Escaping the Violence of nomenclatures : We need new terms and new philosophical postures for the now by Masimba Hwati.
This article is an introduction to the kind of dialogue people connected to Africa need to have in rethinking and challenging certain names and signifiers that they have come to associate with themselves. Amongst the most problematic names we are burdened with are the terms ‘African’, ‘Black’. There is a vast lexicon of several violent (violent in the sense that most of these are imposed) names that are associated with this continent in question and its people. The etymology of some of these names is colonial and some were designed to frame to our zeitgeist(s) for instance, Post-Colonial, De-colonial’ and others. As long as we use and accept these definitions on ourselves and our times then we shall remain pawns in this neo-colonial chess game. A look at history will reveal that certain signifiers we have appropriated and accepted are foreign to us and because of this we have fallen into the trap of those who seek to define and control our destiny. We find ourselves in theoretical playing fields where we cannot make rules, and because we don’t make the rules, we are relegated to occupy ceremonial philosophical postures that make the colonial and race dialogue interesting but beyond interesting, these postures achieve very little in terms of political and cultural agency. Noam Chomsky once said
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allowing very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
Key words: Nomenclatures, Agency