POLITICS AND LEGACY OF AFRICAN ENSLAVEMENT
Songs we would never hear! Histories we would never know! Art we would never see! Because the European had the capacity to destroy and didn’t have the moral restraint not to.— Maulana Karenga
The word ”’Maafa”’ (also known as the African Holocaust) is derived from a Swahili word meaning disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy. 1)Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior–Marimba Ani, Africa World Press, 1991The term today collectively refers to the Pan-African discourse of the 500 hundred years of suffering of people of African heritage through Slavery, imperialism, colonialism, apartheid, rape, oppression, invasions, and exploitation.
The African Holocaust is a pan-African discourse on the global historical and contemporary genocide against the mental and physical health of African people. The effects of this genocide impact all areas of African life: religion, heritage, tradition, culture, agency, self-determination, marriage, identity, rites of passage, and ethics. And finally acts to marginalize Africans from their historical trauma and historical glory. This study does not seek to promote a binary or Manichean history, but moreover a lens for looking at patterns of persecution from within an authentic African centered framework. 
The African Holocaust or Maafa, is a crime against humanity and is recognized as such by scholars, who have documented the primary culpability of mainly, but not limited to, Europeans in the ongoing Holocaust against African people. [note] Slavery corrupted and stripped both the enslaved and the slave master of their humanity and dignity.
The African Holocaust has represented an existential threat to the peoplehood and agency of African people for the past 500 Years of world history. Africa is the most exploited continent in the history of humanity; more human victims have been procured from Africa than all the continents of the world combined. The consequences of this drain in human and mineral resources is one of the major factors in the global condition of African people.
However, this history would be incomplete and distorted, without also reflecting on the acquiescence; collaboration, rape, genocide, slavery, corruption, and warfare that Africans, as free agents, as members of nations and native religions, have also engaged in.  Moreover, it would be morally reprehensible to neglect the contemporary trade in Africa and across the globe.
A GREAT TRAGEDY
The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny, and it is useless for the innocent to try by reasoning to get justice, when the oppressor intends to be unjust–Aesop’s Fables
The African Holocaust is the greatest continuing tragedy the world has ever seen. It was also the most impacting social event in the history of humanity. Not only in terms of scale but also in terms of legacy and horror. It is a Holocaust which is constantly denied, mitigated and trivialized.
The Maafa reduced humans with culture and history to a people invisible from historical contribution; mere labor units, commodities to be traded. From this Holocaust/Maafa the modern racial-social hierarchy was born which continues to govern the lives of every living human where race continues to confer (or obstruct) privilege and opportunity.
And because the African Holocaust is rarely treated as a continuous history, worthy of an ongoing discourse, the inter-relations and the agents of this Holocaust escape treatment. It makes it easy to make people see slavery, colonialism, apartheid as divorced from one another. Treating them as isolated studies, often misses the pattern of white supremacy throughout African history.
And in the 21st century the legacy of enslavement manifest itself in the social-economic status of Africans globally. Without a doubt Africans (as well as Native Americans and Australians) globally constitute the most oppressed, most exploited, most downtrodden people on the planet; a fact that testifies to the untreated legacy of Slavery, colonialism and apartheid. Not only is this reality in the social-economic spectrum, it is also experienced in the academic and political value the Maafa receives compared to the Jewish genocide. While African people are told to “move on from slavery”, Jewish holocaust is a staple of World history.
Until the Story of the hunt is told by the Lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter–African Proverb
No one is discussing slavery from a purely neutral point of view. And we need to smash this idea of “Zero bias”, there is nothing about anything in human life that transcends bias and agendas. Especially when discussing a topic like slavery which has in all the firewood of controversy–race, religion, economics and politics. So who is so above all of this to exist on Earth and be immune from bias? So the only valid discussion in this arena is balance. And any progressive society must be sensitive to the African voice, the voice of those victimized by the Maafa. And that does not mean the voice of the African on the European payroll, or the one handpicked by BBC, but the authentic independent African conscious voice.
Not all words spoken are equal: Some words come from a mind that has studied, from a body that has traveled a 1000 miles, from eyes that have witnessed, from a tongue that has eloquence, from a heart that has passion and from a soul that has sincerity–Alik Shahadah
Yet some still continue to assume only European scholars, by virtue of their book sales and support by Ivy league universities represent a “standard” in truth. The only ones who can offer the world anything serious to the discussion of slavery. And in this is maybe one of the great legacies of marginalization which is an direct and ongoing outcrop of White Supremacy, where “truth, and norms” are issues by White establishments. Yes, they also include some African authors, but the benchmark or system of verification(like the systemic racism which operates under the cover of neutrality on sites like Wikipedia, is white. Reliability of anything is still resting with White scholarship and their politics. And this is a serious challenge to African agency and anything authentic.
In its quest for certainty, Western philosophy continues to generate what it imagines to be colorless and genderless accounts of knowledge, reality, morality, and human nature.–Alison Baile
The authentic study of Africa is often masked with political or emotional objectives; whether these objectives are Islamaphobic, anti-African, European supremacy, Afrocentric, “Black” supremacy or a Zionist agenda  Because of the contemporary implications, it is a deeply political discourse with no clear “good vs. bad” guys, but competing agendas. It is critical to deal with these agendas in seeking any sort of authentic and balanced understanding of the Maafa. The other ploy, statistical downsizing, serves to lessen the volume of Africans impacted by enslavement (Holocaust denial).
There is also a linguistic tone which takes away the humanity of African people by referring to enslaved people as “slaves” and “black African slaves.” It reaffirms Africans as history’s slave pool; mere commodities, black bodies without history and higher destiny. This orientalism is evident in most Eurocentric studies by celebrated white historians on African and Arab slavery. But murderers don’t get off by pleading to the judge that someone else committed an equally bad murder, or that the murder was less severe because the victim’s parents handed them the knife.
On the other side, almost every single European-run historical discourse, led by the likes of John Thornton, attempts to reduce the impact, severity and legacy of the African Holocaust. Normalization white-washes slavery into:
“Everyone did it; it is part of world history.”
“Africans sold Africans to Europeans so they are just as guilty.”
“Without African involvement they could be no slave trade(Thornton)”
While Thornton may be correct, it does not absolve the continued benefits Europeans have gained and continue to gain from enslavement of African people. No other nation still inherits the wealth of their former slaves like the West. If a young girl is sold into prostitution by her own parents, the pimp must still pay for the suffering he caused the young woman. He can’t simply say, ‘Her parents made a deal with me, so you should stop the blame game.'”It is obvious that Afrocentrics and other pro-African groups play binary blame games, while denying African culpability and agency.
Their objective is to make Africans the victims, and even when Africans are accountable for horrendous acts, they still place responsibility outside of Africa (it was the foreign religions and culture). But this neglects and tramples African agency, because it reaffirms the child-like canard of African people: incapable, and impressionable. Africans are not impressionable children who are “influenced” by everything that blows into Africa. While this argument often comes in the box of “consciousness,” in reality this attitude of “they did this to us” only reaffirms Arab and European superiority; to have so much power to control every last action Africans have ever done.
And on both sides of the debate, in an attempt to hold onto that romantic notion of self, jump through hoops to explain away reality. However, we cannot escape that Africans, as full and uninfluenced people, did engage in the African Holocaust; and are fully, although not equally, responsible for their partnering with the Atlantic and Arab slave system. Because there was no opportunity, in the early days of the trade, to suggest that Africans were tricked or bewitched into supplying Europeans (unless we are suggesting African people are a child like race) so those few that agreed to this trade in flesh were active participants.
The European controlled slave trade was not some private venture divorced from church and state. That church and state was a representation of “the people.” It represented the wealth and security of Western nations. As such the vast majority of Western Europeans and their descendants globally profited from slavery—a privilege people of European ancestry still enjoy at the expense of African development. And yet some still suggest avoiding discussing slavery as to not hurt their feelings.
While Africans and Europeans were jointly involved in the Atlantic slave trade; it was Europe that dominated the connection, vastly enlarged (from a crack to a canyon) the slave trade, and continually turned it to European advantage and African disadvantage. Basil Davidson states that within both European and African institutions there were also differences, and these differences, however “minor,” created a decisive outcome, which allowed European total domination evolving into colonialism and today’s neocolonialism.
With neocolonialism came the proxy puppet African elites who are direct ideological descendants of the African slave trading elite. But the total percentage of involvement and profits from that involvement gained by Africans engaged in selling other Africans is infinitesimal. It accounts for maybe 1% of the billable slave hours in the working life of a first generation enslaved African. It accounts for 0% of the billable hours for the many generations of Africans enslaved on European owned plantations, and the years of exploitation after emancipation. How then are we calling it a partnership of equals?
[To] see Africans as partners implies equal terms and equal influence on the global and intercontinental processes of the trade…Africans had great influence on the continent itself, but they had no direct influence on the engines behind the trade in the capital firms, the shipping and insurance companies of Europe and America, or the plantation systems in Americas. They did not wield any influence on the building manufacturing centers of the West
As unethical as it sounds, no degree of slavery in Africa would have destroyed Africa as a continental political force. It is when African talent started being exported out of Africa, that African underdevelopment from a political, economic, and social perspective became an issue. This issue of emphasis creates a peculiarity that seems unique to Africa, but all over the world, in every single conflict you will find weak or greedy members of that community who side with oppression—why is Africa any different? What is true for the African is 100% true for the Jew. So the biggest manipulation is not so much in the facts, but in the weight or emphasis of “they sold each other.” Also, most enslaved people in the West were in that state for all of their lives by European process, not African.
Those who were captured in Africa were touched by the African component briefly– and never again in the history of their enslavement. African involvement, while shameful, was hardly a partnership in Holocaust, beyond the initial capture and sale. And Europeans also have this tradition of underplaying their role in direct capture. But it is a fact that in the early days, and especially in the later (peak) days of the slave system, Europeans directly procured captives. (Bailey 2005)
The distant Arab slave trade with its states in Zanzibar have long vanished from the economic-political landscape. But the wealth of Great Britain and France continue uninterrupted. The governments, churches, businesses, royal decree, that funded and approved slavery remain unaltered.140 million Africans in the Western Hemisphere, representing around 14% of the world’s population are the visible consequences of Western Slaving and this is not only a numbers issue,
There is no escaping African culpability in the “destruction” of Africa. The failure to form unity around spheres of interest when faced with a formidable foe is a failing Africa cannot escape. Greed and corruption continues to adversely poison the hope of Africa, even today. And no degree of historical revision can wash out or dilute aspects of African partnership in the African Holocaust.
But we should also balance the exception vs. the rule vs. a phenomena. as this Diaspora also represent the absolute bottom of every social-economic graph. All of this is necessary to show the backdrop to the attitudes and motives for the “new” focus on Arabs. And when we look at the principle authors of this “new” study we see the hands of people like Bernard Lewis (an ardent orientalist, and Zionist) as the prime authority even Afrocentrics are reading.
Yes, people did sell their family into slavery, yes kings did invade and use other ethnic groups for a slave pool. But it is inaccurate to highlight this as the African norm (as Dr. Akurang-Parry says). Nor should we confuse a phenomena as the natural way in which African people lived for millennium. We should not make Africa a monolith, and ignore other forms of social inequity and violence in native African communities, which predate any influence of Arabs and Europeans. Africans, like people all over the world have the same human nature, which can be both creative and loving, as well as destructive and inhumane.
But it is utterly dishonest to compare the capitalist-driven actions of Western Europeans, with the mainly duress-driven actions of a community being forced to sell their neighbors (or even their own children) into slavery for fear of the entire family being sold. To compare these circumstances as equal is moral reprehensible. What happened in Africa was a Holocaust, and victims were not limited to those being shipped across the Atlantic to European plantations or the salt marshes of Iraq— A large percentage of the trauma was experienced inside of the slaving zones.
MOVE ON FROM SLAVERY
Slavery is a painful subject for both Europeans and Africans. It is natural for any humans to try and escape one’s conscience, so Europeans often tell Africans to “Moving on” From slavery. But what does this mean and what action should Africans take to “move on” as British Prime minister Cameron insisted?:
- Don’t bring it up in polite White society
- Do not use it as a political tool to remind Europeans of their sordid history
- Lick your wounds in private
- Do not include it in your educational system
- Never lobby around it for reparations
- Avoid publishing books about it
- Close down the African Holocaust Society Website
- And do not allow your children to discuss it
This is what “Moving on from slavery and colonialism” means. Now how do we move on from the very current that is institutional racism (connected to the legacy of slavery), or White supremacy (again connected to slavery) ? How do we move Africa out of the ongoing exploitation by the West? So Moving on means to close down all debate and fracture the African connection to the past. 100% perfect for those who exploited African labor to build the Western empire, 100% perfect to avoid dealing with the current responsibility of those who profited/profit from African exploitation.
It is strange that no one tells the victims of 9/11 or the Jewish Holocaust to “move on”. So anyone who suggest Africans “move on” from the past is guilty of trying to cover up their ancestors role in our destruction. And in criminal law, to cover up a crime is a crime. To block people from accessing their historical database is a crime against their human dignity. So this is why both those who enslaved Africans, and those today who suggest we forget about slavery are partners in the African Holocaust.
It was once believed that the Atlantic slave trade was a largely self-contained phenomenon, it is now acknowledged that this slave trade is part of a much wider picture, which includes traditional African slave systems and the Arab slave trade. At various stages in their history conflicted and complemented each other. There was also an evolution from one type of slavering into another; as happened inside of the African slave system where captives where a casual consequence of national warfare evolved into a reason for warfare.
We must identify the different levels of enslavement in the historical narrative of Africa. Some where client-supplier, others were consequences of the overspill from internal polities clashing. Although the internal African trade became the trade which procured captives for Europeans and also Arabs, it is a distinctive trade with unique features, and moreover distinctive consequences.
Economically the growth that should have been experienced in Africa, from African human resources, was experienced in the West – as opposed to in Africa. The primary African groups involved in procurement for European interest became particularly adept and brutal at the practice of enslavement and through the centuries developed a militaristic culture. Prime groups engaged in this were Oyo, Benin, Igala, Kaabu, Fante Confederacy, Asanteman, Dahomey, the Aro Confederacy and the Imbangala professional war bands. (“Atlantic Warfare”, Thornton) One key difference between Africans as agents for Europeans, and the domestic internal slavery was the level of brutality associated with procurement. The gradual abolition of slavery in European colonial empires during the 19th century industrialization era led to the decline of these African empires.
Below is a list of zones of enslavement and types of slavery:
- Internal enslavement in native societies (Domestic slavery, ritual slavery, etc)
- Route – African/Arab agents to Arabia (Persia, India, Mediterranean)(Sex/Domestic)
- Slavery in the Arab world, Including the Trans-Saharan trade
- Route – African groups (agents) for the Europeans (Clients)
- Enslavement of Africans by Europeans (Chattel Slavery
MAAFA AUDIO HISTORY
WHY – PATTERNS OF OPPRESSION
Enslaved Africans Transported
Why do we study the past? To learn from it and set up precedents for curbing patterns which produce inequity. And to reproduce patterns and habits that produce enlightenment and progress for all of the Earth (humanity and nature). Every doctor understands why the epidemiology is critical to modern medicine; prevention and cure rest on successful analysis of the problem.
Almost every incident of conquest involves a stronger technological people subdued and exploiting a “weaker” or less developed technological people. That is the one most profound observation and pattern we can grasp from history. The consequences of that conquest have never stopped, the reverberation is heard around the global in all areas of conflict. Understanding history, as Jared Diamond states, is more often the tool used to interrupt the negative outcome, than to repeat it.Slavery is not wrong because slavery is wrong. Slavery is wrong because of another higher human consideration — human rights.
Where human rights in our modern era are intolerant to the systems of oppression slavery perpetuated. It is the immorality of slavery, the contempt for humanity that is the focus of our issue with slavery and all its enduring side effects, one being aspects of modern racism. The history of interactions among disparate peoples is what shaped the modern world through conquest, epidemics, and genocide.
So Europeans did not enslave African people with the Bible in their White hands, or notions of ideological superiority, but because they had to power, born from the technological disparity between the two groups. The collision of advanced political, and technological advancements made them appear “superior.” The Bible in the hands of a weak stone age people would have had no sway over the iron producing people of the interiors of Africa. Their Guns, Germs and Steel played the decisive role in the outcome when these two civilizations clashed.
Power protects; sell or be sold, conquer or be conquered. If one village was buying guns and you were not…bad news for you. So had Africans, like the Japanese (11) taken control of the gun manufacturing process, as opposed to exclusively buyers of guns, there would be no way Europeans could sell damp gunpowder and trinkets in exchange for African captives or African resources. But nothing has changed because this is the exact dilemma Africa faces, perceptually dependent on everyone else for final goods (Motherland 2010). And to obtain these good requires an inequitable exchange of the continent’s resources with Europe or China for trinkets. So this technological disparity, which pre-dates the arrival of Europeans, still haunts Africa’s future.
Slavery today, as slavery then, has the common theme of weak vs. strong, rich vs. poor. (It knows no exceptions) That personality has never altered and every time there is a gross imbalance it is the breeding ground for all forms of exploitation. It then seems a correct approach would be also to deal with the breeding ground of slavery. It is far more than a Black people vs. White people debate. In Cameroon the “weaker” peoples are exploited by the “stronger” people. So this pattern of oppression’s commonality needs to be addressed. Garvey clearly articulated this when he said :
Slavery is a condition imposed upon individuals or races not sufficiently able to protect or defend themselves, and so long as a race or people expose themselves to the danger of being weak, no one can tell when they will be reduced to slavery–Marcus Garvey
All humans are the same: anyone cut with a knife will bleed, anyone left without cultural identity will fit the Willy Lynch theoretical model. The only factor in the degree of impact is culture. This is why some people experience a Holocaust and come out even stronger than they went in. A Holocaust must therefore be looked at comparatively, depending on three key factors: the heat of the fire, duration, and their cultural integrity. Unfortunately where Africans are concern the fire, or nature of the Holocaust, was hot, the duration was long, and African cultural integrity, due to disunity, was weak.
From a sociological point of view, the phenomenon of “the other” is part and parcel of human behavior. are placed outside a particular group and isolated for the source of problems, or exploited with justification. “The Other” is always bad and used by both oppressor and oppressed alike. The other is a way of saying “Those people who do these things because they are not like me.” And creating boxes for the other is very flexible and needs no rationale.
Everyone calls everyone else backward, that is human nature, it has nothing to do with religion, but moreover with people (religion only follows the pre-existing trends like a hand shapes a glove). The more powerful someone is, the more agency they have to make the other feel the pain of otherness. The Ewe were targeted for slavery because the Ewe did not have the culture or religion of the Akan, they became a slave pool because they were the “other”; had weaker gods in the eyes of their captors—slavery was therefore “religiously sanctioned.” This has nothing to do with Islam vs. the other, or Christianity vs. the other, or even European vs. the other.
This is the history of human nature from time immoral. The other is in parenthesis in the Old Testament; thou shall not kill (members of my own tribe). It was with us in the beginning of humanity, and if not careful will follow us to the grave of humanity.
The Osu caste system in Nigeria and southern Cameroon, can be traced back to an indigenous religious belief system of the Igbo nation. Some Igbo traditionalists hold that the Osus are people historically owned by deities, and are therefore considered to be a ‘living sacrifice’, an outcaste, untouchable and sub-human. The was true in Ethiopia; the very name Falasha means (foreigners/exiles) was given to Ethiopian Jews by the Emperor Yeshaq in the 15th century.
According to the UN Sub-Commission: Caste systems exist in pockets in some African countries. It is found in parts of Sahelian Africa, particularly in certain West African communities, and among populations in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Although significantly different in nature and scope, there are some common features between the caste systems of Africa and South Asia. Stigma is often attached to this problem, and as a consequence “low caste” communities in Africa suffer various forms of social exclusion and discrimination, particularly with regard to employment, political representation and inter-caste marriages. 
In some slave trading African societies, East, North and West, the conquest in the temporal was a mirror of a divine conquest. Zulu means “The people of the sky” vs. other people who are less “chosen” and because of that status were subject to a vicious campaign. “The Other” is a human problem, fanned by ignorance and binary accusations. And their is no global “other”, all are “your other” defined by each society. From the outside, the group accused of being “the other” is, more often than not, all the same subjective group.
The historical record must not be washed away, we must call the name of those who engaged in the apex of the trade to account for their historical genocide. But at the same time, balance must caution anyone of perceptually blaming Europeans and Arabs, while skipping the internal complexities, weakness and failures still plaguing African communities. Because it does not bring a complete solution to the roots of slavery and inequity; the roots of war and hate.
The events which transpired five thousand years ago; Five years ago or five minutes ago, have determined what will happen five minutes from now; five years From now or five thousand years from now. All history is a current event–John Henrik Clarke
The act of murder, torture, enslavement, and persecution is equal regardless of who, when or where. Killing 6 Jewish civilians is no different from killing 6 Palestinian civilians: The distinctive act of murder is equal. It does not become equal if that murder goes from 6 to 6 million. It is that act of “murder” multiplied by 6 million. Torturing someone, dehumanizing them, taking them from their home (kidnapping), raping them all constitute separate instances of human rights violation. And human rights is human rights regardless of if we are discussing 2011 or 1011, it has generally never been acceptable in human society to torture and rape another human being.
Slavery was not invented by Europeans or Arabs, Christians or Muslims, Romans or Persians, Slavery is the business of human societies. Some of those people engaging in slavery identified as Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Akan, Nigerian, British, Indian, and Chinese. Some existed in 500 BCE some in the 21st century. Almost all advanced societies, with capacity engaged in some form of bondage. So race, geography, religion, ethnicity and time are of no consideration in people’s propensity to engage in slavery.
Now the act of taking an African from their home by force and violence is a crime, and in that crime a minority of Africans played a major role. However, that is one set of crimes and each incident re-occurred over the centuries destabilizing local communities’ development potential.
And without the assistance of any Africans we then come to storing Africans in dungeons and subjecting them to all manner of unspeakable horrors, including rape, in places like Goree or El Mina. On board the ships, Africans were fed alive, as a form of terrorism, to man-eating sharks. All of this constitutes yet another set of human rights violations. Loading and packaging human beings on a ship like sardines and subjecting them to living and breathing in their own urine and excrement is another set of crimes against humanity (again a crime exclusive to Europe in the Atlantic system).
Taking them and selling them off like chattel is yet another crime, dehumanizing them and enslaving them on the plantation is yet another set of crimes against humanity. To disrupt the culture, names, language and religion of those captive people is yet another crime against humanity. To exploit to build the empires of the West for over 300 years; torture, persecute dehumanize them is yet another crime. To finally release them from their Holocaust to be subjects and victims of all forms of racism up until the 60’s is yet another crime. And finally to continue to enjoy the fruits of that legacy, deny and oppress them into the contemporary moment is yet another crime against humanity. And still we see every generation of African inheriting the terrible legacy of self-hate and potential inhibition created at that instance 500 Years ago in Africa.
Numbers (Quantity) and Duration and Nature (Quality of oppression) are three unique factors in the African Holocaust. There is no statute of limitation if the institutions that profited from slavery are today still in existence rich and better off for that terrible trade in flesh. It is only when we understand the African Holocaust in these terms that we realize what is unique about it. There are no comparisons in human history.
CAPITALISM AND SLAVERY
Often the emotion view of slavery sees racism as the principle motive for the Atlantic Slave Trade. However, the mere existence of a capitalist ideology will by default create degrees of servitude. Capitalism looks at numbers and has no moral consideration. It has a relentless dedication to reduce liabilities and increase profits. The numerical capitalist heaven is zero-expense. Slavery was capitalisms best system for achieving a number as close as possible to zero. In this cold calculation slavery was inevitable once new territories were found and sugar cane and other products added to the markets of Europe.
It has been often argued, by some scholars, that slavery did not end for moral reasons. There was no new awakening in the capitalist heart for the inequities which besieged the African slave. The profitability diminished and new alternatives such as sharecropping had brighter lights. It is in the shifting economics of industrialization that slavery as a system began to lose its shine. Again capitalism looked at the numbers and found that between; feeding, clothing and sheltering Africans, as well as quelling rebellions – it was far cheaper to end slavery. And with the rise of Western consumerism all of those ex-slaves became the new clients of their former slave masters.
Beyond corn fields, and cracking whips slavery has a dark and fastidious legacy which is rarely examined holistically. And this legacy goes a long way to explaining the social condition which constitutes an African crises across the globe. Most notable of this is the global racist perception and value of African people. It explains the fragmentation of all areas of people relationships (family, business, humanity) between African people. It explains the inferiority complex which no Jewish person inherited from being in the Nazi death camps. Because in the camps of Poland and Germany Jews were still persecuted as a human being (a member, though hated, of humanity – not a sub-human or beast). They died in the gas chambers with a knowledge of self, of Torah, of history and culture.
In the Americas the African was exploited for over 400 years as a common beast, denied from history and humanity. The African in slavery died without ever even knowing he or she was a full member of the human race. This Jewish sense of identity goes a long way to explaining why Jewish people today are able to draw strength from their tragedy while the African-Diaspora still continue to be victims of their Holocaust.
The Jewish nightmare resonates so much that they have shared their pain beyond their cultural group: The image of suffering is iconized in the Jewish holocaust. We can see a film such as “Freedom Writers” where mischievous “ethnic minority” teens are told a Jewish story as an example of “real” suffering.” Why would African-Americans with the most tragic history in America (equaled only by the Native American Holocaust) need to look to European Jews for a story of tragedy?
The answer is simple African-Americans are not agents of these stories which impose themselves at the expense of the African narrative. Even in South Africa (which has no history of Nazi extermination) you will find a Jewish holocaust museum in every major city. Thats not the fault of any Jew, and we must respect their dedication to their holocaust study. But where is the African Holocaust museums? Where is the great monuments built to honor the millions of Africans whose bodies lie at the bottom of the Atlantic? Where is the Pan-African centers for teaching the legacy of Du Bois, Garvey and Malcolm? That speaks only to a mental defect which is the greatest legacy of our African Holocaust.
SLAVERY AS AN EXCUSE FOR EVERYTHING
Many, especially non-Africans have accused some African people of using slavery as an excuse for everything negative. But to be fair there is a lot to be blamed for slavery, its legacy is very real. So while this issue is very true the African must look at this world as a race.The legacy of slavery creates a lot of madness in our community, but do we use that as an excuse? This is the critical question. Gravity holds a rocket on the ground, but do rock engineers use that as an excuse to stay on the ground? While acknowledging the obstacle of gravity they work day and night to escape its pull.
Personal Note: So there is a race, you have to run it or not run it. That is the only options available. Be part of this civilization or be a victim of this civilization. If you opt out—as many have—sitting down means the Chinese come and own your country, taking everything colonialism left behind which most African leaders still squander.
So you can sit down if you want, but do not complain when your water and oil are owned by multinationals. Now it is 100% that we come from the legacy of slavery, that comes as default, you still (with this disadvantage) have to run the same race with the Europeans, Arabs, Turks, Indians and Chinese.
Everyone except the Europeans have some sort of handicap. Maybe the Arabs are entering the race with a broken arm, maybe the Chinese only a broken finger, maybe Africans are the most damaged in the race with no arms at all and myopic vision— but you still must find a way of running that race and being victorious. That is what life handed you. You cannot sit it out and say mental slavery made me late for the start, or the legacy of slavery slowed me down. That might well explain your handicap, but it is of no consequences to the finish line. In short the world does not care about losers and if Africans do not find a way the legacy of slavery will be extended until the Sun consumes the Earth. Its a choice, run or make excuses.
SLAVERY IN AFRICA
African slavery is hardly to be praised. But it was far different from plantation or mining slavery in the Americas, which was lifelong, morally crippling, destructive of family ties, without hope of any future. African slavery lacked two elements that made American slavery the most cruel form of slavery in history: the frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, Black was slave. –Howard Zinn
Most European reports of slavery throughout Africa in the 1600s and beyond are not reliable sources because they often conflated various forms of servitude as equal to chattel slavery. And this also was a problem with the entire history of Africa from a Western point of view in all areas; religion, culture, economic and even warfare (Thornton). Africa made sense exclusively in terms already observed in the European worldview–even if they were totally different. So slavery had no nuance, it was slavery as Europeans practiced it. Warfare as Europeans practiced it, religion lost all nuance it was just paganism.
The line that defines what is and isn’t slavery is blurred and there is no secret that when ethnic groups and nationalities fought in wars the vanquished where given into a system of subservience to the victors: askew rules of war. However, let not the word “slavery” allow an analogue to what happened on the plantations of Jamaica, Brazil and America.
The limits of language take radically different systems, Atlantic slavery and Vassalship in Africa, and subject them to the same treatment because they share the same abstract word “slave.” In Africa there were no fields filled with men and women tolling away to the crack of a whip. There was no place where so-called slaves outnumbered their enslavers. Chattel Slavery did not exist within Africa but serfdom, servitude or vassalship did, as it did in most of Europe and the rest of the world. In addition, this vassalship was scattered and infrequent; it was never the commerce of the land. Most non-free people could amass wealth and upward mobility was very frequent.
Some, as in the case of Ali Kolon ascended the ranks to become rulers. Many enslaved people were employed in high government office with virtually no restrictions on their native language, religion etc. Naturally, it suits the people who profited from slavery to make the world think that slavery was the fault of Africans, and that slavery was good for Africa and natural to Africans.
The most brutal phase of enslavement came into play when enslaved people started to become transported outside of their local zones to distant locations (inside of Africa or outside of Africa). This happened as greater centralized African and later Arab powers came to the table. They had the power to seek captives in distant slave pools, and the lust to source free labor to expand their national objectives. The transportation over long distances increase mortality. The rise of larger civilizations meant specialization became more frequent, the dedicated solider, the merchant, and the professional slaver.
NEW RESEARCH | SLAVERY UNIQUE TO NATION STATES
New research reveals that up until the 15th century, most of the world was still under band and tribal groupings. (Diamond, 2005) Africa was no different, as a majority of the continent, like the majority of most continents, were not in organized states. Only states have use for slavery, it is not a feature of hunter gather society which does not have the specialization to accommodate captives. Tribal groupings also rarely have slavery. It would therefore be safe to say African slavery was confined to states, and kingdoms. It was not an ubiquitous reality.
Numbers lost in any tragedy is always political and we must approach this controversial subject from a different angle. People seem very fascinated with numbers, almost like boasting rights and we must remember numbers are only part of the great tragedy; the horror of being enslaved as a race for 300 years and the consequences of that enslavement need just as much passion in debate circles.
But we start the discussion of numbers enslaved or lost to slavery by an appreciation of what we know, what we might know, and what we will never know. We also have to consider the complexity of the challenge when discussing “numbers lost.”
While traditional studies often focus on official French and British records of how many Africans arrived in the “New World” these studies neglect the death from raids, the fatalities on-board the ships, introduced European diseases, the victims from the consequences of enslavement,
and the trauma of refugees displaced by slaving activities. The numbers of arrivals also neglects the volume of Africans who arrived via pirate ships who for obvious reasons wouldn’t’ have kept records. In her book Dreams of Africa in Alabama, Sylviane Diouf details the lives of the enslaved Africans to be brought to the U.S. even after emancipation. Most of this history is neglected in calculating numbers of Africans stolen into slavery.
In the centuries of death that surrounded slavery some suggest that a few kings got rich or life in Africa was so horrid that being brought to slave plantations was a progressive life style change. (See African Kingdoms for Africa prior to slavery) If 12-15 million Africans arrived in the New World. Over 10 million died as direct consequences of the Atlantic slave trade alone. But no one knows the exact number. An often-neglected study within history is the value of population demographics as a function of time. 30 million people 500 years ago is not equivalent to 30 million people today because 30 million as a percentage of the world population represented 500 years ago is far greater than what it represents today.
We must also realize the percentage of Africans in a state of slavery might have meant that 40% of all Africans alive were enslaved at any given period in the last 300 years. In short this means that African, by a landmark, are the most enslaved people in the history of humanity; by any and all definitions of slavery. It is estimated that by the height of the Transatlantic slave trade the population of Africa unlike the rest of the World had stagnated by 50%.. See How Europe underdeveloped Africa. “Walter Rodney”
Not only was Transatlantic Slavery of demographic significance, in the aggregate population losses but also in the profound changes to settlement patterns, epidemiological exposure and reproductive and social-economic development potential. (Shahadah) Thus Africa’s development potential was being experienced outside of Africa, as opposed to inside Africa. This was perhaps the most profound destructive factor to the development of Africa. Systems of enslavement inside of Africa never underdeveloped the continent, while the Transatlantic Slave trade did at the same time enriching Europe.
Because if 12 million arrived how many generations from that 12 million were subjected to slavery? 140 million Africans in the Western Hemisphere, most of them the direct consequence of the Atlantic Slave Trade. So now consider 350 years of slavery how many African generations were enslaved, how many people died via that horrid process of enslavement? These are the new questions which must be attached to the old study of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
SOURCES ON DEATH TOLL FROM SLAVERY
Everyone with a PhD and not, has had a crack at the numbers lost to the Atlantic Slave system. In American Holocaust (1992), David Stannard estimates that some 30 to 60 million Africans died being enslaved. He claims a 50% mortality rate among new slaves while being gathered and held in Africa, a 10% mortality among the survivors while crossing the ocean, and another 50% mortality rate in the first “seasoning” phase of slave labor. Overall, he estimates a 75-80% mortality rate in transit.
In “The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Holocaust” (Is the Holocaust Unique, A. Greebaum, ed., 1996), Seymour Drescher estimates that 21M were enslaved, 1700-1850, of which 7M remained in slavery inside Africa. 4M died “as a direct result of enslavement”. Of the 12M shipped to America, 15%, or 2M more, died in the Middle Passage and seasoning year.
Jan Rogozinski, A Brief History of the Caribbean (1994): “[A]s many as eight million Africans may have died in order to bring four million slaves to the Caribbean islands.”
In The Slave Trade, Hugh Thomas estimates that 13M left African ports, and 11,328,000 arrived. Here are a few other numbers from Thomas:
Rummel estimates a total death toll of 17,267,000 African slaves (1451-1870)
- Orient: 2,400,000 dead
- Captives staying in Africa: 1,200,000 dead
- Enslaved going to New World: 13,667,000 dead
Fredric Wertham claims that 150,000,000 Africans died of the slave trade. Looking at all the speculations on demographic impact on Africa we can estimate that at bear minimum 35% of those enslaved in Africa died before reaching the slave ships. Between these extreme possibilities the most likely mortality rate is 62%.
In terms of absolute numbers, the lowest possible is 6 million. If we assume the absolute worst, a death toll as high as 60 million is at the very edge of possibility (including indirect death, epidemiological exposure, etc.; however, the likeliest number of deaths would fall somewhere from 15 to 20 million.[ref]
If 5 million slaves were shipped in the 18th Century (the busiest century, see Hugh Thomas, above), then the 18th Century death toll could be around 8.1 million. (=5/11*17.8)
And what is often neglected, deliberately so, that these numbers are only the dead among the first generation of enslaved Africans brought from Africa. Subsequent generations would contribute additional unnatural deaths..[ref]
REVOLT AND REBELLION
See African Revolt
Muhammad Shareef: The image is always given that the Africans themselves acquiesce to the process of slavery. But you’ll find that in West Africa there was a polity or a political entity that existed that guaranteed security right across West Africa and that was the Songhai Empire. We saw Malik Sy in the 16th Century as well, and men like Abdul Qadeer and Cherno Sulayman Kaba, these men who waged resistance in what is known as Futa Toro and Futa Jalon. Also the campaigns of Nasr al-Din’s [Nasser Uddin] (Tubenan movement) anti-slavery and Western imposition galvanized Africans in the region in the late 17th century.
There was Nzinga and the Southern areas of Africa as well that was fighting its resistance against European invasion. All the way up until the 17th Century men like Umar Tall, Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodiod and Umar Futi as well as Ahmed Lobo. And then we had the courageous wars, which took place in 1884 under the armies of Muhammad Ahmed, Ibn Abdullahi of the Sudan as well as Muhammad Abdullahi al Hassan of Somalia. And then we had in 1903 finally, the wars that took place between the Sokoto Empire.
Probably about one in ten slaving voyages experienced major rebellions, of which the attempts to control increased the costs of a slave voyage to the point where far fewer slaves entered the traffic than would have been the case without resistance. In addition, vessels from some regions on the coast appear to have been more prone to experience slave uprisings than those from other regions. So the Africans did not acquiesce colonialism, nor did they acquiesce towards slavery, they fought at every point. The image of Europeans as the liberators of African (as if Africans just waited by the river watching the clouds go by) is part of the take-away from Africans as agents. And in fact when the slaves were landing in the Western hemisphere in Bahia Brazil you saw the emergence of jihad movements.
You saw the emergence of men like Muhammad Sambo who led a two-month jihad in the Louisiana territories in North America. Men like Nat Turner and other men who refused to submit to slavery. The Haitian Revolution as well. Men like Macantow. So The Africans never acquiesce to slavery in fact we can say this year that the whole concept of freedom that the American thirteen colonies had, they got that concept of freedom and liberty from the African resistance movement that took place in the Western Hemisphere.”
What did the Slave Master learn from Bahia et al? That it was critical to separate the African (the one who just arrived with a memory of home) from the conditioned slave (the one born into enslavement). Teaching the conditioned slave to hate anything African, anyone who remembers another home is dangerous to the designs of slavery.
If any one or more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good requires that they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which was intended for them to occupy. They have only to be kept in that state, and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away– Samuel A. Cartwright
Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused African slaves to flee captivity. So ingrained was the notion of Africans only purpose being in the capacity as slaves, it was seen as unnatural and a sickness that would cause them to want to escape slavery. And today we must ask what has really changed? Africans in America seeking to rename their children in the African traditions, or seek African ways of life, African religions, or African culture, are seen as “confused.”
WHO SOLD US OUT
The fact of the dual involvement of Europeans and Africans in the slave trade did not imply equal partnership, but rather parallel lines of activity originating from different cultural and political space–Anne C. Bailey
In popular circles there is a “Who sold us into slavery?” debate that has been raging for years. It however has done little to advance a pure understanding of the African reality. It has always been used to divide African loyalty, and foster further distrust in Pan-African communities: by targeting certain countries, ethnic groups or religious groups. If African people are to heal and come to terms, and hence grow and reach a higher potential, it is impossible to avoid this issue for it will stymie Pan-African development. Understanding this notion of “Selling out” is critical aspect of the African Holocaust.
Now who did the “selling out” is not a binary Diaspora vs Continental issue. The “selling out” personality was on the boats that carried Africans to the New World, it was on the plantations, it followed its way into current leadership in Africa and the America’s: It lives in the heart of all those who try to fragment Africans by location, tribe and religion. It creates distrust and suspicion around great works, and leads Africans into nothingness rather than glory. It tries to suggest patterns of “selling out” to create distrust to further the political agenda of certain groups: “Oh it was the Christians that sold us out.” But the historical record clears both Islam and Christianity as the primary agent involved in “selling out” Africans to the Atlantic or even Arab slave trade. So what we are left with is the 100% agency of African people: Africans as free people, uninfluenced doing Holocaust.
Ethnic groups who may have engaged in selling other groups, at later stages as the system got out of control, may have themselves been taken to the New World. So there is zero point in binary Diaspora vs Continent blame games. It is impossible to point to West Africa and say “they sold us out”. It was a human personality that betrayed truth and justice when under duress, there is a more worrying and insidious human personality of greed and myopic ambition that has found its way through history into the current African leadership, that sells it resources and condemns its people to poverty to service Western designs, which reward this betrayal with trinkets.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Who sold Africa out is the personality of greed and selfishness, and moreover disunity. The failure of African people to purge the “devil” within. It is not the people of Ghana, or the people of Nigeria, The Muslims, or the Christian converts, that was the sole culprit, because this generalization does not account for the traitors on the plantations of Louisiana. It does not account for the overseers who made deals to usurp African rebellion. And it goes soft in dealing with the flaws inside of ATR that were the biggest justification for enslavement. It also generalizes targeted African groups who remained in Africa but were equal victims of enslavement.
A lot of research has revealed that Africans as a group were suitable for enslavement due to physical endurance; resistance to disease, the advantages of procuring large numbers from slave pools. But there was something more profound than that, that made Africans ripe for enslavement. A failure of people of Africa to form defenses around spheres of interest. And that started, for what ever reason, because of a failure to understand continental interest above national interest. And this is tied hard and fast to notions of identity. Through no fault of African people in antiquity, since they had no reason then to have a Pan-African identity. However it is certainly an ongoing issue in Africa today, where blame can be laid squarely with contemporary Africans and no one else.
What Africans are still not getting, is, never let “internal” squabbles or confusions around difference (religious, ethnic, political, etc), allow a foreign aggression or agendas in Africa: Some term this divide and conquer, but steps to counter it are fleeting, especially when those that advocate unity are also busy causing disunity. So still the lessons of history have not be learned The failure to have a clear hierarchy of agendas allowed the African Holocaust. The African Holocaust affected all Africans, and required all Africans to close ranks around this issue. However. the issue of a pan-African concern was secondary, or non-existent to a “tribal” concern. The myopic acceptance of partnerships with Europe to rid one of a local enemy still work then and now in African politics. And even with hindsight this pattern of divide and rule is stated, but not fully understood. Africans will always have to deal with each other and conflict is inevitable, but in the hierarchy of interest, defense of the Motherland today must reign supreme.
AFRICAN IDENTITY IN ATLANTIC AFRICA
The viewpoint that “Africans” enslaved “Africans” is obfuscating if not troubling. The deployment of “African” in African history tends to coalesce into obscurantist constructions of identities that allow scholars, for instance, to subtly call into question the humanity of “all” Africans. Whenever Asante rulers sold non-Asantes into slavery, they did not construct it in terms of Africans selling fellow Africans. They saw the victims for what they were, for instance, as Akuapems, without categorizing them as fellow Africans. Equally, when Christian Scandinavians and Russians sold war captives to the Islamic people of the Abbasid Empire, they didn’t think that they were placing fellow Europeans into slavery. This lazy categorizing homogenizes Africans and has become a part of the methodology of African history; not surprisingly, the Western media’s cottage industry on Africa has tapped into it to frame Africans in inchoate generalities allowing the media to describe local crisis in one African state as “African” problem – Dr. Akurang-Parry, Ending the Slavery Blame, Ghana Web
When we study the dilemma which created a supply of slaves for the Western markets we see that the primary process was warring Africans. While some historians consider these merely “Slave Raids” it can be shown that casualties would have been experienced on both sides and thus making such activities more akin to warfare. Even if that warfare was against a “weaker” nation who served as a target group for procuring captives. The long standing temptation is to paint all these groups as African fighting Africans. However, in this historical period there was no African identity. People in 15th century Africa never heard of “Black people” as an identity.
While they had knowledge of self from an internal perspective, that knowledge of self lacked a relationship to other African groups in the broader sense, especially when confronted with the arrival of Europeans. And that is key because being proud to be Zulu, for example, but seeing a Xhosa as different is a narrow understanding of ‘self.’ And this failure made it easy for identities, whether ethnic or national, to be used as a opportunity for exploitation. And this is not unique to Africa, the same thing happened everywhere the European went in his expansion where he met different ethnic groups.
Perhaps this is also the largest factor which added the European interest in Africa, lack of a singular identity. The Aro Confederacy and the Imbangala cult, all had strict conceptions of what made an individual eligible for enslavement. Among such criteria were constructions of gender, definitions of criminal behavior (which expanded and corrupted as demand increased), and conventions for dealing with prisoners of war. The Serer for example had a policy of not keeping their enemies as slaves, so they killed them. (Martin Klein) While in other communities various regulations govern their POW. All of this was never static as duress increased from the consequences of the Atlantic slave machine.
How did you become enslaved? Especially in the beginning people would have been debt slaves, or religious violators, people who were political rivals, or general undesirables (Nehusi). But as the trade progressed that internal supply pool from within ones nation was limited. The best source of new captives were prisoners of war; bought, traded or procured directly by violent warfare.
The ethnic groups that were most frequently transported across the Atlantic came from a relatively small ethnic pool. 
- BaKongo of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola
- Mandé of Upper Guinea
- Gbe speakers of Togo, Ghana and Benin (Adja, Mina, Ewe, Fon)
- Akan of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire
- Wolof of Senegal and The Gambia
- Igbo of southeastern Nigeria
- Mbundu of Angola (includes Ovimbundu)
- Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria
- Chamba of Cameroon
- Makua of Mozambique
Groups most active in procuring captives where:
- Oyo, Benin
- The Aro Confederacy of Angola (includes Ovimbundu)
PROFITS FROM SLAVERY
Modern Slavery is fundamentally an economic phenomenon. Throughout history, slavery has existed where it has been economically worthwhile to those in power. The principal example in modern times is the U.S. South. It is preposterous and a historical denial to say that slavery did not significantly build the West. Obviously the likes of John Thornton are self-serving and protecting the wealth of the West by denying and spinning the contributions gained from slavery. There was not only direct monetary reward from holding slaves to do work on a plantation. Enslaved people also allowed their captors “free hands” to pursue activities which further enriched the West.
Nearly 4 million enslaved Africans with a market value of close to $4 billion lived in the U.S. just before the Civil War. Masters enjoyed rates of return on slaves comparable to those on other assets; cotton consumers, insurance companies, and industrial enterprises benefited from slavery as well. Such valuable property required rules to protect it,
and the institutional practices surrounding slavery display a sophistication that rivals modern-day law and business. (100 trillion dollars, based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6% (and that is only for the USA),
The currency used in the African economic system of was the Okpoho (anillas are penannular armlets, mostly in bronze or copper). The word comes from the Igbo language known to in Spanish as Manillas.
Masters profited from reproduction as well as production. Southern planters encouraged slaves to have large families because U.S. slaves lived long enough — unlike those elsewhere in the New World — to generate more revenue than cost over their lifetimes. But researchers have found little evidence of slave breeding; instead, masters encouraged slaves to live in nuclear or extended families for stability. Lest one think sentimentality triumphed on the Southern plantation, one need only recall the willingness of most masters to sell if the bottom line was attractive enough.
See Also: Ideology versus the tyranny of paradigm : historians and the impact of the Atlantic slave trade on African societies. (J E Inikori)
COMPANIES WHO PROFITED FROM SLAVERY
Investment banks Brown Bros. Harriman and Lehman Bros. Railroads Norfolk Southern, CSX, Union Pacific and Canadian National. Textile maker WestPoint Stevens. Newspaper publishers Knight Ridder, Tribune, Media General, Advance Publications, E.W. Scripps and Gannett, parent and publisher of USA TODAY. 850 The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, part of CSX today, paid slave owners $30 to $150 apiece to rent slaves for a year. Price in 1850: $150 In today’s dollars: $3,379 1856 The Mobile & Girard, now part of Norfolk Southern, offered slaveholders $180 apiece for slaves they would rent to the railroad for one year. 1856: $180 Today: $3,737 1859 The Central of Georgia, a Norfolk Southern line today, valued its slaves at $31,303. 1859: $31,303 Today: $663,033 1865 The Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, today part of CSX, placed a value of $128,773 on the slaves it lost as a result of emancipation at the conclusion of the Civil War. 1865: $128,773 Today: $1.4 million 1865 The Mobile & Ohio, now part of Canadian National, valued slaves lost to the war and emancipation at $199,691. 1865: $199,691 Today: $2.2 million. Sources: Economic History Services, USA TODAY research The list of corporations tied to slavery is likely to grow. Eventually, it could include energy companies that once used slaves to lay oil lines beneath Southern cities, mining companies whose slaves dug for coal and salt, tobacco marketers that relied on slaves to cultivate and cure tobacco.
Slavery’s long shadow also could fall over some of Europe’s oldest financial houses, which were leading financiers of the antebellum cotton trade. Lloyd’s of London, the giant insurance marketplace, could become a target because member brokerages are believed to have insured ships that brought slaves from Africa to the USA and cotton from the South to mills in New England and Britain.
The United States owes African-Americans over $100 trillion in reparations, based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6%. Africans in America today have been enduring struggles of discrimination, lynchings, indentured servitude, high imprisonment rates from disproportionate bias sentencing, sold to the highest sugar cane and sharecropper plantation owners and the historical impact that slavery had on African American even today, that lost of wealth in inheritance, land, pay, history, culture, family names.
When it comes to the Jews the flexibility of justice twist and turns to explain why Jews deserve compensation but Africans do not. Laws are used to obfuscate and blur issues. Broken analogues are made “If we paid everyone for every wrong in history where would it end?” There is however no statute of limitations on an ongoing Holocaust which impacts Africans the world over. It is not a historical event like when Rome sacked Greece; confined to ancient history. After the WW2, until now, Germany is sentenced to pay reparations even to grandchildren of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust.
As Boyce Watkins in response to Henry Louis Gates controversial remarks: “If a young girl is sold into prostitution by her own parents, the pimp must still pay for the suffering he caused the young woman. He can’t simply say, “Her parents made a deal with me, so you should stop the blame game…I am not sure why Gates has gone out of his way to assuage white guilt in America. I hope that’s not the price a Black man must pay in order to write an op-ed in the New York Times.”
There is no escaping African culpability in the Atlantic slave trade. However, the principle benefactor was clearly European nations. Also African participation in the 300 year old system was for but a blink of an eye. How could it be possible to hold both equally guilty? The person that sells the gun is guilty for that moment, but the person that uses it to kill for years is clearly at a different level of criminality.
Also, most enslaved people in the West were in that state for all of their lives by European process, not African. Those who were captured in Africa were touched by the African component briefly– and never again in the history of their enslavement. African involvement, while shameful, was was hardly a partnership in Holocaust, beyond the initial capture and sale.
And while the institutions of Arabia and Zanzibar that have profited from slavery have long vanished from our era, those in Europe still remain. They therefore have inherited both the profit and the lost of their trade in human flesh. And the victims of this horror are exclusively African. Therefore those victims have the right to forgive those whom they chose and bring charges against those they deem key persecutors of crimes against humanity.
It is not appropriate for the principle culprit to point fingers and say “I didn’t act alone.” Each will be judged according to the level of crime and the profits they derived from the crime. It is actually even part of European law; no court gives a lesser sentence to each individual because they happen to act in a group. Africans can therefore (without suggestion or help from Whites) deal with those African nations and kings who profited from slavery as they see fit.
REPARATIONS MEANS REPAIR
Reparations means repair. And that repair has to last every subsequent generation to come. When you go and buy a BMW with the “reparations check” what will that repair? Apart from BMW USA sales? So repair means things like University education — for free, for those willing (a critical component in repair to engage a persons own healing processes).
After all this time the general public still frames the debate in terms of a personal cash windfall, a check in the post. We (Africans) do it because we sometimes do not realize repair, the Holocaust and lack of full conscious means a corruption of the holistic understanding of repair and healing. The institutions destroyed by slavery must be rebuilt so that the people, for every generation to come, can rebuild themselves and their self worth.
Personal Message: Now the crime against our ancestors is an open wound. And we cannot rest until there is justice. But there is a justice we can do for self. Do not be dis-empowered, do not be uneducated and do not be economically weak, do not destroy family and do not disunite. Let those who died for Africa know that we escaped the shackles of slavery. But every time we drop out of school, do crime, disrespect our history and our culture we are doing an injustice to their memory. We are confirming the legacy of slavery.
SLAVERY AS A PENAL SYSTEM
Today there is an overemphasis on the word ‘slavery’ where slavery means the involuntary removal of an individual’s freedom. But the restriction of degrees of freedom is an ongoing aspect of human societies; where if members of a given society commit undesirable acts (not paying tax, adultery, treason, terrorism, etc) then systems were designed to curb the freedom of these individuals. So today America calls it the Criminal Justice System, history calls it Slavery. And in America’s system Africans are again targeted and taken out of the voting process and the competitive job process. So while this is not chattel slavery it is akin to the broader social slavery seen in history.
A judicial process was in place throughout most of Africa to preserve the law of the land; resources were such that large expensive industrial complexes were not viable. The Transatlantic Slave system distinguished itself because there was no crime on the part of the victims, simply being of African ethnic origin was the “crime.” Moreover the inhumanity and absolute debasement of the human being and then the subsequent legacy of this system which still exist and still creates privilege and opportunity for the majority of European descendants.
SLAVERY AND RELIGION
Religion is not the opium of the masses but religion must be used as an arm by the revolutionary forces–Kwame Ture
There is not one major indigenous African faith (that engaged in slavery) that had an issue with slavery, not one African native religion had principles that denounced slavery. Between the most aggressive slavers in West Africa such as Oyo, Benin, Igala, Kaabu, Asanteman, Dahomey, the Aro Confederacy – none of them Christian or Muslim.
None of them had principle objections to slavery. Therefore, the challenge which is posed to Islam and Christianity for having a tolerance for slavery is also true for the religions native to Africa. The only true difference between Islam and Christianity and indigenous faith is power. They had more power to destroy and had the added side-effect of carrying the culture of the conquering party: may that party be Arab, European, or another African group (see Songhai and Mali).
And today the old urban legend of religion and oppression is invalid. The new tools of oppression hide themselves in western democracy. And in the Trojan horse of democracy are the soldiers of the free market, globalization and debt. False focus on religion is a death sentence, like worrying about a spider when a lion is about to pounce.
The African Holocaust is also sadly not confined to history or to external influences. Darfur, the Congo, Sierra Leon and Rwanda are testimony to some of the horrors today. And although the legacy of Colonialism is clearly at the root of these problems it would be immoral not to see that Africans, like everyone else, are capable of unspeakable brutality. Just as in the European-European Holocaust during WW2.
Modern slavery in Africa can be seen as a continuation or outgrowth of slave-trading practices in the past. Africans have stepped into the boots and habits of the retreating colonizers. Forced labor was used to an overwhelming extent in King Leopold’s Congo Free State and on Portuguese plantations of Cape Verde and San Tome. But the majority factor is abject poverty, if the poverty is fixed it will automatically fix the slavery.
In Sudan and Mauritania and parts of Mali and Chad the slavery vacated by the abolition of what is called Arab slavery still continue in pockets of the country (explained in the video by Ali Mazrui). It is often cited that the Arab slave trade is still an ongoing activity, especially in places such as Sudan and Mauritania. And this is true, despite it being legally outlawed. But what is not mentioned is slavery goes on all over the world. 27 million people are trapped in some form of modern slavery may it be white sex slaves in Israel and Eastern Europe, Child slavery in Ghana, ritual slavery in South Africa.
PROBLEM IDENTIFYING SLAVERY
Another issue with 21st century slavery is it is easy to lose the word “slavery” in the linguistic technicality of what is and what is not not slavery. The lines are blurred and in some cases it is hard to determine if it is a human rights issue or a labor rights issue: A case of bad labor rights regarding how people are treated by their employers. Does it stop being slavery if someone is paid $1 a week? And what is the definition of paid, as payment can be in exchange for food and board. Then the only consideration is “freedom,” but freedom in itself is problematic. Are you free to leave your masters home when you have no family, shelter or security outside of their walls? Clearly people can leave but by doing so they put themselves in greater harm. So again “freedom” is a matter of perspective.
MODERN SLAVERY TODAY
Today in the Congo the indigenous people are usually victims of their Bantu neighbors, who have replaced the positions once held by Europeans. Ethnic hatred against vulnerable groups such as the so-called Pygmies (Bayaka) is neglected because it is not as sensational as Darfur or Rwanda. But these people are dehumanized and treated as 2nd class citizens by the Bantu Settlers. The uncomfortable reality is an aspect of the African Holocaust has to be ‘self-inflicted’ horrors which cannot be escaped via the smooth language of evasion.
Sex slavery is a major problem in South Africa. Women seeking refugee status in South Africa from other African countries are trafficked by other refugees. An estimated 1000 Mozambican girls are trafficked to Johannesburg each year and sold as sex slaves or as wives to the Mozambican mine workers. When identified by police in South Africa victims of trafficking are deported as illegal immigrants with no treatment for being victims of sex slavery. Victims are afraid of law enforcement and do not trust the police to assist them. South Africa shares borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. It has 72 official ports of entry “and a number of unofficial ports of entry where people come in and out without being detected” along it’s 5 000km-long land borderline. The problem of porous borders is compounded by the lack of adequately trained employees, resulting in few police officials controlling large portions of the country’s coastline.
Religious Slavery ( Trokosi ) in modern Ghana is the continuing tradition of giving of virgin girls to the gods for religious atonement or payment for services. This was part of many ancient religions in this region with some connection to Vodun practices. In West Africa the practice has gone on for at least several hundred years. Similar practices using similar terminology were found in the royal court in the 18th and 19th centuries. Wives, slaves, and in fact all persons connected with the royal palace of Dahomey were called “ahosi”, from “aho” meaning “king”, and “si” meaning “dependent” or “subordinate.”
In Ethiopia, children are trafficked into prostitution, to provide cheap or unpaid labor, and to work as domestic servants or beggars.
The only permanent solution is to eliminate the conditions that perpetuate Modern slavery – poverty. People movements is largely driven by either conflict or poverty, both lead to conditions which foster modern slavery. Tackling just the visible head, as many NGOs are doing, leaves room for the roots to keep recreating the problem.
The term Maafa and African Holocaust express identical ideas. What is true for one is true for the other. They are interchangeable. But the purpose of these two terms is different, Maafa is the African term to self-describe the African Holocaust. The term African Holocaust is the English term to create an instant understanding of the gravity of what this term means to an English speaking audience who are familiar with the horrors the world “holocaust” invoke. Just like the Jews have Ha-Shoah and Jewish Holocaust. No one owns the word Holocaust, and if someone did, it is certainly not Jewish people. It is not a Hebrew or Yiddish word, and was not created to describe their historical experience. Like all words in English, meanings and applications change politically. If there is a copyright on words, well why stop with Holocaust?
1. Enslaved Africans came primarily from a region stretching from the Senegal River in northern Africa to Angola in the South.
2. Europeans divided this stretch of land into five coasts:
- Upper Guinea Coast: The area delineated by the Senegal and Gambia Rivers
- Ivory (or Kwa Kwa or Windward) Coast:Central Liberia
- Lower Guinea Coast: Divided into the Gold Coast on the west (Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana), the Slave Coast (Togo, Benin, and western Nigeria), and the Bight of Benin (Nigeria and Cameroon)
3. The Angolan coast supplied nearly half the slaves sent to the Americas.
1. The notion of ethnic groups, combing a common language and customs with a political structure is mistaken. Atlantic Africa was divided into states (political units) and nations (cultural units). Slavery was a royal enterprise; the European kings sponsored slavery and issued assientos, royal slaving permits. These were sold to the elite merchants of the day and become items of value like stocks and shares today. Ovando, the Spanish governor of Hispaniola complained not to export anymore Africans as they were aggressive and reinforcing the ranks of resistance among the Native-Americans. These early imported Muslim Africans were proving hard to handle but as labor shortage got critical due to the waning of the indigenous population, Ovando reassessed the situation and demanded that Africans be sent. Royal decree targeted the Guinea coast in a mandate, which was to avoid the Islamic African influence. However, over the duration of the trade approximately 30% of those sent to the New World were Muslims
2. While some states were quite large, others were quite modest in size and many were tiny, consisting of a capital town of a few thousand people and a dozen villages under its control.
3. In the 17th century, 70 percent of the people lived in states with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.
4. Private wealth usually derived from control of dependents–clients, pawns, wives in polygynous households, and indentured servants.
1. African law recognized slavery but respected the culture and linage of those that were enslaved. Slaves were also part of the family and often the line between slave and non-slave was blurred.
2. A relatively low population density existed in Africa as compared to Europe and Asia. This low density had profound impact on Africa’s development potential after slavery became a economic mainstay of Europe.
3. Slavery had existed in the medieval empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, and slave exports had supplemented the export of gold. Most of those enslaved where prisoners of war or debt criminals. Large prisons were not a concept and hence slavery was a system to deal with undesirables.
4. Although African slavery was generally domestic slavery akin to indentured servitude. In Africa the enslaved were used in a wider variety of ways than in the New World: they were employed as agricultural workers, soldiers, scribes, servants, and government officials.
5. The great majority of slaves sold to Europeans were not slaves in Africa; they were usually recent war captives or victims of banditry and judicial proceedings.
6. Chattel slavery, manumission and social ascension were very rare.
7. Multi-generational slavery was uncommon in Africa; in part this reflected the fact that most African slaves were women.
8. During the early years of enslavement, African slaves usually worked under supervision. Then many became “allotment slaves,” who worked five or six days until about 2 p.m. on the master’s lands, and in the evenings and on their days off, worked their own plots. In the third stage settled slaves spent most of their time working their land in exchange for a fixed obligation, usually what it took to feed an adult male for a year.
1. During the era of the Atlantic slave trade, 90% of those enslaved, were sent to the Caribbean and the South America.
2. The Atlantic slave trade carried about two to three men for every woman.
3. The slave trade reduced the adult male population by about 20 percent, dramatically altering the ratio of working adults to dependents and of adult men to adult women.
4. One result of unbalanced sex ratios was to further encourage polygyny.
5. Another result was to reduce traditional male forms of work, such as hunting, fishing, livestock rearing, the clearing of fields, the chopping down of trees, and the digging up of roots. The result was a less protein rich diet and a reduction in agricultural productivity.
6. About 14 percent of slaves sent to the New World were children under 14; 56 percent were male adults; and 30 percent were female adults.
Myths About Slave Trade and Slavery
Myth: Not all African women were forced to sleep with the slave masters (raped).
Fact: Rape is not only grabbing someone and throwing them in the bush and forcing sex on them against their will—that is violent rape. But there is another kind of rape that went on during all oppressions placed on African people. There was also a process of fear, which persuaded African women to lay with their oppressors and give into the masters wants or suffered a life of misery: Exposed to the lash of an overseer in the hot sun, or had your entire family split up to the abyss by the speculators. Another form of what is a social rape is to create a society so oppressed that it seeks from the enslaved some way to lighten the color of its children so they might escape the whip of slavery and the taboo of “blackness.” The implanting of the notion of a helpless African man, contrasted against the power and security—and hence superiority of the White man—was also a mental form of oppression imposed on African women. See “Incidents of a slave girl” Harriet Jacobs.
Myth: Slavery is a product of capitalism.
Fact: The transatlantic slave trade is in direct relationship with modern concepts of exploitive capitalism. Capitalism was the driver behind the transatlantic slave trade (see Eric Williams)
Myth: Slavery is a product of Western Civilization.
Fact: Slavery is virtually a universal institution. However the industrialized chattel slavery the race base nature and the duration are peculiar to the transatlantic slave trade.
Myth: Slavery in the non-western world was a mild, benign, and non-economic institution.
Fact: Slaves were always subject to torture, sexual exploitation, and arbitrary death. However the scale of the brutality and the institutionalization of people as chattel was unique in type and proliferation in the Western slave models.
Myth: Slavery was an economically backward and inefficient institution.
Fact: Many of the most progressive societies in the world had slaves. Forms of slavery allowed the building of many of the world’s empires. Today the low wage lower classes and machines fill the roles slaves traditionally did in society. So still the wealthy today exist because of some form of exploitation of the majority.
Myth: Slavery was always based on race.
Fact: Not until the 15th century was slavery associated primarily with people of African descent. Race became a factor which justified enslavement once it became the mainstay of Western economies. (see Black Codes)
Enslavement and the Slave Trade
Myth: New World slaves came exclusively from West Africa.
Fact: Half of all New World slaves came from central Africa.
Myth: Europeans physically enslaved Africans or hired mercenaries who captured people for export or that African rulers were “Holocaust abettors” who were themselves to blame for the slave trade.
Fact: Europeans did engage in some slave raiding; the majority of people who were transported to the Americas were enslaved by Africans in Africa. Europeans politically created anarchy in Africa feeding greed and putting others in a dilemma “sell or be sold.” With the destruction of the economy and the absences of the most virile in African societies slavery became a mono-economy feeding the cycle of destruction. Europeans created mechanisms which ensured conflict and the push-pull demand for slaves.
Myth: Many slaves were captured with nets.
Fact: There is no evidence that slaves were captured with nets; war was the most important source of enslavement.
Myth: Kidnapping was the usual means of enslavement.
Fact: War was the most important source of enslavement; it would be incorrect to reduce all of these wars to slave raids.
Myth: The Middle Passage stripped enslaved Africans of their cultural heritage and transformed them into docile, passive figures wholly receptive to the cultural inputs of their masters.
Fact: Slaves engaged in at least 250 documented shipboard rebellions. The destruction of African culture happen not on the slave ships but via the plantation system where Christianity and terror were used to mentally enslave African people. Evidence shows that in areas where new African slaves were constantly being introduced (such as Jamaica) had more incidences of rebellion due to the resistance of the new arrivals.
Slavery in the Americas
Myth: Most slaves were imported into what is now the United States
Fact: Well over 90 percent of slaves from Africa were imported into the Caribbean and South America
Myth: Slavery played a marginal role in the history of the Americas
Fact: African slaves were the only remedy for the labor shortages that plagued Europe’s New World dominions. Fact: Slave labor made it profitable to mine for precious metal and to harvest sugar, indigo, and tobacco; slaves taught whites how to raise such crops as rice and indigo.
Myth: Europeans arrived in the New World in far larger numbers than did Africans.
Fact: Before 1820, the number of Africans outstripped the combined total of European immigrants by a ratio of 3, 4, or 5 to 1.
Myth: The first slaves arrived in what is now the U.S. in 1619
Fact: Slaves arrived in Spanish Florida at least a century before 1619 and a recently uncovered census shows that blacks were present in Virginia before 1619.
Myth: The slave trade permanently broke slaves’ bonds with Africa.
Fact: Slaves were able to draw upon their African cultural background and experiences and use them as a basis for life in the New World. The drum and the Griot tradition are still alive in the music of the Diaspora. The food and elements of the language, the social structure, the “cool” still are defining characteristics of the African Diaspora. The greatest disconnection with Africa may have actually happened post-emancipation where being American or being more integrated allowed cultural drift into a more Eurocentric identity.
Myth: Plantation life with its harsh labor, unstable families, and high mortality, made it difficult for Africans to construct social ties
Fact: African nations persisted in America well into the 18th century and even the early 19th century despite the overt destruction of the family the denouncement of religious and marital values.
Myth: Masters assigned names to slaves or slaves imitated masters’ systems of naming.
Fact: In fact, slaves were rarely named for owners. Naming patterns appear to have reflected African practices, such as the custom of giving children “day names” (after the day they were born) and “name-saking,” such as naming children after grandparents.
Myth: Slaveholders sought to deculturate slaves by forbidding African names and languages and obliterating African culture.
Fact: While deculturation was part of the “project” of slavery, in fact African music, dance, decoration, design, cuisine, and religion exerted a profound, ongoing influence on American culture.
Fact: Slaves adapted religious rites and perpetuated a rich tradition of folklore.
Economics of Slavery
Myth: Slaveholders lost money and were more interested in status than moneymaking; slaves did little productive work
Fact: Slaves worked longer days, more days, and more of their life. The life expectancy of enslaved Africans in places like Barbados was a few decades due to the strain of labor.
Myth: Slavery was incompatible with urban life and factory technology
Fact: Sugar mills were the first true factories in the world; slaves were widely used in cities and in various kinds of manufacturing and crafts.
Myth: Slaves engaged almost exclusively in unskilled brutish field labor.
Fact: Much of the labor performed by slaves required high skill levels and careful, painstaking effort.
Fact: Masters relied on slaves for skilled craftsmanship.
Myth: West and Central Africans received their first exposure to Christianity in the New World.
Fact: Most Africans learned about Christianity as they learned about the European trade in enslaved Africans. A few Catholic missionary activities began in the central African kingdom of Kongo half a century before Columbus’s voyages of discovery and Kongo converted to Catholicism in 1491.
Myth: The Catholic Church did not tolerate the mixture of Catholicism with traditional African religions.
Fact: In Kongo and in Latin America, the Church did tolerate the mixture of Catholicism with African religions, allowing Africans to retain their old cosmology, understanding of the universe, and the place of gods and other divine beings in the universe.
Myth: Before the Civil War, the Southern churches were highly segregated.
Fact: In 1860, slave constituted about 26 percent of the Southern Baptist church membership.
Myth: Slave Christianity was essentially a “religion of docility.”
Fact: Christianity was dual edged and marked by millennialist possibilities; whites could not prevent black preachers from turning Christianity into a source of self-respect and faith in deliverance.
Myth: Slaves were brainwashed and stunned into submission and rarely resisted slavery.
Fact: Resistance took a variety of forms ranging from day-to-day resistance, economic bargaining, running away and maroonage, and outright rebellions
Slavery and World History
1. The most ancient civilizations–ancient Mesopotamia, Old Kingdom Egypt, and the budding civilization that formed in the Indus and Yangtze river valleys–all had some form of slavery present in their earliest years.
2. In none of these cultures did slaves constitute a large proportion of the population.
3. It was in classical Greece and Rome that the first true slave societies came into existence. From the 5th to the 3rd centuries b.c., perhaps a third to a half of Athens’s population consisted of slaves. Slaves constituted as much as 30 percent of Rome’s population.
4. England’s Domesday book of 1086 indicated that 10 percent of the population was enslaved.
5. Although slavery is often stigmatized as archaic and backward, slavery has been found in many of the most progressive societies.
6. Contrary to what many think, slavery never disappeared from medieval Europe. Domestic slavery persisted in Sicily, southern Italy, Russia, southern France, Spain, and elsewhere.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior–Marimba Ani, Africa World Press, 1991|