Colonialism: Arab & European Compared.

Comparative Digest [3] Colonialism: Arab & European Compared – Black Power Pan Africanism (BPPA) Tract No 3. 

Presented below is one part of a three part comparative digest series in which Nigerian author (from the Pan-African school of thought) Chinweizu discusses African historic relations with Arabs and Europeans, across three strands – ‘Racism’, ‘Enslavement of Blacks’ and ‘Colonialism’. He argues that for almost every key aspect of European racism against Blacks in history, there was an Arab/Islamic counterpart that was just as brutal when it wasn’t worse. The comparative digest is recommended literature in understanding colonial injustices committed against Africans, not from the perspective of a single story, as is so often erroneously the case, but rather told as it should be – taking into account, both European and Arab/Islamic atrocities. The colonial crimes committed by Arabs, against Africans, through Islam, very often go unchecked and unspoken under the guise of political correctness and avoidance of offending religious sentiments. Rather recently, Nigerian Islamists Boko Haram successfully pushed their insurgency into the heart of the nation’s capital, when they killed yet more innocent people in a bomb blast (as has become the weekly norm), all in the name of re-establishing a lost Empire that was in the first place introduced to the Natives through brutal colonialism. What’s worse, this insurgency shows no sign of receding. While local resistance to the ideology behind the political, colonialist and inevitably racist movement shows no sign of improving! South Sudan split ways with Sudan, after having endured a brutal civil war that claimed 2 million lives and displaced more than twice as many. Today, Sudan (the North) having emerged from that war, no longer considers itself an African nation, rather calls itself Arab – just like its Palestinian brothers, Libyans, many Somalis to the East and Egyptians to the North. Never mind that no single Arab people have in all of history, ever given up their identity to assume an indigenous African one. This is the mechanism of Arabisation in Africa – native lands are stripped from indigenous hands and transferred to Arab custody. The Arabisation of Africa began with the introduction of Islam to Africans. It has in the past, and continues till this very day, to legitimise racism, slavery and colonialism in Arab societies, but on the African continent. It does this against African converts to Islam (in Mauritania and Sudan for example) and against the even more impure disbelieving Africans. As Armenian president Sarkisian said recently regarding the Ottoman empire’s cleansing of Armenians:  “The denial of a crime constitutes the direct continuation of that very crime. Only recognition and condemnation can prevent the repetition of such crimes in the future”. Of a truth, injustice unspoken is injustice awaiting resurgence! Society is indeed on a slippery slope when religious sentiments are cocooned even at the expense of ensuring dignity of human life.

Republished with permission. ©2014. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.

 By Chinweizu © Chinweizu 2007

Afro-Arab relations in the Sudan and Mauritania have mainly been characterized by brutal wars, slavery, forced Islamisation and Arabisation, the systematic destruction of indigenous cultures, values and civilizations coupled with insatiable territorial expansion on the part of the [immigrant Arabs.] –[Garba Diallo, “Mauritania-The Other Apartheid” (1993)]


We need to remind ourselves that Arab settler colonialism in Africa began with the Arab invasion of Egypt in 640 A.D.  and persists today in Mauritania, Sudan and all of North Africa.  The Arab settler colonies in East Africa (Zanzibar, Mombassa etc) predate by centuries the Dutch settler colony in Cape Town. Also, from 1821-1956, Egypt was a classic, European-type colonial ruler in Sudan. Thus, Arab colonialism in Africa is no figment of the imagination. And it persists today in different guises. Unlike European colonialism, it is not even in nominal retreat. The Arabs in Africa are colonialists and are even now, with great determination, expanding their territories.


Civilizing Mission Doctrine

Europeans in Apartheid South Africa etc:

Europe’s mission civilizatrice, also known as the white man’s burden, preached free trade, Christianity, science, and European administrative skills as the gifts that would bring peace, order, and civilization to the rest of the world: “Through imperialism, poverty would be transformed into prosperity, the savage would be saved, superstition would vanish into enlightenment, and order would be imposed where once only turmoil and barbarism reigned.” Progress was the gift that imperialism sought to bestow on the colonized primitives/uncivilized. This was the self-serving justification for the massacres and slavery-like exploitation of the colonized by the colonizers–[See Douglas Porch: Wars of Empire, p.16]

Kipling on  “White Man’s Burden” Take up the White Man’s burden —

Send forth the best ye breed–

Go bind your sons to exile

To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness,

On fluttered folk and wild–

Your new caught, sullen peoples,

Half-devil and half-child (1899) –[Rudyard Kipling, Collected Works]


Arabs in Mauritania, Sudan etc: 

el Tawaja el Hadhariya—the Arab civilizational project in Africa

“ We certainly cannot, under any conditions, relinquish our responsibility to help spread the light of knowledge and civilization to the very depth of the virgin jungles of the continent . . .. Africa is now the scene of a strange and stirring turmoil . . . We cannot . . . stand as mere onlookers, deluding ourselves into believing that we are in no way concerned. . .”—[Nasser in Philosophy of the Revolution, (1954), quoted in The Arabs & Africa, London: Croom Helm, 1985, p.91].

This Nasser doctrine of an Arab-Islamic civilizing mission in black Africa would be the altruistic-sounding, self-serving cover for the Arab expansionist ambition (1) to bring the entire Nile headwaters under Arab rule; (2) to conquer, enslave, Islamize and Arabize black Africans, as through the war on South Sudan; (3) to annex black African lands, as in Libya’s long campaign to annex Chad’s Auzou strip; and (4) to ethnic cleanse and change the demographic character of black African lands by importing Arab settlers, as in Darfur, Nubia and Mauritania today. Arabs would civilize black Africans by inflicting on them war, gang rape of boys and women, genocide, and land expropriation. This Nasser doctrine, like the White Man’s Burden of the Europeans, “cloaked [Arab imperialism] with a mantle of idealistic devotion to duty.” – [Stavrianos, The World Since 1500, p.591].

Slavery and Forced labor under colonialism 


Forced Labor in the European colonies:

In the Belgian Congo, . . . peasants were pressed into forced labour on the roads or detailed to collect wild rubber. Crops were requisitioned. Long before [WWII], it had been a cardinal point of Belgian policy in the Congo that male Africans living in ‘customary society’ should perform 60 days of obligatory labour – paid or unpaid – for their local community. This included the construction and maintenance of roads, and the production of subsistence and cash crops … By 1944 the maximum number of days devoted to obligatory labour had increased to 120. . . .In British Africa … compulsory production [used] forced labour in the Nigerian tin mines, and . . .the sisal plantations of Tanganyika. [(Unesco) General History of Africa, Vol. VIII, pp. 93-94].

The Portuguese in Mozambique actually used brutal force in recruiting Africans for migrant labour [in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia] . . . At its peak, South Africa employed around 600,000 and Southern Rhodesia around 250,000 migrant workers annually [from Nyasaland, Mozambique, Basutoland, Botswana, Zambia and Swaziland]. These official figures do not take into account the people who died in the transit camps and, especially, the many who entered South Africa and Southern Rhodesia through unorganised clandestine routes and methods. — [(Unesco) General History of Africa, Vol. VIII, p.254] The much-hated Indigenat system of the French, which levied forced labour under threat of harsh penal sanctions, was finally abolished in 1946. — [See (Unesco) General History of Africa, Vol. VIII, pp. 62, 174].


Black Slavery in Sudan and Mauritania: 

Under Arab minority colonial rule, slavery continues till today.


Whether what is described is ‘abduction’ – as the NIF prefers to call it – or slavery, it registers no difference in essence: it is reminiscent of nineteenth-century slavery and the slave trade in the Sudan. Time and legislation has changed nothing. The methods of capture are similar: ghazzia (violent raid and capture); the perpetrators and the victims are the same as they were two hundred years ago; the exploitation of labour remains essentially the same: cattle herding, cultivation, fetching water, concubinage, and so forth, cruel and degrading treatment like rape of women, sexual assault of boys, girdling, breaking of the ankle to prevent running away, are just the same; the sale and exchange of the slaves are the same; and the Arab ideological legitimisation of the enslavement of the blacks remains the same. –[Nyaba, 2006, “Arab Racism in the Sudan”, pp. 168-169]


“In the eyes of the Arab rulers of Sudan they [black slaves] were simply animals given by Allah to make the life of the Arab comfortable”–[quoted in Nyaba, “Arab Racism in the Sudan”, p.163.]


Mauritania’s population consists of about two million inhabitants: 32 per cent free black Africans of Fulani, Soninke and Wolof ethnic origins, 28 per cent white Moors of Arab-Berber origin, and 40 percent black slaves known as Abid or Haratin. The slaves belong to the white Moors, who have monopolized the government in the country since the French colonial regime transferred political power to them in 1960. –[Garba Diallo, 1993, “Mauritania- the other Apartheid”]

Land expropriation

Southern Africa: 

By the 1930s, [South Africa and Southern Rhodesia] had passed an array of segregationist laws . . . for the purpose of: (1) expropriating African lands and minerals; (2) procuring cheap African labour; (3) controlling the deployment and movement of African labourers; (4) eliminating inter-racial competition. . . . The division of the countries into European and African lands was systematically designed to destroy the African’s resources and ability to maintain self-sufficiency, by restricting him to barren rural reserves and urban locations. — [(Unesco) General History of Africa, Vol. VIII, p. 252]

In South Africa, the Native Trust and Lands Act (1936) allocated to the white 20% of the population the best 87% of the land. They still keep it, despite the “democratic” changes of 1994. In Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, efforts by the Mugabe Regime to take back the lands stolen by the white settlers have brought on a British-led international campaign against the regime for alleged unfair elections and violations of Human rights.**

Egypt & Sudan- Land expropriation in Nubia today: 

In 1964 the construction of the High Dam in Aswan was completed, a matter that resulted in an area of 500 km along the Nile course (310 km in Egypt, 190 km in the Sudan) to be submerged under the reservoir. The reservoir, i.e. the lake, bears two names, ‘Lake Nasser’ in Egypt, and ‘Lake Nubia’ in the Sudan. This has led to the resettlement of about 16500 Nubian families in Egypt (with a similar number of Nubian families on the Sudan side) away from their historical lands. In the case of Egyptian Nubians, the area of resettlement was a barren place called Koum Ambo near Aswan. In the case of the Sudanese Nubians the area of resettlement was a place called Khashm al-Girba in middle-eastern Sudan, known to be of rainy autumn, contrary to the Saharan Nubian region . . . .

By the 1990s the Egyptian government began following a policy of repopulating the evacuated Nubian regions. It began encouraging Egyptians other than Nubians to settle in the evacuated areas around the reservoir lake. It did this while the Nubians were kept away from their own historical lands, living in a pigsty style of life in their barren area of Koum Ambo.

The same thing happened in the Sudan, with tacit encouragement from the government to the Arab Bedouin who began settling in the evacuated area. The repopulation of the Nubian region in Egypt has become an official policy entrusted to both the Minister of Agriculture and the Military Governor of Aswan. Villages with full facilities and utilities were built by the Egyptian government and distributed to individuals and families from outside the regions with bank loans to start with. The latest of this is the inauguration of the settlement at the old Nubian village of Kalabsha with 150 non-Nubian families, which was opened by the Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza (cfal-Wafd Newspaper, 18/05/2006). On 11/06/2006 the Al-Hram Newspaper (the unofficial voice of the government) announced that tens of thousands of feddans were to be distributed in the Nubian region to people other than the Nubians. When the Nubians demanded that their lands be returned to them, they get an arrogant reply from the military Governor of Aswan: “If you want your lands, go fetch them beneath the water (cf. Rajab al-Murshidi in Rousa al Yousef Newspaper:… In late 2003 news leaked out revealing that negotiations on highest levels with the Egyptian government had been made so as to facilitate the settlement of millions of Egyptian peasants, along with their families, in the triangle of the Nubian basin, Halfa-Dungula-‘Uwēnāt. The aim of this move is said to safeguard the Arab identity of Sudan against the growing awareness of Africanism in Sudan generally and among the Nubians in particular. —[M. J. Hashim, The Policies of De-Nubianization in Egypt and Sudan: an Ancient People on the Brink of Extinction”, 2006]

In 1962, as he flagged off his troops to the war front against the Black Africans in South Sudan, the Arab Sudanese General Hassan Beshir Nasr declared: “We don’t want these black slaves … what we want is their land.”–[Nyaba, 2006, “Arab Racism in the Sudan”, p. `52].

Racial Discrimination

[The pro-fascist Vichy regime, during WWII,] introduced new racist measures hitherto not witnessed [in West Africa]. There were different rations for Africans and Europeans, different coaches for black travelers and white, even different prices according to one’s racial category . . . Africans were paid 2.6 francs per kg for their cocoa, while Europeans received 4.5 francs. Furthermore, whites were exempt from forced labour while whole black villages could be requisitioned to work at road-repairing or on the white-owned plantations. –[(Unesco) General History of Africa, Vol. VIII, pp. 68, 67]

Portugal had commonly pursued a policy of segregation in Africa . . . in which Africans were relegated to the bottom of the social hierarchy. As in the French areas, the local people had few rights and were liable to a forced labour regime which was almost a continuation of slavery. — [(Unesco) General History of Africa, Vol. VIII, p. 63]

Mauritania and South Africa are similar in that:

The colour divide between the whites and black is clear in both countries.  The Arabs in Mauritania call themselves Beydane (Arabic for white) as the Boers refer to themselves as Blanke. In contrast with South Africa, there are no straightforward racially discriminatory laws in Mauritania.  For example there are no daily colour lines separating blacks from whites, there are no officially separate schools or housing for blacks and whites, or “independent homelands” whose citizens are foreigners in Mauritania.  Blacks do not have to carry pass books in order to be allowed to move around the country, interracial marriage is not illegal; in principle, every mature citizen can vote and stand for election; there have always been 2 or 3 blacks in each government.

Black militants attribute this lack of strict colour lines to the fact that Mauritania has been ruled by weak and violent dictatorship regimes which not only oppress the blacks but also their own race.  They do not bother to create laws and regulations. ––[Garba Diallo, “Mauritania-The Other Apartheid” (1993)]


Language suppression 

Under the Assimilationist policy, which was premised on the superiority of French culture, the French always insisted on French as the language of instruction in colonial education. There was no tolerance or use of native languages, only French.

The silencing of an Ancient Tongue: Don’t speak Nubian 

The Nubian languages, like all national languages in the Sudan, are on the brink of becoming extinct (cf. Hashim & Bell, 2005). The state not only did nothing to help enhance and promote the national languages, but look at them as a threat to the national unity. Of over 100 national languages in the Sudan . . . not even a single one of them has been recognized by the state. The state-supported Arabic is encroaching at the expense of the dying national languages. The successive governments of post-Independent Sudan have never heeded the calls from concerned bodies such as UNESCO (cf. UNESCO, 1988; or for recent reference, see: for using the national languages as means of instruction, especially in primary levels . . .. the toll of the systematic onslaught on the national languages that has been going on for the last six centuries has begun to show . . . . For decades, right from the beginning of the 20th centuries, the Nubian languages were fought against by the Arabization-oriented school administrations using the infamous tactic of the Ottoman Turkish Mijidi piaster (cf. Hashim, Forthcoming).  The obsolete piaster was to be hung from a string on the neck of the pupil who dared utter a word in the Nubian language inside the school (they were mostly boarding schools). The piaster was to be passed to another pupil only when caught committing the sin of speaking one of the most ancient languages in the history of mankind. Checked twice a day, in the morning and the evening, the holder of the piaster was severely punished; four strong pupils would be summoned to hold the ‘culprit‘ [sic] from the feet and the hands to be whipped ten lashes.

On 27/05/2006 the Nubians in the Sudan were shocked to read the headline news that the regional Minister of Education in the Northern state had given his explicit orders that no Nubian pupil to utter a word of Nubian language within the precinct of the schools . . .. This latest measure of official and systematic cultural persecution has caused an outcry by the Nubians in home and diaspora —[M. J. Hashim, The Policies of De-Nubianization in Egypt and Sudan: an Ancient People on the Brink of Extinction”, 2006]



In light of the evidence presented in these three digests {1] Racism: Arab and European compared, 2] Black Enslavement: Arab and European Compared, and 3] Colonialism: Arab & European compared} what is there to choose between the Arab and the European aggressors who have exploited, enslaved and oppressed black Africans for centuries? Or between Arab and European brands of colonialism.

Yet some black Africans have, for the last 50 years, been urging us to embrace our Arab enemies as our brothers, and to join with them under some version or other of continental union government! Should black Africans of today allow these advocates to prevail, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves for whatever the Arabs do to us within a USofAfrica that they dominate.



Agyeman, Opoku (2003) The Failure of Grassroots Pan-Africanism, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books,

Diallo, Garba  (1993)  “Mauritania-The Other Apartheid”

Haseeb, Kahir El-Din (1985) The Arabs & Africa, London: Croom Helm.

Hashim, M. J.  (2006) The Policies of De-Nubianization in Egypt and Sudan: an Ancient People on the Brink of Extinction”

Mazrui, Ali A. ed (1993) UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. VIIIAfrica since 1935 Paris: Unesco

Nyaba, Peter Adwok (2006) “Arab Racism in the Sudan”

In Kwesi Kwaa Prah ed. (2006) Racism in the Global African Experience, Cape Town: CASAS,

Porch, Douglas (2000) Wars of Empire, London: Cassell and Co.

Stavrianos, L.S. (1988) The World Since 1500, Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall


**Land expropriation

[In Kenya in the 1920s]  strikes occurred in reaction to a declaration  of the Supreme Court of Kenya that Africans were not owners of their land, even in the Reserves, but were “tenants at the will of the Crown”—[Agyeman, Opoku The Failure of Grassroots Pan-Africanism, p.79

[In South-West Africa, today’s Namibia] The Germans sought to turn the vanquished into a landless proletariat, stripped of its rights to the soil and of its ancestral institutions.—[ Gann & Duignan, The Rulers of German Africa 1884-1914, p.75].


11 thoughts on “Colonialism: Arab & European Compared.

  1. At last, Africans examining the role of Arabs and Islam in the African slave trade and to my surprise you also acknowledge that whites were also victims of slavery. As a white European I like millions of other whites are taught that only whites are racist and only whites took slaves. Whenever I have spoken or written about the Arab African/European slave trade I have been shouted down and accused of racism, usually by other whites or Muslims.
    Like yourselves I believe there are serious and important lessons to be learnt from thoroughly examining this very contentious subject.
    Another related issue is that of Apartheid, it is generally thought of as a race only issue. This is not true, if one examines the role of religion and apartheid it becomes very clear that this form of apartheid is far more pernicious than racism and has been part the human experience for far longer.
    Apart from the obvious and overt Islamic apartheid’s one very overt and often overlooked apartheid is the Hindu caste system. Oddly enough the caste system may have been originally about race, the caste system in Sanskrit is called Varna, this means colour, having lived in India for some years it became quite obvious to me that the high caste Brahmins were overwhelmingly pale skinned and claimed to be Aryans the lowest castes by contrast were overwhelmingly dark skinned aboriginal Indians.
    Thank you for existence and good luck for this website.

    • you foolish pale boy you do not know about Hinduism and blabber some predigested things and vomit them here ; fool; Hindu caste system does not segregate like you DID EVERY NOOK AND CORNER OF THE WORLD ; Real HINDU TEXT BAGAVAT GITA says just if anyone qualifies BY HIS INTELLECT AND HAS THE CAPACITY to be a priest whoever he WAS at his birth, he should be treated as a Guru” or a “priest” or a “brahmin” ; never think that when you write , an Indian will not read your comment colonialist who destroyed the world you think by blabbering on caste system you can divert what you committed as genocide in South America , Africa, India ? By inquisition, by crusade , you killed people ; by injecting the venom in Muslims heads , you used ans exploited them in your slave trades so that your plantations in America and elsewhere do not lack manpower…you know being pale is a disease that shows the malformation in your brain lack of sunshine may be the

      • study this and reflect upon it for 8 hours a day :

        “Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions of society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which the distribution was based in India was peculiar to this country.

        “A Brahmin was a Brahmin not by mere birth, but because he discharged the duty of preserving the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the race, and he had to cultivate the spiritual temperament and acquire the spiritual training which alone could qualify him for the task.

        The Kshatriya was a Kshatriya not merely because he was the son of warriors and princes, but because he discharged the duty of protecting the country and preserving the high courage and manhood of the nation, and he had to cultivate the princely temperament and acquire the strong and lofty Samurai training which alone fitted him for his duties.

        So it was with the Vaishya whose function was to amass wealth for the race and the Shudra who discharged the humbler duties of service without which the other castes could not perform their share of labour for the common good. Essentially there was, between the devout Brahmin and the devout Shudra, no inequality in the single ‘virAt purusa’ [Cosmic Spirit] of which each was a necessary part.

        Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. Education in England gave him a wide introduction to the culture of ancient, or mediaeval and of modern Europe. He was described by Romain Rolland as ‘ the completest synthesis of the East and the West.’ This is what he observed about caste:

      • IT is the British who ruled over India by using the policy ” divide and rule” so they invented “Aryan versus Dravidian ” theory to divide North and South INDIANS BIT THIS fake theory was debunked by scientists who found that genetically all Indians are from India itself and never came from Europe ; when the English read the vedic books , they found that the Indians were far more superior in intellect so they invented this theory to claim ownership on vedas by saying “look Indians , your forefathers came from our land and brought with them vedas” etc . All these divisions are kept alive by Christian missionaries to reap souls in India because their churches do not attract people in the west and now they are turning more and more to Hinduism for solace why ? read “bagavad Gita” to find yourself the answer.

  2. It is no wonder why we, Afrikans, consider ourselves the most dynamic peoples on the planet. Only those endowed with special super-normal abilities could have endured what our race has been put through.


    Did you ever notice that secularists accept historical writings as fact, unless they are about God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    Have you ever heard a secularist proclaim that the following men did not live and that they were not who historians said they were?
    Confucius 551-479 B.C.
    Plato 427-347 B.C.
    Alexander the Great 356-323 B.C.
    Julius Caesar 100-44 B.C.
    Socrates 469-399 B.C.
    Buddha 563-483 B.C.
    Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827
    Homer 700-800 B.C.
    Isaac Newton 1642-1727
    Galileo Galilei 1564-1642
    Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
    Marco Polo 1254-1324
    John Locke 1632-1704
    George Washington 1732-1799
    Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865

    Secularists do not question the historical fact, that these men lived and died. They do not deny the role these men played in history. They believe this, by faith, that the historical accounts are accurate.

    Secularists do deny the historical accuracy of the Bible and all other accounts that proclaim Jesus as the Son of God. They deny the historical accounts of God the Father resurrecting Jesus from the grave.

    THE RESULTS OF A SELECTIVE VIEW OF HISTORICAL FACTS.(2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.)




  4. Thank you for this write up. I submit to a number of youth empowerment blogs in Rwanda. Is it okay if I reblog your work on some of these sites?

  5. Yes, keep emphasising arab and european oppression of africans that occurred many lifetimes ago. africans aren’t exactly respectful of africans. they rob each other in broad daylight and under develop their own communities and people. bunch of crooks patting each other on the back for being the most crooked crooks.

  6. Pingback: Colonialism: Arab & European Compared. | panindiahindu

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