DYNAMIC AFRICA

African-based news, lifestyle & popular culture platform that brings you stories and information concerning Africa and the African diaspora. Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is a rich content-driven creative space with a Pan-African outlook established as an expressive platform for African experiences, African culture and African stories.


Dynamic Africa is a diverse multimedia platform, which curates global ideas, memes, attitudes and other phenomena that shape popular culture, with both a local and global African perspective.




CONTACT: dynamicafricablog@gmail.com

all submissions via email only


PLEASE EMAIL US DIRECTLY ABOUT ANY COPYRIGHT ISSUES. THANK YOU.


INSTAGRAM FEED:


Recent Tweets @DynamicAfrica
Recommended
Posts tagged "history"
heyfranhey:

History Lesson || Why Women Of Color In The 1800s Were Banned From Wearing Their Hair Out In Public 
BGLH writes:
“Did you know that in late 18th century Louisiana, black and multiracial women were ordered to cover their hair in public?” My sister asked me.
“WOW. Really?” I replied.
I’d probably heard of this in one of my black studies classes in undergrad, but who remembers everything they’ve been taught? Besides, this information felt instantly relevant and I was absolutely intrigued.
With a little digging I found that there was in fact a “law” of sorts that demanded women of color in Louisiana to cover their hair with a fabric cloth starting in 1789 as a part of what was called the Bando du buen gobierno (Edict for Good Government).  What these rules were meant to do was try to curtail the growing influence of the free black population and keep the social order of the time. The edict included sections specifically about the changing of certain “unacceptable” behaviors of the free black women in the colony including putting an end to what he and others believed to be the overly ostentatious hairstyles of these ladies which drew the attention of white men, and the jealousy of white women. These rules are called the “Tignon Laws” A tignon (pronounced “tiyon”) is a headdress.
Read more here.

heyfranhey:

History Lesson || Why Women Of Color In The 1800s Were Banned From Wearing Their Hair Out In Public

BGLH writes:

“Did you know that in late 18th century Louisiana, black and multiracial women were ordered to cover their hair in public?” My sister asked me.

“WOW. Really?” I replied.

I’d probably heard of this in one of my black studies classes in undergrad, but who remembers everything they’ve been taught? Besides, this information felt instantly relevant and I was absolutely intrigued.

With a little digging I found that there was in fact a “law” of sorts that demanded women of color in Louisiana to cover their hair with a fabric cloth starting in 1789 as a part of what was called the Bando du buen gobierno (Edict for Good Government).  What these rules were meant to do was try to curtail the growing influence of the free black population and keep the social order of the time. The edict included sections specifically about the changing of certain “unacceptable” behaviors of the free black women in the colony including putting an end to what he and others believed to be the overly ostentatious hairstyles of these ladies which drew the attention of white men, and the jealousy of white women. These rules are called the “Tignon Laws” A tignon (pronounced “tiyon”) is a headdress.

Read more here.

(via abstrackafricana)

Brazilian Football, Jorge Ben and the Story of “Fio Maravilha”.

How I came to know of this somewhat lesser known iconic moment in Brazilian football history is a story that’s as short, sweet and somewhat romantic as the event itself. 

Anyone that knows me knows that ever since discovering his music, I’ve had a serious love affair with Jorge Ben that I see no end to. Nestled amongst his bigger and better known songs such as Taj Mahal (sampled illegally by Rod Stewart), Mas, Que Nada! (covered famously by Sergio Mendes), Pais Tropical (a tribute to his native Brazil) and his upbeat and catchy Take It Easy My Brother Charles that sees him singing partially in English, are a range of other songs that highlight and pay tribute to Afro-Brazilian legends.

There’s Xica Da Silva, the iconic story of an African and Portuguese Brazilian woman who, despite being born into enslavement, was able to accumulate wealth, power and influence in 18th century Brazilian society. The song appeared of Ben’s equally iconic África Brasil album. Then, there’s his dedication to another African victim of enslavement in Brazil, Zumbi dos Palmares who was the last of the leaders of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a settlement set up by and for fugitive enslaved men, women and children, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil. Both songs are brilliant tributes and Ben’s lyrical storytelling style brings these portions of history to life with a richness that makes them unforgettable.

However, the song that to me shows the brilliance of Jorge Ben’s musical and songwriting capabilities comes in the form of his 1972-penned ode to João Batista de Sales, otherwise known as Fio Maravilha. The song, barely two minutes in length, captures the most important moment in the short-lived football career of De Sales.

Written before the release of África Brasil in 1976, the song idealizes a friendly game between Flamengo, De Sales’ team, and Benfica in the famous Maracanã stadium that was attended by Jorge Ben.  Omitted from Flamengo’s starting lineup by coach Mário Zagallo, De Sales was put on the field after chants from the crowd demanded he play. By the second half, the game was still at 0-0, but close to the 80th minute, De Sales came through for the Flamengo’s scoring the only goal of the game (one that Jorge Ben describes as ‘celestial’) that ended in a 1-0 victory for his team. To Jorge Ben, this victory went beyond the personal. It was another victory for Black Brazil.

Since then, De Sales has played for teams in both Brazil and the United States where he currently resides and coaches football. The song has ensured that that legendary feat by De Sales will never be forgotten as it remains a favourite by fans of Jorge Ben, De Sales and the Flamengo football club.

Listen to the original, a live version, and a version performed with Gilberto Gil.

Zwarte Piet: A Tradition of Blackface in The Netherlands.

The Netherlands are one step closer to the possibility of winning the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup. Continuing with our posts related to the World Cup and learning more about the African diaspora, we decided to look at one of the country’s not-so-great cultural traditions.

The Netherlands is a country popularly known for its tulips and windmills, it’s legalization of marijuana and…for brutally colonising South Africa. But during the month of December when good cheer is supposed to be spread by all, a racist tradition dating back to the late 1800s rears its ugly head.

In a book published in 1850 and written by Jan Schenkman, Sint Nikolaas en zijn Knecht (“Saint Nicholas and his Servant”), the foundation of a Christmas tradition where the Dutch paint their faces black, emphasize their often non-existent lips with red lipstick, wear kinky-textured wigs and Renaissance period attire, was birthed through a character known as ‘Zwarte Piet’. Although not named in Schenkman’s book, the name ‘Pieter’ would not appear in print until the publication of the 1891 book Het Feest van Sinterklaas, the Amsterdam-based primary school teacher depicted Saint Nicholas’ ‘servant’ as a young page with dark skin and wearing clothes typically associated with Moors at the time. The book stayed in print for a hundred years, until 1950.

This Dutch folklore character was portrayed as a ‘helper’ of Sinterklaas (Santa Claus), also known as Saint Nicholas. According to some depictions in medieval European folklore, Saint Nicholas “is sometimes presented as taming a chained devil, who may or may not be black”, and who some allude to being changed to represent a Moor, essentially Zwarte Piet, in post 19th century Germanic European folk literature.  Part of this change came about as both teachers and clergymen became concerned with the way Sinterklaas, who was essentially a saint, was being portrayed. Folklore often depicted Saint Nicholas as some sort of a boogeyman who scolded bad children and made them fearful of him. Sinterklaas had more terrifying qualities than good ones, most of which were later transferred to Zwarte Piet.

Thus, what some say began as a ‘black devil’ was later transformed into a more human form, at the same time that it dehumanized and demonized the very people it portrayed.

As the years wore on, Zwarte Piet became more and more of a docile and childlike character who was not only Santa’s helper, but a ‘friend’ to young children. Perhaps one can say that the transformation of Zwarte Piet’s characteristics also mirrored the changing attitudes of this part of Europe to black people and Africa(ns). Where during the height of colonisation, black people were portrayed as savages and animals to be tamed, by the early 20th century, European colonists began to adopt patronising attitudes towards Africa, portraying Africans as child-like and in need of saving through the adoption of Western culture. The relationship between Saint Nicholas and Zwarte Piet seems to be a clear demonstration of this - the white god-like saviour rearing the black infant-like individual who will forever be in servitude to their false father-figure.

I’m not entirely sure when the culture of blackface in line with Zwarte Piet came about but it seems to have taken flight in the early 20th century as Piet became a much more ‘docile’ character to the Dutch public. With this popularity came the twisted celebration of European racism, one that many Dutch seem to think is harmless. According to a 2013 survey, 92% of the Dutch public don’t perceive Zwarte Piet as racist or associate him with slavery, and 91% are opposed to altering the character’s appearance.

With immigration increasing in the Netherlands, and as more and more people pay attention to this cultural ‘celebration’, there have been a number of anti-Zwarte Piet protests.

The largest Sinterklaas celebration in Western Canada, in New Westminster, British Columbia, due to take place in December 2011, was cancelled for the first time since 1985 following a debate over the inclusion of Zwarte Piet in the festivities.

In 2011, legislators in the former Dutch colony of Suriname stated that government-sanctioned celebrations involving Zwarte Piet were considered an insult to the “black part of Suriname’s community.” Demonstrators in Amsterdam held an anti-Zwarte Piet protest in 2013 on the weekend of the city’s Sinterklaas celebration in November. And now, in 2014, something that’s been a long time coming has finally happened. An Amsterdam court has ruled that the traditional Dutch figure Black Pete is offensive due to its role in continuing stereotypes of black people. 

lostinurbanism:

Alain Le Garsmeur, Georgia (1983)

The Year Algeria Made Football & World Cup History.

It’s been 32 years since the Algerian national football team caused what some have named one of the ‘biggest upsets' in World Cup history by defeating then European champions West Germany. It's also been 32 years since Algeria was sabotaged in what The Guardian calls “one of sport’s most blatant cases of match-fixing.”

Qualifying for the first time ever, Algeria’s presence at the World Cup hosted in Spain that year was already an historic feat. The African team had been placed in a group that included Austria, Chile, and West Germany who they were scheduled to play against first.

On that June day in 1982, the North African novices faced reigning European champions West Germany. Many predicted a thrashing by the Germans who in turn didn’t shy away from making boastful statements about the game that lay ahead. One German player boldly declared before the match, “we will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs”, openly mocking their Algerian opponents. Even the then West German manager, Jupp Derwall, reportedly said that if the Algerians won, he would “jump on the first train back to Munich.” Algeria defender Chaabane Merzekane recalled that one of the West German players said that he would play the match with a cigar in his mouth.

Well, if Derwall had any sense of foresight, he would’ve booked a one-way ticket back to Munich immediately. Better yet, if Derwall had only done his homework on the Algerian team, he may have refrained from making such a statement. Negligence on Derwall’s part would later mean that West Germany would be in for a great surprise. It was only after the match that Derwall admitted that he was given a footage of the Algerian players in action, as is customary, but did not show it to his team as they would have mocked him had he done so. Why? Simply because the Germans, whether out of racism or ignorance, did not think the Algerians to be worthy opponents.

In 1982, most of Algeria’s national football team was comprised of players who had been teammates for years as Algerian law at the time prohibited players from leaving the country before the age of 28, something that stemmed from the FLN’s role in Algeria’s history of independence and its influence on the country’s football team. All of the players had been based at home, as a result of this law, making their bond of the field exceptionally strong and fluid. Several former FLN players were part of the coaching staff in 1982, including Abdelhamid Zouba and the co-manager Rachid Mekloufi, and the spirit of Algerian pride that had been established by these players who left France to play for Algeria was present in the team. 1982 was also the 20th anniversary of Algeria’s independence. 

Algeria had successfully beaten Nigeria to be present at the 1982 World Cup and during their first ever match at this tournament, the determination and humility of the Fennec Foxes, as well as their skill, of course, would see them through to a 2-1 victory against West Germany. This victory made Algeria the first African team to defeat a European opponent at the World Cup. Their next match against Austria saw the tides turn as they lost 2-0, but against Chile, they regained their form and won that match leaving them with four points from their three games (back when it was two points for a win).

Now, their fate of progressing became dependent on West Germany failing to beat Austria the next day. But both the Germans and Austrians both knew that if Germany beat Austria 1-0, it would result in both teams progressing to the next round at Algeria’s expense. Thus, both teams conspired to achieve this result - a distasteful case of match-fixing that forever changed the world of football. After Germany’s Horst Hrubesch put his team in the lead at the 10th minute, both the Germans and Austrians basically did nothing for the next 80 minutes. No attempts at goal, just an hour and 20 minutes of kicking the ball around.

As The Guardian points out, “the game was no longer a contest, it was a conspiracy.”

Both the Austrian and West German teams were scorned by the public. Algerian fans in the crowd burned peseta notes to show their suspicions of corruption. Spaniards in attendance waved hankerchiefs throughout the second half in a traditional display of disdain. The following day, Spanish newspapers denounced the actions of both teams and there was outrage in West Germany and Austria too.

German commentator Eberhard Stanjek, working for German channel ARD, almost sobbed during the match and said: “What is happening here is disgraceful and has nothing to do with football. You can say what you like, but not every end justifies the means.” His fellow Austrian commentator suggested viewers turn off their TVs and he refused to speak for the last half-hour. Former West German international Willi Schulz branded the German players “gangsters”.

But these ‘gangsters’ remained unapologetic through the criticism, backlash and protesting. When German fans gathered at the team hotel to protest, the players responded by throwing water bombs at them from their balconies.

The head of the Austrian delegation, Hans Tschak, made this extraordinary racist comments about the Algerian team: “Naturally today’s game was played tactically. But if 10,000 ‘sons of the desert’ here in the stadium want to trigger a scandal because of this it just goes to show that they have too few schools. Some sheikh comes out of an oasis, is allowed to get a sniff of World Cup air after 300 years and thinks he’s entitled to open his gob.”

Not ones to stoop down to the level of their European opponents, the Fennec Foxes remained publicly unphased by these comments. As Merzekane recalls, “We weren’t angry, we were cool,” he says. “To see two big powers debasing themselves in order to eliminate us was a tribute to Algeria. They progressed with dishonour, we went out with our heads held high.”

All over the world, people called on FIFA to punish the Europeans or stage a replay, but in the end all that was done by them was to rule that from then onwards the last pair of games in every group would be played simultaneously. Algeria had come to the World Cup and made history in more ways than one. They had left an “indelible mark on football history.”

(sources: 1 | 2 | 3)

Enslaved Africans Were the First to Celebrate Ramadan in the United States.

In line with the start of Ramadan this year, its important to note how the history of Islam in America is inextricably linked with the arrival of enslaved Africans. Whilst some may think the second-most practiced faith in the United States does not have a long-standing history in the country, social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or “as many as 600,000 to 1.2 million,” slaves in antebellum America were Muslims. Forty-six percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims.” 

The failure to not recognize this fact is not only an ignorant viewpoint that erases both the history of early African-American presence and Islam in the US, but also sheds light on racist historical perspectives that exist both in American and Muslim societies.

With many of these individuals coming from communities throughout the Western coast of Africa, many sought to keep their faith intact as best they could, including the observation of Ramadan. Due to the harsh conditions of slavery, this was not always easily done and with time, many traditions were lost through the brutality of the system of slavery that prevented or outlawed the passing on of many significant cultural practices that were brought to the United States through enslaved Africans.

(source)

profkew:

Aaron Henry at the Democratic National Convention of 1964. ~ WARREN K. LEFFLER/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

What Was Freedom Summer?  by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Tomorrow night (6/24/2014), you will have an opportunity to experience “Freedom Summer” the way my family did: on television. Only back then, we didn’t know whether civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner would be found alive down in Mississippi. We also didn’t know whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (our subject next week), without badly needed voting-rights protections, would begin to fulfill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a new American racial order, following a hundred years’ war between advocates for full and equal black citizenship and the architects of all the snares that had hampered black progress since the collapse of Reconstruction in 1876. What we did sense was that the movement had grown younger, more radical, more diverse and increasingly powered by what Robert “Bob” Parris Moses, the pivotal planner of Freedom Summer, has called “ ‘We, the people’ force.”

Before Sly and the Family Stone released their hit song “Everyday People,” the volunteers of Freedom Summer lived the philosophy behind it—school by school, vote by vote, blow by blow. Moses—truly one of the heroes in the history of the African-American people—compared “the language” animating this noble effort to that “of the ocean, the everyday language of everyday people.” And when its wave crashed in Mississippi in June, July and August of 1964, the reverberation was so loud and deep that we could hear it and feel it all the way up in the Allegheny Mountains surrounding my small hometown of Piedmont, W.Va.  

One thing was for sure: None of us would ever be the same. Nor would America. To me, Freedom Summer’s greatest legacy is the counterintuitive philosophy behind it. After decades of a “top down” organizing strategy, Moses and Ella Baker flipped the script, galvanizing everyday people to learn and lead themselves. And it is—it always will be—a blueprint for change. 

The Roots of Freedom Summer

Local branches of the NAACP led the way in Mississippi, beginning in the 1950s, with Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry and Medgar Evers (who would be assassinated in his own driveway) in the forefront. The mountains those pioneers had to climb were steep and jagged. African Americans in Mississippi, when they had jobs, were typically stuck working as sharecroppers or domestics, and they lived in a segregated society without any political power. “In 1962,” Lisa Clayton Robinson notes in her entry on Freedom Summer in Africana“only 6.7 percent of African Americans in the state were registered to vote, the lowest percentage in the country.” And, as the 1955 murder of Emmett Till demonstrated, white violence was an omnipresent threat.

Organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) started pouring into the state in the early 1960s. As President John F. Kennedy said about the country as a whole, “ … the torch ha[d] been passed.” Among the young new leaders, none played a more pivotal role than the brilliant but soft-spoken visionary Bob Moses, in Mississippi to spearhead a voter registration drive. Moses may not be as well known to the wider society today as King is, but he should be. Without him, there would have been no Freedom Summer, and without Freedom Summer, there would have been no Voting Rights Act a year later.

Read more here.

nprfreshair:

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a movement to open the polls to blacks in Mississippi and end the state’s white supremacy. 
Freedom Summer was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited 700 college students—mostly white students from the North—to come down to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote. 
A new documentary called Freedom Summer airs on PBS tomorrow. The film’s director Stanley Nelson, and longtime journalist and one of Freedom Summer’s organizers Charles Cobb joined Fresh Air to discuss the movement. Cobb explains how SNCC trained the students for their entry into the violent South: 

Charles Cobb: We could show people how best to try and protect yourself from actual physical [harm] – what to do if you’re attacked by a mob, how to cover your body, how to protect somebody who you’re with without engaging in fistfights or whipping out a pistol… We could show people how to do that. We had some experience in that because we all came out of the sit-in movement and were used to being surrounded by mobs of hostile whites.

nprfreshair:

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a movement to open the polls to blacks in Mississippi and end the state’s white supremacy. 

Freedom Summer was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited 700 college students—mostly white students from the North—to come down to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote. 

A new documentary called Freedom Summer airs on PBS tomorrow. The film’s director Stanley Nelson, and longtime journalist and one of Freedom Summer’s organizers Charles Cobb joined Fresh Air to discuss the movement. Cobb explains how SNCC trained the students for their entry into the violent South: 

Charles Cobb: We could show people how best to try and protect yourself from actual physical [harm] – what to do if you’re attacked by a mob, how to cover your body, how to protect somebody who you’re with without engaging in fistfights or whipping out a pistol… We could show people how to do that. We had some experience in that because we all came out of the sit-in movement and were used to being surrounded by mobs of hostile whites.

From the number of arrests to the number of African Americans who registered, The Root breaks down the statistics of Freedom Summer’s effect.

schomburgcenter:

Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, it was not enforced in the state of Texas due to a lack of Union troop presence and enforcement in the confederate state.

 

However on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger and his regiment  entered Galveston, Texas to override the resistance to the law and to enforce the Executive Orders. Union Major-General Gordon Granger read General Orders, No.3 to the people of Galveston. It stated:


"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."


Since 1865 black Americans have regarded June 19th as the official emancipation day, and on January 1, 1980, the state of Texas proclaimed June 19 an official state holiday thanks to the African American state legislator Al Edwards.

(via thefemaletyrant)

African labor was ideally suited for this task. A two-way exchange of sugar for labor began. As demand for sugar increased, so did the demand for African slave labor. The first shipload of sugar from Cuba arrived in Spain in 1515. In 1518, the first shipload of slaves arrived in Cuba from West Africa.


Sugar processing yields molasses as a by-product. Fermented molasses yield rum. Molasses were processed into rum in the factories that sprang up in New England, as well as in England, Holland and France. Much of the rum was consumed in Europe. From there, some of it found its way to West Africa. European merchants paid for the slaves with rum, guns, horses, and industrial products from southern Spain, and fine muslin cloth imported from India. Guns were in demand by the African slave agents who used them to hunt for more slaves. Both guns and rum were destabilizing factors in West Africa. It was a recipe for men to get drunk and kill each other. There were enormous profits to be made at each stage of the sugar-molasses-rum-gun-slave transaction. In the process, Europe and America grew rich as Africa bled in agony.

Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD on the crucial role that sugar played both in the destruction of West African societies and the wealth of Europe and America, through the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.

More African history.

In spite of its strong Crusader underpinnings, there was nothing unusual about the African slave trade until 1492. It fit a pattern that had existed for centuries wherein slaves from Europe were sold in Egypt, Central Asia and India, while slaves from sub-Saharan Africa were sold in North Africa, Spain and India. The slave trade declined towards the end of the 15th century because the European market was saturated. Lisbon had about ten thousand Muslim and African slaves and could use no more.


The discovery of America changed this picture. It transformed what was up till then a small trade in ivory, gold and slaves into an intricate global web of trade, piracy and politics. The initial objective of Spain in her American colonies was gold. In their hunt for precious metals, the Spanish obliterated the ancient civilizations of the Aztecs of Mexico, the Mayans of Guatemala and the Incas of Peru. Ninety percent of the men were killed while the women died as a result of slavery and diseases brought in by the Europeans. Within a span of ten years, from 1500 to 1510, the population of Cuba decreased from about one million to twenty thousand. When the Mayan gold was exhausted, the Spanish went after the silver mines of Mexico. The residual indigenous population was enslaved and put to work in the silver mines. Working conditions were so harsh that by 1520, the American colonies were almost drained of their native manpower.

It was about this time that a new crop, unknown in the Americas up until then, was introduced into the New World. The discovery of America had resulted in a vast interchange of agricultural products between the New World and the Old. The potato, tomato and red pepper traveled from the Americas to Europe and Asia, while sugar and cotton went in the other direction.

The introduction of sugar transformed America, Europe and Africa alike. Its impact on history was far greater than that of Mayan gold treasures or the rich silver mines of Mexico. To understand how it happened, it is important to know the process of sugar extraction. The word sugar derives from the Sanskrit word su-ka-ra, meaning a sweet substance. Sugarcane is a tropical crop, which originated in the Indo-Gangetic plains in ancient India. Until the 16th century, it was imported in small quantities into Europe by Muslim merchants and their Venetian partners, and found its way to the dining tables of the rich. When direct European contacts were initiated with India (1496), it became more readily available. Demand multiplied. The islands of the West Indies, and some in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, were ideally suited to grow sugar cane, a crop that is labor intensive. Native American labor had been exhausted. Moreover, the Native Americans were not suited for the kind of backbreaking work required on the sugar plantations. So, labor had to be imported.

An extract from Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD on the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and how it relates to Muslim people and Muslim history in Africa.

More African history.

It is not commonly appreciated that the first target of slavery in West Africa were the Moors (the Portuguese and the Spanish referred to all Muslims regardless of racial differences as Moors). A description of the first raids has come down to us through the writings of the Portuguese writer Azurara. In 1441, a certain young Portuguese captain Golcalves sailed along the coast of southern Morocco and Mauritania gathering ivory, animal hide and sea lion oil for sale in Lisbon. In a chance encounter, he met up with a Muslim couple, wounded the man with a javelin and took them both aboard ship as slaves. At that time the jurisdiction over the Portuguese colony of Tangier was with Prince Henry, an enthusiastic supporter of a naval thrust along the Atlantic seacoast to outflank the Maghrib. The couple was presented to Henry. Sensing an opportunity to capture more slaves, he authorized an ambitious raid the same year under a seasoned and experienced captain Tristao who was familiar with the Atlantic coast of West Africa.


Captains Golcalves and Tristao netted more than a dozen Muslims and enslaved them. Elated, Henry wrote to Pope Eugene IV who gave a decree that capturing the Moors as slaves was a part of the Crusade and whoever sailed south in this pursuit would receive ablution of his sins (1442). This was the origin of the slave trade, which began with Portuguese piracy on the Moroccan coast in 1441. The process was systematized in 1444 when the Portuguese Lagos Company was chartered under the patronage of Prince Henry.

An extract from Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD on the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and how it relates to Muslim people and Muslim history in Africa.

ETA: The Portuguese explorer named in this post is Antão Gonçalves, the first recorded European to buy and bring enslaved Africans to Europe.

More African history.

The Encyclopaedia Of African Wisdom.

The rescue mission of the African culture starts in a small village in Cameroon. Chief Gaston Donnat Bappa was born here. He is an IT specialist with more than three decades of experience in different companies and institutions and is currently the General Coordinator of the ITSUD (Information Technologies for Sustainable Development), an NGO in Song-Mbengue in the rural area of Cameroon, and institution that fights the digital divide, in African rural areas notably.

The 56-year-old is creating a site that he hopes will become the first port of call for African arts and crafts, food, laws, medicine, music, oral storytelling, religion, science, sport – anything that can be defined as tradition, dating back millions of years. A prototype is open for contributions, with early entries including Myths and Legends of the Bantu, and Concepts of Social Justice in Traditional Africa. The name: African Traditions Online Encyclopaedia (ATOE).

The idea grew from Bappa’s passion for beliefs and customs from a young age on in his village, Ndjock-Nkong, as well as his traveled to more than 20 African countries as a senior IT engineer, consultant and bank executive. Bappa:

I saw that even in my tribe traditions are beginning to disappear. When I was going to other countries in Africa I saw it was the same. It’s not because young people don’t want to learn about them but because they don’t have the access in urban areas.

Gaston Donnat Bappa embodies the combination of old and new: He inherited the title of clan chief from his great-grandfather, grandfather and father 22 years ago but has 34 years of experience in computer technology. He hopes to bring the two worlds together in his project.

People think traditions don’t belong with information and communications technology because traditions are so far behind us and ICT is so far ahead of us. But if you don’t know who you are, you don’t know where you are going.

The ATOE will use wiki applications for volunteers to input, change or remove content in collaboration with others. Bappa is operating from Yaoundé and working to raise worldwide awareness of the project, which he will formally unveil at next year’s eLearning Africa conference. He plans to approach Microsoft and other potential sponsors in an attempt to raise 400,000 Euro for the initial phase.

Bappa:

It is not only for Africa. It will be open to all worldwide, Africans and non-Africans. It is for the whole of humankind because Africa is the cradle of humanity. We are going to ask Wikipedia if they can transfer all the information on African traditions to our database, and they’ll be very happy to do so, I’m sure

Have a first look at the encyclopaedia here.