Of British slave traders and human rights crusaders

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By Shepherd Manhambara

IN October 2013 the Gambia withdrew from the British Commonwealth.
Most could not imagine how a small African country barely 4 000 square miles in size could afford to turn its back on so-called mother country, Britain!
In an interview published as a cover story by New African magazine of November 2013, President Yahya Jammeh explained why his country had decided to.
President Jammeh admitted he could not imagine anything more cruel than capturing Africans, packing them like sardines in a boat, like cargo, taking them for auctioning in America, and then letting them live like dogs while working under harsh conditions for the white man, for hundreds of years.
And at the end of it all, not even an apology for the inhumanity and suffering and the trauma caused by the USA and the European slaving nations.
After looting the continent and killing so many people, they still want to be regarded as our teachers of democracy and human rights.
Reacting to Jammeh’s decision to quit, British commentators got vitriolic and personal.
One of them described Jammeh as a ‘grade A nutter’; another dismissed him as ‘clinically insane’ while another scoffed with disdain: “Quitting the Commonwealth is essentially an adolescent gesture—an escalation of his long standing Mugabe-style anti-British rhetoric.”
Of interest is that all British commentators find it easy to demonise and dismiss Jammeh in a personalised manner, but studiously avoid responding to the reasons given by Jammeh to quit the Commonwealth.
The logical thing would have been to probe the causes of the so-called anti-British rhetoric coming from Africa rather than rushing to conclude that Jammeh is imitating Mugabe’s rhetoric!
Instead of heeding the message, the British attack the messenger and in the process expose their racism against Blacks.
Describing Jammeh’s decision to quit as ‘adolescent’, confirms the proverbial colonial stereotype where the native remains a child!
This logic explains why natives employed as domestic servants no matter how old, were designated as house-boys, house-girls or garden-boys.
This was because racist logic never acknowledged the growth and maturity of indigenous people.
Even those natives who got promoted as foremen and were assigned critical responsibilities in the British Empire had to be allotted a special racial status such as boss-boy—and the term was meant to raise the status of the foreman before his fellow natives, but one which got immediately deflated in significance before whites.
Such colonial absurdities were designed to reassure the white master that the non-Western foreman would always remain a child in the British scheme of things.
A similar racist logic is still being applied by the British to denigrate President Jammeh decades after his country attained its independence from Britain just because he decided to leave the Commonwealth!
By attacking Jammeh as an individual while avoiding to analyse the substance of what he says, the British hope to divert the whole world from the truth of Jammeh’s statements.
All Africans who have taken the trouble to read how such tiny British islands with little resources of their own to speak of managed to make themselves a world power know that they attained that status on the back of African slave labour in its colonies from 1450 right up to 1833.
Black slaves became the technology which developed vast cotton and tobacco plantations in North America and the sugar plantains of the Caribbean Islands; investments which generated stupendous volumes of wealth which in turn resulted in the industrial revolution in Britain.
Therefore, Britain is a country which stands indebted to those Africans it enslaved for centuries in the Americas and for the vast resources it looted in those parts of Africa it colonised and indeed continues to do today using the Commonwealth as a cover.
Therefore, when Jammeh raises questions as to how Britain can go about preaching the gospel of democracy and human rights to Africa when in fact it has not bothered to apologise for the human tragedy it inflicted on Africans for centuries for the sake of profit, he is in fact asking a generic question which should be asked by all children of Africa!
Accordingly, no amount of sophistry or cleverness will cover up the fact that Britain has been behaving in a criminal and murderous manner from the time of industrial enslavement of Africans to neo-colonialism symbolised by the so-called Commonwealth.
Looting of African resources has been its trademark and it is always prepared to kill in order to continue such looting as testified by its recent attempts to attack Zimbabwe militarily through South Africa, Thabo Mbeki confessed.
How can a nation which has failed to atone for its sins unilaterally appoint itself as a human rights champion in Africa?
As long as Britain fails to apologise and pay reparations for both enslaving and colonising Africans it is not entitled to preach the gospel of human rights and democracy to anyone.
Africa has to speak with one voice and regard the wrongs done to it by Europe as a priority which requires reparations and justice. Although Britain and its allies may refuse to address this question of justice now, they will eventually do so after the kind of economic strength that Africa is bound to acquire soon.

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