The CRL Rights Commission’s Report on the so called “Commercialization of Religion and Abuse of People’s Belief Systems” points to observable and real problems. The question arises how did we end here? Can abuse of religion for personal gain be isolated from the violence of Capitalism?
The prevailing culture of acquisition of alien tastes, a culture of consumerism rather than production, and the oppression and abuse of church members are the natural outcome of idolizing usurpers and people who reaped where they did not sow. Five hundred years after the African Holocaust and twenty five years into the so called democracy, Africans, for the most part, remain enchanted with the trappings of modernity, without the character to cultivate it. The above are some of the means through which the unfortunate incident of colonialism engendered a culture of indifference to nation building, and a penchant for corruption across much of subSaharan Africa.
This paper takes a Pan Africanist global perspective and interrrogates abuse of religion, just like the capitalist greed running rife in a democratic South Africa, as a problem borne of two mothers; the legacy of low self-worth created during the African holocaust and apartheid, and the naturally occurring bling bling culture of a people who were isolated from consciousness. The paper goes further to examine the other side of the coin, the global white supremacist agenda behind the mainstream media’s campaign against independent Black churches or African (Black not white) preachers.
I have been taught and accept that it is best to judge all religions by their principles and not their practitioners. This because human beings are flawed and all exploitative societies use religion to justify their exploitation of the masses. To make a judgment of the principles of a religion one must first study that religion. Having made such a preliminary study I have found that most religions have common aspects, that is to say they share principles. These shared principles often expressed in widely different ways, tend to speak to human justice and compassion among men. They also tend to express a moral imperative to be honest, to assist those who are less fortunate and to treat others as we would be treated. Seku Ture taught that these principles, found in religion, are in perfect harmony with the principles of the African revolution (he was a Muslim). If we accept this we see that religion in the hands of reactionaries serves reaction and in the hands of revolutionaries it can serve the revolution. What is important to this is that we stand in opposition to exploitation and oppression where ever it is found. (African, European, Arab,Muslim, Christian,Traditionalist) and for the liberation and unification of our people regardless of where we may be or what religion we practice. Of course we can continue to argue and reinforce the divisions among us and allow our differences to separate us from one another. Or we can use our differences as an insight to our diverse selves confronting a deceitful and oppressive enemy. If we were all the same, unity would be easy to achieve. What is so difficult is bringing people together who have different beliefs, speak different languages and are scattered all over the world, to fight a common enemy and achieve a common objective. This, as I understand it, is Pan-Africanism, which we all claim to support and believe in.
The intention here is not to play the blame game or bring about the wringing of hands in regret, but to understand the past – a luxury which the continued dominance of western thoughts in the academia and media has denied Africa – in order to mend the future.
- PROBLEM DEFINITION
The slave masters were not trying to save African souls when they converted them into Christians. This is irrefutable, because they perceived it that Africans had no souls, and that heaven was for whites only. In fact many slaveowners believed that the thought of black people going to heaven was as ridiculous as a dog going to heaven. When we logically look at the facts as they were, we can say with great certainty that the white slaveowners conversion of Africans into Christians had absolutely nothing to do with saving African souls. There was another self- serving reason why these racist slaveowners put their time, and energy into teaching Christianity to a people they otherwise treated so brutally. The reason was to indoctrinate the belief of a white God into their minds.
"When the African slaves were taught, through Christianity, to worship a white Jesus as the messiah son of God, the logical concluded presumption was that if the son of God was white,
then accordingly God, his father, is also white. The belief that God-- the greatest entity in the entire universe --is white produces a profound admiration of whiteness within the subconscious minds of Black people. This subconsciously happens without many even realizing it. This profound admiration of whiteness is then transferred-- often on a subconscious level--towards the entire white race.
This made the slaves more docile, humble, and more loyal to their white masters. The effects of that brainwashing scheme implemented hundreds of years ago, has been left uncorrected and un-removed for generations. It still continues upon the mind of millions of Black people today. It is the reason why you can presently visit many black churches and find its walls stubbornly adorned with pictures of only white deities.
Furthermore, through Christianity millions of Black people have been brainwashed to believe that all of the wrongs that whites have done to them throughout history, have been washed clean by the blood of a fictional white Jesus. Black people were also forced to become Christians, and then its doctrine was used to compel them to forgive whites for all the brutalities afflicted upon them by whites (Christians). Note: whites never actually repented for their evil deeds committed against Black people they merely insisted that Black people, as good Christians, forgive them as their doctrine teaches. Furthermore, by teaching Black people that a white God sent down his white son to earth to die for them this literally makes millions of Black people feel indebted towards whites. Christianity has proven itself as being history's most successful propaganda tool used for controlling Black people.
Whenever whites control virtually all information it should come as no surprise that they would use this control in ways that serve their racist agendas against Black people. It should, in fact, be well expected; because for them not to use their control of information in ways that serve their white racist agendas, would be contrary of their history, and innate nature. If you're allowing them to control what you think, then you're still their slave. Because they're using their control over information to indoctrinate thoughts and ideologies into the minds of Black people that serves the interests of the white society. If you don't believe that the ruling white elites uses their monopoly over information in ways that serves the interests of their white dominant society then you're either extremely naive, or very foolish.
If a person is born ignorant, to parents that are ignorant, in a society that is ignorant, lives a life of ignorance, then ignorance becomes the norm. Thus indoctrination can be called education, and lies can be called truth. Because this person never knew the truth-therefore their mind was never their own. Unfortunately this is the case for most of we that are the descendants of African slaves, as well as we Africans within the continent that have been successfully colonized by whites. We have been stripped of our history, and knowledge of self. The history taught to us by whites are entirely lies designed to serve their own interests.
Imagine that greedy, barbaric invaders broke into a home and robbed it of all its natural resources and wealth. Then while leaving the home in ruins, these invaders kidnapped the children from the home to work as their slaves. These invaders, fearing an eventual retribution from the enslaved children, would logically find it necessary to implement systems to ensure that the children would remain loyal to them, and never hold him accountable for their actions. Because
while the invaders, through their military strength can rob and destroy the children's home, they cannot win their loyalty, or sustain peace with them for long unless systems are put in place to keep the enslaved children loyal, or to suppress dissent among them. To protect themselves from retribution, from these enslaved children, the invaders would have to develop ways of controlling them. This would require that the invaders retell the details surrounding their invasion of the enslaved children's ancestral home. The invaders would have to hide their crimes by telling the enslaved children that they merely rescued them from a dilapidated home where they were unwanted and then merely sold away by their parents. The invaders may also find it necessary to make the enslaved children embarrassed to be associated with their past home. To do this the invaders would routinely show to enslaved children demoralizing pictures of their ruined former home. This would cause the children to perceive their invaders as a being rescuers rather than their enslavers. This would cause the enslaved children to develop an undeserving sense of loyalty and appreciation towards their invaders. It would also hinder the enslaved children from demanding from the oppressive invaders the debt truly owed to them. This psychological warfare strategy literally creates a sort of manufactured Stockholm Syndrome-- that keeps the enslaved children compliant with their invaders dominance over their lives.
[side note: Stockholm syndrome is a condition wherein which the abused begins to love and defend their abuser. ]
- THAT PRESENTED SCENARIO IS PRECISELY WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO BLACK PEOPLE.
Throughout western history, empires that maintain their power, have always done so by manipulating the oppressed to think in ways that serves the interests of the dominant society. Fearing an eventual retribution from the oppressed, the oppressors have always found it necessary to implement systems to suppress dissent from among the oppressed; and to ensure that the oppressed would remain loyal to them. Because although oppressors, through their military strength can enslave the oppressed they cannot win their loyalty, or sustain peace with them for long unless systems are put in place to keep the oppressed loyal. Therefore the oppressed population's perception of reality is never truly their own. It is always one that has been shrewdly indoctrinated into their minds by their oppressors without them even knowing it. Today this heinous tradition is being continued against Black people. To preserve white dominance, and to protect white society from Black retribution, white social engineering scientists developed an elaborate ideological subversion system that turns the collective frustrations and aggressions of Black people away from their white oppressors and turns them inward against themselves. This system maintains white supremacy by literally brainwashing Black people to hate themselves and to admire whites. Because virtually all societal information that millions of Black people routinely receives comes from white sources this fact allows whites to control what millions of Black peoples believes.
The history taught to African Americans [and African people globally] by whites have been heavily revised with many lies that intentionally hides the many great achievements of African civilizations throughout history. White historians cannot teach the true great history of Africa to Black people because to do so they would then have to admit that they interrupted that great
history. They also can't do so because it would also reveal that Europeans have been the most brutal enemies of Black people throughout history. Furthermore, it would reveal the immense debt that the white world truly owes Africa and its people. So the white ruling elites implemented an elaborate black racially demoralizing psychological warfare program that literally makes millions of African Americans believe that they're the lucky ones to have been taken away from the backwardness of Africa. This is achieved by constantly inundating Africans with negative depictions of Africa that are designed to make them ashamed of their African heritage. Within this programming Africans are being constantly subjected--through the white controlled media to seeing war-torn, famine-ridden, rampantly illiterate, and disease-stricken images of Africa and images of African pastors that abuse religion in order to enrich themselves. They are rarely, if ever, shown the beautiful and wealthy cities in Africa. These deplorable depictions of Africa displaying only its poorest and dangerous communities are in fact designed to embarrass and humiliate Africans. Moreover, it makes them feel grateful that it was their ancestors that were enslaved and bought to America. They are being subconsciously told that they're the lucky ones to have been taken away from the backwardness of Africa. Africans are also inundated with negative disinformation that are designed to make them ashamed of their African heritage. An example of this is seen in the falsehood perpetuated by whites that Africa, before the arrival of white slave traders, was uncivilized and illiterate and therefore Africa has no written history. This is however, totally untrue.
The Timbuktu University in Mali, Africa library is older than any of those found within the Western world. Its University and its Library are older than any of those found within the Western world. It was composed of three schools, namely the Masajid of Djinguereber, the Masajid of Sidi Yahya, and the Masajid of Sankore. During the 12th century, the university had an enrollment of around 25,000 students from Africa. In Timbuktu, there are about 700,000 surviving books. They are written in Mande, Suqi, Fulani, Timbuctu, and Sudani. The contents of the manuscripts include math, medicine, poetry, law and astronomy. This work was the first encyclopedia in the 14th century before the Europeans got the idea later in the 18th century, 4 centuries later. The false derogatory narrative that African (Black not white) prophets and pastors abuse religion in order to enrich themselves is a necessary propaganda that assist Europeans in maintaining their dominance over Africans. For oppressors to maintain their dominance over the oppressed they must keep the oppressed believing that they are inferior to their oppressors.
This ongoing racial demoralization of Black people is the true reason why they won't acknowledge the ancient Egyptians were indeed Black even in the face of such a preponderance of evidence. Although Egypt is a country thousands of miles well within the African continent, and although all of its Pyramids, and the Great Sphinx, were built by Africans thousands of years long before the first Arabs arrived there in the 7th century, and although the tombs are filled with countless of evidence that the ancient Egyptians were Black [including Black bodies containing African DNA], white scholars adamantly refuses to acknowledge the preponderance the ancient Egyptians were Black. The white elite's unrelentingly commitment to maintaining their psychological dominance over the Black world, necessitate that they never acknowledged it publicly that the ancient Egyptians were Black--nor will they acknowledge any other significants historical contribution made to by Africans either for that matter. It is a psychological warfare
program. You see the white ruling elites cannot teach the true great history of Africa to Black people and continue their oppression of them. Because when a people are taught of their true greatness they no longer accept their oppression. The rise of their collective self-images and self- esteem tells them then to resist their oppression. This is a psychological fact-of the collective group mind- within the human condition. Therefore, for oppressors to maintain their dominance over the oppressed they must keep the oppressed to believing lesser of themselves.
- AFRICAN AMERICANS HAVE ALSO BEEN LIED TO ABOUT SLAVERY
The participation of Africans in the African slave trade has also been greatly exaggerated to reduce white culpability in the slave trade. White historians depictions of the African slave trade also intentionally mis-educates African Americans to believe that most of their African ancestors were merely sold away to the white invaders. Their depiction of the African Slave trade deliberately hides the brutal massacre of countless of African Warriors that died in battle trying to rescue their captured love ones. The number of Africans that died in battles fought against the white invaders far exceeded, many times over, the number of any Africans that may have assisted in the slave trade. The hiding of these fierce battles and massacres is deliberately done to perpetuate the falsehood that most African Americans were sold away by their ancestors.
However, to believe that the greedy white invaders (they that bloodily brutalized our ancestors during their enslavement in the U.S.) went into Africa with weaponry advantage [of guns and cannons] but rather than maximizing their profits chosen instead to purchase most of their slaves is absolutely preposterous. Because such a claim totally contradicts 400 years of demonstrated behavior by whites in regards to Black people and making profit. Furthermore, If Africa has all the resources of gold, diamonds, ivory, animal fur, spices and minerals and western money meant nothing in Africa what could the white invaders used to buy MOST of the slaves with? Cleary the majority of slaves were not sold or given to the white invaders. That's the convenient lie that whites rewrote into history. To believe that story a person has to be totally ignorant of the white race's history of being brutally greedy. Whenever your entire history has been taught to you by your former enslavers, and colonizers then everything that you've been taught are lies that have been rewritten to favor them.
The Black slaves of the 21st century are not those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot unlearn the many lies they've been taught for centuries by whites to keep them mentally enslaved.
- BLACK PEOPLE ARE ALSO BEING DEMORALIZED DAILY BY THE WHITE MEDIA
Because the ruling white elites control virtually all media information that millions of Black people receive daily, they use their immense position of power to further their racial demoralization of Black people as a means of protecting their white dominance. The white media's constant, unrelenting and negative depictions of its Black population, that amplifies the negative to the point that it distorts reality, is much more than just biased media reporting. They're actually an elaborate black racially demoralizing psychological warfare program. Whenever the ruling elites
wants to control a targeted population, the first step is to make them ashamed of themselves and culture. Because once the targeted group is made to feel ashamed of themselves, the more compliant they become with white dominance over their lives. This is precisely what is being done to Black people by the white controlled media. This process is achieved by constantly inundating Black populations with fraudulent and negative disinformation about themselves. Within this psychological conditioning program fraudulent black racially demoralizing disinformation is being pumped unrelentingly into the unsuspecting minds of Black people [from totally white sources] without being challenged or counterbalanced by an equal amount Black self-loving messages. This psychological warfare program is deplored like a massive media marketing campaign that constantly degrades the Black brand while exemplifying the white brand. It constantly subjects Black people to seeing only the fraudulent worst within themselves in order to instill the myth of white superiority into their collective subconscious minds.
This unrelenting daily assault of deplorably negative black images and statistics are intentionally designed to corrupt the Black population’s sense of Black racial unity and cohesion, mold the character of self-hatred, and engender self-doubt, self-loathing, and division among their group that weakens their ranks. This system is extremely effective because when Black people are presented statistics from trusted white sources constantly telling them that whites are better than Blacks at virtually everything it can be very difficult to resist its implied propaganda programming that whites are inherently better than blacks. Especially when the propaganda is being told daily and so unrelentingly. No group can be constantly subjected to seeing only the fraudulent worst within themselves and not suffer some adverse effects.
"The oppressed will always believe the worse about themselves" --Franz Fanon
This media programming also conveys the subliminal message that Black people are their own worst enemy and therefore need whites to govern over their lives. It also conveys the message that Blacks should admire, respect, and trust only Whites. Its premise is that instilling these messages into the subconscious minds of Black people makes them more compliant with white dominance over their lives. This psychological warfare program works so well in fact that it not only makes Black people more compliant with white dominance over their lives, it in fact makes many even prefer it. It is at the root of both the profound division and self hatred now afflicting so many Black people and is at the heart of internalized feelings of superiority that many whites possess.
Because whites are controlling most, if not all, the information given to Blacks this allows them to therefore control and form the perceptions of Black people. This psychological warfare program works so well in fact that it leaves many of its black victims totally admiring and loving whites while hating and blaming their own race. It is at the root of both the profound division and self hatred now afflicting so many Black Americans and is at the heart of internalized feelings of superiority that many whites possess.
Shedding the social skin that you've been placed in takes many years of studying and de- brainwashing your subconscious mind. You must first realize that everything that you been taught under white domination are lies. (Including religions) This will then get your minds
prepared to get out of the matrix of lies that now traps the essence of your true inner greatness. -
- The Oracle
- MENTAL SLAVERY IS AN INSIDIOUS LEGACY OF THE AFRICAN HOLOCAUST
Mental Slavery is far more sinister than physical slavery because the chains are invisible and are transmitted across generations. If African slavery was only physical, African people would have within one generation been able to skip the plethora of social-economic issues which plague African people globally the second the chains came off.
Mental slavery is a state of mind where discerning between liberation and enslavement is twisted. Where one becomes trapped by misinformation about self and the world. So someone can claim to be conscious, they can read all the books they can recycle the popular rhetoric but still be unable to balance real-world priorities and self-interest. They are always negative and suspicious of conscious work, always seeking to tear down and foster confusion.
Slavery, and other institutionalized forms of targeted race-based oppression has caused certain symptoms of dysfunction in the African community, which has been reinforced in each generation. The legacy of slavery has promoted and nursed the direct association between being African and being inferior, being African and being unequal, incapable and less worthy. It also promotes ways of thinking which continue to impede growth and development. Such as cultivating dependence and reactive behaviors. More content to be at best an observer complaining about the world, as opposed to being a change agent in the world. Content to be history’s permanent victim. Every possible solution is dismissed with yet another trite excuse.
What being oppressed means in the broadest and most salient terms is the occupation of ethics, logic, culture, thought process, long term thinking, critical thinking, and paradigms by those of the oppressors. So the beauty standard which is applicable to the European aesthetic is transferred, without modification, regardless of the incongruous state of beauty that is, to the oppressed. These models of beauty are desperately adopted—at all cost. Mental slavery created an inability to make reference to self, so that in both the contemporary and historical context identities, even those under the banner of “liberation,” are corrupted and sit upon the very platform of their oppressors paradigms, for the benefit of that oppression. Liberation within the structures that created the African ‘Other” is therefore relative—not absolute.
The discourse on post-traumatic slavery syndrome, popularized by Joy Leary, is part of the study of mental slavery. While that study looks for biological connectivity to the genetic ancestors of African people, this study reports on the patterns in human behavior, which includes economics, socialization, formal and informal relationships, ideology, work ethos, and all other related areas of people activity.
More than the film Roots, of lives on a plantation exposed to inhumanities. The most violent product of chattel slavery is mental slavery. It expresses itself by creating, among other things,
dependency and an inferiority-complex. It infects every concept from notions of beauty, values, and even the preference of “renting” over the prospect of “buying.” Many Africans globally, especially in areas heavily influenced by European domination, continue to wear their wealth on the outside (shoes, clothing, cars), while other groups wear their money on the inside (educational development) first. Mental slavery, also impacts African discernment. Because failure to know oneself also means failure to identify self-interest, it is often in this confused state the offense of oppression cannot be located in the minds of the mental slaves. It is no wonder they are given to attack the seat of their own liberation for minutia issues.
What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible …Who you are is limited only by who you think you are– Book of Coming Forth by Day.
Like all mental defects or diseases, mental slavery is very hard to define. Bipolar disorder, despite all the medical technology, eludes detection by any know medical test. Likewise there are no instruments that can calculate the percentage of mental enslavement a person is suffering from. A person might be affected in one area, but not in another. It might subside for a while and later reoccur under certain stresses—like when a marriage breaks down, or when financial circumstances change.
Part of the criteria of diagnosis has to take into account patterns in group behavior—the group being African people. On an individual level you will find Europeans suffering from low self-value, they may have poor image of self, but this is very different because while on an individual level they have an inferiority complex due to inadequacies of their local self, they have zero racial inferiority as a collective. They do not look at their racial station in the world and wonder, like Africans do, what have my people contributed to modernity? They are in the extreme opposite set-up by every single thing—not dealing with whether it is true or false—reaffirms their “superiority” station among the races of human kind.
In some cases, like the capitalist greed running rife in South Africa, it is a problem borne of two mothers; the legacy of low self-worth created during apartheid, and the naturally occurring bling bling culture of a people who were isolated from consciousness. Apartheid, in this case, modulated a pre-existing condition. An entire dynamic range of discussion now emerges. What is what and what belongs where? When is it mental slavery and when is it plain old garden variety human stupidity?
Many use the term mental slavery as a political device for labeling all behaviors which are outside of their political “solutions.” So it has become a catch all box for a wide range of behaviors some of which are totally unrelated to mental enslavement. Not every bad habit seen in African communities is the legacy of mental enslavement. Not every instances of crime in Detroit by an African American male is due to mental slavery, not every negative urban culture is due to mental enslavement. And it is critical to distinguish where possible between these things.
There are behaviors which arise, independent of slavery, from poverty. While in the case of many African people, poverty may have its roots in slavery, that slavery factor might be replaced by just the poverty factor. And one way to test it is to look at other situations where groups or communities have not endured slavery but display identical behaviors in similar circumstances. So poverty and poverty alone may be the consequences of obesity in America. Hence European- Americans, who have never experienced slavery—but experience poverty display identical habits.
In this case we cannot list obesity in unprivileged communities as a direct legacy of slavery in America. We must accept a multi-rooted possible in all of our analysis without resting all the symptoms on one agent. So our treatment of the subject will attempt to tie the contemporary behavior to a behavior directly related to something passed on through the generations, up from slavery.
- RESTITUTION AND REPARATION AS A SOLUTION TO THE SCOURGE
The birth of the racial subject—and therefore of Blackness—is linked to the history of capitalism. Capitalism emerged as a double impulse toward, on the one hand, the unlimited violation of all forms of prohibition and, on the other, the abolition of any distinction between ends and means.
The Black slave, in his dark splendor, was the first racial subject: the product of the two impulses, the most visible symbol of the possibility of violence without limits and of vulnerability without a safety net. Capitalism is the power of capture, influence, and polarization, and it has always depended on racial subsidies to exploit the planet’s resources. Such was the case yesterday. It is the case today, even as capitalism sets about recolonizing its own center.
Never has the perspective of a Becoming Black of the world loomed more clearly. No region of the world is spared from the logics of the distribution of violence on a planetary scale, or from the vast operation underway to de-value the forces of production. But as long as the retreat from humanity is incomplete, there is a still a possibility of restitution, reparation, and justice.
These are the conditions for the collective resurgence of humanity. Thinking through what must come will of necessity be a thinking through of life, of the reserves of life, of what must escape sacrifice. It will of necessity be a thinking in circulation, a thinking of crossings, a world-thinking.
The question of the world—what it is, what the relationship is between its various parts, what the extent of its resources is and to whom they belong, how to live in it, what moves and threatens it, where it is going, what its borders and limits, and its possible end, are—has been within us since a human being of bone, flesh, and spirit made its first appearance under the sign of the Black Man, as human-merchandise, human-metal, and human-money.
Fundamentally, it was always our question. And it will stay that way as long as speaking the world is the same as declaring humanity, and vice versa. For, in the end, there is only one world. It is composed of a totality of a thousand parts. Of everyone. Of all worlds.
Édouard Glissant gave this living entity with multiple facets a name: Tout-Monde, or All-World. It was a way of underscoring the fact that the concept of humanity itself is simultaneously an epiphany and an ecumenical gesture, a concept without which the world, in its thingness, would signify nothing.
It is therefore humanity as a whole that gives the world its name. In conferring its name on the world, it delegates to it and receives from it confirmation of its own position, singular yet fragile, vulnerable and partial, at least in relation to the other forces of the universe—animals and vegetables, objects, molecules, divinities, techniques and raw materials, the earth trembling, volcanoes erupting, winds and storms, rising waters, the sun that explodes and burns, and all the rest of it.
There is therefore no world except by way of naming, delegation, mutuality, and reciprocity. But humanity as a whole delegates itself in the world and receives from the world confirmation of its own being as well as its fragility. And so the difference between the world of humans and the world of nonhumans is no longer an external one. In opposing itself to the world of nonhumans, humanity opposes itself.
For, in the end, it is in the relationship that we maintain with the totality of the living world that the truth of who we are is made visible. In ancient Africa the visible sign of the epiphany that is humanity was the seed that one placed in the soil. It dies, is reborn, and produces the tree, fruit, and life. It was to a large extent to celebrate the marriage of the seed and life that ancient Africans invented speech and language, objects and techniques, ceremonies and rituals, works of art— indeed, social and political institutions.
The seed had to produce life in the fragile and hostile environment in the midst of which humanity also had to find space for work and rest—an environment that needed protection and repair. What made most vernacular knowledge useful was the part it played in the end- less labor of reparation. It was understood that nature was a force in and of itself. One could not mold, transform, or control nature when not in harmony with it. And this double labor of transformation and regeneration was part of a cosmological assembly whose function was to consolidate the relationships between humans and the other living beings with which they shared the world.
Sharing the world with other beings was the ultimate debt. And it was, above all, the key to the survival of both humans and nonhumans. In this system of exchange, reciprocity, and mutuality, humans and non- humans were silt for one another. Glissant spoke of silt as the castoff of matter: a substance made up of seemingly dead elements, things apparently lost, debris stolen from the source, water laden. But he also saw silt as a residue deposited along the banks of rivers, in the
midst of archipelagos, in the depths of oceans, along valleys and at the feet of cliffs—everywhere, and especially in those arid and deserted places where, through an unexpected reversal, fertilizer gave birth to new forms of life, labor, and language.
The durability of our world, he insisted, must be thought from the underside of our history, from the slave and the cannibal structures of our modernity, from all that was put in place at the time of the slave trade and fed on for centuries.
The world that emerged from the cannibal structure is built on countless human bones buried under the ocean, bones that little by little transformed themselves into skeletons and endowed themselves with flesh. It is made up of tons of debris and stumps, of bits of words scattered and joined together, out of which—as if by a miracle—language is reconstituted in the place where the human being meets its own animal form.
The durability of the world depends on our capacity to reanimate beings and things that seem lifeless—the dead man, turned to dust by the desiccated economy; an order poor in worldliness that traffics in bodies and life. The world will not survive unless humanity devotes itself to the task of sustaining what can be called the reservoirs of life. The refusal to perish may yet turn us into historical beings and make it possible for the world to be a world. But our vocation to survive depends on making the desire for life the cornerstone of a new way of thinking about politics and culture. Among the ancient Dogon people, the unending labor of reparation had a name: the dialectic of meat and seed. The work of social institutions was to fight the death of the human, to ward off corruption, that process of decay and rot.
The mask was the ultimate symbol of the determination of the living to defend themselves against death. A simulacrum of a corpse and substitute for the perishable body, its function was not only to commemorate the dead but also to bear witness to the transfiguration of the body (the perishable envelope) and to the apotheosis of a rot-proof world. It was therefore a way of returning to the idea that, as long as the work of reparation continued, life was an imperishable form, one that could not decay.
In such conditions we create borders, build walls and fences, divide, classify, and make hierarchies. We try to exclude—from humanity itself— those who have been degraded, those whom we look down on or who do not look like us, those with whom we imagine never being able to get along.
But there is only one world. We are all part of it, and we all have a right to it. The world belongs to all of us, equally, and we are all its coinheritors, even if our ways of living in it are not the same, hence the real pluralism of cultures and ways of being. To say this is not to deny the brutality and cynicism that still characterize the encounters between peoples and nations. It is simply to remind us of an immediate and unavoidable fact, one whose origins lie in the beginnings of modern times: that the processes of mixing and interlacing cultures, peoples, and nations are irreversible.
There is therefore only one world, at least for now, and that world is all there is. What we all therefore have in common is the feeling or desire that each of us must be a full human being. The desire for the fullness of humanity is something we all share. And, more and more, we also all share the proximity of the distant. Whether we want to or not, the fact remains that we all share this world. It is all that there is, and all that we have.
To build a world that we share, we must restore the humanity stolen from those who have historically been subjected to processes of abstraction and objectification. From this perspective, the concept of reparation is not only an economic project but also a process of reassembling amputated parts, repairing broken links, relaunching the forms of reciprocity without which there can be no progress for humanity.
Restitution and reparation, then, are at the heart of the very possibility of the construction of a common consciousness of the world, which is the basis for the fulfillment of universal justice. The two concepts of restitution and reparation are based on the idea that each person is a repository of a portion of intrinsic humanity. This irreducible share belongs to each of us. It makes each of us objectively both different from one another and similar to one another. The ethic of restitution and reparation implies the recognition of what we might call the other’s share, which is not ours, but for which we are nevertheless the guarantor, whether we want to be or not. This share of the other cannot be monopolized without consequences with regard to how we think about ourselves, justice, law, or humanity itself, or indeed about the project of the universal, if that is in fact the final destination.
Reparation, moreover, is necessary because of the cuts and scars left by history. For much of humanity, history has been a process of habituating oneself to the deaths of others—slow death, death by asphyxiation, sudden death, delegated death. These accommodations with the deaths of others, of those with whom we imagine to have shared nothing, these many ways in which the springs of life are dried up in the name of race and difference, have all left deep traces in both imagination and culture and within social and economic relations.
These cuts and scars prevent the realization of community. And the construction of the common is inseparable from the reinvention of community. This question of universal community is therefore by definition posed in terms of how we inhabit the Open, how we care for the Open— which is completely different from an approach that would aim first to enclose, to stay within the enclosure of what we call our own kin.
This form of unkinning is the opposite of difference. Difference is, in most cases, the result of the construction of desire. It is also the result of a work of abstraction, classification, division, and exclusion—a work of power that, afterward, is internalized and reproduced in the gestures of daily life, even by the excluded themselves.
Often, the desire for difference emerges precisely where people experience intense exclusion. In these conditions the proclamation of difference is an inverted expression of the desire for recognition and inclusion.
But if, in fact, difference is constituted through desire (if not also envy), then desire is not necessarily a desire for power. It can also be a desire to be protected, spared, preserved from danger. And the desire for difference is not necessarily the opposite of the project of the in- common. In fact, for those who have been subjected to colonial domination, or for those whose share of humanity was stolen at a given moment in history, the recovery of that share often happens in part through the proclamation of difference. But as we can see within certain strains of modern Black criticism, the proclamation of difference is only one facet of a larger project— the project of a world that is coming, a world before us, one whose destination is uni- versal, a world freed from the burden of race, from resentment, and from the desire for vengeance that all racism calls into being.