Another Side to the Slave Trade

How much is written today about the horrors of the Atlantic Slave Trade, how many apologies are made by politicians in our name, how many claims for reparations for the inhumanity of the Atlantic sea captains.

And how little is written of the other two participants in this dreadful enterprise. The Africans who enslaved their own brethren and sold them on Arab traders. The European captains, guilty as they are for the many deaths and great suffering that took place on those voyages were merely the transporters. An even greater evil was perpetrated by those Africans and Arabs.

Ignore the risk of offending black and Arab Muslim sensibilities and never fail to speak the truth to those who seek to impose false guilt on the rest of us.

‘The Arabs brought with them an avalanche of sorrows. As the Arabs advanced, mere survival was a real challenge for the people. Millions of Africans were victims of of raids, were massacred or captured, castrated and sent to the Arabo-Muslim world. And that in inhuman conditions, by caravans across the Sahara or by sea, from trading posts dealing in human flesh from East Africa. Such was in reality the major occupation of the majority of Arabs who Islamised the African people, all the while posing as pillars of the faith and exemplary believers. They often went from region to region, the Koran in one hand, and the knife for castrating in the other, leading a hypocritical ‘life of prayer,’ never uttering a word without invoking Allah or a saying or a deed of the Prophet.

Beautiful and noble principles but which were trampled upon – with such joy, such indignity, such dishonesty – by these Arab slavers, who submitted Africa to fire and sword. For, behind this religious pretext, they committed the most revolting crimes and the most atrocious cruelties…

The Atlantic Slave Trade lasted four centuries, whereas the Arabs raided sub-Saharan Africa for thirteen centuries without interruption. The majority of men disappeared because of their inhuman treatment and systematic castration…For, even though there are no degrees of horror nor a monopoly of cruelty, one can argue, without risk of contradiction, that the slave trading and jihad carried out by Arab Muslims to procure captives for these predators without pity was far more devastating than the Atlantic Trade. And it is still being carried on under our noses.’

Tidiane N’Diaye Le génocide voilé : Enquête historique (Paris: Gallimadrd, Continents noirs, 2008) pp 10-11

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