On Cheikh Anta Diop’s Perspective on the Modern Falsification of History / Text Serubiri Moses

From something we Africans got issue 10
Serubiri Moses

Ceikh Anta Diop ©DR

When we speak of appropriation, we are speaking of something very present in its character and method in the modern era. Thus, in regard to modern appropriation, we are speaking in general about modernity, and at last, we cannot separate modernity from its operations in slavery and colonialism. Modern appropriation has often taken the form of the colony and the colonizing external gaze. The mission to dominate the world in its entirety is a clear function of colonialism.  In this case, appropriation is the physical domination of land and the dispossession of those who live on it. 

Frantz Fanon described such dispossession as the basis of colonial violence. In this case, colonial modernity is a series of appropriations and displacements with the aim of fulfilling the goals of capitalist development on a global scale. I’m reminded here of imperial atlases and  maps, and how colonial geography functioned specifically to facilitate this process of appropriation (one may use the word “theft” here) to demarcate foreign lands and territories. In that regard, the colonial geography and its mechanism of appropriation amounted to the “divide and conquer” methods of colonial rule, that led eventually to the weakening of sovereignty of the pre-colonial states and societies in continental Africa. 

 Recently, when former African Union ambassador to the United States, Arikana Chihombori-Quao, in a now infamous speech entitled “The Legacy of Colonization” referred to the imperial undertaking of colonial geography in Berlin, in the late 19th century, she said that “Africa was cut up into small countries.” The implication of this  is that “small countries” like Burundi, sustain economic and political bullying from large sovereign states like China, in what she referred to as a process taking place in the “boxing ring” — “How do you put China in the same boxing ring with Eswatini?” argued Chihombori-Quao, revealing that the boxing ring is the “world stage of development.” 

To undermine the colonial geography in Africa, counter-strategies have been developed such as those evidenced by philosopher Francoise Verges. “A map of invisible lives recognizes the ephemeral nature of economic maps. It does not ignore the constraints imposed by national and imperial maps, or the dynamics of border politics, but suggests that these are not the only territories of living things,”  she wrote. Verges’s map of invisible lives provides a model of engagement and mobility that runs counter to the “boxing ring” of world economic development, and  shows the economic appropriation of “all our gold” and “all our oil.” (…) Find the full version of the text in Something we Africans got Issue 10.
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                                                                    Something we Africans got Issue 10
Serubiri Moses
December 2019