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Our “Psychemancipation” Day Part 1

By Humphrey A Regis
Humphrey A Regis

Did you receive the Introduction to the History of the World African Community in Form 3 in a project at Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School in May of 1995? Or, did you receive it at another secondary school between 1995 and 2000? Did you, perhaps, receive it in the “Enrichment” and “Learning” programme for our adults? Or, did you receive it in a conversation that lasted 2.5 hours and was in Blanchard? If so, you may have read in a newspaper in Saint Lucia about 20 years ago an article in which the presenter in the project wished you a happy “Mind-Emancipation Day”. This year, the presenter wishes you “alumni” a Happy “PSYCHEMANCIPATION” Day. But this wish and the related information in this article are not only for the alumni: the writer urges VFCSSers, “adults,” Saint Lucians, and Caricommoners, to read on.

The article describes the project and the related book, which one reviewer claimed together constitute a “revolution.” The article gives appropriate credit for the work on the project to an “intellectual” who passed away more than 22 years ago. It also argues that we need the “revolution” for the correction of a scourge that plagues us and has three parts: our devaluation of our selves; our elevation of others over our selves; and the psychological disarming of us in the presence of our dominators. It argues that we connect this devaluation and elevation and disarming to our physical appearance, but should connect it to our understanding of our history and heritage and culture. Thus it argues for our use of and our study of our history and heritage and culture in the changing of the “anchors” of our psyches from devaluation, inferiority and disarming to instead revaluation, affirmation and agency – our use of our study of our history and heritage and culture in our “PSYCHEMANCIPATION.”

25 Years Ago at VFCSS: the Project, the Book

The “revolution” had one part in teaching and one part in writing. In May of 1995, the writer of this article, a “founding” student of VFCSS, collaborated with five of its teachers of history to introduce students in its From 3 to the history of the World African Community. At the end of the project, the teachers proposed that the School weave the teaching of the history into its Form 3 studies. The principal agreed, the teachers asked the writer to author a textbook on the history, and the writer wrote the book and called it Africans Before CARICOM. He presented 90 copies of it to the School when he was a featured speaker at its graduation ceremony in 1999.

The book introduces the concept of a “World African Community.” It explains the beginnings of the Universe, Earth, life on Earth, human beings in Africa, and other human beings from those in Africa. It describes the first collectives, communities and societies People of the African Continent (PACs) established, with the focus on the most well known of these societies and the fullest expression of things African, Kemet (Diop says the name means “Land of the Blacks,” but others call it “Ancient Egypt”). It describes the first collectives, communities and societies that People of African Descent (PADs) established and that include Harappa, and reports that one expert says that in the eastern hemisphere we find the PADs “whenever we (have) approached the origin of nations.”  It also describes a second wave of societies that PACs established after the fall of Kemet and that include Ghana, Mali and Songhay. Then it describes the coming of PACs and PADs, via various routes and means, and with various motivations, to the Eastern Caribbean, Greater Caribbean and western hemisphere over thousands of years. The book presents a “story” through which one could locate the African presence in Saint Lucia, the Eastern Caribbean, the Greater Caribbean and the western hemisphere within ancient, recent and current historical “space” without the myths that colonial dominators have imposed on our people for the benefit of these dominators. This article will return to this critical point later.

One review in The Mirror says the book is (and implies the book and project are) a “one-man revolution” in the teaching of history in our island and our region, but the writer has received no reports on the use of the book in teaching at the School. And in 2020, one educator took remaining copies of the book for safe keeping. Still, to the students in Form 3 at VFCSS in 1995, today in 2020: Happy 25TH Anniversary. And, in spite of the fate of the book, also today in 2020: Happy “Mind Emancipation Day”.

The conceiver and coordinator of the project in 1995 was Dr Humphrey A. Regis, a member of the first class at the School (1963-1968), and at the time of the project an associate professor at the University of South Florida. What the review of the book calls the “frontline” collaborators included Mr S Wayne Louis, Ms Lydia Sadoo, and Mr Sylvester Clauzel, as well as Ms Rosamunde Renard and Mr McCarian Augier. In addition to the permission of the Principal, Mr Teddy Barnard, the project received the blessing of the Chief Education Officer at the time, Dr Michael Louis, but not of many who claimed to be “intellectuals” and “progressives” and “revolutionaries.”

After the end of the project and before the completion of the book Africans Before CARICOM, Wayne Louis worked directly, and the other teachers worked indirectly, with the project conceiver and coordinator in the teaching of the history to VFCSS students. They received from the conceiver and coordinator copies of materials and student packets the collaborators had used during the project and that included text, illustrations, photos, maps, and exercises. In addition, before and after the project, Louis received from the conceiver and coordinator resources that included works such as the seminal Cultural Unity of Black Africa by multi-genius Cheikh Anta Diop; Echoes of the Old Dark Land by the weaver of facts and revealer of insights, Charles S Finch; Intruduction to Black Studies by the specialist in Kwanzaa and MAAT, Maulana Karenga; and volumes in the Journal of African Civilizations series that the Guyanese Caricommoner Ivan van Sertima edited – all of which were resources for teachers.

Louis did not only quickly devour these readings; he also secured his own readings and engaged in his development of his understanding of the history and his sharing of the benefits of that understanding. For example, he used the works of musician Mutabaruka to promote in students the understanding of the effects of the colonial experience on subjects in colonies. He also worked with the PanAfrican Alliance to introduce people in Saint Lucia to this understanding. And, he contributed to a visit to Saint Lucia by the civil rights and African heritage studies activist Kwame Toure. A more profound statement on the contribution of Louis comes later in this article.

CARMWAC and Our Devaluation of Our Selves

In Africans Before CARICOM, we capture one issue in the analysis of two composite caricatures we call Hoitee and Toitee Kalabash. They both have earned associates, bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees, but that education did not introduce them to the information on their ancestors and the cousins of their ancestors in Africans Before CARICOM.  This means that for an understanding of the African part of their heritage, they have had to depend on “myths” that their colonial dominators have imposed on them and their island and region for the benefit of these dominators.

One of the consequences is that they suffer from Corrective Automatic Reactions to Membership in the World African Community, CARMWAC.  This condition has two components: one is the Minimization of Proximity to Members of the World African Community (MiniProx); one is the Maximization of Compensation for Membership in the World African Community (MaxiCom).

The education of Hoitee and Toitee led them to place people in ranks or statuses or classes, to stress trying to rise to the highest rank or status or class, and to stress avoidance of the lowest rank or status or class. But their education also led them to believe that members of the World African Community (WAC) belong in the lowest rank or status or class. This means that although they are PADs, they have the idea that other PADs and PACs in general belong in the lowest rank or status or class. As a result, they tend to minimize their proximity (MiniProx) to other PACs and PADs: to minimize their sense of closeness to or similarity with PACs and PADs.

There are many ways in which Hoitee and Toitee Kalabash, other Saint Lucians, and other Caricopmmoners display that MiniProx: they deny they have physical features like those of PACs and PADs; they deny they have beliefs and behaviors and values like those of PACs and PADs; they refuse and resist and resent attempts to provide them with information on the similarities between them, and PACs and PADs. They renege on promises (such as to come to meetings or to follow up on meetings or to provide help) they make to PACs or PADs, and offer no genuine apology or state no genuine remorse about the consequences. This minimization of proximity is one of the subjects in the chapter Hoitee and Toitee Kalabash in Africans Before CARICOM.

The education of Hoitee and Toitee also led them to believe that their colonial and neo-colonial dominators in western Europe in particular and in Europe in general belong in the highest rank or status or class. So, they maximize their compensation (MaxiCom) for their status as People of African Descent by associating with those from western Europe in particular, much of Europe in general, and in sum, people different from PACs and PADs. For example, they do things the way Europeans do them or say to do them; they do things they know are needed only after Europeans say do them; they believe that their work is good only after they believe Europeans say it is good; they emphasize about their output the features they think Europeans have validated. This maximization of compensation also is a subject in the chapter Hoitee and Toitee Kalabash in Africans Before CARICOM.

MASSAHIANISM and Our Revaluation of Others

This part of our essay has its anchor in the studies, conclusions and interpretations of five giants in the study of members of the World African Community: Molefi Kete Asante, conceiver and elaborator of Afrocentricity; Charles S. Finch, authority on the birth and early shaping of the Community; and John Jackson and Gerald Massey and Alvin Boyd Kuhn, experts on the millennia-old history of religion in the Community. It covers an aspect of our millennia-old history and heritage and culture that may be a key to our dealing with MiniProx and MaxiCom, but that has seen a great amount of Refusal, Resistance, and Resentment – the Three Rs. Please: Brace Yourself!

Asante asks us to conceive of religion as the deification of heritage: to think of the religion a people develop as the results of their attempts to explain their existence (their history and heritage and culture) by connecting that existence to the Creator.  Massey concludes that the people do that connecting through myths that are what Finch calls the “fantastic” elements in their religion. Jackson specifies one of these myths in Christianity Before Christ by reporting that a people of Central Africa we call the Pygmies hold that the Creator and a Mother gave birth to a Child, who lived the exemplary life, died as sacrifice for the sins of humanity, rose from death for the redemption of humanity, went up to the Father in Heaven, and will return to form perfect world government – all in their belief system that wove this drama of a holy family and related phenomena into their history and heritage and culture and thus deified their history and heritage and culture.  Finch says that Massey, in “36 years of mind-bending labor,” traced the existence of the myth of the Child of the Creator as the Saviour of humanity back to 10,000 years ago in Central Africa.

After African peoples went north up the Nile River to establish Ta Seti in Nubia and then Kemet farther to the north, those in Kemet at least 6,000 years ago named the Father Asar (we today know him as Osiris), the Mother Aset (we today know her as Isis), and the Child Heru (we today know him as Horus) – and wove the drama and the related phenomena into their history and heritage and culture, and thus deified their history and heritage and culture. For example, the names of a number of their leaders suggest that one should believe that the leaders had attributes of Heru. And, a mural in one of their temples depicts the birth of one leader as the birth of Heru, and includes the four scenes of the Annunciation, Conception, Birth, and Adoration which we call the Nativity and which they painted more than 3,500 years ago.

Millennia later, importers in Palestine renamed the figures God the Father, Virgin Mother, and God the Son – and again, wove the drama and the related phenomena into their history and heritage and culture and so deified their history and heritage and culture. The belief system further went to Greeks, then to Romans, and then to western Europeans, who also have woven that drama and the related phenomena into their history and heritage and culture, and so deified their history and heritage and culture. Thus, the “Christianity” that we “inherited” from Palestinians, Greeks, Romans, and western Europeans, and that we practice, is a result of appropriation, expropriation, re-interpretation, re-localization and re-exportation by what Alvin Boyd Kuhn calls “later generations,” and has at its center many ideas that deify the histories and heritages and cultures of these “later generations” but that originally deified the histories and heritages and cultures of African peoples.

Over the last 4,000 years and certainly the last 500 years, the African peoples inside and outside the Continent have been plagued by “waves” of invasions and conquests and domination, and their dominators have succeeded in separating them from their original religion and imposing on them many of the appropriations, expropriations, re-interpretations, re-localizations and re-exportations. One example is the adoption by them of “religion” that they say is universal but deifies the histories and heritages and cultures of peoples in Palestine and Greece and Rome and western Europe.

The original creation of the Pygmies, the Nubians and the Kemetu sees the African history and heritage and culture and way of life and community and individual as deified by virtue of their direct connection to the Creator. But the religions that the African peoples voluntarily and/or involuntarily adopt from Palestine or Greece or Rome or Canterbury or Mecca views the histories and heritages and cultures of the respective non-African centers of these religions as deified by virtue of their direct connection to the Creator. And so, in the lives of People of the African Continent or of People of African Descent in our island or region who follow the appropriations “outsiders” call universal religions, there seems to be a critically important outcome.

The outcome is that whether he or she admits it or not, the connection of the PAC or PAD to the Creator would be via the deified history and heritage and culture of the appropriator (and its center outside the World African Community). The “Christian” Person of African Descent in our island and region reaches the Creator by invoking intermediaries of different histories and heritages and cultures, and therefore, will always be farther from the Creator than the people whose histories and heritages and cultures are similar to those of the intermediaries. In the appropriated version of the African original, that person always will be at best a second-class citizen.

This outcome came to life in one of our islands in recent decades. There, one opinion many electors expressed was, “God has sent a white man to save us.”  At the root of this sentiment is the philosophy and practice that holds that there is in the Universe the hierarchy that has the Creator at the top, the colonial dominator or neo-colonial dominator or their reasonable facsimile in the middle as intermediary, and People of the African Continent and People of African Descent at the bottom. That philosophy and practice, one issue in the psyches of People of African Descent in our island and our region, is MASSAHIANISM (in short, it is the view of “massa” as “messiah”).

Psychological Disarming in Presence of Others

It is difficult to overestimate the gravity in our island and region of the implications of CARMWAC (MiniProx, MaxiCom) and MASSAHIANISM (“massa” as “messiah”).

Under CARMWAC, MiniProx reduces our valuation of ourselves and fellow citizens who are PADs, and promotes our inclination to establish that we are higher in rank or status or class than these citizens. Under CARMWAC also, MaxiCom promotes our inclination to think and act in accord with what we believe comes from the colonial dominator, the neo-colonial dominator, and reasonable facsimiles of them. And with MASSAHIANISM there is a view that the Universe includes the Creator at the top, the colonial dominator and the neo-colonial dominator and their reasonable facsimiles who are all closer to the Creator and act as intermediaries in the middle, and People of the African Continent and People of African Descent at the bottom. Therefore, the thoughts and information and directives and values from the Creator first reach the colonial dominator and the neo-colonial dominator and the reasonable facsimiles, and only after that reach the PACs and PADs.  And so, there should be continual, or even continuous, compliance with the thoughts and information and directives and values that come from the colonial dominator and the neo-colonial dominator and the reasonable facsimiles, on the part of the PACs and PADs. This almost autonomic reasoning, and the related inclination to comply with, and disinclination to depart from, what comes from the colonial dominator, the neo-colonial dominator and the reasonable facsimiles, is the PSYCHOLOGICAL DISARMING we find in the psyches of People of African Descent in our island and region. (See the next section.)

The cultivation of CARMWAC, MASSAHIANISM and PSYCHOLOGICAL DISARMING in PADs in our island and region is the ultimate achievement of the colonial dominator, neo-colonial dominator and facsimiles. Africans Before CARICOM says this cultivation was part of their plan for domination of the PADs: “They knew that in this way, they more easily would be able to control the African fore parents. In addition, they knew that with this ability to control, they would be able to take advantage of the African fore parents. For example, they knew they would be able to take for themselves the benefits of the hard work of the African fore parents…”

…to be continued

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