A few people are still talking about slave markets of Libya. (Allow me to say something nice about CNN.) Some seem to think they just sprang up only since the ouster of Gaddafi, but they’ve been around for a long time and black Africans are the primary product. Again. And the African migration to Europe — along with Libya’s anarchy — has made the trade much more lucrative.
We all know that Arab Muslims have been buying and selling black Africans for centuries, right? Scratch that. I know that some of us don’t or won’t acknowledge this.
It reminded me of something I wrote in 2003. A slightly edited excerpt:
I know many black people who are Muslim converts. The standard rationale goes along these lines: they want to shake off the “chains” of the American slave master, starting with the name(s) and the religion. Thus, a black Christian man named Joseph Green becomes a black Muslim man named Malik Muhammad, eschews pork, makes his wife, Anita, become Ayesha; makes her cover herself from head to toe, begins to pray five times a day, etc. Hallelujah! (Oh wait. Malik can’t say that anymore.) The chains of the (long-dead) slave master are broken!
But because Joseph/Malik hasn’t opened a book and done his homework, he doesn’t know that Arab Muslims were/are the biggest slavers of black Africans in history, bar none. Because Joseph/Malik doesn’t pay attention to what is going on around him in the world, he doesn’t know that Muslims are still brutally enslaving black Sudanese Christians and animists.
And even if Joseph/Malik does know these things, he doesn’t care. All he cares about is shaking off the trappings of the hated white man, never considering that the white men who enslaved his forebears are long dead (as are Joseph/Malik’s forebears). Deep down in Joseph/Malik’s psyche, he thinks that he is taking revenge for his forefathers; he thinks that his repudiation of all things Judeo-Christian is a way of getting back at the slave masters and their progeny.
So when Muslims rape, pillage and torture the black Sudanese, when Muslims blow up and dismember black Kenyans and Tanzanians in Nairobi, Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam, when Muslims gun down respectable black (and white and other) Americans in Maryland and Virginia, Joseph/Malik ignores it or refuses to see it.
Joseph/Malik must ignore the fact that he has wrested himself from the hands of dead slave masters and put himself into the hands of living, breathing ones.
In other words, Joseph/Malik is a fool.
The Arabic word for slave is ab (abid). It’s also the word for Negro.
Human vengeance leads to error and building one’s life around error leads to enslavement. I would almost say that one is fortunate if that bondage is “only” physical, because mental and spiritual chains are much more difficult to break.
(Thanks to Robert Townsend)
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.
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