Africa: The History of Africa Is Central to the Story of the Modern World – Africa Needs to Write Itself Back Into History


The term ‘scramble for Africa’ is commonplace, but the unacknowledged reality is that what created the ‘Atlantic world’ was the scramble for Africans.

“Africa,” commented the Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah in an interview in 1999, “is a guest in the 20th century.” If his perception had the aura of truth then, it remains an uncomfortable indictment nearly a quarter of a century later. Earlier, in his novel Sardines, Farah had expanded on the idea: “In this century, the African is a guest either in Africa or elsewhere… if not a guest, then slave to a system of thoughts, a system of a given economic rerouting… “.

To throw off a lingering unease at being peripheral, Africa needs to reinstate itself into history and modernity. That would represent a corrective both moral and factual, as for several centuries Africa has been elbowed aside in the story of the development of the modern world. In order to rise above the status of mere guest, the continent needs to reassert itself back into the centre of this story. Reclaiming its true role, the author Howard W French argues persuasively, would represent a decisive step in countering centuries of racist “diminishment, trivialisation and erasure”…

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