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About the study of african history.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: About the study of african history.
    Posted: 06-Apr-2007 at 11:31
Hi!!
My first post Smile
 
My question is simple.
There is something that I have seen ocurring alot in studies about africa:
The exclusion of the natives from their own history.
before you start labeling me as an afrocentrist or something, please hear me out.
 
The observation is a simple one. If we take east africas swahili states, their architecture to be more precise. The design was middle eastern influenced but the "enginering" was native. So they had middle eastern influenced architecture. But the craftmanship was "native". Why does it feel like that the craftmanship is downplayed.
I noticed this is a very strong trend. If it has outside influence downplay the "african" part.
 
Well. Perhaps it is me that do not see the whole picture. I am not a scholar. I am just kind of interested in the subject.
Anyway I hope that somebody can answer my question.  
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Apr-2007 at 14:04

You could post this question in the "History of Africa" section. You'll notice there that nobody downplay the history of subsaharan Africa. At least, not in here

 
Pinguin
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  Quote Cywr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2007 at 13:14
Mali rocks for mud buildings.
Arrrgh!!"
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 23:27
Well, I think that there's a couple of things to consider here. If one talks about Byzantine architecture in a place like Italy or Romania, no one talks much about the craftsmen, they just say: this is a byzantine style building, and not "this is a byzantine style building built by Italian or Romanian craftsmen". That is usually not needed.
 
Now, in the case of Africa, this happens to tie in with another element, that of a general disregard for African cultures and achievements, which is a remain of the colonial era. This common omission becomes conspicous in the context of this cultural condescendence, and in one's search to find an African contribution to world civilization. You see, the African cultures which are known in the west, even to most historians, are those who indeed have had extensive influences from Eurasia, or are even considered culturally more Middle-Eastern than African: Egypt, Ethiopia, and even Ghana/Mali/Songhay (which had strong Islamic influences). This led historians as well informed (for the time) and famous as Arnold  Toynbee to remark that out of all major regions, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only one which did not develop an original civilization. The error, while in part due to racism, is also due to the isolation of some African cultures, and most importantly to the lack of work done in the fields of African archeology and history. The African component of the above-mentioned civilizations has been little studied and there's the additonal issues of racism on one side and Afrocentrism on the other, involved. And there's many African cultures and civilizations which have barely been studied at all. I think that another hundred years may need to pass until we have a picture of African history which is as complete as the one we have of European or Asian history, or it may never even happen at all.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 23:54
Well, I don't think Toynbee is wrong.
 
Subsaharan African didn't develop an atonishing original civilization. I don't think that is racism but just stating a fact. Other peoples like the North Central Asian Nomads, the Samis, the Ainus, the Australians, the Amazonians and the Polynesians didn't develop an original civilization either. They developed cultures but not original civilizations.
That doesn't mean they are "inferior" people at all. It is just the way it was.
 
Now, that doesn't mean the Subsaharan Region don't have marvels that are worth to study, starting by Zimbabwe, Eredo and the Ife brozes.
 
Pinguin
 
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2007 at 09:50

I used to believe the exact same thing, penguin, until recently. But I've started to become aware of the lack of proper study in many areas of African civilizations. For instance, Nubia has traditionally been depicted as Egypt's poor cousin, a caricature of its advanced northern neighbor. But recently, a picture emerges which shows Nubia to be just as ancient as Egypt, and nearly as powerful. And what do we really know about the civilizations in Niger's inner delta before the advent of Islam? Not a whole lot, though archeology indicates urbanization in the region dating back to 200BC if not before.

Basically my point is that due to political instability in current Africa, and European attitudes during colonial times, archeology in Africa is not well developed at all, so we can't expect our current level of knowledge to provide us with a complete picture of its history. It is not out of the realm of possibility that somewhere on the continent, a major discovery may be made which could change our whole concept of how African civilizations developed. Look at the Indus valley civilization: it was only in the 1920's that this civilization, arguably the equal of Egypt or Sumer was even discovered. The same might happen in Africa.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2007 at 10:15
Yes, it is possible. For instance, I just recently knew about a network of trails that crossed southern Africa, and that probably contacted the Swahili region with Congo and Niger. There is also the very real probability of influences comming from the Indonesian colones in Madagascar as well.
All this while looking for the origin of the Marimba. I think further studies are needed and I agree with you on that.
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 04:11
Originally posted by pinguin

Well, I don't think Toynbee is wrong.

Subsaharan African didn't develop an atonishing original civilization. I don't think that is racism but just stating a fact. Other peoples like the North Central Asian Nomads, the Samis, the Ainus,the Australians,the Amazonians and the Polynesians didn't develop an original civilization either. They developed cultures but not original civilizations.

That doesn't mean they are "inferior" people at all. It is just the way it was.


Now, that doesn't meanthe Subsaharan Region don't have marvels that are worth to study, starting by Zimbabwe, Eredo and the Ife brozes.


Pinguin




What do you mean that sub-Saharan Africa never developed an original civilization? BS!
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 10:16

Oh no. Once again!

 
 
Sorry Decebal, I leave it now. I going to get concentrated in the history of Americas thread. I know Blacks Olmecs are comming Big%20smile
 
Good luck with your new fellow
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 14:26
The architectural designs found in the Swahili States have been found no place else but there, so they are not Miidle eastern in origin, they are distinctly Swahili. Pinguin, don't set up strawmen arguments to knock down, no on said anything about Black Olmecs.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 15:10
Originally posted by X-Ras

The architectural designs found in the Swahili States have been found no place else but there, so they are not Miidle eastern in origin, they are distinctly Swahili....
 
The Swahili region is a quite interesting culture. If you have more info, just post them.
 
But does them developed large urban complexes before they entered in contact with Arabs and Indonesians?
 
That's the question to answer.
 
Every human group have a culture. Civilization is a term restricted to urban cultures that develop complex architecture, public highways, large regular armies, universities, and things like that, and where large social problems have been solved, and there has been development of specialized skills, formal religion, writing, mathematics, metalurgy, etc. It was a level that was achived without external help in Egypt, Nubia and perhaps Ethiopia in Africa, but that was induced in other places of Africa. For instance, the Kingdoms of West Africa (Mali, Ghana, Sonhai) developed under the influence of Islam.
 
So, the critical question is: does the Swahilli region got a level of complexity enough to be classified as a civilization, without external help?
 
 
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  Quote Tk101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 15:39
X-ras.. i think i have heard of you before on another thread...but i tend to go with the idea that sometime in the future when people get over their bais behavior...  more pieces of the puzzle known as african history wil appear... who knows what kinds of things they will discover... there could be large urban expanse under the ocean of sand in the Sahara or even in the central rain forests... i believe last year or using satelite imagery they discovered ruins of city in either south america of in africa..i forget which...My memory of it is hazed right now...
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 16:18
Originally posted by pinguin

Originally posted by X-Ras

The architectural designs found in the Swahili States have been found no place else but there, so they are not Miidle eastern in origin, they are distinctly Swahili....


The Swahili region is a quite interesting culture. If you have more info, just post them.


But does them developed large urban complexes before they entered in contact with Arabs and Indonesians?


That's the question to answer.


Every human group have a culture. Civilization is a term restricted to urban cultures that develop complex architecture, public highways, large regular armies, universities, and things like that, and where large social problems have been solved, and there has been development of specialized skills, formal religion, writing, mathematics, metalurgy, etc. Itwas a level that was achived without external help in Egypt, Nubia and perhaps Ethiopia in Africa, but that was induced in other places of Africa. For instance, the Kingdoms of West Africa (Mali, Ghana, Sonhai) developed under the influence of Islam.


So, the critical question is: does the Swahilli region got a level of complexity enough to be classified as a civilization, without external help?



Pinguin


Civilization wasn't introduced to those West African kingdoms. Islam played a part only in trade and in the wealth and influence of the Upperclass, but most of the citizens were *NOT* Muslims themselves. Islam is only a religion, nothing more. Urbanism in West Africa *PRECEDES* Islam, the same with the Swahili states. If you ever the Peripulus of the Erytherean Sea you would know that coastal rding cities existed before Islam. The information is there to be found just search.


As for influence, Greece and Rome received influences from the Near East so are they less of a civilization because of this? No. Interaction and trade enriches a civilization, it doesn't dilute it.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 21:49
Originally posted by X-Ras

...
Civilization wasn't introduced to those West African kingdoms. Islam played a part only in trade and in the wealth and influence of the Upperclass, but most of the citizens were *NOT* Muslims themselves. Islam is only a religion, nothing more. Urbanism in West Africa *PRECEDES* Islam, the same with the Swahili states. If you ever the Peripulus of the Erytherean Sea you would know that coastal rding cities existed before Islam. The information is there to be found just search.


As for influence, Greece and Rome received influences from the Near East so are they less of a civilization because of this? No. Interaction and trade enriches a civilization, it doesn't dilute it.
 
Writing was introduced by Muslims, ship building Arab style was introduced by Muslims. Madrasas (centers of learning or universities) where introduced by them as well, together with libraries.  Even more, West African Kindoms developed thanks to transaharan commerce, particularly of gold, salt, ivory and slaves.
 
So, there was a link between that region and the outside world, from which influences travelled. That's why many historians don't agree that those kingdoms represent a local civilization but more a variation of the Mediterranean civilizations, spreaded by Islam.
 
Nothing wrong with that. There are quite a few places that are considered original civilization: China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Mesoamerica and Peru are the places usually mentioned and no more. For instance, Greece is not considered original either, but derivated of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, through Crete. Rome is even more detached from being original.
 
The celtic and germanic peoples of Northern Europe are not considered the creators of a civilization either. They developed interesting cultures but not civilizations.
 
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  Quote Tk101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 00:10
hmm so far this tread has been interesting... i think to take it to the next level by adding sources for claims...this sources of course would have to be acceptable....
and Pinguin nice stunt on biodiversity forum....
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 00:39
Originally posted by Tk101

...
and Pinguin nice stunt on biodiversity forum....
 
How do you like it?
 
I hope you agreed with me LOL
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  Quote Tk101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 19:21

lol..i laughed at the whole thing...but you shouldn't battle against Bayou. he seems to know what he's talking about...but i can't say i perticularly agree with what you said though...

 
I also  though about the reasons why civilization didn't come about in certain places around the world. Perhaps for some of africa's cultures perhaps we can list reasons towards  SOME cultures on the continent didn't develop into states.... i know in general for the central and tropical regions... the local populous had to deal with living  away from water ,which is one of the main catalysts to civilization.Bodies of waters in tropical regions usually have an abondance of life and that includes mosquitos with malaria... From memory i can observe that not many civilizations sprang up in any of the worlds tropical forest regions...but i due recall 1 or 2 coming about in central rain forest region...
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 21:16
Look, I believe all humans are equaly smart. Some were lucky enough in developing civilizations and others were not. In the case of Africa I admire the arts of Subsaharan Africa, the architecture of Zimbabwe and people like the Zulu warriors that defeated the British army once.
 
However, I don't like people think the Moors belong to Subsaharan Africa, because they don't. Now, Bayou could know a lot about Africa but I doubt he knows as much as I do about Spain, that's my culture.
 
We know the Moors, TK101, because they are part of the genetic pool of Spain even today. Millions of Spaniards today look like theirs fellows across
the Gibraltar Strait. Most Kabyles can pass for Spaniards without problem, for instance. They were the Moors of Spain, and they are still called Moor in Spain. No matter than Spaniards also called Moor to any Muslim.
 
So, when someone want to "teach me" or "revealing me" Spain's history I get upset. For that they should have read the "Mio Cid", The works of Henry X the Wise, and all what I do know about Spain. After all, most of my ancestors came from there.
 
That's it :)
 
Pinguin
 
 
 
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  Quote Tk101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 09:33
hmm
 Pingiun
I tend to agree with most of waht you said. sometimes things aren't always what they seem... all becuase people look like you does that mean that they are genetically similar to you? if what you say is true...would it be safe to say that most spainish are N. African variants?
also is their something wrong with NAfrians Moors being related to SSA's? they have been both on the continent for thousands of years so..it is only to be expected that they would be related... also what does it matter if MOors were mixed or not?
also now that i think about it...when ever we would quote genetic tests and such...do we as laymen REALLY understand whats is being stated and also can what the scientist say is trust worthy?
 
 also what was the reason why after the 12th century, iberia had the most advanced kindgoms in Europe?
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 09:55

Actually tk101, I would say that Iberia had the most advanced kingdoms in Europe before the 12th century, and not after. The fundamentalist Almoravids and Almohads snuffed out the cultural brilliance of Al-Andalus. It was during the Ummayad Caliphate of Cordoba and even during the Taifas states that the so-called Moors in Spain were at the peak of their culture. The reasons are numerous and it's a lengthy discussion, but suffice to say that Islam was more advanced scientifically and culturally than Western Europe until about the 12th century, when Europe started to catch up. By the 16th, Western Europe was clearly ahead of Islam in most respects.

On an added note, some of the moors, specifically the Al-Murabit, or Almoravids, did come from Sub-Sharan Africa, as opposed to the Maghreb. They started out as a warrior monk group in the Senegal valley, before they conquered the Maghreb and Al-Andalus.

What is history but a fable agreed upon?
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Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.- Mohandas Gandhi

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