Rewriting African History

Map of Africa
The Ignored Continent

It’s Black History Month in the US (Britain’s being in October) – a time set aside for furthering the understanding of African and diaspora history among the black population and, hopefully among non-blacks too. The history of the African diaspora being such a bizarre and brutal one, Black History Month was created to create strength and stability in a rootless, subjugated population. It’s a time to learn about the heroes of the diaspora, those whose actions created hope in people whose position was apparently hopeless. From Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of Haiti’s successful slave rebellion against the French, through the Jamaican Marcus Garvey who fostered the idea of a black return to Africa, to the civil rights heroes Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and beyond, diaspora history is the story of people overcoming enormous odds.

The era running roughly from the 1950s to the 1970s was a time of global black advancement, with African and black Caribbean states throwing off colonial rule while black Americans took huge steps forward. This movement created its own stories, which were used to raise black pride as a necessary part of putting right gross injustices. These Afrocentric ideas included much mythology, and many mistaken views of history, but played an essential political role nonetheless.

Prior to the rise of Afrocentric thinking, sub-Saharan African history had almost entirely been been written by non-blacks. With the exception of Ethiopia, literacy is a relatively new import to the region, first arriving in northern parts with the Arab Empire around a thousand years ago, and becoming more widespread as Europeans arrived in the past 500 years. The first written documentary of black Africa was done largely by white people viewing very strange and different cultures, and could never have been an accurate or balanced portrayal of African culture.

But Afrocentrism didn’t change that; it was a wishful view of Africa written largely by people who had never set foot on the continent. Its goal wasn’t accuracy, but to provide a counter-balance to white views of Africa and black people. The American descendants of slaves, existing as a minority in one of the world’s most brutally racist societies, understandably saw the world in a racial way; American politics have always been racial, and so the history of slavery and the slave trade was therefore rewritten in the same way, to suit black American sentiment: white people kidnapped Africans from their homeland and transported them to the Americas.

The slave trade however, was triangular: manufactured goods were taken to Africa; slaves were taken to the Americas; cotton and sugar were brought back to Europe. People became rich at all three points; the English cities of Bristol and Liverpool were build on slave trade money; equally, an African elite became wealthy by selling Africans. Many of today’s wealthy Africans descend from this same elite.

It’s estimated that when Europeans first arrived in West Africa, between one-third to two-thirds of the population were slaves. Even earlier, Arabic explorers who ventured south of the Sahara documented rich individuals owning hundreds of slaves. The first European involvement in the African slave trade was by the Portuguese, who bought slaves on the Slave Coast (Nigeria/Benin) and sold them to the Asante of the Gold Coast (Ghana) in exchange for gold.

When the British outlawed the slave trade, they didn’t just hurt European traders – even more, they damaged the West African economy, which was in large part based on slave exports. With demand diminished, prices fell and slave ownership rocketed within Africa. The 10 million or so slaves that were exported across the Atlantic represented a small percentage of the total number of Africans in slavery. The Afrocentric view either ignores this majority, or creates new myths: Afrocentric thinkers will often claim that slavery in Africa was a more civilised matter than what took place in the Americas; eye-witness reports of slaves being sacrificed, their blood spread in the fields, to appease gods, suggest otherwise. Afrocentric viewpoints write the majority of slaves out of history; to suit the political needs of black America, the stories of countless millions of Africans have been ignored.

Afrocentrism attacks other people’s stories too. Afrocentric thinkers find it convenient to claim that ancient Egypt, Africa’s first great civilisation, was a black one. This ignores the inconvenient reality that today’s Egyptians (and north Africans in general) aren’t black; to which the Afrocentric response is that the original Egyptians were somehow wiped out and replaced by Arabs, Turks or Greeks. As to when this enormous genocide supposedly took place, I’ve yet to hear a straight answer. It may seem harmless to allow people to maintain this mythology; yet it is an essentially racist one, denying the right of anyone who isn’t black to be an African. The black race is just one of several racial groups indigenous to Africa; Afrocentrics would write the others out of history, and deny modern Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians their African identity.

The myths become more ludicrous. Some even stake a claim for black ownership of Israel/Palestine… as if the Palestinians didn’t already have enough problems. Some still talk about a black Jesus. The racist cult, the Nation of Islam states that white people are the invention of an ancient black scientist.

Afrocentric moronic myths date back decades, and have been debunked many times, yet every black history month sees them resurrected. Black History Month was supposed to be about black history. Africa isn’t served by the repetition of made-up tales; neither are black children benefited by being taught stories in place of history. Black Americans still have a mountain to climb to find equality in their own country, but angry, racist groups like the NoI or the New Black Panthers seem to serve little useful role any more. But things are changing: an economically resurgent Africa is finding its own voice, as African universities produce graduates in ever greater numbers. The diaspora itself is increasingly dominated by African migrants – Nigerians for example are among the most successful immigrant groups, both in the US and in Britain. Africa can now speak for itself, and as America’s global cultural impact is fading, so is black America’s.

In the US, despite the election of Obama, black people are still the victims of institutionalised racism. Since the civil rights movement made all races equal in law, new methods of “legal lynching” have been invented; the corrupt War on Drugs has been used to target black people, and the black prison population has rocketed in the past 20 years. A million black people are currently in US prisons. It’s understandable that Afrocentric myths find a fertile breeding ground in the US, but they do nothing to help understand Africa or its history. Afrocentric thinking has served its purpose – it’s time to consign it to the trash can of black history.

The Moron Guide to Uprisings

Morons love a world of simple black-and-white facts. So when the world does unpredictable things, this can cause great trauma and distress. For example: when you’ve been brought up believing that the US or Britain are the defenders – no! the creators – of democracy, then actual events in the real world may seem somewhat confusing.

So here is a short guide advising morons as to where they should stand on the various uprisings taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran

We’ll start with an easy one. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979 overthrew the Western-backed murderer known as the Shah, Iran has created a theocratic system that’s hostile to Israel and Western interests in the Middle East, as well as suppressing and brutalising its own people.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 10, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 10, Hostile to US/UK: 10, Crazy leader: 10, Exporting terror: 3

Summary: you can totally support this uprising.

Iraq

Much trickier. Having overthrown a genuinely brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, the US established a colonial authority in Iraq, and gradually hand-built a puppet “democracy” that the old British Empire would have been proud of, while allowing the country’s infrastructure to gradually collapse. The Iraqis are now protesting against the corruption, nepotism and brutality of their new regime! Yes, the one that cost the US taxpayer almost $1tn! Ungrateful wretches!

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 5, Islamist: 3, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 3, Hostile to US/UK: 4, Crazy leader: 2, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: although the people of Iraq may think they deserve a real democracy, they don’t. We paid for it, so it’s ours now.

Egypt

The overthrow of Mubarak greatly confused morons. On the one hand, yes he did rob, torture and kill his own people. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood sounds really scary.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 9, Islamist: 1, Oil reserves: 0, Hostile to Israel: 1, Hostile to US/UK: 1, Crazy leader: 9, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: Besides him being a complete bastard, there seems no other good reason to support the overthrow of Mubarak. However, it’s already happened, so best pretend you support democracy in Egypt (while warning that the Brotherhood will eat Christians’ babies).

Tunisia

See Egypt.

Libya

Very tricky – on the one hand, we’ve been told that Gaddafi is a crazy, evil Muslim dictator for decades, and he seems to have had a hand in the Lockerbie bomb/plane crash. On the other hand, Tony Blair suddenly decided that we like him after all, which had nothing (I repeat, nothing) to do with BP wanting to get their grubby hands on Libyan oil.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 3, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 8, Hostile to US/UK: 7, Crazy leader: 10, Exporting terror: 10

Summary: There’s no good reason not to support this uprising. However I’m sure our leaders will suddenly discover an Islamist threat lurking behind the scenes (in other words, they want the oil, and Gaddafi will give it to them).

Bahrain

Nasty, oppressive regime that took the first possible opportunity to shoot protesters, even while sleeping. Sounds easy right? Wrong – the US Navy has a huge base there.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 9, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 5, Hostile to US/UK: 3, Crazy leader: 7, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: although this seems easy, this is a major oil state and host to the US Empire. You need to sit on the fence, and just pretend you support whatever happens next.

Saudi Arabia

There is no sane reason to support the Saudi regime. It seems to represent everything that freedom-lovers everywhere should despise. It is the birthplace of extremist Wahhabi Islam, which has led to the creation of Al Qaida and to the events of 9/11. There are few human rights, and women’s rights are non-existent. So this should be easy…

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 10, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 6, Hostile to US/UK: 6, Crazy leader: 8, Exporting terror: 10

Summary: Despite everything, maintaining the vile, terrorist regime in Saudi Arabia is highly important to the US Empire in the Middle East and elsewhere. The fall of the Saudi regime may be as critical to America as the loss of India was to the British. Do NOT support this uprising. If anyone asks you why, call them a Commie asshole.

It Must Be Moron Friday

WOW! Fridays are normally nice, quiet, getting ready for the weekend kinda days. But not today. Here’s a quick summary of global moron activity for this morning

  • Egypt in lockdown – most Internet and phone services are shut down in expectation of huge demonstrations after lunchtime prayers. Reports suggest that huge amounts of people have been rounded up, and that police shootings have occurred. Wikileaks provides a timely reminder of why Egyptians hate the dictator Hosni Mubarak so much.
  • Meanwhile, in the Land Of The Free(TM), Hillary Clinton refuses to support the uprising, instead asking the dictator Mubarak to “implement reforms”, and Joe Biden says that Mubarak isn’t a dictator. Is this the same USA that hates dictators, that loves Freedom And Democracy(TM)?
  • And now to gay-hating Africa: in Uganda, a prominent gay rights activist is beaten to death with a hammer, following anti-gay incitement by politicians and media. It should be also noted that today, UK authorities plan to deport a Ugandan lesbian, who faces harassment, and perhaps even execution under a proposed law.
  • And in the UK, semi-literate semi-comical far-right group, the English Defence League, fabricates a story about one of their leaders Kevin Carroll being shot at by “Jihadists”. This is intended to stir up anger among the EDL’s moronic followers in the run-up to a demonstration in Luton on 5th February. The police report only confirms that a man complained of something being thrown against his window.
  • Finally over to Israel, which has always complained that Hamas doesn’t accept its right to exist as a state (and therefore justifies endless war). A Wikileaks cable confirms what was widely known anyway: Hamas does accept Israel, within 1967 borders.

And that’s just Friday morning… GIMME A DAMN BREAK GUYS! Please?

Arab Uprising Exposes Right-Wing Hypocrisy About Democracy

Remember 2003? How the West (well, the US and Britain) marched in to Iraq to depose the dictator Saddam Hussein and bring “democracy”? Obviously the democracy part hasn’t really bedded in yet, but overall, aren’t we Westerners nice? We spent over $1 trillion of our own hard-earned money to liberate those poor, oppressed Iraqis.

Cynics pointed out that the American/British love of “spreading freedom and democracy” (to use Bush-speak) was a little inconsistent: what about all the other Arab dictatorships? How about the central Asian dictators like Islam Karimov, America’s “friend” in Turkmenistan, who had a thing for boiling his opponents alive? And what about the fact that America has backed so many nasty dictators in the past, in Latin America and elsewhere? Perhaps most of all, what about the American/British love-in with the brutish, fundamentalist regime in Saudi Arabia (and its huge oil reserves)?

But let’s not be too cynical – didn’t America cheer (and lend a quiet hand) as the Berlin Wall fell, and then revolution after revolution swept Eastern Europe? Yes, it did. Didn’t rightwing media and politicians join the left to support the Iranian uprising after the rigged elections of 2009? Again yes.

And now here comes something just as world-changing, and probably even more genuinely spontaneous than those Eastern European uprisings: in the space of a few days first Tunisia, then Egypt, and now Yemen too, rose up against the dictators who have terrorised their populations for so long. The Arab world, so long criticised for its lack of democracy, freedom and human rights, appears to finally be finding its voice.

Of course, those rightwing commentators who cheered Bush and Blair into Iraq, who cheered the pro-democracy uprisings in Ukraine, Iran and elsewhere, are positively delighted with this turn of events. Of course!

Not.

The problem is that, while the fall of Russian or Iranian influence helps European and American interests, those Arab torturers are… well how can I say this… (it’s a little embarrassing) – defending US, European and Israeli interests in the region. So the chance of democracy in Arab countries isn’t exactly what the West wants right now… or (to be honest) ever.

So if you’re puzzled by the lack of excitement on Fox News, or your favourite “pro-freedom” media outlet, well: you have the right to be. The problems are twofold:

  1. Oil – there’s a LOT of it, especially in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Currently all this oil is controlled by moron dictators, who in turn owe their allegiance to the US.
  2. Israel relies on corrupt Arab dictators, with the help of bribes (did I say bribes? I meant aid) from the US, to prevent the Arab people lending support to the Palestinians.

What this means is that the US state and right-wing news sources are kind-of reluctant to cheer on the pro-democracy movement that’s gathering pace. of course, they don’t SAY that. What they say, or at least hint at, is that these uprisings contain… brace yourself… ISLAM! And we know (or at least indoctrinated right-wing morons know) that Islam is bad, m’kay? So the very people who scream Freedom and Democracy at every opportunity are now decidedly reluctant to support the Freedom and Democracy sweeping the very part of the world where it’s most sorely needed.

Here are some examples of how it plays out:

Far-right botox’d Muslim-hating moron Pamela Geller writes a blog post entitled Fall of secular regime in Tunisia paves way for Islamic revolution. Note how a torturing, murdering dictatorship becomes a “secular regime” and a call for democracy becomes an Islamic revolution. She says “Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was warning American officials about the dangers posed by radical Islam”. Well yeah… so the suckers send him weaponry and aid to fight the “Islamist threat” rather than try to topple him.

In a truly hilarious fence-sitting attempt to kind-of look like they support democracy, rightwing rag The National Review says in an editorial Mubarak Should Go – But Not Yet. Strange that it’s the right who accused the left of “appeasement” for opposing the toppling of Saddam, now calling for a blood-stained dictator to stay in his place.

Here at MoronWatch we wish the revolt every success. But have no doubt that US advisers are already in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel looking for ways to deflate the rage that’s now exploding through the Arab world.