Emancipate yourself from mental slavery!

... and all other slaveries too

Franklin Johnston

Friday, August 10, 2018

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On August 1 we shed crocodile tears at the monument (we need one) to the unknown slave and manufacture rage at white people. Then on August 6 we fete black politicians who keep us in poverty 56 years and counting. Marcus Garvey wanted blacks to use their brains. He said “The Negro went to sleep for a long while, resting from his labours, but he slept too long,” citing Rome, Persia, Egypt to prove that brains rule.

“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.” (Garvey, Nova Scotia Canada, October 1937) We know to emancipate from is not to hug-up!

“When you do not use your intelligence you fall; it is because we do not live up to the state of our intelligence why we suffer so much” (Garvey, op cit). Garvey, unfazed by slavery, was a serial entrepreneur — newspapers, manufacture, ships; black and bright! Sadly, Jamaica did not escalate his vision and still wallow in imagined slavery hurts.

Some academics are disingenuous. Export slavery was brutal, often racist, but it was to meet manual labour needs of innovative nations, not race. Check farm work! They weaponise slavery and produce heat, not light. They do no new research, so we know Yankee slavery from films; Roots (1977) to Django to 12 Years a Slave, as Chiwetel Ejiofor, English-born, of rich Nigerian parents, and Lupita Nyong'o born in Mexico of rich Kenyan parents are great talents. Black Panther is Marvel comics superhero. We are proud but this is not our history (nigger is American) and only enrich white Hollywood.

So what's history? Humans emerged from the Rift Valley in Africa. Some went north and prospered, while a few returned eons later as pale, climate-adapted, innovative folk seeking workers with no recall of Africa past. Elephants in Serengeti return to water holes hundreds of miles apart for centuries. So was Africa the world's instinctive slave bazaar? Was God's GPS in their DNA?

African export slavery had three mass flows. In Trans-Sahara Slavery the Tuareg traded 13 million on a 1,500 mile trek in caravans of 2,000 camels up to the 19th century. Blacks were exported for sex, to mine, row galleys, farm, or as eunuch guards. When Islam invaded about 680 CE; Morocco to Ghana or Timbuktu; Central Africa to Egypt or via Ethiopia to Arabia were key routes. Indian Ocean slaves were traded to Arab and Indian sugar farms by dhow. Arabs had a sultan in Zanzibar so slaves from Tanzania and Kenya were shipped to Arabia, Egypt, India and up to 1900, some 12 million traded despite a bloody, long, slave revolt in Iraq. Barbary pirates sold two million whites to Arabs who gave chiefs white Christian girls as sex slaves. All infidels (non-Muslims) could be enslaved so there was glut; slaves abandoned, starved and died. The British ended the slave trade in 1807 and one unintended consequence was scarcity, so slave demand rebounded in Arabia. Finally, transatlantic slavery was born as Europe was shut out of land routes to Africa. So, in the 1400s, Portuguese used maps filched from China by Marco Polo to sail round Africa; a new route! From this trade America got five per cent; Brazil most; then West Indies and Greater Antilles 11 million slaves. The logistics of slavery are complex, and the UN and Caricom ignore global slavery, but European, Arab, African, Asian cash is fair game for all of us in the African Diaspora.

Slavery's lesson is “Be powerful!” In a survey “Would you prefer to be master or slave?” men demurred and asked was it a trick question? Women were decisive, “Master!” Let women rule! Cabinet must fund research on black men, slavery; not patois or craft, but genetic change, negative conditioning, auto-defence response on workshy and cruel men. Garvey was a thinker and had a United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) 20-year plan — and so should we. The British just paid off 1944 Marshall Plan loans and the 20-million Rothschild loan to pay slave owners for “loss of use” of property. The threat by two-million voters to bring down the Whig Government in July 1833 won our Emancipation.

The British masses may also be our path to reparation. I need cash. A Cabinet fears losing power more than life, so it will pay under voter pressure; it's only public money! I worked with a wealthy sheikh; Eton and Harvard and the blackest man in his flowing white Thobe. He said, “My family has been Emirati for a thousand years.” Slavery was his root, but not a crutch! We play the slavery card to get things from whites or to shift blame. Yet, Africa will not write its story, so we the African Diaspora must research global slavery and The University of the West Indies must enlarge its tent. Here is a conundrum. For centuries African slave traders rub shoulders with Indian math, science; Arab classics, architecture; Egypt's monoliths, Europe's industrial revolution. Why didn't they acquire this knowledge; tractors, looms, mills to make beads, guns they love; why 3,000 years a consumer? May redemption song be our reality by 2030! Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and teaches logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or

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