations of historians--Herbert Spencer, E. H. Carr, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Staughton Lynd and Jesse Lemisch broadened the purview of history to acknowledge the lives and contributions of the common people; faint, and sometimes loud, echoes of the Carlylean perspective continue to resonate. A more recent exemplification is Molefi K. Asante, formerly chair of the Department of African American Studies, Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A mention of his name today quickly reminds one of the concept Afrocentricity. By some account, he has published thirty-six books, and over a hundred articles, on the subject. By his own estimate--forty books, and over two hundred and fifty articles. The sheer volume of his scholarship, coupled with his bold, abrasive and often caustic defense of Afrocentricity, has undoubtedly compelled many to proclaim him to be "The Father of Afrocentricity." Asante has since claimed this title, and on several occasions, has proudly proclaimed himself indeed, the father of Afrocentricity. One such proclamation can be found in a lecture titled, "The Future of African Gods: The Clash of Civilizations," that he delivered at the Accra--W. E. B. Du Bois Center in Accra, Ghana on the 10th of July 1998. At the end of this lecture, Asante describes himself as "The father of Afrocentricity" (Asante, 1998). Attempting to refute someone else's claim to the paternity of a historical phenomenon may appear superfluous on the surface, such exercise, however, seems justified, in this particular instance because, left unchallenged, such claim has a tendency to acquire popular, but more significantly damaging historical, legitimacy; thus telescoping and obscuring, complex historical movements, events and personalities.

Since Afrocentricity is a child of Afro-American history, the search for its roots and evolution has to occur in the context of the rise and development of that history. To locate Afrocentricity in its proper historical context, however, it is necessary to establish a working definition, and there is no better definition available than that of Asante himself. He defines Afrocentricity as "a frame of reference wherein phenomena are viewed from the perspective of the African person. The Afrocentric approach seeks in every situation the appropriate centrality of the African person" (Asante, 1991: 171). In another forum, Asante describes Afrocentricity as a "simple idea ... at its base it is concerned with African people being subjects of historical and social experiences rather than objects in the margins in European experiences" (Asante, 1992). Tsehloane Keto, a member of Temple s African American Studies Department, defines Afrocentricity as "an encapsulating term that is used to describe the complex theoretical process of knowledge formation which places Africans at the center of information about themselves ..." (Keto, 1995: vii). The Afrocentric paradigm, Keto contends, "provides a framework for the process of centering knowledge about Africans, at home and abroad, on the experience of Africans as subjects of history who occupy center stage in the construction of knowledge about Africans. It produces knowledge about Africans in the human sciences in which Africans occupy the center and are therefore the subject, the main players, if you wish, and the makers of their own history rather than peripheral players who inhabit the margins of other people s history" (Ibid). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Will the Real Father of Afrocentricity Please Stand
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.