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The period from the beginning of the TransAtlantic African Slave so-called Trade (1500) to the demarcation of Africa into colonies in the late 1800s is one of the most documented periods in World History. Yet, with the exception of the renegade African slave raider Tippu Tip of the Congo (Muslim name, Hamed bin Muhammad bin Juna al-Marjebi) who was collaborating with the White Arabs (also called Red Arabs) there is little documentation of independent African slave raiding. By independent is meant that there were no credible threats, intoxicants or use of force by Whites to force or deceive the African into slave raiding or slave trading and that the raider himself was not enslaved to Whites at the time of slave raiding or "trading". Trade implies human-to-human mutuality without force. This was certainly not the general scenario for the TransAtlantic so-called Trade in African slaves. Indeed, it was the Portuguese who initiated the European phase of slave raiding in Africa by attacking a sleeping village in 1444 and carting away the survivors to work for free in Europe.
Even the case of Tippu Tip may well fall into a category that we might call the consequences of forced cultural assimilation via White (or Red) Arab Conquest over Africa. Tippu Tip s father was a White (or Red) Arab slave raider, his mother an unmixed African slave. Tip was born out of violence, the rape of an African woman. It is said that Tip, a "mulatto", was merciless to Africans.
yy The first act against Africa by Whites was an unilateral act of war, announced or unannounced. There were no African Kings or Queens in any of the European countries nor in the U.S. when ships set sail for Africa to capture slaves for profit. Whites had already decided to raid for slaves. They didn t need our agreement on that. Hence, there was no mutuality in the original act. The African so-called slave "trade" was a demand-driven market out of Europe and America, not a supply-driven market out of Africa. We did not seek to sell captives to the Whites as an original act. Hollywood s favorite is showing Blacks capturing Blacks into slavery, as if this was the only way capture occurred. There are a number of ways in which capture occurred. Let s dig a little deeper into this issue.
Chancellor Williams, in his classic work, The Destruction of Black Civilization, explains that after the over land passage of African trade had been cut off at the Nile Delta by the White Arabs in about 1675 B.C. (the Hyksos), the Egyptian/African economy was thrown into a recession. There is even indication of "pre-historic" aggression upon Africa by White nomadic tribes (the Palermo Stone). As recession set in the African Government began selling African prisoners of war and criminals on death row to the White Arabs. This culminated as an unfortunate trade, in that, when the White Arabs attacked, they had the benefit of the knowledge and strength of Africans on their side, as their slaves. This is a significantly different picture than the propaganda that we sold our immediate family members into slavery to the Whites.
In reality, slavery is an human institution. Every ethnic group has sold members of the same ethnic group into slavery. It becomes a kind of racism; that, while all ethnic groups have sold its own ethnic group into slavery, Blacks can't do it. When Eastern Europeans fight each other it is not called tribalism. Ethnic cleansing is intended to make what is happening to sound more sanitary. What it really is, is White Tribalism pure and simple.
The fact of African resistance to European Imperialism and Colonialism is not well known, though it is well documented. Read, for instance, Michael Crowder (ed.), West African Resistance, Africana Publishing Corporation, New York, 1971. Europeans entered Africa in the mid 1400 s and early 1500 s during a time of socio-political transition. Europeans chose a favorite side to win between African nations at a war and supplied that side with guns, a superior war instrument. In its victory, the African side with guns rounded up captives of war who were sold to the Europeans in exchange for more guns or other barter. Whites used these captives in their own slave raids. These captives often held pre-existing grudges against groups they were ordered to raid, having formerly been sold into slavery themselves by these same groups as captives in inter-African territorial wars. In investigating our history and capture, a much more completed picture emerges than simply that we sold each other into slavery.
The Ashanti, who resisted British Imperialism in a Hundred Years War, sold their African captives of war and criminals to other Europeans, the Portuguese, Spanish, French, in order to buy guns to maintain their military resistance against British Imperialism (Michael Crowder, ed., West African Resistance).
Eric A. Walker, in A History of Southern Africa, Longmans, London, 1724, chronicles the manner in which the Dutch entered South Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. Van Riebeeck anchored at the Cape with his ships in 1652 during a time that the indigenous Khoi Khoi or Khoisan (derogatorily called Hottentots) were away hunting. The fact of their absence is the basis of the White "claim" to the land. But there had been a previous encounter with the Khoi Khoi at the Cape in 1510 with the Portuguese Ship Almeida. States Eric A. Walker, "Affonso de Albuquerque was a conscious imperialist whose aim was to found self-sufficing colonies and extend Portuguese authority in the East&He landed in Table Bay, and as it is always the character of the Portuguese to endeavor to rob the poor natives of the country, a quarrel arose with the Hottentots, who slew him and many of his companions as they struggled towards their boats through the heavy sand of Salt River beach." (Ibid. p. 17). Bartholomew Diaz had experienced similar difficulties with the indigenous Xhosa of South Africa in 1487, on his way to "discovering" a "new" trade route to the East. The conflict ensued over a Xhosa disagreement over the price Diaz wanted to pay for their cattle. The Xhosa had initially come out meet the Whites, playing their flutes and performing traditional dance.
In 1652, knowing that the indigenous South Africans were no pushovers, Van Riebeeck didn t waste any time. As soon as the Khoi Khoi returned from hunting, Van Riebeeck accused them of stealing Dutch cattle. Simply over that assertion, war broke out, and the superior arms of the Dutch won. South African Historian J. Congress Mbata best explains this dynamic in his lectures, available at the Cornell University Africana Studies Department. Mbata provides three steps: 1) provocation by the Whites, 2) warfare and, 3) the success of a superior war machinery.
There are several instances in which Cecil Rhodes, towards the end of the 19th Century, simply demonstrated the superiority of the Maxim Machine Gun by mowing down a corn field in a matter of minutes. Upon such demonstrations the King and Queen of the village, after consulting the elders, signed over their land to the Whites. These scenarios are quite different from the Hollywood version, and well documented.
It has been important to present the matters above to dispel the notion of an African slave trade that involved mutuality as a generalized dynamic on the part of Africans. If we can accept the documented facts of our history above and beyond propaganda, we can begin to heal. We can begin to love one another again and go on to regain our liberties on Earth.
Oscar L. Beard, B.A., RPCV
Consultant in African Studies
P.O. Box 5208
Atlanta, Georgia 31107
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Slave Raids and Markets
The Arab slavers raided at nightfall, during the dinner time. Africans who resisted or tried to run were shot and killed. Most adult men were killed as the Arabs favored women and children for sale. The captives then endured a long and torturous march through the African countryside as the slavers searched and gathered more captives. Young men, women, and children were bound by hand and by neck throughout this journey, enduring beatings and rapes along the way. Those who fell sick or dead were left behind. Others remained bound to living captives.
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The Arab Slave Trade is the longest yet least discussed of the two major trades. It begins in the 7th century AD as Arabs and other Asians poured into Northern and Eastern Africa under the banner of Islam, either converting or subjugating the African societies they came upon. In the beginning there was some level of mutual respect between the Blacks and the more Caucasian-Semitic Arabs. Mihdja, a Black man, is said to be the first Muslim killed in battle while another, Bilal, is regarded as a "third of the faith." Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri, born in Upper Egypt near Sudan, is regarded as the founder of Sufism. Today Sufism's greatest stronghold is in Southern Egypt and Sudan. Islamic prosperity was based upon Black as well as Arabic genius.
The children of a stinking Nubian black---God put no light in their complexion!
Arab Poet, late 600AD,
But as Islamic prosperity grew, so did an air of hostility towards many Blacks, Muslims or otherwise. Some Arabs complained about having to work next to Blacks in high positions. After the Prophet's death, even the descendants of Bilal received negative treatment. Arabic writings became laced with anti-Black sentiment. This reaction of Blacks at the time to this can be seen in the writings of a contemporary 9th Century Black scholar in residence at Baghdad by the name of Abu 'Uthman' Amr Ibn Bahr Al-Jahiz. Al-Jahiz, to confront a growing tide of anti-black sentiment in the Muslim world, published a highly controversial work at the time titled, Kitab Fakhr As-Sudan 'Ala Al-Bidan, "The Book of Glory of the Blacks over the Whites." Al-Jahiz in his work contended that even the Prophet Mohammad's father may have been of African lineage.
These new attitudes towards Blacks by Arabs marked the beginning of African enslavement. Though not based solely on race, the Arab Slave Trade did focus heavily upon Africans whom Arabs now saw as inferior to themselves. At first these Arabs raided African villages themselves seeking humans for sale. This not being always successful, they soon enlisted the aid of fellow African Muslims or recently converted Blacks. Wrapping themselves within Islam, these converts rationalized the slavery of their non Muslim brethren as the selling of "unbelievers." At other times the Arabs would demand tribute in the form of human bodies from Africans weary of the fight against Arabic-Islamic incursions.
The Arabs took advantage of regional wars in Africa to buy captives from the victor. They also used the old divide-and-conquer technique. They worked one group against the other and took or killed the best and strongest.
S.E. Anderson, The Black Holocaust for Beginners
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The African is a Muslim while the girls are not. The Eastern Slave Trade dealt primarily with African women: a ratio of two women for each man. These women and young girls were used by Arabs and other Asians as concubines. Filling the harems of wealthy Arabs, they often bore them a host of children. This sexual abuse of African women would continue for nearly 1200 years.
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the Trader was the Traitor.
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Excellent post. Very informative.