Dr Chancellor Williams writes in The Destruction of Black Civilisation an interesting narrative compelling enough which, once well understood, could explain many aspects of the African continent past and recent misfortunes. One particularly refers to what Black Africans thought of the white man represented in their subconscious and spectrum of beliefs, this before the latter settled in the land and transformed their lives forever. Williams reflects on some great African nations/empires of the past which prospered by among other things keeping at bay the white man. For example, the Mossi did not admit any settlement of foreigners in their territory. Mossi people believed that when the first white man appeared in the land the nation would die.
‘Before the sixteenth century most Africans on the continent had never seen a real white face. Since in many societies all devils and other evil spirits were white, the ritual to ward off was always led by chanting dancers whose faces and bodies were hideously painted with white chalk. That there were in fact white humans – living “white devils” – was unbelievable. … The Portuguese were the first white European people to arrive in West and Central Africa. They were not long in adopting the Arab strategy in dividing the Blacks against themselves – a strategy adopted by all white people. [please look at recent divisions among African leaders on issues of Libya and Ivory Coast or ongoing prevalence of AFRICOM in a number of African countries] …”Christian civilisation” served as the charm words in the white man’s magic with the incantations which hypnotised both the victims and himself. They believed they were being introduced to a better life, while the latter convinced himself that even the enslaved people were better under the white standard for civilisation – besides which there was no other. But they were smart enough to realise that the foundation for a permanent empire in the land of another people, built with their own sweat and blood, would be more successful if the minds of the people could be captured first [think of Hollywood movies, 24/7 global broadcasters of today which shape the thinking of billions of people around the world, financial institutions such as IMF and WB promoting economic policies which favour expansion of Western multinationals, while WTO cannot open up Western markets to products from developing countries].
One did not go in with guns blazing. Only fools did this, except in cases where the “natives” were too damn smart and saw through every scheme, no matter how shining the Cross or how white the extended hand. …First of all, the really big thing was to change the Blacks into the white man’s image – process, which caused Blacks to reject and become ashamed of both their culture and themselves, the only people on earth to do so. …The Africans who adopted European or Asian institutions, such as Islam and Christianity, for example, were not only “influenced” by them, but often transformed into “Black Arabs,” “Black Portuguese,””Black Frenchmen,””Black Englishmen” and so on. In fact, it was this very transforming external influence that played a decisive role in first destroying the best in African civilisation while at the same time giving worldwide publicity to all remaining elements of barbarism that could be found.
The new masters of the continent were in the position of all-power and could, therefore, make their viewpoints the viewpoints of the world. The system of reducing Blacks to non-persons was so thoroughgoing that not only did the various people of the world regard them as such, but –tragedy of tragedies-the Blacks themselves came to feel inferior and to hate themselves and all of their kind. Magic? Here, indeed, a magical thing had happened since these whites who called themselves Portuguese had arrived. As the 15th century moved on toward the 19th, the Europeans became less and less “white devils” and more white masters, backed up by awesome firepower. “White” was no longer the face of evil in the Black world. It had changed places with “black.”
Now “black” was the badge of evil, all that was bad – even bad luck. To make a white man look evil you had to dress him in black; life’s final tragedy, death, called for mourning in black; happy events, such as baptisms and weddings, required the wearing of white. God Himself, being white, had cursed the Blacks and made them the “servants of man” – man being white man, for was not he made in the “image of God?” To worship God, in effect, was to worship the white man.
In present times the white man has settled everywhere on the African continent. At the time of the Mossi Empire, since its people were great traders and needed to travel places to sell their products, they allowed to settle in the land only foreigners who were traders [probably with a number of criteria that they had to fulfil]. In modern times, global structures and agreements between nations have been established particularly since the two World Wars.
But these mechanisms are dominated by the white man and the result of such situation is that they have been serving its interests more than anybody or anything else. Examples of using the United Nations [where permanent powers represented by the victors of WW2] are numerous to prove that Western countries, mainly US, UK and France use the institution to preserve their comparative world influence. UN and its contingents in Democratic Republic of Congo, working with friendly dictators like Museveni of Uganda, Kagame of Rwanda, Zenawi of Ethiopia, and others on the African continent, this at the expense of the welfare of natives, are additional cases to demonstrate evolving tactics that the white man continues to use to pursue the decline and death of the black nations.
Libyan and Ivory Coast recent invasions/interventions by the West, even though allowed through UN, are part and parcel of the same strategies of economic occupation of the continent. The way African leaders behaved throughout the two political crises show that the continent will find very difficult to retrieve its glorious place in the world, like this was during the times of pharaohs. A new spirit and generation of Africans guided by the greatness of their ancestors who were black world leaders that the rest looked upon are needed.