This is the relaunch issue of 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 emerged 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 give his recent writings Appiah ha s 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’.
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. The review makes the suggestion that this work may well have been largely ‘ghosted’ and a Black face sought to front it. Whether or not this proves correct the technical evaluations of the work remain valid.
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.
Western feminist have taken a condescending attitude to Africna 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. 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 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 decide to ignore all the facts.
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.
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.