Molefi Asante: "We have had Europeans telling our story for too long. They can only tell the story in their own interest "
He is actually the most interesting and prolific autor of the black diaspora. He has published his 65th book titled "The history of Africa. The quest for eternal harmony". This book is a must for those who are honestly interested about the history of Africa. In an Email Interview with simon INOU, the authors helps us to understand the white manipulation of the african story.
Afrikanet: Dr Asante you are Professsor at the department of African-American Studies at temple University in Philadelphia. At the same time the initiator of Black Studies in USA and now worldwide. In Europe we are use to "African Studies" or "études africaines" or "Afrikanistik" in german. Are there any differences between Black Studies and african Studies?
BLACK STUDIES WAS A MOVEMENT FOUNDED BY AFRICAN PEOPLE TO UNITE THE STUDY OF AFRICAN PHENOMENA. AFRICAN STUDIES WAS INITIATED BY WHITE EUROPEANS AND AMERICANS TO SEE HOW THEY COULD CONTROL OR PREDICT AFRICA. I THINK THE TWO FIELDS STARTED WITH TWO DIFFERENT OBJECTIVES. NOW, OF COURSE, THERE ARE WHITES WHO TAKE THE POSITION OF THE AFROCENTRISTS WHO WANT TO SEE AFRICAN STUDIES THAT ELEVATES AFRICAN AGENCY, OUR POSITION; AND THERE ARE BLACKS WHO TAKE THE POSITION OF WHITES THAT AFRICA IS UNIMPORTANT UNTIL ITS ENCOUNTER WITH EUROPE. OF COURSE IN THE UNITED STATES WE ARE NOW CALLING FOR AFRICOLOGY WHICH IS DEFINED AS THE AFROCENTRIC STUDY OF AFRICAN PHENOMENA.
You are a prolific author. You wrote more than 60 books and 300 scientific articles. Your last book hast the title "The history of Africa-The Quest for Eternal Harmony". There are many books that have been published about the history of Africa. How do you approach the story of the mother continent? And what are the differences between your work and other authors that are not african centered? and how do you understand "The quest for eternal Harmony" when you look at Africa today?
WELL, MY 65TH BOOK, THE HISTORY OF AFRICA: THE QUEST FOR ETERNAL HARMONY IS BASED ON THE IDEA THAT AFRICANS MUST TELL THEIR OWN STORY. WE HAVE HAD EUROPEANS TELLING OUR STORY FOR TOO LONG. THEY CAN ONLY TELL THE STORY IN THEIR OWN INTEREST. RARELY HAVE THEY WRITTEN OUR HISTORY WITH THE NUANCES WE UNDERSTAND. THEY USUALLY SERVE THE INTEREST OF WHITE RACIAL DOMINATION OR PRIVILEGE. NOT ONE HISTORY OF AFRICA BY EUROPEANS CENSORS WHITES FOR THEIR OCCUPATION OF AFRICAN TERRITORY. THEY ARE ALL APOLOGISTS FOR WHITE PRIVILEGE. I MAY HAVE MISJUDGED OR SPOKE WITHOUT EXAMINING ALL OF THE FACTS, BUT THE RECORD IS QUITE BLATANT AND OPEN.
In 404 pages you attempt to give a summary of more than 35 millions years of the african history. At the end of the book there is a brilliant chronology from the early years till today. Why are you going so far in the african history?
FOR ME, THE ORIGIN OF HUMANITY, CIVILIZATION, AND CIVIL SOCIETY IS AFRICA. IT WAS IMPORTANT IN THIS BOOK TO REVEAL THE CHARACTER OF AFRICAN AGENCY. I WANTED TO PROVIDE THE FACTS THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO VIEW AFRICA FROM ITS OWN PERSPECTIVE. THERE IS NO BLACK AFRICA AS IF THERE IS A WHITE AFRICA. ANY PERSON IN AFRICA WHO IS NOT BLACK IS EITHER A INVADER OR SON OR DAUGHTER OF AN INVADER. THERE IS NO MIDDLE EAST THAT IS IN AFRICA. THERE IS NORTHEAST AFRICA. THE MIDDLE EAST IS A MISNOMER. THERE IS NO SUCH CONTINENT. IT IS CLEAR AND SIMPLE POLITICAL IDEOLOGY AND TERMINOLOGY. AFRICA IS ONE AND MY BOOK TREATS THE CONTINENT AS ONE WHOLE.
In your book you wrote: " No continent has ever had as many viable kingdoms and empires for as log a time as the continent of Africa" (P. 93). Why are the eurocentric perspective about Africa ignores these facts and what are the main problems while studying Africa today?
I THINK THAT EUROPE HAS IGNORED ALL INFORMATION FROM AFRICA THAT CASTS AFRICA IN A POSITIVE LIGHT. SUCH INFORMATION DOES NOT FIT THE IMAGE THAT EUROPE CREATED ABOUT AFRICA. WE HAVE NOT BEEN IN CONTROL OF OUR IMAGE AND THEREFORE WHITE AUTHORS WROTE CRAZY, IGNORANT STUFF BEFORE WE HAD BLACKS TRAINED IN HIEROGLYPHICS AND ANCIENT HISTORY.
One major problem inside the african history and historiography is the role of KEMET or Ancient Egypt. How do you respond to those who argue that Ancient Egypt was an african civilisation but not a black civilisation?
THE FARTHER BACK YOU GO IN HISTORY, THE BLACKER THE PEOPLE. IT IS BELIEVED THAT WHITE OR PALE COLORED PEOPLE DID NOT EXIST MORE THAN 15,000 YEARS AGO. IN FACT, ONE WRITER HAS ARGUED THAT WHITES GOT THEIR COLOR ABOUT 7000 YEARS BCE, BEFORE THE COMMON ERA. EGYPT WAS A BLACK COUNTRY IN ITS ORIGIN, ITS MANIFESTATIONS, AND ITS RITUALS. THE ANCIENT GREEKS, HERODOTUS AND ARISTOTLE, AMONG OTHERS SAID THAT THE EGYPTIANS WERE BLACK WITH WOOLY HAIR. BOOK 11 OF HERODOTUS' EGYPT IS A GOOD STARTING PLACE. ALSO ARISTOTLE SAYS THAT EGYPTIANS WERE VERY BLACK IN HIS BOOK, PHYSIOGNOMONICA, THAT THE EGYTIANS AND ETHIOPIANS ARE VERY BLACK. UNTIL THE INVASIONS BY THE ASSYRINS, PERSIANS, GREEKS, ROMANS, ARABS, TURKS AND FRENCH AND BRITISH, EGYPT WAS A BLACK CIVILIZATION. THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THE PYRAMIDS WERE BLACK. THE ARCHITECT IMHOTEP WAS BLACK; THE KING ZOSER WAS BLACK.
The History of Africa: The Quest for Eternal Harmony
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 18, 2007)