by Alhassan Mustapha
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than this. . . . Mark 12:31
“None of you are true believers until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” – The Messenger Muhammad (pbuh)
I have heard a lot of people say that there is something wrong with the black skin that black men cannot rule over themselves, that there is something wrong with the skin coloration that affects a black man mentally, some claim that black is basically the symbol of inferiority, poverty and all that balderdash. Surprisingly, majority of the people with these opinions are black. Except of course for David Hume and his ilk, who went as far as saying a black man has no “talent”.
As Africans, we are a people who have embraced religions and cultures alien to our fore bears, possibly hypocritically adhering to the teachings and practices of these religions better than the historical teachers of such religions. How we fail to acknowledge the very essence of love, peace and sacrifice these religions were built on not only confuses me but remain an enigmatic intrigue for my thoughts.
It is either we are grand masters of pretence, jesters or nobles in a land called deceit and hypocrisy. Even if we forget the ubiquitous advocacy for peace and harmony from biblical times by most religions, how we forget our collective plights continues to depress me. I am always quick to conclude that sufferings unites people, that hardship creates a bound but not anymore.
For I come from a race whose people have refused to learn from their sufferings. That race whose people suffered slavery and colonial imperialism. Yes, that race whose people still suffer starvation, poverty, hunger, under development, and racism all together. Amidst this negative narrative in the black continent our people have brought unthinkable mayhem to their fellow Africans, they have lynched, killed and looted from their brethrens in suffering.
The recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa have been widely condemned, it has been labeled barbaric, vicious, animalistic and callous but condemning these terrible atrocities in any language will not take away the hostility that the future is impregnated with, or the dirty truths embedded in our history. We need to remind our brothers in South Africa of their history since they have no idea what their story is, or probably have no regard for it.
So quick they have forgotten the Lusaka Manifesto, they have forgotten the roles of Liberia, Ethiopia and Angola. They are now oblivious of the contributions of Big brothers Ghana and Nigeria in their Liberation.
For a people treated with so much disregard, disrespect and injustice together. Why are our black brothers full of such hate, rage and inhumanity? If they had grievances, they had better ways to channel their discomforts, but no, that was too civilized for them, they had to go “the black man way” as Eurocentric’s would say.
Over time we have become speculative over what the causative agent about the generality of the African hate problem, many would blame it on colonization claiming that the white man brought this mayhem on us. Far from it however this xenophobic exhibition by our brothers in the south supports one of my very oldest argument; we are the architects of our misfortunes. More than ever, it is now obvious, that the problem is with us, No don’t get me wrong it is not a color problem it is rather a question of our attitude.
Take the historical example of slave trade between 1525 and 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database; 10.7 million to 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. An estimated 1.2 – 2.4 million died during their transport to the new world, with more dying on arrival. Although these figures might be considerably higher detailed studies have also revealed that Africans played a direct role in the slave trade, selling their captives or prisoners of war to European buyers. These captive slaves were considered “other”, not part of the people of the ethnic group or “tribe”. African kings in particular went to war to enslave their enemies which in turn would acquire them more wealth. This is a clear case of greed, and slavery would never have been possible without the cooperation of our fellow black men, we were accomplices in the creation of the historical disaster called slavery. That these slaves with their “black talentless skins” went on to develop the world over is an argument for another day.
The contemporary example of corruption which a lot of people would clearly say is the major problem in Africa is another angle to understand me. The lack of transparency, integrity and accountability in the majority of governments in African states, over time is related to economic under-performance which fetters progress. This power house called corruption is self inflicted and is not solitary to the black continent alone, but the manner we have allowed impunity to continue remains a reason why sadly, five of our countries are fully represented on Transparency International’s top ten most corrupt nations of the world. How then can we make an attempt let alone move forward?
We are not new to political unrests; this is that continent that witnessed 800,000 men, women, and children perished in the Rwandan genocide. Hutu extremists launched their plans to destroy the entire Tutsi civilian population. Obviously those perpetrating xenophobia would justify their actions, they would say they are killing foreigners only; Black Foreigners that is.
Political leaders who might have been able to take charge of the situation and other high profile opponents of the Hutu extremist plans were killed. Tutsi and people suspected of being Tutsi were killed in their homes and as they tried to flee the country during the genocide. Entire families were killed at a time. Women were brutally raped. It is estimated that some 200,000 people participated in the perpetration of the Rwandan genocide and genocide resulted from the conscious choice of the elite to promote hatred and fear to keep itself in power. And the best we can do about xenophobia is to condemn the attacks, yet again this darkness in our history is our doing, we cooperated with evil forces to exterminate our brothers. We brought this shame upon ourselves.
The Second Sudanese Civil War from 1983 to 2005 between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, lasted for about 22 years, and is one of the longest civil wars on record. Roughly two million people died as a result of war, famine and disease caused by the conflict. Four million people in southern Sudan. Again whose fault?
As the number of refugees crossing from Africa into Europe surges, this year alone death toll in the Mediterranean Sea is thought to have already surpassed 1,500. Majority are victims human trafficking and smuggling. Just recently news rooms reported the killing of Africans, by Africans on board of one of such ships because they held contrary religious beliefs. Who smuggled who? Who killed who?
Like slavery we can’t wash our hands off this sin as well.
We might not be directly responsible for all of the Poverty, diseases, irresponsible and ineffective leadership our dear continent suffers from today, indirectly in such cases we have contributed largely to the growth of such misfortunes on our people. If verily we are a poor and dark continent why then did the colonialist come? The Berlin conference also known as the scramble for Africa would have been a total waste of time.
We have to realize ourselves that Africa is the cradle of mankind, and for humanity to exist we must not only cohabitate; we must do so devoid of hatred. We need to see beyond tribalism, ethnicity, Bigotry and the hate that breeds in our souls, we have to see pass the lines that separate us and embrace at least our collective sufferings that unite us.
Dr John Herick Clarke said “We can’t have war between black men and black women because no one can be free if one half of the mind of the people is tied up in conflict it is going to be the both of us or none of us” we cannot win this war as solitary confinements, as tribes, regions ethnicities or principalities, we can only do it together. And leave Posterity to judge.
I don’t believe that the black man’s heart full of such hatred that accommodates such heinous thoughts about his brother, for this is a continent that understood the value of family, of brotherhood long before any other; how we got here I do not know. One thing I am certain is to leave you with the words of Gimba Kankada “May God save us from us.”
– Alhassan Mustapha is a trained archaeologist and a freelance writer. He tweets from @The_mustyhassan
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija