Pre-Colonial Africa 9-6-13

Generated about the time of the slave trade. The way we see the world has been influenced by the Hamitic Hypothesis. Passed Down. “Received Wisdom.” Understand: Facts are not Factual. We find here, often, even our frame of reference is loaded…

Western Centric bias: Hugh Trevor-Roper: “Africa is no historical part of the world. The history of Africa is the history of Europeans in Africa.”  African Centric bias: African nationalist scholars tried to correct western-centric bias by emphasizing “nationalistic historic” histories. -weakness of contemporary histories in Africa. W.E.B. Ignorance: “The Dark Continent, ideological bias: Western value as base for assessment, Pseudo-scientific arguments: racisms, biblical orientation: “Hamitic Myth.” Correcting the racist, often humiliating presentation of Africans. Overcorrection: Biases by sometimes deliberately embellishing the aspects of African history. 

Idea grown from genesis: Hamitic Hypothesis. Wanted to justify what they saw under the guise of science. Notion of racism in America is very distanced to notion of racism in Brazil. Artificial construction to justify historical times. No basis in science, whatsoever. Racism. We are part of one race. The human race. We lived in Africa for the longest time. Before we started branching out.  “Often people refer to this as romanticizing the past. The most useless people are human beings. We like war.” 

Herodotus & Historical Writing

Father of History

Lacked a sophisticated methodology. Hist work remained critical in understanding: Ancient Africa and world history. Herodutes drew upon: Travelers accounts, merchants reports, soldiers reports, personal observation. To enhance Greek knowledge of the world around them, Herodutes would paint a picture of the peoples of inner Africa.  Napata became a major focus of Greek attention. Napata was the seat power for Kush. Kush retained control of northern states, until 654BC when Assiyrans forced a successor, to retreat south. 591BC Kush shifted power to Meroe. Meroe, would later become the ancient center for iron work in Eastern Africa. Meroe flourished for nearly 1000 years from the 6th Century until circa 350AD. 

Conquest of Alexander The Great: Conquered Egypt: 332 BC

Introduced a new chapter in Greco-African relations. The Ptolemies developed complex trade routes in African hinterland, and commercial centers appeared along the Nile River. Romans defeated Ptolemaic dynasty in 30BC & Egypt was Annexed to Roman Empire. Produced 1st hand accounts of inner Africa. Pliny the Elder was prominent among these accounts. Took accounts of Roman and Greek and measure it against Hamitic Hypothesis. Something is wrong about this Hamitic curse. Christianity did not start yet. Christ remains a Jew. Christ died a Jew. Contemporary Negative Portrayal: racism, colonialism, imperialism. 

Why did historians write biased history? Examine: The Historian, Context, Society, Training.

Oxford Instiution, where we learn our biases and pass those biases as scientific. Understand it is based on preconceived notion. If you went to China and wanted to learn the culture, you would start with an American understanding. We are product of our own societies. Spanish might come here and say, boy Americans are such wimps, they don’t even have their own bulls to chase them. 

New knowledge has led to transformation of what was one thought as fact. If these are problems for us, how do we write good, representational history: Written text, botanical dating, archeological evidence, linguistic evidence, oral tradition, population genetics, ethnographic methods, radio carbon dating.

Instead of relying on Hamitic Hypothesis.


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