Africans were and still are forced into slavery

“The Europeans and Arabs took the most talented, intelligent and creative generations of our African forefathers through slavery”, Patrick Buhungu, my young brother, told me in 2003. 

BY GEORGE KAGAME

 

“The Europeans and Arabs took the most talented, intelligent and creative generations of our African forefathers through slavery”, Patrick Buhungu, my young brother, told me in 2003. 

“When guilt overwhelmed the Europeans, they ‘stopped’ slave trade and reinvented it with colonialism. They made Africans slaves in their own countries by introducing cash crops and mineral exports, which they sold between themselves and got richer adding onto their incomes from slave trade.”

Today slavery is replayed in the unfair trade relations that developed countries impose on poor developing countries.

Patrick at time was in the process of applying for a visa to Sweden, today he lives in Europe, and like so many Africans living there, he will not easily disclose what job he does.

Before his departure to Europe, Patrick called a farewell party; it is his partying words that left me in tears, not that I would miss him!

He said, “Europeans hunted our forefathers and took them as slaves, only the excellent ones were taken…that is why France ever became soccer World Champions, and that is why Brazil is ever top of many games….like soccer. However, the Europeans left Africa with the least intelligent and talented of our own people.”

Patrick was not done, he concluded, “even those of us left here, we are voluntarily taking ourselves into slavery in Europe.”

When I read Richard Oundo’s article about immigrant Africans arrested and sometime dumped on the Mediterranean Sea I was reminded of Patrick and the new form of slavery from Africa.

The Western world, which made a big business enslaving Africans forcefully, is now busy drowning them before they dock on Ocean islands. The same Europeans running around Africa, managing a myriad of NGOs to help Africa out of poverty. The Africans who are drowned in the oceans are complimenting these NGO’s work.

Without the horrors of slavery, colonialism and neo colonialism, Europe took over 100 hundred years to stabilize and expand their industrial revolution after the Napoleonic wars.

They also took almost fifty years to consolidate after the Second World War…even with assistance from the US Marshal Plan and the subsidies of exploiting resources from their African colonies.


As late as the 1970s, East Europeans were suffering the same fate Africans are facing on the Mediterranean Sea today, while chasing the American dream themselves.

It is the nature of the human selfish spirit that explains why Africans are painted the way they are while traversing the seas going to look for a descent saving in Europe. This story is very well portrayed in Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel.

This time, the Africans are portrayed…….. (Like the grim pictures on the capsizing boats suggest) as a hopeless society unable to comprehend their problems leave alone solving them. Interestingly, the Africans believe such prejudices themselves!

Indeed, as Morgan Heritage sing in their inspirational song ‘foreign races’, “from the journey of slavery to colonialism we lost ourselves.’

To the Western eye, Africa has become a land of hopeless images—the starving child, the wild-eyed dictator, the dusty and dying veld or a wild epidemic.

This is some of what remains of the once mighty continent. This is what is fed to the Western audiences on daily basis. The same Europeans who advise us to stop playing apologetics of The Genocide, slavery and colonialism are the same people who will punish anti Semitism in their press or movies fifty years after the Holocaust!

Africa today is relayed to the rest of the world in a fashion which resembles an Anglo-Saxon tribal lore that tells the parable of the sparrow that flies into the dining hall at night, flutters about for a moment, and then wings out again. Its brief time in the light, and the darkness from which it comes and to which it goes, provides the allegory of a human life.

Samuel Doe of Liberia was videotaped having his ears cut off by the transition team of the incoming administration of Charles Taylor. The Genocide in Rwanda and murders in Somalia were, perhaps, not morally different from or worse than murders in Bosnia or Ulster but seemed somehow more primitive, carried out as they were with clubs and axes, or with bare hands and by dancing, gibbering crowds.

The illegal immigrant Africans crossing the Mediterranean sea are not different from the Mexicans trying to jump the high electric walls into US, but African images are stand out more, because they from the dark continent carrying along dangerous epidemics and many problems.

The crude images from Africa could as well be recognizable from Bosnia or El Salvador or Ukraine and Lebanon; the civilian and nontribal politician trying desperately to survive in a welter of mayhem and superstition. But the problems in those countries are not as scary as Africans because Africa is the Dark Continent!

The famines, plagues, and epidemics are, from old-style locusts to ultra-modern HIV/Aids, the most sweeping and devastating. The clan wars and wars of religion are the most bitter and pitiless. Human life is at its nastiest, most brutish, and shortest.

Statistics do their usual job of confirming initial impressions. Of the 20 most impoverished nations in the world, 18 are in Africa.

Richard Oundo of The New Times says the people crossing to European Countries are not illiterates; “They are educated people and sometimes from far developed countries by African standards, for example Tunisia, Morocco, and Ghana; they are not the Masaai or Karimojong warriors.”

 The latter are true African people who still refuse to embrace the glitter of the modern world up to today.

The mainstream international media describe Africa as being either a safari park or an elephants’ graveyard; and that if you need a life you must go to Europe, US, Canada and so on. That is the reason Africans will do anything to get out of the jungle. It is the new form of slavery, slavery of the mind, which we must fight and win.

 

The writer is a social commentator, and also a journalist with The New Times.

Contact: +250 0869 6609

 

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