Fifteen Years

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

Lester A. Knibbs aka Doctor Hakeem

Fifteen years.

“Overworked, underfed, under-clothed, and occasionally undergoing punishments that could include up to 1,000 lashes with a whip and being burned at the stake … it should come as no surprise that the average life expectancy of a slave was only 15 years.” — page 96, Muslims in American History: A Forgotten Legacy, by Jerald F. Dirks.

Fifteen years. On average.

“Only the strong survive.” And we are descendants of the survivors. So, why are we waiting for white people to change?

They beat us down because they know that if they don’t beat us down we will rise up and … govern their country. And do a better job of governing. They would feel less humiliated if we just killed them in a spasm of vengeance. But, to show them up — that will hurt.

On pages 35 to 38, Dirks describes the Mandinka voyages to the Western Hemisphere. Abu Bakari, the ruler of the Mali empire from 1285 to 1307 (or 1312), authorized two voyages across the Atlantic. The first expedition consisted of 400 ships. When one of the ships returned and reported being separated from the others by an ocean current, Abu Bakari order construction of a second fleet — a much larger fleet, consisting of 2,000 (or 4,000) ships. This fleet sailed west across the Atlantic in either 1307 or 1311, under the personal command of Abu Bakari. The evidence of Mandinka inscriptions found in Brazil, Peru, and the United States indicates that at least one of these missions successfully reached the Americas, and that the Mandinka expeditions traveled west across South America to the Pacific Ocean and north through the Andes and beyond, eventually using the Mississippi River to journey as far north as Canada.

The desperate voyages of Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama were representative of the relative position of Europe in the world at that time. In The Establishment of  the European Hegemony: 1415-1715, J.H. Parry describes how Europe was dangling on the edge of a precipice of starvation in the 14th and 15th centuries. Cut off, by the powerful, wealthy, and advanced Muslim nations and empires, Europeans had no access to the spices needed to preserve food. For us spices are a luxury. For them, spices were a necessity. Their cattle could not survive the cold winters, and the meats would spoil without spices to preserve them. The voyages of the European explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries were the desperate efforts of the weak, impoverished, and backward nations of Europe to get to the spices they needed to survive.

This is not the history the whites in power want us to know. They want the voyages of Abu Bakari’s fleets to remain unknown to us, or seem implausible if we learn of them. They want the voyages of Admiral Zheng He (1371-1433) from China to the nations of southern Asia and the east coast of Africa to remain unknown to us. His first fleet consisted of 317 ships, the largest of which were over four times the length of Columbus’s flagship. Columbus’s entire contingent of three ships could have easily been placed on the deck of Zheng He’s flagship. He led several voyages, between 1405 and 1433.

We are aware of the wealth and power and civilized genius of imperial China, but we are kept in the dark about the wealth and power and civilized genius of the Mali empire — even though it is documented that Mansa (the title of the ruler) Abu Bakari’s younger brother and successor Mansa Musa is the richest person in all of recorded history. (Mali controlled two-thirds of the world’s gold supply.)

I recently purchased a book (not long ago translated into English) by Mahmoud Kati, entitled Ta’rikh al-Fattash: The Timbuktu Chronicles 1493-1599; it is a history of West Africa written by a resident of Timbuktu and continued and completed by his sons and grandsons. These Black Africans were part of an extensive community of scholars who wrote books and taught at the universities which existed in West Africa. The Sankoré University (in Timbuktu) was capable of housing 25,000 students and had one of the largest libraries in the world with roughly 1,000,000 manuscripts. In some areas (most notably, in the area that has become today’s Senegal), literacy in Arabic (and their own languages) among men was 100%. It is from these and other West African populations that our slave ancestors were drawn.

When it is documented that the Middle Passage was a deliberately dehumanizing process, we need to understand the extent of the murderous fall from wealth, power, and civilization to the degraded condition of slaves whose average lifespan was 15 years.

Fifteen years.

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4 Responses to Fifteen Years

  1. solomon_morris@hotmail.com says:

    I am not sure if historical facts such as these mean anything to people whose hearts are diseased and sealed. I do not know.

    • Administrator says:

      I assume they mean something to you. Isn’t that important? Does your life have no influence in the world?

  2. Administrator says:

    I often wonder if my life has any meaning.

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