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Africa-Asia Relations: Historical, Cultural, and Linguistic Connections. Adams B. Bodomo University of Hong Kong [email protected] Visiting Professor Ansted University, Penang, Malaysia August 7, 2001. Outline of the Talk. Introduction and Themes of the Talk

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Africa asia relations historical cultural and linguistic connections l.jpg

Africa-Asia Relations:Historical, Cultural, and Linguistic Connections

Adams B. Bodomo

University of Hong Kong

[email protected]

Visiting Professor

Ansted University, Penang, Malaysia

August 7, 2001


Outline of the talk l.jpg
Outline of the Talk

  • Introduction and Themes of the Talk

  • Historical/ Archeological/ Genetic Links

  • Cultural Links/ Similarity

  • Linguistic Links

  • East-West Dualism and the African Absence in Asia

  • The Way Forward: How to improve Asian-African Links

  • Summary and Conclusions

    • Ansted as a Universal University

  • References and Bibliographical/ Web-based sources


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Themes of the Talk

  • African presence in Asia – Hong Kong and China

  • Despite the not-so-tenuous historical, cultural, and linguistic connections between Africa and Asia, Africa is not so much present in the minds of Asians as compared to other parts of the world

  • Africa has not much conceptual space in the minds of Asians.

  • Most Asians know next to nothing about Africa as compared to Europe and the Americas.

  • There is a certain kind of conceptual and philosophical dualism in the minds of Asians.

  • this dualism is the East-West dichotomy that is so pervasive and rampant in Asian parlance!



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History of Mankind and Humanity

  • began in Africa

    • East Africa and the Nile Valley

  • Homo Erectus migrated out of Africa into Asia

  • Varieties of the early Africans

    • Peking man (first humankind found in China)

    • Java Man


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Recent Genetic Studies

  • Migration - first Africans to Asia

    • Early Asians - the closest cousins of the early Africans!

  • Human race emerged ‘from Africa’

    • “Scientists have uncovered the strongest evidence yet that humans share a single African ancestor…The idea that the entire world is African is supported by powerful genetic analysis of the Y chromosome.”

      • Victoria Griffith, the London Financial Times, May 10, 2001

  • Chinese Roots Lie in Africa

    • “Most of the population of modern China--one fifth of all people living today--owes its genetic origins to Africa.”

      • Robert Lee Holz, Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 1988


  • African asian communities today l.jpg
    African Asian Communities today

    • ‘Within South Asia, A Little Touch of Africa’

      • Kenneth J. Cooper, Washington Post Foreign Service, April 12, 1999

      • the existence of African Asian communities such as the Siddis of India who speak Gujarati, the Sheedi community near Karachi in Pakistan most of whom speak Baluchi, and the Kaffirs of Sri Lanka.

      • these communities may not exhibit as much African consciousness as we see among many African Americans

      • but their music, their dance and many of their indigenous speech forms and other linguistic characteristics point to strong African connections.

      • these groups “are…descended from slaves, servants and soldiers brought from East Africa over the centuries, first by Arab traders and later by Portuguese and British colonizers.”

    • Indigenous communities in other parts of Asia

      • The Philippines, Malaysia (Orang Asli, ‘Original Man’), In donesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia


    Vibrant communities l.jpg
    Vibrant Communities

    • Vibrant African communities in Asia

      • in megacities like Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Manila

    • Vibrant Asian communities in Africa

      • In African cities like Accra, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Cairo and Lagos.



    Ancestor worship l.jpg
    Ancestor Worship

    • In BOTH African traditional religions and Chinese traditional beliefs

      • Ancestors are worshipped like GODS

      • Strong belief and practice

        • Families in Africa set up regular periods in the year for ancestor worship

        • Chinese – Ching Ming Festival (“grave-sweeping”)

        • Chinese families show their respect by visiting the graves of their ancestors to clear away weeds, touch up gravestone inscriptions and make offerings of wine and fruit.


    Ghosts l.jpg
    Ghosts

    • Africans and Asians are superstitious in their beliefs.

    • Belief in ghosts

      • Dead people’s souls will not depart this world and linger about among the living as ghosts to hound people if they are not given a fitting burial

      • Theme of the novel Beloved, by Toni Morrison (African-American Nobel laureate)


    Anthropomorphism l.jpg
    Anthropomorphism

    • Duality of existence between man and animals

    • Humans are given animal characteristics and some animals are given human characteristics

    • In some ethnicities in Africa, e.g. the Dagaare-speaking people of the central parts of West Africa

      • Every person born has a totem, an animal that lives somewhere in the wild

      • The fate and destiny of a human and their totem are linked

      • If the totem dies the human dies

    • My totem: the PYTHON

      • Cool, calm, collected, humour, grace, compassion, compunction

      • Don’t step on its tail!


    Chinese horoscope the twelve year cycle twelve animal signs l.jpg

    TOTEM

    Rat

    Ox

    Tiger

    Rabbit

    Dragon

    Snake

    Horse

    Sheep

    Monkey

    Rooster

    Dog

    Pig

    Chinese Horoscope - the twelve-year cycle (twelve animal signs)

    http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/interactive/horoscope/index.jhtml


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    Mentorship as Educational Model

    • Belief in authority, deference to the elders as custodians of knowledge, rigorous mentorship relationship between pupil and master

    • University of Hong Kong’s mentorship program

    • African traditional education systems

      • No formal classes and lectures

      • Children of farmers and fishermen understudy their parents



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    Genetic Linguistic Relationships

    • Languages do not move until people have moved

    • The Afro-Asiatic group

      • African languages - Hausa, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Berber

      • Asian languages – Hebrew, Assyrian, and Arabic

    • The Dravidian group

      • South Asian languages - Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada

      • Have variants in Southeast Asia, South Africa, and Mauritius

    • A web of communities in Africa and Asia speaking either the same languages or similar ones belonging to the same language families


    Typological linguistic relationships 1 tone l.jpg
    Typological Linguistic Relationships(1) TONE

    • Tone languages in Africa and Asia

      • Akan , Dagaare, Ewe, Ga, Igbo, Yoruba

      • Chinese, Thai, Zhuang

    • Two tones in Dagaare

      • High – Nyu (‘to drink’)

      • Low – Nyu  (‘to smell’)


    Tones in cantonese l.jpg

    6 tonemes

    1 – High

    2 – High rising

    3 – mid level

    4 - Low Falling

    5 – Low rising

    6 – Low level

    Tones in Cantonese


    Typological linguistic relationships 2 serial verb construction svc l.jpg

    More than one lexical verb may be found in the same clause

    Example - ‘I bought some water and drank it’

    Cantonese

    Ngo5 maai5 seoi2 jam2

    1.SG buy.PERF water drink

    Dagaare

    N da la koO nyu

    1.SG buy.PERF FOC water drink

    Tones and serial verb constructions have received the attention of many linguists

    contributed very useful data for this linguistic inquiry (Luke and Bodomo 1998)

    Association for Languages of Far East, Southeast Asia and West Africa (LESEWA)

    Typological similarities as important aspect Comparative African and Asian Studies

    Typological Linguistic Relationships(2) Serial verb construction (SVC)



    My experiences as an african living and working in hong kong l.jpg
    My experiences as an African living and working in Hong Kong…

    • Africa is not much present in the minds of Chinese and other Asians as other parts of the world are in their minds

    • Asians I have interacted with know next to nothing about Africa

    • In Asian academic setups, compared to the institutions of Europe and America, Asian universities and colleges have very little content about Africa.


    Why is africa so much absent in the minds of asians l.jpg
    Why is Africa so much absent in the minds of Asians? Kong…

    • The way Asians, especially people of Hong Kong (the group of Asians I know best), categorize the world

    • Conceptual and philosophical dualism in the minds of Asians

    • This dualism deprives Africa of any conceptual space in the Asian mind

    • This dualism is called

    • EAST means Chinese or Asian in general

    • WEST refers to European, American or any white person

    EAST - WEST DICHOTOMY


    Examples of east west dichotomy in hong kong l.jpg
    Examples of East-West Dichotomy in Hong Kong Kong…

    • In search for restaurants

      • often involves choice between a Chinese or a Western restaurant

    • Politicians and many people in Hong Kong

      • Like to see their city as a meeting point between East and West

      • The REALITY: Hong Kong is indeed a global business hub

    • A positive move

      • Government of Hong Kong has moved away from the maxim, Hong Kong: where East Meets West to HONG KONG: ASIA’S WORLD CITY


    Consequences of the east west mindset l.jpg
    Consequences of the Kong…East-West Mindset

    • Non-Western and non-Asian countries are relegated to the background in their minds and daily practices

    • When Africa is glanced at with a wink, it is often with borrowed lenses

    • In Hong Kong,

      • Africa is hardly mentioned on the main English-speaking TV channels

      • No African city is mentioned in weather reports of the world’s “major” cities

      • When African news is reported

        • It is negative news

        • It is to be curled from Western sources such as Agence Press, Associated Press and other news media which portray Africa as some backward, uncivilized part of the world


    Consequences of the east west mindset25 l.jpg
    Consequences of the Kong…East-West Mindset

    • The potentials of Africa as an economic force and as a business and cultural partner of Asia are lost

    • Africa has no economic significance to Asians

    • The reality

      • growing presence of Chinese communities and businesses in Africa

      • rich resources of gold, diamond, manganese and oil

    • Asians must revise their world-view, moving away from a conceptualization of world affairs in terms of East and West


    The way forward how to improve asian african links l.jpg

    The Way Forward: Kong…How to Improve Asian-African Links


    Improving the links step 1 a global approach l.jpg
    Improving the links Kong…STEP (1) A Global Approach

    • Asians must accord Africa new conceptual spaces in their mindsets

    • They must dispel and desist from constructing a bi-polar view of the world

    • They must not see relations between them and the rest of the world as one of East and West


    Improving the links step 2 establishing economic and cultural links l.jpg
    Improving the links Kong…STEP (2) Establishing Economic and Cultural Links

    • Tourism

      • Africa is a potential tourist destination of the highest magnitude, with its wild life and uninhabited and unspoilt nature

    • Trade, cultural, and educational exchanges

      • Benefit a lot from a rediscovery of Africa in a new Asian mindset


    Improving the links step 3 africans in asia and elsewhere serve as catalysts l.jpg
    Improving the links Kong…STEP (3) Africans in Asia and elsewhere serve as catalysts

    • There is an emerging trend of African communities in parts of Asia, especially in megacities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur

    • These must play a pioneering role in drawing the attention of Asia to the potentials of Africa, i.e. to sell Africa to Asia and other parts of the world


    Summary and conclusions l.jpg
    Summary and Conclusions Kong…

    • SUMMARY of the talk

      • Africa-Asia relations

        • Historical links (Archeological and Genetic studies)

        • Cultural links (ancestor worship, totems)

        • Linguistic links (Genetic and Typological relationships)

      • Africans and Asians have not taken advantage of these links because of the way many Asians see the world

      • To move forward, people in all parts of the world ought to discard a bi-polar view of the world and embrace a more universalist view in which Africa can gain new conceptual spaces

      • Trade, tourism, and other economic, educational and cultural links can only flourish if Africans and Asians work towards greater cooperation


    Ansted as a universal university l.jpg
    Ansted as a Kong…Universal University

    • Africans and Asians can take advantage of new paradigms of education in our age of information technology

      • Consolidating open and distance education

      • Training their populations for manpower needs

    • Ansted – a Universal / Global university

      • It transcends the West, the East, the North and the South

      • Campuses in many parts of the world

      • It represents the new paradigm of higher education that must be emulated by many other educational institutions in the world for a better understanding of our vast universe

      • A better understanding of the world is a precondition for fostering peaceful relations among the different regions and peoples of the world


    Further issues l.jpg
    Further issues Kong…

    • to know how Africans on the continent think of Asia and the nature of Asian communities in Africa

    • to investigate the consequences of the inability of Africans and Asians to relate more to each other on the nature of comparative studies in either continent

    • to investigate the impact of an increased African-Asian corporation on world bodies and global politics


    References and bibliographical web based sources l.jpg

    The African-Asian Society. 2000. An NGO website managed from South Africa http://www.africanasiansociety.com/

    Bodomo, A. B. 1998. Publish or Perish: Notes from Africa. In CERCular: Newsletter of the Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong, no 2, pp 6-7.

    Bodomo, A. B. 2000. AfricansInHongKong website:

    http://communities.msn.com/AfricansInHongKong/home.htm

    Bodomo, A. B. 2001. Historical, Cultural, and Linguistic Links between Africa and Asia, ms, University of Hong Kong

    Brunson, James E. 1985. Black Jade: The African Presence in the Ancient East and Other Essays. Introduction by Runoko Rashidi. DeKalb: Kara.

    Brunson, James E. 1989. The Image of the Black in Eastern Art. Pt. 1, Black Roots in Most Ancient China (1766 B.C. - 950 B.C.) DeKalb: Kara.

    Brunson, James E. 1989. Kamite Brotherhood: African Origins in Early Asia. DeKalb: Kara.

    Chai, Chen Kang. 1967. Taiwan Aborigines: A Genetic Study of Tribal Variations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Chang, Kwang-chih. 1968. The Archaeology of Ancient China. Rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Chi, Li. 1967. The Formation of the Chinese People: An Anthropological Inquiry. 1928; rpt. New York: Russell & Russell.

    Cooper, Kenneth J. 1999. "Within South Asia, A Little Touch of Africa." Washington Post Foreign Service, April 12,1999.

    Duyvendak, J.J.L. 1949. China's Discovery of Africa. London: Probsthain.

    Filesi, Teobaldo. 1972. China and Africa in the Middle Ages. Translated by David L. Morison. London: Frank Cass.

    References and Bibliographical/ Web-based sources


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    References and Bibliographical/ Web-based sources South Africa

    • Griffith, Victoria. 2001. "Human Race Emerged ‘from Africa’." The London Financial Times, May 10, 2001.

    • Horton, Mark. 1987. "The Swahili Corridor." Scientific American (Sep 1987): 86-93.

    • Hotz, Robert Lee. 1998. "Chinese Roots Lie in Africa, Research Says."Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 1998.

    • Kochiyama, Yuri. 1998. A History of Linkage: African and Asian, African American and Asian American. In “Shades of Power: Newsletter of the Institute for Multi-Racial Justice”, Spring 1998.http://www.hardboiled.org/2-3/linkage.html

    • Luke, K. K. andAdams Bodomo. 1998. A semantic typology of serial verb constructions in Dagaare and Cantonese. ms, University of Hong Kong.

    • Rashidi, Runoko and Ivan Van Sertima. (eds). 1995. The African Presence in Early Asia. Rev. ed. New Brunswick: Transaction Press.

    • Rashidi, Ronoko. 1998. The Global African Community website: http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/runoko.html

    • Rashidi, Runoko, 2001. The African Presence in Early China: a Bibliography. Website: http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/east.html

    • The 1990 Trust. 2001. A website for the promotion of the interests of people of Asian, Caribbean and African origin living in Britainhttp://www.blink.org.uk/organ/1990t.htm

    • Winters, Clyde-Ahmad. 1978. "Trade Between East Africa and Ancient China."Afrikan Mwalimu 4, No. 3 (1978).

    • Winters, Clyde-Ahmad. 1979. "The Relationship of Afrikans and Chinese in the Past."Afrikan Mwalimu (Jan 1979): 25-31.

    • Winters, Clyde-Ahmad. 1984. "Blacks in Ancient China, Pt. 1: The Founders of Xia and Shang." Journal of Black Studies (1984): 8-13.


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