This is a quote from a play, Death and the King's Horseman
, by Nigerian playwright, author, poet, Wole Soyinka:
"PRAISE SINGER:"In their time the great wars came and went, the little wars came and went; the white slavers came and went, they took away the heart of our race; they bore away the mind and muscle of our race. The city fell and was rebuilt, the city fell and our people trudged through mountain and forest to found a new home but- Elesin Oba do you hear me?
ELESIN: I hear your voice Olohun-iyo
PRAISE SINGER: Our world was never wrenched from its true course. There is only one home to the life of a river mussel; there is only one home to the life of a tortoise; there is only one shell to the soul of a man; there is only one world to the spirit of our race. If that world leaves its course and smashes on boulders of the great void, whose world will give us shelter?"
This reminds me of something; Our colonial history while cataclysmic and traumatic with far-reaching consequences that must be addressed, was an incident
in African and indeed human history. Our culture and legacy is so much deeper and so much more ancient than that. This is a good play that illustrates that in a way I think. While it is ostensibly about a particular interaction between Yoruba society and Western colonial intervention, it focuses on the ritual of Yoruba life, the intersection of the world of the living and the dead. Most of the drama is in fact psychological and metaphysical and not material at all, like much of Soyinka's later work.
So many Diaspora Africans have been brainwashed. While they talk of racism and the evil of colonialism, psychologically they still really believe that the culture of Africans was inferior to that of Europeans. They still use European ideas of success to evaluate ancient Africa. Much is about measuring against Europe, and many cannot let go of Europe enough to just look at the rich diversity of ancient Africa together with the people's common values. They can get that it was horrible how they were treated, they can get that the injustice was built on racism, but they still cannot see past the years of cultural brainwashing to see the real magnificence of our African culture.
This is why the study of history is so important, not only the study of the colonial incident in an academic sense, but getting in touch with what is truly integral to African culture and spirituality. When we can see this and get to the heart of it then we can get a more expansive knowledge and understanding of WORLD HISTORY AND OUR COMMON ORIGINS. It is then that folks may be able to really see themselves as they are and as they could be and to really appreciate the wisdom of some of our ancestors. When we traverse history, experience some aspects of the culture, visit the literature, we get a heightened sense of that magnificence and can see clearly that this incident is certainly not the ‘death of the race’. As the Praise Singer says: “Our world was never wrenched from its true course”.