Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Hearts of Darkness

The western media have for centuries distorted the image of Africans. And always for the same reasons: to enable the exploitation of Africa’s people, its natural resources, and its strategic location. This is from 'The Hearts of Darkness: How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa' by Milton Allimadi (Black Star Books Co., 2016)

“To claim that Africa was some sort of paradise before the arrival of Europeans is false and wishful thinking. There were conflicts and there were also despotic regimes: yet, these do not diminish Africans’ claim to humanity. There were spectacular achievements and there were great civilizations, in Ghana, in Songhay, in Buganda, in Zimbabwe, and in many other areas that predated contact with Europeans.

The portrayal of Africans as superstitious “savages” belied the fact that Europeans themselves were very experienced in some of the practices for which they denigrated Africans. In his book, African Kingdoms (1966), Basil Davidson, a prominent British historian, wrote:
“Africa, long thought of as breeding ground for the occult, was more than matched by Europe, with its own manias for alchemy, astrology and witch-burning. In the 15th century, superstitious parishioners often danced among the graves in churchyards in hopes of protecting themselves from the plague — while the skulls of plague victims peered quizzically at them. During the same period, Germany was burning an average of two witches a day. Europeans, moreover, were constantly duped by promises of miraculous transformations and cures. Elixirs of life, magnets to attract diseases from the body, magic potions and healing fragments of the ‘true cross’ were common. Even such prominent intellectuals as Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon searched relentlessly for the philosopher’s stone, the mystical charm of alchemy, which was supposed to transform dross into gold. Yet, despite all their delusions, Europeans thought of themselves as paragons of dignity and Sensibility — while regarding faraway Africans as frightened primitives and painted witchdoctors.”

The racist characterizations justified and sanitized the crimes committed against Africans, from slavery, through colonialism and through the new-colonialism, now maintained by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.”

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