Wow I found this via wikipedia, makes you think about how we like to be called black and stuff,
LINGUISTICS FOR A NEW AFRICAN REALITY
BY OWEN 'ALIK SHAHADAH
"Every generation must, out of relative obscurity,
discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it." Franz Fanon
Words play a critical role in articulating our reality within an Indo-European linguistic framework. We must, as long as we speak non-African languages, find ways to control word usage when it spea ks to our condition through a process of assimilating and normalizing words that serve in our interest. It is ignorant to ignore the significance of making a universal Pan-Africanist lexicon, which is adopted across the board. And just like as there is a body which, monitors, controls the English language we need such a body for serving our linguistic interest.
The word Slavery, as an example, needs to be substituted by the word African Holocaust, and then, African Holocaust must be substituted by the African word Maafa. This example is rooted in seemingly subtle nuances, which have powerful ramifications. The complicated dynamics behind word usage is solely rooted in a battle of self-interest. Many times we find ourselves trapped with popular anti-African sentiments such as "Africans enslaved other Africans," "Egyptians weren't black," etc. We are trapped fighting battles from a strategic disadvantage because the terms and definitions we employ serve solely in a Eurocentric reality that have been sculpted to destroy our historical foundation. If we speak of the African Holocaust then facts of so-called "Slavery by Africans" becomes redundant as the African Holocaust does not focus on systems of imprisonment, but moreover, the wholesale inhumane destruction visited upon African people. In addition, African Holocaust is not limited to the Transatlantic Slave Trade but the broader horror that also encompasses Colonial rule.
African vs. black
How does one arrive at the term "black Africans," are there green Africans? Would you speak of "yellow Chinese," or "brown Indians"? If 95% of Africans are "Black" (capital B, if it must be used) then the minority should bear the adjective--not the majority. It is disrespectful to describe Africans with a label based solely on a colour, especially when it does not accurately reflect the physical appearance of most Africans. This is made even more offensive when the etymological root of that label (black) is derived from the word Negro, and is used in place of the word African as a racial or cultural identity. It is strange that despite all the genetic research and advance human anthropology we are still clinging to primitive 18th century post-Darwin model of race, which sole aim was/is to segregate and de-culturalize and enslave. The concept of a "black Africa " is a Eurocentric term based upon their ignorant primitive regressive deductions. Arabs and Greeks referred to Africans as "black" but this was not a racial label, and moreover Africans themselves did not self-apply these external labels. Like the Phonecian who were called the "red people," but no Phoenician would have referred to themselves in this way.
The word "Black" (and even worst "black" lowercase) has no historical or cultural association. It does not fully articulate the history and geo-political reality of African people. Black as a political (or colloquial) term was fashioned as a reactionary concept in the 60's and 70's against White supremacy, but it was never meant as an epithet for African people, but moreover a transitory term to move a people away from Coloured and Negro. As a political term it was fiery and trendy but never was it an official racial classification of peoples who have a 120,000 year old history. Indians are from India , Chinese from China . There is no country called Blackia or Blackistan. Hence, the ancestry-nationality model is more respectful and accurate: African-American, African-British, African-Brazilian, and African-Caribbean.
The mass usage of "black" by people of African decent is poor justification for the flagrant usage of the word. Because if that argument is to hold-up it would be justified to start using the term Nigger again, due to the self-destructive resurgence of this word among African-American people.
Yes, Africa was a foreign name given to us, but it was given to us by our contemporaries not our conquerors. In addition, Africa is a name of a place and Africans are simply people who come from that place. Many fail to see that "black" ultimately sets us outside of our connection to our history and culture. Black does not connect us to Kemet, it only goes back 500 Years ago. Hence, "black" people are an "urban" people/culture and "urban" people's history is 5 minutes old. In addition, because it is a term placed on us, we have no bases for its control, and hence they are able to say; "Ancient Egyptians weren't black." Black has no meaning; except the meaning they place on it, if and when they chose.
The notion of some invisible border, which divides the North of African from the South, is rooted in racism, which in part assumes that a little sand is an obstacle for African people. This barrier of sand hence confines/confined Africans to the bottom of this make-believe location, which exist neither politically or physically. The Sahara is a broad desert belt, which encompasses countries like Mali , Sudan , and Mauritania , and hence they are neither "sub" nor " North Africa ." In addition, many African communities historically have travelled freely across this European barrier set for Africans. Mansa Musa famous Hajj travelled through North Africa in the 13th century so why do we assume Africans would be confined to this nonsensical designation called sub-Saharan Africa . Again, Eurocentric dialectics is at play in the insatiable need to categorize and define things solely on superficial limited physical observation. This is a mindset, which they cannot escape, and the only way they can process reality. Hence, sharp definitions, physical quantities are pre-emphasised in their mental navigation of the world around. Interestingly, most non-European cultures embody a more spiritual approach to reality, which is expressed in language, culture, and perception of the World.
Sub-Saharan Africa sets-up the premises for the confiscation of any "civilisation" which happen to occur in African territory. These malicious definitions have been inherited by the victims of European imperialism and normalise into African language and reality. Sub-Saharan Africa is a byword for primitive African: a place, which has escaped advancement. Hence, we see statements like "no written languages exist in Sub-Saharan Africa." " Egypt is not a Sub-Saharan African civilisation." Sub-Sahara serves as an exclusion, which moves, jumps and slides around to suit European negative generalization of Africa . Hence, they would exclude Sudan and Ethiopia , Mali and Niger from sub-Saharan African if it suits their argument. Europeans place an emphasis on written script, and subsequent definitions of "advance" and "primitive" are rooted in this pre-concept. It can be said however that most of the world has, historically an oral tradition. However, both formulas for preserving history and communication can be found in Africa : oral and written. Traditionally Europeans in their historical attempts to exclude Africa from civilization have hit upon an obstacle when the Ge'ez script exists in Ethiopia . To solve this apparent contradiction the argument moves to, "it was introduced from another people." At no point in time can Africans be allowed to be seen to have fostered anything, which Europe labels as artefacts of civilization. So either the invisible borders comes into play and civilisations are assigned to North Africa ("non-Black") or alternatively, gifts given to Africans from external non-African sources.
There is no supposed cultural divide between north and South Africa of any significance not found between other African nations. In this respect to discuss Africa from the context of Sub (a word which has lin ks to sub-human, sub-culture, i.e. a very negative word) absolutely distorted view of African cultures north and south of the equator. Viewing culture from these limiting vantages point poisons the flexibility and deeper appreciate of subtle complexities shared, by these unique cultures. In a nutshell it is more obstructive, outside of science and rooted in extreme racist politics. There is more similarity between Mali culture and the culture of the nomadic Berber people than Bantu groups in say the Congo . Amhara culture can be argued to have a deeper relationship with Yemen (which it annexed in antiquity) than Ghanaian culture. So a black and white view of African culture only serves racist generalizations. Historians would like to point to the unilateral influence on African culture by non-African people, never is Africa seen to be the givers of cultural influence outside of its locality. This was extended to the extreme to say Nubians offer a supposed Caucasoid Egypt nothing, they were benefactors in the shadow of greatness. The influence of Egypt beyond this area was said to be non-existent as Egypt was married to Mediterranean culture. All educated scholars know now that linguistics, culture, et al were exchanged with Egypt , an indigenous African civilisation. Ancient Egyptians made numerous references to Punt ( Somalia ), and Ethiopia, so why we are to assume there was no exchange or influencing going both ways?
To be Semitic means to speak a Semitic language and in this regard all of Ethiopia , all of Somalia and all the Hausa are Semitic. This means the largest linguistic group in African is a Semitic one. However, if Semitic means "mixed" then the majority Semitic people are Arabs. How can Russian Jews be Semitic? Because they are racially European, culturally European, and linguistically European.
Ethnicity and Tribe
Africa is the second largest continent, divided into a collection of post-colonial "sovereign" nations populated with a variety of ethnic groups, not tribes. Fulani are 20 million strong (guess) that is not a tribe. The label tribe only seems to apply to non-European Ethnic groups. And comes with a notion of backwardness and non-modern values.
Also ethnic when used as "exotic" is also incorrect because it normalizes European culture, placing all other cultures on the outside of this "standard human culture." In this instances, ethnic, exist as some "exotic" trite sub-culture, for and only the entertainment destination of European cultural tourist.
Slave vs. enslaved
The notion that free Africans were slaves degrades the reality on the ground in Africa and makes the assumption that our ancestors were born into that condition; that their reality was always slavery. However, the term enslaved offers a radical and more accurate reality for it describes a condition placed upon our ancestors. Hence, captive Africans came across the Atlantic and were subsequently enslaved. Never were they slaves because this is not the natural condition of African people. Writers of history who are ignorant of this reality set-up a relationship between black and African, African and Slave and in this cocktail, Africa and all its contents becomes a completely negative entity which offers our imagination nothing more than images of Slaves, poverty and backwardness.
African Holocaust (Maafa)
Maafa is a Kiswahili term for "Disaster/Holocaust" or "Terrible Occurrence." Maafa or Holocaust is more inclusive and hence better describes the 500 hundred years of suffering of people of African descent through Slavery, Imperialism, Colonialism, Oppression, Invasions, and Exploitation.
Tradition and Indigenous
Often and mistakenly so the terms traditional (classical) and indigenous are merged into one understanding as it relates to African culture and history. It is a fundamental mistake as it warps and limits a true understanding of Africa and its many complex international relationships thus restricting and confining African history and culture.
As these words relate to religion, Islam becomes a traditional African religion, which exists in classical and contemporary Africa. It is often said by scholars and historians that Islam has been in Africa longer than it has been in any other part of the Middle East (bar Mecca in Saudi Arabia). Judaism and Abyssinian Christianity have also been in Africa for such a long period that in certain places (and this is key) there are traditional African religions. This does not mean that all forms of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are classical or traditional. And hence terms like traditional African Islam are fundamental in defining the African reality in classical African and contemporary history: Just as Christianity traditional to Rome is starkly distinctive from Christianity local to Ethiopia. Fundamental ingredients embody the essences of these religions in Africa, which makes them traditional, and this must be recognized in any constructive appreciation of African culture and history.
Indigenous can only be used to describe something fostered exclusively by a particular community. Because something is indigenous to Africa does not make it traditional or for that matter classical. Indigenous thus does not by default speak to a people's legacy only to the fostering of that item irrespective of time.
Slave, vassalship and bond servants
The system of imprisonment found in Africa prior to European enslavement was not slavery, but vassalship or indentured servitude. Too often chattel slavery is married to the systems found in Africa , which then sets-up all kinds of nasty arguments rooted in mitigating the African Holocaust, alleviating European's responsibility, and putting Africans as the sole bearers of the sin.
If forms of Slavery are diverse, then one word for a complex multifaceted system is inadequate. If the Inuit people have more than 20, words for snow to articulate its variety, why then must we limit ourselves to one term in relation to slavery? Clearly Arab enslavement of Africans contrasted the European enslavement of Africans, and the non-free class within the Muslim Songhay Empire was different from captivity among the Oba or the Ashanti . Fundamentally, academia must advance and embrace new terminologies for these different realities. But when a disempowered people are forced to use the tools of their oppressors it is little wonder more voices don't see the anti-scholarship principle found in the abhorrent generalization of enslavement; a system so diverse that in one system you could be a king while in another you were little more than a domestic animal.
We must not walk on the outside of our own history in humanity and thus a challenge to systems, which remove us from this noble place within human history need to be critically and objectively re-evaluated. To continuously fight an opponent who makes the weapon we fight them with, means victory will always escape us. This is why no matter how close we come--we lose. Unlike other groups, we fail to institutionalize and control concepts and definitions relevant to our reality. We only need to look at the current anti-Islamic campaign to see the role of language usage in a battle for supremacy and mind control. Today terrorist might as well mean Muslim. They employed a strategy which started by saying Muslim and terrorist, Islam and terrorist. These words always accompanied one another. Once the marriage had been established, either word; may it be Muslim or terrorist conjured up the other, thus Muslim implied terrorist and terrorist implied Muslim. This is just a new example of the route and methodology in rerouting words to serve an objective. The Western controlling powers have the single most powerful weapon at their disposal: mass media. And thus concepts, precepts, ideas and ideologies can be communicated in the blink of an eye. Thus we must too find a way of communicating our new realities to our people and it must start with those in positions of mass interface with the public; writers, musicians, politicians, et al employing these terms. This is a key part in our path to self-determination and must not be under-estimated or over-looked if freedom and destiny are to be ours. There is no line drawn under words and the future of linguistics in articulating our reality, for our empowerment is a continuous journey. Its ultimate destination is when the African languages are completely used in our communicate. As African people, we must seek to redefine our reality, and part of this redefinition must begin with the terminologies we use to define ourselves and the terminologies others use to define us. And when we employ these principalities and integrate them into our conscious, we ultimately embark on a journey that has no other destination, other than cultural emancipation.