Three things make slavery in the Americas horrendous and different: (1) It was instutionalized (2) It was extremely inhumane, slaves were treated as animals (3) It was continentwide and organised. When the ship docked and the slaves were brought out in tattered clothes – men, women and children, the first thing a slave master normally does is to crash the slaves’ spirit by killing one right in front of them. That way he effectively puts a stop to their desire to reason. Reason is salvation because it tells the slave to attack his master in order earn his freedom. But as a result of crashing their spirit, for the next 400 years the slaves had to stop reasoning in order to preserve their own lives. They simply obeyed instructions. When the master needed more hands on the farm he simply put one man together with a dozen women in a shack and forced them to copulate.
Today, some try to justify slavery by arguing that it existed in Africa long before the slave trade. That may be correct but indigenous African slavery was completely different: (1) Slaves were not worked to death (2) Slaves were released upon expiration of their term of service (3) A brave slave who fought in defence of his master’s tribe could rise to become a king and (4) African slavery was not institutionalized or codified. It was a tribal affair. No slave was wilfully released or granted any rights in the west until the late 19th century. They were kept to work on the farm and were forbidden to read. A slave risks being killed for reading a book. Many people also quite unnecessarily differentiate between slavery and colonialism. Both are fueled by same motives: hegemony and exploitation. The only difference is the venue. Slavery took place away from Africa. Colonialism took place in Africa.
After the slave trade and slavery the black race lost its dignity. Today, all over the world, Africans or people of African descent are not accorded any genuine respect. It’s partly due to slavery and also due to the behaviour of some black people. In the days of slavery, they did provide clothes, shoes, a farm house, a language, a name, a religion, a culture, a god, a civilization (actually humanization according to them) and even today they continue to provide all of these including skin lightening creams etc. so in case one wanted to actually look white, one could do that. Did Africans not have a history, a culture, a language, a religion and a beautiful black skin before they arived in the new world? The black race must understand who they are, where they are from and where they are going. To do this they need to read more and with all due respect, turn the ‘reason switch’ back on.
Further reading: The works of Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Dubois etc.
Everyone is asking for peace but only few people are asking for social justice which would have made peace easier. In rural parts of the world, thousands, perhaps millions die of easily curable diseases. Where there are no disease epidemics people simply die of war, natural disasters or hunger.
Meanwhile it’s clear these issues which are on a global scale have more to do with global politics than the availability of food resources, security and medication for those who need it. There is enough for everyone if the world’s resources are to be distributed fairly. But the world has reached a stage where nothing on two legs can be trusted and justice seem to be an extinct animal.
We normally respond to social injustice with charity but I don’t think charity is the solution. Injustice begins with unjust laws and until those laws are struct out injustice will remain. Charity makes people feel better but that’s temporary. The bigger problem of selective justice remains which must be dealt with. I think dreaming of a better world without a commitment to fairness is an illusion. To me a better world means a fairer world where charity or aid is unnecessary.
In his book, “Long Walk to Freedom” Nelson Mandela narrated how a young man approached him in prison and introduced himself as a member of the ANC (African National Congress). The young man said he was sent by the ANC leadership to help him escape from prison. The plan was to bribe a few prison warders, manoeuvre to the main gate and escape through whatever means was available. Mandela said the idea was strange to him. He was probably in his 10th year in prison and had not received any message from the ANC leadership because they were being hunted down. Though he wanted to be free, he didnt trust the young ‘aid.’ He said he consulted some of the ANC members who were imprisoned together with him and they decided not to follow the young man’s plan because they didnt know him as a member.
It turned out later that the man in question was actually an agent who worked for the white minority SA secret service. The actual plan was that while they were trying to escape the guards will open fire on Mandela killing him instantly and then it will be published in the media that Mandela died while trying to escape from prision (Attempted escape is a violation of the law so they would have had a moral justification there for killing him). At the time many Black organisations in SA appealed to European nations to help end apartheid and racism but none intervened.
After 27 years in prison Mandela was still alive, reason finally prevailed and he was released and then suddenly all the white leaders started loving him. Very strange indeed, that someone whose name was on CIA classified documents as a communist and a terrorist, whom Margaret Thatcher described as a terrorist, was now welcome to tour the west, visit leaders and socialise. The truth is that they all felt guilty. They didn’t expect him to be alive. Does the reader honestly think that a white person can be a political prisoner in an African nation for that long without consequences? There, again the world cried forgiveness because Mandela was black. The lung infection that eventually killed him started in prison because he said the rooms were damp and had no windows. We must learn lessons as black people.
What’s the moral of this story? The moral of the story is threefold: (1) It’s a white man’s world, dictated by the dollar and the pound. (2) Equality does not exist in nature, but ofcourse everyone can dream of it. (3) One must not jump at quick “solutions.” One must consult people one trusts when making important decisions. If the reader must know, before Mandela was sworn in as president, all of South Africa’s advanced military weapons at the time were moved to another country in Europe because they thought he might retaliate against the whites. They didn’t believe he had truly forgiven them. Evil men are never at peace with themselves. And whoever digs a pit shall fall in it.
In conclusion, the story I presented here was in the book:”Long Walk To Freedom” written by Nelson Mandela, 1st Edition, so I’m not making anything up. Neither do I have any space in my heart for hatred. I’m a peaceful person. I don’t blame whites. I just want the world to recognise the Black race’s capacity for forgiveness.
The capitalist will offer any gift to his labourers except the gift of freedom from the bridle. It was not the intention of the slave buying nation to grant citizenship to the slaves after bringing them to the new world. The intention was to put them to work until they died.
Citizenship and equal rights was granted (in principle) as a last resort. The founders contradicted themselves through the preamble of the constitution by claiming that “All men are created equal” and this made them feel guilty. Abolition of slavery was a test of the human conscience. The truth is they don’t want you there. Any wonder that they shoot and kill black people for no real reason.
When a white leader oppresses or imprisons a black man without moral justification or without due process of law, the black man is simply asked to forgive but if a black leader oppresses or imprisons a white man, they rally all the European people in the world and demand compensation for the oppressed whites. They consider their lives worth thrice a black person’s life.
Meanwhile the neo-colonialists continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that Ian Smith’s racist government stole lands, killed many native Africans and imprisoned Robert Mugabe for 11 years during which his son died. Maybe we are a foolish people, but the world must acknowledge the black race’s capacity to forgive – as Soyinka has said earlier.
I visited a museum this week where an exhibition was being held. It was called the Museum of Science and Technology. I knew some of the artists who exhibited and I was happy to see them again.
By the way, what is the role of art in society? To excite, inspire, communicate or provoke change? Enjoy!
I really liked this ink sketch of a girl carrying yams. It was done in I think 1940. I like the crude and original look of the work.
Another indigenous theme of ‘pouring palmwine’. I think the beauty of painting lies in a certain sensitivity of the artist that translates into capturing everyday activity in an exceptional form.
Market scene. Ghanaian markets are very overcrowded and this artist captured that perfectly. Actually it was done by a very renowned painter who I read about in my art history class in high school.
Pencil drawing by a younger artist. I think the subject matter here is beauty. You can clearly see differences in themes between the young and old artists.
Indigenous clay masks. These look like they are singing.
Clay Sculptures – possibly ancestral figures
Another sculture. I like this one, his eyes are partially closed and he does look like a politician I know.
Dyed fabric depicting a fat woman. In Ghana, gaining weight and looking curvy is trendy.
A model of a ship
At first I thought these were live snails crawling up to the ceiling but I realised they were shells glued by the artist to the pillar and the ceiling.
British colonial relic. It must have been used in WW1.
This is the entrance to the Museum of Science and Technology. Happy weekend to especially you. You know yourself. That’s all folks.
This is one of many comments about “Black Man’s Sorrow and Other Poetry.” Though it is my wish that my works will inspire everyone. I normally forget about them once they are published and move on to other ideas. If you are interested in my latest poetry book, you can buy it here or here. All proceeds go to CWC Children’s Orphanage in Ghana in service of humanity.
On this occasion of the celebration of the African Union Day, I’m asking them where is the union? There is more trade between Africa and Europe than among African countries. Movement is also restricted with bureaucratic immigration procedures because African Leaders don’t trust each other. So where the hell is the union they are talking about?
Immanuel Kant as a moral philosopher? Please tell me this is a joke. What moral precepts did he contribute to the molding of the African personality, consciousness and existence? Would you label someone who called you an ox, who said you should be driven apart with thrashings a moral philosopher? Yet this is what Kant said of Black Africans.
Worst still, would you take someone seriously if he wrote voluminously about how married couples should relate to each other when in fact he himself never had the courage to marry? Kant may be a giant in European philosophy, fair enough why shouldn’t he be, but to teach one concept and live the other is unethical.
One enters the department of philosophy in a typical African university and they are teaching Kant, Hegel, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Descartes etc. The irony in all this epistemological blunders is that there are probably more sages in Africa than there are elsewhere. Why not primarily teach the aphorisms of African sages as African philosophy. Wouldn’t that be more plausible and logical and even meritorious to Africa?
It is a fact that different societies have different morals and value systems. This argument is further advanced by most amoralists and serves as a basis for a rejection of universal moral values. But even when we look at the great diversity in human nature, societies and their values and norms, it is by all means that whatever one does, one will be repaid in full. This is what justifies vengeance even if it is done in the name of one god or another god. The desire for justice is innate in every human. Morality itself is not based on reason, it has its basis in instinct. So a rational discussion on morality is futile – one would just be moving in circles. However, one thing that runs through all moral laws irrespective of geographic location, social group, race or nation is that there is reciprocity. There is something akin to a reward or payback (though sometimes difficult to perceive) based on an act that was perpetuated or neglected thereof. This reciprocity is not peculiar to only relationships within social groups, it is the fabric of all individual human interactions. Others call it karma. The problem however is that sometimes this reciprocal relationships are also subject to subjective interpretations and people with similar perspectives randomly self organize and create a morality of their own. They may even seek to punish someone who may have done something right for the majority. In a society as dysfunctional as mine, based on random self organization, criminals or the most unscrupulous are sometimes selected as the decision makers and adjudicators. When it happens that way the righteous is punished and everyone turns evil. There is reciprocity in there. Society has to be better than individuals so it is very important that people aspiring to leadership positions have high ethical principles and are people of highest moral standards. This ensures that the right values are emulated and promoted in the system. Sadly, as the reader may be aware this is often not so. We elect leaders based on their wealth and connections, then we turn around and complain when they attack us.