Are African Americans ashamed of Africa?



Ozodi Osuji

      The transatlantic slavery, 1500-1900, took place between West Africa and the New World (from USA to Argentina).

      West Africa is understood to begin at Mauritania and ends at Namibia in South Africa. Most African Americans came from this region of West Africa.

    In fact, over 30% of African Americans in the USA came from the slave coast, what is now called Southern Nigeria.

      If you break it down further, many of those 30% are Igbos, Yorubas and Ijaws and Edos.

      Africans in East Africa sold their people to the Arab world and to Persia (Iran). Africans in the Sahel region of West Africa, extant Northern Nigeria included, sold their people to North African Arabs.

     This may be difficult for us to bear, the fact is that up to 1935, when the British Colonial administration finally stopped it, some Muslim Northern Nigerians were capturing and selling non-Muslim Northern Nigerians to Arabs; they used to raid non-Muslim villages in the Middle Belt, capture slaves and march them across the Sahara Desert and sold them at  Arab slave markets.

      Lord Frederick Lugard stopped slavery in Igboland in 1902. Slavery was stopped in Yorubaland in the late 1800s.

     Less than three decades ago, Arabs were running around South Sudan and capturing Africans of the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups and enslaving them. Arabs still have slaves in Mauritania and Niger Republic!

       For our present purposes, most African Americans came from West Africa, from Senegal to Namibia.

       If that is the case, one would think that African Americans who want to understand themselves would look to West Africa to study the people, their cultures and religions.

      But, no, that is not what they do. They run to Egypt and talk about how Egyptian civilization was a black civilization.

     Yes, ancient Egyptians were brown in color, like the Amharic of modern Ethiopia (incidentally those Ethiopians do not consider themselves Africans!).

     Ancient Egyptians did not look like todays Yorubas and Igbos; their language is not considered part of the Niger- Congo- Kwa group of languages that most West Africans and south Africans speak; Egyptian language is considered Afro-Asiatic, semitic, just as Amharic is.

     Why do African Americans mostly pay attention to Egypt and talk about it as if their immediate ancestors came from it when, in fact, they came from Igbo land, Yoruba land, Edo land, Ashanti land, Congo land, Ovambo land, Herero land and other West African ethnic groups.

       Do they do so because they consider West Africans primitive and they do not identify with them, and they consider Egyptians civilized and identify with them and are proud of them and want to tell the world that their Egyptian ancestors had a great civilization?

       I have African American friends who study what they call Kemetic religion (Egyptian religion), but have not heard about Yoruba or Igbo religions, the religions of their ancestors.

     So, why do African Americans look to Egypt and not to sub-Saharan Africa for inspiration? Is it because they consider black Africans uncivilized and are ashamed of them?

      I want somebody to explain this absurd phenomenon for me. In doing so, do realize that you are talking to a first-rate scholar so put on your thinking hat and do not assume that you are going to give me Nigerian gragra education, fiction that is considered history.

     Now take a crack at answering the question.


     Obviously, I have some ideas on the subject, but they are not enough explanation for me. For example, it is said that slavery and racism impressed on African Americans that Africa is primitive and that that made them feel ashamed of Africa. They then look to North Africa and see the semi black civilization called Egypt and took pride in it. See, our ancestors built great civilizations five thousand years ago, they built the great pyramids. I get such psychobabble, but it is not enough.

    If you are going to take pride in your ancestors,’ why don’t you take pride in your real ancestors, not made-up ones like Egyptians? Real self-esteem lies in accepting you and your people as you/they are, not as you think that white folks want them to be, civilized, whatever that means.

     The Igbos consider themselves God’s chosen race and see all other human beings, whites and Asians included, as not as good as they are.

    Despite Africans so-called lack of civilization, most Africans from Africa do not feel ashamed of Africa, so, I want to be educated on why many African Americans are ashamed of Africa, if that is what is going on?

    If African Americans see Africa as underdeveloped, since it is their ancestors land, also, they could help develop it, instead of being ashamed of it!

Ozodi Osuji

January 4, 2022

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