Dr. Kwame Nantambu

TnT Politics Reflect Remnants of Slavery

Posted: February 07, 2004
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

When the violent, inhumane, brutal, collusive, legal and papal-authorised European importation of Afrikans to be enslaved in the Caribbean started in 1516 most of the enslaved consisted of Yoruba, Kongo and Hausa.

The history of European enslavement of Afrikan peoples suggests that the following countries in Afrika supplied slaves to the 'New World' as follows: Nigeria 24%, Angola 24%, Ghana 16%, Senegal/Gambia 13%, Guinea 11%, Sierra Leone 6% and other 6%.

An estimated 40% of all enslaved Afrikans went to the Caribbean; 40% were shipped to South America, the majority to Brazil; about 15% went to the American South; and the destination of about 5% is uncertain.

In fact, the Afrikans who were brought to Trinidad spoke Yoruba, Kikongo, Hausa, Fon and Arabic languages.

Language was a potent weapon in the armoury of Afrikans for survival; the other lethal weapons included the drum, revolts and spirituality.

Our Afrikan forefathers used the drum as a cunning, life-or-death survival medium to send coded messages from plantation to plantation when they were planning and devising strategies for revolts.

Their European slave-masters did not have the slightest clue as to what these Afrikans were doing. The drum served as a successful protest instrument.

The drum also enabled these Afrikans to preserve, maintain and perpetuate their original, cultural heritage on the plantations in the Diaspora.

The drum accompanied the call and response work-songs these Afrikans sang in order to survive "man's inhumanity to his fellow man" on the plantations. The drum served as a rallying, communal, cultural, revolutionary instrument.

The drum represented the inner, spiritual soul of these Afrikans.

Most importantly, it gave these Afrikans their evolutionary marching orders, through time and space. The drum was and is, Afrikan to de bone.

In today's jargon, the drum was indeed these Afrikans' electronic, protest e-mail that served to facilitate, enhance and ultimately assure their survival as an enslaved class of people on the plantations.

On the other hand, the European slave-master was afraid of these Afrikan's use of their language, which he never understood, and this predicament became even more progressively magnified on the part of the European as the number of these imported Afrikans increased.

As such, the European slave-master had to deflect these Afrikans' violence and anger onto another target and hence the European skilfully orchestrated and substituted another target to replace the former -- and this new target of hatred and violence became the Afrikan himself.

This European ploy, known as Divide and Rule (Conquer), is still alive and kicking among Afrikan peoples, even two hundred years after the abolition of physical slavery.

Afrikan slave revolts eventually led to the ouster of the European colonial slave-master from the Caribbean.

In the specific case of TnT, this outster is referred to as "Massa Day Done", whereby the old European colonial slave-master is replaced by a new, non-European/non-White re-colonialising, predatory slave-master a la Frantz Fanon's "Black Skins, White Masks" syndrome.

This new "Massa" is called Prime Minister today. He operates and functions as the "maximum leader: to the max 24-7-365.

Truth be told: In the very same way that all power rested with the European slave-master in his mansion on the plantation, so too all power now rests with the office of the non-European Prime Minister at Whitehall in TnT.

What's the problema?; it is de jowu all over again, again and again.

The sum total is that unfortunately, these Afrikan slave revolts have resulted in and brought about contemporary, unabated, generic, unrestricted and sanctioned political pappyshow, congosa, bacchanal mammaguay, nepotism, fraud and overt recidivision at their obscene zenith in TnT.

Talk about being "Trini to de bone". The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Truth be told: In the traditional after-math of the psychological, symptomatic impact of slavery, TnT politics now revel in costumes designed and sown by politicians with a carnival-like mentality.

Public policy and governance are now determined on the sole basis as to who is the best bandleader every five years.

Truth be told: TnT has two major, viable political massbands and bandleaders, each jammin with a whole lot of their very enthusiastic constituent masqueraders, respectively one of these bandleaders is scheduled to resign from his mas camp pretty soon.

"Wine if yuh winin".

Truth be told: TnT politics reflect a visible, fatal breach and travesty of and assault on, public morality, trust, sanity, decency and transparency, private personal-familia-business safety, national security and serious, effective macro planning, to say the least.

On the plantations, Afrikans used the Yoruba language as a powerful tool for "in-group communication and identification". And since this form of communication was new and unknown, these Afrikans were able to use it as "a secret code" of survival.

These Afrikans in the 'New World' vehemently resisted and revolted against their enslavement both individually and collectively. These ranged from the murder of the European slave-master to armed violent insurrection or the flight of a slave from a plantation.

Slave revolts took place in the Caribbean as follows: Santa Domingo 1522; Cuba 1550 and 1843; Panama 1531; Puerto Rico 1527; Barbados 1816; Haiti 1804; Guyana 1763; and Jamaica in 1655-1670, 1673, 1685-1686, 1725-1740, 1760, 1765-1784, 1784-1832, and 1865.

The significance of the revolts by these Afrikans is that they were often crystallized around a spiritual nucleus. In other words, spirituality was the most potent weapon the Afrikan had not only to withstand, survive and outmaneuvre but also to defeat the European slave-master and his inhumane conditions on the plantations in the Caribbean.

The fact of the matter is that the European slave-owners were only interested in the slaves' bodies, not their minds. They saw the economic profitability of the Afrikan, not his humanity.

They saw the Afrikans as machines for performing labour, not souls to be saved. They saw Afrikans "as soulless animals."

As the 18th century Euro-Christian Archbishop Sebastien Monteiro de Vide puts it: "the (European) buyers are only concerned with setting their (Afrikan) slaves to work and have so little interest in teaching them Christian doctrine that those who are offered the chance to be baptized within a year are few indeed."

Maureen Warner Lewis (1989) correctly explains, that as a survival mechanism:

"By adopting Christianity (Afrikans) demonstrated to the (Euro-plantation) society at large, a willingness to conform on a crucial public issue and therefore eased the emotional burden of their social ostracism. This ostracism was caused as much by their language As by their dress and tribal body marks. Becoming Christian did not, however, mean total severance from their own traditional (Afrikan) worship and they continued to serve their deities under (Euro-) Catholic saint's names. Just as the saints carried a European label, they also carried a secret identity Under a Yoruba name. Hence, St. Michael, the Archangel was in fact Ogun. He had performed the same function in the Christian Heaven as in their ancestral (Afrikan) home. He stood at the gates of

Heaven with a flaming sword; Ogun was the pioneer who opened the pathway for the gods to visit mankind on earth.."

As Bernard Makhosezwe Magubane points out in his book titled The Ties That Bind: African-American consciousness of Africa (1987):
"Christianity in a slave situation is a domestication of the slave population (and that) Christianity raised the obedience of the slave to a moral duty, something to be performed with gladness for future rewards"(P:46) in Heaven.

However, as a survival modus operandi, the Afrikan then had two identities on the plantation. Ergo, "the same person officially known as Christiana Williams, for instance, was also known in the Yoruba community as Osuntoki, daughter of Efulabo."

This aspect of life on the plantation speaks volumes as to the inner, spiritual generousness of the Afrikan. In order for the Afrikan to survive successfully on today's plantation, then he must recapture, reactivate and reclaim his long, lost inherited spirituality; he must also totally reject his centuries - old imposed European religion - Christianity. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the B.C. era, Afrika was known as "the land of the spiritual people"; as a result of European supremacy cum enslavement, Afrika and Afrikans have been transformed into a religious people in the A.D. era.

Afrikan spirituality leads to self-reliance and power; European religious Christianity leads to powerlessness and dependency.

"Caught between oyindo (the white rulers) and alopa (police agents of the rulers, (Afrikans) looked to the Orisa (deities, saints) for their survival" on the plantation. Legba was their god of protection.

In addition, during the Euro-Christian Christmas celebration, children were blessed with Yoruba prayers and "morning and evening prayers for safety and success were uttered in Yoruba."

"Animal sacrifices during religious ceremonies were accompanied by chants and salutations with ancient esoteric (Afrikan-Yoruba) references" by our forefathers.

In this millennium of forty one years of "flag independence", the only survival mechanism or tool for the Afrikan - Trini lies within each one of us. We have the power, but as a collective people, we don't know that.

That's the said tragic legacy of our European enslavement.

My fellow Afrikan - Trinis, we did it once; we can and must do it again. Survival is the name; spirituality is our game.

In the exhortation of our 20th century Pan Afrikan nationalist, revolutionary leader, the Rt. Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey: "Up you mighty race; you can accomplish what you will".

The fact of the matter is that if Afrikan slave revolts are to be meaningful in the 21st century, then it is imperative for Afrikan people to totally defeat/destroy the Euro-Christian religious Intifadah that was declared against them in the 15th century. TnT is the perfect place to start this revolutionary process.

In the final analysis, therefore, Afrikans must live in the hope that in the process of time, our turn will come when we will once again occupy a prominent position in world's history and when we will command a strong voice in the global council of nations as we did in the B.C. era.

Afrikan-Trinis unite; we have nothing to loose but our minds.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

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