Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Excerpt Of The Week: "Rap, Race, and Revolution" By: Supreme Understanding


Leopold Senghor, first president of Senegal, said the slave trade 'ravaged Black Africa like a brush fire, wiping out images and values in one vast carnage.' The majority of the human destruction occurred in West Africa, where civilization on the continent had reached its highest point outside of Egypt. The removal of the best of the population deprived the continent of its most valuable resource: young men and women.

To make matters worse, not only did Europeans provoke and intensify conflicts between African groups, they supplied the rivals with deadly guns and explosives to take the destruction to the highest level.

Africa was culturally on equal footing with Europe and Asia at the beginning of the fifteenth century, not counting the European tradition of exploiting people economically, which wasn't a part of socialist African culture. But by the time the damage of the slave trade had really set in, and Europeans had begun taking over, Africa was in terrible shape. But weren't our Black leaders wise enough to see this coming? Why didn't they do something? Why didn't they avoid such an evil business? Why didn't they fight to stop it? They did. And here's what happened then, and what will happen to you if you don't avoid the mistakes of our ancestors:

(1) Kongo: At the beginning of the 16th century, the king of Kongo asked the Europeans for masons, physicians, and people who could offer technical expertise. (see Part One, 'Tricks of the Trade') Instead, he was overwhelmed by Portuguese slave ships.

Today, we go to school and hope to receive a good education. Instead, we learn how to slave at work for other people, and often aren't prepared to get a good job at all. Today, we go to religious institutions, looking for help to improve our lives. Instead, we become slaves to blind faith and waiting on salvation.

Lesson: Don't ask for something you need, expecting the giver to want the best for you. Instead, find a way to get it yourself, on your terms.

(2) Nzingha: In Angola, the state of Matamba was founded in 1630 in direct response to the threat of the Portuguese. Queen Nzinga, acting as its head, attempted to garner widespread support in resisting the Portuguese in Angola.

So by 1648, Portugal had not only blocked Queen Nzinga's efforts to assemble a coalition against them, but had effectively isolated the state of Matamba from its Angolan neighbors.

As long as Matamba stood in opposition to trade with the Europeans, it suffered hostility from the neighboring African states that had already succumbed to the pressures of being involved with the slave trade.

Backed into a corner with no allies, Nzinga was forced to resume business with the Portuguese.

Today, a man can 'try' to leave his gang, only to learn that there's no way out, because– in addition to his old enemies– everyone who was once with him will now be against him. Today, you can try to embrace a different way of thinking, only for everyone to turn on you until you go back to your old ways.

Lesson: Make sure you have a team who'll support you before you step out on your own against a stronger force.

(3) Toomba: In what is now Guinea, the Baga people were once organized in small states. In 1720, Toomba, one of their leaders, wanted to build an alliance to stop the slave traffic in the region. Toomba was crushed by a mix of local white traders, slave trading Africans, and proud mulattos.

Today, when you 'do what's right,' many of your own people will be the main ones against you. Worse yet, these opponents can come from all walks of life, so long as they are opposed to your vision.

Lesson: Be prepared to find yourself at odds with people who you may 'think' are your people.

(4) Agaja Trudo: In the 1720s, the kingdom of Dahomey stood firm against the European slave traders. As a result, Dahomey was denied European imports. By this time, African societies were dependent on goods from Europe. Dahomey's king, Agaja Trudo, realized that the slave trade was detrimental to Dahomey's development.

From 1724 to 1726, Trudo worked tirelessly to destroy the business, looting and burning European forts and slave camps, and blocking the paths into the country, where slaves were obtained. Within two years, he had reduced the slave trade in his region to 'a mere trickle.' Of course, the whites were enraged. At first, they attempted to sponsor African collaborators against Trudo, but couldn’t unseat him or crush his state. However, Trudo was also unable to steer the other African leaders to develop new means of economic productivity.

For example, with the profitable slave trade in place, few leaders wanted to return to growing crops. Also, the growing threat of his now unfriendly neighbors created a need for European firearms in Dahomey.

In 1730, Agaja Trudo agreed to resume participation in the slave trade in exchange for European guns and goods.

Today, it's hard for many of us to step away from 'doing wrong' because of the easy money and the luxuries we've gotten used to having. It also becomes a lot harder to let those things go when we see that other people have them. Plus our desire for material things creates an environment where we're either killing other people to get them, or defending ourselves from those who are. Who/what comes first?

Lesson: Remember, the people come first. Material [things are] worth nothing if your people are dying around you...

For those of you with alert minds, you'll notice I only provided 4 lessons. That's how it is in the actual book as well, and its intentional. Anyone want to contribute the 5th lesson?" -From, "Rap, Race, and Revolution" By: Supreme Understanding

[SIDEBAR PART ONE: I saw this book excerpt online, and loved it! I haven't read the book yet, but I will pick up a copy as soon as possible. Here's what I posted online as my response to what I think one of the lessons of the excerpt is:

I think that these events from the past that are recurring in the future is teaching me the lesson of the true meaning of unity. I don't think that unity means that we all have to get along on the "friendship level"; but that we all adhere to the same standards when it comes to certain things.

When we disagree, we should agree to do so like men and women of certain convictions. Also, although it is natural to "take sides" when it comes to disagreements within our community, it is detrimental to fan flames when a disagreement occurs. Sometimes all it takes is a person who is affiliated with both sides in a disagreement to be a reasonable mediator who can prevent a slight from turning into a tragedy.

I see a lot of energy and lives being wasted on "back and forth" disagreements between people in the community and within families. If only we committed this same type of energy into not falling victim to the game of divide-and-conquer, we would be 1000% better off.]

[SIDEBAR PART TWO: This thought-provoking book excerpt will likely be my last post of the day. Please pardon me on today's light postings. I'm hard at work getting a new business off the ground. Have a great rest of the day everybody.]

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