In presence of numerous media representatives Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III has launched a solemn appeal to all compatriotes in Africa and its Diaspora as well as to all citizens of all continents to rescue and consolidate a heritage buillt over more than 45 years. The necessity of the total liberation of Africa, the consolidation of the dignity of Black people and the embracing of the common destiny of humanity are pillars of the heritage he would like to pass to future generations. 150 international publications, a unique library, a publishing house, a bookshop, archival documents and films, a space of meeting and creative exchange, a foundation with international sections are in need of dedicated support. nThanks for taking thirty minutes out to read, understand and act upon one life’s itinerary One Minute of Silence for two journalists, who were faithful to our efforts to leave a legacy: nPrince René Douala Manga Bell and Stéphane Tchakam
Fellow compatriots from Africa and the Diaspora, My dear friends, dear sympathizers, nThis is what I wrote in my diary on November 1st, 1968 during my second year at the University Of Lyon, France. That’s long ago isn’t it? But read it with me on this August 21st, 2013 since you’re calling and mailing me to ask what’s to do in order not to close the AfricAvenir International Foundation which I founded in 1985. I had written the following from my student’s room:
“Today’s my birthday. I’m 24 and I would like to know what I think of my life, that is, what I want to do with my life…yet up to now, I can’t give my life another direction as the one leading to total liberation of African people, to the respect of the Black Man’s dignity and to a personal contribution to humanity through this whole process…But since this is a belief I’ve been having since first grade of primary school, that is since 13 years now, it seems to have some weight. But what‘s important for me, is to wait. Wait until I have achieved this goal. Then I will say: “Kum’a Ndumbe III, you’re a serious man. Go on, I trust you”. But not before; and I ask myself if I will ever get there. I don’t just have to get there but I have to surpass this stage and go further.
When I speak of the liberation of Africa and the Black Man, it all includes love, art, religion etc…One thing then becomes clear: My life only makes sense in the total liberation of Africa. I don’t know if I could express what I feel. But nevertheless this primary formulation will improve from day to day and only reach its final expression after my death…
What I ask myself, is to fulfill this task. I’m between the past and the future. So my position doesn’t depend on me. It’s therefore important to do one’s little work in the present which will be history tomorrow. Since there is a definite issue about Africa’s unification (I assume that the total liberation of Africa presumes its unification) and about the disdain of some races for mine, this specific situation offers me a solid basis for work. It’s therefore a plausible basis”. nSo I wrote this for myself 45 years ago.
One question preoccupied me my whole life long:
“How did they manage to press Africans and Blacks in a hole so dark and so deep that in this dawn of the 21st Century, they hardly come to understand what has happened to them, they enjoy living under a perpetual intellectual and spiritual genocide and resign themselves to be prostitutes to others?”
I dedicated my life to searching for answers and giving them, indicating ways for Africans and the Black Man to march balanced in modern humanity’s journey. Due to divine grace and my ancestors’ generosity, here is the heritage I, world opened son of Africa, could put together up to this year 2013:
I. Thought and Worldview as foundation to any heritage
1. Books and articles
My writings from between 1958 and 1967 couldn’t be found yet, but the majority of those written between 1968 and 2013 could be preserved. If a great deal of those is yet to be published, there is a list of 150 publications, books and articles which are available around the world. My scientific writings, whether they please, displease, are being fought against or indexed, have a solid scientific base. I graduated from junior high school with a German diploma of Math-Science at the “Empress Maria- Theresia School” of Munich in 1967 with acclamation, got a bachelor degree in June and a master’s degree in German studies in September 1970 at the Lyon II University with highest honor, a PhD in German studies and a PhD in History on the same day in January 1975 at the University of Lyon II with highest honor, a University degree of general studies in social and economic Administration in 1979 at the University of Lyon II and a Habilitation in political sciences in 1989 at the Free University of Berlin with the highest honor at first reading and at the unanimous decision of the jury”. It was because I upset the existing scientific theses on Hitler and Africa that I was, as the first African ever, individually admitted into the International Committee of the History of Second World War which was then presided by Henri Michel, under the recommendation of Professor Pierre Léon of the Sorbonne University, along with eminent chair holding professors of many Universities around the world and Soviet, American, French, Canadian generals etc…I wasn’t thirty yet. So I don’t have any scientific lessons to take from those who believe they could decide of the scientific value of my works and sometimes do all they can for my writings not to move, because they control colossal funds. I had the privilege to lecture at the University of Lyon II, the Catholic University of Lyon, at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Yaoundé I. One day, my students will testify.
I know I’ve understood something essential: Some may abide to an African excelling in sports or music, but not in the area of thought. An African scholar can be much appreciated when he accepts to be the disciple not to say the slave of a master from the West; he is being supported financially when he puts into practice the thought that originates from abroad and when he locally becomes the head guardian of the mental re-colonization of Africans, which has to be guaranteed sustainably through education, his country’s public structures and through private donations. I constantly refused this role. I’m a Prince who doesn’t sell out and betray his own people; thought is the fundament of my undertakings.
We’ve had enough of this system based on exploitation of others and domination over them with soothing speeches on peace, democracy and equal chances. Taking away all God has given to others, accumulating all for oneself and turning others into slaves on their own territory, this system of thought has caused enough damage since the beginning of humanity. Have you seen images on massacres in Egypt, on the assassination of Khadafy, on the arrestment of Gbagbo? Given all available high technology in this 21st Century, letting this system of thought guide politics, the economy, culture and religion, amounts to consciously programming a never seen planetary confrontation which could put an end to the existence of Man in our galaxy. Now huge laboratories are secretly and graciously being financed in order to prepare this apocalyptic military confrontation’s set off. Those who are scheming on it are confident that they will crush the rest, that they will be the lucky ones selected to survive and enjoy the abundance of all divine treasures available in the Milky Way, without having to share it with competition. I say to them: “Not only Hitler could have fooled himself”.
The 21st Century needs multiple faceted thinking, a creative opening leading to new thought capable of helping humanity safeguard and respect the nature surrounding and sustaining it in the Milky Way; we need thought that enables us to consolidate each peoples heritage where they live, freely exchange and share with others; thought which primarily aims at promoting opportunities for the 11 Billion people we will be by 2100, thought that firstly cares for preservation of sustainable peace for the whole of mankind and no precarious and temporary peace for only a few.
I’ve written books and articles in French, German, Duala and English on history, politics, international cooperation and foreign affairs, on conflicts in Africa, the deviation of African economics, the intellectual genocide in African schools and universities, on the spiritual genocide and the putting of Africans and Blacks under spiritual prostitution in churches and mosques.
Beside scientific publications, I was favored to be able to reach hearts through literary writing. You will also find theatre plays, short stories, poems, novels, tales that I published in Duala, French and German.
With these writings, I think to have contributed to setting up a plinth of balance for the African and the Black Man in the 21st Century; I think to have made a humble input for a fundamental basis of Thought for humanity’s common destiny.
2. Audio and video files
We could gather audio and video files highlighting my perspective through sound files, radio and TV interviews , or giving evidence of my experience in Africa, in Europe or in the USA. Currently, about fifty of those are available online and can be used. These files have drawn the attention and the sympathy of the youth of Africa and other countries on my work more than my writings have.|+| Link to Youtube Video
II- Creation of a space for freedom of thought and creations: The AfricAvenir International Foundation on 2300m2 in Bonabéri-Douala
In spite of all of the benefits attached to a secured job position at the University of Lyon II, France and the prospect of a promising career, I left Europe in 1979 to start giving my humble contribution to the University of Yaoundé in 1979. In order to stay in Cameroon, one had to not compare with the French paystub or its working conditions; refusing political and ethnical patronage in my country, turning my back on the insane pursuit of power positions with huge funds to embezzle, accepting to just have enough to live and seeking to create a frame for a fundamental contribution, that’s the precise way that I had to choose.
In 1981 I was elected president of the Cameroonian Writers and Poets National Association (APEC) and I very quickly understood that in Africa, if you want to be free from these politicians and their foreign masters, you have to create a private structure for the free expression of thought, independently from the establishment which only views Africa as slave, prostitute and a playing field for economical, political, cultural and spiritual exploitation. With the poor salary of a Cameroonian university lecturer, I decided to create the “Creations and research Center AfricAvenir” along with “AfricAvenir Publishing House” on my parents land in Bonabéri-Douala, on 2300 m2. The building was ready in 1989, the set of the activities then merged into a foundation in 1993.
1. The Cheikh Anta Diop Library in Douala
As a lecturer at the University of Yaoundé, I realize that the University libraries of many African countries are a deep insult to Africa’s millennium scientific legacy; they’re designed to be centers of waste from the west, merely relying on donations of books western libraries no longer use and removed from their shelves to be replaced with scientific novelties. University libraries feature no books of any scientific field introducing Cameroonian and African students into the scientific legacy of their ancestors. Books and teachers teach and train them to believe their ancestors didn’t invent anything worthy of humanity’s development and progress, that the West is the only resort to emerge from barbarity and underdevelopment in order to access science. But during my trips to international conventions, I constantly visit academic, regional and municipal libraries and one observation is manifest: In all countries and continents, Africa being an exception, libraries role is to testify to the development of thought, chart the scientific and literary legacy of the said nation and its surrounding space, using references reaching to times prior to the creation of that very nation. nIn the overwhelming majority of African libraries, everything starts with the long-lasting defeat, the triumph of Europe and the West over African countries, the institutionalization of the intellectual and spiritual genocide Europe inflicted upon African people. In our libraries, Africans thought starts being articulated by the period of First World War but mostly after 1945, when Africans had accepted to give up the articulation of thought in their own languages, being proud to articulate their parrot-thought in the European invader’s languages. Consequently, from primary school up to the institution of higher education, the African students are being thought that knowledge is not proper to them, that science as well as salvation can only come from abroad. I, who have accumulated scientific degrees in the West from junior high school diploma to German habilitation after getting 2
French PhD’s, have not understood this scientific barbarity being imposed on African people. Being devoid of political power in my country and not being able to change anything at the university, I decided to create a small representative library allowing the user to access African scientific roots. This is how the Cheikh Anta Diop library emerged within the AfricAvenir International Foundation, as a tribute to this great Senegalese scholar who turned scientific results in Africa and the world upside down. Today, the Cheikh Anta Diop library includes two sections: “the research section” shelters over 7,000 specialized books on Africa’s legacy and other people’s covetousness over the African continent. These books are in African languages, in French, English, German etc… The “youth section” features over 1,000 illustrated collections in which children and young Africans can find their reflection, while they’re being offered to discover Western library books of their age range. It’s pleasurable to watch these pupils rush to the youth section of the Cheikh Anta Diop Library after class, since their schools and junior high schools won’t offer them this type of reading. Promoting and preserving this space, creating community-based activities around it and sustaining it, all amounts to an essential contribution to our common heritage.
2. The Publishing House AfricAvenir/Exchange & Dialogue
Being African, publishing through authorized networks in the West, being distributed and relayed by these networks in the world while not being known or read in Africa, that’s the dilemma of each African writer concerned about giving his contribution to the rebirth of Africa and to the world’s evolution. In the seventies, when my books were being printed in three thousand copies in Paris, I always carried a hundred copies along with me to distribute it to libraries and friends in Cameroon. One question was haunting me on each publication: who am I writing for, Europeans or Africans? And how can I knock on a European door to ask for the right to speak and say my message which will displease them, since I’m a conscious African writing to contribute to Africa’s total liberation? nI then realized that I was caught in the trap of the colonial. After coming back to Cameroon in 1979, I put efforts to publishing locally. But censorship on books was strong. Each manuscript first had to be presented to the ministry of the interior. As President of the writers association of Cameroon, I publically opposed this measure. In 1983 I launched a “Call to the Cameroonian creating intelligentsia” and in 1985 I and friends created the Publishing House AfricAvenir. We wouldn’t send any manuscript to censorship. This is how I published my first book entitled “Africa takes up the Challenge – a plan for a modern community sharing”. Within a year we ran out of the 5,000 printed copies. Would this book have even been accepted by a French publisher? A strong sign! But political turbulences of the nineties stopped the experience which would then restart in 2002. I always asked myself this question: If the Senegalese Alioune Diop had not opened the Publishing House and bookstore “Présence Africaine” in Paris, who would have published and distributed Cheikh Anta Diop’s work? Would we have known of this multidisciplinary scholar since Europeans did not want any of his research results?
The Publishing House AfricAvenir/Exchange & Dialogue is based in Douala with sections in Berlin, Vienna, and distribution in Paris and soon in North America. Our ambition is to give voice to Africans or non Africans who have understood that Africa is coming. And the message must also but first of all be printed in African languages, with beautiful illustrations in Duala, Ewondo, Kikongo, Fulfulde, Hausa and more, for our children. This heritage must be consolidated.
3. “Le Génie Africain” (The African Genius), an African arts and crafts bookshop
When I was elected President of the Cameroonian Writers and Poets Association in 1981, I lead a delegation of our executive committee to the bookstores of the capital city Yaoundé, so we could see how Cameroonian and African authors were represented. The woman who received us at the capital’s most prestigious bookstore told us: “we don’t sell African authors”. In other bookstores they would tell us: “Go to the back over there, you’ll find African authors on the bottom shelf”. Today in Douala, Yaoundé, Bafoussam, Garoua, bookstores are open in August, September and October to sell school manuals mostly imported from Europe; then they transform into stationary businesses or straight second-hand stores, selling this waste which was collected from western sidewalks to be poured into African countries informal sector.
When the construction of the AfricAvenir building was completed in 1987 and its activities could be concentrated there by 1989, a vast area was dedicated to the bookstore featuring an international Press House. The venture was aborted when the fight for political power in Cameroon had created radical camps engaged into a merciless witch hunt. It had to be closed in
In 2011 we created a space we called “Le Génie Africain” (The African Genius), with the ambition of offering the public of the economical capital trends of thought by African authors, the African Diaspora and non African authors bringing fundamental contributions. After the back-to school period, the bookshop keeps going, craftsmen present their creations. This recently created experiment should first prove itself to be worthy of becoming part of the heritage.
4. Instructing and entertaining through African film: supporting a didactical heritage
When I was teaching political sciences to German students at the Otto-Suhr Institute of the Free University of Berlin, I started screening African films to help them get closer to African realities in their theoretical studies. The effectiveness of this method was so great that they started programming African film screenings across the city, merely requesting my presence for the solemn opening. These screening programs keep going on since the year 2000 thanks to the Berlin section of AfricAvenir, which is being managed by my former students, just as in Windhoek where one of my former German students has settled down.
In Cameroon, the AfricAvenir International Foundation has brought the African film to schools, villages and universities. It has always been a memorable success. Over 120 African films could be collected at the AfricAvenir International Foundation Headquarters, and there is an opportunity to reach out to the stock of 800 African films gathered by the New York African Film Festival. African film should be integrated into school curricula and extra school teaching for schools, university and African populations as an educational and didactical tool.
5. Spreading thought and Worldview by the means of new information technology: creation of the websites: www.africavenir.org and www.exchange-dialogue.com
One day in the year 2000, some students called out to me after the lecture at the Otto-Suhr Institute of political sciences of Berlin: “Professor, you’re telling us things we’ve never heard since kindergarten and when we go to the university’s library we don’t find the books by African authors which you’re recommending us. We can only find German, European or American authors writing on Africa. Don’t you think it would be better to create a website to diffuse your thought and enable students of other universities to get to these rare documents?” That’s when I created a lecture on the “Architecture and creation of a website on African rebirth”, which I gave during two semesters. The theoretical foundations were laid, the German political sciences students bought books on the creation of a website and one day they sent me an e-mail saying: “the AfricAvenir website is online. Go to www.africavenir.org; if you had to pay us for this job, you would be ruined by now!”
Some of those of my former German students, highly positioned in some structures today, are the ones who benevolently manage the website and the Berlin section of AfricAvenir International up to this year 2013. And when I wonder why, they say: “Your work doesn’t only aim at the revival of Africa but it serves humanity’s common destiny. We are also deeply concerned”. But voluntary work has its limits, the task has become overwhelming, a real data bank is needed to enlarge and safeguard African heritage.
The second website Fehler! Hyperlink-Referenz ungültig. still in need of a professional to animate the works of authors published by the Publishing House AfricAvenir/Exchange & Dialogue. There is a long way ahead to its publications being easily acquired from anywhere in the world by the use of new media technology and online payment
6. The meeting and dialogue space
Since 1993, meetings, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, film and video screenings, musical and theatrical performances and public reading by writers are being held in a 150 seat capacity room. It’s the best known and most often visited area of the AfricAvenir International Foundation Headquarters in Bonabéri – Douala. It has been sheltering the youth section of the Cheikh Anta Diop library for four years now. The youth then have the opportunity to rub shoulders with civil and royal personalities they only hear of in radio or TV. When he was still alive, Prince Rene Douala Manga Bell loved to chat with the youth coming to read in this room or participating in contests in their respective national languages.
III- The expansion of the Idea and thought through international sections
Before I left Germany in 2003, my former students and sympathizers had decided to create a section of the AfricAvenir International Foundation in the city, to keep up the work we were doing in the Free University of Berlin only. African arts and crafts exhibitions, conferences, film screenings and artistic performances were being organized by this dynamic Berlin section regularly.
In Namibia, one of my former German students from the Free University of Berlin put together a section of the AfricAvenir International Foundation in Windhoek, after settling down there. Great work has been carried out to create a data bank of Namibian film and the screening of African film, along with co-organizing the African Film Festival in other countries as Egypt, have imposed respect for this work carried out from Windhoek.
The work on African thought in Vienna’s schools has had its way to Austria. The exchanges between Cameroonian and Austrian junior high schools have been furthered by the Vienna section of the AfricAvenir International Foundation; the staging of one of my plays in German languages entitled “Das Fest der Liebe” (The Feast of Love), which was set up by the Marchettigasse junior high school of Vienna due to the support of the federal Austrian ministry of education, arts and culture and the Austrian commission of the UNESCO, went across school walls to be shown in a theater of Austria’ capital and in the touristic city of Bad Ischl. This Austrian ministry even organized a national seminar, inviting professors, school and university inspectors to come discover the work of eleven books in German language by the African writer Kum’a Ndumbe III. The Publishing House Exchange & Dialogue is mostly being managed from the Vienna section.
What about our correspondents who, like in South-Korea, translate and publish my writings online as well as in magazines edited in Korean language and who make the AfricAvenir International Foundation known through their websites?
This work by our international section is well visible on the Foundation’s website.
IV- The international acknowledgement of the heritage
Our work has drawn the attention of certain structures and groups of people on the international level.n
- In 2007 AfricAvenir International won the award of “best Cameroonian website – NGO category” of the Ngallé Foundation at the Hilton Hotel in Yaoundé
- In December 2008, “the African trophy of citizenship- arts and culture category” has been given to Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III in Cotonou, Benin.
- In Berlin, the UNESCO awarded AfricAvenir International with the Toussaint Louverture medal in 2008 for the work carried out on the exhibition “200 years later…” on resistance against slavery.
- The parliament of the Belgian francophone community awarded Berlin’s AfricAvenir section with the “Condorcet-Aron prize for democracy” – foreign achievement category.
- In April 2013, Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III was inducted into the Hall Of Fame Honorees in Atlanta, USA and won the award “2013 Outstanding Culture and Heritage scholar”; the awards were given by the A.D. King Foundation and the African Diaspora World Tourism Awards.
nNow, closing the Headquarters of the AfricAvenir International Foundation in Douala?
This August 2013, I’ve tried to give a picture of the itinerary which has led me to put together this scientific and literary heritage and create a Foundation in Cameroon with my own small funds. It has therefore been possible, often under the risk of losing my life and to the detriment of my children who often had to accept to live in need. But here’s the result, tangible and usable:n
- 150 scientific and literary publications written in four languages
- A research library with a section for the youth , an archives section and an African film section
- A bookshop with an arts and crafts section
- A Publishing House
- A space for artistic expression, film and theatre
- An International Foundation
nThis is the heritage I could put together, thanks to my willpower and the modest means God accepted to provide me with.
Today, I have made an extension plan for the next 7 years going from 2013-2020, projecting the construction of a five store building dedicated to the vision of an Africa in renaissance. But the experience should firstly be consolidated and made accessible to users with professionalism. When sometimes power supply, the Internet connection or water supply are being cut, what explanation can one give to those children who come to read in the library and simply want to drink some water? And what should one say to the employees relying on poor wages which are paid so late and with so much difficulty? Stop telling me not to close while you’re leaving all responsibility and charges to me.
I’m no more able to sponsor the 1500 Euro needed monthly, I no longer have the means for it and the numerous administrative steps I’ve made over the years could not be successful. I’ve yelled in the desert for more than 28 years. But one thing is clear to me: Africa will take up the challenge with its 2,4 billion inhabitants by 2050, in only 37 years by now, according to the projections of the United Nations published in June 2013. Africa will take up the challenge with its vast resources the creator placed on the continent and which Africans will know to defend heroically. In 2100, there will be 4,2 billion Africans on a planet of 10,9 billion inhabitants. Not even the new generation of bombs extincting all human life while leaving buildings and infrastructures intact, will be able to overcome this whole population. Africa is getting ready and will retaliate. May each one meditate on it.
I can stand before my people and the world and say I’ve tried. May the good willed citizens save the legacy if they find it relevant; let those who are ruling, managing the budgets and deciding over it never say they didn’t know. They have the capacity to act, and History will keep the memory of their acts.
I’ve done my bit and I give thanks to God. May this call be heard, let it touch hearts and drive people to constructive action.
The Prince of the Bele Bele
Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III, University Professor, Emeritus
Bonabéri-Douala, August 21st, 2013.n|+| Recommendations for action: Steps for saving, consolidating and promoting the achievements of the Headquarter of the AfricAvenir International Foundation in Douala, for an upright and proud Africa
(English translation by Khéops Ndumbe Kum)