Did you know that the African continent had precolonial states?
According to National geographic, before colonial rule there were up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs on the African continent.
As the continent was colonised, boundaries, which mostly are the reason behind the geography of the countries we know today, were created by pretty much dividing the land geometrically, disregarding the established cultural and linguistic boundaries already established by the existing African populations, each European colonial state getting its share.
Now let’s rewind a bit: imagine if Africans took over Europe and decided to share it based on a grid division. When hot blooded Italians and “by the book” Germans have to be one and the same people, I wonder how well the European union would work… Besides, there was nothing much to get from europe at the time for Africans to bother.
Given that Africa and its 54 or so countries (30 415 873 km2) is about 3 times bigger than Europe and its 50 or so countries including European russia (10 392 855 km2), let’s not even go there.
And there I was, wondering why it takes so many wars and trouble to sort things out…
Now let’s take the gloves off, let’s get into the recent history of it all: Where did the savages all come from?
Divide and conquer
When Europeans arrived on the African continent, they quickly understood that these lands held tremendous value and and potential to help them decentralized Europe, allowing them to live more peaceful and comfortable lives.
In order to weaken the existing socio-political systems, it is thought that they applied the 3 common tactics of any occupant forces:
1. Exile, kill or get rid of the strongest and smartest and breed the weakest links
2. Loot the locality and spread poverty;
3. Impose your ways and showcase them as the best way.
To achieve this in the best possible manner, African leaders and their successors were exterminated and slavery deported over a dozen million of the best people of Africa, killing millions in the process.
Imagine if suddenly, all the bright minds, inventors, white and blue collars, farmers, artists and artisans, scientists and leaders were all removed from America and all and any sign of the American dream and knowledge was completely destroyed.
Who will be left as a witness for their descendants? What will be left for their younger generations to see? How will they evolve on what their forefathers have created from centuries of mistakes and lessons learned? How will they learn greatness from being immersed in greatness?
This heritage destruction may be what threw the continent into the abyss it is still trying to recover from today.
Indeed, this chapter in African history may have inspired some to learn from what they saw perpetuated by those who seemed to win: greed, selfishness and pity.
You don’t exist, you don’t matter. It’s that simple
We are all humans. And sometimes as humans, greed takes over and it seems that we are ready to go to the greatest lengths to get what we want.
During the European scramble for Africa, the Terra Nullius law was the main tool used to justify the horrible actions being perpetrated. This simply because Terra Nullius was (and still is) a law used in international law to describe a territory which has never belonged to anyone or that no one has claimed as theirs.
So either Europeans didn’t see there were established societies living on the continent (which I highly doubt) or they decided to consider that these Africans were in fact not human.
Given that the colonial trips were funded by European leaders, it probably didn’t’ take much to alter the Terra Nullius law to include land inhabited by “savages and uncivilized people”.
As they witnessed the wealth, resourcefulness, organization, respectfulness and intelligence of these “savages and uncivilized people”, they realized the script required an adaptation for the movie to be believable.
It was imperative to get rid of any evidence against savagery and lack of civilization.
Exterminating any sign of the greatness of those kingdoms was a no brainer.
It was time to put an almost diabolic wit to great use and loot, burn, kill and destroy any sign of eminence. This went as far as displaying some of these dark skinned creatures and their dead bodies in zoos and museums to satisfy people’s curiosity and defy any skeptic.
This was for the greater good of (European) humanity.
After African civilisations were left weakened and on their knees, their dignity destroyed and their wealth stolen, it was time to offer them assistance… Better: it was time to save them from themselves.
This apparent sign of redemption would bring the Africans back to their senses and help them join the ranks of humanity through submission.
Indeed, as African countries were trying to get their independence, most Europeans still believed in the natural savagery, lack of intelligence and inferiority of African peoples.
The more an African would display features that would fit that stigma, the more he or she would be appreciated in their dominating society.
Many individuals, including the renowned Senegalese scholar Cheick Anta Diop, admit having played the game in order to fit in and get the resources that would allow them to move forward.
Today, many are working hard for the African continent and its people to get back on their feet and take pride; to gain more confidence and put their knowledge and creativity to good use; to encourage the small victories and polish the image of the continent; to remember their history and to apply their rich ancestral knowledge for an even brighter future.
This black history month, know that your forefathers were not the savages, remember that the African continent was, and still is, home to greatness.
All this research definitely helped boost my confidence and motivation for my birthplace and I hope you find your breath of fresh air in it. If you’ve enjoyed it, please share and help us spread this tiny piece of history. As they say, as long as lions will not have their own historians, hunting tales will always tell the glory of the hunter. I think our historians need a voice, a microphone and speakers to tell it all.
I know there’s a lot more where that came from so if you know somethings we should know, share the knowledge! – please feel free to use the comments section or start a debate on social media!
For more on the history of the African continent…
I have a good resource to recommend:
General history of Africa by UNESCO (written by African historians and with a defined proprietary African methodology, this publication has 8 volumes and counting):
If you’re not a reader, check out the videos of
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