Can you really re-member Afrika in the images, symbols and languages of the master? Can you really dream the dreams of liberation in the language of the oppressors? These are among the questions raised in a new book by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Re-membering Africa, Issa Shivji writes in Pambazuka News.
In a commentary shared at the launch of the book, Shivji says that wa Thiong’o’s latest work ‘captures an important intellectual moment in the long struggle of African people to re-claim and recover our collective memory.’
European renaissance marked the beginning of the dis-membering of Africa, her body and soul were torn apart as her resources were raped and her beauty disfigured. Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 – ‘good hope’ for the invaders and ‘bad omen’ for the invaded.
In early 1500s the great city states of Kilwa, Mombasa and Malindi, which were the centres of blossoming Swahili civilization, were ruthlessly cannoned. European civilization came to Africa, (to use Marx’s phrase in relation to capital), ‘dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt’. Four centuries of slave trade dis-membered mother Africa into the continent and diaspora, as a century of colonialism dis-membered it into, what Mwalimu called, vinchi – statelets.