As Black History Month slowly creeps up on us like four straight weeks of rape and basketball, I find it incumbent to remind everyone that since a strict definition of “history” means “events that were recorded” rather than simply “events that happened,” there is very little actual history from sub-Saharan Africa because its denizens were so hopelessly backwards, they never got around to inventing simple things such as written languages with which to record the things that were happening around them.
One of the things in black history that never really happened — at least not in the way its modern proponents appear to wish it did — is the “We Wuz Kangz” meme, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has awarded the honorific of being a “hate symbol,” although it’s not really a symbol, which I suppose is fitting because it never really happened, anyway. According to the ADL, “We Wuz Kangz” and its various iterations and spellings constitute
a racist catchphrase and collection of memes directed at African-Americans and other people of sub-Saharan African descent. Originating in 2015 and popularized by the website 4chan, the phrase is a racist shorthand reference to discredited but popular Afrocentric theories that claimed sub-Saharan Africans were descended from ancient Egyptians. . . . The phrase and meme are intended to mock the Afrocentric theories and, by extension, anyone who might believe in them. Users employ phrases such as “We Wuz Kangs,” “We Wuz Kings,” and “Kings N Shiet,” featuring [a] mock black American dialect that is intended to portray blacks as ignorant and a contrast to the ostensibly more civilized ancient Egyptians.
As we all know but very few of us are brave enough to admit in public, Black History Month is an opportunity for blacks to feel unreasonably great about their past. Now, on one level I can empathize with the idea that if my people’s past was one extended sick joke of failure and suffering, I’d struggle with self-esteem, too. There is very little in the long and sordid past of Africans that would engender self-esteem in any normal, sane person. But the problem is that blacks have tremendous self-esteem, and many studies have shown that self-esteem and success may be inversely correlated. So blacks aren’t doing themselves any favors by lying to themselves about some imagined glorious past where they were all kings. Anything built on a foundation of lies is bound to end in disaster.
Did you ever notice that when some fool goes to a psychic wishing to hear whose body they occupied in a previous incarnation, the psychic never tells them they come from a long and uninterrupted line of undistinguished and utterly miserable peasants? As luck would have it, they were all descended from famous kings and warriors and men of distinction. What are the odds?
Saying that all black people are descended from kings is like saying that most white people owned slaves or were in the Klan. As much as many white people may wish this had been true, it simply wasn’t.
The blunt, brutish fact is that there has never been an all-king society. Is someone seriously trying to allege that in these ancient African kingdoms, no one had butlers? Carriage drivers? Archers? Hired hands to clean the slurry pit? You were all kings? That’s mathematically impossible. It’s simple math, but I’m talking about fundamentally simple people who aren’t good at math.
The average “society” in sub-Saharan Africa before the white man gifted it with alphabets and air conditioning was more likely to be a roving nomadic pack of about 30 or so naked Africans led by a single warlord. If you want to refer to a tribal warlord as a “king,” knock yourself out, but even being generous, that means that only one in 30 modern American blacks may be descended from a tribal warlord, whereas the rest are descended from violent naked Africans who would have probably responded to a written manuscript by trying to eat it.
In retrospect, I suppose that “We was kings” is a more comforting thought than “We was slaves” or “We was dumb.”
If one wishes to claim that the modern sloe-eyed gangsta moron you see at Dollar Tree trying to hack a clerk to death with a machete is descended from the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids, there’s quite a lot of stupidity to unpack there.
It’s like the Afrocentrists who insist that blacks built the United States. Black laborers may have helped to build this country, but they sure as hell didn’t design it. And let me tell you — it’s the designing-it part, not the building-it part, that’s important. Same thing applies to the pyramids. If all it took to build flourishing civilizations and dizzying architectural marvels was animal brawn, why do the arid wastelands south of the Sahara more resemble a dirty hamster cage than Wakanda?
But even if all your unfounded self-esteem hinges on the idea that Egypt from 4,500 years ago was just bursting at the seams with flat-nosed, big-lipped architectural geniuses, the humiliating fact is that the slave markets that provided the raw, purplish muscle needed to pick cotton in what is now modern Alabama mostly existed about 4,000 miles away from Cairo and about 4,000 years after the pyramids were built.
And even if, for the sake of equity, we want to pretend that at some dim point in a long-forgotten past, Africa was packed top-to-bottom with bustling nations filled with nothing but kings and queens, this raises another question:
You was kings? Okay, then what the hell happened? How did you go from a golden age of all-king kingdoms to the embarrassing mess that is modern Africa and every place in the United States with a Martin Luther King Boulevard?
One of Don Rickles’ all-time favorite insults was telling a celebrity, “You were a big star once.” I feel like saying something similar to anyone who unironically spouts the “We wuz kangz” line. “Okay, you were kings once. But oh, how the kingly have fallen!”
The 1996 documentary film When We Were Kings is about the legendary 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” between boxers Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, the latter of whom was considered unbeatable at the time, whereas Ali had already been beaten by two boxers that Foreman obliterated. To maximize profits for Western viewing, the match was held in the middle of the night in Zaire, which is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the planet’s undisputed shittiest nations. The match was partially funded by Zaire’s ruthless dictator Mobotu Sese Seko, whose henchmen were known to gouge out the eyes, amputate the limbs, and rip out the genitals of political opponents. I suppose that if he’d been a king rather than a dictator, he would have been far more benevolently disposed toward his subjects. Even better, if Zaire had been one of those all-king nations, there would have been no lowly subjects to torture.
Ali fought a brilliant fight, outsmarting a bigger and stronger boxer by letting Foreman punch himself into exhaustion, whereupon Ali knocked the big dumb lug out in the eighth round.
But on that night in that packed stadium, there was only one king: Muhammad Ali. There wasn’t a whole stadium filled with African kings. That would have been stupid. And Ali’s victory once more demonstrated that intelligence trumps brawn, even in a brawny discipline such as fisticuffs.
Legend has it that when a reporter subsequently asked Ali, “Champ, what did you think of Africa?”, Ali responded, “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat!”
By the way, it was those legendary “kings” — or, more properly, “tribal chieftains” — who shoved the hapless Bantu people of Central and Western Africa onto those boats. So although you aren’t all descended from kings, if your black ancestors were enslaved in North America, they were all sold into bondage by African kings, as painful and humiliating and flustering and mentally discombobulating as it may be to hear it.
As far as I can discern, there are still three kings in modern Africa. The first, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, doesn’t look black at all. Then again, Morocco is separated from the Dusky Southern Lands of the Bantu by the massive Sahara Desert, meaning that when it comes to human evolution, Africa might as well be two different continents.
The other two Modern Kangz are King Letsie III of Lesotho, who presides over a throbbing shithole with the world’s third-lowest life expectancy, behind only Chad and the Central African Republic. His nation’s nominal per-capita Gross Domestic Product is roughly three dollars a day. The other Modern Kang is King Mswati III of Eswatini, which until recently was known as Swaziland. Nearly a third of his country’s adults are HIV-positive, and they have the twelfth-lowest life expectancy on the planet.
In fact, the 27 countries with the lowest life expectancy in the world are all in Africa.
The 28th is Haiti, which serves as a living example of what happens when you export African Kangz elsewhere.
Left to their own devices, Africans never amounted to much of anything. Modern blacks across the planet are mostly descended from people equally as dysfunctional and unsuccessful as they are. It may not be what they wanted to hear, but they need to hear it.
And I’m announcing it to them with love — the kind of cynical, grizzled love that can only come from someone descended from an alcoholic Irish plumber.
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