Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation recently held a conference to discuss racism, racial inequality and the struggles of the global African for survival in the 21st Century
Arguably, no serious discourse on the historical development of Global Africa would be complete without a critical analysis of the subject matter of race and racism.
It was in bid to discuss this that the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) recently held an international conference where it invited prodigious scholars and policy makers to tersely interrogate these issues under the following sub-themes like the Concepts and Theories on Race and Racial Relations; Historical and Global Perspectives on Racism and Racial Inequality The Global African and the Problem of Racial Inequality; and Globalisation and the Upsurge in Identity Consciousness The New World Order, Global Africa and the Racial Question.
Others include the Pan-Africanism and Black Identity in the 21st Century; Literary Representations of the Global African Woman and the Gender Question in the 21st Century; Racism and Global African Economic Development in the 21st Century; Making Black Lives Matter in the Global System of the 21st Century; Afro-phobia and the Dynamics of Race Relations The Media and the Challenges of Xenophobia in 21st Africa; Afro-optimism and the Future of the Global African: The African Union, Afro-phobia and the Prospects of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century and Black Education and Pan Africanism in the 21st Century.
The international conference which was themed “Racism, Racial Inequality and the Struggles of the Global African for Survival in the 21st Century” the international conference was held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, but was viewed globally virtually.
While the moderator, Dr. Tola Odumakin, introduced the conference, the DG CBAAC, Hon Oluwabunmi Ajao took the welcome address and the Chairman, CBAAC Governing Board, Abom Tony Ibana also addressed them gathering before the Keynote Speaker, Professor Abdul Karim Bangura of the Centre for Global Peace, Washington DC, USA spoke.
According to CBAAC, Africa, the acclaimed cradle of human civilisation and her peoples have suffered and continue to suffer these phenomena with grave consequences on its capacity for self-realisation in an increasingly competitive world.
“While the dominant narrative is that racism and racial inequality are phenomena from which all races also suffer, the experience of the Global African is unique in several respects. For instance and at the outset, some of the basic ideas that foregrounded the enslavement of Africans and their subsequent displacement from their homeland in the continent of Africa between the 15th and 19th centuries to other parts of the world were racist.
“Although an essentially economic phenomenon which generated stupendous prosperity for the West, slavery and slave trade also created the objective conditions for the underdevelopment of Africa. This is in addition to the fact that throughout the over four hundred years it lasted, Africans suffered the worst forms of dehumanisation in the history of humankind.
“Again, during the nineteenth, colonisation orchestrated the sanguinary conquest and sequestration of lands, labour and valuable resources in a most violent manner that left Africa and Africans at the mercy of the colonialists. Based on the structures of what the late Professor Ali Mazrui calls “domination and damnation”, colonialism left Africa oppressed, exploited, traumatised and marginalized in the global system.
“The inequality that characterised the relations of subordination and super-ordination under colonialism afflicted collateral damages on the African personality, further implicating Africans’ self esteem. By the time of independence therefore, African countries were integrated into the post 1945 bi-polar world system as late-comers and invariably pawns in the hands of the dominant powers.
“Furthermore, arising from the disappointing performance of independent African countries and the multilayered development challenges they continue to grapple with, the image of the Global African has suffered protracted misrepresentations and prejudices, segregation discrimination and criminalization, as well as the variegated abuses associated with these; with the consequence that the African is afflicted with self-contempt, self-doubt and lack of self-esteem.
“The broad canvas painted above has refocused legitimate concerns on the fate of the Global African in the context of the New World Order and the globalisation process on the one hand, and on the other, the upsurge in racism, inter-racial antagonism and violence.
“Why is the Global African almost always the victim of the most malevolent racism since the 15th century? What is the nexus between the racial inequality suffered by the Global African and the developmental failures of countries in Africa? How and in what ways have the intersections between race, racism and racial inequality contributed to the fluidity and restiveness of the world order in the 21st century? How has the global media engaged discourses on race and racism against the Global African?
Addressing the Twin Evil of Racism, Racial Inequality
In her welcome address, CBAAC DG, Hon Oluwabunmi Ajao, charged Africans to rise up against the twin evil of racism and racial inequality in order to foster peace, unity, progress and development in the continent and the world at large.
She noted that the choice of the theme was informed by the recent upsurge in the cases of racism and racial inequality across the globe, especially against Blacks and people of African descent.
“Racism is a denial of human dignity because it directly impacts on the full enjoyment of an individual’s human rights, and in particular the right to equality. Racism and racial inequality are pervasive actions that manifest in the form of hate, abuse and violence.
“The recent Black Lives Matter campaign across the world sprang up and gained momentum as result of the ill treatment being meted against black people, which often times result in the unfortunate loss of lives. We must all rise up and speak against the twin evil of racism and racial inequality.
“It is against this backdrop that CBAAC as a Pan-African cultural organisation is lending her voice against the vices of racism and racial inequality against Black people in the world. As a matter of importance, the centre would continue to collaborate with allied institution to promote the interest of Black people all over the globe.
“It is for this, and many other reasons that we have commenced discussions to collaborate with the Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on programmes that would effectively recognise and promote the dignity of the Blackman globally.
In his address, Chairman, CBAAC Governing Board, Abom Tony Ibana Esu, first commended the DG CBAAC for taking it upon herself to continue with the tradition of excellence for which CBAAC is known.
He said: “We are gathered from all across the globe to interrogate a very disturbing issue that African peoples have had to grapple with in their quest for survival. The issues of racism and racial inequality, racial discrimination and inequality against the Black people have become a reoccurring decimal, in spite of all the achievements which Africans and peoples of African descent have recorded and attained in all the facets of life.
“Achievements of Africans and people of African descent in science and technology, social sciences, sports and entertainment, peace and security, their effort and contributions have at best received very disappointingly little or no recognition.
“More worrisome is the fact that the 21st century in most parts of the globe has witnessed a downturn in race relations. Resurgent racism and profiling of Black and African peoples have continued to exacerbate the gulf in race and race related issues all over the world.”
CBAAC keynote speaker, Professor Abdul Karim Bangura of the CODESRIA College of Mentors, Dakar, Senegal and American University’s Center for Global Peace Washington DC, USA, who spoke on “ai-[t] m’ såati: An Ancient Kemetian Analysis of the Convenient and Inconvenient Truths of Racial Discrimination against and among Global Africans” stressed that Africa has never needed the world, rather the world has always needed Africa.