It is impossible to write any article about Africans in the diaspora without first mentioning the atrocities meted out to Africans during the period of slavery. It is also extremely difficult to write on the impact of slavery of the African people without becoming emotional. Although we may not have experienced this travesty firsthand, history, no matter from which ethnic view, has irrevocably shown that there was nothing positive or beneficial to the Africans during slavery. Author and African Warrior Scholar **Mwalimu K Bomani Baruti, summed up the treatment of Africans by the Europeans in the title of one of his books; Mentacide.This is a combination of two key words; mental and genocide. Unable to physically destroy the strongest race on the planet, Europeans used religion as a tool to mentally destroy the pride of the African race in order to subdue their natural instinct to rebel against the cruelty to which they were subjected daily.
In any article on the slavery and colonization of the African people, one should first establish that it was not the Africans who were dependent upon the Europeans for survival but rather the reverse. It should also be established that Africans were not the aggressive, barbaric people that they have been portrayed. Stop! Think! A people that barbaric and hostile would most certainly not have allowed strangers to infiltrate their tribes, befriend them and then cart them away in chains! Not even with the threat of their “fire irons,” as their guns were then called, could have quelled their natural fighting spirit. In as much as the Africans were a loving, trusting, peaceful people albeit with a different culture, they were natural warriors and not at all ignorant when it comes to initiating strategic defence. After all, it is an established fact to this very day that Africans physical attributes are superior to that of any other race, and this combined with the intimate knowledge of their territories, would have made them undefeatable. Also their poisonous arrows and darts were nothing to sneeze at. Their weakness was trusting the wrong people.
William Wadsworth Longfellow, a 19th century poet wrote a poem from which this excerpt is taken titled: The Slave’s Dream:
Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair
Was buried in the sand.
Again in the mist of shadow and sleep,
He saw his Native Land
Wide through the landscapes of his dreams
The lordly Niger flowed
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
Once more a king he strode;—-
He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
Among her children stand;
They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,
They held him by the hand!
A tear burst from the sleeper’s lid
And fell into the sand.
He did not feel the driver’s whip
Nor the burning heat of day.
For death had illuminated the Land of Sleep,
And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter that the soul
Had broken and thrown away.
One must take into consideration that the African people were not only being exploited physically, but also economically, socially, mentally and most importantly-culturally
- Africans were plucked from the warmth of their tropical, semi-desert climate and plunged into this temporal, subarctic zone. While they were familiar with excessive heat of summer, they were never exposed to the freezing cold of winter and without the right attire to protect them.
- A man was allowed to have as many wives as he could afford but it was not acceptable for any man to molest another man’s wife and children. Family was sacred.
- The language barrier made it difficult for Africans and the Europeans to understand each other and as such, Aficans tried to use facial expressions or physical actions to communicate. This was interpreted as surliness or aggression, for which they are cruelly punished.
Having been removed from the safety of your home, the land, people and culture with which you are familiar, Africans had to adapt to a totally new “world’ in order to survive. They were like newborns forcibly removed from their mothers’ wombs and without any preparation thrust into a cold, uncompromising, violent world. Africans were in fact taught to be cruel, violent and lazy. Put aside the fact that they were worked to death. What were their “owners’ doing while they were being worked? Drinking, mocking their anguish, using cruelty to impress and entertain their guests.
Those were the first lessons learned; be cruel to others and then you can manipulate them into doing whatever you want!
There is an analogy: when you go to Rome, do as the Romans do. There was no respect for the lives of the African people who were taken and plunged into slavery throught the diaspora. In this ‘New World’, cruelty was the order of the day. This was the Africans’ introduction to the ‘New World.’ Their lives were valueless in this new society, living was a continuous, agonizing existence of forced labor, starvation,murder and or, degradation in the form of public floggings or amputations. Their wives and daughters were raped continuously in their presence while they were taunted and forced to watch. Therefore, why not kill my brothers and sisters? Aren’t they better off dead than continuing in this demeaning, painful existence while their lazy masters are living like kings off the proceeds of their misery? Isn’t it better to bury those you love than to see them suffer through this hell of an existence? Afterall, those that tried to find their way back home were brought back and punished in such a cruel and degrading way, they often times pray for death!
Values Un-taught; Lessons Learned (During Slavery)
There was nothing that was positive for the African race during slavery. Beat, kill, rape, starve; those were the lessons learnt daily even in their own land after colonization! Violence is a natural means of control and instead of using reward for hardwork, starvation and punishment got more results. “Masters” sat around in hammocks in the shade doing nothing, yet they were the ones living like kings. Laziness therefore, was an attribute to be desired. There was no reward for hard work, therefore, why should people work hard if there is no one around to beat them into it? Work is something that is degrading! It is something that one is beaten, starved, ridiculed, forced to do. Those who worked were treated worse than animals, while those for whom they worked grew fat and idle. The more cruel the master, the more feared he was. His slaves were less rebellious and worked harder in an effort to please. Therefore, to the overworked, ill-treated slave, violence and cruelty was just a natural and necessary tool to control the workforce. This was the norm of their daily existence in the European society. Children born into slavery were separated from their parents quite early and sold to the highest bidder. They witnessed the merciless lashings or decapitation of their fathers, the rape and molestation of their mothers and sisters, their siblings being chained and taken away without any explanation. Children were put to work as soon as they could walk on their own. Their mothers’ was used to nourish white babies, while black babies cried from hunger. Parents were not given the opportunity to bond with their offspring and vice-versa, thus the negligence we see among young black parents in today’s society. Parents against children, children against parents, sibling against sibling is a natural repercussion from the estrangement of families during colonialism and slavery.
How did the Africans/ Blacks become violent?
African-Americans are considered to be violent, mainly towards each other. It is interesting to note that while they are the most marginalized ethnic group, they are mostly aggressive towards each other. There is no need to rationalize this behavior. It is obvious to all those with intellect to understand. The total indoctrination of the ‘Black Man’, ever since their homeland was pillaged by another heartless, merciless, ice-cold ethnicity, has been to kill their own. Who did they witness being killed for mere sport? Africans! Who were decapitated,starved and forced to work? Africans! Whose women and children were taken and sold to the highest bidder? Africans! What ethnic group has had to struggle for survival regardless of how educated and talented they are? Africans! They have been indoctrinated to believe that their lives are less valuable than others! Mentacide!
The Art of Cruelty – The Middle Passage
Where, when and why did the African people become hostile towards their white counterparts? To determine this one has to go back to slavery and the Middle Passage. This is where and when the most horrendous acts of slavery took place. This is where the mental state of the African mind was most severely tested. This is where they were chained like sardines in a can, used like chips in a casino, and gutted like fish for the sport of their pale, melanin-less counterparts.This is where Africans started being selfish and adopted the “me, myself and I” principle of survivalism.
“Other ethnicites and races consistently remind their people and the world of their holocaust. But many, including other African’s expect or want us to forget ours. The African middle passage was the worst holocaust suffered by any group of people in this world’s history.” Kebuka: Mwalimu Baruti, AWS
“Kebuka is a Kikingo word meaning “Remember”.
We should never forget our holocaust of the middle passage.
Religion as a Tool During Slavery
Dr Amos Wilson took the stance that the black American develops his morality from the religion to which he was introduced and forced to adapt during slavery. The same religion that was used to enforce passive resistance in the African slaves were also used to promote violence as both behavioral tendencies are actively advocated in the “slave master’s” religion. Therefore, to endorse the white man’s religion, black people are actually supporting the people who enslaved them. Culture is a way of thinking and until the African emancipates or separates his thought process from that which he was forced to adapt for his survival during slavery, he will forever remain a slave. Blacks need to realize that they were never uncivilized, they had their own culture which was different and incomprehensible to the Europeans. Africans were honorable and trusting, thereby falling victims to the unscrupulous minds of the white people.
Culture is a conspiracy. It is the way a group of people organize, think, believe and look at the world so that they can mutually aid each other to achieve success. (Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness-Dr. Amos Wilson-).
The Colonies and Colonization of Africa
How did the Colonies in the West differ from the Colonization of Africa? Were there any tangible differences between the treatment of Africans enslaved in Colonies outside of Africa and Africans disenfranchised in their own land? In fact, is there a difference between colony and colonization? A Colony is defined as; “a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country and occupied by settlers from that country whilst colonization is the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area.
Mental Slavery of Africans In the Diaspora
Did Africans who remained in their homelands fair any better than those who were uprooted like weeds and handled like the chaff from which the wheat is harvested? Flayed, separated from their families, trampled in the ground until all self-worth is stripped away, pride is a forgotten value and only hatred for their existence remain? The few who remained rebellious were looked upon as enemies or lunatics who made life harder by their continuous efforts to be free, while the mentally weak betrayed their brothers in the belief that their capitulation to the whiteman’s wishes would gain them more favorable treatment. Conditions were so unbearable that
barring a few, parents emotionally and physically isolated themselves from their children so as to avoid feeling that gut wrenching when their children cry out for them as they are taken like chattels and sold to the highest bidder. Children looking bewildered, not understanding that their parents had no control over their well-being. This was life in the Colonies to which Africans, once princes and princesses, learned to adapt. This is where black men learned to be uncaring towards their offsprings. This emotional isolation transformed into the post slavery/colonization period to Black men becoming promiscuous, having children with various women, caring nothing about their welfare.
This is one of the detrimental remnants of slavery and colonialism in the diaspora. Recognizing this negative malingering impact, one of the first Pan-Africanists, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, sought to bring this awareness to the masses. Realizing that while we are physically free from slavery and colonialism to a great extent, we are not and will not be totally free until we start to think for ourselves instead of following the “guided thinking” we were subjected to during slavery.
“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his ..” Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940)
Display this message from Marcus Garvey and help emancipate the minds of African people.
But what about the Colonization of their homelands by Europeans?Did those who remain have a more comfortable existence? Were they able to continue their culture as passed down to them by their noble ancestors?
“For many of us, the only real question that consistently remains unanswered is out of whose interpretation of reality, through whose worldview, are we studying ourselves and others. What intelligence is deciding which path we should take toward gaining complete mental liberation?”
Racial Discrimination, Inferiority Complex and ‘Bleaching’ In the Diaspora
“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war. And until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained… now everywhere is war.” Haile Selassie 1
Emperor Haile Selassie 1 (1892-1975)
One only has to focus on the nations that are invaded in the pretense of “protecting their Human Rights.” How long did it take for apartheid to end in South Africa? What rights did the African have in their country after it was colonized? Instead of whites being banned from entering black communities; blacks were driven out, their lands confiscated by white settlers and in turn banned from entering their own cities between certain hours! This in itself was counterproductive to the welfare of the masses-the black population. Blacks were classified as third class citizens in their own country. The natural wealth of their lands; diamonds, gold, silver and other valuable minerals were harvested and utilized by Europeans to line their pockets, while black families who worked in the mines to harvest these minerals lived in poverty in depressed underdeveloped communities. Consequently, this breeds anger in the hearts of the black people who were either imprisoned or shot down in the streets as if their lives had no value. Naturally, that was demoralizing to a race of people whose only “sin” was being born with more melanin content than their much paler counterparts. Being constantly referred to as worthless, beaten into submission, deprived of the common necessities for your survival and, either being punished or being a witness to the murder of those who stand up for their rights, will eventually convince you that you are indeed less than your abusers. Therefore, you develop an inferiority complex and try to be more like your abusers by trying to change your natural skin color. This brings us to the advent of bleaching which is an unhealthy practice for Africans. Another negative impact of colonization in the diaspora. Bleaching opened the door to gender confusion which eventually transcended into Homosexuality and the Effeminization of the African Male.
Based on the Europeans’ religious book, black represents sin (which is bad) and white represents purity. God is white and the devil is black. This is what is taught to African children to this very day. Therefore, black children want to be replicas of their white counterparts instead of taking pride in their rich melanin skin which makes them stand out from the crowd. Being ashamed of our color is another detrimental factor of colonialism and slavery. Africans need to reflect on and believe the concept of the ‘devil’ as portrayed by one of the most fearless African Warrior Scholar of the twentieth century:
“Whoever is in control of the hell in your life, is your devil!” from: Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust- Dr. John Henrik Clarke 1992
The Disparity Between Race and Wealth Distribution
One of the most blatant disadvantages of Africans in the diaspora in the post colonial period is wealth distribution. Blacks are the principal tools used in the physical workforce yet, they get the least remuneration! In other words, Blacks are the machines while paler skins are the operators. Even black owned businesses tend to hire lighter skinned employees for top positions. This is a throwback to the slavery/colonization era when blacks were not allowed to be the head of their melaninless counterparts. To this day, in most countries in the diaspora, lighter complexion politicians are more likely to be elected leaders than their darker counterparts, even in countries that have majority black population. The average “Black” community stands out in stark contrast from even the lowest class white communities, however,not in a positive manner. Possibly, being aware of their disenfranchisement, blacks tend to ‘mark’ or show ownership of their neighborhoods by defacing walls with graffiti, which in turn, to the outsider, cause their environment to take on a hostile look. Africans are basically creative and use bright colors to depict their vibrant personality, while Europeans like dull hues which will blend more easily with their pale complexion. For whatever reason, governments tend to invest less in Black neighborhoods than white communities. Another leftover from slavery where whites lived in houses and Africans lived in sheds that were not fit for their animals.
Educational, Professional and Promotional Opportunities for Africans In the Diaspora.
Being constantly told the same thing by different persons whom you look up to repeatedly, will eventually wear you down and you will eventually believe it, regardless of how mentally strong you are.
During slavery, blacks were not allowed to read, therefore education was not an option. Slaves who were caught with books were severely punished and if proven that they can even identify the letters of the alphabet, may result in death. After slavery, blacks were allowed to receive some form of schooling but only in ill-equipped, ramshackled shacks, staffed by missionaries who volunteered their services. By then, a few blacks could read, as some house slaves secretly learned the art while serving their masters’ children. The laws that govern black and white were miles apart in fairness, and always in favor of the white ruling class. Segregation was strictly enforced and white supremacists made sure that Africans knew and maintained their place-at the bottom of the barrel, even lower than the animals. Although free on paper, Africans were still mentally and socially oppressed. It was necessary to learn a new language in order to correspond with the Europeans, yet, the tools needed were withheld from them. After years of only being allowed to “do as they were told,” they were metally trapped by fear of punishment if they dared to use their initiatives, or take a chance and “step outside the mold” in which they have been cast for so long. As a result of the Mental Crippling, Africans are afraid to support their own for fear of reprisal if they are identified as pro- African instead of pro-European. They need Clarity.
“ Powerful People cannot afford to educate the people they oppress, because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for power”. (You will take it!) Dr, John Henrik Clarke.
Being able to read and write English would give the Africans an advantage and this the Europeans could not afford. Afterall, Africans had more than one language to communicate among themselves. If they were allowed access to the full range of the English Language, They may discover that they were not the inferior class of people they were made to believe. Accordingly, they may discover secrets regarding their families, their exploitation and the value of their homeland that would probably cause them to rebel against the colonists. Europeans were scared that Africans, being the more physically dominant, may plot and rebel against the inhumane treatment to which they were subjected and, if they amalgamate as one African nation, their social and economic situation may be reversed. Thus, the educational opportunities of Africans throughout the diaspora were purposefully stifled. Naturally, this discrimination of Africans affected not only their educational, but also their professional development and promotional opportunities in the diaspora.
Segregation was perhaps the best post slavery concept for black education. Africans learned to read and became proficient in medicine and other genres. They excelled in sports even when adjudication odds were against them. They were being admired by Europeans of the opposite sex at sporting events. Having proven that they have the mental capacity to perform at similar or higher levels as their European counterparts, White schools were only too glad to gobble-up the more promising students after the *Brown v Board Of Education,1954*. After being allowed to attend white colleges, the standard of performance and number of graduates fell significantly. This did not prevent eminent African Warrior scholars like Dr Frances Welsing, Dr Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr Amos Wilson, Dr John Henrik Clarke, and many others over the years from researching, studying, writing and exposing the conspiracy to keep Africans down. This did not stop African Warrior Scholars like Mwalimu Bomani Baruti from educating young African-American youngsters about their culture. Everyday Africans in the diaspora are learning more about their roots and becoming more African Centered in their consciousness, extricating themselves from the Mentacide of Colonialism!
*Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that American state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality.* Wikipedia
**Mwalimu K Bomani Baruti is an African Warrior Scholar who has dedicated his life to revitalizing the African Pride by sharing positive knowledge about his race and culture in the many books he has written. Mr Baruti and his wife are also actively involved in educating young African scholars at the Akoben Institute; an independent African centered school located in Atlanta, Georgia.
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