Presented below is the second in 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
In the words of Bernard Lewis: “In the horrors of the abduction of Africans from their homes for delivery to Islamic and American purchasers,
there was little to choose, . . . . Nor was there much difference in the dangers and hardships of the journey, until the human merchandise reached its ultimate destination across ocean or desert.” [Lewis Race and Slavery in the Middle East, p. 100]