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03.02 Big Picture Africa: Honors Assessment
Transcript of 03.02 Big Picture Africa: Honors Assessment
Axum (Askum) is located north of Ethiopia. The origins of Axum are from indigenous African people. Axumite kings developed their own currency and were known to use coins by the third century CE. They also used their own language known as Ge’ez. All official records were maintained in this language. The Axumite masons were very famous for building churches, palaces, and tombs. Axumites built obelisks as a political status. They were markings (graves) of important kings and queens. Axumite kingdom reached the peak of its power in the sixth century AD. The Islamic kingdoms nearby invaded Axum and it affected the trade in the Red Sea. Axum trading was one of the greatest in the ancient world. The merchandises of trade were ivory, gold, and many spices between Arabia, Egypt, India and the Romans. After the Muslims’ invasion, Axum was cut off of trading goods. The economy collapsed. Before the fourth century CE, the local people were mostly indigenous pagans. Missionaries spread Christianity. Some still believed that Menelik (King Solomon’s son), brought the Ark of the Covenant that contains the Ten Commandments to Axum. Nowadays, Christianity and Islam are the main religions in this region. Obelisks of Axum were made out of stone. They were tombs beautifully carved, and is one of the most important landmarks of Axum.
The Kingdom of Axum was important because the maritime trade in the Red Sea between Ancient India and the Roman Empire in addition to their naval power. The obelisks are also cultural landmarks that they are in need to be protected and preserve. They are over three hundred around modern Axum (Ethiopia).
Great Zimbabwe is located in the southeast region of the African continent. The name Zimbabwe means “stone houses” in Bantu. The first inhabitants were Shona (Bantu) speaking people that migrate there due to the good natural resources (soil). Mostly the people were farmers and cattleperson. The social class was divided by peasants taking care of the cattle and their owners. Cattle were considered more important than some people. The stone houses were built for the kings and the elite social class.The rich and powerful cattle owners and merchants ruled Great Zimbabwe between the 11th and 15th centuries CE. The kingdom became famous due to the impressive architecture made out of stone. After the 15th century CE, the city’s trade declined and people left Great Zimbabwe. The kingdom traded precious metals such as gold, iron and copper. The farmers traded grains and cattle too. Great Zimbabwe controlled the trade routes to the Indian Ocean.It is most certain that the people of Great Zimbabwe worshipped Mwari, a supreme god in the Shona (Bantu) religion. Mwari had powers over rainmaking, sickness, and agricultural fertility. Great Zimbabwe National Monument is divided into three groups: the Hill Ruins, the Great Enclosure and the Valley Ruins. The houses were made out of granite for the rich people and the kings & queens.
The conservation of these architectural structures is very important. They are a living proof of a lost civilization, a place of spiritual worship, and an amazing artistic accomplishment.
The Kingdom of Kongo is located in the west central Africa. The Bantu people migrated and mixed with the natives. The locals learned the Bantu ways of farming and culture (religion and Kikongo language). The pastoral tribes gathered here in need of more land for the herds and flocks. The social classes were very well-established. People were farmers, miners and craftsmen. The king (the royals) were the highest among society.The first king or “manikongo” was Lukeni Lua Nimi. He won against a local ruler named Lukeni Lua Nimi. After the king’s dead, his brotherMbokani Mavinga replaced him. Kongo had seven kingdoms. The Portuguese invaded the Kongo and it became the main source of the slavery trading. The kingdom of Kongo became famous for the trading of textiles. They also traded precious metals (gold and copper), cattle and pottery. Fish became an important trade too since the proximity of several rivers and the ocean. They were several gods within the kingdom. One of them was Nzambi Kalunga. When the Portuguese colonized the Kongo, they converted the people to Christianity. Kongo is mostly famous for natural landmarks such as rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and volcanos. It also has natural habitats for animals such as gorillas and elephants. Due to the Portuguese influence, they are several cathedrals too.
The natural resources within this area are irreplaceable. It is very important to keep all body of water clean and avoid human pollution. People need to be educated regarding these natural gifts.
The Swahili region is located in east African coast. This civilization emerged from the mixing of the local indigenous tribes, Arabs, and Bantus. The language Swahili (the people of the coast in Arabic) is a combination of Bantu and Arabic. Arabs explored Africa due to the trading opportunities. The Bantu and Arabs are the Swahili ancestors. The difference in this region is that socially, they didn’t create a kingdom or an empire. They build independent cities such as Mombasa. The problem was that they competed for the trading control of the region. Some of the cities adopted the “Sultans” way of politics. The Shirazi dynasty (sultans) ruled for centuries. The Portuguese people also invaded Swahili and conquered the coastal region ending the sultan ruling. This region was one of the most powerful trading areas in Africa. The Arabs and Ancient Indian traded goods. They were several ports alongside the coast. Islam is the religion practiced in Swahili. Like other tribes, they used to believe in several gods before the Arabs brought the Islam religion. After Portugal invaded the area, some became Christians. Stone-wall buildings are found with Arabian designs in some places. These are different from the inland buildings, which combined African and Arabic building styles. Lamu Island has many old mosques and buildings. The urban structure and architecture are still intact.
Lamu Old Town is the oldest Swahili (and well-preserved) place that still maintain their culture for many centuries. Lamu teaches Islam and educate the public regarding their religion and history.
We are embarking in an adventure to the ancient Africa. Swahili, Kongo, Axum and Great Zimbabwe were powerful cities before were conquered by the Portuguese. They all were important due to the trading of goods. They are still important cities because of the natural resources and many well-preserved architectural features. Let’s begin!