Conveniently leaving aside the support successive French governments have given to the most corrupt and brutal regimes in postcolonial Africa, as well as France’s role in the Rwandan genocide, he proclaimed: “One cannot blame everything on colonisation -- the corruption, the dictators, the genocide, that is not colonisation.” France might have made “mistakes”, but they believed in their “civilising mission” and “did not exploit anybody”.

My dear friends, the black child of Camara Laye on his knees in the silence of the African night will know and understand that he can raise his head and look with confidence to the future. And this black child of Camara Laye will feel in himself the two parts of himself reconciled. And he will at last feel himself to be a human being like all members of humanity.

In 1966, soon after the world commemorated the 21st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and made the customary solemn declaration of ‘Never, Never Again’, Hausa-Fulani emirs, muslim clerics and intellectuals, military officers, politicians and other public figures in Nigeria defiled that season of reflection, commiseration and hope. They planned and executed the first phase of the Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide in post-conquest Africa. This genocide became the clearing site for the haunting killing fields that would snake across the African geographical landscape in the subsequent 40 years. A total of 100,000 Igbo were massacred across north Nigeria and elsewhere in the country, with the active support of the central government in Lagos headed by Yakubu Gowon during the months of May-October 1966. Most were killed in their houses, offices, businesses, schools, colleges and hospitals, as well as those who were attacked at railway stations and on trains, bus stations and buses, airports and in cars, lorries and on foot as they sought to escape the genocide for their homeland in east Nigeria.

Earlier on in January 2003, France had significantly escalated its 2002 intervention in Côte d’Ivorie, to the west, by reinforcing its overall troops’ deployment to about 4000 and expanding the so-called sandwich territory between it and the forces of the Ivorian state and north-based insurgents. Given the frequency and the tally of its military interventions in Africa since 1960, France has, contrary to prevailing international perception, the worst record of Northern World power state military intervention in the Southern World.

The initial case of African-American Slave Descendants, or MDL 1491, went after restitution owed by corporations. In all, nine lawsuits were filed against 19 corporations on behalf of the 35 million descendants of enslaved Africans across the U.S. The lawsuits' targets include banks, railroads (CN among them), textile companies, shipbuilders and insurance companies like New York Life for their role in underwriting 1800s slave insurance policies whose beneficiaries were the slaves' owners.

"Black" is a shifting identity that depends on where you are and who's looking at you. But is this what we mean when we celebrate black history? Do we intend to say there are some aspects of a common history that are black for example, filled with pain and exclusion for some people or are we thinking that there is a group of people called blacks who have a history unique unto themselves? The first meaning of black and blackness is based on the colour of the skin. This is the most meaningless signifier, based only on the visual. Human beings are more than their skins. However, the history of slavery and social exclusion of those with black skin has made it the primary way of determining who is black.

Under the cloak of this "philanthropic" organization, the king assembled a private army called the Force Publique that, through horrendous brutality, extracted rubber and ivory riches from the region. Stanley thus laid the groundwork for long Belgian rule over the Congo, a regime that we know today claimed between 8 million and 30 million African lives. The French, who did not recognize Leopold's private colonization, tried to lay claim to the region themselves. Out of this dispute, the Berlin Conference of 1884 convened, at which 13 European countries and the U.S. recognized Central Africa's Congo region as Leopold's private property.

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