Redemption from ‘mental’ slavery

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally –Abraham Lincoln


The above quote is reminiscent of an era where people (or more historically appropriate, Negroes) were traded like commodities.   Slaves captured were either used domestically or traded to another party. This trade of slaves led to the infamous transatlantic slave trade which saw over twenty million Africans being shipped from our continent to south America, Europe and the Caribbean. Two thirds of all the slaves shipped were males and this era lasted for over 400 years.

Fast track into the new millennium and you find Africans still raging over the effects of slavery on our continent. Undeniably, we are still reaping the consequences of the slave trade. We lost a huge percentage of our workforce during this period but it is high time we had a shift of mentality and start to act responsibly. Just like how the functionality and mentality of a human being alters from childhood to adulthood, Africa will stand on a very good pedestal had it adopted these human tendencies. As it stands, Africa can be likened to suffering from Parkinson’s disease by our own doing and until severe measures are taken, we will continue to wallow in this and point the blaming finger to slavery while in reality four fingers point at us.

The reality on the ground is that, we were the perpetrators of our downfall that is if to say we see slavery as such. Slavery can be seen as a blessing in disguise as Africa generated huge sums of money from this. The question which should be asked, and which we have asked and which we have been asking not only in terms of slavery but in other aspects of our economy is “Na sika no w) hi”?(which loosely translates ‘where is the money’?). Misappropriation and embezzlement of these funds have been synonymous with us as Africans and these are issues we should address as Africans instead of blame “Akwasi Broni” (white man) who is sitting “at his somewhere” trying to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling.

A lot of time has elapsed after the slave trade and had we started sowing seeds of development instead of seeds of blaming, we would have reaped development. The irony of this situation is how often we as Africans dance to the tune of Bob Marley’s song “Redemption Song” especially to the line which says “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery , none but ourselves can free our minds” while we practice the exact opposite of it. Could it be that we enjoy the rhythm so much that we forget the contents and message Bob Marley is trying to put across?

All in all, we could always turn over a leaf and this change starts from us!! Our social studies teachers in elementary school have done their best to educate us on history which includes the slave trade, it is about time we gave these teachers new contents to teach such as the new Africa. New Africa which is able to compete with Asians and Europeans. The new Africa which provides aid to foreign countries. The new Africa which is a beam of light which shows mansions and tourist sites on BBC and CNN not slums and hungry children. It starts now and it starts by closing the chapter on slavery.

Read this and gradually change a mindset a day. Africa will rise!!!

With a collective effort and the past behind us, we can build the Africa we all want, The Africa of hope not despair.
With a collective effort and the past behind us, we can build the Africa we all want, The Africa of hope not despair.

By Nana Kweku Odum Arhin, Kwaku Ofori Osei-Ameyaw and Jesse Opoku-Asiedu

A poster advertising the arrivals of slaves into the European markets waiting to be sold off
slave being sold
A male slave being sold off at an auction like a commodity

5 thoughts on “Redemption from ‘mental’ slavery”

  1. Slavery has caused us a great loss, but discussing it will not benefit us if the discussion does not end up in practical steps being taken to liberate ourselves from its effect. This is a great piece, guys. Well done.

  2. It is rather unfortunate that this incident took place. However I strongly think Africa needs to move on instead of dwelling on the past. We as Africans need to take responsibility for the role we played in this event. It is really astonishing to find out that even in the 21st century slavery still exists in some parts of Africa. God save our souls!!

  3. Move on we should but this is an important piece of our history that should never be forgotten. Heritage. On the issue of “where is the money?” The ruling bourgeois made sure it was put to good use; maintaining their positions at the top of the food chain….the main precedence to what politics now is in our wonderful country. -Joseph Amo Nti

  4. Interesting insights guys, I strongly believe that its high time we as Africans acknowledged the role we played in the slave trade. The only way to finding a solution to a problem is to identify the cause of that problem. We as Africans have pointed fingers enough, is that all we’re going to be doing all our lives? Yes our colonizers robbed us of our heritage, pride and resources but that is not enough to sit back and lament over our past. Slavery is an important aspect of African history and must be talked about and taught to our younger generation. However, its time we wake up, forge ahead and put an end to the blame game we’ve playing all these years. Henrrietta Dzisi

  5. I like the quote by Abraham Lincoln in the opening of this blog, never really thought about something like this to say. will be sure to mention it to the next person i hear arguing for slavery…and closely watch the expression he or she will show on his face-Portia Honu

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