I recently returned to African soil from a first-time visit to rural Ireland, my ancestral homeland. Setting my feet again deep in African soil, feeling the languorous caress of Senegal’s breeze, the warming embrace from her sun on this continent that all life began was deeply revitalizing and invigorating. It calmed my body, but even more the core of my soul. It was a welcome break from the harshness of the icy-cold European winters that afflicts those far Northern Islands my ancestors dwelled upon.
Yet, to my surprise, something profound affected me there in Ireland; touching that earth and tasting those waters of my ancestral Island homeland. A switch clicked on inside of my cells and nervous system. Something long asleep was nudged awake. A part of my invisible self, the spirit or soul, was activated, bringing with her awakening a new level of inner-insight; of that most precious knowledge—the knowledge of self. In essence, I forgot for the moment I was “White.”
My heart then vaguely recalled that I actually came from a specific people-group, who still speak in a non-colonialized tongue, though it is utterly unintelligible to me. To my colonized ears, “Irish Gaelic” sounds as much like a language as does the squawks of angry birds or the braying of goats. It is an empty noise to my dulled, colonized ears. But still, my ears heard it. And something deep inside was awoken. This semblance of a vague remembrance posed a question to my mind: “What did ‘White-men’ lose as a result of colonialism?”
I am a life-long student of world-history and have learned of the dreadful toll European-Colonialism wreaked on humanity and the earth. First, came the pernicious myth of White-supremacy. Then, the mass kidnappings, exploitation, and genocidal violence perpetrated upon Africans as a result of the “profitability” of the African slave trade.
Also, there was the “Conquest” — the all-out war on Indigenous peoples, and subsequent theft of their rich lands. A war still raging actively to this day, as we have seen with the Dakota Pipeline attack on the Lakota peoples, the attempt to exterminate the Indigenous tribes of the Amazon, etc., etc. Colonialism, and all of its ugly brothers; Earth-pillaging Industrialism, mechanistic capitalism, racism, slavery, genocide, et. al. and ad infinitum, have taken dreadful tolls on African, Asian, and Indigenous peoples across the globe.
So what, (if any) loss took place among the European descendants of their colonizing forefathers? Though “blessed” with the dubious and unjust social-clout of “White privilege,” Whites, and White-males in particular, lost the core part of themselves in this European/American “McDonaldization” of race. They traded genuine ancient cultures, lands, stories, ancestors, and languages for the scientifically-empty designations of the “race” of “Whiteness,” “Blackness,” “Browness,” etc. Scientifically speaking, all humans are nothing but varying shades of “brown.”
The genetic difference between a short Pygmy woman in the Congo and a tall Danish male in Norway is .03%. In other words, genetically in the actual cellular DNA, a difference amounting to nothing. Most educated people understand categories of “race” are merely social-constructs, not scientific facts. Historically, a certain social class of European males benefitted economically (and with enhanced social control) by perpetuating these vain fables of “race.” So, did the “White” descendants of these social-elite thieves, kidnappers, and colonizing pirates really lose anything as a result of their forefather’s crimes?
Before I began traveling extensively in Africa and Ireland, I would have said an emphatic “no” to this question. I would have stated they only benefitted economically, materially and socially from the crimes of their forefathers. And, certainly too many of these descendants still believe (and capitalize upon) the weapons of lies their forefathers forged in the cauldron of arrogance, hate, and violence. Yet, having met many Africans who survived the colonization of their people, I was struck by their pride and the deep “soul-force” (Dr. King’s term) of knowing who they are. This is a most precious gift and inheritance.
Many Africans still speak in the language of their ancestors. They still know many of the stories from their distant past. They still retain the moral values that have been passed on for thousands of years by their ancestors, who lived, fought, and died for them. Their bodies and souls are firmly embedded in deep rich roots. They still honor their ancestors. Their very existence, is not a puzzle or mystery, as is the case of so many African-Americans whose ancestral roots and ties were purposefully scrambled in an attempt to disorient kidnap victims and captives. Yet, even the descendants of those who enslaved these Africans, ultimately lost who they are—they are merely “White,” which means of course, absolutely nothing. “White” is empty, blank space, absence.
What I have observed in these travels within Africa and Ireland, is that in contrast to native African tribes and Gaelic-speaking Irish, these “White” people have a gaping empty hole in their hearts and soul. They do not know who they are. They roam about the earth like “hungry ghosts,” with no land to rest upon or truthfully call their own, no stories to call their own, no tongue of their ancestors echoing in their infant ears and molding their souls.
They have instead, a foreign Colonizing language dictating the strict, sharp contours of their worldview. They do not speak Yoruba, Wolof, Afar, Amharic, Kikuyu, Basque, Twa, or Gaelic. They see the world in the locked-box of colonial languages, and are subsequently stripped of their own ancestrally unique way of seeing and experiencing reality. They have forgotten their ancestors, and no longer honor them. They only remember and honor their colonizing forefathers from 1776. Their true ancient ancestors are neglected, and hence, their ancestors have turn their backs on them.
These colonizers did such a magnificent job of colonizing, they colonized even their own minds and souls. They traded their genuine cultural inheritance, for the temporary “bowl of porridge” of the myth of White-supremacy and power of White-privilege. Or rather, their forefathers pawned their descendants’ true birthright for a temporary “fix,” or “high.”
In Ireland, my family and I visited the majestic 5000-year-old Irish Megalith “temple-tomb” of Poulnabrone, near Galway, Ireland. We later entered the pre-historic Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange, built about 3200 B.C.E. These amazing structures were built before the Pyramids, in millennia past by our Irish ancestors. It sits on beautiful green hills, and was constructed to align with the annual Winter Solstice, like some of the Pyramids.
There, we quieted our souls, made a tobacco offering to our ancestors, and listened deeply to the quiet of these haunts of ancient peace. We walked along through the mountains, lakes, and streams that nourished our ancestors for millennia. We felt that this was a land where magic ruled supreme, not “science,” “English,” and a mechanical view of the world. This world is alive, vibrating with life-force, and magical. Here, the realms between the us and the ancestors are a mere paper-thin membrane.
Here, we all remembered, to some degree, what and who we were. We remembered something about ourselves that was much deeper than our “Whiteness.” We heard gentle echoes of whispers from our ancestors reminding us of our true roots. They were gifting us again with those most important treasures. A heritage stolen from us in exchange, as an offering to the false god of “Whiteness.” They were guiding us back to home and healing. This whole world desperately needs a healing from the poisoned “gift” of “Whiteness.”
Feature Photo Credit: Getty Images