"Why should we expect human history in Africa to be less messy, to be less complicated than it is anywhere else?"
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
(because we’ve been fed the fantasy & haven’t done thorough research in my opinion)
^ I agree with Gates, but I don’t feel that this phenomenon of romanticizing Africa is as simple as been fed the fantasy. Just as African history is complicated… so is the reason why people (particularly in the diaspora) romanticize it.
Eurocentric public education is the only entity that does anything that constitutes “feeding” in my opinion. They force feed us a history in K-12 that tells us Africa is not even important. Africa is “the dark continent” with no history at all. You don’t even discuss the continent in schools.
Now, there have been some Afrocentric people that have counteracted this erasure with the history of Africa and this history is sometimes romanticized. But we have to remember that they are having a dialogue (really more like a debate) with the Eurocentric view of history. They’re not simply retelling history…. they are having to literally prove its importance and prove that there was civilization there. In my opinion, it is that burden of proof that tends to lead to the history being romanticized. I think it’s completely understandable and I don’t feel that it has happened on a large enough scale to constitute the word “feeding” especially since the most Black history people get is still only in February (and Black history month is actually a good example to use here.. cause usually it’s just the highlights from African-American history, right? It’s the same burden of proof issue… we’re having to prove African-American history is important so we put forth our most heroic stories).
And the reason why people easily accept a non-complicated version of African history is not just because they lack research skills… I think that it’s because the dis-memberment that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade caused. Blacks in the diaspora were forced to forget what Africa was truly like. They were forced to forget their names… family…. nation… religion.. everything. And it hurts people.. and it still hurts people. And many people in the diaspora have this longing to be whole again and to know their history. The history is wrapped up in lots of emotions, yah know? A romanticized pre-colonial Africa lets Black people in the diaspora root themselves some place that doesn’t hurt so damn much… a place they can be proud to come from.
Though I think it’s understandable, it sometimes gets dangerous… cause then you have people out here thinking there was no homosexuality in Africa before Europeans came… or think there was no rape in Africa before Europeans came. There is a line between romanticizing and believing bogus shit.