To control a people, you must make them disregard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and your history, he needs no prison walls and no chains to hold you.
John Henrik Clarke, (1915-1998) Professor, and pioneer in the creation of
Pan-African and Africana studies and professional institutions in academia
Author of Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust:
Slavery and the Rise of European Capitalism
and Cheikh Anta Diop And the New Light on African History
This, for me, exemplifies what was a puzzle for us as young activists in the late 60s which was how a majority population in South Africa could be controlled for so long by a minority of European settlers. When you look at what was happening at the time, when we called ourselves non-Europeans. Non what? Which was disregarding of our own culture, our own essence. Prison walls were not needed to control us because our minds were imprisoned by being told that we are not worthy of respect. We are non-something.
If you want to shape the future you must liberate yourself from these prison walls of your culture being disregarded, your language being disrespected, and you not respecting yourself enough to insist on your own human dignity and to insist on shaping the future you want. To release that power, you need to own your history and your culture. Your ancestors will be with you and you will be a most powerful person.
Mamphela Ramphele, M.D., Ph.D., is a global servant from South Africa,
Co-President of the global think tank, The Club of Rome
and author of Dreams, Betrayal and Hope