Don’t Traumatize Yourself Further: Africans Did Not Sell Africans Into Chattel Slavery.
Those who haven’t consistently followed my writings on the major issue concerning the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade often miss copious amounts of literature that expatiate on the matter in the same way that the Oral traditions they memorize and regurgitate completely misses copious amounts of irretrievable information and the contexts by which such information can be understood.
I do not defend the often recited role that Dahomey, or even to a lesser extent, Asante and Oyo played in the kidnapping, torture, and sale of Africans to Europeans, or am I eliminating that this very act preceded the European transport of Africans to the Americas where the Europeans tortured, murdered, enslaved, worked, raped, molested for profit, all peoples of African descent for well over 400 years.
What the humble student of African history in Africa does not quite grasp is that one cannot force people to produce weapons for war where there are no wars. You cannot produce sugar where there are no consumers of sugary waters. My theory does not go against other so-called renowned African historians, per se. However, my work consumes their works of art in a more profound theory that fully encompasses disparate narratives about the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. If this means that such famous African historians who tout their horns about African complicity in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade were idiots, then they are thus thoroughly described!
What is my theory? It is a simple one that anyone with a decent high school education should grasp: Europeans, I assert, turned to Chaos Management to eventually conquer the continent of Africa—because they could not raid the entire continent of Africa as they had successfully done in the Americas—and hence they adopted the method of “Indirect Violence.” African kingdoms, notably Dahomey, were almost entirely too advanced or advanced enough in the making of war, and they were formidable in retaliating to provocation, that they forced and limited the marauding Europeans, who arrived to the West African coasts yearly, to activities on the beaches of West Africa alone.
In today’s formulation, the idea of European indirect violence in Africa can be almost, entirely, be likened to the well-established evidence that the Euro-American Empire is responsible for breeding, funding and managing Terrorism in the Middle East. And so what if some Arabs sell other Arabs into slavery during this tumultuous era in Middle Eastern history? And so what if some Arabs kidnap, torture, enslave and kill other Arabs during this era of spreading global terrorism from the Middle East?
Are the Arabs going to be blamed for killing each other? Perhaps. Are the Arabs to be blamed for kidnapping, enslaving and torturing each other as a result of which side they perceive themselves to be on the tumultuous-historical divide of terrorism? Perhaps.
“Perhaps,” remains the answer. Some will say, yes. Others will look at the greater context of Euro-American meddling in the Middle East and conclude that no. Either answer is not wrong. It depends on what one wishes to discuss. Hence it depends on which context seems relevant to the question and the one answering it. If you asked the leaders of the west about the atrocities being committed in the Middle East, none will admit to them although one can barely dismiss their hand in them. Neither would the groups branded as terrorist groups in the Middle East admit to the torturous deaths of innocents, no matter how much funding they get from abroad to do exactly what they have been trained to do.
To fully grasp the enormity of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, and to become fully aware of the ideological issues at hand, one needs to first rid him/herself of the first kind of ideological branding: That Africans sold Africans. Once a student can step away from that narrative he or she can become available to appreciating the scale of the geopolitical issues that were at hand at the time.
I defend Dahomey not because I come from Dahomey myself (although one great grandfather of mine is directly from Abomey), but I defend Dahomey because the activities of Dahomey during the slave trade cannot be distilled to one diatribe that “Africans sold Africans.” I defend Dahomey’s actions, and I also defend Asante actions on the Gold Coast, because I believe that their actions were dictated in full by the geopolitical atmosphere that Europeans brought to West Africa and forced on independent African states on the coasts.
One cannot dispute the fact that so many independent African states were funded, equipped and militarily-prepared with European propaganda and tutelage to attack such formidable kingdoms like Dahomey on the West African coast under the flimsiest of accusations. Dahomey’s responses to such widespread terrorism of her own peoples—which invariably resulted in the retaliatory kidnapping of captives of war, torture and sale to other Europeans to fund even more war—cannot be understood without first appreciating the manner in which other independent West African states were led sheepishly to turn on one another in perpetual warfare. By perpetual warfare, I mean wars that do not end. Wars that continued for almost 500 years, and which constantly kept the chains for the supply of kidnapped fugitives and captives of war sufficiently oiled.
I do not mean to paint a saintly picture of Dahomey. What I intend to bring to the attention of the humble African student about his or her own history is the geopolitical context of the kind of perpetual warfare that was fomented by European states, and funded by European governments on the West African coast for the supply of fugitives and captives of war for chattel slavery in the Americas. Perpetual warfare is the means by which a steady stream of resources, including the supply of free human labor and expertise, is guaranteed to flow in own direction and one direction alone—onto European slave ships voyaging steadily away to the highly sophisticated systems of chattel slavery in the Americas, meant for the barbaric extraction of human labor, but also for the violent extraction of African expertise.
The struggle with the student of African history, being African himself, or even more specifically being of Dahomeyan (Ewe) extraction or Asante or Oyo extraction is that the student is motivated to paint his history in like manner as the European histories that the Europeans have been painted for him to read, memorize and regurgitate. Some students are motivated to speak of the Kingdom of Dahomey as a kingdom on equal footing as the violent French Kingdom that terrorized it. Some other students are motivated to paint Asante and Oyo as Kingdoms that rivalled the barbarism of their British counterpart.
For that matter the narrative that Dahomey, Oyo and Asante acted independently—as if there was not in their presence and shadow, a formidable European geopolitical gravitational influence acting upon their characters—appeals to many. In a sense, this attitude towards African history and particularly towards the historicity of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade satiates those who wish to paint, in equal measure, African Kingdoms as capable of standing up to their European counterparts in war, diplomacy and in the support of European barbarism.
This attitude is however grossly misplaced. Dahomey may have been unmatched on the West African coast, even among its cousins, the Ewe states, like the Anlo and the Agave, in reacting to attacks on her. But Dahomey could not have matched the French or the British in the fine arts of propaganda-making. The French had a writing culture and by that the French had both a clear domestic policy and a concise white supremacist chattel slave-seeking foreign policy in West Africa.
The Dahomeyans, on the other hand, resorted to oral culture, often aided by a sophisticated drum language, but which nonetheless could not have stood up to the level of analytical effusion that is often associated with written culture. Not one foreign policy has been recited or performed on talking drums. And so Dahomey had no such clear and concise prescription for domestic and foreign policy or did she have the analytical tools to comprehend French insidious and pernicious intentions in West Africa.
It is orally narrated to us that certain African elite who opposed African trading with Europeans, like the Nana Yeboahs of the Oyoko family in Asante, were later banished from their societies as a result of a consistent European pressure. Perhaps a writing culture would have made the ideas of those who opposed trade with Europeans in West Africa available reading to the larger masses, however, no major kingdom on the West Africa coast had developed any considerable writing culture. It is not that the Dahomeyans or the Oyo couldn’t have adopted one of the region’s ancient writing cultures, but why they opted for an oral existence beats the casual observer. But this is not the point. The point is that Dahomey was no match for the French when it came to the wanton manipulation of the masses through propaganda.
Neither were the Asantes or the Oyo a match for the British Kingdom. Much of the wars between Dahomey and Oyo, and this can be shown, came as a result of cheap manipulation of the two kingdoms against each other, through the use of mere external propaganda by European traders. It is no secret to claim that the European kingdoms were ahead of their African counterparts when it came to the art of telling lies and dishonorably pitching one “ally” against another. The Europeans themselves had had their own copious amounts of training in the art of war through their numerous tribal wars that engulfed and destroyed the social fabric of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, up until the last European Tribal War (The “Second World War”) in 1945.
To this point, the student of African history cannot whole-heartedly be pleased with attempting to assert the equality of the African states to their European counterparts in propaganda-making. The preliminary step for the humble student of African history is to desist from attempting to cast African history in the same light as the numerous histories of Europe that he has been forced to read, memorize and regurgitate. This is indeed the crux of the matter: Can the African historian think of his own history outside the crooked prescriptions of his European education?
My theory of how the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade transpired over the 400 years of perpetual war on the West African coast as a result of European Terrorism challenges the established narrative of African history as told to us, read to us, and written to us, by those who lack a true assessment of the geopolitical context within which West African kingdoms operated.
Better, I am challenging the western narrative that “Africans sold Africans.” I understand the impetus for this narrative—to shirk direct European responsibility for the most heinous crimes ever committed by human beings towards other human beings. Period. However, the idea that “Africans sold Africans” is incorrect, since what this new propaganda does is forge and force African victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade on Africa and Africans, while it carefully side-steps the glaring elephant in the center of the room—the presence of European chaos managers on the West African coasts: the very people who enslaved Africans and benefitted from their labor and expertise for well over 400 years!
If the humble student of African history doubts any part of my theory, he needs only examine the state of the African kingdoms after the slave trade. All the West African kingdoms were summarily defeated and occupied by European powers by 1900, and then these kingdoms were subsequently split into tiny countries, parts becoming the sovereign properties of the various kingdoms of Europe by the 1960s. How can one say that West African kingdoms were so strong and powerful, and even became rich nations as a result of the slave trade, and how can one insinuate that these African kingdoms had so much control over that trade of Africans on their coast, yet be so weak as to quickly fall to European powers within the same decades of the abolishing of the slave trade?
How is it even sensible to accept the idea that the Europeans just happened to seize on the chance to stop the slave trade, weaken these kingdoms and then take their lands and resources for free through colonialism? How does one accept that people in Dahomey and Oyo did not equally suffer from the violence of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade because their kingdoms engaged entirely in the perpetual wars that made fugitives and captives of war available to the European states?
How is it easy to accept these logical series of the steps of European Terrorism: (1) European nations fomented perpetual war, (2) They weakened such powerful African kingdoms on the coast as Dahomey through the constant fomenting of attacks on Dahomey, (3) As Dahomey for instance became embroiled in war, it became inescapable that she was going to be engulfed in the sale of its captives to fund even more wars, (4) After several centuries of this weakening, the European states finally grabbed the chance to defeat these kingdoms, balkanized these states and (5) Colonized them until today?
It is quite odd that the notorious student of African history would rather sidestep these logical steps, and he would also sidestep the reality of today’s African neocolonial, neo-imperial existence under European states, and rather fawn over some idea that Africans had the full will, and full desire, to do nothing, but kidnap their own brothers and sisters from other ethnic groups and sell them to the same people who would later colonize them. It would be fascinating to see how any kind of mind can work such illogical jumps in thought and land on the kind of European obfuscation that has become so pervasive in the telling, and writing of the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade in West Africa.
When the Europeans engage in the obfuscation, at least their intentions are clear. What is not clear is whether the African student is even geopolitically aware, or whether he remains as stupid as the former elites of West Africa’s past kingdoms who abandoned their writing cultures. What needs to be ascertained is whether the new student of African history engages in the meme of “Africans sold Africans” and continues to indulge the oral cultures that led to his acquiescence to European propaganda, which led, invariably to his own defeat in the face of European Terrorism?
I have mentioned (neo)-colonialism and (neo)-imperialism a few times concerning how the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade quickly gave way to the complete and total domination of African peoples by European nations on the African continent. Does the new student of African history not see the economic and geopolitical transition from the slave trade to the proper colonization and balkanization of African states for the sole purpose of the extraction of resources and profits for Europeans? How can one even assume that African kingdoms were in any kind of control of the slave trade leading up to their total domination by western powers? How can one misconstrue this obvious reality and claim that African kingdoms were the (sole) beneficiaries of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade?
The reader can bear with me for a second so I can expatiate on the geopolitical malfeasance that is the ideology of blaming any part of Africa for the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. The new African student of African history who toots the meme: “Africans sold Africans,” is often under the wild impression that he must express what he claims to be “brutal honesty” in his own affairs. By “brutal honesty,” he means to “admit” complicity in some measure, at least, in the business and profits that accrued to European slave traders. What he is wont to be unaware of is that it is not brutal honesty that he seeks, but brutal stupidity. A kind of stupidity nurtured on a diet of some history that he has been (orally) spoon-fed, and with a diet of European ideology that he has been carefully indoctrinated.
What the wayward African student of history is wont to also be unaware of is that his admission of African complicity in his own rendering of his brutal stupidity does not in any form or shape implicate all Africans in the tired European game of ascribing blame to the victims of European barbarism, which serves the European powers that wish to shirk responsibility. What is rather revealed in the oft-peddled narratives about African complicity is more of the same.
The French, for instance, are still collecting hundreds of billions of dollars annually in reparations from their West African colonies for a so-called tax for the end to their “civilizational process.” Which is, to put it another way, the same African countries, where the old ruins of the African kingdoms are now left unattended, are being forced to dish out free money, in billions of dollars, to the French in return for exposing the fallacy of their colonial endeavors in Africa. The obvious reality of the European-extraction of wealth from Africa is that this very arrangement is the continuation of more colonialism, nonetheless. The British and their relationship to their colonies in Africa are no different.
What escapes the mind of the student of African history is that no matter what narrative he has been fed about African complicity in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, what he should rather quickly become aware of about the lie of African complicity is what remains of European terrorism in Africa, proper—the facts on the ground, which is the constant thread. African resources, including African labor and expertise, has only flowed in one direction for the past 500 years—into the arms of the very Europeans, the white elephants in the room, who claim they are just idle by-standers.
So, let us recount the process of European exploitation, the stages of European terrorism in Africa: (1) Fomenting perpetual war, which (2) Supplied fugitives and captives of war as slaves to the European traders, and which wars (3) Weakened the strongest African kingdoms, which invariably (4) Led to their defeat by European forces using African mercenaries, and hence resulted in the widespread (5) Systems of European colonialism and imperialism all across Africa, up until today!
There should be no doubt in the mind of a sane person where the blame lies in the European Terrorism that befell West Africa in particular. Right at the doorsteps of the so-called European powers.
At what point, one may need to ask, does the African student become aware of this stagecraft of the arrogant, perpetual European propaganda to shirk its responsibility in the terrorism that birthed the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade? At what point does the humble student of African history admit to himself or herself that this tirade of “Africans sold Africans” leveled against Africans does nothing but conceal a certain stage of individual psychosis about the trauma of Europe’s 500 years of Terrorism in Africa?
Trauma, as they say, can often be revealed in how one treats himself. Some victims, not all, are quick to blame the root causes of their trauma on themselves. And so some African students of African history are easily traumatized by the facts of European Terrorism in Africa (who wouldn’t?), and so their self-assigned blame can only be rationalized in the terms of a mental illness.
No matter, it is still our duty as guardians of African history to push back on the well-funded, well-aired, often okay-written European propaganda on African history with our clear, concise and direct refutation. What is certain is that the European, and Euro-American institutions for kidnapping Africans (Black people for that matter) and enslaving them in the Americas, particularly in the United States, largely did not even end for as long as 80 years in some places upon completion of the U.S. civil war. And then there’s very little doubt that the enslavement of Black people in the Americas continued on in a slightly different form, widespread, controlling, publicly known and accepted — right up to the Second European Tribal War.
In fact, the national kidnapping of peoples of African descent in the United States, torturing them, even murdering them while cameras are drawn out in such acts as the murder of Black people on television by Euro-American Law Enforcement Officers—remains even today.
But it does not remain today in the overpowering form that prevented an African awareness of the nature of European terrorism (Ayevu methods) for nearly four centuries in Africa. It exists today in ways that we have amply become aware of, and we are, at least, capable of opposing and resisting it. Only the few students of African history—the ones gallivanting about in their brutal stupidity—fail to recognize the pernicious and insidious stagecraft of European terrorism in Africa and in the Diaspora. This is only to their own shame.