In the world today it would be correct to say that the perception of Africans and there capability to form formidable, long lasting and civilized societies has been so terribly tarnished as to make the title of this article surprising. However, that was not always the case.
It is well known that strong and prosperous empires existed in Africa before the impressive Roman Empire such as Ancient Kemet(Ancient Egypt), The Aksumite Empire and The Nubian Empire just to name a few. The Roman Empire fell nonetheless and Europe was plunged into the dark middle ages full of war, ignorance and skepticism. Europe was in dire need of help. At this point Africans of Berber and Arabic origin known as Moors (a word used for centuries to mean black people or African) had converted to Islam and had a great curiosity and desire for learning.
The Moors led by Tarik ibn Ziyad expanded into Spain and conquered most of the region easily overrunning the Visgothic kingdom of Roderick to beyond the Pyrenees in France only to be held back by Charles Martel of the Frankish kingdom effectively establishing Moorish rule over the region. A European scholar sympathetic to the Spaniards remembered the conquest in this way:
a. [T]he reins of their (Moors) horses were as fire, their faces black as pitch, their eyes shone like burning candles, their horses were swift as leopards and the riders fiercer than a wolf in a sheepfold at night … The noble Goths [the German rulers of Spain to whom Roderick belonged] were broken in an hour, quicker than tongue can tell. Oh luckless Spain! [i]
[i] Quoted in Edward Scobie, The Moors and Portugal’s Global Expansion, in Golden Age of the Moor, ed Ivan Van Sertima, US, Transaction Publishers, 1992, p.336
The Moors brought with them a myriad of benefits to the region throughout their over 700 year rule from 711 AD to 1492.
The intellectual achievements of the Moors in Spain had a lasting effect; education was universal in Moorish Spain, while in Christian Europe, 99 percent of the population was illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write. At a time when Europe had only two universities, the Moors had seventeen, located in Almeria, Cordova, Granada, Juen, Malaga, Seville, and Toledo. In the 10th and 11th centuries, public libraries in Europe were non-existent, while Moorish Spain could boast of more than 70, including one in Cordova that housed hundreds of thousands of manuscripts. Universities in Paris and Oxford were established after visits by scholars to Moorish Spain. It was this system of education, taken to Europe by the Moors that seeded the European Renaissance.
In the 10th Century, Cordoba was not just the capital of Al Andalus (Moorish Spain) but also one of the most important cities in the world, rivaling Baghdad and Constantinople. It boasted a population of 500,000 (200,000 more than now) and had street lighting, fifty hospitals with running water, three hundred public baths, five hundred mosques and seventy libraries – one of which held over 500,000 books. The Moorish achievement in hydraulic engineering was outstanding. They constructed an aqueduct which conveyed water from the mountains to the city through lead pipes. All of this, at a time when London had a largely illiterate population of around 20,000 and had forgotten the technical advances of the Romans some 600 hundred years before. Paved and lighted streets did not appear in London or Paris for hundreds of years later.
That is just but the tip of the ice berg as paper making was brought to Spain by the Moors, allowing the growth of libraries and, thereby, the accurate preservation and dispersal of knowledge – with Xativa, in Valencia, having the first paper factory in Europe. Polymath Ibn Firnas made the first scientific attempt to fly in a controlled manner, in 875 A.D. His attempt evidently worked, although the landing was less successful. The “father of modern surgery,” Abu al-Quasim (Al Zahrawi), was a Moor who was born in Cordoba. During a practice that lasted fifty years, he developed a range of innovative and precise surgical instruments, while writing a text book that was to be a cornerstone of Western medical training for the next 500 years. In addition to this the Moors brought hygiene in form of soaps and deodorant influenced cuisine greatly and also taught the Europeans how to store grain for up to 100 years and built underground grain silos.
Unfortunately, after the triumph of Ferdinand and Isabella’s armies over the Moors effectively ending Moorish rule in Europe a systematic censorship and deletion of the glory of this empire began. Their irreplaceable role in Europe’s history was diminished leaving only Moorish art and architecture to bear testament to the greatness of the Moors whose contributions to Western Europe were incalculable.
Chefchaouen(s-tamazight: Ashawen ⴰⵛⵛⴰⵡⵏ,
lit. “horns”), an Amazigh city called “The Blue Pearl of Morocco”.
Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and Tetouan.
The name of the city refers to the shape of the mountain tops above the town, that look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat.“Chef Chaouen” derives from the Berber word for horns, Ichawen.
Chefchaouen(s-tamazight: Achawen ⴰⵛⵛⴰⵡⵏ, lit. “les cornes”), une ville Amazigh appelé“La perle bleue du Maroc”.
Chefchaouen est une ville du Nord-Est du Maroc, bâtie à 600 m d'altitude au pied des monts Kelaa et Meggou, qui forment le Jebel Chaouen,sur la chaîne du Rif.
Le nom de la ville vient du berbèreAchawen, « les cornes », en raison des sommets montagneux qui dominent et entourent la ville.
GHARDAIA (SIWEL) — “Notre rédaction a reçu un communiqué très alarmant du Dr Kameleddine Fekhar, le représentant de la région du Mzab au sein de l'Assemblée Mondiale Amazighe, faisant état de l'usage par la gendarmerie algérienne de gaz toxiques contre les Mozabites ayant provoqué, pour l'heure la mort d’au moins trois mozabites par asphyxie (…)”
Tipaza (formerly Tefessedt, تيپازة) is a Berber-speaking town on the coast of Algeria. When it was part of the Roman Empire, it was called Tipasa. The modern town, founded in 1857, is remarkable for its sandy beach, and ancient ruins. Tipasa, as it was then called, was an ancient Punic trading-post conquered by Ancient Rome and turned into a military colony by the emperor Claudius for the conquest of the kingdoms of Mauretania. Afterwards it became a municipium called Colonia Aelia Tipasensis, that reached the population of 20,000 inhabitants in the 4th century. The city was an important Christian center during the last centuries of Roman domination. It was destroyed by the Vandals in 430 AD, but was rebuilt by the Byzantines one century later. At the end of the 7th century the city was destroyed by the Arabs and reduced to ruins. In the 19th century the place was settled again. Now it is a town of nearly 30,000 inhabitants and an important tourist place in modern Algeria. The town and its surroundings are home to the largest Berber-speaking group of western Algeria, the Chenoua people.