Friday, March 5, 2010

Think again

I knew more about the Holocaust as a young student back home than I did of slavery. And now that I am a mom and my son will be learning more about history as he also grows up, I wanted to make sure that he learns all the aspects of history and not just what the text books might say. I am now very biased about history lessons, because it is written only from one point of view. As I piece together all that I know, I am more equipped to express my views on the subject of slavery through the eyes of an African child. I remember when my dad was telling us stories about the colonial masters who came to Nigeria in search of new lands to conquer and also natural resources that they did not have from where ever they came from. He told us they gave villagers mirrors,clothing and of course alcohol. One may ask why such basic things? I believe now that these items were given because it gave the receiver immediate gratification, and the giver knew exactly what they were doing. My dad said, they where told more will be given to them as they corporate in allowing them take some of their natural resources in exchange, which also included letting them use the people to get the work done. It was suppose to be a fair exchange, so they thought. And this began a series of life altering events that has changed a group of people forever. From what I know, my dad also learned about this from his parents, and the other elders in the villages.

As I learn about all this, I want you to just think about this for a moment, and place yourself in the shoes of an African child, and let me take you back to how it all began. It is a new day and you have just woken up and your mom and dad were already up getting ready for the days work. In those days farming and hunting was the stock in trade. You live a very simple life surrounded by friends and family. The compound is your haven, you have all that you need, food, shelter and yes maybe just a piece of something that covers only your private part, life as you knew it was good. Your parents give you instructions for the day and you helped to prepare whatever was needed. This was life as you knew it, simple but filled with what is familiar and you were content. Day after day, that is what happens, and at times the neighbors in the other compounds will gather together to sing, dance and play games with everyone. Then one day the village chief calls for everyone to gather around because there was something wonderful he wanted to share, so everyone assembles and with excitement because this usually means something good was happening, maybe one of the villagers is getting married or maybe a fun and festive occasion was coming up. As you all gathered, you see all your friends and you tell jokes and laugh and play with each other. Then chief comes out, greets you and you chant all the necessary chants to settle down so that you might listen to this exciting news.
The chief who has since been approached by the new immigrants who came from a foreign land and gave him all the goodies they have brought, mirrors, clothing and alcohol now wants to share it with you too. So now everyone is excited and wants to have some it for themselves and the chief says you can, but the foreigner wants you to work for him to get more so that you can also give some to your extended families. Of course anyone who has never seen or have such a thing that is new and amazing will want to be apart of the action, so you sign up. And this was how the deception began. It seem like a fair trade, but the truth is life was about to change forever for those who participated.

So you report for duty after everything has been explained to you, and you were looking forward to work and get these great new things for your family that has been promised. The foreigner said they will bring you back after the work is complete and you will see all your friends and family again. That was the PROMISE. Then they came and took you, as left you waved to all your friends and family, the chief was there and bid you good luck and said come back soon. You walked with all the rest who signed up and the foreigner led the way. You walked and walked for what seem to be a never ending journey. Then finally you came to a canoe and far in the distant in the water is a huge voyager waiting to take you to a distant place that you never knew of and will NEVER return. For those who did not want to go, they were snatched and forced to go, chained neck and feet so that they cannot escape. The villagers were not aware this was happening, because the villages where far apart from each other and it took awhile for word to get around.

Do you know what they called my brothers and sisters? Savages! That's how they referred to them when they communicated within themselves. They beat the villagers who refused to take orders from them and will not give them food or water. And as the villagers waited to be taken away to a land they do not know, the wicked ones among the foreigners will select the young girls and rape them OVER and OVER again, taking turns. And they call my brothers and sisters savages! They must have been out of their flipping minds. The savager himself calling his victims savages, what planet are they from? So rethink what you think you know about black history, I am from Africa and I had to learn about this in my adult life. It really hurts as I began to understand the depth of the history surrounding slavery and of course I am more apt to speak out on the issue with passion.
There is an inherent difference in how you feel about yourself when you are forced or deceived to leave your home, friends and family in the promise that you will return, only to find out that it was all a BIG LIE. Your name is changed, you are beaten, and humiliated in every way possible among your people, even killed. You have no way of escaping the hell you are in. Then you work and work for nothing and you are treated like an animal by animals. Wow! Black Americans should be very proud of what they had to overcome and deserve our respect regardless of how we may feel today.

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