“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” –Aristotle
In addition to really wise sages I’ve encountered in my short experience, there are three types of ignorant, facing critical information that if acquired would make them better, stronger and more open human beings.
|1||Ignorant of the ignorance||Blissful oxymoron||…Critical information|
Ignorant of the ignorance is a really sad place and the knowledge of its existence should make everyone restless. The agency to learn graduates people from the category of bliss to that of restlessness.
Before acquiring the knowledge that one doesn’t know, one remains in bliss : happy, innocent, confortable in one’s ignorance. In that position, one is vulnerable, disarmed and ripe for ‘mental slavery’ as Bob Marley called it.
The moment one is awaken to a hint of information, if one is curious, they develop a void for knowledge, they start seeking for the truth, sometimes they stumble onto definitive evidence or to revelations and guidance from a sage, or continue to be experimental thinkers, avid readers and listeners; that is what an intellectually curious person is. They judge less and seek the unknown; they are progressive and reformists for they evolve everyday. They take a value stand; an ideal, and move from there; they stand for something, usually it is LOVE – the only definitive truth, and the center of everything.
Moving from first to the second category is the struggle of everyday life and that is where I long to always be, and wish for every reader of this piece.
Each one of these categories is a lifestyle. Restless ignorant yearn for more and more knowledge. The more they accede to critical information, the more they realize how much more there is to learn. Each time, fresh information makes them more knowledgeable, open and decent; better of themselves.
There is a third category of people who know less and think they know more, or know it all. Although they detain only one side of the story – a debatable side, they are not alive to the next person’s perspective and they are uninterested. They are quick to judge, they set themselves apart and have stopped seeking… ‘my truth is the only truth’ – they say. These are the idiots, or just bags on meet in outta space.
I will be honest with you right now: seeking constantly, being curious is tedious and uncomfortable. The moment one opens the door to knowledge, one is terrified by the endless sea of information that they foresee. Which is why most people prefer quick truths; half-truths that they can hang on to.
‘Knowing oneself’ as Aristotle advises, ‘is the beginning of all wisdom’. Yes colonization was aimed at making tabula rasa of our history and identity. It claimed a civilizing mission, thus calling us primitives, savages, with no past nor identity. It succeeded in that mission, for most of us do not know who we are.
Cheikh Anta Diop (29 December 1923 – 7 February 1986) was a historian, anthropologist, physicist, and politician who studied the human race’s origins and pre-colonial African culture. He spent his life arming himself to set the historical record straight about our history. For that he had to complete five PhDs, namely in Physics, African history, Egyptology, linguistics and anthropology. He was a tireless militant of African cultural revival and integration.
Not paying tribute to him, worse yet; not knowing him is so sad. After all he went through, all so that we can have a basis, a point of reference, for our existence as Africans.
Father Alexis Kagame was a Rwandan Philosopher, linguist, political scientist and poet. He wrote more than 150 books so that our history can be preserved. So that we can have a leg to stand on. According to Prof. Joseph Nsengimana our presenter of last evening, our current government draws massively from the governance system of the time of the Kings, whose three missions as enshrined in the founding principles of uRwanda are: 1. Consolidating the Unity of Rwandans; 2. Expanding the country’s bounderies mentally and physically and 3. Flourishing and prospering the country
Some idiots are popular or in positions of power. We fear that they may tragically be taken for role models. For instance Leaders who hatch plans to kill their own people are not leaders but inherent idiots, oblivious to their history, past and their identity : Accidents of history. Most importantly: they do not read!
We decided to start #MondayTalks because we found out that we did not celebrate our heroes. Some of us are shallow, superficial, impostors, or rebels without a cause: punks, angry at everything and anything, who know little or nothing about were they came from, their history and identity.
Many think that being interested in African traditional history insulates us from foreign, imported mores. In my opinion, Knowing thyself actually opens one to other cultures, for in the end one realises the difference between humans is trivial. By serching the meaning to one’s life, one discovers that races, genders, cultures and religions are all the same ; the alleged differences just like borders, being self-emprisoning human inventions. The deeper one understands oneself, the wider one opens up to others, because the human connection from nearer and further afield becomes clearer.
It thus makes sense that we launched the Monday talks with thematic months on the works of Cheikh Anta Diop and Musenyeri Alexis Kagame. Their discipline, altruism, sense of purpose and excellence are indeed a strong example to our renaissance. Their colossal work give us really ample intellectual basis upon which we, Africans, Rwandans can face the world and thrive.
I do not know much, but I can tell you one thing only: Reach out. Reach out to the other, reach out to the unknown, the different, the stranger, the other religion, the enemy. Reach out, for then you’ll become two in one, then three, then you’ll become a bird, then a fish, then the air, then a tree, and then you’ll become the universe. The more you seek, with an open mind, with no cupidity, the more decent person you become, the contributor to building a better world.