Africa Essay Part 2: Does Africa Have a History?
There has been a notion that Africa does not have a history of its own before Europeans came to Africa. Hugh Trevor-Roper made an infamous statement in 1965 proclaiming, “Perhaps, in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at the present there is none, or very little, there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa” (Africa in World History, 3rd edition, Pp. xxi). Although this was a statement in 1965 his notions couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many examples of great societies in Africa that have documented history and have had very advanced societies for their time. There are three societies in particular whose progressive communities have shattered these Aryan model claims of Roper. Great Zimbabwe, Ancient Ghana, and the nations of the Nile Valley have all shown that they have a proper history that is well documented before the arrival of Europeans, thus impeding on the Aryan model that had been used when first coming to Africa.
It is important to understand theories of history to understand why Roper’s statement of Africa having little history before Europeans is wrong. The Aryan model, states that Caucasians are the top of the hierarchy of humans and black people or Africans are the lowest. This model proved to the early Europeans that certain African groups could not have been black because they were advanced and civilized cultures. Vasant states that “The concept of race…was in the 19th and 20th centuries held to be the key not merely to the abilities of a person or group, but an index to the character and potentials of that particular physical type, for all generations past, present and future” (Vasant Kaiwar, “Racism and the Writing of History, Part I,” 1989. Pg. 33). It is more plausible to refer to ancient theory, which states that essentially that Greeks recognized that their roots were in Africa. This model believes that Greece was settled about 1500 B.C.E. by the Egyptians and Phoenicians. The Greeks’ mathematics, governmental system, language, philosophy, writing and religion were all borrowed from African and Semitic sources. By this model this essay should prove that the Aryan model of thought will be invalid.
Great Zimbabwe had a very rich history before any influence of Europeans. There are two theories of the descendants of them, one being that they were part of the Karanga, a branch of the Shona-speaking people. Another is the may be descended from a community that lived less than a hundred miles away from Great Zimbabwe (Story of Africa, Great Zimbabwe). The Great Zimbabwe was prosperous iron-age society and had a wealth generated from cattle. This nation spread from the Limpopo River to the Zambezi. This was a massive area, spilling out into Botswana, Mozambique and northern South Africa. The most famous stone building in southern Africa was made there that is still standing. “The Great Zimbabwe monument is built out of granite which is the parent rock of the region. The building method used was dry-stone walling, demanding a high level of masonry expertise. Some of the site is built round natural rock formations. The actual structure comprises a huge enclosing wall some 20 meters high” (Great Zimbabwe). Throughout this structure there is circular passageways with enclosures for royalty. Many objects are found throughout the structure, which include: battle axes, gold, and shrines. The Great Zimbabwe was an agrarian society; this put all notions of the Aryan model down since it was thought that all Africans were hunter-gatherer societies. The Great Zimbabwe biggest wealth source was cattle and was the center of an international and national commercial system (Great Zimbabwe). This...
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