When tourists visit sub-Saharan Africa, they often wonder “Why there are no historical buildings or monuments?”
The reason is simple. Europeans destroyed most of them 400 years ago. We only have a few drawings and descriptions by travelers who visited the places before their destruction. In some places, ruins are still visible. Many cities were abandoned when Europeans brought exotic diseases like smallpox and influenza which started spreading and killing people.
Europeans or simply a whiteman, brought with him diseases from Europe into Africa after they had killed so many of their own for centuries. There were bad smell everywhere and diseases were killing them like flees. They were cursed and starving and they had nothing but to look for medicines and new territory. That is why they sailed the seas until they landed in Africa. Africa had cities and universities of its own. African had its own civilisation and way of life before a whiteman came to lay his feed on this land. Most of those cities lie hidden. In fact the biggest part of Africa history is still under the ground.
Benin City is a close example as it still depicts its beauty today besides being in ruins: “The town seems to be very great. When you enter into it, you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam…The Kings palace is a collection of buildings which occupy as much space as the town of Harlem, and which is enclosed with walls. There are numerous apartments for the Prince`s ministers and fine galleries, most of which are as big as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam. They are supported by wooden pillars encased with copper, where their victories are depicted, and which are carefully kept very clean. The town is composed of thirty main streets, very straight and 120 feet wide, apart from an infinity of small intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another, arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a looking glass.” (Source: Walter Rodney, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,
Benin City in 1891 before the British conquest was a simple beauty and sign of civilised African people. Benin art of the Middle Ages was of the highest quality. These works from Benin are equal to the very finest examples of European casting technique. Benin had the most peaceful and civilised people. It had schools and universities, science labs and museums.
One account from one of the scholars of the 19th century confirmed that: “They extend for some 16 000 kilometres in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They cover 6500 square kilometres and were all dug by the Edo people. In all, they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.” Source: Wikipedia, Architecture of Africa.
But who are “They”? They are Africans of Benin in Nigeria; black natives by themselves. Sadly, in 1897, Benin City was destroyed by British forces under Admiral Harry Rawson. The city was looted, blown up and burnt to the ground. A collection of the famous Benin Bronzes are now in the British Museum in London. Part of the 700 stolen bronzes by the British troops were sold back to Nigeria in 1972.
Did you know that in the 14th century the city of Timbuktu in West Africa was five times bigger than the city of London, and was the richest city in the world?
Today, Timbuktu is 236 times smaller than London. It has little to show of a modern city. Its population is two times less than 5 centuries ago, impoverished with beggars and dirty street sellers. The town itself is incapable of conserving its past ruined monuments and archives.
Back in the 14 century, the 3 richest places on earth was China, Iran/Irak, and the Mali empire in West Africa. From all 3 the only one which was still independent and prosperous was the Mali Empire. Eventually China and the whole of the Middle East were conquered by Genghis Kan Mongol troops which ravaged, pillaged, and raped the places. The Mali empire lived on under the rule of the richest man ever in the history of humanity, Mansa Musa, emperor of the 14th century Mali Empire which covered modern day Mali, Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea.
At the time of his death in 1331, Mansa Musa was worth the equivalent of 400 billion dollars. At that time Mali Empire was producing more than half the world’s supply of salt and gold.
The beautiful city of Kumasi was blown up, destroyed by fire, and looted by the British at the end of the 19th century. In 1331, Ibn Battouta, described the Tanzanian city of Kilwa, of the Zanj, Swahili speaking people, as follows ” one of the most beautiful and well-constructed cities in the world, the whole of it is elegantly built”. The ruins are complete with `gothic` arches and intricate stonework, examples of exquisite architecture. Kilwa dates back to the 9th century and was at its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries. This international African port minted its own currency in the 11th -14th centuries. Remains of artefacts link it to Spain, China, Arabia and India. The inhabitants, architects and founders of this city were not Arabs and the only influence the Europeans had in the form of the Portuguese was to mark the start of decline, most likely through smallpox and influenza.” – Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
In 1505 Portuguese forces destroyed and burned down the Swahili cities of Kilwa and Mombasa. In 15th when the Portuguese, the first Europeans to sail the Atlantic coasts of Africa arrived in the coast of Guinea and landed at Vaida in West Africa, the captains were astonished to find streets well laid out, bordered on either side for several leagues by two rows of trees, for days they travelled through a country of magnificent fields, inhabited by men clad in richly coloured garments of their own weaving! Further south in the Kingdom of the Kongo, a swarming crowd dressed in fine silks’ and velvet; great states well ordered, down to the most minute detail; powerful rulers, flourishing industries-civilised to the marrow of their bones. And the condition of the countries of the eastern coast-mozambique, for example-was quite the same.
Another example is the Kingdom of Congo in the 15th Century was the epitome of political organization. It was a flourishing state in the 15th century. It was situated in the region of Northern Angola and West Kongo. Its population was conservatively estimated at 2 or 3 million people. The country was fivided into 6 administrative provinces and a number of dependancies. The provinces were Mbamba, Mbata, Mpangu, Mpemba, Nsundi, and Soyo. The dependancies included Matari, Wamdo, Wembo and the province of Mbundu. All in turn were subject to the authority of The Mani Kongo (King). The capital of the country(Mbanza Kongo), was in the Mpemba province.
Until the end of 16 century, Africa was far more advanced than Europe in term of political organization, science, technology, culture. That prosperity continued, despite the European slavery ravages, till the 17th and 18th century.
The continent was crowded with tens of great and prosperous cities, empires and kingdoms with King Askia Toure of Songhay, King Behanzin Hossu Bowelle of Benin, Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia, King Shaka ka Sezangakhona of South Africa, Queen Nzinga of Angola, Queen Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana, Queen Amina of Nigeria. We are talking here about Empires, Kingdoms, Queendoms, Kings, emperors, the richest man in the history of humanity in Africa.
Africa could have been far in civilisation if it was not the whiteman and his dirty feed to touch African land. Were these Kings and Queens sleeping on banana trees in the bushes? Were they dressed with tree leaves, with no shoes?
If they were not sleeping in trees, covered with leaves, where are the remainder of their palaces, their art work? In the mid-nineteenth century, William Clarke, an English visitor to Nigeria, remarked that: “As good an article of cloth can be woven by the Yoruba weavers as by any people . . . in durability, their cloths far excel the prints and home-spuns of Manchester.”
But Europeans, a whiteman, attacked these African cities and their Kingdoms; they destroyed cities they found, its civilisation, arts and culture and humanity in Africans. The said “Africans were good for nothing”, but they still took them to Europe as slaves to go and build Europe as Europe was in ruins. How can you be regarded as “good for nothing” but still be shipped miles away from home to do something for someone? They enslaved the children of Africa in Europe for over 500 years.
But over 500 years, a whiteman, realizing that Africa have survived his lynching on its children, destruction of its cities, disturbances of its civilisation and is now liming forward he bring back his evil deeds in the new form; Foreign Investment. I have never liked this words and I have never saw its real meaning if not to loot and destroy Africans anew by white capital.
And, because you cannot control people unless you control their minds, they introduce what today are called “Scholarships”. Yes, scholarships to study in Europe. Then our people are told of lessons and qualifications in European style in order to rule your own land they have destroyed and looted 400 years ago. Be worry! Our people are brainwashed by the whiteman’s education, a slave muster’s book. Our children, who are regarded as brave or intelligent, are selected and sent to the whiteman’s universities to study a whiteman’s education; they very same man who stole his land, destroyed his cities, looted his arts and destroyed his culture is sending an African child to the Europa/Amerikas to brainwash him/her to learn European history and not his own. Our children would forget all about Africa if our universities that are here are re-shaped in African context; in African arts, culture, tradition, language, literature, science, technology and civilisation.
Or our children would never know where they have come from. Every person who does not know which road takes him home, every road leads to home.