Influential Black Leaders - Dr. Marimba Ani
Marimba Ani (initially Dona Richards) is an African Studies scholar and an anthropologist. She studied at the University of Chicago and received her first BA degree. She later enrolled at New School University for her Master’s degree and Ph.D. respectively. She taught in Hunter College as a professor of African Studies and was credited for introducing the term Maafa to refer to African holocaust.
In her book, Yurugu: An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, she has greatly challenged European thought and culture in the formation of modern institutional frameworks of black people and the world through imperialism and colonialism from an African point of view. She uses the myths of Dogon people and the Swahili language to prove that the Western Civilization was not superior to African Civilization. Ani notes, “European culture is unique in the assertion of political interest.”
In Yurugu, Ani uses terms that are of Swahili origin to propose a three-way conceptualization of African culture. These terms are Asili, Utamawazo, and Utamaroho.
Asili means “origin” or “essence.” The term refers to the central seed or foundation of a culture.
Utamawazo and Utamaroho are buzzwords coined based on the Swahili term Utamaduni meaning “civilization” wazo “thought” and Roho “spirit life.” These terms refer to the way a person’s thought of culture has to be patterned if asili is to be achieved. Finally, utamaroho is an important source that sparks people’s culture.
She also uses a Swahili word, Maafa meaning “great disaster” to refer to the Negro slavery. She observed that Americans have an “enormous capacity for the perpetration of physical violence against other cultures” that had resulted in “antihuman, genocidal” treatment of blacks.