(With author’s permission, from the book Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A Critical Observation of Neighbouring Continents) An observation by Akinyi Princess of K’Orinda-Yimbo
The Noble/Oriental Moor
From the beginning of the 13th century a certain Wolfram von Eschenback of Germany created the image of the so-called noble Moor as a knight full of virtues, courage and a ripe fruit of faithfulness. The Moor’s education was touted to be beyond any other, pure and brave in battle he was too. No other knight before him was so gentle for he knew no injustice, according to von Eschenback.
"Moor girl under the magic tree" by an unknown painter, 1944. The African woman, in Euroancestral eyes, is always a seductress with her mysterious sexuality.
Those were the days before Africans were classified as “heathen” and “black”.
Men, women and children of African ancestry came to Europe in those days as a group or singly. They came of their own free will or against it. Some stayed for only a short while, others for along time and some even remained in Europe for good. Right from as early as the Carolingian period – 7th to 8th century – African warriors were fighting in Europe under the banner of the lion, the shield and the half moon in order to bring the “true faith” Islam to Europe. From the start of the Hegira in Egypt and Nubia, leagues of African soldiers, later referred to with great respect as “Allah’s Black Ravens”, played an important role in the army that defeated North Africa and finally crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to conquer Spain in the 7th century. They then continued storming northwards up to Burgundy. "Black Military Musician in Brandenburger Court" by Peter Schenk, 1696-1701 in the State Museum, Berlin.
Parallel to that, a second column of these soldiers marched into Sicily and built a long lasting kingdom there before they continued their conquests into upper Italy “like a swam of bees” as a cleric wrote in the 11th century. Africans were part of Saladin’s troops who defeated the Crusaders and captured Acre, Jerusalem and Ashkelon. They were generals of Saladin’s armies as he fought Richard I of England and Philip II of France during the Third Crusade. On the other hand Christians of Eastern Africa and Egypt, who had adopted the religion since the 4th Century AD, also fought in the Crusades on the side of Christendom.
Since the times of the crusades when Africans fought on both the Christendom and the Islam fronts, some of them came as far north as the Alps and settled there. But in two to three generations their complexion and other “African” characteristics disappeared.
Emperors and kings of Europe as well as merchants were very interested in Africans and spent a great deal of time with them. Other ordinary or simple European folk looked at Africans with curious astonishment. The people of Africa have left their traces in European philosophy, art, theology, myths, music and literature. In Germany for example, (up until the Second World War) a few thousand Africans came to various parts of the country. In these interactions there arose no problems until the time when European scientists, statesmen, scribes and artists as well as the common people began to apply metaphors to Africans – from the European viewpoint.
An image then emerged that reflected the social order Europeans strove for. All through the centuries that followed, the nature of the African would be variously comprehended and represented but would always mirror the problems and way of thinking of the Europeans – not the reality. This explains why Africans are often viewed as objects rather than subjects by Europeans and as such Africans remain in European art, literature, science and folklore as strange, as “other” and impersonal. The significance of Africans tend to increase whenever a deep-rooted change takes place in the European society such as during the crusades, the Reformation or the pre-revolution phase of the 18th century. Africans become symbols of European intentions and wishes and thereby cultivate defence or fear in the Europeans, where the Africans then become the double-headed Roman god of doorways, passages and bridges, Janus. They, the Africans, stand representative for forwards and backwards, the one standing for a future full of promises and the other indicating loss and thus threatening.
For these reasons, the presence of Africans produce contradictory reactions from many non-Africans. There is always this mixture of rejection and fascination, fear and a longing wish. This ambivalence in attitude and feelings directs to this day how other people associate with Africans both in theory and in practice. The fragmented knowledge of specific Africans ever since the Roman Expansion in the 3rd century seems to have been liquidated. At the turn of the 10th century in central Europe the world was suddenly divided into two: Christendom and Islam. As I already mentioned the conflicts of these two worlds influenced to a great extent the presence of Africans in Europe. And always with that double-headed Janus of the Threatening and the Desirable embodied in it. The ever ringing melody of the primitive “race” and the cultured one, the pre-logic and the rational, the savage and the civilised, the superstitious and the enlightened, the primitive art and the prime art, and so on, not to forget the Christian and the heathen. It didn’t and doesn’t matter that Euro-Christianity is based on and twined with Euro-heathen religious cults. Each epoch brought with it other expressions, other stampings, all in conformity with the dominating social conflict of the time. Meet Miss Wachira, a 100% Kikuyu girl with blue eyes. The genes responsible for the colour of the skin are not responsible for the colour of eyes or hair. This is why Africans often have green, rarely blue eyes. I took the picture in 1997 in a KLM flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam. Mr Richard Wachira and his daughter were on their way to Washington.
During the Renaissance Africans were representative of the envied “oriental” culture and thus the privileged rung. From that point the African went from the superior military adversary to the desired courtier/servant. As the colonisation of the non-European world began, this image changed drastically. Out of the cultured oriental “Ethiopian” (with regard to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the far-reaching economic, social and psychological processes of change in Europe) emerged the “primitive Negro”.
At this point the African was still not yet referred to as “Black” owing to his complexion. His so-called decline began at the end of the crusades, at the time the old Euro-Christian cosmology folded up. About mid 17th century when the language of philosophy began re-arranging the world order, the “Negro” began sliding down the ladder of humankind towards the rung next to animals. The philosophers, artists, scientists and the literati played the decisive role as to when and how this declination took place. Regarded as hardly a human being at this later stage, and as nearly an animal, the African finally was turned over to “primitivism”, an object through which the progressive minds could judge how far general knowledge of humankind could go. Up until around 1830 the final image of the African was completed. Africans were unutterably strange and demonic, impulsive and depraved, cultureless, lacking both common sense and history, imbued with animalistic body-build and childish conduct.
Since the era of the manufacturing society and the beginning of the modern colonization (from about 1830) this image of the African has remained in all its basic nuances. And it has not only remained but also began taking on new social functions: from this period onwards, it legitimised the oppression, colonisation and exploitation of the African. It legitimised physically forcing the African to deny his religion and culture. There are very vague memories left in central Europe today, of the 3rd century, when Europeans interacted with Africans who were Rome’s generals, soldiers and mercenaries. Perhaps the memories are diluted with the fragmented writings and sculptures of the antique era. Or the re-writing of history later on by the so-called European discoverers, explorers and sojourners. In certain texts in the Bible where Ethiopia (at the time representative for all of Africa south of the Sahara) is mentioned, Africans are given a mythological image. "Heinrich Carl Baron of Schimmelmann" by Lorenz Lönberg, ca. 1773 - National Historical Museum, Denmark.
The ladies and gentlemen of the nobility took to powdering themselves white and acquiring African children as companions to set off their "whiteness". The "blacker" the child, the better.
Guinea Coast & Freedom Of The Seas
At the beginning of the 17th century nations of north-western Europe, especially the Netherlands and England, there had been long years of social upheavals in the aristocracy and merchant classes. The upheavals summated into politics. These north-western nations began to question the Atlantic monopoly of Spain and Portugal which had began in the 15th century. Battles and wars were the order of the day. By 1644 it was necessary to negotiate peace in Munster, Germany, regarding the Thirty Years War. The French ambassador came to the negotiations with a retinue of at least 140 Africans. In those days the significance of the ruling classes was also measured by the splendour of his African attendants. When the ambassador and his retinue attended the religious service in Munster’s cathedral, the Spanish delegation (having the monopoly of the Atlantic trade routes) felt insulted and belittled by being outshined by the French and consequently brusquely left the cathedral.
Three hundred and sixty-one years later, Spain is actually turning African refugees back to Morocco and whatever Fate may have in store for the refugees.
Paradoxically “freedom of the seas” in those Atlantic-jostling days also became the bane of the Africans. Instead of the old days when they came to Europe via caravans of the Sahara, the Mediterranean Sea and the Alps, Africans now came directly over the sea route from West Africa or the roundabout route from the Americas or the Caribbean islands. This was the moment Europeans now came to acquaint themselves with an altogether different breed of Africans. The “Oriental Moors” or the “Cultured Ethiopians” had been dark-skinned people but they had represented a culture far superior to that of the Europeans. Because Christ came from their corner of the world, they had embraced Christianity at a time when the religion was struggling to take root in Greece and Rome. These Africans had been richly clothed and bejewelled, well-educated and cultured in conduct. Armed, the Moor or Ethiopian had threatened the European on his – the European’s – ancestral land. The initial interaction between Africans and Europeans had been initiated by the Africans coming to Europe and not the Europeans going to Africa. But now European nations were aggressively competing with each other on the Guinea Coast where they discovered a breed of Africans inferior to them both economically and “spiritually”. The social and cultural achievements of Moslems and Coptic Christians which Europeans had so admired was alien on the Guinea Coast. Europeans registered this immediately and, with astonishment all the same, assigned this development level of the West Africans to be representative of all of Africa. "The Garden of Lust" by Hieronymus Bosch, ca. 1500, oil on wood. Prado Museum, Madrid
Notice the colour polarisation!
To this day seem not to be aware that the African continent is 31 millionEuroancestrals square miles in size. That is to say 50 million square kilometres. The DRCongo alone is as big as the entire Europe, and DRCongo is not the largest nation in Africa.
The miraculous world of the Ethiopian Priester John which had cemented itself in European minds in connection with Africa was smashed at the Guinea Coast. Priester John and his King Solomon’s Mines was relocated farther south where Europeans still had no knowledge. European fantasies began to operate in overdrive. They began to write about and draw Africa and Africans. Even Ethiopia and Nubia were dragged through the mud while Egypt and the rest of North Africa were artificially cut off from Africa and joined to the Middle East. Psychologically, the Guinea Coast Africans gave Europeans the weapon with which to revenge themselves for the agonising feelings of inferiority to Africans that had distressed them for centuries. And the noble Moor became a Negro whose “black” complexion was suggestive of barbaric primitives.
Let us go back at this point to the European association with the colour black. Since the Roman days through the centuries of the crusades, the African’s complexion was his most conspicuous characteristic. The dark skin left such a deep impression on the pale pink to light brown Europeans that the Europeans (perhaps to this day) tend to see a uniform “black” in all Africans. The terms Ethiopian, Moor or the Latin word niger were generally used to describe a dark-skinned person of African descent including the North African population.
It was in the 15th century, with the frequent contact with the Oriental and North African worlds, when the Europeans began to differentiate between the Orientals and the Africans. The terms began to switch from Moor to “black Moor”. Before this, in the 8th and 9th centuries, European scholars regarded dark-skinned people as Africans coming from the three regions of the world known to Europeans since the Middle Ages in accordance with the Bible story of the Flood and Noah’s three sons. But no European from Middle Europe ever set foot in Africa. They did not even know for certain how enormous the continent was, except for scanty passages in the Bible and from the antiquity scribes. All such passages only helped to mystify Africa and the Africans to the Europeans. First Africa was treated as a mythological place whose significance was not grasped in a geographic-ethnologic context, but in a military-theological one. Saracen’s army from Africa were known as “the Devil’s troop” and their dark-skinned allies were “the Devil’s children”. Ethiopia, the land they came from, was accordingly a “damned land”. In Europe the devil had been painted with the blackest colours. He symbolised Evil and therefore Good had to be symbolised by the colour white. For as long as anybody in any culture on earth can remember, white and black stood for light and darkness, beauty and ugliness, God and the Devil, Good and Evil, innocence and sin. The antiquity, Christian and Germanic symbols of black and white had conditioned Europeans to arrange the universe in those terms, later making it easy to identify dark-skinned Africans with the devil. In the Scriptures the devil is for the first time referred to as “the black one” meaning “the evil one” – and not “the Negroid one”. There is no anthropological meaning to connect it with Africans. Until the so-called “Arabic danger” turned the devil into an African. And as the devil became African, African became “the devil”. "Moor and Peasant in a dance" Nuremberg City Library.
The Spanish-Portuguese word “Negro” for the first time replaced the “noble Moor” in a shipping register in 1606. Twelve years later, in 1618, the word Negro was used for the second time by the Lutheran Gaspar Ens, a Protestant vicar. And so it progressed until the end of the 17th century when “Negro” replaced the 400-year-old word “Moor” altogether. Even more important is the rapid sinking of the Africans’ status from the image of the Queen of Sheba and the Holy Mauritius to the half-animal nigger. Whereas back in 1638 an Ethiopian ambassador of the Negus, the Ethiopian Emperor, had spent many brilliant years in the European central powers’ courts as a learned and cultured friend and a favourite of Cardinal Richelieu of France where the ambassador finally died; whereas at the same time an impressive bust of the Holy Gregorius Maurus wearing majestic Roman-Baroque vestments was displayed in Cologne’s St Gereon Church, only forty-six years later in 1684 a delegation from the Gold Coast was to receive a cold shoulder.
In that year the delegation came to the Berlin Residence of the Great Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg only to experience with what little regard Africans were now being treated in the meantime. Africans were no longer treated as equal partners. This delegation from Ghana came as representatives of 86 rulers of their country who for nearly 400 years had been recognised in Europe as kings. These kings were now relegated to primitivism-suggestive title of “chiefs”. This notion is to this day in the 21st century anchored in European conception of African societies whom they still refer to as “tribes”, their rulers as “chiefs”, their war commanders as “warlords”. The leader of the above-mentioned Ghanaian delegation is registered in the official documents in Germany as “Jan Jancke” since nobody thought his African name was worth noting down.
At any rate this encounter led to the first Brandenburg colony in Africa.
Black & White At Last
When and how did Afroancestrals “officially” become “blacks”? And when did Europeans stop referring to themselves simply as Christians in “Christendom”?
It is an interesting observation. In the mid 17th century, around 1660 to be exact, ladies and gentlemen of the European aristocracy and nobility developed a strange ambition. It became fashionable for them to make their faces, throats, breasts, hands and any other exposed parts of their bodies as white as alabaster. Soon all noblewomen and most noblemen were having rouged rosy cheeks and powdered snow-white foreheads and breasts. This was now regarded as flawless beauty to be maintained until the grave. It was practised with religious devotion. No treatment was too drastic as long as the distinguished paleness could be achieved and maintained. The Europeans were regularly phlebotomized until they fainted, and this again and again. The ladies swallowed laxatives, ashes and sand and did their best to constantly ruin their stomachs in order to look pale. A destructive war was launched on liver spots, warts and freckles. Direct sunshine on the skin was avoided, white powder was applied liberally and chemical cleaning agents were cosmetic prerequisites. Masks were worn even on the hottest day to keep out the sun. Gloves smeared with ointment made of wax, almond and attar of roses were worn even while sleeping to keep the hands “white and beautiful”.
Today such chemical bleaching of the skin is left to Afro- and Asiancestrals for huge profits while Euroancestrals make a beeline for the solarium, or the beaches of the southern hemisphere in order to acquire a “healthy-looking” skin colour. All this testify to the fact that the aristocrats, nobles and other courtiers of the day had decided to demarcate between themselves and the middle class, as well as the ordinary workers and peasants. They put up not only a physical but also a visible resistance against contributing to the production processes of their national economies, which still consisted to a great extent of working in the fields. Such work exposed one’s face to the sunrays, the wind and ruined hands. Face and hands were the most visible parts of the body where any browning would be noticed at a glance.
Soon enough the flawlessly pale skin of the aristocratic ladies and gentlemen was the distinguishing mark of recognition as belonging to that privileged class. Practically overnight, pigmentation was employed as the borderline in society between the world of the privileged and that of the workers and peasants, and this borderline was strictly kept in place. This European class-division tendency flowed smoothly into the belief that Divine Providence had ordained this separateness, this apartheid. It was God’s will and none should meddle with it. Anti-American Propaganda Placard, Italy, Boccasile, ca. 1942.
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was flourishing in full swing at this very period and these dark-skinned people were being traded and transported for no better reason than that they be used as beasts of burden. The colour of their skin proclaimed this.
It was since the mid 17th century that pigmentation determined who ruled and who was ruled, who was master and who servant. The doctrine was quickly adopted in the colonies in the Americas and in Africa, with the exception that Africans were also labelled “heathens” as opposed to Christians. Towards the end of the 17th century the words “black” and “white” as descriptions of Africans and Europeans emerged “officially” for the first time. An artificial invention that to this day prevails. It did and does not matter that the natural complexion of Africans is brown to dark brown, and the natural complexion of Europeans is pink to light brown.
It then followed that as the 18th century dawned, European aristocracy were in a fever about acquiring African courtiers. In the main, children between the ages of 5 to 7 were preferred. This was the new hottest fashion of the day in the Europe of monarchs, of kings, queens, princes and princesses. Of barons and baronesses, counts and countesses, who were prepared to pay a fortune for the new rage. The “blacker” the better. David Dabydeen in his study of Horgarth’s Blacks (1987) wrote:
“In van Dyck`s Henrietta of Lorraine, the black is a mere aesthetic foil. The lady’s tallness comes out in relation to his smallness, and his dark skin throws into relief the whiteness of her skin. In real life blacks were greatly prized for the intensity of their colour, as the ‘For Sale’ advertisements in English newspapers indicate. The Williamson’s Liverpool Advertiser of 20 April 1756 carries this advertisement: ‘Wanted immediately a Black Boy. He must be of a deep black complexion…’”
A European fairy tale speaks of a princess who so longed for “a little Moor” in vain and thus finally took a little “white” boy and had him roasted until he was black enough for her. The (in her era) fashionable Isabella d’Este (of 1474-1539) ordered her shipping agent in Venice to bring her a little African who was to be as black as possible. The agent finally wrote to her that he did find a little African of about four years of age but the child was not black enough. In the end the princess did acquire an African child, the luxury and prestige article whom she was satisfied with but still lamented the fact that the child was not as black as she would have preferred.
A certain German lady of the courts is said to have remarked to her African female servant companion: “It was very unpleasant that you were not with me when I went for a walk, because the Baron of Schock said I would have looked even whiter than usual if I would have been walking next to you.”
And Euroancestrals till today think in this vein. They would not be “whites” if there were no “blacks”. Studies of European societies fall under “Sociology”, studies of African societies under “Ethnology”. Armed conflicts in European societies are caused by “political self-awareness”, armed conflicts in African societies are “tribal conflicts” with “warlords” on the rampage. The modern fast food reportage of Africans by Western predator reporters find nothing good or even “normal” about Africa and Africans but the African wildlife.
Many citizens of India, Sri Lanka and East Asia are darker-skinned than many Africans and Afroancestrals but nobody refers to them as “blacks”, least of all they themselves. Asiancestrals do not refer to themselves as skin colours. But out of whatever irreparable collective psychological damage regarding an artificial term they adopted from Euroancestrals, Africans and Afroancestrals religiously refer to themselves as “blacks”.
They are wonderfully doing the job of perpetrating the notion that somebody else must then, therefore, be “white”.