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Africa: Humanity, Civilization, & Interaction

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Dawson McCall

on 29 November 2017

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Transcript of Africa: Humanity, Civilization, & Interaction

Africa: Humanity, Civilization, & Interaction
How To Write About Africa
by Binyavanga Wainaina

The Importance of African Physical Geography
Understanding the African World-View
Perceptions of Africa
What do you know about Africa?
Portrait of an African Man
by Jan Mostaert (ca 1520 - 1530)
You cannot use:
Nelson Mandela
Important Features:
2nd Largest Continent (Sq Mileage)
Four Major River Valley Systems
Great Lakes Region (East Africa)
Lake Victoria - World's 2nd Largest Lake
Sahara - World's Largest Desert
Congo Rainforest - World's 2nd Largest Rainforest River Basin
Nile River - World's Longest River
General Features (Approximations):
50% Savannah (Grassland, Woodland) (Majority of Human Activity)
40% Desert
10 - 15% Mountainous & Plateaus
5% Rainforest
The Importance of African Political Geography
African Ethnic Diversity (Over 3,000 Distinct Ethno-Political Divisions)
Some People Say Up To 10,000
African Political Organization (55 African Countries - Up To 57 Debated)
Most Countries No More Than 60 Years Old
Family & Society
African Political Boundaries (Modern)
Home to Spoken Language
Four Major African Language Families
Largest Language Family
2/3 of all African Languages
Nilo-Saharan (2nd largest)
Khoisan (smallest & oldest)
Over 800 Distinct Languages & Tens of Thousands of Dialects
The Kongo & the Portuguese
Nubia & Egypt
Swahili City-States & Great Zimbabwe
The Amazigh Kingdoms
New Evidence
Early African Civilizations
Nile River Valley Civilizations
Nubian Rock Gongs (ca. 7,000 Years Ago)
Nubian Rock Art (B/twn ca. 2300 & 8,000 Years Ago)
Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
The Ethiopian Environment
Historical Importance of Ethiopia
Highland Plateau
6,000 - 10,000 Ft
45 Inches Rainfall/Year
Mild Temperature - 60 Degrees F (avg)
"Natural Fortress"
Largest Concentration of Biological Diversity in Africa
Agricultural Products:
, Millet, Wheat, Barley, Noog, Ensete, Sorghum, Khat,
West African Trade Routes
What's Being Traded?
Kola Nuts
Djenne (Occupied by ca 300 B.C.E.)
City-State & Trade Outpost
Ghana (ca. 500 - 1150) & Mali (ca. 1200 - 1470)
- Soninke People (Major Ethnic Group)
- Mandinka People (Major Ethnic Group)
Other Large Ethnic Groups
- Fula, Wolof, Dogon, Bambara, Senufu, Tuareg
Highly Complex Political & Religious Systems
Traditional Religions & Islamic Beliefs
Local vs National Control
Trade Routes
- Salt, Gold, & Slaves Ivory; Ceramics, Spices, Textiles
- Kola, Timber, Ivory
Al-Bakri, Ibn Battuta, & Mansa Musa
Non-Written Historical Records
Architecture, Epic Poetry, Dance & Music
Major Take-Aways:
West African Market Town
West Africa's "Micro-Environments"
Trade Route Connections
Outside Views of West Africa
West African Savannah States
Djenne & The Empires of Ghana & Mali
West Africa & Islam
Sankore Madrasa (Built 988 C.E.)
River Systems
Vegetation Zones
Grasslands & Savannah in Africa
How Would A Savannah Climate Impact Lifestyles & Social Organization?
Oral History in West Africa
Folk Tales
Igbo Storytelling
Griots & Mali
Dance & Music
Dogon People (Mali)
Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali
"Other peoples use writing to record the past, but this invention has killed the faculty of memory among them. They do not feel the past any more, for writing lacks the warmth of the human voice. With the, everybody thinks he knows, whereas learning should be a secret. The prophets did not writes and their words have been all the more vivid as a result. What paltry learning is that which is congealed in dumb books!!!" (p 41)
Great Zimbabwe - Gold, Cattle, & Trade
What Do These Ruins Tell Us About The Society That Built Them?
Characteristics of Great Zimbabwe
Ethiopia - Greek Term (
"Burnt Face"
Traditionally Referred to People South of Egypt
Agricultural Hearth (Of Three In Africa)
Over 2,000 Year Dynasty (ca 200 B.C.E. - 1974)
Longest Continuous Dynastic Gov't in Africa
One of Two African Countries Not to Come Under European Colonial Rule During 19th Century
Ethiopian History of Religious Diversity
Judaism - 10th Century B.C.E. (Approx 25,000 Today)
One of Earliest Nations to Adopt Christianity (Axum)
1st Century C.E.
330 C.E. - Official State Religion (44% Today)
Judeo-Christian Connections
Islam Arrives As Early as 615 C.E.
2nd Most Followed Religion in Ethiopia Today (34%)
Historical Alliance Between Christians & Muslims
Continuities in Ethiopian History - Using Architecture to Understand History
Kingdom of Aksum (ca. 100 - 950 C.E.)
Monastery Community of Debra Damo (6th Century C.E.)
City of Lalibela (Early 12th Century C.E. - Perhaps 1187 C.E.)
Fortress City of Gondar (1635 C.E.)
Continuities in Architecture (1st Century C.E. - 17th Century C.E.)
Support Beams
Symbol of the Rising Sun
Judeo-Christian Tradition
Debra Damo
The Dogon People, Dance, & Music
Africa 7,000 Years Ago
The West African Market Town
The Very Beginning - Of Humanity
Major Takeaways
Global Agricultural Hearths
Emergence of Anatomically Modern Human
(Various Dates - 250,000 to 150,000 Years Ago)
"Out of Africa"
100,000 to 50,000 Years Ago
Emergence Behaviorally Modern Humans
"Modern" Tools - ca 70,000 Years Ago (In Africa)
Spoken Language - ca 50,000 Years Ago (In Africa)
Early Agriculture
Fertile Crescent - Middle East (ca 12,000 Years Ago)
Ethiopia & West Africa (ca 7000 - 3000 B.C.E.)
Urbanization & Emergence of States
River Valley Civilizations (India, China, Egypt (ca 3500 B.C.E. - 5500 Years Ago)
Iron Technology
Anatolia (ca 1400 B.C.E. - 3500 Years Ago)
Evidence of African Iron Smelting as Early as 6th Century B.C.E. in East Africa (Great Lakes Region)
Basic "Out of Africa" Migrations
Golden Rhino (ca 13th Century)
Great Zimbabwe
11th - 15th Century C.E.
Gold & Cattle
Political Centralization
Urban Centers
Enclosures - Architecture & Engineering
Surrounded by Farming Communities
Commerce Connections to Swahili Trade States
History as a Continuum
Time Conceptualized & Measured Through R
hythms of Nature
Harvest Seasons
Childbirth & Rearing
Migration Patterns of Animal World
Implications for History?
Common Traits of Traditional African Religious Systems
Religion = "Way of Life" (Dr N. Achebe)
Politics = Extension of Spiritual World
Land As Sacred
Creation Stories
Overarching God Works Through Lesser Gods/Dieties
Good or Evil - Both
Lesser Gods/Dieties Gendered
Male God/Diety = Female Priestess (Vice-Versa)
Ideal Family Structure = Extended Family
Formations of Society (Based on Family)
Several Extended Families
= Kindred
Several Kindreds
= Compound/Village
Several Compounds/Villages
= Clan
Several Clans
= Town
Several Towns
= State or Kingdom
Marriage = Joining of Two Lineages (Rather Than Two Individuals)
Nubia & Kush
Axum & Abyssinia
Basic Timeline
ca 7,000 B.C.E. - Desertification of Sahara (Start Migrations - Nile Valley)
ca 2600 B.C.E. - Old Kingdom of Egypt (Pyramids)
ca 2400 B.C.E. - Organized Nubian States First Appear
ca 1000 B.C.E. - Rise of Nubian Kingdom of Kush
Conquers Lower Egypt (730 B.C.E.)
Egypt Conquered by:
Alexander the Great (332 B.C.E.)
Roman Empire (21 B.C.E.)
Islamic Expansion (639 C.E.)
Major Summary Points:
Migrations From Sahara (
Egyptian Civilization - Over 3,200 Years (ca 2600 B.C.E. - 639 C.E.)
Historical Connections Between Egypt, Nubia, Kush
Africa 7,000 Years Ago
Religion & Politics
Identity & Language
Migrations Into Nile River Valley (ca 7,000 Years Ago)
Africa's First Civilizations - Two Examples
The Connected Africa
Long Term Connections w/ Outside World
Religion, Ideas, Wealth, Goods, People
Axum, Mali, Swahili City-States, Great Zimbabwe
To & From Arabia
To & From Indian Ocean Trade Network
East Africa in the Indian Ocean Trade Network
West African Savannah States
Ghana (ca 500 - 1150 C.E.)
Mali (ca 1200 - 1470 C.E.)
Axum (ca 50 C.E. - 940 C.E.)
Egypt (ca 2600 B.C.E. - ca 600 C.E.
Great Zimbabwe (ca Early 11th Century to 15th Century C.E.)
Swahili City-States (ca 6th Century to 16th Century C.E.)
The Catalan Atlas (Spain - 1375)
Savannah - Djenne, Ghana, & Mali
Mosque in Djenne, Mali
The Travels of Ibn Battuta (1325 - 1354)
Swahili Currency (13th Century)
Kilwa Mosque (14th Century)
Important Characteristics of the Swahili City-States
City of Aden (Saudi Arabia)
City of Mombassa (Kenya)
City of Kilwa (Tanzania)
City of Sofala (Mozambique)
Late 16th Century
Swahili Identity
Architecture, Urbanization, Commerce, Islam, Language,
Economy & Commerce
Currency & Coinage (Specific to Each City-State)
Connection to Gold Reserves of Great Zimbabwe
Nubia & Meroe (ca 1000 B.C.E. - 100 C.E.)
Full transcript