SLAVERY, THE PECULIAR INSTITUTION?

In 2011 I attended a financial conference in Ottawa, and at one of the evening social events, I committed a grave faux pas. After introducing myself, I started chatting with some attendees who wanted to know the source of my first name “Okey,” pronounced “O-Kay” as in OK, the word American English is said to... Continue Reading →

THEIR GUNS WERE GREATER

In 1591, a small Moroccan force of about 4000 musketeers very easily defeated a much larger Songhai army, and brought down the West African Songhai Empire. Songhai was the last of the three wealthy West African empires (Ghana, Mali, Songhai) that dominated the Sahel region before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade became a major factor on... Continue Reading →

AFRICA BEFORE TROUBLE START

The emperor’s preparations for his hajj had been intense. He had sent out a call for resources to all corners of his vast empire, and for nine months, food and other supplies poured in. The hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims who are physically and financially able must make in their lifetime.... Continue Reading →

THE GODS WILL HAVE BLOOD

In the early 1900s, in the small town of Umunze in Eastern Nigeria, a giant ekwe the size of a small hut occupied prominent space in the town square. An ekwe is a wooden percussion instrument that is usually the size of a rolled up sleeping bag, or a small toolbox. Ekwes are used for... Continue Reading →

HERE BE CANNIBALS

During a visit to Nigeria a number of years ago, I asked the taxi driver who took me around, to drive me to the historic town of Arochukwu in the south east. During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, this town was the main hub for the network of Igbo merchants that transported slaves to Europeans on... Continue Reading →

WHY ARE AFRICANS SUCH SAVAGES?

A couple of decades ago, when the civil war in Liberia was raging, I went into a bookstore and opened a high-end literary magazine that reported on that terrible war. The article described how a Liberian rebel fighter cut off the penises of 52 of his enemies and carried them about in a plastic bag.... Continue Reading →

IS EUROPEAN INTERVENTION THE ONLY POSSIBLE REASON FOR AFRICAN UNDERDEVELOPMENT? CAN WE THINK OF OTHERS? (Part 2)

A strong argument could be made that what we call underdevelopment—poverty, undernourishment, high child mortality, low life expectancy, backbreaking struggle to wring sustenance from the earth, constant war and conflict—is the “normal” condition of humankind, its “default” state in a manner of speaking. It could be argued that if we take the long view of... Continue Reading →

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