Ngugi wa Thiong’o has argued that the ideology of racism has become a weapon for mental and spiritual domination and subjugation of peoples, which comes wrapped up in many forms and disguises that include religion, the arts, the media, culture, values, beliefs and even feelings. He adds that racism is one of the most devastating of all ideological weapons wielded by imperialism today because it is meant to safeguard the entire system of exploitation of the many by the few within and among nations. He cites five interlinked features as being responsible for this state of affairs in which racism becomes the centre-stage.
First, racism obscures the exploitative relations of the system between the wealthy few and the majority of the poor. It also obscures the reasons behind the vast gaps of wealth that exist between the rich capitalist nations, and poor nations of Africa, Asia and South America. It creates a situation where the exploited majority who produce the wealth enjoyed by the few become subservient and ever grateful to the rich for the ‘assistance’ given to them. It also obscures the origin of this wealth, which was produced by slave trade, slave labour, and colonialism by creating a belief that Europe developed because it is exceptional and superior.
Pan-Africanism was conceived and developed as anti-imperialist ideology of the African people. It came into being when the African people in the Diaspora became conscious of themselves as Africans poised against a racist society, which had enslaved them. It was a response to the oppressive European race consciousness, which was conceived for the purposes of enslavement and exploitation. The resistance to imperialism and racism was born within the struggle to develop a Pan-African Ideology. The persistence of imperialism and its servant racism are therefore factors which need to be explored and examined in order to spell out new directions in the struggle against it in new conditions.
The concept race and its expression in the social sciences has followed the path of capitalist transformations. Over time, racism has been built into the body politic of modern imperialism. A successful struggle against the enemy must depend on how successful the Pan-African intellectuals are able to sharpen their tools of analysis to combat racist ideology in whatever forms it may appear.
Sserubiri Uhuru is Africa Thisday’s columnist from Kampala, Uhuru. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org