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Africa's Triple Heritage Essay

1787 words - 8 pages

Dr. Kwasi Konadu’s course “Intro to Contemporary Africa” covers a wide range of topics relating to the continent of Africa. Throughout the course, students become aware of how the continent of Africa has arrived at this present time in history. From the beginning chapters about geography and historical context all the way to the final chapter on the trends and prospects for Africa, there are a few conclusions that students can soundly arrive at. As far back as scholars have researched, a range of different cultures have come into contact with Africa including European and Islamic cultures. A lot of the interaction has been forced upon the continent, and has been accompanied by violence, ...view middle of the document...

This artificial superimposition of lines over the continent divided ethnic groups and more relevantly it disturbed traditional social and economic patterns. This is an example of forced influence on the continent which, whether the people living on the continent wanted it to or not, influenced the path of politics which continues into the present day. According to Gordon, as a result of this forced influence, upon reaching independence “huge differences among the various African countries in their potentials for nation-building, economic development, and stability” were created[2]. This is one of the negative results of influence from outside cultures, but it is still a part of the heritage of the continent. Gordon is accurate in stating that the democratic governmental models were “alien structures hastily superimposed over the deeply ingrained political legacies of imperial”; however, in the year 2012 at this point in history, the democratic model can be something from Africa’s triple heritage that can benefit the future of the country[3]. Giving the people of Africa the opportunity to have a choice in who governs them is a key component of empowering the people of the continent. There is a lot of turmoil throughout the continent that can lead people to feel powerless, but being able to chose your government is a step in the right direction. Giving the people a voice is always a step in the right direction.
Chapter eleven of Understanding Contemporary Africa entitled “Religion in Africa” written by Ambrose Mayo contributes a lot to support the stance that African culture is a result of its triple heritage. Ali Mazrui himself, who makes the argument for this triple heritage, is of a muslim background which stems from Islamic influence, and Christianity is widespread throughout the continent which is a European influence. To begin, Africa is and always has been inextricably religious, even before any outside influences can into play. According to Mayo, “It is a way of life in which the whole community is involved, as such it is identical with life itself”[4]. African Traditional Religions are still practiced today, along with Christianity and Islam. The original religions of Africa “are not static”; according to Mayo, “contacts with Christian and Islamic traditions have brought about transformations and syncretism of all three” a perfect example of the triple heritage of Africa[5]. Christianity made its way into African culture before Islam did, with its first roots dating back to the first century. In present time, Christianity is actually the largest religion in sub-Saharan Africa[6]. Many scholars of Africa view Christianity as a devastating blow to the continent; as Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, accurately stated “When the missionaries came the Africans had the land and the Christians had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them they had the land and we had the Bible”[7]. What Kenyatta...

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