The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS) University of Lagos and University of West Indies, in Collaboration with THE EBO LANDING PROJECT (ELP) had a two day seminar on the “Reunification and Reconciliation of Africans and African-Americans based on culture and spirituality”. This educative program was attended by students, staff, and other researchers in African and Diaspora Studies, and the discourse was moderated by Dr. Davis Sidney, USA Director of ELP and Professor O.A Falaiye, Director of IADS, UNILAG-UWI. On the first day of the seminar, discussion was held on African identity, African spirituality, Christianity and white supremacy.

Dr. Sidney, in his lecture, argued that the portrayal of a ‘White Man’ as Jesus of the Christian religion is actually a tool towards the promotion of white supremacy. He opined that women had a sacred place in African traditional societies, which were originally matriarchal in constitution. He enjoined Africans to replace ‘religion’ (either Christianity or Islam) with ‘African Spirituality’. For him, this spirituality has been consciously demonized by the Arab and White invaders. Dr. Sidney strongly believes that Christianity was a tool deployed by the White Americans during the cruel and brutal enslavement of Africans during the slave trade. His passionate appeal for Africans to abandon ‘Christianity’ and embrace ‘African Spirituality’ was also substantiated on the fact that the First British Slave Ship to reach America was named “The Good Ship Jesus”.

Meanwhile, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, in his lecture, tried to correct those derogatory views and misrepresentation of Africans by early European Anthropologists and Missionaries. He opined that such ideologies were actually the theoretical framework for the enslavement of Africans. He argued that Africans were never in total darkness before the arrival of the whites. As he expressed his displeasure over the inhumanity experienced by Africans during slavery, he stressed the view that Africans (at home and in the Diaspora) must unite to prevent any future occurrence of such brutality towards the Black Race.

The second day of the conference was a tour to Badagry to see some of the actual sites of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The participants visited The Barracoon of 40 Slaves at Seriki Faremi Williams Abass’ Court, as well as The Slave Port of 16th- 18th Century. It was an emotional experience as most participants tried to re-live the experience of our ancestors by following the pathway that led them to ‘The Point of  No Return’ after crossing the river with a small boat and trekking some two miles to get to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean where our ancestors were taken away to Europe.

At the end of this experience, a discussion group emerged so as to continue the conversation on how Africans can help African-Americans in locating their roots and knowing more about their ancestry. Dr. Davis Sidney promised to send useful books and multimedia materials to the Institutes so that emerging scholars in Africa and Diaspora Studies will be empowered by the works of great authors like Cheikh Anta Diop, Ivan Van Sertima, Martin Bernal, W. E. Burghardt DuBois, Catherine Acholonu among many others. The seminar serves as the beginning of collaboration between the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, UNILAG, and the Ebo Landing Project (ELP).

Report: Augustine Farinola, Web and Social Media Editor; Institute of African and Diaspora Studies

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