(Toward an Afrocentric rectification of terms)
Reparations and the Issue of African Collaborators: In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game” (printed on April 23, 2010, page A27 of the New York edition), Prof. Henry “Skip” Gates argued: “While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played.
And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa.
These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others. . . . The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred. . . . Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike. . . . the culpability of American plantation owners neither erases nor supplants that of the African slavers.”
How valid is this argument? When it is seen that what was going on was not “trade” but war, it becomes possible to correctly judge the culpability of those who collaborated with the enemy aggressors.
An invader will always find collaborators, some voluntary, some coerced, among the invaded. But that does not diminish, even by one jot or tittle, the total responsibility/culpability of the invader for the invasion and its consequences. Just like Vichy France, Quisling’s Norway, Denmark’s Government (1940-1943) and others in Nazi-overrun Europe were puppet regimes and client states of Nazi Germany, the African states and enterprises that procured captives for the Europeans on the coast were puppet regimes, client states, agent enterprises, all collaborationist, serving the European sponsors and masters of the Black Chatellization war.
Collaborationist outfits like the French Police, the Estonian Auxiliary Police, the Latvian Auxiliary Police, the Greek Security Battalion assisted the Gestapo but were not put on trial at Nuremberg. Only the Nazi leaders were. And rightly so.
If you defeat the invader, you execute his collaborators, as happened to Norway’s Quisling. But Africa did not win the Chatellization war. The Europeans did, and their African collaborators became the entrenched African rulers by the 19th century. [See “Collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II” –From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
And to make plainer this matter of collaborators and their responsibility, there is probably no better example than the case of Jewish collaborators with their Nazi exterminators.
According to McLellan-Letter 7: Feb 20/98 (Jewish war crimes), “the Jews also had their kapos (Jewish Nazi police), their Judenrat (Council of Elders administering Nazi policies)” who helped in rounding up fellow Jews for the Nazis. “The Jüdische Ordnungsdienst, as the Jewish police in the ghettos were called, furnished thousands of men for seizure operations. In the Warsaw ghetto alone the Jewish police numbered approximately 2500; in Lodz they were about 1200 men strong; the Lvov ghetto had an Ordnungsdienst of 500 men; and so on.”
–(Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle Books, Chicago, 1961, p. 310) “The Satanic plan of the Nazis assured that the personal fate of each Jew – whether for life or death – be exclusively left up to the decisions of the ‘councils of elders’ [Judenrat]. The Nazis, from time to time, decided upon a general quota for the work of the camps and for extermination, but the individual selection was left up to the ‘council of elders’, with the enforcement of kidnappings and arrests also placed in the hands of the Jewish police (kapos). By this shrewd method, the Nazis were highly successful in accomplishing mass murder and poisoning the atmosphere of the ghetto through moral degeneration and corruption.”
–(Reb Moshe Shonfeld, The Holocaust Victims Accuse: Documents and Testimony on Jewish War Criminals, Neturei Karta of U.S.A., Brooklyn, 1977, pp. 119-120, emphasis added) “In the Warsaw ghetto, even during the period of the first massive extermination (June to October 1943), one saw almost no German soldiers. Nearly all the work of administration, and later the work of transporting hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths, was carried out by Jewish collaborators. . . . The majority of the population of the Ghetto hated the collaborators far more than the German Nazis. Every Jewish child was taught, and this saved the lives of some of them ‘if you enter a square from which there are three exits, one guarded by a German SS man, one by an Ukrainian and one by a Jewish policeman, then you should first try to pass the German, and then maybe the Ukrainian, but never the Jew'”. –(Letter to the editor by Prof. Israel Shahak, published on 19 May 1989 in Kol Ha’ir, Jerusalem. Available online at: http://www.kaiwan.com/codoh/newsdesk/890519.HTML)
Here is the story of one Jewish collaborator. “Moldetsky, a leader of the Zionist Workers Party (Poalei Zion), who was appointed head of the council of elders in Bedzin, and who, over the course of years, chose thousands of Jews for forced labor and extermination, succeeded in remaining alive. For the mass deportations, Moldetsky published a decree which was completely fraudulent and deceiving, in which he said: ‘Jews, dress up in your holiday clothes and march joyfully to the gathering places mentioned above. No one is to remain at home….’ The Jews, in their innocence, obeyed him. The result was that people with large families – as well as the elderly – a total of 8,000, were sent to Auschwitz.” –(Reb Moshe Shonfeld, The Holocaust Victims Accuse: Documents and Testimony on Jewish War Criminals, Neturei Karta of U.S.A., Brooklyn, 1977, pp. 122-123).
(John Sack, whose book An Eye For An Eye is relied on extensively in the section on Jewish Crimes Following WW II, has a web site at http://www.johnsack.com/ which can be consulted for additional information on this subject.) In assessing the culpability of Africans for collaborating in the Black Chatellization War, we must not overlook the devil’s choice the Europeans presented to any two neighboring African chiefdoms that were feuding or at war over land, cattle or whatever: Here are these guns and you know they will decide the battle. Take them and go get your enemy neighbor for us. Do that-or else we will give the guns to your enemy neighbor, and they will come get you instead. In other words: “It’s your enemy or YOU! The choice is yours!”
I wonder what Skip Gates would do if faced with that devil’s choice? Dear reader, what would you do? What would a suicidal saint do? What would the average human being, of whatever race or country, do in that situation? Some African rulers, such as Queen Nzinga of the N’gola in the early 17th century, are on record as having tried to evade that devil’s choice by going to war against the powerful Europeans who forced the choice on them. Nzinga fought the Portuguese and their African collaborator allies until her death after 40 years of a war of resistance. But her successors were not successful at resisting the chatellization system.
Such was the basic situation that the Europeans, with their demand for captives and their offer of superior and decisive weapons, imposed on the Africans, and this situation produced the African collaborators. And this choice was imposed each and every time for the four centuries duration of the Black Chatellization war. For as long as Europeans demanded captives, any African collaborator who sought to stop would be quickly made to appreciate the consequences. There was no way to get around it. Your enemy, or even your neighbor and rival-or yourself: which shall it be? Which shall be made captive? That was the gun which the Europeans held to the heads of their African collaborators to keep them in line.
The fact that thousands of Jews, probably tens of thousands, including community leaders who formed the Judenrats, like Moldetsky, collaborated with the Nazi extermination machine, has not led to claims that the Nazis did not have total culpability for the horrors they set in motion and profited from, and that therefore Germany should be excused the payment of reparations to Israel. Why then should the fact that Black Africans collaborated in supplying black captives to European and American enslavers become grounds for diminishing or even abolishing the responsibility of the European Governments, European slave merchants and American planters for the Trans-Atlantic enslavement of Africans? So much for Henry “Skip-the-truth” Gates and his blame shifting.