Yaanom Mema Mo Akwaaba Mekyea Mo Nyinaa. In the Akan language in Ghana this basically means I welcome and greet you all. Today I will be taking it upon myself to guide you through the Transatlantic slave trade, and tell you things that unfortunately a whole lot of history books failed to teach us. You see, there is always 2 sides of coin, this applies to the concept of truth, and it depends from which standpoint we are receiving it.
I have never struggled so much and been so restless with writing an article the way I have done with this one. I cried uncontrollably for 30min before I could find rest, I could not sleep, and when I finally did, it appeared in my dreams. My subconscious is totally shaken by what too few of us know and I would consider it to be an honor to shine a little light on this subject.
The educational system in Ghana and abroad are doing us as well as the generations to come a tremendous injustice by omitting crucial information in the history curriculum, which causes the unfortunate fact that when (black) students graduate they end up knowing more about other ethnicities than about themselves. We are supposed to wonder and ask ourselves… who are we? Who were our ancestors? What did they do? What the hell happened? How come it happened? And who let it happen… This article will be “slightly” rough and uncensored, it will be brutal and perhaps shocking, but I will keep it real with you because honestly… there is no possibility of sugarcoating anything concerning this topic. Now before we get started though, do enjoy the short introductory video created by yours truly to ease you into the topic, and I will be right with you when you finish.
You are welcome back, I hope that wasn’t too bad of an introduction because I tried to keep it PG13 in there, now we are ready to get down to business. The Transatlantic slave trade as we know it, started in the 1400’s, shipping millions of our ancestors to the New World and neighboring islands. Read this slowly as you are about to create a mental picture. Imagine yourself sitting with your family on the beautiful land of Africa enjoying the sun… and then all of sudden, your sacred family space is brutally invaded and you and your family are kidnapped from your home and put in chains without understanding why… you walk miles upon miles not knowing where you’re headed… thirsty, hungry, frightened, confused, angry… and then you reach a castle where you are separated from your family and placed in a dungeon with hundreds of others who look just like you… you are forced to urinate and defecate in that same space… some on your left and right have died but have not been buried and so the smell becomes enormously compelling. If you’re a woman, and you’re appealing, you are called to the governor’s chamber for his sexual enjoyment, where you are raped over and over… and when he’s tired you are dismissed and then the soldiers have their way with you too… over and over and over… After months of torture, ‘if’ you survive this, you are led onto a ship where you are placed like sardines in can, crammed up on each other, with no cloths on your back off to the New World. Once you get there, you are sold to a slave master… you work from ‘can’t see till can’t see’, you are molested (men and women), beaten, forced to take upon a new identity, forced to watch your family through agony… this could go on and on.
Now reading about the Transatlantic slave trade alone will not give you even 0, 0001% of the emotions our ancestors must have gone through. The anger, the fear, the confusion, the humiliation, the hurt, the pain, the grief… Our ancestors were stripped from their human rights, their identity, their culture, their families and they were treated as cargo. For those who survived in the slave forts around the coast of West Africa, were sent through the “Gate of No Return” and shipped off to the New World. Twenty percent of our ancestors died during the middle passage out of starvation, lack of hygiene, physical abuse etc.… or sometimes just thrown overboard simply to generate fear. The remaining 80% that did make it alive were sold and made to work at plantations. Now after slavery was “abolished” and the chains were removed, our ancestors were “set free”… but where they really free? In this article I will lay down the after effects of this dark era and show you just how this inhumane horrifying nightmare is still affecting us today in all the aspects of life. The late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a brilliant psychiatrist and author of the book “The Isis Papers”, discusses that racism is actually a complete system that functions in these 9 activity areas of our lives: economics, entertainment, education, politics, law, labor, religion, sex and war. Slavery acquired a racial basis, what our ancestors experienced as obvious slavery by the means of physical abuse, we experience today as psychological slavery by the means of mental abuse. Not much has really changed, slavery is still very much present, only its structure has been modified, allow me to elaborate…
1: Education: Thou shall not read nor write
The slave masters were very much aware that physical abuse would only last for so long until rebellion inevitably starts, and so they knew that if slaves should remember their roots, their identity, their culture, if they should also be able to read, write, learn and understand, this would change the whole dynamics of slave trade. So to oppress this, they had to find a way to psychologically rape our ancestors, and so a whole bunch of laws were erected making it illegal to teach slaves how to read or write. An example of such a law was and I quote:
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes.”
What are the after effects in this day and age when it comes to education you may ask? Take a look at the educational system everywhere… yea even in Africa. You’ll notice that big chunks of our history is intentionally wiped out of history books to make us black people think that there was actually no greatness. History books make us believe that we didn’t have thriving civilizations prior to slavery. The only thing African they do talk about is Egypt, because it seems to be too big of a historic era to be wiped out, but even with that… the truth has been tampered with. Textbooks will rarely talk about the awesome Moors, the black people from northern Africa (Mauretania, compassing present day Morocco and Algeria) who brought civilization to Europe when they were in the Dark Ages and literally led the Europeans into the Renaissance. Our ancestors brought them fashion, music, astrology, medicine, science, hygiene, economics, universities etc.… but they won’t tell you this because the less you know about yourself, the more likely it would be for you to desire to be associated with another greatness, who is without you knowing… your oppressor!
2. Entertainment: Thou shall obey and do as I command
Back during the slave trade, there were a lot of forms of entertainment for the slave masters. One of the entertainment was to make slaves dance, especially during the middle passage. They would say this was to preserve the condition of the muscles of the slaves. But in truth, this was a strategy to deviate their focus from rebellion, it was to keep their minds busy in order to prevent them from thinking.
What are the effects in this day and age of this entertainment? Well we do not even have to look far, all we need to do is put on the television and watch all the propaganda that is thrown at us. Black people are associated with rap music, violence, drugs, guns, unemployment, no ambition, no education etc. And by doing so, black people are stereotyped by the music industry but also by the movie industry, to keep white people as well as black people believing in this illusion. If we take a breather, stop, think, read and learn about our history, we would figure out that we are more than just sex, drugs and 9mm guns that we see all over the news.
3. Economics: Thou shall not trade
Back during the slave trade, the idea of slaves having a business of their own was nothing but absurd. Even after the “abolishment” of slavery, black people were still being sabotaged when they would try to build economical communities, think about the bombing of The Black Wall Street in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921. Our ancestors were building banks, they were in the real estate business… but black people were not meant to be more successful than a white man so this whole community which was at its prime was bombed.
And how does this affect us today? Ah Africans, the people that sleep on soil embedded with an overload of the world’s biggest resources of gold, cocoa, coltan, oil and diamonds and yet remain broke. Africa is the wealthiest continent and yet it remains very very poor. Have you ever wondered why that is? Here’s why… after the World War II, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were created to extend huge loans with ridiculous interest charges to countries in need. Now when they decided to extend that help to Africa, they demanded for a transfer of natural resource rights as bail (through the means of privatization)… only in case you’re not able to pay the money back… which is mostly the case. Okay, I kind of oversimplified it a bit because it’s quite more complex… but you sort of get the gist of it. So that is how foreigners ended up owning the biggest part of Africa’s natural resources, and the government officials that were bribed got a piece of that cake as well. As you can imagine, these contracts are not your typical 4-year-length contracts, but these can run for 50 to 60 years or even more, leaving the nation and future generations in constant debt. Now this can all be prevented with good politicians, visionary heads of state with a little bit of integrity, but let’s face it, there is no politician out there that is innocent, and it would be quite naïve to think that there are. But… one can surely be less corrupt than another, and therefore it is quite important that we elect the right people for office. Imagine, Nigeria has an overload in oil, and yet the people that own it are foreigners and the bribed politicians, and the population that inhabits the state does not feel anything about this so called wealth under their soil. Same for Ghana, Congo, Sierra Leone etc. In the idea of Pan-Africanism, all the African states would come together as one, social and economic systems in our benefit would be created, one African currency would be implemented, but we all know what happened to thinkers like that, such as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso) and Muammar Gaddafi (Libya). In the great words of Mr Thomas Sankara July 1987 at the Organization Africa Unit (OAU) Summit:
“Colonizers are those who indebted Africa through their brothers and cousins who were the lenders. We had no connections with this debt. Therefore we cannot pay for it. Debt is neo-colonialism, in which colonizers transformed themselves into “technical assistants”. We should better say “technical assassins”. They present us with financing, with financial backers. As if someone’s back could create development. We have been advised to go to these lenders. We have been proposed with nice financial set-ups. We have been indebted for fifty, sixty years and even more. That means we have been led to compromise our people for fifty years and more. Under its current form, that is imperialism controlled, debt is a cleverly managed reconquest of Africa, aiming at subjugating its growth and development through foreign rules. Thus, each one of us becomes the financial slave, which is to say a true slave, of those who had been treacherous enough to put money in our countries with obligations for us to repay. We are told to repay, but it is not a moral issue. It is not about this so-called honor of repaying or not. Mister President, we have been listening and applauding Norway’s prime minister when she spoke right here. She is European but she said that the whole debt cannot be repaid. Debt cannot be repaid, first because if we don’t repay, lenders will not die. That is for sure. But if we repay, we are going to die. That is also for sure”
4. Law: Thou shall play by the rules created by the system
The law had never been on the side of the slave during the slave trade, and how could it be… after all, slaves were seen as cattle, mere animals only good for cheap labor, and that was about it. Slaves had no rights, there was no solidarity and no emancipation. However when we think of Abraham Lincoln, most of us think of the great humanitarian, the president who freed slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863… but this is not entirely true, this only freed slaves in particular areas as a mere war strategy. Slavery was “abolished” in the United States through the 13th amendment which states:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
As we read this piece carefully, we’ll notice that slavery was never abolished, it was merely adjusted or reconstructed so to say, just to keep it constitutional. This document states that slavery is abolished ‘except’ when convicted for a crime… So slavery moved from the plantation to this day and age criminalization! Slavery is still very much present, and there are more slaves today than there were in the 1400’s! Prisoners are forced to work for a few pennies an hour and correction facilities gain enormous wealth by renting out the prisoners for labor, yes this is documented! The structure of modern day slavery has become very subtle but it is very much still present! So this mass incarceration of black people is surely no coincidence…
5. Politics: Thou shall know thy place in the system and remain there
After slave trade was “abolished” in the United States, the black man started gaining his civil rights in America around the 1940’s-1950’s with iconic individuals such as Dr. Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King as legendary movement leaders. Civil rights had already been made constitutional long before this time (for example 15th amendment: right to vote in 1870) but they weren’t quite effective until the 50′ & 60’s. These were all people who fought for equality and civil rights. Because think about it, our ancestors were not allowed to vote, there were segregated schools, restaurants, pubs etc. Odd isn’t it, despite “The Emancipation Proclamation”, “13th, 14th AND 15th Amendment”, and “Supreme Court Desegregation Decision”… racism remained at its peak.
Now 53 years later, after the timeless “I Have A Dream”-speech by Dr. Martin Luther King… what do we have? We have a black president in the United States of America. If you would ask people whether they are happy with that, a lot would say yes. We all know that President Obama has done a lot for the gay community which was his domestic duty, and to push AFRICOM through, which was his international duty. Ah AFRICOM… this is nothing but the new version of slavery, it’s simply neocolonialism wrapped in a cute box with an American flag print bow-tie on it (this topic would require an article of its own by the way). You see, we suffer from the syndrome called “Illusion of Inclusion” which Dr. Umar Johnson explains so perfectly. See they knew that if they push a black man into office, this would naturally open the gates to Africa which was contemplating to close its doors on international trade. But hey, Mr. Obama is black, so he ‘must’ be alright. Let’s wake up people, Obama’s campaign was wholly sponsored by white people, and money talks, this means, he cannot go out of his way to do things for our people, we are not the ones that backed him up with money, the white people did. You cannot go against someone to say B when he is paying you to say A… that is pure logic.
6. Labor: Thou shall work from “can to can’t”
Our ancestors who worked on the plantation fields were forced to work from “can to can’t”. This is a term used for describing the time schedule of their work. They were forced to leave around 3-4am and they returned around 9-10pm.
Now how does this affect us today you may ask… slavery as we used to know it, with the ideology of “can to can’t” does not ‘really’ exist nowadays. However… the wages of a slave does still exist within the concept of criminalization. You see through mass incarceration, people are still forced to work for pennies an hour, which is way below minimum wage, and this is all possible because the American constitution grants it.
7. Sex: Thou shall submit
Sex during the slavery period was not only a means of sexual gravitation, but it was also used as a form of discipline. We all know that our female ancestors were raped over and over again by the slave masters and any soldier who sought fit at that moment without any consequences. That is how a lot of the mulatto babies came to their existence around the coast of West-Africa. Now believe it or not, it does get worse than what I just mentioned. In 1807, the Act of Transatlantic Slave Trade Prohibition (in the United States) came along which made it illegal to import any more slaves. But because the Americans did not want to lose cheap labor, what they did was to set up sex farms. On these farms, also known as breeding farms, men were forced to sleep with different women, more than 15 times a day with the sole purpose of reproduction. The females that were brought in were as young as 13 years old (from the moment the first menstrual cycle begins). Most of the time, slave masters would put a brown bag over their heads so they wouldn’t know who they were having intercourse with. This could have been with their own mother (which is where the term “motherfucker” comes from), their own daughter, sister, etc… When there were ‘men’ that were rebellious to the slave masters, they were captured and then tied up to a tree, afterwards beaten severely until they lost complete strength. After that, they were raped by the slave master (sometimes other slave masters joined as well) in front of their family (wife and children) and other slaves, this is what we call “Buck Breaking”. The intent was to completely strip the man of any masculinity in order to keep the slaves in place.
How does this affect us today you may ask… Well you don’t have to look far either… listen to urban music, rap especially, watch urban movies… how many times do we not hear the word “Motherfucker” without knowing where it really comes from… We have deluded ourselves by thinking that we as black people can call each other niggers and white people cannot, when in fact we shouldn’t even be addressing each other with such derogatory words. These are all terms that originated from the slavery era, terms that were given to our ancestors, not because they wanted to be demeaned but because it was simply pleasurable and amusing to the white man. Let’s stop the nonsense of devaluing each other for shits and giggles and then afterwards justifying it by saying “oh well, he’s black so he can say it”, that is complete ludacris, I hope you see that. We can change this by simply respecting each other… How is a white man supposed to respect us if we cannot even respect our own brothers and sisters… just saying…
8. Religion: Thou shall serve my God and no-one else’s
Ah religion… a tough topic to discuss without rubbing somebody the wrong way, but either way I will take my chances by addressing to the big rainbow colored elephant in the room. Religion during the slave trade was a means to keep the slaves oppressed. They were using the section in the book of Genesis 9:20-27 called “The Curse of Ham”. This is the section that gave white people their justification for racism and enslavement of our ancestors. So how did this all affect us today? There is so much to say about current Christianity that this too will literally require an article of its own. But just take this from me, religion has been used as a tool to oppress our ancestors. This does not mean that we did not serve a God before slavery, because we did, but so much has changed. In the year 2016 we as Christians (myself included) have blindly bought into so many things that are not necessarily true. I will simply give you 1 example to state my case… many of us have been exposed with the imagery of our Lord Jesus with fair complexion (white skinned),blue eyes, super silky light brown hair… Well let’s open our bibles to exodus 20: 4-6 which clearly states:
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am o jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of then that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”
Being in 2016, and so 21 centuries later, everywhere we go we see images of what the Son of God must look like, meanwhile we have been clearly instructed not to! Okay so for the purpose of continuing this argument, would you believe me that our Jesus, may not at all look like the way he has been portrayed to look… In Revelations 1:14-15 it states:
“14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.”
His feet were brass, which is a bronzy kind of color, his head and his hairs are described as white… this could be metaphorically to describe radiance. I can imagine this does stir some doubts right about now, but there is a lot of historical evidence to back this up.
According to Josephus Flavius, a roman-Jewish historian and author of hagiographies (biographies of saints, prophets etc.) who lived between 37 and 100 AD, described Jesus in one of his writings. You should also know that this man was a Roman and he wasn’t the biggest fan of Christians so we cannot doubt his objectivity, his job was to report in writing (sort of like the journalist of that day and age) and in his description of Jesus he states the following:
“At that time also there appeared a certain man of magic power … if it be meet to call him a man, [whose name is Jesus], whom [certain] Greeks call a son of [a] God, but his disciples [call] the true prophet … he was a man of simple appearance, mature age, black-skinned (melagchrous), short growth, three cubits tall, hunchbacked, prognathous (lit. ‘with a long face’ [macroprosopos]), a long nose, eyebrows meeting above the nose … with scanty [curly] hair, but having a line in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Nazaraeans, with an undeveloped beard.”
Now you should also know that Josephus Flavius was a well-respected Jewish scholar and historian, and all modern day historians acknowledge his existence and his works. Of course there are some that will always dispute whether he was objective enough in this particular description but, there you go… according to him… Jesus was black skinned with curly hair! On top of that, the earliest images of Jesus that appeared were around 200 AD all the way up to 900 AD, which also depicted Jesus as a black man, and then all of a sudden after the 10th century Jesus magically turned into a full white man with sleek soft hair…Sounds fishy doesn’t it. Even the Roman emperor Justinian II had coins minted which depicts Jesus Christ of African descent during his 705-711AD reign. I could go on for days, however this too will surely need an article of its own… Like Dr. Umar Johnson said, the mind is an associating organ. Images are very very important, depicting Jesus as white subconsciously makes us think that white people are superior over black people, which is not the case. Because pure Caucasian (white skin) people only form 1/10th of the world population, they needed to figure out a way to make themselves superior over us, through the means of religion reconstruction, scientific mumbo jumbo such as their absurd theory of eugenics and all sorts of other nonsense. Our ancestors, and generations upon generations have been exposed to this lie, and it needs to stop right about now. The imagery of Christ which we were not supposed to have in the first place has sure caused a division amongst the Christians, and that is rather sad.
9. War: Thou came, thou saw but thou never conquered…
It’s funny how history books make us believe that we Africans were just doing nothing right before slavery happened…and that after slavery we were just waiting around to be saved or freed or something. But that is not true, you see our ancestors they fought mercilessly! Legendary people such as Boukman Duty, Toussaint L’Overture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines fought for their people’s freedom from the French, Spanish and British which caused Haiti to gain its independence on January 1st 1804! There was also the infamous Louisiana Uprising in New Orleans led by Charles Deslonde in 1811 and the list continues… In the words of Sameer Siddeeq “They (our ancestors) fought many wars, risking tasting the bitterness of death, so that we (you and I) could enjoy the sweetness of Freedom!”
And how does this all affect us today? We are not in the obvious physical war battle anymore the way our ancestors were… but we are surely in a psychological warfare which is even worse. The system of racism has made it so that we have to fight for justice and human rights. Racism is still very much present, the slave masters are present day police officers, the bloodhounds are present day police dogs, the KKK white robes are present day police uniforms… do you see where I am going with this? Too many of our people are being killed… murdered by these so called officers of the law… with absolutely no repercussions, that is insane! Thanks to the evolving technology, we can see for ourselves by the means of raw video footage and audio recording what is going on with our brothers and sisters in this so called “Land of the free”. Our deepest condolences to the families of Terence Crutcher, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson and all the others that were robbed of their lives… we need to fix this injustice because #blacklivesmatter! And how do we this? By simply uniting African states together and create powerful economic systems. Think about it, no other ethnicity gets screwed over as much as black people in diaspora do, simply because there are no repercussions, there is nobody to answer to, we have no higher united powerful state that cares. For example, nobody can randomly shoot Chinese people, Asia would reign down hell simply because they have a massive system that works, there could be economical consequences that could be very disadvantegeous to the other party, and that is exactly what we are missing. Simply put… nobody can mess with you when you have a massive support system. As Africans, uniting all the African states together, the idea of Pan-Africanism is what we need. If all 54 African states should decide to close their borders for import and export, we would survive, and we would survive ‘well’ too. We have enough resources and wealth to live without the West, but not vice versa, and that is also a documented fact!
Well we have reached the bottom of this article now, I know it was quite dense, but nothing could have been left out, everything was equally as relevant. The Transatlantic slave trade is still impacting our brothers and sisters today in Africa as well as in diaspora. But not all hope is gone! We can turn this around bit by bit, by teaching the younger generation the truth which will result in a better tomorrow. Think about it… the only reason an oppressor wants to oppress the oppressed is because they got something valuable which they desire. My dear people, we are ‘incredibly’ valuable, because of the simple fact that we are melanated people! And that too will require a complete article of its own but it is surely coming. First thing we need to do, is to get to know who we are as a people, our ancestors, our history, our continent and only then can we learn to love ourselves and each other and respect and trust for one another will follow automatically. Once we do that… we can do just about anything together! I would like to thank the family of the late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, her brilliant teachings formed the backbone of this article, also a big thank you to KnowThyself by Berima Amo (Facebook, click“here”), the Great Griot (Youtube, click “here”) and Dr. Umar Johnson for their indirect guidance. And last but surely not least a big thank you to Mr.Quabena, the man that promised to guide me to the land of milk and dripping honey, reminding me to go through life level headed but yet ‘bold’, I could have never done this without you, so I hereby express to you my sincerest and deepest gratitude, I hope this article was worth the pedestal you built for me, you are my well. To my awesome readers out there, I hope you enjoyed this article, do let me know what your thoughts are. Until then, take care of yourselves, be kind to one another and I’ll see you in the next one! xoxo