“Under the Whiplash” by Lara Oruno
The article “Under the Whiplash” by Lara Oruno traces the institution of slavery right from its origin to the actual decline, together with the elements of violence that kept the system alive…
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First used by the Greeks, slavery has roots in the antique forced labor practices of the Egypt of pharaohs, Greece, Italy and the Middle East, particularly in Babylon and Assyria. A people stripped of any right to demand status of origin or title [name], slavery, apparently has a long history that saw Europe enslave approximately 20 percent of their own population at some point; a practice that only faded out in the fifteen century with the newfound sources from the far continents of Africa and Asia (Coates 18). With the advent of large scale plantations in the Americas, tens of millions of Africans became victims of slavery. Like the antique slaves, they were not only subjected to forced labor, but had to yield to the sexual demands of their masters. Keeping with the old tradition, all male slaves, irrespective of their ages, acquired the tittle "boy". Unlike the old slavery that offered a relief through some form of emancipation, slavery in the Caribbean was but a totalitarian system based on extreme exploitation driven in part by racism (Coates 19). The only alternative to freedom to such cruelty were brave flight efforts with a subsequent strong resistance. While the two terms, forced labor and slavery, have historically been used interchangeably, there exist a thin line in between.
According to the International Labor Organization, forced labor refers to “work imposed on a person under the threat(s) of a penalty and for which the willingness to offer such a service is non-existent” (ILO par 3). Slavery, however, is an elastic concept that not only covers forced labor, but includes the dimension of the subjects involved being treated as property worth some definite price. (Laura 162). In the second article, “Who was responsible?” Elikia M'Bokolo tries to navigate the thicket of who should take the responsibility on the massive shipments of Africans to the Americas. A controversial subject that has left historians with more of a guess work, M'Bokolo works extracts extra hard to deconstruct the myth placing the Africans themselves right in the middle. From slave-raiding that involved outright abduction to slave-trading, either of the processes engaged the expedition of man-hunts that carried maximum risks, including mass killings; the 1446 massacre near the Cap Vert peninsula in present-day Senegal was but a clear indication of the Africans determination to fight off enslavement. Accordingly, the Europeans, particularly the Portuguese, were the pioneer traders in slaves, perhaps to minimize the risks of deaths in millions, of people whose services were increasingly needed to sustain plantation farming in America. Understandably, slave-raiding continued even after the routinisation of slave-trade, occasionally becoming a buffer source of slaves’ supply for traders. M'Bokolo goes to note that the terms of trade were never in the hands of Africans; the occasional raids coupled with the building of forts along the coastline sent a clear message to the rulers of the continent that left them with no choices other than to comply (Coates 21). As such, though Africans got involved in selling their fellow brothers, Europe’s domination shaped every aspect of the trade, leaving Africa counting its losses as they [the Europeans] reaped massively. Bluntly put, slave trade, to Africans, was a kind of diabolical-plot which forcefully made them [Africans] accomplices or otherwise perish in the merciless expeditions. The section “A Controversial Question” highlights the controversy on who between the Europeans and Africans should bear the blame in perpetuating the
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