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African Writing Systems and the Importance of Documentation


When we look at such cultural statements like Japanese language it is a powerful reminder of their culture…same with Chinese, Arabs, kwk. We are reminded of the politics of these people when we see their writing systems. When we see the latin script we are reminded of the colonization of education and people and imperial dominance. The absence of African writing systems has presented a setback for us as a people in need of much restoration.

Having a writing script speaks in the absence of speech. It is the power of culture. It is no secret or great mystery that the cultures that suffered the greatest defeat from imperial powers were cultures that did not have fully functional writing systems. Noted with this is the lack of a canonization of their spiritual traditions. Almost all of these people are now predominantly invested in the religions of their conquerors whether fully or in some form of mixing their traditions with those of the conquerors – usually with the conqueror s’ traditions in the lead.
Below is an example of our writing as it appears in the holy Hwlengan.

We have a more current and urgent problem that has finally reared its ugly head in relation to our lack of African writing systems which could have provided documentation in Afrikan cultures. Many us did not see this coming. Some knew it to be inevitable. Yet, even in the case of the latter we did not realize how degenerate it would become. The lack of functional African writing systems especially in West Afrika, of course, produced a lack of a written record. However, we took for granted that amongst our people were found some of the most profound oral historians. We did not realize what the impact of colonialism would do to the minds of the “educated” elite of Mawuyi and how this, coupled with them being perceived as the representative “faces” of their respective cultures, would impact the very identity of said cultures in the public eye.

The colonial mindset of the educated elite of Mawuyi is no secret. Their wholesale back- turning on their indigenous spiritual sciences is well documented and evident in their descendants. But what is happening is how they are now part and parcel in helping to rewrite the historical identity of their own people in favor of histories that attach them to their colonial mind and spirit masters they admire so much. It is shown at its worse in the case of the phenomenon found amongst many Igbo claiming to be one of the mythological lost tribes of israel! They are not the only confused and confounded Mawuyimele…they are just at the top of the examples of such chaos at this time.

The previous oral stories of these people with identity crisis’ were always crystal clear. These oral histories became more and more distorted the more that Afrikans were in contact with and under the domination of the foreigners who had imposed themselves amongst them. Hence, we see the heavily influenced islamic West Afrikans (our focus but definitely not confined here) rewriting their histories to connect themselves with the mythological prophet of the islamic religion. We have heavily christian influenced Mawuyimele (Afrikans) rewriting their histories to connect themselves with one of the twelve mythological tribes of israel. This is aided by those in amerikkka who descend from formerly enslaved Afrikans. Mistakenly thinking they are taking revolutionary steps, many of them subscribe to blackenized versions of foreign religions (islam, christianity, and judaism) and they too subscribe to a myriad of made up pseudo-theologies of lost tribe connections and descents. Chaos layered upon chaos.

So many of us thought colonialism was over. It is not and this time it is self imposed. The absence of a writing system and the written record is key as to why this chaos is able to reign supreme as it does. Let us take a world view on this. The types of made up philosophies often applied to Mawuyimele (degree-wise) are hardly ever applied to Indians, Japanese, and Chinese. Why? Because the extensive and detailed written record that these people maintain will simply not allow it. There are no chinks in the armor whereas made up identities connecting them to mythological characters of foreign religions can enter. Even in the case of Buddhism in China, the Chinese do not make up any stories about the prophet of their spiritual tradition being Chinese or originating in China. Though they practice Buddhism, they are very clear on the geographical and ethnic origins of Siddhartha Gautama. They do not try to make themselves connected to India because of the spiritual tradition they practice.

So now what can we do? As Mawuyimele, those of us who know our histories and know where we stand as humans in relation to the rest of the world, must diligently record our traditions. We must be authoritative when we do so. By authoritative, we mean that the works we produce now must be promoted and hailed as authority on the subject in contrast to the false documentation being produced by many. For instance, the profound Dibia Umeh wrote the most profound work on Odinani (Igbo indigenous spiritual tradition) that there ever could be in his two volumes. His work is replete with Igbo history, language, spiritual and philosophical concepts. Umeh does not subscribe to any hebrewism in his work. Therefore, for those of us who know the falsity of hebrew claims by Igbos and other misguided ones, we say if it is not in Umeh’s work then it is not Odinani. This is the only sane approach that will restore dignity to our cultures and make up for lost ground because of the absence of African writing systems.

Why the leadership of Afrikan societies did not encourage the development of indigenous writing is quite a mystery. They had everything else. Even in some other cases the use of the writing system of the europeans and arabs they came into contact with could have helped. If the Benin Kingdom’s king, Oba Esigie, could commission his son to go to portugal to learn to be a catholic priest in the early 16th century CE, couldn’t he have just as well commissioned some people to learn the Portuguese writing system (if he wasn’t going to develop an indigenous one), free of their religious ideology and adjust it to the Edo language and standards?

Today, many Mawuyimele, especially in America, feel they are doing a revolutionary thing by simply “practicing” a Mawuyi tradition. They have yet to see the importance of having a writing script or even see the dire need to soeak the language of their traditions. As it often happens with the reactive nature of many black americans (there is a difference between how a black American thinks vs how one who ReAfrikanizes thinks), maybe something will happen on a drastic level that will make them reconsider. We just hope that, like with other things that were allowed to be watered down, it will not be too late.