The passion of uncle Ruckus, House of Slaves, the Slave Trade

Uncle Ruckus: If you black of skin and full of sin, come forward so I may lay my hands on you.

[slaps a black man]

Uncle Ruckus: Black be gone!
[slaps black woman]

Uncle Ruckus: Praise White Jesus!
[slaps another black man]

Uncle Ruckus: Now, I want everybody to find the nearest black man and lay hands on him. But first, make sure your hand is balled up in a fist so you can beat the black outta his soul. God smiles when you hate blackness so you beat that darkie in the name of the Almighty! Hallelujah!
[the whole congregation starts beating each other. Granddad pulls Tom away from the melee]

Uncle Ruckus: That’s right! Ronald Regan said ‘Beat a blackie and go to Heaven.’ God is good! Now, let us pray. Lord, I have spent my whole life hating you for making me black. And now I see I must hate myself and all those like me. And cause them misery just like your servant, Ronald Reagan did. And if any of my words don’t come directly from the Almighty God himself, then may I be struck by lightning right this very instant! Halle-

[Ruckus is struck by lightning]

Uncle Ruckus: AAAAHHHHHHH!

(Scene from Boondocks)

Pause and Rewind.

I would like to go back in time, back to a place where being black was indeed a crime and burden, a place that knows pain and anguish, has seen both tears and immense fear, witnessed countless deaths as well as countless atrocities; a place known for the role that it played in the slave trade era; that place being Goree Island.

To be more specific, the place is Maison des esclaves, a slave house that has in fact been preserved well and looks just as it did several hundreds of years ago.

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As I set foot into the building, I couldn’t help but try and fathom what was going through the minds of women, children and men as they stepped into the house back then. Some fighting to avoid getting in despite the heavy shackles on their feet; others silent from the acceptance of their impending doom; others being unable to look their children in the eye, while others breaking down from the sight of them. Honestly, I couldn’t fathom it, and just those thoughts in themselves made my chest tense up.

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Below is a picture showing the manner in which the slaves were ferried across; stacked as if lifeless objects or what you would of marbles in a bowl.

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Below is the children’s room which is about 8 square foot in size and that held 30 in number. Children were separated from their parents and were left to relieve themselves within the same space; this is the same place in which they were fed.

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Below is one of the windows in the room, one can see that the opening narrows outward to avoid the children from escaping.

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Below is where the rogue prisoners were kept. A small space underneath the stairs that led to the colonial master’s quarters above. The prisoners were stacked there whether dead or alive. One can only imagine the trauma and disease.

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A sobering fact to note is that the colonial masters held parties and hosted dinners in the top quarters while the slaves were at the bottom barely a few metres away.

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Quite the sobering and heart wrenching visit.

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The slave trade era dates back hundreds of years yet whose reverberations still ring true today. This is what I wish to write on today. Mental slavery as witnessed through uncle Ruckus above and many of us through our day to day activities.

On various platforms today, be it political, social or economic, Africa is still yet to rid itself of its shackles.

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(Art piece by Goree Island resident)

For starters, when did it become okay for us to export majority of our agricultural produce when our citizens still die from hunger?

The recently convened African Union second high level private sector and agribusiness meeting saw discussions surrounding this topic. A participant rightly put it when he stated that Africa has lagged behind in emancipating itself from slavery giving the example of Nigeria which imports tea from England when it could do so from Kenya. This statement is not only true for the West African state, but one that sheds light on the entire continent. Today intra African trade stands at barely 12%.

Moving on, when was it ever okay to require 33 visas to travel around Africa? In fact to connect between some countries in Africa, one needs to leave the continent only to fly back in.

When did headlines such as these ever become acceptable especially in the year 2014?

“14 African Countries Forced by France to Pay Colonial Tax for the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization”

The article continues as follows… “14 African countries are obliged by France, trough a colonial pact, to put 85% of their foreign reserve into France central bank under French minister of Finance control. Until now, 2014, Togo and about 13 other African countries still have to pay colonial debt to France.” To read the full article kindly do so here.

Where did we go wrong?

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds,” Bob Marley stated.

Indeed there is no temptation so insidious as the one of pointing fingers when it comes to slavery today. No one is to blame but us. Uncle Ruckus rants are our own doing.

When will we begin to take pan africanism and the African renaissance seriously?

“Besides, political independence, though worthwhile in itself, is still only a means to the fuller redemption and realization of a people. When independence has been gained, positive action requires a new orientation away from the sheer destruction of colonialism and towards national reconstruction. It is indeed in this address to national reconstruction that positive action faces its gravest dangers. The cajolement, the wheedling, the seductions and the Trojan horses of neocolonialism must be stoutly resisted, for neocolonialism is a latter-day harpy, a monster which entices its victims with sweet music. In order to be able to carry out this resistance to neo-colonialism at every point, positive action requires to be armed with an ideology, an ideology which, vitalizing it, and operating through a mass party with a regenerative concept of the world and life, forge for it a strong continuing link with our past and offer to it an assured bond with our future. Under the searchlight of an ideology, every fact affecting the life of a people can be assessed and judged, and neo-colonialism’s detrimental aspirations and sleights of hand will constantly stand. In order that this ideology should be comprehensive, in order that it should light up every aspect of the life of our people, in order that it should affect the total interest of our society, establishing a continuity with our past, it must be socialist in form and in content and be embraced by a mass party.” Kwame Nkurumah

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(Friends at the door of no return)

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