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Impact of Transatlantic slave trade still being felt 400 years later

From 1619 to 2019

Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Correspondent | 1/10/2019, midnight

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” — Muhammad Ali

“We need to exert ourselves that much more, and break out of the vicious cycle of dependence imposed on us by the financially powerful: Those in command of immense market power and those who dare to fashion the world in their own image.”

— Nelson Mandela

The most enduring consequences of the migration for the migrants themselves and for the receiving communities, were the development of racism and the corresponding emergence and sustenance of an African-American community, with particular cultural manifestations, attitudes, and expressions. The legacy is reflected in music and art, with a significant influence on religion, cuisine, and language, according to Paul E. Lovejoy, a research professor and Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History at York University in Toronto.

“The cultural and religious impact of this African immigration shows that migrations involve more than people; they also involve the culture of those people,” Lovejoy said in a recent post about the creation of the African Diaspora.

American culture is not European or African but its own form, created in a political and economic context of inequality and oppression in which diverse ethnic and cultural influences both European and African – and in some contexts, Native American – can be discerned, Lovejoy said. “Undoubtedly, the transatlantic slave trade was the defining migration that shaped the African Diaspora. It did so through the people it forced to migrate, and especially the women who were to give birth to the children who formed the new African-American population.” .

These women included many who can be identified as Igbo or Ibibio but almost none who were Yoruba, Fon, or Hausa. Bantu women, from matrilineal societies, also constituted a considerable portion of the African immigrants, and it appears that females from Sierra Leone and other parts of the Upper Guinea Coast were also well represented. “These were the women who gave birth to African-American culture and society, “Lovejoy explained.

After many rang in 2019 with celebratory parties and gatherings, there were still others who solemnly recalled the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade that started 400 years ago – 500 years, depending upon the region.

For Africans throughout the Diaspora, their struggle not only traces back 400 or 500 years, but it continued and was underscored as recently as 135 years ago when the infamous Berlin Conference was held.

The conference led to the so-called “Scramble for Africa” by European powers who successfully split the continent into 53 countries, assuring a division that remains today.

“There isn’t a single thing that was more damaging to Africa than the Berlin Conference,” said African Union Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

“Africans weren’t even invited to the conference,” she said.