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Ayinde
Ayinde
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« on: November 20, 2004, 02:22:42 PM »

Africa should reclaim its past



Editor
11/19/2004

Travel writers often describe the Victoria Falls as one of the world's most spectacular wonders. It is a gripping sight of falls 1 708 meters wide - making it easily the largest curtain of water in the world - that drops between 90m and 107m into the Zambezi Gorge.

An average of 550,000 cubic metres of water plummet over the edge every minute. This is the awe-striking sight that gripped Scottish explorer, David Livingstone and his band of attendants when he first made contact with the place in the 1860s. True to form, he claimed discovery of the place, and proceeded to do what all Europeans of his time did - gave it a name. He named it after his queen.

The local people have always known the place as "Mosi oa Thunya" (The smoke that thunders) - a fitting name that, however, Livingstone - and others after him - disregarded.

The Zambian government is preparing an elaborate ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Livingstone's "discovery" of the falls next year. It will certainly be good for the country's tourism. But, unfortunately, the commemoration being planned only helps to perpetuate the colonial legacy that casts the white man as the discoverer, and the black person as just part of the "discovered" environment. Livingstone was, perhaps, the first European to reach the falls, but to claim its discovery is to falsify history because Africans were already living and hunting in the area - and they had a name for it. It becomes a pity when Africans continue to look at their history through the eyes of the colonial masters. This is not what the African Renaissance is about. Africa's reawakening should also be about reclaiming our past from those who stole it from our forefathers. Today we know better, and it is time to set the record straight - something earlier generations failed to do when political independence came in the 1960s.

© Mmegi, 2004
http://www.mmegi.bw/2004/November/Friday19/4360417211600.html
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