The word “Afro” denotes anything that is of African origin. Hence, the use of the word in phrases such as Afrocentric, Afro-Asiatic, Afro- American and so many other word fusions. So, when Afro is used in the same sentence as “philosophy”, it means the way of life of Africans, or the African mindset, or what constitutes the African world view of life and how it ought to be lived, or relating to the African way of life, and mindset. But, what does it mean to be African? Who can be called an African?
WHAT AND WHO IS AN AFRICAN?
Africa is a continent. It is made up of over 10,000 ethnic groups, who speak over 2,000 different languages, or different variations of ethnic languages. To say this continent is diverse is a vast understatement. To be African in an extremely strict definition would mean to be from the continent of Africa, or have cultural and traditional ties, ancestral ties to the African continent. However, you don't need to be black skinned or from an African country to be African. In terms of definition, to be African would mean to have an African mindset, to subscribe to the African way of life, to be culturally and traditionally in tune with the core African practices. This doesn't mean one should eat “banku” or “ogbono” every day of their lives to be African, but to understand the African thought process, to understand and practice the core values and principles of the African institution, to be able to identify the problems of the African people and to make meaningful contributions to help solve those problems.
AFRO- PHILOSOPHY: THE AFRO-LIFESTYLE
To be African is to understand Africa: To understand Africa, one must be able to succeed at experiencing all that is inherently African; food, travel, the people, cultures and traditions and intellectual processes. And the great thing about being African is that, you can't get this by experiencing only one people’s culture. For example, you cannot go to Ghana and visit the Ashante people and say that you've experienced being a Ghanaian. You've only experienced a bit of the Ghanaian lifestyle, you will need to visit other tribes, experience their cultures, and really see who they are and how diverse the people are but yet, still one people. That’s, the uniqueness of the African people, despite all our differences in ethnicity, language or geographical locations, we are inherently one. We share the simple African world-view of oneness, be your brother’s keeper, social communism, for the betterment of the community and all who live it in. everyone pitches in to help each other, even total strangers. Indeed, some scholars have said, that apart for sheer curiosity and wonder, the African peoples first contacts with the Europeans showed how innately kind and welcoming they were, not so ready to let go of their traditions but willing to provide shelter and food for the wandering travelers. These scholars say this friendliness was also their downfall, which led to the slave trade and colonialism, which eventually made them wary and quite hostile.
However, that kindness, friendliness, and willingness to help anybody that comes their way is one of the core principles of the African people. To be able to help, to share all you have with your neighbors and strangers. To be African, is to understand all this and more, and to be able to practice it easily.
Afro lifestyle is being practiced all over the world. You see people living in America and other parts of the world, practicing every aspect of Afro culture; wearing African prints not because they feel it is trendy but because the colorful print inspires beauty etc. You see Europeans, who have traveled across Africa, living out their experiences; they tell you that they feel alive, more aware of the world and what it has to offer.
In essence,to be African, one doesn't need to be of African ancestry.You only need to be of an African mindset, the afro philosophical mindset; one of community, culture, food, fashion, traditions and all the uniqueness that an Afro lifestyle represents.
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