Somewhere between the 1300s and 1700s, an ancestor of Blyden was captured as a slave and brought out of Africa to be sold like a cattle on a farm. Back then, blacks were thought of as soul-less cannibals who worshiped idols and other gods, and did not or could never contribute to civilisation. The list of such negative attributes is endless, horrifying and all untrue.
However with such accepted descriptions, it was not difficult for John Hawkins, a seafarer to persuade Queen Elizabeth I to finance his second trip to West Africa to buy slaves, after he ‘took by force three hundred West Africans’ on his prior journey. That trip opened the floodgates for more of such trips.
|Black Activist in Great Britain, Miss Maisie Barnett delivering her address this week during Blyden Celebrations in London. Inset photo shows the late Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden (Father of Pan-Africanism)
Hawkins claimed he had 'very good intentions' for black people. He convinced the Queen that these ‘poor creators’ needed to be educated, and that it was imperative to give them a better life as a slave – perpetually! The permission of Blacks was not sought to migrate; oh no! Most of them were captured using brute force and sold into life of centuries of brutal uncivilised enslavement.
But God’s people are always protected to do His work. Once God has appointed you, no one can harm you.) His chosen ones with a purpose will always be protected. For example, Moses as a little baby was placed in an ark amongst figs by the riverside to save his life, because he was destined to grow up to do God’s work and to lead the black Jews out of captivity into the Promise Land. The parents of Jesus were told in a dream to flee to Egypt for Herod would seek to destroy their new born, destined to become a living sacrifice for mankind. At the age of 10 years old, Jesus was asking and answering questions like an adult, and he often said he was here to do his Father’s work.
God’s people are always protected to carry out their work. So with Blyden! Amongst the millions who were transported out of Africa, one of the ships protected and carried a very special passenger whose descendant would one day return to Africa and later be called the Father of Pan-Africanism. Many slaves died, many others jumped overboard than be enslaved but that ancestor of Blyden could not die as he had a task to produce someone great as his descendant.
Edward Wilmot Blyden, the Father of Pan-Africanism is someone I will also call the Great-Grandfather of all Africans currently in Africa and the Diaspora. He was born 3rd August 1832 a free child; he never experience slavery. His ancestors had already paid that great price. As for his parents, they worked hard to pave the way through love and education in order to groom and mould a great man who was DESTINED to become an advocate for the black race and a significant figure in African and Black History. As soon as his parents could, they bought their freedom from slavery, left the slave environment to live amongst predominantly white folks.
Blyden, like all God’s people, was blessed with a third eye – not to see things from both sides of the coin but from the four corners of the earth, making them stand out from the rest. God’s people are blessed with wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Like little Jesus, little Blyden began to ask some serious questions which though he did not get the answers then, he was to answer himself when he grew up.
Blyden’s story began when he was travelling with his parents to special school because he had such a great IQ and a gift for learning languages. He was not more that 10 or 11 years old. On his travels with his parents, little Blyden was confused that it was only black people, like himself, who were doing the menial jobs and who were also slaves.
Remember, he was living in a white neighbourhood as a free man but he empathised with the Blacks he saw as slaves. He wanted to know why and how things could change for the black race. It was this curiosity that eventually got him to migrate to Africa at a tender age of 17 years old; young blacks today at 17 years are killing themselves every week, day after day here in England. Blyden had already migrated to Africa to do God’s work.
Edward Wilmot Blyden was convinced he was here to do God’s work and he was right. His aim was to vindicate the black man’s presence on earth and he did because everything and everyone and every race has a unique purpose.
Blyden brought respect to his name, and to Africa; he inspired blacks to learn about ourselves and to preserve African culture and customs. He encouraged blacks from the West to go back to Africa but urged them to have respect for the native Africans they would meet there.
He wanted to help set the black man on the pathway to overcome oppression of our minds. He wanted us to forgive and learn from our lives as slaves rather than just become victims forever.
He wanted us to help build Africa because by then we had gained hundreds of years experience helping to build the West.
He was the first black man to go into the interior of Africa to study the African customs and ways and write a positive account of it for the attention of the West to shed off their wrong perceptions of Africa’s interior being a dark place with no real structure, customs and cultures.
As an adult, he travelled around the world in a time when a free black person could easily have been recaptured and enslaved. He did this for us; You and I, the Blacks of today, his great-great grandchildren.
He preached of how Black people had history and made many to realise that before there was any history there was Black history and that it was Black history which had contributed to what we know as Western civilisation and greatly influenced Biblical history.
Greeks knew it and so did the Romans and now he wanted the World to know. He especially wanted the enslaved black people to know their rich History so they could be proud and develop the self-confidence in their race’s ability to do anything other races could do and even better. He was convinced that the Black Race should be praised for many lofty aspects of their past, for not only building the pyramids, but for ordering it to be built.
Blyden wrote many essays and pamphlets and made speeches around the world on these subjects. He also wrote a book he called Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race which was presented, in person by Blyden to Queen of England. In that book he was the very first to write Negro with a capital letter; before it was written with a common ‘n’.
The importance of knowing your history is significant to your present and future behaviour. The importance of loving yourself is also important to personal growth and prosperity. On the slaves plantation, our ancestors’ first education was about how useless we were compared to other races. We believed this. How could we love ourselves with such convictions which we have passed down the ages? How can we love ourselves when we were made to believe that white is beautiful and pure and everything to do with black is ugly and evil. Look in the dictionary to see the definition of black.
I remember at school we were taught how the Romans conquered the world and that their descendants (The British) later conquered 47 countries and built themselves an empire. With a history like that, how can you not be proud and confident as a white man? Blyden wanted the same for us as Blacks; he wanted us to know our real Black History we could be proud of.
He didn’t want us to just see ourselves as simply spectators, imitations and servers to others, or just descendants of slaves and subjects of the British colonies.
He spent his life perusing this dream: to create Race Pride amongst black youths like you and I. In my opinion, he died with his mission unfulfilled because just like today, black people back then in Blyden’s time, were in denial that they were, indeed, affected by the legacies of slavery. They were still living out mental slavery, hating and killing themselves in more ways than one - just like today.
It is said a Man causes many of the diseases and problems in his life. I believe some negative force or thoughts created during African slavery has almost destroyed us and Africa. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that subconsciously we blame ourselves for slavery when I see how we behave towards one another.
I also believe that thoughts created during the slave trade makes us feel the West is a better place for Blacks to live. The West seems to glitter like gold attracting the Third Word to migrate there in order to supposedly make a better life for themselves. In doing this, we still help to build the West and still fight their wars for them.
Slavery taught us not to love ourselves. We have to grow up and become a mature race. Only then can we forgive and love those who plunged us into slavery because we will be mature enough to now know we are equals or superior to them at least in History. Only then can we be happy with ourselves and with others.
How can this be achieved? Like Blyden, we have to become advocates, wherever we go, whenever we can, teaching Black History and Race Pride. Race Pride is not racism. Having Race Pride is feeling excellent in your African heritage and the makeup of yourself.
Blyden loved everything about himself, his past as a descendant of slaves, his African heritage, the colour of his skin and most of all the Black Race, his people.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.