Dr. Karim Bangura argues that we cannot discount the role of Western imperialism in the African condition, ending with a proposition:
Abdul Karim Bangura
I would like to begin my remarks by stating the obvious fact that I am an Afrikan (with the Pan-Afrikanist K). I hold a B.A. in International Studies, an M.A. in International Affairs, an M.A. in Linguistics, a GDPL in the Social Sciences, a Ph.D. in Political Science, a Ph.D. in Development Economics, a Ph.D. in Linguistics, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science. I am fluent in a dozen African and six European languages, and now studying Arabic and Hebrew. I am the author of 40 books and more than 300 scholarly articles. I am the recipient of numerous scholarly and other awards. I have also appeared on numerous television and radio shows, and have given numerous lectures at various academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Now some may wonder whether I say the preceding to toot my own horn. The answer, of course, is an absolute NO! The folks on this forum who know me, and there are many, know very well that I have always lived my life as the humble Afrikan villager that I am. That is why I am the happiest when I am with my sisters and brothers of the African Studies and Research Forum of the Association of Third World Studies. I found in these wonderful Afrikans the essence of the Afrikan Personhood. Even though, as a group, they are the most published and most accomplished in many other arenas than any other African groups, they have kept to a straight course with great humility. Their humanitarian and other services to Afrikans in the Motherland and in the Diaspora are too numerous to mention here. Thus, I say the preceding to underscore the fact that I have sufficient academic training and resources upon which I can draw to challenge Baba Mzuri Ayittey's claim that slavery, colonialism, and imperialism (add to that neocolonialism and globalization) have very little to do with Africa's predicament on any level. For example, one can point out a blatant inconsistency in Ayittey's bashing of Afrikan traditional institutions and precepts and then he turns around and calls for the return to those same institutions and precepts for the Afrikan Medicine. Modus ponens, modus tollens, this is illogical.
My intention here, however, is not to engage in an exercise of "formal logic" and empiricism. I will do that in my rebuttal to be sent to the Wall Street Journal after Ayittey's piece has been published. Here, I address Ayittey's proposition from my own pain.
I could not help but wonder whether Ayittey ever tasted the hellish pain of slavery and colonialism first-hand. For those of us who suffered and continue to suffer to this day, the issue of slavery and colonialism is not simply for academic masturbation.
I am a descendant of Bai/King Bureh, a Great Afrikan Warrior. And as documented in many history books on Sierra Leone, Bai Bureh fought the slavers and British colonialists for many years because he abhorred slavery and did not want his folk charged a hut tax without representation. He was later captured, brutalized, dehumanized, banished, and then sent back home to die in his very old age. My great grandfather, Bai/King Bangura I, and grandfather, Bai/King Bangura II, also fought against slavers and British colonialists. Even though they were democratically elected, they were both deposed by the British for their anti-slavery and anti-colonial activities.
The two saddest days of my life were when, as a young boy, I saw my father cry and also saw him lying in a pool of his own blood after his assassination and uttering words that have remained with me to this day. My father was a construction engineer, a labor organizer and a political
activist. He fought for equality, freedom and justice.
The day I saw my father cry was a very unhappy one. He came home and went straight to his room. As soon as I entered the room to say hello, he tried to wipe away the tears, but it was too late. I asked what was the matter, and he simply said the following: "Son, I pray that black folk would get to heaven first before white folk do. If white folk get there first, black folk will never be able to enter the gates of heaven." I then requested an explanation. As a construction engineer at the Sierra Leone Selection Trust (a Sierra Leonean diamond mining company, with the British holding 75 percent of the shares at the time), my father had supervised the construction of the great Sewa bridge, the elegant Bo clock tower, the magnificent Kono and Tongo club houses, etc., etc. The British expatriate who was the manager of the construction department had very little education and experience. As they were working on the new hospital in Tongo, my father observed some problems with the director's plans. He pointed them out to him, but the white man was adamant that he was right. When the building reached the third story, it collapsed. And when the SLST director, another white man, came to the site to investigate, the white manager blamed my father for the accident and called him a monkey, a stupid heathen, a cannibal, etc. in the presence of the director. Later on, the white manager went to my father's office to confess that he (the white manager) was the one responsible for the accident by not listening to my father in the first place, but that he had to say what he said to the white director in order to save his own neck.
The day I saw my father lying in the pool of his own blood was another very unhappy one. He had been warned many times to stop pushing for equality, freedom and justice. But each time our folk would come to him, he just had to do something. While he was lying on that floor, I vowed that someday when I grow up I would avenge his death since I had a good idea who were responsible. His last words were that I and all of my brothers and sister must never dishonor his name and those of our Afrikan Ancestors by engaging in vengeful acts. That is why today I teach International Relations, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Islam, as opposed to developing my own computer company, for instance, and making plenty of money.
However, if Ayittey truly believes that slavery, colonialism, and imperialism have very little to do with Africa's woes, I would love to enslave and colonize him for only one year, since it will be impossible for me to do so for 400 or more years. It would be interesting to see him survive the oppression, suppression, repression and depression, and to also see how soon he will recuperate and the effects on his descendants. The following is just a small sample of what will be in store for him:
(1) Give him 12 lashes with a very big horse whip every morning
(2) Feed him molasses
(3) Have sex (rape) with his wife and make him watch
(4) Make him sleep on a bare floor
(5) Give him worn-out window curtains to make his own clothes
(6) Make him play the fiddle and call himself stupid
(7) Cut his feet if he tries to run away or does something I don't like
(8) Cut his children's feet while he watches, if he falls sick and says he is unable to work (a la King Leopold)
(9) Beat him senselessly if he tries to learn how to read or teach his children how to read
(10) Call him a monkey, a cannibal, a heathen, a half devil, etc. every day
(11) Pay him nothing for his work
(12) Make him do the neighbors' work and collect the money
(13) Sell his children
(14) Impregnate his wife and daughters
(15) Make him live in the slave quarters, one room, with 10 or more other
slaves and/or family members
(16) Make him live in C quarters while whites live in A quarters, even if he is more qualified
(17) Deny him the right to vote
(18) Castrate him
(19) Make him say "we is sick" when I am sick
(20) Make the house slave beat him senselessly if he fails to fill a large number of sacks
(21) Make him learn about European kings, history, etc. and teach him that Afrikans have no history, etc.
There is plenty more!!! What say you?