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Echoes of Colonialism, Slavery at Sterling Leadership Series

Echoes of Colonialism, Slavery at Sterling Leadership Series

Yinka Olatunbosun 

Prof. French Howard, Author and Professor of Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has identified slavery and economic exploitation by the colonial masters as the leading causes of underdevelopment in Africa. The American journalist disclosed this as the special guest at the Sterling Leadership Series held in Ikoyi, Lagos. 

Hosted by Sterling Bank Plc, this edition had the theme “Born in Blackness” inspired by the title of Howard’s latest book “Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World.”

Prior to re-entering academia, he was a senior writer with The New York Times and a longtime foreign correspondent.

In his submission, Howard highlighted the far-reaching effect of slavery of the black, tracing coffee tradition to the black plantation. He argued that if many African countries were allowed to develop organically, perhaps, many African countries would be at the same level with the western countries in terms of civilization and development. He argued further that aside the chain associated with slavery the main damage and purpose was to devalue the victims of slavery citing the popular line from Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.

“The first is psychological. Bob Marley told us to free ourselves from mental slavery. Slavery is not about the chain. It’s about making people devalue themselves. You can’t be subjugated effectively until you have been internalized. 

“This history of Africans written by the colonists is to convince Africans that somehow they are not worthy of equal consideration and somehow the way the world turned out to be is just normal. But it is not normal and it’s not justified.

“Africa’s history was sabotaged. If they had come and told you that your people used to be as good as us in everything, in warfare, in governance, or in medicine. And my people wrongly explored your people, that would have undermined the narrative. Freedom from mental slavery, begins with learning history.”

He underscored the importance of education in liberating Africa from mental slavery adding that for ‘everyone not getting educated in Nigeria, it is a huge burden on the future of Nigeria.’

The discussion which was moderated by Uti Ellu and Kunle Remi, Nigerian actor, had in attendance young Nigerians from different fields who engaged the scholar with questions pertaining to Africa. 

In his remark, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Sterling Bank, Dapo Martins stressed the need to encourage young talents.

“That is why we have continued to innovate our human capital. We as a bank know that human capital is the strongest capital. 

“To us, blackness represents the richness in our continent and our lands. And in that richness lies our culture, in that culture lies our wealth and our history and that history is what we will use to drive our future.”

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