In order to enslave a group of people, you have to strip them of any meaningful identity and demo grade their humanity. For people of African descended historically this has been true.
They perpetuated lies told about Europeans and Arab writers. Involve ideas about how Africans have vastly made no contributions to world culture and no forms of respectable civilizations. Fortunately for us today scholars are beginning to expose these lies and put out things into more proper perspective.
Before we get into the greatest lie ever told about Africans, Let’s not forget some of the more well-known ones.
The dark continent trope really became one of the most popular lies told about African people, the idea was that Africans were backward savages with no civilization. With the exception of Egypt which they consistently place outside the sphere of African cultural achievement.
Civilizations like ancient Ghana in west Africa weren’t privy to much observation, despite it being known for its vast wealth and powerful military which Muslim writers wrote about.
Archeological reports highlight ancient stone settlements that are believed to be a precursor to Sudanic civilization in the region, not to mention the art of the Europa people who single-handedly forced the world to acknowledge African ingenuity and intelligence as some tried to assign the development of such works to ancient European travelers.
There is just too much to ignore when it comes to African civilization, the dark continent trope doesn’t have any ground to stand on when we consider ancient meroitic civilization and the great Cushite rulers who started what some scholars call the African Renaissance. Which was perhaps the first Renaissance in human history.
Let’s not forget the largest stone structure south of the Sahara. Great Zimbabwe is just one of many stone structures in the Southern African region revealing the glorious era of Shona civilization.
Another lie that consistently makes its rounds in our western consciousness is that Africans had no writing systems and that they relied on oral communication. Africans use diverse methods to communicate, oral transmission simply being one of them.
One of the more popular writing forms in west Africa is called Nsibidi, believed to have originated amongst the Ekoi people of Nigeria. This writing form is largely viewed as idiographic or pictographic, conveying messages through symbols.
It’s interesting that many writing forms in Africa were originally invented for a specific class of people and not intended for public dissemination. For example Egyptian hieroglyphs were originally only known amongst the priesthood. This is also true for the secret writing form of the Songhai people, who used ideograms to communicate amongst a secret society or religious group.
Interestingly enough, this writing form was only revealed to the public in 2010 by a song guy scholar named Hassimi Maiga.
When dealing with African scripts. We can point to the meroitic script of the Cushite’s which to this day has not be fully deciphered. And that’s really disappointing as it would have been incredible to decipher Queen Amanirenas concerning her triumphant interaction with with the Romans. In which her primary objectives we met in a treaty.
Even Southern African has some hidden gems when it comes to writing forms. João de Barros a distinguished Portuguese analyst of the mid 16th century upon his visit to Zimbabwe, wrote a very important description concerning the discovery of a writing form. In one of the vassal kingdoms of the Mwenemutapa empire.
Joao de barros writes ” Over the gate of the building is an inscription, which neither the Moorish (Swahili) traders who were there, nor others learned in inscription could read, nor does anyone know in what character it is written”
We really don’t know what Joao de Barros saw but from his perspective. It seems clear that he viewed what he saw as a sort of writing form which was indigenous to the region. Not even the Swahili traders that accompanied him could decipher him. Unfortunately we really never hear about this again.
The lies told about Africa are many, What may have started out as innocent quickly turned into an agenda that we have yet to undo but by far the greatest lie told Africa has nothing to do with civilization, writing or any of that. The greatest lie told about Africa actually came from a religious idea and as we all religion has been one of the most powerful forces in human history.
It’s no wonder that this particular lie affected African people so greatly. It’s nearly impossible to ignore the Abrahamic religions when speaking about African people. Because these religions are a big part of our history.
Whether we like to admit it or not they greatly influenced our spiritual paradigms and worldviews. This lie originating amongst the Abrahamic religions as many of us know, is called the curse of ham.
We don’t want to distract with theological history or debate but in short, the curse of ham is a misnomer, because the curse was really bestowed upon Canaan. Jewish scholars believe Ham was the ancestor of all black or African people and this idea was adopted by Arabs. And then it was strategically broadened by Europeans to justify the enslavement and demonization of African people.
This is the greatest lie that has been told to African people. Because it didn’t just have physical and psychological repercussions. It also added a spiritual component, because some people within our community actually believe that it’s true and in our attempts at lifting this curse through achievement acceptance or spirituality, we turned into concerned aimless wanderers, heightening confusion and self hate within our communities.
it’s one of the most powerful invisible enemies we have that cannot be tangibly debunked. And although the belief in it has diminished greatly, the residuals may still be felt because no matter our spiritual beliefs today.
Many of us were raised with this dark paradigm and it’s important to speak on it. especially so that we don’t pass this baggage on to the next generation.