A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.- Marcus Garvey
Africa:Back To The Roots Why is the history and culture of Africa important to the history of humankind in general and the history and culture of African Americans in particular?
Ethiopian fossils confirm our African roots. Skulls of the oldest modern humans have been uncovered in Herto, Ethiopia, showing that people looking remarkably like us were roaming the African plains 160,000 years ago.
Africa: Birthplace of Humanity • Genetic evidence proves this… • Out-of-Africa model • Modern humans emerged 200,000 years ago • Migrated to the rest of the world 100,000 years ago • Genetic “Eve” • All modern humans from a single African woman
Based on this evidence there is only onehuman race… Different “races” were used to classify people by appearance, etc. Regardless of who you are or where you came from, despite ethnic differences, political distinctions, and racial tensions... WE ARE ALL AFRICAN.
Still Need More Proof? Scientists have found that every language can be traced back to a long-forgotten dialect spoken by our Stone Age ancestors in Africa. The further away from Africa a language is spoken, the fewer distinct sounds, or phonemes, it has…
Ancient Egypt • Systems of Irrigation • Obelisks • Pyramids • Mummification • Unique Gods and Goddesses • Written Language • Courts and Justice System • Pharaohs and Powerful Empires • Papyrus • Surgery and Medicine • Number system including fractions • Do you usually associate Egypt with Africa? Why or why not? • What are some achievements of the ancient Egyptians…
Ancient Egyptians are usually depicted as “white”. You can probably thank Hollywood. People separate Egypt from Africa…
EgyptAfrica’s Ancient Civilization • Race debate • “Were the ancient Egyptians a Black African people?” • “What amount of ancient Greece’s civilization owes to learning borrowed or stolen from ancient Egypt?” • Martin Bernal • Black Egyptians colonized ancient Greece • Became the forerunners of Western civilization • Mary Lefkowitz • Modern racial categories were irrelevant in ancient Egypt • The Bottom Line Is: Egypt influenced Greek and Western civilization
Ancient Egyptian Art From Tomb of Seti I From left to right: a Syrian, a Nubian, a Libyan, and an Egyptian
Ancient Egyptian Art From Palace At MedinetHabu From left to right: a Libyan, a Nubian, a Syrian, a Shashu Bedouin, and a Hittite.
Would you consider the Ancient Egyptians to be a Black African civilization? Or do you think racial categories were irrelevant? What does this Ancient Egyptian art suggest?
Would the Ancient Egyptians be considered “black” or “multiracial”? We may never have a definitive answer… For 75 years Nubian kings from deep in Africa conquered and ruled over ancient Egypt, reunifying the country and building an empire. Until recently, this history was ignored... We do know that Nubia, Kush, Meroe, and Axum were “Black African”
Other Early African Civs You heard about “Egypt”, but how about these other early African civilizations?... • Nubia • Egyptian colony • copper and gold deposits • Kush • Nubian independent kingdom • Meroe • Africa’s first industrial center • Iron deposits and good geographic location • Axum • First Christian state in sub-Saharan Africa • Influenced by Hebrew culture
Bob Marley spread the Rastafarian belief in exalting H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I as the King of Kings Gradually, the people of Axum began calling their kingdom Ethiopia. That is RasTafari, the Emperor HaileSelassie I… who Rastas follow. This was the Ethiopian flag under the reign of King Haile Selassie I. Today, Rastas use it as a symbol of their identity.
Africa has had many rich and powerful civilizations, but most people have never learned about them… Why? Can you name any ancient African civilizations?
“Black Africa” Means…Sub-Saharan Africa • All African regions which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara. • It contrasts with North Africa, which is considered a part of the Arab world. (Different people and cultures) What’s the point? Europeans claimed that black Africans could not possibly have constructed the monuments found in Egypt, Nubia, or Ethiopia The Reason Why We Study Black History
The forebears of African Americans came mainly from West Africa, and from the Congo River region and Angola as well Descendants of Africans living in America, the Caribbean or anywhere in the West are called the “African Diaspora”
West African Empires • Merchants crossed the Sahara in search of valuable products. Sub-Saharan West Africa grew wealthy from trade in slaves and gold.
Ghana: Trade • Ancient Ghana was a trading center and acted as a “middleman” between trade routes. • Camel caravans from north brought commodities (merchandise)—copper, horses, luxury goods, and, most importantly… salt • Caravans traded for gold, ivory, slaves • Taxes supported Ghana’s powerful army which protected trade routes and kept merchants safe. • Location of gold mines were a secret; from 700 to 1000 Ghana was at height of power
In ancient times, trades were even—an ounce of gold for an ounce of salt. Why trade gold for salt?.... Salt is essential for human life. It regulates fluid levels and is necessary for muscle function, nerve impulses and the distribution of nutrients. Until the invention of canning and refrigeration, salt was fundamental to food preservation…
Salt was found in the Sahara desert north of ancient Ghana. There are many salt deposits in the desert because it was once a shallow sea. When the sea dried up, salt was left behind in a layer below the surface. Salt was needed by the forest people. Mining For Salt Mining For Gold Gold was found in the forest regions south of ancient Ghana. Miners dug gold from shafts as deep as 100 feet or sifted it from fast-moving streams. It is estimated that until 1350, more than two thirds of the world's supply of gold came from West Africa.
These trade routes also brought Islam to Ghana…. Camel caravans carrying salt across the Sahara Many of Ghana’s upper class accepted Islam, learned Arabic, and read the Qur’an
Ghana: Wealth & Splendor • Ghana was so wealthy it was known as “kingdom of gold” • Writers told of rulers surrounded in luxury; worshiped as gods • Wealth and fame attracted invaders; constant attacks scared merchants off • Loss of trade weakened empire; eventually Ghana collapsed
“The King [wears] necklaces round his neck and bracelets on his forearms and he puts on a high cap decorated with gold and wrapped in a turban of fine cotton. He holds an audience in a domed pavilion around which stand ten horses covered with gold-embroidered materials . . . on his right, are the sons of the vassal kings of his country, wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold.” At the door of the pavilion are dogs of excellent pedigree. Round their necks they wear collars of gold and silver, studded with a number of balls of the same metals.” —Abu Abdullah al-Bakri, The Book of Routes and Kingdoms, 1068
This is a modern king of the country of Ghana, do you notice any similarities to descriptions of ancient Ghana’s kings? OSEADEEYO ADDO DANKWA III Roisd'Akropong-Akuapem Ghana
Mali: New Empire • Small kingdom within Ghana rose to take Ghana’s place • Took control of caravan routes across Sahara • Wealth and power followed; Mali became the leading power in West Africa
Mansa Musa • Reigned from 1307 to 1337; a time known for peace and security • Devout Muslim; took famous pilgrimage to holy city of Mecca • Travel took a year; lavished gifts along the way
“....This sultan Musa, during his stay in Egypt both before and after his journey to the holy hajj, maintained a constant attitude of worship and turning towards God. It was as though he were standing before Him because he always kept Him in mind. He and all those with him behaved in the same way and were well-dressed, serious, and dignified. He was noble and generous and performed many acts of generosity and kindness. During his pilgrimage he dispersed the 100 loads of gold which he had brought from his country while traveling among the tribes between his country to Egypt, while he was in Egypt, and again from Egypt to the holy hajj and back.” • — description of Mansa Musa, from Ibn Amir Hajib, and recorded by Al-Umari
Map from a European atlas, c. 1375 How does the picture portray Mansa Musa?
Mali: Achievements • Emphasis on education; built great universities for religion and law • Books in Arabic appeared on trade routes; scholars came to study in Mali • Spread Islam; built mosques; converted thousands to Islam
Sankore Mosque, Timbuktu The Great Mosque of Djenné
Songhai • Developed from Mali empire; won back independence
Songhai: Growth • 1464, King Sunni Ali Ber in was power; brilliant strategist • Equipped army with horses; built canoe navy to patrol Niger River • Skilled politician; he maintained rural and town alliances • Three main cities—Gao, Timbuktu, and Djenné • Excelled in philosophy, law, and medicine
Decline • Conquered states reasserted independence; weakened Songhai defeated by army of Spaniards and Moroccans • Europeans brought shift in trade routes to Atlantic coast Carta do Atlas de JoãoFreire(1546) A Portuguese map of West Africa
St. Georges Fort, Oldest Fort Built by Portuguese in the Sub-Sahara, Elmina, Ghana, West Africa Benin • Portuguese explorers built forts and trading centers (bought ivory, gold, cotton, pepper, and slaves) • City of Benin grew wealthy from trade; created art but not empire The presence of the Portuguese began the European colonization of Africa… and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade
Lack Of Records • Although there were great wealthy empires; little is known of daily life • Some information of ruling classes; but knowledge comes from writings of visitors • Advanced civilizations of West Africa lacked written languages • Because of this first-person accounts important
Two Ways To Learn • Oral histories are critical: spoken record from generation to generation • Tell accounts of great deeds and customs of ancestors • Anthropologists also study traditions still practiced in region • People study village and family life, religion, and the arts
Village & Family Life • Extended family typical; father, mother, children, and close relatives • In West African society each person loyal to family • Age-sets formed special bonds; worked at specific tasks together
Religion • Central feature of village life • Ancestors spirits stayed nearby after death • Carved statues marked sacred places • Practiced animism—belief that natural objects have spirits
The Arts • Detailed carvings from wood and bronze; created fantastic masks • Music and dance part of rituals and ceremonies
Griots • Remembering and telling history was entrusted to storytellers called griots • Highly respected; keep history alive for each new generation • Many griots even served as advisers to kings
Modern Griots • Modern griots tell both traditional and contemporary stories to entertain audiences worldwide. Angelique Kidjo YoussouN'Dour
From Africa To America Some of the traditions, and the use of stories and messages in music were brought to the New World by the African slaves... The influence of the West African griots and African musical styles can be found today in modern America with R&B, Hip-Hop, Gospel and Rock & Roll.