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CONCLUSION: THE DIRECTION OF CIVILIZATION

THE BLACK WORLD AT THE CROSSROADS

Cooperative Action

The first line of action, Williams says, should centre on the study and development of nationwide, people-involved, self-help cooperative programmes, village by village, town by town and block by block. Each community would do its own development planning, the government's principal role being to provide advisors, technical assistance and loans when and where these are needed. For people with little or no money, barter and exchange are the first steps toward economic salvation, the bases for capital formation. Increased food production should be seen as for both wealth and health. Plans should be made, by mutual agreement, in each region to produce goods needed but not produced in the other region. Much of this, as we shall see in Chapter 6, has actually taken place in Chinyika, in rural Zimbabwe.

The second great task of government calls for furthering the home front economic development by aggressively working for economic unity on a scale never before attempted, across Africa as a whole. Every one of the great Black nations that Williams studied rose as the result of a wealth-producing system which enabled them to achieve set goals. The crying first need throughout the African world, however, is dedicated leaders, not just office-holding bureaucrats, but men and women leaders who will be more and more in the field among the people, and less and less preoccupied with office work. These will be people on a mission to improve the lives of the people, rather than enriching themselves.

A Crisis of Culturally De-contextualized African Leadership

The Black people of the world have therefore come to destiny's crossroads. And there is, for Williams, a terrible crisis of leadership. The great difficulty is that Black leaders, unlike for example the Jews, do not know what their own heritage is. They are almost wholly ignorant of their own cultural source from which independent, original thinking springs and progress is inspired. They wish rather to draw on the Caucasian heritage and become identified with it. To be equal to the required task such Black leaders need to stand on their own two feet. Instead, and in connecting with capitalism or communism, the immediate trouble confronting the Blacks is that so many millions of them have been made wholly dependent on the White race for so many generations that they have become mentally lazy.

The tasks we now face will test, and for us serve to release, the genius of the Black race. If we fail to accept this challenge, Williams asserts, at this critical turning point in our history, we will have proved ourselves unworthy of having any descendants, and our very names should be forgotten by them. Africa needs to return to its origins, its original African Constitution (grounding), and to then renew (emergence), reframe (navigation) and rebuild (effecting) it.

In summing up, then, Williams proclaims that his immediate concern is in awakening African people who, after centuries of primitive life, have almost suddenly resolved to come abreast with the rest of mankind. But since the African people are just a part of the human family, and Africa just a part of the world that, in spite of all the opposing forces, is becoming more closely knit, he has viewed it in a universal setting. He has then attempted to take the approach of a stranger from another planet who has found it necessary to study first the history of mankind and the character of the civilization of which Africa is emerging to become a part.

Today's world crisis, then, demands a new look at the civilization we have. But it is right now in the crucial period that a whole continent of people who had been either asleep or quiescent for centuries, are suddenly rousing themselves. The world has never before witnessed a whole people rising up at once and demanding freedom. Africans, education-wise, are spreading out all over the world to prepare themselves for the tremendous tasks ahead. One of the greatest discoveries of this age, meanwhile, was made in the field of anthropology, not physics. It was the discovery that in the rush from primitive life man actually left behind some of the more fundamental elements needed for a truly civilized life. Chief among these was – and of course is – the sense of community, direction and purpose. This is why Africa is very important now. It can profit if it sees the precipice towards which we are drifting, and takes the opposite course in an effort to build a different kind of society on a spiritual foundation.

Some African leaders are not aware of this their most precious heritage. They are therefore rushing pell-mell to become completely Westernized. The situation throughout the world, however, calls upon them to halt, to take another look at their own cultural values, and to back-up somewhat for a new start from a different base. Preaching about the need for a "spiritual awakening", and a brotherhood leading to peace and goodwill among men – and all such highly edifying discussion – is idle unless it is followed up with a programme of action that is nationally organized. We now turn from the student of Ghana, Chancellor Williams, to one of Ghana's most eminent contemporary philosophers, Kwame Gyekye, to take the "Southern" story on.

 
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