West African Presence in the New World

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Chérise Bacchus
Lower 6
Mrs. Chung
History Essay

TOPIC: Discuss the evidence of a West African presence prior to 1492 in the New World West Africans’ presence in the New World, prior Christopher Columbus, has always been downgraded, simply because historians and teachers have failed for years to recognize their actual existence in the Americas. Individuals must pay homage to dedicated historians, such as: Ivan Van Sertima, Leo Wiener and Alexander Van Wuthenau; they have proven that Africans were actually present in the New World prior to 1492 through research on Africans’ immigration in the New World, either through tangible or non-tangible evidence. The first of the two is shown through visible witnesses; first-hand and archaeological encounters, Negroid physiognomy, radio-carbon dates, seacraft and oceanography, botany and the influence of African and Egyptian cultural history. The latter is demonstrated through the study of philology. Sertima said in his book, ‘They Came Before Columbus’, With respect to the visible witnesses, there were two instances: first hand and archaeological encounters. The first hand encounters were actually the findings of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Fray Gregoria Garcia and the Spanish.

Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, a Spanish explorer, discovered an African presence in Darien on 25th September, 1513. Darien is a term previously referred to the Isthmus of Panama and Balboa was there on the basis for gold. Based on advice by the son of the Indian cacique, Comogre, and the Native Indians, he ventured further south past the sierra de Quarequa mountains by the Mal de Sur and came across black war captives among an Indian settlement. These were described as tall, black men of ‘military bearing’, who were in war with neighbouring Natives. According to Lopez de Gomara in ‘Historia de Mexico’, “These were the first Negroes that had been seen in the Indies.” Fray Gregoria Garcia reiterates this point through his own personal discovery of ‘New World Negroes’ off Cartagena, Columbia, where the Spanish also found them. His discovery also noted that the black war captives were among the Indians. Peter Martyr, the first historian of America, writes that the Spanish discovered these black men in the same province of Darien and but there were Negro pirates from Ethiopia, who stayed in the sierra de Quarequa mountains after a shipwreck. These were some of the historians valid information since these factors actually saw the Africans in the Americas first-hand leaving no doubt about their presence.

Another visible witness was the many discoveries of Negroid relics and artifacts, from the statuettes, American Indian gods with negroid physical features, Negroid terra-cottas, Negroid heads to the Negroid skeletons.

Historians found lifelike portraitures of Negro-Africans made of clay, gold and stone extracted in pre-Columbia strata in South and Central America. They were Negro-Egyptian remains found around 800-700 B.C. in the center of Mexico. One of the remains dating as far back as the early pre-Classic period, a woman, had a striking resemblance to the ebony head of the Egyptian queen, Tiy, the Negroid mother of Tutankhamen. What made it seem African was its hairstyle, similar facial characteristics as Africans and its expression. Another was some clay figures made by the Indians imitating the African features. Some of the features had been distorted such as prognathism, but some came close such as the: dense, kinky Negroid hair, the goatee beard not identified on the American Indians, and heavy ear pendants, a recognized West African culture. Other artifacts found that had African traits were the gods moulded by the Mayans and the Aztecs, whom they worshipped because of their black ceremonious colour, similar to their own gods. These gods were: Tezcatilpoca- an Aztec god, Naualpilli- a Mexican god of jewelers and Eku-chu-ah- the Mayan god of travellers. Another factor showing African traits were the...
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