The Mantidote August 2002 Sorry yall... this has been a busy month. I got back in from Barbados on the tenth and went smack dab into preparing for an Americorps assignment that I've recently accepted. I haven't forgotten the dote... just been really chaotic. Anyways... lets get down to business. I want to talk about Afrocentrism. For the record, I am an Afrocentric scholar in the sense that I focus on the authentic aspects of African culture and the culture of the African diaspora. That's what it really means if you are referring to Afrocentrism as a form of scholarship. It is a good feeling to see our people vowing to reclaim the heritage that is rightfully theirs. However, many of them get caught up in what I call, "Instant coffee Afrocentrism." The instant coffee afrocentrist thinks putting on a Dashiki, growing locks or some other natural hairstyles, buying Alicia Keys or Erykah Badu makes them "African again." This is horrible. They do not realise the disservice they are doing to themselves by doing this and in many cases, are actually intensifying the negative effects of Eurocentrism. They develop a complex of, "I am better than you ignorant negroes with no knowledge of self." I never knew or imagined knowledge of self could be developed in a matter of months and I didn't know that it was finite either. First of all, we have always had remains of African culture within us since arriving over here. It is impossible to totally destroy the culture of a group because there will always be resistance. I am not saying that we have not been influenced by the Europeans here in the diaspora, but we are still not European and we are still more African than American. Instead of trying to come up with a wacky fish story about us coming from people floating on clouds in Africa drinking Tofu milkshakes, we should examine the sophisticated polyrhythims of African American music... excuse me... American music. News flash... all music considered to be American has African American roots. That doesn't just include Jazz, Hip Hop, Blues and R&B but includes "Country" and "Rock and Roll." And be careful about what you call European. There are many traces of culture from Senegal, Niger, Sudan and other places can be found in Europe through various influences... one of them being the 7 century long occupation of Spain. Not to stray from the point... the Instant Coffee Africentrist will completely fabricate history to conform to his Eurocentric standard of sophistication. Because whites are starting to make a fad out of Yoga, the Instant Coffee Afrocentrist looks for something that would allow this fad to make us appear acceptable... so he creates some nonsense called "Egyptian Yoga." He/she even looks for "postures" in hieroglyphics to support his nonsense. That which he can't find, he makes up. Knowing that someone will say, "I don't see this in Africa," he/she conveniently clings to the widely accepted misconception of traditional african culture being totally wiped out by colonialism and says "it died out, so we recreated it." Then they say, "well, DNA proves that the people in India are from Africa, so what else do you need?" They call this Afrocentric scholarship... I call it fradulence. This is totally unnecessary and self-defeating. True African history reveals we have much to be proud of. The Pyramids are not the only magnificent wonder of African architecture. There are also the relics of Zimbabwe and the aquatic stilt houses of Benin. When I tell them this, they say "well we don't have time to look all that stuff up." THEN MAKE TIME! The same goes for the money... save up every penny you can and take a couple of weeks to visit somewhere in which you may be able to learn something. I also tell people to stop assuming that we have to "re-discover" african culture. I've said in many of my previous Mantidotes that African Americans have a lot of indigenous knowledge that is dying out from home remedies to parenting techniques. In my case, I have realised that my ancestors from Nigeria and Sierra Leone are responsible for developing Georgia's famous Elberta Peach on the Samuel Rumph plantation. But most Instant Coffee Afrocentrists don't even think African American Genealogies are even possible. The fact of the matter is they don't want to put fourth the work. My question to the Instant Coffee Afrocentists is this... are you down or are you not? Are you going to learn the African spiritual systems such as Ifa, Santaria, Vodun or are you going to fabricate an Egyptian Yoga? Are you going to study Authentic African Martial Arts like Capoeira, Laamb and Danmye or are you going to fabricate a Mshindi Vita Sanaa and/or Kupigana Ngumi? Semi-legit and part-time scholarship isn't helping us. Either you are down for preserving the culture or you aren't.