One of the lessons that I learned in my life is that no human being likes to be blamed, and that includes when he or she is wrong in his behavior.
The individual wants to be praised and approved by all people. Even when his behaviors are egregious, he wants you to still tell him that he is great.
When I was young, I was flabbergasted that my people, Africans used to sell slaves. I could not believe that even members of my kindred who, today, are Christians and seem like the best human beings on earth, in the nineteenth century used to sell their people into slavery. We even have some left-over slaves in our town.
I read up on the transatlantic slavery. I followed the tragedy of African Americans. I totally identified with them and could imagine me a slave and was therefore outraged that my own folks, folks who today seem saintly, were a hundred or so years ago selling their people to whoever wanted to buy them.
Of course, I know that it takes two to tango. Arabs and Europeans bought Africans and used them like mules to do their work for them. Could there have been a south and north America as we know them today without the work done by Africans to develop them, all done under duress, I doubt it.
Thus, I recognized that Europeans and Arabs are culprit in the iniquity of slavery. But there is really nothing that I can do about Arabs and Europeans. There is something that I, as an African, can do to prevent Africans from ever contemplating selling their people, again.
I was ashamed of Africans for selling their people. I dissociated from Africans for I could not forgive them for what they did. I authored essays decrying what Africans did in selling their people and in the present behaving like their ancestors who sold their people by stealing most of the money meant for their people’s modernization.
I simply harped on the corruption that characterize contemporary Africa and chose not to talk about the little good that has come out of Africa (the exception is Paul Kagame of Rwanda, he is my hero and I have written glowingly about what he has done in Rwanda; that country is almost at the level of the Asian tigers, whereas Nigeria is a cesspool of rubbers in government).
Because I emphasized what Africans did wrong, selling their people and their present corruption, many of them hated me with venom. If they could kill me, they probably would have done so.
Unable to get at me they did all kinds of investigations of my background. Since my last name, Osuji has the prefix osu in it and osu means slave, many of them began saying that I am angry at them because I am an osu, a slave.
My folks are the priestly class. If slave catchers were pursuing a person to catch him and sell him into slavery and he ran into our compound, the pursuers immediately left. They believed that to enter a high priest’s compound meant their immediate death. They could be hung for doing so, anyway. Igbos saw their Amadioha high priests as holy men and revered them. To the present, if you have a child, you brought him or her to the high priest to bless the child (and you brought sacrifices like cattle, rams, goats, hens and so on). In fact, many of those residual osus in our Owerri area were those who sought refuge in their village’s high priests’ compound, and he rescued them and then kept them to serve the local god. Thus, in most Owerri villages are quarters for osu folks (they still exist except that they are no longer slaves, although the people still treat them as outcasts).
My kindred, in addition to their priestly role, also produced the warriors of their people. My grandfather, Osuji-Njoku was deemed his people’s field marshal at war (called osuagha).
To call this first born and free man, diala, an osu is an outrage for which one could be hung. If you did that negative name calling in Owerri you could be hunted down and hung on the nearest tree for insulting their high priest.
For our present purposes, the point is that folks were looking for ways to get at me for what they believed that I did to them, desecrate their names instead of praising them. They would like me to overlook their wrongs and stress their good; they want me to praise them and see them as the best human beings.
Africans, these days, take responsibility for the first glorious human civilization, Egypt, and want you to talk about their glorious past but ignore their inglorious past and present. Here I come talking about what they did wrong in the past and present, so I became their public enemy number one. Some called me a public nuisance; whoever have heard a prophet praised by his people? No one who speaks the truth is seen as anything but a nuisance by evil humanity. So, I said, bring on the negative name calling, I am a big boy and can deal with it.
Africans will go to any length to avoid taking responsibility for capturing and selling their people to Arabs and Europeans. They understand that to be seen as those who sold their siblings is to be seen as primitive and they would rather we see them as saintly. Therefore, any suggestion that they played a role in slavery angers them.
My opinion of many Africans is so low that I suspect that if international laws banning slavery were removed today, many Africans would gladly resume capturing and selling their people into slavery while blaming those they sold them to!
Interestingly, they talk flippantly about the role of white folks in slavery; they divert responsibility to white folks and talk about their evil and not the evil of Africans; some of them even talk about white folks paying reparation to them.
Imagine that you go capture your people and sell them to some people and let the people you sold them to pay you reparation for your evil behavior. This is morality stood upside down.
If the world keeps making excuses for Africans, and that is what political correctness does for them by not blaming them for their evil behaviors, they are not going to change.
Western liberals telling Africans that neocolonialism keeps them backward but not telling them the truth that their thieving politicians keep them backward is a problem.
Until Africans produce leaders with integrity they are going nowhere and will remain the world’s laughingstock.
I did not write much about white folks’ part in slavery or their present role in racism. Of course, I am acutely aware of the travesty called American racism and discrimination.
The few times that I talked about the issue of race led my white friends to distance themselves from me. Like Africans, they, too, do not want anyone talking about the evils that their ancestors did or that they do in the present. They, too, want you to overlook their past and present evil and dwell on what is good in them.
Human beings present positive social masks and want you to relate to their masks except that I seemed incapable of doing so for I always talked about the bad behind people’s positive masks.
Until a few years ago, Arabs were still hunting, catching and enslaving Africans in Sudan, Mauritania and Niger; slavery still existed in those countries a decade ago!
Since Arabs and White folks’ desire to be seen in a positive light and felt that I was blaming them for the bad their ancestors did and that some of them do in the present, they resented me.
The lesson is that no one wants to be blamed for the bad his people did in the past or present. If you want people to like you do not blame them for any evil that you see in them, keep quiet about it.
By nature, I cannot keep quiet over evil. There is, however, an alternative to blaming people for their past and present wrongs; that alternative is to overlook their past but instead show them how to behave lovingly and caringly for each other in the present.
Show the people how to do the right thing by doing the right thing yourself and stop dwelling on the evil they do.
Do you want people to have a good relationship with you? If so, do not talk about their evil. If you cannot praise them then emphasize the correct behavior in all situations.
Talk about our need to love and care for each other; do not just talk about it, be a loving and caring person. Be the role model of a loving and caring person. This is the middle ground that I found to help me navigate the fact that people tend to gravitate to evil more than to good.
If you must blame folks then blame all people, blame Africans for slavery and blame white folks for slavery; actually, it is a waste of time blaming people; just live the example of a moral person.
People will be people whether you blame them or not, just live your life as you believe is right. Maturity and wisdom are to live righteously and leave other people to drown in their wickedness, as both Africans and Americans are currently doing.
It is difficult to practice what I concluded that folks should do, live the right life and ignore people’s bad behaviors. For example, Helen Schucman, in her book, A course in miracles, devoted a few lines to talking about leading by positive example, forgiving and loving people, but her book is 99% devoted to harping on the wrong that the sons of God did!
Nevertheless, if you want to have good relationship with people, do not harp on their evil, instead, talk about the good in people and live that good.
I find it necessary to see people as children who do not always understand the need to always do the right thing, so, I try to understand them and instead of blaming them teach them the right behaviors.
In the end, if you want to speak and live the truth you must not desire to be liked and accepted by the people; no one who speaks the truth is ever accepted by the mass of humanity.