Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop
In Chapter One,
In Senegal, ''society is divided into slaves and freemen.'' (Diop., page 1).
The society is broken down into, ''the Ger comprise the nobles and all freeman with no manual profession other than agriculture, considered a sacred activity.'' (Diop., page 1). The rest of the population was the Neno which, ''comprise all artisans: shoemakers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, etc. These are hereditary professions.'' (Diop., page 2). In Senegalese society, this was done to break down the task of everyday life and to give structure and meaning to society.
In African societies the ''caste'' system existed to provide order and not an indication of one's worth or value because humanity trumped one's occupation. The nobility class cannot mistreat the rest of the population. It was looked down upon. But, ''the stability of the caste system was assured by the hereditary transmission of social occupations, which corresponded, in a certain measure, to a monopoly disguised by a religious prohibition in order to eliminate professional competition.'' (Diop., page 8).
In India, ''a division of labor, without any ethnic connotation,'' (Diop., page 12) existed and was a fact of everyday life. The life of each Indian was governed by the four Laws of Manu. Which broke down the society into hereditary occupations. The Brahmanas are the teaching and studying caste, The Kshatriya is the warrior caste to protect the people and land. The Vaisya tend to cattle and cultivate the land. While The Sudra is to serve the above three castes. (Diop., page 13).
''The Aryan meant to effect an economic classification of society, in India as well as in Rome and Greece, and not an ethnic separation.'' (Diop., page14). The caste system was formed for economic and political reasons. The dominant population wanted no competition over resources, power and mobility within society. It was only natural to create a system that is hereditary to eliminate and suppress social uprisings and to maintain control at all times.
The Untouchables were the conquered population turned into lesser beings. They are described as a ''man of impure origin, who belongs not to any caste, (varna, but whose character is) not known, who (though) not an Aryan, has the appearance of an Aryan, one may discover by his acts.'' (Diop., page 14). The untouchables are the Indigenous population of India who lost their lands to those that have conquered them. The victor will always paint the loser in warfare as inferior. They are excluded from every facet of society to continue their oppression and quench any uprising that may occur as a result of poor mistreatment.
In both Senegalese and Indian society, the caste systems were formed for social organization and most importantly for economic reasons. Both societies didn't want people competing for resources and power. By making the occupations hereditary it protects the higher class and prevents competition from the lower classes. It was never about colour but over time it became about race, one's hue and etc.
Nyabuoy Gatbel is a South Sudanese Canadian currently living in Calgary, AB. She was born in Ethiopia in 1993 and moved to Canada as a refugee in 2002. She's currently a undergraduate student at the University of Calgary. Besides her studies she's a social entreprenuer focusing on the, ''Paarman Centre project,'' a fashion model, writer and author of the book, ''The Fire Within poetry in Thok Nath and English.''