On the question of whether Africans "sold their own kind" into slavery: [a.k.a. "Don't get it Twisted.....Know Your History"]
Stop buying into the false western curriculum narrative. It is only meant to keep driving a poisonous wedge between Africans in the diaspora, be they from the Caribbean, from America, or the UK. In America most especially, I am hard-pressed to find a greater or more bitter topic that divides African-Americans and Africans. Those who fed you this false illusion are the same ones who said let us pray when we had the land and they had the bible....you know the rest. When you opened your eyes they had the land and we had the bible.
Again and again, let it be known that we fought back.
Today, as the voice of the enslaved African community asserts itself in the world and lifts up the demand for reparations, the blame-shifting “African collaborator” argument can be seen gaining traction in universities and bourgeois historical publications, not as an historical argument but as a disingenuous political defense against the legitimacy of the reparations demand, and the awakening of millions of Black minds whose best modern weapon is historical consciousness and the rejection of the false narratives that are daily being forced and shoved down the the throats of Black men, women and children.
The terrible impact that slavery has had on the continent of Africa cannot be calculated: the destruction of magnificent civilizations, the break-up of family and kinship circles, the massive depopulation in the hundreds of millions, forced impoverishment, famine and starvation, the ravishing of an environment which had been so conducive to human civilization for a millennia. From open, educated, prosperous and democratic societies, African people lived in sheer terror, never knowing when their village or town would be raided for human loot by white invaders.
Some North Americans cynically place the blame for the enslavement of African people on the shoulders of African collaborators who participated in the kidnapping of their own people. Impacted by the social destruction wreaked by invading Europeans, a tiny minority, estimated at 5%, of the conquered people did find their own survival by participating in this treachery. The setting up of collaborators among the colonized population has been a successful tool of domination in every instance of European colonialism around the world. Africa is no exception. Europeans attack societies in Africa, Asia, or the Americas, destroying their traditional economies and long-standing social relationships. A unilateral colonial economy, which starves the people and creates the dependency on the colonial power, militarily enforced and enforced in perpetuity.
The European invader gets richer and richer through his bloodsucking relationship, and offers resources, guns and special status to a minority sector of the oppressed population. The selected “elite” or the colony can themselves become enslaved, or carry out the will of white power.
If they take any stand independent of the colonizer's will as have, say, Panama’s Noriega, Libya's Mummer Gaddafi, or Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in today’s world, white power spares them none of its wrath. Congo's Patrice Lumumba was a classic example, and we can't disseminate in isolation about Patrice Lumumba without also mentioning other conscious African leaders assassinated in Africa (for not acquiescing to the greedy grasping genocide of the West), without mentioning people such as Larbi Ben M'Hidi, Algerian nationalist and FLN leader, hanged by French Army officers under Paul Aussaresses, Moammer Gaddafi, Thomas Sankara, Chris Hani, Frantz Fanon, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique leader of the independence FRELIMO movement, Mohamed Bassiri, Sahrawi leader and journalist, in June 1970, in El Aaiún, reportedly executed by the Spanish Legion.
In April 1994, CIA surface-to-air missiles killed Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira in April 1994. Downing their plane put Paul Kagame in power. He became Washington’s man in Rwanda and the ethnic slaughter continued what started earlier. It advances America’s imperium. It’s longstanding U.S. policy, and you best KNOW what you are talking about when you step to the plate or DO NOT STEP AT ALL!
This plan has worked well over the centuries. A few people in every colony have participated in the devious imperialist schemes of slavery, genocide, torture and exploitation of their own people, a collaboration which benefits no one more than the European or North American “mother” country.
The statement that “Africans enslaved their own people” separates out African people from other colonial subjects, all of whom have had their share of betrayal among their ranks. It is a statement of imperialism’s historic need to mobilize public opinion against African people. Like the general white attitude toward the government-imposed drugs and dependent drug economy in today’s African communities, this statement lets the parasitic colonial economic system off the hook. It is an anti-black expression of unity with the oppression of African people, saying, “They did it to themselves.” Meanwhile all white people everywhere still benefit from the parasitic economic system which has as its foundation the enslavement and continued exploitation of African people.
Most Africans resisted enslavement with all of their energy. Rebellions on slave ships were common. According to one source, “Many deaths on slave journeys across the Atlantic derived from violence, brawls, and above all, rebellions. There was probably at least one insurrection every eight to ten journeys.” For example, Africans successfully rebelled in 1532 aboard the Portueguese slave ship the "Misericordia", and the 109 Africans on board “rose and murdered all the crew except for the pilot and two seaman. Those survivors escaped in a longboat, but the "Misericordia" was never heard of again.” We have all heard the tale of "Amistad" as well.
White slave ship owners often threw Africans off the ships just to collect the insurance money. One famous case was that of a ship owned by William Gregson and George Case (both former mayors of Liverpool, England). The captain threw 133 Africans into the sea because if Africans were to die naturally, the owners would lose money, but if the African people were “thrown alive into the sea,” supposedly for the safety of the crew, “it would be the loss of the insurance underwriters.” So many African people died en route that it has been said that sharks learned to constantly follow slave ships all the way from Africa to the Americas.
Africa is not a country. It is a continent. To say Africans were selling “their own”, is a simplistic and idiotic argument. They were selling their enemies, prisoner-of-war primarily just as the Greeks and Romans once did. Africa, then as now, was made up of different countries. They were no more selling “their own” than, say, “Europeans” were killing “their own” during the Holocaust. Slavery or prisoner swapping in Africa was more of an indentured servitude with a beginning and an end. Many slaves ended up marrying into the families they served. What’s important to note here is that slaves maintained their humanity and were not “born into” slavery. The child of a slave was born free. Let's stop that nonsense right now.
When the Australian prisoners were shipped to the Australia, I never heard anyone make the argument that "White people sold their own" (Oh, maybe because upwards of over 50 million Whites weren't massacred). Even when the slave trade was "abolished" in America (only because Abraham Lincoln needed bodies to die for the Union against the Confederate rebels during the Civil War), slavery was not. So, those whites who wanted to do the “cool” thing at the time and be “progressive” (yeah, sure), said ”Sure, we’ll stop bringing slaves over from Africa, but I’ll be damned if I give up the ones raising my children and tending my land.” (and don’t forget “the ones I serially rape and then call sluts and whores afterwards even if she was only 11 or 12 at the time and I was 30 or 40”), furthermore, to say that “Africans sold their own people as slaves”, let's not forget that Africans didn’t write slavery into the U.S. Constitution.
There were thousands of African tribes fighting tooth, nail and butt to stave off the evil machinations of the Slave Traders.
The Fon of Dahomey, the Ethiopians who defeated Italy, and the exploits of Chaka the Zulu are legendary. King Ansah of Ghana (1470-1486) had the Fante people watch for European ships, and prevented them from coming ashore. Many other African leaders, did not permit Europeans in their kingdoms. In Benin, the people had heard of the intentions of the Europeans, so they killed them as soon as they came ashore. There were some kings who agreed to trade with the Europeans, but attempted to stop it, once they saw the problems that were being created in their lands. Through the tactics of several African leaders and kings, they were able to minimize the European slave trade, but they could not stop it completely. The treachery and greed of the Europeans, hurt the African economy and, damaged their trade relations.
African King Nzenga Maremba, tried to stop the slave trade in the Congo, only after he originally, participated in the trade, in exchange for military items and support from Portugal. King Maremba agreed to release his African prisoners of war to the Portuguese, who wanted the best young African men as a bargaining chips, to be sure that the King kept his word. The Portuguese, promised to train and educate the young men to become priests and later to return them to the Congo. King Meremba let the Portuguese convince him, to take the Christian name Alfonso, as a show of support. When Alfonso asked for the return of a few of his former prisoners, who they said had been trained, to serve as physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, assistants for shipbuilders and carpenters, his requests were denied.
After having his requests denied several times, King Alfonso learned that his prisoners of war had been sold as slaves in Portugal. In 1526, King Alfonso wrote to King John III, the former King of Portugal, and asked for his help in ending the slave trade in the Congo. He explained the freedoms that he had given to the Portuguese, who had set up shops, become merchants in the Congo and had amassed fortunes. Yet the people in the Congo, could not do the same, because they had complied with the agreements and now, did not have the same abundance of wealth as the invaders. King Alfonso related that the damage was so great that his people and land were being seized daily. King Alfonso ended his letter to King John III, with another request for his help, because it was the will of the people in the Congo and other kingdoms that there should not be any trading of slaves nor markets for slaves.
Other countries that were resisting the slave trade throughout the continent of Africa were Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, South Africa and Angola.
In 1777, King Agadja, a Dahomey monarch, captured an Englishman and his slave raiding party who had entered his kingdom looking for more Africans. The Englishman and his crew were released after they promised to return all the Africans they had captured. King Agadja gave the Englishmen a warning to take to the rulers of England, that if any other slave traders were sent to his Kingdom, or other kingdoms, they would be killed.
In 1787, the Senegal King of Almammy, passed a law that made it illegal to take enslaved Africans through his kingdom. To let Europeans know how serious the law was, the king returned the presents French slave traders sent as bribes.
The Kru people are indigenous to Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Kru were most known for seafaring and their strong resistance to capture by European enslavers in the Transatlantic slave trade. The Kru would fight vehemently and even take their own lives before surrendering to enslavement. Because of their tenacity, they were labeled as difficult and less valuable in the slave trade.
Apart from their strength in resistance, the Kru were known for their ability to effortlessly navigate the seas. Their skills in both canoeing and surfing the strong ocean currents brought upon much recognition which later afforded them work on British merchant and warships in the 1700s.
In 1626 Nzinga of Angola became Queen of the Mbundu when her brother committed suicide, in the face of rising Portuguese demands for slave trade concessions. Nzinga, however, refused to allow them to control her nation. In 1627, after forming alliances with former rival states, she led her army against the Portuguese, initiating a thirty year war against them. Despite repeated attempts by the Portuguese and their allies to capture or kill Queen Nzinga. The Portuguese finally negotiated a treaty with her in 1656. Their treaty remained in effect until she died. Nzinga died peacefully in her eighties on December 17, 1663. Queen Nzingha had a standing order, that any enslaved African, who reached her territory “was free.”
Yes, we know the story of traitors like "Tippu Tip", real name, Hamed bin Mohammed bin Juma bin Rajab el Murjebi, who was an Arab slave trader from Zanzibar. Nobody is saying there weren't profiteers like this in Africa who made up to 5% or so, of the slave trade, but to ignore the remaining 90- 95% and concentrate on what "Africans did to other Africans" and ascribe the genocide solely on the backs of those African Benedict Arnolds' is not the best use of our intellect. Africans in the Diaspora have the challenge of rewriting a history that has been stained by years of distortions, omission and downright lies.
One of the biggest challenges of rewriting this history has been the Atlantic Slave Trade, and one of the biggest sore points has been the idea that "Black Africans sold their own into slavery". A lack of information, a paucity of expansive scholarship and an unwillingness to have a serious discourse on prejudice as it existed in Africa even before European intervention, has contributed to this. Diaspora Africans are often quite naïve and will do anything to hold fast to the illusion that "we are all Africans" and ignore the racism that has existed among a group that is far from uniform. The book, "Islam and the Ideology of Slavery" by John Ralph Willis is very helpful in looking at the almost imperceptible link between the enslavement of 'kufir' non-Muslims or infidels, and the belief that Black Africans were not only heathens but inherently inferior.
This is not a new thought and certainly not one that originated with the Muslims coming into Africa. Several Jewish exegetical texts have their own version of the mythical Curse of Ham being blackness. Given the common origins of these two major religions, it is thus not surprising that both Jews and Muslims played some of the most important roles in the enslavement of Black Africans next to the Europeans. In an article by Oscar L. Beard, a consultant in African Studies called, "Did We Sell Each Other Into Slavery?", he says "Even the case of Tippu Tip may well fall into a category that we might call the consequences of forced cultural assimilation via White (or Red) Arab Conquest over Africa. Tippu Tip's father was a White Arab slave raider, his mother an unmixed African slave.
Tip was born out of violence, the rape of an African woman. It is said that Tip, a "mulatto", was merciless to Africans." The story of Tippu Tip who is one of the most widely known slave traders has always posed a problem for historians, especially Afrocentric historians in the Diaspora trying to find some way to reconcile themselves to the idea of an 'African slave trader'. The fact that Tippu Tip was not only Muslim, but 'mulatto' is vital. The common ideology of Judaism and Islam where Black Africans are concerned is certainly no secret. While in some Islamic writings we see an almost mystical reverence for Africans, especially an over sexualized concept of Ethiopian women who were the preferred concubines of many wealthy Arab traders and Kings, in others there is distinct racism. Add to this the religious fervor of the Muslim invaders, their non-acceptance or regard for traditional African religions, and the obvious economic and political desires for which religion was used as a tool, and we get an excellent but little spoken of picture of Islam in Africa.
Historians did not often record or think of the ethnicity of these 'Africans' who sold their brothers and sisters into slavery. As part of our distorted historical legacy, we too in the Diaspora buy the idea that all Africans were uniformly 'brothers', but the true picture, especially at this time was not so.....Africa is not a country, but a collection of thousands of customs and languages. Centuries of contact with Europe, Asia, North Africa produced several color and class gradients in the continent, divisions fostered by the foreigners. This may have been especially prominent in urban and economic centres.
When we combine the converting, military force of Islam sweeping across western and Eastern Africa placing a virtual economic stranglehold on villages and trading centers that were Kufir, with the intermixing of lighter-skinned Muslim traders from the North and East Africa creating an unprecedented population of mixed, lighter skinned Africans who began to form the elites of the trading classes we can see how a society begins to change. In the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique where European traders and administrators were encouraged to intermarry, the elitist, trader class was largely Mulatto and Catholic. If we look at the situation in Ethiopia with the age-old oppression of the original Ethiopians, the "Oromo" of indigenous Cushitic stock, by the more Arabized "Amharic tribes this too has its roots in colour prejudice. There were hints of this occurring in many other instances at crucial points of contact between indigenous black Africans and lighter-skinned foreigners or mixed Africans and the most significant of these were in the areas of severe Islamic incursion.
Many towns and villages converted to Islam because of the protection that the military banner of Islam could offer them in a changing economic, political and social landscape. But the more damaging result was the many light skinned, converted Africans, children of mixed encounters that now felt a sense of superiority over their dark skinned, black African counterparts. The politics of color is indeed of ancient vintage. The truth of the matter is that fair skinned Arabs' racist attitude towards Blacks existed even before they invaded Africa. The evidence for this can be found in how they dealt with the Black inhabitants of Southern Arabia before they entered Africa as Muslims.
Discerning thinkers can look at this and many other accounts of this time and get a clearer picture of the inherent racism of this situation. When we combine this with the desire for African slave labour by Europeans it was no large feat for these often lighter skinned, Islamized Africans to enslave the black Kaffir, whom they barely endowed with a shred of humanity. And of course jumping on their bandwagon would have been those black Africans with deep inferiority complexes, who would have been only too eager to do the duty of the 'superior' Muslims in an effort to advance themselves. These facts are certainly not hidden and the patterns are everywhere, even today but it is we who do not like to admit we are biased on what we see.
For centuries we certainly have been conditioned to react to sight, whether we admit it or not, so the argument, that makes it look like Africans (as if we are one country, one people) simplistically decided to sell other Africans flies in the face of deeper analysis.
NO OTHER SLAVE SYSTEM has created the never-ending damaging cycle as the Atlantic Slave Trade. West Indian poet Derek Walcott has stated his feeling that our penchant for forgetting is a defense mechanism against pain, that if we were to take a good hard look at our history, at centuries of victimization, it would be too much for us to handle and we would explode. Well I say we are exploding anyway and in many cases from bombs that are not even our own. We have begun the long hard road of rewriting our ancient history, of recovering our old and noble legacy. Let us not stop and get cold feet now when the enemy now appears to take on a slightly darker hue. We must look at the slave trade in its OWN context, complete with all the historic and psychological peculiarities that have made it the single most damaging and enduring system of exploitation and hatred ever perpetrated in the recent memory of mankind.
Until we do we will not escape its legacy. Ask yourself why 6 million Jews were killed by Hitler during the Third Reich and the world has never let us forget it, there are Holocaust Museums in almost every major city in the world. King Leopold of Belgium killed 15 million Congolese for rubber, the TransAtlantic Slave Trade took the lives of nearly 100 million Blacks Africans and we have ONE museum dedicated to this tragedy.....ask yourself why the secrecy? Why are they continuing to hide the fact that till this day the same principles of the slave trade still apply and the looting pillaging and rape is still going on.
Whether our African leaders were, or are, corrupt, acquiescent, willing collaborators or not, is relevant but not the cause- just the effect. Stop letting them distract you from the tools unity. That is the modus operandi of a system which has historically leeched off your blood, sweat and lives. When there is one staunch defender of African values who stands in the way of this pillaging he is killed and another, all too willing to do the bidding of the Americans, takes his place...this is the game of politics in Africa and yes, acknowledging it is a start.....but we have to stop blaming our people, in diaspora...whether in Africa or in any other country, for there have always been countless Black heroes fighting the real evil since the dawn of time......never forget that!!!!!!! Aluta Continua.