Zumbi dos Palmares: An African warrior in Brazil – The legend of the nation’s greatest black leader

 The names Zumbi and Palmares have been mentioned countless times on this blog in the past two and a half years. And for good reason. The legend of the Palmares quilombo (maroon society of escaped slaves) and its greatest leader, Zumbi, are central to the history and modern day struggle of Brazilians who recognize their African ancestry. All over Brazil, there are or have been hundreds of organizations and cultural groups named after this legendary leader, as well as a national holiday in recognition of black consciousness and also Brazil’s first and only predominantly black college. As with any historical figure, there is much debate and battle over the way such a figure should be portrayed as well as accepted myths and legends that will keep the debate going for years to come. Today’s post is long overdue but only scratches the surface of the hundreds/thousands of articles, books, documentaries, song lyrics, etc. that have been dedicated to an African warrior in Brazil. If you’ve never heard of Zumbi, enjoy the journey! A luta continua!

Quilombo dos Palmares

Zumbi, the loud scream from Palmares

He made history as the last leader of the largest focus of black resistance to slavery in Brazil, in the 17th century. But a multitude of issues still need to be answered to trace his true face

By Reinaldo Lopes

In February 1685, an almost unbelievable letter crossed the Atlantic and arrived in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. It was signed simply “Rei” (meaning King). The text said: “I El-Rei have knowledge of you Captain Zumbi of Palmares to which I forgive you of all excesses, ye have practiced (…), and as such I do so by understanding that your rebellion was justified in the evil doings by some of the masters in disobedience to my real orders. I invite you to watch at any resort that suits you, with your wives and your children, and all your captains, free from any bondage or subjection, as my loyal and faithful subjects, under my royal protection.” The one who capitulated in the message was the king of Portugal himself, Dom Pedro II (theirs, not ours). But we don’t know if the “captain” accepted the invitation. In fact, we don’t know if the letter arrived one day to be delivered. But we know that the recipient, treated in this language full of honorific and adulations, was really the warrior Zumbi, an almost mythical opponent of Portuguese rule in Brazil.

If he was already a myth in the 17th century, debates and research of the last 300 years have revealed much about either the true Zumbi. This is due largely to the fact that the stories about his life were, without exception, made by his enemies and Portuguese settlers, who began to fight him, the hired hands of slave masters. “Full documentation on the life of Zumbi and Palmares are a little encrypted through, seen through the eyes of expeditions that tried to take over the quilombo,” says historian Silvia Hunold Lara, of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). According to her, the uncertainty is so brutal that it extends to form of the name of Palmarino leader –is it Zumbi or Zambi? The first form is more common in Luso reports, but that does not mean it’s the right one.

To appreciate the effort itself or justify failures to catch him, the first reports about Zumbi, made mostly by the Portuguese military, helped create the character who would become a founding identity of African descendants in Brazil. A strong, proud man, unhappy with his social status, that decided to face his tormentors and liberate his people. But not even this image of a revolutionary Zumbi is sustained by facts. His biography is shrouded in several questions. Among the most elementary is his origin. Was he an African chief brought forcibly to be a slave? Or was he born in Brazil? On one thing, at least, the experts agree: he lived and died in Palmares, a quilombo (meaning maroon society) ie, a stronghold of former slaves and their descendants.

Life in Palmares

The first reports on the Quilombo of Palmares are mismatched and date from the early 17th century. They indicate that it arose in the late 16th century, in the south of the then captaincy of Pernambuco. Probably fleeing from a northeastern sugarcane mill, a group of enslaved Africans left the coast and went to the interior – trying to avoid bounty hunters and soldiers who, at the behest of the masters, captured and killed fugitives. The journey on foot, which may have lasted up to two years, led the former slaves to the mountains of Barriga, the region known generically as “os Palmares”, meaning “the Palmares”: a piece of Atlantic forest covered with palmeiras (palm trees), wedged in the middle of the hinterland (current territory of the state of Alagoas). Those lands were known to be fertile, but the combination of dense forest and steep terrain made it a natural fortress.

Zumbi monument in Rio de Janeiro
If the creators of the quilombo actually came from a mill, the vast majority must have been man because farms harbored few women. The proportion of slaves born in Brazil also must have been very low, since it was rare that Africans were able to live long enough to have their own families. “Everything indicates that the Africans from the Angolan complex (a region encompassing besides Angola, also part of the current Congo) would have had a leading role in Palmares,” says Mário Maestri, of the Graduate Program in History at the University of Passo Fundo, in Rio Grande do Sul. There is, for example, the tradition of what they called their stronghold of Angola Janga, or “Angola Pequena (Little Angola)”. If this idea is correct, the original people of Palmares were composed largely by people of the Bantu linguistic group – one of the first in Africa to develop agriculture, the raising of animals and the use of iron, having expanded through a good part of their continent.

Painting depicts a battle in Palmares
In the early years of the organization, the cluster of fugitives became a thorn in the side of the Portuguese. The inhabitants of Palmares periodically invaded mills to liberate slaves, stealing food and weapons and abducting women, a rare thing in the formation of the quilombo. In 1602, the Governor General of Brazil, Diogo Botelho, sent an expedition against them – the first being 40, 60 or even more, according to some historians. After destroying cabins and taking some prisoners, the Portuguese thought they had finished with the village. But whenever a troop appeared, Palmares inhabitants migrated into the woods, leaving behind plantations and cabins that were destroyed and burned. Days later, others were erected.

Map showing where Quilombo dos Palmares is located in Brazil, where more than 20 expeditions were undertaken to destroy the quilombo, and where it is believed Zumbi is believed to have been killed on November 20, 1695.
This way of life limited the growth of the settlement. But in 1630, fortune smiled upon Palmares. That’s when the Dutch landed at Pernambuco, in an attempt to take the profits of sugar from the hands of the Portuguese and Spanish, then ruled by the same king. The invasion created an uproar in the Northeast. With the initial victory of the Dutch in 1645, part of the Luso-Brazilians kept up a kind of guerrilla warfare. Plantation owners enlisted their slaves to fight, which facilitated the escapes. Amid the instability Palmares grew, received thousands of new residents, and when the Dutch were finally expelled in 1654, the village had become a power formed by several populational settlements.

Quilombo dos Palmares Memorial Park
The data on the dimensions of Palmares are mismatched. Colonial documents speak for 30,000 people, a number probably overestimated. The demographic growth was mainly due to new residents. There is also the possibility that the population of Palmares was polygamous and even polyandrous – which means that a woman could have multiple husbands. To feed the growing population, the local economy was composed of a mixture of hunting, gathering and agriculture, which planted crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes and beans. Admittedly there was also trade with neighbors. “The idea that Palmares was an isolated refuge in the woods may even be true for the first few years of settlement. However, after mid-century, the relationship between blacks and their neighbors certainly evolved into an intense exchange with Indians and even whites,” says Flávio Gomes, researcher at the Department of History of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). The presence of whites in Palmares is still a motive discussion, but it is known that this occurred later in quilombos of other regions. Despite the alleged hostility toward whites, there is evidence that livestock farmers brought their flocks to graze in the area of Palmares and maintained trade with the quilobolas, to the point of being called, disdainfully “colonists of the blacks.”

View from Palmares Memorial Park in the state of Alagoas
In relation to the Indians, the relationship seems to be more evident. Archaeological excavations have found Indian pottery, probably contemporary to the quilombo. “It is tempting to make this association and say that Indians were within the quilombo, but we could be dealing with some type of trade,” says American archaeologist Scott Allen, of the Federal University of Alagoas. According to Pedro Paulo Funari, historian and Unicamp archaeologist who joined the first team to take soundings at the site 15 years ago, pottery indicates that there were Indians in Palmares: “The ceramic production was linked to the attributions of women. The presence of this material in Palmares may mean that the ex-slaves had Indian wives.” Something perfectly consistent with the lack of black women there. Anyway, mestiçagem (racial mixture) was on the tip of the tongue of Palmares inhabitants. Their language seemed to have an African base mixed with words and structures taken from the Portuguese and Tupi – the settlers needed interpreters to speak with them.

Quilombo dos Palmares Memorial Park
The consolidation of the quilombo culminated in the creation of a sort of confederation between the various settlements of Palmares. The local population chose as chief a warrior known as Ganga-Zumba, who ruled from Macaco, the main village of the refuge. It is unknown if “Ganga Zumba” would be his name or a title given to the leader. “The word ganga meant ‘power’ or ‘sacerdote’ (priest) in many societies of Central Africa,” says Flávio Gomes.

Quilombo dos Palmares Memorial Park
For most experts, it was in this era of relative calm that Zumbi would have been born in Palmares. One of the reasons for sustaining that the leader was born right there and didn’t arrive after fleeing from slavery, is the fact that he was the nephew Ganga Zumba. However, the family connection is also uncertain. To Mário Maestri, the designation of “nephew” should not be understood literally. “The network of kinship must have been mainly symbolic. The historical conditions would not have allowed the formation of a family clan that dominated Palmares politically,” says Maestri. So to say that Zumbi was the “nephew” of Ganga Zumba amounted to saying that he was a protege of the chief.

Quilombos dos Palmares. Recognized and preserved as part of Brazil’s National Heritage
The origin of Zumbi remains controversial. Being born in Palmares or not determines whether or not he was a slave. And if he was born free in Palmares, where, as professor Funari says, miscegenation between blacks and Indians was common, one cannot rule out the chance that he himself was a mestiço (person of mixed-race) of an Indian mother and African father. Can you imagine the size of the controversy that we’re getting into here? “You cannot say how reliable this possibility is. But it is possible,” says Funari.

If Zumbi’s origin is uncertain, his childhood is definitely legendary. Décio Freitas, a historian from Rio Grande do Sul who died in 2004, wrote a classic text about Palmares, which claimed to have discovered an account of the capture of Zumbi as a baby by a Portuguese expedition to the site. He would have been sold to padre Antônio Melo, who would have raised him to be an altar boy. At 15, however, Zumbi fled. “This is a fantasy version, but not impossible,” says Flávio Gomes. “Décio has ever shown the document that supported this biography of Zumbi. And besides, he was known for systematically romanticizing his production,” says Maestri.

“Zumbi is us”: Countless cultural/historical/social organizations are named after Zumbi
Except for Décio’s text, there are no other reports on Zumbi’s youth. He must have grown up in a period previous to the war that the Portuguese mounted against the quilombo, driven by the shortage of man power in the mills. At that time, social life in Palmares was a semblance of what its inhabitants knew of their ancestors in Africa, perhaps with indigenous elements and even Portuguese incorporated into their daily life. Its leaders, like Ganga Zumba, must have been warriors and religious leaders. We don’t know if Zumbi married or had children (although the letter from the king of Portugal, reproduced earlier in this article, suggests that). Zumbi is generally described as a warrior because the reports about him appear in a period of war. But it’s not hard to imagine that, in peacetime, Zumbi planted cassava and hunted wild pigs.

1964 film “Ganga Zumba” and 1984 film “Quilombo”
General Zumbi

It was in a report by the military command of Pernambuco, written around 1670, that the name Zumbi appear cited for the first time. The document attributed to him the success of “fugitive” ex-slaves in the battles with settlers in the vicinity of the Barriga mountain range. Zumbi was the confidant of chief Ganga Zumba, a kind of general of the armies of Palmares. Other documents of the same time highlight the military capabilities of Zumbi. One says that when faced with an expedition led by Manuel Lopes Galvão, Zumbi was shot in the leg that would have left him lame, but didn’t prevent him from continuing to fight.

Countless books, celebrations and a national holiday are dedicated to Zumbi and Palmares
Under constant attacks, Palmares became a fortress, with various settlements surrounded by reinforced wattle and daub walls. On the slope leading to the village of Macaco, the quilombolas dug holes, put pegs on the bottom and covered them with dry leaves. This was so common that the location was entered on maps of colonial soldiers with the nickname the Outeiro dos Mundéus (mundéu or Munde, is precisely the name of this trap). And Palmares inhabitants also left for the offensive. “Several quilombo expeditions attacked between 1660 and 1670, the villages of Serinhaém, Porto Calvo, Penedo and Alagoas, mainly to capture arms and ammunition, but also to plunder farms and businesses,” Décio Freitas wrote in his Palmares – A Guerra dos Escravos (Palmares – The War of the slaves).

Around 1675, the attacked communities funded a large military expedition under the command of Fernão Lopes Carrilho, who had already faced and defeated Indians and rebellious slaves in other parts of the Northeast. He imprisoned or killed several of the main leaders of the quilombo, wounded Ganga Zumba himself and almost captured the mother of the leader. Carrilho even announced that he had destroyed Palmares instead. It was not true, but for the first time in decades, the situation forced Ganga – Zumba to negotiate.

In 1678, a mission sent by the “king of Palmares”, as he was called, entered Recife. A chronicler wrote: “Notable was the uproar that caused by the view of those barbarians. Because they entered with their bows and arrows and a firearm (…), all stout and valiant.” The peace agreement stipulated that those born in Palmares would be free, gain land to cultivate, the right to trade with their neighbors and the condition of vassals of Portugal. It looked great, except for the fact that the freed slaves (and perhaps theZumbi himself, according to those who advocate the thesis that he was born a slave and escaped to Palmares) would have to go back to their masters. Ganga Zumba decided to accept the clauses and moved with a few hundred followers and his brother – Gana Zona to the location of Cucaú. Zumbi refused to go and declared himself to be the new leader of Palmares (Ganga Zumba died soon after and the stories of the time give account of Zumbi having ordered him to be poisoned). There was then a war between supporters of Zumbi and of Gana-Zona which led to the intervention of the Portuguese and the extinction of the “free Quilombo” of Cucaú.

Popular painting of Zumbi
The colonial authorities and the king of Portugal himself repeatedly tried to offer the new head a similar agreement to what they made with Ganga Zumba, but Zumbi never accepted the agreement. In the early 1690s, the bandeirante (1) Domingos Jorge Velho was called and received the mission to lead an expedition to hunt down and exterminate at once the pockets of resistance in Palmares. At the head of experienced killers particularly known for bloodthirsty methods, Jorge Velho did not back off from giving some beatings Zumbi’s warriors. In 1692, in a three week battle, a troop of about a thousand men was reduced by half before escaping and seeking refuge in the woods. Two years later, Jorge Velho returned. He had under his command an incredible army for its time: 9000 men and some cannons.

The resistance of Palmares depended on keeping the enemy artillery away from the ramparts of Macaco. After a siege that lasted weeks, however, Jorge Velho managed to get closer with his canons. Zumbi personally led a desperate attack to prevent the destruction of the barriers, but failed. The bandeirantes killed hundreds of warriors and invaded Palmares capital. Zumbi fled.

The last year of the leader’s life was marked by sparse attacks, alongside a handful of companions, who were trying to keep the slave rebellion alive. It was by means of a member of that group, Antônio Soares, that Jorge Velho’s men reached Zumbi. Captured and tortured, Soares agreed to lead the bandeirantes to the rebel secret hideout. Once there, he killed Zumbi with a treacherous stab. In possession of the leader’s body, the mercenaries pulled out one of his eyes and cut off his right hand. Zumbi’s penis was severed and stuffed into his mouth. He was decapitated and his head taken to Recife, where it rotted in a public square.

Archaeology of Palmares: Excavations have been interrupted because of not finding significant traces of African occupation

As you read this story, the archaeologist Scott Allen and his colleagues at the Federal University of Alagoas (Ufal) are walking on messiest of historical puzzles. The team is investigating the plateau that sits high on the hills of Barriga for signs of Palmares and the waves of human occupation that arrived on the scene before Zumbi and his comrades. In seven months of work – Allen and company have been there since March – have led them to perceive that the site has undergone a lot after the end of the Quilombo. And ironically, even attempts to celebrate what Palmares represents could have been muddled. “From what the locals of the mountains told us, in the 1940s they began to open the forest for cultivation, still using only a hoe,” Allen says. Things changed, however, when, in the 1980s and 1990s, the plateau became the focus of the annual celebrations of November 20th, in honor of Zumbi. An embankment may have removed up to 60 inches of soil from the plateau significantly cluttering the stratigraphy (the succession of layers of soil, vital to establishing the sequence of occupation of an archaeological site). Allen’s team is following the footsteps of the first excavations after a long hiatus. In 1997, the Fundação Cultural Palmares (Palmares Cultural Foundation), which helps manage the site by mandate of the federal government, even prohibited excavations there since the original findings were showing a much stronger indigenous presence (and much less markedly African) than expected. Archaeologist Pedro Paulo Funari as well as Allen say they understand the prohibition and don’t attack the foundation – after all, few places are more symbolic to the black Brazilian movement. With new permission for the work, the UFAL researchers continue to find strong evidence of indigenous presence. There are funeral urns and other ceramic objects, which can be traced back to up to a thousand years ago and perhaps extend to the time when the quilombo existed. There is also faience, a type of Portuguese ceramic (in this case, made in the colony itself). Any piece could suggest African influences, but the analysis still needs to be more in-depth. “Despite everything, I believe we have a good chance of finding traces of Palmares inhabitants, in particular on other sites, less impacted,” said Allen. With the aid of the computer, they intend to “connect the dots” of each site found trying to find signs of architectural structures. And it still needs to be known where exactly the settlement of Macaco was. “I think it was more in the mountainside, not on top,” says Allen.

Zumbi statue in Salvador, Bahia
The fall of Zumbi: The legend of the group suicide in Palmares

Shortly after standing in front of Zumbi and greeting him, the traitor Antônio Soares stabbed him. This is, nowadays, the scenario most accepted by researchers in describing the death of the Palmares leader. Interestingly, this story remained forgotten for a long time. All in the name of an older, shall we say, epic version: “Until the early 1960s, historiography said that Zumbi and many others in Palmares had committed suicide in 1694 by throwing themselves from the cliffs of the mountains of Barriga,” says Flávio Gomes. To further enhance the legendary aura, the narrative of collective suicide has parallels to what the Jews would have done that defended the fortress of Masada in the 1st century (in the face of imminent defeat, they preferred to throw themselves from the mountains than falling into the hands of the Roman invaders). This view may therefore have been forged by a Portuguese chronicler full of stories of antiquity in his head. The kernel of truth behind it is that Jorge Velho needed to build a counter wall diagonally in relation to the wall of the Macaco village, in a way so as to take his guns close enough to devastate Zumbi’s defenses. The work advanced greatly, but there was still a small gap between it and a canyon when the Palmares inhabitants discovered it. Zumbi then ordered the attack through the passage that remained. The warriors of Palmares were repulsed and about 500 of them ended up rolling into a rut below, which seems to have been interpreted erroneously as suicide. But in fact there are reports that, when the colonial soldiers entered Macaco and the other settlements, some Palmares inhabitants’ mothers killed their children and themselves to avoid slavery.

Note

1. The Bandeirantes (meaning “followers of the banner”) were 17th century Portuguese Brazilian slavers, fortune hunters and adventurers from the São Paulo region, the Captaincy of São Vicente (later called the Captaincy of São Paulo). They were the leaders of expeditions called bandeiras (Portuguese, “flags”) that penetrated the interior of Brazil far south and west of the Tordesillas Line of 1494 that divided the Spanish (west) domain from the Portuguese (east) domain in South America. Source

Source: Guia do Estudante

Hotep

The Impact of Trauma on the African Identity

In “Independence or Dependence: Psychological Colonization in the French Caribbean” one of the topics that I discuss is a poem titled “The Slave’s Lament” by Haitian poet Massillon Coicou. The poem is interesting for me because, as I explain in that essay, the slave in this poem comes to curse his own blackness rather than curse the oppressive nature of the slave master. As I show in that essay and much of the other books that I have written, self-hatred among African people is largely a reaction to the trauma of being enslaved and being oppressed. Many of us have come to hate our blackness because trauma has made us associate our identities with the traumas that we have endured. This is why so many people of African descent in the French colonies came to view themselves as Frenchmen and Frenchwomen. Even Coicou describes Haiti as a “Black France.” Being African for us is painful so we run from it rather than embrace because we equate escaping from our identities with escaping from the pain and the trauma that we have experienced.

For the last 500 years the African identity has been one that has been intricately linked with violence and oppression. For the last 500 years we have endured being beaten, tortured, raped, lynched, burned alive, and many other forms of violence. African people are still enduring this trauma. Studies have demonstrated that racism does have an adverse psychological impact the mental health of African Americans. Unfortunately for many of us the solution is not to struggle to improve our plight and to overcome our oppression. Many of us wish to escape our blackness or escape our African identity.

During the days of slavery the ability to “pass” for white was something that mixed race people of African descent would use to advance their position in society. In Blake or The Huts of America, Martin Delany wrote about an organization known as the “Brown Fellowship Society.” This was an organization that was comprised of mixed race people who held very negative views towards darker skinned black people. In the Americas there developed what Brazilian psychologist Edna Roland referred to as a “pigmentocracy” in which “one’s hierarchical position would be determined in relation to the darkness of one’s skin.” Slavery has long since been abolished but the mentality that the pigmentocracy has created among African people still persists, as seen by men like Kanye West, Gilbert Arenas, or Ronaldo Nazário. Many of us still see our identities as black people, including our dark complexions, as being something that is negative because we still associate blackness with the trauma of racial oppression. We still think that we have to “pass” for something that we are not in order to be successful.

Running away from our African identity is not and has never been the solution. We have to be honest about our experiences and confront this trauma. We also have to begin the process of collective healing, but we will not heal through engaging in denial about our experiences or denial about out identities.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Hotep

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.
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”
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 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
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
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.
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
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 !

By : Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

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.

Mayan

Hotep

How Damaging Is The Picture Of Hungry Looking African Child On The Posters Of Charitable Organizations To Our Image?

There are gruesome images of hungry black children on posters of charity organizations used to solicit for donations, the question that comes to mind sometimes is, what kind of impression does this image create in the mind of the public and what are its consequences for the black child, how does it affect the black child in the diaspora, who have never been to Africa to know the facts, would children of another race think of the black child as equals and deal with them as such?

Some of the commercial are very racist and it is a shame that they would start issuing apologies, after they are being chastised by the public for their racist adverts, pretending not to knowingly want to gain from the attention such racist commercial generates, why do they see the black race as a soft spot to prey on, is it because none has suffered no major consequence for their action?

What is the system put in place by African countries to check the excesses of these organizations? Yes, some of them do good things, to trust is good, but control is better and secured.

Even when we don’t see much reaction from those in position to question, monitor or take action, it will be good to know if this images trigger anything inside of them?

Von: Samson Onoja

Hotep

Colourism – how shade bias perpetuates prejudice against people with dark skin

When a person of colour with light skin rises to prominence, or becomes the first to occupy a particular position, it’s often heralded as a sign that structural barriers to the progress of people of colour have been removed. This was the case when Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in May, joining the British royal family as the Duchess of Sussex.

Some media reports portrayed Harry’s marriage to Meghan, who has one black parent and one white parent, as signifying “hope” for people of colour while others said the match could spark a “royal cultural revolution”. This parallels what happened when Barack Obama, the son of a white mother and black father, was celebrated as “the first black president” in the US. His election was described as a “milestone in race relations,” ushering in a “postracial country” – one that had moved beyond race.

However, the outstanding achievements of some prominent people of colour with light skin doesn’t signify an advance for black people, or people of colour more generally. Those with light skin still benefit from the privilege that comes with an approximation to whiteness. People of colour with light skin who are public figures are often viewed as having transcended their “race”, whereas negative perceptions of people of colour more broadly are left largely unchanged.

There have been some recent incidents where people of colour with light skin have expressed disdain for those with darker skin. The Radio 1 DJ and TV host Maya Jama, who is of Somali and Swedish descent and celebrated as “unquestionably stunning”, was compelled to apologise when an offensive tweet she posted in 2012 resurfaced.

Creeping ‘colourism’
Colourism is prejudice involving the preferential treatment of people with light skin within and between ethnic groups. While it affects both men and women, colourism intersects with sexism so that it particularly affects women of colour. The sociologist Meeta Rani Jha argues:

Physical attractiveness, whiteness, and youthfulness have accrued capital just as darker skin colour, hair texture, disability, and ageing have devalued feminine currency.

Mathew Knowles, the father of the superstar singer and actress Beyoncé and singer Solange, has highlighted how light skin leads to opportunities in the entertainment industry:

When it comes to black females, who are the people who get their music played on pop radio? … Mariah Carey, Rihanna, the female rapper Nicki Minaj, my kids … and what do they all have in common?

Grime artist Lioness told BBC Newsbeat that she gave up music for seven years in part because talent scouts made it clear she would have more success if she had lighter skin. According to the BBC, between January 2017 and early June 2018, of the 68 female solo artists in the British Top 40, 17 were of black ancestry and the vast majority had light skin.

John G. Mabanglo/EPA
Light skin privilege
Colourism has evolved in different ways in different parts of the world. In countries with a history of transatlantic slavery, or European colonialism, colourism dates back to the preferential treatment given to people of colour with light skin who were often the progeny of white slave masters or colonisers.

Today, there are still considerable advantages to having lighter skin. Research in the US has pointed to advantages for people of colour with light skin in education, the job market and relationships. Women of colour are burdened with an oppressive ideal of what is “beautiful” that often excludes the majority of the world’s population.

Colourism is simultaneously exploited by companies determined to turn insecurities about skin colour into financial gain through marketing lucrative skin lightening products. Interviews and videos featuring black women who use skin-bleaching products make clear that it is insecurities about skin shade that lead them to seek lighter skin, fuelling the multi-billion dollar global skin lightening industry. In the UK, some people resort to skin lightening products in an effort to try and gain advantages in the job market, or relationships, that they believe will result from having lighter skin.

Read more: Companies that promise to lighten baby skin colour reinforce prejudice

Obscuring other people of colour
British writer Laura Smith has argued:

The trend for mixed actors, models or television presenters to be deployed as the unthreatening faces of ‘diversity’ can squeeze out other people of colour.

This exclusion is compounded by the way in which people with power and privilege use the success of those people of colour with light skin, such as Markle, to claim advances for people of colour more generally. In doing so, they can obscure the marginalisation of those with dark skin and hide the effects of colourism and racism.

To challenge colourism, we must draw attention to the lack of people with darker skin shades in high profile or high status positions and the obstacles they face. These obstacles include a global beauty industry that thrives on insecurity and the allure of achievable “enhancement” built upon ideals that privilege whiteness and light skin. Only in recognising and challenging the racism that underpins colourism can we begin to address this pernicious prejudice.

The Conversation is an independent news organisation that sources articles from academia.

Aisha Phoenix

Hotep

La Religion Africaine : de la science à la découverte de Dieu (1) — Cossi Codjia

Cet article est sur deux parties (1 et 2) Voici la partie 1 Amen-Râ, Dieu unique de l’Afrique, imaginé sous sa forme masculine (gauche, temple d’Hatchepsout); Musée féminin du Louvre Il existe une seule religion dans l’Afrique authentique. Quels sont ses fondements? Pourquoi est-elle appelée animisme? A la fin de cet article, vous ne considérez […]

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About: Black Media Group Germany

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Black Media Group Germany
Medien Kultur und Bildungs Netzwerk African Deutschland – Black Media Group – Ihr Black Multi Media Partner für Africa in Deutschland – Bildung Medien Black Media Watch Projekt Documentation – Black Germans Digital History Datenbank und Africaa Fernseh Kanal Deutschland- Schwarzes Deutsches Netzwerk und Afrikanische Diaspora Media Channel – seit 2009

Black Media Group Germany ist eine Gemeinschaft, die die professionelle Anwendung moderner Technologien für NGOs erschließen will, um so soziale Veränderungen zu bewirken. Wir greifen auf einen Pool von Schwarzen Expertinnen zurück, um mit dem Fokus Medien die poltische Landschaft in Deutschland demokratisch mitzugestalten.

Gründunget seit 2009

WINNIE — aramata

Winnie arte.tv 85 Min. Verfügbar von 06.03.2018 bis 03.05.2018 Ein Film von Pascale Lamche Die kontoverse Lebensgeschichte von Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, die am 2. April 2018 im Alter von 81 Jahren gestorben ist. Ihr Aufstieg zur Ikone des Befreiungskampfes gegen das südafrikanische Apartheidregime und der tiefe Sturz in den Übergangsjahren nach der Apartheid wird hier zum […]

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