03-14-09, 12:47 AM #1
Homework essay help Was Africa a place without a historyThe essay is basically about was Anchient Africa mostly uncivilized. I did some research and what comes up directly contradicts the next thing that comes up and I don't know who is right.
"If (all types of men) are taken, from the first, and one placed after another, like the Negro from Zanzibar, in the Southern-most countries, the Negro does not differ from an animal in anything except the fact that his hands have been lifted from the earth -in no other peculiarity or property - except for what God wished. Many have seen that the ape is more capable of being trained than the Negro, and more intelligent."
Philosopher-theologian Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201-74), Tasawwurat (Rawdat al-taslim)
"Everybody agrees that there is no people on earth in whom generosity is as universally well developed as the Zanj. These people have a natural talent for dancing to the rhythm of the tambourine, without needing to learn it. There are no better singers anywhere in the world, no people more polished and eloquent, and no people less given to insulting language. No other nation can surpass them in bodily strength and physical toughness. They are the sons and daughters of the sun which has made them so black. One of them will lift huge blocks and carry heavy loads that would be beyond the strength of most Bedouins or members of other races. They are courageous, energetic, and generous, which are the virtues of nobility, and also good-tempered and with little propensity to evil. They are always cheerful, smiling, and devoid of malice, which is a sign of noble character. "
"We (Ethiopians in this case) have conquered the country of the Arabs as far as Mecca and have governed them. We defeated Dhu Nowas (Jewish King of Yemen) and killed all the Himyarite princes, but you, White people, have never conquered our country. Our people, the Zenghs (Blacks of Africa's East Coast) revolted forty times in the Euphrates, driving the inhabitants from their homes and making Oballah a bath of blood. [...] Blacks are physically stronger than no matter what other people. A single one of them can lift stones of greater weight and carry burdens such as several Whites could not lift nor carry between them. [...] They are brave, strong, and generous as witness their nobility and general lack of wickedness. [...] The Blacks say to the Arabs, 'A sign of your barbarity is that when you were pagans you considered us your equals as regards the women of your race. After your conversion to Islam, however, you thought otherwise. Despite this the deserts swarm with the number of our men who married your women and who became chiefs and defended you against your enemies'.
Al Jahiz"[the people of Iwalatan in West Africa] were generous to me and entertained me...and as for their women -- they are extremely beautiful and are more important than the men..."
Ibn Battuta, 14th century"[Blacks] are ugly and misshapen, because they live in a hot country."
Baghdadi geographer Ibn Qutayba (828-89 A.D.)The Zanj say to the Arabs: You are so ignorant that during the jahiliyya (the times of ignorance ) you regarded us as your equals when it came to marrying Arab women, but with the advent of the justice of Islam you decided this practice was bad. Yet the desert is full of Zanj married to Arab wives, and they have been princes and kings and have safeguarded your rights and sheltered you against your enemies.
The Zanj also say : We also have philosophers from among us as well as theologians and we have fine manners. God may he be exalted , did not make them black in order to disfigure them; rather it is their environment that made them soThey say: You have never seen the genuine Zanj. You have only seen captives who came from the coasts and forests and valleys of Qanbuluh, from our menials, our lower orders, and our slaves. The people of Qanbaluh have neither beauty nor intelligence. Qanbaluh is the name of the place by which your ships anchor.
The natives in the Bilad Zanj are in both Qambalu (Pemba) and Lunjuya (Unguja), just as Arabs are the descendants of Adnan and Qahtan in the Middle East.
You have yet to see a member of the Langawiya kind, either from the coast (al-Sawahil), or from the interior (al-Jouf). If you would meet these, you would forget the issue of fair looks and perfection. Now if you refuse to believe this, saying that you have yet to meet a Zanji with the brains even of a boy or a woman, we would reply to you, have you ever met among the enslaved of India and Sindh individuals with brains, education, culture and manners so as to expect these same qualities in what has fallen to you from among the Zanj..
So with some people ancient historians with different opinions who is right ?
03-14-09, 01:45 AM #2
I am not one to interfere with a homework assignment, but if the topic is "Was Africa a place without a history" then I suspect the topic is framed in a way that is supposed to compel yuou to answer "Africa has a history."
First, every place has a history, even if it is only a geological history, so the absurdity of the topic leads me to conclude that it is trying to force a particular answer. If the topic were "The history of subsaharan Africa had little impact on the development of modern culture" that might be less suggestive.
Second, I don't think the goal is to utterly ignor or disprove any sources. If there are sources onm both sides, you present both sides. In this particular case you have to ask whether the "pro-history" commentators are making facts up, or if the "anti-history" arguers are. Assuming there is emotion and bias on both sides, you try to boil down the "facts" being asserted. Some asserted "facts" will prove untenably biased, like "Negroes are like animals." All men are animals for heavens' sakes.
On the other hand, it seems likely that Zanj do dance and play instruments (including the tambourine). The Ethiopians may or may not have fought (or defeated) the Dhu Nowas, but in both cases those seem to be facts (or not) capable of independent investigation. You can distill some facts from these narratives and see if they can be independently corroborated. (Note though that if the topic of your paper were on the pervasiveness of racism, for example, then those statements of opinion are themselves strong (and primary) evidence. The nature of what you are looking for is a factor in determining how credible you should find a given source.)
Most likely the point of the assignment is to parse through the sources in this way to demonstrate how you analyze them and why you feel some sources are superior to others. The reasons you favor some sources over others should then be clearly stated for the reader.
Once you have established why certain sources are credible and others not (in your view, at least; objectively speaking, there is no right or wrong) you can then apply the credible sources to the overarching question of the paper.
03-14-09, 09:14 AM #3
03-15-09, 12:08 AM #4
Northern Africa has a different history than the rest of Africa as Northern Africa was home to Carthage/Phoenicia and Egypt. The rest of Africa seems to have been inhabited by two types of black peoples. The traditional tribal ones and a nomadic people called the San who lived in small hunter groups and used poisoned arrows. The movie The God's Must be Crazy gets into the differences a bit.
03-15-09, 09:50 AM #5
Fortunately, some of the blanks can be filled in by painstaking research
03-15-09, 02:36 PM #6
Historians make a distinction between History -- based on the written record -- and Archaeology -- based on the interpretation of artefacts. This is what comes to my mind when I read the title of the required essay.
Writing began in the Middle East, including Egypt -- which country has almost more history than anywhere else. However, much of Africa is devoid of indigenous written records, so we have only the impressions of outsiders: Arab traders until the 15th Century, and then European explorers and colonists. One may say, therefore, that there is an historical void in regard to Africa that does not exist in Europe or Asia.
03-15-09, 03:37 PM #7
Ethiopia was an ancient litterate society witrh a long history - one of the oldest christian churches and empires. Nubia southern egypt and sudan a very old civilisation too
03-16-09, 08:28 PM #8
The Phoenicians were a Semitic people (related to the Canaanites) from western Asia. They were great seafarers who traded throughout the Mediterranean. Roman legends say that Carthage was founded by Phoenicians but I don't think this has been determined with certainty. The city was obliterated so many times that it's hard to find any evidence to analyze.
Mesopotamia was the first civilization and is a couple of thousand years older than Egypt.However, much of Africa is devoid of indigenous written records, so we have only the impressions of outsiders: Arab traders until the 15th Century, and then European explorers and colonists. One may say, therefore, that there is an historical void in regard to Africa that does not exist in Europe or Asia.
03-17-09, 08:00 AM #9
Appeal to relativism! The natives didn't think they were barbarous or uncivilized, therefore they weren't! Essay finished!
If it needs to be longer I suggest looking up relativism and writing about how that came about.
03-17-09, 06:08 PM #10
- Agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution was the precursor to civilization. The cultivation of crops (farming, one half of agriculture) both required and permitted formerly nomadic hunter-gatherers to build permanent settlements, learn to live in harmony and cooperation with people outside their immediate families, and develop technologies that utilized or created artifacts too large or pointless to carry.
- Cities. True civilization is, literally, "city-building," and it required us to make the final evolution away from our primate lifestyle: learning to live in harmony and cooperation with strangers. We overcame (imperfectly and with considerable backsliding) our pack-social instinct and began making the transition to a herd-social species.
- Massive economies of scale, intricate division of labor, and major surplus production of goods and services. These three phenomena reinforce each other, and none can occur in a village. They make specialization possible so we have full-time professional shoemakers, roofers and blacksmiths. The resulting extra food and other basic goods and services make it possible for some of us to be full-time professional teachers, artists, scientists, pastry chefs and musicians.
- Elaborate social hierarchy. When people who may not even be acquainted with each other must cooperate to produce things that will be used in the future (and perhaps used to produce other things), planning and management become full-time professions. Whether leadership is elected, inherited, assigned by ability or seized by force, somebody has to do it--in multiple levels.
03-17-09, 06:26 PM #11
03-17-09, 06:27 PM #12
03-27-09, 11:26 AM #13
Zimbabwe was certainly a city. But like Athens, Rome, Carthage, London, Paris, etc., the technology of civilization (literally "the building of cities") was probably imported rather than invented independently. Technologies are composed primarily of ideas and therefore they travel easily. That would make it an outpost of one of the earth's original six civilizations, rather than adding a seventh to the list.
04-03-09, 06:46 AM #14
African civilisations have always been at a disadvantage because no one actually wrote anything about them in a romantic sense... therefore no one ever went looking for their remains.
Ask yourself what inspired Schliemann to go looking for Troy.
Was it natural curiosity, or curiosity inspired by Homer?
04-03-09, 07:10 AM #15
Consider the importance and impact of written language upon civilisation, and then factor in prejudice with regard to written records and "history".
In terms of pure size and influence, does anyone actually know what role "Zimbabwe" played in the history of Africa and what led to its eventual demise?
Does anyone actually know when it arose to begin with, or even consider that it is one of the very few African cities we have any knowledge of at all?
Uruk came and went within the course of a thousand years or so... and possibly only died as a result of the effect of environmental destruction. We have even less information regarding the rise of Zimbabwe.
We can only surmise as to the what led to the demise of Uruk through surviving written records. We can only surmise what led to the fall of Catal Hoyuk. These conclusions are conjecture, at best.
Without writing we have very little to go on.
04-13-09, 03:08 AM #16
Parts of ancient Africa was very civilized .... north Africa had the Egyptian pharaonic empire ...later that area was under greek influence ( Ptolemais, one of Alexander the great`s generals took over ) .... and then it became roman after the fall of Cleopatra , the western parts of north Africa was under the phoenicians and later the romans .... later under the vandals ... and then under the byzantines .......
Further down Ethiopia was an ancient superpower ....... with civilization, coinage, written language , religion and a big army .... controlling adjacent countries including part of Arabia and traded with India .....
Benin had old civilizations as did Zimbabwe ..........
04-20-09, 10:41 PM #17
Keep an eye out for misleading accounts by Afrocentrist's (a common one is that the Egyptians were black). A good book on this is 'Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History' by Mary Lefkowitz.
04-20-09, 11:19 PM #18
Africa was home of many advanced civilizations before white people came and destroyed them, leading to the myth of Africans as uncivilized barbarians.
04-20-09, 11:43 PM #19
04-21-09, 06:54 AM #20
I spent 6 months traveling in Africa and found an interesting idea there. North of the Sahara I got the impression that the people there did not consider themselves a part of Africa, but of the Mediterranean. The people south of the Sahara considered the area north of the desert not a part of Africa.
A lack of a written record in sub-Saharan Africa makes an understanding of the area all the more difficult. The ransacking of much of Great Zimbabwe has made that site also difficult to understand. I was there and spent the better part of a day hiking around. It is a pretty place although not made by aliens as Von Daniken claimed.
As we can see from the posts so far the word barbarian is being used to refer to 'the other side'. I too would be wary of the Afro-Centric claims. There is no pan-African culture.
Africa is a huge continent with the largest sand dune areas in the world, the longest river in the world, and fabulous places to visit. History is another question. Human history is written. Most areas of Africa did not write a history. One of the interesting issues to write about might be the rock art of the Hoggar mountains.
Here is a link to get you started:
Although this is not a typical written language it does record information about the past.
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