Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

African Cultural Consciousness and African-Centered Historiography as Preconditions for Wilson's New World Order

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

African Cultural Consciousness and African-Centered Historiography as Preconditions for Wilson's New World Order

Article excerpt


At the heart of Wilson's analysis of the problems confronting African people is the notion that Africans are negotiating reality with a Eurocentric consciousness. This Eurocentric consciousness, while projected as normal, healthy, and universal, is actually a major source of the social, political, economic, health, and psychological problems of Africans in America and throughout the world. He provides insightful and colorful examples of how a Eurocentric consciousness impacts the physical and psychological health of Blacks. His work clearly illustrates how a Eurocentric consciousness manifest in several classical notions of the mental health consequences of psychological/cultural oppression (Baldwin, 1980, 1985), including Fanon's conception of "wearing the White mask" to Akbar's nosology of mental disorders (Akbar, 1980; Fanon, 1967). A central theme common to the dysfunctions associated with this alien cultural consciousness is that they are negatively related to an African-centered historical, cultural consciousness (Baldwin, 1984).

Drawing on Kambon's psychology of oppression model (Baldwin, 1980, 1985; Kambon, 2003, 2012), we can better understand the nature and prevalence of this anti-African self-consciousness among African people. Through control of the dominant socio-cultural institutions that shape the enculturation process, White people have been able to reinforce and superimpose a Eurocentric consciousness on top of Blacks' African cultural consciousness, causing it to become weakened and distorted. In other words, the nature of the psychological oppression of African people is that the normal, natural African-centered consciousness has been distorted, set off-track, and /or suppressed. The challenge faced by African people at this juncture in history is how to develop a self-consciousness that ultimately facilitates African development rather than undermines it. This type of consciousness is what Wilson calls an African-centered consciousness, which is similar to what Kambon calls African self-consciousness (Baldwin/Kambon, 1981, 1994, 1998) and what we refer to in this paper as African cultural consciousness.

The Rise and Decline of African Cultural Consciousness

As is illustrated in Figure 1, during the dawn of civilization African cultural-consciousness was the light for the world (ben-Jochannan, 1971; Breasted, 1938; Diop, 1974, 1991; Van Sertima, 2002). For more than three thousand years during the early history of civilization, African culture inspired African people with a social mission, a moral ideal, and a drive to sustain and protect those cultural ideals while building the educational-technological landscape of human intellectual expression (Carruthers, 1986; Karenga, 2006). They resisted threats to their cultural ideals and repeatedly restored the African way after periods of disruption, disintegration, and cultural decline resulting from invasions and foreign influences. Their resistance, however, wore thin after the 25th Dynasty (or the last Golden Age) in Kemet (Ben-Levi, 1986; Carruthers, 1999, Diop, 1991, Williams, 1976). The flood gates were then opened for various Eurasian and European groups to make their contribution toward the decline and disintegration of African civilization and culture (see e.g., Grantham (2003) and Williams (1976) for a few good illustrations).

For the next 2000 or so years of Eurasian and Western European invasions and military conquests, African cultural-consciousness became increasingly under attack and progressively weakened, first on the continent and then in the diaspora. On both the continent and in the diaspora, resistance to Eurasian and European aggression had been strong (see e.g., Carruthers, 1985; Harding, 1981; Williams, 1976). For example, the forty-year resistance and development advanced by Queen Nzingha of Angola is memorable for both its restoration of African cultural consciousness and her ability to see the savagery and evil intentions of Whites toward Blacks, even when camouflaged by trade, treaties, and religion (Chu & Elliot, 1990; Sweetman, 1970; Williams, 1976). …

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