As some people know, I’m planning to go on a reporting trip to Sierra Leone soon. In preparation for the trip, I’ve been talking to a number of folks who are familiar with the country. I had an interesting conversation not too long ago with a Sierra Leonean American living in the Pacific Northwest. He was telling me about how the people in Sierra Leone are some of the most welcoming people you will ever meet.
But as he went on about Sierra Leone’s unique history (as you know, Sierra Leone was settled by freed slaves brought there by the British navy in 1787) and how that history plays an important role in why Sierra Leoneans are so friendly and generous to foreigners, he said something that made me pause for a moment and reflect on my own experience as an African American.
He began talking about slavery’s influence on Africa and how, in his opinion, slavery could be viewed as a good thing for black people. What?!?! I was thinking to myself. This can’t be right. But check out his reasoning (I’m paraphrasing a little):
When someone comes in your house to rob you, they could just take your things because they see them as valuable. But when someone is bold enough instead to take you away from your home to go back with him to his own home, that says something about you: that you are extremely valuable.
I know this might sound like something that would come from one of those black folks who got co-opted by Pat Buchanan, but this is coming from an entirely different point of view. It begs the question: Could this brotha have a point?