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Kevin Tumbull

AFST 200:
Africana studies as an evolving global, multidiscliplinary, and interdisciplinary
response to those difficulties.
Reading for 8/31-
While many scholars focus on the poor designation of African STATE borders,
Mazrui asserts that the borders of the CONTINENT are also problematic.
The Sahara deserted is also debated among scholars. Some believe it to link North
Africa with the rest of the continent, others argue it isolates North Africa and makes
it more akin to Arabia.
Because of this, Mazrui poses the question why couldnt Africa include Arabia if
theyre so similar? She acknowledges how impractical it would be to reclassify the
Middle East as African nations, and that she only points this out to illustrate that
Europeans could have done a better job when they divided up Africa like a pizza.
The Red Sea is the main cause for this political separation from Arabia, which
Mazrui believes began when the Earths crust cracked to create the Red Sea, Gulf of
Aden, and the Suez isthmus.
The final nail in the coffin according to Mazrui comes from Egypts associations with
Europe, allowing the French to construct the Suez Canal. This canal severed the last
connection of land between Africa and Arabia, and effectively solidified their
political separation.
Mazrui continues to point to geological factors that further unite Northern Africa
and Arabia, like their desert climates and linguistic regions. These linguistics have
made it difficult for modern scholars to determine differences between roots of
semetic language and African indigenous language.
In Class 8/31:
o The Trans Red Sea theory- The theory that the Red Sea is an artificial
boundary, and that the Arabian peninsula rightfully belongs with the African
o Artificiality- why is it important? Europeans have imposed African
boundaries, which is why a lot of problems are occurring today in African
nations. This artificiality extends to the borders of the entire continent as
o The politicization of African nations has led to a decline in its society and
quality of life today.
o The Afro-Asiatic language region shows strong evidence of connection
between north Africa and Arabia
o The exclusion of Saudi Arabia from Africa is arguable, due to the cultural and
geographic similarities, in addition to the proximity (see: Yemen vs
Madagascar, and the Red Sea inland lake theory)
o The important point to make is simply about how European power in
previous centuries has shaped scholarship of Africa today.
o Ali Mazrui=Trans Red Sea Theory. Be able to equate the two.
In this article, Soyinka is attempting to establish a firm baseline on what defines
African culture, since it is such an ambiguous demographic region. I believe his
main point is that cultural traditions cannot be sacrificed for the sake of acceptance
on the world stage.
In other words, he doesnt believe the African people should sacrifice their culture
for the sake of politics.
Let us stop the reductionist falsity which attempts to define cultural realities along
purely color lines.
Soyinka appears to be advocating for a more inclusive definition of African or
Black culture, but in doing so hes kind of obscured his own point. I took this
article to be about 13 pages of bitching and moaning versus 2-3 full pages of
content or argument.
In class 8/31-
o Is there such a thing as African culture?
o Context: Written about a 1975 soviet-sponsored conference, AFRICULT.
o The soviets desired a unified African culture. By focusing on cultural
differences, the transition into communism seems subtler to the masses.
o Soyinka says I can be dedicated to the destruction of capitalism without
sacrificing my culture, fuck you very much.
o Culture transcends the oceans. Soyinka is AGAINST a saline consciousness.
He does not think the oceans should define African culture.
o Soyinka says that despite the Somoli peoples decision to identify as Arabian,
the existence of it must be acknowledged
o Cultural units alone have the right to determine their unity and composition.
o He goes on to theorize that the plurality of Africa can be restrictive.

CLASS 8/31
Africa is 3x the size of the USA, and has a lot of varying biomes.
Saheel- Arid climate between desert and savannah.
Northeastern Africa is the home of many ancient civilizations.
4 major rivers- Nile, Niger, Congo/Zaire, Zambezi.
o These were the main arteries for European explorers in their conquest of
4 major language groups- broad classifications:
o Niger-Congo- western/central/southern Africa
o Nilo-Sarahan- northeastern
o Afro-Asiatic-???
o Khoisan- southern
Within these 4 groups, there are hundreds of languages and dialects, to coincide
with the many ethnic groups.
The Saharan desert was not always the wasteland it is today.
Marxism- downplays culture; civilization and the state. Marxists are focused on class
(bougouise, aristocracy, etc.)
Bottom line: Dont be racist; Down with capitalism.