Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Gender Ideology, Global Africa, and the Challenges for Pan-African Studies in the 21st Century

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Gender Ideology, Global Africa, and the Challenges for Pan-African Studies in the 21st Century

Article excerpt

I presented this paper in Liverpool, England at the Africa 2000 Conference in August of that year, and revised it for the National Council for Black Studies Annual Conference in March 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia. In some ways, its publication in the JPAS marks a Sankofa moment when, as scholars and students of African World Studies, we have 'reclaimed' much from our 'legacy cultures,' (i) and can employ those multiple legacies 'in order to move ahead.' It also marks an analytical crossroad where our growing trepidation about women, youth, working people, and people of color in Africa and the African Diaspora resides. That crossroad is frequently strewn with the debris of sexism and disdain for our rich cultural endowment at a time when we need to embrace the legacy of women's leadership if we are to move forward. A brief narrative from Odu Ifa frames our discussion. My methodology variously employs the language, lexicon, and meaning along with the thoughts and practices of Yoruba, Akan, and African American cultures. Acknowledging the limitations and challenges in such an undertaking, I intend 1) to provide oral and written data and contemporary analysis to guide our discussion of the complexity of diverse African gendered environment, 2) to propose the concept of 'legacy cultures' as a model for contemporary political and cultural analysis, and 3) to extrapolate one set of culturally-based ideologies that may contribute to the growing body of scholarly works on Africana studies and particularly women of African descent globally. By 'legacy cultures,' I mean the transnational and local (re)configurations of African cultures in the twenty-first century, and the presence of African worldviews and expressivity in modern world environments. The term, 'legacy cultures,' distinguishes earlier patterns of cultural evolution occurring within traditional African environments. It marks these natural occurrences from their progeny cultures on the continent and in the Diaspora.

The term, 'legacy cultures,' unlocks the potential application of Africa's cultural heritages to new modalities and protocols for development in the twenty-first century. It allows us to embrace the breadth and depth of our global experiences, customary and pluralistic, in a more liberated discourse on the continent and in the Diaspora. The concept of legacy cultures allows us to address the institutional and infrastructural needs of Africa's global humanity and our place in the world generally.

Leadership Discourse in Odu Ifa

A narrative in Odu Ifa, (Yoruba oral texts), expounds upon the consequences of poor leadership (rulership in the narrative). According to the text, the town of Modakeke was ruled by a king named "Dead from the Neck Up" who turned the regency upside down. (ii) As a result, people lost their way and forgot their appointed roads, that is, they forgot their living purpose which, at the core of Yoruba worldview, is to maintain balance and harmony among human beings. The Odu Ifa says, "the world is a simple place, it is the confusion of the mis-educated that has created problems. The Creator made things simple to confuse the fool." Obviously, "Dead From the Neck Up" refers to senseless behavior, lack of emotional intelligence, social progress, and political savvy. (iii) Restoring balance and harmony is a major theme in Odu Ifa which seeks to understand the context and circumstances that create imbalance and disharmony in order to return to social equilibrium. In Odu Ifa, we choose which path to follow by choosing whether or not to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve that equilibrium. The wisdom of Odu Ifa inspires me to ask, "What role does Pan-African Studies play in the twenty-first century? What lessons of our legacy cultures and lived experiences are available to guide us now? How will we engage them? We assert that Africana Studies, irrespective of its various names, must reclaim its 'appointed road,' by actively reclaiming its primary intellectual leadership position in Africa and the African Diaspora. …

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