North Africa – 1062 To Modern

The Almoravids were the Berbers that moved north from the Sahara’s west. In 1040 CE, their chieftain made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and this instilled a deep love, respect and zeal for Islam in the minds and hearts of his followers. In 1062, the Almoravids established Marrakech as their base and proceeded to conquer northwest Africa systematically and effectively until they had seized as far as Algeria. On request from the Spanish, the Almoravids moved onto Spain in 1086 CE and conquered all but the east coast, where El Cid captured Valencia 8 years after their arrival in Spain. The country became steeped in the Muslim faith, and the Spanish architecture etc…, in turn, spread into the north of Africa. This vast area became too big for the Almoravid sultans to sustain, and the Christians began their second conquest of Spain in 1118. Likewise, Marrakech was overthrown by the Almohads (also Berbers) in 1147.

The Almohads held far stricter Islam ideals that the Almoravids. After Marrakech, they conquered the whole of the coast of North Africa, right up to Benghazi. This meant that all of the smaller divisions of the greater Berbers were now under one jurisdiction, although their power spread to Spain as well. Once the Almoravids in Morocco had been conquered, the Almohads occupied southern Spain and made Seville (conquered in 1147) the capital of Spain.

The Christian movement began to sneak back in when the Almohad power began its decline and Las Navas de Toloso was conquered in 1212 CE. Between this time and 1238, Cordoba, Seville and Valencia were all won back by the Christians. The Tunisian governor that had declared himself independent in 1229 began the Hafsids dynasty. It took until 1269 for Marrakech and the Almohad rule in Morocco to be quashed. This was done by the Marinids, and their rulership lasted until the 1400’s, while the Hafsids lasted into the 1500’s. This left the northwest coast of Africa and the Barbary Coast to the adventurers and pirates that haled from Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

The Barbary Coast was a valuable strip of land on the northwest shores of Africa. Spain and Turkey soon realised its potential and began to vie for power. The Turkish approach allowed pirates to set up camp along the coast, and the Ottoman Empire granted them status as protectorates. This first began in Algeria in 1512, then Libya in 1551 and Tunisia in 1574.

France began their own invasion of Algeria (which they termed an intervention) in 1830 and finally succeeded in 1847. Europe decided that they needed to control the Barbary region as there was little order or means of ensuring fair and peaceful exchanges. France became the official protectorate of Tunisia in 1881 and Morocco in 1912. Libya was granted to Italy in 1912.

Meanwhile, Egypt, noted as the Cradle of Mankind and the origin of human life experienced little between the 16th and 19th centuries. Anarchy reigned until Mohammed Ali recovered the true strength of the country in the 1800’s. His descendants were responsible for introducing the western world with its customs and financial systems into this land. Because of the increased viability of Egypt, the British became more involved. This benefitted them enormously as Egypt was the shortest route to India after the Suez Canal was opened in 1869. Britain finally conquered Egypt in 1882 as a result of riots going on within the country, forcing the British troops to take action. Their priority was to protect the Canal. Finally, Egypt won independence in the 1950’s, followed by many of the other North African countries. Algeria was the last of these countries to gain independence in 1962 CE.

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.