US Calls on Nigerian Youths to Study Black History

Russell Brooks

Martins Ifijeh

The United States Government has called on Nigerian youths to learn about black history, the intellect of Africans as well as the abolishment of slavery.

Delivering a key note address at the opening ceremony of 2019 Black History Month held at the University of Lagos yesterday, the US Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Russell Brooks, said when young people read about the intellectual arguments used in justifying slavery and colonialism, it would give them a broader view of whether or not people were by nature mean, cruel, brutal or unjust.

According to him, “The first African slaves to arrive in the English colonies of North America arrived in 1619 to Jamestown, Virginia. Dutch traders who had seized them from a Spanish slave ship brought them there. For that reason, this year is being marked as the 400th anniversary of that momentous event.

“It also marked the beginning of the need for events such as this. You see, in the United States, from that point forward, until slavery was abolished, there would be a need to justify that particular aspect of American life to rationalise this specific form of inhumanity and injustice.”

He said he did not believe most people were by nature mean, adding that throughout the history of blacks in the new world, whether it be in the United States, Jamaica, Cuba or Brazil, there has always been a desire, perhaps a need, to justify race-based inhumanity to one’s fellow man.

The consulate spokesman said: “A central tenet of white supremacy in America and Europe has always been that blacks had no real history; that they left behind nothing of value in Africa; that they had no real culture; that the black race had contributed nothing of value to the advancement of the world; and that slaves should be thankful for what their slave masters had done for them.

“Perhaps needless to say, this made those who benefited from slavery feel much better about that cruel, inhumane system and the same could be said for those who advocated race-based discrimination, colonialism, and imperialism.”

Brooks said he doubted if those who advance such theories of racial superiority were aware of the Kingdom of Mali, the Songhai Empire and the greatness of ancient Timbuktu, Abyssinia, the Kingdom of Benin or the Oyo Empire.

“Nevertheless, for many years, not only were white Americans ignorant of the true history of Africans and African-Americans, but many black Americans were just also oblivious of their history,” he added.

Brooks said many blacks, through innovations and strength, have championed a number of firsts and have made the world a better place to live in.