I will quote liberally from him, because he captures the essence of it. He states, in response to a question posed to him by a member of staff at the Wilson Library Bulletin, on the need to establish a frame of reference about Africa when one engages on a works dealing with Africa:
Perhaps we need to establish a frame of reference about Africa, perhaps not. My premise here is that the West (Euro-Americans) must stop treating Africa as if it is in or belongs to another planet. The continent of Africa, like any of the other fi ve continents, has as great a physical and cultural variety. Africa is a continent of nations and not (just) warring tribes and clansmen as portrayed by the Western media. For well over fi ve hundred years, Africa has remained a disturbing phenomenon to the Western mind. It is not surprising that Westerners created barbaric images about Africa and Africans; images that go back about fi ve hundred years are still there refusing to go away(italics mine). Out of these false and distorted images have evolved stereotypes that have been preserved and institutionalized. (p.124)
He goes on say:
The image of backwardness carries with it innuendoes that are hidden in some ways of these texts [referring to children’s story books] in very
subtle ways. Western missionaries, in their earliest contacts with Africa, ventured into the interior of Africa, thereby coming sometimes face to face with African traditions and customary practices which they could not fathom or understand. They then found it useful to speak of the “savage heathen,” and the less adventurous colonial administrators emphasized the same theme, adding the “dark continent” myth. (p.125)
Thus when we recall the precepts of Ptah-Hotep that have direct reference to rhetorical utterances and comportment, we begin to realize that a continent that was considered and described not just as “dark” but “savage” and “uncivilized” in western social thought and historiography was, on the contrary, the source of a tremendous wealth in terms of ethical/moral thought and practice in all aspects of life, with particular emphasis on governance.