Black Spirituality Religion : Indigenous African Slavery

cherryblossom

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Kemet, Nubia, and Black-on-Black Slavery:
Between Reality and Romanticism
By Dr. Wesley Muhammad
© 2009 by Dr. Wesley Muhammad

I. Indigenous African Slavery

It is a gross display of cultural naiveté and romanticism to deny the fact that the institution of slavery has since the beginning of the historic period been a part of the African cultural experience. Walter Rodney’s early suggestion that African slavery was imported to the continent by Europeans has proved
unfounded.

1 As noted by Prof. Paul Lovejoy, Director of the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora at York University:

Africa has been intimately connected with [the history of slavery]…as one of the principle areas where slavery was common…indigenous developments were more important than external influences…in its indigenous form, slavery functioned on the edge of society. There were some slaves who had failed to pay debts, been convicted of crimes, charged with sorcery, seized in war or transferred as compensation for damages.

2 It is the case that African systems of slavery should not be understood against the backdrop of the stereotype of Western chattel slavery; the African systems were much more complex and, usually, benign.

3 The same is true, however, with regard to most Islamic systems of slavery.

4 One particularly valuable discussion of indigenous African slave systems is that of Babatunde Agiri of the University of Lagos. Agiri studied slavery in Yoruba society in the 19th century CE

5 and discovered that the Oyo Empire, which emerged in the 17th century as the principle state in the interior of the Bight of Benin, already engaged in slaving prior to and independent of the encounter with European Christians or Arabian/African Muslims.

6 As far as can be determined from oral traditions, slavery was common in 18th-century Oyo. Not only were slave exports one of the major sources of wealth for its ruler (alaafin) and leading chiefs but also aristocrats
recruited large numbers of slaves into their households for administrative, economic, and military functions…

This was slavery in the ‘Traditional’ African context according to Agiri, i.e. non-Christian and non-Muslim. Nor was this always a benign form of slavery; rather it frequently resulted from conquest and raids.

From the 1850s, Ibadan chiefs obtained their domestic slaves through a systematic conquest of the Ekiti…The Egba, too, acquired slaves as their main source of wealth and military support. In the 1850s they preyed upon their neighbors…By the middle of the 19th century, slavery was so firmly established in the socioeconomic fabric of Yoruba society that...an observer of the contemporary scene could remark that ‘there are no riches in…[Yorubaland]; slaves and wives make a man great in this country.8
It simply cannot be denied that Africans engaged in the practice of enslaving other Africans and other forms of social oppression. While it is appropriate to, in most cases, distinguish these indigenous African systems from the brutal, chattel systems of the West, the same must be said in the case of Islam.9 If the practice of enslaving Africans, among others, in the history of Islam ‘de-Africanizes’ Islam,10 then Africa itself is similarly de-Africanized.

II. Slavery in Kemet
The African practice of taking other Africans as slaves goes back at least to the Nile Valley civilization of Kemet. As noted by Rosalie David, writing in the Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt:

It is clear from extent legal documents that “slaves” were part of some households…The king, the temples, and private individuals were in charge of substantial numbers of slaves who labored on building sites, in the
workshops, and in the fields, as well as in private households. These included various categoris such as Egyptian peasants, convicted criminals, and, in later times, prisoners of war brought back from foreign campaigns.11

There are two primary Medu Neter terms translated as ‘slave’, hem and meret. The latter is a collective noun designating the bonded section of the population. They were usually agricultural workers owned by
individuals or the temple and devoid of the means of production
.12 And as Mariam Ayad points out:

“There were several different sources of slaves in ancient Egypt. War and conquest was the principal and oldest way to acquire slaves.”13 In particular, war and conquest were the earliest means by which Kemet procured Nubian slaves. As Egyptologist and Archaeologist Donald B. Redford of Penn State University documents:

Several rulers of the First Dynasty have left their names or rock drawings…indicating bellicose activity in either Lower Nubia or the southeastern desert; and annalistic labels and ivories from Protodynastic Egypt confirm the warlike stance contemporary kings had adopted towards the south. Shortly they were to realize also that Nubia could provide substantial quantities of manpower, and these rulers would raid the south for slaves. For Nubia the result…was disastrous. The promising culture of the A-group peoples was swept away,
and Lower Nubia suffered a setback in its ongoing development from which it was not to recover for one thousand years…The evidence that has survived suggests that (slave) expeditions were mounted on a grand scale…

The immediate result of such bondage en masse must have been the depopulation of Lower Nubia.14

Probably the first slave raid on Nubia is recorded on the Djer Inscription on a stone at Gebel Sheikh Suleiman near Wadi Halfa, Nubia. Djer, the second (or third) pharaoh of the I Dynasty of Kemet, led a military expedition into Nubia as far as the Second Cataract around 3000 BCE.15 The inscription (Figure
1) depicts a bound Nubian captive on left. In the upper right another captive is bound to the king’s boat by the neck and chest. Underneath the boat are enemy corpses.16 As William Y. Adams noted, “This may be a record of the first slave raid in Nubian history.”17 Whether or not this early military expedition can justly be so characterized, the inscription clearly witnesses to early Kemitic aggression toward Nubia that resulted in Nubian deaths and captivity. The fact that this is no doubt Black-on-Black violence in no way
mitigates its significance.....




http://theblackgod.com/Kemet Reality vs Romanticism.pdf
 

Clyde C Coger Jr

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Kemet, Nubia, and Black-on-Black Slavery:
Between Reality and Romanticism
By Dr. Wesley Muhammad
© 2009 by Dr. Wesley Muhammad

I. Indigenous African Slavery

It is a gross display of cultural naiveté and romanticism to deny the fact that the institution of slavery has since the beginning of the historic period been a part of the African cultural experience. Walter Rodney’s early suggestion that African slavery was imported to the continent by Europeans has proved
unfounded.

1 As noted by Prof. Paul Lovejoy, Director of the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora at York University:

Africa has been intimately connected with [the history of slavery]…as one of the principle areas where slavery was common…indigenous developments were more important than external influences…in its indigenous form, slavery functioned on the edge of society. There were some slaves who had failed to pay debts, been convicted of crimes, charged with sorcery, seized in war or transferred as compensation for damages.

2 It is the case that African systems of slavery should not be understood against the backdrop of the stereotype of Western chattel slavery; the African systems were much more complex and, usually, benign.

3 The same is true, however, with regard to most Islamic systems of slavery.

4 One particularly valuable discussion of indigenous African slave systems is that of Babatunde Agiri of the University of Lagos. Agiri studied slavery in Yoruba society in the 19th century CE

5 and discovered that the Oyo Empire, which emerged in the 17th century as the principle state in the interior of the Bight of Benin, already engaged in slaving prior to and independent of the encounter with European Christians or Arabian/African Muslims.

6 As far as can be determined from oral traditions, slavery was common in 18th-century Oyo. Not only were slave exports one of the major sources of wealth for its ruler (alaafin) and leading chiefs but also aristocrats
recruited large numbers of slaves into their households for administrative, economic, and military functions…

This was slavery in the ‘Traditional’ African context according to Agiri, i.e. non-Christian and non-Muslim. Nor was this always a benign form of slavery; rather it frequently resulted from conquest and raids.

From the 1850s, Ibadan chiefs obtained their domestic slaves through a systematic conquest of the Ekiti…The Egba, too, acquired slaves as their main source of wealth and military support. In the 1850s they preyed upon their neighbors…By the middle of the 19th century, slavery was so firmly established in the socioeconomic fabric of Yoruba society that...an observer of the contemporary scene could remark that ‘there are no riches in…[Yorubaland]; slaves and wives make a man great in this country.8
It simply cannot be denied that Africans engaged in the practice of enslaving other Africans and other forms of social oppression. While it is appropriate to, in most cases, distinguish these indigenous African systems from the brutal, chattel systems of the West, the same must be said in the case of Islam.9 If the practice of enslaving Africans, among others, in the history of Islam ‘de-Africanizes’ Islam,10 then Africa itself is similarly de-Africanized.

II. Slavery in Kemet
The African practice of taking other Africans as slaves goes back at least to the Nile Valley civilization of Kemet. As noted by Rosalie David, writing in the Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt:

It is clear from extent legal documents that “slaves” were part of some households…The king, the temples, and private individuals were in charge of substantial numbers of slaves who labored on building sites, in the
workshops, and in the fields, as well as in private households. These included various categoris such as Egyptian peasants, convicted criminals, and, in later times, prisoners of war brought back from foreign campaigns.11

There are two primary Medu Neter terms translated as ‘slave’, hem and meret. The latter is a collective noun designating the bonded section of the population. They were usually agricultural workers owned by
individuals or the temple and devoid of the means of production
.12 And as Mariam Ayad points out:

“There were several different sources of slaves in ancient Egypt. War and conquest was the principal and oldest way to acquire slaves.”13 In particular, war and conquest were the earliest means by which Kemet procured Nubian slaves. As Egyptologist and Archaeologist Donald B. Redford of Penn State University documents:

Several rulers of the First Dynasty have left their names or rock drawings…indicating bellicose activity in either Lower Nubia or the southeastern desert; and annalistic labels and ivories from Protodynastic Egypt confirm the warlike stance contemporary kings had adopted towards the south. Shortly they were to realize also that Nubia could provide substantial quantities of manpower, and these rulers would raid the south for slaves. For Nubia the result…was disastrous. The promising culture of the A-group peoples was swept away,
and Lower Nubia suffered a setback in its ongoing development from which it was not to recover for one thousand years…The evidence that has survived suggests that (slave) expeditions were mounted on a grand scale…

The immediate result of such bondage en masse must have been the depopulation of Lower Nubia.14

Probably the first slave raid on Nubia is recorded on the Djer Inscription on a stone at Gebel Sheikh Suleiman near Wadi Halfa, Nubia. Djer, the second (or third) pharaoh of the I Dynasty of Kemet, led a military expedition into Nubia as far as the Second Cataract around 3000 BCE.15 The inscription (Figure
1) depicts a bound Nubian captive on left. In the upper right another captive is bound to the king’s boat by the neck and chest. Underneath the boat are enemy corpses.16 As William Y. Adams noted, “This may be a record of the first slave raid in Nubian history.”17 Whether or not this early military expedition can justly be so characterized, the inscription clearly witnesses to early Kemitic aggression toward Nubia that resulted in Nubian deaths and captivity. The fact that this is no doubt Black-on-Black violence in no way
mitigates its significance.....

http://theblackgod.com/Kemet Reality vs Romanticism.pdf



sister cherryblossom,

This source information comes in via a comrade in arms in the battle for our peoples unity against our common enemy. Dr. Wesley Muhammad is a registered member here at Destee.com and visits quite often, of late. We have established communications through e-mail and I fully support his work.

As a black scholar, Brother Wesley is fighting the good fight by presenting the basis of fact, unbiasly and with sincere veracity.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart...Peace In my sister friend.


 

awo dino

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a comparison of pre-capitalist slavery and the slavery of the middle passage is disengenious to say the least. As a certain megaposter would say, "the work of white supremacists."
 
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