A GREAT BLACK PAST

''Throughout the month of October, we will be highlighting great people from our colourful  history''

 

MANSA MUSA

''The Richest Man In History''

 

Mansa I of Mali was known by numerous names during his life including Emir of Melle, Lord of the Mines of Wangara, Conqueror of Ghanata, Lion of Mali and Kankan Musa. In the west he is popular by the name Mansa Musa. Musa is a Muslim name whose biblical equivalent would be Moseswhile Mansa means “King of Kings”.

Mansa Musa’s grandfather was the brother of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali Empire. It was common in Malian Empire that when the king undertook a journey, usually a pilgrimage to Mecca, he appointed a deputy to take care of the empire and then the deputy was declared as his heir. Mansa Musa was declared deputy by Emperor Abu Bakr II when he went to explore the limits of the Atlantic Ocean. Abu Bakr II never returned and in 1307 Mansa Musa became the tenth ruler of the Malian Empire.

 

 

 

 

 

Mansa Musa is most famous for his pilgrimage to Mecca which he undertook in 1324, the seventeenth year of his reign. Such was the wealth that he displayed during the journey that eyewitnesses were awestruck and there are several references to it in journals, oral accounts and histories. It was this pilgrimage that showcased the extreme wealth of Mali to the world and made Mansa Musa a popular figure.

The gold and gifts that Musa distributed lavishly upset their value in the market in the cities he had visited. The sudden influx of gold in the cities of Cairo, Medina and Mecca caused a decline in the value of the metal. This caused super inflation with the price of goods skyrocketing. Later Musa took back some of the gold at high interest from money lenders in Cairo to adjust its value. Even twelve years after his pilgrimage the markets couldn’t recover fully. This is the only instance in history when one man controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean and Africa.

 

The Mali Empire flourished during Mansa Musa’s reign and it extended to include several regions like the cities of Timbuktu and Gao. Moroccan traveller and writer Ibn Batuta, who visited Mali 12 years after Musa’s death, noted that it took him 4 months to travel from the northern to the southern border of Musa’s empire. He also wrote that he found ‘complete and general safety in the land’. Mansa Musa’s empire was one of the largest in the world during his time and he remains one of the greatest statesmen in the history of Africa.

 

 

 

HATSHEPSUT

''The Queen Who Became King''

 

Hatshepsut was born to Egyptian king Thutmose I and his principal wife and queen, Ahmose. She had a sister who died as an infant and a brother who died before their father. Thutmose I had a secondary wife Mutnofret who bore him a son Thutmose II. After her father’s death, Hatshepsut became queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother Thutmose II. This was around 1492 BC and Hatshepsut’s age at the time was around 12.

Egypt prospered during the reign of Hatshepsut. She established trade networks which had been disrupted when Egypt fell into disarray during the Second Intermediate Period. Her trading expedition to the land of Punt was hugely successful and brought back vast riches including ivory, ebony, gold, leopard skins and incense to Egypt. Many Egyptologists believe that her foreign policy was peaceful and trade based but recent evidence suggests that she might have also led military campaigns against Nubia and Palestine. She brought great wealth to Egypt which is evident by the amount of ambitious constructions in her reign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatshepsut has been depicted as a male Pharaoh in several statues and paintings of the time. She is shown with large muscles and false beard, a symbol of her pharaonic power. She might have dressed as a King to assert her authority and/or to assume all symbols associated with her position. Several existing statues also portray her in typically feminine attire.

 

 

LUSIUS QUIETUS

 

Everyone who is familiar with the Ancient Rome History and Culture knows about the five Great and Good Emperors… For most of historians, Trajan is the Greatest not only among the 5 best Emperors but also among all of Roman Emperors…

What most of people ignore is the fact that beyond the Greatness of Trajan lays an African, Lusius Quietus, who was Trajan’s military Deputy… Many history manuals will not tell you who was really Lusius Quietus, how he became the Deputy of the Greatest Roman Emperor of all time and why many people really know nothing about him…

Quietus was an African Prince who became a Roman General with very extraordinary skills, talents and competencies in conducting wars that helped to shape almost all critical military campaigns and victories of Trajan… This is the reason why Trajan made him not only his Deputy among his Generals but also a Senator and finally the Governor of Judea, which has become Israel and the Palestinian territory today.

These are the real Maures, the true Maures, the ones known to the world as the Moors.

Their hair was wooly like the hair on sheep-skin. They were all dreadlocks, and fierce warriors.

Their skin was dark and beautiful. Magnificient like the mystical night. Their teeth were white, like the stars of the southern hemisphere.

They were the master horsemen of yore-days. The original cavalry of the Roman Empire. The Emperor of Rome was beholden to them, because the cavalry division was like the tanks and helicopters units of the modern army. Without them no wars were winnable. With them, victory was a matter of time.

 

 

 

 

MARCUS GARVEY

 

 

 

 

Garvey was a Jamaican-born black nationalist who created a 'Back to Africa' movement in the United States. He became an inspirational figure for later civil rights activists.

Marcus Garvey was born in St Ann's Bay, Jamaica on 17 August 1887, the youngest of 11 children. He inherited a keen interest in books from his father, a mason and made full use of the extensive family library. At the age of 14 he left school and became a printer's apprentice where he led a strike for higher wages. From 1910 to 1912, Garvey travelled in South and Central America and also visited London.

He returned to Jamaica in 1914 and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). In 1916, Garvey moved to Harlem in New York where UNIA thrived. By now a formidable public speaker, Garvey spoke across America. He urged African-Americans to be proud of their race and return to Africa, their ancestral homeland and attracted thousands of supporters.

 

 

 

 

To facilitate the return to Africa that he advocated, in 1919 Garvey founded the Black Star Line, to provide transportation to Africa, and the Negro Factories Corporation to encourage black economic independence. Garvey also unsuccessfully tried to persuade the government of Liberia in west Africa to grant land on which black people from America could settle.

In 1922, Garvey was arrested for mail fraud in connection with the sale of stock in the Black Star Line, which had now failed. Although there were irregularities connected to the business, the prosecution was probably politically motivated, as Garvey's activities had attracted considerable government attention. Garvey was sent to prison and later deported to Jamaica. In 1935, he moved permanently to London where he died on 10 June 1940. In 1964, his body was returned to Jamaica where he was declared the country's first national hero.

 

 

 

QUEEN NEFERTITI

 

 

 

Queen Nefertiti, also known as Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, was the queen of Egypt and wife of King Akhenaten, formerly called Amenhotep IV, who reigned from 1353-1336 B.C.E. She and her husband would rule Egypt together and play prominent roles in developing the cult religious following of the sun god known as Aten.

Nefertiti was celebrated for her beauty, most notably her statuesque figure and symmetric facial features, so it should not surprise you that she caught the attention and eventually married the king of Egypt. She is thought to have been a teenager at the time of her marriage to King Akhenaten, though the exact date of their marriage and her subsequent ascension to the royal throne of Egypt are also unknown. She was the great love of her husband, and the union produced six daughters.

The earliest images containing Nefertiti were found in the royal tombs of Theban. The images depict Nefertiti accompanying her husband, along with the royal butler and a high official. She is shown as an even more prominent figure in the temple known as 'The Mansion of the Benben,' where she is drawn serving as a priest attending the god Aten.

The most important finding, however, can be seen in blocks recovered from Karnak/Luxor in which she is shown wearing a unique blue crown, high with a flat top, striking female enemies. These depictions of her as a strong ruler have led many scholars to wonder if she served as her husband's co-ruler, rather than simply his consort queen, which would have been a position of unprecedented power.

Arguably, Nefertiti's greatest legacy is the religious revolution that occurred during her husband's reign. At this time in Egyptian history, the people worshipped several deities. Nefertiti and her husband chose to focus on the god Aten, represented by the sun disc.

Nefertiti even managed to blend her religious devotion with an obvious nod to her beauty by choosing the name Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, which translates to 'beautiful are the beauties of Aten; a beautiful woman has come.'

HAILE SELASSIE I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haile Selassie I was Ethiopia's 225th and last emperor, serving from 1930 until his overthrow by the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1974. The longtime ruler traced his line back to Menelik I, who was credited with being the child of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

He was born in a mud hut in Ejersa Gora on July 23, 1892. Originally named Lij Tafari Makonnen, he was the only surviving and legitimate son of Ras Makonnen, the governor of Harar.

Among his father's important allies was his cousin, Emperor Menelik II, who did not have a male heir to succeed him. Tafari seemed like a possible candidate when, following his father's death in 1906, he was taken under the wing of Menelik.

In 1913, however, after the passing of Menelik II, it was the emperor's grandson, Lij Yasu, not Tafari, who was appointed as emperor. But Yasu, who maintained a close association with Islam, never gained favor with Ethiopia's majority Christian population. As a result Tafari became the face of the opposition, and in 1916 he took power from Lij Yasu and imprisoned him for life. The following year Menelik II's daughter, Zauditu, became empress, and Tafari was named regent and heir apparent to the throne.

Tafari came to symbolize the hopes and dreams of Ethiopia's younger population. In 1923 he led Ethiopia into the League of Nations. The following year, he traveled to Europe, becoming the first Ethiopian ruler to go abroad.

His power only grew. In 1928 he appointed himself king, and two years later, after the death of Zauditu, he was made emperor and assumed the name Haile Selassie ("Might of the Trinity").

In 1936 he was forced into exile after Italy invaded Ethiopia. Haile Selassie became the face of the resistance as he went before the League of Nations in Geneva for assistance, and eventually secured the help of the British in reclaiming his country and reinstituting his powers as emperor in 1941.

Haile Selassie again moved to try to modernize his country. In the face of a wave of anti-colonialism sweeping across Africa, he granted a new constitution in 1955, one that outlined equal rights for his citizens under the law.

 

 

QUEEN NZINGA   1583 – 1663

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Nzinga was a 17th century Queen of Ndongo & Matamba kingdoms of the Mbundu people in Angola.  She is best remembered for her resistance against the Portuguese and setting her people free from slavery.

Nzinga fought fearlessly for the freedom and stature of her kingdoms against the Portuguese, who were colonizing the area at the time.

In 1621, represented her kingdom in a meeting with the Portuguese, the story says that in her meeting with the Portuguese. They did not offer a chair to sit on during the negotiations and had placed a floor mat for her to sit. Which in Mbundu custom was appropriate only for subordinates. Not willing to accept this degradation gestured to one of her servants who promptly got down on the ground and the queen sat on the servant's back during negotiations.

Fought against the Portuguese in a three-decade war while growing her kingdom into a commercial state.

Aligned with the Dutch and personally led troops into battle, until finally reaching a peace treaty with the Portuguese.

Spent the rest of her reign helping former slaves restructure their lives.

For More info read Queen Nzinga of Angola by Linda Heywood

 

THE DAHOMEY WARRIORS     18th – 19th Century 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A band of female terminators, by the outside world they were known as the Dahomey Amazons but they called themselves N’Nonmiton meaning “our mothers”.

Protecting their king on the bloodiest of battlefields, they emerged as an elite fighting force in the Kingdom of Dahomey in, the present-day Republic of Benin. Described as untouchable, swift decapitation was their trademark.

At their height, they made up around a third of the entire Dahomey army; 6,000 strong, it seems they were consistently judged to be superior to the male soldiers in effectiveness and bravery.

Only the strongest, healthiest and most courageous women were recruited for the meticulous training that would turn them into highly efficient and effective warriors.

From the start, they were trained to be strong, fast, ruthless and able to withstand great pain. To prove themselves, they had to be twice as tough as the men. Often seen as the last standing in battle, unless ordered to retreat by their King, the Dahomey women fought to the death – defeat was never an option.

The female soldiers were said to be structured in parallel with the army as a whole, with a central elite wing acting as the king’s bodyguards, flanked on both sides, each under separate female commanders. Some accounts even say that each male soldier in the army had a N’Nonmiton counterpart. They had also been given the name “Black Sparta”.

The women learnt survival skills, discipline and mercilessness. Insensitivity training was a key part of becoming a soldier for the King.

Even after French colonisation of Africa was in full swing in the 1890s the Dahomey people continued their reign of fear resisting the colonising power. French soldiers who forcibly took Dahomey women to bed were often found dead in the morning, their throats slit open.

The French only prevailed after bringing in the Foreign Legion, armed with machine guns. The last of the King’s force to surrender, almost all the “Amazons” died in the 23 battles fought during the second war.

Said to be the most feared women to walk the earth, they would also change how women were seen and respected in Africa and beyond

 

 

TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE

 

 

 

Toussaint L'Ouverture was one of best-known leaders of the Haitian Revolution whose military and political skills were essential to lead the insurrection in November 1791.

He first fought for the Spanish against the French; then for France against Spain and Great Britain; and finally, for Saint-Domingue against Napoleonic France.

He then helped transform the insurgency into a revolutionary movement, which by 1800 had turned Saint-Domingue, the most prosperous slave colony of the time, into the first free colonial society to have explicitly rejected race as the basis of social ranking.

Throughout his years in power, he worked to improve the economy and security of Saint-Domingue. He restored the plantation system using paid labour, negotiated trade treaties with the UK and the United States, and maintained a large and well-disciplined army.

The colony's constitution proclaimed him governor for life even against Napoleon Bonaparte's wishes.

He died betrayed before the final and most violent stage of the armed conflict. However, his achievements laid the grounds for the Black army's absolute victory and for Jean-Jacques Dessalines to declare the sovereign state of Haiti in January 1804.

Haiti was one of the first successes over colonialism and slavery. Haitian independence, in 1804, also showed enslaved people throughout the Caribbean that they could fight for freedom and win.

Although he never set foot in Britain or the British West Indies, Toussaint L'Ouverture had a large influence on the end of slavery in the British Empire.

By eliminating France as a major slaveholding power, Haitian independence cut the ground from under a prime argument in parliament against abolition - that if Britain abolished the slave trade, its rival, France, would take it over.

 

YAA ASANTEWAA

 

Yaa Asantewaa was queen mother of the Ashanti Empire 1840 - 1921– now part of modern-day Ghana, appointed by her brother Nana Akwasi Afrane Opese, the Edwesuhene, or ruler, of Edwesu. In 1900 she led the Ashanti war known as the War of the Golden Stool, also known as the Yaa Asantewaa war, against British colonialism.

In 1896, Asantehene (King) Prempeh I of the Asanteman federation was captured and exiled to the Seychelles islands by the British who had come to call the area the British "Gold Coast." Asantewaa's brother was said to be among the men exiled with Prempeh I, deported because of his opposition to British rule in West Africa.

 

In 1900, British colonial governor Frederick Hodgson called a meeting in the city of Kumasi of the Ashantehene local rulers. At the meeting, Hodgson stated that the King would remain in exile from his native land and that the Ashanti people were to surrender to the British their historical, ancestral Golden Stool - a dynastic symbol of the Ashanti empire.

In fact, power was transferred to each Asantahene by a ceremonial crowning that involved the sacred Golden Stool.

The colonial governor demanded that it be surrendered to allow Hodgson to sit on the Sika 'dwa as a symbol of British power.

 

This request led to a secret meeting of the remaining members of the Asante government at Kumasi, to discuss how to secure the return of their king. There was a disagreement among those present on how to go about this. Yaa Asantewaa, who was present at this meeting, stood and addressed the members of the council with these now-famous words.

Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our King.

If it were in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, leaders would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot.

No white man could have dared to speak to a leader of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you this morning.

 

Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be!

I must say this, if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

 

In March 1900 The Ashanti-British "War of the Golden Stool" was led by Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa with an army of 5,000.

After several months, the Gold Coast governor sent for reinforcements. Queen Yaa Asantewaa and fifteen of her closest advisers were captured, and they, too, were sent into exile to the Seychelles. The rebellion represented the final war in the Anglo-Asante series of wars that lasted throughout the 19th century. On 1 January 1902 the British were finally able to accomplish what the Asante army had denied them for almost a century, and the Asante empire was made a protectorate of the British crown.

Yaa Asantewaa died in exile in the Seychelles on 17 October 1921. Three years after her death, on 27 December 1924, Prempeh I and the other remaining members of the exiled Asante court returned to Asante.

Prempeh I made sure that the remains of Yaa Asantewaa and the other exiled Asantes were returned for a proper royal burial.  Yaa Asantewaa's dream for an Asante free of British rule was realized on 6 March 1957, when the Asante protectorate gained independence as part of Ghana, the first African nation in Sub-Saharan Africa to obtain freedom.

 

 

 

PATRICE LUMUMBA     02 July 1925 – 17 Jan 1961

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born: July 2, 1925 
Kasai, Congo 
Died: January 18, 1961 
Katanga, Congo 
Congolese prime minister
 

In the May 1960 general elections, Lumumba and his allies won 41 of 137 seats in the National Assembly and held significant positions in four of six provincial governments.

During his brief incumbency, Lumumba had to face a conjunction of emergencies such as has seldom been met by a newly independent country: the mutiny of the army and the secession of Katanga and then of Southern kasai, aided and abetted by Belgian interests and the unilateral intervention of Belgian forces. 

The National Assembly reconfirmed Lumumba in power, but a fraction of the army, led by Col. Mobutu, took power, and Lumumba was confined to de facto house arrest under the protection of Ghanaian troops of the UN force. His political associates had meanwhile withdrawn to Stanleyville to organize a rival government.

Lumumba slipped out of the capital and tried to make his way toward Stanleyville, but he was arrested by an army patrol and incarcerated in a military camp at Thysville.

Even then, Lumumba's prestige and the strength of his followers remained a threat to the unstable new rulers of the Congo. This was demonstrated when Lumumba nearly managed the incredible feat of persuading his military jailers to help him recapture power. This incident only confirmed the Léopoldville authorities' determination to get rid of the deposed premier. The decision to transfer him to either one of the secessionist states of Southern Kasai or Katanga (where he was sure to be put to death) had been debated for some time as a possible prelude to reconciliation with these two breakaway regions.

 

On Jan. 18, 1961, Lumumba was flown to Elisabethville, capital of Katanga, where, despite the presence of UN troops, he was picked up by a small Katanga task force led by Interior Minister Godefroid Munongo and including white mercenaries authorised by the Belgium government, taken to a nearby house, and murdered.

The Katanga government made clumsy attempts to conceal and then to disguise the murder, but the shock waves caused by the assassination reverberated around the world and generated enough international pressure to ensure passage of a Security Council resolution permitting the use of force as a last resort by UN forces in the Congo (Feb. 21, 1961). This resolution itself unleashed a train of events which led to the restoration of a civilian regime in Léopoldville and to the eventual liquidation of all secessionist movements.

In 1964, Malcolm X said that Lumumba was “…the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent…”.

 

In 2013, the USA admitted that President Eisenhower authorised his assassination, but were not able to carry it out before the Belgium Government did.

 

BENJAMIN BENNAKER

 

 

 

Without Benjamin Banneker, America's capital would not exist as we know it.  After a year of work, the Frenchman hired by George Washington to design the capital, L'Enfant, stormed off the job, taking all the plans.  Banneker, placed on the planning committee at Thomas Jefferson's request, saved the project by reproducing from memory, in two days, a complete layout of the streets, parks, and major buildings. Thus Washington, D.C. itself can be considered a monument to the genius of this great man

 

Banneker's English grandmother immigrated to the Baltimore area and married one of her slaves, named Bannaky.  Later, their daughter did likewise, and gave birth to Benjamin in 1731.  Since by law, free/slave status depended on the mother, Banneker, like his mother, was---technically---free.

Banneker attended an elementary school run by Quakers, in fact, he later adopted many Quaker habits and ideas. As a young man, he was given a pocket-watch by a business associate: this inspired Banneker to create his own clock, made entirely of wood (1753).  Famous as the first clock built in the New World, it kept perfect time for forty years.

During the Revolutionary War, wheat grown on a farm designed by Banneker helped save the fledgling U.S. troops from starving.  After the War, Banneker took up astronomy: in 1789, he successfully predicted an eclipse.  From 1792 to 1802, Banneker published an annual Farmer's Almanac, for which he did all the calculations himself.

The Almanac won Banneker fame as far away as England and France.  He used his reputation to promote social change: namely, to eliminate racism and war.  He sent a copy of his first Almanac to Thomas Jefferson, with a letter protesting that the man who declared that "all men are created equal" owned slaves.  Jefferson responded with enthusiastic words, but no political reform.  Similarly, Banneker's attempts "to inspire a veneration for human life and an horror for war" fell mainly on deaf ears.

But Banneker's reputation was never in doubt.  He spent his last years as an internationally known polymath: farmer, engineer, surveyor, city planner, astronomer, mathematician, inventor, author, and social critic.  He died on October 25, 1806. Today, Banneker does not have the reputation he should, although the entire world could still learn from his words: "Ah, why will men forget that they are brethren?"

Banneker's life is inspirational.  Despite the popular prejudices of his times, the man was quite unwilling to let his race or his age hinder in any way his thirst for intellectual development.

The origin of the nickname Big Ben is the subject of some debate. The clock tower could have been named after the inventor of America's first striking clock.

What do you think?

 

AMANIRENAS        40 BC – 10 AD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warrior queen of the Nubian region of Kush. She reigned from about 40 BCE to 10 BCE.

At the death of her husband, Emperor Teriqetas, who died in battle.

Queen Aminarenas took over and ruled her people diligently. The Kingdom of Kush in Nubia was ruled by a dynasty of women making her takeover as sole ruler an easy and normal happening.

 

She is usually considered to be the queen referred to as “Candace” in Strabo’s account of the war against the Roman Empire.

 

During her reign, Emperor Caesar Augustus of the Roman Empire defeated the Egyptians and made Egypt one of the provinces under the Roman Empire. He defeated Egypt under the rule of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.

 

After the defeat of Egypt, Emperor Augusts aimed at expanding his province and thus decided to push further south making Sudan the next target.

 

In 24BC, together with her son Prince Akinidad, Queen Amanirenas led an army of 30,000 soldiers to fight the Romans in Egypt.

The attack was to ward them off her kingdom and sack the Romans from the Egyptian city, Aswan.

Knowing how small her army was as compared to the Roman army, Queen Amanirenas and her army attacked the Romans unannounced.

 

Fighting side by side her soldiers, Queen Amanirenas led the front of her army with her son close by her side. Her attack was highly successful and Queen Amanirenas captured three major Roman cities, took captives and destroyed and defaced many statues of Emperor Augustus.

Because of their large army, the Roman Empire easily reclaimed its cities, invaded Kush and sold many into slavery, but this did not deter Queen Amanirenas, if anything, it only made her stronger.

The Kushite and Roman armies fought tirelessly with the queen who was strong in battle for three long years. During one of the fights, the queen was injured by a Roman soldier and blinded in one eye. After healing, the queen led her army to several more fights against the Romans.

 

Amanirenas and her army used powerful tactics against the enemy, including attacking with war elephants and feeding captives to her pet lion.

 

After three years of battle, the two parties decided to sign a peace treaty which favoured the Kushites.

 

Emperor Caesar Augustus agreed with the queen to take his army out of Egypt, give the Kushites back their land, withdraw their forts and cancel the taxes.

The Kingdom of Kush died a little over 400 years later but till this day, Queen Amanirenas is said to be the bravest and most loyal ruler of the kingdom.

 

 

 

 

QUEEN NANNY OF THE MAROONS       c. 1686 – c. 1755

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Nanny was an 18th-century leader of the Jamaican Maroons who is considered a national hero.  She was born into the Asante people in what is now Ghana, and escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica.

Nanny was a leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th century. She was known by both the Maroons and the British settlers as an outstanding military leader who became, in her lifetime and after, a symbol of unity and strength for her people during times of crisis and is credited with helping free over 1000 slaves.

She was particularly important to them in the fierce fight with the British, during the First Maroon War from 1720 to 1739.

Legends and documents refer to her as having exceptional leadership qualities. She was a small, wiry woman with piercing eyes. Her influence over the Maroons was so strong, that it seemed to be supernatural and was said to be connected to her powers of obeah.

She was particularly skilled in organising the guerilla warfare carried out by the Eastern Maroons which confused the British, their accounts of the fights reflect the surprise and fear which the Maroon traps caused among them as they who continually attempted to penetrate the mountains to overpower them.

Nanny was a type of chieftain and wise woman of the village, who passed down legends and encouraged the continuation of customs, music and songs, that had come with the people from Africa, and which instilled in them confidence and pride.

Nanny also worked as a powerful healer of both physical and spiritual illnesses in the area thanks to her West African roots.

There are many legends about Nanny among the Maroons. Some even claim that there were several women who were leaders of the Maroons during this period of history. But all the legends and documents refer to Nanny of the First Maroon War, as the most outstanding of them all, leading her people with courage and inspiring them to struggle to maintain that spirit of freedom, and life of independence, which was their rightful inheritance.

Following some armed confrontations, colonial officials reached a settlement for peace.

They legally granted Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland.  Nanny Town was founded on this land but was destroyed during the First Maroon War in 1734. Another Maroon town was founded by survivors and later known as Moore Town.

 

Nanny’s legacy lives on; she is remembered as one of the earliest leaders of slave resistance across the Carribean.

 

AMINA QUEEN OF ZARIA       1533 – 1610

 

16th century warrior queen of what is present day Nigeria.

A Fearless Warrior Queen Amina is the best known of the legendary Hausa queens who ruled kingdoms in the savanna region of West Africa.

She was the eldest daughter of a high-ranking government official of the king of Kufena.

Unlike other women of her time in Zazzau (later known as Zaria), Amina took a great interest in warfare and received extensive military training. Her reputation as a woman who was as capable as a man was derived largely from her prowess as a fearless warrior.

After her mother’s death around 1566, Amina’s brother Karama, ascended the throne. Unlike Bakwa, Karama liked warfare and was interested in expanding the Zazzau empire. Within two years of becoming king, he had organized four major military campaigns. Amina fought in all four. It is said that she took delight in warfare and showed no interest in marrying any of her many suitors. Her bravery and skill as a fighter quickly established her as the leading warrior of Zaria.

Queen Amina ascended to the throne in 1576 at Karama’s death as the next ruler. After only three months on the throne, Amina returned to the battlefield and fought in one military campaign after another until her death in 1610.

Amina expanded the territorial limits of Zaria in both the south and the west. On the southwest, she invaded Nupeland and compelled its ruler to pay a tribute of eunuchs and kola nuts to Zaria. Conquered territories were either incorporated into Zaria or became its tributary states.

 

Amina is remembered not only for her pioneering efforts as a woman warrior but also for her military innovations, including building fortified walls around Zaria cities. She had a long reign as queen of Zaria, ruling for thirty-four years.

 

DUTTY BOUKMAN

The story behind Boukman’s name varies; some say he was originally known as ‘Bookman’ in the British colony of Jamaica because of his ability to read and write. Others say he was allegedly  referred to as Boukman  because he taught  his fellow enslaved to read and write, which lead to him being sold from his former Jamaican plantation .Essentially, he was sold by his former Jamaican plantation to perform enslaved labour on the Clement Plantation in Haiti. From the gathered literature it is safe to conclude that Boukman displayed exemplary charisma and leadership abilities throughout his life time.

 

On the Plantation, he held positions of authority like slave driver and eventually coachman. Within the enslaved society to uphold these positions was no small task or nothing shy of an accomplishment. These positions allowed him the ability to freely communicate with other enslaved, a practice the Europeans tried to disband. His natural talent to rule was further displayed in the French militia,  where he held the rank of Commander. It was here that he was professionally trained and taught to use European arms. The experiences of Boukman’s life contributed to him being the leader, thinker and strategist in the early stages of the Haitian Revolution.

 

Boukman was heavily involved in religion. His embodiment of religion primarily give rise to the prominence of the theme  which grandly influenced the Haitian Revolution. He was a Houngan, a Voodoo priest which also contributed to him being known as Zamba Boukman. Zamba means a spiritual leader in the voodoo faith. This prestigious religious position helped influence the enslaved African to join the revolution and perform  insurrectionary actions. In their eyes they saw him as immortal and all powerful.

BOUKMAN’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EARLY HAITIAN REVOLUTION

In the Beginning of the Haitian Revolution, Boukman held a religious ceremony in Bois-Caimon (alligator woods). Here copious amounts of enslaved Africans, in the dead of night, witnesses the ‘blood pact ‘of the Haitians leaders. It was performed by Cecile Fatiman. This blood pack consisted of Cecile killing the sacrificial pig and passing the blood around for the rebel leaders to drink as proof of their secrecy. The sincerity of these rituals helped motivate the enslaved to rebel against their oppressors, comforted in knowing they were guided by individuals who pledge to perform insurrection until death. This ceremony, along with the prayers ( see below) and chants  set the tone for the uprising.

 

“Voice Of Liberty” Speech.​

Bon Dié qui fai soleil qui clairé nou en haut ; Qui soulevé la mer,

qui fait gronder l’orage ; Bon Dié, zottes tendé, caché nan youn

nuage ; La li gadé nou, li ouè tout ça blan fait ; Bon Dié blan

mandé crime, et pa nous vlé bienfait ; Mais Dié la qui si bon

ordonné nous veangeance ; Li va conduit bra ou, ba nou

assistance ; Jeté pòtrait Dié blan qui soif dlo nan zies ; Couté la

liberté qui parlé nan cœur nou tous.

English Translation​

 

God who makes the sun which gives us light,

Who rouses the waves and makes the storm,

Though hidden in the clouds, he watches us.

He sees all that the whites are doing.

The God of the whites orders crime,

But our God calls upon us to do good works.

Our God who is good to us, orders us to avenge our wrongs.

He will direct our arms and aid us.

Throw away the symbol of the god of the whites,

Who has so often caused us to weep,

And listen to the voice of liberty, Which speaks in the hearts of us all.

 

Spoken by Boukman Dutty

A week later, 1800 plantations had been destroyed and 1000 slaveholders killed.

 

 

 

KWAME NKRUMAH       21 Sept 1909 – 27 April 1972

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kwame Nkrumah was a Ghanaian politician and revolutionary.

He was the first prime minister of an Independent Ghana between 1957 and 1960 and president of Ghana from 1960 – 1966 having led it to independence from Britain in 1957.

An influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1962.

Announced plans for a new constitution, which made Ghana a republic in 1960.

After twelve years abroad pursuing higher education, developing his political philosophy, and organising with other diasporic pan-Africanists.

 

Nkrumah returned home to begin his political career as an advocate of national independence.

He became prime minister in 1952 and retained this position when Ghana declared independence from Britain in 1957.

 

Under Kwame Nkrumah Ghana played a leading role in African international relations during the decolonisation period.

 

He was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 while he was out of the country by the National Liberation Council which, under the supervision of international financial institutions, privatised many of the country's state corporations.

Nkrumah later suspected that the US had a role in his downfall and in a 1978 book, former CIA intelligence officer John Stockwell backed this theory up.

In “In Search of Enemies” he writes that an official sanction for the coup does not appear in CIA documents, but he writes "the Accra station was nevertheless encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents.

"It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched."

He says that the CIA in Ghana got more involved and its operatives were given "unofficial credit for the eventual coup".

A declassified US government document does show awareness of a plot to overthrow the president.

Another declassified document written after the coup describes Nkrumah's fall as a "fortuitous windfall.

Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African".

 

Kwame Nkrumah lived the rest of his life in Guinea, of which he was named honorary co-president.

 

In 2000, he was elected the greatest African of the millennium, by a vote in Africa.

 

 

OLMECS     Early as 1200 BCE to about 400 BCE

 

 

 

The first known civilisation of the Americas is called the Olmec.

The Olmec were an early people of Mesoamerica who settled the Mexican Gulf Coast. 

It is not known for sure where the Olmec came from but their sculptures, especially the colossal heads, seems to reveal an ancient African presence in the Americas.

What today is known as Olmec civilization flourished in the present Mexican states of Vera Cruz and Tabasco.

From what is known the highpoint of Olmec civilization from about 1200 BC to about 400 BC.

It is not thought that the Olmec were an African civilization.

It is believed that the Olmec were Mesoamerican civilization in which Africans entered at a pivotal period and exerted an influence that can only be described as dramatic.

There are at least seventeen of these heads and all of them seem to have the features of Africans.

However we do not know for certain who the people depicted in the form of these heads are.

Each of the heads were carved from single blocks of stone.

There is so much to learn on this topic about this civilisation and about the ancient connections between Africa & America not to mention the rest of the world. 

Believed to be of African ancestry by African scholars and are heralded as one of the foundation of the book by Ivan Van Sertima entitled “They Came Before Columbus”.

If the above interests you be sure to research 1310 and 1311 Malian Empire:

Much evidence points to an African emperor who ruled Mali in the discovering America nearly 200 years before Christopher Columbus.

Abubakari II ruled what was arguably the richest and largest empire on earth - covering nearly all of West Africa.

THOMAS SANKARA          21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Sankara was a Burkinabé pro-people revolutionary, pan-Africanist and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987.

A group of revolutionaries seized power on behalf of Sankara (who was under house arrest at the time) in a popularly-supported coup in 1983.

At the age of just 33, Sankara became the President of the country that still retained its colonial name, Upper Volta, with the goal of promoting the wellbeing of the poorest people in the country by eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power among other things. He immediately launched one of the most ambitious programmes for social, ecological, gender and economic change ever attempted on the African continent.

To symbolise this rebirth, he renamed the country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ("Land of Upright/honourable Men").

His foreign policies were centred on anti-imperialism, with his government avoiding all foreign aid, pushing for debt reduction, nationalising all land and mineral wealth.

His policies were focused on preventing famine and land reform, prioritising education with a nationwide literacy campaign increasing the literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987.

Promoting public health by vaccinating 2,500,000 children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles.

Planting over 10,000,000 trees to halt the growing desertification, doubling wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, Sankara also called on every village to build a medical dispensary, and had over 350 communities build schools with their own labour.

His commitment to women's rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation and forced marriages while appointing women to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school, even if pregnant.

Sankara also promoted contraception and encouraged husbands to go to market and prepare meals to experience for themselves the conditions faced by women.

Sankara spoke to thousands of women in a speech in which he stated that the Burkinabé Revolution was "establishing new social relations" which would be "upsetting the relations of authority between men and women and forcing each to rethink the nature of both. This task is formidable but necessary".

He states:

The revolution and women's liberation go together. We do not talk of women's emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution. Women hold up the other half of the sky.

 

His programs for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa's poor.

He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in the country at that time) the official service car of the ministers.

He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets.

He required public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen in order to rely upon local industry and identity rather than foreign industry and identity.

When asked why he didn’t want his portrait hung in public places, as was the norm for other African leaders, Sankara replied “There are seven million Thomas Sankaras.”

Sankara’s visionary leadership allowed him to lead one of the most ambitious programs of sweeping reforms ever seen in Africa. It sought to fundamentally reverse the structural social inequities inherited from the French colonial order.

He was uniquely honest and and did not hesitate to publicly admit mistakes, chastise comrades or express moral objections to heads of powerful nations, even at risk to himself.

For example, he famously criticized French president François Mitterand during a state dinner for hosting the leader of Apartheid South Africa.

Sankara remained popular with most of his country's citizens. However, his policies alienated the vested interests of France and its ally Ivory Coast, along with a small but powerful Burkinabé middle class.

On October 15, 1987, Sankara was killed by an armed group with twelve other officials in a coup d’état organised by his former colleague Blaise Compaoré who took Sankara's office shortly after.

Thomas Sankara’s famous word spoken a week before his assassination declare

"While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas"

Compaoré states that deterioration in relations with neighbouring countries was one of the reasons it was required stating that Sankara jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France and neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Prince Johnson, a former Liberian warlord allied to Charles Taylor, told Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that it was engineered by Charles Taylor.

Sankara’s body was dismembered and he was quickly buried in an unmarked grave, while his widow Mariam and two children fled the nation.

Compaoré immediately overturned nearly all Sankara’s policies and re-joined the International Monetary Fund and World Bank funds to restore what he called a “shattered” economy.

Compaoré’s dictatorship remained in power for 27 years until overthrown by popular protests in 2014.

Names Of Caribbean Islands Before The Europeans Came

This list of the indigenous names of the Caribbean islands is a compilation of the indigenous names that were given by Amerindian people to those islands before the Europeans started naming them. The islands of the Caribbean were settled for over 4,000 years (estimate) before European arrival in 1492.

The Eastern Caribbean islands were dominated by two main cultural groups: the Arawaks and the Kalinago, or Caribs. Individual villages of other distinct cultural groups were also present on the more southerly, larger islands. The large island of Trinidad in particular was shared by both Kalinago and Arawak groups.

BUSSA REBELLION

 

 

 

 

 

Although not much is known about the man, Bussa was born a free man in West Africa.

There is basically no information available about Bussa, his actual birth name still remains a mystery, as does the majority of his life.

What is known is that he was captured by slave merchants in the late 18th century, sold to the British, then transported to Barbados.

What is also known is that Bussa had strength of character and a passion to enforce change. It is this courage and sheer determination that is recorded in the history books.

The man Bajans fondly remember as ‘Bussa’ played an integral role in changing the social and political climate of the island forever.

On 14 April 1816, Bussa lead a large-scale revolt against the Bajan elitist ‘plantocracy’.

This resulted in a tremendous battle between the slaves, the planters and the West India Regiment (a part of the British Army), and had a significant impact on the historical development of Barbados.

It was the largest slave revolt in Barbadian history, lasting two days, whereby hundreds of men & women rose in rebellion under the leadership of Bussa.

The planning was undertaken at a number of sugar estates, and among his collaborators were Washington Franklin, John and Nanny Grigg, a senior domestic slave, as well as a number of other slaves and black revolutionaries.

Carefully executed by over four hundred men & women fighting for their freedom, the Bussa Rebellion was geared towards overthrowing the white planter class in an attempt to regain freedom, restructure the politics of the island, and create a better life for black people.

Bussa was killed in the revolt battle, forced into submission by the Regiment who had an armoury of superior weapons at their disposal. Fifty freedom fighters also died in the battle and seventy were executed in the field.

Another three hundred were taken to Bridgetown for trial – one hundred and forty-four were executed and one hundred and thirty-two sent away to another island.  This slave rebellion is documented as the most significant revolt in the history of Barbados.

In 1985 (169 years after the revolt) a large bronze statue, the ‘Emancipation Statue‘, was erected on a roundabout in Barbados in honour of Bussa.

The statue represents a slave breaking free from chains, symbolising strength of emancipation and is a nod to the courageous freedom fighter, who is now a Barbadian household name.

In 1998, by an act of Parliament, Bussa was again publicly honoured by being named as one of the ten official National Heroes of Barbados for his significant contribution to the island’s history and development.

This powerful and historic figure in Bajan history represents emancipation and freedom to many, and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of Barbadians for generations to come

Bussa’s Rebellion as it is known, was the first of three large-scale slave rebellions in the British West Indies in the years leading up to emancipation. It was followed by the large-scale rebellion in 1823 in Demerara (now part of Guyana), and by even larger rebellion in 1831 – 1832 in Jamaica.

JEAN JACQUES DESSALINES  20 September 1758 – 17 October 1806

 

Jean-Jacques Dessalines was a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1805 constitution. Initially regarded as governor-general, Dessalines was later named Emperor Jacques I of Haiti by the Generals of the Haitian Revolution Army. He is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Haiti.

Dessalines served as an officer in the French army, when the colony was fending off Spanish and British incursions. Later he rose to become a commander in the revolt against France.

As Toussaint Louverture's principal lieutenant, he led many successful engagements, including the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot, the captures of Jacmel, Petit-Goâve, Miragoâne and Anse-à-Veau.

Dessalines gained a reputation for his "take no prisoners" policy, and for burning homes and entire villages to the ground.

He ordered the deaths of of those declaring themselves as French in Haiti, resulting in the deaths of between 3,000 and 5,000 people. In September 1804, he was proclaimed emperor by the Generals of the Haitian Revolution Army and ruled in that capacity until being assassinated in 1806.

The French government was led by Napoleon Bonaparte, whose wife, Josephine de Beauharnais was part of a slave-owning family. Many white and mulatto planters had been lobbying the government to reimpose slavery in Saint-Domingue. The French responded by dispatching an expeditionary force to restore French rule to the island.

 Louverture and Dessalines fought against the invading French forces, with Dessalines defeating them at the battle for which he is most famous, Crête-à-Pierrot.

During the 11 March 1802 battle, Dessalines and his 1,300 men defended a small fort against 18,000 attackers. To motivate his troops at the start of the battle, he waved a lit torch near an open powder keg and declared that he would blow the fort up should the French break through. The defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking army, but after a 20-day siege they were forced to abandon the fort due to a shortage of food and munitions.

On 22 May 1802, after Dessalines learned that Louverture had failed to instruct a local rebel leader to lay down his arms per the recent ceasefire agreement, he immediately wrote the French Forces to denounce Louverture’s conduct as “extraordinary.”

Dessalines may have been partially responsible for Louverture's arrest

However, when it became clear that the French intended to re-establish slavery on Saint-Domingue, as they had on Guadeloupe, Dessalines switched sides again in October 1802, to oppose the French.

After the betrayal and capture of Toussaint Louverture on 7 June 1802, Dessalines became the leader of the revolution. He defeated a French army at the Battle of Vertières in 1803. Declaring Haiti an independent nation in 1804, Dessalines was chosen by a council of generals to assume the office of governor-general.

On 4 December 1803, the French colonial army of Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered its last remaining territory to Dessalines' forces.

This officially ended the only slave rebellion in world history which successfully resulted in establishing an independent nation.

Dessalines then promulgated the Declaration of Independence in 1804, he was then declared emperor.

Members of Dessalines' administration, including Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, began a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor.  Dessalines was assassinated on 17 October 1806, on his way to fight the rebels. The exact circumstances of his death are uncertain.

BLACK WALL STREET

 

June 1st, 1921 will forever be remembered as a day of great loss and devastation. It was on this day that America experienced the deadliest race riot in the small town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ninety-four years later, that neighbourhood is still recognised as one of the most prosperous African American towns to date. With hundreds of successful black-owned businesses lining Greenwood Avenue, it became a standard that African Americans are still trying to rebuild. The attack that took place in 1921 tore the community apart, claiming hundreds of lives and sending the once prosperous neighbourhood up in smoke.

In the early 1900s, Tulsa, Oklahoma experienced a major oil boom, attracting thousands. Many African Americans migrated from southern states hoping to escape the harsh racial tensions while profiting off of the oil industry. Yet even in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jim Crow laws were at large, causing the town to be vastly segregated with most African Americans settling in the northern section of the town. From that segregation grew a black entrepreneurial mecca that would affectionately be called “Black Wall Street”. The town was established in 1906 by entrepreneur O.W. Gurley, and by 1921 there were over 11,000 residents and hundreds of prosperous businesses, all owned and operated by black Tulsans and patronized by both whites and blacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most prominent entrepreneurs was Lola T. Williams who owned The Dreamland Theatre and a small chain across Oklahoma. The theater seated close to 1,000 people for live musicals, films and more. This was only one of four theaters in the area. Not too far from Mrs. Williams’ theater was the Stradford Hotel on Greenwood Avenue. Owned by J.B. Stradford, it was one of the largest and most successful black-owned hotels at the time. Prior to opening the hotel, Stratford bought large tracts of land in Tulsa and sold them exclusively to blacks, subscribing to the belief that they had the best chance at economic success by pooling their resources and supporting one another’s businesses.

 

 

Greenwood flourished and became a symbol of black wealth, pride, and unity. At its height, the business center boasted of various grocery stores, nightclubs, drug stores, churches, funeral homes, restaurants, banks, hotels, and the likes. The community was completely self-sufficient and became the home of many black multimillionaire entrepreneurs. With this growth and success came envy from white Tulsans. Many of the businesses in Greenwood (which they referred to as “Little Africa”) were more prosperous than those in the white community. Racial and economic tensions soon came to a boil in May of 1921.

On May 30th, Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old shoe shiner at a Main Street parlor took the elevator at nearby building to use the restroom. At the time, the white elevator operator on duty was 17-year-old Sarah Page.

What happened while the two were in the elevator remains unclear, yet it resulted in Page accusing Rowland of sexual assault. Although she never pressed charges, the damage was done. The story made the front page of the Tulsa Tribune with the headline “Nab Negro For Attacking Girl In Elevator”, while rumors began circulating that a white lynch mob was searching for Rowland.

The incident further divided the town with one side believing Rowland raped Page and the other holding on to the belief that he simply tripped as he got onto the elevator and grabbed onto Page’s arm as he tried to catch his balance. Hundreds began to gather outside of the county jail that held Rowland. First, a group of armed whites, followed by a group of armed black men fearful of Rowland’s safety and determined to protect him.

What ensued was one of the most devastating riots in American history. An event that can only be characterized as terrorism.

Before dawn, a mob of angry white men stormed into Greenwood armed with guns, some provided by local officers who also participated in the riot. Hundreds of businesses and homes were ransacked and set afire. Black men, some who served in World War I, rallied together and armed themselves, ready to fight for their families and community. Whites indiscriminately shot and killed men, women, and children on foot and by car. As the number of casualties on both sides escalated, airplanes used in World War I were dispatched, firing rifles at residents and dropping fire bombs on the black community.

 

 

 

 

 

Outnumbered and outgunned, the riot grew worse for black Tulsans. Countless families began to flee after being trapped between rampant flames and gunfire. By the end of the attack, close to 300 blacks were murdered, while many others were left injured, homeless and held in internment camps by local law enforcement. By 1942, remaining black Tulsans rebuilt Greenwood without any assistance from the state and saw a resurgence of over 240 businesses.

The story of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street remains one of the most inspirational and devastating parts of our history, yet it is still unknown by many.

OLAUDAH EQUIANO (1745 – 1797)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

 

 

 

He was an 18th-century African writer and anti-slavery campaigner. From an early age, Olaudah Equiano experienced the horrors of slavery first hand. But, eventually one of his Master gave him his freedom. This enabled him to become a British citizen and he began writing about his experiences. His autobiography ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘ played a pivotal role in turning public opinion in Britain against slavery. His accounts of slavery and its human suffering were a factor in the enactment of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.


Olaudah Equiano writes that he was born in Nigeria in the year 1745 – a member of the Igbo tribe. Aged 11, he was kidnapped, along with sisters, by native slave-holders; after being sold to European slave traders, he was then packed into a slave ship and transferred across the Atlantic to Barbados. Equiano eventually ended up the British colony of Virginia. As a slave, he was given different names, including Gustavus Vassa.

Equiano later wrote about the mistreatment of slaves on the Virginia plantations. His vivid descriptions of the various punishments and humiliations that slaves had to endure were the first published account of an autobiography of a slave. Speaking of the Virginia overseers.

“These overseers are indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, by not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers, who cut and mangle the slaves in a shocking manner on the most trifling occasions, and altogether treat them in every respect like brutes.” – p.105 ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘
Equiano wrote that he was so shocked by his experience that he tried to wash the colour out of his face in an attempt to escape his position as a slave.

Equiano was bought by Michael Pascal a sailor in the Royal Navy; therefore Equiano was taught the art of seamanship and had to follow his master into battle during Britain’s Seven Years War with France. Equiano served during battles bringing gunpowder into position.

Equiano gained a certain respect from his master and after travelling extensively, he was sent to England where he gained a basic education. Pascal later wrote that Equiano was ‘a very deserving boy.’ During this time, in 1759, he also converted to Christianity. His Christian beliefs were increasingly important in his life. He used the Christian message of the Golden Rule ‘do unto others, as you would have done to you’ as a way to shape attitudes on slavery. However, he was still denied the freedom that Pascal had once promised. Instead, he was sold on to Captain James Doran in the Caribbean and then onto Robert King, a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia.

A Free man

Doran furthered the education of Equiano and taught Equiano to assist him in trading. In his early 20s, Doran helped Equiano to purchase his freedom.
 
Writing of the moment he gained his freedom, Equiano wrote:
“Accordingly he signed the manumission that day; so that, before night, I who had been a slave in the morning, trembling at the will of another, was became my own master, and completely free. I thought this was the happiest day I had ever experienced”… p.177
 
Initially, he stayed in America to assist Doran as a business partner. But, shortly after buying his freedom, slaveholders attempted to kidnap Equaino and return him to slavery. He only escaped by being able to prove his education. Equiano later pointed out the position of free slaves was little better than slaves because of the dreadful treatment, black men received.

 

 

NELSON MANDELA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) helped bring an end to apartheid and has been a global advocate for human rights. A member of the African National Congress party beginning in the 1940s, he was a leader of both peaceful protests and armed resistance against the white minority’s oppressive regime in a racially divided South Africa.

His actions landed him in prison for nearly three decades and made him the face of the anti-apartheid movement both within his country and internationally.

 

Released in 1990, he participated in the eradication of apartheid and in 1994 became the first black president of South Africa, forming a multi-ethnic government to oversee the country’s transition. after retiring from politics in 1999, he remained a devoted champion for peace and social justice in his own nation and around the world until his death in 2013 at the age of 95.

Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress

Nelson Mandela’s commitment to politics and the ANC grew stronger after the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party, which introduced a formal system of racial classification and segregation—apartheid—that restricted nonwhites’ basic rights and barred them from government while maintaining white minority rule. The following year, the ANC adopted the ANCYL’s plan to achieve full citizenship for all South Africans through boycotts, strikes, civil disobedience and other nonviolent methods. Mandela helped lead the ANC’s 1952 Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws, travelling across the country to organise protests against discriminatory policies, and promoted the manifesto known as the Freedom Charter, ratified by the Congress of the People in 1955. Also in 1952, Mandela and Tambo opened South Africa’s first black law firm, which offered free or low-cost legal counsel to those affected by apartheid legislation.

On December 5, 1956, Mandela and 155 other activists were arrested and went on trial for treason. All of the defendants were acquitted in 1961, but in the meantime tensions within the ANC escalated, with a militant faction splitting off in 1959 to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). The next year, police opened fire on peaceful black protesters in the township of Sharpeville, killing 69 people; as panic, anger and riots swept the country in the massacre’s aftermath, the apartheid government banned both the ANC and the PAC. Forced to go underground and wear disguises to evade detection, Mandela decided that the time had come for a more radical approach than passive resistance.

Nelson Mandela and the Armed Resistance Movement

In 1961, Nelson Mandela co-founded and became the first leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”), also known as MK, a new armed wing of the ANC. Several years later, during the trial that would put him behind bars for nearly three decades, he described the reasoning for this radical departure from his party’s original tenets: “[I]t would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle.”

Under Mandela’s leadership, MK launched a sabotage campaign against the government, which had recently declared South Africa a republic and withdrawn from the British Commonwealth. In January 1962, Mandela travelled abroad illegally to attend a conference of African nationalist leaders in Ethiopia, visit the exiled Oliver Tambo in London and undergo guerrilla training in Algeria. On August 5, shortly after his return, he was arrested and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison for leaving the country and inciting a 1961 workers’ strike. The following July, police raided an ANC hideout in Rivonia, a suburb on the outskirts of Johannesburg, and arrested a racially diverse group of MK leaders who had gathered to debate the merits of a guerrilla insurgency. Evidence was found implicating Mandela and other activists, who were brought to stand trial for sabotage, treason and violent conspiracy alongside their associates.

Mandela and seven other defendants narrowly escaped the gallows and were instead sentenced to life imprisonment during the so-called Rivonia Trial, which lasted eight months and attracted substantial international attention. In a stirring opening statement that sealed his iconic status around the world, Mandela admitted to some of the charges against him while defending the ANC’s actions and denouncing the injustices of apartheid. He ended with the following words: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

THE MIGRATION OF PLACE NAMES:Africa, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan

 
 
The historical displacement of place names is especially pronounced in Africa. “Africa” itself is a prime example. “Afri” was originally a Latin term for either the Carthaginians, a people of Phoenician descent, or a group of their Berber neighbors; under Roman rule, the province of Africa encompassed modern Tunisia and part of northwestern Libya.
 
After the Muslim conquest, the same area came to be called Ifriqiya in Arabic. In the late classical European imagination, the area called “Africa” gradually expanded. By medieval times, the word had come to denote one of the three major divisions of the world, alongside Europe and Asia.
Ancient Greek geographers had previously devised this three-fold continental scheme, but they called the African landmass “Libya.” Greek scholars, however, disagreed over where Libya should be bounded. Some limited it to the lands west of Egypt, and others placed the continental divide on the Nile itself, splitting Egypt between Libya and Asia. Herodotus and his followers considered such usage absurd, and thus applied “Libya” to the entire landmass.
The term eventually dropped out of use, replaced in Greek itself by a variant of “Africa” (Αφρική). In the early twentieth century, Italian imperialists, fixated on classical precedents, revived the name. In 1934, they combined their North African colonies of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania into a single “Libya,” which later became the independent state of the same name.
 
Although the ancient Greeks used “Libya” as the continental place name, they tended to restrict the term “Libyan” to North Africans of Berber background. They called peoples living further to the south “Ethiopians” (or Aethiopians), just as they called the lands below the Sahara “Ethiopia,” including the upper Nile Valley south of Aswan. As the only people of this region familiar to the Greeks were the Nubians of what is now northern and central Sudan, “Ethiopia” often functioned as a synonym for the Nubian kingdom of Kush (or Meroë). The country now called Ethiopia vaguely fit under the same designation, but knowledge of it was scanty at best.The ancient Greeks also used “Ethiopia” to signal other unknown or quasi-mythical lands located to the south or east of the Mediterranean.
As a result, even parts of India came to be regarded as “Ethiopia” in some accounts.

In the early modern period, European geographers generally located Ethiopia in the unknown (to them) African interior, as can be seen on the map posted above. In certain circumstances, however, they applied the name to sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. As a result, the eastern South Atlantic was commonly dubbed the “Ethiopian Ocean” (or Sea) through the 1700s. In many maps of the time, the Ethiopian Ocean was depicted as extending from the South Atlantic into the western Indian Ocean. The modern concept of discrete oceanic basins dates only to the 1800s; previously, named oceans and seas were often conceptualized as strips of water wrapping around landmasses.*

In European usage, “Ethiopia” did not refer to the modern country of that name until the second half of the twentieth century. Previously, the Ethiopian kingdom (or empire) was generally called “Abyssinia,” a term derived from the Arabic ethnic designation “Habesh.” Yet in both Ge’ez, the sacred language of Ethiopian Christianity, and the modern Ethiopian Semitic languages (Amharic and Tigrinya), the country has long been called Ītyōṗṗyā. Ītyōṗṗyā is generally thought to be derived from the Greek “Ethiopia.” Some experts reject the connection, however, arguing that the “Book of Aksum, a Ge’ez chronicle first composed in the 15th century, states that the name is derived from ‘Ityopp’is,’ a son (unmentioned in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham who according to legend founded the city of Axum.” Regardless of its ultimate origin, “Ītyōṗṗyā” certainly sounds as if it were a cognate of “Ethiopia.” Yet even in Ethiopia itself, the Arabic-derived word “Habesha” still denotesthe core Semitic-speaking ethnic groups, and is sometimes applied more broadly to all peoples of the country.

The “Habesha” people are not limited to the modern state of Ethiopia, as they extend into Eritrea. By the same token, “Abyssinia” historically included much of northern Eritrea as well. The separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia was largely the result of Italian imperialism; in the late 1800s, the Italians conquered the area now known as Eritrea, but failed to annex Ethiopia proper. Just as they did in Libya, the Italian imperialists adopted a classical name for their new colony. “Eritrea” derives from the Greek Erethria, meaning “red land,” associated historically with the Erythraean, or Red, Sea. As the modern country of Eritrea fronts the Red Sea, the term seems geographically appropriate. But to the ancient Greeks, the Erythraean Sea was what we would call the Indian Ocean. The ancient Greek maritime manual called the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, for example, details trade routes extending to eastern India. The water-body now called the Red Sea was then deemed the Arabian Gulf.

The term “Sudan” has undergone its own migrations. This place name derives from the Arabic bilâd as-sûdân, or “Land of the Blacks,” essentially referring to Africa south of the Sahara. “Sudan” was later used by Europeans to cover the relatively fertile and well-populated belt of land south of the Sahara and the Sahel. In the late 1800s, a vast track of land in West Africa was organized as the “French Sudan Territory.” Further to the east, the British designated their corresponding sphere the “Anglo-Egyptian Sudan,” which became the independent country of Sudan in 1956 before splitting into Sudan and South Sudan in 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 
In environmental terms, only a small portion of Sudan and South Sudan are within the Sudan (or Sudanian) eco-region, a zone defined by its distinctive savannah vegetation.
The places referenced by many place names have shifted over vast distances, with toponyms taking on different meanings as they are translated and as basic geographical conceptualizations change. Such transformations are unsurprising, as change is intrinsic to language itself. But they do present pitfalls for unwary readers. For years I assumed that when ancient Greek writers mentioned “Ethiopia” they were referring to the highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau, and I was dumbfounded to discover that they actually meant the lowlands of the Nile Valley to the south of Egypt.


Source: www.geocurrents.info/historical-geography/the-migration-of-place-names-africa-libya-ethiopia-eritrea-and-sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

HENRIETTA LACKS 01 Aug 1920 – 04 Oct 1951

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henrietta Lacks is best known as the source of cells that form the HeLa line, used extensively in medical research since the 1950s.

Who Is Henrietta Lacks?

Henrietta Lacks was born in 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia. Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951. 

Cells taken from her body without her knowledge were used to form the HeLa cell line, which has been used extensively in medical research since that time. 

Lacks's case has sparked legal and ethical debates over the rights of an individual to his or her genetic material and tissue.

 

Henrietta Lacks' Family

Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke, Virginia. At some point, she changed her name to Henrietta. 

After the death of her mother in 1924, Henrietta was sent to live with her grandfather in a log cabin that had been the slave quarters of a white ancestor's plantation. 

Henrietta and her husband David moved to Maryland. There, they had three more children: David Jr., Deborah and Joseph. They placed their daughter Elsie, who was developmentally disabled, in the Hospital for the Negro Insane.

On January 29, 1951, Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to diagnose abnormal pain and bleeding in her abdomen. Physician Howard Jones quickly diagnosed her with cervical cancer. 

During her subsequent radiation treatments, doctors removed two cervical samples from Lacks without her knowledge. She died at Johns Hopkins on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31.

HeLa Cells​​

The cells from Lacks's tumour made their way to the laboratory of researcher Dr. George Otto Gey.

Gey noticed an unusual quality in the cells. Unlike most cells, which survived only a few days, Lacks's cells were far more durable. 

Gey isolated and multiplied a specific cell, creating a cell line. He dubbed the resulting sample HeLa, derived from the name Henrietta Lacks.

The HeLa strain revolutionised medical research. Jonas Salk used the HeLa strain to develop the polio vaccine, sparking mass interest in the cells. As demand grew, scientists cloned the cells in 1955. 

Since that time, over ten thousand patents involving HeLa cells have been registered. Researchers have used the cells to study disease and to test human sensitivity to new products and substances.

Johns Hopkins Statement

​In February 2010, Johns Hopkins released the following statement concerning the cervical samples that were taken from Lacks without her consent:

"Johns Hopkins Medicine sincerely acknowledges the contribution to advances in biomedical research made possible by Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells. It’s important to note that at the time the cells were taken from Mrs. Lacks’ tissue, the practice of obtaining informed consent from cell or tissue donors was essentially unknown among academic medical centres. Sixty years ago, there was no established practice of seeking permission to take tissue for scientific research purposes. The laboratory that received Mrs. Lacks’s cells had arranged many years earlier to obtain such cells from any patient diagnosed with cervical cancer as a way to learn more about a serious disease that took the lives of so many. Johns Hopkins never patented HeLa cells, nor did it sell them commercially or benefit in a direct financial way. Today, Johns Hopkins and other research-based medical centres consistently obtain consent from those asked to donate tissue or cells for scientific research."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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