Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

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

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

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

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper sketches a framework for understanding the relationship between African cultural consciousness and the liberation of African people. Special attention will be given to the role of Pan-Africanism and Marcus Garvey's movement in facilitating the restoration of African cultural consciousness. The present analysis builds on the framework outlined in Wilson's "African-centered consciousness and the new world order" as well as theory and research evolving out of African-centered historiography and psychology (e.g., see Akbar, 2003; Carruthers, 1984, 1999; Diop, 1974, 1987, 1991; Kambon, 2012; Karenga, 2006; Williams, 1960, 1976). Toward this end, it provides an historical and psychological context for his central arguments.

Keywords: African Cultural Consciousness, African-centered historiography, African-centered psychology, Amos Wilson

Introduction

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 Kernet (Ben-Levi, 1986; Carruthers, 1999, Diop, 1991, Williams, 1976). …

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