The belief that nothing good can come out of Africa is deeply entrenched in the minds of many individuals in the West. They believe that there has been no contribution from Africa to anything that can be called a product of civilisation.
However, the situation on the ground is very different, as will hopefully be observed from the three examples I will give in this article.
Recently, an organisation called Celebrity Net Worth produced a list of the 25 richest people of all time. The person on position 1 turned out to be an African, Mansa Musa, the 14th century ruler of the medieval kingdom of Mali. With a personal net worth of $400 billion, he dwarfs American billionaire entreprenuer, Elon Musk (net worth $242 billion), who is the world’s richest living person. Another well-known American in wealth circles, John David Rockefeller, had a personal net worth of $340 billion.
Musa traded extensively in gold and salt. When he undertook his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, he was, according to some sources, accompanied by 60 000 followers and 12 000 slaves (more people than can fit in our Kamuzu Stadium at full capacity). Being an extremely generous man, Musa gave ingots of gold to many poor people along the way. Records indicate that this act of generosity sent the local economies into turmoil because of the amount of gold that had been released into them. No other individual in history has single-handedly affected foreign economies as Mansa Musa, the African, did.
Then we have the question of the Egyptian civilisation. Who were the architects of this ancient civilisation? Many people from the West are quick to point out that it was anybody but African. A number of scholars have devoted much research to uncovering the racial identity of the ancient Egyptians but the question is far from being settled. Some say they were of Middle Eastern Origin, some that they had come from Europe. Others hold the opinion that they were true Africans of the North-eastern extraction.
In 2013 Zambian Dr. Chisanga Siame wrote an article in the Journal of Black Studies, claiming that he had found a link between Africans and ancient Egypt. He went on to claim that the ancestors of the present day Zambians, or more generically of the Bantu, had created ancient Egypt. He drew his conclusions from an extensive research he had conducted by studying the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic scripts and linking them to some linguistic as well as oral traditions of Zambia. This observation ties in with the oral account of the origin of the Chewa people of this country, who claim to have come from Egypt through the Congo.
What is known with greater certainty is that from 760 BC to about 660 BC, Egypt was ruled by a Nubian dynasty, popularly known as ‘The Black Pharaohs’. This was the 25th dynasty of the great civilisation. They were dark skinned Africans from the South of Egypt, the area now covered by Sudan.
Not surprisingly, little attention has been given to this dynasty in the West, despite the fact that the Nubians became the leaders of Egypt at a time it was disintegrating and collapsing. They managed to reunify the kingdom, making it powerful once more. Writing in the National Geographic Magazine of February, 2008, Robert Draper, in part, says the following about the Black Pharaohs: “They stood up to the bloodthirsty Assyrians, perhaps saving Jerusalem in the process”.
Despite these and other achievements, the black rulers of Egypt were almost obliterated from history by deliberately maintaining a blackout of information about them.
Closer to home we have the Great Zimbabwe, an ancient city built from stone but without mortar. When Europeans first set their eyes on the Zimbabwe, their immediate conclusion was that the builders could not have been black Africans. When archaeologists began to study the edifice in the 20th century, the white Rhodesian Government put a lot of pressure on them to deny that it had been constructed by blacks.
Earlier, a German explorer, Karl Mauch, had speculated in 1871 that the houses of stone at Zimbabwe had links with Biblical King Solomon or even the Queen of Sheba. The West simply could not come to terms with the fact that something as organised as the Great Zimbabwe could possibly be a product of black Africa.
The Karanga speaking Shona people constructed the Zimbabwe structures between the 11th and 15th century AD.
Love it or loathe it, we Africans have had a glorious past, and, if we get our act together, we are destined for an even more glorious future.