Black People : Did We Inherit Our Division From Africa?

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by cherryblossom, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    We often discuss the factors of "self-hate" and all the other debilitating inheritances of slavery present-day African Americans display as well as the negative inheritances of the Slave Trade and Colonialism present-day Africans display.

    However, how much of the behavior in how we treat and interact with each other today may be attributable to centuries old indigenous customs and how much was instilled in us through European rule?

    How much of the "division" amongst continental Africans pre-dates European invasion?



    International Humanist and Ethical Union
    Caste discrimination in Africa

    Submitted by admin on 21 August, 2009

    "...Few people know that caste discrimination exists in Africa. Many are unaware that untouchability is practised in varying degrees in countries and communities across the black continent. Lower-caste people exist in my country Nigeria, in my home state, Imo and in my home town Mbaise, in Southern Nigeria. This social disease is practised in Cameroon, Gambia, Niger, Senegal, Mauritania and elsewhere.

    Lower-caste people in Africa are victimized and discriminated against by persons who regard caste discrimination as a sacred tradition that should not be changed or challenged but should be observed, preserved and passed on to the coming generations. lower-castes are called by different names in different places: Osu, Omoni, Adu, Ebo, Ume, Ohu, Oruma etc. and by various derogatory phrases. Untouchables in the Mandarin region are confined to occupations such as blacksmiths, potters or undertakers.

    In Nigeria, the practice is most pronounced among the Igbos in South-eastern Nigeria. According to Igbo tradition, lower-caste people are called Osu and the upper caste, Diala. The Osu are the descendants of those who were sacrificed to the gods or spirits, or who took refuge in the local shrine to avoid punishment. There are other myths and misconceptions of how Osu practice started. Whatever its origin, Osu discrimination is a social reality and a living tradition among the Igbos in Nigeria.

    Caste Discrimination in other African states
    In most Africa states, lower-caste people are slaves or descendants of slaves or those who, according to social stratification, carry out menial, dirty jobs like shoemaking or blacksmithing. In Niger, lower-caste persons are slaves, weavers or well-diggers. They are found among the Hausa, Djema-Songhai and the Touareg. In Senegal, the untouchables are the Neenos, the Nyamakalaw and the Jonow. In Mauritania we have the Haratin or black Moors who are slaves or ex-slaves of the Bidans – the white Moors. In Burkina Faso the lower caste is the Bellah, the slave caste of the Touaregs. In Gambia, we have the Jaam or Ngalo people, whose forefathers were collateral for debts, were sold to settle debts or were captives of Islamic jihadists who invaded centuries ago. Lower-caste people in the Great Lakes Region – Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda – are the Twa. Throughout Africa, lower-caste people are in the minority and discrimination against them is largely unreported and unacknowledged.

    Acts of discrimination
    Lower-caste people live separately from upper-caste persons. Traditionally the Osu in Nigeria live near the local markets or shrines. Untouchables are not allowed to interact closely with upper-caste individuals. The belief is that they could defile the so-called “freeborns” through such contact or interaction.

    Traditionally inter-caste marriage is forbidden. Such a marriage is regarded as a taboo – an abominable treason against the people and the land. So a Diala who marries an Osu is automatically ostracized. He loses his
    “Dialaship”. And the descendants for generations after him are Osu. In his book No Longer at Ease, Chinua Achebe portrayed graphically and poignantly the pain that accompanies inter-caste marriage.

    Upper-caste families go to any length to oppose inter- caste marriages. Upper-caste persons wanting to marry members of a lower caste may be attacked, beaten and brutalized, forced to abort pregnancies, or have the babies sold after delivery. Many inter-caste marriages end in divorce, or the lower-caste widow is sent packing as soon as her upper-caste husband dies.

    Politically, untouchables are second-class citizens: they can vote but they cannot be voted for. In Nigeria, untouchables cannot hold traditional leadership positions like Nze, Ozo or Eze, since it would be deemed a desecration of the position to do so. In Owerri in Imo state a prominent Osu politician who won an election was robbed of his mandate, while an untouchable who emerged as the king of his town was dethroned by a judge who ruled that the anti-Osu legislation was unenforceable. In Mbano, posters of an Osu person standing for the Chairman of his local government were torn down by Dialas chanting the common slogan that an untouchable could not rule them.

    Untouchables lack access to land and their housing rights are violated. In Nigeria the Osu live near the market and local shrines. They are not allowed to live, own land or erect houses outside the untouchable areas. Discrimination continues even after death. In Gambia, lower castes may not be buried with the upper castes. In some Nigerian communities, the Osu are traditionally buried in the forest.

    Discrimination against lower castes affects the siting of developments like schools and the distribution of social amenities. Lower-caste people come last in the queue for community development programs. Their access to development projects sited on upper-caste lands is also likely to be limited.

    Changes and Challenges
    Today, untouchables live better than they did decades or centuries ago. Conditions have improved particularly for those who are educated, have done well financially or have migrated from the rural areas to urban areas or city centres. Almost all have converted to Christianity or Islam. Many untouchables live on traditionally “freeborn lands”. They have married freeborn men and women and have been appointed to some political posts. But many challenges still remain. Many lower-caste people are still oppressed and discriminated against. Christianity and Islam have not necessarily helped, because people still cling to their caste identities. Most people follow caste status when choosing a marriage partner and when voting during any election. Caste discrimination is still upheld as a “sacred” tradition.

    Responses
    Many African states have adopted measures to tackle caste-based discrimination. At independence, African states adopted constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom from discrimination for all citizens. Some have enacted laws banning caste discrimination and slavery. But like many laws enacted in Africa, these provisions have not been enforced. At best they have only driven the practice underground, to fester there.

    In many African countries, the social divisions caused and created by religious imperialists were responsible for caste division and oppression, but that is not so in Nigeria. Caste practice predates the advent of Christianity. And Christian religious groups have tried to tackle the problem. Churches in Nigeria have also tried to preach against untouchability. They have tried to integrate Osu and treat them with dignity and equality. Others, however, have avoided condemning the practice for fear of alienating the majority upper caste.

    The way forward
    • Africans states need to enact laws, where none exist, to criminalize caste discrimination. And anti-caste laws must be enforced. In some cases, states’ revision or expansion of legislation is needed.
    • Legislation should be backed by public education campaigns. Traditions die hard. So governments need to complement laws with awareness-raising programmes to reason people out of the primitive practice of untouchability.
    • Human rights and civil society groups need to lobby governments to acknowledge the problem and take constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to eradicate caste oppression and injustice.
    • Human rights and civil society groups need to persuade regional and sub-regional bodies to tackle the issue of caste discrimination in member countries.
    • International organizations like the UN, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO and the EU should be lobbied to investigate the practice of untouchability. Many of these agencies sponsor, assist or facilitate projects in these countries where caste discrimination prevails.

    Conclusion....


    READ COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    CASTE SYSTEM:


    Countries in Africa who have societies with caste systems within their borders include Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

    West Africa

    The Osu caste system in Nigeria and southern Cameroon, can be traced back to an indigenous religious belief system, practiced within the Igbo nation. It is the belief of many Igbo traditionalists that the Osus are people historically owned by deities, and are therefore considered to be a 'living sacrifice', an outcaste, untouchable and sub-human (similar to the Roman practice of homo sacer); this system received literary attention when it became a key plot point in No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe. People regarded as modern-day Osu in Igboland are descendants of individuals who volunteered and were sacrificed to the various gods. These fore-fathers pledged themselves and their descendants to these gods. They enjoyed protection and privileges but were segregated from ordinary folks. These Osu people married, fraternized and socialized among themselves. The practice continued to this day. An ordinary Igbo person would not marry or permit any of his relations to marry an Osu person. In a few instances where that has happened, every member of that non-Osu who married an Osu became infested and were regarded as Osu. It can be said that the only aspect of Igbo life that keeps the Osu segregation intact is marriage. An Osu could and could only marry a fellow Osu, and NO MORE! It is a taboo and abhorent for an Osu to marry a non-Osu - love or lust being immaterial.

    Among the Mande societies in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Ghana people are divided by occupation and ethnic ties. The highest hierarchy in the Mande caste system, the Horon (nobles/freeborn), are traditionally farmers, fisherman, warriors and animal breeders, the lowest caste are the Jonow, a "slave" caste, made up of people whose ancestors were enslaved by other Africans during tribal wars. An important feature of this system are castes based on trade, such as blacksmiths and griots.
    The Wolof hierarchical caste system in Senegal is divided into three main groups, the Geer (freeborn/nobles), jaam (slaves and slave descendants) and the outcasted neeno (people of caste). In various parts of West Africa, Fula(ni) societies also have caste divisions; in Mali, non-noble/freeborn people (those not technically Fulɓe) are called yimɓe pulaaku (people in the Fula culture).

    East Africa

    In Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Congo it is known as ubuhake. The Tutsi, who comprise about 15% of the population of these areas, were the ruling, Cattle-owning caste.Below them were the Hutu, the farmers about 80% of the population. Fewer than 3% of the population are Twa or Pygmies. During the German suzerainty over Rwanda and Burundi, the authorities reinforced the system by employing Tutsis in hegemonic roles. The Belgian colonialists who succeeded them after World War I continued this policy, instituting 'ethnic' identity cards. They also incorporated subsidiary populations, such as the Hima and the Baganwa, into the Tutsi.

    After independence, tensions intensified. In 1972, Tutsis were responsible for a wholesale massacre of Hutus. In the 1990s, Hutus responded with counter-massacres.

    Horn of Africa

    The traditionally nomadic Somali people are divided into clans, wherein the Rahanweyn agro-pastoral clans and the occupational clans such as the Madhiban are sometimes treated as outcasts.

    The caste system found amongst the Borana in the North Eastern Province of Kenya and southern Ethiopia is divided into four distinct castes. At the top, there are Borana Gutu (Pure), followed by Gabbra, then Sakuye, and Watta, a traditional hunter-gatherer caste, being the last. The Watta are condemned to life-long servitude for members of the higher castes. Among the Tuareg societies found in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, exists a similar caste system, where the Bellah slave caste is treated as slaves to other castes.

    In Ethiopia, the outcaste groups include the Weyto, who live on the shores of Lake Tana and are despised for eating Hippopotamus meat; and the Felasha (or Beta Israel), who made their living from ironworking and pottery until they emigrated to Israel.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_Africa
     
  3. Corvo

    Corvo navigator of live MEMBER

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    That's interesting. From what I have read. it wasn't like this before the Euros came. not in west central Africa. but there was discrimination toward different tribal groups. Thanks for the information!
     
  4. 360

    360 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Racist propaganda
     
  5. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Thanks for your response.

    See, that's what I was wondering....I wanted to know how much of the present-day "caste system" in Africa is indigenous and how much is from the Europeans.

     
  6. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    How so?

    This article was written by Leo Igwe, a Nigerian.

    (Leo Igwe)
    [​IMG]

    Are you saying that Mr. Igwe is being "racist" towards his own people?
     
  7. Astrologer4U

    Astrologer4U Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    It would be wise to start with time dates that these things occured and then compare them in contrast to European invasion, one would be suprised with what one will see.


    Astrologer4U
     
  8. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    No doubt.

    Yes, some of it comes from European invasion. Some of it comes from religious rule, Christianity and Islam.

    But, from what I've read some of it is indigenous and related to traditional spiritualities by African country or region, pre-dating Colonialism.
     
  9. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Have you read

    PreColonial Black Africa, by Cheukh Anta Diop?


    [​IMG]


    The first Chapter;
    Analysis of the Concept of Caste,

    is

    not an

    easy thing


    to read and that is why he starts the book off with this
    (pages 1-17)

    there is much beauty in our history even though some aspects are not.
     
  10. 360

    360 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    ...
     
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