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Painting the Black Ivory White
Posted: Sunday, July 30, 2006

Re : "Revealing the true characters of African"

By Dominic Woja Maku
Saturday 15 April 2006

I would beg to contribute by expressing my personal views on the topic "Colonialism and the Africans".

First of all, I would like to highlight the fact that colonialism is a "Eurocentric Political Thought" or for the case of the Sudanese Africans, you can term it "an Arabcentric Political Thought".

Colonialism involves "cognitive imperialism (the colonization of the minds of a group or groups of people)", cultural imperialism (diminishing or demeaning other peopleís cultural values or traits so that their voices and visions are devalued and not respected), exploitation of natural or human resources of a given group or groups of people, marginalization of a group or groups of people, violence against a group or groups of people, poor bashing (you are labeled poor so that you remain in poverty permanently for the rest of your life, your childrenís lives and generations of children to come, and so forth.

There are numerous definitions of colonialism and its attributes and there is no right definition of colonialism or imperialism only these two words can be defined in accordance with and only applicable to particular situations such as the African Sudanese situation, Afro-American situation, First Nations Peoples of Canada, the Maori of New Zealand, the Aborigines of Australia, the Eastern European, the Arabs of the Middle East/South East Asia. Colonialism began long time ago (Europeans colonized themselves, Arabs colonized their own people, Africans too colonized and enslaved their own people). Thus, claiming that the characteristics of the African is being shaped by the exploration and the teachings of the European or the Arabs can be misleading if I am not mistaken.

I think that some Africans knew their cultures and traditions very well before the colonizers came to Africa. For example, the Baganda (of Uganda) called Lake Victoria "Nalubale", Africans had names for their children, lands mountains, animals, rivers and so forth. When the Europeans and other colonizers came to Africa they replaced those African names by their own, for instance, Lake Nalubale is now Lake Victoria and so on.

Now, the current Africanís life is directly influenced and shaped by colonial forces and its features and principles such as racism. To say that the African relies on the European or Arab knowledge too is misleading. The traditional African or indigenous African had traditional natural knowledge about the spirit (nature, soul, art, culture, so you name them).

It could be an overgeneralization if we think that the African knowledge is just a distance from the mouth to the nose (which is a colonial school of thought). Many Africans and other indigenous peoples live disconnected and fragile lives because of colonialism and racism and they have to negotiate with the colonialists for their own survival.

To date, some Sudanese Africans in the Diaspora obtain their educational credentials in six weeks (online courses) because the colonialists want to see that the Sudanese African does not have an in depth knowledge to govern himself so that he can turn to the colonizers for the answers to his problems (unconsciously, the master cannot destroy his own house).

Colonialism therefore is a term used to illuminate the socio-political, economic, cultural, and traditional subjugation of the oppressed and the colonized. Colonialism is fresh today and it is very much alive and it does not only affect the Africans but every facet of human live including the Arabs and the Euro-Asians.

* Dominic Woja Maku is a Sudanese graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. He can be reached at

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