‘You may write me down in history;
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise…
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room…
… You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise….’
– Maya Angelou
Before I proceed, let me give a brief introduction of who the African people really are; we are the cradle of mankind, decedents of the Pharaohs in Egypt and, as our elder Cheikh Anta Diop has established, the source of all civilization. We are the founders of agriculture, administration, architecture, metallurgy, numeracy and of philosophy. Our great cities of Alexandria 331 BCE, then Carthage in 146 BC; and in modern times of Timbuktu, the capital of intellectualism, are the earliest civilizations and the first to regent the world.
Significant evidence point out that Greek philosophy, is in fact a usurpation of Egyptian philosophy. When his master Socrates dies, Plato (427-347) the most celebrated Greek philosopher, interned in Egypt for 13 years before he ever published his most significant work. In ‘A Lost Tradition: African Philosophy in World History’ (1995), Egyptologist Theophile Obenga quotes Aristotle, Plato’s disciple, ranking Egypt as “the most ancient archeological reserve in the world’ and ‘that is how the Egyptians, whom we (Greeks) considered as the most ancient of the human race’ (p. 45).
The cattle-keepers are warriors; they traveled along the Nile and across the continent looking for green pastures for their cattle. They either negotiated or fought their way across the continent, they are free spirited, they do not believe in four walls, or in the supremacy of any other human. At night when they sleep on the grass, in the open, they contemplate galaxies and the universe; that’s the only thing that impresses them. To date still, the Maasai can’t go to jail and Somalis die for their beliefs.
The Peuls, West African giants were never taken into slavery. They preferred to drawn in the ocean, conduct hunger strikes, etc. They never willingly accepted to work in tobacco plantations. The Rwandans were never a colony, but a protectorate, until independence they constantly fought the colonialists, which through the Roman Catholic, had used God to subtly infiltrate our mighty people. Our King Musinga prefered exile to baptism.
The world’s regency is a circle, and although the west has been ruling in recent times, we have not forgotten who we are and where we come from. Although they have called us John and jenny, we have our own names, which our mountains recognize and eco; our mountains do not eco western Christian names because they do not recognize them. We have our own God; ‘Imana y’Irwanda’, we have always been a monotheist people and believe God dwells elsewhere and resumes to rests in Rwanda.
I meant to give this brief introduction to some visitors who believe we should recognize their presence. Who feel upon their arrival, the trumpet must sound, leaves and petals of flowers laid on their path. Journalist Kate Douglas is one such person. We have had many in Rwanda, and we’ll continue to have them, as long as still, we rise…
Even the decent ones, those who tell kind stories of us, expect gratification for that is the unusual. They expect Rwanda to treat them like other African countries do…
You see, like Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) would put it, not all black men know their might; Indeed not all Africans know their history; Westerners have done a better job teaching them theirs than we did ours; Except, in Rwanda we do. We have our Agaciro! Our Dignity. While traveling across Africa, German explorers and Belgian white priests write on their shocking encounter with this specie of giants that is very proud and does not seem impressed by their tricks.
One German even brings fireworks and request to demonstrate them before King Rwabugili. He’s tried his trick in many kingdoms and each time he’s gotten everyone to duck for cover whenever they blew up. This time though, he goes ahead and booom!! At that very instant, King Rwabugili happened to be speaking to one of his aids; he didn’t even turn!
The experience is over, but the king seems unimpressed;
- Did the white man do his trick? He asks,
- Yes your majesty!
- Oh, is that it?
Now, to make matters worse, President Kagame is the archetypal unimpressed giant! ‘Take your seat!’ he advises; ‘Africa’s seat, at the table. You have as much stake in this world of ours, as anyone!’
That’s his attitude, that’s the attitude of an unimpressed giant who knows where he comes from; ‘When you go to Paris to discuss security in your own countries, what message are you sending to our people? Let me tell you, you aren’t going to address security in Paris, you are just there for a photo opportunity!’ He thus told-off his West African counterparts…
I’ve retired from writing rebuttals; Being an African and especially a Rwandan, one is shocked by the amount of cynicism that is spread around on us; most of it untrue, exaggerated or blinkered. Over time, I’ve gotten tired of wrestling with pigs, for they enjoy the mud and I don’t.
Kate Douglas is a descendant of the German explorers and Belgian white priest who travels to South Africa where black people beg the white and clean after them, and she finds thing to be just right. Then she comes to Rwanda and realizes ‘there is more to heaven and earth than the content of her philosophy’, she feels insecure and terrified, she asks people how they are doing, they look at her and say we’re doing great, no thanks to you…
So she writes sarcastically: ‘Everything is just great in Rwanda!’: http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/opinion-everything-just-great-rwanda/
So Kate & Co, we know who we are, it isn’t in our DNA to be subservient. We do believe all humans are born equal and have equal aptitudes. To quote Bob Marley, ‘Don’t try to school us, we’ve got a mind of our own, So go to hell if what you’re thinking is not right…’
Your little analysis and assessments and opinion pieces are yours to keep. Our way of life is ours to live. To paraphrase Shakespeare, you can project what’s rotten in your own systems to ours; the shortcomings in your leaders to ours all you want; Still, we rise
I was disappointed to find out that you were a woman. I’d assumed you’d find this place convenient, for it’s one of the best in the world to be a woman; I am sorry you couldn’t go past the color of your skin. As a Pan-African who lived in South Africa, if there is one thing I am highly proud of, is that Rwanda makes racists homesick and insecure! Everything is just great in Rwanda? Thank God for that, no thanks to you…
Black philosophers predicted your advent a long time ago, they knew that after the explorers, the white priests and the humanitarians, your wave too would come along, they knew when Africa starts to rise the cynics would be hurting, for they’d do their tricks, and our kings wouldn’t bother to turn.
One such wise woman is Maya Angelou. So to all the cynics, let me offer you the ending of that timeless poem she wrote, that will one day very soon, capture the Rwandan story: Still, I rise:
‘Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise….
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.