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1 Chapter 1 Colonial Heritage, Memory, and Sustainability in Dialogue: An Introduction Munyaradzi Mawere The continent of Africa is judiciously and richly endowed with diverse resources; natural, human, religious, and cultural. While cultural heritage in Africa, as elsewhere, is increasingly employed both as a stimulus and vehicle for development and sustainability, some forms of heritage remain untapped, at least, to harp and propel the loci of development and sustainability on the continent. Many decades after the end of liberation struggles and the demise of Western colonial administration and imperialism in the corridors of African soils, liberation war heritage, for example, remains a tantalising possibility as a prospective launch pad to foster and propagate the continent’s sustainable development efforts. The potential wherewithal and contribution of many historic-cultural landscapes, battle sites, detention centres/war prisons, assembly points, narratives, nationalist biographies, transit bases, among other important aspects of what broadly constitutes colonial heritage in Africa, thus, remain trapped in the pufferies of inscrutability that they are yet to be fully explored, comprehended, and realised. This has been a result of compound factors that include, but not limited to, the gory effects and unpardonable sufferings that the process of colonialism inflicted on the masses of the indigenous Africans and the uncertainties that processes like westernisation and globalisation – processes that are directly linked with the former European colonists – have sown on the African soils. Globalisation, for example, is attractive and sometimes beautiful. It is, however, no proof against imperialism. It is no proof against foreign domination. It is no proof against cultural atrophy. It is no proof against technological tantrums and epistemic violence. This is in sync with my earlier observation that globalisation is a bitter pill that one takes with a crinkle face 2 (Mawere 2013). A bitter pill has a double effect: It may (or may not) heal the ailing body but at the same time pains the body that takes it. Better if the body is pained but healed at the same time! All these factors and observations when juxtaposed with colonial heritage beg not only the formerly colonised (or the sub-altern societies) to tread with caution but also importunate questions that boggle the mind and hard to provide satisfactory answers: ‘What legacy and lessons did colonialism bequeath to Africa? Is the desire to make heritage rewarding palpable in Africa? How can the African youths be furnished with cultural epistemological lenses and arsenals – spiritual, moral and functional education? Is there a nexus between heritage, development and sustainability? If yes, how can Africa use its premium cultural heritage to shape, leapfrog its development, and secure a sustainable future?’ As the continent of Africa continues to attempt to chime and forge burgeoning economies in the twenty-first century, reflections on these beseeching questions and the potential role of cultural heritage to instigate transformation and categorically promote sustainable development are not only mandatory but more urgent now than ever. Documentaries, collections, conservation and commemoration efforts to capture and enliven Africa’s fading history and underexploited heritage resources accumulated immediate before, during, and after the struggles for independence, remain a priority in the broader context of cultural heritage milieu. The Greeks, for example, have preserved and gone a step further to digitalise the works of their renowned geniuses like Homer, Thales, Anaximenes, Anaximander, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare. The English have also preserved and still study their Elizabethan, Jacobeans, Augustans, Romantics, Victorians, Reformists, Imagists, and Modernists, among other traditions that are historically and legitimately theirs. Now, isn’t it the onus of Africa to challenge and explore the nexus between its past, presence, and future in the preservation, conservation, and exploitation of its heritage for sustainability of the continent? No wonder, in 1988, the former Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutschena’s graveside eulogy attacked the Zimbabwean nation for failing to honour its accomplished and prolific writers like Professor 3 Stanelake Samkange, charging: “It is the citizens of each country who pick up and expose the achievements of those achievers who have distinguished themselves [...] A nation that ignores the achievements of its people is a sick nation” (see Mushava 2013). This was on his realisation that Samkange’s historical and creative works, though were being enjoyed abroad, were not only overlooked but excluded to hollow hovels on the school curriculum and generally out of circulation in Zimbabwe, where they should have impacted positively then and in the future, as part and parcel of cultural heritage (and intellectual/literary heritage) to move the country...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789956763252
Related ISBN
9789956763726
MARC Record
OCLC
938324138
Pages
376
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-12
Language
English
Open Access
No
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