Round Table with Oscar
August 6, 2013

To Africa with love

Dear Africa,

I want to call you mama. I cry for you, inside, mama. Another woman has come between you and me. She made me in her image and I called her mother, spoke her language wore her clothes, combed our hair like hers, believed what she told me about you. Loved her, scorned you, trusted her for salvation and development and helped her dominate the world. Mama, I am just beginning to know you and grow towards you inside, learning that you have really been the world’s mother, although they treat you like a dog, and want to treat me so too, like Jesus and Elma and Marcus. What can we do to rise above that and cherish each other? Will that day come? I need you, mama, inside, to help redeem and make me over, no longer an enslaved prodigal, a Cinderella in Britain’s castle.{{more}}

I am writing you to admit that I am ashamed and confused at the terrible confusion that I witness going on within you. Does it have anything to do with me? Am I a missing piece of your peace? I wonder about that and I am hurting, feeling powerless, but wanting to be at your side.

So many of our prophets have spoken and hollered your name in vain, for we have not been able to find a place in our lives for their message. Toussaint and Fanon, Blyden and Kamau Braithwaite, Garvey and Rodney, Padmore, Elma Francois and CLR James… and Marley. Now we have our annual festival called Emancipation, I fidget and worry again. Mama, doesn’t our emancipation have to begin with you? Didn’t the vastly profitable and criminal transatlantic system of colonial slavery have a decisive African angle? How can we talk of emancipation as if it is just a matter between the Caribbean and Europe? Don’t let them leave you out, mama.
About near 20 million of your children were lost in that project that the Portuguese started. You know how much damage that has caused you at that time and also since that time. One of your own sons, Joseph Inikori has this conclusion in a 1978 UNESCO report “… it is clear that, without the supply of African slave labour to the Americas, European merchants and Governments would have been compelled by purely economic considerations to encourage the production of a wide variety of commodities, including some of the American commodities, in Africa.” Mama, you not only lost human lives, you also lost valuable production opportunities and industrial development, for over 400 years.

Mama, we have so much to consider and I don’t quite know where to start. Help me to reconnect with you, to return with interest, the gifts you have given to me – culture, talent, loveliness, conscience and knowledge of God. I want to talk to you some more, mama. With love, Oscar.

Emancipation of Otto Sam:

Dr Kenneth John in his 26 July column gave us a crisp and clear photo of Mr Sam as he was in 2001. It is both a chilling and thrilling snapshot of a consistent patriot.

Today, I do not have the time to reflect on it. Round Table will do so next week.