Afro-Responsibility Course, Part 1

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 AT THE END OF THIS COURSE YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO

# Describe pre-colonial Africa's level of innovation, entrepreneurship and indigenous knowledge

# Understand theories behind the changed stance away from African knowledge and Innovation during colonial and post colonial Africa

#Explain the current state of African dependancy on other continents for knowledge and financial resources

# Understand why it is important for Africa to preserve its indegenous knowledge and resources.

 # Prescribe means and ways to embrace indiginous innovation and knowledge to contemporary Africa


Afro Responsibility Course Summary


The history of Africa is filled with themes of oppression through colonialism and slave trade. Over the years as the world systems evolved, colonialism and slavery where abolished. They did however, leave some remnants impacting the the socio-economic and environmental outlook of Africa as well as the African identity. The status of an African among other races has always been challenged by the African himself as well as other races around him. 


Afro Responsibility involves embracing one's identity as an African and taking elements from the African culture to inform and direct every sphere of life. The term was first used by Justina Kes Agbosa and expanded by Emelda Itai Daka defining it as the notion that we have a duty as Africans to adopt African indigenous knowledge, indigenous resources and indigenous innovations as the foundation for all socio-economic and environmental activities, in bringing solutions to African problems.  


To build on this concept, the course will focus on grassroots innovations, Ubuntu African philosophy and African identity


Background Information

“Africa is the birthplace of humankind and the nursery of science and technology” (Zahir, 2006) If civilisation began in Africa and evidence of this has been preserved, then we can safely conclude that Africa is where innovative thinking started inorder for humankind to adapt to his environment and draw sustenance from it.


There are museums around the world showing the first innovations by humankind such as the Liverpool museum in the United Kingdom. 

- samples of the first tools found in Africa, that ever existed in the world are preserved. 

- forms of architecture that were found in Africa in the early centuries, like beds made without using nails or glue

-entire mud houses


Infact, so many innovations can be rightly placed to Africa's early civilisations. These include but are not limited to:

- cloth weaving

- pottery

-indigenous medicine development

- traditional iron, wood and ivory working. (Akpomuvie, 2011).

- Mud bricks


Early innovations allowed humankind to live in sync with the environment without doing much damage. For example mud bricks which Africans have used for construction since at least 300 BC (Oates, 1990) do dont require high energy consumption methods such as “firing brick, manufacturing cement, harvesting forests and milling timber” to manufacture them.  

 The Egyptian pyramids, which have stood the test of time for well over 4000 years after their construction, and remain some of the most magnificent man-made structures are further evidence of complex innovation in ancient civilisations of Africa. 

As time went on and Africa started trading over seas, large quantities of textile and metal were imported. This led to the conclusion that Africa was not developed and that their own metals were of poor quality since they were manufacturing these products at small-scale without the use of complex technology that Europe was using. This is how African dependence theories came to argue their position.


Having embraced the arguments presented by African dependence theories, many were surprised when archaeologists Peter Schimidt and Terry Childs announced that according to their research findings, African's had been producing high quality steel from very early, using a very advanced furnace that used a very different concept from what the Asians and Europeans were using.


These grassroot innovations were derived from the valuable information contained in traditional indigenous knowledge, which is a collective understanding of useful resources in the environment and sustainable ways of managing them. How then, can one explain how Africans went from being the drivers of civilisation, to becoming last in line in terms of technological development?


Let's trace back grassroots innovations and see how it all went wrong.