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The gun and ship of enslavement

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Message Ari Merretazon

The ruling classes of Western Europe were able to conquer the world between 1400 and 1700 because of two distinct and soon powerfully combined technological developments; the gun and the ship of enslavement. 

These two developments combined to produce the cast iron cannon and ships for the sea. According to Marcus Rediker, in his book Slave Ship, A Human History, the ship of enslavement was “the historic vessel (engine) for the emergence of capitalism, a new an unprecedented social and economic system that remade large parts of the world beginning in the late 15th century. The historical record shows it as the first major engine of capitalism that restructured the division of labor and wealth, and thereby, the world. 

Ships mounted with cannons were the vessel of terror.  Like a machine it transformed the lives of Africans and Europeans alike.  Europeans came to America freely with a design of a new way of life in their hearts and minds.” Africans were kidnapped and shipped in chains with their life design already made, in the hearts and minds of Europeans.

So terrifying was this technology that it forced many Africans to drop their indigenous religions and accept Christianity. No other metal product of African enslavement was of more great consequence, ruthless or irreversible than the gun. Firearms of all types were mass-produced to the standards of that period.

The end result developed what is now the U.S. high-tech multi-billion-dollar weapons industry which has no equal.  Africa was the most important overseas target of guns from Europe and America.  Guns in Africa were used to kill, capture, and enslave. Over the course of the 18th century, the Gold Coast was de-populated of untold millions of Africans.  

It was the distribution of guns amongst the different groups of Africans that led to quarrels and subsequent capture and trade to European enslavers. These quarrels were called wars, and the word war was a euphemism for the organized theft of human beings. Walter Rodney observed in his history of the Upper Guinea Coast that local ruling groups made law “into the handmaid of the trade of enslavement. When it comes to guns and the domestic deaths of Americanized Africans, America is just as hostile. 

As conspiratorial as it may sound, there is a lot of similarity to the use of guns during African enslavement and the illegal guns that now saturate our communities.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, but just look at the facts in time and space, only the faces and places have changed.   

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Ari is a Founding Board Member and Officer of the Frator Heru Institute, and is an instructor for its Community Education Program where he teaches the course entitled, How to Obtain 501 ę(3) Status, and Keep It. He is a 1989 graduate of the Graduate (more...)
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