This chapter concludes the discussion of Afrika's western Diaspora, West Afrika. Zimbabwe, down in the south would be an example which is known mostly by the great stone ruins which provided evidence that there was a major civilization organized in that area in Southern Afrika.
The writings of Arab travellers can also be sourced since many of the best documents on West Afrikan history are written in Arabic. So unless someone is fluent in Arabic and has access to Arabic literature, much of the history of Afrika, even though it is the history of Black Afrikan people and not that of the Arabs, remains inaccessible to most Black people.
This is one of the early books dated 1325-1354 A.D that was written by IBN Batutta, one of the travellers in ancient Afrika. It is great to read these journals because they do not describe anything the way colonizers would. “The colonizers would later begin to describe Afrikans as people who were underdeveloped, evolving from monkeys, having tails, living in trees, cannibals and so forth, which was totally untrue”.
Afrikans in the Islamic countries were almost universally literate in Koranic studies. The home of the major universities of the world was in the Islamic countries at that time, up to and through much of the colonial period. Many of the slaves that were brought to America for example, were literate in Arabic. Some of them could write the Koran from memory and demonstrated that ability in the United States. So not all the people who were brought there were illiterate, because they were all literate in some form or another.
IBN Batutta's book "The Golden Trade of the Moors" shows that West Afrika developed because of its continuous contact with itself and East Afrika. This meant that unlike the images that some people have of West Afrika as an isolated cultural enclave, it was actually always connected in a firm way to the rest of the continent, especially to East Afrika.
The Moors traded across the Sahara or the desert sands regularly and routinely to Egypt and Mecca especially after the Islamic period. These are the images that we need to keep in mind. This is a perfect example that symbolized the kind of intellectual level of Afrikans at the time when colonialism was about to get underway. When the Europeans came to West Afrika in the empires that were Mali, Songhai and Ghana, they came to highly developed, civilized, intellectual groups of communities. Cities like Timbuktu, Guinea and Gao in West Afrika were tremendous intellectual centres.
Below is an interesting manuscript from the 13th century which shows Afrikans playing Chess with Europeans who are their slaves. This is one of the earliest examples of Chess being played anywhere. This is a glimpse of what was going on in West Afrika, in other words, Blacks were not the only people who were held as slaves, but many people do not know that Afrikans at one time held Europeans as their slaves.
This is Mansa Musa who was a king in Mali, holding a gold nugget in his hand while an Arab trader comes toward him. This is again in West Afrika. Mansa Musa was the Mali king who went back to Mecca and took so much gold to give away on his journey that he depressed the economy of the Middle East for 12 years. Mansa Musa took over 50,000 people with him to West Afrika on a caravan before returning to Mali, and found his government was still intact.
Who then is this so-called Negro? The Negro is a simply a European invention, therefore he must be European. In other words, when people ask "where did Negroes come from", the response can only be that they came from Europe. Afrikans come from Afrika, but Negroes come from Europe. Any visitor going to Afrika will not see any Negroes there, they will see the Vai people, Kru people, Krim, Mendi, Gola, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, all kinds of people in Afrika, but you will never see any Negroes. So the Negro itself is a concept that was created in Europe, therefore Negroes can be said to be Europeans.
Another question is, “who is this European?”, is he not a concoction also, an invention, a self-creation? The Negro as shown is nothing more than a fabrication, and with the manipulation of history on the part of Europe, would the European not be a self-creation since the Europeans have created a superficial, imaginary image of themselves for the eyes of the world to view them through.
The whole concept of Europe did not even exist at the time of Christ which was around zero on the calendar. There was no idea of an embodiment, a shared culture or a political entity called Europe. They never saw themselves in that way at the time, but they saw themselves in Greece as city states, and anybody who was not a Greek was considered a barbarian. They even saw themselves as Romans, but the idea of Europe itself is fairly new. In terms of the people who populated Europe and who they are, one would have to go back biologically to the fact that they are the descendants of the Afrikans.
"Those piles of ruins which you see in that narrow valley watered by the Nile, are the remains of opulent cities, the pride of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia. … There a people, now forgotten, discovered while others were yet barbarians, the elements of the arts and sciences. A race of men now rejected from society for their sable skin and frizzled hair, founded on the study of the laws of nature, those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe". Count Volney.
People establish names for themselves. For example, when Germany was ready to write its history, much of it was written based on the folk tales of the people because there was no consciousness of Germany. Part of what was said about the exploits of the Grim Brothers was not only to write fairy tales, but in picking up those fairy tales the images that could be used to create that history for Germany were also picked up. So one must wonder what had taken place before the Grim Brothers, since there was no national consciousness prior to that time that could be identified, so anything coming after that would have to be a fabrication or a creation. If almost any European were asked at least a few years ago until recently about the history of Europe, they would commence with Greece and Rome, yet many of the people who occupied what is now called Europe had no connection to either Greece or Rome. In other words, England had no connection with the development of Greece or Rome.
If the works of Julius Caesar are analyzed, by the time he arrived around the time of Christ with his description of the English, it made no sense to connect the English with the Romans at that stage. It is true that later what the Greeks and Romans developed would be inherited by the English, but it would not be true to put them in the same European basket during that era.
Every group of people needs to have a kind of the division of labour, which means that someone has to be supported to do the research necessary to be firmly grounded in the information that needs to be disseminated. This means that historians like Chancellor Williams, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. Ben Jochannan, Ivan Van Sertima and others who bring this information to the fore for us must be supported, especially by us. Getting the information is an important part of the programme, so those people who are in the best position to obtain it for us should be supported.
How do we get the information that has been around for many years out to the masses of the people? This burden rests on the shoulders of the artists like the musicians, actors, literary people etcetera, who are the best communicators that can take this kind of information and put it in a format that would allow it to be communicated rapidly and on a broad base to the widest spectrum of the people.
This is one aspect of dissemination, but there is also the scholarly dissemination via journals and professional organizations. The act of digging up the information and the organized dissemination of that information are the two primary things which would help Black people to understand in which direction they are heading.
There is no reason to visualize themselves in the world at a future point in time as being under Europeans or white people. For example, the so called Jewish people who envisioned a state of Israel went in and established the state of Israel and also invented a whole new culture, but here we have our own culture already in existence which does not have to be invented.
Every Black person in the Diaspora ought to care as much about their homeland as any other group of people in the world will care about theirs, and take active steps to ensure that their homeland survives, develops, and is enhanced.
It should now be plainly understood how the creation of two myths, two lies, produced much of the problems we still face today concerning Black and white relations, because in an effort to create the myth of white superiority, Europeans, including European-Americans, had to create the myth of a Black or Afrikan inferiority. The Europeans visualized that only “by claiming for themselves that which was created by Afrikans, could they spread the seeds of Black inferiority around the globe, and they did that with such calculated precision, that they were able to get the Afrikan to even reject his own skin, his nappy hair and his God”.
The negative indoctrination of Black people by the Caucasian was similar to the manner in which elephants are trained, where the elephant trainer starts by putting a large chain around the elephant’s neck and pulling on the chain to get it to respond to different commands. As time goes on the elephant trainer uses smaller and smaller chains to get the same responses he got with the more cumbersome chain, until he is finally able to use only a string and not a chain anymore.
The cumbersome chains of slavery were removed after Black people had been trained in how to respond to alien commands, but they are still walking around believing that they have chains on their feet and minds, not knowing that it is a mere string that is keeping them in check. “This string is the myth of white superiority and invincibility”.
But what would happen when the elephant discovers that a tiny string is the only obstacle between it and independent power? Blacks should look around themselves and then dare to step beyond the boundaries that have been set for them and their children.
"The accident of the predominance of white men in modern times should not give us supercilious ideas about color or persuade us to listen to superficial theories about the innate superiority of the white-skinned man. Four thousand years ago, when civilization was already one or two thousand years old, white men were just a bunch of semi-savages on the outskirts of the civilized world. If there had been anthropologists in Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia, they would have pronounced the white race obviously inferior, and might have discoursed learnedly on the superior germ-plasm or glands of colored folk". Joseph McCabe.
Bishop William Montgomery Brown: "For the first two or three thousand years of civilization, there was not a civilized white man on the earth. Civilization was founded and developed by the swarthy races of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, and the white race remained so barbaric that in those days an Egyptian or a Babylonian priest would have said that the riffraff of white tribes a few hundred miles to the north of their civilization were hopelessly incapable of acquiring the knowledge requisite to progress. It was southern colored peoples everywhere, in China, in Central America, in India, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and Crete who gave the northern white peoples civilization". (The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism, Vol., p. 192.)
John Stuart Mill wrote in 1849: "It is curious withal, that the earliest known civilization was, we have the strongest reason to believe, a Negro civilization. The original Egyptians are inferred, from the evidence of their sculptures, to have been a negro race: it was from negroes, therefore, that the Greeks learnt their first lessons in civilization; and to the records and traditions of these negroes did the Greek philosophers to the very end of their career resort (I do not say with much fruit) as a treasury of mysterious wisdom".
© John Moore - Barbados, W.I. (March 2000) ©. All rights reserved.