Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe


Hey everyone! I am back after taking a short needed break. Last week marked the third year that I have been running this blog! Yay! Happy Anniversary!

Today I return to highlight a few writers I found out about after reading Bilphena Yahwon’s post on Africa Is Done Suffering, “The Writers I Never Learned About.” In this post, Yahwon writes about mainstream literary establishments and education systems lack of inclusion of black women writers in their canons. Her pieces is an addition to a growing critique of these institutions, like Junot Diaz’s “MFA vs. POC” and “We Need Diverse Books Campaign.”  Besides listing writers I already knew, she did include ones I did not know as well and wanted to show their work here. The two women and their books I want to feature are Nigerian writers and activists Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe.

Dr. Acholonu, who passed away in March, was a essayist, playwright, poet and published several books of her own anthropological and scientific research into African cultures, specifically Igbo, and gender studies. Some of her books include “The Gram Code of African Adam: Stone Books and Cave Libraries, Reconstructing 450,000 Years of Africa’s Lost Civilizations, which earned her the award of Professor of African History and Philosophy from Pilgrim’s University and Theological Seminary, North Carolina; The Earth Unchained – A Quantum Leap in Consciousness, A Reply to Al Gore; Motherism – The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism and The Igbo Roots of Olaudah Equiano”

The Gram Code of African Adam is the first book in her African Adam series and explores the history behind the ancient stone inscriptions of Ikom, Cross River State, Nigeria and contributions of ancient Africans to the world in that they possessed systems of writing. The sequel to the book, They Lived Before Adam, delved into prehistoric origins of the Igbo and that “Igbo oral tradition is consistent with scientific research into the origins of humanity.” She said in a lecture at a Harlem book fair, “Igbo oral traditions confirm the findings of geneticists, that by 208000BC – 208000 BC – human evolution was interrupted and Adam, a hybrid, was created through the process of genetic engineering. However, our findings reveal that the creation of Adam was a downward climb on the evolutionary ladder, because he lost his divine essence, he became divided, no longer whole, or wholesome. All over Africa and in ancient Egyptian reports, oral and written traditions maintain that homo erectus people were heavenly beings, and possessed mystical powers such as telepathy, levitation, bi-location, that their words could move rocks and mountains and change the course of rivers. Adam lost all that when his right brain was shut down by those who made him.”

Her last book and last book of the series, “The Lost Testament of the Ancestors of Adam: Unearthing Heliopolis/Igbo Ukwu – The Celestial City of the Gods of Egypt and India,” theorizes West Africa as a place of origin for other Eastern cultures, like Egyptian culture and hieroglyphs.

In The Earth Unchained: A Quantum Leap in Consciousness, Acholonu responds to Al Gore’s Earth In The Balance, by discussing “philosophies gleaned from the non-mainstream world views of the peoples of the Southern Hemisphere to provide an alternative environmental Philosophy against the growing threat of global ecocide. It illustrates the fact that the difference between the mystical worldviews of the South and the dominant Science and Technology of the Twentieth Century, is to be found in  Quantum Physics.”

Motherism, The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism looks at various traditional perspectives of womanhood throughout Africa, including goddess worship, priestesses, social nurturers, soldiers and political and royal leaders and places these examples within Acholonu’s theory of “motherism,” which emphasizes celebration of black womanhood, black motherhood, social healing and the environment. Acholonu obviously was a respected and prolific writer whose work provided alternative perspectives and possibilities for thinking about African cultures.

Molara Ogundipe, along with her recurring writing partner Carole Boyce Davies, also wrote about alternative ways to view African cultures and African womanhood in her works, like Re-Creating Ourselves: African Women & Critical Transformations, and as editor of the two volumes of Moving Beyond Boundaries.

In the dedication of Re-Creating Ourselves, she quotes Reverend Chief LMO Ogundipe, “raise your mind to high things. Think on the plane of the Infinite Consciousness,” and that is how she approaches her own work. Re-Creating Ourselves provided a work in which African women speak for themselves past the boundaries constructed by white and heteromasculine colonialist institutions who practice “strategic non-hearing,” and learn to transform their erasure and silence of “unheard  articulations” into language and action to create “new worlds.”.

The two volumes of Moving Beyond Boundaries, International Dimensions of Black Women’s Writing and Black Women’s Diasporas, further gives spaces for black women to tell their own stories, stories that so often are silenced and underrepresented in both a racialized and gendered world.

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