If there is anything more dehumanizing than killing an African, it is refusing him or her the natural rights of been buried in the land of his birth – the land of their ancestors.
When one talks about the wickedness of the European (Caucasians at large) towards the black man, often detractors would blame us saying we are playing the victim. But they do not understand how pained we are. They do not understand that the wickedness of the pre-colonial era has not stopped.
Why would European conquerors after killing black ancestors still disrespect the dead by stealing their bodies and transporting them back to Europe?
And to crown the murder of our people with more insult, their bodies were kept and used for all sort of experiments. What is even more revealing of European hatred and lack of remorse for slavery and atrocities of colonization is that they still keep these bodies as properties of their states.
After the Berlin conference of 1884- 1885, European nations decided to invade Africa and covert our lands, resources, and people. They laid siege to all African countries except Ethiopia and Liberia. And while their missionaries preached of the peace and love of Jesus and the Caucasian God, their governments and cooperations went about killing Africans and stealing the bodies of our dead warriors. They wanted to carry out studies and exhibitions in their numerous museums.
Germany murdered millions of Southern and Eastern Africans and relocated their bodies back to Berlin. Two of Berlin’s most prominent scientific collectors, Rudolf Virchow and Felix Von Luschan, had between 10,000 to 15,000 dead Africans in their anthropological collection. There are also other several thousands more of Africans in various locations in Germany.
When Luschan died, his private collection of ‘African dead’ which comprised of skulls and skeletons were sold to the American Natural History Museum (AMNH). Even America wanted in on the research through theft of African dead people.
One of the major examples of the use of Africans for inhumane experimentation and showcasing is the case of Saartjie Baartman from South Africa. She was a very beautiful and curvy Black woman and was exhibited around Europe for five years, because of the obsession for her very big buttocks. After her death in 1815, Cuvier dismembered her body and placed her brains and genitalia in jars. He also put up her skeleton for display at France’s Museu L’homme (Museum of Man) and was left there on display till 1976 – this is over 100 years.
By the actions of these colonialists, it is clear that they are not remorseful about the atrocities of slavery. If they were, they would not pride in holding numerous amounts of dead Africans, denying them the proper respects we accord our dead. The need to accord Baartman her respect, Nelson Mandela, in 1994, requested that France returned the body of Saartjie Baartman. That request took the French till 2002 to respect.
What is most annoying is that these Europeans have continued to make profits from the various African artifacts and human remains in their custody. Recently, an auction house in Germany, called Lempertz, which was established since 1845, put up an African skull for sale. The skull was going for €3,000 to €5,000 [$3,424 to $5.707] and the winning bid was around €3,720 [$4,245]. The Asmat people are some of the oldest indigenous Black people on earth and are from New Guinea.
Till date, there are tens of thousands of body parts of Africans secretly stashed away in laboratories, museums, and homes in Europe and America. It is important for African governments and corporations to dig more into our history, to be able to understand the number of people stolen and find the best way to request for their return.