Africa-Asia Relations: Historical, Cultural, and Linguistic Connections Adams B. Bodomo University of Hong Kong [email protected] Visiting Professor Ansted University, Penang, Malaysia August 7, 2001 Outline of the Talk Introduction and Themes of the Talk Historical/ Archeological/ Genetic Links Cultural Links/ Similarity Linguistic Links East-West Dualism and the African Absence in Asia The Way Forward: How to improve Asian-African Links Summary and Conclusions Ansted as a Universal University References and Bibliographical/ Web-based sources 7 August 2001, Ansted 2 Themes of the Talk African presence in Asia – Hong Kong and China Despite the not-so-tenuous historical, cultural, and linguistic connections between Africa and Asia, Africa is not so much present in the minds of Asians as compared to other parts of the world Africa has not much conceptual space in the minds of Asians. Most Asians know next to nothing about Africa as compared to Europe and the Americas. There is a certain kind of conceptual and philosophical dualism in the minds of Asians. this dualism is the East-West dichotomy that is so pervasive and rampant in Asian parlance! 7 August 2001, Ansted 3 Historical/ Archeological/ Genetic links History of Mankind and Humanity began in Africa East Africa and the Nile Valley Homo Erectus migrated out of Africa into Asia Varieties of the early Africans Peking man (first humankind found in China) Java Man 7 August 2001, Ansted 5 Recent Genetic Studies Migration - first Africans to Asia Early Asians - the closest cousins of the early Africans! Human race emerged ‘from Africa’ “Scientists have uncovered the strongest evidence yet that humans share a single African ancestor…The idea that the entire world is African is supported by powerful genetic analysis of the Y chromosome.” Victoria Griffith, the London Financial Times, May 10, 2001 Chinese Roots Lie in Africa “Most of the population of modern China--one fifth of all people living today--owes its genetic origins to Africa.” 7 August 2001, Ansted Robert Lee Holz, Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 1988 6 African Asian Communities today ‘Within South Asia, A Little Touch of Africa’ Kenneth J. Cooper, Washington Post Foreign Service, April 12, 1999 the existence of African Asian communities such as the Siddis of India who speak Gujarati, the Sheedi community near Karachi in Pakistan most of whom speak Baluchi, and the Kaffirs of Sri Lanka. these communities may not exhibit as much African consciousness as we see among many African Americans but their music, their dance and many of their indigenous speech forms and other linguistic characteristics point to strong African connections. these groups “are…descended from slaves, servants and soldiers brought from East Africa over the centuries, first by Arab traders and later by Portuguese and British colonizers.” Indigenous communities in other parts of Asia The Philippines, Malaysia (Orang Asli, ‘Original Man’), In donesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia 7 August 2001, Ansted 7 Vibrant Communities Vibrant African communities in Asia in megacities like Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Manila Vibrant Asian communities in Africa 7 August 2001, Ansted In African cities like Accra, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Cairo and Lagos. 8 Cultural Links/ Similarity Ancestor Worship In BOTH African traditional religions and Chinese traditional beliefs Ancestors are worshipped like GODS Strong belief and practice Families in Africa set up regular periods in the year for ancestor worship Chinese – Ching Ming Festival (“gravesweeping”) Chinese families show their respect by visiting the graves of their ancestors to clear away weeds, touch up gravestone inscriptions and make offerings of wine and fruit. 7 August 2001, Ansted 10 Ghosts Africans and Asians are superstitious in their beliefs. Belief in ghosts Dead people’s souls will not depart this world and linger about among the living as ghosts to hound people if they are not given a fitting burial Theme of the novel Beloved, by Toni Morrison (African-American Nobel laureate) 7 August 2001, Ansted 11 Anthropomorphism Duality of existence between man and animals Humans are given animal characteristics and some animals are given human characteristics In some ethnicities in Africa, e.g. the Dagaarespeaking people of the central parts of West Africa Every person born has a totem, an animal that lives somewhere in the wild The fate and destiny of a human and their totem are linked If the totem dies the human dies My totem: the PYTHON Cool, calm, collected, humour, grace, compassion, compunction Don’t step on its tail! 7 August 2001, Ansted 12 Chinese Horoscope - the twelve-year cycle (twelve animal signs) EM Y E A R O F B IR TH TOTEM C H A R A C TE R ISTIC S Rat 1900 1912 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 C harm ing, bright, creative, thrifty Ox 1901 1913 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 Steadfast, dependable, m ethodical R Tiger 1902 1914 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 D ynam ic, w arm , sincere, a leader IT Rabbit 1903 1915 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 H um ble, artistic, clear-sighted GON Dragon 1904 1916 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 Flam boyant, lucky, im aginative E Snake 1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 D iscreet, refined, intelligent E Horse 1906 1918 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 Social, com petitive, stubborn P Sheep 1907 1919 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 A rtistic, fastidious, indecisive KEY Monkey 1908 1920 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 W itty, popular, good-hum ored, versatile Rooster 1909 1921 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 A ggressive, alert, perfectionist Dog 1910 1922 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 H onest, conservative, sym pathetic, loyal Pig 1911 1923 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 C aring, industrious, hom e-loving TER 7 August 2001, Ansted 13 http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/interactive/horoscope/index.jhtml Mentorship as Educational Model Belief in authority, deference to the elders as custodians of knowledge, rigorous mentorship relationship between pupil and master University of Hong Kong’s mentorship program African traditional education systems No formal classes and lectures Children of farmers and fishermen understudy their parents 7 August 2001, Ansted 14 Linguistic Links Genetic Linguistic Relationships Languages do not move until people have moved The Afro-Asiatic group African languages - Hausa, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Berber Asian languages – Hebrew, Assyrian, and Arabic The Dravidian group South Asian languages - Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada Have variants in Southeast Asia, South Africa, and Mauritius A web of communities in Africa and Asia speaking either the same languages or similar ones belonging to the same language families 7 August 2001, Ansted 16 Typological Linguistic Relationships (1) TONE Tone languages in Africa and Asia Akan , Dagaare, Ewe, Ga, Igbo, Yoruba Chinese, Thai, Zhuang Two tones in Dagaare High – Nyu (‘to drink’) Low – Nyu (‘to smell’) 7 August 2001, Ansted 17 Tones in Cantonese 6 tonemes 1 – High 2 – High rising 3 – mid level 4 - Low Falling 5 – Low rising 6 – Low level 7 August 2001, Ansted 18 Typological Linguistic Relationships (2) Serial verb construction (SVC) More than one lexical verb may be found in the same clause Example - ‘I bought some water and drank it’ Cantonese Ngo5 maai5 seoi2 1.SG buy.PERF water Dagaare N 1.SG da buy.PERF jam2 drink la FOC water koO nyu drink Tones and serial verb constructions have received the attention of many linguists contributed very useful data for this linguistic inquiry (Luke and Bodomo 1998) Association for Languages of Far East, Southeast Asia and West Africa (LESEWA) Typological similarities as important aspect Comparative 7 August 2001, African and Asian Studies Ansted 19 East-West Dualism and the African Absence in Asia My experiences as an African living and working in Hong Kong… Africa is not much present in the minds of Chinese and other Asians as other parts of the world are in their minds Asians I have interacted with know next to nothing about Africa In Asian academic setups, compared to the institutions of Europe and America, Asian universities and colleges have very little content about Africa. 7 August 2001, Ansted 21 Why is Africa so much absent in the minds of Asians? The way Asians, especially people of Hong Kong (the group of Asians I know best), categorize the world Conceptual and philosophical dualism in the minds of Asians This dualism deprives Africa of any conceptual space in the Asian mind This dualism is called EAST means Chinese or Asian in general WEST refers to European, American or any white person 7 August 2001, Ansted 22 Examples of East-West Dichotomy in Hong Kong In search for restaurants often involves choice between a Chinese or a Western restaurant Politicians and many people in Hong Kong Like to see their city as a meeting point between East and West The REALITY: Hong Kong is indeed a global business hub A positive move Government of Hong Kong has moved away from the maxim, Hong Kong: where East Meets West to HONG KONG: ASIA’S WORLD CITY 7 August 2001, Ansted 23 Consequences of the East-West Mindset Non-Western and non-Asian countries are relegated to the background in their minds and daily practices When Africa is glanced at with a wink, it is often with borrowed lenses In Hong Kong, Africa is hardly mentioned on the main English-speaking TV channels No African city is mentioned in weather reports of the world’s “major” cities When African news is reported It is negative news It is to be curled from Western sources such as Agence Press, Associated Press and other news media which portray Africa as some backward, uncivilized part of the world 7 August 2001, Ansted 24 Consequences of the East-West Mindset The potentials of Africa as an economic force and as a business and cultural partner of Asia are lost Africa has no economic significance to Asians The reality growing presence of Chinese communities and businesses in Africa rich resources of gold, diamond, manganese and oil Asians must revise their world-view, moving away from a conceptualization of world affairs in terms of East and West 7 August 2001, Ansted 25 The Way Forward: How to Improve AsianAfrican Links Improving the links STEP (1) A Global Approach Asians must accord Africa new conceptual spaces in their mindsets They must dispel and desist from constructing a bi-polar view of the world They must not see relations between them and the rest of the world as one of East and West 7 August 2001, Ansted 27 Improving the links STEP (2) Establishing Economic and Cultural Links Tourism Africa is a potential tourist destination of the highest magnitude, with its wild life and uninhabited and unspoilt nature Trade, cultural, and educational exchanges Benefit a lot from a rediscovery of Africa in a new Asian mindset 7 August 2001, Ansted 28 Improving the links STEP (3) Africans in Asia and elsewhere serve as catalysts There is an emerging trend of African communities in parts of Asia, especially in megacities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur These must play a pioneering role in drawing the attention of Asia to the potentials of Africa, i.e. to sell Africa to Asia and other parts of the world 7 August 2001, Ansted 29 Summary and Conclusions SUMMARY of the talk Africa-Asia relations Historical links (Archeological and Genetic studies) Cultural links (ancestor worship, totems) Linguistic links (Genetic and Typological relationships) Africans and Asians have not taken advantage of these links because of the way many Asians see the world To move forward, people in all parts of the world ought to discard a bi-polar view of the world and embrace a more universalist view in which Africa can gain new conceptual spaces Trade, tourism, and other economic, educational and cultural links can only flourish if Africans and Asians work towards greater cooperation 7 August 2001, Ansted 30 Ansted as a Universal University Africans and Asians can take advantage of new paradigms of education in our age of information technology Consolidating open and distance education Training their populations for manpower needs Ansted – a Universal / Global university It transcends the West, the East, the North and the South Campuses in many parts of the world It represents the new paradigm of higher education that must be emulated by many other educational institutions in the world for a better understanding of our vast universe A better understanding of the world is a precondition for fostering peaceful relations among the different regions and peoples of the world 7 August 2001, Ansted 31 Further issues to know how Africans on the continent think of Asia and the nature of Asian communities in Africa to investigate the consequences of the inability of Africans and Asians to relate more to each other on the nature of comparative studies in either continent to investigate the impact of an increased African-Asian corporation on world bodies and global politics 7 August 2001, Ansted 32 References and Bibliographical/ Web-based sources • • • • • • • • • • • • • The African-Asian Society. 2000. An NGO website managed from South Africa http://www.africanasiansociety.com/ Bodomo, A. B. 1998. Publish or Perish: Notes from Africa. In CERCular: Newsletter of the Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong, no 2, pp 6-7. Bodomo, A. B. 2000. AfricansInHongKong website: http://communities.msn.com/AfricansInHongKong/home.htm Bodomo, A. B. 2001. Historical, Cultural, and Linguistic Links between Africa and Asia, ms, University of Hong Kong Brunson, James E. 1985. Black Jade: The African Presence in the Ancient East and Other Essays. Introduction by Runoko Rashidi. DeKalb: Kara. Brunson, James E. 1989. The Image of the Black in Eastern Art. Pt. 1, Black Roots in Most Ancient China (1766 B.C. - 950 B.C.) DeKalb: Kara. Brunson, James E. 1989. Kamite Brotherhood: African Origins in Early Asia. DeKalb: Kara. Chai, Chen Kang. 1967. Taiwan Aborigines: A Genetic Study of Tribal Variations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Chang, Kwang-chih. 1968. The Archaeology of Ancient China. Rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University Press. Chi, Li. 1967. The Formation of the Chinese People: An Anthropological Inquiry. 1928; rpt. New York: Russell & Russell. Cooper, Kenneth J. 1999. "Within South Asia, A Little Touch of Africa." Washington Post Foreign Service, April 12,1999. Duyvendak, J.J.L. 1949. China's Discovery of Africa. London: Probsthain. Filesi, Teobaldo. 1972. China and Africa in the Middle Ages. Translated by David L. Morison. London: Frank Cass. References and Bibliographical/ Web-based sources • • • • • • • • • • • • Griffith, Victoria. 2001. "Human Race Emerged ‘from Africa’." The London Financial Times, May 10, 2001. Horton, Mark. 1987. "The Swahili Corridor." Scientific American (Sep 1987): 86-93. Hotz, Robert Lee. 1998. "Chinese Roots Lie in Africa, Research Says." Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 1998. Kochiyama, Yuri. 1998. A History of Linkage: African and Asian, African American and Asian American. In “Shades of Power: Newsletter of the Institute for Multi-Racial Justice”, Spring 1998. http://www.hardboiled.org/2-3/linkage.html Luke, K. K. and Adams Bodomo. 1998. A semantic typology of serial verb constructions in Dagaare and Cantonese. ms, University of Hong Kong. Rashidi, Runoko and Ivan Van Sertima. (eds). 1995. The African Presence in Early Asia. Rev. ed. New Brunswick: Transaction Press. Rashidi, Ronoko. 1998. The Global African Community website: http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/runoko.html Rashidi, Runoko, 2001. The African Presence in Early China: a Bibliography. Website: http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/east.html The 1990 Trust. 2001. A website for the promotion of the interests of people of Asian, Caribbean and African origin living in Britain http://www.blink.org.uk/organ/1990t.htm Winters, Clyde-Ahmad. 1978. "Trade Between East Africa and Ancient China." Afrikan Mwalimu 4, No. 3 (1978). Winters, Clyde-Ahmad. 1979. "The Relationship of Afrikans and Chinese in the Past." Afrikan Mwalimu (Jan 1979): 25-31. Winters, Clyde-Ahmad. 1984. "Blacks in Ancient China, Pt. 1: The Founders of Xia and Shang." Journal of Black Studies (1984): 8-13.