Africa Before Slavery
AFRICA BEFORE SLAVERY; Africa’s History did not start with Slavery
Africa’s history did not begin in slavery, and despite the peculiarity, horror, and duration of enslavement of Africans, slavery occupies a minor time-frame
Beyond cotton fields and civil rights in the 120,000 years of African history (0.5% of African history). In the last 50 years much has been done to combat the false and negative views about the history of Africa and Africans, which were developed in Europe in order to justify the Transatlantic Slave Trade and European colonial rule in Africa that followed it. Unfortunately the Eurocentric take on Africa and Eurocentric linguistics has distorted how some African scholars see Africa. Even those claiming to be progressive, discuss Africa as history’s perceptual victim—without any agency. Relegated to a simple disparaging color—black or Negroid, without even the ability to define anything in reality—even one’s self. But this is how they made Africans into slaves. By destroying/fracturing/interrupting that connection to Africa’s great past, and because there is no connection Africans globally have accepted being thugs and ho*es in someone else’s society. Pimps and dealers as opposed to Sultans and Kings. Builders of drug networks as opposed to builders of civilization. After all “education” shows Africa as nothing more than a primitive place over run by cannibal savages.
Many people have this view of Africa sitting still and being imposed on from outside. They forget that Africa was an active trade partner with Arabia, and China. There is even a special section in Israel for Orthodox Christian Ethiopian monks for 100’s of years for when they make pilgrimage. Africans have been to China before the European— not as slaves—but as partners. Africans discovered Europe before Europe “discovered” us (Islamic Spain etc). History, right now, needs to be put into perspective.
Many have been draining the African historical record by boxing in what is, and what does not constitutes an authentic African experience. Eurocentric terminologies place certain concepts outside of the African domain with this habit of “tribalizing” Africa; dark, pagan, licentious, unorganized, base and emotive. The legacy of washing out Africa’s historical record can be summed up by the racist words of the Scottish philosopher David Hume:
“I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences”.
‘”In the nineteenth century the German philosopher Hegel simply declared ‘ Africa is no historical part of the world. ‘ This openly racist view, that Africa had no history, was repeated by Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of History at Oxford University , as late as 1963. The legacy of the African Holocaust has made a profound affect on African studies, where the default attitude is to deny African have contributed anything to what is considered civilization. Africans are playing on a chessboard where all the pieces are white. The volumes of publish works by the Hitler’s of the African Holocaust is impossible for Africans to gain any foothold and authorities stance in their history.” So Ethiopia is a great civilization so it must be “outside of African origin”, Great Zimbabwe, Ancient Egypt, Moorish (Islamic Spain) are categorically denied as having anything African in them.
Africa produced a plethora of advanced civilizations. The most notable of these is the Nile Valley civilization From 3,000 BCE (founding of the First Dynasty), all the way until it was conquered by Persia around 525 BCE. So about 2,500 years. This was followed by the great civilizations of Axum and D’mt, and later by the great Islamic civilizations of the Sahel (Mali, Songhai, and the last in the later Sokoto). The famous Hajj of Mansa Musa in the 13th century was so profound it altered the currency of every country he passed through with his entourage. Later the Sokoto Caliphate is an Islamic spiritual community in Northern Nigeria, led by the Sultan of Sokoto . It was founded during the Fulani War in 1809 by Usman dan Fodio. Throughout the 1800s, it was one of the largest and most powerful empires in sub-Saharan Africa until British conquest in 1903.
Despite the new wave of myths regarding Nubia and Kemet (Ancient Egypt) It is clear that Kemet and Nubia were neighboring African Civilizations just as Aksum and Nubia. Difference does’t mean Nubia was a ‘black race’ and Kemet wasn’t. Both groups were ethnic groups of indigenous African origin. The ethnic differences were no more significant than Ethiopians versus Kenyans. The largest empire in Ancient African history was the Songhai empire with its iconic leader Askia. The Aksum empire was the 3rd largest African empire at 1.25 million sq km. In the sixth century, the kingdom of Aksum (Axum) was doing what many elsewhere had been doing: pursuing trade and empire. Its exports of ivory, glass crystal, brass and copper items, and perhaps slaves, among other things, had brought prosperity to the kingdom.
The people of Africa’ is more than a name, it is linked to indigenous rights and issues of sovereignty. ‘Blackness’ fails at every level in both the historical and political context. Africans are the natural people of Africa: The hair, the skin, are all specific adaptations to living in the African landscape. The Motherland of these adaptations and the cultures is primarily Africa; hence the relevance of the name.
Black history is the history of enslavement, African history is the history of humanity. If there are no White people, could there be Black people? For over 40,000 years there were only native people of Africa on the planet, and since there were no “White” people there could not have been Black people, since everyone would have been “Black.” And if all the “White people” vanished from the Earth, would the remaining “Black” people still be Black? So the older group must define itself relative to the European newcomers? Would it not make far more logical, historically, linguistically, and social to describe people by their land of origin. Negro = Negroid = Colored = Nigger = Black (all associated with color, none are connected to a continent). Now compare this to Asiatic, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid (all are tied to land, all can be located on a map– but not so Negroid/Black). Black and White are therefore debunked as regressive incomplete terms for describing people. For all of recorded history we see in every conflict a central theme — that of “land.” So critical as humans need land to grow crops on, to source water from (see Golan Heights), they need a place to build cities and a place to harvest mineral wealth from. So attaching your identity to land makes sense: Attaching your identity to an abstract color, does not. Black and African are not interchangeable in any logical sense.
For the vast civilizations that existed in Africa. Christianity existed in Ethiopia long before there was the “Church of England”. Islam existed in Africa before it even reached outside of what is today the hinterland of Saudi Arabia. Libraries and universities existed in Islamic cities such as Timbuktu, where advance mathematics and astrology were studied. In Ethiopia for 100s of years the Kebra Negast was written in the only surviving African native script Ge’ez. Ethiopia was the only African nation to actively repel colonialism and is one of the world oldest continuous civilizations.
Africa has always been part of the Biblical, Jewish and Islamic world. It was a common site to see Ethiopians in Rome or anywhere in the “known” world. Modern day Israel was also a site for Ethiopian pilgrimage and Mecca was for Muslim Africa. The historical trip of Kanka Musa was said to alter the economy of every state he passed through on his way to Mecca. So the story of Africa we are still clinging to is Victim Victim Victim. Mansa Musa clearly and utterly demonstrates not only that Africans were powerful, but also international. Mansa Musa remains the only man in recorded history to singularly control the gold value of the entire Mediterrian and was one of the richest men in history.
Some of the most notable civilizations in human history come out of the Nile Valley in Africa, of these we know KMT (Ancient Egypt) and Nubia. Still today Western historians, as in the past, have tried to deny the African identity of these kingdoms,
which are geographically located in Africa. Yet no one has seriously said Greece was not a European civilization, or Ancient China was not an Asian civilization. So this double standard is the legacy of the white washing of Africa history to satisfy the myth that Africa is outside of humanity, civilization and thus suitable for harvest by more advanced nations.
The denial of African agency has had a profound impact on how the world sees general history in the context of the African agent. Christian history is African history (Aksum ). The history of World civilizations is the history of Africa. The history of Islam is the history of Africa (1st Hijirah, Sokoto, Islamic Spain), you cannot divorced one from the other. The history of humanity is an African history.
History and development didn’t happen in isolation of African agency. Slavery and Colonialism did victimized Africans but Africans are not histories perpetual victims. Africans in antiquity had agency and made conscious choices which contributed to the development of humanity. In Aksum the course that Ezna took to make Christianity the state religion was based on his sovereign agency.
Regardless of orientation, to believe Africans have been on the receiving any of other people’s whims is to deny African human agency. Agency swings both ways and as much as it holds us accountable it also defines our station in civilization.