The Global Perspective of Umsamo
Umsamo is a purely African epistemology that seeks to question the current Euro-American hegemonic epistemology founded on the tyranny of abstract universals and recover de-centred and suppressed knowledges and wisdom from the Global South in general and Africa in particular. It also implies reading and interpreting the empire and the world from the margins and borders between hegemonic and dominant forms of knowledge. It is a subaltern epistemology in and of the Global South focused on unpacking how European modernity overshadowed other modernities, silences other knowledges and re-shaped the non-Western world into its present condition of mimicry, weakness and subalternity, particularly the African.
Umsamo is a source of a long “journey – the goal of which is the union with the source of Man’s being – the Ithongo. To reach that goal Man must first pass through all experiences the Cosmos affords, and must shake off all accretions accumulated on his descent from individualised Spiritual Mind into grossest Matter. To do this, Man is born and born again, for his physical body dies, as do his lower mental principles; only his higher mental principles which are akin with the Ithongo survive from age to age, retaining throughout the Cosmic Cycle the individuality bestowed upon them at its opening”.
Umsamo seek to liberate and decolonize our minds from colonial modernity and restores us to our nature and ecology. We are challenged to see reality in a new way. We simply cannot carry on with the current dysfunctional way. We simply seek the acceptance, justification and celebration of pluralism—especially the pluralism of knowledge systems. We simply want coexistence of different cultures and to be treated equally. We demand the recognition and emphasis of the importance of context and of culture-specific notions of locality, space and time in planning and development.
Indigenous people, wherever they live, demand that all forms of knowledge and wisdom are valid and should co-exist in a dialectical relationship with each other. Traditional knowledge and ancestral wisdom and technologies should not be “museumized”, and every citizen of any given country is a scientist in his/her own way. Each layperson is an expert, in at least what matters to them. Science should help the common man and woman, and all competing sciences should be brought together into a positive heuristic for dialogue, and this is what Umsamo strives for.
Umsamo insists that all species, peoples and cultures have intrinsic worth, integrity, intelligence, and identity, and as such should not be manipulated, exploited or disposed. As members of the earth family, we are interconnected through the planet’s fragile web of life. All beings have a natural right to sustenance, and all members of the earth community, including humans, have the right to sustenance – food, water, habitat, security of ecological space.
Man, from the African perspective, as Umsamo also believes, is essentially a spiritual being. In other words, the spiritual is as much a part of reality as the material and there is a complementary relationship between the two, with the spiritual being more powerful than the material.
Umsamo believes that religion, worldview, culture and philosophy of life, mean the same thing in African classical thought and are the source of human development principles that enable an African people to coexist with nature and have harmony with all things in the universe.