The key to the modernization of Africa is an African renaissance, says Dr. Tseggai Isaac, associate professor of history and political science at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Isaac has recently co-authored and edited a collection of essays on the topic.
The book, African Civilization in the 21st Century was published by Nova Science Publishers. In it, Isaac and his collaborators examine African civilization, analyze the formidable roadblocks to its modernization and provide suggestions for African rejuvenation.
The essays study the crippling effect of successive domination of Africa, first by the Arab invasion and subsequent Islamization of Egypt and North Africa, Isaac says.
“Islam began the practice of African slavery and Europe combined slave trade colonization to inflict crippling blows on Africa,” he says. “The effects of slavery and colonialism devastated African societies until slavery was outlawed in the 19th century and colonialism ended in the 1960s. Post-colonial Africa was liberated in the 1960s, but homegrown dictatorship by African tyrants aborted any hope that Africans anticipated on the eve of Africa’s liberation. As a result, there is overreaching political, economic, social, and diplomatic paralysis of Africa.
“Africa didn’t get the opportunity to blossom because of the impacts from slavery, colonialism, and predatory dictatorship by African heads of states over the long-suffering African peoples,” says Isaac. “Only democratization, education and good governance will resurrect Africa.”
Isaac says that for progress and modernization to occur in Africa, Africans must be enthusiastic about their sacred civilizations and rely on their cultural heritages to embrace and promote African democracy.
“The people will have to be zealots and nationalist about their continent, heritage, ancestors and cultures,” he says. “They have to be zealots about their values and promote them on a global scale.”
From the collection of essays, Isaac says readers will get more than a discussion of African problems. “Readers will get a look at Africa as a source of great civilizations and the birthplace of mankind,” he says. Isaac authored four chapters in the book. They are:
— “The Civilization Approach to Analytical Orthodoxy: Solution for or Conveyer of Political Decay to Africa’s Post-Colonial Struggles in the 21st Century?”
— “Making the Case for Ethiopian Civilization”
— “The Impact of Religion on African Civilization in Light of the 21st Century”
— “Language and Education in African Civilization in the 21st Century.”
In addition, Isaac co-edited every chapter with Dr. Andrew Targowski, professor of civilizations and business information systems at Western Michigan University. Other contributors to the book include Dr. David Wilkinson, professor of political science at the University of California-Los Angeles, Dr. Herménégilde Rwantabagu, professor of psychology and educational science at the University of Burundi, and Dr. Sisay Asefa, director of the Center for African Development Policy Research at Western Michigan University.
Isaac’s other works include book chapters and peer reviewed articles on faith and culture in the Middle East and terrorism in the horn of Africa. He has recently submitted a manuscript titled “Third World Politics: A Journey from Hope to Despair” to the African World press on the politics of Third World studies.
“Only democratization, education and good governance will resurrect Africa …” While this is entirely true, there are two obstacles: many ideologists, from “Negritude” ‘isolationists’ to Islamists etc., will “point out” that the “Western” model does not (bene)fit all and everywhere. By the superficial looks of it they seem to have reams of “data” on their side to “prove” it. But when we take a moment to contemplate that normally, if left relatively unperturbed, a national economy will generally develop on its own, we might look at the one thing that separates the “West” from the African “business model” and that is predatory pricing. The EU and to some extent the US (with grain and soybeans, the EU “across the board”) do have tariff structures and esp. export subsidies in place whereby agricultural produce is pressed into African national markets by virtue of subsidising it (at an overall loss!) to levels BELOW what a native laborer and subsistence farmer, often earning a dollar a day or even less, could match. Those undersold producers then leave their lands, which are then prey to desertification, and move to cities to get … food aid. which, once again, is mainly EU exports. Stop that vicious circle and within, say, thirty years, you would see the “Greening of Africa” to paraphrase a popular US book from the seventies.
Dear Maureen Coffey,
The points you raised are cogent, but, I feel, we also should be sensitive to the following realities:
1. To begin with, “Negritude” as a philosophical concept made ephemeral flashes in the postcolonial years of the 1960s. It quickly lost its glitter to the radical schools of thought, such as the “dependentista” and the radical Marxists. Furthermore, Negritude was never an ideology that had attempted to unearth, articulate, engage, and integrate the long forgotten African civilizational attributes. Those were and are still waiting for ransom and redemption. Negritude was a parochial concept with limited horizon to the sub-Saharan template of philosophical contestation. It, perhaps, was more French in its mode of thought than a genuine African political belief or thought/ideology.
2. Second, “Democratization, education, and good governance” are not exclusively “Western” constructs. They are universal. They had existed in African, Asian, and European societies in ways and means that were articulated to the conformity and adaptability of ethno-linguistic, political, and socio-economic contexts. In the Middle East, Islam caused the prospects of democratic birth short-lived, because, the Islamic text, according to Islamic scholars, is sufficient enough to render for naught any other confessional or political beliefs/ideologies.
3. You correctly noted in your reference to African markets: “if left relatively unperturbed, a national economy will generally develop on its own.” This is true, but bad governance exposes markets to the vicissitudes of bad deals with bad trans-border players who team up with predatory dictators to harvest African wealth, cause underdevelopment and prevent democratization. In my view, I feel democratization, education and good governance are indispensable political and social capital that can contribute to the healing African and other societies.
Tseggai Isaac, PhD.
121 Humanities and Social Sciences Building
Rolla, MO 65409
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