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Paraphrasing Assignment: Lara Marie

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Autor:   •  September 12, 2017  •  Essay  •  2,212 Words (9 Pages)  •  164 Views

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Paraphrasing assignment: Lara Marie

For a long time, African cultural assets were not unfolded and were suppressed due to Western-colonial oppression. African culture has been dismissed and declared inferior in its nature by Western descriptions, while it was playing a rudimentary role throughout history according to Western propositions (Hegel, 1975: 190). Popular opinion during colonialism was that European culture was superior to an underdeveloped, illiterate, and identity-lacking African culture (Bruhl, 1947: 17). British and French colonialism not only proceeded to repress indigenous African culture, but also aimed to overwrite the colonies’ domestic cultures with their very own ideas and perceptions (Betts, 2005: 8) in order to spread their beliefs and convert local inhabitants into European citizens, like the French philosopher Talbot’s concept of assimilation (1837). The result of Europe’s efforts to erase African culture and replace it with their own (Lambert, 1993: 239-262) led in post-colonial times to the arising of the need to retrace African cultural assets and to revive these spirits.

The abrupt ending of colonial occupation when colonial repressions dawned to awareness represented basis for this need. The culture that has been instilled into the African mindsets by European colonialists vanished and left a great blank as the indigenous culture was no longer existing. The newly taught European cultural assets, such as language, beliefs, and political ideas, were then perceived as slaveholding oppression. The withdrawal of this colonial oppression and resulting cultural void unleashed the strong will among native Africans to trace back their origins for the sake of fighting their deracination that has been caused by Europe’s racist, exploitative, colonial slavery. As Ruch and Anyanwu stated, “What is this debate about African identity concerned with and what led to it? In other words, why should Africans search for their identity?” (1981: 184-85) Colonialism did pave the way for racial discrimination, exploitation, and slavery – all of which effected great suffering among African natives. It, however, as well led these natives to realize that the colonial instilled doctrines and cultural traits were not their own, would never be their own, and were no substitution to their own culture that eventually had to be rebuilt.

Historians, authors, philosophers, and scholars participated in recreating African culture and identity. Writings and literary publications targeted to invalidate Western doctrines, teachings, and theories and their self-conception of being the very origin to these. James claimed in his 1954 published writing Stolen Legacy, that the true authors of Greek philosophy were not the ancient Greeks themselves, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, but the people of North Africa. The Greeks would have only based on ideas and concepts that originated in Africa, or would have even stolen from ancient African literature. It was said that the Greeks wrongly received reward for the philosophical approaches for centuries and that this reward would belong to the North Africans and therefore to the African continent. James said: “In this way, the Greeks stole the legacy of the African continent and called it their own. And as has already been pointed out, the result of this dishonesty had been the creation of an enormous world opinion; that the African continent has made no contribution to civilization, because her people are backward and low in intelligence and culture…This erroneous opinion about the Black people has seriously injured them through the centuries up to modern times in which it appears to have reached a climax in the history of human relations.” (1954: 54) Consequently, this theft of African legacy by the Greeks led to the erroneous world opinion that the African continent did not contribute to world culture and civilization and that African natives are illiterate by nature. This misrepresentation provoked prejudice, which affected all people of color and needed to be corrected. However, even though there were works that provoked a rethinking of traditional Western positions by manifesting that North African culture holds the origin of European philosophy, the very issue of racial degradation of people with color has not been extinguished in that first course. Black Africa was not evidently connected to North Africa. James concluded: “This is going to mean a tremendous change in world opinion, and attitude, for all people and races who accept the new philosophy of Africa redemption, i.e. the truth that the Greeks were not the authors of Greek philosophy; but the people of North Africa; would change their opinion from one of disrespect to one of respect for the black people throughout the world and treat them accordingly.” (1954: 153) Therefore, redemption had to be proven differently.

In subsequent approaches, the trying to construct a redeeming inclusion of Black Africa in African philosophical history was furthered. Onyewuenyi strikes at the foundations of the European intellectual model and deconstructs Eurocentrism in The African Origin of Greek Philosophy. Egypt, characterized as Black-Africa, is depicted as the principal source of Greek philosophy and civilization and therefore, Black-Africa represents the mother of Western civilization. Yet, contradictions regarding Egypt’s ethnic heritage that can be found in Onyewuenyi’s explanations weaken and invalidate the theory of Black Africa to be the origin of Egypt’s and hence Greece’s philosophy. This is due to the fact that it is not retraceable that at any time Egypt’s natives were of fully dark ethnic. Thus, Black-Africa still was not affiliated to Egypt’s origins in philosophy.

In Tempels’ Bantu Philosophy (1949), African philosophical culture is put on an equal footing with European philosophical culture. Hence, African philosophy was awarded an equal status – including equally deep roots – as Western philosophy, contrary to the demoting Western perception of African culture. It was argued that vernacular African culture has a distinctive and well-structured philosophy. In this philosophical approach, the way of dealing with severe life situations is pictured as a reversion to one’s very own deep origins. It is eventually accentuated that this is not a unique characteristic of African spirituality, but that the Western mind – or way of thinking – presets the same reversion once being faced with such a situation. Regarding his approach from a Western point of view, the egality of African and European comprehension of philosophically crucial beliefs may be overlooked, as the author states: “So the criteriology of the Bantu rests upon external evidence, upon the authority and dominating life force of the ancestors. It rests at the same time upon the internal evidence of experience of nature and of living phenomena, observed from their point of view. No doubt, anyone can show the error of their reasoning; but it must none the less be admitted that their notions are based on reason, that their criteriology and their wisdom belong to rational knowledge.” (1949/2006: 51) According to Tempels, the primary spiritual category in the thought of Bantu societies is force, and being is force. He defines being as force and puts the Bantu’s approach, consisting of rationality, on a level with the European approach, consisting of equal rationality. Tempels argues that there are different possible views – or categories – of the relationship between being and force, and that Bantu culture holds one specific view of force, “being is force, and force is being”, whereas European culture holds a different one. As a result of this fundamental difference in categories, the African life of the mind is structured around the definition of force, which contrasts strongly with the Western perception of defining being. Hence, by a Western view, there can be a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Bantu philosophy, although it is said to be equally rational as the Western view. To the same effect contributes Kagame in The Bantu-Rwanda Philosophy (1956). Both, Tempels and Kagame, narrow down their theories based on the African view and thus, they support their philosophical theories ethnically, which was considered inappropriate in this context. Later, author Innocent Asouzu disproves Tempels’ and Kagame’s writings by questioning the origin and setup of the findings both authors stated, not their very results. In Ibuanyidanda: New Complementary Ontology (2007), Asouzu critically scrutinizes the Western forces both author’s minds were exposed to while drafting their works. He finds that in Tempels’ earlier work these Western impacts were of too prevalent importance and that Kagame’s subsequent work simply built upon this erroneous approach. This being the case, according to Asouzu, both authors did not achieve to accurately, logically retrace the concept of Africa’s philosophy due to their too predominant incorporation of Western thoughts.


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