“Africa, memories of a continent”: on RFI, a new meeting on history

“Breaking with the treatment of a history of Africa that is still too often fetishized” is one of the ambitions of the new weekly meeting of Radio France Internationale (RFI), “Africa, memories of a continent”, launched on January 13

“Africa, memories of a continent”: on RFI, a new meeting on history

“Breaking with the treatment of a history of Africa that is still too often fetishized” is one of the ambitions of the new weekly meeting of Radio France Internationale (RFI), “Africa, memories of a continent”, launched on January 13.

Enriched with a plural, the name of the magazine is a direct homage to the eponymous show, a true totem of longevity, which was created in 1964 by the Guinean historian Ibrahima Baba Kaké and taken up in 1985 by the Congolese Elikia M'Bokolo until 2018. “We are part of this line of transmission which has already done a lot to bring Africa out of a long eclipse and restore its place in world history,” explains Elgas. The Senegalese writer and doctor of sociology alternately co-hosts the show broadcast on Saturday mornings with Burkinabé journalist Kpénahi Traoré.

From the first, the exploration of “The epic of African writings” “denies the persistent cliché that the continent is almost exclusively a land of orality,” continues Elgas, “and undermines the little music of an Africa “not sufficiently entered into history” – a reference to Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech in Dakar in 2007 which shocked well beyond the community of historians.

It is therefore an astonishing dive into signs which begins with hieroglyphics and takes us to the 20th century and the invention of a multitude of little-known spellings. The magazine puts into perspective the central place that ancient Egypt occupied in the ancient worlds. “After the decipherment of hieroglyphs in 1822 by Champollion,” explains Pierre Boilley, former director of the Institute of African Worlds, invited as an expert, “the West attributed Egyptian civilization to itself because of its Greek ancestry and the colonial project. It was not until the Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop to put Egypt back in Africa and highlight the lines of black pharaohs of the kingdom of Kush, present-day Sudan.

“History in all its vitality”

Their writing is thus revealed, the Meroitic, not yet completely deciphered (2nd century BC), but also the Ge'ez of Ethiopia (4th century BC), the Libyco-Berber (500 BC). .-C.) still used to transcribe the Tamazigh language, Adjami Arabic from the manuscripts of Timbuktu (13th to 16th century) or even Vaï (Liberia and Sierra Leone, 1833), Bamoun (Cameroon, end of the 19th century) , Mandé (1921) or Nko (1949). An enlightening journey.

Due to current events, the next part of the show, Saturday January 20, will look at the history of football at a time when the continent's teams are competing in the stadiums of Côte d'Ivoire to win the African Cup. nations (CAN). “It is fascinating to trace how Africa entered this discipline in the middle of the 19th century,” enthuses Kpénahi Traoré.

From the first mention of a match between merchants and sailors in Cape Town, South Africa, on August 23, 1862, to the 34th CAN, we discover how this sport was imposed by British and French colonists “to sculpt black bodies.” , soon intended for the colonial armies. But the football clubs which flourished everywhere in large cities at the beginning of the 20th century became the cauldron of ideas of independence and sometimes even resistance, before becoming a formidable support for the construction of national identities.

“The history of the continent is not limited to slavery, colonization and decolonization, insist the two presenters, it must be explored in all its vitality. There is still a lot to do. Particularly towards African youth in search of reconnection with their roots. »

The next episodes will thus be devoted to female figures from the continent and the diaspora, to a history of gold, to the invention of metallurgy, giving voice to experts as well as writers or philosophers. . “We are keen to highlight African scientists, men and women,” explains Kpénahi Traoré. To show that very high quality research is produced on the continent. It is also a way of reclaiming the narration of our own history. »