Professor Gates asserts that 90 percent of the blacks shipped to the new world and sold to Europeans were Africans enslaved by other Africans. However, he fails to mention that the institution of slavery was introduced to
Many African centered scholars have conducted extensive field research on African civilizations and arrived at the same conclusion about slavery. Chancellor Williams for example spent 15 years doing research for his monumental work, “The Destruction of Black Civilization.” He traveled to North, South, East, West and
A friend of mine participated in an exchange program in
Slave raiders such as John Hawkins learned about the African system of wageless labor and decided that it could be exploited to enslave these people in the new world. Through guile and cunning actions Europeans instigated rifts between African nations and when the groups went to war with each other, captives would be purchased from the winner for transport to Europe and
Sadly, there were Africans who got involved in slave raiding but such cases were manipulated by Europeans through force and the use of intoxicants. Enslaved Africans captured by the Europeans were used for the capture of additional victims. There were very few cases of independent slave raids by Africans for sale to Europeans. This circumstance clearly proclaims the so called slave trade as commerce purely instigated by European people because it was a demand driven business. Enslaved Africans were not just sitting on the shores of the gold coast waiting to be sold to the highest bidder.
Furthermore, if there were Africans benefiting from the slave trade as professor Gates asserts, what happened to the wealth they amassed from this commerce? The revenue generated during the African slave trade catapulted Europe and
While Professor Gates articulates the role Africans played in the slave trade, he doesn’t mention the resistance to the system on the continent. Individuals such as Queen Nzingha pioneered wars of defense and national solidarity against the Portuguese occupation of her land. She was able to gain the loyalty of Africans who were being used by the Portuguese as slave holders and waged guerrilla warfare with the enemy. While she had converted to Catholicism, she did so to use it as a means to empower herself and used it as a political tool when it suited her unlike many other Africans who became spiritually enslaved by the religion. Later on in life she even renounced her Christian name Anna and only went solely by Nzingha. Based on the facts presented, it is quite befuddling that Mr. Gates would accuse this African Queen of selling the very people she fought to liberate to the invading enslaver.
In his article, professor Gates also asserts “the African role in the slave trade was greatly reduced after 1807, when abolitionists, first in
Another rationale for the cessation of the slave trade was international and inter-colonial rivalry. Upon investigation Britain learned that French and Spanish colonies were benefiting from the re-export of slaves shipped into British territories. This circumstance gave
With the above facts inconsideration, the origin, nature and rationale for the African slave trade should place in its proper context that is truly responsible for its perpetuation. What Professor Gates has done in his piece is inadvertently or intentionally placed the blame on the victim for their enslavement, subsequently vindicating the enslaver. Europe and the U.S. still owe the descendants of enslaved Africans a great deal of reparations. This fact is something that is being ignored because the payments would be so vast that it would bankrupt and cripple so many of these nations. When high profile individuals in the African community such as Skip Gates comes out and makes such remarks, it gives these former slave masters reason to not entertain the reparations issue. The record must be set straight and thankfully many African scholars have organized themselves to address Professor Gates’ piece and continue the argument that justice is due to the former enslaved Africans of the world. It is the only way we can ever create a better world and live within the divine principle of Ma’at. The Kemites said it best, “Qualities of a moral order are measured by deeds.” Thank you for reading.
Slave: Etymology. http://www.britannica.com/bps/dictionary?query=slave
Did We Sell Each Other into Slavery?: http://www.africawithin.com/maafa/did_we_sell.htm
Williams, Chancellor. 1987, “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.,” Chicago, Third World Press
Clarke, John Henrik. 1993, “Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: Slavery and the Rise of European Capitalism,” Brooklyn, NY, A&B Publisher Group
Butweiku I, Ekow, 1999, “Afrikan Theology, Cosmogony & Philosophy,” Hampton, VA, The Lumumba Book Printers & Co.
Van Sertima, Ivan, 1984. “Black Women in Antiquity,” Piscataway, NJ, Transaction Publishers
Williams, Eric. 1970, “From