African – History

 

Africa is the one continent that has been plagued by some of the worst human evils to date. Slavery, aggressive opposition and even torture defined much of what happened to the native people through the centuries. Sometimes, this was at the hands of fellow Africans. However, Africans were more often brutalised by the colonialists and other foreigners that desired to invade the land.

The written annals of Africa begin in the 4th millennium Before our Common Era (BCE), although evidence, fossils and spoken tales precede this period. It was with the rise of the Egyptian civilisation around the Nile Valley that these formal records began. Even with these written accounts, there remain many unknown details and events because the African society has always been one that favours oral tradition, rather than the written word. While some of the gaps may be filled in with detailed cave paintings, prehistoric tools and implements and the fossils that have been found throughout Africa, the mystery around the process of civilisation still exists quite prominently.

The earliest Homo sapien remains were found in Ethiopia, situated in West Africa in what is known as the Horn of Africa. This human being is thought to have lived on the earth 200 000 years ago. This dating is based on research and scientific testing. From the time of the establishment of the Egyptian civilisation, the written records follow the development of those groups that moved further out from the Nile and established their own societies, many of them nomadic.

Image of Carthage Ruins on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the centre of Tunis.
Carthage Ruins on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the centre of Tunis.

Many other civilisations moved into the African territory in an attempt to expand their own across from the centre of Tunisorders. The Phoenicians began the empire of Carthage, which included the coastal section of Tunis. The exact records of this period were destroyed by the Roman Empire, which conquered Carthage in the Punic Wars. These three wars extended between 264 and 146 BCE. Once the Romans had Carthage under their control, they went on to conquer all of North Africa in the first century CE (Common Era). While the Romans initially worshiped pagan gods, it was during this time that Christianity began to spread through the Empire, presumably as a result of Jesus’ preaching and teaching work just prior to the first century. This religious ideal spread rapidly and extended right up to Ethiopia and Kush (the area that would now include Sudan).

Image of Slave stautes at the House of Slaves on Goree Island,3 km off the coast of the city of Dakar, Senegal.
Slave stautes at the House of Slaves on Goree Island,3 km off the coast of the city of Dakar, Senegal.

The next wave came in the seventh century, when Islam spread throughout North and East Africa. This bore major consequences for the development of the civilisations in those areas. New cultures sprung from religion, as they often do. These included the Swahilis in the east and the Songhai in the west. As Islam became more popular, so the Arab slave trade escalated until it peaked in the 1800’s. This forced African slaves to be sent to North and South America, taking their cultures and religions with them.

In 1951, Libya became the first colony to gain its independence. Since then, most of remaining Africa has followed suit. The revolutionary attitude of modern Africa has led to much controversy and hardship, but is necessary for the current civilisation to develop into a viable, productive continent.

For more information, please view: http://www.mnh.si.edu/africanvoices/

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Afric History

Effects Of Climatic And Environmental Changes On Ancient African Civilisations


Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the entire planet earth looked very different to what modern man experiences today. Continents were not yet divided, and the vegetation and animals were different. Significantly, the climate was also vastly different to what it is today. Climate plays an integral role in determining the plants and animal that live in a certain areas, as well as how habitable a place is for human beings.

In fact, even the theory of the evolution of man was dependent largely on the climatic influences on our ancient ancestors. It is hypothesised that the ancient versions of man were forced to walk upright, lose body hair and develop their coordination for survival in a changing environment. New skills also needed to be learned as farming techniques and living habits had to be adapted.

Ancient Africa experienced major vacillations between mega-droughts and Ice Ages, although these fluctuations occurred over thousands and thousands of years. As humans continued to develop and evolve through these phases, they needed to make major adaptations, not only to their ways of life, but also to their personal body structure. Prior to 135 000 years ago, the whole of Africa was lush and fertile, with a tropical climate. Then, the most intense mega-drought ever to occur hit the continent in the period referred to as the early part of the Late Pleistocene epoch. This is believed to have led to the migration of most of our human ancestors into other areas that were more habitable and fertile. Lake Malawi has been used by scientists as a rain gauge to ascertain water levels in ancient times. Research has shown that, during this mega-drought, the lake’s level dropped at least 1968 feet, or 600 metres! Evolutionists claim that this severe lack of water not only pushed ancient man from the area, it also forced aquatic animals (such as fish) to develop the facilities to be able to survive on dry land, thus evolving into land animals.

As people flocked out of the continent, only a very small proportion of this specific generation remained. Humankind as we know it is widely believed to have come from these few remaining on the continent, who evolved significantly and in response to the climatic changes.

These conditions continued until about 70 000 years ago, when the climate was again characterised by wetter conditions. These led to the growth and renewal of fresh vegetation, as well as an increased water supply to the region. More people were in the area during this time of abundance, and the population grew. This increase in numbers eventually led to migrations due to space limitations and the ownership of land.

Then, about 20 000 years ago, an Ice Age overcame the entire earth. This meant that the planet underwent a long-term period of cold temperatures over most of its surface. In places like North America and Eurasia, giant ice sheets covered enormous proportions of the land, making it impossible to farm and, sometimes, even live in these areas. This final Ice Age lasted for about 9 500 years. It forced most of the populations to migrate to the highlands, where they would be relatively protected from the ice sheets. Again, these civilisations had to adapt their farming methods, and change their diet, social habits, clothing and migratory patterns. This forced an evolution to a certain extent. Body hair was necessary to keep people warm, their skin lightened due to a lack of the harsh rays of the sun that they experienced during the mega-droughts, etc…

When this Ice Age came to an end 10 500 years ago, areas like the Sahara were left fertile and healthy. This made it and the other areas like it the ideal spots in which to settle as ancient man began to descend from the highlands. Animals and plants thrived in this environment, which made it very desirable in the eyes of mankind. The abundance of food, water and sunshine again changed the habits and physical structures of our earliest forefathers.

These conditions lasted for some time, but the Sahara in particular continued to experience fluctuations between humid and dry conditions. These eventually left the entire area unable to yield crops or sustain life for any extended period of time. Today, it remains a large stretch of desert. Then, approximately 2500 years ago, the group of people who had made their home in the Sahara began to follow the direction of the Nile River, which held promise of a rich water supply. The arid conditions of the Sahara and its surrounds continue to the present day.

Africa has, since prehistoric times, proven to be a place of fascination, life and evolution. Changes in the climate were often dramatic, and these were, to a great extent, responsible for determining the ancient civilisations that inhabited this vast continent. It is no wonder that many researchers and scientists maintain that Africa is the Cradle of Mankind, and research continues to yield fascinating evidence of this theory.