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Two Thousand Seasons (African Writers Series) [Paperback]

Ayi Kwei Armah
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Sep 1979 African Writers Series
A young group inexorably rebels against the forces destroying Africa. By the author of Fragments and The Healers.


Product details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks (24 Sep 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435902180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435902186
  • Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 1.4 x 12 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,178,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting! 11 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book that transports the reader on an amazing roller coaster journey of hope, despair and finally triumph over adversity. A must for anyone wishing to better understand the impact of slavery in Africa.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A recommended book to read 24 April 2012
By Te
Format:Paperback
Two Thousand Seasons is a very touching book which should be used in schools here to help the children who descended from Africans of all backgrounds to learn about the way of life and culture and traditions of Africa before the influence of foreign values and colonialism. The Usurper and Other Stories, A grain of Wheat, Disciples of Fortune, No Longer at Ease, are some of the other African titles I enjoyed.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!! 24 May 2005
By Osei Alkebulan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Two Thousand Seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah

(...)

African scholar and historian John Henrik Clarke once pointed out that in colonizing the world, Europeans also colonized information about the world. The savage theft of land and resources, the wholesale murder of millions - this physical assault was accompanied by an ideological assault from which Africans are still trying to recover.

In recent years, many of us have stepped up to challenge the backward, racist ideology that permeates much of what is written about African people, history and culture. Ayi Kwei Armah is one author who has taken on the task of reconstructuring out story. The body of work he has produced is just one example of how even creative outlets can be used to further our struggle for liberation.

Armah's novel Two Thousand Seasons was first published in 1973 and was reprinted last year by Per Ankh, an African publishing cooperative based in Senegal. Its significance is profound for all Africans fighting to reclaim out stolen land and resources, primarily because it tells a story built upon the progressive theories of African revolutionaries such as Nkrumah, Garvey and Diop. Armah lays the foundation for this in the opening pages of the novel by asserting that "we are not a people of yesterday," "that we black people are one people we know," and that "[Africa] is ours, not through murder, nor through theft, not by violence or any other trickery. This has always been our land. Here we began."

Two Thousand Seasons is a fictionalized account of the attack on Africa that has taken place over the last 1,000 years. Using the collective voice of a particular group, it traces the overall development of African history as it has unfolded for countless millions of our people.

Beginning in eastern Africa, the story follows a people as they encounter and are subjugated by Arabs, forcing them to migrate to the western part of the continent where they come up against the horrors of the slave trade. Ultimately, they enter into a campaign of resistance that continues even beyond the novel's end.

History of Role of Women, Religion and Social Equality

A number of issues related to our current struggle to reclaim Africa are addressed in the book. Questions concerning women, religion, and social equality are dealt with, all within the context of a fierce struggle to resist foreign domination. These elements combine to form the novel's basic premise - that the liberation of a land and resources is a necessary first step in reclaiming a way of thinking and understanding the world that has been battered, corrupted and altered by foreign influence.

Throughout the story, Armah propagates the legitimacy and appropriateness of a worldview that is intrinsically African. He simply calls this worldview "the way" or "our way." "The way" is not a religion; in fact, the term religion is discarded in all descriptions of traditional African thought. The dialectic term "reciprocity" is used instead and is defined as "not merely taking, not merely offering. Giving, but only to those from whom we receive in equal measure. Receiving, but only from those we give in reciprocal measure. How easy, how just, the way."

This characterization draws a distinct line between the philosophical understanding that has existed between Africans since ancient times, and the relatively new religious doctrines that to this day contribute to our enslavement.

These religious doctrines, which so easily lend themselves to oppression, are challenged early in the novel. "We are not stunted in spirit, we are not Christians that we should invent fables a child would laugh at and harden our eyes to preach them daylight and deep night as truth," Armah says. We are not so warped in soul, we are not Arabs, we are not Muslims to fabricate a desert God chanting madness in the wilderness, and call out creature creator. That is not out way."

This indictment of Christian and Islamic religious musing is followed by an explanation or how Africans view the world, as well as our place in it. In delineating this worldview, Armah takes a stance that is arguable materialist. He states, " What we do not know, we do not claim to claim to know. WE have no need to claim to know. Many thoughts, growing with each generation, have come down to us, many wonderings. The best have left us thinking it is not necessary for the earth to have been created by any imagined being. We have thought it better to start from sure knowledge, call fable fables, and wait till clarity.

The validity of a traditional African worldview is again asserted as Armah contrasts the structure of society prior to invasions with the societal transformations that is the result of foreign presence.

At the start of Two Thousand Seasons, there is a general social equality, there is no ruler or king as such, and those given jurisdiction over the community (chiefs or "caretakers" as they are referred to by Armah) are accountable to the people. In addition, male/female equality is recognized, and women share in all tasks related to governing and maintaining society. This structure is overturned, however, when Africans come under Arab domination. For the first time, African women experience exploitation and oppression as they are forced to serve as sex slaves for decadent Arabs.

Struggle Between those for Independence and Those Copying Imperialist Ways

Even after Africans free themselves from Arab domination, effects of that experience linger and are manifest in the ways some of them want to restructure society.

This creates a split among Africans. A struggle emerges between the "producers" (those who wish to return to the way) and the "parasites" (those who wish to emulate the ways of foreigners). Armah connects the urges of the latter to a misguided fascination with the power of white people. "They urged on us the setting up of a king from among the parasites to whom all - parasites, producers, women, children, in the condescension of the white destroyer's road - would be bound in unthinking, unquestioning allegiance. In such arrangements, the admirers saw the roots of the white predators' power."

Implications of the decision to abandon long-held notions of social equality are far reaching. Traditionally, gender equality was experienced in the larger context of general social equality. In other words, men weren't seen as superior to women just as no one is society was seen as superior to anyone else.

However, as society is transformed and certain people are given power over others, the role of women is transformed and women are confined to roles of child bearers and homemakers. " In the suppression of women first, in the reduction of all females to things - things for pleasure, things for use, things in the hands of men. - these admirers of the white predator's road saw a potent source of strength for men"

These societal changes eventually give rise to opportunism, form collaborator kings who, for their personal benefit, allow Europeans to set up an outpost of the slave trade, to "askaris" who make a living by aiding in the destruction of their own people.

The point Armah makes in all this is that social inequality, the oppression and exploitation of women, allowing certain people to rule over everyone else - all of these things constitute a break from African tradition.

Armah not only outlines how those breaks from tradition develop, creating a pathway for both the physical and ideological domination by foreign peoples. He also challenges the notion that African somehow welcomed enslavement by chronicling the movement for resistance.

There has never been a time when Africans accepted oppression. In the book, every move made to dismantle African society is met with resistance. As the fight for freedom escalates, the movement assumes s more strategic and skillful character. Two thousand Seasons draws to a close with Africans I the midst of a fierce battle to counter the ravenous slave trade and to recruit more and more people who are wiling to make this struggle their life's work.

Herein lies what is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this novel. The story captured in the book begins way before the first page and continues far beyond the last. The book ends, yet the struggle being fought continues, as it will until all African peoples have freedom, power and self determination.

First printed in The Burning Spear, Volume 22, Number 4, July - October 2001. Newspaper of the African People's Socialist Party
(...)
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and Soul Stirring 4 Aug 2003
By Enitan Akinosho - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a literature in its truest form, the words, the style of writing, so beautiful, so mesmerizing, as the words take form, taking you on this journey. I have to admit, i found the first couple of chapters a difficult read. Its packed! You understand so much and yet so little, as you read on, it nicely unravels its mysteries.
As is obvious from other reviews, TTS is hard to sum up. I try.
It is a soulful journey into the greed, materialism, pain, struggle, betrayal, pride and beauty of the continent, everyone is present, the Nigerian, Ghanian, South African etc. Destruction reigns and can only be uprooted by returning to "the way, our way". A glimmer of hope is offered by the rise of a few visionaries who come to see the truth of this, and stand determined to fight the good fight, the fight against destruction.
Nevermind that it was first published c.1974, the wisdom contained in this book remains poignant. Few see. Some of these lack true conviction to take action. "The way" largely remains shunned and despised. Zombism is crowned, as mindless following remains the order of the day.
I strongly recommend buying this book, and please read it. My review does it very little justice. Also, if you have not been fortunate to read 'The Beautiful Ones are not yet Born' then please do so.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book Ever Written 14 July 2003
By S. A. Kane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book plainly states the path to rejuvenation of African people...return to the way, our way...meaning return to African culture which gives African people strength...the strength that allowed us to create kingdoms and full fledged civilizations, intellectual centers before Europe existed. The first page brought tears to my eyes. I read this book every day as if I was married to it. It will resurrect you with its imagery and rejuvenate your spirit...and simply reconnect you with your African self. It is poetry, it is music...it is drums beating inside your soul. Read this book, and buy it for all of your friends.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Read 30 Aug 2006
By Diana Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Not all our souls are of a nature to answer the call of death, however sweetened. Easy these seasons to forget this too. Seasons, seasons and seasons ago the first thousand seasons passed. Before the passing of the second thousand, even before then, the time will come when those multitudes starting out on the road of death must meet predecessors returning scalded from the white taste of death"

"We told the white missionary that we had such fables too, but kept them for the entertainment of those yet growing up -- fables of gods and devils and a supreme being above everything. We told him we knew soft minds needed such illusions, but that when any mind grew among us into adulthood it grew beyond these fables and came to understand that there is indeed a great force in the world a force spiritual and able to shape the physical universe but that that force is not something that is cut off not something separate from ourselves."

Whoa!

Cell expanding revolutionary mind labyrinth of a novel. Soul searching, mystical, spiritual, historical fiction set in any time frame that you might imagine putting yourself thru....Read the prologue last, only then can you see clearly..
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book of all time? 24 Jun 2004
By Ifasehun Thabiti Ojedele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Armah is obviously a medium for the Ancestors. His work is clearly a message from our past and its life transforming. It helps us understand why the african slavetrade took place and what will need to happen to heal that experience. it is a history book, a life guide - my favorite book of all time. period.
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