..

..

..
Encyclopaedia Africana Project
"A Pan African Dream Come True"

EAP Legacy  |  EAP Scholars Archive

Legacy Archive Document
Date: 1964 September 24

1962 April 1 ] 1962 December 18 ] [ 1964 September 24 ] 1964 September 24 ] 1977 ] 1977 ] 1996 October ] 1997 May 21 ] 1997 July 12 ] 1997 August 7 ] 1997 August 11 ] 1997 August 14 ] 1997 August 28 ] 1997 October 07 ] 1998 August 1 ] 1998 August 19 ] 1999 ] 2000 April 18 ] 2000 May 20 ] 2000 June 03 ] 2000 December 14 ]

..
Back to Archives:  EAP History  |  EAP Secretariat  |  EAP Editorial Board

..

..

EAP Editorial Board Archive
1964 September 24

First Annual Meeting: EAP Editorial Board
Part 1

A Speech by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
University of Ghana, West Africa

Distinguished members of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana Project , Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to inaugurate this first meeting of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana Project . The presence on this Board here today of representatives from all parts of the Continent of Africa is yet another token of the African cultural renaissance which is manifesting itself side by side with the political resurgence of the African Continent.

I must also confess, distinguished guests, that today I feel a great sense of relief and joy to think that at long last a first significant step has been taken towards the positive realisation and consummation of a long cherished dream. Years ago, I felt that Africa needs to buttress her unimpeachable claim to political independence with parallel efforts to expose to the world the bases of her rich culture and civilisation through the medium of a scholarly Encyclopaedia. I therefore invited W.E.B. Du Bois of blessed memory to come to Ghana to help us establish the framework for this great natural heritage.

Dr. Du Bois was happy to come to Ghana in the very evening of his life to embark upon this task; he took Ghanaian citizenship, and immediately plunged headlong into the stupendous work of setting out the general aims of this project and securing the interest and support of eminent scholars throughout Africa for its realisation. To him this was an exciting States to produce such an Encyclopaedia. It is perhaps not without significance that Du Bois should have had to wait until the very sunset of his life to find and receive encouragement and support for this project, not in the abundance of the United States, but rather in an Africa liberated from the cramping and oppressive conditions of colonial rule.

In taking upon ourselves this great responsibility for Africa, we are reminded of an old Roman saying: "Semper aliquid novi ex Africa." Africa had a noble past which astounded even the ancient Roman world with its great surprises. Yet, it was only much later, after a millennium and a half of African history that we are now busily engaged in reconstructing for all the world to know, that racial exploitation and imperialist domination deliberately fostered a new and monstrous mythology of race which nourished the popular but unfounded image of Africa as the "Dark Continent."  In other words, a Continent whose inhabitants were without any past history, any contribution to world civilization, or any hope of future development - except by the grace of foreign tutelage!

It is unfortunate that men of learning and men of affairs in Europe and America from a century ago down to yesterday, have spent much valuable time to establish this unscientific and ridiculous notion of African inferiority. A European author declared that "the history of civilization on the continent begins, as concerns its inhabitants, with Mohammedan invasion" and that African is poorer in recorded history than can be imagined. Even the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica also declared:

Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah
Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah
First Prime Minister
Republic of Ghana
(1957 to 1960)

....... "Africa, with the exception of the lower Nile Valley and what is known as Roman Africa is, so far as its native inhabitants are concerned, a continent practically without history and possessing no records from which such history may be conducted ..... the Negro (referring to the Black man) is essentially the child of the moment and his memory, both tribal and individual, is very short," And "if Ancient Egypt and Ethiopia be excluded, the story of Africa is largely a record of the doings of its Asiatic and European conquerors and colonizers.

And here I want to sound a note of caution about the term "Negro." I hope that in the record of the Encyclopaedia Africana the term "Negro", whatever meaning or connotation has been given to it, will not find a place, except perhaps in a specific article proving its opprobrious origin and redundancy. I would like that people of African descent and Africans in general should be described as Black men, or Africans. I personally would like to be referred to as a Black man, African or Ghanaian, not referred to as a "Negro".

It would be long to attempt to survey this field of malicious distortion against Africa. But this would be a useless and unprofitable venture, and I am sure that your Editorial Board would not suffer this pointless waster of valuable time. But listen a while to Leo Frobenius in his Voice of Africa:

"The ruins of the mighty past lie slumbering within the bosom of the earth but are glorified in the memory of men who live beneath the sun." He dwells on the "god-like strength of memory in those who lived before the advent of the written word" and he continues: "Every archaeologist can quote examples from the nations of the North. But who would imagine that the Negro Race (here again referring to the Black race) of Africa possessed an equally retentive mind for its store of ancient monuments."

It may be argued, however, that this sort of view about Africa is dying out, and we may be accused of whipping a dying horse. It is also true that, particularly in the years since World War II, there has been a marked improvement in much of the writing by non-Africans on Africa and there are today a number of writers and scholars who have made signal contributions to African historiography. Nevertheless, it is to be doubted if the popular image of the so-called Dark Continent has been much affected by the widening horizon of knowledge of Africa.

The fact is that the powerful forces which seek to block the advance of the 280 millions of Africans to a place of full equality in the world community and which strive to maintain neo-colonialist or even overt colonial domination and white supremacy rule in Africa, find it in their interest to perpetuate the mythology of racial inferiority.

Thus it is not simple ignorance of Africa, but deliberate disparagement of the continent and its people that Africanists and the Encyclopaedia Africana must contend with. The foulest intellectual rubbish ever invented by man is that of racial superiority and inferiority. We know now, of course, that this distortion and fabrication of the image of man was invented by the apostles of imperialism to salve their conscience and justify their political, cultural and economic domination of Africa.

I understand that through the medium of the Information Report, published periodically by the Encyclopaedia Africana Secretariat, have appeared expressions of support and pledges of co-operation in the work of this great project from numerous eminent scholars. And I am particularly happy that among those who have expressed their endorsement of our work are distinguished scholars in the United States, the Soviet Union, China, India, Britain and other countries outside Africa.

I am sure the members of the Editorial Board share my appreciation of this world-wide support of the idea of an Encyclopaedia Africana . However, it is of course only logical that an encyclopaedia work on Africa should be produced in Africa, under the direction and editorship of Africans, and with the maximum participation of African scholars in all countries.

While I believe that no contribution to the projected Encyclopaedia should be rejected solely and simply because the author happens to be non-African, there are surely valid reasons why the maximum participation of African scholars themselves should be aimed at. Let me illustrate this point with an example from a book published just fifty years ago by George W. Ellis, an Afro-American who served from 1901 to 1910 as Secretary of the United States diplomatic mission in Liberia. From this study came his book, Negro Culture in West Africa, published in 1914.

continued...: First Annual Meeting: EAP Editorial Board - Part 2

..

Encyclopaedia Africana Dictionary of African Biography
..
Encyclopaedia Africana Dictionary of African Biography

Encyclopaedia Africana Project
1964 September 24
| Home | Our Mission | EAP Legacy | EAP Scholars | EAP Archive |
| EA Volumes Index EA Volume One | Purchase EA Volumes 1, 2, 3 |
| Support
 | Contact Us | Sitemap |
Copyright 1996-2006 EAP Accra, Ghana - All Rights Reserved
Webmaster: prema139@yahoo.com

..

..