On 22 April, the eminent African-American scholar, Dr Henry Louis Gates, controversially opened up a new debate on slavery reparations in an article published by The New York Times. Ifa Kamau Cush does not agree with its contents and argues that had Gates engaged in a historiographical analysis of his chosen topic, slavery, he would have been compelled to examine the role of the British Royal African Company, the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch West India Company, the Joint Stock Trading Company, the Danish Guinea Company, the Swedish Africa Company, the French Senegal Company, etc. "These companies were organised by European governments and monarchs, via their 'Royal Charters', to regularise their slaving projects and invest their ill-gotten proceeds in their respective countries. There were no African monarchs sitting on the boards of those slave-trading companies, but European monarchs had shares in those companies!" writes Cush in this rejoinder.
STARTING FROM THE 15TH CENTURY, European (and later American) societies developed a system of myths to rationalise the mass murder of the people of the foreign lands that they took by force or by stealth. These myths were cloaked under the veneer of "civilisation". Thus, generations of Africans, in Africa and the Diaspora, were schooled into believing that the 15th century European relationship with Africa was a civilising encounter, not as it really was!
Many of those African boys and girls grew into adults and remained locked in a fictional bubble, which absolved European and American governments of the gruesome crimes they committed. One such boy who grew into a man is Dr Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University.
On 22 April this year, Dr Gates wrote in The New York Times that it was time to end the slavery blame-game, referring to the demand by many Africans for the payment of reparations by European and American governments for their enslavement of the African people.
Dr Gates grappled with a "vexing" problem: Figuring out "how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain." He neither identified those who derived the "immense economic gain" nor quantified the "immense economic gain" that was realised.
Dr Gates attributed his confusion in figuring out who should pay reparations, to the exaggerated, collaborative role of West African kingdoms in the slave trade. That role, according to him, was a "considerable one...