THE CHRONICLE OF A BRAINWASHED RACE
Instead of the usual internet rants and exchange of words, I plead that this piece be read with an open mind.
Sometimes I ask myself if studying History would have been the best course for me. I grew up as a very shy and quiet kid. Didn't keep many friends,my thoughts became my best friend. I was in love with anything creative, from drawing to constructions and research. I had an undying thirst for knowledge which reflected in voraciously studying the many text books on various subjects especially History used by my older siblings in school at my disposal.
I read about European history; I could tell much about the crusaders, the great knights, the Scandinavians and Vikings who conquered England. I read about America; Amerigo, Christopher Columbus, Vasco Da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan. I read about Science; Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein. About Picasso, Michael Angelo, the explorers and about Africa; The great Zimbabwe, Egypt, Benin empire etc
Bob Marley said, "If you know your history, then you will know where you are coming from". Many Africans and Nigerians in particular do not know their history.
We have been told that the black man cannot think constructively and have been made to believe that civilization was brought to us from the West and sadly, a lot of us still harbour that notion.
I've always dreamt of writing a book someday on this subject. I intend to name it 'By whose standards' after 'tapping' a magazine from a friend with a large part of it dedicated to black history some years back. It was black history month and the histories on those pages were exactly what I had been looking for all my life. In many parts of Europe and America, they celebrate the black history day but like Kanye West rightly said, "Black history ain't a day".
The inspiration behind this article was a tweet by popular blogger J.J Omojuwa that I read and how he talked about Blacks giving preference to the fairer skin.
For clarity, let me explain the main aim of this article. It is to change the mindset of the Black race. There is no Medical proof that your colour affects your mental capacity. The African story needs to be retold and not by the West but by us.
Historically, Egypt was the cradle of civilization and the original inhabitants of Egypt were black. Black men were Pharaohs; they built the pyramids and formed the basis for modern day Philosophy and Mathematics. The economy of Egypt was so good that Arabs from all parts of the Middle East migrated to Egypt which is the main reason of the major Arab population of today's Egypt.
Many non Africans don't know anything about the continent. They have been made to believe that Africa is a barbaric uncivilized part of the world where people live on trees. You will be shocked when an average American asks you if Africa is in India. They talk about Africa like it is a small community without knowing that it is a large continent with about 57 countries.
The sole aim of ancient explorers was conquest and colonisation, it wasn't to make the conquered a better people. Africa was plundered in the past, millions of able bodied men and women who would have contributed to the significant development of the continent were shipped off to the Caribbean and other parts of the world to work on European and Anglican owned plantations. The effect on the continent was terrible but the worse blow dealt on the continent was the mutilating and rewriting of our history by the European explorers just for their selfish interest.
Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743- July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801-1809). He was a spokesman for democracy and the rights of man with worldwide influence. The man who coined the popular phrase "All men are equal" in the declaration of Independence also said in his one and only published book, called "Notes on Virginia," where he explained why white men are intellectually superior to black men. Jefferson wrote that it would be impossible for a black person to understand the mathematical formula in Euclid's famous book called "The Elements".
The fact that such a statement came from Thomas Jefferson wasn't the problem. The main problem is that two centuries after, black people still believe in the mental superiority of the Whites.
In present day Nigeria, you will find half trained White people running major industries and are called expatriates; people who won't be given a job in their home country and according to Omojuwa, black migrants are called different names abroad. Let me take you through a summary of African historical journey to send my point home. Before the Portuguese, the British and the French set foot on African soil, we had;
THE KANEM BORNU EMPIRE:
The Kanem-Bornu Empire was a large African state which existed from the 9th century through the end of the 19th century . It covered the region which today includes the modern-day countries of Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Libya and Nigeria. The empire was founded by the Zaghawa nomadic people, who may have been the first in the central Sudan to acquire and make use of iron technology and horses. The empire was first mentioned by Arab chroniclers in the 9th century, and by the 10th century the ruler of Kanem had control of the Kawar Oases, a vital economic asset. The political structure of the Kanem Empire had most likely grown out of rival states coming under the control of the Zaghawa. In the 11th century the Zaghawa clans were driven out by Humai ibn Salamna, who founded the kingdom of Kanem with a capital at Njimi. The Saifwa dynasty was established, a dynasty which ruled for 771 years; the longest known reign in history. Saifwa rulers (known as mais) claimed they were descended from a heroic Arabic figure, and the dynasty greatly expanded the influence of Islam, making it the religion of the court. Wealth came largely through trade, especially in slaves, which was facilitated by
the empire's position near important North-South trade routes. The empire had a policy of imperial expansion and traded for firearms and horses, wielding huge numbers of cavalry. When a Mai desecrated a sacred animist religious artifact, conflict occurred between the dynasty and groups like the Bulala.
Conflicts from outside forces were also enhanced by the empire's policy of collateral succession of brother succeeding brother which produced short reigns and unstable situations.
In the late 14th century the Saifawa were forced to retreat west across Lake Chad and establish a new kingdom called Bornu. This is the origin of the name Kanem-Bornu.
Bornu expanded territorially and commercially, but increasing threats from other rival states, drought, trade problems, and rebellious Fulani groups eroded state control. Muhammad al-Amin al-Kanemi, a Muslim cleric, eventually defeated the rebellious Fulani and built a new capital at Kukawa in 1814. His successors ended the Saifwa dynasty and the Kanem-Bornu Empire when they killed the last Mai in 1846. Al-Kanemi's Shehu dynasty was short-lived, and succeeded by slaver and warlord Rabih Zubayr, who was defeated by the French in 1900.
Oyo Empire (1600-1836) was a Yoruba Empire, located in present day Nigeria and Benin. Oyo rose to become the most important city state, surpassing Ife during the 1300s. Unlike other Yoruba states, which were located in the forest area, Oyo was situated in woodland savannah. Oyo like all African states on the coast engaged in the slave trade. Thousands of Africans were exported to the new world from the ports in Ouidah, Ekpe, Porto Novo, Badagry, and Lagos. Oyo according to tradition was founded by a descendant of Oduduwa. According to tradition, Nupe conquered Oyo. Oyo arose after 1550 by acquiring horses and organising a strong military cavalry.
Eventually Oyo conquered Nupe and started a campaign of conquest of other Yoruba states and neighboring Egba, Egbado, and Dahomey. By 1600, Oyo had emerged a major empire. At her height, Oyo stretched from the woodland grassland in Nigeria to eastern Ghana, going far south to the coast, which was mostly woodland savannah. Oyo achieved her peak in 1650.
Oyo was ruled by the alafin and the Oyomesi, council of noblemen of Oyo. The
Council had the authority to elect the alafin. The Oyomesi was responsible for the day to day operation of the empire, running the capital city and local territories. The Oyomesi was headed by the Bashorun, which was an administrative and spiritual designation.
The Bashorun communicated with the orun, the dual of the alafin. It could be determined by the Bashorun that the alafin was unfit to rule and have him deposed.
The Oyomesi held sway in largely Yoruba territory but in non-Yoruba conquered territory, representatives were appointed by the alafin. Slaves called Illari would usually occupy these positions. Illaris would collect taxes, settle disputes, and thwart intrigues that threatened the power of the alafin. With the spread of the worship of Sango, the power of the alafin grew. Sango was viewed as a protector god of the alafin. The Oyo empire had a strong military and the economy of the empire was sustained through slave trading and slaves who work the royal farmland. The slaves were captured from conquest and sold to Europeans in exchange for fire arms, jewelries etc.
By 1750, Oyo was on the decline. Disputes arose between the alafin and Oyomesi. Keeping the trade routes became more difficult. Vassal states took sides depending on their interest. The lack of unity weakened Oyo's authority in the territories with already weak control, especially in the forest zones where the cavalry could not adequately tread.
Dahomey kept suing for independence and was able to invade Yorubaland in the
19th century. The Fulani Sokoto Caliphate in Hausaland arose bringing Nupe and
Yoruba Illorin in its fold. By the early 1800s, Oyo became a diminished state tied within the boundaries of Yorubaland.
Most of the great West African Empires and Kingdoms flourished in the open savannahs that make up vast areas of its hinterland, with their strategic trading position between north and coastal Africa, and the openness that supported cavalry based military adventure, huge empires rose and fell in this area over the centuries. By contrast the political structures of the coastal regions consisted primarily of City-States and loose confederacies; one of the few exceptions to this rule was the Benin Kingdom.
Located almost wholly within what is now Nigeria, the Benin Kingdom at its zenith stretched from Lagos in the west, along the coast of Nigeria to the River Niger in the east and area that equates to about a fifth of Nigeria's current geographic area. The Benin Kingdom dynasty is believed to have been founded in the 13th century and has a direct lineage from the founders to the current Oba (King) of Benin - Solomon Erediauwa II, who still holds considerable political, albeit unofficial, influence in the Edo and Delta states of Modern Nigeria.
The actual genesis of the kingdom is shrouded in uncertainty, but some traditional accounts have it that the Edo people who inhabit the Benin area invited Prince Oranmiyan of Ife (one of the Yoruba states) to rescue them from the tyranny of the ruling Osigos. Alternative versions of this accountportray Oranmiyan as leading a Yoruba invasion of Benin and forcibly removing the Osigos who had ruled from about 355BC. What is generally agreed is that Oranmiyan's son, Eweka I became the first Oba of Benin.
Benin began the exchange of ambassadors with the Kingdom of Portugal. Over the next three centuries Benin thrived as the Kingdom set up an extensive trading network with the Portuguese and later with other European nations. The trade was primarily in ivory, palm oil, and pepper, but later, as with most coastal powers in Africa, the trade inslaves became prominent.
By the 19th century however, the prosperity of the Benin Kingdom was under threat. The British had begun to establish their colonial presence to the south, constant wars with the Yoruba states to the west, Islamic Jihads and the Nupe kingdom's to the north, as well as internal civil wars all conspired to weaken the Kingdom. The final blow to the Kingdom came in February 1897. The British had established what they termed a protectorate over the Nigerian coastline and in order to ensure the viability of this colony where keen to force Benin into British dictated trade relations. An officer of the British Army stationed on the Nigerian coast, Lt. James Phillips requested for and received permission to depose the Oba Ovonramwen for his opposition to trade with Britain on their terms. Lt.Phillips wrote to the Oba stating his intention to travel to Benin City, on receiving no reply he set off uninvited. The arrival of the British convoy was treated by the Oba as an act of war and the ensuing hostilities result in the Benin soldiers wiping out the British detachment including Lt. Phillips. Britain responded by sending over 10,000 soldiers to Benin, where they massacred many civilians and razed the city to the ground, in the process looting countless pieces of art and antiques. The Oba was exiled to Calabar a town in the far eastern part on Nigeria, and the Benin Kingdom was incorporated into the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. With Independence it has re-established its cultural significance within the
Republic of Nigeria, but the political power is no more.
Probably the greatest legacy of the ancient Benin Kingdom is their glorious Bronze Sculptures many of which reside in the British Museum in London. Today a strong campaign is being waged to have these antiques returned to their rightful home in Nigeria.
Although the city of Timbuktu was established in the 12th century and became an important commercial centre, it only gained widespread prominence as an intellectual capital in the 15th century. Chroniclers mention that the city has its roots in a nomadic summer camp set up a few miles from the river Niger, as a base from which they could pasture and water their camels during the period of intense heat. This position proved strategic for commerce and soon attracted many settlers. The settlement was important not only because of its location at the junction of the dry Sahara and the lush central valley of the river Niger, but because the river itself constituted an easy pathway for transporting goods to and from the more tropical regions of West Africa. Thus merchants settled there early on and were subsequently followed by Muslim scholars much later, after the establishment of a permanent community, the population of Timbuktu was always mixed.
Although founded by the Imagharen Tuareg, it was settled by Arabs from various Saharan oases, by Soninke merchants and scholars, Songhai, initially as conquerors, and by Fulani pastoralists. Today Songhai is still the dominant language, but Arabic and Tamasheq are also widely used.
The city is not mentioned in Arabic sources until Ibn Battuta's visit in the early 14th century. In about 1325 the Malian ruler, Mansa Musa, visited the city on his way back from pilgrimage and erected a residence there as well as the Great Mosque (Jingere-Ber). With the decline of the Malian empire by the end of the 14th century the city came under the control of a group of Tuareg, but they were finally driven out in 1468 when the city was incorporated into the rising Songhai Empire under Sonni 'Ali.
The 16th century, in particular the reign of Askia al-Hajj Muhammad (1493 - 1528), saw Timbuktu reach its political and intellectual "golden era". Askia Muhammad was a great patron of scholars and the historical chronicles of the region, the Ta'rikh al-Sudan and the Ta'rikh al-Fattash, praise him as a pious and learned leader, who listened to the advice of the scholars.
Ahmed Baba (1556 - 1627), one of Timbuktu's most celebrated scholars, is reported to have said that his personal library of more than 1600 volumes was one of the smaller collections amongst the city's scholars.
Timbuktu's golden era was abruptly halted by the Moroccan invasion in 1591, initiated by the Sa'dian ruler of Morocco, Mawlay Ahmed al-Mansur. The intellectual and commercial importance of Timbuktu gradually began to decline after the invasion. In time the city's military rulers shook off ties with the Sa'dians, who were themselves beset with problems due to the death of Ahmed al-Mansur. A weak state was maintained thereafter around the Niger River from Jenne to Bamba, with the headquarters at Timbuktu. As a result, the city was beset with severe hardships in the centuries that followed and intellectual activity waned considerably.
The city very briefly came under Fulani control in the first half of the 19th century but was finally occupied by the French in 1894. French rule lasted until Malian independence in 1960.
Today, it is estimated that there are about 300 000 extant manuscripts in circulation in Timbuktu and the surrounding areas. Locked within these pages is one of Africa's greatest intellectual legacies.
Fortunately, the keepers of this treasure are extremely committed to their culture of learning and sharing. Through the efforts of these "desert librarians", this legacy is once again being rediscovered.
These are only a few of the great history of African civilization in summary. Before the colonisation of the continent, there were structures, kingdoms, market systems, military, science, Government system, religion, trade routes and even arts. A set of non thinking barbarians who according to some ancient western historians could only 'dance like monkeys' would not have been able to achieve these.
My argument is not about what race is more superior, after all, tolerance, respect and acceptance of one another will make the world a better place. The argument is that the black race is yet to overcome the brainwashing of the West. It is evident in the black on black violence among African Americans. It is more evident among Africans today where leaders embezzle public funds without thinking of the well being of the people. The world super powers commit gross atrocities in different countries but never on theirs or against their own people.
The black man is the problem of the black man. As Japheth Omojuwa's tweets revealed :"An average White South African earns six times higher than a black South African". He also made mention of the fact that, "there are miners in Ghana who work 700 meters below the ground, 12 hours every day for as low as $40 a month". It is a shame that the Blackman do not care about his fellow blacks and will gladly trade them like their brainwashed ancestors did in the past.
We must learn to tell our own stories and stop the western media from re-writing our history a second time. The only stories you see about Africa in the Western media is about poverty, bomb blasts, war and under development. They never talk about our giant strides to succeed. They use hungry children to paint a picture of Africa and African media is gradually buying their ideas, using terrible looking models with strange costumes to portray our culture.
In Nigeria, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for months demanding an outstanding debt of N3tn from the Government while over N10b has been spent in the last six years on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Mecca. Last year alone over N1.34b was said to have been spent and this year they included Greece and Rome.
We spend huge amount of money enriching wealthier nations who in the name of religion has some of the best tourism industries in the world.
Are we still being brainwashed? We must learn to tell our own stories, appreciate who we are and know how powerful we are. After all, all men are truly created equal and until we do that, we will remain underdogs in the world stage.
Onyeka 'Kerous' Ibeanusi is a Nigerian musician, motivational writer and speaker and a social commentator. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University Of Benin. You can follow him on twitter @onyeckerous or add him on facebook. (Onyeka 'kerous' Ibeanusi) or like his official page on facebook (Kerous)