By LENNOX FARRELL
Europeans might not be The Almighty…but demi-gods? Well, one arrogated unto himself, the accolade: “Divine Right of Kings”. That idolatry was the mountain peak to the lower ranges of “noblesse oblige”; the practice that when power is “unjust”, the response most apt is not “justice, but charity”. Today, philanthropy surges in tandem with those to whom injustice is an inconvenience. It also took a demi-god to make “man, the measure of all things”; in fact, even Lucifer wasn’t as daringly arrogant to declare, “God is dead”. And while Africa is a continent of more than a billion people, yet to have a bona fide global voice, it’s more valid as Bill Gates’.
Europeans also afflicted Black people in the 15th Century in ways that not even our Creator in the Ethiopian Garden did to our ancestors after they’d sinned. European demi-gods then decreed that hitherto, Africans be valued as slaves, and devalued as humans. And what has Europe lost? Reverence for life has been replaced by a reverence for power…without justice.
To clarify in context, slavery existed before racism. Slavery was practised from time immemorial in many societies and places. The circumstances which most precipitated it also described it as bondage; that is, of being held captive unable to repay one’s debts, obligations or bonds; or possibly held as a captive from war. These circumstances, not hereditary, still did not mitigate the inhumanity of enslavement. But even under these conditions, slavery did not annul the humanity of those in bondage. To owners and owned, slaves were humans; humans held in bonds; who could advance in status, or be ransomed from under bondage…as humans.
So, what has been snatched from us? Our humanity, when Europe through law and practice made us equivocal. This Europe did by attaching being enslaved to also being African. Thus, by linking ethnicity to enslavement; and enslavement to being African we were deemed more simian than human; more ape than man; valued to three-fifths of a White man. As readily slain without retribution at the hand of a White cop as lynched by the rope of a Jim Crow mob.
Another consequence from this designation of us by Europeans is that their subsequent imperial reach across the globe, transmitted to other colonized races this diminution of us. Today, in major creeds, “Black”, and its sinful linkages are devoid of virtue. By comparison, “White”, the ironic antithesis of sin, is the cynical epitome of virtue. Thus is the sanctuary of spirituality become a bordello of contrived history. In addition, because of this distinction and European capabilities physically and psychically to institutionalize their diminution of us, not only do they, but other peoples also glory in, and benefit from our inglorious status.
Furthermore, though emancipated, because our ancestors were so enslaved, raped, lynched, terrorized and dehumanized, many of us today, internalizing this diminution, lurch in our lives between trauma and declining expectations. We forget that the two most successful revolts in Arab (Iraq 869-883) and European (Haiti 1791-1804) slavery were launched by us.
Yes, others as Irish, Asians, Jews, Roma (Gypsies), First Nations etc., have felt the genocidal grip of Europe, but never was their innate humanity abrogated. For our African ancestors, ourselves and our offspring, our non-humanity remains implicitly codified in the European controlled fora of academia, creed, industry, arts and culture, law and order, et al. This creates in Whites and other non-Whites a unique form of discrimination: anti-Black racism. So acceptably pandemic, one can be a vector for it without being “racist”, nor fearing consequences.
The above isn’t the worst of what we’ve lost. We have lost something even more significant; something beyond our names, languages and culture; something beyond reparations; something which only we by our own efforts can redeem; something addressed in conclusion.
Globalization, like its associates: the 19th Century Mercantilism and 20th Century capitalism is another consequence of slavery. It is the global wiring together of international finance, banking, trading, speculating and commercial interests. Globalism provides seamless links for the trading of anything commodified. Unfortunately – and addressed in a later article – these links include the trading of humans as sexualized objects, enforced labour, replacement body parts; bartered for in like manner as were our ancestors, as chattel and owned as property. Globalization, playing the same role now and then, likewise fueled the Atlantic Slave Trade.
It incorporated the continents of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Thereby, would Spanish hidalgos, English privateers and other European hoi polloi obtain by purchase or plunder, trinkets and beads from Europe; exchange these for Africans, who’d then be shipped via the Atlantic to the Americas and traded for profits to obtain more trinkets and beads in Europe.
Incidentally, to sail from North Africa to Central America, Europeans used the – west to east, and east to west – rotation of Africa’s Benguela Current. It is an oceanic current that spins between the west coast of North Africa and the east coast of Central America. A branch of the “West Wind Drift of the Southern Hemisphere”, it flows north along the west coast of Africa towards the Equator, then swings west along the Atlantic Equatorial Current to Central America. From there, circling southward it curves eastward back along the Equator to North Africa.
This current, every summer is also the calving ground for high-pressure weather systems. Some become the hurricanes which annually ravage North American coastal areas of Florida and New York. Notably, these were the landings where the enslaved first came ashore after leaving Africa. Some among the Old Ones’ prophesy that these storms, increasing in ferocity are spawned from the vengeance of Moko and the sorrowings over us by ancestors who, with some families and children, having found watery graves, never made it across the Atlantic: the fortunate ones.
It is this circular route Columbus took, no doubt on the advice of his pilot, a Moor named Pedro Alonso Niño, nicknamed “El Negro”. It is more than likely that other crew members were Black and/or mulatto since Palos, the Spanish port from which Columbus sailed was located in southern Spain, the region where for more than 700 years, the “Black-a-Moors” had ruled. Of note, it was one month after Granada – the last Moorish stronghold in Spain fell to the Reconquista – that Columbus first set sail west across the Atlantic and into the “New World”.
But who were the Moors? Shakespeare wrote of Othello the Moor. Oft described as Muslims, the description goes by centuries farther back. The origin of “Moor”, is the Greek word, “μαυρο” or “mavro”. In use since ancient Greece, it literally means “black, blackened or charred”. Ancient Greeks used the term to describe the complexion of Africans. Today, some Greeks even use “mavro”; a pejorative term akin to ni**er. One of the earliest church fathers, St. Maurice, was Black. As were the Maori, who first peopled New Zealand.
Were these Moorish sailors skilled in using navigational instruments like the lodestone and the astrolabe? Of the two leading universities then, the Moors had built one at Salamanca nearby. Also, not only is there evidence that Moors advised and sailed with Columbus, but there also remains archeological evidence of the presence of Africans in the Americas, centuries before his arrival. Among these are massive stone heads carved in features definitively African. Google: “Ancient Olmec Heads in the Americas”. See what confronted Europeans to whom Africans were dubbed, sub-humans. Of interest, too, is the fact that the Olmecs, independently along with the Chinese made the first recorded use of direction-finding instruments.
Finally, we, as a people have lost much. Now, “Dalits or Crushed People” – as Hindus consider us – our namings are Spanish Dom Basil; French Darceuil; Dutch DuBique; Portuguese Gomes; English Bridgeman… However, we have also kept much. Herein, witness the following. One was of Black South Africans burying the murdered body of Steve Biko. It was in rural settings, with transportation scarce. And made even moreso by the Boers who’d blocked access to mourners trying to honour the martyred Biko. The people persevered. Eventually addressing them, the pastor said, “here are we, come to bury our beloved son. And the arrogant Boers doing all they can to stop us. But we are here!!”
Yes, we are here!! Formidable survivors of the basest blasphemies imposed on humans by others! Unequivocally human, we must now reject the modus operandi of a survivalist “will to please; to dependency”. We must redeem “The Will to Power…with Justice”.
To be continued: 21st Century slavery in Canada.