on African history

on African History

Sometime ago in conversation, the subject of Africa came up. The person I was talking to said ” Oh, my daughter is studying African history at school”.

Wow! I thought, lucky kid! Because at school in South Africa, a very long time ago, we were only taught about Victorian England and King Henry VIII.

Damb, I thought, which amazing bit of African history is this student learning here in France? Is she learning about the Mansa Musa of Mali, the richest man to have ever lived and the Mali Empire of the 1300s AD that produced more than half the world’s supply of salt and gold, the Mansa Musa who poured wealth into education and the ancient seat of African learning,Timbuctu, where to this day over 700 000 ancient manuscripts are held in the libraries?

Is she learning about the Monomotapa Empire that stretched from the shores of Mozambique to the interior, to the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe with its magnificent flowing walls?

Is she learning about the not so ancient city of Kumase of the Ashanti Kingdom of Ghana, the African city of the late 1800s which had promenades and public squares, exquisite architecture, prosperity and extremely modern living?

Is she learning about the 9th century Nigerian city of Eredo which was surrounded by a wall hundreds of miles long ? Or the medieval Nigerian city of Benin that left travellers from afar in awe of its sheer size, magnificent lay-out and cosmopolitan vibe?

So I turned to the student and said ” Oh, that is interesting, which part of African history are you learning about?”

The student looked at me like I must be a complete moron and said ” Well, slavery, the African slave trade of course.”

Yes, nothing else exists!

I call that the imperialists version of history, the perpetuation of the victim mind-set. What ever you teach the youth, don`t teach them about the stuff they can be proud of, the amazing stuff, the magical stuff, the spell-binding journey, the achievements, the beauty, the foundations of the future…

Leave a Reply