northern sudan

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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.

Axum 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.

Mali Empire

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.

Songhai Empire

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.

Mossi Kingdoms

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.

Benin Empire

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.

Source: http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/12/05/7-midieval-african-kingdoms/4/

New Valley Governorate (محافظة الوادي الجديد‎‎, Muḥāfẓet El Wādī El Ǧedīd) is located in the Western Desert, part of the Sahara – between the Nile, northern Sudan, and southeastern Libya. Consisting of roughly 1/3 of Egypt’s land area, it’s the country’s largest governorate and one of the biggest in Africa. The capital is at Kharga Oasis.

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Lost Kingdom of Africa

Four-part series in which British art historian Dr Gus Casely-Hayford explores the pre-colonial history of some of Africa’s most important kingdoms. The African continent is home to nearly a billion people. It has an incredible diversity of communities and cultures, yet we know less of its history than almost anywhere else on earth.

But that is beginning to change. In the last few decades, researchers and archaeologists have begun to uncover a range of histories as impressive and extraordinary as anywhere else in the world.

The series reveals that Africa’s stories are preserved for us in its treasures, statues and ancient buildings - in the culture, art and legends of the people.

The first episode looks at Nubia, in what is now northern Sudan, a kingdom that dominated a vast area of the eastern Sahara for thousands of years. Its people were described as barbarians and mercenaries, and yet Nubia has left us with some of the most spectacular monuments in the world.

Casely-Hayford traces the origins of this fascinating kingdom back to 10,000 BC. He explores how it developed and what happened to it and its people, discovering that its kings once ruled Ancient Egypt and that it was defeated not by its rivals but by its environment.

Season 2

A brief history of Christianity in the African continent

*this post doesn’t touch on how was used in Christianity western colonialism there will be other posts made for that*
[I have tried to make the reading more accessible for people than and also as short as possible]

Christianity emerged in the Levant* around mid-1st century AD. Christianity in Africa began in Egypt around the 1st century, the Coptic Orthodox Church are believed to be the oldest sect of Christianity in Egypt and one the oldest in the continent along with Ethiopian (Christianity in Ethiopia emerged around the 4th century and existed in the country before that)  and many Copts* still practice it today. According to tradition Mark the Evangelist founded the Coptic founded the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Egypt.                                                                                                                                                           The Kingdom of Nobatia which was established in the 3rd century was a Christian kingdom in what is now lower Nubia. Due to Islamization the Muslim population of Nobatia gradually started to rise but still remained Christian until the invasion of the Funj Sultanate of Sennar. The Kingdom of Makuria (what is now Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan) converted to Christianity near the end of the 6th century but after it was invaded by Muslim armies, the kingdom was cut off from other Christian kingdoms, states, christendom and eventually became a Muslim kingdom.With the addition of the Kingdom of Alwa, these three kingdoms are known as the Christian kingdoms of Nubia

The emergence of Christianity in North Africa’s Maghreb was around the 2nd century. Tertullian (who was born to a Roman father and an Amazigh mother – born in what is now Carthage, Tunisia)  is known as the founder of Western theology was on the prominent and influential figures of Christianity in North Africa. Even after his death, Christianity was spreading rapidly all over the Maghreb. 

Kingdom of Kongo (what is known northern Angola, Cabinda, southern republic of Congo and western Democratic Republic of Congo) became a Christian Kingdom in 1491 when King Nzinga converted to Christianity of his own free will. Despite of the conversion many Bakongo* still practiced their traditional religion, some alongside Christianity. Christianity also influenced traditional Kongo religion and neighbouring kingdoms and states around the Kongo kingdom. The Kongo Kingdom was the Christian only pre colonial kingdom and state in Central Africa


The Levant is a historical geographical term referring to an area in the eastern Mediterranean

Copts are ethno-religious group indigenous to Africa who live mostly in Egypt but also Libya and Sudan. 

Bakongo are a Bantu ethnic group who live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Angola and the Republic of Congo and are descended from the former Kongo Kingdom

Books:

  • Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs: The Coptic Orthodox Church by Jill Kamil
  • Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt edited by Gawdat Gabra
  • The Kingdom of Alwa by Mohi El-Din Abdalla Zarroug
  • The Spreading of Christianity in Nubia by Michalowski
  • Medieval Christian Nubia and the Islamic World by Jay Sapulding
  • Tanscontinental Links in the History of Non-Western Christianity by Klaus Koschorke
  • Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo by Cecile Fromont
  • The Development of an African Catholic Church in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1491–1750 by John Thornton
  • The Cambridge History of Christianity Volume 2: Constantine to c.600
  • The Disappearance of Christianity from North Africa in the Wake of the Rise of Islam by C. J. Speel
  • Church History: Christianity in Ethiopia by Dale H. Moore
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Taharqa was one of the greatest rulers in Ancient African History as he was a Black Pharaoh and the King of Ancient Kush at the same time. He ruled both of these lands now know as Egypt and and Northern Sudan from about 690 BC to 664 BC. The snake did not hold a negative connotation contrary to European and other Western philosophies as it represented Rulership and protection, which is why you’ll see 2 Cobras standing in defense on Taharqa’s crown which signifies that he protected and ruled over two kingdoms at once. 


Taharqa was still just a teen and lead a powerful army of African Warriors that was able to help create and maintain peace in these lands. Taharqa had constant conflict with the Assyrians, but During his reign Taharqa built up Kush and Nubia substantially. Taharqa help create prosperity and his empire flourished as he re-built temples, statues, and buildings while creating new ones. Taharqa was eventually overwhelmed by the enemy, but not after establishing his kingdom as one of the greatest in history. Kush survived for almost a millennium even after his rule and the ensuing invasion by the Assyrians. 

Taharqa was buried in pyramid in Nubia. There are countless statues built to honor him, many of which had the head and/or Nose knocked off by future invading forces, but his legacy can’t be erased. Will Smith has been producing a movie for a few years entitled “The Last Pharaoh” which he will star as Taharqa. Learn the truth about your rich history. SanCopha!

Post By: @Champion_Us

pbs.org
Do the World’s Three Remaining Northern White Rhinos Have a Future?
Sudan is the last of his kind on Earth. He just looks like a rhino. But as his keeper will quickly inform you, he is one of just three northern white rhinos remaining on the planet. The other two, a mother-daughter pair named Najin and Fatu, are unable to bear young. In addition to being …

In honor of #WorldWildlifeConservationDay, did you know there are just three northern white rhinos remaining on the planet?

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100 things that you did not know about Africa - Nos.1 - 25

1. The human race is of African origin. The oldest known skeletal remains of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens) were excavated at sites in East Africa. Human remains were discovered at Omo in Ethiopia that were dated at 195,000 years old, the oldest known in the world.

2. Skeletons of pre-humans have been found in Africa that date back between 4 and 5 million years. The oldest known ancestral type of humanity is thought to have been the australopithecus ramidus, who lived at least 4.4 million years ago.

3. Africans were the first to organise fishing expeditions 90,000 years ago. At Katanda, a region in northeastern Zaïre (now Congo), was recovered a finely wrought series of harpoon points, all elaborately polished and barbed. Also uncovered was a tool, equally well crafted, believed to be a dagger. The discoveries suggested the existence of an early aquatic or fishing based culture.

4. Africans were the first to engage in mining 43,000 years ago. In 1964 a hematite mine was found in Swaziland at Bomvu Ridge in the Ngwenya mountain range. Ultimately 300,000 artefacts were recovered including thousands of stone-made mining tools. Adrian Boshier, one of the archaeologists on the site, dated the mine to a staggering 43,200 years old.

5. Africans pioneered basic arithmetic 25,000 years ago. The Ishango bone is a tool handle with notches carved into it found in the Ishango region of Zaïre (now called Congo) near Lake Edward. The bone tool was originally thought to have been over 8,000 years old, but a more sensitive recent dating has given dates of 25,000 years old. On the tool are 3 rows of notches. Row 1 shows three notches carved next to six, four carved next to eight, ten carved next to two fives and finally a seven. The 3 and 6, 4 and 8, and 10 and 5, represent the process of doubling. Row 2 shows eleven notches carved next to twenty-one notches, and nineteen notches carved next to nine notches. This represents 10 + 1, 20 + 1, 20 - 1 and 10 - 1. Finally, Row 3 shows eleven notches, thirteen notches, seventeen notches and nineteen notches. 11, 13, 17 and 19 are the prime numbers between 10 and 20.

6. Africans cultivated crops 12,000 years ago, the first known advances in agriculture. Professor Fred Wendorf discovered that people in Egypt’s Western Desert cultivated crops of barley, capers, chick-peas, dates, legumes, lentils and wheat. Their ancient tools were also recovered. There were grindstones, milling stones, cutting blades, hide scrapers, engraving burins, and mortars and pestles.

7. Africans mummified their dead 9,000 years ago. A mummified infant was found under the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter in south western Libya. The infant was buried in the foetal position and was mummified using a very sophisticated technique that must have taken hundreds of years to evolve. The technique predates the earliest mummies known in Ancient Egypt by at least 1,000 years. Carbon dating is controversial but the mummy may date from 7438 (±220) BC.

8. Africans carved the world’s first colossal sculpture 7,000 or more years ago. The Great Sphinx of Giza was fashioned with the head of a man combined with the body of a lion. A key and important question raised by this monument was: How old is it? In October 1991 Professor Robert Schoch, a geologist from Boston University, demonstrated that the Sphinx was sculpted between 5000 BC and 7000 BC, dates that he considered conservative.

9. On the 1 March 1979, the New York Times carried an article on its front page also page sixteen that was entitled Nubian Monarchy called Oldest. In this article we were assured that: “Evidence of the oldest recognizable monarchy in human history, preceding the rise of the earliest Egyptian kings by several generations, has been discovered in artifacts from ancient Nubia” (i.e. the territory of the northern Sudan and the southern portion of modern Egypt.)

10. The ancient Egyptians had the same type of tropically adapted skeletal proportions as modern Black Africans. A 2003 paper appeared in American Journal of Physical Anthropology by Dr Sonia Zakrzewski entitled Variation in Ancient Egyptian Stature and Body Proportions where she states that: “The raw values in Table 6 suggest that Egyptians had the ‘super-Negroid’ body plan described by Robins (1983). The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal segments than in many ‘African’ populations.”

11. The ancient Egyptians had Afro combs. One writer tells us that the Egyptians “manufactured a very striking range of combs in ivory: the shape of these is distinctly African and is like the combs used even today by Africans and those of African descent.”

12. The Funerary Complex in the ancient Egyptian city of Saqqara is the oldest building that tourists regularly visit today. An outer wall, now mostly in ruins, surrounded the whole structure. Through the entrance are a series of columns, the first stone-built columns known to historians. The North House also has ornamental columns built into the walls that have papyrus-like capitals. Also inside the complex is the Ceremonial Court, made of limestone blocks that have been quarried and then shaped. In the centre of the complex is the Step Pyramid, the first of 90 Egyptian pyramids.

13. The first Great Pyramid of Giza, the most extraordinary building in history, was a staggering 481 feet tall - the equivalent of a 40-storey building. It was made of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite, some weighing 100 tons.

14. The ancient Egyptian city of Kahun was the world’s first planned city. Rectangular and walled, the city was divided into two parts. One part housed the wealthier inhabitants – the scribes, officials and foremen. The other part housed the ordinary people. The streets of the western section in particular, were straight, laid out on a grid, and crossed each other at right angles. A stone gutter, over half a metre wide, ran down the centre of every street.

15. Egyptian mansions were discovered in Kahun - each boasting 70 rooms, divided into four sections or quarters. There was a master’s quarter, quarters for women and servants, quarters for offices and finally, quarters for granaries, each facing a central courtyard. The master’s quarters had an open court with a stone water tank for bathing. Surrounding this was a colonnade.

16 The Labyrinth in the Egyptian city of Hawara with its massive layout, multiple courtyards, chambers and halls, was the very largest building in antiquity. Boasting three thousand rooms, 1,500 of them were above ground and the other 1,500 were underground.

17. Toilets and sewerage systems existed in ancient Egypt. One of the pharaohs built a city now known as Amarna. An American urban planner noted that: “Great importance was attached to cleanliness in Amarna as in other Egyptian cities. Toilets and sewers were in use to dispose waste. Soap was made for washing the body. Perfumes and essences were popular against body odour. A solution of natron was used to keep insects from houses … Amarna may have been the first planned ‘garden city’.”

18. Sudan has more pyramids than any other country on earth - even more than Egypt. There are at least 223 pyramids in the Sudanese cities of Al Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal and Meroë. They are generally 20 to 30 metres high and steep sided.

19. The Sudanese city of Meroë is rich in surviving monuments. Becoming the capital of the Kushite Empire between 590 BC until AD 350, there are 84 pyramids in this city alone, many built with their own miniature temple. In addition, there are ruins of a bath house sharing affinities with those of the Romans. Its central feature is a large pool approached by a flight of steps with waterspouts decorated with lion heads.

20. Bling culture has a long and interesting history. Gold was used to decorate ancient Sudanese temples. One writer reported that: “Recent excavations at Meroe and Mussawwarat es-Sufra revealed temples with walls and statues covered with gold leaf”.

21. In around 300 BC, the Sudanese invented a writing script that had twenty-three letters of which four were vowels and there was also a word divider. Hundreds of ancient texts have survived that were in this script. Some are on display in the British Museum.

22. In central Nigeria, West Africa’s oldest civilisation flourished between 1000 BC and 300 BC. Discovered in 1928, the ancient culture was called the Nok Civilisation, named after the village in which the early artefacts were discovered. Two modern scholars, declare that “[a]fter calibration, the period of Nok art spans from 1000 BC until 300 BC”. The site itself is much older going back as early as 4580 or 4290 BC.

23. West Africans built in stone by 1100 BC. In the Tichitt-Walata region of Mauritania, archaeologists have found “large stone masonry villages” that date back to 1100 BC. The villages consisted of roughly circular compounds connected by “well-defined streets”.

24. By 250 BC, the foundations of West Africa’s oldest cities were established such as Old Djenné in Mali.

25. Kumbi Saleh, the capital of Ancient Ghana, flourished from 300 to 1240 AD. Located in modern day Mauritania, archaeological excavations have revealed houses, almost habitable today, for want of renovation and several storeys high. They had underground rooms, staircases and connecting halls. Some had nine rooms. One part of the city alone is estimated to have housed 30,000 people.

By Robin Walker

Part 1. 1-25

Part 2. 26-50

Part 3. 50-75

By Robin Walker 

Robin Walkers book When we ruled is one of the best books Africans and African Diaspora can use firstly as a introduction to African history and secondly a good source to become proficient with precolonial African history.

Recommended reading

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Similar, But Different: An Explanation of Moon Knight’s Parallels to Other Fictional Characters

It’s a staple in superhero fandom to say, “this character is a rip-off of that character!” It’s true: between the superhero tent poles of Marvel and DC, there are pairs of characters that seem like one was influenced by the other. Whether it’s between Deadpool and Deathstroke, Namor and Aquaman, or Nova and Green Lantern, there are character traits shared among these pairs that fans argue over as “ripped off.”

Then there are fans like me who step in to defend our favorite contested character with complex and sometimes convoluted reasoning. The truth of the matter is that most if not every superhero was inspired by either another fictional or real-life character including the first and most famous examples. So in a sense, every superhero ripped off someone else. Get over it.

Now, as a fan of Marvel’s lunar crusader, Moon Knight, I often feel the same cringe-inducing discomfort other fans feel when someone says, “Moon Knight is a Batman rip-off” or “Moon Knight is Marvel’s Batman.” I get that people use this analogy to instantly familiarize other uninitiated people to the basics of what kind of character he is: he is like Batman.

You know what? Yeah, okay, he does borrow some character elements from the Dark Knight:

  • Moon Knight throws around his Crescent Darts, which are moon-shaped Batarangs, in essence.
  • Moon Knight uses themed transportation, including a Moon Copter that is his analog to the Batplane.
  • Moon Knight’s secret identity is rich and personally funds his vigilantism like Bruce Wayne does as Batman. (There is a big BUT to this point that I’ll get around to.)
  • Moon Knight wears a cape that he glides around on like Batman. (Oh come on! That’s so generic by now!)
  • Moon Knight has a butler named Samuels just like Batman has a butler named Alfred.
  • Moon Knight owns a mansion with a secret hidden base just like Batman’s Wayne Manor and Batcave.

That’s where their similarities end. Now, I don’t take issue to the fact that people are at least partially right about Moon Knight “ripping off” Batman for the above similarities. What I take issue with is people’s conviction in labeling Moon Knight as guilty of something that Batman allegedly isn’t, which is completely false: Batman is not innocent of being inspired by other characters.

It’s general comic book lore that Batman’s creation was inspired by pre-superhero, fictional vigilantes, including Zorro—which was even alluded to in Batman’s classic origin story with Bruce and his parents seeing The Mask of Zorro on the night his parents were killed—the Scarlet Pimpernel, The Shadow, Doc Savage, Dick Tracy, and Sherlock Holmes. Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman’s creators, drew inspiration from each of these classic characters, including character traits like being an aristocrat with a heroic double identity and being a master sleuth.

Therefore, Batman cannot be effectively used as a shining example of an original character in comparison to Moon Knight. Batman is just as inspired by other characters as Moon Knight is inspired by Batman. However, Batman is not Moon Knight’s only inspiration—nor, as I shall argue, is he Moon Knight’s chiefest inspiration.

Let’s first go over Moon Knight’s character and story. He was created in 1975 by Doug Moench and Don Perlin as an adversary-turned-ally to Jack Russell, the protagonist of Marvel’s Werewolf By Night. When he was first created, Moon Knight was little else than an opponent for the Werewolf hired by the Committee to hunt and capture the creature alive.

Moon Knight became popular enough with readers to warrant several cameo appearances in other Marvel books until he was given a proper ongoing solo series in 1980 helmed by Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz. It was by 1976’s Marvel Spotlight #28, the character’s first appearance since Werewolf By Night, that Moench and Perlin began to give the character addition definition. Moon Knight’s supporting cast and alter egos also first appeared in that issue. Here is a summary of all three of his alter egos:

  • Marc Spector — Moon Knight’s first and truest secret identity. Ex-mercenary, Ex-military, Ex-prize-fighting boxer; an all-around gruff brute with a repertoire of sins and regrets that, as Moon Knight, he fights to atone for. As Marc, Moon Knight has access to Marc’s wealth of combat and tactical expertise and his illicit black market connections.
  • Steven Grant — One of Marc’s first invented identities. Millionaire, philanthropist, art collector, high-society fop; Marc’s preferred identity and Marlene Alraune’s lover (one of Moon Knight’s oldest agents). Steven is the man Marc wants to be because he is far more respectable. Steven’s fortunes are derived from the spoils of Marc’s mercenary past and (plausibly) mindful investments. He uses his status and finances to gain intel from richer circles.
  • Jake Lockley — Another of Marc’s first invented identities. Street-wise, rough-around-the-edges New York City cabbie. For the most part, Jake is a humble character and perhaps represents another ideal Marc strives to achieve in his quest for redemption. Jake’s true talents lie in his street-level connections which he uses to collect information.

Moon Knight’s supporting cast also defines him as much as his multiple personalities and origin story. His core supporting cast include:

  • Marlene Alraune — Steven’s lover and Moon Knight’s agent. Marlene’s father, Peter, was killed by Raoul Bushman (Moon Knight’s oldest and primary archnemesis and one-time ally to Marc) during a treasure raid by Marc’s mercenary group at a Northern Sudan archaeological dig. (Marc blames himself for Peter’s death, which Marlene was witness to, because he failed to act on his conscience.) Marlene isn’t merely eye candy; she’s a strong and capable agent who has frequently fought alongside with Moon Knight.
  • Jean-Paul “Frenchie” DuChamp — Marc’s former mercenary partner-turned-agent of Moon Knight and his best friend. Ex-French Legionnaire. Frenchie is primarily the Moon Copter’s pilot, engineer, and mechanic. Like Marc, Frenchie regrets the sins of his mercenary past and seeks atonement by aiding Moon Knight.
  • Bertrand Crawley — Jake’s back-alleys informant. A down-on-his-luck vagabond with an eloquent vocabulary, Crawley frequents Gena’s Diner for a hot cup of water to soak his moldy teabag in and to provide Jake with the word on the streets. He, too, seeks atonement for his troubled past.
  • Gena Landers and her sons, Ray and Ricky — Owner and operator of Gena’s Diner located in Brooklyn. Gena and her sons are not so much informants as they are spies for Moon Knight. They’re largely involved in Moon Knight’s mission as non-combatants.
  • Detective Flint — Not an agent of Moon Knight. Detective Flint is more or less Moon Knight’s police liaison and informant. Also, Detective Flint is less of Moon Knight’s equivalent to Commissioner Gordon in Batman lore due to his diminished impact on Moon Knight or his story.

Moon Knight associates each of his multiple personalities with his supporting cast: Marlene and Frenchie relate to Marc Spector; Marlene is in love with Steven Grant; Crawley and Gena and her sons relate to Jake Lockley; and Detective Flint and the rest of Moon Knight’s supporting cast serve the heroic identity, Moon Knight.

As you can already tell, Moon Knight has some key differences from Batman:

  • Marc Spector wasn’t born into his wealth like Bruce Wayne was. Instead, Marc gained his fortune from his mercenary career. Also, Marc wasn’t born into a rich family like Bruce was; Marc was born into a mid-to-lower class family living in Chicago and his father was a pacifist, an orthodox Rabbi, and a Holocaust survivor. Also, Marc didn’t aspire to his father as Bruce did to his; Marc despised his father’s pacifism and their familial relationship was strained and dysfunctional to his father’s deathbed.
  • Moon Knight and Batman may share mental health issues (as some would suggest that Batman is psychotic, among other things), but Moon Knight is explicitly more unstable. His multiple personality disorder is both his greatest advantage and greatest foil.
  • Where Batman fights for vengeance and justice by his own determination, Moon Knight fights for vengeance as homage to the Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance, Khonshu. Moon Knight is both an enigma and a quagmire: his mental instability makes him an unreliable protagonist because there is no definite answer to whether Khonshu is real or if he is part of Moon Knight’s madness. Regardless, Moon Knight believes he is Khonshu’s avatar and his belief—combined with his desire for redemption—is what drives him to be a hero whereas Batman is primarily driven by the death of his parents. Religion is as much the core of Moon Knight as is his madness. (This is also biblically and dramatically ironic because Marc rejected his father’s faith and he is a Jew serving an Egyptian deity.)

Now unlike Batman, Moon Knight’s inspiration is far vaguer in comics history. There is virtually no source material that explores how Moench and Perlin created the character and most analyses into his inspirations are largely parallelisms drawn by fans. Despite the dominant trend of drawing parallels between Moon Knight and Batman, there are other less circulated parallels that have been drawn that better shape Moon Knight’s true inspiration.

The most common of the uncommon parallels drawn—and that which I agree with most profoundly from my own research and experience—is between Moon Knight and the classic pulp hero, The Shadow. There are a wide variety of reasons why The Shadow is a better candidate over Batman as Moon Knight’s primary inspiration.

First, who is The Shadow? The Shadow was originally created in 1930 by David Chrisman, William Sweets, and Harry Engman Charlot as a means for Street and Smith Publications to boost sales of its Detective Story Magazine. The Shadow was first the narrating persona of the Detective Story Hour radio show until he became popular enough with listeners to warrant the creation of his own monthly novels written by Walter B. Gibson under the penname Maxwell Grant. (Gibson is credited as The Shadow’s true original creator because he gave life to a previously ethereal, bodiless voice on the radio.)

The Shadow eventually earned his own radio show which adapted Gibson’s novels and added to it one of The Shadow’s oldest and most popular agents, Margo Lane. To best explain The Shadow’s story, here is a quote directly from the radio shows’ introduction:

The Shadow, mysterious character who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man-about-town. Several years ago in the Orient, Cranston learned a strange and mysterious secret…the hypnotic power to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him. Cranston’s friend and companion, the lovely Margo Lane, is the only person who knows to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs.

There were some significant changes made to The Shadow and his story between Gibson’s novels and the radio show. Later adaptations and stories amalgamated the different elements between the two versions to varying degrees. Modern interpretations of the character and his stories include these elements:

  • The Shadow’s true identity is actually Kent Allard, a famed aviator from World War II who one day went missing. In that time, Kent became a savage warlord until Eastern monks intervened and trained him in their mystic ways to become a force for vengeance and justice. (Other interpretations replace the Eastern monks with South American native tribesmen.)
  • Lamont Cranston is actually an entirely different person who Kent once saved. He now serves The Shadow by allowing Kent to assume Lamont’s identity while the real Lamont is sent out-of-country.
  • The Shadow’s power to “cloud men’s minds” and become invisible is limited in that the only thing he cannot hide is his own shadow. This is thematic to Kent’s own dark heart which is so stained with the sins of his past that he cannot hide it. (Thus his shadow is a physical manifestation of his sins.)
  • The Shadow can also peer into the hearts of men and women, allowing him to see the good and evil in them.
  • The Shadow is often violent in his vengeance and is more of a feared vigilante than a hero.
  • The Shadow has many agents besides Margo including Harry Vincent, one of his oldest agents and friends and a man-about-town himself; Moe “Shrevvy” Shrevnitz, a gruff-yet-humble New York City cabbie; and Burbank, The Shadow’s trusted and secretive communications master stationed in The Shadow’s Sanctum. Margo is also not the only agent who possibly knows The Shadow’s secret identity. The Shadow largely relies on his agents in his mission.
  • Margo is both a romantic interest to Kent and a capable agent who fights alongside The Shadow.

As you can see, Moon Knight shares many more similarities with The Shadow than he does with Batman. To compare:

  • Both Marc and Kent had sinful pasts that they’re driven to atone for as their heroic alter egos.
  • Both use and rely on a network of agents, some of whom know their secret identities and whom are also close friends to the heroes.
  • Both share a romantic interest with a beautiful female agent who’s also a capable fighter in her own rights. Both Margo and Marlene also live a lavish life of luxury which they use for the high-society connections.
  • Both Moon Knight and The Shadow are violent vigilantes, though different interpretations of each also make them less violent and more heroic.
  • Both possess seemingly mystical qualities that can likely be explained by science, specifically psychology. (The Shadow’s powers are often related to hypnosis.)
  • Both employ multiple identities that serve different functions in their missions.
  • Both operate out of New York City.
  • Both have helicopter-based flying machines: Moon Knight has his Moon Copter and The Shadow has his gyrocopter.

An interesting twist to Moon Knight when compared with The Shadow is that where Lamont Cranston, Kent Allard, and Shrevvy are different characters separate from each other, Moon Knight’s equivalents—Steven Grant, Marc Spector, and Jake Lockley, respectively—are actually different personalities of the same character.

From these comparisons, you can see that the common Moon Knight-to-Batman parallels are largely drawn from aesthetic qualities whereas the uncommon Moon Knight-to-The Shadow parallels are drawn from characteristics beyond the aesthetic. Therefore, the next time someone tells you, “Moon Knight is a Batman rip-off” or some variation thereof, you can respond, “You’re partially correct but Moon Knight is inspired more by The Shadow, who is also one of many inspirations for Batman.”

The conversations based on who inspired what should also no longer veer toward the negative connotation that “X is a copy of Y” unless the X character is a blatant carbon copy of the Y character with only a (very) small handful of aesthetic changes. These conversations are rarely if ever constructive and only serve to demean a property that most likely deserves more praise for the qualities that differentiates it from its inspiration. The goal is not to drive away potential fans from a similar property; the goal should be to broaden a fan’s horizon with properties that feel familiar but are different. The comics industry and its fans suffer from an “us versus them” mentality, so don’t contribute to it. Strive to be inclusive of potential fans to similar properties because new fans help the industry and fandom thrive.

South Sudan is a difficult place to explain. It’s one of those places where it is impossible to separate the political and the personal, because the dominant themes of every personal life have been shaped by political circumstances. Very few people in South Sudan have hopes, fears, happiest moments, and saddest moments, that are entirely divorced from the conflict that has enveloped the country. The fighting here has been going on for so long, that the root causes of the violence are complex, interwoven, and difficult to ascertain. South Sudan was established as a country in 2011, following a 20 year civil war with northern Sudan. This war was largely a religious and ethnic conflict, which often descended into genocide– most famously in the Darfur region. Millions of civilians were killed. 

Three years ago, when South Sudan finally achieved it’s independence from the north, there was a great deal of optimism. But late last year, a political battle between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar ignited a new civil war. Because the two men were from different tribes, the fighting has once again broken out along ethnic lines. Ethnic war is an an especially deadly sort of conflict because it can easily spill over into civilian populations.

Fighting in the new civil war is largely between the Dinka and the Nuer, South Sudan’s two dominant tribes. Many of the posts from the next few days were collected at an Internally Displaced Persons Site within the UN compound in Juba. The people in these posts are members of the Nuer tribe. When fighting broke out, they stormed the gates of the UN to escape an unfolding massacre at the hands of Dinka fighters. Over the course of a few days, thousands of Nuer were gunned down in the capital city, where they represented a significant minority. 

In other parts of the country, Dinka were killed with equal indiscrimination in heavily Nuer regions. I provide this context only to make clear that this is not a story of victim vs. aggressor. But rather the latest outbreak of violence in a new country with a troubled history that is filled with violence, distrust, and racial animosities. But South Sudan is also a country filled with millions of civilians who are desperately, and with the greatest difficulty, trying to transcend this history and establish a society based on democratic and equalitarian ideals. But burdened by decades of resentment, revenge, and almost ceaseless fighting, it is proving to be an extremely difficult climb.

Dividing Sudan: Forgive us of our foreign debt. Please?
  • $38B the amount Sudan owes in foreign debt – $30 billion in debt arrears
  • 1993 the last time the country could get a loan from the World Bank
  • 75% the amount the country hopes to get forgiven before it splits source

» The spit has something to do with it: The size of Sudan’s debt could effectively limit the region’s ability to get a fresh start as it splits into two. Southern Sudanese official Gabriel Changson Chang is making a hard push for the changes before the countries divide. “We want both the north and south to be economically viable,” he says. Current president Omar al-Bashir has made similar claims as well, and with good reason: Half of the country’s population currently lives on less than $1 a day and need some sort of food aid.

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Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

Scientists are investigating what may be the oldest identified race war 13,000 years after it raged on the fringes of the Sahara. French scientists working in collaboration with the British Museum have been examining dozens of skeletons, a majority of whom appear to have been killed by archers using flint-tipped arrows.

The bones – from Jebel Sahaba on the east bank of the Nile in northern Sudan – are from victims of the world’s oldest known relatively large-scale human armed conflict.

Over the past two years anthropologists from Bordeaux University have discovered literally dozens of previously undetected arrow impact marks and flint arrow head fragments on and around the bones of the victims. Read more.

pbs.org
Do the World’s Three Remaining Northern White Rhinos Have a Future? | Blog | Nature | PBS
Sudan is the last of his kind on Earth. He just looks like a rhino. But as his keeper will quickly inform you, he is one of just three northern white rhinos remaining on the planet. The other two, a mother-daughter pair named Najin and Fatu, are unable to bear young. In addition to being …

Only 3 northern white rhinos are left in the entire world. 


#WorldRhinoDay

washingtonpost.com
Va. man plants flag, claims African country, calling it ‘Kingdom of North Sudan’

Jeremiah Heaton creates “Kingdom of Northern Sudan” by staking claim to 800-square mile swath of desert.

This man claimed some land in Africa because his daughter wanted to be a princess.

They want this to be a feel good, charming little story about a father’s need to make his daughter’s wish come true, but so much of it just sits wrong with me, not the least of it being, way to raise an entitled child. And then when we are done discussing that we can discuss a white guy colonizing land in Africa. 

Maybe I’m just too cynical. But I hate everything about this story.