Once upon a time, Nigerians lived their normal lives, going about their daily activities, until the trans-Sahara slave trade and trans-Atlantic slave trade began. History has it that Africa suffered slavery for about 14 centuries which is quite long enough to cause a lot of negative effects on a continent.
Stories surrounding slavery are very common, most of them passed by word of mouth, one of the most epic stories about the slavery of Nigerian people is the story of the Igbo landing. The slaves were forcefully taken through the middle passage- a movement of Africans through the Atlantic Ocean to be sold in the Americas- and made to pass through so many horrific things such as malnutrition, poor medical care, lack of ventilation, and death. One of the most popular cases of these slave movements is known as the Igbo landing, this happened when Igbo slaves- who were put in chains and thrown into a ship- took control of their ship and caused their captors to drown. The story tells us how the slaves walked into the body of water together singing as they followed their leader to commit mass suicide.
Fast forward to over two hundred years ago, many experts claim that Africans are still affected by slavery even to this very day. Read on to find out how slavery affects Africans and how the concept of post-traumatic slave syndrome has been received.
What Is Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome?
The idea of post-traumatic slave syndrome was developed by a woman called Dr. DeGruy who published her theory in a book titled “Post-traumatic slave syndrome- America’s legacy of enduring Injury and Healing”
Dr.DeGruy is a clinical psychologist that labeled post-traumatic slave syndrome as a disorder, she tapped into years of intense research to align her theories with facts in this book and she explained the impact of years of slavery on modern Africa and the patterns of behavior that affected Africans tend to exhibit. The book also explores several concepts ranging from the Atlantic slave trade, the terrifying experiences, and the behaviors they learned in this period that have been passed from generation to generation.
Some schools of thought believe that post-traumatic slave syndrome is a racist idea, they have the perspective that the trauma which slaves passed through in the past did not leave them adversely damaged. They might be right too because the idea that behaviors like poor parenting, anger, frustration, and aggressiveness (which are universal and common to all races) are effects of slavery is a bit biased.
These behaviors are not peculiar to black people so it might not be accurate to decide that they are as a result of traumatic conditions. For a better understanding of the syndrome, it is important to know the patterns reflected, some of them are;
Patterns Reflective Of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome
1. The tendency towards anger and violence
The author believes that black people experiencing post-traumatic slave syndrome are more disposed to experience anger and suspicion and that they also have the tendency to be very violent both to themselves and to other people around them.
2. Poor self-esteem
In her book, Dr.Degruy stated that with this syndrome, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and other related emotions are more extreme and common.
The book explores the possibility that black people with this syndrome will likely have an aversion to the customs, traditions, and culture of their people and even the physical traits that define their cultural group.
So, how does slavery affects us today?
Generally, the theory of post-traumatic slave syndrome is still being debated by various groups of people with varying opinions, it is common knowledge that slavery has affected the world as we know it, its effects are not only limited to black Americans or Africans around the world.
It is very possible that Nigeria may still be suffering from the impact of slavery that occurred years ago in the same way that a child’s experiences can affect his future even up to adulthood. In some cases like the holocaust, some survivors passed the genetic trauma to their children, so the idea of a nation suffering from the trauma of the past is not an entirely new concept.
Still, there are some easily identifiable loopholes, one cannot conclude that a particular race is synonymous with a certain set of negative emotions such as anger, aversion, antipathy, and violence, because these emotions are universal and can be found in all races of the world. Let us use poor parenting as a case study, it is not scientifically verified that bad parents are found in one particular race, the part of the theory that claims bad parenting in Africans stems from slavery might raise some eyebrows.
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact slavery and the trauma that originates from the terrible experiences have indeed affected us as a continent and even in our country Nigeria, so many negative traits we see exhibited today such as mistrust amongst ourselves and hatred among tribes are effects of slavery. The issue of tribalism can be linked back to the selling of certain tribes to the Europeans.
Finally, it is always important to keep on studying history to fully comprehend the events that took place in the past and understand how we can take lessons from these events to live better lives in the present and leave a legacy for generations to come. Slavery might have been a terrible, heartbreaking thing to happen in the history of Africa reasons being that lives were lost, properties were destroyed, families were separated, people were dehumanized and a lot of negative effects were imprinted on us, but we can still rise above the ashes in unity, we can embrace our identity and culture, we can pick up the broken pieces of the past and mend it for a greater future, we can heal again as a beautiful Nigeria.