If there are people who need to be specially celebrated and recognised in the world, it is our African brothers and sisters.
They are a people who suffered the worst of holocausts known to mankind and the universe. They are a people who have given so much to the world, in history, in the sciences, in their wisdom, their inventions and their humanity – a people who gave to the world the peoples.
In their seed is the ability to create a Caucasian-like human being from the womb, with blond hair and blue eyes. In their features, we can see the traces of all mankind’s races. Some look like the Indians of Asia, others have the cheekbones and looks of the Chinese, Mongolian and Korean people; some look like the Native Americans while some look like typical Africans with their distinctive features, yet with subtle differences like the Tutsis and Hutus.
I wish to state an Islamic fact. When our Holy Prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) received prophethood, despite his popularity and clan relations, he and his followers were severely persecuted, targeted, mocked at and attacked, with many killed and savagely brutalized.
He had no place to turn to and sent his followers to the Land of Ethiopia, where a benevolent king ruled. This king gave protection and rights to the Prophet’s companions with freedom to remain there as long as they wanted or to return to Arabia when conditions were better. In other words, Islam got protection from a Christian African king, who later accepted Islam after studying the religion.
The Africans constructed the Pyramids of Egypt and Sudan, a scientific feat, without machines; invented mummification of human flesh that astounds modern scientists; could have performed surgery in the heads of men and women and made medical instruments still in use today.
They were masters in astronomy, the high seas, shipping and warfare. In recent times, they have invented so many magnificent things, many of which we don’t know about or simply take for granted.
Elijah Mc Coy created the first oil-dripping cup for trains. Lewis Latimer created the amazing invention of carbon filament as he worked in the laboratories of both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. George Washington Carver was the man who developed peanut butter and over 400 plant products! He was born a slave and didn’t attend college until he was 30 years old! Yet another was Garrett Morgan, the man who invented the first traffic signal. Jan Ernst Matzeliger invented a shoemaking machine that increased shoemaking speed by 900%!
In 1992, the US made a postage stamp in honour of Matzeliger. And still alive today is Dr. Patricia E. Bath, who invented a method of eye surgery that has helped many blind people to see. Dr. Bath has been nominated to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. These are a few names not widely known, but the list goes on and on.
The Africans were subjected to the slave trade to enrich Europe and its colonists to the so-called New World. The African “soul” was penetrated by the preaching against their creed and religions of the ancestors of Africa. While the Bible was shared, Europe stole arable and valuable lands, in the process, building European-style castles and creating European lifestyles. They stole the people’s diamonds and gold, and even their animals, which were exported for the zoos of Europe and killed for their body parts to enrich the commerce of Europe.
Until today, there are poachers killing elephants for the valued ivory and those involved in the sale of ‘blood diamonds,’ creating human suffering, struggles and pains, where limbs of various opposing groups are hacked off, or youth enslaved to be child soldiers and sex slaves for the perverted, converted to the nature of the Europeans.
Hence, misery lingers years after the evil invasion of the Europeans and their master-stroke of evil still perpetuates the enslavement of Africans. They suffered such cruelties at the hands of man, for the cause of greed by the Romans, the Arabs, and the Europeans.
Tens of millions of the best and strongest, the wisest – among them kings and princes – were brought into what was called by the Europeans the New World (the Caribbean and West Indies), stolen and claimed in the names of the kings and queens of Europe, though the lands were already inhabited.
In what was the Middle Passage, Africans made the hazardous, inhuman voyage, in ships laden with living human flesh made stink. Men, women and children were packed like lice in infested coffins, one on top the other, poorly fed and sweating, human faeces and urine pouring from top to bottom, with the dead and rotten infecting the living with disease. Millions died of smallpox, dysentery and dehydration.
My dearest friends, I am aware that modern European Governments have tried in some measure (albeit too little too late) to pacify the former colonies, slaves and indentured servants with certain goodies. We must be appreciative, but never forget. Those who forget are bound to re-experience the atrocities, and the oppressors are bound to revisit with much more severe atrocities.
I write this piece with great passion and power in my heart, for this is the reality of history, an abominable act of inhumanity for which they refuse to compensate Africa and the descendants of the slave-trade. Definitely, they will refuse, for the wealth they gathered and built will have to be paid over to the descendants of the African ancestors.
It was our own scholar and philosopher, Dr. Walter Rodney who studied the plight of slavery and its effect on the psyche of the Africans and their descendants, and penned his scholarly treatise, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”.
The Europeans had the audacity to dictate the political affairs of nations through thievery, manipulation and dishonesty, to manage the resources of Africa, pitting one nation against the other, causing infighting amongst tribes, providing weapons and ammunition to kill each other, then calling the Africans uncivilized brutes, cruel to their own kind, unfit for independence or freedom, unable to govern themselves properly, etc., etc.
Reparation is a plea for inclusion, not separatism. The point is to give many African people an opportunity to begin sharing in the work, the production, and the opportunity of a dream that’s been denied them, their parents, their grandparents and their great- or great-great-grandparents.
Accepting reparations, and the requisite apology along with it, closes the divide that’s held us all back over the decades and centuries of our history. It’s not charity to pay what’s due; it’s not begging to take it. It’s a handshake deal between equals and hopefully friends, a word as a bond; a new beginning we’ve all put off far too long.
Roshan Khan Snr.
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