African World History

1483 Words6 Pages
There have been various perceptions concerning the history of Africa, and some of these have portrayed Africa in more negative than positive ways. In an attempt to examine the historical aspect of Africa through various lenses, this essay presents an analysis of evidence that have been brought forth towards understanding Africa’s role in world history, as well as reasons and lessons from the negative portrayal of Africa.
The history of Africa has been viewed and understood through a variety of lenses in the past few hundred years. To begin with, the origin of the name Africa in itself has drawn a number of controversies that stem from the different perspectives through which the name has been examined. A general scholarly explanation holds
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There exists an ever-increasing body of fossil evidence as well as genetic studies that point to the fact that a great bulk of human evolution occurred in Africa. Evolution evidence that point to Africa as the cradle of mankind were discovered as early as 1924, with a new find named the “Taung Child” which was discovered in South Africa. This early discovery was a suggestion that the earliest human ancestors originated from Africa. By the late 1980’s more discoveries were made by archeologists and some of the phenomenal discoveries included; the specimens of Australopithecus afarensis which were discovered in Eastern and Southern Africa. In 1974, another specimen named “Lucy” was discovered in the area of Hadar in Ethiopia. The discovery of the Australopithecus afarensis was followed by the discovery of Australopithecus africanus and later by the discovery of Homo habilis whose fossils were largely found in southern and eastern Africa. This was followed by the discovery of Homo erectus fossils and paleontologists in the 1980’s believed that Homo erectus originated from the eastern and southern Africa from which they expanded to other regions such as Asia. Apart from fossil evidence, there have also been genetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA that have revealed that all modern humans could trace their ancestry to a single African female who lived…show more content…
This negative portrayal of Africa began with early scholars and went on until the 19th century during the time of African colonization. In the 12th century for instance, a scholar by the name Benjamin ben Jonah characterized Africans as “people who eat of the herbs that grow on the banks of the Nile and on the fields. They go about naked and have not the intelligence of ordinary men. They cohabit with their sisters and anyone they can find….And these are black slaves, the sons of Ham.” The racial prejudice by such scholars and the negative portrayal found their way to the public and thus lead to even more negative views. In the 17th century, an argument emerged, characterizing Africa as a place of famine, war, disease and poverty. This argument was further used by anti-abolitionists to make slavery in foreign countries a positive escape. Colonialism in Africa went even further to promote the negative portrayal of Africa and the colonial powers convinced themselves that they were redeeming “the land of fantastical beats and cannibals, slaves and backward races.” The negative perceptions about Africa continued to persist in the 20th century and in the 1960’s Trevor Roper, an Oxford Professor cited that there was nothing worth of any value to be termed as African History. He further stated that what
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