I begin this post with a special thank-you to all who have stopped by my blog to read a post or more, accidentally or on purpose; and to those who have felt moved enough to subscribe and/or provide feedback. Not only has your input been helpful in refining ideas, but it encourages me to keep this discussion alive. Asante sana!
As some of you already know, over this past year I’ve had the wonderful fortune and distinct honor of having my work – “The Oral-Aesthetic of Michael Jackson: A Model of Pan-African Communication” – published in the journal of African Communications Research. This was followed by a presentation of “Towards an Africa-centered and pan-African Theory of Communication: Ubuntu and the Oral Aesthetic Perspective” at the annual South African Communications Association (SACOMM) conference at the University of South Africa (UNISA), in Pretoria on August 29th, 2011.
Questions my beloved late brother, Dr. Absalom Mutere, asked me some years ago regarding whether Africa has made unique and globally-significant contributions to communication are still very much in play. My scholarship in many ways represents my ongoing conversation with him as well as my ongoing response to the call I heard in Michael Jackson’s music. Coming from an Africa-centered perspective of musical study has provided the kind of insights I’m continuing to research and write about. My blog posts try in a constructive if not prescriptive way to go to the heart of such pressing questions on the communications front.
The underlying sense of urgency in our cultural affairs is articulated by African Diaspora scholars in various ways. Dr. Cornel West, for example, has questioned why the cultural structures that once sustained black life in America are unable to ward off the consumerism-riddled nihilistic threat that has bred existential emptiness and overcome the African-American experience with a sense of “horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and… lovelessness.”
Meaning… hope… love… spiritual depth… transcendence… the mystery of existence… Values that Dr. West and others call forth are within our cultural frameworks, as my research suggests. What we lack is the Africa-centered tools/language to decode the oral-aesthetic communication structures that connect us as a cultural entity, and then to the larger human family through a philosophy of ubuntu that states “I am because we are, and since we are therefore I am.”
This cultural dynamic has given Bantu a unique mission/ministry regarding the call of the human project, even when we haven’t been able to recognize and appreciate its enactment as art-for-life’s-sake. These are communications issues. It is truly a Hero’s Journey of epic proportions that must be understood and celebrated on its own culturally-congruent and self-validating terms.
The evidence is all there, illuminated in a variety of brilliant ways particularly in mileposts marked strategically by the oral-aesthetic signature of specific eras of cultural omnipresence and outpouring such as the 1920s Jazz Age and its 1960s offspring that brought Motown to the world and Black Studies to the American academy…
It is on this note that I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Molefi Kete Asante – the Father of Afrocentricity who came out of the Black Studies movement – will be my special guest-blogger next week. Professor of African-American Studies at Temple University where he created the first Ph.D. program in 1987, Dr. Asante has published 72 books – including The History of Africa – and over 400 scholarly articles.
In 1995, Dr. Asante was enstooled as a traditional King, Nana Okru Asante Peasah, Kyidomhene of Tafo, Akyem, Ghana. He has also been appointed “Professor Extraordinarius” in the Centre for African Renaissance at the University of South Africa. The Caribbean Philosophical Association recently awarded Dr. Asante the Frantz Fanon Award for Lifetime Achievement. His memoir entitled As I Run Toward Africa has just been released. The topic of Dr. Molefi Asante’s guest blog next week will be “An African Renaissance is Possible.”
Let’s Keep It Live… Malaika