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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Columnist: Yakubu, Abubakari

Is Foreign Religion\Western Culture The Bane Of Africa’s Mental Slavery?

By Abukari Yakubu

Issues of these rational nature are often rarely discussed in our traditional African societies, more particularly when religion is involved, as they often invite curses, retribution, isolation and sometimes death. In most cases, it is our men of God, Pastors and Imams who often lead the crusade in demanding perpetrators’ heads and invoking curses and branding such people as devil, evil and most ignorantly dark-hearted people. This is because we have been brain-washed to believe by our Western Masters that anything black is bad and should be avoided at all cost. They have succeeded in inventing such phrases as the Dark Continent (in reference to Africa), the Black Hole (in reference to deficit in their budget, Blackout (in reference to near death or coma), as black as the devil (insult), blacklisted, to be painted black etc all having negative connotation. Surprisingly, some of these black-related phrases and words have found their way into ‘The Holy Books’ which now control every daily life of a black African and yet nobody questions these things. Nobody even notices these things, not even our so-called celebrated men of God. The rest of the world has even succeeded in identifying the colour of the Devil as being black.

My fellow black Africans, are we so enslaved mentally to the extent that, we can no longer break loose of the shackles? Are we really created purposely to serve the white man for eternity? Are we really born inferior to the rest of the world that we can not think for ourselves? Do we really believe in our own competencies and intelligence? Are we really considered as a serious partner to the rest of the world? The underlying cause of the embarrassing position of the black in this our modern era to me, is mental slavery with religion as the tool of oppression.

History through oppressor’s eyes will always be twisted and distorted. Historically in European media, Africa is represented as a totally negative entity which has played no active part in human advancement. For those of us who have lived and worked in Europe and the Arab world, this is no history to us, it is our daily experience. The image of Africa is hence either of lions or of starving children. The legacy of “taken-away” was institutionalised to devalue African people to serve as slaves and colonial subjects. Today African people are all amalgamated as one “Black People” and we hear terms like sub-Saharan Africa, black African, tribal Africans, all widely used racist terms that were fostered by Europeans. When we look at the legacy of this Dark Voyage in African history, it is still starkly apparent; we see African people subservient to every other group, even in countries where Africans are the majority. This assertion may be a bitter pill to swallow by many Africans but that is the ultimate truth.

Even the Asian (Indo-Pakistani)-African relationship within Islam, is washed with this racism and manifest itself in African people in Asian dominated communities being excluded from marriage, business opportunity, and religious representation in the clergy, etc. In South Africa and parts of East Africa, we see the colonially installed Indian communities acting as a buffer group between Africans and the Europeans, and like the Europeans, actively dominating and controlling the majority African population, through economic exploitation without any form of return.

In the history of Africa, we have been brainwashed to believe that, Idi Amin was a murderer, dictator, cannibal, a racist because he had asked Asians to leave his country and this one-sided aspect of history has been accepted by all including Africans as the ultimate truth. The same description, of late, has been extended to Mugabe of Zimbabwe and many others in Africa. It was this same callous treatment by the West that was meted out to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a visionary, a democrat and the first president of Ghana. For those who do not know, it was Nkrumah’s ideas of African Unity that had been stolen by the West which is today the idea behind the birth of European Union. Our history is being written once again for us and we take it as it is. What a people? So who in our history are our heroes and heroines that we can also boast of and market to the rest of the world? It is a pity that we do not have positive role models that are seen as such outside Africa for the unity of our present and future generations. Even Haile Selasie of Ethiopia, one of the most revered symbols of African unity, heroism, and the icon of our cultural revolution is today not being recognised in the West.

Slavery or forms of servitude of one form or the other are features of human history. However the ultimate degradation and dehumanisation characterised by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, monopolised by the white man and their Arab counterparts who had succeeded in reducing black African to a mere commodity in the name of propagating religion is what is enslaving us up to date. They have succeeded in invalidating our languages and religion, and more importantly made void of our culture and our history. Will my fellow black Africans really think deep about our position on the global ladder today? It is only people with inner eyes that will understand my gospel. If we were to know that, western religion and culture has only compounded and succeeded in annihilating our cultural heritage, if we were to understand that our God-given culture is richer and more humane and more tuned to societal morality, if we were to believe that our own African religion and culture is divine, if we were to believe and accept our own competencies and intelligence, then we would be at par with the rest of the world. But the fact that, we have abandoned our own and have adopted alien cultures will see us remained subservient to the rest of the world for a long time to come. And it is this mental Slavery that would be the most enduring legacy of the brutality visited upon African people, for after 500 years these mental shackles would prove the hardest to break.

There are no words to describe the plight of entire civilisations of people forced out of their home into an alien New World. There are no words to describe the dehumanisation experienced at the hands of European and Arab enslavers. There are no words to describe the anger and frustration as these same people continually rewrite and re-interpret African history to suit their interest in a sour attempt to alleviate their guilt. Worst still is the evil ingenuity, which reverses accountability and makes the victims (black Africans) responsible for their own enslavement. And ironically, it is Africans who are made to bear embarrassment for telling their own story. If justice is an inalienable right for all humanity then those millions upon millions who died as a consequence of the slave trade, deserve to be remembered and those who murdered, brutalised and betrayed them must be called into historical account.

It is not to make others feel bad, but part of the process of telling the truth; a truth washed away in stolen history and cultural domination. If the ancestors of some Arabs, Europeans, and some Africans were participants in the destruction of African civilisations then it is not sensible for fear of offending, to avoid openly discussing these topics. In addition, it is equally not fair for the victims' descendants, to apply the same "racism in reverse." It is about a dialogue to heal the wounds and the bitterness. The deep-seated anger resides in the inability to grieve and remember those who suffered in the greatest Holocaust in history.

The involvement of religion in the enslavement of African people is very hard for the devout to come-to-terms with, because they are often led to believe in a fairytale euphoric nostalgic past. In addition, religion is a Human-God relationship of morality and divine worship; if any institution should be firmly against the brutality of enslavement, it should be the religious bodies. Nonetheless, the truth is that there is no escaping the reality of the brutality visited on others by proponents of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and others. We must stop being naive and idealistic, as the fruits of this mentality is to turn a blind eye to this ungodly oppression. In addition, when we do this we become guilty, because it is our inability to deal with these situations that allowed them to occur in the first place.

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, which has made it possible for evil to triumph (Haile Selasie). What is it that causes good people “to do nothing”? If Africa had mattered in the hearts of the world, the genocide in Rwanda would not have happened, the on-going genocide in Sudan would be prevented, the civil wars in both Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 90s would not take place, the famines in parts of Africa as a result of climate change caused mainly by the West and Asia should not happen.

The victims of all these historical events deserve compensation from the perpetrators of these horrible crimes just as the Jews have been compensated by the world for the 1945 holocaust. Even today, perpetrators of the Jewish holocaust in 1945 are still being hunted and jailed more than 70 years after it was committed. The West does not know what ‘forgiveness’ is, and yet they succeeded in preaching forgiveness and reconciliation to Black South Africans when apartheid had caused more deaths and suffering amongst the black population than even HIV. Not surprisingly, a British educated Anglican Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu was chosen to lead the reconciliation, truth and forgiveness crusade and it worked. Today, he is hailed as a hero in the West because he served their purpose rightly. Today, the black population is almost in the same position as during apartheid because Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has not done much for them. If Africans were valued in the same manner as the Jews and the rest of the world, we would equally be compensated for the unprecedented holocaust that had been committed on the African people.

Truth is not always pretty, but truth is the ultimate destination of every religion, and every noble principle of human endeavours. How can we stand before God and tell half-truths to cover the history of a people? Worst of all this oppression is far from over. In Sudan and Mauritania, Africans still find themselves enslaved by Arabs and some Africans. Ethiopian women in Saudi Arabia fall prey to enslavement, most black women who have found themselves in Europe and the rest of the world are sexually enslaved and sometimes psychologically forced to marry elderly white colonial men in the name of European citizenship. This applies to most black men who equally marry elderly white women who are old enough to be their grandmothers. Most of them are trapped by debt; all of them are exploited and manipulated via poverty and mental slavery.

There can be no advancement of a people who discard their past; no kingdoms are born without reverence of history. Each of us from our very different, yet similar backgrounds must seek to preserve and interact with our past as an aid to learning and growing in a constructive manner. Every nation venerates their past heroes and builds plaques to honour their dead; Museums and libraries are set-up for this purpose. In a free and equal society, we should be free to express our cultural and religious identity. We must embrace with open arms our collective journey, share, exchange, and discuss, if ever we are to navigate this life with humanity and success. God did not accidentally make us superficially different, it was intentional, it is time we realised that God’s greatest gift to humanity is diversity, and this diversity is expressed through our beautiful and distinctive cultures and histories.

It is time we realised that, our history isn’t bad as we have been made to believe. It is time to realise that, our culture and religion isn’t bad as we are made to believe. It is time to realise that, our way of life is the best possible one can ever find in the world and beyond; generosity, kindness, respect for elderly, communal spirit, selflessness etc. If today, the Blackman has become selfish and corrupt it is the White man that has taught him. If today, an Imam or Pastor can sexually assault a one year-old baby or embezzle funds of his people, it is the white man who has taught him. Our history is that of generosity and acceptance and it was this beautiful personality of ours that had been mistaken by the white man and hence leading to our physical and mental enslavement for centuries.

My dear fellow Africans and Ghanaians in particular, it is high time we got united. It is high time we took our destiny into own hands. It is high time we respected and valued our own culture and religions. It is high time we recognised and celebrated our heroes and heroines. It is high time we preserve and conserved our own monuments, plagues and other cultural heritage. It is high time we started to write our own history

Most importantly, it is high time we made the wearing of traditional attire in parliament compulsory (just a joke) otherwise, Joe Ghartey, would not stoop so low to demand an MP put on a tie before he could deliver a report in parliament. Is this not so laughable?

Thanks for reading, and comments from all sides of this debate are very much appreciated and welcomed.


BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM ( former student of Staffordshire University, UK)