I buy my weekly groceries at the same retail shop. However, whenever I leave the shop, I almost all the time leave the shop thinking about how I should have been treated the same as other customers.
Generally speaking, the interaction between a black cashier and white customer goes like this:
Cashier: Good day sir or madam.
White person: Good day to you, too.
Cashier: Would you like a plastic bag?
You get the picture?
That’s not my experience, however. I am normally greeted with a node of the head to acknowledge my presence or nothing is said. If something is said, the first word is normally, “Plastic?”. Meaning would you like a plastic bag?
I find this behaviour very curious, and as a student of the human mind, I am interested in the reason behind behaviour more than behaviour itself.
With that said, the history of colonialism often refers to an act by a group of people or nation where they invade a country, conquer, colonise and enslave you. Other than that (not that’s insignificant), they simply make your history disappear to make it look like they conquered nobodies.
It is my belief that African history was functionally distorted to justify colonialism, oppression and slavery in a way that we (modern-day people) can’t fully comprehend today. Think about a time just over a 100 years ago when black, African people were kept in zoos in London, Paris, etc.
Unimaginable, right?! I know.
That gives us a sense of the strength of colonial propaganda and how deeply it’d taken root in those societies and others, to the point that it was actually argued by hard science and people who consider themselves serious academics that black people were more closely related to monkeys than other human beings.
Today we can see that dishonest scholarship can be a tool for profitable foreign policy. So is the case in the past. History was distorted deliberately in particular ways. The strength of propaganda is still with us today even in people of African descent.
That leads me nicely to the next phase of this article. When people have a history, that makes them somebody. So, if you remove the history, the conquered become nobodies. And so, with your history gone, no one is lamenting the loss of that history.
They are physiological reasons why people would want to associate themselves with a history. There’s a link between what someone thinks of themselves and what they think of their kind (race). Scholars differentiate between personal esteem, also known as self-esteem and interpersonal esteem (also known as racial or group esteem). Someone could have very high self-esteem, but very low interpersonal or group esteem.
Scholars like Robin Walker (big up to the OG) believe that black people have a high personal esteem, but low interpersonal esteem. They basically think badly about other black people. He attributes that as the reason behind why black people are prone to fight, disagree, and conflict with each other.
Most black people don’t know their history because it has been removed. Books that document black history are either inaccessible or expensive, or both.
The way to raise people’s group or racial esteem is to introduce them to their history. And if the history happens to be a great history; a history that people objectively can be proud of; they will see their people in a very different way to how they see their people at present.
The purpose of this article is to start building a balance between the high self-esteem and low group esteem amongst black folk.
The following bullet points will give an overview (snapshots) of a glorious African & Black history:
1. Ancient Egypt was black: Let that thought sink in for a moment. When people visit Egypt today and say, “we met some Egyptians”, they didn’t. They either met Arabs or Turks.
It’s not just Egypt, the whole of North Africa was conquered by Arabs and Turks in the middle-ages. Invaders moved into Egypt around December 639 AD. Everything before that date is actually black Egypt.
2. Nabta Playa: The only megalithic circle in Egypt and arguably the oldest astronomical observatory in the history of humanity. Scholars believe it was built somewhere between 7000 and 9000 BC. Possibly as old as 11,000 years ago. Think about that for a moment. The Nabta Playa is the first known example of an astronomical observatory in the world.
In the book Black Genesis, the writers look at the relationship between this astronomical observatory and the evolution of the ancient Egyptian religion and its subsequent civilisations.
3. The Great Zimbabwe Ruins: I’d like to express my absolute awe for this beauty. The architecture of the Great Zimbabwe ruins reflect an extraordinary level of complexity and sophistication from a mathematical perspective and socio-economic system. In grandeur, the stonewalls of the Zimbabwe ruins are unparalleled.
4. Mansa Musa: According to Express.co.uk, Mansa Musa estimated to be have been worth £249bn, “ruled the Mali Empire (a large part of West Africa and including the city of Timbuktu) which provided half the world’s supply of gold from three huge mines. A devout Muslim, he established Mali as an intellectual hub of the world.”
5. The great Walls of Benin: Dubbed the largest Earth works prior to the mechanical era. At its height, it’s estimated to have been 8,000 miles of wall.
6. The City of Luango: We can see clear evidence of urban planning, streets, housing and if you look it up, multi-storey buildings. This particular city was some sort of early client-state of the Portuguese. This empire had an embassy in Rome during its height.
7. The Songhai Empire (also transliterated as Songhay) was a state that dominated the western Sahel in the 15th and 16th century. At its peak, it was one of the largest states in African history. In the 17th century, it is believed to have had over 70,000 people. To put it into perspective, 20,000 – 30,000 people lived in London at the same time.
There’s a lot more that ancient Africa and Africans achieved, but it is my belief that Africa’s history has been deliberately erased to make it seem like we were nobodies.
I’ll leave you with this thought; can we fully understand the human story in the globalised world without any real sense of the major parts of it?
Can we really justify a curriculum in Africa or anywhere in the world, that teaches us more about Henry VIII killing his wives than it does about, say for example the African Resistance Movement (ARM), a militant anti-apartheid resistance movement, which operated in South Africa during the early and mid-1960s, and what it achieved.
Other good reads: The Life Time Investment
Segun is a budding, freelance writer for Newslibre. He loves football, basketball, books, music (all things Birdie and flirts with a bit of Jazz), Philosophy and is an ultra-marathon runner.