Afrikan contribution to international relations theory: an Afrocentric philosophical enquiry.

Author:Moloi, Tshepo Mvulane
Position:P. 455-503


(1) I am convinced that such individuals may also be similarly referred to as Afrocentrists, thus these two concepts in the context of this work may be used interchangeably. Individuals who believed that all people of Afrikan descent, shared a common history and cultural experience. Refers to the movement that seeks to ensure Afrika's nationalism. For the purposes of this exercise in reference to this movement, should be read as a specific reference, to an idea that grew out of the 19th century efforts, to end slavery, slave trade, colonialism and racism. Its 2 main goals, were firstly to counter the idea that people of Afrikan origin, were inferior to other people and to build unity amongst people, with an Afrikan background in different parts of the world. Its origin was sparked by the early leaders from the Diaspora, found in various places, such as those initially based in the Caribbean Islands and later moved to the USA. In short- it literally means 'all Afrikanism'. Inspired by amongst others the views of Saint Thomas, U.S Virgin Island born Edward Wilmot Blyden, USA's W.E.B Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. Other prominent and less prominent members include Maulana Karenga, Omali Yeshitela, Runoko Rashidi, Sierra Leone's Isaac Theophilus, Akuna Wallace Johnson, 1st president of Mali Modibo Keita, Republic of Congo's Patrice Lumumba, Burkina Faso's Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Republic of Guinea's Ahmed Sekou Toure, Senegalese Cheikh Anta Diop, Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda, and Kwesi Kwaa Prah of Ghana. Diasporic voices include Guyanese Walter Rodney and Trinidadian-American activist Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). Notable South Afrikan's include Tiyo Soga, Pixly Ka Isaka Seme, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Archie Mafeje, John Nyathi Pokela,, Mongane Wally Serote, and Thabo Mbeki and amongst many others.

(2) This concept will be utilised as explained by Pan Afrikan scholars, such as South Afrika's Archie Mafeje and Afrikan-American Molefi Kete Asante (alongside other Afrocentric scholars). The approach employed will attempt to articulate, whatever may eventually be presented or recommended, to be recognised or read as Afrocentric contribution to IR theory. To be distinguished, from those that may arguably be referred to, as Africanists (folks from all races whom have taken interest in Africa (-notice the spelling, author's emphasis), as a subject of study but do not subscribe to the Afrocentric paradigm). This is applicable to even those scholars, that may be classified whether by themselves or others as Afrikans, however by virtue of not subscribing to the ideals of Pan-Afrikanism, they may thus arguably, not qualify as Afrocentrists. Their respective contribution(s), should thus not be read, as being Afrocentric.

(3) "Note that when we speak about the academic subject 'International Relations' (IR), we use capital letters. When we refer to those events in the world that are studied by the subject, we use small letters and call them 'international relations" (McGowan et al, 2006: 13). Since this definition has become conventional, within the discourse of IR literature, it would thus make sense, to adhere to this definitionl.

(4) This term refers to the core/western/mainstream IR theories. These terms may thus be used interchangeably. Typical examples of these include the four major theoretical traditions, namely Realism (forerunner to Classical Realism and Neorealism), Liberalism (forerunner of Neoliberalism), International Society (The English School) and International Political Economy Theories (these include Classical theories such as Mercantilism, Economic Liberalism, Marxist and NeoMarxist theory). Approaches to the study of IR also consist of Methodological debates namely the Classical vs. Positivist Approaches (Utopian liberalism vs. Realism, Traditional approaches vs. Behaviouralism, Neorealist/Neoliberalism vs. Neo-Marxism and Utopian Liberalism vs. Realism). Post-Positivist Approaches include Critical Theory, Postmodernism and Constructivist and Normative Theory. Non- Core or Third World / Dissident voices vary, but will be referring here, to mainly scholars, arguably attempting to present Afrika's case. For a sample of core values.

(5) In context of this presentation, reference made towards European or Western originated philosophical based thought (also refer to footnote 10). Which in time, proceeded to inspire the existence of the various IR theories. For an in depth critique of what may be claimed, as European originated thought, advisably a reading of the works, of early or ancient philosophers (from the Milesian philosophers-Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, to Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, is suggested. A further reading should include the Atomists (Leucippus and Democritus), then progress on to the Sophists (e.g. Protagoras and Gorgias) until one may arrive at the period of Socrates and beyond). For an excellent text for this purpose, refer to S. E, Stumpfs Philosophy, History and Problems (1971). Here, texts such as Edward Wilmot Blyden's West Afrika Before Europe: And Other Addresses, Delivered in England in 1901 (1905), Walter Rodney's 'How Europe Underdeveloped Afrika (1972) Samir Amin's 'Eurocentrism, Modernity, Religion, and Democracy: A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism (1988) are all highly recommended, in order for adequate, insight on Afrocentric perspectives to be achieved.

(6) The majority of these researchers, seem to collectively share the view that more attempts, of study seeking for Afrikan contribution to IR theory, are necessary, in order to ensure that IR, truly lives up to its universal ideal.

(7) Es'kia (1919-2007) "originally published as Ezekiel Mphahlele, but upon his return to South Afrika, after twenty years in exile changed his name to Es'kia Mphahlele. So I will stick to his preferred name of Es'kia or simply, Mphahlele. He has hewn autobiographies, novels, short stories, plays, anthologies and poems. The several awards and a Nobel Prize nomination for literature, have led him to be fondly referred to, as the Dean of Afrikan letters. This South Afrikan poet, artist, writer, academic, teacher, novelist, humanist and iconic literary critic, has been selected in order to serve as a representative of the 'Ubuntu scholars (within the broader Afrocentric family-authors emphasis)' because he is widely regarded as a pioneer, in cultural activism and is also believed to have been central in shaping critical thought, in the educational realm, through his contribution in literature, culture, Afrikan Humanism and social consciousness, over the past fifty years. He has been acknowledged internationally, as arguably the most prolific writer, thinker and commentator on matters affecting Afrikans, on the continent and in the Diaspora." This particular quote, has been derived from the Epilogue of 'Down 2nd Avenue' (Mphahlele, 2004: 207).

(8) Organization which was the brainchild of the collective efforts, of the new predominantly black South Afrikan intelligentsia, from the late 19th century. Believed to have been represented by five generations. It's the 1950's whereby the 5th and last generation of Can Themba, Bloke Modisane, Henry Nxumalo, and Arthur Maimane etc fondly labeled as the DRUM writers, in which Mphahlele features. Alongside the brilliant Bessie Head, Nat Nakasa and Lewis Nkosi amongst others, they were part of the Sophiatown Renaissance, destroyed by the apartheid project. Mphahlele would eventually join Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and others in exile, in Nigeria. It is in exile where Mphahlele's affiliation with magazines such as Black Orpheus and numerous other literary movements, concerned with Afrika, grew immensely upon him.

(9) Eurocentric/Westerncentric--these concepts would be used interchangeably, as they make reference, to the same group of people voicing themselves, courtesy of mainstream IR theories. For me, this group is predominantly, associated with the initiators and upholders, of what has become, hegemonic and non-Afrocentric perspectives. In an effort to achieve balance, from the perspectives on offer, by these authoritative voices, particular reference will be related to themes, associated with Pan-Afrikan literature.

(10) An intentionally renewed emphasis from endnote 3. Based on sparse definitions found to be uncomfortably narrow or flawed, regarding Afrika, for the purpose here, this term will mainly refer to the body, of scholarly work, to do with the theme of 'Africa' (note the spelling as intentionally should be distinguished from Afrika), as it has commonly grown to be known, through various definitions. However, more interest will be focused on insights of selected scholars, who may arguably qualify, to be regarded as Afrocentrists (a distinction from those scholars, who are regarded as Africanists (not necessarily the same as Afrikanists, as these qualify to fit into the bracket of Afrocentrists)- this comprises of individuals of all nations, which are not of Afrikan origin or physically associated, with Afrika, that have however taken an interest, in the study of different themes related to Afrika, refer to endnote 17 for typical examples of Africanists. This distinction arguably, needs to be made, in pursuit of securing appropriate responses, for the benefit of this engagement.

(11) Refers to "Literally, dispersion (from the Hebrew); implies displacement or dispersal by force, but is also used to refer to the communities, that have arisen, as a result of such dispersal" (Heywood, 2007:214). In all its complexity, this term, should be understood as commonly used, by Afrikan leaders and various academics, when referring to the people of Afrikan descent, spread out across the world.

(12) As used by the prolific Brazilian academic Paulo Freire in both his seminal texts Pedagogy of Hope (2004) which was preceded by Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In both texts Freire similar to Frantz Fanon's...

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