Decolonising Africa’s toxic image is probably the most urgent racial reconciliation issue of our age. It is an issue that violently thrust itself in our faces so unavoidably, thanks to the Black Lives Matter campaign following the tragic death of George Floyd in 2020, that I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with George Orwell when he said in 1984 that “the most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
2. A quick survey of Western contemporary culture reveals toxic perceptions about black people as waxing fat and abounding, confirming that the wholesale destruction of the black African identity is more total than we ever imagined. So complete is the destruction that many Black Africans, including their descendants, both at home and abroad, now actively and enthusiastically participate in it themselves.
3. Which is why I speak with Mr. Ngugi wa Thiogo when he says, “The present predicaments of Africa are often not a matter of personal choice: they arise from a historical situation. Their solutions are not so much a matter of personal decision as that of a fundamental social transformation of the structures of our societies starting with a real break with imperialism and its internal ruling allies. Imperialism and its comprador alliances in Africa can never develop the continent.” How then are we to decolonise Africa’s toxic image?
4. In answer, I can think of no one better qualified to assist us than Mr. Milton Allimadi, a Ugandan-American author, journalist, professor, and publisher of Black Star News. Milton was born in the Pearl of Africa, Uganda, on March 4, 1962, to a distinguished father, the former Prime Minister of Uganda, Mr. Erifasi Otema Allimadi; and his mother, Mrs. Alice Allimadi.
5. Milton Allimadi is an economics graduate of Syracuse University, from whence he joined the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. His first job was as an intern at the Journal of Commerce before working at the Wall Street Journal. He subsequently worked as a freelance journalist for the New York Times, where he wrote some significant articles, including, among others, Inventing Africa, a piece that drew attention to a trend of white reporters fabricating stories about Africa. In 1997, he co-founded a New York-based investigative newspaper, Black Star News. The highlight of his investigative career includes a piece criticising Ugandan peacekeepers, who were at the time seconded to the United Nations, for acting as proxy police force for the United States, and another piece highlighting the relief of black Americans after Donald Trump was defeated in the 2020 United States presidential election.
6. Milton is the author of a number of significant books critiquing the racial stereotypes white writers perpetuate when writing about Africa and the African peoples. His greatest work by far, however, is his book, Manufacturing Hate: How Africa Was Demonized in Western Media.
7. In addition to running his newspaper, Black Star News, Milton divides his time between teaching as an adjunct assistant professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and running a podcast, Kumbukeni, whose aim is “Decolonizing Our Minds.”
8. In this episode, we discuss the topic of “How to Decolonise Africa’s Toxic Image.”
9. Look up Episode 011 of Conversations with Stephen Kamugasa, and please rate and subscribe to Conversations with Stephen Kamugasa podcast through your favourite podcast app to listen to the latest insights from our guest thought leaders.
1. Manufacturing Hate: How Africa was Demonized in Western Media, (Kendall Hunt Publishing June 14, 2021). By Milton Allimadi.
2. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, (Verso, November 27, 2018). By Walter Rodney
3. Neo-colonialism The Last Stage of Imperialism, (International Publishers, January 1, 1966). By Kwame Nkrumah.
4. The African Origin of Civilization, (Lawrence Hill Books, July 1, 1989). By Cheikh Anta Diop.
5. Things Fall Apart, (Penguin Publishing Group, September 1, 1994). By Chinua Achebe.
6. Africa’s Cultural Revolution, (Macmillan Books for Africa, 1973). By Okot p’Bitek
Stephen Kamugasa, FRSA, is a non-practising barrister, an author, a consultant, a teacher, a blogger, a writer, and a podcast host. His aim in life is to inspire our own and the next generation to turn challenges into coherent and meaningful solutions, focusing on humanity, leadership, and citizenship.