May 7, 2024
Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change
Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change

As people of African descent, many of us feel a deep sense of dislocation, a yearning for connection to our roots. We're drawn to the vibrant expressions of African and diasporic cultures – the music, the art, the aesthetics – yet how do we truly reclaim the legacy that was stripped from us? What does it mean to be Afrocentric?

The Roots of Afrocentricity

The term "Afrocentric" first gained prominence in the work of Kwame Nkrumah, who envisioned the Encyclopedia Africana as a celebration of knowledge and contributions from across the African diaspora.  He insisted that the project must be "frankly Afro-centric in its interpretation of African history, and of the social and cultural institutions of the African and people of African descent everywhere.”

Afrocentricity emerged as a powerful philosophy in the wake of the transatlantic slave trade and the decline of colonialism. As African-descended people around the world gained the freedom to shape their own spaces and systems, they sought to create institutions and ideologies that catered to their needs and identities. This movement found fertile ground in the American civil rights struggle, with figures like Marcus Garvey championing Afrocentric thought alongside Black Nationalist and Pan-Africanist ideals.

Afrocentricity: A Paradigm Shift

Linguist and scholar Ama Azama asserts:

“Afrocentricity contends that our main problem as African people is our often unconscious adoption of the Western worldview... and their attendant conceptual frameworks."

Afrocentricity challenges us to unravel the impact of cultural hegemony and to center our histories, spiritualities, and ways of knowing.

Molefi Asante, a leading Afrocentric scholar, distinguishes between Afrocentricity and the often conflated term, Afrocentrism. He defines Afrocentricity as "a theory of agency" that positions African people as active creators of their realities. In his seminal works Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change and An Afrocentric Manifesto, Asante emphasizes the transformative potential of centering African perspectives. He distinguishes Afrocentrism "as  a broad cultural movement of the late twentieth century that has a set of philosophical, political, and artistic ideas which provides the basis for the musical, sartorial, and aesthetic dimensions of the African personality". On the other hand, he says:

Afrocentricity, as I have previously defined it, is a theory of agency, that is, the idea that African people must be viewed and view themselves as agents rather than spectators to historical revolution and change. To this end Afrocentricity seeks to examine every aspect of the subject place of Africans in historical, literary, architectural, ethical, philosophical, economic, and political life.

Afrocentricity calls for more than just knowledge of our rich histories. A true Afrocentric education, therefore, demands that we equip the members of the African diaspora with the wisdom, skills and critical connections and intentional community for the betterment of ourselves and our communities.  It provides a compass guiding us towards liberation. True Afrocentricity, as Asante states, must permeate everything "walking, running, loving, eating, working, and so forth." We must center ourselves, and then move the world to meet us where we are.

Afrocentricity in Practice

Our online course, "Cultural Architecture: Building Afrocentric Realities", equips Afro-descendent people to do exactly that. empowers you to embrace this transformative process.  In this immersive, four-week journey, you'll explore the ways in which African-descended people have shaped the world and gain frameworks for creating positive change in your own life and community.

"Cultural Architecture: Building Afrocentric Realities" will challenge you to view existence as a perpetual act of world-making, aligned with the energies of our wildest dreams. By learning to analyze systems, craft counter-narratives, and infuse Afrocentric values into your daily life, you'll become a cultural architect – reshaping the world, one vision at a time.

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