Contemplating "The Devil's Due"

Prince John: A knife! He's got a knife!
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It is 1183 and we are barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten.


~ from The Lion in winter

"My ancestors were writing philosophy while yours were still swinging in trees."

~ Gus Portokalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

"When Europe was still in the Dark Ages, the rest of the world was partyin'."

~ the Infamous Lil Sis
There's an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which fascinates me in so many ways - Season 4, Episode 13 "Devil's Due."

In "Devil's Due", the people of Ventax II are having a nervous breakdown because 1000 years earlier, their people signed a pact with a being called "Ardra", or their equivalent of the Devil.  According to the legend, Ardra promised the Ventaxians 1000 years of peace and prosperity, in exchange for a heavy tax at the end of those 1000 years.

Indeed, "Ardra" does appear, in the form of what Hollywhite defines as beautiful a woman, asking for a list of supplies.  Naturally, Captain Picard smells a setup, and arranges a hearing in which he demands Ardra prove that she is, in fact, the reason the Ventaxians have lived peacefully and prospered wonderfully over the last millennium.  During the hearing, he questions both her and the planet's prime minister.  The prime minister explains how the people abolished war and cleaned up the planet all on their own (even though he still believes Ardra is somehow responsible).  Eventually, Picard & Co. reveal that "Ardra" really is nothing more than a very clever con-woman.

I find this episode fascinating because some ways, it applies to the effects of the White Western world on everyone else.  While thinking over the historical comments of Nabil Adbul Rashid and statements from Black people like, "If I visit Asia, I think I'll go to Japan.  It's the most Westernized," I get the feeling that most POC truly believe - whether consciously or subconsciously - that without white people, they wouldn't have anything.

Talk about a white lie.

While studying African history during grad school, we came across a saying that slavery pushed the Industrial Revolution forward in Europe, but held it back in Africa.  In other words, even without white people, people of color would still have the technologies we have today.  And since we are less callous towards this planet, our technological advancement would have been less detrimental to the environment.  Whether we would've developed it more slowly or much faster is ultimately irrelevant, because the effects in the long run would be what mattered most.

Rashid's statements show that It's imperative more than ever that we talk about history within this context, not to educate white folks on the matter, but to fully and properly educate ourselves on the matter.

So it is with great pleasure that I end this with some links from African Kingdoms, and the beginning of a lecture from the late great Ivan Van Sertima:


Additional Kingdoms

Baguirmi
Mandara
Bimbia
Nri
Benin Empire
Asante Confederacy
Kingdom of Dahomey
Oyo Empire
Nok

Civilizations before Greece and Rome


Recommended

Colonized Mental Illness, by Brotha Wolf

Comments

  1. Jeez, I've got a shitload of reading to do now. I took an African History class back in college and loved it, but never continued the study. After a brief glimpse at some of the links, I'm interested again.

    Inspiration may come out of that giant world mythology book you sent. Leave it to you to give me a reading assignments in the midst of a pilot study! :P

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  2. My Dad sadly thinks like that sometimes,today he said it to my mother's cousin's friend and I had to interject by saying BULLSHIT very loudly.

    Sorry Dad but no that is the colonial mind fucking that is talking so please stip.

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  3. n other words, even without white people, people of color would still have the technologies we have today. And since we are less callous towards this planet, our technological advancement would have been less detrimental to the environment.

    One thing I love about all the current and past talk about environmentalism (and by love I mean side-eye and severely smirk at) how First World Whites are all about blaming ALL of mankind for the current polluted state of the earth. "We need to save the planet!" "We are destroying the earth!"

    Um, who is this "We," White folks?

    Why not put blame where blame is due on Industrial Revolution-derived, White Western technologies? But then, White folks would have to carry the blame on that and we know how well they shoulder blame. Accolades, yes. Pile 'em on! But blame, nah son. Blame is where Whites are most interested in equality and sharing when they can't just wholesalely dump it on others.

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  4. Um, who is this "We," White folks?

    Billion dollar question. One that I tend to ask quite often.

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  5. Puts me in the mind of Katt Williams. "We havin' a problem with the Chinese." Brother looks over his shoulder and back at the white man. "I ain't having a problem with the Chinese. Everything in my house made from China." Who the hell is "We" indeed, other than sounding like French for "yes."

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  6. I've been trying to get rid of that colonial programming for years, and hopefully the links will help me on my journey.

    As far as white people are concerned, who the hell is "we"? Since when the hell did "we" include us? It's always been "you" or "you people" when it comes to nonwhites. We are not people to them, we are "another kind of people who aren't seen as people". They better get outta here with that bullshit.

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  7. I'm bookmarking this post.

    "Indeed, "Ardra" does appear, in the form of what Hollywhite defines as beautiful a woman, asking for a list of supplies."

    This is one of the few times where I think casting a white woman was a smart play. Given Adra's character, if this had been a woman of color, especially a black woman, in that role, there would've been some major sapphire troping going on.


    Also, to those of you who want to see how our African Kingdoms would hold it down, get the Marvel Black Panther DVD and take note of Wakanda. While the nation of Wakanda is fictional, the very issues of how it evolved and surpassed the west are dead on and touches on the very points made in this post.

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  8. Perla Buttons8/29/11, 11:34 PM

    @Witchsistah: "One thing I love about all the current and past talk about environmentalism (and by love I mean side-eye and severely smirk at) how First World Whites are all about blaming ALL of mankind for the current polluted state of the earth. "We need to save the planet!" "We are destroying the earth!"

    Um, who is this "We," White folks?

    Why not put blame where blame is due on Industrial Revolution-derived, White Western technologies? But then, White folks would have to carry the blame on that and we know how well they shoulder blame. Accolades, yes. Pile 'em on! But blame, nah son. Blame is where Whites are most interested in equality and sharing when they can't just wholesalely dump it on others."

    One of my titas works in international aid here in Oz. According to her, it is extremely common for (White Aussie) philanthropists and coporate donors to complain about how un-environmentally friendly those damn brown people* in developing nations are, and how they should just get their shit together and make green-friendliness a major priority. Sometimes they even talk about not donating unless the brown folks green up their act.

    Yup, that's right. Why should we help them with sanitation/preventable diseases/exploitation/absolute and relative poverty when they dare to not be all that fussed about their carbon footprint? Charming, I know.

    Nevermind Oz's gargantuan per capita pollution levels, shit-tonnes of economic breathing room and continued economic prosperity.



    *My tita has worked on both South American and Asian projects, but I'm pretty sure she's referring to partners in Asian and Pacific region projects. "Why should we change our environmental ways here in Oz when Malaysia/Indonesia/India/China/wev is doing X" is a HUGELY popular sentiment here.

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  9. @ Everyone

    Pay close attention to dates and to rulers. You will find that some of these Kingdoms/Sultanates - like the Mandara, for example - still exist, regardless of whichever Westernized power structure is currently in place.

    These Chiefs, Fons, Kings, and Sultans carry immeasurable weight amongst the myriad peoples they rule, so Presidents and Prime Ministers (yes, even the dictators) generally try to avoid fucking with them.

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  10. What the hell? Over a year ago, I put a ton of work into completing and correcting that laughable Benin Empire page, only to have it reverted AGAIN? That's the second time. It talked about their military tactics/equipment, wars, system of government, writing system, architecture, philosophy, religion, age roles, city/guild districts, titles, and a lot more information. But now it's all gone again.

    Seems like too many facts (no matter how well sourced) aren't good for the white psyche, if it promotes an image outside of the status quo.

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