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Challenge of Culture in Africa

From Restoration to Integration

Bernard N. Fonlon

Publication Year: 2010

This book was first published as a two-part essay in 1965 and 1967 in ABBIA ñ Cameroon Cultural Review ñ under the title ìIdea of Cultureî. Its main argument is that indigenous Africans cultures must be the foundation on which the modern African cultural structure should be raised; the soil into which the new seed should be sown; the stem into which the new scion should be grafted; the sap that should enliven the entire organism. This culture, the object of imperialist mockery and rejected, needs rehabilitation. However, such rehabilitation of African culture cannot be a mere archaeological enterprise. It will not answer to dig up the past and live it as it was. Not only is African culture not without its imperfections, times change and African culture must adapt itself, at every turn, to the changing times. In restoring African culture, it is imperative to steer clear of two extremes: on the one hand, the imperialist arrogance which declared everything African as only fit for the scrap-heap and the dust-bin, and, on the other hand, the overly enthusiastic and rather naive tendency to laud every aspect of African culture as if it were the quintessence of human achievement.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v

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Part One: Culture as Tillage

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pp. 1-42

In a treatise of this nature one forestalls confusion and misunderstanding and irrelevant wrangling by defining one’s terms. Therefore, concerning...

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The Genesis of Culture

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pp. 11-16

Culture has a two-fold origin, a psychological and a historical, that is, culture takes birth in man, and at a point of time, in the story of the world. I do not intend here to go into the origin and the evolution...

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The Purpose of Culture

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pp. 17-19

As we, have seen above, culture, considered as action produced by a subject on an object, is the cultivation of man. The first endowment that a human person gets on coming into the universe...

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The African Ideal

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pp. 21-24

As I have said before, culture, considered as the cultivation of man, is synonymous with education. Wherever there are human beings in need of growth, wherever there are children to be brought up...

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Educating to Unman

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pp. 25-30

When colonialism came, it realised naturally that this warrior spirit was its most dangerous enemy. Colonialism cannot thrive where there is no submission. And if there is to be submission, the colonised...

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The Witness of the Ancients

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pp. 31-36

This idea – that pleasure unmans, that manhood is won but by mastery over the appetites, by detachment from those things for which the body craves, that addiction to pleasure is slavery – is no modem...

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Back to the Sterner Spirit

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pp. 37-42

The Negro peoples have known the ravages of the Slave Trade and of colonial exploitation; even today, in independent Africa, much of what is rightly ours is still in the hands of the stranger. Indeed the black race is...

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Part Two: Culture as Fruit and Harvest

In the first part of this article, I considered culture as tillage and I said that it comprises, firstly, the action of the tiller, secondly, the state of refinement induced by that action into that which is tilled...

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The Physical Strata

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pp. 47

At the level of the flesh, the most basic needs of man are for food, clothing and shelter. To obtain these, man needs to know, to dominate and alter the materiel universe. To overmaster and transform...

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The Strata of the Arts

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pp. 49

Furthermore, man is able to establish contact with the world by means of his senses, and, in turn, the impact of the world on these senses stirs up in him feelings of pleasure or pain, love or hate, desire or aversion, joy...

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The Strata of Abstract Thought

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pp. 51

But man, as we have seen, is not merely flesh to be fed and feeling to be thrilled. He is tormented by thirsts and voids, not only at the level of flesh and sense, but also at the level of his mind. He is tormented...

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The Primacy of Morality

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pp. 53-57

Yet, even when a man feeds on the daintiest dishes and is clothed in silk and purple and is satiated with the delights of sound and song, of colour and shape; even if he has dug to the bottom of the mysteries...

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The Unerring Test of Civilisation

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pp. 59

Furthermore there is in man, as we know only too well, the irrepressible impulse to perpetuate his kind; and this has given rise to marriage and to the diverse systems designed to give stability to this all-important...

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The Role of Religion

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pp. 61-63

Having the wherewithal to supply his body’s needs, having tasted to his soul’s desire of the pleasures of sense and mind, having unearthed the mysteries of the nature of the universe and of the nature of man...

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Summing Up

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pp. 65-66

To sum up therefore: wherever there is a human need to satisfy, a human craving to allay, wherever a skill or system has been evolved for that purpose, there you have a cultural...

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The Principles of Cultural Growth

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pp. 67-68

With regard to cultural growth and development, I have already said that, where nature is generous, where the tooth of want is not so keen, where only the minimum of effort is required for needs to be...

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Culture and Africa

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pp. 69-73

For a long time there was doubt and debate as to whether there existed such a thing as African Culture, African History? Whether the Negro people, like the white or the yellow, had a past worthy...

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The Decline and the Cause

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pp. 75-76

Yet not even the most rabid of African nationalists will dispute the fact that present-day Negro culture, in comparison with the pristine glories of Africa, is obviously...

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Restoring the Remnants

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pp. 77-81

But, fortunately, not everything was destroyed. In the arts, in the field of moral and social values, much remains that merits l to be admired and preserved. African sculpture, as everybody knows, has been an...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956579730
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956578986

Page Count: 96
Publication Year: 2010