Quote of the week
'..The friends we have lost do not repose under the ground...they are buried deep in our hearts. It has been thus ordained that they may always accompany us...'- Alexandre Dumas - Diaspora

March 2017 issue

African century journal   ISSN 2514-5673

This is the relaunch issue of peer reviewed African Century Journal.

Our first article is a review of Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism. This book which was highly celebrated  reveals Appiah’s estrangement from the continent. Unlike many I have never felt  that Appiah owed Africa anything. If he so chose he could be English or consider himself ‘white’.  A Jew does not owe it to anyone else to consider himself Jewish and if he wishes to abandon that identity as with his  nationality so be it, and so with Africans and the diaspora. It has nevertheless struck me how tenacious that African identity can be even when there is no economic gain. I know of a South African lady who ‘passed’ successfully for white, married a well known English journalist but in her late twenties desperately sought to regain her true identity, broke up her marriage and painfully re immersed herself in her African roots. If I ever had a beef with Anthony it was his pretending to be African when he did not care. But I appear to have been mistaken. His Englishness was not a true Englishness but now appears as a form of estrangement from Africa , a form of rejection rather than adoption, a way of sticking two fingers up at his roots that I never knew he had. So too Anthony discovers late in the day  W E B DuBois, an author so many of us grew up on. For  many of us the question when did you first read DuBois is as difficult as when did you first walk. His work ‘Cosmopolitanism’ appeared many years ago and given his recent writings Appiah has as they say ‘moved on’. Nevertheless this review which may or may not have played a part in his journey (Appiah responds directly to several of the criticisms in his recent Reith lectures) remains  pertinent in any evaluation of his book ‘Cosmopolitanism’.

Kwame Anthony Appiahs Cosmopolitanism

Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’ was an international best seller and something of a publishing sensation. However this review examines the evidence and critically evaluates many of the arguments contained in the book with a surprising discovery about the role of racism and homophobia in its assumptions and articulation.

Racism and homophobia in Gladwell

Studies of the economics of slavery have  invariably been riddled with sub texts skirting the issue of how much of US and Uk was built on slavery. This note looks at the key assumptions . It asks: what is profit?  what is wealth? It finds that the western academia has adopted for the purposes of this discussion alone definitions that hardly bear scrutiny. These same arguments are used when discussing the economy of South Africa so that the issue is not merely of historical relevance.

note on post revolutionary Haiti, received wisdom and false accounting 28jan17

Western feminist have taken a condescending attitude to African women. I am always puzzled how they portray themselves  as hearts bleeding for African women while showing little concern for the Black women in  their midst. They complain about gender inequality in frica but are quite about the 36% difference in wages for African American women compared to white women in USA. I recall the contempt for African American women shown by white feminists  in the pre  ERA days and the  failure of that movement when  Black support was not available. Then there is Gloria Steinem’s attack on Obama in his first election (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/opinion/08steinem.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin) and see comments (http://www.adoptedthemovie.com/gloria-steinem-pitting-race-against-gender/). But more to the point, no white male appears to have ever been prosecuted in New York for raping a Black woman but this appears not to be an issue for the White woman feminist movement – or shall we ask where were they when Strauss Khan event took place and would they have been so silent if the attacked lady had been ‘white’? In South Africa under apartheid  the female Black servants were the most proficient with birth control as not only were they regularly raped,  if they ever got accidentally pregnant they would be fired. Where was the white women’s movement? Ready to attack Black men that is where they were! This review takes to task  a film maker who began promoting stereotype views of Africa but decided to ignore all the facts.

4.Gender and Nigeria

When the publicised police assaults onBlack men resulted in riots  much discussion began on the resurgence of racism This article from 2014  proposed that what w s happening needed to be understood as a result of present circumstances and that old style racism was a mistaken analysis and would lead to inappropriate policy. The hurt of the dispossessed was real and while the anger was misdirected it needed to be understood and responded to if the situation was to be improved. President Obama reprised the same points in his farewell speech.

5. Comments on Racism

Neil Turok won a prize for a TED talk on Africa noteable not least for comparing his family to Nelson Mandela. The data seemed some what unusual and when I sought a copy of his sources he failed to respond despite telephone calls, emails  discussions with his personal assistant. As a brilliant mathematician (he is often bracketed with Stephen Hawkins and is Director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada) his use of data was entirely  without merit and deliberate and his failure to provide copies of his data broke all the academic rules.  When notified the TED organisation did absolutely nothing when they should have withdrawn the prize for fraudulent use data. Even a whistleblowing report to the governors of his institution brought no response. In the end  an open letter was written.

6. Open Letter to Prof Neil Turok