Friday, 14 June 2024

Essay compilation considers contributions of Africans to world's cultures

The Dispersion of Africans and African Culture Throughout the World: Essays on the African Diaspora

Editor: Dr. Lois Moore, University of San Francisco

Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press


Dr. Lois Moore of the University of San Francisco edited this remarkable compilation of scholarly essays on the history and cultures of African descent people around the world. The aim is to educate scholars and contribute to international and multicultural scholarship on African Descent people. Broad in scope, the nine-chapter text identifies and discusses the decimation of Rwanda; exodus of Ethiopian Jews; experiences of African slaves in Portugal, Ecuador, Belize, the Danish West Indies, Mexico, and the Georgia Sea Islands; and the legacy of the slave trade on the Americas, Canada and the Black Church in the United States.


The editor writes that nowhere in history were people as widely dispersed throughout the world as those of African ancestry. Africans abandoned their homeland for numerous reasons, forced out by drought and famine; migrated due to persecution; taken as slaves; or left as explorers, soldiers, or skilled workers. Ultimately, they all faced loss, oppression, discrimination, polarization, poverty, disease and often death.


The text discusses how without their homelands and families, and facing major barriers, people of African origin were adaptive. To the degree possible, they retained their own languages, music, dance, traditions, and spirituality. These resourceful and persistent survivors successfully adjusted to new environments, governments, rituals, and systems.


European colonialism and economic imbalance are key themes in the text. Senator Aloysie Inyumba of Rwanda opines in the foreword that Africa’s current social and economic problems are linked to historic foreign interference, meddling, and disruption of sovereignty.


Various chapters detail the way Colonialism stratified groups according to political, economic and social power. It institutionalized humiliation, distrust, fear, ethnic hierarchy, and racism. Identity politics began when rape, intermarriage, and polygamy produced a diversity of skin tones. Even African descendants learned to define themselves in new ways.


The text explores the abuse of both natural and human resources as it relates to the African Diaspora. Colonialists exploited natural resources, like the forests of Belize in South America, and developed capitalist economies requiring increased human labor. Racist ideology was used to justify exploitation of African slaves. Myths were perpetuated that Africans were stronger than indigenous people, better suited to the climate, and more resistant to diseases like malaria.


What Africans were not, was passive. According to the chapter, “Belize: From Colonial Territory to Independent Nation,” Africans resisted slavery, clinging to their culture and tribal traditions. They demonstrated great resilience, fortitude, and thrust for freedom.


Research in “Esmeraldas of Ecuador,” tells of slaves treated worse than animals in the Spanish colonies of South America and the Caribbean. “Esmeraldas were able to maintain the thriving spirit of resistance and rebellion characteristic of the African people. Subsequently, kidnapped Africans, escaped slaves, free blacks, and indigenous people formed liberated and self-ruled communities.”


I teach multicultural community and international relations to graduate business students. My course is enriched by students from around the globe. During the class, students research cultures other than their own to build stakeholder relationships and plan strategic communications.


As future world leaders, it is essential that students learn to understand and respect diversity. One need only look at current world affairs to know the devastating consequences of social division and disruption of national autonomies.


Not only is this book immensely valuable to sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and researchers, but also to readers who find cultural and ethnic history fascinating. These marvelous essays demonstrate the importance of persistence, creativity, individualism, and pride in unique heritages. As we share a common humanity, we also share an anthropologic birthplace, Africa.


For more information, see the publisher's Web site at www.mellenpress.com/mellenpress.cfm?bookid=7223&pc=9.


Susanne N. La Faver holds a master's degree in public administration and is an adjunct professor with Golden Gate University. She lives in Hidden Valley Lake.


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