Young ladies of Koumbadiouma braid each other's hair. Kolda, Senegal.
Young ladies of Koumbadiouma braid each other's hair. Kolda, Senegal.

In the aim of defeating an enemy, the opponent makes ready for war. There is, of course, the kinetic war of combat that transpires, the physical bout between militaries. The economic war might occur simultaneously in attempts to cripple adversaries financially—perhaps through sanctions or trade disruptions. The propaganda war informs the public of the preferred story lines despite the true narratives. The intellectual war is linked to all of the above. The biggest brains, i.e. the Professional Warriors, behind the tactics and the operations of war are charged with out-thinking and out-maneuvering their opponents.

Of all wars, the psychological warfare is the most invisible, yet the most insidious. Like the others, it is ongoing, and it started long before any signs of physical conflict. Unlike the others, it is deniable, which makes it very powerful. The psychological war is about how to mentally defeat the opponent. Its covert and nonlinear approach makes it difficult to detect. Often, groups cannot tell a psychological war has been waged against them because it is covert.

Many people in the African Diaspora do not realize the psychological war, ongoing for some time, waged against Africans. Europeans have deployed this war of anti-Blackness against the African Diaspora, but since its onslaught, other groups have joined its practice. During the psychological war of anti-Blackness, the African mind has been warped to turn against itself. The African mind has been warped to worship whiteness and European-ness to the detriment of itself.

First, the picture of a European god hangs prominently on their walls in the most prominent rooms for their own edification and for all their guests to see when they visit. They enroll their daughters in missionary schools, which force them to kneel and pray to a statue of a European man as god. They enroll their sons in missionary school, which whips them into genuflecting before the statue of a European woman as the mother god.

Second, the ‘plastic’ replica of a European woman’s hair or the hair itself sheared from the European (or Asian) scalp perches on the African woman’s head. Many an African woman will not set foot outside her compound without her Eurasian mop. It makes her proud. In fact, many people have not seen her without this mop. And every time she is confronted about this mop, including right this very minute, she runs the gamut of excuses so that she refuses to rid herself of this psychological torment.

Third, the African man who is psychologically scarred, when choosing a mate, seeks out a woman with the lightest skin tone. He cares not about her intellect or her hobbies or other commonalities, or even about her femininity—only that her skin tone is closest to the European mother god on his wall. He wants only what the European man wants after all.

These are but a few factors, but there are others.

The point is clear: the psychologically defeated African man wants little to do with his own culture, heritage, or language, which he deems backwards. While he struggles to read, write, and articulate thoughts in European languages, he much prefers butchering European languages than speaking in and mastering his own mother tongue.

Psychologically defeated Africans fear angering the European man on the wall, who they often apologize to for misteps.

Psychologically defeated Africans are embarrassed, by their hair, by their cultures, by their languages, by their appearances, by their very essence.

Psychologically defeated Africans would do anything to disassociate from who they are.

Psychologically defeated African women would rather costume themselves as Europeans or cover their hair than show it in its true form and beauty. The frequency with which African women attach foreign hair onto their heads is one sign of psychological weakness and low self-esteem. They are literally unaware of the fact that they are the only women on the entire planet who engage in this self-defeatist behavior with their hair.

There are deep roots to the psychological war against Africans which make the simple resolution—to simply stop listening to Europeans and to anti-Black narratives and to simply end any and all debilitating behaviors—more complicated for the common man and woman to accept. Much of the basis for a psychological defeat passes through the vessel of religion and missionary, colonial mis-education. The psychological defeat comes when the worshipped is not made in the same image and likeness as the worshipper. There is a psychological dissonance as the worshipper can never achieve the appearance and manner of the idol and only looks foolish trying.

This is not to say religion is not important. In fact, it is because it is so vital that it is used for psychological wars. Having no conviction at all is also equally debilitating as having the wrong conviction, because an empty vessel can be filled with the wrong fuel. Possessing no religion, people are highly susceptible to the unconventional, non-linear, psychological war-craft of secular, liberal, neoliberal mis-education. They are empty vessels through which all kinds of corruption will be rinsed.

On the contrary, devout ancestor worshippers do not have a problem with psychological defeat. In the names of the relatives who came before them in their lineage, they worship their own image. They are not susceptible to the self-hating dictates of a hybrid and psychological warfare.

There is no shortage of intellect or strength among people of the African Diaspora. Though the colossal ruse is in convincing the African people into believing that they should not hold their heads proudly in high esteem, as they are. The colossal ruse is in convincing the African people into believing that they should imitate others to thrive. The colossal ruse is in convincing the African people, who have traversed the planet for millennia, into believing that they need help in making ordinary decisions about their lives and cultures.

It remains for the African intellectual to awaken to the reality of the patently European, hybrid, non-linear, unconventional psychological war-craft, and to combat and win the war over the minds of Africans. The psychological battle may be the most dangerous and insidious, yet it is also the easiest war to win—because African peoples do not lack the intellect to challenge the anti-Black psychosis and re-establish African paradigms of thought and being. It requires no pricey weapons but only the priceless resolve, determination, and love of a people for their own existence and survival—in their own unadulterated form.

This is the battle we must all win, first and foremost.

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I am Amara. I come from a long line of griots (jalis). My grandfather was central in my upbringing. He comes from a tradition of oral history immersed in the vast expanse of time and the pageantry of customs and rituals. But, I have come to learn the reality of the ways of the griot in the 21st Century. I became a Scribe at Grandmother Africa for exactly this reason - to keep a tradition going, in a different medium. If you enjoyed this essay and would like to support more content like this one, please buy me a cup of coffee in support of my next essay, or you can go bold, very bold and delight me. Here's my CashApp: $AMARANEFETITI


  1. One of the most insidious psychological wars against Africans/Blacks remains the over-Problematization of Melanin. This Detrimentalization of Melanin sits at the base of our unsavory acceptance of “whiteness” as a doctrine and as a financial system that is employed in our fettered exploitation to Europeans/Europe. Somehow, in this system of whiteness as these images hang on our walls, and as you say Amara, “There is a psychological dissonance as the worshipper [colonized] can never achieve the appearance and manner [economic status] of the idol [Europeans] and only looks foolish trying.” We accept that these Europeans deserve to eat their food and then turn around and have ours too. This is foolishness and it ends in this century. Never again!


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