PRESIDENT Mugabe has challenged African historians to write history that depicts the people of the continent as creators of their own destiny.
Launching the Pedagogical History of Africa Project in Harare yesterday, President Mugabe said non-African historians have often painted a wrong picture about Africa.
“The history that must be written by our African scholars and academics here is the history that focuses on African people in struggle as creators of their own destiny rather than mere consumers of stories written about them by passive on-lookers who oftentimes happen to be non-African outsiders,” President Mugabe said.
He said there was a clear distinction between history as a narration of past events and history as a lived experience of a people in struggle.
“Real history belongs to a people in struggle and not to the interpreters of history. The people themselves are the makers of history and therefore the real historians. The interpreters are mere raconteurs of history and not the actual history-makers as is often wrongly implied,” President Mugabe said.
He said when writing or teaching African history, historians should reflect on “whose world view is used to represent or interpret that history”.
“Only this way can we avoid history written by colonialists as ‘winners’. Our real winners are the people, whose real history or struggle the so-called winners would like to distort and suppress,” President Mugabe said.
He added: “You cannot be a historian of African people if you do not share their cry or their laughter. No. The African sensibility, reflected in African culture and worldview, is the only accurate compass to guide a historian who is genuine about writing African history.”
President Mugabe said slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism and efforts by the West to re-colonise Africa had resulted in a systematic disruption and distortion of African history. “Slavery and colonisation do not themselves constitute African history. They disrupt and falsify the trajectory of African history. They dehumanise Africans to fit into the scheme of European capital. The ideology of racism is created as a parallel process to rationalise the oppression of Africans,” he said.
President Mugabe said Europeans were bent on destroying African civilisation and knowledge system. He said the age-old lie of white supremacy should be exposed and “our children must understand that the Europeans needed to take the African out of humanity and history to ensure their socio-cultural, political and economic domination of Africa.”
The President said the distortion and the unprecedented corruption of a people’s history should be urgently reversed. “I need not stress that it is imperative to edify educational systems, which embody the African and universal values so as to ensure the rooting of youth in African culture in the context of a sustainable and participatory development. This way we continue to foster the spirit of unity in Africa as embodied in the African Unity Charter,” he said.
The workshop was organised by Unesco.
President Mugabe applauded Unesco for its bold decision to continue to fund the teaching of history in Africa.