PANAF ON #BLACKLIVES MATTER
Jun 29, 2020
26 June 2020
PANAF ON #BLACKLIVES MATTER
The Pan-African Archaeological Association of Prehistory and Associated Studies (PANAF) aims to ensure, through quadrennial congresses held in Africa, special opportunities, not only for developing South / South institutional scientific exchanges, but also, for revitalizing the North / South comparative reflection. The PANAF association has always worked towards a better understanding of the cultural heritage of Africa and has effectively contributed to shed scientific light on the true history of African populations and their contributions to the general progress of humanity.
Archaeological and Paleontological studies attest to the deep connection between humanity, which has existed since the earliest appearance of the human lineage more than 7 million years ago and the later colonization of other continents by the species Homo out of Africa again and again. While the statement blacklivesmatter is a great sensitisation tool, we go a little further to state that the colour reference, which is only skin-deep serves to point at humans of African descent but not at their capabilities and abilities, hence blackness does not represent the character and behaviour of the wearer. We believe that a black skin (which is a function of melanin), whatever its particular hue, embodies several qualities besides the colour, which the rest of the world has often refused repeatedly to recognize and instead, commonly projects the continent as one that requires pity and sympathy while ensuring that the black people’s confidence and sense of self-esteem is appropriately eroded. The constant portrayal of Africans and the continent as backward (“backwardness” measured through the “progressiveness” of incompatible cultures) by the advocates of “white supremacy” has led to repeated dismissal and disregard of what Africans on the continent and in the diaspora have achieved over the millennia. To be sure, there has been some recognition of recent developments, as captured for example in the ‘Africa rising’ narrative, but this ignores the much deeper history of accomplishments and has left many academics and economists from the continent wondering what Africa might be rising from and who is enabling the rise.
The killing of George Floyd and the taking of several other innocent black lives only serves as a reminder of all the atrocities that have been committed against the African peoples from slavery, colonialism, plunder of African resources including cultural heritage, and modern day colonialism which resides in unequal relationships, especially in academia and North to South economic collaborations. It is the position of the PANAF membership on the African continent and our several supporters who hail from other continents that we strongly condemn the actions of brutality, racism and the inequalities that we are witnessing today being perpetrated on Africans in the diaspora. We equally condemn the mistreatment meted out to black employees in foreign owned firms in Africa by their owners/expatriate managers and above all we condemn the injustice, discrimination and ethnic cleansing meted out to minority groups in Africa by dominant groups and politicians in power. We are convinced that these actions are a result of ignorance, greed and cowardice on the part of the inflictors and the governments that support them. Instead, we campaign for a world of equal opportunities and recognition to allow for fair competition and compensation in all realms of life.
Finally, we wish to congratulate institutions and individuals who have continued to stand with #blacklivesmatter. Several encouraging statements have been released by universities and institutions from the Western countries which may stand out as mere lip service if they are not supported by actions. We wish to applaud Oxford University's Oriel College for voting to take down the colonialist's statue of Cecil Rhodes and we do hope that other institutions especially those that hold looted and stolen African Cultural heritage can demonstrate their call for solidarity in condemnation of racism and inequalities through returning African artefacts acquired through violence and unequal relationships. In the face of these past and current criminal deeds, PANAF is more than ever motivated by the mobilization of the efforts of its members to denounce these condemnable acts, through the production and promotion of African History far from the racist stereotypes constructed to justify such acts, discrimination and racist beliefs.