State of the African Nation, Part III
This series began establishing the context for the formation of the modern-world European military conquest 500 years ago which established worldwide apartheid caste systems of white over brown over black. The last article looked at Africa from antiquity—birthplace of mankind—which, by the 1400s, had over 10,000 nations ranging from complex kingdoms to hunter-gatherers, with an array of agricultural, scientific, governance and religious systems. Into this stepped European invaders, who began systematic and clandestine hostile acts to kidnap people for slavery and destabilise regions on the West Coast by exciting warfare and using prisoners of war as fodder for plantation slavery half a world away… Ten major kingdoms are the ancestors of African descendants in the New World.
Africans from the ten kingdoms that survived the treacherous crossing of the Atlantic Middle Passage had to face a new horror—the Plantation. I am not going to belabor the physical horror of European plantation slavery. There are many accounts of that grim picture (death rates outstripping birth rates because of overwork and punishments; regular mass beheadings and public guttings to break morale; regular rapes; regular beatings to death; and horrific practices like the use of African babies as bait for crocodiles in front of mothers in Florida in croc-hunting season).
What I want us to understand is what the institution of the plantation means as an invention. We need to understand the plantation because its ghosts and its children institutions are still with us.
The plantation, the concentration camp, the reservation, the ghetto, and the jail are the same Western institution! They are the preferred way of the white West in dealing with “the ethnic Other”. We need to understand this and the aims of this institution.
The aim of these “plantation” institutions is to confine a captive population in one area, and control everything going into it (the input) and thus control the output- the people and products coming out. In these institutions, the system controls the inputs of: food, housing, clothing, information, lifestyle, “culture”, financial resources, access to and quality of water, health, electricity… All these elements are precisely controlled so that the Western power can fashion the exact type of individual, community and products it wants on the other side. Other than being a factory for products—the plantation, aka the ghetto, is a factory of human beings! Or an attempt to create non-human beings! A new type of slave never before seen in human history was the aim of the European plantation.
This Western institution began with Jews in the 1400s. Jews were confined to sections of cities called ghettoes—but Jews had discrimination and privilege. Money was thought to be dirty—Jews were the tribe assigned to handle it. Jews were seen as dirty—but essential, and controlled… This template for the ghetto was radically redefined on Africans on plantations—and later Native American reservations. Those “innovations” would come back to haunt Jews with World War II concentration camps.
In the 20th century, America created hundreds of new ghettoes based on these principles to “herd” emancipated Africans. These ghettoes are used to transfer Africans to jails where their labour again becomes free and their rights stripped back to plantation levels (the loss of the right to vote or own property)… In a real sense, Africans in America are treated systematically as dangerous, recalcitrant prisoners of war who escaped legal confinement at Emancipation but need to be retransferred to their former status by other means. If you change your lenses of looking at the relationship of the white West with Africans in those terms, then the treatment begins to make sense…
That format of ‘”ghetto” and its culture has been transferred and sold worldwide- through Hollywood and white-controlled black popular music—and through structural adjustment policies. That “ghetto” has been the conduit for criminalising working-class African communities worldwide with waves of shipments of drugs and guns since the ’60s…
During slavery, every Western institution was reconfigured into the creed of white supremacy to absolve Europe from sin, and justify genocide. In science emerged theories of racial inferiority on sliding scales—all since disproved. Christianity transformed doctrine and practice to justify and bless the acts. The legal system created worldwide apartheid laws. The modern global and industrial system was formed by these psychotic processes.
Fifteen generations of Africans were born into plantation slavery. Despite all attempts to destroy their humanity, Africans resisted. Over 250 slave uprisings, the creation of maroon nations of escaped slaves, joining with Native American tribes… There were heroes like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Nat Turner, Zumbi and Nanny Buku… This culminated with the Haitian Revolution led by Toussaint: the only successful slave revolution in human history! African slaves defeated the four greatest warmongering nations on earth—including Napoleon, the world’s greatest general.
The plantation’s most important war was psychological. The attempt to break African will—and thus, control mind and body. The purpose was to remove will! It did this by destroying: kinship systems and community; the ancestral face of God; ancestral knowledge, language, cultural practice, institutions and allegiances. The overturning of the “plantation”, therefore, begins with reclaiming and reconstituting those very things that were taken away! The challenge to modern Africans is reversing and destroying the institution called the “ghetto”.