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Renaming Africa

by Asar Imhotep (Mujilu Mukatapa)

MOCHA-Versity Institute of Philosophy and Research

luntu/lumtu/muntu

June 3, 2010 (revised June 6, 2010)

One of the key principles of Kwanzaa is Kujichagulia (self determination): to define


ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves (Karenga 2008:50).
The holocaust of enslavement has rendered catastrophic disharmonies to the African
personality. The European slave owners prescribed destiny on the enslaved Africans by forcing
them to adopt cultural norms that were alien and hostile to their nature (the English language,
Christian religion, dysfunctional family structures, substandard educational institutions,
individualistic value systems, etc.). As a result of these forced cultural adoptions, the African
essentially lost his/her ability to, and historic rite of, self determination (Kujichagulia).

1 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


One important custom we lost, as a result of this holocaust, was the practice of naming
ourselves and why. I wont, in this essay, explore this aspect of the discussion too deeply. I have
addressed this subject thoroughly in my publication The Bakala of North America The Living
Suns of Vitality: In Search of a Meaningful Name for African-Americans. However, I will note
that for African people a name was not simply a label. A name, in essence, is a living power that
activates and sends vibrations in the universe when called by a living being. It activates to
complete a task when called upon by the human voice.

A name is a North Star for the soul: it is a guide that leads a person, or a nation, towards
its destiny. In other words, a name is a goal to be achieved; thus the saying, living up to ones
name. Ones name is ones aspiration. When you let another people name you, then you allow
those other peoplewho do not understand you or knows your history or mission in lifeto
determine your aspirations. As Raphael Powell is quoted saying, Free people name themselves.
Slaves and dogs are named by their masters (1937).

This brings us to the crux of this discourse. Not only were the Africans who arrived in the
United States (and across the Diaspora) renamed foreign aspirations and descriptive
nomenclatures, the very continent now called Africa was named by this same process of
European ideological hegemony. I have already presented for review a possible name for
African-Americans in my book The Bakala of North America. What I want to do now is extend
this bold act of self-determination to the very continent from which we derived and suggest a
name that speaks to the spirit of the people: its history, purpose, vision and gifts.

Statement of the Problem


The freedom rights struggles of the 50s to early 70s ushered in a spirit of self-
determination, and a greater demand for human rights and human dignity. During this period
many people began asserting their historical identity, rooted in the heritage on the continent of
Africa by adopting various African cultural motifs and names to reorient their way of being to
that which existed prior to the enslavement holocaust.

The aim of the movement was to detach oneself, as much as possible, from the
ideological shackles forced upon Blacks in the Americas by European people. As a result of this,
we created things such as Black Studies, Kwanzaa, Afrocentricity, and Black Psychology, for
example, to counter the psychological onslaught of Europeans who sought to dehumanize and
diminish African people in the history books, in the scientific literature and in the media.

Part of this struggle was to reconstruct what many believe to be an African


consciousness. The aim is to escape all forms of European conceptualizations of self and to rid
ourselves of names and concepts given to us by Europeans. In this effort we overlooked a
very fundamental flaw in our analysis. To assume that there is anything called an African

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consciousness first assumes that there is an indigenous concept and/or location called Africa.
This is very important to reconcile and is not simply a matter of semantics.

My years of study in regards to culturewhat it is and how is it developedhave


demonstrated for me that identity is the product of an identification process. This is a process
in which the individual or group comes to perceive himself or itself as possessing a unique
personality or character; of being a person or group in his or its own right; as being able to
answer to his own satisfaction the questions: Who am I? Who are we? What am I? What kind of
people are we? What do I do with my life? What do we do with our existence (Wilson
1998:309)? It is because of these revelations that I stated in The Bakala of North America
(2009:137), in regards to the 9 Laws of Culture, that the first law of culture is, Culture is
Conscious of Itself.

Culture and identity exist in the minds of people. When the Yoruba left the shores of
what is now Nigeria, they had never heard of Africa, let alone them being African. When the
Baluba left the shores of the Kongo and Cameroon, they too never heard of Africa or knew
themselves to be an African. This can be said of all Africans who left the shores of the
continent. With that said, if they had no idea they were African, they could not have had an
African consciousness to identify with. They did not perceive themselves as having a unique
personality or set of characteristics that were identifiably African. They had a consciousness
that was rooted in their particular ethnicity, not as a continental people.

As Dr. Amos Wilson notes in Blueprint for Black Power (1998:309):

Group identity exists when each member of a group, or a significant majority of them,
perceives his or her membership in the group and his or her sharing of its defining
characteristics, its defining values, attitudes and behavioral tendencies as the most
important or the primary defining characteristics of himself or herself as an individual.

If there was no Africa or an African, could there have been an African set of values in
which to identify with? Did the Africans know what their defining characteristics were which
were shared on the whole continent? Did Africans even have a concept for the word continent?
Were the people even aware a continent existed? Can you find in any African languages a word
for continent before colonialism? Africans didnt divide landmasses and name them like
Europeans did. So there was no need to name the continent since the whole earth was their
orientation.

Dr. Wilson further notes that:


Group identity is evident when each member of a group organizes and directs his or her
behavior in ways intended to maximally or primarily benefit his or her group, one or
more of its other members, as well as him or herself. (ibid)

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Was there an African governmental body that spanned the whole continent? Did they
create laws (oral or written) to regulate the behavior of the people across the continent? Was
there an African educational curriculum that instructed them on how to be African? If there
was no educational system in place, or a political body to shape the patterns of relating to each
other, how could there have been an African consciousness to re-construct? This is important
when we truly understand what culture is. As Wilson notes (1998:59):

This coalescence of subcultural social units is usually organized and motivated by a


mutually recognized leadership or governing establishment. This establishment usually
fulfills its responsibilities through the creation, issuance and enforcement of policies. At
this level of organization a culture may be defined as a political organization which
exercises political power in its defense, economic and social interests as a whole, and in
the interest of its subcultural group and individual members. (emphasis mine)

If there was no continental political body, then there could be no such thing as an
African consciousness or value set because the people (or their representatives) never got
together to organize these values and to create policies, rituals and social patterns to reinforce
these values on a continental scale. Deep similarities and common cultural substratums
between nations do not equal a single identity. When one compares the cultural nuances that
are similar on the continent of Africa, and compare them to the unifying cultural nuances
among the Native Americans, you will find more or lessan exact match. Do Native American
cultural similarities with African cultural similarities make them African? Obviously there is
more to having an identity than having similarities between peoples. The concept of an African
consciousness is an invention of African-Americans: a reality not realized on the continent. That
is a goal that is slowly in the works, but by no means has been achieved as of yet.

Dr. Chiekh Anta Diop in Black Africa: An Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated
State, was working to achieve and called for a continental wide cultural development project
and the utilization of a single language so that Africa would have a social yoke to bind the
countries in a lasting federation of successful states. This is why he fought so hard
anthropologically and linguistically to demonstrate the similarities in African cultural thought
and practices. This struggle was paramount so Africans could BEGIN to see each other as the
same and to use those similarities to finally construct a continental African culture, language
and consciousness. This would be an unnecessary task if these things already existed.

Now dont get me wrong, I understand fully the context in which we use the term
African. What Im trying to point out is that Eurocentricity is so engrained in our psyche that
even when we thought we escaped its clutches, the vestiges of its existence still haunts our
consciousness. In the Matrix movie, Neo was freed from the matrix (the social construct
created by the machines). In part II, Matrix Reloaded, Neo comes to discover that Zion (the

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human refugee city) and the prophecy are indeed constructs of the Matrix as well. So while Neo
thought he was free, he came to discover that he was not free and that even his
conceptualizations of freedom were constructed by the very system from which he thought he
was free.

This is how I view the concept of Africa, being Africans and the notion that there is an
African consciousness (as a result of a shared political system) that characterizes the people.
Most who disagree with me are like Morpheus in the Matrix when he discovered that the
prophecy was a lie. Something he fought so hard for and defended with his life was a mere
illusion and he couldnt accept it. That illusion is Africa. And in order for us to truly liberate our
consciousness, we must do what Neo did in Matrix Revolutions: go to the Source. Our source is
the precolonial conceptions of being (diKala) our ancestors crystallized and embedded in our
languages.

I only use the term African throughout this essay, 1) because it is what the common
person understands and knows currently, and 2) there is no agreed upon alternative in which to
use for our discourses. Because of the latter, I seek to provide such an alternative with the
hopes that it resonates with the spirit of the reader, on the continent and in the Diaspora, to
the point where they will internalize it and use it as if it were their own.

Further Problematics
In our efforts to separate ourselves from the dehumanizing, non-meaningful
terminologies used to describe us as a people, we ended up adopting a term that also is a
product of European ideological hegemony to define ourselves. I deal with the origins of the
name Africa and its many possible origins in The Bakala of North America book. I recommend
you review that text.

I will state that the most probable origins lie with the Romans who defeated Hannibal in
North Africa. When Publius Cornelius Scipio the Elder defeated Hannibal, the Romans named
the newly acquired territory (from Libya, Tunisia to Algeria) after the people who were last
defeated in the area: the Aourigha in Tunisia. The /ou/ sound is pronounced as a /v/. So you can
say Avrigha. It was this that was Latinized into Africa (Afriqayya by the Arabs) and later applied
to the whole continent. The Aourigha were a Taureg people which were an Azger Berber
collection of tribes who later were forced to migrate southward due to increased Arab
penetration. So there is evidence that this was not the name of a people, but a confederation of
small tribes who may have been merchants.

We have to consider as well that the Romans didnt adopt the name in honor of the
people, but probably in mockery of the people. The Roman transposition of Aourigha (Africa)
was worn in the spirit of Africa as a conquered foe; an oppressed people. It is the ultimate

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insult. It is if as to say, By adopting this name and
transposing it, we are going to be a constant reminder
that we defeated you. Its almost like what Chong Li
did to Ray Jackson after he brutally defeated him in the
movie Bloodsport (1988).1 Ray Jackson wore this head
bandana in all of his fights. When he fought Chong Li
and lost, Chong Li took his bandana and wore it on his
leg as a reminder to Frank Duke (the lead character) of
what he did to his friend (Ray Jackson) and what hes
going to do to him if they meet in the ring (see full
scene HERE). This seems to be the same spirit in which the name Africa was adopted by the
Roman general and his family, and how the name became associated with the continental
territories of Rome.

The name Africanus is an agnomen name. In ancient Rome, a name for a male citizen
consisted of three parts (tria nomina): praenomen (given name), nomen (or nomen gentile or
simply gentilicium, being the name of the gens or clan) and cognomen (name of a family line
within the gens). Sometimes a second or third cognomen, called agnomen, was added. The
agnomen represented a certain characteristic or accomplishment by the beholder of the name.
So Africanus (with the anus suffix) represented an accomplishment: the defeat of the
Avourigha confederacy of merchants.

The naming of the continent to Africa by the Romans was done with no regards to its
meaning or its history. There was no meeting or dialogue concerning this matter with the
people in the areas now called Africa. One can say that since the Europeans considered the
Aourigha a defeated people, and to them all of the continent consisted of defeated peoples,
the name was appropriate for the whole land mass since it was, by then, a defeated territory.

Therefore, the name is illegal and because the meaning of the name is still unknown,
it can in no ways represent the aspirations, the vision or spirit of the people: which is the
African way. As Karenga notes (2008:75), For identity is the key to purpose and ultimate
direction. In other words, a peoples self-definition is a framework for establishing a peoples
purpose and the direction by which it must pursue that purpose, given its socio-historical
circumstances. If we adopt a name with no meaning, then we align ourselves with a spirit
which serves no purpose and moves in no direction. We become a ship adrift in a hostile sea.

Many African-Centered scholars advocate the abandoning of Eurocentric concepts for


African ones. There are tons of books which express these sentiments, but for the sake of time

1
If you get to know me, youll come to find out I watch a lot of movies!

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and space, I will just give one example. Dr. Wade Nobles, a noted and respected psychologist,
mentioned the following words in a lecture titled To Be African (located HERE):

Power is the ability to define reality and to have other people respond to it as if it were
their own. Our dilemma, our problem is that we allow other people, to define the
meaning of who we are. And once we accepted their definition, we gave them power.
....

And the MOST important reality to define, is the meaning of one's human beingness.
That's nobody's conversation but ours. ....

I believe that it is the struggle for the authorship on what it means to be African as
human beings that is the moral imperative of the Black psychologist. We've got to
recognize that we have a historical mission. And our historical mission is to help through
analysis, to help with our interpretation of the spirit, our people to understand what it
means to be a human being. ....

The mental liberation of African people is dependent on our ability to assist in the
reconceptualization and the reconstruction of the African reality. We even have to think
about how we even talk about Africa. How we even conceive of this notion of being an
African.

It's not just wearing African clothes. African clothes are good to wear. You put African
clothes on a dog, that doesn't make the dog an African. So we have to begin to
understand that it is the mental liberation of our people that is necessary. We can't
have mental liberation if we dont engage in the reconceptualization and reconstruction
of an African reality INDEPENDENT of White conceptualizations.

One has to ask the question, If we are to create a reality independent of White
conceptualizations, how can we totally divorce ourselves from them if we are still using their
terminology to define ourselves? One can argue, Well its a transposition of an African word.
Cant we still use it? If the word is devoid of spirit and context, and without meaning and
direction, it is not in keeping with African tradition, and frankly, isnt good enough for me and
my people. No sound minded person adopts a name for which they dont have a meaning and it
doesnt inform them of whom they are or their purpose on earth.

Dr. Wade Nobles in his lecture above stated that the most important reality to define is
that of our human beingness. Lets see what an African on the continent, one who is steeped
and initiated in his own traditions, has to say on this matter as an example. Jordan Ngubane in
his seminal work Conflict of Minds (1979:60) notes that for the African, and the Zulu in
particular:

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To be human is to be able to say what and who you are and to be able to say why you
are here and where you are going; it is to be able to define yourself. Ancient Zulu
philosophers taught that the person was unique in that he defined himself; in that he
knew the worth of the value that he was.

Ngubane would be in agreement with Dr. Nobles. It is time that we put this ideology
into practice and begin to see the world through our own lenses and operate this reality from a
position of power. As Sandra Van Dyk reminds us (Conyers 2003:183):

Power is often expressed in language before it is expressed in politics. When new


language and ways of expression gain currency, power relationships can ultimately
change; hence the ongoing turmoil over political correctness of language and discourse
in contemporary society.

The objective here is to shift power relations. In order for this change to take place, the
community must think and operate on its own terms: to be able to look within ones self for
inspiration to translate into experience; using ones own genius. We must be conscious of the
meanings we associate with ourselves. As Dr. Molefi Asante asserts, Consciousness is the first
sign of vigor and power (1988:99). I vouch that we adopt the framework espoused by Dr.
Maulana Karenga and that is to use Africa as a resource and not simply as a reference.

Using Africa as a resource means that one mines the data as it pertains to its languages,
practices, philosophies and customs, with the express intent on using the best of these
traditions to incorporate them into your reality; not just because they are African, but
because they are African (as part of ones heritage) and they work. To use Africa as a reference
simply means that one references whats on the continent, what has happened on the
continent and whos on the continent, but doesnt feel that Africa has any social material worth
examining, adopting and incorporating in our lives today. In other words, one only
acknowledges whats on the continent, but doesnt feel there is anything of social value worth
implementing and practicing or utilizing to discover new more satisfying dimensions for being
human.

An example is in the very name African-American. The African in the African-American


ethonym is simply a reference for where the Black people in America came from: the continent
of Africa. The name implies and carries no meaning other than a reference to a location of
historical significance for Blacks in the U.S. In The Bakala of North America I, for example,
searched many African languages to find a term that had rich philosophical meaning that
accurately represented the African-American personality, gifts, history and vision: Bakala. Here
I felt that the languages of African people, and the philosophy and meanings behind the terms,
were excellent sources to build an identity with. Africa is not only rich in natural resources, but
is philosophically rich as well. It is by this method that I will again suggest a new name for the

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continent itself, for the people to evaluate, which derives from the hearts and minds of our
ancestors who left their ideological fossils in the languages across Africa.

The New Name


There is a spirit of change sweeping the continent of Africa that actually started when
African states began winning their independence. Africans are no longer satisfied with
referencing who they are by European conceptualizations given to them by their oppressors.
This has even extended to national landmarks.

There is a Facebook group that has been recently created in 2010 to garner support for
the renaming of African landmarks back to their indigenous names. The group is called
Renaming African Landmarks. As an example, they note that what is now Victoria Falls
(bordering Zimbabwe and Zambia), named after Queen Victoria of England, is actually called by
the natives Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) and is pushing its indigenous usage.

The Europeans came into West Africa and named a territory the Gold Coast. After
independence, the natives renamed the territory after an ancient kingdom that was actually
further west of them in Mali, and called it Ghana. The French named a strip right above Ghana
as Upper Volta. But in 1984 the ruler Thomas Sankara named it Burkina Faso (land of integrity,
country of honesty, country of honorable people, land of the incorruptables). There are many
examples of this all across Africa in regards to the names of states, cities and countries.

When the British entered East Africa, they named the territory East Africa Protectorate
and/or British East Africa. In 1920 it was renamed Kenya. Kenya derives from the Kamba
language and their pronunciation of Mt. Kenyas traditional name, Kirinyaga and Kinyaa. The
mountain, from afar, appeared black on one side and white on its snow-capped glaciers. It thus
was named kii nyaa the place of the male ostrich. This is in opposition to the female ostrich
which is grey in color.

This spirit has not stopped with landmarks and countries, but to the continent itself.
Poet laureate of Nigeria, Wole Soyinka, noted the foreigness of the name Africa and demanded
that it be dropped. In its place he suggested Abibirim and Abibiman from the Akan languages.
They mean black land, black state or black nation.

My problem with the latter name is it lacks meaning and purpose. It either physically
describes the soil of Africa or it describes the perceived color of the people (which is not
uniform on the continent). If it is indeed the latter, then this is a reactionary name and still puts
White Europeans at the center of our being. We are only black in comparison to them who
are white. I dont want to be defined based upon my negative experience with another

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people. That says nothing about my aspirations and doesnt give me a goal to achieve; no
purpose to fulfill.

If we notice the name chosen for Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) and its meaning, it
provides a standard to live up to; a goal to achieve: integrity, honesty, to have an incorruptible
character. Their social system is designed for them to live up to their name. It gives the people a
cultural standard for which to measure authenticity; in which to evaluate and relate to one
another. Burkina Faso informs us of what is essential for good human relations: good character.
This is at the heart of nearly all African philosophies and is most noted under the Yoruba system
of Ifa in Nigeria as Iwa Pele (good/gentle character).

If I had more space I could list the dominant trend in Africa in regards to what they
name themselves and their countries. But I will just give one more example to drive the point
home. It is believed that the word Ethiopia is a Greek word meaning burnt face which
described the blackness of the people. This is incorrect and a misrepresentation of the concept.

The more likely etymology of this term is indigenous to Africa and can be explained by
the Bantu languages in general and the ciLuba in particular. The root of Ethiopia is the word pia
or pya, which in many Bantu languages signifies new/newness, or to be ripe/ripeness.
Ethiopia is commonly pronounced as CYPYA or CIPYE (also ciPyaciPya) which has the following
meanings:

(1) "Newness, Novelty, New Earth"


(2) "What is ripe, mature, grown, land of maturity (spiritual and human development),
(3) "What is well cooked, baked, done, burnt, stewed, baked, parched," and
(4) "Three Rope son/child, Land of the Trinity," which was for the Greeks gods Earth, the
Kingdom of God?2

In Ciluba, the letters *, T/, , c are read Ti, Ci, i, and Tshi. The letter D is read as
Dye/Dje. To say the ciKam (Egyptian) word Mntw (winning, to beat out, dominating) in ciLuba,
you would say: Tmwn/mwn or Cmwn as Timun /imun, Cimun. The final -t suffix is actually
prefixed in ciLuba. So mn-tw is Ti-mun. In other words the ci- and ti- or tshi- affixes are
interchangeable and one and the same. These affixes can mean different things given the word,
but they are often associated with land or ethnicity. This is common throughout Niger-Congo. In
West Africa Dia/Dya/Ja is common and is associated with clan names: Diala, Jola, Dia Dynasty,
Gbon-Dia, Gya-man, Gyamase, etc. In ciKam ta- refers to land or ethnicity. In Mbochi-Bantu ta,
to, tse, se, and si are the same word. In the Mande languages ta and ka have the same function.

2
See Mubabinge Bilolo, Thologie de la Terre Trs Sainte Cikam ou BuKam.

10 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


So we have the following variations: CIPYA, CIPIA, CIPYACIPYA (reduplication), TSHIOPIA
from which the Greeks added a leading vowel ECYOPIE or ATSHIOPIA. They could not
pronounce the /s/ in TSHI so they simply said THI in ATHIOPIA. Or used the other variation of
TSHI-/CI- and that is TI-, so we get A-TI-O-PYA/PIA (Atiopia). In the Amarigna language in
Ethiopia, Ethiopia is pronounced TABIYA (p > b). Tabiya is a regional variation of
Cipya/Tipya.

The ciLuba ciPya/tiPya ultimately deals with cultivated land which is clear in its
meanings of new earth and ground ripe for maturity as a metaphor. We find this word in
the buKulu-ciKam (ancient Egyptian) written language (Madu-a-Ndele/Madw-a-Mfidi/Mdw Ntr)
in reference to land.

Athiopia/Itiopia

Atb = land, region

Itb = territory, estate, land

and

Idb = land which the waters of the Nile can reach


(t > d)

Atb/itb = a town in the Thebaid3

Because PYA/PIA can mean "burnt," historians have misinterpreted it in Greek to mean
"burnt face" and then tried to apply it to the Africans because they are Black (burnt face).This is
incorrect. There is no color connotation, nor any phoneme referring to ones face. The most
common word for burnt in Greek is KAUMA which is a match for KM in ciKam which means

3
See Budge A Hieroglyphic Dictionary pg 966a. The Thebaid or Thebais (Greek: , Thbada or ,
Thbas) is the region of ancient Egypt containing the thirteen southernmost nomes of Upper Egypt, from Abydos
to Aswan. It acquired its name from its proximity to the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes.

11 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


black and other African languages where the k-m root means black, burnt, or burning coal. 4
If we pay attention to the fourth entry above (atb/itb = a town in the Thebaid), it has an
ideogram of a censor pot with a burning flame rising above it.5 This would lend support for a
parched or burnt interpretation of Itiopia as the sign is of burning incense.

When you start studying the names of ancient African lands, you will come to discover
that this sense of newness, ripeness, of cultivating, harvesting, sharing good in the world and
being a place ripe for human and spiritual development, is what is meant by many of the
names.6 Included in this analysis is our beloved KM-T7 (ciKam, TshiKam, tiKam, buKame). A
cognate for the place-name km-t is Gomdji8 "land which grows warm and is healthy cultivated"
Oromo/Galla (Ethiopia). The words ciKam (km-t) and ciPya have the same connotation: a land
ripe, prepared, warm, well cooked, and ready for human and spiritual development.

Okay for real this time


We should understand by now that when Africans named themselves or named their
land, it was not random. The names served a purpose and had meaning. These names were
aspirations to be achieved (goals to obtain) or people to be honored. In that spirit I propose one
of the ancient names of ciKam (Egypt) as the new name for Africa: t3 mry.

Ta-Mry is translated by modern Egyptologists to mean the beloved land (ta=land,


mry=love). We will see, by examining other African languages, that this is not the full meaning
of the term. Observe below:

Table 1: mr (love) in other Black African languages9

Ancient Egyptian :mr, to love to desire; mrw.t love


Coptic: mere, meri, melli, me, mei, maie, mi
Acoli (Nilotic) maaro, to love, maar, love
Lwo, Luo (Nilotic) mer to agree, to be in accord with, kindness
Nuer (Nilotic) mar, friend
Mangbetu o-mu, omu to love; mu friend
(north-east Zaire)
Wolof mar, to love madly

4
See Asar Imhotep, The Bakala of North America: The Living Suns of Vitality (2009:56-59). MOCHA-Versity Press.
Houston, TX.
5
Sometimes you will see this sign with an incense pellet on each side of the flame or smoke. See Budge 966a.
6
See Viban Ngo. (2009). The Origin of African Place Names: An introduction to toponymys in cartography and
politics in Africa. Baico Publishing. Ontario, Canada.
7
See my revision to the article Could the Kongo be the new KMT? forthcoming.
8
k > g, t > dji (dye, dje in ciLuba)
9
Theophile Obenga. (1992:122). Ancient Egypt & Black Africa: A Students Handbook for the Study of Ancient Egypt
in Philosophy, Linguistics & Gender Relations. Karnak House. London.

12 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


The m-r biliteral root meaning love may be cognate with the French aimer and
Spanish amor love. As we can see the m-r root in the African languages can also mean
kindness, friend, to agree, and to be in accord with. The version of the name t3-mry that I will
use, however, will actually come from the ciLuba language.

T3-Mry is pronounced in ciLuba Dya-Malelela; Cyamalela or Dya-Malela; Dya-


Malanda. Dya-Malelela; Cyamalela means Land of Righteousness, Justice, Truth. Dya-
Malela; Dya-Malanda means "Land of Love, Friendship and Fraternity."

The ciLuba language provides us with several advantages. The first is that these
renderings encapsulate in one idiom all of the other meanings for the m-r root across Africa.
Secondly, the ciLuba language (really a family of languages; Mbochi, Kikongo, Kiswahili, IziZulu,
etc.), as demonstrated by linguists such as Dr. Mubabinge Bilolo, is closely aligned, if not a
modern branch of the ancient ciKam; which is more in alignment with the Coptic. We can
observe briefly the Coptic dialectical rendering of melli (m-l-l) and the ciLuba malela (m-l-l).
Because the ciLuba is closely aligned with the bukulu ciKam (ancient Egyptian) language in
modern form, because the Luba family of languages is related to the grander Niger-Kordofanian
language family, and because the m-r (love) lexeme can be found in almost every African
language family (Niger-Kordofanian, Nilo-Saharan, Afro-Asiatic10), this rendering truly
encapsulates a Pan-African spirit and shouldnt be met with much resistance for those who may
feel we are pinning one language group over another.

As linguists such as Pfouma, Lam, Diop, Obenga, Bilolo and Anselin have demonstrated
in their respective works, the current mainstream classification of African languages doesnt
accurately convey the deep relationship between African languages and their historical
communities. Theophile Obenga asserts that the mere concept of an Afro-Asiatic language is a
hoax (Obenga 1992). Linguists like Modupe Oduyoyein his many works comparing Yoruba,
Egyptian and Semitic languagestotally destroy the notion that these languages belong to
separate language families.11 Thus the reader must understand that although we are choosing a
rendering from one language group (ciLuba) this group belongs to a family of languages that are
related across the continent for which we can find local variations of the term (m-r, love).

10
I will have to investigate further to see if this term is within the Khoisan languages. If we take the lead of Martin
Bernal in Black Athena Vol. III: The Linguistic Evidence, then we can lump the Khoisan languages with Afro-Asiatic
as these languages are believed to be at the origin of this group. This is behind the movement to rename Afro-
Asiatic to Afri-san.
11
See Modupe Oduyoye (1996). Words and Meaning in Yoruba Religion: Linguistic Connections in Yoruba, Ancient
Egyptian and Semitic. Karnak House Publishing. London.

13 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


I feel this name works best in the spirit of how many of the African nations already
define themselves. Additionally, this name is found all over Africa and has its roots in the oldest
civilization on earth, which is also found in Africa. This name also fits the criteria of being a
spiritual/social north star for the people on the continent; guiding us towards our global
destiny. It forces the inhabitants to live up to its name: to create a social environment, a society
built on the principles of righteousness, justice and truth [Cyamalela]. We know there are many
societies on the continent which need this orientation as we speak.

For the well studied reader, you will notice that cyamalela has the same meanings as
the ancient ciKam (Egyptian) word Maat (truth, justice, reciprocity, balance, harmony,
righteousness, order, law, etc.). This is observed because, in essence, they are the same word.
In ciLuba Maat is Cyama/Cama or Meyi-malelela.12 You can also say Meeyi (= Maat).

There are major talks on the continent to move toward a United Federated states of
Africa. If this were to happen it needs to be bounded by a culture of love, friendship and
fraternity [Malela]. These are the traditional foundations in which African sages built their
ancient societies and if Africa were to unite under a super confederacy in modern times, it
must unite under these principles. It is these principles that we will gauge whether someone is
truly African (Malela) or not. Malela will be the character bar by which its citizens are judged.

To make the pronunciation easier, I would simply utilize Dya-Malela or Cya-Malela and
combine the other meanings with the other pronunciations under Malela. Remember that
Dya/Cya is referring to the land (and/or ethnicity), but the root is Malela. By adding different
noun class prefixes/determinatives, we arrive at different applications of the same term. So we
observe the following:

Mu-Malela = a person, singular


Ba-Malela = the people on the continent, collective, plural
Di-Malela = the Malela culture
Ki-Malela = the Malela philosophy and language (if we adopt a singular language
and consciousness)13

There may be a better way to address the singular form. We might be able to utilize the
u- prefix and say uMalela or luMalela. Malela with no prefix may be good enough all by itself. I
will have to consult with a native speaker of the Luba languages.

12
See Mubabinge Bilolo (2010:27). Other variations are shalama, jalama, mu-Shalamu, jalamu, njaaliminu,
salasala, diSalama, and diSala.
13
My vote is for kiSwahili

14 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


Ideographic Confirmations
The vast majority of African languages (kiMalela) are agglutinative in nature. This means
that words consist of smaller words glued together to create a larger word. Each word, in
essence, is a small sentence. This character is evident in many of the ancient ciKam words. As a
result of this discovery in the bukulu ciKam, in the book The Bakala of North America I decided
to test the meaning(s) of Bakala by spelling the name using the Madu-a-Ndele (Mdw Ntr)
writing script and read the term ideographically to see if each component of the written form
adds up to greater meanings we associate with the modern form. Each glyph represents a
concept14 in of itself and when you read these symbols in sequence, you discover a richer
meaning for the term under examination. Sometimes you can discover new meanings not
apparent in its verbal form.

With that said, I wanted to see if this same method could be applied to the term t3-
mry/Dya Malela and if the ideographic meaning relates to the general meaning in the ciLuba
language. Also I want to see if there are some underlying concepts that only reading the term
ideographically could bring out that would allow for deeper and richer reflections for the term.
The following table demonstrates how this process works:

Table 2: CyaMalela/DyaMalela

t3-mry (dya malela) = land of truth, righteousness, love, friendship, fraternity and justice.

land hoe/plow open mouth flowering palm-branch bordered


reed on expanded human
hill establishment
ta m-r r/l y/i No sound value Niw.t
(determinative) (determinative)
Denotes: a Cultivate, to To expand, To grow, Time, seasons Community,
place farm, to broaden, mature (a (the palm state, nation,
collective to reach new reed at full branch was used village
work & capacities bloom) to denote years
responsibility, in Egypt)
collective
economics

14
An idea, thus the term ideo-graphic. It is a graphic that not only represents a sound value, but represents a
whole idea/concept.

15 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


To read this ideographically, we could say that Dya Malela is A place cultivated (ripe,
prepared) so one can expand (financially, intellectually, etc.), grow and mature (physically,
spiritually, etc.) in his season within the context of (a strong, loving) community. This is more in
alignment with the meaning of CiPya (Ethiopia) mentioned above (ground ripe for maturity).

The graphics provide us with another lesson not apparent in its general meaning. Since
the word mry/malela means love, the plow (m-r) symbol also informs us of what it takes to
develop and maintain it (love). The plow glyph is associated with farming which is a ritual act
used to exploit the fertility of the earth. It is an endeavor that takes patience, hard work, gentle
care, knowledge, coordination and team work to accomplish. These are the same
characteristics needed to maintain healthy relationships, families and community.

Love, like farming, is a collective effort. The fruits of your


labor are equal to how much work we put in and how efficiently the
group coordinates the endeavor. Malela informs us that it (love) is
hard work. Farming, hoeing and planting, is not something you do
for vacation. There is much sweat, digging and reaching involved.
Dya Malela informs us that love is the RESULT (the fruit) of culture
(cultivation, farming). The quality of love (fruit) produced is also
dependent on the quality of the soil (ones heritage, relationship
with history, ancestors, community, etc.), the quality of the seeds
(the knowledge of the world, culture and each other), the temperature (the social
environment), the season of the endeavor and the diligence of the planter to see it through. In
all African cultures (if I can be so bold as to say that), the sun is seen as a symbolic
representation of the oneness, the power and the importance of God/spirit. Without this core
(spirit/God), there is no energy to fuel the process: no farming, cultivation, malela can take
place. Spirit is the agent that activates all of these processes; just like how sun light activates
the cycles in nature that produce and maintain life on earth.

These are the ideas the ancients left for us hidden in the madu-a-ndele script for us to
reflect on, meditate and put into practice within our own communities. These are the
principles, hidden in Malela, which must be championed if we are ever to realize a true identity
and a working, powerful, unified African culture, people and state.

Conclusion
So for those of you reading this that may be thinking this is an issue of semantics,
please understand what it is we are accomplishing here. We are engaging in the highest form of
Kujichagulia par excellence. We are asserting our humanity and defining our worth. We are

16 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


defining ourselves on our own terms and not that which is created by Europeans. We are
prescribing our own destiny and asserting our own values; encapsulating these concepts in the
name we choose to be our spiritual north star (Malela).

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a society built on truth, righteousness
and justice (maat, meeyi, cyamalela)? Can you feel yourself in a society where part of the
education system is geared toward making lasting friendships? What would it feel like to enter
into a country where the society was organized in such a way that the political system was
designed to bring about a principled and harmonious togetherness within community, a place
free of want, toil and domination, a place ripe and well-cooked (prepared) for human and
spiritual development? What would it feel like to embody these principles in the name we call
ourselves? What would it be like to be the walking personification of these ideals (a mu-/lu-
Malela)? You have to imagine the possibilities and work toward your ideals.

If we adopt Malela as the name for the people and Dya/Cya-Malela as the name for the
land, we now have our very own north star to guide us, orient us towards these high
aspirations. This is a name truly grounded in our ancestral traditions. When the name Africa
(with a yet to be determined meaning) is weighted against Dya Malela, they do not compare.
The first step in realizing our power is in the act of rightfully and accurately defining ourselves in
a manner that speaks to our collective history, gifts, vision and purpose. As has been shown
(Imhotep 2009, Ngubane 1979, Karenga 2008), to be African is to be able to define yourself
on your own terms and to live a life of meaning, purpose and spirit. This is the first step in
realizing the task of creating a United Federated States of Africa. Here are some organizations
and actual state run entities in favor of a united federation of states on the continent of what is
currently called Africa; for which I propose, from this day forward, we call Dya Malela.

Africa 2030:
http://www.africa2030.org/
http://www.fixingafrica.com/index.php

United States of Africa:


http://unitedstatesafrica.tripod.com/

Pan-African Parliament
http://www.pan-africanparliament.org/

There is an African proverb that asks, How do you eat the head of an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time. The creation of a federated Africa, because of the mere size and
diversity of the continent, seems to some a daunting task: one which seems impossible.
Because of the sheer size of the project, what has to be done is to build the confidence of the
people in their ability to bring change. If you can demonstrate to them that they have the

17 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


power to change things, starting with something as simple as renaming the continent of Africa,
then they build the confidence and hope to do greater tasks. If Africans cant do something as
simple as rename the continent, something based on our own cultures and languagesa task
that costs no moneythen what greater could we expect from us? Especially since they have
already demonstrated we have done this on smaller scales (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, D. Rep.
of Congo, Tshwane (formerly Pretoria, South Africa), etc). These victories have to be
documented and taught to the people so it forever rests in their minds, ready for reactivation
when needed.

Renaming Africa orients the people to trusting in their own conceptualizations of reality:
their own inner-genius. It provides them with a sense of power which pushes them to draw on
their own creativity and will to solve problems. It provides a framework that establishes
purpose and direction. It reminds us of our dual citizenship: as children of the earth and
children of the stars. Once that confidence is restored, the Bamalela will take the next step in
creating the unifying culture which will solidify and maintain the Unified States of Africa. Dya
Malela reaffirms the communitarian vision and values of Bamelela cultures and contributes to
its restoration.

I offer this suggestion in the spirit of love, friendship and fraternity for evaluation by the
continental and the Diaspora community. May this name and your heart have a rich dialogue.
Dya Malela, I send you. Go! Talk about yourself to others and be a spark in the bush [kele-kele-
ku futa]

Ancestrally (your sun of the soil),

Asar Imhotep
http://www.asarimhotep.com
http://www.mochasuite.com

18 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


Selected Bibliography

Allyn, Legesse. (2009). Amarigna & Tigrigna Qal Hieroglyphs for Beginners. AncientGebts.org Press.
Los Angeles, CA.

Asante, Molefi. (1988). Afrocentricity. Africa World Press. Trenton, NJ.

Bilolo, Mubabinge, and Kalamba, Nsapo. Eds (2009). Renaissance of the Negro-African Theology: Essays
in Honor of Professor. Bimwenyi-Kweshi. Academy of African Thought. Munich, Freising, Kinshasa
_______(2010). Invisibilit et Immanence du Crateur Imn (Amon-Amun-Amen-Iman-Zimin): Exemple de
la Vitalit de lAncien gyptien ou CiKam dans le Cyena Ntu. Academy of African Thought.
Munich, Freising, Kinshasa
_______(date unknown). Thologie de la Terre Trs Sainte Cikam ou BuKam.

Conyers Jr., James L. ed. (2003). Afrocentricity and the Academy: Essays on Theory and Practice.
McFarland Publishing. Jefferson, NC.

Imhotep, Asar. (2008). Esodus: Internal Reflections and Conversations with the Sun. MOCHA-Versity
Press. Houston, TX
______ (2009). The Bakala of North America: The Living Suns of Vitality. MOCHA-Versity Press.
Houston, TX

Karenga, Maulana. (2008). Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, & Culture. Sankore Press.
Los Angeles, CA.

Ngubane, Jordon. (1979). Conflict of Minds: Changing Power Dispositions in South Africa.
Books in Focus, Inc. South Africa.

Obenga, Theophile. (2004). African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period 2780-330 BC.
Per Ankh Publishing. Senegal.
_______ (1992:122). Ancient Egypt & Black Africa: A Students Handbook for the Study of Ancient Egypt
in Philosophy, Linguistics & Gender Relations. Karnak House. London

Wilson, Amos. (1998). Blueprint for Black Power: A Moral, Political and Economic Imperative for the
Twenty-First Century. African World Infosystems. New York, NY.

Websites
Ideas of Africa Origin of the Name Africa. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
http://science.jrank.org/pages/8198/Africa-Idea-Origins-Name-Africa.html

Kiundu Waweru. (02/06/2010). How Kenya was given its name. Retrived June 1, 2010
http://standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000010726&cid=159&

19 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)


Sheng children from Kenya (kii nyaa): to remind us who this is all for ^^^.

20 Renaming Africa by Mujilu Mukatapa (Asar Imhotep)