Q. Why do you relate colonialism to slavery?
A: It is most important for us to grasp the linkage. The Atlantic
slave trade used European capital to take African slaves to
the New World. With abolition, European capital turned its
attention to the exploitation of African labor, land and mineral
resources in Africa itself. The Atlantic slave trade had identified
slavery solely with the black person, perpetually in a degraded
and dehumanized position. Colonialism in Africa was based
on the racial foundations laid by the slave trade. Because
the world failed to recognize the inhuman slave trade as a
crime against humanity, European powers went
in to commit equally heinous crimes against Africans under
colonialism. (Remember Leopold's Congo, and the German war
against the Herod). Even after nominal independence had been
granted, with African human and material resources already
depleted by the slave trade and colonialism, the Western world
continues to control African economies and to manipulate its
governments for their own ends. They bear a lot of responsibility
for the increasing degradation, collapse of States, hunger,
disease and gloomy prospects.
Q. Since the Africans at home were not enslaved, why should
they ask for Reparations?
A: They are asking for Reparations for two reasons.
(a) The effects of the slave trade were not felt by the immediate
victims only but by all black peoples. The impact on Africa
in the loss of people, destruction of agriculture and trade,
insecurity of life, social degradation etc. was disastrous
and no black people, even those who participated in the trade
could escape its destructive consequences.
(b) One of the effects of the Atlantic slave trade was racial
prejudice. Arabs enslaved not only blacks, but also whites
and sometimes other Arabs. They sometimes inter-married with
black slaves and thus there was no outright prejudice against
all black people during the earlier period of the slave trade.
In the case of the Atlantic trade, however, all the slave
masters were white and the slaves black; and this has given
rise to the heinous practice of looking down on black people.
All Africans suffered from this, whether they were enslaved
or not. This was the foundation of colonialism and neocolonialism
in Africa. Prejudice against black people spread almost everywhere
in the world and we have to redress this problem. The cost
of this world-wide prejudice against black peoples is incalculable.
It is revealed in such incidents as the recent Los Angeles
riots, and it is beginning to show itself in some parts of
Germany, Britain and France. It is even said to exist in Mauritania
and other parts of Africa; thus the psychological damage is
one of the things we have to redress.
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