Negritude or pan-Africanism do not show up in the Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean political debate.
Edward Blyden (1832-1912) of St. Thomas made it his life’s achievement to repatriate Africans to Africa. He became the politician and leading philosopher of “reverse migration” in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Under his direction, thousands of former African slaves returned to the Africa West Coast, where they set up a plantation economy, including grand antebellum mansions inspired by the southern states of the USA. For labor, Blyden and his followers used the local African population whom they enslaved. Blyden believed that Africans were innate, genetically programmed to return to their roots, and, in a reverse migration, would return massively to the motherland of Africa.
About 100 years later, by 2014, only about 3,000 Afro-Americans and Caribbeans live in the area of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana.
Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) of Jamaica formed the next generation to promote re-migration to Africa, with his “Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (the UNIA).“ But as soon as Edgar Hoover got onto Marcus, he was arrested for embezzlement of millions of dollars, raised in crowdfunding, money supposedly destined for the purchase of transatlantic steamers to make the re-migration of Blacks to Africa possible.
Frantz Fanon( 1925-1961) of Martinique, a psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary writer and a strong proponent of pan-Africanism and Marxism propagated racial violence. With his book “The Wretched of the Earth,” he advocated an apocalyptic battle in Africa between Black and Whites, between colonialized and colonizers. But only a handful American and Caribbean Blacks came over to North Africa to join him is his bloody struggle.
The Rastafarians of Jamaica bombarded Ras Tafari, King Tafari, later known as Emperor Haile Selassie, to Messiah and the second coming of Christ. Emperor Haile Selassie set aside 500 acres of land in Ethiopia for Western Blacks who wanted to return to Africa, but only a few hundred ever made the journey to the
Afro-Americans and -Caribbeans want to be European to a much greater extent than they usually want to admit. Their rhetoric, especially at election times, may be fiercely anti-European, eagerly exploiting emotions of slavery, foreign occupation, and colonialism. But they all see the world and their future through European glasses, with British pop-music, American jeans, and T-shirts, and European sneakers fabricated in South Korea. In thought and taste, Blacks all succumbed to Europeanism and nothing else.
Bombastic, political rhetoric often calls for independence, sovereignty, and autonomy, but when push comes to shove nobody wants to give up their EU- or USA-passport in exchange for a Caribbean micro-state ID-card, let alone a West African passport.
Truly, Negritude is dead. Blyden was wrong, and so were, Garvey, Fanon and the Rastafarians: Blacks want to be White.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle