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Monumentality, Scriptocentrism and Other Mismeasures of Man

Oyekan Owomoyela


Africans unquestionably participated in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade as procurers for the European slave buyers. They saw the activity as a commercial venture. It fitted in snugly with the long-standing practice of enslaving war captives and sometimes putting them to death. Selling the captives was, to the captors, a more sensible (because more profitable) and certainly more humane alternative to putting them to death. The simplistic comments about who sold whom into slavery and what level of guilt there should be ignores several facts. Who wound up as a slave was often a matter of fortune or chance, inasmuch as the captor could as easily have been the captive if the fortunes of the military engagement had been different. If de Souza (of Ouida), who wound up rich from his slaving activities, could himself have avoided being enslaved (because he was white) his children fathered with African women could easily have been enslaved. The African American descendant of slaves who accuses Africans of being descendants of the people who sold him could, had chance been different, have been the African being accused by an African American of being a descendant of an African slaver.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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