It is #World History. History is a record of events, issues and personalities. The study of history gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It also serves as a continuation of a civilization’s mythology
It can be said that African history started at the birth of the universe itself because its various civilizations were organized based upon principles that govern the universe – principles of duality, reciprocity, balance, etc.
In W.E.B Du Boise’s book “The World and Africa”, Du Boise talked about all of the continents being connected with Africa being in the center of it all. Our civilizations in Kemet, Ethiopia, Nubia, Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Zimbabwe and Mexico are just a few that reigned as regional and world powers at various times throughout history.
Where is Africa?
In Dr. Ali Mazrui’s book and magnificent documentary entitled “The Africans a Triple Heritage”, he raises the question, ‘where is Africa?’. On the surface, the question seems odd until one realizes that territorial boarders changed over time just as they do today. What is now known as the Middle East was once considered a part of Africa depending on the time period discussed. One could even walk to Europe before the Suez Canal was built. Dr. Mazrui also talks about a type of brain washing of people of African descent in the USA to ‘forget that we are African but remember that we are Negro or Black”. Black history, the history of people of African descent, starts in the place currently known as Africa, not the USA. Blacks in the USA are just one branch on a huge African tree.
Black history is also world history
In grade school, high school and college, European history is subtly taught under the label “World History”. The history of all other peoples – African, Asian, Native “American”, to name a few, are taught as histories of their respective people. Some people are even of the belief that such a skewed approach is actually a ploy in disguise to subconsciously elevate European cultures and accomplishments above all others. However, every civilization had accomplishments and failures, strengths and weaknesses, beginnings and endings. More often than not single events, issues or personalities are affected by other civilizations, sometimes in a positive manner and other times in a negative manner. Everyone’s history whether Chinese, East Indian, Mayan or otherwise is world history in its own right because they influenced other civilizations in other parts of the world.
Although known by many names, Kemet sometimes spelled KMT, is one of the most widely known indigenous names. This ancient civilization lasted approximately 7500 years, depending on how you calculate its beginning and ending. It arose as early as 10,000 BCE (Before Christian Era) and about 5000 (BCE). KMT is considered one of the greatest civilizations that ever existed because of its achievements mathematically, scientifically, medically, spiritually, militarily, architecturally and socially. Additionally they left written records and structures documenting those achievements. Their wealth was based on gold. They said they came from the beginning of the Nile which in present day runs through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Kemet not only included the country now known as Egypt, but at times all of North Africa, Sudan and Ethiopia
and parts of what is called the Middle East throughout various points in its history. It is worth mentioning that when the Greeks came onto the world scene in about 500 BCE they called KMT Egypt. Egypt is a Greek word meaning Black.
Egyptologists of African descent and other historians have challenged the notion that the leaders and people of KMT at its beginning, height and towards its end were not black. Many museums now state that ‘Egypt’ was not only geographically African but culturally African as well. Some museums have even combined the exhibits.
Ethiopia was an empire in East Africa that at times included Kemet or parts thereof. It is difficult to ascertain how long the empire lasted or its start and end date since the calculation would depend upon when it was not part of KMT. The contemporary country of Ethiopia is just a small part of an empire. Its wealth was based on gold. As stated above, the founders of Kemet claimed that they came from Ethiopia. Most early Greek and Roman history pundits referred to all of Africa and parts of the Middle East as Ethiopia. The word Ethiopia is a Greek word. For that matter, the name Africa is of Latin descent. One of the indigenous names for what we know now as Africa is Akebulan or Alkebulan meaning Land of the Blacks.
Empire of Ghana
Ghana was an empire in West Africa that lasted approximately 1,550 years. It started around 300 CE (Christian era) and ended around 1250 AD (Anno Domini) during a time when the people practiced indigenous African spiritual systems. Its wealth was based on gold. At its height, Ghana had a population of several million, a territory of 250,000 square miles and a standing army of 200,000 men, 40,000 of whom were bowmen. They kept rebellions to a minimum by controlling trade routes. However, after one successful rebellion, Ghana fell to the empire of Mali. The contemporary country of Ghana took its name and became a small part of the empire.
Empire of Mali
Mali was an empire in West Africa that lasted approximately 263 years. Comprised of different ethnic groups, it started around 1230 AD and ended around 1494 AD. Some practiced indigenous African spiritual systems while others practiced Islam. Its wealth was based on gold. At its height it had a population of 10 million and territory of 500,000 square miles which included not only the empire of Ghana but also Mauritania, Algeria and present day Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The University of Sankore in the famed city of Timbuktu was the intellectual center of the Muslim world. Mali and one of its most well known kings, Mansa Musa was well admired in the Muslim world and Europe and established Europe’s respect for Sub-Saharan Africa. Mali even exchanged ambassadors with Portugal. Mali began to decline in 1400AD with the rise of Songhai in 1468. The contemporary country of Mali took its name and became a small part of the empire. In the 1460s, Portugal began the Transatlantic Slave Trade while Arabs had already started enslaving Africans.
Empire of Songhai
Songhai, an empire in West Africa lasted approximately 123 years. It started around 1468 AD and ended around 1591 AD. It was the largest and last of the West African empires. It included not only the empires of Ghana and Mali but it was even larger than the two. Its first king captured Timbuktu and expanded Songhai’s size to that of the European continent. Its most well known emperor was Muhammad Ture. He is most recognized by his title Askia (meaning general) Muhammad. During his reign, many universities were built that taught philosophy, medicine, law, government, astronomy, math, geography, literature, music and others. It fell into decline under the leadership of Muhammad’s son. In 1591 AD, Songhai was attacked by an army of Christian Spaniards, Spanish Muslims and Moroccans. Songhai fought & resisted as a guerrilla army but the empire disintegrated and eventually fell.
Empire of the Moors
An empire in Spain lasting approximately 781 years, it started around 711 AD and ended around 1492 AD. The Moors were a group of West and North Africans who ruled Spain. When the Moors Ruled in Europe by Bettany Hughes is a wonderful documentary. They brought Europe out of its bleak dark ages and sparked Europe’s renaissance. They brought agriculture, engineering, mining, industry, manufacturing, architecture, education, scholarship and much more to Spain. They excelled at ship building and navigation even teaching that the world was round 400 years before Magellan’s trip in 1519. The Moorish empire ended with the fall of Grenada. Queen Isabella & King Ferdinand of Spain used the wealth from Granada to finance Columbus’s voyages to the Americas. Columbus even took a couple of Moorish navigators with him. The Rock of Gibraltar is named after General Tarik for the rocks or mountain (called jebel) he crossed over into Spain with his army defeating the Visigoths.
Others States & Empires
- North-East – Ethiopia, Kush and Nuia
- Western Sudan – Hausa states & Kaneem-Bornu
- West Africa – Oyo, Benin, Dahomey, Akan, Ashanti and Fante
- Central Africa – Kongo, Luba, Lunda, Bunyoro & Buganda
- Southern Africa – Omani Sultanate, Mutapa Empire & Zulu Empire
The African Diaspora
What about the people of African descent in the Caribbean, Europe, South & Central America the Middle East and Canada? With the exception of the Middle East, Europe and Caribbean are not the others just as American as those in the USA? Moreover, many of the little talked about Blacks in Oceania such as Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, and Polynesia recognize an affinity to Africa. Some sent delegations to Pan-African conferences. Some operated local chapters of international black organizations such as Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and/or the Black Panther Party.
According to Dr. Ivan Van Sertima in his book “They Came Before Columbus”, Africans sailed to what is now called the Americas as early as 800 – 700 BCE. The Olmec was a civilization known for pyramids, magnificent temples and jade carved figures. Additionally they are known for their hieroglyphic writing & calendar-advanced astronomy & math. The most striking thing they are known for is the series of eleven colossal heads carved out of basalt measuring nine feet high and weighing fifteen tons each. – all in Southwest Mexico.
We can only wonder about the civilizations that are so ancient no records knowingly exist attesting to their proof of existence much less accomplishments.
History teaches us the following:
- Every civilization, except for the very first one, is built from the contributions and accomplishments that came before it;
- No civilization, race, ethnic group or religion can claim a monopoly on excellence;
- No matter how rich, powerful or stable a civilization becomes it will eventually decline. Another will rise in its shadows and eventually prevail;
- The Africa of today is not the Africa of yesterday; yet, Africa always rebuilds it civilizations to rival and surpass its predecessors.
People of African Descent in the USA are just one branch on the vast African tree with roots that stretch around the world. If Black History truly began in the USA then the lessons of history, the broader context of it along with our identity, purpose and direction would be lost to obscurity. Every civilization has an ancestral land mass from which they sprang. Technically, there is no Black or Negro land but there is a place now known as Africa. The analyses and possible solutions to challenges faced must be based on its culture and collective values.
I’ve not even scratched the surface as to how far back we reach within the scope of world history. Twenty-eight days isn’t nearly enough to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Africa and her people.
Finally, please do not look at me sideways thinking I’m some sort of racial bigot for writing this article. I do not subscribe to any tenants of racial bigotry. I am interested in the truth and justice wherever it leads. I have written this article to inform and enlighten readers to a history that they may not have heard. If you have not heard any of this history and/or do not believe it ask yourself, why? Then get busy doing your own research. You can use the sources for this article listed in the below attributes or read books and listen to speeches by Doctors Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein. I consider them to be great history writers and thinkers. Dr. Howard Zinn’s book “A People’s History Of The United States” is an excellent start.
Written by Geisha Diaries guest author, Anthony, Washington D.C. Gigolo
The World And Africa – Dr. W.E.B DuBoise’s
The Africans A Tripl Heritage – Dr. Ali Mazrui
When the Moors Ruled in Europe – Dr. Bettany Hughes
They Came Before Columbus – Dr. Ivan Van Sertima
Introduction To Black Studies – Dr. Maulana Karenga