“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization,” declared Dr Carter G. Woodson in 1926.
These words were directed at the black people of the Americas. Today these words apply to black people from Cape to Cairo, from Cape to Rio, from Cape to Helsinki. They strike deeply at Africa, a continent that battled slavery until the 1960s. Some are quick to say Africa has long been free from the bondage of slavery and colonialism; they say all of Africa’s woes today are solely as a result of misrule and selfish leaders who only divide their people so they can plunder.
Such a narrative doesn’t account of entrenchment of the master, even though he left the continent six decades ago. The narrative does not account for the tortured mind, the neglected mind and for the divisions entrenched by the master. This narrative does not account for the institutionalization of illiteracy. Colonialism kept black Africans in the dark about inventions of the east, north and west.
The narrative discounts the savagery that forced black men to fight for the master in World Wars One and Two. It ignores how African societies have had to deal with the post-war trauma syndrome. Men coming back from grueling ocean voyages were dumped in villages without support. The narrative discounts poisoning of village traditional leadership to seed chaos.
The African mind is a tortured mind. The African heart is a tortured heart. Even the rarely-conscious mind of a black child is born into torture; a world that regards her blackness as sin. In this dark dream, the African child must search for beauty to stimulate her imagination; from television to printed material, it’s hard to find. News about war in Congo and Sudan, about rape and murder from South Africa to Nigeria, are easier to find.
Today, in 2015, it is a newsworthy event that someone manufactured the first black doll for black children. The news are printed gleefully as though there’s nothing amiss. Did the industry realize only now that a black child too needs a toy, that she too self-esteem to accompany her joy?
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela started a healing process. He ended it too quickly, before he got to the crux of the problem. From the truth, you learn to forgive and start the process of self-love. From the truth, you may indeed reconcile, but this reconciliation is surely not for the sake of the perpetrator. It is for you. Blacks have reconciled with the fact that they will neither get an apology, nor an acknowledgement of the crimes committed against them. Blacks have reconciled with the fact that the oppressors, by and large, believe slavery, colonialism and apartheid were good and well deserved. There is evidence in South Africa.
Mandela led blacks through the process of reconciling with these facts. They must continue to the next chapter: healing wounded black minds, hearts and souls; healing wounded subconscious minds that tells black child, “You are less human and unworthy. Your blackness as sin, witchcraft!”
To start this process, South Africa must join the global black diaspora in celebrating a global Black History Month in February. South Africa must join the movement to remind blacks that blackness is not a curse from God but a label of systematic exploitation, abuse, slavery, and colonialism. South Africa must develop a deliberate process to heal black hearts and minds. This process must start with acknowledging the wound. South Africa must lead by example for other African to follow suit.
The world regards Africa as a bad, dark continent. It does not invest in or share knowledge with Africa.
Black History told unapologetically will work to change not just strangers’ minds, but importantly will instill pride in Africans.
Victims of crimes against humanity struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD, like the alcoholic syndrome, is inherited from parent to child, from child to child. Africa celebrated six decades since the end of colonialism, yet the trauma syndrome ravages the blood. The syndrome is so entrenched that 14 of former French colonies in Africa today do not have Reserve Banks. Their reserves are held in France.
The chains are symbolic but real and visible; they are alive and boastful. The blame is still on black Africans, the same way it was in 1600, 1700, and 1800.
Black History month should be commemorated world-wide. Not to suppress any other race or to instill guilt, but to pay homage and to assist the beautiful people to heal. No other race has suffered more. No other race will ever suffer more. If they do not wake up, blacks will remain without proud history or worthwhile traditions. They will remain forever a negligible side story, as projects of Hollywood types, unless their pride is brought back.