An official decree

No Afrikan shall henceforth, never ever, ever, ever, (ever +infinity) use the following words or phrases, “Third World”, “Former colonial master” and “Tribal” (or their derivatives). The penalty for using such words is an official revocation of the Afrikan identity card!

Reasons for decree

Far too many people use and continue to accept terms such as “Third world” without knowledge of their origin or giving weight to implications. French demographer and economic historian Alfred Sauvy, was amongst the first to use the term (Tiers Monde) in reference to countries that were unaligned with either the Soviet Union or NATO during the Cold War (hint: he did not use it as a compliment). Overtime, the term has undergone various metamorphosis and has been used to describe countries that belong to certain economic categories or human development indexes. However can any Afrikan after looking critically at the term, deny that inherent in it are hints of inferiority and being worth less than someone else from the “first world”? Is there any positive value encapsulated in such a term that would warrant further use by Afrikans?

The second term “former colonial master” is used widely in European and North American media and surprisingly in Afrikan media as well. When something “newsworthy” happens in Afrika, the story is often accompanied by the mention of “the former colonial master” of that country. Is an Afrikan’s worth only measured in relation to the ones who stole/steals from, murdered, raped, his/her family of yesteryears? Imagine the uproar from the USA if every time that it is mentioned, there is a constant reference to it being a former British Colony? Or if every visit that a US president makes to the UK is accompanied with mentions of visiting the “former colonial master?” Why is there no such uproar from Afrikans?  What justification is there for any Afrikan to accept such treatment?

Tribalism is yet another term that continues to be used freely without a critical evaluation of origin or meaning and perception contained therein. The term tribe or tribal often conjures up unflattering depictions. Seemingly of those who so called ‘need to be protected from themselves’ and in so doing cordoned off from others.  A definitive and satisfactory explanation as to the distinction between tribal groups and ethnic groups is hard to find. However concatenating the information available, the conclusion is that one term conjures up a more sense of the primitive while the other seem to be applied to groups outside of Afrika (tribal war in Rwanda vs. ethnic violence in Bosnia).

Exception to the decree

If an Afrikan should continue to use words such as, “Third World”, “Former colonial master”, “Tribal”, “Natives” and many others that have been used to demean, then she or he must give the words definition. If you chose to proudly refer to yourself as from the third world, than express in the Afrikan context why you are happy to say that. If you are proud to refer to yourself as tribal, then do so, but have reason that are not connected to those who initially and unflatteringly characterized you as such.

Not really a decree

Ok, so I do not have the power to issue a decree or at least any that would be followed. I remain however adamant about the need, by Afrikans, especially Afrikan intellectuals to think critically about words and perhaps remove some from our respective lexicon.

If language is the key aspect that distinguishes human beings from animals, then words are perhaps the most powerful weapon that exists in the arsenal. Words are powerful. Words have meaning and it is in the way that such word are used, intended, or perceived where the power lies. It is time for Afrikans to take the reign of this power and wield it more effectively in defining identity.

There is an old saying, “until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.” Afrika, although has the capability and knowledge, continues to glorify the hunt at the behest of telling its own history. Like an offensive nickname that one has no control over, little can be done to prevent non-Afrikans from referring to Afrikans inauspiciously, but for Afrikans to openly embrace such self-defecation is simply wrong.

3 thoughts on “An official decree

  1. We can say African countries or developing countries and not third world countries because we are the first world.
    As to referring to “colonial masters,” I don’t think they were masters; they were the “colonial cowards.” Up to now they have not been making peace in the world but use self-destructing methods taking the lives of young people.
    I guess you can say “corrupt bunch” or “exploitive people,” they can be termed Expansionists and imperialists. That suits them better than being called masters, they never were. I support this approach towards terminology and I stand behind this 110%.

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