Morris DC KomakechUgandans have abandoned their indigenous languages yet they can neither write nor speak any of the foreign language fluently
The ideas that we are religious, civil, educated or democratic are all measured ideals for which the colonial objectives were primed. In history, we learnt that at the advent of missionary expeditions into the hinterland of Africa, religion was advanced to introduce civility to the backward savages there. With religion, came western education and the reinforcement of colonial language as the authenticated instruments of dominion.
Everything else African or black was subordinated and derogated as primitive, insufficient and backward, while an adult African, however grown, was viewed as a big inferior "child" incapable of truth telling and self-governance, fit for menial undertakings.
Such Black people's history is buried in a hip of tragic episodes, often romanticized by victors of colonial advents. In the colonial narratives, our tragic history is disguised as deliberate investments to enlighten backward people, no matter the cost. This is unfortunate because the black consciousness often requires a revisit of its heartrending history in order to make sense of it. It is this historical fact that also drives the consciousness. Without such courageous effort to revisit the past, the black consciousness would remain a recycling of internalized colonial distortion of us, something which we are not.
In the pecking order of global challenges, the Black race has seemingly lost the ideals of the original struggle for liberation that Franz Fanon and others advocated. If African liberators are still trying to stay visible, then their efforts are not paying off. For, we cannot claim to be struggling for liberation if we continue to use the very colonial systems, methods and objectives that were applied against us, which dehumanized us.
Shamelessly, we often juxtapose ourselves between capitalism and socialism as contending ideologies to liberate Africans. In reticence, by embedding our conscience in western ideologies, we placate our nerves to subdue the intractable history of the loss of our identity, intellect, virtues and values.
Through liberation, we westernized. We appear to be fully complacent to the western ideals such that we now struggle to manifest within westernized mainstream to proclaim liberation. We continue to subvert our own cultures and make little effort to modernize it because we have come to look at it through the same lens that the colonialist used - primitive and savagery! Westernization as such has dictated the way we valorize our own languages, religious practices, industries, lifestyle, laws (norms and traditions), economic activities, consumption, alphabet and others.
It is strange how in Uganda today, we have abandoned our languages and yet we can neither speak nor write any foreign language fluently; We have abandoned our religion, yet we lack in Christian faith; Religion has not helped us, instead, it has diminished our collective values and heightened our indifference to our needy neighbors. Western religions have scared us inflexibly from our roots, consequently eroding our traditions and values.
An increasing body of scholarship has recognized the acculturation of the black society through Christianity. Scholars have argued that it is the dereliction we accord our social-cultural institutions that also augments our westernization.
Africans today, for instance, have conceded most of their values, identity and the control over the environment to agents of colonialism, (now increasingly to Chinese). The footprints of monetized Christianity in all these are evident.
Christianity itself is not a culture, but a belief system that is transmitted through existing culture modes and structures. Left unattended, this powerful belief system has the capacity to dismantle indigenous cultures, rendering it near obsolete. Christianity is strong in that it is transmitted through the very instruments of colonialism where they augment and replenish each other's legacy.
For instance, to be considered civilized, an indigenous person was expected to identify as Christian, had to speak a colonial language fluently and had to flaunt colonial formal education. Each of these was primed to invalidate the African cultural institutions of language, knowledge and its very existence.
How then can true African liberators possess all the traits of the oppressors? They are Christians (Catholics, Protestants or evangelicals), speak and identify with the colonialist (English, French, Portuguese etc), espouse colonial ideologies of social transformation (capitalism, socialism, libertarianism etc), all conspired to advance colonialists and imperialist objectives - to enlighten and therefore "liberate" the primitive savages (in modern terms, those living under $1 a day)
Hitherto, it is mundane to declare that African liberators are colonial mercenaries who continue to represent the very ideals of those who stole the humanity of the oppressed. Their struggles represent the distorted vocation of re-humanizing the black race. These vain efforts have manifested in westernization rather than modernization of African society.
Mr. Komakech is a Ugandan social critic and political analyst based in Canada. Can contact via