Sociology Mind
2013. Vol.3, No.2, 156-178
Published Online April 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Indigenous Peoples and the Capitalist World System:
Researching, Knowing, and Promoting Social Justice
Asafa Jalata
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
Received January 19th, 2013; revised February 23rd, 2013; accepted March 4th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Asafa Jalata. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribu-
tion License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
This paper explores the major consequences of the expansion of the European-dominated capitalist world
system, colonial terrorism, and continued subjugation for indigenous Americans, Australians, and Afri-
cans between the late fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. Western powers as well as most of the descen-
dants of European colonialists in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and in Africa and their regional and
local collaborators deny or forget or minimize the crimes committed against indigenous peoples and claim
that their ancestors spread modernity and civilization around the world. Not recognizing these crimes and
ignoring or forgetting or minimizing them have far reaching consequences for humanity and raise moral
and ethical issues for the validity of modern civilization that claims to promote the principles of the
United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, democracy, and social justice. The commitment
to these principles and truly promoting them require reevaluating the past and present mistakes in the
modern world system to openly and honestly debate them and seek correct and urgent solutions for the
surviving indigenous peoples who are still suffering from state terrorism, massive human rights violations,
dispossession of resources and rights, absolute poverty, disease, and illiteracy.
Keywords: Indigenous Peoples; Global Capitalism; Colonialism; State Terrorism; Genocide;
Dispossession; Social Justices; Human Rights Violations, Indigenous Movements; Human
The paper critically and thoroughly examines how indige-
nous peoples have been terrorized, exterminated, abused, and
misused by those ethno-nations that control nation-states in the
capitalist world system. The homelands, economic and natural
resources of indigenous peoples were expropriated and trans-
ferred to colonial settlers and their descendants and collabora-
tors that have no interest to protect the political, economic, civil,
and social rights that are articulated in the United Nations’
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Rights of In-
digenous Peoples. Since indigenous peoples are not represented
in academic and media institutions, their voices are muzzled
and hidden and most people are misinformed and know nothing
or little about them. By degrading and erasing the cultures,
histories, and humanity of indigenous peoples, the settlers and
their scholars have convinced themselves that they could/can
terrorize, annihilate, and dispossess the resources of these peo-
ples without moral/ethical and political responsibilities. Spe-
cifically, the Euro-American hegemonic scholarship has treated
indigenous peoples as objects rather than subjects of history.
Consequently, this scholarship has produced “false” knowledge,
instead of “objective” one about indigenous peoples. The world
hegemonic knowledge because of its rejection of multi-cultural
forms of knowledge and wisdoms and its abyssal thinking tra-
dition has failed to recognize the humanity of indigenous
peoples and their perspectives and their movements for social
The piece attempts to inform the world community about the
plight of these stateless peoples and to search for ways of im-
plementing universal human rights and rights of indigenous
peoples by supporting their respective social justice move-
ments. For almost two decades, I have researched and explored
the relationship between the colonization and incorporation of
the indigenous Oromo people and their homeland, Oromia, into
the Ethiopian Empire and the racialized global capitalist system
and the development of the Oromo national movement. Later I
have extended my research beyond Oromia, Ethiopia, and in-
cluded Sudan and the broader geopolitical region and socio-
cultural area of North-East Africa. Gradually I have begun to
study about the conditions of indigenous peoples in the larger
African continent, the Americas, Australia, and Asia to under-
stand why the indigenous peoples in these continents were
colonized, terrorized, victimized, and almost destroyed by
Euro-American colonial forces and their collaborators that have
racialized the capitalist world system through the violation of
human rights and the denial of democracy and social justice.
European Colonialism and Injustices
The Euro-American colonial powers used their superior mili-
tary forces, weapons, and collaborators to enslave and colonize
directly or indirectly pre-capitalist societies around the world to
exploit their economic resources and labor power through loot-
ing, piracy, terrorism, genocide, expropriation, annexation, and
continued subjugation. Consequently, the original accumulation
of wealth/capital occurred in the West; this accumulated capital
gradually facilitated the transformation of mercantilism into
industrial capitalism and the expansion of the Industrial Revo-
lution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and increased
the demand for raw materials, free or cheap labor (mainly
slaves), markets, and the intensification of global colonial ex-
pansion in the world (Marx, 1967; Rodney, 1972). With the de-
velopment of global capitalism, further division of labor, the
advancement of technology and organization capacity in the
form of state, the interstate system, and the transnational cor-
poration, and with the limitless capacity to accumulate more
capital in a globalized world, certain human groups have dem-
onstrated their capabilities to impose their power on other hu-
man groups through colonialism that has involved war, terror-
ism, and genocide. According to Bernard Magubane (1979: p.
3), “While colonialism has an ancient history, the colonialism
of the last five centuries is closely associated with the birth and
maturation of the capitalist socioeconomic system. The pursuit
and acquisition of colonies, their political and economic domi-
nation, accompanied the mercantile revolution and the founding
of capitalism.”
The colonizing nations of the West and their collaborators
had justified “their scramble for foreign territories as fulfillment
of a sacred duty to spread their form of civilization to the
world” (Bodely, 1982: p. 12). These countries used the dis-
courses of the superiority of their race, culture, civilization, and
Christian religion to promote and justify destructive and ex-
ploitative policies, such as terrorism, genocide, and economic
exploitation. John H. Bodely (1992: p. 37) characterizes the
genocide and ethnocide committed by such nation-states as “an
immense human tragedy”. The more Euro-Americans advanced
in technology and organizational capacity, the more they en-
gaged in terrorism and genocide in order to satisfy their group
and individual economic interests. As we shall see below,
European countries, such as Spain, Portugal, England, France,
Holland, Germany, Italy, and Belgium started capitalist colonial
expansion to the Americans, Africa, Australia and Asia through
engaging in terrorism, genocide, and gross human rights viola-
tions and at the same time claimed the superiority of their cul-
tures, religion (Christianity), race, and civilization. The devel-
opment of capitalism with its political structures, such as na-
tion-states, enabled European colonialists to expand and com-
mit terrorism and genocide so that they could extract resources.
According to Elizabeth Colson (1992: p. 278), “Economic sys-
tems have emerged that created massive conflicts of interests
between classes and also nations. Technologies empower those
who are able to seize control of the state apparatus and enhance
the stakes for which people contend... [and] the further creation
of technologies that enable humans to play with destructive
emotions and habituate themselves to violence under conditions
that give them the pleasure of terror without expectation that it
will recoil upon them.”
Mainstream social scientists of the nineteenth century justi-
fied “a deliberate and violent political act carried out as national
policy in order to gain access to the natural resources controlled
by” indigenous peoples, and “espoused ‘scientific’ evolutionary
theories that explained the destruction and suggested that it was
inevitable” (Bodley, 1992: p. 38). Terrorism as an instrument of
massive violence to terrorize indigenous peoples emerged with
the racialized capitalist world system. It was practiced through
colonialism, servitude, and racial slavery in order to transfer the
resources of the indigenous peoples to European colonialists
and their descendants. Most of those indigenous peoples that
survived terrorism and genocide were reduced to the status of
slavery or semi-slavery (see De Las Casas, 1992). Under the
guise of “scientific” theories, most Western scholars have justi-
fied the destruction of indigenous peoples; they have made
“scientific” claims to justify the gross human rights violations
and to promote Euro-American personal and group interests at
the cost of the indigenous peoples. Accepting ideologically and
culturally blind thinking has prevented most of these scholars,
colonialists, their descendants, and their collaborators from
critically understanding the meaning and consequences of colo-
nial terrorism and other crimes against humanity. Still Univer-
sities around the world ignore these issues and mainly dissemi-
nate the knowledge for domination and exploitation at the cost
of the stateless peoples.
The processes of expropriation, racial slavery, and colonial-
ism resulted in hierarchical organization of world populations
through the creation of an elaborate discourse of race or racism
(Jalata, 2001). “A racial project is simultaneously an interpre-
tation, representation or explanation of racial dynamics”,
Howard Winant (1994: p. 24) writes, “and an effort to organize
and distribute resources along particular racial lines” (author’s
emphasis). Simply put, racism is an expression of institutional-
ized patterns of colonizing structural power and social control
in order to transfer labor and economic resources from the
powerless to the powerful group. By inventing nonexistent
races, the racist ideology institutionalizes “the hierarchies in-
volved in the worldwide division of labor” (Balibar & Waller-
stein, 1991: p. 6). Race and racism are socio-political constructs
since all human groups are biologically and genetically more
alike than different (Malik, 1996). To justify racial slavery and
colonialism, the ideology of racism was developed in scientific
and religious clothing and matured during the last decades of
the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Un-
derstanding of these issues is necessary to correctly address the
problems of racism and other injustices in the world. The global
process of racial/ethno-national inequality started through es-
tablishing settler colonialism, practicing terrorism and genocide,
and intensifying two types of labor recruitment systems: wage
labor for poor whites and coerced labor for enslaved non-whites
(Roediger, 1991; Jalata, 2001). The White Anglo-Saxon Protes-
tant groups that initially dominated the world through the capi-
talist system developed two major social stratification systems:
class and racial caste systems (Du Bois, 1977 [1935]).
While the class system and gender hierarchy were main-
tained to protect the power of rich white males in an emerging
white societies, the racial caste (i.e., racial slavery and segrega-
tion) was invented to keep indigenous and enslaved peoples at
the bottom of white societies so that they would provide their
labor and other resources freely or cheaply. As the ideology of
whiteness was invented and used to exterminate Native Ameri-
cans and to transfer their resources to white society, it was also
used to explain and justify racial slavery and segregation. The
settlers conveniently invented “Indian savagery” through the
ideology of whiteness and committed genocide on indigenous
Americans (Roediger, 1991) and other indigenous peoples. Al-
though many authors explained the role of colonial violence in
the Americas and in other continents, they did not explore the
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 157
connections among capitalist incorporation, various forms of
violence, and colonial terrorism. Competing European colonial
forces engaged in state-sponsored terrorism that was practiced
in forms of unjustified wars, organized and systematic mass
killings, mutilation and trophy taking, ecological and cultural
destruction, and spreading of lethal diseases and continued
subjugation. By engaging in such crimes against humanity, the
European colonial forces had laid the foundations for the eco-
nomic and political supremacy of North America and Western
Europe in the global capitalist world system. The terrorist at-
tacks on the life and liberty of indigenous peoples by Euro-
American colonial powers and their collaborators also de-
stroyed existing institutions and economies and exposed the
conquered peoples to poverty and famine-induced “holocausts”
(Davis, 2001).
The destruction of indigenous cultures and institutions re-
sulted in massive deaths (Polanyi, 1944: pp. 159-160). Ruth
Blakeley (2009: p. 55) notes that the European colonial powers
used various forms of coercion including state terrorism in their
acquisition of territories and establishing their colonial institu-
tions; these powers terrorized the indigenous populations and
forced them “into supplying conquerors with food supplies,
threatening them with death if they did not acquiescence, and
the wiping out of whole [cultural groups] that were deemed of
no use to the economic projects of the European settlers. Those
that did survive were terrorized into forced labor, often as
slaves”. Most Euro-American scholars and institutions inten-
tionally distorted the humanity, cultures, and civilizations of the
indigenous peoples to justify colonial violence, cultural destruc-
tion, and continued subjugation (Wilson, 1997; Josephy, 1991).
Those few scholars, such as R. Brian Ferguson and Neil L.
Whitehead (1992) and Eric Wolf (1981) who have tried to ex-
plain the impact of colonial violence on indigenous peoples did
not go far enough to explain the essence and consequences of
colonial terrorism.
Indigenous Americans and Their Victimization
The complex processes of incorporation of indigenous
Americans started when Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of
Spain granted Christopher Columbus on April 17, 1492 the
privilege of exploring, colonizing, and plundering the Indies by
financing his expeditions. The monarchs appointed Columbus
as the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, promising him 10 percent of
the profits from gold and spices he would bring back, and to ap-
point him as a governor over new areas he would colonize
(Zinn, 2003: p. 2). Consequently, Columbus with his associates
engaged in four voyages to the Americas. When they first ar-
rived, “the Spaniards were favorably received and entertained
by the Arawak people, who traded food and water and a few
gold ornaments for such trifles as newly minted copper coins,
brass bells and even bits of broken glass and pottery” (Cohen,
1969: pp. 17-18). Columbus called the Indies “the earthly Para-
dise” (Cohen, 1969: p. 19); he explained that the Arawak had
primitive weapons made of sticks, and also mentioned that the
people were obedient and willing to give what they owned
(Cohen, 1969: pp. 17-118). The Arawak people without know-
ing with what kind people they were dealing provided the Span-
iards with meals of boiled roots and with everything they asked
freely. Realizing that the Arawak could not defend their home-
land from the invading Spaniards, Columbus wrote a letter to
the monarchs of Spain stating that “I found very many islands
with large populations and took possession of them all for their
Highnesses; this I did by proclamation and unfurled the royal
standard. No opposition was offered” (Cohen, 1969: p. 115).
The Spaniards characterized one of the indigenous groups
called the Caribs cannibals and singled out for annihilation
(Josephy, 1991: p. 3). The Caribs suffered in the hands of the
Spaniards: “Some of the Caribs survived ‘the terrible five-cen-
tury American Indian holocaust’ and ‘commencing with Co-
lumbus’ arrival among them, Spanish, French, and English
invaders, colonizers, pirates, and imperial exploiters all but
exterminated them, slaughtering Caribs wholesale with fire,
steel, European torture, and wiping out their settlements with
the pox, measles, diphtheria, and other white men’s diseases to
which the Indians had no resistance” (Josephy, 1991: p. 3). The
Spaniards imposed terror on the people they encountered to
frighten the surrounding peoples in order to reduce their will to
resist Spanish colonialism. To prove the profitability of his
expeditions to his sponsors, Columbus frequently sent cargoes
of gold, other valuables, and slaves to Spain that he obtained
through terrorizing the indigenous Americans. Since his main
goal was to obtain gold, Columbus captured some indigenous
peoples as soon as he arrived in the Indies to collect informa-
tion from them on the sources of gold (Zinn, 2003: p. 2). This
first expedition set the stage for “the racism and savagery of the
world conquest” (Chomsky, 1993: p. 5). The arrival of Colum-
bus and his sailors in the Indies had gradually brought disaster
and violence including colonial terrorism to the peaceful and
generous indigenous peoples (Blakeley, 2009: pp. 56-57).
At the beginning of Columbus’ second expedition, on May 4,
1493, through his “Bull of Donation”, Pope Alexander VI of
Rome granted all lands occupied and would be colonized in the
Americas and the Orient by Christopher Columbus and not
already occupied by any Christian king or prince as of Christ-
mas 1492 to the Catholic monarchs of Isabel and Ferdinand
(Shiva, 1997: p. 1). Columbus established the first colony early
in 1494 on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Do-
minican Republic), and collected a sizable amount of gold and
shipped back to Spain. He and his associates continued to use
terrorism to obtain more food, gold, women, slaves, and lands.
In 1495, the Spaniards went from island to island taking in-
digenous Americans as captives and taking women and children
as slaves for sex and labor (Zinn, 2003: p. 4). The Spaniards
built seventeen towns on the island of Hispaniola by 1515, and
began to enslave indigenous peoples who welcomed them in-
nocently and forced them to work on mining of gold and silver
and agriculture to grow crops, cotton, and sugar cane; in almost
two decades “their population on this fertile island had shrunk
from a quarter of a million to fourteen thousand; in a few more
years they had become extinct” (Debo, 1995: pp. 19-20). As we
shall see below, the Spaniards and other various European
groups continued these projects of terrorism and slavery and the
process of cultural destruction and genocide or continued sub-
jugation for several centuries. Although “it is beyond human
capacity to compile an accurate log of the murder, cruelty, false
imprisonment and other crimes committed” (De Las Casas,
1992: p. 37), let me briefly explain the anatomy of colonial
terrorism in the Indies.
The Spaniards used the strategy of terrorism “in all lands
they invaded: to stage a bloody massacre of the most public
possible kind in order to terrorize those meek and gentle peo-
ple” (De Las Casas, 1992: p. 45). As Bartolomé De Las Casas
(1992: p. 13) testifies, “the indigenous peoples never did the
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Europeans any harm whatever; on the contrary, they believed
them to have descended from the heavens, at least until they or
their fellow-citizens had tasted, at the hands of these oppressors,
direct robbery, murder, violence, and all other manner of trials
and tribulations.” The colonial settlers and their descendants
raped indigenous women for perpetuating terrorism and sexual
gratification. “The serial rape of captive Indian women became
ritualized public spectacles at … trade fairs,” Ned Blackhawk
(2006: p. 77) writes, “bringing the diverse male participants…
together for the violent dehumanization of Indian women.” The
use of sexual violence is a tactic of terror and genocide (Shar-
lack, 2002: p. 107).” When the Indians saw Spanish men build-
ing houses and villages to settle on their land without asking per-
mission,” De Las Casas (1971: p. 121) comments, “as if it be-
longed to them, and knowing how in opportune the Spanish
were with their demands, as well as how they had forced other
Indians to sail with them, they took the news of the settling
very badly.” As the indigenous peoples refused to supply food
and labor for the Spaniards, the latter intensified the use of
various forms of violence and intimidation. Practically “every
Spaniard went out among the Indians robbing and seizing their
women wherever he pleased, and doing them such injuries that
the Indians decided to take vengeance on any Spaniards they
found isolated or unarmed” and killed some of them (Cohen,
1969: p. 187).
The Spaniards also used the strategy of divide and conquer
policy by recruiting and mobilizing the warriors of one indige-
nous group against the other to facilitate mutual self-destruction
(Hall, 1989: p. 68). Consequently, various indigenous warriors
enslaved and merchandized their war captives while collabo-
rating with competing European colonial powers (Whitehead
1992: p. 138). In addition to colonial terrorism and the strategy
of divide and conquer, “the introduction of new pathogens was
probably the single most dramatic source of change in Indian
Society, within a century reducing native population to about
one-tenth of its former extent” (Hall, 1989: p. 71). Further-
more, the destruction of indigenous ecosystems, “germ coloni-
zation”, warfare, slavery, famine, and alcoholism dramatically
depopulated indigenous peoples (Dunaway, 1996: p. 362). The
Spaniards moved from places to places by destroying the in-
digenous Americans through employing several tactics: one of
these tactics was torture. As Blakeley (2009: p. 228) states,
torture can be a tool of terrorism “carried out by representatives
of the state against civilians to instill fear for political pur-
poses.” They aimed always at inspiring terror by their cruelties;
one time they “built a long gibbet, low enough for the toes to
touch the ground and prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen
[indigenous Americans]... When the Indians were thus still
alive and hanging, the Spaniards tested their strength and their
blades against them, ripping chests open with one blow and
exposing entrails... Then, straw was wrapped around their torn
bodies and they were burned alive” (De Las Casas, 1971: p. 121).
The Spaniards first focused on establishing their colonial set-
tlements in the Greater Antilles that led to the decimation of the
indigenous people by warfare, diseases, and slavery or forced
labor. After 1620, the Lesser Antilles became the contested area
for colonization by the French, Dutch, and English and other
European groups. Ricardo Alegría (1997: p. 12) asserts that the
Spaniards “eagerness to impose their religion and to obtain the
greatest possible profits, were far from scrupulous in their
treatment of the natives. Indeed, their cruelty hastened the dis-
integration of the native culture and its eventual annihilation.
By 1510 the Indian population of the islands was almost totally
extinct, and colonizers had to import natives from South Amer-
ica to work in the Antillean gold mines.” The Spaniards killed
young boys and girls and cut their arms and legs into chunks
and fed their dogs. As De Las Casas (1992: p. 125) notes, the
Spaniards “ensure that wherever they travel they always have a
ready supply of natives, chained and herded like so many
calves on the hoof. These they kill and butcher as the need
arises. Indeed, they run a kind of human abattoir or flesh mar-
ket, where a dog-owner can casually ask, not for a quarter of
pork or mutton, but for ‘a quarter of one of those likely lads
over there for my dog,’ and undertake to repay the debts when
he has ‘killed another blackguard for myself’.”
These colonialists hunted down with dogs and killed those
who tried to flee or they hanged or burned to death those in-
digenous peoples who showed the sign of resistance to Spanish
settler colonialism. Due to the cruelty and inhumane behavior
of the Spaniards resistance took different forms. “Among the
Arawaks, mass suicide began, with cassava poison. Infants
were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years,
through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 In-
dians on Haiti were dead” (Zinn, 2003: pp. 4-5). When the set-
tlers exhausted the exploitation of gold, they began to use the
indigenous peoples as slave labor on agriculture (Zinn, 2003: p.
5). De Las Casas (1992: p. 13) provides vivid description of the
anatomy of the terrorism imposed by the Spaniards on the In-
dies to obtain gold and other valuables: “The reason the Chris-
tians have murdered on such a vast scale and killed anyone and
everyone in their way is purely and simply greed. They have set
out to line their pockets with gold and to amass private fortune
as quickly as possible so that they can then assume a status
quite at odds with that into which they were born.” By 1542 the
colonizers killed more than twelve million people in the Carib-
bean, Mexico, and Central America (Kiernan, 2007: p. 77). To
impose terror and fear on the surrounding population groups,
the Spaniard started flogging, beating, thrashing, punching,
burning alive, cutting the legs or hands off, burning and roast-
ing them alive, butchering babies and feeding dogs, and throw-
ing them to wild dogs.
In the processes, the Spanish settlers had lost their own hu-
manity and “had become so anaesthetized to human suffering
by their own greed and ambition that they had ceased to be men
in any meaningful sense of the term and had become, by dint of
their own wicked deeds, so totally degenerated and given over
to a reprobate mind” (De Las Casas, 1992: p. 3). The Spaniards
burned people alive or cut them to pieces or tortured them or
killed them by swords. Slavery was also a major cause for the
death of some of the indigenous peoples. Men were separated
from their wives and communities to work the soil or to mine
gold; they were not allowed to take care of their families and
communities. Similarly, mothers overworked and famished and
had no milk; consequently, their newly born babies perished.
Beginning from 1514, the Spaniards developed a new policy
known as a repartimiento after annihilating most of the indige-
nous peoples; they divided the lands of the indigenous peoples
and the survivors were forced to work as semi-slaves in en-
comienda. “The settlers put men to work in gold mines and sent
women ‘into the fields of the big ranches to hoe and till the
land,’ preventing them from cohabiting and having children.
Men and women died ‘from the same causes, exhaustion and
hunger.’ Cruelty, violent greed, and the imposition of agricul-
tural serfdom all took their continuing genocidal toll” (Kiernan,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 159
2007: p. 86).
The indigenous of Central America were hunting and agri-
cultural communities with a few complex empires such as Az-
tec and Inca. The Inca monarch with his army of 80,000 sol-
diers confronted “the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzarro
at the Peruvian highland town of Cajamarca on November 16,
1532” (Diamond, 1999: p. 68). This powerful monarch was only
defeated because of the Spaniards’ superior weapons. Various
Spanish forces continued to terrorize and extract economic
resources of the indigenous Americans. Specifically the Span-
ish merchants and landlords from Spain who were interested in
gold to make money financed the expedition of Hernando
Cortés. To fulfill his own objective and the goal of these mer-
chants and landlords “Cortés... began his march of death from
town to town, using deception, turning Aztec against Aztec,
killing with the kind of deliberateness that accompanying a
strategy—to paralyze the will of the population by a sudden
frightful deed” (Zinn, 2003: p. 11). Hernan Cortés with an army
of 400 started his “spectacularly brutal campaign” to colonize
Mexico in April 1519 with the help of his coastal native allies;
he first attacked and terrorized the kingdom of Anahuac and its
capital, Tenochtitlan. His army and his indigenous allies anni-
hilated the Otomi people by lancing, stabbing and shooting
them with iron bolts, crossbows, and guns (Kiernan, 2007: p.
88). “Heavily armed columns of troops devastated the most
populous islands and destroyed the most powerful kingdom of
the New World, dispatched massive quantities of plunder back
to the Old [Continent], opened up the Americas to other Euro-
pean powers and settlers, and established grim new precedents
for their murder of indigenous peoples” (Kiernan, 2007: p. 72).
The conquistadors captured Tlaxcala and killed thousands of
people and burned thousands of houses. After reaching the city
of Cholula in October, the Spaniards destroyed it by depopu-
lating it by massacring the people. One official of Cortés noted
that the conquistadors “were dripping with blood and walked
over nothing but dead bodies” (quoted in Kiernan, 2007: p. 90).
Furthermore, Cortés and his army continued the conquest of the
areas that became Guatemala and Colombia. He sent Pedro de
Alvarado, his lieutenant, in 1523 with 120 cavalry, 300 infantry,
and four artillery pieces to repeat the butchery of the indigenous
in Mexico (Kiernan, 2007: p. 93) by using similar mechanisms
of terrorism and mass killings. The colonial terrorists needed
human trophies to terrorize the surviving population; they also
used these trophies to demonstrate their achievements and con-
vince the colonial governors that they accomplished their mis-
sions. Using their knives and “approaching the victims and
pulling up their heads by the hair, they swiftly removed tender
cartilage from the skulls of all the dead. After filling their sacks
with the lightweight, blood harvest, the attackers returned to
camp and prepared for another campaign” (Blackhawk, 2006: p.
16). The barbarism and cruelty of these terrorists were also
demonstrated by their use of strings of dried ears in their homes
(Blackhawk, 2006: p. 19). The Spaniards totally controlled the
city of Tenochtitlan and Ixtapalapa in 1521; they destroyed Ix-
tapalapa by indiscriminately killing its people and reducing it to
“human wreckage” (cited in Kiernan, 2007: p. 91). As Ben
Kiernan (2007: p. 88) notes, “The contemporary population of
what is now Mexico has been estimated at 12 million. After
Cortés’s conquistadors took over Anahuac in 1519-1521, that
population fell by 85 percent, to as low as 1 million by 1600, in
what historians call ‘one of history’s greatest holocaust’.”
Similarly, as Shirley A. Hollis (2005: p. 116) notes, the De
Soto expedition resulted in “demographic shifts throughout the
Southeast [of North America] [and] brought about a significant
social changes. Within two centuries of first contact, almost the
entire indigenous population of the Southeast had been exter-
minated”. It was not only the Spaniards that committed hor-
rendous crimes in South and Central America. The colonial
Portuguese also engaged in colonial terrorism in the area that is
called Brazil today. With increased competition from Spain,
France, and England to colonize Brazil, after thirty years of
Cabral’s expedition, Joăo III, the king of Portugal, granted to
Martin Afonso de Sousa the right to establish the first official
colony in Brazil at Saŏ Vicente. Then within short time the
Portuguese monarch announced his plan to colonize all Brazil
“already inhabited by hundreds of Indian groups” (Metcalf
2005: p. 77). The Portuguese settlers established alliances with
indigenous American groups such as the Tupinikin through
marriage strategies as headmen “adopted” outsiders as son-
in-laws. These alliances gradually assisted the expansion of
Portuguese colonization, and “Săo Vicente had six hundred
colonialists, three thousand slaves, and six sugar mills [in 1548].
These slaves were Indians from traditional enemies of the Tu-
pinikin” (Metcalf, 2005: p. 79). Since the private colonization
initiative was not successful, the Portuguese king sent his gov-
ernor to build the capital city in Brazil and to expand Christian-
ity (Metalf, 2005: p. 83). The Portuguese promoted Christianity
and racial slavery simultaneously.
Racial “slavery [was] firmly rooted in Brazil, where it would
be the foundation of Brazil’s economic development for nearly
four hundred years” (Metcalf, 2005: p. 157). The Portuguese
colonialists enslaved the Tupi, Guarani, Gê, and Arawak peo-
ples; these “slaves cleared the first fields and planted them with
sugarcane, [and…] built the first mills and produced the first
sugar harvest. [Enslaved Africans] joined Indians on the sugar
plantations in the first half of the sixteenth century, and the
numbers increased rapidly after 1550” (Metcalf, 2005: p. 158).
“Unlike Spanish America, where epidemics accompanied colo-
nization, the first epidemics that likely occurred in Brazil before
1550 did not destroy the political or social structure of inde-
pendent indigenous groups…. But between 1550 and 1580,
Brazil began to follow a pattern similar to that seen in the
Spanish Caribbean in the thirty years after 1492: significant
outbreaks of disease coincided with the ratcheting up of the
tempo of colonization” Metcalf (2005: p. 120). The processes
of colonization, incorporation, and terrorism gradually moved
from South and Central America to North America. “What
Columbus did to the Arawaks [and the Caribs] of the Bahamas,
Cortés did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizzarro to the Incas of
Peru,” Howard Zinn (2003: p. 11) writes, “and the English
settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the
Pequotes”. The European colonial settlers also began to have
impacts on the culture and lifestyle of the North American
Southwest by establishing trading posts and missions that fur-
ther spread European diseases and “served as centers of conta-
gion as well as centers of commerce” (Carlson, 2002: p. 426).
Colonial and commercial activities also expanded to the North-
west with the second phase of fur trade in the 1820s with simi-
lar results. From the beginning, the incorporation of the Americas
into the European-dominated capitalist world system involved
many webs of activities that included various forms of violence.
“While nearly all colonial systems conducted forms of genocide,
extending over a five hundred years period well into the nine-
teenth century,” Thomas Hall and James V. Fenelon (2004, p.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
175) write, “most did not develop treaty based legal systems,
but many in Central and South America incorporated American
Indian peoples into systems of racial subordination, segregation
and partial assimilation as minority groups” to continue subju-
gation and exploitation.
European states and their agents used colonial terrorism in
committing genocide and in reorganizing peoples on a racial
criterion; “these processes coincided with the spread of Euro-
pean diseases, which tore apart the social fabric, especially the
system of marriage alliances” (Hall, 1993: p. 243). The spread
of European diseases was extended for many centuries; contact
was “temporally extended process, rather than a single instant
or event that ruptured the otherwise pristine Garden of Eden
into which the Europeans at first believed they had stumbled”
(Whitehead, 1993: p. 288). Sometimes indigenous Americans
were affected by diseases without encounters of any person
from the European and African continents; since the spread of
epidemics was not uniform the transmission rates were “af-
fected by diet, physical settings, social practices and active
native responses to epidemics” (Whitehead, 1993: p. 289). Some
colonial forces intentionally used smallpox as a warfare to
eradicate some indigenous Americans (Fenn, 2000). Exploring
the several results of incorporation into the European-domi-
nated capitalist world system, Christopher Chase-Dunn and
Thomas D. Hall (1997: p. 59) note that some indigenous peo-
ples were “eliminated, either by annihilation or assimilation
into the absorbing group;” they also assert that “not much at-
tention has been given to the incorporation of stateless world-
systems.” Great Britain and France used similar political prac-
tices in establishing their colonies. The English did not suc-
cessfully establish a colony until 1607 in North America. The
Virginia Company under the leadership of Captain John Smith
established this first settlement in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia.
After settling in Jamestown, the English settlers expanded their
settlements that led to the opposition of the Powhatan people.
As this Virginia settlement grew and its population increased
from 1300 in 1625 to 8000 in 1640, the settlers’ policy “did not
seek the Powhatans’ total extermination, but it required their
full subjugation, and eventual slavery for survivors” (Kiernan,
2007: p. 223). However, gradually the Powhatans were annihi-
lated (Kiernan, 2007: p. 224). The English settlers continued to
confiscate the lands of the indigenous peoples by using colonial
terrorism. In 1621, the English pilgrims also settled at Ply-
mouth in a section of the continent that later became New Eng-
land and pursued policies of terrorism, extermination, and slav-
ery on the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Pequot, and other in-
digenous peoples. To transfer the communal ownership of the
lands of these peoples, the Puritans “developed a tactic of war-
fare used by Cortés…: deliberate attacks on noncombatants for
the purpose of terrorizing the enemy” (Zinn, 2003: p. 14). John
Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
“created the excuse to take Indian land by declaring the area
legally a ‘vacuum’. The Indians, he said, had not ‘subdued’ the
land, and therefore had only a ‘natural right’ to it, but no a
‘civil right’. A ‘natural right’ did not have legal standing” (Zinn,
2003: pp. 14-15). Winthrop justified the establishment of pri-
vate property through violence and expropriation. The Puritans
asserted that the heathens who resisted the power of Europeans,
God’s children, should be condemned and lose their lands vio-
lently. As the Spaniards did, the British settlers engaged in
terrorism and genocide in the process of transforming the
communal ownership of the land of indigenous American peo-
ples to the private property of the European settlers (Zinn, 2003:
p. 16). In the seventeenth century, the Spaniards, English,
French, Russians, and the Dutch simultaneously began to estab-
lish their permanent colonies in the area north of Mexico.
As the English settled at Jamestown in 1607, the French
founded Quebec in 1608. The Russians also established fur-
gathering posts on the Alaska Peninsula and exterminated the
Aleut people. They “treated them with unspeakable cruelty;
they raped the women and held them as hostages until the men
ransomed them with furs; they destroyed settlements and mur-
dered people from sheer barbarity. It is estimated that the
population when they came was 25,000; a count made in 1885
showed 3892” (Debo, 1995: p. 83). After thirteen English colo-
nies emerged as the United States after the American Revolution
of 1776, the colonial settlers wanted to continue to expropriate
the lands of indigenous Americans under different ideological
pretexts. The United States began to expand to the Pacific west
coast through terrorizing indigenous American peoples and
expropriating their homelands. White Americans rationalized
that it was God’s will to control from the Atlantic Sea to the
Pacific Sea and later across the continent and beyond. The
United States intensified terrorism on indigenous peoples with-
in its geo-political territories and in its neighbors and opened up
western frontiers later in Texas, California, and the Great Plains
to confiscate lands and other resources. American apartheid
democracy under the leadership of George Washington, John
Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others pro-
moted colonial terrorism, war, expansion, and genocidal mas-
sacres on indigenous Americans. Soldiers, vigilante groups, and
other settlers burned villages and towns, destroyed cornfields,
massacred women, old men, and children, and scalped their
heads for trophy.
In 1779, George Washington declared war on the six nations
of the Iroquois northwest and ordered “to ruin their crops now
in the ground and prevent them planting. That fall, General
John Sullivan burned down 40 Iroquois towns and destroyed
160,000 bushels of corn. [American forces attacked one town
and] ‘put to death all the women and children, excepting some
of the young women, whom they carried away for the use of
their soldiers and were afterwards put to death in a more
shameful manner’” (Kiernan, 2007: p. 325). After becoming
President in 1801, Thomas Jefferson continued and intensified
terrorism and war on indigenous Americans; he dispatched his
general, George Rogers Clark and the US Army to attack, ter-
rorize, and destroy the Cherokee, Shawness, Peankeshaw,
Ouabash, Kickapoes, Mingoes, Munsies, Windots, and Chick-
asaws to remove or exterminate them (Kiernan, 2007: pp. 319-
325). He wrote a letter to John Page describing that “even
friendly Indians as ‘a useless, expensive, ungovernable ally’”
(Kiernan, 2007: p. 320). When he was the governor of Virginia,
Jefferson also ordered attack on Cherokees and the forces of
Arthur Campbell “destroyed over 1000 houses of the over hill
Cherokees in 1780… The next year, John Sevier ‘burned fifteen
Middle Cherokee towns’. In 1782, Sevier’s son took part in
another campaign against Lower Cherokees, reporting ‘We
destroyed their towns, stock, corn, [and] everything they had’”
(Kiernan, 2007: p. 325).
After purchasing Louisiana from France in 1803, Jefferson
promoted the policy of voluntarily or removing forcefully in-
digenous peoples from the territory. In the letter he wrote to the
German scholar Alexander von Humboldt in 1812, Jefferson
testified the commitment of his policy to destroy indigenous
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 161
Americans: “The confirmed brutalization, if not extermination
of this race in our America is therefore to form an added chap-
ter in the English history of the same colored man in Asia, and
of the brethren of their own color in Ireland and wherever else
Anglo-mercantile cupidity can find a two-penny interest in
deluging the earth with blood” (Jefferson, 1813: pp. 792-793).
Andrew Jackson also continued the process of terrorizing in-
digenous Americans after he was elected president in 1828; the
plundering of the lands of the indigenous peoples was intensi-
fied through terrorism and racial/ethnic cleansing in states like
Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. Jackson informed the in-
digenous peoples that since the federal government did not
have power to help them, they should move to a new territory
by abandoning their homelands. Supporting the forced removal
of the indigenous Americans and the dispossession of their
homelands, Jackson, in the State of the Union Address, said:
“What good man would prefer a country covered with forests
and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Repub-
lic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embel-
lished with all the improvements which art can devise or Indus-
try execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people,
and filled with all the blessing of liberty, civilization, and re-
In the same speech, he professed the inevitability of the ex-
tinction of indigenous peoples to make room for the civilized
people (Perdue & Green, 2005: p. 127). One of the shocking
examples of colonial terrorism and racial cleansing through
forced removal was practiced on the Cherokee nation. “With
the dispossession of the Cherokee Nation via the Trail of
Tears,” Amy H. Sturgis (2007: p. 65) notes, “the previous relo-
cations of the Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw Nations, and the
defeat and ejection of the Seminole Nation, new US policy
toward Native America were established.” The United States
expropriated the lands of indigenous American peoples and
created for them what was known as “an Indian Territory.” In
addition to forced relocation, the United States destroyed the
institutions of indigenous Americans. The US government in
Mississippi abolished the government of Choctaws in 1830 and
forced them to move to Oklahoma between 1830 and 1833.
This resulted in the deaths of many of them due to the hard-
ships imposed on them. Similarly, in Alabama the US govern-
ment through various forms repression including terrorism
forced the Creeks to surrender all their lands by breaking their
resistance. In 1836, the Creek “men were placed in irons and
their wailing women and children—a total of 2495 people—
were transported to Oklahoma and, literally naked, without
weapons or cooking utensils, were dumped there to live or die”
(Debo, 1995: p. 119).
In the next year, 543 of them were hunted by the military and
dragged into to the new place. Those who remained in Alabama
“were hanged for participating in the ‘uprising’ and other were
reduced to slavery;” overall, they had lost 45 percent of the
population (Debo, 1995: pp. 119-120). Before their forced re-
moval the Cherokee people had suffered in the hands of com-
peting European colonial powers. These competing nations
wanted to control different parts of North America and em-
broiled the Cherokees in their wars in the nineteenth century.
By siding with the French or the British depending on a given
circumstance, the Cherokee people paid dearly in many fronts.
In the summer of 1776, the colonies of Georgia, South Carolina,
North Carolina, and Virginia attacked and terrorized the
Cherokee nation: “Men and women, and children fled to the
forests as the invading army destroyed houses, fields, and
granaries. At one town alone in upcountry South Carolina, the
soldiers destroyed six thousand bushels of corn. The destruction
so late in the year left no store for the winter and no time to
replant. The soldiers killed most Cherokee captives on the spot,
and many collected the seventy-five-pound bounty... for the
scalps of Cherokee warriors” (Perdue & Green, 2005: p. 7). The
second tragedy came to the Cherokee people with the Indian
Removal Act of 1838, which led to their relocation at gunpoint
in Oklahoma. They arrived there without any children and with
very few elders since they perished on the way through hard-
ship and disease.
The settlers divided the leadership of this nation and intro-
duced to them a civil war. The Cherokees suffered immensely
in the hands of the Georgia Guard between 1938-1839. This
guard “was composed of ruffians, who terrorized the Chero-
kees—putting them in chains, tying them to trees and whipping
them, throwing them into filthy jails” (Debo, 1995: p. 121). As
Amy H. Sturgis (2007: p. 3) describes, “as an event on the stage
of world history, the Trail of Tears supplies one example of the
international, ongoing phenomenon of ethnic cleansing.” Be-
tween four and eight thousand Cherokees died in stockades
during the Trail of Tears (Perdue & Green, 2005: pp. 167-168).
Similarly, in resisting their removal, the Seminoles also suf-
fered the most of all; the United States paid costly in lives and
money in its war against the Seminoles nation. According to
Debo (1995: pp. 126-127), “The removal of the five great
Southern [ethnonations] and its continuing aftermath were par-
allel in the North by events less spectacular but no less relent-
less. A few [ethnonations] escaped. Elaborate plans were made
to remove the Iroquois, first to Arkansas, then to Wisconsin,
finally to Kansas.” Continuing pushing the indigenous peoples
to the west, the US occupied California, Texas, and Oregon
between 1845 and 1848.
After occupying California in 1845, US regular forces, local
militia, and settlers began to exterminate indigenous peoples
through enslavement and direct killings (Kiernan, 2007: pp.
351-354). Genocidal massacres also took place on the Great
Plains. Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836,
and its government, militia, and settlers exterminated almost
20,000 of indigenous Americas (Kiernan, 2007: pp. 334-349).
Texas expanded its territory by destroying indigenous commu-
nities. With the U.S. annexation of Texas in 1846, the extermi-
nation of indigenous peoples continued. The killers of the in-
digenous peoples also removed the remaining indigenous peo-
ples from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and
Texas. Finally the same policy was applied to the Apaches of
the Southwest. In 1871 the US government developed an
Apache policy, and the Congress appropriated seventy thousand
dollars “to collect the Apache Indians of Arizona and New
Mexico upon reservations” (Debo, 1995: p. 270). The Navajo,
the Nez Perce, and the Sioux peoples were removed from their
respective homelands in the same way. “From such policies
came the reservation system, the practice of assigning native
peoples to specified federal lands, and the trust system,” Sturgis
(2007: p. 65) notes, “the practice of the U.S. government hold-
ing funds owed to native nations on their behalf, much in the
same way as guardians would hold property on behalf of their
wards.” After almost all surviving indigenous Americans were
collected into reservation camps and separated from the white
people, racial cleansing and genocide were almost completed.
In order to further dispossess the indigenous peoples by break-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
ing up reservations, the US government passed the Dawes law
of February 8, 1887. Privatizing and dividing reservation lands
to each head of a family (160 acres for each family) resulted in
selling and transferring lands to white settlers. France and Great
Britain competed for dominance in North America.
The French allied with some indigenous groups and fortified
the Ohio Valley region to prevent the British from settling fur-
ther west. But in 1759 and 1760, the British conquered Quebec
and Montreal respectively. In 1763, by the Peace of Paris, the
British took control of French Canada and Spanish Florida and
removed the French presence in North America. When the
French and other Europeans started to explore and colonize
Canada, there were more than 50 ethno-nations, known as Ca-
nadian First Nations, by some scholars, occupying their respec-
tive homelands. As other Europeans did, the French and Eng-
lish used them as allies during the battles of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. In addition to various forms of violence,
the colonialists used diseases to destroy the indigenous Ameri-
cans. In fact, in 1763, British military officials spread smallpox
among indigenous Americans through distributing blankets and
handkerchiefs infected with variola (Fenn, 2000; Kociumbas,
2004: p. 80). “Diseases transmitted to peoples lacking immu-
nity by invading peoples with considerable immunity. Small-
pox, measles, influenza, typhus, bubonic plague, and other
infectious diseases endemic in Europe played a decisive role in
European conquests, by decimating many people on other con-
tinents” (Diamond, 1997: p. 76). Unfortunately, the indigenous
ethno-nations also engaged in unjustified wars, terrorism, and
self-destruction without realizing the far-reaching consequences
of their activities. Out of about 2000 ethno-nations, about 250
lived in North America, some 350 in Mexico and Central
America, and about 1450 in South America (Josephy, 1991).
They had separate and mutually unintelligible languages. Dur-
ing the arrival of Columbus, according to the estimation of
demographers, there were about 75 million indigenous Ameri-
cans in the three continents (Josephy, 1991: p. 6).
Some demographers estimated that “the first hundred years
of European presence in America brought about the demise of
ninety-five percent of the Native population, while others sug-
gest that a death rate of seventy-five percent may be accurate”
(Perdue, 2005: p. 18). Similarly, Howard Zinn (2003: p. 16)
argues, “The Indian population of 10 million that lived north of
Mexico when Columbus came would ultimately be reduced to
less than a million. Huge numbers of Indians would die from
diseases introduced by the White” and by the wars of the rival
European powers introduced by using the indigenous peoples
as their pawns. “History still teaches falsely that pre-Columbus
America was a wilderness, a virgin land, virtually untenanted,
unknown, and unused,” Alvin M. Josephy (1991: p. 6) writes,
“waiting for the white explorers and pioneers, with their supe-
rior brains, brawn, and courage, to conquer and ‘develop’ it.”
The process of hero-making and the efforts of hiding the crimes
committed against humanity in the Americas in the names of
God, commerce, religion, culture, progress, and civilization by
the European colonizers and their descendants have limited our
understanding of the humanity, cultures, and the true history of
indigenous American peoples. According to Noam Chomsky
(1993: p. 5), “The conquest of the New World set off two vast
demographic catastrophes, unparalleled in history: the virtual
destruction of the indigenous population of the Western hemi-
sphere, and the devastation of Africa as the slave trade rapidly
expanded to serve the needs of the conquerors, and the conti-
nent itself was subjugated. Much of Asia too suffered ‘dreadful
The Gross Human Rights Violations of
Indigenous Africans
For almost five centuries, European empire builders, namely
Portugal, Holland, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Italy,
and Spain employed different strategies and tactics in Africa to
make money through the ownership of human beings, explora-
tion, evangelization, colonization, commercialization, terrorism,
banditry, robbery, and theft. The processes of merchandizing
some young Africans, dominating and controlling trade, de-
stroying African institutions, cultures and religions, imposing
Christianity, destroying African leadership and sovereignties
through establishing colonial governments, dispossessing lands
and other economic resources, and transforming Africans into
coerced laborers involved war and terrorism. “Everywhere the
conquests of Africa brought similar paradoxes of public disaster
and private profit in their train” (Lonsdale, 1985: p. 722). When
various African peoples intensified their respective resistance to
racial slavery, colonial expansion, domination, and exploitation
and later engaged in national liberation struggles, some of these
empire builders increased their levels of terrorism to prevent
the reemergence of African sovereignties and to continue their
theft and robbery of African resources. Jean Ganiage (1985: p.
157) describes that European policy makers planned and acted
“to crush African resistance by a ruthlessly systematic exploita-
tion of the technological gap between European and African
weaponry and military organization”.
Indigenous Africans were exposed to two waves of terror:
The first wave started in the late fifteenth century with mer-
chandising of some young Africans at gunpoint and colonizing
some limited coastal islands or territories (about 10 percent of
Africa). The second wave emerged in the first half of the nine-
teenth century and consolidated with the partition and coloniza-
tion of the whole continent in the same century. European
countries and others that involved in Africa try to forget the
deaths and sufferings caused by racial slavery, the blood spilled,
mass murdered, the severed hands and heads, and the shattered
families and other crimes committed in Africa to extract wealth
and capital. As Adam Hochschild (1998: p. 295) puts, “Forget-
ting one’s participation in mass murder is not something pas-
sive; it is an active deed. In looking at the memories recorded
by the early white conquistadors in Africa, we can sometimes
catch the act of forgetting at the very moment it happens.” The
practices of attacking, raiding, capturing, and owning human
beings, as well as the dispossessing of the coastal lands of Af-
rican peoples involved the first wave of colonial terrorism. The
slavers and colonizers also used various forms of violence to
force people to forsake their individual and group sovereignties
in order to use them as commodities and to exploit their labor
and economic resources.
Enslaving some young Africans involved warfare, trickery,
banditry, kidnapping, burning villages, raping, torturing, divid-
ing and destroying communities, facilitating civil war, and de-
stroying existing leadership and institutions and cultures. Be-
tween 13 and 15 million young Africans were merchandized as
commodities by European slave traders and their African col-
laborators and transported to the Americas. There were also
Africans who were enslaved by Arabs and their African col-
laborators and exported to Asia. Furthermore, millions of
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 163
young Africans were also merchandized and worked on Euro-
pean plantations, farms, and mining in Africa; some of them
worked as domestic workers and porters, too. The develop-
ment of mercantilism in Western Europe in the late fifteenth
century enabled some European countries to have technological
knowledge to build ships and cannons and to navigate seaways
and gradually establish control overall the world’s sea ways
such as the North Sea, the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans,
and the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently, some European
powers started to own sea-going vessels and cannons and to
finance the exploration of the unknown continents. Portugal
started to stage racial slavery and colonial expansion to over-
come the problem of food deficit and to seek overseas’ wealth;
the technology of ship building and the availability of guns
enabled the Portuguese first to colonize the islands of Azores
and Madeira to cultivate wheat by using the labor of European
migrants driven by hunger and captured slaves raided from the
African coast (Birmingham, 1999: p. 2).
The Portuguese colonialists also captured and settled the
Canary Islands, the offshore islands of Morocco, and occupied
the Morocco fortress of Ceuta in the fifteenth century. After
controlling the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, the Portuguese
colonized some parts of African coast, established sugar planta-
tions on the islands, and built trade factories on the beaches.
Portuguese ambitions in Africa were diffuse during the six-
teenth and seventeenth centuries: “One was to secure man-
power to exploit in Brazil and the island colonies, but the Por-
tuguese state and Portuguese merchants were equally interested
in the spice trade, in precious metals, particularly gold, and in
forging strategic alliance aimed against Mameluk Egypt and
then the Ottoman Empire” (Freund, 1984: p. 40). To satisfy the
needs of labor and commerce and to collect information on
Africa, raiding, capturing, and owing Africans became an im-
portant enterprise for the Portuguese (Davidson, 1961: pp. 33-
34). Realizing the profitability of the slave trade, those mer-
chants who were not convinced about the profitability of slav-
ery changed their mind: “The outcome of their talking was
financial support for a large expedition of six ships... and a
small scale war on the western coast in which one hundred and
sixty-five men, women, and children were taken captives ‘be-
sides those that perished and were killed’” (Davidson, 1961: p.
37). Slave merchants started to send expeditions to import more
and more slaves to Europe and the Americas. The Portuguese
through “a diplomatic mission of friendship and alliance” with
the agreement of the leaders of the people built their first fort
called Elmina (“the mine”) on the Coast of Gold Coast (now
Ghana) in 1481 to get access to African slaves and gold (Hum-
baraci & Muchink, 1974: p. 85).
The slave labor helped Portugal to experiment her colonial
practices on the Atlantic and the Cape Verde islands, which
became known for textile industry. Furthermore, the Portuguese
merchants developed a colonial plantation economy on the
Atlantic Coast of Africa and Brazil (Birmingham, 1999: p. 5).
Later, other European powers learned from the experiment.
Portugal also extended its imperialist and trade influence on the
East African coast in the sixteenth century and involved in what
is today Kenya, Tanzania, and Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) as part
of its broader Indian Ocean strategy (Freund, 1985: p. 41). It
forced the Swahili coastal towns to submit or form alliance.
Portuguese expeditions also engaged in sacking and plundering
African cities. Although it was not successful, Portugal at-
tempted to impose Catholicism on ruling houses and mobilize
them against Muslim empire builders. The Portuguese estab-
lished her sphere of influence in the Zambezi valley, Zimbabwe,
and the Congo, too. They created permanent settlements in
Angola and Mozambique. Gradually the Portuguese colonies
included Angola, the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea
Bissau, Cape Verde Islands, and Mozambique. Portugal founded
Luanda, the capital city of Angola, in 1575; it was the oldest
European colonial settlement in the south of the equator. Al-
though salt, iron, copper, ivory, and gold attracted the Portu-
guese to Africa, “slaves were always more important than
[other commodities] in the mobile zones of frontier exploitation
that were opened up by ocean navigation in the Atlantic” (Bir-
mingham, 1999: p. 17).
After the Scramble for Africa, Portugal intensified its poli-
cies of effective control and pacification to prevent loses of its
colonies to its rival imperial and internal resistance forces. Be-
tween 1870 and 1905, the Portuguese effectively colonized the
interior of Angola and Mozambique through series of wars and
terrorism (Smith, 1985: pp. 493-520). According to Bruce
Vandervort (1998: p. 146), “The Portuguese imperial renais-
sance of the 1890s, spurred on by national indignation at the
country’s humiliation at the hands of her imperial rivals, meant
war for the peoples who inhabited the African lands over which
Portugal claimed sovereignty. In Angola, beginning in the
1880s, Portuguese columns made increasingly vigorous efforts
to break out of the coastal regions and on to the central plateau,
to penetrate the northern rain forests and to bring the arid lands
of the far south under effective control. In Guinea-Bissau...
Portuguese military pressure on the interior increased... Mo-
zambique, however, was the major arena of Portuguese colonial
warfare.” There were various peoples and independent king-
doms that refused to recognize the colonial power of Portugal
and resisted to pay taxes and to work on colonial projects and
plantations. The Portuguese army and African mercenaries used
warfare and terrorism to break the will of these Africans (Van-
dervort, 1998: p. 148). They engaged in what they called the
wars of pacification, which caused thousands of deaths and
exiles. With increased resistance in Angola and Mozambique,
the Portuguese colonial forces terrorized the indigenous peoples,
destroyed cultures, institutions, and communities, denied wells
during drought, and killed or exiled leaders (Herbert, 2003: pp.
After the mid-1950s different nationalist groups that later
formed nationalist movements emerged and demanded national
independence. To respond to these conditions, the colonial
government and its army intensified terrorism to prevent them
from fighting for their rights. “No child grew up in Angola
without risking a daily encounter with violence,” David Bir-
mingham (1999: pp. 133-134) writes, “police violence, gang
violence, domestic violence, conscripted violence, exiled vio-
lence, the violence of permanent fear permeating a whole soci-
ety and a whole generation.” As soon as the MPLA (Movi-
mento Popular de Libertação de Angola) started the Angolan
liberation struggle in September 1962, thousands of refugees
moved to neighboring countries (Humbaraci & Muchnik, 1974:
p. 123). The condition in Mozambique was not different. The
uprisings of the sugar-cane plantation workers and dock strike
in 1963 met with bloody reprisals, arrests and deaths (Hum-
baraci & Muchnik, 1974: pp. 146-147). With the intensification
of the national struggle under the leadership of FRELIMO (the
Mozambican National Resistance), most nationalists were ter-
rorized and brutalized by the Portuguese forces. Furthermore,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Western European and American financial aid contributed to
the suppression of these Africans. As Birmingham (1999: p.
234) explains, “The more the West [supported] the forces of
minority white domination in Africa, the more Angola, Guinea
Bissau and Mozambique [would] be different from those coun-
tries who had their independences granted—sometimes virtu-
ally on a silver platters.”
Inter-European competition for slaves to man their mines and
plantations of the Americas intensified racial slavery in Africa.
England, France, Holland, and Spain also participated in the
Atlantic slave trade for more than three centuries. These Euro-
pean powers with their African collaborators terrorized and
dehumanized some young Africans that they were enslaving.
“Where warfare and violence stimulated the initial capture,”
Joseph C. Miller (2002: p. 45) writes, “the victims would have
begun their odysseys in exhausted, shaken, and perhaps
wounded physical condition.” Since raiding, capturing, mer-
chandising human beings, and transporting them involved sev-
eral lethal dangers, a great portion of the enslaved Africans
perished. As Henry W. Nevinson (1906: p. 113) expounds,
“The path is strewn with dead men’s [and women’s] bones.
You see the white thighbones lying in front of your feet, and at
one side, among the undergrowth, you find the skull. These are
the skeletons of slaves who have been unable to keep up with
the march, and so were murdered or left to die.” Those enslaved
Africans who survived the danger of death were dehumanized
and treated less than animals: “The great majority of the slaves
went directly to the slave pens... These barracoons—a word
also applied to farmyards for keeping animals—were usually
barren enclosures... Large numbers of slaves accumulated
within these pens, living for days and weeks surrounded by
walls too high for a person to scale, squatting helplessly, naked,
on the dirt and entirely exposed to the skies except for a few
adjoining cells where they could be locked at night. They lived
in a ‘wormy morass’... and slept in their own excrement, with-
out even a bonfire for warmth” (Mills, 2002: p. 49).
“All slaves trembled in terror at meeting the white cannibals
of the cities, the first Europeans whom many of the slaves
would have seen. They feared the whites’ intention of con-
verting African brains’ into cheese or rendering the fat of Afri-
can bodies into cooking oil, as well as burning their bones into
gunpowder” (Miller, 2002: p. 49). The European powers used
various forms of violence to acquire free or cheap labor and to
invade and take over African lands and others resources while
claiming that they were promoting Christianity, civilization,
and modernity. The second phase of colonial terrorism was the
continuation of the first one. Between 1830 and 1845 in Algeria,
the French army engaged in terrorism, killing men, women, and
children, and annihilating some clan families, beheading their
leaders, setting fires, “smoking … men, women and children to
death,” and throwing hundreds of corpses in caves (Kiernan,
2007: p. 365). The French military leaders in Algeria “ordered
summary executions on the slightest suspicion, [and] showed
‘unnecessary cruelty’” (Kiernan, 1982: p. 73). Within the first
three decades, the French military massacred between 500,000
and 1 million from approximately 3 million Algerian people
(Kiernan, 2007: pp. 364-365). According to Kiernan (2007: p.
374), “By 1875, the French conquest was complete. The war
had killed approximately 825,000 indigenous Algerians since
1830. A long shadow of genocidal hatred persisted, provoking a
French author to protest in 1882 that in Algeria, ‘we hear it
repeated every day that we must expel the native and if neces-
sary destroy them’.”
The French burned the city of Constantine; 20,000 French
troops “bombarded and attacked the town of 30,000, leaving
corpses of the inhabitants strewn ‘everywhere on the ground.’
‘The threshold, the courtyard, the stairs, the apartments, all
these places were covered with bodies so close together that it
was difficult to take a step without treading on them. And what
to say of this trail of bodies on the torturous contour of the
precipice where the unfortunate women had tumbled with their
children on being seized with fright at our entry into the town’”
(Kiernan, 2007: pp. 368-369). All these crimes against human-
ity were committed to cow the Algerian population. Some lands
of Algerians were expropriated and given to the French settlers.
The French settlers reached 4000 families in 1882, and the
colonial government established 197 settlements by granting
lands freely totaling 347,000 hectares (Ganiage, 1985: p. 163).
The more the French increased terrorism and repression, the
more Algerians resisted colonial domination. During the night
of November 1, 1954, a handful of armed nationalists con-
fronted French soldiers. Considering this event as a dangerous
condition and labeling the repressive measures of the colonial
government as “the struggle against terrorism”, the colonial
government expanded the legal powers of the army and the
police (Branche, 2004: p. 135). Consequently, the French army
targeted both combatants and civilians and “two acts of vio-
lence grew exponentially: summary executions and internment
in camps” (Branche, 2004: p. 138).
“The execution of hostages owed its genesis to colonial law,
which assigned collective responsibility in the case of certain
infractions, and authorized collective punishments, including
forced labor. This principle was enforced in the spring of 1955:
if an attack took place, the nearest village was considered col-
lectively responsible. The reprisals that ensued might include
executing hostages” (Banche, 2004: p. 139). Tortures, beatings,
and rapes were also used as forms of colonial terrorism: “Tor-
ture sessions began with the systematic stripping of the victim.
One method of torture was rarely used alone. It was more often
combined with one of five separate tactics: beatings, hanging
by the feet or hands, water torture, torture by electric shock, and
rape” (Branche, 2004: p. 140). Rape was a theatre of violence
in Algeria; gang rapes were often common. Rape as an act of
terrorism was intended to impose psychological destruction on
Algerian society. As Raphaël Branche (2004: p. 141) states,
“This particular act of violence struck a well-aimed blow at one
of Algerian society’s foundations: the virginity or ‘purity’ of
women. It also attacked the manhood of Algerian men, which
relied upon their ability to defend their women.” As the Alge-
rian national struggle was intensified, the French colonial gov-
ernment increased colonial terrorism although it failed to crush
the will of the Algerian people. Finally, Algeria achieved its
political independence in 1962. Other European countries con-
tinued similar policies and practices. The first Dutch settlers
arrived in the Cape peninsula in 1652. Dutch East India Com-
pany occupied the Cape peninsula under the leadership of Jan
van Riebeeck (Thompson, 2001: p. 32). In 1662, the Cape of
Good Hope emerged as a complex and racially stratified soci-
Although the Dutch settlers initially established fairly cordial
relationship with the Khoikhoi and acquired sheep and cattle in
exchange of European goods, they gradually started to use vio-
lence to dispossess their lands and forcing them into slavery.
The settlers began to have upper hand on the Khoikhoi and
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 165
other indigenous peoples because of the superiority of their
organization, weaponry, and the divisions among the indige-
nous peoples. The Dutch settlements expanded from generation
to generation. According to Leonard Thompson (2001: p. 38),
“Gaining confidence from their defeat of the peninsula people,
the settlers became increasingly brutal. They branded, thrashed,
and chained Khoikhoi.” The settlers first destroyed the sover-
eignty of the Khoikhoi by expropriating their economic re-
sources and by destroying their leadership, institutions, and
culture and reducing them to the status of slaves or coerced
workers (Freund, 1984: pp. 55-56). The Pastoralist Boers “re-
lied on Hottentots [Khoikhois] and, later, Bantu serfs, who cost
nothing but little food, and whose destitution forced them into
the service of the Boers after the latter had deprived them their
land” (Den Berghe, 1970: p. 23). Initially the Dutch East India
Company expropriated their economic resources such as land
and “livestock—their most valued possessions: the records of
the company show that between 1662 and 1713 it received
14,363 cattle and 32,808 sheep from the Khoikhoi. Their fragile
political system had collapsed, and the chiefs had become pa-
thetic clients of the company. In the 1680s, individuals and
families had begun to detach themselves from their society and
serve burghers as shepherds and cattle-herders” (Thompson,
2001: p. 38).
The European diseases such as smallpox finally annihilated
the Khoikhoi pastoral society. The settlers also invaded, ter-
rorized, destroyed, and used the remaining population of San,
hunter-gathers society, as slaves or coerced workers. Then they
continued to attack, colonize, and destroy African farming com-
munities. Although the Bantu-speaking Africans such as Xhosa
and Zulu who were mixed farmers seriously resisted the incur-
sion of Europeans to their homelands, they were also defeated
and dominated after many centuries. Because of the essence of
their social formations, the occupationally differentiated Afri-
cans, namely Koikhois, San, and Bantu speaking Africans (such
as the Zulu, Ndebele, and Sotho) had varied experiences with
their European enemies. Relatively speaking, it was more dif-
ficult to attack, colonize, and destroy the African farming com-
munities than the pastoral and hunting-gathering communities.
The Dutch colony was expanded on different directions without
any competition until 1795 (Theal, 1969: pp. 96-111), when
England captured the Cape from the Dutch. The Boers viewed
the San as vermin; their commandos killed 503 and captured
239 in 1774, and killed 2503 and took as prisoners 669 between
1786 and 1795 (De Berghe, 1970: p. 24). After 1795, both the
Dutch and English colonial settlers continued the policy of
terrorizing and annihilating the indigenous peoples of South
Africa. Those indigenous Africans who lived in the eastern part
of southern Africa were terrorized and colonized during the
early nineteenth century: “In 1811 and 1812, in a campaign that
set the precedent for the piecemeal conquest of all the black
farming people of Southern Africa, British regular troops, as-
sisted by colonial commandos and Khoikhoi units, ruthlessly
expelled the Xhosa inhabitants from the land through to the
Fish River, burning crops and villages and making off with
thousands of head of cattle” (Thompson, 2001: pp. 54-55).
After occupying the Cape peninsula, like the Dutch, the Brit-
ish settlers started to terrorize and colonize the frontier political
and farming communities. John Cradock, the British military
governor of the Cape of Good Hope outlined his plan to annihi-
late the leadership and communities such as Xhosa; he ex-
plained that “the expediency of destroying the Kaffir [Bantu
speakers] Kraals, laying waste their gardens and fields and in
fact totally removing any object that could hold out their chiefs
an inducement to revisit the regained territory” (quoted in Ma-
gubane, 1996: p. 45). He started the frontier war and terrorism
of 1811-12. According to Bernard M. Magubane (1996: p. 45),
this “was total war because it did away with the distinction
between military and civil categories. It was total war because
it affected all levels of individual and community life: political,
economic, psycho-social, and military”. After they were re-
moved from their homelands, the surviving Xhosas became
coerced workers for the British settlers. With the discovery of
diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1884 respectively in Kimberly
and Witwatersrand, the British colonial government intensified
colonial terrorism. Those Africans who survived were disarmed
and settled on reservations; they were forced to be coerced
laborers in mining and farming industries. Despite the fact that
the southern African kingdoms and societies initially estab-
lished friendly commercial relationship with Europeans, the
Europeans wanted to own African lands by violating the norms
of society: “White farmers... claimed to own the land they had
been permitted to use, whereas the idea that a person could
have property rights in land did not exist in African culture”
(Thompson, 2001: p. 71).
The Europeans settlers used the cleavage in African societies,
firearms, and the Africans “lacked the equipment to capture
fortified positions or laagers composed of circles of wagons,
and when Africans resorted to guerrilla tactics the invaders
forced them into submission by attacking their food supplies.
Time after time, Afrikaner [Dutch settler] commandos and
British regiment brought Africans to their knees by systemati-
cally destroying their homes, crops, and grain reserves, seizing
their livestock, and turning their women and children into refu-
gees” (Thompson, 2001: p. 72). Both the Dutch and the British
contested to own African resources such as land, cattle, labor,
and minerals. However, in 1870 “African kingdoms, Afrikaner
republics and British colonies co-existed in a rough equilibrium
of power, but pursuing widely differing social and economic
goals” (Marks, 1985: p. 359). During the Scramble for South
Africa between 1877 and 1895, South Africa emerged as a
“white man’s country” (Schreuder, 1980: pp. 4-9). According
to D. M. Schreuder (1980: p. 9), “What mattered most of all
was that the local balance of power had tilted permanently
against the authority of the African political communities in
favor of the Europeans; that the peculiar modern political-
economy of the region had been formed; and that the settlement
patterns—particularly those of territorial segregation and the
‘right to the land’—were ultimately decided.” How did all these
happen? Particularly it was not easy for the Dutch and English
settlers to terrorize and dominate the Zulus; “for most people in
Europe and America, recognition of the valor of African fight-
ing men begins and ends with the Zulus” (Vadervort, 1998: p.
Moving to the Zululand, the Afrikaners attacked the Zulus in
December 1838. Despite the fact that the Zulus were well or-
ganized under their able king Dingaan, Shaka’s successor, their
invading enemies massacred them. According to Bruce Vader-
vort (1998: p. 109), “It was a rude shock for the Zulus, who fell
by the thousands to Boer elephant guns on the banks of the
Ncome River in Natal.” Consequently, the Boers colonized
Natal and declared it a republic; however, the British took Natal
from Boer in 1846. The Boers left the republic and moved to
the Boer republics in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Now the British had to face the Zulus. Although the Zulus chal-
lenged the British at many war fronts, they finally lost “the war
because their traditional military strategy of head-on engage-
ment in the long run could not prevail against the breech-load-
ing rifle” (Vadervort, 1998: p. 111). The British also used the
divide and conquer strategy to destroy the power of the Zulus.
More than the war with British, the ensuing bloody civil war
between Zulu factions destroyed the Zulu kingdom in the 1880s.
With the Zulu rebellion of 1906, the British increased their
violence; more than 3380 people were murdered or hanged,
thousands imprisoned; hundreds of leaders were annihilated
(Herbert, 2003: pp. 85-93). Although the Dutch and English
colonialists defeated the Zulu and other African farming com-
munities, expropriated their lands and livestock, and forced
some of them into coerced labor, they could not disintegrate
these communities because they were conditioned to the dis-
eases brought from Europe, their numerical superiority to the
settlers, “their economy was more complex, their social net-
works were far more resilient, and their political systems were
far more durable” than the hunter-gatherers and pastoral com-
munities (Thompson, 2001: p. 72).
Despite the fact that “the white settlers were few in number,
their polities were frail, and their pockets of settlement were
bordered by autonomous African polities”, “the white impact
intensified dramatically as a result of the discovery of the
world’s greatest deposits of diamonds, soon to be followed by
gold, in the heart of southern Africa” (Thompson, 2001: p. 72).
According to Leonard Thompson (2001: p. 109), “Great Britain,
unchallenged by European rivals, dominated the external trade
of the region. In spite of the ambition of their creators, the Af-
rikaner states were inexorably part of the informal British em-
pire.” Both the British army and militia and Afrikaner com-
mandos dominated Africans through colonial terrorism and
transformed Southern Africa in the last decades of the nine-
teenth century. Finally, the British army defeated the Afrikaner
republics between 1899 and 1902, and formed the Union of
South Africa in 1910. At the end, all African groups were
brought under white domination in Southern Africa for almost
five centuries. The Dutch and English colonizers justified their
colonial terrorism and the establishment of the racist political
economy and structures in the discourses of racial superiority,
Christianity, and European civilization. In these complex pro-
cesses, the violent racist state and apartheid society were born
in South Africa. Furthermore, the British forces colonized Le-
sotho in 1844, Botswana in 1896, and Swaziland in 1906.
Similarly, in 1890, the British expedition force consisting of
184 English and Afrikaners and 300 black mercenaries vio-
lently occupied Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and
Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1891 under the leadership
of Cecil Rhodes and the company called the South Africa
Company; these forces settled there and confiscated the lands
and cattle of the Ndebele and Shona peoples (Turok & Maxey,
1985: pp. 248-249). Overall, the process of terrorizing and
colonizing Africans were intensified; these colonial projects
exposed almost all of African peoples to European domination
and their collaborators and forced them to lose their sovereign-
ties and economic resources (Sanderson, 1985: pp. 96-158),
facilitated the destruction of independent leadership and socie-
ties, and caused millions of deaths through various forms of
violence and diseases. The European colonial powers used
commerce, religion, and terrorism to acquire what they wanted
from Africans. A few African leaders initially “misunderstood
the objectives of the colonial enterprise” (Falola, 2002: p. 182)
and signed the so-called treaties with the European powers;
“African leaders signed documents to show that they surren-
dered their power and agreed to promote trade and accept other
conditions. There is no evidence that many African chiefs un-
derstood the contents of the treaties” (Falola, 2002: p. 179). Of
course, most African leaders and societies did not sign treaties
with the European powers and resisted European colonialism to
retain their sovereignties and protect their lands and other eco-
nomic resources, institutions, and cultures. Some of those Afri-
can leaders who signed treaties also resisted European coloni-
alism after they realized the intentions of the European powers.
The Europeans had the power of technology, organizational
capacity, and resources to build and use professional armies
devoted to full-time war and terrorism; they had the ability to
recruit large armies of African mercenaries who were ready to
fight on their behalf in Africa and to provide information on
Africa. According to Toyin Falola (2002: p. 183), “The Euro-
peans relied on improved firearms. Africans used bows, arrows,
and muzzle-loading guns (such as Dane guns), which had to be
loaded slowly. The European armies in the area of the partition
relied on breech-loaders, rifles that could fire at the rate of
about ten rounds per minute. Whereas the European armies had
adequate modern guns (the Maxim and Gatling), their African
rivals lacked access to them.” Using professional armies and
modern guns, the Europeans intensified ruthless wars and ter-
rorism on resisting African societies and forced them to accept
European colonialism by the threat of violence. France colo-
nized some African coastal areas in the seventeenth century and
Algeria in the early nineteenth century. Although France
formed the French West Africa in 1895, since the seventeenth
century it controlled St. Louis, Rufisque, Gorée, and Dakar in
Senegal, Grand Bassam and Assini in Côte d’Ivoire, and in a
small coastal area in Dahomey (now Benin). The French Fed-
eration of West Africa consisted of Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire,
Niger, Benin, French Sudan (now Mali), French Guinea, Mau-
ritania, and Tog (after WW II). France also established its col-
ony in East Africa; it colonized Obock, an important comer-
cial center on the Red Sea in 1862.
In addition, it occupied the Ambado and Djibouti areas be-
tween 1885 and 1892; Djibouti became the capital of French
Somaliland in 1896. France also occupied Tunisia in 1881 and
part of Morocco in the late nineteenth century. After establish-
ing their first foothold for about two hundred years at a trading
post called St. Louis at the mouth of the Senegal River, “French
traders had seen the Senegal as a highway into the interior of
West Africa, to exotic place like Timbuktu, which they be-
lieved to be the source of a rich trade in ivory, gems and gold.
But disease and powerful African opponents made expansion
into the interior an extremely difficult process, and for a long
time French commerce in West Africa was largely confined to
the trade in human beings” (Vandervort, 1998: p. 70). The
French merchants used St. Louis and the island of Gorée in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for slave trade and for
sending slaves to the French sugar plantations in the West In-
dies. After the 1850s, France started to expand its colonial ex-
pansion into the interior of Senegal. It intensified the war of
colonial expansion and terrorism between 1870 and 1905 (Per-
son, 1985: pp. 208-256). The French army raided villages,
burned homes, destroyed crops, and driven off herds. Despite
the fact that the Tukolors who were related to the Fulani tried
their best to resist French colonialism under the leadership of
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 167
al-Hajji Umar, they were defeated because of the firepower and
the greater mobility of the French army (Vandervolt, 1998: p.
79). Ahmadu Seku, the eldest son and chosen successor of
al-Hajji Umar tried to prevent the destruction of the Tukolor
Empire. However, in 1889, Segu, the capital city of Ahmadou
was captured; then the conquest of fabled Timbuktu followed.
Then France turned to fight against Samori Touré (1830-1900),
one of the greatest leaders in West Africa.
His military genius and political acumen could not save his
country from French colonialism, and he was captured in 1898
and died in 1990. France also colonized Wadai (now the Re-
public of Chad) between 1909 and 1912. Wadai was suffering
from the destruction of slavery during the arrival of the French.
The French installed their puppet chiefs such as Acyl and others,
destroyed those leaders that opposed to French colonialism, and
ruled Chad until the mid-1960s. In French West Africa, the
Tuareg revolted in Southern Sahara from 1916 to 1917. In Ni-
ger, they were terrorized, killed, and ruthlessly repressed (Her-
bert 2003: 1201). Similarly, the pacification of the Ivory Coast
involved war, terrorism, and the destruction of leadership and
society. When in the homeland of Baoulé, guerrilla warfare
continued between 1898 and 1900 the French increased terror-
ism and repression (Suret-Canale, 1964: p. 96). The French
colonial government gave full power to its police to collect
taxes from people who were resisting colonial rules: “tax...
gathered at the cost of villages burnt down, chiefs and natives
killed in large numbers, heads of chiefs put up on poles, the
imposition of fines” (quoted in Suret-Canale, 1964: p. 99). In
North Africa, France expanded its colonial occupation from
Algeria to Tunisia in 1881 and Morocco in 1906 (Ganiage,
1985: pp. 159-207). The last Moroccan guerrilla fighters re-
sisted French colonialism until 1934. The “pacification” of the
fierce Berber fighters of Morocco by the French started be-
tween 1903 and 1904. In 1912, France established its protector-
ate on Morocco. In 1904 the French and Spanish colonial gov-
ernments decided bilaterally that the northern coastal region
would be regarded as a Spanish zone of influence, and the east-
ern Morocco would be under French influence.
Furthermore, France colonized Madagascar in 1896 through
ruthlessly terrorizing various indigenous peoples in the island
(Deschamps, 1985: pp. 521-538). During the turn of the twenti-
eth century, France used five measures to eliminate the possi-
bility of resistance. It completely disarmed the people, arrested
and deported leaders, imposed payment of retroactive taxes and
war fine, imposed coerced labor and annual tax payment, and
destroyed camps and settlements in villages (Suret-Canale,
1964: pp. 100-102). Since the people revolted against these
measures, the French forces used terrorism and systematic po-
litical repression (Coquery-Vidrovitch, 1985: pp. 298-315). The
police toured the villages, attacked communities, and ravaged
their crops to force them to pay taxes. As Adam Hochschild
(1998: 280) expounds, “In France’s equatorial African territo-
ries... the amount of rubber-bearing land was far less than what
Leopold controlled, but the rape was just as brutal. Almost all-
exploitable land was divided among concession companies.
Forced labor, hostages, slave chains, starving porters, burned
villages, paramilitary companies ‘sentries’, and the chicotte
[whipping] were the order of the day.” In the French Congo to
celebrate Bastille Day two white men “had exploded a stick of
dynamite in a black prisoner’s rectum” (Hochschild, 1998: pp.
Social destruction and colonialism were expanding in Africa
in all directions. When the Turko-Egyptian forces were weak-
ened and abandoned garrison towns on the Somali coast, Harar,
and eastern Oromia, “European imperialism became more ac-
tive, and the three western powers already involved in the Horn
of Africa strove to fill the vacuum. The British occupied the
ports of Zeila and Berbera, the French made treaties with the
sultans of Tadjoura and Gobaad for cession of their territory,
and Italians asserted claims to the Assab area” (Thompson &
Adloff, 1968: p. 7). Italy occupied Libya in 1911 and Massawa
in 1885. Britain’s colonialism of Somaliland was not limited to
the coast but extended to the hinterland later called British
Somaliland. Somalia was partitioned among four countries,
France taking the north, Britain the middle, Italy the south, and
Abyssinia (Ethiopia) the west. “It was the British who came in
for most of the rough work,” V. G. Kiernan (1982: p. 81) notes,
“having to take on the celebrated ‘Mad Mullah’, another of
those enigmatic personalities—he was a gifted writer as well as
partisan—who led… the old Islamic world against European
intrusion, but were at the same time harbingers of something
new, national unification.” The resistance of Somalis to British
colonialism under the leadership of Mohammed Ibn Abdullah
Hassan who the British called the “Mad Mullah” brought ter-
rorism and war on Somalis. The warrior Mullah attacked those
who collaborated with the enemy, collected arms, organized
men into military, and preached a holy war against the colonial
occupying forces (Herbert, 2003: p. 57). The British sent sev-
eral expeditionary forces against this “political and military
leader of the highest caliber” and his followers, terrorized and
killed thousands of people, burned villages, raped women, and
looted resources” (Herbert, 2003: pp. 57-67).
The British also mobilized 5000 Abyssinian/Ethiopian sol-
diers against the Somalis. Their attack that started in 1901
against the Somali resistance forces ended in 1921, when the
British and the Abyssinian armies defeated the followers of the
Mullah. After colonizing Egypt in 1882, Britain occupied the
areas now called Kenya 1896, Uganda, the island of Zanzibar,
and Sudan in 1899. By declaring protectorate over present-day
Kenya, Uganda, and island of Zanzibar, Britain established
British East Africa. The indigenous peoples of these areas re-
sisted British colonialism; when the colonial office intensified
land expropriation, taxation, and recruitment of coerced labor,
they attacked white officials, settlers, and traders (Herbert 2003:
p. 78). To crush this resistance, the British started to raid and
terrorize these peoples. One of the indigenous peoples that de-
fied the Pax Britannica was the Nandi who lived in the hills
northeast of Lake Victoria. The British colonial office estab-
lished the Nandi Field Force in 1905 to terrorize, defeat and
destroy the Nandi community. The force killed 1117 Nandis,
looted 16,000 cattle, 36,000 sheep and goat, burned 5000 huts
and grain stores, and forcefully moved the surviving population
to reservations (Herbert, 2003: p. 80). In 1900 one official ex-
pressed that “the England of today, intoxicated with militarism,
blinded by arrogance, indifferent to truth and justice” (quoted in
Kiernan, 1982: p. 178). Like the Nandi, the Embu and Kikuyu
peoples revolted in Kenya because their economic resources
particularly their lands were given to white settlers. The Kikuyu
formed the Land and Freedom Guerrilla Army that the British
called Mau-Mau; in 1963, when Kenya achieved its independ-
ence 11,500 Kikuyu were murdered when only 32 white settlers
were killed (Herbert, 2003: p. 85).
Similarly, refusing to pay taxes, providing labor and forced
relocation, the Giriama rebelled in 1914 against British coloni-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
alism in Kenya: “The colonial administration had attempted to
introduce taxes and to relocate people according to the re-
quirements of the labor market, in order to boost economic
conditions along the coast” (Herbert, 2003: p. 219). The British
forces destroyed the fort of Kaya Fungo and raped women that
sparked the fire of rebellion. At the end of the year, the Giriama
were terrorized and cowed by the British expeditionary forces
and 150 of them killed, 5000 of their huts burned, and 3000 of
their goats confiscated (Herbert, 2003: p. 220). British coloni-
alism was expanding to other parts of Africa. When Britain was
sending its colonial army from Egypt to occupy Sudan, there
was a politico-religious movement known as Mahdia that was
struggling against Turko-Egyptian colonial domination in Su-
dan. The religious leader who called himself the Mahdi led this
movement. One of the Mahdi’s best generals, Abu Anja, de-
feated the Anglo-Egyptian army of 8500 men at the battle
Shaykan in November 1883 (Vandervort, 1998: p. 168). When
Britain sent her famous general, Charles George Gordon in
1884 to extricate some of her men from Sudan, the Mahdi army
captured and beheaded him. After a decade, Britain attempted
to occupy Sudan under the leadership of Major-General Horatio
Herbert Kitchener. Madhi died in 1885 and replaced by his
chosen successor and his second-in command, the Khalifa Ab-
dullahi. Using superior weapons such as gunboats, Kitchener
defeated the Madhist army at Firket on June 7, 1896. At the
battle of Omduruman in 1898, the British army using their su-
perior weapons mowed down the followers of the Mahdi, killed
the Khalifa in 1899 and ended the Mahdia Movement. As Van-
dervort (1998: p. 177) notes, “The many thousands of Mahdists
dying and wounded on the battlefield received no aid from the
British, who simply turned their backs and marched away. This
gives an indication of the depth of feeling in the ranks about the
death of Gordon.”
Of course, the pacification of different parts of Sudan con-
tinued through war and terrorism. For example, when the leader
of Darfur in Western Sudan refused to pay taxes, the Anglo-
Egyptian government sent its expeditionary forces and killed
261 and seriously wounded 96 peoples and disbanded about
4,000 soldiers (Herbert, 2003: pp. 188-195). The British had
already started to establish their colonies in West Africa and in
the early nineteenth century. The Ashanti kingdom between
1823 and 1824 and between 1873 and 1874 challenged this
colonial expansion. As Vandervort (1998: p. 84) asserts, “Brit-
ain found herself locked in a dispute on the Gold Coast of West
Africa with the kingdom of Ashanti, one of the great empires of
pre-colonial Africa. The subsequent Anglo-Ashanti war was
Britain’s first major conflict in the rain forests of tropical Af-
rica.” The founding of European trading posts on the shores of
the Gold Coast (now Ghana) contributed to the wealth and
power of the Ashanti kingdom. This African kingdom was in-
volved in the criminal trade of slavery. According to Vander-
vort (1998: p. 85), “By the 1680s… slaves accounted for some
75 percent of regional exports. Ashanti military activity during
this period was geared closely to seizing slaves for sale to the
Europeans, who had begun setting up trading posts like Cape
Coast Castle or Accra along the Gold Coast.” Despite the fact
that the British claimed to own Cape Coast Castle, Ashanti
asserted sovereignty on the coastal area. Since the British did
not want to recognize Ashanti sovereignty, the relationship
between the kingdom and the British officials was broken in
1823. In 1824, an Ashanti army killed General Sir Charles
McCarthy and beheaded him; the defeat of the British army led
to “the greatest failure in the history of the British occupation
of the Gold Coast” (quoted in Vandervort, 1998: p. 85).
In 1871, when the British purchased the littoral of the Gold
Coast from the Netherlands, the Ashanti kingdom claimed it as
part of its empire. Vandervort (1998: p. 87) notes that the Dutch
recognized Ashanti’s sovereignty over its enclave of Elmina
“whose African inhabitants were loyal subjects of Kumasi, was
a vital Ashanti outlet to the sea, where Ashanti merchants could
trade directly with foreign suppliers of guns, gunpowder and
iron rods (which were cut up to make bullets). In order to pre-
serve the status quo in the former Dutch ports, King Kofi had
demanded British recognition of Ashanti sovereignty over the
coastal enclaves and payment of annual rent.” The refusal to
accept the demand of the Ashanti Kingdom led to war between
1873 and 1874. This time mainly because of its artillery and
breech-loaders, the British force defeated the Ashanti army and
left “Heaps of dead and wounded.” The British army had con-
tinued to terrorize the Ashantis since they continued to resist
British occupation. “Invaded by an army composed largely of
African troops from Nigeria and Central Africa,” Vandervort
(1998: p. 101) writes, “with a sprinkling of Sikhs, the Ashanti
gave the British ‘their last as well as the hardest battle the latter
had ever fought in their longstanding attempts to control and
finally subjugate Ashanti.’” The British also gradually estab-
lished their colonial administration in southern Nigeria and
expanded to the north. Lugard declared war on Northern Nige-
ria known as Hausaland particularly on Kano and Sokoto
kingdoms. As the people resisted British colonialism in
Hausaland, the British force increased its brutality and terror-
ism. For example, when Dan Makafo, a religious leader, re-
belled in March 1906 in Sokoto, the British mowed down 2000
men and tried the rebel leader; “some other prisoners were
killed and their heads cut off and placed on spikes; the village
of Satiru was razed to the ground” (Herbert, 2003: p. 52). “The
continuing legacy of colonial occupation is an artificial amal-
gam of some 250 [ethnonational groups] in 30 states,” Herbert
(2003: p. 56) writes, “Speaking some 400 languages, under a
military government dominated by the northern Fulani-Hausa
favored by the British civilian and military authorities.”
The impacts of colonial terrorism were more devastating in
the colonial territories of Germany and Belgium. In 1884,
Germany proclaimed a protectorate and started its conquest of
Southwest Africa (now Namibia) in 1885 with the arrival of
imperial commissioner, Heinrich Göring. Southwest Africa
belonged to the Herero, the Nama, and the Damara peoples. In
1893, 200 German troops staged a surprise attack on the Nama
town of Hornkranz because Hendrick Witbooi, the leader of
Nama refused to recognize German authority. But Witbooi
submitted after 18 months of resistance after some of his people
was murdered. The German colonial governor, Theodor Leut-
wein, had a plan for the indigenous peoples; his prediction was
that “15 years from now, there will not be much left for the
natives” (quoted in Kiernan, 2007: p. 381). Edwin Herbert
(2003: p. 117) describes that “from 1904 to 1907 first the Her-
ero and later the Nama fought an outstandingly brave, initially
vicarious, but ultimately tragic battle against their German
overlords. The spark that ignited the fire was the action of the
Germans in desecrating the old burial place of the Herero chiefs
at Okahandja by cutting down the sacred trees and turning the
place into a vegetable garden.” The Germans saw the indige-
nous peoples as inferior human beings, drove them from their
lands, and destroyed their leadership and their way of life
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(Vandervort, 1998: p. 197). General Lothar von Trotha, the
commander the German forces, proclaimed the following: “no
war may be conducted humanely against nonhuman... It was
and is my policy to use force with terrorism and even brutality.
I shall annihilate the revolting [ethnonations] with rivers of
blood and rivers of gold. Only after a complete uprooting will
something emerge” (quoted in Kiernan, 2007: p. 382).
The German troops poisoned water holes to kill the indige-
nous peoples and their cattle; they also pushed the Hereo into
the Omaheke Desert so that they would die of thirst. On August
11, 1904, the German troops “began ‘indiscriminate killing of
the wounded, male prisoners, women and children’. Herero
causalities quickly reached 5000 killed and 20,000 wounded...
German units seized the water holes, forcing the surviving
50,000 Herero to head into the Omaheke Desert. The pursuing
German troops massacred almost everyone they found, includ-
ing women and children, and poisoned the water holes in the
desert... By the end of September, the Germans had ‘effectively
destroyed most of the Herero people’” (Kiernan, 2007: p. 383).
Jan-Bart Gewald (2004: pp. 59-60) expounds that “The German
settlers and soldiers carried out a shoot-to-kill policy, con-
ducted extrajudicial killings, established concentration camps,
employed forced labor, and in at least two cases established
death camps.” While resisting German colonialism, the Herero
were exposed to “a typhus outbreak, a locust plague, and
drought killed 10,000 Herero, and a rinderpest epidemic wiped
out 80 percent of their cattle herds” (Kiernan, 2007: p. 381).
General Trotha issued an ‘Extermination Order” on October 2,
1904 by proclaiming the following: “The Herero people must
leave this land. If it does not, I will force it to do so by using
the great gun [artillery]. Within the German border every male
Herero, armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot
to death. I shall no longer receive women or children, but will
drive them back to their people or have them shot at. These are
my words to the Herero people” (quoted in Kiernan, 2007: p.
The Germans annihilated the indigenous peoples, destroyed
their institutions, and took over their homelands. According to
Ben Kiernan (2007: p. 386), “The destruction of the Herero
proved to be the opening genocide of the twentieth century.
Among the three main Southwest African ethnic groups, total-
ing 125,000 people before 1904, German repression took ap-
proximately 80,000 lives in three years, at a cost of 676 Ger-
man dead, 907 wounded, and 97 missing.” The German sol-
diers and settlers engaged in “extreme acts of violence and
cruelty, and they sought, shot, beat, hanged, starved, and raped
Herero men, women, and children... no fewer than 80 percent
of the Herero had lost their lives. Those who remained in Na-
mibia, primarily women and children, survived in concentration
camps as forced laborers employed on state, military, and civil-
ian projects” (Gewald, 2004: p. 60). Using terrorism and geno-
cide, German imperialism crushed these indigenous peoples:
“When a census was taken in 1911, only half of the Nama es-
timated a decade before (9800 out of 20,000) and less than a
quarter of the Herero (15,000 out 80,000) were found to have
survived the war. Those who survived had little choice but to
become laborers on European-owned farms” (Herbert, 2003: p.
129). In 1898, the Germans established their East African col-
ony (now Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi). The movement
known as the Maji Maji Rebellion emerged in Tanzania be-
tween 1905 and 1906. This rebellion was initiated by the Ngion,
a branch of Zulu nation, in the west and the Mattumbi in the
east. According to Herbert (2003: p. 130), “The Ngoni had a
particular grudge against the Germans due to the execution of
some of their chiefs, and the Matumbi had suffered constant
demands for forced labor in the cotton fields, which had badly
affected their own subsistence farming.” The Germans reacted
excessively and brutally as in Southwest Africa; their “starva-
tion policy resulted in the death of an estimated 100,000 Afri-
cans and the south of the colony became a vast smoking ash
Three German columns went to the rebellious areas in 1905
and burned villages, destroyed crops, and caught and hanged
rebellious leaders (Vadervort, 1998: p. 203). The Germans
annihilated thousands of indigenous people through war, ter-
rorism, disease, and famine. Some areas “once densely inhab-
ited, reverted to their natural state and in due course became the
largest game park in the world” (Herbert, 2003: p. 135). From
250,000 to 300,000 people were decimated by starvation as a
result of the Maji Maji Rebellion (Vadervort, 1998: p. 203).
Similarly, in West Africa, Germany occupied Togo and Cam-
eroon and practiced similar policies. Two Cameroon kings,
King Bell of Douala and King Akwa “agreed to give up their
sovereignty [their lands at the mouth of the Cameroon River]
under a treaty signed on July 1884 with the German Imperial
Consul-General for the west coast Africa” (Herbert, 2003: p.
136). However, the Germans started to carry out the occupation
of the entire country moving into the north and interior between
1895 and 1907. Since the indigenous peoples of Cameroon did
not make any concession with the Germans, they opposed co-
lonialism and fiercely resisted. Leaders such as Zubeiru organ-
ized militia, but his force was defeated and slaughtered (Herbert,
2003: p. 138). Consequently, the Fulani power in north Cam-
eroon was defeated and their leaders were executed or jailed or
exiled, and the Germans established their rigid control (Herbert,
2003: p. 138). The Germans executed King Manga Bell and
King Joja and others accusing them for inciting rebellions.
Through terrorism, brutality, and harshness, the German army
reduced the remaining population into coerced workers for
German traders and planters. German terrorism was similar to
that of Belgium in the Congo.
Between 1890 and 1910, the worst of bloodshed occurred in
the Congo under the Belgium colonial administration. The Bel-
gium colonial terrorism caused “one of the great mass killing-
sof recent history”; it was also “the vilest scramble for loot that
ever disfigured the history of human conscience” (quoted in
Hochschild, 1998: pp. 3-4). King Leopold II initiated his colo-
nization of the Congo calling it the magnificent African cake
through his agent Henry Stanley, an American explorer, be-
tween 1880 and 1884. According to Vandervort (1998: p. 137),
in 1885 “A makeshift administration was established at Boma,
near the mouth of the Congo, and an army, called the force
Publique created in 1886 to assist in the ‘effective occupation’
of the king’s vast domain.” The Force Publique secured food
and labor force, such as porters, through terrorism and other
forms of violence to exploit and make the Congo profitable.
First of all, the colonial state wanted porters “to collect ivory,
set up new posts, put down a rebellion... to carry everything
from machine-gun ammunition to all that red wine and pâté.
These tens of thousands of porters were usually paid for their
work, if only sometimes the food necessary to keep them going,
but most of them were conscripts. Even children were put to
work: one observer noted seven-to nine-year olds each carrying
a load of twenty-two pounds” (Hochschild, 1998: p. 119). As
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Vandervort (1998: p. 145) notes, “The biggest problem faced
by the companies and state officials involved in developing the
Congo was the securing of labor. Since the Africans did not
seem eager to volunteer their services, the king’s administrators
in Boma stepped in to help. They instituted a system of forced
labor, under which Africans were rounded up by the Force
Publique and turned over to special African overseers called
sentilles who enforced work quotas with shotguns and rhinoc-
eros-hide whips.” Another way of recruiting labor was by im-
posing heavy taxes in cash, and when the Africans failed to pay
in cash demanding them to pay in kind such as natural rubber,
palm nuts, or ivory. According to Vandervort (1998: p. 145),
“If the Africans resisted, as some did, they received a visit from
the Force Publique, which often burned the villages, killed
women and children, and took away the men as slaves. Africans
who failed to meet their quotas—and the quotas were often set
unrealistically high—were whipped or, in some highly-publi-
cized cases, had their hands lopped off.”
Leopold made a number of royal decrees from Brussels; the
first decree was made in 1885 declaring the existence of the
Conge Free State and “that all ‘vacant land’ was the property of
the state. There was no definition of what made land vacant”
(Hochschild, 1998: p. 117). In the first decree he claimed the
ownership of all land and its resources and products. He also
made another decrees to lease the vacant and non-vacant land to
private companies for long periods. Leopold deployed troops
and government officials as well as investment funds to domi-
nate business. His forces terrorized and coerced the Africans to
gather ivory and wild rubber while claiming that he “was not to
make a profit, but to rescue these benighted people from their
indolence” (Hochschild, 1998: p. 118). In the early 1890s, Leo-
pold made ivory gathering and seizing his main goal. In addi-
tion to ivory, wild rubber became the main source of revenue
after the late 1890s from the Congo. As the need for more labor
increased to collect rubber, the labor recruitment system was
more militarized. Force Publique officers took hostages of
women, children, elders or chiefs. The hostage taking, the cut-
ting of noses and ears, and the severing of hands were deliber-
ate policies. “If a village refused to submit to the rubber regime,
state or company troops or their allies sometimes shot everyone
in sight, so that nearby villages would get the message…. As
the rubber terror spread throughout the rain forest, branded
people with memories that remained raw for the rest of their
lives” (Hochschild, 1998: p. 165). Whipping also imposed ter-
ror by the Chicotte. The authorities sanctioned terror and per-
mitted each capita, an African foreman to administer the bulk
of Chicotte to torture bodies of other Africans. The administra-
tion of Chicotte “created a class of foremen from among the
conquered, like the kapos in the Nazi concentration camps and
the pre durki, or trusties, in the Soviet gulag” (Hochschild, 1998:
pp. 122-123). Force Publique soldiers or Rubber Company
“sentries” often killed thousands of Africans.
Missionaries, members of the Force Publique and other wit-
nesses documented about cutting of hands and private parts of
men, killing of children and women, hanging of people, mass
murder, and cutting of heads. Starvation, exhaustion, and ex-
posure to all forms of violence decimated hundreds of thou-
sands of people. Hunger, starvation and diseases killed more
than did bullets; Europeans brought diseases for which Africans
did not build up immunities. All these factors resulted in the
decrease of the birth rate. Several sources testify that during the
Leopold period and its immediate aftermath, the Congo Free
State lost almost half of its population, which was approxi-
mately ten million. The death of King Leopold in 1910 brought
change and continuity in the Belgium colonial system. The king
died a billionaire. Belgium wanted to continue to extract more
wealth form the Conge Free State. It took over the Congo and
replaced wild rubber with cultivated rubber and introduced a
new method of forcing people through taxes: “The imposition
of a heavy head tax forced people to go to work on the planta-
tions or in harvesting cotton, palm oil, and other products—and
proved an effective means of continuing to collect some wild
rubber as well” (Hochschild, 1998: p. 278). The Africans also
mined copper, gold, and tin. Because of the lack safety condi-
tions, several thousands of mine workers died; for instance, “in
the copper mines and smelters of Katanga, five thousand work-
ers died between 1911 and 1918” (Hochschild 1998: p. 279).
The demand for uranium and rubber increased the suffering of
Africans: “With the start of the Second World War, the legal
maximum for forced labor in the Congo was increased to 120
days per man per year. More than 80 percent of the uranium in
the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs came from the heavily
guarded Congo mine of Shinkolobwe. The Allies also wanted
ever more rubber for the tires of hundreds of thousands of mili-
tary trucks, Jeeps, and warplanes.”
Some of the rubber came from the Congo’s new plantations
of cultivated rubber trees. But in the villages, Africans were
forced to go into the rain forest, sometimes for weeks at a time,
to search for wild vines once again (Hochschild, 1998: p. 279).
In 1960, the Congo achieved its flag independence. Generally
speaking, there was no any part of Africa that did not face co-
lonial terrorism. Even the peoples who were brought under the
neo-colonial states of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and Liberia had
suffered from colonial terrorism like other Africans. With the
support of England, France, Italy, Abyssinia/Ethiopia created
its own empire by colonizing and terrorizing peoples such as
Oromos, Somalis, and Sidamas (Holcomb & Ibssa, 1990; Jalata,
2005). The Ethiopian colonial terrorism and genocide that
started during the last decades of the 19th century still continue
in the 21st century. During Ethiopian colonial expansion,
Oromia (the Oromo country), “the charming Oromo land,
[would] be ploughed by the iron and the fire; flooded with
blood and the orgy of pillage” (De Salviac, 2005: p. 349). Call-
ing this event as “the theatre of a great massacre,” Martial De
Salviac (2005: p. 349) states, “The conduct of Abyssinian ar-
mies invading a land is simply barbaric. They contrive a sudden
irruption, more often at night. At daybreak, the fire begins;
surprised men in the huts or in the fields are three quarter mas-
sacred and horribly mutilated; the women and the children and
many men are reduced to captivity; the soldiers lead the fright-
ened herds toward the camp, take away the grain and the flour
which they load on the shoulders of their prisoners spurred on
by blows of the whip, destroy the harvest, then, glutted with
booty and intoxicated with blood, go to walk a bit further from
the devastation. That is what they call ‘civilizing a land’.”
The colonization of Oromia involved human tragedy and de-
struction: “The Abyssinian, in bloody raids, operated by sur-
prise, mowed down without pity, in the country of the Oromo
population, a mournful harvest of slaves for which the Muslims
were thirsty and whom they bought at very high price” (De
Salviac, 2005: p. 28). The Ethiopian forces reduced the Oromo
population from 10 to 5 million (Bulatovich, 2000). The surviv-
ing Oromos who used to enjoy an egalitarian democracy known
as the gadaa system (Oromo democracy) were forced to face
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state terrorism, political repression, and an impoverished life.
Alexander Bulatovich (2005: p. 21) applied to Oromia the
phrase “flowing in milk and honey” to indicate its abundant
wealth in cattle and honey. As France, England, and Italy
helped Ethiopia to colonize Oromia and other peoples, succes-
sive hegemonic powers, namely England, former USSR and the
US have supported and maintained successive Ethiopian gov-
ernments. Currently, China also supports the authoritarian-
terrorist regime of Ethiopia (Jalata, 2005). Similarly, with the
help of the United States, Americo-Liberians colonized and
terrorized the indigenous Liberians (Sundiata, 2003). The first
African Americans settled in what is today called Liberia in
1822; they settled in Cape Mesurado where local peoples did
not yet form a strong political organization to defend them-
selves (Gershoni, 1985: p. 5). The American Colonization So-
ciety (ACS) that was mainly organized by powerful whites to
remove freed Blacks from the United States planned, organized,
and settled these Black immigrants (Tyler-McGaw, 2007). In
1824, with the help of the United States the ACS developed an
administrative framework for a colony named Liberia, its capi-
tal Monrovia. This political structure emerged as the Republic
of Liberia in June 1847. Liberia “operated more or less as an
American protectorate” (Sundiata, 2003: p. 10).
Unfortunately, Americo-Liberians brought with them racist
beliefs and practices that they learned in the United States; they
propagated the idea of spreading Christianity and Western civi-
lization (Beyan, 2005): “Imbued with feelings of superiority,
they treated the indigenous population with contempt, even
those Africans who did convert to Christianity” (Gershoni,
1985: p. 22). Americo-Liberians established a colonial admin-
istrative system on the Liberian hinterland, and imposed their
authority through war and terrorism: “The reign of terror, ex-
ploitation, and humiliation which characterized the rule of two
of Liberia’s more notorious commissioners... eventually pushed
the northern chiefdoms into an all-out revolt” (Gershoni, 1985:
p. 88). The Liberian government imposed taxes and introduced
coerced labor. It agreed in 1914 with the Spanish colonial gov-
ernment in Spanish Guinea to export coerced laborers by re-
ceiving £5 per head (Sundiata, 2003: pp. 80-81). The violent of
overthrow the government dominated by Americao-Liberians
did not bring peace to this troubled country, and war and ter-
rorism continued until the early twenty first century (Moran,
Indigenous Australians and Their Destruction
With the expansion of European-dominated capitalist world
system to the Australian continent in the late nineteenth century
via colonialism, the English settlers started terror and genocide
on indigenous Australians to expropriate their economic re-
sources and to take-over their homelands. These crimes against
humanity had continued in the nineteenth century until the in-
digenous Australians were almost destroyed and the ownership
of their lands was entirely transferred to the English colonial
settlers and their descendants. Before their colonization and
destruction, the indigenous Australians were organized in fami-
lies, clans, kinship networks, and ethno-national groups. Ac-
cording to John Mulvaney (1981: p. 18), these social networks
frequently coalesced “on occasions when seasonal conditions
permitted or when kinship obligations required. Hundreds of
individuals often congregated for ceremonial activities such as
initiation rituals, and for reciprocal gifts or marriage exchange.”
The smaller social groups, such as the family, extended families,
the patrilineal or matrilineal descent group, and clans were the
effective economic, social, and political units (Cranstone, 1973:
p. 32). The indigenous Australians did not engage in war to
capture territory or to dominate others; there was small-scale
fighting for reasons connected with magical killings, revenge
expeditions, with disputes about women, and with trespassing
on hunting grounds or sacred places (Cranstone, 1973: p. 32).
The European colonialists started to contact and dismantle the
social structures of these peoples.
King George III of England instructed Captain Cook on Au-
gust 22, 1770 to claim the possession of the east coast of Aus-
tralia that was later named New South Wales. The first British
colonial fleet led by Captain Arthur Philip reached at Botany
Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788. These English colonial-
ists found that Botany Bay was unsuitable for settlement, and
hence they moved to north to Port Jackson on January 26, 1788
and camped at a cove called Cadi by the Cadigal people. They
traded food with the indigenous people. Richard Broome (2002:
p. 26) states that the English colonized Australia beginning on
January 26, 1788 when “ships containing 290 seamen, soldiers
and officials and 717 convicts sailed into Port Jackson, to con-
front the Gamaraigal people of the Sydney area.” The second
fleet arrived in 1790 with needed food and other supplies.
George Vancouver started the process of British colonialism in
Western Australia in 1791 by claiming the Albany region in the
name of King George III. Tasmania was occupied between
1803 and 1825, Western Australia in 1827, South Australia
between 1836 and 1842, Victoria in 1851, and Northern Terri-
tory in 1825. England sent to Australia over 162,000 convicts
in 806 ships between 1788 and 1850 to colonize the continent.
Mathew Flinders suggested the name Australia and later it was
adopted as the name of this country. Australia emerged in 1901
as a federation of the six English colonies. The English settlers
and indigenous peoples initially exchanged items such as food,
cloth, artifacts, and other supplies in amicable and understand-
ing ways. The indigenous Australians initially did not resist the
British invaders who were arriving in Australia. As Richard
Broome (2002: p. 40) argues, “Had they known the implica-
tions the arrival of these strangers would have for their future,
they may have met the intruders more frequently with violence
and less with curiosity. The irony was that the Aborigines had
often helped the European explorers and the first settlers as they
bumbled through the bush loaded down with equipment and
plagued by inexperience.”
Despite the fact that the indigenous peoples never tried to
harm these invaders at the beginning, the invaders turned their
cooperation and friendly relationship into conflict, war, and
terrorism in order to expropriate the homelands of these peoples.
Gradually the indigenous peoples realized that the English set-
tlers were expropriating their lands and other resources upon
which they depended and disturbed their ways of living. Con-
sequently, between 1790 and 1810, the Eora group in the Syd-
ney region initiated the campaign of resistance against the Eng-
lish invaders in a series of attacks under the leadership of Pe-
mulwuy. According Michael Cannon (1993: pp. 1-2), “The
white newcomers were determined that the whole continent of
Australia should belong to them—the soil, the beasts and birds,
the rivers and fish, the minerals and trees. A dream of total
possession had taken hold of normally stolid men. Such lust for
new lands ran through the whole British race that monarch and
lowliest laborers alike glowed with the glory of creating a new
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
empire.” The more the settlers expropriated the native lands and
destroyed their means of survival, the more the indigenous
population groups engaged in resistance. The settlers inter-
preted the resistance “as barbarous opposition to the enlight-
ened forces of white civilization” (Cannon, 1993: p. 169). The
English colonizers and their descendants called indigenous
Australians Aborigines by giving them a new name that had no
meaning for peoples who had their own ethno-national group
names. For the English setters the name Aborigines character-
ized the backwardness, inferiority, and otherness of indigenous
Australians. This name was invented to create a racial boundary
between white Europeans and black Australians for dehuman-
izing the later (Prum et al., 2007: p. 1).”
Once the indigenous Australians were objectified and dehu-
manized it became easier to terrorize and kill them: “Massacres
of Aborigines were usually the work of groups of settlers or
colonial police, and less often military units, sometimes in a
part-time or volunteer capacity. But... killings could occur with
impunity in an ideological atmosphere that mixed expansionism,
racism, and classical models with a fetish for cultivation and
contempt for indigenous land use” (Kiernan, 2007: p. 252).The
Australian colonial government used eugenics and social-
Darwinist ideology to legitimize a series of racist policies and
colonial terrorism on indigenous Australians. To dispossess the
rights of indigenous Australians to life and property, this colo-
nial government developed “classification schemes allegedly
proving the inferiority of the native populations living on the
territory they conquered” (Prum et al., 2007: p. 2). The English
settlers considered the Australian continent “a paradise on earth,
for here laid one of the fairest domains ever created by nature.
Permanent life-giving rivers meandered through its extensive
plains; lush grasslands and forests flourished on its rich soil.
The white men could scarcely believe their luck, as they pene-
trated further into undulating pastures and negotiable bush-
lands” (Cannon, 1993: p. 10). The British settlers used the doc-
trine of terra nullius to expropriate native lands through vio-
lence; according to this doctrine, Australia belonged to no one
and since the indigenous peoples did not have concept of law of
ownership, they did not have rights to land. “The continuing
pressure of agrarian ideology even when actual settlement pat-
terns were pastoral took on new virulence with spread of scien-
tific racism,” Ben Kiernan (2007: p. 309) writes, “which justi-
fied mass murder of indigenous communities to safeguard in-
vestments in animal stock”.
As hunters and food-gatherers, the land use of indigenous
peoples was different from a European way of land use in Aus-
tralia. The British colonizers used this as pretext in confiscating
the land of indigenous peoples calling it terra nullius, free
waste-land for taking. These activities involved “multiple de-
liberate killings and a series of genocidal massacres” (Kiernan
2007: p. 250). “As killing escalated, racial justification did,
too”; colonial officers said, “disgrace would it be the human
race to call them Men” (Rowley, 1972: p. 275). Colonial terror-
ism in Australia involved the destruction of the essential foun-
dation of the lifestyles of indigenous peoples in economic, po-
litical, social, cultural, biological, physical existence, religious,
and moral arenas. The English settlers confiscated land and
other economic resources and obliterated indigenous institu-
tions of self-government by replacing them with the structures
of colonial governments and by repressing cultural and knowl-
edge systems, by reducing quality of food and depriving basic
nutrients and causing physical debilitation and death, by en-
gaging in mass killings of intellectual and resistance leaders, by
destroying indigenous religions, and by undermining moral and
ethical values. The English settlers promoted the idea of a
White Australia and the extinction of indigenous Australians;
the native “land was declared desert and uninhabited later rep-
resented as terra nullius and the various nations declared un-
civilized”. The English setters gradually decimated indigenous
population groups, obliterated their cultures, and challenged
their survival and identity (Bourke, 1998: p. 40). Genocide can
occur in many ways: “The end may be accomplished by the
forced disintegration of political and social institutions, of the
culture of the people, of their languages, their national feeling
and their religion. It may be accomplished by wiping out all
[bases] of personal security, liberty, health and dignity” (quoted
in Moses, 2004: p. 21).
The indigenous peoples did not understand why the English
settlers expropriated their lands and claimed private ownership
on them. For instance in 1843, Yagan, an indigenous man, told
the advocate general of Victoria the following: “Why do you
white people come in ships to our country and shoot down poor
black-fellows who do not understand you—you listen to me!
The wild black-fellows do not understand your laws, every
living animal that roams the country, and every edible fruit that
grows in the ground are common property…. For every black
man you fellows shoot, I will kill a white man” (quoted in
Kiernan, 2007: p. 289). Colonial governors ordered their troops
to kill indigenous people and to kidnap their children as unpaid
laborers; they ordered their troops to strike the blacks with ter-
ror or teach them by terror (Kiernan, 2007: pp. 254-273). One
English juror called indigenous Australians “a set of [monkeys]
and the earlier they are exterminated from the face of the earth
better” (Kiernan, 2007: p. 286). The indigenous peoples were
“shot down like dogs while sleeping round their fires, their
women taken from them to gratify the lusts of white men,
hunted and persecuted in all directions, and in fact looked upon
as savage beasts of the forest, whom it was necessary to get rid
of, no matter how” (quoted in Kiernan, 2007: p. 278).
The English settlers used several mechanisms of terrorism
and genocide against the indigenous Australians, and justified
them with racist discourse. These mechanisms included shoot-
ing, burning, disease, rape, ethnocide or cultural destruction. A.
Drik Moses (2004: p. 27) used the term called “indigenocide”
to explain “the intentional invasion/colonization of land; the
conquest of the indigenous peoples; the killing of them to the
extent that they can barely reproduce themselves and thereby
come close to extinction; their classification as vermin by in-
vaders; and the attempted destruction of their religious systems.
Indgenocide “is a means of analyzing those circumstances
where one, or more peoples, usually immigrants, deliberately
set out to supplant a group or groups of other people whom as
far as we know, represent the Indigenous, or Aboriginal peoples
of the country that the immigrants usurp” (Moses, 2004: p.
21).The English settlers divided the indigenous Australians in
order to turn them on one another. The colonial government
created the “Native Police Force” by providing food, money,
uniforms, horses, and guns to motivate some opportunistic
elements to fight against and kill their own people (Broome,
2002: pp. 48-49). Furthermore, they used diseases like small-
pox, measles, and tuberculosis killed several thousands of in-
digenous people. The settlers used food poisoning to kill blacks;
they distributed poisoned flour to commit premeditated murder
(Broome, 2002: p. 46). Biological warfare was also used in
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 173
colonies such as New South Wales, particularly at Port Jackson
in 1789 (Kociumbas, 2004: pp. 80-81).
The colonialists and English scholars tried to minimize the
effects of colonial shooting and poisoning on indigenous Aus-
tralians; they argued that indigenous Australians died out be-
cause of their inability to adapt to a changing socio-economic
environment. Jan Kociumba (2004: p. 82) comments that “by
dwelling on smallpox and other infectious diseases as faceless
killers, colonialists and historians directed attention away from
more overtly murderous acts such as shooting and poisoning. In
particular, the 1789 epidemic laid the foundation for the notion
that Aboriginal people were not killed outright, but owing to
their own personal weaknesses and cultural flaws, sadly just
‘faded away’. It was as if smallpox was nothing more than the
first stage in the tragic but necessary workings of evolutionary
law, annihilating all species slow to ‘adapt’.” In their political
discourses, the colonialists and their apologists blamed the
conflicts among indigenous people, lack of healthy conditions,
and the behavior of indigenous peoples for the destruction of
indigenous communities. While openly engaged in exterminat-
ing the indigenous peoples, the settlers and their descendants
have also argued, “indigenous society was not destroyed by the
Europeans, but collapsed under the weight of its own patholo-
gies” (Moses, 2004: p. 15). In other words, they have suggested
that it was not the English settlers and their violence that de-
stroyed indigenous communities, but the indigenous communi-
ties themselves caused their own destruction: “Coupled with
emphasis on intertribal killings, alcoholism, unhygienic living
conditions and, more recently, deaths in police custody, the
result has been to blame the victims of their own demise” (Ko-
ciumbas, 2004: p. 82).
The settlers raped women or slaughtered and massacred
women, children and the aged (Broome, 2002: p. 46). They also
kidnapped young children to satisfy their demand of labor for
housework and harvesting (Kociumbas, 2004: p. 92). Since
there were no rich mines and manufacturing industries in Aus-
tralia, “the settlers had never wanted much from Aboriginal
people except their women and their land; for labor the settlers
mainly depended on convict labor and imported coolies” (Ko-
ciumbas, 2004: p. 92). Rape was also used as a mechanism of
terror to destroy indigenous families and communities. Some
settlers held indigenous women and small girls and used them
for sexual gratification (Broome, 2002: p. 45). As the brutal
dispossession of land increased in the early nineteenth century
in the continent, colonialists and scholars claimed that” indige-
nous survivors were not really people at all” (Kociumbas, 2004:
p. 96). Colonial officials justified the total extermination of
indigenous peoples by calling them non-human beings. They
proclaimed that “let us at once exterminate these useless and
obnoxious wretches” (Moses, 2004: p. 15).The English settlers
also engaged in trade in body parts of indigenous peoples for
scientific purposes. Medical schools and scientific societies in
Europe were interested in both living and dead specimens; they
purchased skeletons and skulls, too (Kociumbas, 2004: p. 97).
According to Jan Kociumbas (2004: p. 98), ‘“The fact that Aus-
tralia’s indigenous peoples were so extensively dismembered
and exhibited as scientific freaks made for a particularly viru-
lent form of racism, which rendered it increasingly impossible
for even model, educated Aboriginal people to find acceptable
in settler society. Men became extremely vulnerable to capital
conviction of rape against white women, though white men
continued to rape Aboriginal women virtually as a right.” It is
disturbing to realize that one human group used modern educa-
tion, technology, and legal means to hide the crimes against
humanity: “What is unique about genocide in Australia is not
its violence, but its apparent legality and above all its modernity.
It was modern technology that made possible the pace and ef-
fectiveness of the killing, and modern law that provided the
judicial niceties that condoned it. It was modern education, not
colonial ignorance that helped create the conditions where offi-
cial silence and legally-sanctioned cover-ups could prevail”
(Kociumbas, 2004: pp. 98-99).
Discussion and Conclusion
The descendants of colonizers in the Americas, Australia,
and Africa, and powerful European nations of today should
realize that originally the lands and other resources of the in-
digenous peoples mightily contributed to their processes of
wealth accumulation, power, and knowledge and start to think
ways of recognizing the crimes committed against humanity in
these continents and to compensate the surviving indigenous
peoples one way of the other. Unfortunately, as Noam Chom-
sky (1993: p. 32) says, “One of the great advantages of being
rich and powerful is that you never have to say: ‘I am sorry.’ It
is here that the moral and cultural challenge arises, at the end of
the first 500 years.” The majority of European descendants in
Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Africa and their collabo-
rators in the rest of the world have difficulties in recognizing
the crimes their ancestors committed on indigenous peoples.
Jürgen Zimmeere (2004: p. 51) also notes that “The question of
colonial genocide is disturbing, in part because it increases the
number of mass murders regarded as genocide, and in part, too,
because it calls into question the Europeanization of the globe
as a modernizing project. Where the descendants of perpetra-
tors still comprise the majority or a large proportion of the
population, and control political life and public discourse, rec-
ognition of colonial genocides is even more difficult, as it un-
dermines the image of the past on which national identity is
Learning from the experiences of colonial war and terrorism
in the Americas, Africa, Australia, and other places, the Euro-
pean powers perfected their desire for killings and destruction
of human beings. According to V. G. Kiernan (1982: p. 178),
“For Europe at large expansion afforded an outlet to impulses
of violence, and could relieve internal tensions, but there was
always a chance that it might recoil and intensify them instead.
If conquest was doing something to civilize the outer world, it
was also doing something to barbarize Europe.” The conse-
quences of the so-called First and Second World wars testify to
this assertion. As far as the West continues to deny the crimes
of their ancestors and continue to facilitate war and state terror-
ism on the rest of the world through its puppet governments in
the Global South, the peoples in the West cannot achieve their
true and full humanity and peace and promote social justice in
the whole world. One cannot maintain his or her humanity
while dehumanizing other human beings. Furthermore, the
reign of terror that has been imposed on the Rest by the West
has produced in some corners of the Rest similar forces that
engage in terrorism from below. Since these forces now share
information and knowledge with the West and have access to
modern weapons, it is not easy to defeat and eradicate them
without understanding, addressing, and solving all forms of
violence. As V. G. Kiernan (1982: p. 230) puts, “There are, after
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
all, good reasons for prying into the past with the historian’s
telescope and trying to see more clearly what happened, instead
of being content with legend or fantasy. Of all reasons for an
interest in the colonial wars [and terrorism] of modern times the
best is that they are still going on, openly and disguised.”
The indigenous communities deserve apologies and repara-
tions. By taking such actions, governments, corporations,
dominant societies, and international organizations recognize
that there is always price to be paid for the crimes committed
against humanity and learn how to avoid such inhumane acts in
present time. Successive European and Euro-American-Aus-
tralian governments and their collaborators in the Global South
have not only exterminated indigenous peoples and refused to
recognize the crimes they have committed against them, but
they have also attempted to commit ethnocide on the survivors
by denying them the rights to self-determination, democracy,
and human development. Some modern ideologies have justi-
fied the degrading of the values of sharing and caring for others
regardless of religious beliefs, skin colors, and ethnicity while
glorifying Euro-American-Australian cruelty, robbery, terror-
ism, and genocide. Had the European settlers and their descen-
dants have shared their knowledge and technology and cared
for indigenous peoples as the latter initially cared for the former,
the world would be built on human centered values that could
have promoted multicultural lifestyles rather than Euro-
American-centric and racist values. In addition, by attacking
indigenous cultures and lifestyles, the peoples of European
background intentionally dismissed some aspects of their own
histories and cultures that existed in Europe prior to the emer-
gence of mercantilist capitalism in which peoples shared and
cared for one another although there were oppression and ex-
The Euro-Americans-Australians and their descendants have
acted as they always had modern knowledge and technology to
claim racial and cultural superiority by suppressing their pre-
modern histories and cultures that existed before the sixteenth
century. The crimes committed against indigenous peoples in
the names of God, commerce, progress, civilization, culture
and/or race or religion for making money and acquiring lands
should be recognized by the present generation of the previous
European settlers and other human groups to understand the
historical root of modern human rights violations and to seek a
just political solution for existing socio-economic, cultural and
political problems of indigenous peoples. All powerful indi-
viduals and groups should critically interrogate themselves
morally, culturally, socially, and politically in order to develop
their humanness rather than hiding their inhumane behaviors
and actions under the discourses of modernity, civilization,
religion, race or culture and continue to commit similar crimes
by engaging or supporting unjust and corrupt political and
ideological practices. Engaging in or supporting a system that
annihilates human beings is morally, ethically, and intellectu-
ally wrong because of ideological and cultural blindness and/or
to satisfy the appetite for power and money. By understanding
the devastating effects of colonialism its various forms of vio-
lence on the indigenous peoples, the present generations of
Euro-American-Australian descendants and their collaborators
in the Global South should start to uplift the surviving ones by
making restitution and by promoting and supporting their
struggles for self-determination and multicultural democracy.
All governments and institutions in the West need to stop
repeating lies and misinformation about the indigenous peoples
by recognizing and incorporating their authentic histories, cul-
tures, and humanity in school and college education. Celebrat-
ing the contributions of the indigenous peoples, recognizing the
crimes committed and compensating them, and accepting the
diversity of all countries will help in fully developing the hu-
manity and the diverse cultural and ethnonational backgrounds
by resurrecting the damaged humanity of the executioners and
the victims. Without critically understanding the processes of
capitalist broadening and incorporation and without adequately
learning about the crimes of colonialism and continued subju-
gation, we cannot confront the moral, philosophical, and politi-
cal contradictions in the capitalist world system in order to
move toward establishing a just and truly egalitarian democratic
world order. It is urgent that serious scholars establish a single
moral, intellectual, legal, and political position in the study and
understanding of the problems of indigenous peoples and sug-
gest pragmatic policies to eliminate or reduce racial/ethno-
national inequality, underdevelopment, poverty, and ignorance
in the modern world system. Universities should be the center
in which these issues should be addressed, debated, and re-
solved if they are truly interested in promoting and practicing
social justice. Humanity should stop to brag about its progress,
civilization, scientific revolution, and religions until it goes
back and studies its crimes against its weakest elements so that
it can critically understand its darkness, barbarism, and false-
The mainstream knowledge elites from right and left have
treated the indigenous peoples as historical objects because of
their powerlessness. These elites with the support of the nation-
states produced “official history” that has completely denied a
historical space for the colonized and dehumanized peoples
around the world. As M. A. Rahman (1993: p. 4) notes, “domi-
nation of masses by elites is rooted not only in the polarization
of control over the means of material production but also over
the means of knowledge production, including control over
social power to determine what is useful knowledge”. With
their colonization and incorporation into the capitalist world
system, the indigenous peoples could not develop independent
institutions that would allow them to produce and disseminate
their historical knowledge freely. Negative views about the
indigenous peoples have prevented the dominant societies from
understanding the histories and cultures of indigenous peoples.
While colonial elites and their supporters have continued to
support the official version of history, indigenous and a few
critical scholars have realized the necessity of a plurality of
centers in knowledge production and dissemination. A few
innovative scholars have recognized the importance of looking
at a society from different cultural centers and have developed
the emergent indigenous studies. The development of indige-
nous movements in different parts of the world shows that there
are political and economic crises in various nation-states in
particular and the global system in general. The development of
cultural and social movements among colonized peoples is seen
as an integral part of the worldwide struggle for cultural iden-
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