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Towards an Understanding of Africology

Author(s): Victor O Okafor

Edition: 6

Copyright: 2021

Pages: 420

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New Sixth Edition Now Available!

Since 1968 when the first Black Studies department was established at San Francisco State University, more than three hundred other departments, programs and centers have surfaced on various campuses of the nation, including Ph.D. programs.

Towards an Understanding of Africology, now in its 6th edition, represents an essential reading for students, teachers/researchers, and administrators who seek a concise, clear and comprehensive understanding of the evolution, philosophical and theoretical foundation, mission, and functional value of Africology/Black Studies in academe and human society at large.

Serving as a comprehensive text for undergraduate and introductory graduate-level courses in Black Studies, Towards an Understanding of Africology by Victor O. Okafor:

  • Includes a set of both new and significantly updated chapters (including one on “Black Lives Matter (BLM) Goes Global—George Floyd and the hot summer of 2020, a Survey of Emergent Grassroots Protests & Public Perceptions of Justice”).
  • Recognizes the global context of American and African American history, and the universality of the African experience.
  • Discusses the evolution, scope, and philosophical and theoretical foundation of Black Studies.
  • Includes updated research and scholarship on Africa as the cradle of humankind - including recent archaeological and genetic studies.
  • Examines the functional value of Black Studies/Africology in the age of multiculturalism and cyberspace educational technology.
  • Elaborately clarifies misconceptions about the Afrocentric/African-Centered paradigm as a conceptual framework.

Dedication
About the Author
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgements

Chapter 1 An Overview of Primary Historical Themes
At the Beginning
Kemet (Ancient Egypt)
Nubia
Axum
Ghana Empire
Mali Empire
Songhai Empire
Ile-Ife, Benin, Onitsha and Other Western African Kingdoms
East African Coastal City States
The Great Zimbabwe and Mutapa (Monomotapa)
Pre-Columbian African Presence in Ancient America
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 2 A Brusque and Bloody Encounter
The Most Decisive Contact
Three Major Stages
The Trans-Atlantic Trade in African Captives
Slavocracy’s Propaganda
African Royal Resistance
Offshore Resistance of the Captives
Other Forms of Resistance
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 3 The Second Revolutionary Movement
Abolitionism
The Second Revolutionary Movement
A Dual Labor System
John Brown Raid on Harper’s Ferry
The Civil War (1861–1865)
The Meaning of Juneteenth
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 4 National Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation
Three Key Constitutional Amendments
The Dawn of a New Repression
The Presidential Election of 1876
Tearing Down the House
Eruption of Jim Crow Laws
Responses to New Repression Amidst Race Riots
The Civil Rights (Black Protest) Movement
Congressional Apology
Colonialism
Decolonization
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 5 The Roots of Africology
Introduction
Campus Discontent
The Impact of Global Events
A New Cadre of Intellectuals
A Revolution in Academe
The 1960s’ Question
The Key Question
Centuries-Old Intellectual Antecedents
A Pragmatic Vision of Education
Milestones
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 6 Africology: A Discipline or an Unstructured Collection of “Black” Courses?
Temple’s Impact
Africological Conceptual Framework
The Afrocentric/African-Centered Paradigm
Africological Centeredness
Africological Method of Criticism
The Scope of Africology
The Question of Autonomy
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 7 Africology as a Human Science
Africological Subject Areas
Womanism and Gender Complementarity
Criticisms and Constraints
Internal Constraints
Conclusion
Teaching Africology
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 8 A Guide for Africological Research, Analysis, and Synthesis
Africans, The African Diaspora, and The African World
Multicentric Vs Universal
The Humanist Essence of the African Cultural Heritage
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 9 Why Africology? An Examination of Debates About How to Name the Discipline
What Drives Distinctive Nomenclatural Choices Within the Discipline?
Cultural Pluralism
Naming the New Field
Issues to Consider
Other Viewpoints
In Retrospect
Antagonism within Academia
Marketability
Africology and African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University
Conclusion
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 10 The Foundational Role of African Civilization: The Groundbreaking Impact of Diopian Egyptology
Diop’s Primary Thesis
A Southern Origin
Interdisciplinary Tools
Conclusion
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 11 Africology And the Du Boisian Influence
Introduction
Du Bois’s Background, Career, and Philosophical Orientation
Double Consciousness
The Father of Black Studies
The Problem of the Twentieth Century
The Freedmen’s Bureau
On Booker T. Washington
A New World Order
An Africological Analysis
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 12 Africology as a Response to Miseducation: Carter G. Woodson Revisited
An Academic Cold War
Miseducation
Woodson’s Pluralism
Designed for the Benefit of the Dominant Group
Self-Hatred
Dependent Education
Effects on Black Business Entrepreneurship
On the Black Church
Attitude toward the Weak and Unfortunate
A Perfect Device for Control from Without
Why Does a Name Matter?
Woodson’s Prescription for a New Direction
Call for an African Interpretation of Christian Theology
Conclusion
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 13 Careers in Africology
What Can I do With a Degree in Africology?
Why the Question Persists
A Liberal Arts Degree
Assessment of Student Learning
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 14 Africology and Its In-House Detractors: A Critique of Appiah’s in My Father’s House
A Major Challenge
On Pan-Africanism
A Benign Picture of Colonialism
Appiah and African Civilization
Race and Racism
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 15 The Afrocentric/African-Centered Paradigm: An In-Depth Examination of its Philosophical and Pragmatic Implications
On White Supremacism
Migrating Back to Africa: The Literal and Philosophical Dimensions
Centered Education
The Ultimate Test
Pan-African Linkages
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 16 Malcolm X And His Visions For African America
His Early Life
How America Produced Malcolm X
His Nation of Islam’s Experience
Malcolm’s Visit to 14 African Countries
Formation of OAAU
An Africological Analysis
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 17 Black Lives Matter (BLM) Goes Global—George Floyd and the Hot Summer of 2020, A Survey of Emergent Grassroots Protests and Public Perceptions of Justice
Introduction
What is Justice?
Dictionary’s Definition of Justice
Justice and Contemporary Cases of Extra-Judicial Killings
Five High-Profile Examples
Trayvon Martin and the Rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement
The Essence of “Black Lives Matter”
George Floyd and the Globalization of Black Lives Matter
BLM as “END SARS” in Nigeria
Echoes of BLM in Brazil
Extra-Judicial Killing Violates Both Common Law and Natural Law
International Kneeling Against Entrenched Racism and Injustice
Colin Kaepernick’s Bravery
Eroseanna “Rose” Robinson’s pioneering example
Voices of Concern from the United Nations
Student Reflections
The Conscience of the Nation and a Polarized Public Opinion
Ex-President Barack Obama’s Views
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Speak on George Floyd’s Verdict
Conclusion
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 18 A Critical Appraisal of Political Stratgies, Ideological Imperatives, and Electoral Milestones
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy
A Psychological Boost
King Did Not Die in Vain
A Paradigmatic Shift in an Elastic Democracy
Did Democracy Liberate the African American or Did the Black Protest Movement Advance the American Democracy?
The Ascendency of Electoral Politics
Electoral Milestones
Ideological Approaches
Accomodationism
Radicalism
Black Nationalism
Liberal Integrationism
Black Conservatism
Afrocentricity, Afrocentrism or African-Centeredness
Radical Democratic Multiculturalism
Post-Racialism
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 19 Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 Presidential Election Victories: Milestone Moments In Us History
The Watershed Presidential Election of 2008
A Transformational Moment
The 2008 Presidential Primaries
Changing Demographics as a Factor
Obama’s Youthful Appeal and His Promise to End the War in Iraq
Impact of the Civil Rights Movement
Status of Americans of Mixed Racial Birth
A Breakdown of the 2008 Presidential Votes
Obama’s Historic Impact on Black Voter Participation Rates
President Obama’s 2012 Re-election
Winning against All Odds
A Post-Script: An Ironic Twist of History
Secessionist Reactions to Obama’s Re-Election
Rhetorical Questions
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Chapter 20 The Challenge of Twenty First Century African American Leadership and Policy Directions
The Political Economy and African Americans
Welfare Reform and The National Economy
A Recovery and Re-Bound Path
Disproportionate Incarceration Rates and Gun Violence
The Obama Administration’s Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
The Trump Administration’s First Step Act (FSA) of 2018
Teen Pregnancy and Unwed Motherhood
The Affirmative Action Debate and Instructive Employment Data
Societal Failure to Comply Necessitated Affirmative Action
Mixed Signs of Progress
Shifting Views of Racism
Prejudice + Action = Racism
The Most Privileged Blacks of the Twenty First Century
References
End of Chapter Reading Comprehension Exercise

Victor O Okafor

Dr. Victor Oguejiofor Okafor holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies (Temple University, 1994), a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs (Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 1988), and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a Business Minor (Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 1986). Dr. Okafor has taught at three major universities, including Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan where he serves currently as professor and head of the Department of Africology and African American Studies. In 2017, Dr. Okafor received THE DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR AWARD For Outstanding Scholarship, Teaching and Service in Africana Studies from the 5th Annual Africa Conference sponsored and hosted by the Department of History, Geography, Political Science & Africana Studies at Tennessee State University. Also in 2017, Dr. Okafor was appointed as a 2017–18 Great Michigan Read Scholar by Michigan’s Humanities Council. In 2014, Dr. Okafor was named and recognized as “a Most Valuable Professor” by Eastern Michigan University’s Men’s basketball team.

A widely published scholar, Okafor is the author of several journal articles, book chapters, and books, including Towards an Understanding of Africology, (Kendall Hunt, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2013 & 2017), the State of Africana Studies Today: Essays on Scholarship and Pedagogy (the Edwin Mellen Press, 2013), Nigeria’s Stumbling Democracy and Its Implications for Africa’s Democratic Movement (Praeger Security International, 2008); A Roadmap for Understanding African Politics: Leadership and Political Integration in Nigeria (Routlege, 2006); and Studies in African American Leadership: Movements and Committees (Edwin Mellen Press, 2006), which he co-edited with Tunde Adeleke. Dr. Okafor currently serves as a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Black Studies, the Western Journal of Black Studies, and a book manuscript reviewer for Ashgate Publishing Ltd, United Kingdom. He is an expert court witness on African cultural issues and a language line interpreter of the Igbo language. Professor Okafor designs and teaches online courses. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on various subjects, including Introduction to African American Studies, African American Studies Internship Seminar, Introduction to African Civilization, Academics, Affiliations & Achievement, African American Social Movements, Urbanization and the African American Community, Politics in the African American Experience, Public Policy & African Americans, Peoples & Cultures of Africa, the African Diaspora, Contemporary Africa: the Struggle & Prospects for Development (03 hrs), the African Political Economy, African Philosophical Thought, and English Composition.

This 6th edition of Towards an Understanding of Africology is an impressive extension of Dr. Victor Okafor’s ongoing project of explicating the contours and liberatory potential of the discipline. Indeed, the book makes a solid case that Africology offers “a new interpretation of interdisciplinarity” that enables scholars and practitioners to envision a world devoid of the racist underbelly that continues to despoil human progress. The new chapters contribute significantly to the expansive liberating potential of Africology as a guide to the formulation of human-centered values and public policies. 

The growing prevalence of Africology as a descriptor of the enterprise also known as “Black Studies,” “African American Studies,” “Africana Studies,” “African World Studies,” etc., is an indicator of the growing recognition of the limitations of traditional labels and descriptors. Okafor defends his preference for this appellation throughout the book, especially in chapter 9, where he declares that “Africology, as a nomenclatural alternative, exudes a more inclusive, institutional and aesthetic appeal.” 

Perhaps the exposure of students from all backgrounds to the discipline of Africology through courses using Towards an Understanding of Africology as a primary or secondary text can increase that likelihood of successful implementation of Africology-friendly public policies at some point in the future. In the meantime, there is no question that students and faculty will be well served at present by a detailed study of this text. Notably, the continuing debate regarding the merits for students of studying Africology is addressed in detail in chapter 13. Okafor concludes that “Black Studies or Africological education generates a variety of career options and also forms the basis for graduate education in different areas of the social sciences and humanities, including graduate studies in Africology.” The usefulness of this text is significantly enhanced by the lucid study questions at the end of each chapter.
Dr. James B. Stewart
Professor Emeritus
Penn State University

Meticulously presented in twenty chapters, Towards an Understanding of Africology in the sixth edition builds upon the previous volumes by significantly revising the material in selected areas. For example, the work is strengthened by using updated research and scholarship on Africa as the cradle of humankind, including recent archeological and genetic studies. Dr. Okafor has also extended the discussion on the status of free Africans in the United States under slaveocracy (particularly in the area of interracial marriage at the onset of the Jim Crow era). The text effectively weaves the past with the present, including information on the American government’s recent apology for the enslavement of African people and subsequent social and institutional racial discrimination.... A critical new feature of the text is the expanded discourse in the section entitled “Challenges of the 21st Century.” One of the most comprehensive areas of the book includes the recent discussion about whether American society has entered a post-racial phase with the election and re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. In the chapter, “Barack Obama’s Historic 2008 & 2012 Presidential Election Victories,” Dr. Okafor draws upon the core scholarship in Africology of the past 53 years to better contextualize the historic significance of this event. For many, Towards an Understanding of Africology will be a transformative book. It recognizes the global context of American and African American history, and the universality of the African experience.
Katherine Bankole Medina, Ph.D
Professor of History and Chairperson
Department of History, Geography and Global Studies
Coppin State University


The strengths of Towards an Understanding of Africology include its rather brief, compact presentation of the foundational issues of Black Studies, its readability, its “End of Chapter Reading Comprehension,” and its price.
Rupert C Simms, Ph.D., Professor
North Park University


Towards an Understanding of Africology “help[ed] to me to challenge some of my own perceptions about the field and how it would benefit my career.” This was one of the many comments students had to say about the book. Towards an Understanding of Africology provided both undergraduate and graduate students an introduction to Black Studies/Africology and a theoretical approach on the utilization of Africology as a research method. Each chapter focused on the evolution of Africology, the challenges, the arguments, the usefulness, the potential, and its legitimacy as a discipline. The chapters on DuBois, Woodson, Diop, and Malcolm X illustrated to students how these scholars utilized Africology throughout their work. One feature of the book was how it provided students with a basic understanding of Africology as a methodology and how to use it in examining works done on the various aspects of people of African descent. Two chapters that students resonate to and were glad to read, were “Challenge of 21st Century African American Leadership…” and “Careers in Africology.” Both of these chapters helped students to place and view leaders in the proper context (historically, politically, and culturally), offered them tools to examine their own leadership perspectives, and presented them with information on how Africology is practical, applicable, and theoretical.
LaVerne Gyant, Ph.D., Professor & Director
Center for Black Studies
Northern Illinois University

 

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