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Year of Return: Let’s focus on a revival of black history

Fri, 3 Jan 2020 Source: Kofi Boateng

“What became of the black people of Sumer?” the traveller asked the old man "for ancient records show that the people of Sumer were Black. What happened to them?" “Ah," the old man sighed. “They lost their history, so they died…” – A Sumer Legend

I'm not in any way trying to downplay the genius of the idea of the Year of Return. The motive of this essay is to ignite the thought of broadening the idea from its focus on profit to history.

It can be the idea and practice the ancient “Ethiopians” have been yearning for since the very existence of their bodies were systematically blotted out from his(story). “Ethiopians” as used here means “Blacks”, for that is the actual meaning of the word used by the ancient Greeks to describe our true forebears - the black Pharaohs - before the transformation of Lower Egypt from “black to brown to white.”

Humans in every era have gravitated towards new and improved forms of thinking and practices. Thinking and practices that enhance their chances to dominate; for the unmentioned but loud silence in the world is the unceasing attempts to dominate. For a group of people to cling to the dark while light blindingly shines indicates the ushering into and staying in ever-present darkness - servitude. This darkness the people of “Ethiopia” have been shoved into by manly and natural events in history. The black man’s “Golden Age” was unrivalled before Moses entered Egypt. The white man’s greatest achievement is, therefore, the institutionalization of the everlasting vacillation of the black race. (W.E.B Dubois, 1903; Chancellor Williams, 1975; Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015).

This back and forth I will not bow to. You must not too.

These statements, deliberately toned down would not only raise eyebrows but foreheads will furrow. It is expected! But those who know and want this suppressed truth to be amplified, for it is already in the light, must not only smile in the dark but must come forth with unwavering acts to fortify the wobbling “Black Renaissance”.

It is intentional if you are thinking I’ve moved away from the main subject; the Year of Return. It is because the history of the black race is bigger, better and brighter than slavery. Our heritage is overwhelmingly complex. Slavery ensued as a result of consistent mistakes by our ancestors. As such the reasons for an entire race to fall into perpetual bondage must be thoroughly giving prominence by black states and its academia.

For a glimpse into history shows that all the white populations have once been enslaved. So why and how did the blacks- the first pyramid builders, the first inventors of writing- ended in thralldom.

This perspective, given importance, will doubtless have an impact on the premise of the idea of the Year of Return, whose underlining concentration is profit.

This is good. Absolutely needful because without capital in a capitalist world what moves?

But I advocate for a departure from the over emphasizing on profit. Without this shift, the Year of Return cannot be institutionalized. This mammoth and attention-grabbing initiate must not end here. Ghana can revive the pulverized history of the black people by ensuring the deliberate breeding of scholars akin to W.E.D Dubois, who died in Ghana in 1963 on a self-imposed exile from the United States of America.

Individuals such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and his likes around the world can be brought consistently every year to deliver speeches, which will, in turn, open up suppressed black literature not only to Ghanaians but to the entire African continent. This can further cement Ghana’s image as the light of the continent. The Black Star.

A revival of our history, which will begin- albeit a long way- to usher us into the prominence we once occupied must be done by ourselves. This is because the “imperialists with the pen” have intentionally discredited the achievements made by the ancient blacks and claimed them as theirs. That is why I stress to focus on efforts to revive our history. I believe as we have exhibited initiative in this marvellous agenda known as the “Year of Return,” we can also be the revivalists of black history from within.

Why at all am I advocating for this emphasis on our history?

Without the right sense of the trajectory travelled by ones’ ancestry, it is difficult for people to have a true understanding of the world. And by not understanding the world, how to navigate in it becomes overly laborious. This is evident in our wandering and floundering as a society.

Closely important in helping us understand the world, history also holds our hand in the search for ourselves. I remember months ago when someone asked me, who in my family line I got a certain talent from. I was surprised because I didn’t even know I had such an ability. Her advice was that I find out who had such a strong mind in my family. She said this exercise will help me identify and appreciate the “legacies” I may have inherited from them. Similarly, the legacies bequeathed to us by our ancestors as black people are not all grim and gloom. It will take our unceasing effort to find these legacies.

Also, a deep understanding of history will enable our people to adapt quickly to change and therefore be the drivers of change. It was not for nothing that most of our great-grandparents did not see the importance of education. They simply didn’t see because they were blind to their past. A past inundated with change.

“Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Columnist: Kofi Boateng