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Austin Africa Academy Edition Two
2. African History Reference Sets: The Cambridge History of Africa, The UNESCO General History of Africa, and the Falola Five Volume African History
3. Another Approach to African History: Historical Fiction
A Sense of Africa: The Ladies Number 1 Detective Agency (Botswana)
5. Nollywood and Ghallywood Historical Epic Movies
6. Historical Revisionism: Gandhi as a Racist: “The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire.”
The Two Principles in AAAcademy Research
As AA got further into research in support of its posts, it became clear that two general principles need to be further clarified in establishing the ‘Academy.’ These are important to make it possible for non-students or non-academics to participate in the opportunities for learning. The first is that information provided for any part of the website should be able to be found on the internet. The second issue is the cost of information. Most of the materials should be economical if not free. There are many assets in local libraries, but AustinAfrica seeks to find a ‘middle way’ both economical and not requiring one to live in a library. Some libraries are very good but with the need for most to work and care for families it is not always easy to find the time to get all that can be gotten out of our public libraries which are truly a wonder of the world. There are a lot of materials on databases and many if not most urban libraries like the Austin Library provides access to them at home over one’s computer and the internet.
The academic world is very expensive in many ways.To see how expensive it all is, see the prices of older editions of Textbooks that your children use in middle or high school. Likely you will be shocked. Textbooks are costly and even reviews of books can cost particularly if they are only found on one of the major databases. These databases are available for university students, lecturers, and Professors but for the ordinary person, the cost may be out of reach. With due respect to academia, there many costs that have made going to University difficult and for some truly problematic given the student loans that weigh down so many of young people. At present, the total amount of student loans outstanding is well over a $Trillion. This is the equivalent or more to the amount of bad real estate loans that brought about the 2008 Financial Crash and its continuing consequences. The cost of books contribute to the cost of education.
In a future edition, AAAcademy will research the issue of databases available to Austin residents and surrounding communities through their library. Some libraries may have textbook downloads such as Cambridge books online. Study at home is the best of all worlds particularly if one has children. Often children follow the example of their parents; if their parents read, they read.
Thus one of AAAcademy’s goals is to determine how to access research material economically.
African History: References
There are essentially three multi-volume histories of Africa. First there is the Cambridge History of Africa that was completed first in 1978 with multiple reprints between then and 2002 depending on which of the eight volumes was reprinted. Then there is the UNESCO General History of Africa (GHA) whose final volume had been printed by 1999. Most recently, UT Professor Toyin Falola has completed a five-volume set entitled Africa published from 2000-2002.
African History Coverage By Time Period
Of course, committees of historians in deciding on how to divide up history have different time periods. Below I set out the volumes of each series. I was surprised to see commonalities which reflects positively on the profession.
|CAMBRIDGE VOLUMES||UNESCO VOLUMES||FALOLA VOLUMES|
|500 BC-1050 AD||ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS|
|1050-1600 AD||7-11TH Centuries|
|1600-1790 AD||12-16th Centuries||HISTORY BEFORE 1885|
|1790-1870 AD||16-18th Centuries||CULTURE AND SOCIETY BEFORE 1885|
|1870-1905 AD||19TH-1880||COLONIAL 1885-1939|
|1905-1940 AD||1980-1935||END OF COLONIAL RULE|
|1940-1975 AD||1935-||CONTEMPORARY AFRICA|
Criteria to Selection of Appropriate Set
There are at least three criteria that I use in determining which set is best.
1.Whether it is dated.
3. Availability and cost.
The Cambridge set’s first volume was published in 1978. However, each of the volumes has different publishing and reprint date. Before considering a purchase, one needs to determine whether were any useful changes in the text between reprints. Probably the era that will change most is Paleohistory as it is a rapid moving field with new discoveries happening all the time. The same should apply to the UNESCO set. However UNESCO being an intergovernmental arts and science organization it probably is not a likely to modify often, particularly as each volume consists of
several individual pieces by scholars in their prime which may have been many years ago. The GHA was a one-off contribution to an understanding of African history, and it has now moved on to Phase Two which is oriented to a pedagogical program to provide materials for primary and secondary school students in Africa. Some work is expected in the Diaspora. Probably the most important contribution to North America is the GHA’s availability in Spanish which should provide a helpful bridge between the African Diaspora in the US and Latinos. There is a great deal of potential for cross-cultural programs using the Spanish version of the GHA. The five-volume Africa edited by Professor Toyin Falola is the most recent of the multi-volume sets and many of its authors are still very active.
Among the issues that called for a second phase was the under-utilization of the GHA and the need to coordinate between the GHA project and the Second Decade of Education for Africa (2006-2015). There is now a downloadable pdf on The Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa.
Reviews of Falola’s African History
It is useful to determine the differences between the sets. A couple of reviews of the Falola effort gives some insights not only about itself but the other two sets as well. These reviews are from Project Muse. One review by a University of Edinburgh Professor praises Volume I for its Paleohistory (physical anthropology and archaeology) because Historians should know a little about these disciplines but, on the whole, thinks it will have a varied appeal as it functions best as a reference volume where particular chapters are consulted rather than as a survey text in a course in historical methods. I felt the same in reviewing Volume I African History Before 1885. I bought this volume to get a first read Professor Falola’s perspective on early Africa. It being a volume of many contributions did not flow but on each of the specific topics was concise, helpful, and up to date. I noted that the article on Egyptian civilization definitely did not go for the Afrocentric approach found in Cheikh Anta Diop’s contribution in the UNESCO set.
Another useful review was given by Stefano Bellucci on Volume V’: “This book is the fifth and last volume of an immense history of Africa. After the other two multi-volume histories (Cambridge and UNESCO) where the first is sometimes considered Eurocentric and the second more Afrocentric the first question is where to place Falola’s collection? The answer may well be that it sits in
the middle. The authors are all African but teach, except for two, in Western Institutions. This reveals a desire…to describe a political, economic, social, and cultural situation from an African viewpoint but through analytical skills honed in the West.”
The fundamentally constraining issue is cost. The Cambridge Volumes when new run from $55 to $75 hardcover and remember there are eight of them. Used copies might save you $10 which is not enough of a savings to not just buy the new. The Falola Volumes paperbacks run from $35 to $45 new. Used copies vary from $10 to $20 less. I am the third or fourth owner of Volume I. I will not resell it as it is in a way a benchmark for African history until 1885. Volume II covers the same period for African Cultures and Societies. If I see a good deal, I will likely buy it. I noted that several of the scholars were Yoruba, and so I assume they are under the tutelage of Professor Falola (who is a Yoruba).
There is another approach I follow that might be considered by others. First, I would download the entire UNESCO set and have them brought up to date by referral to Wikipedia articles or the internet in general particularly for Contemporary Africa, then supplement it by A History of African Societies to 1870 by Elizabeth Isichei ($5 used Prime Amazon). I like the flow of her one
volume, but I also have all the work she has done which focuses on Nigeria and the Igbo: Her paperback A History of the Igbo People is hard to find and expensive: $99 new for a paperback $10 less used. I checked it out and photocopied it. Other one-volume histories by different authors are available and should be chosen based on your primary interest. I also recommend a good used Penguin African historical atlas.
Another Approach to African History: Historical Fiction
A few years ago, I had an orthopedic medical problem that kept me on my back for nearly two years. I had a zero gravity recliner and had just discovered Amazon and Kindle. I cut down on the internet except for research. My shelves, as a result, are full of historical fiction which I like from virtually all periods but especially from the Classic period (Greek primarily). I had spent a few years in India and while there had read my fill of Caesar, Sulla, Mario, and the rest. I read all of the Egyptian historical fiction by the French author Christian Jacq. I skipped over the Roman to the Anglo-Saxon by Bernard Cornwall and more or less ended my Western historical fiction there. Two other series I liked were that of the Mongols by Conn Iggulden and that of the Moguls by Alex Rutherford. Finally, in the last year or so took up African historical fiction and while limited there are good novels out there. As a general rule, I try to go back as far as possible. I do however like Contemporary Nigerian fiction.
Paleohistorical African Novels
There are many readers fond of the Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children which are a series of speculative alternative historical fiction novels. They are set circa 30,000 before present. There are six novels in the series and speculate about the lives of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals during the Würm glaciations.They focus on the life of early man in Europe. I read one and part of another and recognized their combination of imagination and scholarship. But I stopped there because they seemed far from the origins of human as I wanted to study them. Not to criticize them in the least but I am primarily interested in Africa where it all began.
It was thus with surprise and interest that I discovered the two Paleohistorical novels by Steve Barnes based in East Africa near Kilimanjaro called the Ibandi Series. He is an accomplished Syfy writer and has written much with Larry Niven, I found these two novels believable, well researched, and with many positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. It is assumed to be based 30,000 YA in an African society more or less in the same period of Jean M Auel’s European novels. However, for those that are African oriented, it is a big addition to this genre. Both novels are creative enough to take the reader through a crisis in an ethnic/Homo sapiens group arising from a volcanic eruption of Kilimanjaro as well as a warlike conflict between itself and a coexisting, perhaps older, more aggressive protohuman group. The group is led by a matriarchy of shamans that seek answers/solutions through ecstatic dance. The dance of a young female shaman reveals the new land where the tribe must start over and the way there. Tracking the story with reference to Wikipedia and other materials one learns much about the period. Not only are they plausible and interesting, but it also introduces readers to something of what it must have been like to live in such a period and, oddly, how much they may have in common to our time. The first novel is entitled Great Sky Woman and the second Shadow Valley and have much to recommend themselves to readers that want to explore how Homo sapiens lived in prehistory.
There is another set of novels set in African prehistory. The Daughter of Kura and Mother of Asili are about the story of a homoerectus group in Southeast Africa, again based on a matriarchal governance, is was written by ‘novice’ writer Debrah Austin. The first novel Daughter of Kura improves as it gathers a momentum of story. She followed up this novel with Mother of Asili, which has garnered increased praise. One of the limitations she has faced is that she does not enter material or detail that is not known by archaeology. She has set strict conditions for herself yet somehow makes it work. The first novel’s conflict is based on a suspicious older male who begins to assert a new form of religion that he expects the entire group to follow. There is murder and suspense until the culprit is discovered. In the second novel, the protagonists area again faced with a series of misadventures which demand discovery as to whether it comes from a reserved stranger, from Kura, the former matriarch, or from within.
Egyptian Civilization: The Next Stage in African History.
Christian Jacq is a French Egyptologist educated at the Sorbonne, who after commercial success from several series of novels about life in Ancient Egypt founded the Ramses Institute in Switzerland which is dedicated to creating a photographic description of Egypt for the preservation of endangered archaeological sites. Among the most important Egyptian Series he has written are: The
Ramses Series (Five Volumes), The Stone of Light Series (Four volumes), The Queen of Freedom Trilogy, The Mysteries of Osiris Series (Four Volume, The Vengeance of the Gods (Two Volumes) and a series on Mozart. He has written 13 Volumes of Non-Fiction including two volumes on Egyptian Magic, a book on Fascinating Hieroglyphics, the Black Pharaoh, and others. He gives a completely different read on the supposed slavery required to build Egypt’s ancient monument portraying Egyptian Culture and Society as one of the most socially advanced periods in human history. For sheer reading pleasure of those interested in the period and want to take it in through story a most pleasant experience awaits.
A Sense of Africa: The Ladies Number 1 Detective Services Finds Africa
Sometimes a writer happens along that has the ability to convey to the reader Africa as it is in the ‘present’. Not as it is portrayed in the news which runs from crisis to crisis but an author who has the ability to put on the mind and ambiance of Africa as it is to Africans. Writers like Chinua Achebe pull/push the reader to those times when history is on a hinge from one period to another, times of difficulty when what has been for thousands of years passes in tragedy. Such writing is the basis of the classics. But sometimes, someone who has been to Africa just wants to remember it as it was when it was just Africa for them. Someone who has lived there can remember moments, but it is hard to return to what it was, the simple merging of ordinary events, the purity of African time.These moments are hard to find when in the hurry or strum and drang of the Götterdämmerung that happens as the old is torn down for something else tragically radically new. These novels make no sense as the ‘pure’ present, they are the gathering of small horrors that sand down time until it is upon a point of impact magnifying a simple event into tragedy because all that is available on the menu is tragedy, tragedy of the millions.
Nor is it like a journal entry as I might write about, for instance, a moment remembered Borno (Bornu)in the late Spring of 1982 when the rains slow coming from the South rumbled as I sat under a Baobab tree in late afternoon drinking large green bottles of Star Beer on the porch of one of those colonial guesthouses, rich with the woody smell of old furniture but cleansed from being so deep in the Savannah.
No, conveyances into real Africa, into its real-time require a story, a story that in those times you might have had almost every day but upon which all the richness of Africa’s senses can be strung along the way, and enough of the people are believable in their sincerity and innocence to make it convincing. For this is the way they are when they are the best of what they are. This literature also has no cynicism or skepticism to detract from time which in Africa is slow and sweet like sorghum molasses. The richness of moments that might cloud sometimes with anger, but an anger as indolent as thoughts are in the heat of the day. Or in being in the proximity of danger which is both near and far, near because the weapon is in the hand of someone before you, but far because humid doubt cannot strike like the lightning from distant storm clouds.
When I feel Africa, I feel rural Africa, and so I understand the The Number 1 Ladies Detective Series whose stories are often found along dirt roads passing through a village on the verge of the Kalahari in Botswana. In them I am transported to the Sahel of Northern Nigeria and the profundity of a bad act committed upon such a clean earth. Where only the understanding of an African woman having passed most of the bad acts in life is still solid, still herself, and because of that she can see the obvious. In this series Alexander McCall Smith though half a continent away (Botswana) returns me to those days where evil is a rare thing and would have gone extinct but for the hurry and rush that spreads out from the cities to clutter the vast openness of African space with the dark forms of ourselves. These stories remind me some of Tony Hillerman except that they do not partake of the complex intrusion of Navaho ritual and its anathema of campground revivals of evangelical Christianity. The also remind me of the Indian anglophone author R K Narayan whose 15 novels of Malgudi in South India reincarnate a past now long gone, that is unvarying because that was the way it was.
There was a BBC production of the series but it did not last. It won a Peabody Award but was cancelled because of poor ratings.
There is a collectors phenomena ongoing connected with some Nigerian non-fiction. There are many non fictional paperbacks not connected with any university or known research institution and seemingly much depth other than having somewhat odd titles are going for hundred of dollars or more. In many cases, the authors are Nigerians self-publishing their work and selling them at exorbitant prices. Perhaps it is a marketing miscalculation/mischief, but also prices for serious non-fiction are going up.
My recent collection of Nigerian related non-fiction began four years ago. At first, this targeted all books I could get on the Igbos, my in-laws. I wanted to build a library for my sons who will one day want to understand their African heritage. Besides Elizabeth Isichei, I bought several 19th and 20th century Igbo related anthropology, art, history, and theology. Then I reached back to the very earliest books on Igboland which were written by British authors, just one among many was the Kessinger Legacy reprint of Among the Ibos by George Thomas Basden. I bought all that were available because they were reasonable. Now even these reprints are between three-five times what I originally paid. After these purchases, I began buying books about those tribes living at the borders of Igboland. Many of these were classics by early British anthropologists on such tribes as the Benin, Igbirra, Igala, Tiv, Junkun, Ibibio, Ijaw, and others, tribes that mean something to me because they were a part of my life in the ten years I lived in Nigeria. I was surprised to learn recently that I now could not afford them. As an example, an early British anthropology study of the Junkun, A Sudanese Kingdom by C. K. Meek, for which I paid less than $50, now goes for $160. Something is happening. I do not see how they can go lower so that if anyone is seeking to find collector’s items, books about African history and ethnicities seem a good bet.
I met many of these tribes when I did World Bank work in Gongola State in 1981-82. The state of Gongola does not exist now, but it stays in the young man’s memory; the Adamawa and the Benue, mother of rivers. Some of these books help me understand the life I lived there.
Nollywood and Ghallywood Historical Epic Movies
In my search for the best Nollywood movies based on famous Nigerian critics, I came across an article in Buzzghana on the best 10 ‘Epic’ Movies and thought someone having an interest in West African history might like to know about one media believes to be the best pomp and war movies based on mythological or historical events. The movies that follow below are based primarily on
Yoruba stories except for the one or two on Ghanaian colonial wars. URL http://buzzghana.com/epic-ghallywood-movies/
The article targets the Top 10 Nollywood and Ghallywood Epic Movies but exclude the wars of a hundred tribes but they are a beginning. Rated from No. 1 downs they are given as follows. The Yoruba stories do not focus on Ile-Ife, the home of the Yoruba but other Yoruba powers that developed later like Oyo and Ibadan. These movies seem to be pre-colonial except for a few such as the British invasion of 1897.
2. Ogun Adubi
4. Efunsetan Aniwura
5. Ogun Agbekoya
9. Bashurun Gaa
Historical Revisionism: Gandhi as a Racist: The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire.
The concept behind this book is that Gandhi was racist and obsequious to the British. Before going over the story, let us identify the prosecutors of Gandhi’s reputation. The first and perhaps the better known is Dr. Ashwin Desai who is “one of South Africa’s foremost social commentators, Dr Desai’s work is internationally celebrated for its courage and clarity of vision and for its focus on the lived experience of oppression and resistance written in the service of sociology or journalism or poetry or analysis or ideology”. This sounds like an academic hagiography or the eulogy they hope for as their sometimes dry, tasteless world comes to an end. The second, and apparently, the lesser is Dr Voolam Vahed who is a historian of Muslim education in South Africa. The Washington Post journalist that made the above book a story is Rama Lakshmi of the Washington Post.
Having read some about Gandhi, I know something of his efforts to get the British to take South Asians seriously, not only as humans but as ‘men’ capable of fighting in British causes. He would have preferred to participate as part of the British army rather than a stretcher bearer but it was all that he and his fellow Indian South Africans were allowed. I know also that he did not include Africans in his South African causes. Partly, this was because their causes were different in that Gandhi fought to allow his Indian compatriots be allowed to stay and work in South Africa. South Asians like the Boers and the British had no fundamental right to the land. However, had he not succeeded, Messrs. Desai and Vahed would not have had the privilege to be born in South Africa and heap defamation on Gandhi. Africans belonged to the land their problem was to reclaim what was theirs alone. I also think, however, it best that people have their own saviors. Anyway, South Asians, at that time, were not allowed to join the British army against the Boers, but Gandhi was allowed to set up a medical corps to demonstrate loyalty and bravery. For his courage in the Boer conflict, he received a medal which he ultimately returned when he took on the British Empire to free India. In his autobiography he said it was not a war but a ‘man hunt’. The number of deaths in the 2nd Boer War is estimated at 75,000 most of which were non-combatants. The Bambatha Rebellion dead are estimated at between 3-4,000. I am not sure he was wrong in thinking that Britain’s enemies were his enemies as he thought he was a citizen of the British empire like Paul thought himself a Roman citizen. However, this was a bridge too far. In as much as he volunteered to fight in both conflicts he could not be considered racist in his intentions.
He wanted his people to be accepted as active participants in the Empire because he wanted them to have equal status in all respects. Was he racist, probably in the sense that he sought the betterment of his people even if at that time, it meant joining the British in this unnecessary bloody conflict. Was he obsequious, I doubt it, not in the way that we would now understand the term. He stood up against everyone even as it could have meant his death and ultimately it did mean his death by other envious compatriots.
Based on the sentencing given him, he would have spent 11 years and 19 days in jail. Occasionally his punishment was reduced, and so he altogether spent six years and ten months in prison. It was at the age of 39; he first entered a jail. He came out of the prison gates for the last time when he was 75. Maybe that was the reason Mandela respected him.
Rather than going further into the historical detail of those times, it is important to realize that Mandela (who praised Gandhi often and effusively) took up many of Gandhi’s concepts though later after much thought he discarded the non-violent approach. Mandela explains this clearly in his autobiography the Long March to Freedom. He still kept the concept of an umbrella organization resulting in the African National Congress, which followed on Gandhi’s Natal Indian Congress and the South African Indian Congress. Both of these congresses had members from both Hindu and Muslim communities as well as all castes. In contrast to Mandela, Martin Luther King stayed the course in keeping to non-violence as the primary strategy for bringing social change. In retrospect, both seem right in their decisions.Another black leader that praised Gandhi is Barack Obama who did so when he visited Mandela at the last part of his life.
Let us see what Mandela said about Gandhi’s jail time in South Africa:
GANDHI THE PRISONER comparison of prison experiences and conditions of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in South Africa by Nelson Mandela
“Gandhi threatened the South African Government during the first and second decades of our century as no other man did. He established the first anti-colonial political organisation in the country, if not in the world, founding the Natal Indian Congress in 1894. – See more at: http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/gandhi-prisoner#sthash.OlQreiVD.dpuf. The African People’s Organisation (APO) was established in 1902, the ANC in 1912, so that both were witnesses to and highly influenced by Gandhi’s militant satyagraha which began in 1907 and reached its climax in 1913 with the epic march of 5,000 workers indentured on the coal mines of Natal. That march evoked a massive response from the Indian women who in turn, provoked the Indian workers to come out on strike. That was the beginning of the marches to freedom and mass stay-away-from-work which became so characteristic of our freedom struggle in the apartheid era. Our Defiance Campaign of 1952, too, followed very much on the lines that Gandhi had set. – See more at: http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/gandhi-prisoner#sthash.OlQreiVD.dpuf Prison Conditions. There is great similarity in the conditions of imprisonment during our days and Gandhi’s. Prison conditions changed dramatically only in the 1980s, despite the pressures exerted at the beginning of the century by Gandhi and his colleagues, and in the latter decades by my colleagues and myself.” – See more at: http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/gandhi-prisoner#sthash.OlQreiVD.dpuf
“All in all, Gandhi must be forgiven those prejudices and judged in the context of the time and the circumstances. We are looking here at the young Gandhi, still to become Mahatma, when he was without any human prejudice, save that in favour of truth and justice.”
If I fault this book and its authors, it is because of their hypocrisy. Some aspects of their characters will be addressed subsequently based on their heroes, those men that they believe to be leaders and that they would have followed. Readers will then need to ponder their character, purpose, and intent in publishing this book. It has been known for a very long time that Gandhi, used the word ‘Kafir’ and provided stretcher bearers for wounded British soldiers. Why now the ‘Great Book” about the Mahatma’s imperfection which he admitted to himself daily?
As I approach their criticism of Gandhi, I believe that their argument suffers from two philosophical fallacies. The events that make up this book were more than a hundred years ago and the expectation that Gandhi would be as fully modern as we are now about diversity suffers from two philosophical errors: 1) the historian’s fallacy and 2) ‘presentism’. The other major criticism which sticks in the throat is that it is assumed that black leaders that praised him were ignorant of Gandhi’s failings in this instance. They are condescending and imply that men much greater than they were rubes and fools.
For some time now, revisionist history has reached back centuries to criticize individuals who in their time contributed to the world that we live in. The historian’s fallacy is an’ informal fallacy’ that occurs when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective (same morality and ethics) and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision. The concept of the historian’s fallacy was named and outlined in 1970 by David Hackett Fischer, who suggested it was analogous to William James’s psychologist’s fallacy. All these fallacies assume that people in the past saw situations the same as we do now and so their decisions can on that basis be judged to be immoral. ‘Presentism,’is a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas (such as moral standards) are projected into the past. The denial that these are fallacies would be tantamount to denying human ‘progress’ in ideas and actions. If it is allowed to project immorality back hundreds or even thousands of years, it would require that there is a universal and perpetual morality known to humans from day one of people’s awareness.
Probably the more egregious error is to believe and assert to others that great leaders such as Martin Luther King (MLK), Mandela, and Obama allowed themselves to be deceived by Gandhi and his legacy. All three of these leaders were/are hard-nosed individuals and operators, and being successful in politics they were not likely to praise a ‘half naked fakir’ as Churchill termed Gandhi. They praised Gandhi because there was something real they saw in the man and his sacrifices. I just find it hard to think these three people dupes and buffoons which they would be in giving the praises that follow.
MLK said of Gandhi that he was “probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking for do many months. The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contracts theory of Hobbes, the “back to nature” optimism of Rousseau, and the superman philosophy of Nietzsche. I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi.”
On June 6, 1933, Nelson Mandela as unveiling a statue of Gandhi in preparation of the forthcoming elections that would make him the first black President of South Africa:” To unveil this statue is to unveil hope. This is the very first statue of an anti-colonial figure and a hero to millions worldwide…and today as we strive to achieve a date for the first democratic election (in South Africa), the legacy of Gandhi is of immediate relevance now more than ever…it is the time when we have to pay heed to the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi..for Mahatma Gandhi, India was his home by birth while South Africa was his country by adoption.”
To these two, add President Barack Obama. Before he became President, Obama hung framed picture of Mahatma Gandhi in his Senate office. He also once declared that the one person living or dead that he’d love to have dinner with would be Gandhi. When he left the Gandhi Museum while visiting India, he said he thought it was pretty to cool to see MLK’s signature written in
1959 when he had visited India to try to understand better Gandhi and his methods. When he signed the guest book, Obama left his inscription: I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to visit this testament to Gandhi. He is a hero, not just to India, but to the World.”
People reading this book will need to decide, as I have said, whether these three men were dupes and fools based on this very recent book.
These three Black leaders looked up to Gandhi, the question becomes who do these two authors admire?
Dr. Ashwin Desai in an interview said the following:” Leon Trotsky, you know – it was Isaac Daitsha who wrote a trilogy of Leon Trotsky’s life when it was – it was brilliant, and it was of deep fascination. I also loved his biography of Stalin because it taught me that Stalin was very mediocre, he was a person in the party, he never really gave public speeches, he was looked down upon by the other intellectuals in the movement, but he understood power, and he became general secretary of the party and so it fascinated me that a lot of intellectuals don’t understand power. They may have great ideas, but they can never implement them because they don’t have power, and then we used always to tell the story from these books.’ Dr. Desai has a rather high opinion of himself having been dismissed from his faculty for calling Noam Chomsky senile. This seems to reflect a soul that slathers with self opinion at anyone that might be considered noble.
In contrast, one of Dr. Voolam Vahed’s major works focused on Islamic education in South Africa. His ‘important’ biographical work was Sheikh Ahmed Deedat: Muslim Polemicist Par Excellence. Sheikh Deedat was famous for his proselytizing in South Africa. He wrote From Hinduism to Islam, critical of Hindu belief. Subsequently, the Sheikh criticized South African Jewish people based on the Israel issue. Probably his most famous act was to attack Pope John Paul II who declined to debate him in the Vatican Square resulting in Deedat’s bulletin, His Holiness Plays Hide and Seek with Muslims. Deedat’s organization was funded by Osama Ben Laden and he ultimately received the King Feisal International Prize for his 50 years of missionary work. This is a sad analysis coming about a person (Gandhi)who recited the Koran daily and who had so many Muslim partners. Gandhi respected Islam as a great religion.
Sheikh Deedat seems to be Dr. Vahed’s hero while Dr. Ashwin admires Stalin. Their education? Readers need not worry both were educated in the US. Dr. Desai getting his PhD from Michigan Stage while Dr Vehad got his from Indiana University. No doubt on scholarships.