Loss of a common humanity 

Dear Editor,

It has been said that of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward the researcher, because history is our guide; history knows what was, what is, and what is yet to come.

History is the clock that people use to tell their political time of day. History is also a compass that they use to find themselves on the map of human geography.

History tells a people who they are and what they are.

The relationship of a people to their history is the same as that of a mother to her child.

Because of history, we can take a journey 401 years back in time and see how the slave traders were taking our ancestors from the west coast of Africa through the river of no return.

On those long sea voyages through the blood-stained Middle Passage, the loneliness of the sea revealed humanity in a cruel nakedness.

If this was presented as a play, the first act would be staged around that part of the Atlantic known as the Middle Passage, extending from the west coast of equatorial Africa to the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean.

Across this benign stretch of ocean lying ironically between the north and south Atlantic, there developed an international traffic in human beings, profitable in wealth but tragic in human misery.

In this act, we meet the international criminals in the persons of the slave traders who were becoming rich on the suffering of innocent people. The second act is played out on the auction blocks of those places where the African people were dehumanized and sold as cattle.

And from a distance, we can see the slave masters in their shadowy form backstage.

These were the people who organized themselves into a system of total control. And although the slave traders had their rivalry and disagreement with each other, they were all in total agreement that the African people were only three fifths of a human being.

The crime of slavery was accommodated into a structure of total control by the slave traders.

Prior to 1619, every major nation of the western world was focused on the continent of Africa because Africa had something that they wanted and did not want to pay for.

Their lust for Africa’s wealth and free labor led to the beginning of this horrible trade in slavery by the Arabs and Europeans.

This is truly one of the great contemporary myths of the African people; the myth would have been much easier to live with if it was not historical, if its origin was in some folklore or primitive imagination, but it is historical!

And we have to live with this scandalous historicity.

On the Caribbean side of the Middle Passage, life becomes more desperate as the African victims come closer to a lifetime in the institution of slavery.

In the following act, the stage is now set for what should have been a denouncement of the drama, but history at this stage abandons the script, and what should have been a denouncement became more of an unmasking because all the nations of the western world were in full participation.

There were leaders in the highest offices of major capitals of the world, betraying the principle of the government they were sworn to uphold.

In the final act, the African people find themselves away from home in a lonely state under different names, where they are instead of where they ought to be, so there can be no conclusion to this drama until they find their common humanity.

Prince G. Smith

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