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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Civilizations of Africa for
showing us the breath and depth of African civilizations
prior to the armed invasions by the Europeans.

The Civilizations of Africa
A History to 1800
By Christopher Ehret

The Civilizations of Africa (2002) - 480 pages
The Civilizations of Africa at Amazon.com

With his focus on Precolonial Africa, Christopher Ehret provides in The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 a remarkably complete and original overview of African history during the long periods sparsely covered in most other general histories of the continent. He examines African inventions and civilizations from 16,000 BCE to 1800 CE from the northern tip of Tunisia to the Cape of Good Hope in the south.

Logically organized by topic and era, Ehret’s heavily illustrated and easily accessible text reveals the diversity of African history. It explores the wide range of social and cultural as well as technological and economic change in Africa, and it depicts African agricultural, social, political, cultural, technological, and economic history in relation to developments in the rest of the world. Designed to address the glaring lack of texts concentrating on Africa before 1800, this book can be fruitfully combined with histories of Africa since 1800 to build a full and well-rounded understanding of the roles of Africa’s peoples in human history.

Christopher Ehret is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400 (Virginia).

6-13-20 Leopold II: Belgium 'wakes up' to its bloody colonial past
Inside the palatial walls of Belgium's Africa Museum stand statues of Leopold II - each one a monument to the king whose rule killed as many as 10 million Africans. Standing close by, one visitor said, "I didn't know anything about Leopold II until I heard about the statues defaced down town". The museum is largely protected by heritage law but, in the streets outside, monuments to a monarch who seized a huge swathe of Central Africa in 1885 have no such security. Last week a statue of Leopold II in the city of Antwerp was set on fire, before authorities took it down. Statues have been daubed with red paint in Ghent and Ostend and pulled down in Brussels. Leopold II's rule in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was so bloody it was eventually condemned by other European colonialists in 1908 - but it has taken far longer to come under scrutiny at home. Last week thousands in the country of 11 million joined solidarity protests about the killing of US black man George Floyd in police custody. A renewed global focus on racism is highlighting a violent colonial history that generated riches for Belgians but death and misery for Congolese. "Everyone is waking up from a sleep, it's a reckoning with the past," explains Debora Kayembe, a Congolese human rights lawyer who has lived in Belgium. Like statues of racist historical figures vandalised or removed in Britain and the US, Leopold II's days on Belgian streets could now be numbered. On Monday the University of Mons removed a bust of the late king, following the circulation of a student-led petition saying it represented the "rape, mutilation and genocide of millions of Congolese". Joëlle Sambi Nzeba, a Belgian-Congolese poet and spokesperson for the Belgian Network for Black Lives, says the statues tell her she is "less than a regular Belgian". "When I walk in a city that in every corner glorifies racism and colonialism, it tells me that me and my history are not valid," she explains from the capital.

7-24-19 The horrific consequences of rubber's toxic past
The black-and-white photograph shows a man, perched on the edge of a wooden deck, looking down at two objects. At first, you can't take in what they are. In the background are palm trees. Two other men stare grimly at their friend or perhaps the photographer, it's hard to tell. The photo was taken in 1904 at a missionary outpost in Baringa, in what was then called the Congo Free State. The man's name was Nsala and his wife and children had just been killed. Alice Seeley Harris's photograph of Nsala, looking at his five-year-old daughter Boali's severed hand and foot caused an uproar back in Europe. Printed in pamphlets and displayed at public meetings, Alice's harrowing images formed the world's first photographic human rights campaign. The resulting public pressure eventually forced Belgium's King Leopold II - Queen Victoria's cousin - to loosen his grip on the colony famously depicted in the novel Heart of Darkness. But why was Leopold's Congo so horrific? It was down to rubber.

7-1-17 One of Africa's best kept secrets - its history
One of Africa's best kept secrets - its history
Africa has a rich and complex history but there is widespread ignorance of this heritage. A celebrated British historian once said there was only the history of Europeans in Africa. Zeinab Badawi has been asking what is behind this lack of knowledge and looking at the historical record for an African history series on BBC World News. The Great Pyramid of Giza in Cairo is rightly considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But travel further south along the River Nile and you will find a thousand pyramids that belonged to the Kingdom of Kush, in what is now Sudan. Kush was an African superpower and its influence extended to what is now called the Middle East. The kingdom lasted for many hundreds of years and in the eighth Century BC, it conquered Egypt and governed for the best part of a century. What remains of the kingdom is equally impressive. More than 300 of these pyramids are still intact, almost untouched since they were built nearly 3,000 years ago. Some of the best examples can be found in Jebel Barkal in northern Sudan, declared a world heritage site by the UN's cultural agency, Unesco. Here you can find pyramids, tombs, temples and burial chambers complete with painted scenes and writings that Unesco describes as masterpieces "of creative genius demonstrating the artistic, social, political and religious values of a human group for more than 2,000 years".

The Civilizations of Africa
A History to 1800

By Christopher Ehret

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Civilizations of Africa for
showing us the breath and depth of African civilizations
prior to the armed invasions by the Europeans.