Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 04:11:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Oscar L Beard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] Did We Sell Each Other Into Slavery?
Did We Sell Each Other Into Slavery?
A Commentary by Oscar L. Beard, Consultant in African Studies
24 May 1999
The single most effective White propaganda assertion that continues to
make it very difficult for us to reconstruct the African social systems of
mutual trust broken down by U.S. Slavery is the statement, unqualified,
that, "We sold each other into slavery." Most of us have accepted this
statement as true at its face value. It implies that parents sold their
children into slavery to Whites, husbands sold their wives, even brothers
and sisters selling each other to the Whites. It continues to perpetuate a
particularly sinister effluvium of Black character. But deep down in the
Black gut, somewhere beneath all the barbecue ribs, gin and whitewashed
religions, we know that we are not like this.
This singular short tart claim, that "We sold each other into slavery",
has maintained in a state of continual flux our historical basis for
Black-on-Black self love and mutual cooperation at the level of Class.
Even if it is true (without further clarification) that we sold each other
into slavery, this should not absolve Whites of their responsibility in
our subjugation. We will deal with Africa if need be.
The period from the beginning of the TransAtlantic African Slave so-called
Trade (1500) to the demarcation of Africa into colonies in the late 1800s
is one of the most documented periods in World History. Yet, with the
exception of the renegade African slave raider Tippu Tip of the Congo
(Muslim name, Hamed bin Muhammad bin Juna al-Marjebi) who was
collaborating with the White Arabs (also called Red Arabs) there is little
documentation of independent African slave raiding. By independent is
meant that there were no credible threats, intoxicants or use of force by
Whites to force or deceive the African into slave raiding or slave trading
and that the raider himself was not enslaved to Whites at the time of
slave raiding or "trading". Trade implies human-to-human mutuality without
force. This was certainly not the general scenario for the TransAtlantic
so-called Trade in African slaves. Indeed, it was the Portuguese who
initiated the European phase of slave raiding in Africa by attacking a
sleeping village in 1444 and carting away the survivors to work for free
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 (or Red) 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 first act against Africa by Whites was an unilateral act of war,
announced or unannounced. There were no African Kings or Queens in any of
the European countries nor in the U.S. when ships set sail for Africa to
capture slaves for profit. Whites had already decided to raid for slaves.
They didn t need our agreement on that. Hence, there was no mutuality in
the original act. The African so-called slave "trade" was a demand-driven
market out of Europe and America, not a supply-driven market out of
Africa. We did not seek to sell captives to the Whites as an original act.
Hollywood s favorite is showing Blacks capturing Blacks into slavery, as
if this was the only way capture occurred. There are a number of ways in
which capture occurred. Let s dig a little deeper into this issue.
Chancellor Williams, in his classic work, The Destruction of Black
Civilization, explains that after the over land passage of African trade
had been cut off at the Nile Delta by the White Arabs in about 1675 B.C.
(the Hyksos), the Egyptian/African economy was thrown into a recession.
There is even indication of "pre-historic" aggression upon Africa by White
nomadic tribes (the Palermo Stone). As recession set in the African
Government began selling African prisoners of war and criminals on death
row to the White Arabs. This culminated as an unfortunate trade, in that,
when the White Arabs attacked, they had the benefit of the knowledge and
strength of Africans on their side, as their slaves. This is a
significantly different picture than the propaganda that we sold our
immediate family members into slavery to the Whites.
In reality, slavery is an human institution. Every ethnic group has sold
members of the same ethnic group into slavery. It becomes a kind of
racism; that, while all ethnic groups have sold its own ethnic group into
slavery, Blacks can't do it. When Eastern Europeans fight each other it is
not called tribalism. Ethnic cleansing is intended to make what is
happening to sound more sanitary. What it really is, is White Tribalism
pure and simple.
The fact of African resistance to European Imperialism and Colonialism is
not well known, though it is well documented. Read, for instance, Michael
Crowder (ed.), West African Resistance, Africana Publishing Corporation,
New York, 1971. Europeans entered Africa in the mid 1400 s and early 1500
s during a time of socio-political transition. Europeans chose a favorite
side to win between African nations at a war and supplied that side with
guns, a superior war instrument. In its victory, the African side with
guns rounded up captives of war who were sold to the Europeans in exchange
for more guns or other barter. Whites used these captives in their own
slave raids. These captives often held pre-existing grudges against groups
they were ordered to raid, having formerly been sold into slavery
themselves by these same groups as captives in inter-African territorial
wars. In investigating our history and capture, a much more completed
picture emerges than simply that we sold each other into slavery.
The Ashanti, who resisted British Imperialism in a Hundred Years War, sold
their African captives of war and criminals to other Europeans, the
Portuguese, Spanish, French, in order to buy guns to maintain their
military resistance against British Imperialism (Michael Crowder, ed.,
West African Resistance).
Eric A. Walker, in A History of Southern Africa, Longmans, London, 1724,
chronicles the manner in which the Dutch entered South Africa at the Cape
of Good Hope. Van Riebeeck anchored at the Cape with his ships in 1652
during a time that the indigenous Khoi Khoi or Khoisan (derogatorily
called Hottentots) were away hunting. The fact of their absence is the
basis of the White "claim" to the land. But there had been a previous
encounter with the Khoi Khoi at the Cape in 1510 with the Portuguese Ship
Almeida. States Eric A. Walker, "Affonso de Albuquerque was a conscious
imperialist whose aim was to found self-sufficing colonies and extend
Portuguese authority in the East&He landed in Table Bay, and as it is
always the character of the Portuguese to endeavor to rob the poor natives
of the country, a quarrel arose with the Hottentots, who slew him and many
of his companions as they struggled towards their boats through the heavy
sand of Salt River beach." (Ibid. p. 17). Bartholomew Diaz had experienced
similar difficulties with the indigenous Xhosa of South Africa in 1487, on
his way to "discovering" a "new" trade route to the East. The conflict
ensued over a Xhosa disagreement over the price Diaz wanted to pay for
their cattle. The Xhosa had initially come out meet the Whites, playing
their flutes and performing traditional dance.
In 1652, knowing that the indigenous South Africans were no pushovers, Van
Riebeeck didn t waste any time. As soon as the Khoi Khoi returned from
hunting, Van Riebeeck accused them of stealing Dutch cattle. Simply over
that assertion, war broke out, and the superior arms of the Dutch won.
South African Historian J. Congress Mbata best explains this dynamic in
his lectures, available at the Cornell University Africana Studies
Department. Mbata provides three steps: 1) provocation by the Whites, 2)
warfare and, 3) the success of a superior war machinery.
There are several instances in which Cecil Rhodes, towards the end of the
19th Century, simply demonstrated the superiority of the Maxim Machine Gun
by mowing down a corn field in a matter of minutes. Upon such
demonstrations the King and Queen of the village, after consulting the
elders, signed over their land to the Whites. These scenarios are quite
different from the Hollywood version, and well documented.
It has been important to present the matters above to dispel the notion of
an African slave trade that involved mutuality as a generalized dynamic on
the part of Africans. If we can accept the documented facts of our history
above and beyond propaganda, we can begin to heal. We can begin to love
one another again and go on to regain our liberties on Earth.
Oscar L. Beard, B.A., RPCV
Consultant in African Studies
P.O. Box 5208
Atlanta, Georgia 31107
Copyright =A9 by Oscar L. Beard, Atlanta, 1999
International Law of Copyrights, All Rights Reserved.
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