From Victim to Victory: N’yot Lamaj 10/27/06
While many understand black to be associated with many negative characteristics, these notions are not completely accurate. In fact these notions are not at all accurate. The term black was used by the European explorers to distinguish themselves from the African people, whose darker complexion was seen as a negative trait. These people are not Blacks, Negroes, Colored, nor niggers. These people hail from the continent of Africa, so they are to be correctly deemed as Africans. The African people have been the victims of the most notorious crimes ever committed in history. Africans were not only enslaved, they were stolen from their homeland, and were dehumanized. Many like to describe the struggle of the African community as the Black Holocaust; however, this is inaccurate. The Holocaust was another cultures fight. The term Maafa has become accepted across the Diaspora as correct terminology. Maafa is a Kiswahilli term that means disaster. The torture does not end there; the criminals went back and underdeveloped the land and the Africans that they hadn’t stolen. What is amazing about this people is, though they were the victims of all these horrible crimes, they still survived. Africans are the epitome of the term resilience.
The Africans did not openly accept the terms of slavery, or the thought of being inferior to their European counterparts. These people fought through every obstacle the Europeans presented. The crimes did not end with slavery because even when slavery was abolished throughout the Diaspora, the European continued to put the Africans through unimaginable tribulations for profit. The European man, as it seems, had and still has a low self-image, so in order to make himself feel better he put another group of people in a worse situation than his own. The African man knew that he was in no form or fashion inferior to the European, and though the road back to victory would be rough he would do everything in his power to regain his glory among men. The only obstacle that stands in the way of the African people is how they are to begin the process of reclaiming their rightful place among men. There seems not to be a very clear outline as to what should be done; however, one does come to mind. Apparently during the process that took place to create the African Diaspora (the enslavement of the people, and continental colonization); there were three major losses in the lives of these people. These edifying casualties include the identity, culture, and self-image/attitude of the Africans. The first step on the road to victory is the rebirth of the African identity.
Over the many years of their dispersal, and even back to the instant of when that first European man set sail for the shores of Africa there has been confusion as to what the identity of these people is in actuality. The misconception dates back to when the European man entered the land of Africa, and was as a result of his experience culture shocked. Richard B. Moore in his book, The Name “Negro” Its negative Origin And Evil Use, says that, “...But when the they saw the people south of the Senegal, who were of much darker hue and whose weapons were much less powerful than their crossbows and firearms, the Portuguese perceived the possibility of easy conquest and a lucrative slave trade. Thus they began to enslave the African people.” The mind of the European could not grasp the complex cultures of the African people, so he in turn deemed them uncivilized. Now of course the African did not feel that way of himself, but as the European started to colonize the land he in turn colonized the minds of the Africans, and gave them the European image of themselves. Now Africans see themselves through the eyes of Europeans, and so does the majority of the world. History is told from a European perspective in most cases. This brings up the point of Franz Fanon about the “educated negro.” He stated in his book; Black faces, White masks that, “The educated Negro, slave of the spontaneous and cosmic Negro myth, feels at a given stage that his race no longer understands him. Or that he no longer understands it.” Corruption is what this brought to the land because it is known that however a man feels about himself is the way he will act. Throughout the enslavement of the African people, they were conditioned into an inferiority complex, which made these people look down on themselves. The system was manipulated to favor the so called white man, and the Africans were moved to the bottom of this westernized caste order.
The African was made to have a negative self-image, not only physically but mentally as well. The view of beauty was in the influence of the Europeans. This conditioning started with the matter of complexion. The European’s white skin was said to be pure and beautiful and the dark complexion of the Africans was deemed as a curse. There was also a distinction between the hair textures of the opposing races. The hair of the Europeans was long and straight as opposed to the curly tangled texture of the African people. The hair texture and skin complexion of the African was taught to be ugly and, unpresentable throughout the enslavement on through the aftermath of slavery. This damaged the self-image of the African people as a whole because this was not only taught to the enslaved Africans but to the ones that remained on the continent.
This strategy also helped the Europeans in their attempt to divide and conquer the African people. The skin complexion of the African people varied and the Europeans saw this as a window of opportunity to separate this people. The lighter skinned among the Africans were treated better than those of the darker complexions, and due to the massive accounts of rape that took place during the enslavement era there were many of these people who were bi-racial. Due to this additional strain on the African people the attention was taken away from the European as the group’s common enemy. Now separate groups of Africans started to have conflict with one another, and the European was steadily easing himself out of the spotlight. He becomes more of a behind the scenes enemy, more like a puppeteer pulling the strings of everyday events. Soon he would reach his goal of his destructiveness being blamed solely on the African people themselves. The African people seemed to be down for the count with these tactics; however, the resilience factor was initiated in the Black Power movement during the 1970s. People began to see the internalized problems of the African people and stated to work on them. The Black Panther party started this revolution. The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African American civil rights and self-defense organization, active within the United States in the late 1960s.Founded in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966, the organization initially espoused a doctrine of armed resistance to societal oppression in the interest of African American justice, though its objectives and philosophy changed radically throughout the party's existence. While the organization's leaders passionately espoused socialist doctrine, the party's black nationalist reputation attracted an ideologically diverse membership base, such that ideological consensus within the party was difficult to derive, and differing perspectives within the party base often clashed conspicuously with those of its leadership.
Men and women stopped straitening their hairs, as they once did in the previous decades and started to wear their hair naturally. Skin bleaching was unheard of during this era and being Black was very popular. This was an Awakening period for the Africans. They had discovered the illusion of the European and were fighting against the lies constantly being told, even being taught in schools. This era was unfortunately short-lives because the American government refused to allow the whole of African people to awake from their mental imprisonment.
Aside from the physical inferiority, Europeans also taught that Africans were mentally inferior as well. This was combated during the Harlem Renaissance, and through the many accomplishments of numerous Africans throughout history. The Egyptian civilization alone could disregard this notion, and then one could speak of the amazing works of the schools in Timbuktu and even the Congo.# It is a fact that astrology was invented by African people in Central Africa. The mental inferiority plot did not work anywhere near as successful as the physical one. The identity of the African people was almost consumed by the European’s devastating plots, but the rise of he Black Power movement resurrected the idea of African pride. Even though the movement was abruptly terminated there ideals are everlasting, and there is a remnant group of this movement who can revive it.
There seems to be a general loss of African culture across the Diaspora. There are two apparent cultural values misplaced amongst the African people in their current state of being. These are the values of language, and the priority of life principles. The colonization of Africa that was done by the Europeans caused many changes in the different areas of their colonization. There were many languages throughout the continent, but these languages were disregarded after a nation would colonize that area. The nations of France, England, and Portugal were Europe’s greatest powers, so these three languages are the most distributed throughout the African continent. The Africans throughout the Diaspora were subject to the Spanish language as well because Spain was not into continental colonization, but more involved in the slave-trade. All of these nations were doing the same thing in different ways. A people have great cultural influence developed into their language, so the separation of language to these people was a drastic cultural set back. The Africans that remain on the continent still have connection with their native tongue; however, they are not prone to use it. The European influence in these nations has a greater influence than indigenous culture, but these nations continue to try to maintain their cultural values as best as they possibly can. The Africans that were taken abroad have absolutely no knowledge of their African origin and surely no knowledge of their native tongue. The removal from their homeland, and this put them in a worse off position of cultural ambiguity than those on the continent.
The Africans that have open access to their native tongue do not openly accept it because of the constant conditioning that took place during the colonization era. The cultural genocide that occurred, and that continues to occur keeps the people in a state of thinking of all things European as superior. The people do not consciously see the inferiority complex involved in using an opposing cultures language, but that was the intention of the Europeans all along. An awakening of African minds could cause scholars of this people to come together and create a common language shared by all African cultures to bring the glory back to the people. The African people were rich in resources and minerals and that was what attracted the Europeans. The European literally raped the land of all its goods. According to Dubois, “Colonies became the slums of the world. They were the places of the greatest concentration of poverty, disease, and ignorance which the human mind has come to know. They were centers of helplessness, of discouragement, of initiative, of forced labor, and of legal repression of all activities or thoughts which the master country feared or disliked.” The Africans nations eventually began to fight for their independence, but even after it was accomplished the nations could not escape the evil grasp of the European. Ghana, for example won its independence in March of 1957, and held a conference to announce its independence. The United States of America was invited to the conference. Dubois says, “The reason that Nixon and the representatives of the forty great nations attended this ceremony was because this free black nation has immense investment possibilities…The Imperialists ask: How can we control this wealth and keep the huge income from going to Black Africans? And Nkrumah asks: How can I keep Ghana from the clutches of world big business and yet provide work and wages for my people.” This was quite the dilemma, and the Africans across the continent were faced with it.
The priority of life principles is the other cultural set back caused by the influence of the Europeans. Many African cultures shared similar core values in their respective societies, and those that continue to live on the continent have managed to keep most of these social values in order. The Africans that were taken abroad have not had that ability. During the enslavement era there were many attempts to continue the practices of certain cultural rituals and such, but those would become suspicious to the Europeans and result in them losing most of these values over the years. In the current era of the world’s societies children and the elderly are considered to be liabilities; however in the majority of African communities having a family with many children is honorable, and the children themselves are a valued asset to the family structure. The elders in the communities of Africa are the most respected people in the social system, and they serve as sages and counselors for the village or town. Even after death the ancestors of the African people have much respect for their ancestors. The continual productivity in life is useful in any society regardless of the ethnic group, and the African culture understood this fact while putting it to great use. The faults of imperialism have taken these ideals away from these people and it has caused much confusion in what the purpose of life is other than making money.
The attitudes of the African people have suffered in accordance to the activities of the Europeans, but there continues to be the fact of their everlasting resilience. The ability to maintain life goals, and purpose shows that Africans cannot be kept down forever. The self-image of the African across the Diaspora today varies from those who despise the fact that they are African to those who would rather be African than anything else on earth. The strength of the African people is immeasurable. To be African is synonymous with perpetual life. The genocide that was brought forth on this people should’ve overtaken them; however it could not do so. The honor of Africa will soon return because the Africans will fight until the end of time to combat the entire struggle they were put through. There is no one word or phrase that adequately describes the entire essence of what it is to be African, but in an attempt to do so anyway Africans are people like any other, and deserves the same acknowledgement and respect given to others of the world.
AFRIKA FOR THE AFRIKANS; FROM VICTIM TO VICTORY
Str8 TRUTH no CHASER!
African Unity Initiative
The mission of the Afrikan Unity Initiative is to foster a sense of togetherness across the Afrikan Diaspora through the three key components culture, education, and economics. We hope that through our efforts Afrikans at home and abroad will have quality living conditions, access to economic growth, adequate healthcare, and justice.