It is difficult to understand why humanity is so divided despite boasting the same characteristics. Writing on the subject of “races”, one is confronted with the challenge of methodology—whether to approach it from a religious perspective or scientific. The former seems the most appealing as scriptural evidence exist to justify the balkanization. However, such a position is limited as well. Obviously, not everyone reading this article holds the same religious view. This makes the scientific approach more reliable as many can easily relate to the facts of the matter.
It is important to establish the fact here that humanity is one. The colour of the skin is just a mere means of identification. For instance, Meyers (1885-90) classified human race into three broad categories based on physical variations viz: Mongoloid, Caucasoid and Negroid. No attempt will be made to explain these classifications in details, except to mention that the Mongoloid race represent coloured people, other than the Blacks i.e, Asians, Latinos, Arabs etc. The Caucasoid are the “White” people; while Negroid represents the Black race.
Historically, the issue of classifying humanity according to race began after the exploration, when Europeans came in contact with other regions of the world. It should be noted that this classification was done by none other than the Europeans for the purpose of establishing their hegemony. Remember that the exploration itself was an exercise intended to discover new opportunities for business and territorial expansion. What followed it was an eye sore. Slavery became the new means of economic production which created the surplus value that transformed Europe and America into economic giants. But it must also be noted here again that, members of the Negroid race provided the most slave labour for this unfortunate cause.
Whether by design or coincidence, Europeans developed their means of production early enough to determine the course of history. It was such drive for progress and guts to conquer fear that led Christopher Columbus, Vasco Da Gama, etc to embark on extremely risky voyages that eventually led to the discovery of hinterlands. These lands were quickly annexed and plantations were created for agri-business. Members of the Mongoloid race were the first to have contact with the marauding imperialists yet, their frail nature made them useless to the cause of tiling the ground. But as soon as the Negroid race was discovered, bingo, production began in earnest- the Atlantic Ocean serving as transit route for moving slaves across continents.
Typically, Meyers’ classification of races into three broad categories was reconstructed, unwittingly, by the activities of the slave masters. This new development made the Mongoloid race neutral in racial struggles, and at best, it has served as an intervening variable in the sequence. Eternal rivalry now exist only between Black and White.
Before proceeding to examine this rivalry in details, it is expedient to consider the symbolisms attached to these colourations. It is believed by many that ‘white’ symbolizes purity. This, in the estimation of the White supremacist, is representative of their supposed perfection which makes them de facto rulers over other races. While ‘black’ according to the proponents represents darkness. Or rather, lack of consciousness, self-rule and drive for dominance.
Although, to assume that the Whites are a homogenous whole is misleading. Remember Adolf Hitler and the Second World War? Right. The conflict was motivated by hatred for the Jews, lust for power and territorial expansion. Time will not permit to talk about the struggles among European Powers over areas of influence which led to the partition of Africa in 1884-85. The cold war involving capitalist U.S and socialist USSR (Russia) is still fresh in our minds. The Blacks are the only homogenous race in the scheme of racial disparity. Yet, ethnicity, coupled with extrinsic factors such as religion and language, brought about by globalization, has left the continent more balkanized than the greedy Caucasoid race.
One may ask, why has Africa become the center of a theatrical exploitation and dominance? Well, permit me to echo George Orwell’s words: “All animals are equal but some are more equal”. The story of The Animal Farm is the story of humanity. From being brothers to becoming rivals. The human world has become a jungle where only the strong survives. However, brute strength only prevails in traditional jungles. In modern times, there is something called technology, which has reconfigured international division of labour, allotting survival, not necessarily to the physically strong, but to the daring and courageous. Unfortunately, Africans still continue to bask in the euphoria of physical strength, not realizing that the music has since changed.
The ensuing consequence is that the technologically savvy has carefully harnessed the brute strength of Africa to produce and reproduce wealth for themselves at the continent’s expense. It is over two hundred years after the last slave ship left the continent, yet Africans have found another way to strategically re-enslave themselves in the same hostile climes. This unfortunate fate for the Negroid race portends nothing but gloom and further doom even for its most vibrant members. Their refusal or inability to systematically adjust to changing times has remained their greatest undoing.
When Europe first decided on its imperialist agenda, she relied on the use of force to command obedience from dissenting groups. This strategy worked but as more and more territories were discovered, the cost of such approach became obviously too expensive to pursue. Alternatives were therefore explored and the religious card became the joker. Christianity, a religion that suffered the greatest attack in Europe, was finally embraced as a weapon for commanding obedience. The message on forgiving your enemies and loving them; plus the one on submitting to authorities, sold the most. Craftily, Missionaries were co-opted into colonial regimes to help convert Black natives and make them submissive to the colonial government for ease of exploitation.
The Arabs on the other hand were not so diplomatic with their use of religion in evangelism. They embarked on crusades known as jihad, and forcefully converted large swathe of Africans. The provisions of Sharia law which demand total obedience to Allah and constituted authority coincided with the intention of colonialism and a match was made in heaven. Concomitantly, Christianity combined with Islam to aid foreign plunder of the Negroid race with reckless abandon.
It is sad to submit that from Meyers’ classification, the Negroid race has remained the most abused, exploited and discriminated among the rest. It has suffered greater iniquities and inequality than necessary. One is then tempted to ask: Are all this happening because of race? Is race only about the colour of skin? Or is it a psychological issue?
Until the Negroid race is able to wittingly realize its failings and discover its potentials and harness them, it will continue to feature only in the grand scheme of plunder and exploitation by her erstwhile brothers. However, to accrue all her misfortunes to mere colour of the skin would be too simplistic. There is a greater concern to look at other causes from more remote sources such as psychological, socio-cultural factors and leadership, which is the most vital. Else, how can one explain current happenings in Libya and around the Mediterranean Sea? Are Africans been sold into slavery in Libya for instance, because they are blacks? How about the many drowning in the sea? These unfortunate events are an indictment on the African leadership. By their shameless inaction, they reinforce the racial dichotomy wittingly.