The title is why Africans didn’t rescue us and the main focus of the article is why Africans did not rescue the ones who were captured and enslaved in America. I mention white people to the extent that they were the ones who bought captives and then shipped them to the Americas, but the main focus here is how Africa reacted to the slave trade, not white people.

This is why I wrote earlier that you seem to be trying to erase African agency. The history of the slave trade tends to focus on the role that white people played (whether as slavers or abolitionists) and those Africans who were enslaved in the Americas. The impact that the slave trade had on African society itself is never seriously addressed, which is why people have misconceptions like Africans never bothered to rescue those who were captured. There were Africans that participated in the slave trade (for various reasons) and there were those who resisted the slave trade. Sometimes those who resisted became participants and those participated came to resist it. My intention with this article, and indeed the focus of much of my work, is to look at African history from an African perspective, as opposed to the usual Western bias that African history is written with.

Even contemporary African issues are approached with a Western bias. I alluded to this earlier when you mentioned slavery in Africa. Many in the West are aware that slavery is a problem in Africa, but can’t name a single anti-slavery activist in Africa. So whereas you seem to think I am trying to blame white people and depict Africans as innocent victims, I am really trying to depict Africans as complete humans. Western narratives usually depict Africans either as helpless victims who can’t solve our own problems without the help of Western nations or as primitive savages who sold each other into slavery and still practice slavery today.

This seems to be an interesting point of disagreement between us because you really love America and seem to identify as a nationalist, albeit not an ethno-nationalist. As a Pan-Africanist, I am not really so concerned with national identity. This is a common theme in Pan-Africanism. Whereas Europeans left Europe and settled in the Americas, Africans were arbitrarily dropped off on different plantations. In some cases, Africans in the Caribbean were sold to America and some were sold from America to the Caribbean. This is why Pan-Africanism tends to be transnational, even on the African continent where national borders do not match ethnic and cultural realities.

I wouldn’t mind if white people organized around race. What I do mind is if those organizations infringe on the rights and well-being of other ethnic groups. I do agree that the white people want racial organization tend to be racist white folks (Richard Spencer types), but in principle I have no issue with white people organizing around racial identity.

For many African Americans (and people of African descent around the world) day to day living is a struggle. It is very hard and sometimes counterproductive to preach racial integration to people who are more concerned with basic survival than they are with integrating with white people, especially since intergration typically results in white flight. W.E.B. Du Bois believed in integration, but he reached a point where he began advocating for self-segregation among black people and even left America altogether. In Martin Luther King’s last speech, he spoke about the importance of black people building their own separate institutions. So if you are serious about racial integration you have to understand that what you are referring to as black separatism is a reaction to white racism. I mention Du Bois and King because even some of the most well-known black integrationists developed Black Nationalist ideals in response to racism.

This is also why you probably should have asked me why I developed the views that I have and why I identify as an African before making assumptions. Racial integration won’t work if you are asking African people to ignore our realities and accept your particular worldview, especially if you aren’t patient enough to listen to us. I mentioned the Nation of Islam before. James Baldwin said that America needs to be more concerned about the conditions that created the Nation of Islam than the actual organization itself. Those conditions still exist, so if you really believe in racial intergration then fighting Black separatists won’t accomplish very much. You have to fight the conditions that create Black separatism and to do so you have to understand why it is that black people come to develop these views. And I can tell you right now, the vast majority of people who identify as Pan-Africanists would not have the patience to engage in the exchange with you that I have engaged in, partly because they are fed up with the arrogance of white people who refuse to listen to us. A lot of them don’t even like discussing racial issues with white people for that reason.

P.S.

Your answer seems to be very insensitive to the fact that continental Africans lost a lot of their own family and friends to the slave trade. Pan-Africanism, which you are criticizing, was born out of the desire for Africans on both side of the Atlantic to reconnect with each other. This is what I was saying above about why it is important for Africans to be presented as complete human beings.

Dwayne Wong (Omowale) is a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist, author, and law student.

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