Scholarship
How A Typical Ghanaian Scholar Should Look Like

?It does not actually constitute a wide stretch of the human imagination to assert the intellectual currency of Afrocentric theory in contemporary scholarly discourse on the classical world and its moral force in furnishing Africans with a legitimate claim to the ownership of the legacy of ancient Egypt. A sea of red ink had already been expended in the past century or so in the debate over the racial constitution of ancient Egyptians and about their phantom heirs at law, in addition to the tireless yet indispensable efforts of honest and influential scholars like Drs. Cheikh Anta Diop, Theophile Obenga, and Molefi Kete Asante to pedestalize the ancient Egyptians and their unparalleled achievements, as part of the endless battle to expropriate this Egyptian legacy for Africans?the rightful owners.

37409scholarshipMoreover, by commission or omission the West has committed one of the most egregious intellectual crimes when it belittles ancient Egyptians? massive contributions to human civilization?either by bastardizing their intellectual achievements or by usurping their cultural wealth for ancient Greeks or UFOs, by, among other questionable acts, employing the flimsiest of excuses or of glossy evidence, or both. It is our opinion that the West has purposefully done this on a cultural dais of barefaced arrogance, of feigned ignorance about alternate prismatic methodology (i.e. Afrocentricity) for plumbing ancient Egyptian cultural thought, and of ruthless confutation of significant theoretical contributions put forth by outstanding thinkers such as Diop, Asante, et al.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to inquisitive and cautious minds that many germane books that speak eloquently, supposedly, to the classical world would be authored to serve jointly as a corrective to the gross misinterpretation and misguided claims advanced by Eurocentric scholars and their intellectual ilk?in relation to the contentious reinterpretation of the historical legacy of ancient Egyptians. One such book is Dr. Molefi Kete Asante?s ?Cheikh Anta Diop: An Intellectual Portrait,? an elephantine project which incurred the spiritual and intellectual imprimatur of Senegal?s ex-President Abdoulaye Wade and South Africa?s ex-President Thambo Mbeki.

In ?Cheikh Anta Diop: An Intellectual Portrait,? Dr. Asante, a brilliant theoretician and one of the foremost authorities on the African world, assumes the task of carrying lay persons and scholars along a meandering journey into the psychological depths of one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth-century, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, a world-class scientist, Egyptologist, and humanist. Dr. Asante primarily focuses on:

  • The impact of rich cultural traditions on the evolution of Diopian thought, a feat achieved via a long history of familial erudition placed at the feet of the young Diop; Diop?s ten-year study at the bastion of the French Academy, Sorbonne, the institution?s conferment of a doctorate (Egyptologist) on him, after his work with an assortment of great European physicists and chemists. Creation of ?Presence Africaine? as a useful instrument for disseminating the ideas of Dr. Diop and several others; the placental effusion of Diopian ideas into the intellectual banquets of African and Diasporan scholars; Drs. Diop and Theophile Obenga?s powerful argument delivered during a UNESCO-moderated symposium, held in Egypt, 1974, a debate which successfully ended up dissolving the umbilical cord marrying Africa?s otherwise intact intellectual and cultural immune system and the cultural infectivity of the Eurocentric virus;
  • Dr. Diop?s ideologically radical and rhetorical refraction from Leopold Sedar Senghor?s grandfatherly stance vis-a-vis French colonialism in Senegal, and Senghor?s unforgivable denial of university lectureship to him; and hence the latter?s generous showering of pedagogic tutelage on inquiring minds outside the formalized walls of universities.
  • Dr. Diop?s extensive and impressive panorama of expertise from Egyptology, linguistics, archaeology, sociology, mathematics, physics, philosophy, chemistry, biology, history to literature; his unprecedented multidisciplinary approach to the study of ancient Egypt and of other classical African civilizations, the essential conclusions he drew from them, ?their express utility in modern state formation, etc.
  • The portrayal of Dr. Diop as a corporal phenomenon and a family man, and again, of him as a redoubtable concatenation of the elemental paradoxes of a Garveyite, of a Duboisian, of a Fanonian, of an Nkrumahist, of a Rodneyite, at least in his uncompromising indictment of the West for blanching the blackness of ancient Egypt and for its insidious implanting of a culturally-engineered metastatic cataract in Africa?s intellectual eye, this, realized via the West?s ability to insinuate wooden cultural imperialism into Africa?s optical blood capillaries feeding her mind?s eye. Thereby starving the eye of needful aboriginal cultural vitamins and resulting in her being locked up into a tight knot of cognitive dissonance. Thus blinding Africa almost to the point where it hardly sees beyond the ephemeralness of whiteness, beyond the paradoxical juxtaposition of whiteness and blackness, and beyond her own uncritical endorsement of cultural miscegenation, even as Dr. Asante makes a titanic case against Dr. Diop?s brash detractors from branding him a racist.
  • ?Critically, Dr. Asante then proposes in later pages the pragmatic utility of the theory of Afrocentricity in ridding the psychological DNA of African people of cultural and psychological parallax, which, to say the least, is trapped in oceanic antagonism of multiple worldviews. Further, there is clear and exquisite elaboration on Diopian roots of Afrocentric theory.
  • Dr. Diop?s unfinished business to divest Europe of her racist cloth, incidentally implicated with the thread of providential paternalism, which, sadly enough, had already been gifted to Africa during the past 500 years. This appeared a sham to him. And how he believed this to have been a cautiously-crafted political stratagem on the part of Europe to milk Africa of her abundant natural resources to fill the empty stomachs of her mammoth industries, upon which he concluded that this had provided the West with what it wrongly perceived as a divine mission to simultaneously demonize African people and their preexisting cultural and political institutions as well as to salvage Africa from the supposedly harmful corollaries accruing from her institutions? imminent geologic implosion.
  • Dr. Diop had believed this to be the case because the West had concocted the afore-cited pretexts, and, accordingly, had anesthetized her ramshackle conscience against possible reverberations from the scandalous crimes it will later perpetrate against Africa with utter sang-froid, an idea whose neutralization drove Dr. Diop to design a model scaffolding of political consciousness meant to exorcise later generations of African people from the deleterious effects of racism. This represented the first step toward intraracial pridefulness along with intraracial amalgamation, and then, second, toward a unified continentalization of ?Black Africa? under a multiethnic umbrella of political and economic solidarity, with fully fledged non-eleemosynary civic institutions to address her needs. Actually, the theoretical foundation of Afrocentricity resulted from these revolutionary Diopian stipulations;
  • How African leaders, scholars, scientists, historians, economists, politicians, and Pan-Africanists are seriously debating the theoretical actuality and empirical plausibility of the preceding questions, and, if so, how to make urgent use of them as part of the crucial template for modern state formation;
  • Dr. Diop?s momentous trip to America and the stately honor granted him by the erstwhile mayor of Atlanta, Mr. Andrew Young, an important occasion captured also by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima (See Sertima?s ?Great African Thinkers?);
  • A summary account of the Afrocentric paradigm and its subterranean Diopian strata are unveiled and analytically belabored; how Afrocentricity is helping delineate and guide the debate on the philosophical centrality of Africa both in resolving her own problems and in shaping her destiny, as well as on Afrocentricity?s huge success in encouraging Africa to peripherize the sinister efforts by foreign others to define and proctor her; lastly, on Africa?s terminating her ?forced? subservient role as the West?s chief amanuensis;
  • How the success of Afrocentricity will be calibrated in the new African state by its ability to hold the West to moral accountability and by its ability to subject her corrupt African androids to the pillory of acid justice, primarily for Africa?s continuing destabilization and wonton plundering of her resources. And why Afrocentricity will not condone the West?s moral essentializing of exploitative processes, neocolonial activities outwardly imposed on the harelip of Africa, in collaboration with corrupt African leadership.
  • In the final analysis, then, it appears Afrocentricity offers African people a goodly philosophical dose of centripetal imperativeness, a central idea meant for the harmonious collectivization of ostensibly disparate socio-cultural, economic, and political interests, without which the imminent collapse of Africa within the fragile walls of internecine cannibalizing of her survival remains a tangible possibility. Afrocentricity is therefore a necessary paradigm for African peoples to appropriate and to put to immediate use in maintaining a firm purchase on the breast of life;
  • Finally, Dr. Diop?s enduring legacy, expressed through epistemological metempsychosis of his revolutionary ideas in the psychic universes of his fans, lay admirers and intellectual progeny, and typified by multifaceted investigations carried out all over the world into Africa?s rich antiquity across an unbroken continuum of sound academic research since his fateful demise, is worthy of emulation. Critical thinking was Dr. Diop?s forte.

Understandably, Dr. Asante also brings a firsthand familiarity with traditional African political and cultural institutions, an intimate knowledge of the body of work done on ancient and contemporary Africa by leading Continental African scholars and warehoused there, his friendship with both Dr. Diop?s nuclear physicist son Cheikh M?Backe Diop and his polymath colleague Dr. Theophile Obenga, another world-class historian, Egyptologist, and linguist. Plus, he also supplements his biography on Dr. Diop with his fruitful social interactions with a coterie of contemporaneous political associates and former students of Dr. Diop?s, to bear on the exegesis of Diopian intellectual portraiture. Dr. Asante?s personal friendship with Prof. Diop factored into the intellectual biography.

In the end, Dr. Asante succeeds in filling up the many fossae located in our collective memory, as we attempt to cleave the Einsteinian-Imhotepian Siamese component to the man?s mind, an analytic technique he so effortlessly deploys in order to atomize his labyrinthine ideas into readily digestible and straightforwardly absorbent forms. This paves the way for possible materialization of his outrageously sweeping theoretizations about the necessity for African people to build competent institutions to serve Africa?s spiritual and physical needs, an obvious attempt to undermine persistent Western rationalization bordering on Africa?s intellectual ineptitude with incessant pointed allusions to the ingenuity of African antiquity, specifically of Black Egypt, a land whose ?unequalled? civilization provided the spiritual, intellectual, and material roadmap for ancient Greek civilization and hence the West itself.

Yet, we must applaud Dr. Asante for his steep circumspection and success in outlining the complexity of the Diopian mind, by delayering the rarefied fasciae to the man?s intellectual persona and by negotiating the serrated contours of Diopian scholarship, while, avoiding, among other shortcomings, the temptation to slip across the sleek countenance of an emotional incline, a steep one, of course, into a fosse of grandiose bouillabaisse of racist assertions. That is, he masterfully skirts every attempt to inferiorize non-African civilizations. In fact, Dr. Asante?s antiquarian exegesis stations all classical civilizations on a plinth of cultural parity, an admirable feat in and of itself. This is conspicuously exemplified by his total lack of knee-jerk intellectualism in his critical interpretation of Diopian scholarship.

What’s more, he takes Dr. Diop?s crocodilian critics to task, exposes then shreds their dinosaurian theses into smithereens of inane arguments, eventually putting these diehard critics to eternal rest. Lastly, the breadth of the bibliography, evidential muscularity, and simplicity of analysis makes Dr. Diop?s intellectual biography an easy read. However, with this powerful book Dr. Asante surgically deflates the bubble of conspiracy strategically designed, either to subject Dr. Diop?s influential ideas to intellectual euthanasia or to intellectual ostracism on a purgatorial island galaxies removed from major gravitational centers carrying out intense scientific investigation into African antiquity, but, thankfully, Dr. Asante rescues the man yet again, masterfully, from virtual obscurity into the welcoming embrace of collegiate radiance. Now, the man and his ideas are alive again, thanks to Dr. Molefi Kete Asante?s foresight and intellectual vigilance.

But there is yet more to come in the near future. Dr. Diop?s eagle-eyed detractors and admirers should stay tuned, for most of his books and articles still remain untranslated from French. When all is said and done, we can only hope that when these works finally appear in English they do not trigger, but rather stimulates more universal interest in promoting the commonality of our humanity, personal and institutional antagonism. Again, we can only hope that the quiescent geyser of simmering angst does not expectorate its deadly elements of intellectual divergence into the already charged ongoing debate occasioned by Dr. Diop?s brand of intellectual putschism, a progressive project linked to the revolutionary restoration of ?Black Africa? to the pinnacle of human intellectual and cultural excellence.

Let the Ghanaian scholar be like Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop.

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