2016 Robert Sobukwe Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr Julius Garvey
AN INTRODUCTION TO A PAN-AFRICAN WORLDVIEW
By Julius W. Garvey, M.D.
At the heart of every society and every individual in that society is a belief system that shapes its ideas, culture, day-to-day activities and future goals. This is derived from tradition, a history, and knowledge of past experience. It is the ethos that motivates the person to participate in the community of life.
Marcus Garvey said, “A people without a knowledge of their history and culture, is like a tree without roots”.
Maulana Karenga said, “By studying our history and engaging self-consciously in our history, we begin to understand ourselves and then to speak our special truth not only to ourselves, but to the world”.
Bearing in mind the billions of our ancestors and that thousands of years of our human history have gone by. I wish to make a small contribution to our story.
Africa is the most important continent in the history of humanity and civilization. The oldest archeological evidence of modern humanity (homo sapiens) was found at 4 areas in Africa. The oldest in Ethiopia approximately from 200,000 years of age. The oldest found outside Africa in Europe date to approximately 40,000 years ago and was Negroid in type. The earliest Caucasians found in Europe date to 20,000 years old and the earliest Mongolians in Asia to 15,000 years old.
The current Monogenetic theory of human origins supported by archeological and DNA evidence suggest that original man was black, born on the African continent, remained there for 150,000 years during which time he migrated within the continent and then 40,000 years ago he migrated outside the continent to Europe and Asia via the straits of Gibraltar and the Sinai Peninsula.
From there mutation and mixture took place creating in addition to Negroes, Caucasians and Mongolians, the 3 races of humanity. So for 150,000 years humanity consisted only of Africans. Our experiences as a people created the first cultures. The oldest culture documented at the present time developed in the Katanda region of North East Congo 90,000 years ago. This was a fishing culture. Mining goes back 40,000 years in South Africa and Zambia.
Domestication of cattle took place in Kenya 15,000 years ago and agriculture developed along the banks of the Nile more than 10,000 B.C. Cereals were ground to make flour and wild game, cattle, geese and ducks were hunted. Agriculture and animal husbandry were the 2 pillars on which large settlements and culture were built. All the early civilizations arose in river valleys.
The earliest developments leading to civilization occurred in the Upper Nile Valley and the Lakes Region of eastern Africa. The Nile Valley extends over 4000 miles. The White Nile begins in the Great Lakes Region of Uganda, Congo and Kenya. The Blue Nile begins in the Lake Tana region of northern Ethiopia.
These 2 branches come together in Kartoum, Sudan and then flow through Egypt to the delta region and the Mediterranean. The Nubian civilization which arose in the Sudan is the oldest known civilization with the first monarchy. 12 Nubians kings ruled in Ta-seti before the 1st Egyptian Dynasty. The excavations here predate Egyptian Pharaohs by 300 years. The spread of civilization was from south to north and is acknowledged by the Egyptians. The Edfu Text tells of the origin of Egyptian Civilization by a band of invaders from the South led by King Horus.
The Papyrus of Hunefer states that the Egyptians come from the beginning of the Nile at the foothills of the mountains of the Moon (Mt. Kilamanjaro). Egyptian civilization is dated historically from about 3200 B.C. to 391 C.E. when Roman Emperor Theodosius banned the teaching of the Egyptian religious systems and closed all the Temples after Christianity had been declared the official state religion in 333 C.E. by Constantine.
During this 4000 year period of settled habitation and study of self and environment Egypt gave us the basic disciplines of human knowledge. Studying the Nile and its annual inundation produced the sciences of hydrology, irrigation and agriculture. Studying the sky, sun, moon and stars gave us astronomy, astro|ogy, the solar calendar, the lunar month, the 24 hour day and the Zodiac.
In observing the environment further came the knowledge of limestone, basalt, quartz, the mining and smelting of metals, the development of instruments for agriculture, hunting, building materials and hence the sciences of mathematics, engineering and architecture.
Observing the human body gave rise to medical science. Medical texts began being written more than 5000 years ago. The 2 most important that have come down to us are the Ebers and Edwin Smith-Papyrus’. They developed the first writing systems, hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic and also the paper on which to write from the papyrus plants in the Delta Region. In mathematics the Moscow and Rind Papyrus’ reveal their knowledge of algebra, geometry and arithmetic. In the aesthetic area, there were paintings, sculptures, jewelry, furnishings, and temples.
In observing oneself the Egyptians produced the first and most penetrating mental science in its psycho-social tale of Ausar, Auset, Seth, Nephthys and Heru, the 5 aspects of consciousness. The first religious and philosophical texts in the world are the Pyramid and Coffin texts.
The first book on virtues, ethics and social justice are The Book of Declaration of Virtues, the Book of Ptah-Hotep, The Book of Khun-Anup and others. The Priests and Sebait of Egypt created a nondual cosmology that was their understanding of their relationship with the environment. It was the basis for all of their sciences and the art of living, which was not separate but was one integrated science of life in which all parts were interrelated and interconnected.
Thus in dealing with the problems of nature and society Nile Valley civilization developed the original ideas of government, sociology, science, art, philosophy and religion. From Kemetic Egypt and Nubia human civilization moved westward and gave rise to the Dogon, The Yoruba, the Ashanti, the Bambara, the Fon and great states such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu and the Hausa states.
It moved northward and gave rise to Sumer, Elam and the early Babylonian civilizations in the Tigris/Euphrates Valley. It moved eastward and gave rise to Mohenjo-Daro,Chanhu-Daro and Harappa, early civilizations in the Indus Valley and it moved into Europe via Greece, Rome and the Iberian peninsula.
The dissemination continued from there to Asia and the Americas. Thus Africans were the first humans to see the light of day, 200,000 years ago. Began populating other continents 40,000 years ago and civilizing them 10,000 years ago. What has happened to us in recent history? It can only be outlined here.
Hyksos Shepherds from the neighboring Palestinian area invaded the Delta region, 1783 B.C. The Assyrians invaded Egypt in 667 BC. Alexander of Macedonia conquered Egypt in 332 B.C. Rome defeated Carthage in the 3rd Punic War in 146 B.C. and Augustus Cesar declared Egypt a province of Rome in 30 B.C. The Arabs conquered Egypt and introduced Islam in 642 C.E.
The east coast of Africa was similarly being invaded by Arabs and Africans were being enslaved. European slavery began in the 15th century and lasted until the 19th century. A minimum of 60 million Africans either died in the attempt to enslave them or were transported to the Americas by the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch and the English. African colonialism began in 1885 with the Berlin Conference and lasted until the middle of the 20th century.
The Hegemony of Europe over African people has been systematized under the institutions of the U.N., the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and the international court at the Hague. This has given us neo-colonialism, globalization of the economic system and Europeanization of the consciousness of the world, i.e., domination of the world by Europe, it’s people and its ideas. The Romans, under Julius Caesar, destroyed the library at Alexandria, Egypt in 48 B.C., containing 400,000 books. They destroyed the library in Carthage in 146 B.C. containing 500,000 books.
The library in Alexandria was burnt a second time in 389 C.E. by a mob of Christian monks. This time 300,000 books were burnt and teachers executed. The fall of Granada in 1492 marked the end of 800 years of Moorish rule and influence in Europe. Catholic Cardinal Ximenes ordered the destruction of the libraries and over 500,000 books were burned. Queen Isabella of Castile appointed Torquemada to head the Holy Inquisition and 3 million Moors were banished from Spain during the next 100 years.
Enough African, Jewish and Greek knowledge escaped the fires to fuel the Renaissance and lift Europe out of the dark ages which began with the fall of Rome in 410 C.E. when the ‘eternal city’ was sacked by the Visigoth’s. Thus all the books containing the history and wisdom of the known world, were burned and Europe began to rewrite world history in its own image.
Our minds have been exposed to the inaccuracies of this perversion of history for the last 500 years and we have become incarcerated in a mindset that guarantees us a destiny of dependence and suboptimal performance. The British were one of the founders of the slave trade between Africa and the Americas. By 1900 Britain had the largest empire in world history with France a close second controlling most of North Africa.
King Leopold of Belgium in the Congo caused the death of 10 million Congolese between 1885 and 1909. To conquer the various African countries the kill ratio could be as high as 500 to 1. An indication of superior weaponry and a brutality that was at the heart of the Empire. In order to slaughter large numbers of people, take their land and resources and sell them as commodities for profit it is necessary to define them as sub-human and inferior and yourself as superior.
This ideology flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries and as Europe got richer from its ill-gotten gains, its universities flourished as institutions of learning. The assumptions and basis for the sciences, humanities and socio-political ideas taught were shaped by the basic concept of the superiority of Europeans and by the 18th century history had been rewritten to support this and the ‘Ancient Model’ was replaced by the ‘Aryan Model’.
The rupture in African society was thorough and in all areas: economic, political, social, religious and philosophical. This cultural imperialism was designed to produce permanent dependency and a conviction of inferiority. The trinitarian assailants were Christianity, capitalism and culture.
The humanistic African philosophy and way of life was replaced by mechanistic concepts of the individual as a cog in the megamachine called society. His value is determined by his utility and moraconduct is determined by self-interest. As Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon, those 17th century prophets of science said, “the human mind through scientific materialism could command nature and master the human body”.
So spirit was non-existent, God was dead and through science and technology humans would subjugate nature, utilize her resources for economic wealth and assure exponential progress. So with a materialist philosophy, scientific materialism, technological industrialization and a capitalist economic system Europe has ruled Africa and has gained worldwide currency for its ideas.
These have exacerbated conflicts between people, brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster, while depleting the non-renewable resources of the planet and creating deforestation, soil erosion, toxic waste and pesticide build up. We are running out of resources to feed the industrial economy. Oil, gas, fresh water, clean air, food, forests, biodiversity, species diversity, genetic diversity, wild fish stocks, coral reefs, garbage dumps and ocean space for our trash, chemical pollution, acidification of the ocean, climate change, and global warming.
A global crash is fast approaching and another recession similar to 2008 is just around the corner. In Dani Nabudere’s book, “Afriko|ogy”, I found this quote from Matthew Arnold, ‘Civilization is the humanising of man in society’. Clearly what Europe has produced is not this, but a technological civilization based on the values and philosophy of scientific materialism. Africa and Africans in order to survive and prosper must discard the European ideologies and create a new paradigm.
Fortunately the African experience has always been a search for and a practice of what it means to be human. To return to the ancient Africans of the Nile Valley civilizations, out of 150,000 years of observation of themselves and nature and the experience of living in settled communities they gave the world it’s first and most accurate cosmology, psychology and religion. The separate cosmogonies that constituted the cosmology were taught at 4 different university towns in Egypt. Thebes, HermoPolis, Memphis and Heliopolis.
At Thebes it was taught that Amun was the sole creator God (Neter) and that all other divine functions (Neteru) and the material universe were manifestations of his imperceptible essence. Amun is consciousness, his creative energy is Ra and his creative intelligence is Ptah. The first divine trinity. Amun is transcendent, self-created, and at the same time immanent in the primeval matter that will manifest as the universe and all creatures.
So monotheism is intrinsic to Egyptian religion and all other deities (Neteru) are functional aspects of the one creator God (Amun), Omnipresent consciousness with qualities of creative intelligence (Ptah), Omniscience, and creative E (Ra) Omnipotence. Monotheism did not start with semitic people, but in Africa with African people more than 6,000 years ago. The primeval matter is described in the cosmogony at Memphis as an Ogdoad, a group of 8 creative agents, 4 couples:
Nu Naunet – primal waters
Heh Hauhet – eternity and infinity
Kek Kauket – darkness
Amun Amaunet – conscious essence.
Out of this balanced totality matter was formed by a dynamic burst of energy variously portrayed metaphorically as an isle of Flame, a primeval mound, a primeval goose, derived from a cosmic egg, honking with a piercing screech that sets the whole process in motion. So from this unified field of infinite potential comes a prescribed area of light, matter and vibrational energy which is how the Big Bang came about and evolution started as an unfolding of consciousness.
So 5000 years ago we had a unified field theory and we knew that consciousness preceded the formation of matter at the time of the Big Bang. The cosmogony at Heliopolis goes into more detail about how the cosmos was structured after the Big Bang.
Atum which is the personification of the active will of God (Amun) along with 8 agents, 4 representing physical forces Shu motion (wind, vibration), Tefnut water (wetness, fluidity), Geb matter (solidity), Nut space/time (the cosmic egg). The other 4 representing consciousness manifesting in the universe. Ausar, Auset, Seth and Nephthys.
At Memphis the intellectual tradition of the cosmogony is recorded. Ptah is the personification of the creative intelligence of Amun, the one creator God, and gives rise to all other Gods (Neters), people, animals, plants and all things that live. So Ptah with the conception of thought and the utterance of speech becomes the manifester of form, Ta-tenen, the primeval mound from whom all life emerge. The psychological principles by which consciousness functions as mind in the universe are elaborated in the widespread story of Ausar, Auset, Seth,Nephthys and Heru.
The basic story is of Ausar/Auset which are the non-dual halves of consciousness, that is conscious of itself (Ausar) and also conscious of all things as they are (Auset). They are the King and Queen of Egypt during ‘its golden age of civilization’. All their subjects are happy and prosperous, the land is fertile and yields an abundance of produce. Not being selfish, Ausar decides to visit other countries to teach them agriculture, manufacturing, good governance and the benefits of civilization.
He leaves his wife Auset in charge, but his brother, Seth usurps the throne and kills him on his return, cutting his body into 14 pieces. Seth is authoritarian and warlike and soon ushers in a period of conflict, war, fragmentation, suffering, inequality and oppression. Auset along with her sister Nephthys search the land for the different pieces of his body, remembering them. She finds all but the penis.
However she is able to revive him enough to have an immaculate conception by his holy spirit and give birth to a child, Horus, that grows up, defeats Seth and reclaims the throne carrying on in his father’s tradition. Thus we have the first resurrection, the first immaculate conception and the birth of horus, who is the first saviour of the world, Jesus.
All of this 6000 years ago in Africa. The understanding taught by the ancient Africans as the Egyptian Mystery System ontologically states that spirit is the basis of being, all that is, hence, no separation between self and other. Spirit, not being divisible is all-pervasive so that matter is spirit manifesting.
African epistemology states that self-knowledge is the basis of all knowledge and since the essential self, spirit, is an integral part of universal spirit, learning more about oneself is learning more about all creation and how spirit manifests creatively in different entities. This is experiential knowledge as opposed to superficial knowledge arrived at through the 5 senses.
All knowledge of reality starts from experience and is therefore subjective. The recognition of oneself as conscious spirit inseparable from cosmic sprit puts one in touch with all the manifestations of spirit since spirit is undivided, all pervasive and interconnected. This is the basis of intuition or divine wisdom.
Communication is by symbolic imagery which leads to language. In the Memphite cosmogony, Ptah, the personification of creative intelligence conceives in his ‘heart’ all that is to become life and then utters the word to make things real.
The word is a secondary functional process that carries out the primary conscious creative idea. Ptah is therefore an intellectual process of creation that occurs as a conscious activity in the heart. The heart is figuratively the seat of consciousness, not the brain. So both wisdom and the creative intellect are subjective conscious activities and do not require reason to come into being. This is internal knowledge that does not require the senses to come into being. It is prior to words and prior to logic and this is why the Egyptians never gave up the hieroglyphic which is symbolic imagery beyond words. Consciousness is non-local and is a part of the unified field AMUN that unites everything. As above, so below.
The Greeks never understood this and always believed that logic and reason were the primary functions of the intellect, their logos doctrine, hence speculative philosophy. As with Descates, ‘Cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am!’ Thought, reason and logic are located in the brain and consciousness is an epiphenomenon of neuronal function.
Western science with a vast expenditure of money and very sophisticated equipment is still trying to prove this. It is not provable, it is a misconception. There is no machine or type of equipment that can detect consciousness.
Only consciousness can detect consciousness. The story of divine kingship previously mentioned is essentially the story of everyman, who must resurrect the divine in himself (Ausar) defeat ego (Seth) and sit on the throne which is non-dual consciousness (Auset) as King (Heru) of his country which is his physical body, senses, and environment. So we have a continuous link between Amun the
(Divine essence), through the cosmic inteIligence, Ptah, with human consciousness Ausar/Auset. This is absolute reality. So we are a human manifestation of that which is timeless, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, immanent and transcendent. The original unified field theory (absolute reality) was known to our ancestors 6000 years ago and taught in all the temples and universities in Egypt for 3000 years.
This understanding of self and the universe and the relationship between the 2, personified as Maat, (balance, truth, order, harmony, interdependence) permeated Egyptian society and was assured by the King and his administrators. This was the basis for this first and greatest civilization, it’s phenomenal accomplishments in architecture, science, mathematics, medicine, astronomy,arithmetic, algebra, geometry, agriculture, mining, esthetics, etc., and it lasted for over 3000 years, a longevity still unrivaled at the present time.
We knew that all matter was animated. They derogatorily called us animists until Einsteinin 1905, with his special theory of relativity showed that matter was frozen energy and gave us E = mc2.
We have known that consciousness is primary and preceeded the Big Bang. That creative intelligence guides unfolding conscious evolution and that chance mutations and survival of the fittest has nothing to do with it as Darwin and his acolytes would have us believe. The Greek Democritus gave us the atom in the 5th century and Newton in his Principia in 1687 described his 3 laws of motion, thus reducing nature to physical entities with specific properties and functions and governed by discoverable laws.
Thus scientific materialism and physical reductionism were born. Simultaneously the death of God was announced, as what couldn’t be measured could not be said to exist. Science replaced religion and the more benefits that were derived from science, the less need there was for morals or values. In the early part of the 20th century Max Planck, Niels Bohr and Werner Hiesenberg developed quantum mechanics and turned classical Newtonian physics on its head.
They showed simply put that consciousness is a part of reality and that reality cannot be described or understood without taking consciousness into account. Basically this meant that scientific materialism and the mechanistic paradigm were finished as full descriptions of reality. Like Humpty Dumpty there has been a great fall. So the west has been searching for a new paradigm that would tie their fragmented world together.
Enterprisisng physicists such as En/vin Laszlo are postulating a unified field theory called the A-field which stands for Akashic which is a sanskrit word meaning ether or space. Well we had the original unified field theory more than 5000 years ago. Promulgated long before the Aryans invaded India from the caucasus and learned from the indigenous people the Vedas and the Upanishads. With us the A-field stands for Amun.
Africans in the post-colonial period have faced a crisis of identity, belief, thought and meaning. Senghor and Aimee Cesaire proposed Negritude as a conceptual cultural framework. Nyerere proposed Ujamaa, the east African concept of the extended family. Kenneth Kaunda proposed African Humanism which seemed to present African traditional values through a Christian lens. Kwame Nkrumah proposed African Socialism and in a nod to African traditions established his doctrine of consciencism.
Professor Ramose has put forward the Zulu concept of Ubuntuas being at the root of African being and philosophy. ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ ‘a person is a person through other persons’. This belief, therefore, prescribes Ubuntu as a philosophy of “being with others”. The Sotho people have a similar expression “Motho ke motho ka batho?
Similar expressions can be found in other African languages, as Mbiti tells us, ‘I am because you are, and you are, because we are’! is basic to all Africa. Nabudere tells us that in the philosophical domain Ubuntu is the law and politics.
Reuel Khoza has said, that ‘Ubuntu is the philosophy of African Humanism and constitutes the spiritual cradle of African religion and culture. Ubuntu finds expression in virtually all walks of life – social, political and economic’!
He has taken it in the direction of server leadership and projects it as the basis for business relationships. Clearly what is needed is a hermeneutic that comprehensively looks at our traditional time honored ontology, epistemology, values, cultural morays and lived historical experiences and interprets the messages and meanings that will allow us to reconstitute the dynamism of African culture in the forward flow of history.
Whether one sees the African Worldview as based on Ubuntu, Ujamaa, AfricanHumanism or Moyo (life) and Umunthu (personhood) as Sindima has done for the Achewa of Malawi, these foundational concepts lead back to the concept of Maat that was the core of the Egyptian belief system.
Maat was the creative principle laid down by divinity at he first time. In nature it represented the orderliness of events, day follows night, the moon waxes and wanes, the stars have fixed positions in the sky and the Nile overflows at the rainy season to water the plants and nourish the population.
In the individual it represented self-understanding, righteousness, truth, generosity, patience, effort, creativity. Perfectibility in community. In society it meant justice, order, law, harmony, a moral culture that sustains individual ethical values, the principle of impartiality and equality and allows the ontological potential of the person to be perfectable. After all we are not born in sin we are made in the image of our God, there is no psychological or ontological gap between us and our divinity.
Therefore we need no outside agency for salvation, no religious anthropology. Also we need no Marxian dialectic for guidance. After all this was constructed in the libraries of London. We need only a trinitarian Maatian dialectic, laid down at the first time that unifies life, the person and the society in an ongoing communication and dialogue to co-create with this divine principle, the just society and the righteous person.
With this ethos let us go forward with the necessary praxis to create the political, economic, religious, education and civic institutions that will bring about the necessary transformation for an African Renaissance based firmly on the wisdom, sacrifice and traditions of out ancestors.
The current dominant capitalist world system generates international polarization, conflict, income inequality, widespread unemployment, marginalization, exploitation and dependency. To create the paradigm of African Humanism we have to delink from the world economy. This is Samir Amin’s term and it means self-sufficiency and priority given to domestic development and adjustment of external economic relations accordingly.
Bearing in mind the subversive activities of the dominant world system and their indigenous acolytes, this will require enormous integrity, courage and commitment of our leadership as well as the full support of the populist forces in the country. An educated populace is the only guarantee of the personal transformation necessary for success. Steve Biko said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”.
Marcus Garvey said, “We must liberate our minds from mental slavery, because whilst others may liberate the body, none but ourselves can liberate the mind”. Reuel Khoza speaks of transformational leadership. I speak today of transformational followship. Our leaders have failed because our followers have been subverted. The ultimate battle is for the minds of the people.
Marcus Garvey said, “Education is the medium by which a people are prepared for the creation of their own particular civilization and the advancement and glory of their own race”. To accomplish this Professor Dani Nabudere sought to create the Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan University in Mbale, Uganda, it is a work waiting to be finished and duplicated all across Africa.
I have sketched our history, the longest in the world and the most glorious since it gave us the basis for civilized living. We have had ups and downs over the last 10,000 years. This is one of our lows.
But we know that the human spirit has never been defeated and our ancestors have given us the job to create the paradigm of African Humanism for the 21st century and beyond. Humanity will not survive without it. In transforming Africa, we will civilize the world as we did, once before. One God! One Aim! One Destiny!