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Africa is Redeemable

            Africa is indeed a huge continent. It is situated at ‘the heart of the world’. More interestingly, Africa is the only continent of the globe which divided itself into two almost equal parts by the equator. Thus, Africa should experienced diverse environmental conditions. However, prior to 1960’s, especially during the time of European colonialism, Africa has been accused as irredeemable; the condemned continent. For European colonialists, Africans can’t do anything for themselves, hence it need paternalism: “aid, not trade”.

            Since 1960’s onwards, a phenomenon called ‘African Renaissance’ started to happen. For African people and scholars, Africa has a lot of potential. Claims such as Africa is ahistorical’, ‘Africa is a condemned continent’, and ‘Africa need paternal’ are all fallacies. How did these false claims occur? Might be because of the European ignorance, or might the accusations shadowed a hidden agenda? Nevertheless, this Eurocentric view on Africa is gradually being replaced by ‘Afrocentric view’ on Africa, which aims to proof Africa as a potential continent. 

Among them is The African Vision by Dr. Huxley. Most scholars started to blame the Western colonialists as the cause for the African problems in the modern world. The colonial policy of divide and rule which has been imposed by the colonialists on the African states mushroomed its problems. Thus these problems agreed that Africans should redo the colonialists’ works in order to rise as a new potential power of the world. Now Africans changed their mental outlook on Africa: “Africa is indeed redeemable. Let trade with Africa, not aid, because it needs only partners, not paternal”.

            As far as African potentialities are concerned, let us look at the geographical features of Africa itself. As been mentioned before, Africa is the only continent that divided into two slightly equal parts from the equator. Because of that, it experienced various geographical zones which can be classified into four: (1) Mediterranean zone; (2) Desert Zone; (3) Savannah Zone; and (4) Forest zone. Even though the shape and condition of the whole continent like a stone – it has a few islands and its coasts are not suitable for building harbour which indicates its unsuited to developed its sea trade – Africa could develop its potentials in various industries instead of a sea trade. The diversity of nature makes it suitable for tourism industry. Even the desert zone itself is very potentials of becoming an interesting place to be visited. 

            Apart from that, Africa is also rich with minerals. Gold, silver and oils are among the precious commodities since the ancient time until today. Indeed all these minerals could be found in Africa. Besides, Africa is always known as the place which ‘animal kingdom’ resides. Yet, perhaps this is true. Various fauna and flora could be found here. Africa has its own domestic livestock such as cows, goats, and sheep as well as the wild life such as lion, tiger, and giraffe that become an attraction for the nature lovers all around the globe.

            Besides its land that has been discussed aforesaid, two more aspects of African potentials will be highlighted. In the history of civilization, many civilizations emerged when they are able to utilize three main potentials: land, water and human resource. Thus afterwards, the potentials of water and human resources will complete this brief argument.

            Africa is surrounded by water. There are four or ocean which surrounded Africa: Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Sea, and Red Sea. Besides that, the longest river in the world is located in Africa: the River Nile. The River Nile has two sources: the one from Victoria Lake and later from Lake Tana. Besides that, in Central Africa, there is Congo River and in the West there is Niger River. River is the x-factor for agriculture. Indeed, it is the cradle of civilization, and Nile River has approved this. Instead of agricultural activities, river is also producing food and becoming the means of transportation, from one place to another.

            Now, we come to the last aspect of African potentialities; human resource. For Africa, its human resources can be recognized by four categories: (1) Its people; (2) family institution; (3) multiculturalism; and (4) the brain-gain phenomenon. 

            African people are tough and industrious. They are able to conduct heavy works. In the aspect of family, Africans appreciate their family very much and extended family is very important. For African culture, polygamy is normal. Thus, they have many children which indicate the increment of African population as well as its human resources. Sometimes people argue that to be different is a disadvantage. However, in Africa, multiculturalism could be transformed into a potential for them. Thousands of tribal units and ethnic groups can be founded in Africa. Hundreds of languages and dialects or might be thousands of them can also be founded here. 

Lastly, the ‘brain-gain’ phenomenon has happened in Africa. Africa has developed well since 1980’s and many African experts, technocrats, and professionals started to return back to their homeland to contribute and serve their countries. Apart from that, the African Diaspora that happened during colonial era has spread Africans all around the world. Now, they gather their strength and becoming strong lobby groups.

            As a conclusion, Africa is not irredeemable. It is not a condemned continent. The fact is, its potentialities are remarkable either in economic or its environmental. The wave of African renaissance is now coming. 

*Answer transcript for  mid-semester test for the subject Islamic Civilization in Sub-Saharan Africa (sem 2 2012/2013) - under the supervision of Prof Hassan Ahmed Ibrahim

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