Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is Africa a condemned and irredeemable land? -From Eurocentric and Afrocentric points of view.

The history of Africa is composed of different views since its early existence in the written sources, mainly from the European and African points of view. These different views particularly discussed on the beginning of the African history, whether it is true that the African history started in the nineteenth century or is it actually began earlier than that? And, is Africa really a condemned and irredeemable land?

The African Continent

Mostly the European scholars believed that Africa is a condemned land. They believed that Africa consisted of nothing important as requirements to be considered as a civilized land. But, however, in Afrocentric point of view, Africa was actually a rich land, nothing less than the other civilizations. They have a huge amount of natural resources; mainly from the woods and seas, they were also rich in cultural aspects as they constituted of various kind of tribes. And each tribe carried different norms and customs. Besides, they were also the main supplier of human labourers to the European continent and yet, the Europeans still considered Africa as a poor and condemned land.

African slaves in a ship to Europe

Besides, the European also believed that they were superior than the Africans. They always expressed their paternal attitudes towards the Africans even until today. They mentioned that their colonization of Africa mainly was to civilized the Africans. What is meant that without them the Africans would be forever left behind and uncivilized. Meanwhile, from Afrocentric view, this was taken to be only their reason to justify their act of colonization to Africa, and even to the other parts of the world. The main factor of European power to colonize Africa was actually to control its resources and to extend their power. 

 Moreover, the Europeans considered Africa as the land with no history before their meaningful contact with the Europeans in the nineteenth century. This was due to the fact that there was no available sources that mentioned on Africa before the nineteenth century; based on their perception. However, before the European came into the African continent, the Arab muslims have already made contacts to the land, as early as in the seventh century. It could be referred to the available Arabic sources that have been written since the seventh century, like Al-Tabari's book, 'Kitab al-Rusul wa al-Muluk', that mentioned about Africa although it might be only a small part of the book. However, due to the factor that the Europeans did not know Arabic, they just managed to consider like there was no available sources and those who were aware of the sources' existence, they hid their knowledge because of their own hidden agenda. So, basically Africa is not a ahistoric land as it was actually described in the Europeans' books. 

Example of today's African history book
With the fact that there was no any available written source found on Africa, the Europeans considered that was because the mass illiteracy among the Africans. This shows another sign of African backwardness. In contrast, Africa could be considered as a part of history before the nineteenth century, based on oral evidences. The Africans were speaking with the most ancient languages of the world like the Geeze and Scribes. The African history could be taken and analyzed from those available spoken sources as long as they were first checked and confirmed to be authentic. 

So, in the nineteenth century, particularly after the Second World War, a number of African countries revolted. This period was widely known as the African Renaissance. This occurred due to the Africans response towards the European paternal attitudes over the Africans. They basically wanted a more equal atmosphere to be given to them. When the Europeans came into Africa, they brought together with them religion (Christianity) and they forced the Africans to accept their religion. Beside that, with the feeling of African inferiority, they took the Africans' lands, with justification to develop them. Unlike the Arab muslims before, the Africans were not forced to accept Islam but mainly came to Africa to do trade expeditions and show some good examples of life to them. So, from there, the Africans were attracted and ready to accept Islam. The African Renaissance was actually a period of when the Africans wanted to confront the European harshness towards Africa.

In conclusion, the African land was not actually a condemned land. It is rich with various kind of resources, and it is a civilized land by its own way. Despite the believe of European superiority over Africa, it is noted that the Arab muslims who were the earliest ones arrived in Africa and witnessed the live of the people there. From there, the Africans managed to lift their life standards by making contacts with the muslims and later develop their own civilization to prove that Africa is actually a rich and blessed land in contrast to what the Europeans believed what they were. 

African muslim women in congregational prayer

African children in a dance performance

Africa, the land of Safari!

-By Keith Syakil, November 12, 2015.