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|Our Politricks Inspired By African Politicians by iNVICTUSobi(m): 2:44am On Mar 30, 2012|
This is my very first post on the forum and considering the fact that this forum has been specifically set-up to serve Africans, I will start by giving a full profiling of Africa as we know it, yes I know that most of my readers will be Africans, but we will still give that brief profile and history of what is known as the most endowed continent.
Africa is indeed a very large continent; the world’s second largest after Asia. Its land area is slightly over 11, 500, 000 square miles stretching nearly 5 000 miles from Cape Town to Cairo and more than 3 000 miles from Dakar to Mogadishu. The political geography of this huge continent consists of 53 modern nations, including island republics off its coasts. The African continent is the most tropical of all continents, lying astride the equator and extending equal distances toward both north and south.
What must be noted is that the concept of the world is an invention and construction of the first literate observers. These first literate observers happened to come from the West. Beginning with the voyages of discovery, the Westerners formulated the concept of the world and began to define Africa. The voyagers drew sketch maps of what they saw which formed the basis of the modern world map.
The first problem for the early literate observers pertained to the size of Africa. Gerhard Mercator was the first Western cartographer to try and draw the map of the world that included Africa. In his map, Africa appeared as smaller than North America. In reality Africa is three times the size of the United States of America. Mercator’s map was so distorted that it even confused the lines of latitude.
Four hundred years after Mercator, a German cartographer, Arno Peters (1967) produced the Peters Projection Map of the world in which the sizes of the continents were more accurate relative to their surface areas.
Whereas the Europeans chose the name Europe for their continent, the name Africa was not coined by the Africans for their continent. The name is traced from Graco-Roman civilization. The Romans who dominated Europe, the Middle East and North Africa referred to their colonial province of Tunisia and Eastern Algeria as ‘Africa.’ The meaning of term is controversial. Some scholars trace it to Latin or Greek word Aprica, meaning sunny or Aphrike, meaning without cold. Later Arab immigrants arabicised the name to Ifriqiya. Initially, the name was used with specific reference to North Africa but as the Westerners expanded beyond the Sahara they extended the term to the whole continent.
However, many people living in Africa as well as foreigners do not think of the continent as unified, and there are quick to make a clear distinction between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa/Black Africa. This division is often based on racial terms. Africa became the land of black people and a Dark Continent. An attempt was made to deny Africa its heritage of multi-colour. The African were from then racially identified on the basis of their differences from Europeans.
What must be noted is that we get most of the representations of Africa and the African from the western discourse. This discourse revolves around the ways in which the West has represented Africa and its inhabitants throughout history. Their representations of Africa stretch from the voyages of discovery (16th century) to colonial enterprise of the 20th century.
This representation of Africa has provoked one of the leading African philosophers Valentin Mudimbe to write two influential books; The Invention of Africa and The Idea of Africa, where he stated clearly that Africa has been the invention of Western scholars. Mudimbe made the important point that reality is socially constructed and Africa as we know it, through its western representation, is a social construct.
Up to today Africa and its people are still suffering from the politics of othering and representation. This politics of representation and interpretation of Africa and the Africans is always connected with power and power struggles.
In a nutshell, Africa is defined by its history and political contestation in political and social theory. In summary terms, the identity of Africa and Africans is the product of Europe’s Africanisation process: European hegemonic map-making, European criteria of Africanity based on skin colour, European imperialism that inadvertently fostered Pan-Africanism, African nationalism, and Diasporic cultures that emerged from the slave trade.
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|Re: Our Politricks Inspired By African Politicians by Nobody: 11:42pm On Aug 16, 2019|
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