The despoliation of the African continent did not start with the people from the most populous country in the world, China. It certainly did not just find expression in times as recent as the last millennium. Indeed, the exploitation to which Africa has regularly found itself is a tragedy, which is not modern just as it is largely self-inflicted.
Historians could flashback to the early centuries predating the advent of the Europeans and remind us about the domination of Africa by the Arabs. It was called the Trans-Saharan Trade. But, what seemingly started as a business interaction between two races showed its ugly, albeit true, face sometime in the 7th century AD, when the Trans Saharan Slave Trade took off. So, from exchange of goods, the exchange turned to sale of human beings.
And that was the beginning of the dilemma of the black man regarding his relationship with other races! Of course, the first impression usually lasts long and, in this sour case, it has lasted till date. Africa remains under one form of subjugation or the other and the chief reason for this is not the oppressor but rather the oppressed himself. And, records of efforts at resisting the exploitation of one race against another are quite scarce.
Its mission is clear; its destination is eternal bondage; yet, it seems unstoppable.
But if the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade didn’t record much in terms of what transpired during the ten centuries – or thereabout – that it lasted, the more vibrant, more vicious and more damaging Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade recorded a quantum number of blacks shipped, in quite deplorable conditions, from the West Coast of Africa to the Americas – the New World as they were known then.
While tales of the inhuman treatment of the black slaves are always relayed with some bitterness towards their European taskmasters, it would be outrightly unjustifiable to leave out their African co-conspirators who, without any shred of concern for their fellow blacks, delivered them to the Europeans. Indeed, the Europeans could not penetrate the hinterland for more slaves but mainly stayed along the coast while some leaders with the titles of kings and chiefs and their soldiers carried out punitive missions to seize the fellow beings and hand them over to the Europeans. They called it trade. Donald Trump would call it deals. In the end, human beings were exchanged for guns, alcohols and some cooking ingredients!
Little wonder that, when the late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola undertook the noble task of demanding reparation from the Europeans for the evils of the slave trade, the success was only on the pages of newspapers. So, who would pay for the sins of the blacks on their fellow blacks?
And, even after the landmark Lord Mansfield’s judgment that seemed to put an end to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the destiny of Africa was still in the hands of outsiders. Thus, sometime towards the end of the 19th century, some European rulers met somewhere in Europe to decide the geographical future of Africa. The partition of Africa, as it was known, was undertaken without any regard for the historical antecedents, traditions, and, most importantly, the preferences of the African peoples. It was done at the whims and caprices of the taskmasters. With partition done, the Europeans took full charge of Africa and the destiny of the continent was reshaped – once again.
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