Basil Davidson: Africa Salutes You

Davidson_1681957c I missed the death of Basil Davidson last month. Theo-Ben Gurirab in New Era:

I write this belated obituary to remember Basil Davidson. Basil David-son died on July 09, 2010. Regrettably I only discovered the sad news reading newspapers on the plane coming home on July 22, 2010.

In his obituary, Ca-meron Duodu, who understands and writes in English language better than the natives, said this about Basil Davidson: “The written history of Africa may be divided into two main schools of thought, ‘Before Basil Davidson and After Basil Davidson’.” For me that very much sums up the life, times and contributions of Basil Davidson concerning Africa and its stellar place in human civilisation.

The truth and honesty always know best at the end of the day. Basil Davidson understood that. He wanted human footprints and memories of antiquity to remain open to the succeeding generations of the whole world. By the time sanity crops up, irreparable damage in the form of death, destruction and darkness becomes overwhelming putting our common humanity asunder.

This year, on February 26, 2010, Africa remembered the infamous Berlin Conference for the Scramble of Africa convened by the German Chancellor von Bismarck in 1884-1885. That was 125 years ago. Namibia became a German colony. The first genocide of the 20th century actually took place here in Namibia and not in Europe!

Between 70 and 100 million Africans died, dispossessed or were exiled as slaves to the Americas. Colonisation of Africa left horrendous legacies of dehumanisation and untold injustices that continue to retard Africa’s industrialisation. That fact also buried the social progress and humanism Europeans found as invaders in Africa.

To add insult to injury and worst of it all, British historian Hugh Trevor Roper would still say in 1963 that “perhaps in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none.”

Another British citizen, Basil Davidson, knew better not only the negative impact of the racist Berlin Conference, but the nature of the pre-meditated lies to cover up the heinous crimes committed in Africa and those that negatively affected the African Diaspora. We know the truth.