Return to The Source?: Challenges and Prospects

Return to The Source?: Challenges and Prospects

Bernard Matolino (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0838-0.ch001
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Every human society has a history that it takes pride in. In times of despair there could be invocation or calls to return to that history either as an informant of correct practice or as an inspiration of what current practice should be. Hence some African scholars and politicians have made calls that seek to return to that source. At least three problems pose some significant threat to the project of the return to the source. Firstly, there is a problem of interpreting what the exact nature of that traditional set up was, secondly there is a problem of working out how the traditional mode can fit into the modern, and thirdly there is the problem of the possibility that different sources existed in that pristine past. Without an adequate response to these threats, the return may not be as smooth as its advocates have thought it to be.
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The Politics Of The Return To The Source

A clear advocacy of the return to the source is to be found in Amilcar Cabral’ title of his work which is given as ‘Return to the Source: Selected Speeches’. Cabral argues (1998) in detail that any effective manner of getting rid of colonial oppression is essentially to be tied to the culture of the formerly oppressed people. If these oppressed people were to get rid of their colonial masters but were to fail to get rid of the foreign culture their victory would only be hollow. He writes:

A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally only if, without complexes and without under-estimating the importance of positive accretions from the oppressor and other culture, they return to the upward paths of their own culture, which is nourished by the living reality of its environment, and which negates both harmful influences and any kind of subjection to foreign culture. Thus, it may be seen that if imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily an act of culture… (p. 262)

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