African View of Early Europeans

 

Since the 15th century when the Europeans established permanent contact with Africa, so much has been written about the various divergent accounts of earliest European contact with different parts of Africa. On the contrary, little has been written and lend credence to concerning how Africans perceived the Europeans on their arrival or first European contact with Africans, African perception of trans-Atlantic slave trade and fate of the captives carted away to plantations in the New World, on European ships via the Atlantic Ocean. Documented records of this period of contact between Europeans and Africans were written by Europeans from their own point of view and most times skewed and biased based on the fact that Europeans cannot wrap their mind around culture so different from theirs. So Europeans put to record some gratuitous things about Africans like referring to Africans as brutes, savages, and cannibals (which Europe later became obsessed with), and sometimes giving weird, funny and imagined description of Africans. Unfortunately these accounts were repeated on prodigious scale in many books around Europe which greatly contributed to how many Europeans perceived Africans to this day.

Here little attempt will be made to show how Africans of Central African region (Congo precisely) perceived the arrival of the Europeans and their impression of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

(The following is excerpt taken from the book entitled: King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild)

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Except for Affonso’s letters, the written record of these times still shows them entirely through white men’s eyes. How did the Europeans, beginning with Diogo Cao and his three ships with faded red cross on their sails, appear to the people living at the great river’s mouth? To see with their eyes, we must turn to the myths and legends that have filtered down over the centuries. At first, Africans apparently saw the white sailors not as men but as vumbi – ancestral ghosts –since the Kongo people believed that a person’s skin changed to the color of chalk when he passed into the land of the dead. And it was obvious that this was where these menacing white vumbi had come from, for the people on the shore saw first the tips of an approaching ship’s masts, then its superstructure, then it hull. Clearly the ship had carried its passengers up from their homes beneath the surface of the earth. Here is how the Portuguese arrival was recounted by Mukunzo Kioko, a twentieth –century oral historian of the Pende People:

Our fathers were living comfortably. . . They had cattle and

crops; they had salt marshes and banana trees.

Suddenly they saw a big boat rising out of the great ocean.

This boat had wings all white, sparkling like knives.

White men came out of the water and spoke words which no

one understood.

Our ancestors took fright; they said that these were vumbi ,

spirits returned from the dead.

They pushed them back into the ocean with volleys of arrows.

But the vumbi spat fire with a noise of thunder. Many men were

Killed. Our ancestors fled.

The chiefs and wise men said that these vumbi were the for-

mer possessors of the land. . .

From that time to our days now, whites vumbi have brought us

nothing but wars and miseries.

 

The trans-Atlantic slave trade seemed further confirmation that Europeans had come from the land of the dead, for after they took their shiploads of slaves out to sea, the captives never returned. Just as Europeans would be long obsessed with African cannibalism, so Africans imagined Europeans practicing the same thing. The whites were thought to turn their captives’ flesh into salt meat, their brains into cheese, and their blood into the red wine Europeans drank. African bones were burned, and the gray ash became gunpowder. The huge, smoking copper cooking kettles that could be seen on sailing vessels were, it was believed, where all these deadly transformation began. The death tolls on the packed slave ships that sailed west from Congo coast rose higher still when some slaves refused to eat the food they were given, believing that they would be eating those who had ailed before them.

As the years passed, new myths rose to explain the mysterious objects the strangers brought from the land of the dead. A nineteenth-century missionary recorded, for example, an African explanation of what happened when captains descended into the holds of their ships to fetch trading goods like cloth. The Africans believed that these goods came not from the ship itself but from a hole that led into the ocean. Sea sprites weave this cloth in an “oceanic factory, and whenever we need cloth, the captain… goes to this hole rings a bell.” The sea sprites hand him up their cloth, and the captain “then throws in, as payment, a few dead bodies of black people he has bought from those bad native traders who have bewitched their people and sold them to the white men.” The myth was not so far from reality. For what was slavery in the American south, after all, but a system for transforming the labor of black bodies, via cotton plantations, into cloth?

DEAD AID

Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa.

Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa.

DEAD AID

WHY AID IS NOT WORKING

AND HOW THERE IS

A BETTER WAY FOR AFRICA

Dambisa Moyo

 

Introduction

We live in a culture of aid.

We live in a culture in which those who are better off subscribe – both mentally and financially – to the notion that giving alms to the poor is the right thing to do. In the past fifty years, over US$1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. In the past decade alone, on the back of Live 8, Make Poverty History, Millennium Development Goals, the Millennium Challenge Account, the Africa Commission, and the 2005 G7 meeting (to name a few), millions of dollars each year have been raised in richer countries to support charities working for Africa.

We are made to believe that this is what we ought to be doing. We are accosted on the streets and goaded with pleas on aeroplane journeys; letters flow through mail boxes and countless television appeals remind us that we have a moral imperative to give more to those who have less. At the 2001 Labour Conference, the UK’s Prime Minister of the time, Tony Blair, remarked that ‘The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the World’, and that the West should ‘provide more aid’ as, thus far, amidst the multiple problems facing Africa, the continent had received inadequate amounts of aid.

Deep in every liberal sensibility is a profound sense that in a world of moral uncertainty one idea is sacred, one belief cannot be compromised: the rich should help the poor, and the form of this help should be aid.

The pop culture of aid has bolstered these misconceptions. Aid has become part of entertainment industry. Media figures, film stars, rock legends eagerly embrace aid, proselytize the need for it, upbraid us for not giving enough, scold government for not doing enough – and governments respond in kind, fearful of losing popularity and desperate to win favour. Bono attends world summit on aid. Bob Geldof is, to use Tony Blair’s own words, ‘one of the people that I admire most’. Aid has become a cultural commodity.

Millions march for it.

Governments are judged by it.

But has more than US$1 trillion in development assistance over the last several decades made African people better off? No. In fact, across the globe the recipients of this aid are worse off; much worse off. Aid has helped make the poor poorer, and growth slower. Yet aid remains a centrepiece of today’s development policy and one of the biggest ideas of our time.

The notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty, and has done so, is a myth. Millions in Africa are poorer today because of aid; misery and poverty have not ended but have increased. Aid has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most part of developing world. How this happened, how the world was gripped with an idea that seemed so right but in fact so wrong, is what this book is about. Dead Aid is the story of the failure of post – war development policy.

Step by step it will dismantle the assumptions and arguments that have supported the single worst decision of modern developmental politics, the choice of aid as the optimum solution to the problem of Africa’s poverty. The evidence is as startling as it is obvious. It will contrast countries which have rejected the aid route and prospered with others which have become dependent on aid and been trapped in vicious circle of corruption, market distortion and further poverty – and thus the ‘need’ for more aid.

Others before me have criticized aid. But the myth of its effectiveness persists. Dead Aid will offer a new model for financial development for the world’s poorest countries: one that offers economic growth, promises to significantly reduce African poverty, and most importantly does not rely on aid.

This book is not a counsel of despair. Far from it: The book offers another road; a road less travelled in Africa. Harder, more demanding, more difficult, but in the end the road to growth, prosperity, and independence of the continent. This book is about the aid-free solution to development: why it is right, why it has worked, why it is the only way forward for the world’s poorest countries.

Click the link below to download the full pdf version

( http://www2.fiu.edu/~ganapati/6838/02_15_10_Moyo.pdf )

 

The Fleshy Excess of Black Life: Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Eric Ritskes

Black life, Blackness, “Black holding on, Black making a way out of no way” is always in excess of the antiblack settler colonial state. And, in its excess, it is always threatening to the order and sense making of the state.

This excess is carried in and on the bodies of Black peoples, it is embodied and illegible to the state, unable to be incorporated into Whiteness, and is thus always present before, beyond and against the state. Blackness as excess is, as Alex Weheliye explains, a fleshy excess. It spills over and protrudes; it cannot be contained. It is always escaping. It is always already too much.

In each of three most recent cases of Black death to garner mass mainstream media attention – the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice – the bodily excess of the victims was used as…

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The Negro Speaks of Rivers

The Negro speaks of river

The Negro speaks of rivers

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Langston Hughes, 19021967
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
       flow of human blood in human vein.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
       went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen it muddy
       bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Book of the Month: King Leopold’s Ghost

A Story Of Greed, Terror, And Heroism In Colonial Africa.

A Story Of Greed, Terror, And Heroism In Colonial Africa.

King Leopold’s Ghost

By Adam Hochschild

“A village which refused to provide rubber would be completely swept clean. As a young man, I saw [Fiévez’s] soldier Molili, then guarding the village of Boyeka, take a big net, put ten arrested natives in it, attach big stones to the net, and make it tumble into the river…. Rubber caused these torments; that’s why we no longer want to hear its name spoken. Soldiers made young men kill or rape their own mothers and sisters.”

The horror of King Leopold’s treachery in Congo is a subject of neglected history, probably because Africa in the face of the world is still seen as a place of no historical significance, and Africans still considered “half devil half child” who must be saved from themselves by charity of Europe, and America. Congo is one of the very few places in the world that has enjoyed or experience a state of peaceful existence at a very short interval since the late 19th century when European imperialism gripped Africa. The experience of Congolese beginning from 1880s onward is yet to be recognized and given proper attention it deserved by the citizens of world, compared to that of the Jew Holocaust of the 20th century. King Leopold is yet to attain the stature of Hitler as “great evil” in spite of the fact that he was responsible for the death of ten million Congolese as against six million Jews murdered by the Nazis under Hitler. We hope that someday the experience of the Congolese when Congo was considered property of King Leopold II of Belgium will appeal to the humanity and sensibility of the world.

Introduction

In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million–all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold’s Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust. Adam Hochschild brings this largely untold story alive with the wit and skill of a Barbara Tuchman. Like her, he knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent. Chief among them is Edmund Morel, a young British shipping agent who went on to lead the international crusade against Leopold. Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. Two courageous black Americans, George Washington Williams and William Sheppard, risked much to bring evidence of the Congo atrocities to the outside world. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young Congo River steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming above them all, the duplicitous billionaire King Leopold II. With great power and compassion, King Leopold’s Ghost will brand the tragedy of the Congo–too long forgotten–onto the conscience of the West.

(Click the link below to download the full pdf version) http://mrgleason.webs.com/Imperialism/King%20Leopold%27s%20Ghost_%20A%20Story%20of%20Greed,%20%20-%20Hochschild,%20Adam.pdf

Statement: From Ferguson to New York to Palestine, Solidarity with the Resistance to Racist Oppression

kush:

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Frederick Douglass

Originally posted on Moorbey'z Blog:

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them…Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.”

- Assata Shakur

“I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy – all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We…

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