The story of Togo, the German colony gifted to Britain and France

The French-speaking West African nation of Togo was pivotal during the transatlantic slave trade as Portuguese slave traders sought the human merchandise at the small fort of Porto Seguro, in the town currently known as Agbodrafo and lying between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Togo.

During the infamous Scramble for Africa in 1884, Germany took hold of Togo and the current Volta Region of Ghana as a protectorate collectively known as the German Togoland.

German colonial lord carried by locals
German colonial lord carried by locals

This was legalized after Gustav Nachtigal signed a treaty with the chief of Togoville, King Mlapa III in the same year.

This photograph shows soldiers of the Togo Polizeitruppe with their German commander

The protectorate became Germany’s only self-supporting colony as the locals were forced to work on cotton, cocoa and coffee plantations while paying high taxes. The Germans built the Lome port and a railway that established their rule inland.

Their occupation was short lived after the first world war defeat in 1914. The area was invaded by the British and French and in 1916, Togoland was divided into British and French zones. It was formalized in 1922 with the creation of British Togoland and French Togoland.

British Togoland after the partition
British Togoland after the partition

After the World War II, the territories went under the United Nations and the residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast prior to independence in 1957.

French Togoland became autonomous within the French Union in 1959 and in 1960, the Togolese Republic was proclaimed. The country held its first presidential election in 1961 making Sylvanus Olympio the first president after he garnered a 100% of the vote in elections boycotted by the opposition.

Sylvanus Olympio
Sylvanus Olympio

The Republic thereafter went through many transitions including two military coups: in 1963 and in 1967, both led by Sergeant Gnassingbe Eyadema. The second coup overthrew Nicolas Grunitzky, the elected president after the first coup.

Gnassingbé_Eyadema
Gnassingbé_Eyadema

Eyadema assumed the seat of president for 38 years until his death. His son, Faure Gnassingbe assumed power till date. The ruling dynasty has been mired by protests from the opposition.

By Ismail Akwei

Hotep

The African matriarcal tradition

We grow up in countries within the continent and almost everywhere we see women regularly beaten. Their word is devalued, their opinions are belittled. They are constantly judged, tirelessly defined – regardless of their success in society – by the fact to be married or not.

They do not receive inheritance and are most likely to live in material insecurity. They are generally absent from political and economic decision-making circles.

In the face of these numerous and repeated abuses, and given the strong masculinity of men, we end up thinking that it is in the very nature of Africa to make the majority female, a group of second-class citizens. We end up by concluding that, we have always been a patriarchal and sexist society.

And when one delves into history, as we did, one discovers with stunning amazement that not only did authentic Africa define equality between man and woman, but had actually made the latter – in agreement with men – the most valuable gender.

Let us return to the sources of matriarchy to discover that this cultural feature, the single most ingenious that came out of the thought of our ancestors, was shared, at one time or another, by the whole black continent. We will also briefly see how we have regressed to the current situation.

Yahmesu Nafooré Tiiri
Yahmesu Nafooré Tiiri

To grasp the whole of this article, the reader should first collect information about the African Spirituality, the African philosophy Ma’at, the African monogamic tradition and the true origins of male and female circumcision.

Back to the origins: Ankh (of life)

Our ancestors had theorized that at the beginning of everything was the Nun, the disordered primordial water full of germs, from which the creation would spring. One of these germs (Imana) became aware of His-Her existence and engendered creation, putting in order the potentials of life contained in the Nun, and overcoming with His-Her energy the initial disorder.

Imana (God) continued the creative work by making the born evolve to perfect creation. All these principles and events that led to the creation of life by Imana, were called by the Egyptian Ma’at.

The Sun also bears these principles of Ma’at. The Sun liquefies waters, orders and develops plant life, and is the maximum energy perceptible by Humans. The Sun (Râ) is therefore the Messenger of God. Our ancestors thus called the Creator Imana-Râ (Amen-Râ).

Since God created beings, then God is male and female, because only a couple can give birth and create life.

Female and male parts of God, ancient Egypt; Everywhere in Africa God has a female and male part
Female and male parts of God, ancient Egypt; Everywhere in Africa God has a female and male part

The whole universe is composed of contrary and complementary principles: sky-earth, water-air, woman-man etc…. The Creator was therefore unique before dividing into a male and a female principle. The woman and the man have therefore each inherited a part of the Creator.

The woman is more orderly, more faithful, more stable and it is in her womb containing also water that life evolves. When the child is born, it is still she who feeds him to continue his development. Man is physically stronger and is superior in terms of energy.

It stems from this that the man and the women received equal parts of the one Creator’s intelligence, but above all God put in the woman His-Her moral values and ability to generate and make life evolve, and put in man above all His-Her energy which serves to defend this life. Our ancestors therefore agreed that the woman is more a bearer of Ma’at than the man, that is why Ma’at is represented by a woman.

This is in a picture the foundation of matriarchy in Africa, it is Ma’at. The principles and laws that led to the creation of life are mainly embodied in the woman.
This is in a picture the foundation of matriarchy in Africa, it is Ma’at. The principles and laws that led to the creation of life are mainly embodied in the woman.

The woman is morally superior and gives life. The man is energetically superior. In harmony, then, the woman and the man must unite and complement each other in order to recreate the oneness of God and realize His-Her goal, which is to continue life. The woman will ordain and give life. The man will defend this life.

This divine order was codified by the writing of the myth of Isis and Osiris. Isis by her moral values begins to restore the good. She gives birth to Horus whom she makes grow and who, once an adult, by his physical strength, consecrates the restoration of the good.Aisata (Isis) and her son Horo (Horus), or Royal Mother and her son the King. Isis carries on her head the Sun Messenger of God, embedded between her cow horns feeding mother. She is, on the left, covered with gold to mark her superior solar character (Antik Forever).
This is why we see many women with yellowish skin in the Egyptian tombs.

Matriarchy was reinforced by the end of nomadic life and the start of sedentary life. In the first villages and cities, men went to war, to hunt, it was women especially who took direct care of the community. They have therefore been defined as the pillar.

The child bears the name of his mother, belongs to her family and is placed under the male tutelage of her brother. The uncle defends the rights of his sister and ensures that his nephews and nieces remain attached to their mother’s family.

At the level of power it is the woman who holds the rights. She is the Royal Mother, the highest figure in the state. She has her son the King executes the power and hands over the rights to her daughter, who bears the title of Royal Sister. The King is head of politics and head of armies. At his death he is succeeded by his sister’s son. Thus power passes from mother to daughter and is exercised by their respective sons.

Isis being one with the throne on which her son sits. She spreads her wings of Ma’at, marking her superior morals. Aisata in ancient Egyptian means the throne.
Isis being one with the throne on which her son sits. She spreads her wings of Ma’at, marking her superior morals. Aisata in ancient Egyptian means the throne.

The Isis is the Royal Daughter when she is born, Royal Sister when her brother becomes King, Great Royal Wife if she marries him, and Royal Mother when her own son becomes King.

Some argued that if the king in Africa chosed his sister’s child to succeed him, it was because he was sure that the child was of his blood, when he could not swear it for his own child. If that certainty has played a role, it’s not the only reason. If this had been the case, the king’s sister would have been a powerless person, charged only with giving birth to the heir. Now it is attested that she was particularly powerful

Cheikh Anta Diop said so in 1959 in L’Unité Culturelle de l’Afrique noire, page 111 “In Egypt it is the woman who inherits political rights but (…) it is her husband who reigns”. 60 years later, respected novelist and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said about the Igbo people of Nigeria “Men were generally more powerful, but women had power” [1].

The divine order of matriarchy was thus applied throughout the whole Africa.

Matriarchy in Southern Africa

In the prestigious civilization of Zimbabwe, the Mwene Mutapa (the emperor) was crowned by his mother and married his sister. The Namwari (Royal Mother) was the highest figure in the state.

Among the Venda of South Africa, the king ascended to the throne assisted by the eldest of his sisters (Khadzi) and his brother (Ndumi). When he died, his own son became king, the Khadzi became Makhadzi (Royal Mother) and the Ndumi became Khotsimunene (Royal Father). The king thus reigned with his paternal aunt and uncle. When the three could not agree, the Makhadzi had the last word.

In the kingdom of eSwatini (former Swaziland) until today, the king reigns with his mother who bears the title of Ndlovukati. She takes up this position on the day of the coronation. When the King (Ngwenyema) is unable to exercise power, the Ndlovukati reigns.Royal Arms of eSwatini
The lion represents the King. The elephant represents the Royal Mother. The lion is the animal with the greatest energy. Elephants are led by females.

Ndlovukati Ntfombi Tfwala, current Royal Mother of eSwatini. She served as King between 1983 and 1986.
Ndlovukati Ntfombi Tfwala, current Royal Mother of eSwatini. She served as King between 1983 and 1986.

About baTswana, the majority ethnic group of Botswana, Radcliffe-Brown and D Forde say in 1953 “In particular, a related maternal uncle must be consulted in all cases involving the children of his sister; his opinion is so important that sometimes, at the moment when the marriage is arranged, his veto can be decisive”[2].

In the refined Kuba kingdom at the south of the DR Congo, it was the matriarch who appointed the king and could remove him from the throne. The King was succeeded by his sister’s son.

Matriarchy in East Africa

Egyptian engraving from the time of Pharaoh Hatshepsut 3,400 years ago. The Egyptians went to the country of Punt, to the very sources of their origins, which the Egyptologist Jean Charles Coovi Gomez located in Uganda. They are received by Queen Ati, the highest figure in the State, and her husband King Parihu.
Egyptian engraving from the time of Pharaoh Hatshepsut 3,400 years ago. The Egyptians went to the country of Punt, to the very sources of their origins, which the Egyptologist Jean Charles Coovi Gomez located in Uganda. They are received by Queen Ati, the highest figure in the State, and her husband King Parihu.

During the Swahili civilization in Kenya-Tanzania, the absolute height of the region’s history, the King (Mfalme) ascended to the throne by marrying a royal princess.

In the kingdom of Buganda, the king (Kabaka) succeeded his father or his paternal brother, but reigned with his mother (Namasole) and was under the protection of her family. It was probably so also in the kingdom of Rwanda, hence the intrigues between women to see their respective sons rise to the throne.

Sudan undoubtedly represents the absolute climax of the African matriarchy, with the Royal Mothers (Kandake/Candace) of the Pharaonic era, who will also hold the office of King 2000 years ago. This tradition will continue even during the Orthodox Christian era, where the king was succeeded by his sister’s son.

In Ethiopia, the black queens of Sheba in the south of the Arabian Peninsula also ruled the country.

In Somalia, where women are sometimes stoned to death under Islamic sharia law, the Reer-Cambaro and Reer-Mayran clans are named after their female ancestors. These are the remains of an almost extinct tradition.

Matriarchy in Central Africa

Around Lake Chad, the gigantic empire of Kanem-Bornu flourished. The King (Mai) reigned with his mother (Magira) – the highest figure in the state – and with his sister.

Among the Bamileke of Cameroon, the Royal Mother (Mafo) had precedence over her son the King. The foundation of the Bamun kingdom, for its part, begins with Queen Yen. Until the time of the famous King Njoya, his mother Nzabdunke was powerful.The Royal Mother Nzabndunke, mother of Njoya. Njoya’s father died when he was a child, she assumed the office of King.

Among the Fang of Cameroon-Gabon-Equatorial Guinea, the children were named after their mothers. Thus, large families in the city of Yaoundé (Mvog Atangana Mballa, Mvog Tsoungui Mballa, Mvog Fouda Mballa) are named after Mballa who was a woman.

In the Kongo Empire, the King venerated his mother and married his sister. In some Kongo clans to this day, men consider their sisters’ children more important than their own children.

Matriarchy in West Africa

Founded by the Soninke people in Mauritania-Mali, it was the Empire of Ghana, probably the richest State in the world in the 10th century, that inaugurated the Imperial era. The emperor (Tunkara) ruled with his mother and was succeeded by his sister’s son. If we do not know the extent of the powers of the Tunkara’s mother well, we can deduce them from the tradition of the Akan, who are of Soninke origin.

Among the Ashanti, an Akan people of today’s Ghana, the Asantehemaa (Royal Mother) appointed the King. Osei Tutu, venerable founder of the Ashanti Empire, was appointed by his grandmother. The King was succeeded by his sister’s son.

Among the Wolof of Senegal, it was a woman (Lingeer) who named the King (Brack), who was her husband, brother or son. The privileged relationship with the sister’s children was the rule.

Lingeer Ndate Yalla Mbodj from the kingdom of Waalo in Senegal. This woman was one of the greatest fighters to the colonial invasion.
Lingeer Ndate Yalla Mbodj from the kingdom of Waalo in Senegal. This woman was one of the greatest fighters to the colonial invasion.

In the empire of Mali which succeeded to ancient Ghana, the Arab traveller Ibn Battuta reported in the 14th century that the children were named after their maternal uncles. Mansa Kanku Musa, the illustrious emperor of Mali and the richest man in history, was named after his mother.

In the case of the Mossi people of Burkina Faso, when the sovereign (Mogho Naba) died, it was his eldest daughter who held the title of King during the funeral, the whole country came to bow down before her.

In the Kingdom of Danhomé in current Benin, the two prime ministers, Migan and Mehu, were under the tutelage of two Royal Mothers. In the magnificent kingdom of ancient Benin in Nigeria, the King (Oba) although succeeding his father, reigned with his mother, no major decision was made without her consent.

The Hausa, for their part, gave the matriarchy all his nobility. There are 17 reigning queens before Islam. The King ruled with his mother (Madaki-Magadjiya) and his sister. The Royal Sister Amina, the greatest of the Hausa queens, thus assumed the functions of King and Madaki at the death of her brother Karama.

Matriarchy also existed among the Fulani. It is still the rule within the non-muslim Wodaabe clan. It is the woman who chooses her lover or husband.

Matriarchy in North Africa

In Egypt Pharaoh reigns with his mother and marries his sister to legitimize his power. He is succeeded by his own son, who is therefore also his uterine nephew, that is, his sister’s son. In homes it is up to the woman to establish order and rules. She is in front of the law equal to the man. She inherits like him.

Finally, among the Berbers of Libya and the Maghreb, who were originally black, the leaders ruled with their mothers and sisters. The inheritance was given to the uterine nephew, a tradition that astonished Ibn Battuta.

Ramesu Maryimana
Ramesu Maryimana
The Black Berbers – known as Moors or Saracens – and Arabs conquered and ruled Spain and Portugal for 781 years. They were the ones who initiated the European renaissance. This Muslim occupation was marked by the great freedom of women in Moorish Europe. It was the African heritage that was the reason for this.   Moorish Kingdom in Spain in 1400, facing the White Christians
The Black Berbers – known as Moors or Saracens – and Arabs conquered and ruled Spain and Portugal for 781 years. They were the ones who initiated the European renaissance. This Muslim occupation was marked by the great freedom of women in Moorish Europe. It was the African heritage that was the reason for this. Moorish Kingdom in Spain in 1400, facing the White Christians

Note on matriarchy in the rest of the world

As Africans have inhabited every continent, they have exported matriarchy everywhere. It was therefore found in South Asia, Southern Europe and Oceania. This is why people of Asian origin who today live in Africa (Madagascar) traditionally practice matriarchy.

Matriarchy among the Amerindians is due to the mixed origins of this people. They are – essentially – a mixture of Mongols from Asia, and original American blacks, themselves from Oceania and Asia. The continent was then civilized by the Egyptians.

Ancient America, culturally, religiously and when it comes to civilization, was an extension of the pharaonic African world.

Why regression?

When Blacks – in the early times – arrived in the north of Eurasia, the glacial and food-poor climate forced them to a nomadic life and a warrior culture to monopolize scarce resources.

In these regions where the Black will become white, the woman is a burden for these constant movements. She is also less able to wage war. The woman’s physical disadvantage will be retained only, her moral role will have no value here. That is how she was seen as inferior.

This misogyny was inscribed in the white and patriarchal religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

While in Africa the woman is Ma’at, in northern thinking she is original sin, evil.
While in Africa the woman is Ma’at, in northern thinking she is original sin, evil.

So it was Islam and the colonial laws of Christian Europe that destroyed matriarchy in Africa. Everywhere the colonists had women’s institutions banned.

The distinguished African-Caribbean historian Sylvia Serbin said „At the time when matriarchy was at its peak in black Africa, the woman had power. With Islam and Christianity, the political role was taken away“ [3].

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie adds, “The arrival of colonialism was accompanied by Victorian Christianity, which contained the terrible, white idea of women’s submission and the idea that the woman’s place was the kitchen and the bedroom”[1].

Since European women made their feminist revolution in the 20th century, we thus arrive at an incredible reversal of history, where women in the West are free and in Africa they suffer many discriminations.

It must be said that it has only been a century since the West saw women as human beings while Africa from the beginning considered them superior.

The behaviour of some African men in the face of Africa’s matriarchal past

While many black men are swollen with pride in the past, the evocation of the matriarchal tradition provokes angry reactions in others. They grew up in a society that glorifies them as all-powerful and gives them social and economic privileges.

The eternal and supposed inferiority of women is the moral foundation of the unequal system which benefits only them, and which they intend to maintain. If they are not at the root of the current unfair system, they are living it very comfortably.

Just as the white world has built and takes advantage of the supposed inferiority of Blacks to have economic and social privileges, these African men hold this physical inferiority of women to secure their advantages.

Just as so many white people know that the history of Blacks civilizers of the world is destroying the moral foundations of their privileges, these African men know that the glorious past of the black woman destroys the foundations of inequality that only benefit them. Everyone feels threatened by their unjustly acquired privileges.

Racism and sexism ultimately have the same goal: to drive away respectively the Blacks and women of the human species, to build an unequal system, and justify the natural and effortless obtaining of privileges.

Conclusion

The complementary system of matriarchy, derived from Ma’at, was regarded as the organization willed by God. Matriarchy was never imposed on African men, but accepted – in the reading of Creation – as Imana’s will and defended by men.

Once again Ma’at is everywhere, absolutely everywhere in ancient Africa, in every theory, every act. To have gone from the only laws of Creation to build everything is absolutely remarkable.

Africa therefore does not need feminism to solve women’s problems. We must return to our spirituality and philosophy. We are going like our ancestors, to solve these problems in harmony.Dowry in Africa
The bridegroom’s family brings gifts to the bride’s family. Since women are more valuable than men, it is a question of men giving more to upgrade themselves. In the Nordic countries, dowry was given to man.
The dowry is present everywhere in Africa, even if Africans no longer know why they practice it. The dowry shows no signs of weakening. It is the most universal remnant of the black world and the best preserved of the matriarchy.

Hotep

By: Lisapo ya Kama © 

Notes :

  • L’unité culturelle de l’Afrique noire, Cheikh Anta Diop
  • The role of Makhadzi in traditional leadership among the Venda, Pfarelo Eva Matshidze ; University of Zululand.
  • D’hier à aujourdhui, la puissance du féminisme africain ; Angeles Jurado ; Courrier International.
  • [1] D’hier à aujourdhui, la puissance du féminisme africain ; Angeles Jurado ; Courrier International.
  • [2] L’unité culturelle de l’Afrique noire, Cheikh Anta Diop, page 68
  • [3] Ces grandes dames qui ont fait l’Afrique, Natacha Appanah ; Jeune Afrique

The ‘positive role’ of colonization : deconstructing a lie

‘The colonizers usually say that it was they who brought us into history. Today we will show that this is not so. They made us leave history, our history, to follow them in their train, right at the back, in the train of their history’ Amilcar Cabral (1924-1973), father of the independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.

February 10, 2005. Under the presidency of Jacques Chirac, a law is passed by the French Parliament and aims to include the acknowledgment of the “positive role” of colonization in school syllabuses. Faced by the turmoil it created, the law is repealed a year later. Opinion polls showed that 2/3 of French people thought that colonization had a positive role. In the United Kingdom, 44% of the British are proud of their colonial past against 21% who regret it according to YouGov in 2016.

In August 2016, former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon arrogantly said that colonization allowed France to “share its culture” with the colonized peoples. British Prime Minister Cameron will show his refusal to apologize for the imperialist past of his country.

The infamous speech of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Dakar, in which he said that the African man had never entered history and where he praised the building role of the colonizers.
The infamous speech of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Dakar, in which he said that the African man had never entered history and where he praised the building role of the colonizers.

In Africa, even without any study, one can say that colonization is seen as a good thing. The discourse on the emancipatory role of the European occupation is accepted, even if, nowadays, we reject the economic control. Africans tell themselves that given the backwardness in which they were before the arrival of white people, if there were some crimes during colonization, it was a necessary evil to exorcise the black man from his inferiority.

The European is presumed to have brought the black man down his creepers on which he has been swinging from time immemorial. Both Africans and Europeans think that Europe has taken Africa out of its natural savagery, saved her from barbarism, allowed her to enter history, modernity. Roughly, the “civilizing mission” of the West has been an entrenched historical view. Africans even argue over assessing the better colonization between the British’s and the French’s.Africans deeply think that without colonization, they would not have had all these big cities, these islets of modernity in the middle of a poor Africa.
Image: Nairobi, Kenya on the left; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on the right

What is the relevance and the truth of the civilizing discourse that the West boasts of but in front of which Africans bow down? Can we talk about positive roles of colonization? How do we Africans have to perceive the colonial past? On this historical subject and its interpretation, we will try to tell you, with a complete historical perspective, what the reality was. This article is dedicated to our ancestors who experienced colonization.

The civilizing role of Africans in the world

Once we go back to history, real history, we realize that the Western assertion about colonization stumbles over a major obstacle: the fact that Europe – except Oceania – is the last continent to have experienced a major civilization. If there is one people who should be considered as the civilizers of humanity, it is the Blacks of Africa. Science sprouted and originated in southern Africa and the Great Lakes at the very dawn of humanity. That is why the black civilization of Egypt was the first monumental civilization in mankind history. Its great constructions began 7,000 to 17,000 years ago.

Blacks from Africa equally founded the first major Asian civilization, in India-Pakistan: the Indus Valley civilization whose apogee began 4200 years ago. Native Americans experienced their first monumental civilization about 4600 years ago. The very important role of Africans in the Olmec and civilizations in America leaves no room for doubt, in the light of archaeological discoveries.

Black Africans who settled in the Middle East, known as Canaanites or Phoenicians, are the ones who brought Europe into history by introducing the writing in Greece 3500 years ago. ALL famous Greek scholars (Pythagoras, Thales, Archimedes, Plato etc …) were educated in Africa where they learned the Egyptian philosophical theorems and concepts that are attributed to them today. Roman civilization was born thanks to the contribution of the Etruscans, a people who acquired their architectural knowledge in Egypt.The true civilizers of humanity: Africans
From left to right: Pharaoh Khufu, alleged builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza (Egyptian Museum of Cairo); A Phoenician in Spain (Museum of Cadiz); A Sudanese-Egyptian from the Olmec civilization, one of 11 colossal “Africoid” statues 2700 years old and found in Mexico.Africans, especially ancient Egyptians, have civilized the world and dominated it for 3000 years. Images: the Egyptian civilization, the Mayan civilization (which was at least partially black), the Carthaginian civilization of the Phoenicians, the black civilization of the Indus Valley

Whereas the rest of the world went down in history, while Africans were dominating the world, Europeans were barbarians living in caves and wandering in animal skin. Image from the movie “Rrrr”
Whereas the rest of the world went down in history, while Africans were dominating the world, Europeans were barbarians living in caves and wandering in animal skin. Image from the movie “Rrrr”

Therefore, Europe and the white man could not perform any civilizing mission for anything, since they were the last to experience civilization, and meanwhile, as Africans were building pyramids and going to America, they were banging on each other in caves with clubs. We ask the Europeans: Can one civilize the civilizers of humanity?

Africa before white people

From the reading of the above mentioned, it could be argued that Africa has probably declined after Egypt, has fallen into barbarism and that Europe has nevertheless pulled it out of this situation. Historical facts tell the opposite. In the 14th century, before the contact with Europe through slavery, Africa was probably the richest continent in the world.

It is a materially opulent and civilized Africa that Europeans came to find in the 15th century. Without having been absolutely perfect, Africa – before white people and out of Arab influence – was a society without a slave based economy, with complementarity and equality between the woman and the man, hardly experiencing famine, where everybody had a home, where peace reigned, where wars were less bloody, and where kings were governing for the good of their people.

But more importantly, the most important civilization in Europe at that time was the Moorish civilization in Spain and Portugal. Black Berbers of North Africa called Moors or Saracens – and Arabs – are the ones who built this civilization. Europe having fallen back into a semi-barbaric state and aggravated poverty after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was the Africans who civilized it again. The Moorish civilization is at the origin of the famous European renaissance. Not only on the eve of the slave trade, Africa was immensely rich and Europe very poor, but this same Africa – with the Arabs – still civilized Europe.Kama (Africa) of the glorious Imperial Era: immensely rich and rooted in its culture. Mansa Kanku Musa, Emperor of Mali in the 14th century, is certified today by Celebrity Networth and Time Magazine as the richest man of all time. Even the Arabs, who dominated the world politically, made Africa the reference in terms of wealth. (Image: book cover from Ashanti to Zulu by Margaret Musgrove, illustration by Leo and Diane Dillon)On the eve of the European slave trade, Africans still civilized poor and backward Europe of the Middle Ages, through the Blacks Berbers of the Maghreb called Moors or Saracens. Top: Moorish royal court of the 13th century in Spain (Jean Philippe Omotunde for Africamaat); Moorish dignitaries playing chess (The Golden Age of the Moor, Ivan Van Sertima, page 29)
Bottom: Moorish architecture in Spain

At this stage, one still wonders: what civilizing mission do Europeans speak of?

The European slave trade and the destruction of Africa

It can never be said enough, that it is the terrorism of the European slave trade that has put an end to the glorious history of Africa. Like the Islamic State, the European slavers, sent by the Vatican, destroyed every African civilization that they came across and massacred entire peoples in order to capture those who would be enslaved to produce the sugar and coffee that emerging Europe loved, in the name of Jesus Christ.Europeans destroyed the rich Kongo Empire, the brilliant Swahili civilization in Tanzania-Kenya, the gigantic Monomotapa Empire in southern Africa.
Africans resisted to death
Images: vestiges of the Swahili civilization on the left, Monomotapa civilization (Zimbabwe) on the right

Africa has declined because of the arrival of Europeans with their firearms, it is an irrefutable historical fact. These 350 years of terrorism associated with that of the Arab slavers are the cause of the decline of Africa. 400 to 600 million African lives were lost during that period, ie from 66 to 75% of the population. This is the biggest crime in the history of humanity.

If Europe destroyed Africa during the slave trade, how can it be said that Europe brought Africa something by colonizing it? This is why we must answer the following question:

What exactly was colonization?

The Berlin Conference of 1884, in which European nations emerged from poverty thanks to the enormous profits generated by the enslavement of Africans, defined how they would share the African continent among themselves.
The Berlin Conference of 1884, in which European nations emerged from poverty thanks to the enormous profits generated by the enslavement of Africans, defined how they would share the African continent among themselves.

The motivation of the colonialists was the same as that of the slavers, namely enrichment, combined here with the need for racial and cultural supremacy. After the apocalypse of the slave trade, it is an agonizing Africa that the Europeans came to conquer.African civilizations that survived the slave trade were completely destroyed by colonization. The resistance to colonial invasion was absolutely heroic. Our ancestors, knowing that they were going to die, were litterally throwing themselves on the gunnery to prevent the advance of Europeans, and were exploded into pieces. Entire villages were razed and only a few people survived in some cases.
Images : Ruins of the Ashanti civilization (Ghana) on the left, Danhome civilization (current Benin) on the right

Colonization was slavery

The suffering of Africans who underwent colonization
The suffering of Africans who underwent colonization

Slavery continued in Africa until the 1940s in most cases, through forced labor. Angolans probably experienced the worst form of slavery at that time, as the Portuguese master did not feed the slave, who would die of exhaustion and hunger after a few weeks. The master then ordered other blacks to replace him. Quite simple!

Millions of Africans, men, women and children, were subjected to forced labor during the colonial occupation, whipped, hungered, women and children taken hostage and starved, to force men to go to forced labor, where the death rate exceeded everything. When enslaved Africans rebelled, the villages were burnt down and the men beheaded.

Slavery was used for the extraction of mineral resources, agricultural production and the construction of infrastructure to transport all this wealth to the ports for Europe. The people were subject to extortion and forced to pay the colonial tax. In this way they gave the colonists their own agricultural products, their cattle, and saw their lands taken away and they were dying of hunger. Villages that refused to pay were burned down and their warriors massacred. The immune system of the Africans was weakened by the famine, epidemics of all kinds were therefore rampant, making hecatombs.Top left: Black people dressed in rags working by force under the supervision of French masters in Côte d’Ivoire.
Bottom left: women chained by the Germans to construct roads in Tanzania;
Bottom right: forced labor by sadism.
What is the difference from slavery?

The French historian and geographer Louise Marie Diop-Maes, who has done a titanic work on the effects of both slave trades and colonization in her book Afrique noire, sol, démographie et histoire, tells us about slavery in DR Congo: “After the harvest was ordered, the inhabitants had started refusing, fleeing or hiding in the surrounding bushes and in the caves where “they were removed with grenade”. To intensify the harvest, night work was imposed. Completely discouraged, exhausted, and stupefied, the villagers planted nothing: famine, diseases (including the edema of concentration camps), death settled down; Corpses were unearthed to be eaten. The less sick ended up finishing “those more affected to eat them”. [1]

Colonization was the theft of African wealth

The abundant natural wealth of Africa became Westerners’ property. Our oil, our diamonds, our bauxite, our uranium, our iron, our wood, our cocoa etc … then belonged to the western multinational companies and enriched Europe which had already got out of poverty thanks to the gigantic financial profits of the slave trade. Have Africans benefited from the exploitation of their resources at home? Of course not.

Colonization was racial segregation

From the indigenous peoples code in the French colonies, to places prohibited to Blacks in the British colonies or to the apartheid policy of the Dutch colonizers in South Africa, Africans were relegated in their own lands as sub-men, without the right to vote, with confiscation of land and property, excluded from the management of their countries unless they were zealous collaborators, evolved as it was said in the French colonies. The white man was a god in Africa during colonization.

Colonization was cultural and religious alienation

The demonization of African cultures and Religion, the belittling of our African languages to the status of dialect, the imposition of christianity with the white Jesus as divine figure, consequently the whitewashing of God’s image in the African’s subconscious and the legitimation of white supremacy, the forgery of the glorious African history. Even our ancestors, colonization stole them away from us. What is left to you when your parents are stolen?

The sufferings of colonized Africans
The sufferings of colonized Africans

Colonization has cleverly brainwashed Africans, making them believe that their cultural heritage is inferior and diabolical, and that therefore if they want to save themselves they must kill their identity to enter modernity.

The colonizers brought us English, French and Portuguese, they say. Languages ​​presented as infinitely superior, the only ones allowing access to knowledge. They forget to say that it was in a language close to Wolof and Tshiluba that the Greeks received science and even religion in Egypt. The settlers taught us how to have good manners, having elegance etc … They forget to say that it was a black man from Iraq, Ziryab, who introduced the art of the table in Europe during the Moorish civilization.

They brought us writing, sciences … that we taught them with the Egyptian-Phoenician contact, and forget to say that there are systems of writing that have survived until today in Africa. They made us know God … whereas every time they finish praying, they pronounce the name of our black God by saying Amen …

Christianity in Africa had only one goal: to whitewash God’s image in the minds of Africans, to make us believe that Whites are a divine people, and thus to make us believe that the economic, political and cultural domination of the white man is an order defined by God and an indisputable one. Same thing for Islam and the Arabs.
Christianity in Africa had only one goal: to whitewash God’s image in the minds of Africans, to make us believe that Whites are a divine people, and thus to make us believe that the economic, political and cultural domination of the white man is an order defined by God and an indisputable one. Same thing for Islam and the Arabs.

Colonization was crimes

If many Africans think that colonization was a good thing, it is because they seriously underestimate, ignorant of the facts, the extent of the crimes that have been committed. Here are some non-exhaustive figures:

  • The repression of the Kenyan independatists by the British, 1952-1960: 90,000 dead
  • The Namibian genocide by the Germans, 1904-1907: 100,000 dead
  • Famine in the very fertile Uganda under English occupation, 1918-1919: 100,000 dead [2]
  • The repression of Cameroonian nationalists by France, 1955-1971: 60,000 to 120,000 dead
  • The repression of the Malagasy nationalists by France, 1947-1949: 89,000 to 200,000 dead [3]
  • The epidemic of sleeping sickness in Uganda under English occupation, 1906: 200,000 deaths [4]
  • Repression of the Maji Maji uprising by the Germans in Tanzania, 1905-1907: 325,000 dead
  • The colonial invasion of Madagascar by France, 1894-1904: 500,000 dead
  • The policy of enslavement of the King of Belgium Leopold II in DR Congo, 1890-1911: 12 to 32 million dead [2]

Top left: the severed heads of Cameroonian nationalists by France
Top right: Hacked hands of Congolese under Belgian occupation
Bottom left: a concentration camp in Kenya where the British inflicted unspeakable torture to the nationalists: Rape, castration, drowning simulation, hanging, some were even roasted alive.
Bottom right: the severed heads of the Mozambican nationalists by the Portuguese

From the beginning of colonization around 1880 until 1930, sub-Saharan Africa experienced 73 million more human losses than those of slavery. By 1930, the African population was almost extinct. The two slave trades and colonization therefore reduced, directly and indirectly, the African population by 78 to 84%. This is extermination.

What about all the infrastructures built by the colonizers?

Here we touch the heart of the pride of colonial nations and their peoples. Look at all these roads, these railroads, these buildings that we left you, they tell us. Let’s recall that Africa was covered with incredibly organized cities before the European slave trade, and that the vestiges of our past architectural feats are there to answer the insulting allusions of those who are nostalgic of colonization.

Translation: these infrastructures were made with the blood of our ancestors, for the only exploitation of Africa by Europeans and not for the Africans’ sake.

It should be added that black people, especially African-Americans, participated in the advent of all the new technologies that are believed to be peculiar to the European. Lewis Latiwer co-invented the telephone and invented the long-span bulb, Frederick Patterson and George Washington Carver participated in the advent and improvement of the automobile, Granville Woods and William Burr the train, Frederick Jones was a pioneer in the field of refrigeration and air conditioning, Alexander Miles the elevator, Mark Dean the computer, Charles Drew invented the blood bank, Gerald Lawson invented the modern video game console, the Ghanaian George Mensah has revolutionized the optic  fiber producing high-speed internet, the Guadeloupian Raoul Nicolo revolutionized television etc … We do not even talk about all black people who made the greatness of the NASA.

All these technologies had the support of Africans and could have appeared in Africa, with or without colonization. They are not “white things” as we like to say.Africans have participated in inventions in all fields since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the West. Just like the real African history, the history of these Africans is knowingly hidden by the West in order to reinforce its fictitious historical supremacy. (From left to right: Granville Woods, Lewis Latimer, and Raoul Nicolo).

One can only wonder what Africa would be today if it had not met the Europeans of slavery and colonization. Africa would probably be very advanced.

In short, if it is the Africans who civilized the world and civilized Europe twice, if Europe has no civilizing role, if Europe destroyed Africa during the slave trade and put an end to its glorious history, if it made it lose 73 million people during the colonization for its enrichment only, if colonization was the continuity of slavery with plunder, segregation and cultural mindlessness, if all these new technologies which one believes exclusively European might have emerged in Africa, what are the positive roles that colonial nations and their peoples are talking about?

It’s simple, colonization was death, slavery, misery, mindlessness on a continental scale. Colonization is nothing but crime, crime against humanity, one of the major crimes committed against all Africans with the European slave trade and the Arab slave trade. There was nothing good in colonization. And anyone who speaks in a positive way about colonization is making an apologia for crimes against humanity, insulting us and insulting our ancestors. If colonization were about sharing culture, as Mr Fillon said, then Hitler also went to share his culture.Hitler sharing his culture with the French in 1940

Today the problem of Africans, basically, is that they do not enjoy “the benefits of colonization”. Our problem is that we want to live rich and westernized and not poor and westernized. We do not fight to be African, we fight especially to live like white people in Africa, with their languages, their cultures, their religions, their materialistic and individualist philosophy, the slave names and colonized names they gave us. Even in the fight against economic and political neocolonialism, the positive character of colonization is admitted due to ignorance of the past.

It is not only the neocolonial economic and political systems that must be questioned. Colonial languages, colonial culture, colonial religions, colonial historiography, colonial philosophy, and colonial names must go away together with the neocolonial economy and political system. Africa must fight to become Africa again. This return to Africa in all areas of thought is called Afrocentricity. It is an Afrocentric approach that will truly liberate Africa.

We thank our ancestors who fought against the colonial invasion and struggled so that we do not experience slavery, so that we get the partial freedom we have today.

We end here with the Carribean poet and anticolonialist Aimé Césaire, who always knew how to find the words for history :

“Between colonizer and colonized there is room only for forced labor, intimida­tion, pressure, the police, taxation, theft, rape, compulsory crops, contempt, mis­trust, arrogance, self-complacency, swinishness, brainless elites, degraded masses. No human contact, but relations of domination and submission which turn the colonizing man into a classroom monitor, an army sergeant, a prison guard, a slave driver, and the indigenous man into an instrument of production.

Ancestor Aimé Césaire
Ancestor Aimé Césaire

My turn to state an equation: colonization = “thingification.”

I hear the storm. They talk to me about progress, about “achievements;” diseases cured, improved standards of living. I am talking about societies drained of their essence, cultures trampled underfoot, institutions undermined, lands confiscated, religions smashed, magnificent artistic creations destroyed, extraordinary possibilities wiped out.

They throw facts at my head, statistics, mileages of roads, canals, and railroad tracks. I am talking about thousands of men sacrificed to the Congo-Ocean. I am talking about those who, as I write this, are digging the harbor of Abidjan by hand. I am talking about millions of men torn from their gods, their land, their habits, their life—from life, from the dance, from wisdom. I am talking about millions of men in whom fear has been cunningly instilled, who have been taught to have an inferiority complex, to tremble, kneel, despair, and behave like flunkeys.” Discours sur le colonialisme, pages 23 and 24. 

Hotep !

Notes :

  • [1] Afrique noire, sol, démographie et histoire, Louise Marie Diop-Maes, page 241
  • [2] Idem, page 251
  • [3] 40 ans d’histoire de Madagascar, Louis Molet, page 92
  • [4] Afrique noire, sol, démographie et histoire, Louise Marie Diop-Maes, page 253
  • By : Lisapo ya Kama © .

The business of racism. The complicated ethics of being a dermatologist in a country where many people want whiter skin

“It starts when children are young. The moment a child is born, relatives start comparing siblings’ skin color. It starts in your own family. But people don’t want to talk about it openly.”

Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women of Worth, an Indian NGO that is standing up to an ingrained bias toward lighter skin. The Dark is Beautiful campaign, launched in 2009, is not “anti-white,” she explains, but about inclusivity—beauty beyond color. It carries celebrity endorsement, most notably the Bollywood actor Nandita Das. A blog provides a forum for people to share their personal stories of skin colour bias. And the campaign runs media literacy workshops and advocacy programs in schools to convey messages of self-esteem and self-worth to young children. This is to counteract what Emmanuel says she has seen even in school textbooks, where a picture of a fair-skinned girl is labeled “beautiful” and a darker one “ugly.”

“Some children are really shocked that this is something that has affected them so intensely. Some are in tears,” Emmanuel says.

The perfect life from perfect skin, a life that’s only bestowed upon those of the right shade – that’s the message, the attitude, the mindset that’s being passed down. It’s spawned a multibillion-dollar industry encompassing not just cosmetic creams but invasive procedures such as skin bleaching, chemical peels, laser treatments, steroid cocktails, “whitening” pills and intravenous injections – all with varying effectiveness and health risks. It’s more than a bias, it’s a cultural obsession, and one that’s becoming dangerous.

The business of racism

Multinational cosmetics brands have found a lucrative market: global spending on skin lightening is projected to triple to US $31.2 billion by 2024, according to a report released in June 2017 by the research firm Global Industry Analysts.

The driving force, they say, is “the still rampant darker skin stigma and rigid cultural perception that correlates lighter skin tone with beauty and personal success.”

“This is not bias. This is racism,” says Sunil Bhatia, a professor of human development at Connecticut College. Bhatia has recently written in US News & World Report about “deep-rooted internalized racism and social hierarchies based on skin color.”

In India, these were codified in the caste system, the ancient Hindu classification in which birth determined occupation and social stratum. At the top, Brahmins were priests and intellectuals. At the bottom, outcastes were confined to the least-desired jobs, such as latrine cleaners. Bhatia says caste may have been to do with more than occupation: the darker you looked, the lower your place in the social hierarchy.“All around the world, it was a fact that the rich could stay indoors versus the poor who worked outside and were dark-skinned.”

This preference for fair skin was perpetuated and strongly reinforced by colonialism, not just in India but in dozens of countries where a European power established its dominance. It’s the idea that the ruler is fair-skinned, says Emmanuel. “All around the world, it was a fact that the rich could stay indoors versus the poor who worked outside and were dark-skinned.”

The final wave of influence is modern-day globalization. “There is an interesting whiteness traveling from the US to malls [in other countries] featuring white models,” Bhatia tells me. “You can trace a line from colonialism, post-colonialism and globalization.” Western beauty ideals, including fair skin, predominate worldwide. And with these ideals come products to service them.

In Nigeria, 77% of the country’s women use skin-lightening agents, compared with 59% in Togo and 27% in Senegal. But the largest and fastest-growing markets are in the Asia-Pacific region.

In India, a typical supermarket will have a wall of personal care products featuring “whitening” moisturizer or “lightening” body creams from recognizable brands.

Pooja Kannan, a 27-year-old from Mumbai, spent years buying cosmetics that promised to lighten her complexion. For a while she put her faith in a cream, face wash and soap for treating “skin fairness problems.” She used the products sparingly, since buying new ones still cost her 200–300 rupees every two months – equivalent to a week’s worth of travel to her college campus. Over four years of use, she tells me, her skin did lighten up a little, though she wonders whether that was due to the cream or her taking more care when going out in the sun.

Kannan’s natural skin tone looks a healthy light brown to me, but when she was growing up, her elder aunts would shake their heads in disappointment over her complexion. A tan would lead some relatives and classmates to admonish her. “You’ve turned black,” they said. And in India, where skin tone often defines a person’s success in society and their ability to find work or a spouse, that sort of thing matters. Kannan says she brushed off her relatives’ criticism as being from a different generation, but her classmates’ comments made her feel insecure.

“It didn’t affect me right then but when I was getting dressed up to go out, I would remember what they said and put on more make-up,” she says. “Especially when I was in 11th and 12th grades, there were two or three girls who would say these things a lot. They were trying to be helpful but to me it sounded condescending. And it was hypocritical too because it wasn’t like they were fair or beautiful or perfect themselves.”

Society reminded Kannan of it too. She is a professional dancer, and says, “The prettier, skinnier and fairer girls are positioned at the front of the stage. That gets to you.”“The prettier, skinnier and fairer girls are positioned at the front of the stage. That gets to you.”

This preference for fair skin is reinforced in movies, television programs and especially advertising. In 2016, actor Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) had to issue a statement saying she would no longer endorse products which “do not always reflect the diverse beauty of all women” after criticisms of her earlier appearance in ads in Asia for Lancôme’s Blanc Expert line, used for skin lightening. (In a statement, Lancôme emphazised the product’s ‘evening’ rather than lightening properties, saying that it “helps brighten, evens skin tone, and provides a healthy-looking complexion. This kind of product, proposed by every brand, is an essential part of Asian women’s beauty routines.”)

The Advertising Standards Council of India has attempted to address skin-based discrimination in 2014 by banning ads depicting people with darker skin as inferior, but the products are still marketed. Ads for skin-lightening creams still appear in newspapers, on television and on billboards, featuring Bollywood celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. In multiple Facebook posts in April 2017, actor Abhay Deol called out several of his colleagues for endorsing fairness creams, following it up with an opinion piece in the Hindustan Times in which he wrote that “advertising preaches that we would get a better job, a happier marriage, and more beautiful children if we were fair. We are conditioned to believe that life would have been easier had we been born fairer.”

The price of skin lightening

Skin lightening is not the sole preserve of the modern cosmetics industry.

India’s traditional Ayurveda medical system teaches that pregnant women can improve their fetus’s complexion by drinking saffron-laced milk and eating oranges, fennel seeds and coconut pieces. In early 2017, an Ayurvedic practitioner in Kolkata led a session for expectant couples, promising that even dark-skinned, short parents could have tall and fair children.

And a 2012 study by a women’s health charity in India found that childless couples often insisted on and paid more for surrogates who were beautiful and fair, though the woman contributed no genetic material to the baby.

Arguably, nowhere is the fair skin preference as ingrained as in classified ads placed in newspapers seeking a marriage partner. Along with requirements for the prospective bride’s or groom’s caste, religion, profession and education, physical characteristics are listed too. Someone described as “dusky” may be skipped in favor of one who is of a “fair” complexion.

In April 2017, the Times of India media group placed its own notice exhorting parents to emphasize a daughter’s profession and educational qualifications ahead of whether she was “fair.”

“Potential brides spend a lot of money, it’s really unlimited, in the months before the wedding,” says Ema Trinidad, a Filipina beautician who runs a spa in Bengaluru. “I was so surprised when I came here that your chances of getting married depend on your skin color. We don’t have that in the Philippines.”

The mindset is so normalized that people accept treatments as a part of wedding preparations – men as well as women. When Karthik Panchapakesan got married in 2001, he was intrigued by ads for a “complete makeover” and decided to try it out before his wedding reception, along with his brother-in-law.

“I had never gone to a salon before,” says Panchapakesan, a 50-year-old media specialist working in community radio. They went to an unnamed salon in Hyderabad where, he told me, “The massage felt really good. Then they put this fruity and flowery white paste all over my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. They promised it would even out my skin.”

Panchapakesan says his eyes started burning after about five minutes and he got an irritation around his nose because the sweet smell turned to acrid fumes. He suspected it was based on ammonia.

“It was more chemical than horseradish,” he says. “I didn’t know what it is because they were pumping it out of toothpaste-like tubes. I say, ‘I’m not liking this.’ They say it will rejuvenate the skin and kept it on for 20 minutes.”

When it was all done, the two men’s faces looked as if they had been dusted with talcum powder. When they arrived at Panchapakesan’s wedding reception, his wife asked him, “Why are you both looking so strange and funny? What have you done to yourselves?” He says, “It was not a transformation, it was a deformation.”

To cool the burning sensation and moisturize his dry skin, he applied coconut oil as a healing balm for three days. He has sworn off beauty parlors ever since.

Bleaching is a common treatment that lightens not the skin itself but the fine hairs on the face. Most skin-lightening treatments target the skin’s ability to produce pigment, or melanin, which gives your skin, hair and eyes their color. Everyone has about the same number of cells to make melanin but how much you actually produce is down to your genes. Darker-skinned people produce more. When exposed to the sun, the body produces more melanin to absorb harmful UV rays and protect skin cells. And having more natural melanin also means that darker-skinned people tend to develop fewer wrinkles and are less at risk of skin cancer.

Skin-lightening creams often aim to interrupt the production of melanin or just improve the general health of the skin. They can contain a natural ingredient such as soy, liquorice or arbutin, sometimes combined with the medical lightening agent hydroquinone (though not all creams contain this – hydroquinone is a potentially carcinogenic ingredient and products containing it are banned or restricted in Ghana, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Australia and the European Union, though they are still used illegally). Vitamin B3 is another common ingredient, but another previously found in lightening creams and soaps is mercury, the World Health Organization has warned. Mercury suppresses the production of melanin but it can also damage the kidneys and brain if it is absorbed by the skin and accumulates in the body.

Other lightening methods include a chemical peel, which removes the top layer of your skin. This leaves fresher skin exposed to harmful solar radiation and environmental pollutants. Laser treatments offer an even more aggressive approach by breaking up a skin’s pigmentation, sometimes with skin-damaging results.

The fairness obsession

Dr. Mukta Sachdev, a clinical and aesthetic dermatologist in Bengaluru, recalls two cases of Indian men who came to her after undergoing laser treatments while working in South Korea. They were each in their late 20s and getting ready for marriages. One man developed redness on his face and the other had little white dots – “confetti-like” depigmentation. Sachdev suspects the technicians in South Korea weren’t used to working with darker skin. “You need to use less aggressive settings when doing laser. It’s very hard when losing pigmentation,” she says. She was able to treat the redness, but the white patches remained despite her efforts to stimulate the pigment to return.

Many prospective patients come to her seeking skin lightening, but before offering them any treatment she counsels them to think less about light and dark and more about evenly toned, healthy skin. “I’m trying to get away from this fairness obsession,” she explains. “Being hung up on dark skin can lead to low self-esteem and lower on the quality of life index.”

“There’s a pressure on Indian men and women, among themselves,” says Dr Sujata Chandrappa, a Bengaluru-based dermatologist. “They have some role model in their head and they want to get there no matter what. That’s the wrong concept.” Chandrappa says clients often come in wanting the skin tone of a favorite Bollywood celebrity.

“If your obsession is just with color, then I would outright tell them that I’m more worried that you’re unnecessarily seeking something you don’t need,” she tells me. “If I encourage them too much, I get the sense that I’m promoting racism.”

Shannah Mendiola spends 3,200 rupees (US$50) a month on skin-lightening supplements – a lot by local standards, but Mendiola has a well-paying job with a multinational company. Originally from the Philippines, but now working in Bengaluru, Mendiola says she has been taking the pills for the last five years, not just for lighter skin but for their antioxidant properties.

“I like going to the beach and I feel really dark after a holiday,” she tells me by email. “I would always prefer to buy and use skincare products that contain skin-whitening ingredients – like my body lotion, face wash and moisturizer. In the Philippines, it’s always a plus if you are fair.”

Mendiola describes herself as morena – not too fair and not too dark – and says that her skin returns to its natural colour faster when she uses the pills. “Having an even skin tone that’s healthy and glowing gives me more self-confidence when I meet people for work. Why not? Don’t we all want to look good?”

The pills she takes are glutathione, an antioxidant naturally produced by the liver that can protect the skin from UV rays and free radicals, which contribute to skin damage and pigmentation.

A more direct form of treatment is glutathione injections. These are commonly used to counteract the side-effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, hair loss or difficulty breathing, but their growing popularity for skin lightening has led to official concern.

In 2011 the Philippine Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning about an “alarming increase in the unapproved use of glutathione administered intravenously,” reporting on adverse effects which included skin rashes, thyroid and kidney dysfunction, and even potentially fatal Stevens–Johnson syndrome, in which the skin peels from the body as if burned.

And in 2015 the US Food and Drug Administration warned of the potentially significant safety risk to consumers: “You’re essentially injecting an unknown substance into your body – you don’t know what it contains or how it was made.”

Nevertheless, there is growing consumer demand. Mendiola has taken two treatments of injectable glutathione but mostly relies on pills.

Dr Mukta Sachdev refuses to administer the injections despite repeated requests from her patients – “I practise on evidence-based dermatology and there’s not enough literature supporting the use of injectable glutathione.” Worryingly, there are YouTube videos showing how to self-inject glutathione.

Dr Sujata Chandrappa does administer glutathione injections. She says she has seen no side effects so far, but is nonetheless wary, always starting with the lowest possible dose. I ask if it really works. She tells me of a woman who dreaded injections but whose yearning for lighter skin overrode her fear. Three months after the injections, her entire body was about two shades lighter and any dark spots had lessened. It lasted for a year. Chandrappa says the woman is considering repeating the procedure.

“From a medical perspective, it is not possible to lighten skin permanently, but you can even it out,” Sachdev tells me. In fact, many of Sachdev’s and Chandrappa’s patients are actually people seeking treatment for problems with other skin-lightening procedures – primarily the use of topical steroid creams.

India’s pharmaceutical regulator has approved at least 18 different corticosteroids for topical skin use, ranging from mild to super-potent. These usually cost less than US$2 a tube and most pharmacies across the country will dispense them, even without a prescription.

People apply them indiscriminately to treat pimples or for fairer skin, but steroid creams take off the protective outer layer of the skin so it is more exposed to UV rays and environmental pollutants such as smog and cigarette smoke. But more worrying is that they can be addictive, says Dr Shyamanta Barua, a dermatologist and honorary secretary general of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists.

“The moment the patient stops using the cream, the skin reacts, gets irritated, develops rashes,” he says. “So the patient starts the cream again and it’s a vicious cycle. They become psychologically addicted.” He thinks users should be counselled as if they were addicted to recreational drugs or alcohol.

The dermatologists’ association is lobbying for topical steroid skin medications to be added to the Schedule H list, which would restrict their availability in pharmacies by requiring a doctor’s prescription. They met with the Drug Controller General of India in March 2017, though Dr Shyam B Verma, the dermatologist who heads these efforts, seems pessimistic as to whether any action would be forthcoming. “These products are just a minuscule part of the overall drug industry so it’s not a priority,” he tells me.

“[Pharmacies] dispense them like boxes of cookies. The drug companies know this is a drug and it’s not supposed to be used to lighten constitutive skin. But they label them with suggestive names like Skin Bright, Skin Light, Skin Shine, Look Bright.”

Furthermore, only around 35 per cent of pharmacies have a legitimate pharmacist on staff, so there is often no one to counsel the buyer on appropriate dosage and use of the cream.

Even worse, there are signs that improper steroid prescriptions – often in cocktails containing a mix of steroids, antibiotics and antifungals – may be fuelling a surge in bugs resistant to normal treatments. An editorial in the dermatologists’ association’s online journal last year says, “Today, we are facing an onslaught of chronic and recurrent dermatophytosis [fungal infections] in volumes never encountered previously. Over the last 3–4 years, the frequency of such cases has increased alarmingly.”

Dr Rajetha Damisetty, a cosmetic dermatologist based in the southern city of Hyderabad, tells me of one combination containing clobetasol – the most potent steroid known to man, which is used to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema – mixed with two antibiotics and two antifungals. “Only India has this crazy combination,” Damisetty says, and the result is a “nightmare”.

Normally, she says, “around 70–90 per cent of those affected by fungal infections would have used topical steroids for treatment and they would respond within two weeks. Now we have to give four times the dosage for eight to 12 weeks. It’s an epidemic across the entire country.”

The dermatologists’ association is trying to educate physicians, especially general practitioners who indiscriminately prescribe steroid creams, about proper prescriptions. They are also engaging with pharmaceutical companies, which has borne some fruit – in April 2017, one company distributed flyers to 50,000 pharmacies warning: “Steroids are potentially harmful. Do not use without a prescription.”

Turning the tides

But they’re fighting more than just bad medical practice or even consumer habits. They’re fighting millennia-old preferences for lighter skin. Erasing those will require a change of mindset. This is perhaps easier to do in the young – after all, social signals about the value of fair skin begin as soon as they are born.

Kavitha Emmanuel believes that people are more aware of the issue than ever before and hopes that the next generation will see things differently – not just in India but across the world. In 2016, three students at the University of Texas, Austin, started an Instagram campaign called Unfair & Lovely – a play on India’s most popular fairness cream, Fair & Lovely. The #unfairandlovely hashtag invited darker-skinned people to share their photos. And in 2013, a young woman in Pakistan, Fatima Lodhi, launched the country’s first anti-colourism movement, called Dark is Divine. Lodhi has written about the prejudice she faced as a child: “I never got a chance to become a fairy in my school plays because fairies are supposed to be fair-skinned!” Now, she leads sessions at schools to make students more aware about skin colour discrimination.

Attitudes are already starting to change, some say, especially among girls, who are gaining confidence with education, employment and financial independence outside the home. Emmanuel tells me of one Dark is Beautiful session at an all-girls middle school in the southern Indian city of Chennai last January. A dark-skinned teen – “stunningly beautiful but with deep self-esteem issues” – came up front. She was weeping because just that morning her brother had taunted her about her skin tone. But Emmanuel was more surprised when another, lighter-skinned, girl stood up. She said she’d believed dark was ugly until that moment, but apologised to her classmates with a promise to treat them better. “They all started clapping,” Emmanuel says. “That’s a big move for a teenager. She really had the bigness of heart to say something like that.”

But activists fear the market for skin-lightening treatments will endure as long as they are available. Beautician Ema Trinidad recalls one woman who came to her spa. Her fiancé had lighter skin and her future in-laws wanted her to be lighter before their wedding. “I felt sorry for her. She wasn’t really dark, she just had very dry skin, so I gave her a moisturising treatment,” Trinidad says. She advises clients about which products and treatments are effective and safe, but adds, “I cannot judge that it’s bad that you want to be white. My job… is to give you what you want.”

By Mary-Rose Abraham

Hotep

10 Black Scholars Who Debunked Eurocentric Propaganda

Cheikh Anta Diop
Cheikh Anta Diop

Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop 
Senegalese-born Cheikh Anta Diop (1923–1986) received his doctorate degree from the University of Paris and was a brilliant historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician and one of the most prominent and proficient Black scholars in the history of African civilization.

Contrary to the long-standing European myth of a Caucasian Egypt, Diop’s studies into origins of the human race and precolonial African culture established that ancient Egypt was founded, populated, and ruled by Black Africans; the Egyptian language and culture still exists in modern African languages (including his own Wolof language); and that Black Egypt was responsible for the rise of civilization throughout Africa and the Mediterranean, including Greece and Rome.

Diop also pioneered techniques of scientific research, such as carbon dating as a means of dating artifacts and remains, and the melanin dosage test he used to verify the melanin content of Egyptian mummies. Forensic investigators later adopted this technique to determine the “racial identity” of badly burned accident victims. Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, is named after him.

Dr. John Henrik Clarke 

Dr. John Henrik Clarke (1915–1998) was a Pan-Africanist writer, historian, professor, and a pioneer in the establishment of Africana studies in professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s. He was a professor of African world history, and in 1969 he became the founding chairman of the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He also was the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.

He challenged the mostly white academic historians and attributed their reluctance to acknowledge the historical contributions of Black people as part of the systematic and racist suppression and distortion of African history.

Clarke asserted: “Nothing in Africa had any European influence before 332 B.C. If you have 10,000 years behind you before you even saw a European, then who gave you the idea that he moved from the ice-age, came all the way into Africa and built a great civilization and disappeared, when he had not built a shoe for himself or a house with a window?”

Dr. Marimba Ani

Dr. Marimba Ani is an anthropologist and African studies scholar best known for her book “Yurugu,” a comprehensive critique of European thought and culture. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Chicago, and holds masters and doctorate degrees in anthropology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School University.

In her ground-breaking work, “Yurugu: An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior,” Ani uses an African perspective through the myths of the Dogon people and the language of Swahili to examine the impact of European cultural influence on Black people and the world. She developed a framework that methodically debunked the belief that Western civilization was the best, most constructive society ever built, and instead she pointed out its inherent destructive tendencies. 

Dr. Amos Wilson 

Dr. Amos N. Wilson(1941–1995) was a social caseworker, psychological counselor, supervising probation officer and training administrator in the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. He was also an assistant professor of psychology at the City University of New York.

In his book “Black-on-Black Violence: The Psychodynamic of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination,” Wilson discredited the pervasive myth that Blacks are inherently criminal.

Not only did he chronicle the vast history of violence that was pervasive in American culture, but he also demonstrated how Black-on-Black violence and Black male criminality in the United States was a politically and economically engineered process designed to maintain the subservience and relative powerlessness of Black people and Black communities worldwide.

However, Wilson contended that bringing an end to Black-on-Black violence and criminality is the sole responsibility of all Black people. In his book he lays out practical and theoretical ways of eradicating it. 

Ivan van Sertima 

Dr. Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima(1935–2009) was a Guyanese-born associate professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He was best known for his work “They Came before Columbus,” which provided a pyramid of evidence to support the idea that ancient Africans were master shipbuilders who sailed from Africa to the Americas thousands of years before Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, and that the Africans traded with the indigenous people, leaving lasting influences on their cultures. In one example, Van Sertima presents evidence that Emperor Abubakari of Mali used these “almadias” or longboats to make a trip to the Americas during the 1300s.

Van Sertima methodically demonstrates that these Blacks were not slaves, but traders and priests who were honored and venerated by the Native Americans who built statues — Olmec heads — in their honor. In the closing of the book, he decried the notion of “discovery” by Columbus.

In 1987, Van Sertima testified before a United States congressional committee to oppose recognition of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas. He said, “You cannot really conceive of how insulting it is to Native Americans … to be told they were discovered.”

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (1935–2016) was an African-American psychiatrist practicing in Washington, D.C. She was noted for her books the “Cress Theory of Color Confrontation” and “The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors,” which explore and define the global system of white supremacy.

In “The Isis Papers,” Welsing contradicts the notion that white supremacy was rooted in an idea of genetic superiority. Instead, she presents a psychogenetic theory suggesting whites fear genetic annihilation because their genes are recessive to the majority of the world’s population, which consists of  people of color — the most threatening being black. Therefore they established white supremacy to prevent people of color from diluting their genes and subsequently rendering them extinct.

Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan

Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan, also known as Dr. Ben, (1918–2015) was an Ethiopian-Puerto Rican writer, historian and Egyptologist. Ben-Jochannan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Puerto Rico in 1938, and earned his master’s degree in architectural engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba in 1938. He received his doctoral degrees in cultural anthropology and Moorish history from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain, respectively.

Ben-Jochannan was the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures. One of Dr. Ben’s most thought-provoking works, “African Origins of the Major ‘Western Religions’” (1970), highlights how the roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam originated in Black Africa. He also argues that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the European Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.

Dr. Anthony Martin 

Dr. Anthony Martin (1942–2013) was a Trinidadian-born professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. He was a lecturer and prolific author of scholarly articles about Black history and was considered the world’s foremost authority on Jamaican Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Martin authored, compiled or edited 14 books, his earliest work being “Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association” (1976).

In his works on Garvey, Martin used his scholarship to counteract attempts by the mainstream to mischaracterize and deny Garvey’s true legacy as one of the greatest Black leaders of all time.

When Martin detailed the role European Jews played in the transatlantic slave trade in his book, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” the professor found himself the subject of a character assassination campaign.

Dr. Chancellor Williams 

Dr. Chancellor Williams (1893–1992) was an African-American sociologist, historian and writer. His best known work is “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.,” for which he was awarded honors by the Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

In “Destruction of Black Civilization,” Williams chronicles how high civilization began in Black Africa, contrary to what mainstream historians have espoused to the world. He meticulously lays out the history of Africa in great detail and demonstrates that the continent’s current underdevelopment came after thousands of years of consistent onslaught by Eurasians, and not because Africans made no significant contributions to the world.

Dr. George G.M. James

Dr. George Granville Monah James (unknown–1954) was a well-regarded historian and author from Georgetown, Guyana. He’s best known for his 1954 book “Stolen Legacy,” in which he presented evidence that Greek philosophy originated in ancient Egypt. He gained his doctorate degree at Columbia University in New York, became a professor of logic and Greek at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., for two years, and then taught at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

In “Stolen Legacy,” James painstakingly documents the African origins of Greco-Roman philosophical thought. He asserted that “Greek philosophy” was not created by the Greeks at all, instead it was borrowed without acknowledgement from the ancient Egyptians.

James even challenged the foundations of Judaism and Judeo-Christianity and argued that the statue of the Egyptian goddess Isis with her child Horus in her arms is the origin of the Virgin Mary and child.

He mysteriously died shortly after publishing Stolen Legacy.

A Moore

Hotep

Dr Boyce Watkins: The 8 Rules of Economic Self-Defense

In case you’ve never noticed, black people are vulnerable. Much of this vulnerability is linked to our financial condition. Many of us work for people we hate, do things we don’t want to do, and feel stuck because we are not where we want to be economically.

I’ve been a finance professor for the last 23 years and it saddens me that many of us are constrained by issues and situations that could be easily avoided. In fact, our very need for survival is predicated on us embracing financial intelligence as one of our codes of conduct. So, here are a few rules of economic self-defense that you may want to implement to keep your family secure:

1)Never get all of your income from one source: When you get all of your money from one person, one corpo

ration or one job, you’re vulnerable to the person who is paying your bills. This often leaves black people crippled and begging.

2) Always save your money so your money can save you: Having a little money saved can mean the difference between being free to do what you want vs. having to bow down to a bigot on the job because you’ve chosen to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Sometimes, we are forced into poverty, but other times, we spend our money on nonsense. You can’t tell me that you’re poor and own a pair of Air Jordans at the same time, that just doesn’t make any sense.

3) Train yourself and your children on the basics of financial literacy and wealth-building: American economics is a game, like basketball. Yes, we are behind in the game, but you’ll never catch up in a basketball game if you never learn how to play the sport. So, ask yourself: Are your kids trained on how money works in America? If the answer is “no,” then this is a serious problem.

4) Every black family should have a family business: The black family business must come back into style. We can’t all fight against white racist oppression, yet still beg white people for jobs. We must learn to create our own jobs in either this generation or the next.

5) Never become addicted to a financially extravagant lifestyle: Wasteful consumption is pushed on black people on a regular basis. It usually leaves us financially weak and addicted. There is no relationship between an addict and a pusher in which the addict has the most power.

6) Avoid going too deep in debt, and be especially careful with student loans: The quest to be educated has left many millenials with so much debt that they will die in the middle of it. Debt does create a form of slavery that has too many of us struggling along on jobs that we can’t stand, dealing with horrific situations. Be cautious with debt,it can become economic poison.

7) Learn how to invest and own things: Investing is the ability to sacrifice the present in order to control the future. Investing must become a part of our culture so that our kids own the land on which they stand. Stop judging your success based on the size of your paycheck, you must evaluate black success by how much we own.

8) Buy black, even if it hurts: Buying black and keeping money in our community is one of the most essential financial choices we can make as a community. When you give away your money, you’re giving away your power. This doesn’t make any sense.

By taking some basics steps and implementing these ideas into our culture, we’ll soon find that our community is stronger and on better footing than we were in the past. But the key is that we must shift our thinking and make the right decisions, because our economic intelligence is directly connected to our survival.

Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance PhD and founder of The Black Wealth Bootcamp and The Black Business School.

To learn more, please visit TheBlackWealthBootcamp.com.

Dr Boyce Watkins

Hotep

How Cecil Rhodes Killed Million Of Southern Africans For Diamonds And Lands

During the brutal scramble for Africa and Africa’s resources, at least two million Africans were killed in the scramble for ivory tusks for piano keys and billiard balls. At the time, the center of the ivory trade was Connecticut.

80% of the Nama and Herero peoples of Namibia were murdered in cold blood by the Germans. They were killed and forced to the desert where they were left to die in the desert without food, water or shelter.

Germany till date has never recognized this genocide or paid reparations even as they have paid billions in reparations to Israel for the Holocaust.

But Germany’s crime in Africa is not what we want to talk about here.

During this same time of Germany’s massacre in Namibia, the British colonizer Cecil Rhodes came to southern Africa. He believed so much in British imperialism and promoted it. He is credited for saying “to prevent civil war you must become an imperialist.”

Cecil Rhodes was a British man responsible for untold, unending devastation and violence in the region of South Africa.

His goal was to install British imperialism from Cape Town to Cairo and built the Cape-Cairo railway.

Cecil Rhodes was a perpetrator of genocide, who was responsible for the displacement of millions of African people for the benefit of white settlers. He was instrumental in the enslavement of millions of African people on their own land.

He is part of the legacy of white people who came from Europe and became wealthy from the theft of the gold and diamonds in Southern Africa.

Rhodes founded the popular DeBeers diamond cartel. He left Britain for South Africa when he was only but 18 years old. He took over the diamond mines at Kimberley South Africa and others in the area. By his early 20s, he was already millionaire but he did not retire.

He made fortunes off the sweat of the indigenous nations and tribes of Southern Africa. At that young age, he believed in subjugating Africa for the benefit of England.

Maybe he was born with this kind of hate, or just like other Europeans, he had the hunger to see Africa blood flow.

He was the architect of apartheid in South Africa. Rhodes explicitly believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was a master race. This ideology drove him to not only steal approximately one million miles of South African land but also to facilitate the murder of hundreds of thousands of black South Africans. Many accounts actually number his victims in their millions.

He established the paramilitary private army, the British South-Africa Company’s Police (BSACP). That army was responsible for the systematic murder of ten to hundreds of thousands of the native people of present-day South Africa.

His hateful amendment of the Masters and Servants Act (1890)reintroduced conditions of torture for native and indigenous laborers. His monstrous racist “land grabs” set up a system in which the unlawful and illegitimate acquisition of land through armed force was routine for white people.

Cecil Rhodes despised democracy. In 1887 he told the House of Assembly in Cape Town: “The native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of South Africa.”

Now what kind of sadism and self-deceit could that be? You murder a people, take their lands, and then refer to them as barbarians. The conscience of the European colonizer will surprise you, when you view their atrocities throughout history, and how they kept reminding themselves that they were doing right.

His Franchise and Ballot Act of 1892 effectively eliminated the voting rights of African. On many occasions, he reminded his colleagues of the “extreme caution” they must use when it comes to “granting the franchise to colored people.”

Rhodes also went to Zimbabwe. He attacked and killed the Matabele and Shona, although they launched a fierce resistance which was led by their leader Lobengula.

Cecil Rhodes paid a mercenary army from England and supplied them with Maxim machine guns. With just 5 of these machine guns the English slaughtered more than 5,000 African people in one afternoon alone. After that, they celebrated with dinner and champagne.

Cecil Rhodes, gay lover, said he, “thoroughly enjoyed the outing.”He saw the slaughter of over 5,000 Africans as sport and adventure.

How noble!!! These were the same people who brought the gospel of peace and love to Africa, through missionaries.

The Chokwe, Shona, and Zulu people were among the indigenous tribes who led powerful struggles against the European invasions.

Cecil Rhodes

Cecil Rhodes was known to help set up the apartheid system in South Africa and the pass laws which were based on the Jim Crow laws of the United States. The pass laws, were mainly colonial taxation of African people to force them to work to be used as near slave labor in the diamond mines.

The Africans who worked in his diamond mines were forced to stay away from family and wife, in compounds with only cold tea and bread. These are much the same conditions you find today in the various mines in Africa. When Cecil Rhodes died the DeBeers diamond cartel was taken over by the Oppenheimer family.

The atrocities that took place in Sierra Leone and other West African nations were what DeBeers itself has done to African people for a hundred years. The greed and gluttony of European governments and corporations for Africa’s resources have lasted from the days before colonization, till today.

His vision was part of the British empire’s vision, on which they boasted that “the sun never set” because their empire went around the world. The then British empire included 77 countries including India and 15 nations in Africa. 458 million people were oppressed under this empire.

It is accounted that one-quarter of the world’s population at that time was under British colonialism. At that time England had one of the highest standards of living, which they achieved through near starvation of the people in Africa, India, and the other colonies.

People like Cecil Rhodes should not be celebrated by the Europeans the way he is celebrated today, except the present generation are directly endorsing his atrocities in Africa.

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Hotep

What Is Racism?

What is racism, really? Today, the word is thrown around all the time by people of color and whites alike. Use of the term “racism” has become so popular that it’s spun off related terms such as “reverse racism,” “horizontal racism” and “internalized racism.”

Defining Racism

Let’s start by examining the most basic definition of racism—the dictionary meaning. According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, racism has two meanings.

Firstly, racism is, “The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.” Secondly, racism is, “Discrimination or prejudice based on race.”

Examples of the first definition abound. When slavery was practiced in the United States, blacks were not only considered inferior to whites but regarded as property instead of human beings. During the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, it was agreed that slaves were to be considered three-fifths people for purposes of taxation and representation. Generally during slavery, blacks were deemed intellectually inferior to whites. This notion persists in modern-day America.

In 1994, a book called The Bell Curve posited that genetics were to blame for why African Americans traditionally score lower on intelligence tests than whites. The book was attacked by everyone from New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who argued that social factors were responsible for the differential, to Stephen Jay Gould, who argued that the authors made conclusions unsupported by scientific research.

In 2007, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist James Watson ignited similar controversy when he suggested that blacks were less intelligent than whites.

Can Minorities Be Racist?

It’s also worth noting that in response to living in a racially stratified society, people of color sometimes complain about whites. Typically, such complaints serve as coping mechanisms to withstand racism rather than as anti-white bias. Even when minorities are actually prejudiced against whites, they lack the institutional power to adversely affect whites’ lives.

Internalized Racism and Horizontal Racism

Internalized racism is when a minority believes that whites are superior. A highly publicized example of this is a 1954 study involving black girls and dolls. When given the choice between a black doll and a white doll, the black girls disproportionately chose the latter. In 2005, a teen filmmaker conducted a similar study and found that 64 percent of the girls preferred the white dolls. The girls attributed physical traits associated with whites, such as straighter hair, with being more desirable than traits associated with blacks.

As for horizontal racism – this occurs when members of minority groups adopt racist attitudes towards other minority groups. An example of this would be if a Japanese American prejudged a Mexican American based on the racist stereotypes of Latinos found in mainstream culture.

Reverse Racism

“Reverse racism” refers to anti-white discrimination. It’s often used in conjunction with practices designed to help minorities, such as affirmative action. The Supreme Court continues to receive cases that require it to determine when affirmative action programs have created anti-white bias.

Social programs have not only generated cries of “reverse racism” but people of color in positions of power have also. The validity of such claims is clearly debatable. They indicate, though, that as minorities become more prominent in society, more whites will argue that minorities are biased. Because people of color will surely gain more power over time, get used to hearing about “reverse racism.”

By Nadra Kareem Nittle

Hotep

Statistically speaking, black people in Germany don’t exist

Thanks to the refugee crisis, race and immigration have played prominently in Germany’s upcoming election.

Immigration is the top issue for Germans voting in the federal race on Sept. 24. Germany’s interior minister has a 10-point proposal for defining national identity, including that “we don’t do burqa.” The far right’s campaign posters boast headlines like: “Burqas? We like bikinis,”; “New Germans? We can make them ourselves,”; and “Islam doesn’t fit with our cuisine.” The ads feature scantily clad women, a pregnant white woman, and piglets, respectively.

#Germanydecides An @AfD poster that’s often ripped up as implicitly racist: « New Germans? We’ll Make Our Own. Germany Trust Yourself! »

But mysteriously absent from this debate is the voice of racial minorities. “Black people in Germany are mostly invisible,” says Daniel Gyamerah of Diversity in Leadership, a German advocacy group for people of color that advocates for equality of data.

Germany doesn’t see race—or at least it pretends not to. Racial categories that are commonplace in the US and UK—such as white, black, and Asian—don’t exist in Germany. The government doesn’t see any need to measure the number of ethnic minorities in certain schools, universities, and jobs, because it doesn’t want to divide its citizens. The prevailing argument, which holds in much of Western Europe, is “if you don’t want to create racism, you have to avoid using categories,” says Simon Patrick, a senior researcher at the National Institute for Demographic Studies. Everyone is German, the thinking goes, and should be treated the same across the board.

To some, these are lofty principles aimed at boosting equality. But many feel they harm racial progress. While the racist sentiments of the far right often spark heated debate, there is little discussion of the deep-seated discrimination plaguing established communities of color on matters like education, policing, and employment. The election’s focus on immigration has overshadowed these issues, leaving black, Asian, and ethnic minority communities in the dark.

In a country that prides itself on the use of data and evidence, the lack of information speaks volumes. The result, says Gyamerah, is that if “you’re not counted, then you don’t count.”

One size fits all

Germany doesn’t collect racial statistics (i.e., black, white, Asian). So while the US knows its black population makes up roughly 13% of its population, and the UK’s black population amounts to roughly 3%, Germany is clueless. A UN team that recently examined racism in Germany estimated there to be many as one million people with “African roots” in Germany, more than 1% of the population. But such estimates are unreliable, partly because it’s unclear how many black people would identify as having “African roots.”

What Germany does document is the country of origin of recent immigrants. According to official statistics, one in five German residents are now first or second-generation immigrants, meaning either they were born in another country or have one parent born in another country. (For a rough sense of comparison, 11% of France’s population has at least one immigrant parent.) Among German voters, one in ten have a migrant background. The country’s largest immigrant block (amounting to just over half of its immigrant voters) is made up of ethnic Germans from largely former Soviet countries (largely known as Spätaussiedler) and Turkish Germans.

Beyond that, the demographic data is extremely hazy. All ethnic minority Germans who aren’t first or second-generation immigrants are just labeled “German.”

Large immigrant groups like Turkish Germans have gained some clout, partly by winning seats in parliament. But without granular data, the tendency is still to view migrant voters as one political force. “There is not that one type of migrant voter. Why should somebody who came to Germany from Ukraine 20 years ago have the same political preferences as somebody who moved here from southern Turkey? Or somebody who came here from Italy in the 1950s?” Dennis Spies, a researcher on migrant voter behavior in Germany, told Deutsche Welle.

By contrast, ethnic minorities in the UK and US are now a formidable political force. In 1965, there were just six black Americans in the House of Representatives. By 2015, that figure jumped to 44. This year, the UK elected its most diverse parliament to date (jumping from three ethnic minority MPs in 1987 to 52).

Black Americans played a crucial role in electing Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. In the 2016 presidential election, low voter turnout among blacks was considered a major reason for why Hillary Clinton lost. In the UK, ethnic minorities helped the Labour Party gain enough ground to deny prime minister Theresa May a governing majority in parliament.

Politicians in these countries outwardly court ethnic minorities. In a nod to black culture, Clinton famously told a radio host she keeps “hot sauce” in her bag, while UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn courted grime artists to mobilize black and ethnic minority voters.

This just doesn’t exist in Germany. “Policy makers don’t even know that black people as a group exist,” says Gyamerah. They are genuinely “surprised when we talk about black people,” he says.

The lack of attention results in racism, and makes solving problems caused by racism harder to fix. “If you want to implement anti-discrimination policies, you need to identify those who are facing discrimination,” says Patrick.

In German schools, for instance, advocates of ethnic minorities say teachers block minority pupils from advancing. Students of color are overrepresented in the worst schools in Germany (and underrepresented in the schools designed to send children to universities) and discriminated against in the labor market. “You have no real proof, although you have a lot of anecdotal evidence,” says Sarah Chander, an advocacy officer for the European Network Against Racism.

Racial profiling is also a problem with police. In 2016, when Germany was rocked by allegations of mass sexual assault by Arab men on New Year’s Eve, police claimed an acronym they used to describe screened suspects, ‘Nafris’ (an abbreviation of “Nordafrikanische Intensivtaeter” or “North African Repeat Offenders”), was not racist. A recent UN report found racist stereotypes prevent authorities from properly investigating and prosecuting racist violence and hate crimes.

By contrast, in the UK, accessible data shows black Brits are four times as likely as their white counterparts to be stopped and searched by the police. Armed with this fact, black and ethnic minority communities and racial justice organization have successfully pressured the government to change tack and reform the police force. They pointed to studies that showed stop and search does little to reduce crime and that racial discrimination was a leading cause (pdf) of black and Asian Brits being stopped and searched more.

A long, hard road

Ethnic minorities have existed in Germany since long before the refugee crisis, even if they don’t feature prominently in history as its told. The country’s sizable minority population is the result of 17th century black servants coming to Germany, the country’s colonial presence in Namibia, Cameroon, Togo, and Tanzania, foreign black soldiers stationed in Germany during World War II, and later migration waves from Turkey and other southern countries.

The few black and ethnic minority politicians who do exist face a lot of abuse. One of Germany’s first black MPs, Senegalese-born Karamba Diaby, is fighting a torrent of online criticism (including being called “a black monkey”, a “traitor”, and “nigger”) in his bid for reelection. Last month, the National Democratic Party (NPD), a far right party, shared an image of Diaby campaign poster with the caption: “German representative of the people, according to the SPD. Who betrayed us? The Social Democrats.” Diaby quickly replied with a post of his own, boldly stating, “I am not your negro.”

AFD leader Alexander Garland cut down (paywall) a German public servant of Turkish origin for denying that there was a “specific German culture” and said he wanted to “dispose of her in Anatolia.” German chancellor Angela Merkel joined a chorus of critics accusing Gauland of racism.

Some suggest the paucity of data is intentional. These are policies that allow dominant groups to “keep the position and domination in the country,” says Patrick. Whatever the reason, it’s clear the problem will persist long after this election season.

By Aamna Mohdin

Hotep