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Throughout history many nations have suffered a physical defeat, but that has never marked the end of a nation. But when a nation has become the victim of a psychological defeat, then that marks the end of a nation. –Ibn Khaldun, Al-Muqaddimah

Mental slavery is a state of mind where discerning between liberation and enslavement is twisted. Where one becomes trapped by misinformation about self and the world. So someone can claim to be conscious, they can read all the books they can recycle the popular rhetoric but still be unable to balance real-world priorities and self-interest

Mental Slavery is far more sinister than physical slavery because the chains are invisible and are transmitted across generations. If African slavery was only physical, African people would have within one generation been able to skip the plethora of social-economic issues which plague African people globally the second the chains came off.

If you give them water to quench their thirst, they use it to drown themselves. If you give them a rope to climb out of their situation, they use it to hang themselves with it. — ‘Alik Shahadah

Slavery, and other institutionalized forms of targeted race-based oppression has caused certain symptoms of dysfunction in the African community, which has been reinforced in each generation. The legacy of slavery has promoted and nursed the direct association between being African and being inferior, being African and being unequal, incapable and less worthy. It also promotes ways of thinking which continue to impede growth and development. Such as cultivating dependence and reactive behaviors. More content to be at best an observer complaining about the world, as opposed to being a change agent in the world. Content to be history’s permanent victim. Every possible solution is dismissed with yet another trite excuse.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds– Bob Marley
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Mental slavery affects how people see their own reality. This manipulation has always been through mainstream media, religion, and education. So the opinions about reality are sourced—without any suspicion—from the very same people that said Africa was bursting with primitive cannibal savages; a place of no history, a place of no humanity—the dark and savage continent. And via these mass indoctrination devices the very same imperialistic colonial powers are still (without change in strategy) stating that; without Western “help” you have no hope, our ways are the best ways, our goods are the best goods, and our ‘human rights’ (aka quest for more oil) are good for you, you are better off with us, than with your own people. People remain gullible to the “gospel” of their former enslavers—despite all the sordid history in evidence. So the root of mental slavery is ignorance resulting in a poor grasp of information about self and the world, to function to one’s full human potential.​​​​​​​

When someone is mentally enslaved, he does not understand that the guys dressed in fire protection gear, with fire hose, breaking down their door to rescue them from the fire are saving them. That is why mental slavery is worse than physical slavery. Because at least during Physical slavery if you got on board the slave ship and starting breaking the chains and taking people back to Africa they would all thank you and call you a liberator. Today, trying to free people mentally enslaved you get called names while they run away from you, and deeper into oppression.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.– Marcus Garvey​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

It is critical that we understand the slave mind: Not the slave mouth. You can train someone to say anything; they can say “I am 100% for transforming African people” but deep inside the mind is that little slave who only wants “a more comfortable cage“. So when African agency and African economics hit reality they freeze up and go into slave attack mode to preserve the cage environment.

During slavery the scraps and leftovers of food and apparel went to the enslaved Africans. Today the crumbs, the fat from the used bones of Western propaganda still are staples of the diet of the subaltern. Blind allegiance to a system which has no recourse to any sort of higher human values. Copied aped, celebrated and applied by free men and women under ‘independent’ flags and anthems all over the world; almost oblivious to their re-applying the machinery of oppression.

Mental slavery blocks the connection between us and liberation

What being oppressed means in the broadest and most salient terms is the occupation of ethics, logic, culture, thought process, long term thinking, critical thinking, and paradigms by those of the oppressor’s. So the beauty standard which is applicable to the European aesthetic is transferred, without modification, regardless of the incongruous state of beauty that is, to the oppressed. These models of beauty are desperately adopted—at all cost. Mental slavery created an inability to make reference to self, so that in both the contemporary and historical context identities, even those under the banner of “liberation,” are corrupted and sit upon the very platform of their oppressors paradigms, for the benefit of that oppression. Liberation within the structures that created the African ‘Other” is therefore relative—not absolute.

The discourse on post-traumatic slavery syndrome, popularized by Joy Leary, is part of the study of mental slavery. While that study looks for biological connectivity to the genetic ancestors of African people, this study reports on the patterns in human behavior, which includes economics, socialization, formal and informal relationships, ideology, work ethos, and all other related areas of people activity.
When you show a mental slave freedom, they are more likely to turn and attack you for disturbing their paradise: Liberation is their chains, and liberators their enemies.– ‘Alik Shahadah
More than the film Roots, of lives on a plantation exposed to inhumanities. The most violent product of chattel slavery is mental slavery. It expresses itself by creating, among other things, dependency and an inferiority-complex. It infects every concept from notions of beauty, values, and even the preference of “renting” over the prospect of “buying.” Many Africans globally, especially in areas heavily influenced by European domination, continue to wear their wealth on the outside (shoes, clothing, cars), while other groups wear their money on the inside (educational development) first. Mental slavery, also impacts African discernment. Because failure to know oneself also means failure to identify self-interest, it is often in this confused state the offense of oppression cannot be located in the minds of the mental slaves. It is no wonder they are given to attack the seat of their own liberation for minutia issues.

What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible …Who you are is limited only by who you think you are– Book of Coming Forth by Day


Not all of us are fighting for the same type of liberation. Some are very happy if we got Denzel or Willy Smith cast in Spielbergs or Ridely Scott’s Ancient Egyptian film. Some are content if CNN gives us more coverage when we want to complain about how bad our White master’s treat us. As long as White universities publish the usually suspects and Neil Tyson is keep in the public eye as the token of “Black science” we are cool.

Some of us are looking to totally collapse that dependency model. We are not look for better integration, or inclusion or acknowledgment within White structures, but the establishment of African centered structures where we are the ones who own the institutions, the businesses, the economics and decide without any “help” or dependency our destiny. We are therefore not looking to rent space in the White world, but own our own space.


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The essential problem that Kwame Nkrumah faces was how to transform a neo-colonial outpost of Western imperialism, into a real country and a modern one also. Initially once African countries gained political independence they looked up and discovered that they did not have economic independence, they did not have psychological independence. Ghana got a flag and an anthem in 1957 it didn’t get real independence. [Nkrumah] realized that he needed economic independence and when he moved for economic independence to re-organize the country he realized that he couldn’t move in the direction of economic independence with the old colonial state apparatus. And even though you may succeed in transforming the state apparatus to something which is more forward-looking, you also had to tackle the minds of the people, certainly the so-called educated people.–Kimani Nehusi

In chattel slavery Africans could not own anything, you could not have long term investment plans in your family (they could be sold away at any moment). Myopic thinking is a vestige of slavery, as no enslaved African had the luxury for over 300 years of thinking beyond the moment. So today a flashy car (instant gratification) takes the place of any long-term wealth (like owning a house). The need to sate the superficial is not exclusively created by mental enslavement but is heavily augmented by it.

Investment in education was futile in slavery and still this legacy continues. Mental slavery also impacts most of all value of self, value in seeing African stories. How else can we explains why the Jewish story in film and print is everywhere in the world despite Jews only being a World population less than the city of Lagos. And why is it the story of Africa (more than 1 billion people) is rarely told, and when it is told it is at the hands of European agents. Some Africans are so mentally confused that they are active agents of whitewashing and escaping from slavery, they will state “I am sick of hearing about slavery the past is the past.” The African voice, the African woman and man, the African relationships and African films and media have no value in the minds of those who have no value of self. And this pervasive legacy washes not only this contemporary African generation, but future generations waiting to be born.

BY Alik Shahadah