The single most effective White propaganda assertion that continues to make it very difficult for us to reconstruct the African social systems of mutual trust broken down by U.S. Slavery is the statement, unqualified, that, “We sold each other into slavery.” Most of us have accepted this statement as true at its face value. It implies that parents sold their children into slavery to Whites, husbands sold their wives, even brothers and sisters selling each other to the Whites. It continues to perpetuate a particularly sinister effluvium of Black character. But deep down in the Black gut, somewhere beneath all the barbecue ribs, gin and whitewashed religions, we know that we are not like this.
This singular short tart claim, that “We sold each other into slavery”, has maintained in a state of continual flux our historical basis for Black-on-Black self love and mutual cooperation at the level of Class. Even if it is true (without further clarification) that we sold each other into slavery, this should not absolve Whites of their responsibility in our subjugation. We will deal with Africa if need be…
The first act against Africa by Whites was an unilateral act of war, announced or unannounced. There were no African Kings or Queens in any of the European countries nor in the U.S. when ships set sail for Africa to capture slaves for profit. Whites had already decided to raid for slaves. They didn’t need our agreement on that. Hence, there was no mutuality in the original act. The African so-called slave “trade” was a demand-driven market out of Europe and America, not a supply-driven market out of Africa. We did not seek to sell captives to the Whites as an original act. Hollywood s favorite is showing Blacks capturing Blacks into slavery, as if this was the only way capture occurred. There are a number of ways in which capture occurred. Let s dig a little deeper into this issue.
Cudjoe Lewis is believed to be the last African born on African soil and brought to the United States by the transatlantic slave trade. He was a native of Takon, Benin, where he was captured in 1860 during an illegal slave-trading venture. Congress outlawed the importation of slaves in 1808. Together with more than a hundred other captured Africans, he was brought on the ship Clotilde to Mobile, Alabama. Cudjoe and 31 other enslaved Africans were taken to the property owned by Timothy Meaher, shipbuilder and owner of the Clotilde. 5 years later slavery was over so Cudjoe and his tribespeople requested to be taken back to Africa, but it was left ignored. He and other Africans established a community near Mobile, Alabama which became called Africatown. They maintained their African language and tribal customs well into the 1950s. He died in 1934 at the age of 94. Before he died, he gave several interviews on his experiences including one to the writer Zora Neale Hurston. During her interview in 1928, she made a short film of Cudjoe, the only moving image that exists in the Western Hemisphere of an African transported through the Transatlantic Slave Trade.