Slavery_and_Colonialism_The_Worst_Terror.pdf - African Renaissance Vol 9 No 1 2012 Pp 9\u201026 Slavery and Colonialism The Worst Terrorism on Africa

Slavery_and_Colonialism_The_Worst_Terror.pdf - African...

This preview shows page 1 out of 18 pages.

Unformatted text preview: African Renaissance Vol 9, No 1, 2012 Pp 9‐26 Slavery and Colonialism: The Worst Terrorism on Africa Mohamed A. Eno, Omar A. Eno, Mohamed H. Ingiriis, and Jamal M. Haji …………………………………………………………………………………… The villain is more powerful than the victim who must search far afield for mechanisms to redress the injustice. ‐‐ Ali J. Ahmed Introduction Humans need not justify terrorism of any kind, regardless of whether one is Muslim, Christian or Jew, because it is the axis of evil and devastation of mankind. However, the deliberate use of the term terrorism in recent decades was carefully selected, mainly, against a certain religion (Islam). The idea was then globally politicized by the Western world. Leaving that scholarly view in its own right, we disagree with the opinion raising terrorism as the devil’s just‐born child of evil, when in reality Africans had been terrorized for centuries as slaves and human chattel. Hence the basis for the concept of this thesis: conceptualizing the episode of ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist’ from the broader perspective of its practice from the Middle Passage or the Atlantic Slave Trade. To portray that argument and broaden the scope of the debate over this critically sensitive subject, we divided the discussion into three sections: an examination of what constitutes terrorism and terrorist; history of terrorism and terrorists from an Africa perspective; and the ideological constraints within the subject of terrorism as practiced by the US and its Western allies. I. An Examination of the Terms Terrorism and Terrorist What constitutes terrorism and who is a terrorist? Who should define these terms and whose definition(s) should be taken as more reliable and therefore validated? Who should validate these definitions and qualifications and from whose viewpoint should they be appraised? 9 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 Slavery and Colonialism: The Worst Terrorism on Africa These are provocative questions many would like to avoid. Others would juxtapose this definitional crisis to that of: Who is an African? – a hard‐nut question to which African scholar, Jideofor Adibe (2009) dedicated an entire volume of about 16 chapters. But unlike the qualification for Africanity, which holds no one criminal for denigrating or violating the identity, the qualifications terrorist or terrorism are guided and backed by eminent legal institutions that prefer crimes against those incriminated or suspected of involvement and, therefore, bear harsh consequences. This concern is what heightens the criticality of the subject and the inherent suspicion surrounding it. The underpinning anxiety over these consequences and evidence of victims of ‘mistaken identity’ in the course of tracking down, apprehending and punishing presumed terrorists, call for adequate and uncontroversial definitions and interpretations of these ambiguous twin terms. The topic becomes deeply complicated when even the protagonists of the ‘global fight against terrorism’ could not reach a proper consensus on how to define the terms. “Even the events of 11 September 2001 could not get the UN Security Council agree to a common definition of terrorism,” Cilliers (2003:92). Notwithstanding the models and possible commonalities of some of these definitions and views, whether observed from scholarly or official lenses, the fact yet remains that “[d]efining terrorism is by no means an easy task,” Foster‐Towne (2010). Paraphrasing Griset and Mahan, Foster‐Towne argues that over “one hundred definitions of terrorism exist.” The allusion to this obfuscation discerns the infinitive indistinctness of the terms as both “fluid and dynamic,” according to Foster‐Towne. Recent descriptions suggest that the “[k]ey to understanding the thinking behind terrorism is that terrorism seeks to induce retaliation,” a fact which rests on the generally accepted doctrine that “Terrorism serves to terrorize” (Cilliers, 2003:92). The complication mainly originates from the Westerners who fabricate their definitions as and when they serve their particular interests and contexts: leaving out core words and sometimes inserting others or reframing parts altogether into vague readings of immense complexity. One of such interpolations defines terrorism as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes,” as Hubschle (2003:18) quotes from Resolution 54/110 of December 1999. Whether the Resolution adopted this definition to deliberately obscure the economic aspects of terrorism or whether the term ‘political’ was the focus and 10 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 M. Eno, O. Eno, M. Ingiriis, & J. Haji/African Renaissance Vol.9 No. 1 2012 (pp 9‐26) contemplation of the context of terrorism at that time, it is self‐axiomatic that it cannot in any manner degrade or escape the economic implications of terrorism, domestically as well as globally, since some of the core reasons behind the West’s engagement with terrorism include the protection of ‘western interests’ which is essentially economic. In the essay “Terrorism and Africa”, Jackie Cilliers, refers to Article 3(2) of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, also known as the Palermo Convention. In our observation, from the point of view of this Convention, the Western countries which indulged in the heinous practices of slavery and/or colonialism, would have undergone condemnation for their acts of terror and subsequently entered into the book of culprits at the ICC (equivalent to the Jewish Holocaust), for committing crimes against humanity, and this, regardless of time or space. But again, whereas the Western ideological blanket spreads its view of terrorism on the basis of threatening a group that may not constitute the real target, which suggests remoteness to the reaches of the terrorist, we draw our broader version of terrorism on the basis of directly and deliberately planned actions of terror as were specifically designed by the West, and so raptly, to achieve economic ends through the terrorization of the African people, socially, economically and culturally. But can these diverse interpretations and views be treated as universal for them to accommodate the contending views of the describers of terrorism and the described as terrorists? Foster‐Towne illuminates the phenomenon as one with “complex fluidity,” which is absolutely true, considering Africa’s variant laws injected recently into the terrorism corpus. Emeritus Professor, Ali Mazrui, (2006) visits the issue with a concern and writes, “The trouble with all new African legislation against terrorism is the simple issue of definition—what is a terrorist?” (P. 98). He goes as far as commenting on these laws, particularly in Kenya, as “a catch‐all phrase” (P. 99). Indeed ‘the trouble’ occurs because partly, if not mainly, ‘all new African legislation against terrorism’ is derived from (and interpreted along the lines of) highly contentious and destructively motivated Western documents and perceptions. So, in the course of merging those with the domestic view, cracks and flaws emerge to agitate demonstrable public disgruntlement. In principle, we argue that what constitutes the phraseology ‘acts of terrorism’ should be defined and highlighted holistically and according to a global consensus and contributions from experts and scholars across the globe, and not merely in light of the dubiously worded 11 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 Slavery and Colonialism: The Worst Terrorism on Africa interpretational subtleties of Western tutelage. A consensually accepted model should contribute to a better consideration of: a) the world opinion regarding an appropriate consent on what constitutes terrorism, and b) African experts’/scholars’ input relating to whether the West’s definition of what comprises the meaning and acts of terrorism is in agreement with, or different from that which constitutes terrorism in slavery, colonialism, exploitation, economic sabotage and underdevelopment ‐‐ ‘African interests’ in general as compared to the global promotion of ‘Western interests’. An immediate revisiting of this nature needs sincere consideration for the sake of the rationale that, each victim of terrorism benefits from global justice, regardless of one’s claim as victim of the resurgent symptoms of terrorism or of the old practices the West would like to keep securely entombed in the decaying annals of history. From an African perspective, there exist ample reminiscences of a time when the Mau Mau, Frelimo, the ANC, the Maji Maji and a great majority of African liberation movements were labeled as associations of terror, their leaders as perpetrators of terrorism, and the average African seeking his freedom through association with one of these national consciousness‐raising institutions as none other than a terrorist (Eno et al 2011). The broader perspective laden with the African reading of terrorism and terrorist looks at the subject from an avoided historical background; that of slavery and its offspring, colonialism, as discussed in the ensuing section. II. A Historical Glimpse of Terrorism in Africa They shipped the most healthy wherever possible, taking the trouble to get those who had already survived an attack of smallpox, and who were therefore immune from further attacks of that disease. – Walter Rodney A. The terror of slavery Claudia Foster‐Towne provides the historical foundations of terrorism from the obstructed western viewpoint: “Terrorism and the effects of terror were first recognized during the French Revolution, when 40,000 people were executed” (2010:1). The writer also acknowledges, “It is, however, believed that the history of terrorism dates back as far as Julius Caesar in 44BC.” For Foster‐Towne, as one would expect, there is no mention‐worthy terrorism between these eras; or, human suffering of 12 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 M. Eno, O. Eno, M. Ingiriis, & J. Haji/African Renaissance Vol.9 No. 1 2012 (pp 9‐26) more than 40,000 Europeans does not immediately cross the author’s mind. But what in African/Kiswahili terms could be called maafa (holocaust), in the contextually usable sense of the word, started during the Atlantic Slave Trade, and not during the death of 40,000 people or recently when the West started feeling the heat and pain of terrorism, which, in the most part, came as a counter‐offensive of those whom the West had trained for various goals and interests. Paradigmatically, a broader section of western scholarship, for perceivable reasons, observes the terrorism phenomenon from the view of what we (authors) see as a recent phenomenon. Therefore, the current literature on terrorism attempts to limit the acts, scope and history of terrorism within a narrow spectrum not beyond the past few decades, and at most, for apparent reasons, not further than the period of African struggle for liberation. Of these, as envisaged in western teaching on terrorism, the most remarkable events and landmarks are seen in the Al Qaeda bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the subsequent attacks of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, by the same terror group. Whatever the tenet or legacy, no kind of terrorism is justifiable in any form at any given time in the history of any given society. To do so would undermine the human rights of the people concerned and degrade the genuineness of the cases regarding the pain and anguish they have undergone and continue to tolerate presently. Yet, less catastrophic incidents are globalized and recruitments made to divert from the real target, often an innocent African already plagued by the effects of the previous terrorism afflicted to the continent. Though the West consider themselves as victims of the recent resurgence of what they call terrorism, the savage crimes they committed against Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade constitute the worst human‐caused terrors ever experienced on earth in any imaginable nature or enterprise (Du Bois 1954; Pares 1956). Unlike the current form of terrorism which barely resurged a few decades ago, the acts of terrorism against Africa continued for over four hundred painful years. Yet, notwithstanding the West’s acknowledgment of their harsh inhumanities, the term terrorism is hardly ever used to describe slavery. As a wise African elder once philosophized, ‘You may never realize the harshness of certain pains till they encroach into your body,’ a reality which symbolizes the Western situation of pain. By those acts, no doubt, the West had contravened the laws of human decency and moral values, taking leisure in the agonies the 13 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 Slavery and Colonialism: The Worst Terrorism on Africa Africans were undergoing in their terrorist acts of slavery. The wound created at the time continues to date to reproduce itself in various shapes and forms, from multi level psychological infections to scales of contaminations in social stigma and denigration (Fanon 2004). The intolerable variables of stigma and traumatizing experiences have endured as the worst legacy left for the descendants of that enterprise in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean. But in a dramatic turnaround, it is the practitioners of yesterday’s terrorism of the slave trade venture that keep shedding crocodile tears today as victims of ‘terrorism’ although they haven’t been shackled for months under the deck of slave ships! Here is where history of crime becomes critical; by juxtaposing the past terror to its present resurgence, and the deliberate reluctance of the West to apply the word terrorism to describe their inhumane practice on the Africans. During the era of the slave trade, millions of Africans, particularly the young, women and children, were terrorized by the Westerners’ intentional acts of terrorism, with millions perishing in the forests whilst running away from the slave abductors. Others also, estimated as millions, were cruelly suspended from life in the lower deck of the ships transporting them to the Americas and other destinations, sickly and clad in fetters. Yet, millions more lost their lives from dehydration, dysentery and other diseases acquired during the journey. With no sanitary facilities in the lower deck, we do not know of any type of terrorism comparable to or worse than the one suffered by a human being shackled together with a dead body on his right leg and a diarrhea patient on his left! During the boom of the trade, this was the characteristic nature of terrorism the Africans have been subjected to, enduring months of hardship until they would arrive at the port of destination, where they would be auctioned and sold as property much less valuable than any kind of material goods. The horrendous experience of the lower deck became a reverberating reminiscence constantly alive in the mind of many African American, European and Caribbean descendants of slavery, to the extent that the phrase “lower deck” alone became synonymous with terrorism, fear, anxiety, and stigma associated with persistent trauma. Experts on slavery like Aptheker (1974) convincingly report how “behind“ the owner, and his personal agents, stood an elaborate and complex system of military control,” (P. 67; read also W. E. B. Du Bois 1954); a revelation of the degree at which the slavery enterprise was indeed a state‐sponsored terrorism. Another disturbing example is the 14 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 M. Eno, O. Eno, M. Ingiriis, & J. Haji/African Renaissance Vol.9 No. 1 2012 (pp 9‐26) participation by European Royal Families. Though viciously disgusting the business was, Queen Elizabeth I played an active role in empowering a very notorious slave trader, John Hawkins, by providing him with a ship to boost the trade. Upon Hawkins’s return from Africa with the goods, she could not think of better way to honor him than decorate him with the title ‘knight’. What portrays and increases the guilt of the West in this trans‐Atlantic transaction of terror is that “…the shipments were all by Europeans to markets controlled by Europeans, and this was in the interest of European capitalism and nothing else” (Rodney, P. 95; more about the involvement of European royal families, see ‐slavery.htm). The sadness is that at the time of these enormous and fugitive acts of terror, Western intelligentsia measured them from the prism of goals achieved, not crimes committed that caused immeasurable setback to the population of nations of Africans. As Walter Rodney suggests, “The European slave trade was a direct block, in removing millions of youth and young adults who are the human agents from whom inventiveness springs,” (P. 105). Drawing a comparison with the development achieved in the West, Rodney argues, “Population growth played a major role in European development in providing labor, markets, and the pressures that led to further advance” (Pp. 97‐98). Experts of the 400‐years‐old trans‐Atlantic terrorism estimate a modest number of the dead resulting from the process of enslavement and slavery to the tune of eleven million Africans. Some of these estimates include flights into the forests, deaths in transit centers, combined with the arduous travail of slave labor, malnutrition, lack of medication, psychological trauma, psychiatric ailments, subordination, submissiveness, humiliation as well as a number of dehumanizing forms of physical and psychological torture in the highest degree of holocaust and terrorism. For instance: David Stannard (1992) registers that between 30 to 60 million Africans died while being enslaved, and that a mortality rate of 75‐80% occurred in transit. Meltzer, as cited in White (2003), believes that 10 million slaves arrived in the Americas; this would be the residue after 12.5% of those shipped out from Africa died on the ocean, 4‐5% died while waiting in harbor, and 33% died during the first year of seasoning. As White (2003) claims, Drescher estimates the casualty to the tune of 21 million as enslaved, 1700‐1850, of whom 4 million died ʺas a direct result of enslavementʺ. Of 12 million slaves shipped to America, about 15%, or 2 million more, died in the Middle Passage and seasoning year. According 15 Delivered by Sabinet to: guest IP: 86.97.119.10 On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:25:23 Slavery and Colonialism: The Worst Terrorism on Africa to White (2003), emphasizing on Jan Rogozinski’s work, close to “eight million Africans may have died in order to bring four million slaves to the Caribbean islands.ʺ Walter Rodney argues that, “…no scale of rationality could the outflow of population be measured as being anything but disastrous for African societies” (P. 98). It was a multi‐facial form of terrorism which affected the Africans across different geographical locations. It applied a lot of violence to suppress the African slaves. Commenting on slave condition, (Morris, P. 25) maintains, “The control and use of violence by the dominators was central to the maintenance of slavery.” The statement depicts another harsh example of slavery as a form of terrorism. However, the West embarked on the second destructive terrorism on Africa under the veiled name of colonialism. B. The terror of colonialism After the abolition of slavery, Western terrorism of Africa began at the infamous Berlin conference in 1884 when many European countries convened and deliberately planned the partitioning of the African continent in a blueprint the Western colonial and imperial world named the Partition of Africa (Padmore, 1936; July, 1992). The new module of exploi...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture