‘Black wa da da’ or ‘The Invasion of the Burning Spear of Winston Rodney became a seminal track for reggae aficionados all over the world. The track was inserted at the last minute by ace veteran producer, the late Lee Perry in their ‘Marcus Garvey’ album and it elicited a rare statement from a reggae master that ‘Jamaican reggae began with the meaning of what the ‘Burning Spear’ played in that mournful and haunting track. But what did Winston Rodney say in that unforgettable track although a literal translation means black love?
“They took us away from Africa and they intended to steal our culture”. The age-old aphorism that if you want to make a people worthless, steal and make their culture meaningless is relevant for imperialistic domination and justification. Foreigners not only destroyed the black man’s culture; they visited on the blighted continent more than 400 years of slavery denying even the fact the black race had a worthwhile past! These atrocities were perpetrated with the active collaboration and connivance of African elites: political and military.
The Jews who had a history of persecution down the ages from Christians and non-Christians were a lettered people who could document their centuries-old trials and tribulations. This they did with devastating effects. They gave much respect to the scribes above their rulers-both foreign and homegrown.
The Jewish ordeal reached its apogee when Hitler ruled Germany from 1933 to 1045 when the Germans organized ‘the final solution to the Jewish ‘problem’. It was mass murder on an industrial scale prompting Hannah Arendt to wonder disconsolately at ‘the banality of evil’ in her seminal ‘The origins of Totalitarianism’ and Eugene Kogon, himself a survivor of the mass murder wondered at the ‘Practice of Evil’.
The incredible killings became known as ‘The Holocaust’ and the survivors promised after the war to level human civilization if they had to undergo the terrible ordeal again.
We are talking of six million Jews that perished in crematoria across Europe which paled into insignificance when compared with the 400+ years of human slavery that undeveloped the African continent and built Europe materially on the spilled blood of Africans.
This is not counting the millions of captured Africans who were thrown overboard the slave ships when they died after experiencing unspeakable horrors in the holds of slave ships packed like sardines. When slavery was abolished due mainly to the economic interests of the slavers, captured Africans were also thrown overboard en masse by blockade-running slavers.
Significantly the slavers were amply compensated after a belated abolition of the abominable trade whose maiden ship was solemnly named the ‘Jesus of Luebeck.’
Despite the repeated efforts of main archaeologists to disprove the claim that man originated and migrated out of Africa in the dim distance of history, and the black man’s enormous contributions in the evolution of the human race, the black man had been a subject of ridicule, disdain, and unspeakable horrors down through time.
They constituted more than 60% of the slave population in ancient Rome and were treated like chattels in the Arab world and the rest of the world. Slavery could not be denied on the African continent itself; their lot was however far different from what was obtained when transported from their homes.
At home, they were either the victims of war or other misfortunes; they had rights that could not be trampled upon in society at will. The real horrors began when they were transported from their homes to distant lands but the deep culpability of their rulers could not be discountenanced in these evil transactions.
The so-called Tran-Atlantic slave trade was sanctified by the Christian church with the blessing of the Pope in Rome. European demand for sugar was insatiable. The Caribbean was more than fertile for its growth and the Indians who were first drafted as menials were dying like flies on the plantations. The black man fitted the bill of slave labor not only in the Carrribeans and West Indies but also in the burgeoning democratic United States of America where all men were deemed to be created as equals in the all-seeing eyes of Almighty God.
Before the full-scale transportation of Africans to America, that country had organized a massacre of the indigenous peoples of the continent, destroyed their culture in its entirety, and herded the remnants of the race into so-called ‘reservations’ all in the process of fulfilling American ‘manifest destiny’—all the while mouthing pious Christian homilies. The Indian original inhabitants of the continent escaped the horrors of the slave trade mainly because they were not physically up to the back-breaking toil and rigors of plantation life that became the foundation of American affluence.
Can we then find fault with Orlando Patterson in his ‘Absence of Ruins’ that ‘every man is a Jew looking for his Zion, every man is a black man in a white world of grief’? The Jews swore ‘never again’ after the horrendous experience of the holocaust. The state of Israel is now a nuclear power poise to blow up Homo sapiens into smithereens at the slightest repetition of an attempt to exterminate them.
The black man never learned from the days of slavery. Every odious human experience is painted ‘black’. The vehicle conveying condemned men to their doomed fate at the gibbet or a firing squad is called a Black Maria. An epidemic of enormous death affecting the human race is a black plague. A red-letter day in the history of a nation is prefaced black. An indiscretion to be exploited by men and women bent on the fast lane is blackmail. The devil with horns and hooves is painted the color black in religious scriptures. Soot polluting the atmosphere is black.
Religious paintings depicting God are white. The infamous Valentine Day massacre in America is black even though both the perpetrators and victims were white. You are a blackguard if you are beyond the pale. The list is endless and the black race is silent in the blatant facets of this universal cultural denigration.
You cannot be down and out for ages without unsavory effects. The present African elites are not helpful. They have compounded the fate of the race with their reprehensible performance in post-independence countries. Their youth prefer death in the desert wastes than staying at home to experience a slow death.
They flock to Europe and the United States of America for menial jobs or engage in criminal activities to inevitably populate the prisons. Some of them prefer the prisons of their unwilling countries to purposeless freedom at home. Is there something inherently wrong with the black man despite the Burning Spear’s harrowing song for a Black wa Da da?
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