By Lisa Vives
Over the last 100 years, Africa has been the eternal donor to the West but has been represented as always reliant on aid from the Western community.
“We must find a way of reversing this by becoming makers of our own raw materials,” asserts Kenyan author and academic Ngugi wa Thiong’o who picked up a distinguished German Peace Prize named for Erich Maria Remarque this year.
“It’s time for Africa to do things for ourselves,” declared wa Thiong’o, author of ‘Weep Not, Child’, ‘A Grain of Wheat,” and ‘Petals of Blood,’ – “not in pursuit of isolation but as a matter of upholding values of Pan Africanism and having ownership and responsibility of the continent.”
The most apparent problem with many African people, he observed, is seeing Africa through the eyes of an outsider – an imperial intent designed through languages and policies – to foster post-colonial measurements that would be indestructible for many generations.
As a result, you look at the state as a looting mechanism, not as a responsibility. “Have you ever heard of anybody robbing their own house?” he asked rhetorically. “This mentality removes us from the responsibility of decolonizing the continent and securing our base.”
“Africa has to control its resources,” he insisted. “We have to make things with our resources and exchange them with other countries just as other countries exchange final products with us – using our gold, copper and diamonds amongst other resources.
“Because when you secure the base you can interact with the world, through the basis of equality and respect.”
A distinguished professor of comparative literature and English, wa Thiong’o was awarded the prize for his book: “Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature”, about language and its constructive role in national culture, history and identity.
The Prize is awarded for fictional, journalistic or scientific works which set out to engage with inner and outer peace as well as for demonstrating an exemplary commitment to peace, humanity and freedom.
A statement of the jury read: “Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an important representative of independence through language and advocates the right of peoples to cultural self-determination as an identity and peace-building characteristic.”