Can we talk about American Gods? We really have a dark-skin black woman playing a Biblical Queen and a Love Goddess. We have Black People portraying Egyptian Gods. The lead of the show is black. They have West African Gods being portrayed on mainstream media. Seeing black people’s mythology and history represented on screen by black actors is a big thing. People aren’t even aware of nor regard the several figures in Abrahamic religions being African. .
One of the forgotten centers of Christianity, Ethiopia has an ancient history that can be traced back to Biblical times. In the 4th century AD Christian missionaries flocked to the ancient kingdom, establishing a rich Christian heritage that now forms the foundation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. While Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the Christian tradition continued in Ethiopia, with many Europeans thinking of Ethiopia as a “New Jerusalem”.
In the 12th and 13th centuries near the modern day village of Lalibela, a group of Coptic and Ethiopian Christians established a large religious center complete with monasteries and 11 churches. However, the churches of Lalibela were unlike any other in all of Christendom. Carved out of solid rock, the churches of Lalibela were built from the top down rather than the bottom up. Essentially the engineers of the churches found large solid rock outcroppings, planned the shape and layout of the buildings, then had the workers begin carving downward. An incredible feat of engineering and planning, the carving work alone would have taken years of tedious, exhausting hard work as the Ethiopians would have only had simple iron chisels and tolls, and most likely lacked the help of extraterrestrials.
Once the building was carved and shaped out, the workers would have then hollowed out the inside of the building, carving windows, interior spaces, chambers, vaults, domes, and archways. Needless to say, being carved directly out of the solid stone, the churches of Lalibela were made to last. The interior of the churches would have been decorated with Byzantine style icons, portraits, frescos, and mosaics whose color and beauty rival that of Medieval Europe. Much of the artwork is still intact, fastidiously cared for by the monks and clerics who have occupied the grounds for hundreds of years.
In addition to the art and architecture of the rock hewn churches, the placement of the churches was not random or arbitrary. Rather, the churches were built to take advantage of an artesian well system. An artesian well is a well drilled into an aquifer that is under pressure from various layers of rock strata. Due to this pressure, the water will have a tendency to rise to the surface when a well is drilled. It is possible that the residents of the churches had running water which was supplied by the artesian system. It is quite clear that the Medieval Ethiopians were talented geologists as well as engineers.
For centuries the rock hewn churches have been a focal point of pilgrimage for Coptic and Ethiopian Christians. Even today, the churches are still used and serve as a center of holy pilgrimage. Today the rock hewn churches of Lalibela are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Threats to the churches include encroaching development and damage done by tourists. A few of the churches also have structural problems which the UN and Ethiopian government are working to fix.
On this day in 1990,the
South African activist and politician Nelson Mandela was
released from prison. Mandela had spent twenty-seven years in prison for
his role as an anti-apartheid activist at the head of Umkhonto we
Sizwe, which translates as Spear of the Nation. The controversial
organisation served as the militant armed wing of the African National
Congress political party, born out of a frustration among anti-apartheid
activists that their non-violence was met with brutality by white
authorities against black citizens. Mandela was arrested in
1962 and sentenced to life in prison, during which time he was largely
condemned as a terrorist by Western nations. He served most of his
twenty-seven years on Robben Island, then Victor Verster Prison near
Cape Town, and during his imprisonment his reputation grew as a
significant black leader both in South Africa and internationally.
Mandela was finally freed after the ban on the ANC was lifted by the
apartheid government. Upon his release, Mandela led the ANC in the
successful negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to end apartheid,
and was overwhelmingly elected President
of South Africa in the first multi-racial elections in 1994, serving
until 1999. In
2013, Nelson Mandela died aged 95 and has been mourned around the world
as a hero who fought for freedom in South Africa, and as a symbol of
resistance for oppressed peoples everywhere.
“Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”
Basically the era where being thicker than a midget was a crime just because Africans happen to be thick. Sarah (Saartije) Baartman was a Khoisan (South African) woman who performed under the name “Hottentot Venus” in 19th century England and France. She is the original video vixen: discovered at home in South Africa during her late teens, she was offered money and fame in Europe as a singer and dancer. Little did she know that she would be exploited and put on display for everyone to gaze at her large butt, long clitoris/labia, small waist, big breast and kinky hair– all traits that are very common amongst Khoisan women. As her shows attracted more fans, she was forced against her will to have sex with men AND WOMEN who gave enough money to her exploiters. Sarah got none of the money, as she was once promised. After her act got old, she was forced into prostitution, where she died of std’s and alcoholism. The obsession with Saartije lasted after her death as well. For more than 100 years, visitors and “scientist” were able to examine her dissected body parts in Paris museums. The 19th century shapewear, the “bustle” was inspired by her in order to give european women her unique physique. Yes, an old school booty pop. On behalf of Nelson Mandela’s request, Paris returned Saartije’s remains to South Africa in 2002. Black men, it’s time that you start respecting the black woman’s body, because this act of objectifying it was taught to you. #sarahbaartman
There were many other Kingdoms in Africa, not just the Kingdom of Egypt, that are worthy of praise and honour. Indeed, Egypt played a great role in civilization, but it was only one of many on the continent. Below are few of the many greats:
While Europe was experiencing its Dark Ages, a period of intellectual, cultural and economic regression from the sixth to the 13th centuries, Africans were experiencing an almost continent-wide renaissance after the decline of the Nile Valley civilizations of Egypt and Nubia.
The leading civilizations of this African rebirth were the Axum Empire, the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Ethiopian Empire, the Mossi Kingdoms and the Benin Empire.
The Aksum or Axum Empire was an important military power and trading nation in the area that is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, existing from approximately 100 to 940 A.D.
At its height, it was one of only four major international superpowers of its day along with Persia, Rome and China. Axum controlled northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, northern Sudan, southern Egypt, Djibouti, Western Yemen, and southern Saudi Arabia, totaling 1.25 million square kilometers, almost half the size of India. Axum traded and projected its influence as far as China and India, where coins minted in Axum were discovered in 1990.
Axum was previously thought to have been founded by Semitic-speaking Sabaeans who crossed the Red Sea from South Arabia (modern Yemen) on the basis of Conti Rossini’s theories —but most scholars now agree that when it was founded it was an indigenous African development.
Kingdom of Ghana
Centered in what is today Senegal and Mauritania, the Kingdom of Ghana dominated West Africa between about 750 and 1078 A.D. Famous to North Africans as the “Land of Gold,” Ghana was said to possess sophisticated methods of administration and taxation, large armies, and a monopoly over notoriously well-concealed gold mines.
The king of the Soninke people who founded Ghana never fully embraced Islam, but good relations with Muslim traders were fostered. Ancient Ghana derived power and wealth from gold and the use of the camel increased the quantity of goods that were transported. One Arab writer, Al-Hamdani, describes Ghana as having the richest gold mines on Earth. Ghana was also a great military power. According to one narrative, the king had at his command 200,000 warriors and an additional 40,000 archers.
After the fall of the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire rose to dominate West Africa. Located on the Niger River to the west of Ghana in what is today Niger and Mali, the empire reached its peak in the 1350s.
The Mali Empire was founded by Mansa (King) Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa. He was the grandson of Sundiata’s half-brother, and led Mali at a time of great prosperity, during which trade tripled. During his rule, Mansa Musa doubled the land area of Mali; it became a larger kingdom than any in Europe at the time.
The cities of Mali became important trading centers for all of West Africa, as well as famous centers of wealth, culture and learning. Timbuktu, an important city in Mali, became one of the major cultural centers not only of Africa but of the entire world. Vast libraries and Islamic universities were built. These became meeting places of the finest poets, scholars and artists of Africa and the Middle East.
The Kingdom of Mali had a semi-democratic government with one of the world’s oldest known constitutions – The Kurukan Fuga.
The Kurukan Fuga of the Mali Empire was created after 1235 by an assembly of nobles to create a government for the newly established empire. The Kurukan Fouga divided the new empire into ruling clans that were represented at a great assembly called the Gbara. The Gbara was the deliberative body of the Mali Empire and was made up of 32 members from around 29 clans. They were given a voice in the government and were a check against the emperor’s (mansa’s) power. It was presided over by a belen-tigui (master of ceremonies) who recognized anyone who wanted to speak including the mansa. The Gbara and the Kurukan Fuga remained in place for over 40o years until 1645.
According to Wikipedia, Disney’s “Lion King” movie was based on the real life narrative of Mansa Sundiata Keita.
The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was the largest state in African history and the most powerful of the medieval west African states. It expanded rapidly beginning with King Sonni Ali in the 1460s and by 1500s, it had risen to stretch from Cameroon to the Maghreb. In 1360, disputes over succession weakened the Mali Empire, and in the 1430s, Songhai, previously a Mali dependency, gained independence under the Sonni Dynasty. Around thirty years later, Sonni Sulayman Dama attacked Mema, the Mali province west of Timbuktu, paving the way for his successor, Sonni Ali, to turn his country into one of the greatest empires sub-Saharan Africa has ever seen.
Perhaps, it’s most popular leader was Muhammad Askia the Great. At its peak, the Songhai city of Timbuktu became a thriving cultural and commercial center. Arab, Italian and Jewish merchants all gathered for trade. By 1500, the Songhai Empire covered over 1.4 million square kilometers.
The Ethiopian Empire
The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia covers. It existed from approximately 1137 (beginning of Zagwe Dynasty) until 1975 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup d’état. In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite emperors and, hence, Solomon. The thus-named Solomonic Dynasty was founded and ruled by the Habesha, from whom Abyssinia gets its name.
The Habesha reigned with only a few interruptions from 1270 until the late 20th century. It was under this dynasty that most of Ethiopia’s modern history occurred. During this time, the empire conquered and incorporated virtually all the peoples within modern Ethiopia. They successfully fought off Italian, Arab and Turkish armies and made fruitful contacts with some European powers, especially the Portuguese, with whom they allied in battle against the latter two invaders.
The Mossi Kingdoms were a number of different powerful kingdoms in modern-day Burkina Faso which dominated the region of the Upper Volta River for hundreds of years. Increasing power of the Mossi kingdoms resulted in larger conflicts with regional powers. The Kingdom of Yatenga became a key power attacking the Songhai Empire between 1328 and 1477, taking over Timbuktu and sacked the important trading post of Macina.
When Askia Mohammad I became the leader of the Songhai Empire with the desire to spread Islam, he waged a Holy war against the Mossi kingdoms in 1497. Although the Mossi forces were defeated in this effort, they resisted attempts to impose Islam. Although there were a number of jihad states in the region trying to forcibly spread Islam, namely the Massina Empire and the Sokoto Caliphate, the Mossi kingdoms largely retained their traditional religious and ritual practices. Being located near many of the main Islamic states of West Africa, the Mossi kingdoms developed a mixed religious system recognizing some authority for Islam while retaining earlier African spiritual belief systems.
Once a powerful city-state, Benin exists today as a modern African city in what is now south-central Nigeria. The present-day oba (King) of Benin traces the founding of his dynasty to A.D. 1300. The Benin Empire was a pre-colonial Edo state. Until the late 19th century, it was one of the major powers in West Africa. According to one eye witness report written by Olfert Dapper, “The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180,000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples… . His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, is his equal.”
When European merchant ships began to visit West Africa from the 15th century onwards, Benin came to control the trade between the inland peoples and the Europeans on the coast. When the British tried to expand their own trade in the 19th century, the Benin warriors killed their envoys.
For decades, there have been few photographic images of Harriet Tubman depicting how the abolitionist and Civil War spy looked in her lifetime.
Now there’s one more.
New York City auction house Swann Galleries has announced that it will auction a newly discovered photo of Tubman March 30.
Kate Clifford Larson, author of the biography “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero,” estimated that Tubman was between 43 and 46 years old when the photo was taken, placing it shortly after the end of the Civil War. At the time, Tubman was living in Auburn, where she had purchased land in 1859 from then-Sen. William H. Seward — land that will soon become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.
Larson said that in her 20 years of researching Tubman, she’s been sent dozens of photos of black women by people claiming to have discovered a new image of the soon-to-be face of the $20. But not one has actually depicted Tubman.
On this day in 1960, police opened fire on peaceful anti-apartheid protestors in the South African township of Sharpeville, killing 69. The over 5,000 strong crowd gathered at Sharpeville police station to protest the discriminatory pass laws, which they claimed were designed to limit their movement in designated white only areas. The laws required all black men and women to carry reference books with their name, tax code and employer details; those found without their book could be arrested and detained. The protest encouraged black South Africans to deliberately leave their pass books at home and present themselves at police stations for arrest, which would crowd prisons and lead to a labour shortage. Despite the protestors’ peaceful and non-violent intentions, police opened fire on the crowd. By the day’s end, 69 people were dead and 180 were wounded. A further 77 were arrested and questioned, though no police officer involved in the massacre was ever convicted as the government relieved all officials of any responsibility. The apartheid government responded to the massacre by banning public meetings, outlawing the African National Congress (ANC) and declaring a state of emergency. The incident convinced anti-apartheid leader and ANC member Nelson Mandela to abandon non-violence and organise paramilitary groups to fight the racist system of apartheid. In 1996, 36 years later, then President Mandela chose Sharpeville as the site at which he signed into law the country’s new post-apartheid constitution.
“People were running in all directions, some couldn’t believe that people
had been shot, they thought they had heard firecrackers. Only when they
saw the blood and dead people, did they see that the police meant
business” - Tom Petrus, eyewitness to the Sharpeville massacre
We come upon a curious fact. The pre-colonial history of African societies – and I refer to both Euro-Christian and Arab-Islamic colonization – indicates very clearly that African societies never at any time of their existence went to war with another over the issue of their religion. That is, at no time did the black race attempt to subjugate or forcibly convert others with any holier-than-thou evangelizing zeal. Economic and political motives, yes. But not religion.
Wole Soyinka, Nigerian playwrite and poet, at his Nobel Prize acceptance speech (December 1986).
Someone today tried to tell me that the Songhai Empire (one of the most powerful in African history) shouldn’t count as a historically black kingdom because it was “built and ruled by Arabs”. I had made a comment about historically black kingdoms in response to someone’s “WE WUZ KANGS” joke and this redpilled motherfucker thought he knew better than me.
For those who don’t know, the Songhai are an ethnic group in Western Africa who are, you guessed it, black. Songhai built the empire, Songhai lived in it, Songhai fought for it, and Songhai ruled it. I don’t even know if I’m using the proper grammar for that but at least I fucking know what it means.
And then he had the sheer dumbass gall to call my assessment inaccurate and claim that I’m a dirty SJW historical revisionist. I’m not even an SJW. I usually can’t stand SJWs, to be completely honest.
I’m just a fucker who likes historical accuracy.
Tell me again how Askia the Great wasn’t black, shithead.
Oh but that wasn’t all, because apparently MALI wasn’t a black empire either.
You may remember Mali. It was the fabulously rich kingdom ruled by black, Muslim Western Africans, most notably Mansa Musa. He was the man who, thanks to his ridiculous wealth and charity during his Hajj to Mecca changed the price of gold throughout the ENTIRE MEDITERRANEAN:
Oh and also Ethiopia didn’t count either because the Jewish kingdoms there were “semites, not blacks” and Haile Selassie was “too modern to count”.
Now first off, the Jews in Ethiopia are like 99% black. They’re called Beta Israel (Beyte Yisreal in Hebrew) and they’ve been black since the beginning.
Even ignoring that vital fact, that statement forgets about the ENTIRE GIDEON DYNASTY, rulers of the Kingdom of Semien from around 400 AD to 1627 AD, when their Kingdom was absorbed into the Ethiopian Empire ruled by ANOTHER BLACK DYNASTY HOLY HELL WHO’D HAVE THUNK IT, THE SOLOMONIC DYNASTY.
So apparently Haile Selassie (Solomonic Dynasty),
Queen Gudit (or Yodit) of Semien (Gideon Dynasty),
and Menelik II (Solomonic Dynasty, the dude who beat a modernized Italian invasion with guerrilla tactics, spears, and a few muskets), among a hundred other rulelrs,
don’t count as historical black rulers because this anti-SJW son of a bitch couldn’t be bothered to read a goddamn history book and started pulling shit outta his contrarian ass.
And then he tried to pull the whole “oh the Egyptians were BROWN not BLACK lololol you sjw scum” thing.
THE ENTIRE 25TH DYNASTY WAS BLACK. They were ALL from Nubian Kush, and they oversaw some of Egypt’s most prosperous periods, as well as one of the great pyramid-building crazes.
But the best part of this was when he tried to tell me that the capital of the Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe, pictured below, was nothing more than “a glorified medieval peasant’s hut”.
(For scale, those big walls are up to five meters (or 16 feet) high and built without mortar. They’re held up by masterful architecture alone.)
IT WAS A CITY OF UP TO EIGHTEEN THOUSAND PEOPLE,
Go fuck yourself, whatever your name was. Fuck off back to your echo chamber and leave history to the grownups.
1. The Louisiana Purchase may not have been made had it not been for Toussaint L’Ouverture.
2. L’Ouverture freed the slaves of Haiti in the only permanently successful slave revolt in history.
3. He developed the idea of dominion status for Haiti as part of France. Rejected by Napoleon, the idea subsequently was used by Great Britain 66 years later on July 1, 1862, when Canada became the first dominion.
4. He wrote the first constitution for Haiti. It was the second constitution for a republic in the Western Hemisphere.
5. He was the greatest Black general in history, except for Hannibal 2000 years earlier.
6. He was the most outstanding Black statesman in history.
7. He possessed outstanding ability as a civil administrator.
8. He set up the first legal code for Haiti.
9. He devised the first universal school system for Black people.
10. He dealt with the first five presidents of the United States or their representatives, either when they were in that office or when they were Secretary of State.
11. He was the first Black man to be the subject of poems by two of America’s leading poets.
12. He was the only Black general to defeat three of the world’s biggest armies: French, British and Spanish.
13. He declared emancipation for slaves 61 years before U.S. president Abraham Lincoln did so.
14. He devised a plan for how slaves could gain economic freedom, before those rights were granted in any other country.
15. By bringing the freedom of slaves to the world’s attention, L’Ouverture’ example helped other worldwide liberation movements develop (women’s right to vote and other women’s issues, child labor laws, environmental movements and others).
16. He caused European governments for the first time to deal with the aspirations of Black colonial people. His example was followed by Simon Bolivar in South America, Russians with serfs, British in India, and Boers in South Africa (due to Gandhi’s leadership).
17. Set up the first new and simplified tax code.
18. He got rid of corrupt French tax collectors in Haiti. Substituted clear-cut tax rules.
19. He promulgated and administered new laws with justice (unique for colonials).
20. He improved the quality of slaves’ lives measurably. Gave them pride as members of society.
21. He was the “First one who brought guerrilla warfare to the notice of military historians. He used strict discipline and precision with athletic prowess.”
Jewellery of Amanishakheto from her pyramid at Meroe
Amanishakheto was a Kandake of Kush. She seems to have reigned from 10 BC to 1 AD, although most dates of Kushite history before the Middle Ages are very uncertain.
Amanishakheto is known from several monuments. Today, Amanishakheto is best known for a collection of jewelry found in her pyramid in 1834 by Italian treasure hunter Giuseppe Ferlini, who destroyed the pyramid in search of its burial goods. These pieces are now in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and in the Egyptian Museum of Munich.
Kandake, kadake or kentake, often Latinised as Candace, was the Meroitic language term for “queen” or possibly “royal woman”. Contemporary Greek and Roman sources treat it as a title. Several ruling queens of the ancient Kingdom of Kush, with its capital at Meroë, bore the title, although it may have been a general title for women of the royal family. It is often taken to mean “queen-mother” or “mother of the reigning king”.
A Kandake was a powerful position in the hierarchy of Kush. The mothers would rule and create their sons as rulers, but they also deposed their own sons too. In fact, a Kandake could order the king to commit suicide to end his rule, an order that he was required to follow.
During classical antiquity, the Kushite imperial capital was located at Meroe. In early Greek geography, the Meroitic kingdom was known as Aethiopia. The Kushite kingdom with its capital at Meroe persisted until the 4th century AD, when it weakened and disintegrated due to internal rebellion. The Kushite capital was eventually captured and burnt to the ground by the Kingdom of Aksum.
Strabo describes a war between Kush and the Romans in the 1st century BC. After the initial victories of Kandake (or “Candace”) Amanirenas against Roman Egypt, the Kushites were defeated and Napata sacked. Remarkably, the destruction of the capital of Napata was not a crippling blow to the Kushites and did not frighten Candace enough to prevent her from again engaging in combat with the Roman military. Indeed, it seems that Petronius’s attack might have had a revitalizing influence on the kingdom. Just three years later, in 22 BC, a large Kushite force moved northward with intention of attacking Qasr Ibrim.
Alerted to the advance, Petronius again marched south and managed to reach Qasr Ibrim and bolster its defences before the invading Kushites arrived. Although the ancient sources give no description of the ensuing battle, we know that at some point the Kushites sent ambassadors to negotiate a peace settlement with Petronius. By the end of the second campaign, however, Petronius was in no mood to deal further with the Kushites. The Kushites succeeded in negotiating a peace treaty on favourable terms and trade between the two nations increased. Some historians like Theodore Mommsen wrote that during Augustus times Nubia was a possible client state of the Roman Empire.
Amanishakheto was Kandake immediately after Amanirenas. Her immediate successor, Kandake Amanitore (co-regent with King Natakamani) was likely the Queen of Ethiopia mentioned in the Christian New Testament.
“I speak on behalf of the millions of human beings who are in ghettos because they have black skin or because they come from different cultures, and who enjoy status barely above that of an animal.
I suffer on behalf of the Indians who have been massacred, crushed, humiliated, and confined for centuries on reservations in order to prevent them from aspiring to any rights and to prevent them from enriching their culture through joyful union with other cultures, including the culture of the invader.
I cry out on behalf of those thrown out of work by a system that is structurally unjust and periodically unhinged, who are reduced to only glimpsing in life a reflection of the lives of the affluent.
I speak on behalf of women the world over, who suffer from a male-imposed system of exploitation. As far as we’re concerned, we are ready to welcome suggestions from anywhere in the world that enable us to achieve the total fulfillment of Burkinabè women. In exchange, we offer to share with all countries the positive experience we have begun, with women now present at every level of the state apparatus and social life in Burkina Faso. Women who struggle and who proclaim with us that the slave who is not able to take charge of his own revolt deserves no pity for his lot. This harbors illusions in the dubious generosity of a master pretending to set him free. Freedom can be won only through struggle, and we call on all our sisters of all races to go on the offensive to conquer their rights.
I speak on behalf of the mothers of our destitute countries who watch their children die of malaria or diarrhea, unaware that simple means to save them exist. The science of the multinationals does not offer them these means, preferring to invest in cosmetics laboratories and plastic surgery to satisfy the whims of a few women or men whose smart appearance is threatened by too many calories in their overly rich meals, the regularity of which would make you—or rather us from the Sahel—dizzy. We have decided to adopt and popularize these simple means, recommended by the WHO and UNICEF.
I speak, too, on behalf of the child. The child of a poor man who is hungry and who furtively eyes the accumulation of abundance in a store for the rich. The store protected by a thick plate glass window. The window protected by impregnable shutters. The shutters guarded by a policeman with a helmet, gloves, and armed with a billy club. The policeman posted there by the father of another child, who will come and serve himself—or rather be served—because he offers guarantees of representing the capitalistic norms of the system, which he corresponds to.
I speak on behalf of artists—poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, and actors—good men who see their art prostituted by the alchemy of show-business tricks.
I cry out on behalf of journalists who are either reduced to silence or to lies in order to not suffer the harsh low of unemployment.
I protest on behalf of the athletes of the entire world whose muscles are exploited by political systems or by modern-day slave merchants.
My country is brimming with all the misfortunes of the people of the world, a painful synthesis of all humanity’s suffering, but also—and above all—of the promise of our struggles. This is why my heart beats naturally on behalf of the sick who anxiously scan the horizons of science monopolized by arms merchants.
My thoughts go out to all of those affected by the destruction of nature and to those 30 million who will die as they do each year, struck down by the formidable weapon of hunger. As a military man, I cannot forget the soldier who is obeying orders, his finger on the trigger, who knows the bullet being fired bears only the message of death.
Finally, it fills me with indignation to think of the Palestinians, who an inhuman humanity has decided to replace with another people—a people martyred only yesterday. I think of this valiant Palestinian people, that is, these shattered families wandering across the world in search of refuge. Courageous, determined, stoic, and untiring, the Palestinians remind every human conscience of the moral necessity and obligation to respect the rights of a people. Along with their Jewish brothers, they are anti-Zionist.
At the side of my brother soldiers of Iran and Iraq who are dying in a fratricidal and suicidal war, I wish also to feel close to my comrades of Nicaragua, whose harbors are mined, whose villages are bombed, and who, despite everything, face their destiny with courage and clear-headedness. I suffer with all those in Latin America who suffer from the stranglehold of imperialism.
I wish to stand on the side of the Afghan and Irish peoples, on the side of the peoples of Granada and East Timor, each of whom is searching for happiness based on their dignity and the laws of their own culture.
I protest on behalf of all those who vainly seek a forum in this world where they can make their voice heard and have it genuinely taken into consideration. Many have preceded me at this podium and others will follow. But only a few will make the decisions. Yet we are officially presented as being equals. Well, I am acting as spokesperson for all those who vainly see a forum in this world where they can make themselves heard. So yes, I wish to speak on behalf of all “those left behind,” for “I am human, nothing that is human is alien to me.”
Our revolution in Burkina Faso embraces misfortunes of all peoples. It also draws inspiration from all of man’s experiences since his first breath. We wish to be the heirs of all the world’s revolutions and all the liberation struggles of the peoples of the Third World. Our eyes are on the profound upheavals that have transformed the world. We draw the lessons of the American Revolution, the lessons of its victory over colonial domination and the consequences of that victory. We adopt as our own the affirmation of the Doctrine whereby Europeans must not intervene in American affairs, nor Americans in European affairs. Just as Monroe proclaimed “America to the Americans” in 1823, we echo this today by saying “Africa to the Africans,” “Burkina to the Burkinabè.”“
| Thomas Sankara
[excerpt from his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on October 4th, 1984]
Stretched across a tree-peppered expanse in southern Africa lies the magnificent ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a medieval stone city of astounding wealth and prestige. Located in the present-day country of Zimbabwe, it’s the sight of the largest known settlement ruins in Sub-Saharan Africa, second on the continent only to the pyramids of Egypt. But the history of this city is shrouded in controversy, defined by decades of dispute about who built it and why.
Its name comes from the Shona word madzimbabwe, meaning big house of stone for its unscalable stone walls that reach heights of nearly ten meters and run for a length of about 250 meters. For its grandeur and historical significance, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. Back in the 14th and 15th centuries, it was a thriving city.
Spread across nearly eight square-kilometers, Great Zimbabwe was defined by three main areas: the Hill Complex, where the king lived; the Great Enclosure, reserved for members of the royal family; and the Valley Complex, where regular citizens lived. Rulers were both powerful economic and religious leaders for the region. At its highest point, the city had a bustling urban population of 18,000 people and was one of the major African trade centers at the time. What enabled this growth was Great Zimbabwe’s influential role in an intercontinental trade network. Connected to several key city-states along the East African Swahili Coast, it was part of the larger Indian Ocean trade routes. The city generated its riches by controlling the sources and trade of the most prized items: gold, ivory, and copper. With this mercantile power, it was able to extend its sphere of influence across continents, fostering a strong Arab and Indian trader presence throughout its zenith.
Archaeologists have since pieced together the details of this history through artifacts discovered on site. There were pottery shards and glassworks from Asia, as well as coins minted in the coastal trading city of Kilwa Kisiwani over 1,500 miles away. They also found soapstone bird figures, which are thought to represent each of the city’s rulers, and young calf bones, only unearthed near the royal residence, show how the diet of the elite differed from the general population. These clues have also led to theories about the city’s decline.
By the mid-15th century, the buildings at Great Zimbabwe were almost all that remained. Archaeological evidence points to overcrowding and sanitation issues as the cause, compounded by soil depletion triggered by overuse. Eventually, as crops withered and conditions in the city worsened, the population of Great Zimbabwe is thought to have dispersed and formed the nearby Mutapa and Torwa states.
Centuries later, a new phase of Great Zimbabwe’s influence began to play out in the political realm as people debated who had built the famous city of stone. During the European colonization of Africa, racist colonial officials claimed the ruins couldn’t be of African origin. So, without a detailed written record on hand, they instead relied on myths to explain the magnificence of Great Zimbabwe. Some claimed it proved the Bible story of the Queen of Sheba who lived in a city of riches. Others argued it was built by the Ancient Greeks. Then, in the early 20th century after extensive excavation at the site, the archaeologist David Randall-MacIver presented clear evidence that Great Zimbabwe was built by indigenous peoples. Yet, at the time, the country’s white minority colonial government sought to discredit this theory because it challenged the legitimacy of their rule. In fact, the government actively encouraged historians to produce accounts that disputed the city’s African origins.
Over time, however, an overwhelming body of evidence mounted, identifying Great Zimbabwe as an African city built by Africans. During the 1960s and 70s, Great Zimbabwe became an important symbol for the African Nationalist movement that was spreading across the continent. Today, the ruins at Great Zimbabwe, alluded to on the Zimbabwean flag by a soapstone bird, still stand as a source of national pride and cultural value.