Email Our Editor

Join Our Mailing List

View Our Archives

Search our archive:



The Last 20 Days' Editorials

12/11/2017 "The Black Economy 50 Years After The March On Washington"


Email This Article  Printer Friendly Version

Theology Thursdays: Was There More Than Meets The Eye To President George W. Bush's Speech In Goree Island, Senegal?


Theologians and scriptural scientists - Muslim, Christian and Jewish in particular - should study and dissect President Bush's speech from Goree Island, Senegal as well as what other U.S. presidents have said about slavery and compare it with what is written in both Bible and Holy Qur'an, and the recorded historical experience of Blacks in Africa and the Western Hemisphere over the last 500-plus years, at least. Among other parts of the speech made by the President of the United States while in Africa, religious scholars should focus on two portions of his speech. Here is the first of those two:

"In America, enslaved Africans learned the story of the exodus from Egypt and set their own hearts on a promised land of freedom. Enslaved Africans discovered a suffering Savior and found he was more like themselves than their masters."

Many people loosely say and write that there is a similarity between the Black experience in America and what is written in the scriptures. Some are more serious about their words than others. Some of the least serious (not necessarily disinterested) say that the correspondence between what Blacks have lived through in the United States and say, Genesis 15:13-14 is only a coincidence. Some of the most interested argue that Genesis 15:13-14 is actually a prophecy, not fulfilled 4,000 years ago in Egypt but only more recently in the history of the last 400-plus years in the Western Hemisphere. This third group says that what is written about Egypt is fulfilled by the United States of America.

In the first of the two excerpts from the speech, reference is made to a relationship between the account of Exodus and the experience of Black people in America taken from Africa, and enslaved in the Western Hemisphere. Millions of Blacks have the Book of Exodus available, practically at their fingertips, to be read in the pages of the larger compilation called the Bible. Yet how many Blacks that say they believe in God have actually read the book of Exodus? And out of that number, how many believe that there is a preordained correspondence between what Blacks have lived through over the last 400 years, and what is described in Exodus - the second book in the versions and translations of the Bible that abound in America?

It helps to consider the book of Exodus as a picture of part of the fulfillment of what is written in Genesis 15:13-15. What is succinctly and concisely described in that portion of Genesis is actually "broken out" or described in a great more detail and depth in Exodus.

Very briefly, the narrative in Exodus is primarily a word picture of Jehovah's coming to Egypt where the Children Of Israel are enslaved and the process of His raising the Children Of Israel out of their miserable condition. Not discounting other factors, the primary means by which Jehovah frees the Children of Israel from bondage is His raising, anointing and guiding two men. Their names are Moses and Aaron and they share a very special relationship with one another and with Jehovah. Jehovah actually "gives" Aaron to Moses as his special helper in raising the Children Of Israel out of their enslaved condition.

The Holy Qur' describes some of the relationship between Aaron, Moses and Jehovah (Allah) and what duty Moses and Aaron were to perform toward the leader of Egypt, Pharaoh. Among other locations, this is contained in the Maulana Muhammad Ali translation of the Qur'an, in the 20th Surah (chapter), in a section titled "Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh". Verse 25 describes Moses speaking to his Lord. Surah 20:25-37 and 42-47 reads:

25 He said: My Lord, expand my breast for me:

26 And ease my affair for me:

27 And loose the knot from my tongue,

28 (That) they may understand my word.

29 And give to me an aider from my family:

30 Aaron, my brother;

31 Add to my strength by him

32 And make him share my task --

33 So that we may glorify Thee much,

34 And much remember Thee.

35 Surely, Thou art ever Seeing us.

36 He said: Thou art indeed granted thy petition, O Moses.

37 And indeed We bestowed on thee a favour at another time,

42 Go thou and thy brother with My messages and be not remiss in remembering Me

43 Go both of you to Pharaoh, surely he is inordinate :

44 Then speak to him a gentle word, haply he may mind or fear.

45 They said: Our Lord, we fear lest he hasten to do evil to us or be inordinate.

46 He said: Fear not, surely I am with you I do hear and see

47 So go you to him and say: Surely we are two messengers of they Lord; so send forth the Children Of Israel with us; and torment them not. Indeed we have brought to thee a message from thy Lord, and peace to him who follows the guidance.


The Yusef Ali translation of the Holy Qur'an renders verse 47 as:"So go ye both to him, And say, 'Verily we are Messengers sent by thy Lord: Send forth, therefore, the Children Of Israel with us, and Afflict them not: With a Sign, indeed, Have we come from thy Lord! And Peace to all Who follow guidance.

Footnote 2570 of this verse reads: "The Children Of Israel were subjected to all sorts of oppression and indignities. They were given hard tasks; their leaders were unjustly beaten; they were forced to make bricks without straw; and they 'groaned in bondage'".

In the Nooruddin translation verse 47 is rendered as: 'So go to him (- Pharaoh), both of you, and say, "We are the Messengers of your Lord, so let the Children of Israel go with us and do not torture them. We have come to you with a Message from your Lord. Peace will be upon him who follows the guidance.

The Qur'an clearly describes Moses and Aaron as Two "Messengers" of God, although Aaron served as Moses' statesmen, voice, mouth, or spokesperson.

Exodus 4:10-16 (New International Version) reads:

10 Moses said to the LORD , "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

14 Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.

15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.

16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.

The King James version renders verse 16 as: And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

****

Why do so many of those that publicly make an analogy between Black people in the United States of America and the Book Of Exodus, never bring that analogy to full completion as it relates to the possibility of the existence and rise of a "modern" Moses and Aaron? In a "modern" Egypt?

Is this public omission (by the most powerful non-Black portion of said individuals) of an analogous reference to a modern Moses and Aaron willful, out of fear that it would take Black Americans right up into the spirit and mind of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI-led effort to "prevent the rise of a Black Messiah" under the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO)?

What would happen if Black people related to Moses and Aaron, emotionally, similarly to how they relate to Jesus?

Not to go over previously covered material but never forget how the earliest Black Christians were steered away from reading the Old Testament by their slavemasters who educated them.

That deliberate effort is documented by both Black and White historians.

****

The second excerpt of the Goree Island speech reads:

"At this place, liberty and life were stolen and sold. Human beings were delivered and sorted, and weighed, and branded with the marks of commercial enterprises, and loaded as cargo on a voyage without return. One of the largest migrations of history was also one of the greatest crimes of history.

Below the decks, the middle passage was a hot, narrow, sunless nightmare; weeks and months of confinement and abuse and confusion on a strange and lonely sea. Some refused to eat, preferring death to any future their captors might prepare for them. Some who were sick were thrown over the side. Some rose up in violent rebellion, delivering the closest thing to justice on a slave ship. Many acts of defiance and bravery are recorded. Countless others, we will never know.

Those who lived to see land again were displayed, examined, and sold at auctions across nations in the Western Hemisphere. They entered societies indifferent to their anguish and made prosperous by their unpaid labor. There was a time in my country's history when one in every seven human beings was the property of another. In law, they were regarded only as articles of commerce, having no right to travel, or to marry, or to own possessions. Because families were often separated, many denied even the comfort of suffering together."


Is there any correspondence between that depiction of the historical accounts of the transatlantic slave trade and what is written in the 3rd chapter of the book of Joel verses 1-3?

Joel 3: 1-3 reads in the following translations:

King James:

1 For behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

New American Standard:

1 "For Behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.

3"They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine that they may drink.


New International:

1 In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgement against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

3 They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink.

****


These verses in the book of Joel, among other things, make me think about 1) how Africa was carved up by Europe and how Africans were scattered throughout the Diaspora and 2) the Triangle Slave Trade that involved rum, molasses and Black male and female slaves. And yes, this involves my consideration that the terms "Judah", "Jerusalem" and "Israel" have a broader reference, beyond what most students of religion think.

Look at Revelations 11:8 and see how locations are written of and described figuratively under the names of other locations. In this verse a city is described figuratively or spiritually as "Egypt". The same holds true for people, written of under the names of other people.


****

Here is the entire text of President Bush's speech in Senegal followed by some of what some other U.S. Presidents have said about slavery:


President Bush Speaks at Goree Island in Senegal

Remarks by the President on Goree Island

Goree Island, Senegal
11:47 A.M. (Local)

THE PRESIDENT:
Mr. President and Madam First Lady, distinguished guests and residents of Goree Island, citizens of Senegal, I'm honored to begin my visit to Africa in your beautiful country.

For hundreds of years on this island peoples of different continents met in fear and cruelty. Today we gather in respect and friendship, mindful of past wrongs and dedicated to the advance of human liberty.

At this place, liberty and life were stolen and sold. Human beings were delivered and sorted, and weighed, and branded with the marks of commercial enterprises, and loaded as cargo on a voyage without return. One of the largest migrations of history was also one of the greatest crimes of history.

Below the decks, the middle passage was a hot, narrow, sunless nightmare; weeks and months of confinement and abuse and confusion on a strange and lonely sea. Some refused to eat, preferring death to any future their captors might prepare for them. Some who were sick were thrown over the side. Some rose up in violent rebellion, delivering the closest thing to justice on a slave ship. Many acts of defiance and bravery are recorded. Countless others, we will never know.

Those who lived to see land again were displayed, examined, and sold at auctions across nations in the Western Hemisphere. They entered societies indifferent to their anguish and made prosperous by their unpaid labor. There was a time in my country's history when one in every seven human beings was the property of another. In law, they were regarded only as articles of commerce, having no right to travel, or to marry, or to own possessions. Because families were often separated, many denied even the comfort of suffering together.

For 250 years the captives endured an assault on their culture and their dignity. The spirit of Africans in America did not break. Yet the spirit of their captors was corrupted. Small men took on the powers and airs of tyrants and masters. Years of unpunished brutality and bullying and rape produced a dullness and hardness of conscience. Christian men and women became blind to the clearest commands of their faith and added hypocrisy to injustice. A republic founded on equality for all became a prison for millions. And yet in the words of the African proverb, "no fist is big enough to hide the sky." All the generations of oppression under the laws of man could not crush the hope of freedom and defeat the purposes of God.

In America, enslaved Africans learned the story of the exodus from Egypt and set their own hearts on a promised land of freedom. Enslaved Africans discovered a suffering Savior and found he was more like themselves than their masters. Enslaved Africans heard the ringing promises of the Declaration of Independence and asked the self-evident question, then why not me?

In the year of America's founding, a man named Olaudah Equiano was taken in bondage to the New World. He witnessed all of slavery's cruelties, the ruthless and the petty. He also saw beyond the slave-holding piety of the time to a higher standard of humanity. "God tells us," wrote Equiano, "that the oppressor and the oppressed are both in His hands. And if these are not the poor, the broken-hearted, the blind, the captive, the bruised which our Savior speaks of, who are they?"

Down through the years, African Americans have upheld the ideals of America by exposing laws and habits contradicting those ideals. The rights of African Americans were not the gift of those in authority. Those rights were granted by the Author of Life, and regained by the persistence and courage of African Americans, themselves.

Among those Americans was Phyllis Wheatley, who was dragged from her home here in West Africa in 1761, at the age of seven. In my country, she became a poet, and the first noted black author in our nation's history. Phyllis Wheatley said, "In every human breast, God has implanted a principle which we call love of freedom. It is impatient of oppression and pants for deliverance."

That deliverance was demanded by escaped slaves named Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth, educators named Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, and ministers of the Gospel named Leon Sullivan and Martin Luther King, Jr. At every turn, the struggle for equality was resisted by many of the powerful. And some have said we should not judge their failures by the standards of a later time. Yet, in every time, there were men and women who clearly saw this sin and called it by name.

We can fairly judge the past by the standards of President John Adams, who called slavery "an evil of callosal magnitude." We can discern eternal standards in the deeds of William Wilberforce and John Quincy Adams, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Abraham Lincoln. These men and women, black and white, burned with a zeal for freedom, and they left behind a different and better nation. Their moral vision caused Americans to examine our hearts, to correct our Constitution, and to teach our children the dignity and equality of every person of every race. By a plan known only to Providence, the stolen sons and daughters of Africa helped to awaken the conscience of America. The very people traded into slavery helped to set America free.

My nation's journey toward justice has not been easy and it is not over. The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destination is set: liberty and justice for all.

In the struggle of the centuries, America learned that freedom is not the possession of one race. We know with equal certainty that freedom is not the possession of one nation. This belief in the natural rights of man, this conviction that justice should reach wherever the sun passes leads America into the world.

With the power and resources given to us, the United States seeks to bring peace where there is conflict, hope where there is suffering, and liberty where there is tyranny. And these commitments bring me and other distinguished leaders of my government across the Atlantic to Africa.

African peoples are now writing your own story of liberty. Africans have overcome the arrogance of colonial powers, overturned the cruelties of apartheid, and made it clear that dictatorship is not the future of any nation on this continent. In the process, Africa has produced heroes of liberation -- leaders like Mandela, Senghor, Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Selassie and Sadat. And many visionary African leaders, such as my friend, have grasped the power of economic and political freedom to lift whole nations and put forth bold plans for Africa's development.

Because Africans and Americans share a belief in the values of liberty and dignity, we must share in the labor of advancing those values. In a time of growing commerce across the globe, we will ensure that the nations of Africa are full partners in the trade and prosperity of the world. Against the waste and violence of civil war, we will stand together for peace. Against the merciless terrorists who threaten every nation, we will wage an unrelenting campaign of justice. Confronted with desperate hunger, we will answer with human compassion and the tools of human technology. In the face of spreading disease, we will join with you in turning the tide against AIDS in Africa.

We know that these challenges can be overcome, because history moves in the direction of justice. The evils of slavery were accepted and unchanged for centuries. Yet, eventually, the human heart would not abide them. There is a voice of conscience and hope in every man and woman that will not be silenced -- what Martin Luther King called a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. That flame could not be extinguished at the Birmingham jail. It could not be stamped out at Robben Island Prison. It was seen in the darkness here at Goree Island, where no chain could bind the soul. This untamed fire of justice continues to burn in the affairs of man, and it lights the way before us.

May God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 11:55 A.M. (Local)


Return to this article at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/07/20030708-1.html


****


President Clinton, Goree Island, Senegal, April 1998: Long after the slave ships stopped sailing from this place to America, Goree Island still today looks out onto the new world connecting two continents, standing as a vivid reminder that for some of America's ancestors the journey to America was anything but a search for freedom. And, yet still a symbol of the bright new era of partnership between our peoples. ...

As certainly as America lies over the horizon behind me, so I pledge to the people of Africa that we will reach over this ocean to build a new partnership based on friendship and respect. ... We cannot push time backward through the "Door of No Return." We have lived our history. The long journey of African-Americans proves that the spirit can never be enslaved. That long journey is today embodied by the children of Africa who now lead America in all phases of our common life.




Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation: And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all case when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.




Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782: (A slave owner, he argued against slavery; he suggested slaves be freed and resettled in Africa.)

... There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. ...

I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.




George Washington, in a letter, Dec. 11, 1796: The present prices of lands in Pennsylvania are higher than they are in Maryland and Virginia, although they are not of superior quality; (among other reasons) because there are laws here for the gradual abolition of slavery, which neither of the two States above mentioned have at present, but which nothing is more certain than they must have, and at a period not remote. ...



Editor's Note: This first appeared at BlackElectorate.com on July 10, 2003


Thursday, January 20, 2005

To discuss this article further enter The Deeper Look Dialogue Room

The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of BlackElectorate.com or Black Electorate Communications.

Copyright © 2000-2002 BEC