Triple Heritage and Africa's Bright Future

Topics: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Islam Pages: 5 (1752 words) Published: December 12, 2013
Dr. Kwasi Konadu’s course “Intro to Contemporary Africa” covers a wide range of topics relating to the continent of Africa. Throughout the course, students become aware of how the continent of Africa has arrived at this present time in history. From the beginning chapters about geography and historical context all the way to the final chapter on the trends and prospects for Africa, there are a few conclusions that students can soundly arrive at. As far back as scholars have researched, a range of different cultures have come into contact with Africa including European and Islamic cultures. A lot of the interaction has been forced upon the continent, and has been accompanied by violence, physical and otherwise. However, it is clear that the different cultures of people who have passed through and continue to reside on the continent has had effects, both positive and negative, on various aspects of the continent. Ali Mazrui is a Kenyan academic and political writer whose book The Africans: A Triple Heritage, which is actually a reader supplement to a PBS telecourse, covers this topic. Ali Mazrui’s argument that “modern” African politics, culture, and societies are a product of an Islamic, European, and indigenous African triple heritage is an accurate portrayal of the continent which African people should derive strength from, focusing on the positive aspects of each, in order to reach the transcontinental stability Africa envisions for herself. Chapter four “African Politics” of Understanding Contemporary Africa written by Donald L. Gordon is a valuable source that speaks to the politics of contemporary Africa and how they have been heavily influence by European culture. One of the most basic pieces of evidence of European influence on African politics is the countries contained within the continent which were drawn up by Portugal, Britain, France, Italy, and Germany at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 which initiated European scramble for Africa[1]. This artificial superimposition of lines over the continent divided ethnic groups and more relevantly it disturbed traditional social and economic patterns. This is an example of forced influence on the continent which, whether the people living on the continent wanted it to or not, influenced the path of politics which continues into the present day. According to Gordon, as a result of this forced influence, upon reaching independence “huge differences among the various African countries in their potentials for nation-building, economic development, and stability” were created[2]. This is one of the negative results of influence from outside cultures, but it is still a part of the heritage of the continent. Gordon is accurate in stating that the democratic governmental models were “alien structures hastily superimposed over the deeply ingrained political legacies of imperial”; however, in the year 2012 at this point in history, the democratic model can be something from Africa’s triple heritage that can benefit the future of the country[3]. Giving the people of Africa the opportunity to have a choice in who governs them is a key component of empowering the people of the continent. There is a lot of turmoil throughout the continent that can lead people to feel powerless, but being able to chose your government is a step in the right direction. Giving the people a voice is always a step in the right direction. Chapter eleven of Understanding Contemporary Africa entitled “Religion in Africa” written by Ambrose Mayo contributes a lot to support the stance that African culture is a result of its triple heritage. Ali Mazrui himself, who makes the argument for this triple heritage, is of a muslim background which stems from Islamic influence, and Christianity is widespread throughout the continent which is a European influence. To begin, Africa is and always has been inextricably religious, even before any outside influences can into play....
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