Sunday, May 29, 2011

Who has survived and thrived?

People always criticize the one drop rule of North America, but to me it preserved African Americans and allowed them to thrive. African American contributions are not an obscurity. African Americans thermselves are not an obscurity.

I can't say the same thing about Central and South America. I remember 20 years ago reading the country profile on Brazil. It never occured to me that Brazil had the largest Afro-descendants in the new world. Afro-descendant were completely invisible.Ten years ago, I would argue that Mexican society was only mestizo, no African element. Come to find out, this was far from truth. In fact, when I thought of the diaspora in the new world 20 years ago, I only thought of North America and the Caribbean, not Central or South America, again far from truth. Of the 12.5 million Africans brought to the new world, 11 million went to Latin America, the vast majority.

Who has survived and thrived? In studying the history of Central and South America, it is pretty depressing. In South America, the white elites used the Africans as cannon fodder for wars of independence and civil wars and later via whitening, literally f&!k them out existence. Simon Bolivar and the mindset of the elites was to use the Africans in wars so there numbers would diminish, so the country would be the inheritance of whites. They would later import millions of Europeans into the country to whiten the nation, race mixing used a weapon.

I once ask a lady friend of mines, a black woman, I won't say the country, what is whitening? She said to me she once dated a white guy and one of her countrymen said she was "improving the race."

450,000 Africans went to America. Their descendants are now 12.85 percent of 313,232,044 population or 40 million. Their descendant self identify as "African" American and proud of their African heritage. 4.8 million Africans arrived in Brazil. Only 6.2% of 203,429,773 population or 13 million self identify as Black. Who has thrived and survived?

African American have survived in my mind. African Americans you have survived. The one drop rule has preserved you. You are not an obscurity fighting even recognition on the census. Your technological/scientific, economic, cultural contribution to America is clear. America would not be America without you. In studying the history of Central and South America, I now understand the rage of Abdias Do Nascimento (1914-2011), who used the word "genocide" to describe the admixture. As a person of anglo/franco Caribbean roots, I must thank the Frenchman and Englishman for viewing me as sub-human. They did not dip too much into the brown sugar. They did not steal too much honey.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Above and Beyond the Bell Curve

Africans are the most educated immigrant group in America.
Study examines success of African immigrants

Nigerians are the most educated Americans. 17% have masters degrees double the 7% average in the USA. 4% have doctorates 4x the average.

"Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in this city and the nation, surpassing whites and Asians, according to Census data bolstered by an analysis of 13 annual Houston-area surveys conducted by Rice University."
Bachelor's and Beyond

Saheela Ibraheem, daughters of Nigerian immigrants, 15 year old accepted to Havard.

Saheela Ibraheem--

I found it amusing a lot of my English speaking West African buddies would always say "he is illiterate" or "un-educated" to insult their leaders and people they don't like, which was indicative of the value of education.

Paula and Peter Imafidon 8 year old of Nigerian parents passed the Cambridge Advance Maths A level, in Britain.

Paula and Peter Imafidon--

One must note, most African immigrants(unless one has refuge status) don't get financial aid or support from their governments or the US government for their advance degrees. I know a lot who work to save money for their education. Some stay out of school for semesters, working to save money for school tuition.

Friday, May 13, 2011

African Guns, Germs, and Steel

The book Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond is loaded with myths and half truths on Africa. I am surprise no Africanist and Afrocentrist have been critical of this book. There are a lot of distortions in its broad general brush strokes.

Point 1: Sub-Saharan Africans were inferior to Europeans on first contact and could easily be conquered. This is false. Europeans could not conquer most African states until the latter part of the 1800s. From the 1400s to the 1880s, Europeans were mainly trading entities on the coast. Europeans were not able to conquer sub-Saharan Africa until the invention of the maxim gun. Plus, the places they inhabited were sparsely populated regions, not densely populated places like West Africa and Uganda for example.

Point 2: Because writing was not widespread, that put SSA Africans at a dis-advantage. First of all, writing is very African. Most Eurasian(Europe and Asia) scripts can be traced to Egyptian Hieroglyphs via the Proto-Siniatic script. Hieroglyph was also the script of the Sudanic Kushite Empire. The Meroitic Script is the second script to directly come from Hieroglyphs. No modern day script can be traced to cuneiform. Cuneiform died with the Assyrian Empire. Diamond gives more ink to cuneiform and Greek Linear A and B(insignificant scripts in the global scheme) than Hieroglyphs which most Eurasian scripts(Phoenician, Greek, Brahmi, Aramaic, Arabic) can be traced to directly or indirectly. He also seems to think that for a script to be usable or widespread, it must follow the Greek model of having vowels or "alphabetize." Numerous widely used scripts don't have vowels or are "alphabetize", like Arabic for example. Diamond claims that writing gave Europeans the advantage of communicating long distance. The implication is that SSA Africans could not communicate long distance without writing. This is very false. African languages are tonal in nature. With a pitch drum or talking drum, messages could be sent long distance. This unique African communication device was banned in the New World by slave owners.

Point 3: Europeans conquered sub-Saharan Africa about the same time they were conquering the Middle East, India, parts of China, and other Asian regions. Guns were widespread in SSA. Europeans were not the ones to introduce guns to SSA. Kanem-Bornu was the first SSA empire to acquire guns from its close ties to the Ottoman Empire.

Point 4: The Boers were not superior to all Africans and they did not conquer South Africa. They conquered the Khoisan, but were no match for the Bantu speaking states. Bantu speaking people were also armed with guns. In some cases, like the Xhosa, Boers were removed from Bantu land. They settled in regions that were depopulated by the mfecane/difaqane. It was the British Empire, after the 1880s, who conquered South Africa, with new military hardware, maxim gun. The Boers defeated the Zulus at Blood River, but dare not enter Zulu land. Dingane had cease using Shaka's military tactics. The Zulu's had defeated a far more superior force in the Battle of Isandlwana, the British.

Point 5: Diamond calls the innovations Eurasian(Europe and Asia), with North Africa being part of this, not surprising he claims all of North Africa as white, again a distortion. All of the innovations were centered in the Nile Valley(Africa), India, and Mesopotamia(Asia)for 2,500 years. European civilization only rose in the latter part of the 1st Millenium (330s BC) , with the rise of Alexander the Great.

Point 6: Gun Germs and Steel claims to be non-racial in its explaination of European domination. This is rather dubious. This is one of the most racialist works to come along in a while. Beginning a chapter on Africa with a title how Africa became black and making other racial claims is far from race biological neutrality. The Africa chapter in its Africa language map claims all the Horn of Africa and all Afro-Asiatic speakers as white. Diamond also claims Pygmies and Khoisans as a separate race from other blacks. Mr. Diamond Pygmies and Khoisans are not separate from other blacks just because of their height and in the case of the Khoisan skin tone, also. Dinkas and Neurs are exceptionally tall and dark, should they be separated from other blacks. Mediterranean Whites(Spanish,Italians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Persians, Syrians) are phenotypically distinct from northern and western European whites and have distinct haplogroups, should one view them as a separate race?

Point 7: Egypt dominated the Mediterranean for almost 2,500 years, and the Kushite Empire became a Mediterranean power, way before Cyrus the Great of Persia, Alexander the Great of Macedonia, and Rome. The centers of civilization were the Nile Valley(Africa), Indus Valley(Asia), and Mesopotamia(Asia), Africa and Asia. The Eurasian nomenclature is a distortion.

Point 8: Another myth is SSA was isolated from the rest of the world, pure rubbish. First of all the Sahara desert dessicated 5000 years ago, this is recent history with very little population effect. It was not a barrier before or after. All of Africa was connected via trade. Since ancient time Africa was always a source of raw material-- gold, ivory. Nubia/Kerma provide the ancient world with gold. Carthage became a wealthy Mediterranean power due to its trade links south of the Sahara all the way to the Senegal River. Axum which was among the four great civilization, on par with Rome, provided the world ivory and incense. Swahili, Mali, Ghana, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, Great Zimbabwe provided the rest of the world with African raw material and slaves and also partook in the world's product. Eurasia has always been dependent on African raw material for its manufactured goods, as is today. Africa is not poor and does not lack "cargo", raw materials. Eurasia would not be able to produce her abundant "cargo" without African raw material, "cargo."

Point 9: There was no such thing as a unified "Bantu Civilization." There were several Bantu speaking civilizations: Kongo, Kuba, Luba, Lunda, Buganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Great Zimbabwe, Swahili, Zulu, Ndongo, Mutapa, Rozwi. All spoke a Bantu language. They were certainly not one civilization.

Point 10:European dominance, colonizaton of Africa lasted 70 years on average, not even a hundred years, but left significant changes. By the 1960s, most Africans had received independence. Conquest began around 1880s(about the same time conquest of Asia) and dominance lasted until 1960s, with the exception of Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa.

Point 11: In my mind, the domesticated plants and animals had nothing to do with it. It had to do with technology-- maxim gun, quinine for treatment of malaria. The same technology that gave European an advantage in conquest of the Asian part of Eurasia. Most SSA societies were mature iron age societies, they could not be easily conquered like North and South America. Most SSA societies knew how to manufacture iron and some, even steel. Plus, the non-African domesticated plants that had massive impact on African populations(cassava and corn/maize) were not Eurasian. They were new world plants, introduced via trade with the Portuguese.

Point 12: Yes, SSA African used the Arabic script. The Arabic script spread due to trade and spread of Islam, same with the spread of the Latin and Cyrillic script, with the spread of Christianity in Northern and Western Europe, during the Medieval Period. Arabs never conquered SSA, or any Asian group. To a certain degree the spread of Christianity, caused the spread of the Latin script in SSA. But ultimately all these scripts can be traced indirectly to one African source, no matter how far away it is.

Conclusion: In my mind it was African germs(malaria), guns(widespread in SSA), and steel(the Haya made steel), that prevented European colonization of Africa for 400 years. If Bantu speakers weren't far away from the desert and there was no Sahara, I am sure Bantu shock troops would have conquered Eurasia. Hannibal did invade Eurasia with his elephants. His genius failed him. Instead of running back to defend Carthage, he should have sacked Rome creating and impasse. In this case it would be his genius that would brought about the conquest of Eurasia, not geography.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Writing is African

Every racist, bigot always say "Africans never wrote" and use the term sub-Saharan to indirectly refer to race. But is this true? Far from it. A lot of societies in Africa did not write and did not develop a script or alphabet, but a few did, in very ancient times.

Most of the world's modern day alphabets in Europe and Asia can be traced to Egyptian Hieroglyphs via the proto-siniatic script, a derivative of Hieroglyphs. This include Arabic, Latin, Greek, Brahmi.

There were two derivative of the Proto-Siniatic Script, Phoenician and South Arabian. Out of the Phoenician Alphabet, the Berber Script in the Maghreb and Greek Alphabet were derived. The Geez Script in Ethiopia/Eritrea was derived from South Arabian Sript.

Nubians when they were colonized by Egypt in 1500 BC, wrote in Hieroglyphs. The Kushite Empire wrote in Hieroglyphs. Later in her Meroitic phase, the Nubians developed their own script directly from Hieroglyphs, called the Meroitic Script. When Nubians stopped writing in Hieroglyphs and began to use their own script, their history became osbcure. Meroitic remains an undeciphered script.

The racist will persist and say "only northeast Africa wrote." Again very wrong, during the Medieval period c. 1000, writing began to spread in the Sahel and the Swahili coast. Arabic script called ajami was used to write Hausa, Mandinka, Yoruba, Songhai, Wolof, Fulani, Swahili, and others.

There is theory that because writing south of the Sahara was not widespread, that put Africans at a dis-advantage because they could not communicate long distance. This is false. Europeans were typically shocked that their presence were known ahead of time. This is largely due to the pitch drum or "talking drum", which could relay a message a 100 miles in 2 hours.

The pitch drums exploited the tonal nature of Niger-Congo languages and messages could be sent long-distance.

The talking drum-Donno.mpg-Kwame Ansah-Brew @ Frostburg State Univ.