Mon, Jul 27, 2020
Read in 5 minutes
What a year 2020 has been already for many of us, whatever opinions you have, one is that it has definitely been overwhelming. This is a big reason why I've stayed away this long; not because I wanted to, but instead because I needed to isolate and collect my thoughts and process grief after grief and reconcile shadows from my past and present life. I owe you all my sincere apologies and I would definitely keep sharing my thoughts on matters that touch on the fabric of society. I cannot promise that it wouldn't happen again, but I sure hope it doesn't. Without wasting much of these COVID-times, let's get into today's tea...
The year is 1491, Portuguese priests and emissaries are making their ascent towards the capital city of the Kongo which is located at the top of one of the many hills. Nine years before this particular day, Diogo Cao had made landfall at the shore and mounted a cross in the name of the Lord and his King. Diogo was the very first European to set sail so far across the West African coast, which made sure he ventured furthest South than anyone before him had ever done. The shore where he arrived would be called the Congo in the centuries that followed. Nine years after Diogo’s landfall, the priests and emissaries came to establish official communication with this territory. However, this is not an article on the Congo but one of power and oppression. Adam Hochschild wrote extensively in his book King Leopold’s Ghost about the oppression of the Congo.
I am strongly inclined to believe power is the supreme tool for oppression. I can see why you would think that race, gender, religious/ political/ social beliefs may play a part, but without the power to execute this oppression, like Davido once said “from morning to night it’s just hate”. The closer you seek to examine the fabrics that ensure society stands strong, the more you discover the institutionalized oppression actually exists. It makes you understand that people do not hate oppression, they just hate being the oppressed. A common example comes to mind if you went to a boarding house in high school. You get in at the 6th grade and you have seniors bullying your friends all of the time and they’re always crying cos someone’s always taking their food and all that. Fast forward to when some of those same friends become seniors, you would think that they of all people on the planet would seek to ensure the kids don’t go through what they’ve been through, but to your surprise, the abuse continues and sometimes they even do much worse than was done to them. If you are a Nigerian, then you know the bag called “Ghana Must Go”, apparently there was a time the Nigerian economy was booming so well that Ghanaian folks were coming to work in Nigeria, and after a while, Nigerians claimed these people were taking their jobs and forced the hand of the government to send them packing. Folklore has it that the bags the Ghanaian people used to go back to their country is where that name comes from. Little wonder when you fast forward, Nigerian economy not as good as what it used to be, Nigerians go into South Africa to work and then the Xenophobia attacks are very intense. These are all countries within Africa so it tells you a lot.
One may say, “white people hate black people, that’s why the police shoot and wrongly arrest them”, while the hate may be true for some, the reason the latter happens is because of a misuse of power. Which is the same reason some politicians would bring up issues of “black on black” deaths in black communities being higher… Is it because the blacks hate the blacks more than the whites hate the blacks ? The issue is much more complex than a black/white one, it points to who has the power. In both scenarios, the person with the gun is the one doing the killing. In this context, the gun is ultimate power to decide whether a person lives or dies, how you use that power depends on you and you may think you are much better than those police officers or gang members until you’re faced with similar situations as they were. It was Louis Farrakhan that said “When you see someone fall, don’t laugh, LEARN”. When you see women who believe that there is a patriarchal system that hates them and seeks out their deliberate oppression, do not think little of it even though you do not fully understand it because you are a man. Organizations are mostly setup to maximize profit and most do so by any means possible, so this use of power will definitely negatively affect the hiring/ promotion process and since majority of top organizations are owned by men, you can see why that perception is a very valid one.
At the time the emissaries and priests arrived, the Kongo had already existed for at least a hundred years and had a ruling monarch just like every other country in that century, called the Manikongo. As every other place too, slavery existed not because of the color of the skin or race but because someone was misusing the power they had been given. Although the dynamics that guarded slavery were a little different from what we understand today, it was still no way to live. The Manikongo was greatly revered by his subjects to the extent that anyone who approached him came on all fours like a dog. No one dared look at him in the eyes when he ate or drank else such a person did this at the expense of her life. History has it that when the Portuguese arrived, they introduced two things to the Monarch; a savior who died for his sins & a gun. It was not surprising to them when the monarch valued the gun much more than the savior, because he could use that power to suppress internal rebellions that were taking root across his provinces. Power could bring peace to the soul but if not properly managed it could wage a bitter war with the soul and even damage the conscience. As you’ve heard before, with great power comes great responsibilities, but without the responsibility of power, tyranny and anarchy are not far behind. This greed for power and colonies was what kick-started the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the Congo. Chiefs, Monarch and people in places of power selling off their own people just to get ahead and suppress further. History shows us that the Europeans did not come guns blazing to Africa to steal whole villages and force them on the voyages, these people were sold by their own people, so Power, not Race is the reason for the injustice we see in the world today… If you come back for the second part, I’ll tell you about Stanley Milgram and OJ Simpson.