I just read this excerpt from a book written by Lord Frederick John Dealty Lugard. He is a former colonial master and a dormitory at Achimota School – Lugard House – is named after him.

In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person. Lacking in self-control, discipline and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery. His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future, or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the State he has reached. Through the ages the African appears to have evolved no organised religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural. He lacks the power of organisation, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. He loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility… he will work hard with a less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue… In brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy…Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualise the future. – Lord Frederick John Dealtry Lugard, The Dual Mandate, pg.70 (1926)

Lord Lugard sounds very insulting, doesn’t he? The fact, though, is that he is dead right on almost all counts. I know most Africans will disagree with him. And that’s quite understandable.

But then, I think Lord Lugard laughs at us every day from his grave. I am sure most of us may want to prove him wrong. We can’t however do that by force of argument. We must begin to act and act differently from the African he describes. That’s the African of 1926.

Can the African of the 21st Century put Lugard to shame? Maybe. Hopefully, it happens in my lifetime so that when I die, I’d be bold enough to poke fun at Lord Lugard and pull on that moustache of his.


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