“The black death” erupted at a time when science and technology were nascent phenomena with only a slippery grip on the day to day human, animal, plant and water life. Humanity was suddenly flung into the experience of death that disrespected territorial boundaries and scorned at the artificial hierarchy of human beings based on skin colour or the shape of one’s cranium. Ignorance and helplessness in the face of the rapidly expanding and increasing number of deaths described this virtually ubiquitous loss of human life simply as “the black death”. Thus, in addition to being associated with evil, blackness now meant ignorance and helplessness.
Wherever human beings may be, ignorance and helplessness are present, different in kind and intensity. Yet, the new meaning of blackness suppressed and discarded the original meaning of blackness as the signifier of ubiquitous and pluriversal ignorance and helplessness. To emphasise this, blackness was pushed to the background and, darkness became its substitute. We see this in Hegel’s philosophy of history and, Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of darkness. This new meaning was reaffirmed in “the politics of truth” during the HIV pandemic. It seems to be repeated with subtle emphasis with regard to the germination and final rupture of the Covid-19. “Darkness” is meaningful only if light is its inherent other face and, not its contradiction. Darkness is not the ontological contradiction of light.
A moral pandemic called “the universal declaration of human rights” erupted after the second world war. This was after the genocide of the Hereros in 1904 by the German von Trotha and his ready to kill team. Perhaps the genocide was a simple pesticide since it happened decades before the formal recognition of the international convention against genocide. The international community’s reaction to this was marked by its loud silence. The reaction is different with Covid-19. Why?
Ebola was a regional epidemic resulting in massive loss of human lives. The reaction of the international community was calm, cautious and slow in coming. Ebola’s color-blind sting pierced sharply through a white skin and it was met by whiteness with instant protective action against its deadly sting. Perhaps nature has her own way of depopulating Africa like the trans-Atlantic slave trade did.
Africa being the mother of “darkness”, and, therefore not a legitimate “subject of history” nonetheless holds the “civilized” other at ransom in “the politics of truth” about the Covid-19 pandemic in the highly advanced age of science and technology. The voice of Africa ought to be heard in this “politics of truth”.
Papers articulating the voice of Africa from the perspectives of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Economic and Managements Sciences and Law including the natural and physical sciences are invited.