Known as Siddis or Habshis in India, Africans have lived in South Asia for some two millennia. Over time, they played crucial roles in the politics, economies, religions, cultures, and arts of the region, especially in western parts of India. Though a large number came to the region as captive persons through Arab slavers across the Indian Ocean, numerous Siddis ascended to positions of power and authority in the military and government of various India rulers, and some even became rulers themselves between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. Two such persons were famed Siddi ruler Malik Ambar, who ruled Ahmednagar until his death in 1626, and his son Fateh Khan, who became governor of Janjira and its fort in 1655. Janjira was important for trade and Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca. Its importance is also supported by the failure of European naval powers to capture it and conquer the Siddis of Janjira, who continued to rule the fort.
Amilcar Cabral (1924 – 1973) was an anti-colonial thinker and freedom fighter, and leader of the PAIGC that fought for the liberation of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. After studying agronomy in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, Amilcar Cabral founded the Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde or PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) in 1956. As Secretary-General of the PAIGC, Cabral and his comrades liberated much of the Guinean countryside and distinguished himself among the bevy of African freedom fighters as both theorist and tactician.
The invasion of “Angola” brought Njinga Mbande (ca. 1583 – December 17, 1663), ruler of the kingdom of Ndongo and Matamba, into the political picture. Born around 1582 in the Kingdom of Ndongo, Njinga was the eldest child of the kingdom’s ruler, Mbandi Ngola—“Ngola” became the source of the territory called “Angola.”
Though I am aware of Coates’s new book, We Were Eight Years in Power, released today, what follows is a condensed version of my views, stirred principally by BWM but also by the repurposed essays and anecdotes that form the contents of Eight Years in Power. More importantly, there has been insufficient consideration of what BWM’s argument portends for the fate of “black” people—a race identifier used grudgingly but in no way do I subscribe to it. My concern is the defective premise, a story if you will, anchoring Coates’s argument and its dead-end implication if we were to follow that argument to its logical conclusion. I offer another way to think about the fate of black people in the United States and in white societies more broadly.