For years poseurs with YouTube scholarships have said that “The Moors” helped King Leopold II of Belgium murder 15 million Kongolese. This is absolutely false, and the gross misconception is based mainly on people’s ignorance concerning the history of world fashion.
There are pictures of Africans wearing fezes serving in Belgium’s military, that carried out the heinous holocaust. These Africans were not Moors, though. They were largely East Africans from Zanzibar who served as mercenaries and recently freed slaves in Leopold’s army. Others were dirt poor West African migrants to the Kongo coming from countries colonized by the British who were desperate to make a living in a foreign central African land. This collection of African soldiers in the Belgian army were known as the Force Publique.
Folks who primarily rely on social media memes and YouTube videos for their education think that these Black mercenaries were Moors simply because they wore fezes on their heads. However lots of people who weren’t Moors wore Fezes in that era, including white Nazi soldiers!
The fez, which is also called a tarbush, is worn all over Africa, the so-called Middle East, Turkey, and parts of Europe, especially during its Orientalist Movement of the early 20th century. This was when Europeans were immersing themselves in the study of what they considered exotic non-European cultures, including Islamic ones.
The tarbush is not a DISTINCTLY Moorish article of clothing although followers of Noble Drew Ali have been wearing it for over a century. The fez is the ONLY reference point that most Blacks in North America have for identifying what constitutes a Moor.
Most Blacks in North America who’ve heard of the Moors don’t know anything about them outside of what Noble Drew Ali followers on YouTube and social media have to say. However Ali and his followers represent only ONE modern aspect of a rich Moorish legacy that is also connected to the Kongo and its spiritual traditions going back to the Middle Ages.
Real world history has layers and is sometimes very complicated. Cease with the oversimplified historical narratives. Not everyone is intellectually qualified to teach history. And you know what? That’s ok!!! There are other ways to make meaningful contributions to the African Diaspora without being an intellectual.
“The Moors” did not help the Belgians murder the Kongolese. Please do us all a favor and stop teaching history.