By Osmund Agbo
Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when someone you truly believe deserve your pity turns out to feel exactly the same way toward you? I did.
Not too long ago, I met an African-American man just back from a cross continental trip to Africa. Deontae is a jolly good fellow in his late sixties. You might find him a weirdo but also quick-witted and gregarious. A cigar aficionado to boot. He told how he came from a long line of West African slaves bought by the family of the late South Carolina Senator, Strom Thurmond. He said the trip was a fulfillment of his life long goal to set his foot on the motherland before he joins the ancestors.
“Am so glad the trip demystified a lot of negative stereotypes about Africa”, Deontae said, in between puffs of his favorite El Primer Mundo. “But sadly my brother, I also experienced a rude re-awakening”, he continued. As I listened, to my new best friend, it was hard to mistake the palpable sadness in his voice. Before he gathered himself to tell the story, he paused for a few seconds, looked straight into my eyes as if to gauge my readiness for what he was about to say. Next thing I saw were balls of smoke exit his facial orifices in three quick succession, as though in a fit of suppressed rage.
Deonte had came to the sad conclusion that the destructive effect of slavery on African-Americans pales in comparison to the lasting havoc it wrecked on the African mind. In coming to that epiphany, it was obvious that he didn’t just consider the economic impact of slavery. Most importantly, he examined the ripple effects of the toxic mental component. Of course I came at him like a bitch, pulling no punches. In retrospect the geezer was not only right but his facts were unassailable. Without question, it’s hard to recover from over 400 years of abominable exploitation and economic subjugation but it’s even a million times harder to repair a mind that had already been eroded, poisoned, battered and then ultimately conquered. Placed alongside other ills, this first cut is surely the deepest. Problem is that it often goes unrecognized while the demon shackles the minds of her victims in a perpetual mental prison.
Very recently the federal government of Nigeria recruited few Chinese doctors to help in the fight against coronavirus. It was not clear the kind of medical miracle that was expected from these orients. Even if the Buhari government didn’t believe in those at home, many reputable Nigerian doctors in the diaspora would have been more than happy to come home and step in with pride. But no, they too have the black skin and so how could they possibly know what they were are doing. The Buhari government felt it was better with the Chinese who couldn’t speak English and needed an interpreter. Of course our doctors were livid with rage and rightly so. But hypocrisy is when you criticize the government for doing such and then turn around to buy expensive Arsenal T-shirt. You openly profess your love for a premier English team but cavalier in matters regarding our local league. It’s the same good old colomentality.
If you were to keep a tab on the political posts in Facebook, Whatsapp, Tweeter and all other social media platforms, chances are you would conclude without doubt that the US must be a state in Nigeria. You have the pro-Trumpers and anti-Trumpers going at it all day long, consumed in the most vile and nasty exchanges. There, you will learn all of America’s history and face a deluge of election prediction models on who would win the November presidential election. Colomentality.
Funny enough, all these pundits are living in Nigeria, a country where human beings are being slaughtered in the hundreds every day. A place where poverty is ravaging the entire landscape and the republic is literarily burning to the ground. You would think these young and intelligent minds would rather expend their seemingly unlimited energy to where it actually matters. But no, our intellectual relevance and feeling of self-worth is measured by how erudite and vested we are with anything foreign. Rome burns while Nero fiddles. Colomentality.
As an African living in America, I often get upset when fellow Africans disparage African-Americans. Granted there are few bad apples within the black community who also look down on Africans and make you feel unwelcome, but should we be quick to paint everyone with a broad brush? This disease has also spread and infected even those back home. They will analyze American politics, point to the problems of blacks in America and then go ahead to offer prescriptions. That same Nigerian is living in a country where 80 million of his compatriots are living in less than one dollar a day. He is part of a culture where those in government loot the commonwealth with reckless abandon but he is too timid to even raise his voice. He is basically a slave living in chains in his own country though he doesn’t even realize it. Yet he is critical of his fellow black man held down by centuries of systemic oppression but at least has the gumption to protest racial injustice. Colomentality.
The Black man will denigrate his own kind but happily embrace white in a bid to inflate his self-worth. He buys Jewish and Asian. He craves for just about anything but black. He competes with his brother and feel threatened by his progress.
Scientists had since discovered the impact of mind enslavement and in the fifties, the American CIA studied mind control in programs such as the MUK-Ultra. The colonialists also gave enslaved Africans the Slave Bible. They removed some chapters from King James Version they were worried could incite rebellion such as Galatians 3:28 that says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free”. They also highlighted Ephesians 6:5 that says “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters”. In the end slave bible only had 232 pages compared to 1189 pages of KJV. A copy of it is still sitting today in the Washington Museum of the Bible.
The Black man now has his own country and slave ownership is illegal, yet his mind continue to stay shackled. To be free, we need to emancipate our minds, support our very own as well as love and embrace our blackness. The late reggae superstar sounded the alarm decades ago.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,non but ourselves can free our mind”.
*Dr. Agbo is the President/CEO of African Center for Transparency and sent in this piece from the United States.