After my millenial history it felt important to point out a number of cultural consequences. Whilst profit was the driving force changes in culture were the recognisable impositions on society. And none was more significant than white’s appropriation of culture from black people. I am not presenting this in any academic way, so exact dates are not clear. This would obviously be a get-out clause for academic sticklers and those who don’t wish to see the truth. But such people would not believe a hammer hit them on the head.
Early recorded civilisations were in that area of Africa around Egypt, Sudan etc., but earliest recognition of creativity were cave paintings. In the 80s Basil Davison presented an excellent series, Africa, and in this first episode he debunked many of the racist myths that have grown up since. Cave paintings of clear black African origin were found in Algeria – Arabic Africa now, and this showed a cultivated black African society in a green Sahara. Where were white people at that time? Egyptian civilisation was clearly rooted in black Africa with many leaders depicted in black stone. This has to be understood as a feat because black stone is not found in the regions of modern Egypt, and had to be transported from far away. At the time I became interested in this some 30 years ago, I read, probably in a book by Cheikh Ante Diop interviewed by Basil (17.58mins), as to how Arabs once they had invaded Egypt desecrated these statues by removing negroid features. I was in London at the time and a trip to the British Museum saw numerous statues with the negro lips and flat noses obviously damaged. Here is a page, black and proud, about the British Museum of which this image is just one:-
Without going into more detail (not the purpose here) African civilisation was flourishing long before white civilisation had got off the ground. (More on Africa by W E B Dubois). But then slowly but surely white (& Arab) people have destroyed these civilisations. It began with the Greeks but their involvement was not to appropriate. People like Herodotus and Hippocrates travelled in Africa to learn, a bit like young nowadays ought when travelling the world, respectfully bringing the knowledge back to Greece. Much of that knowledge is now attributed to the Greeks as part of contemporary appropriation, but the Greeks never proclaimed this. For the Greeks they provided a valuable historical service, at the library of Alexandria they wrote this knowledge down. Pythagoras was a philosopher more famed for his theorem, and this had African roots in agriculture. African farmers used a 12 metre piece of rope with knots each a meter apart and one at each end. To square off their fields they used this rope in the form of a 3,4,5 triangle. That aside the Greeks began the appropriation of African knowledge, but it is white history that ascribed this knowledge as Greek, not the Greeks themselves.
In the first millenium the Arabs expanded out of what is now known as the Middle East. Their expansionism took them into North Africa where they looted wealth and slaves. These slaves were assimilated into Arab society. Some of the rich Arabs in Oman I taught were of obvious black African origin – although more likely to be Tanzanian if in Oman; yet at the same time there was a significant Sudanese diaspora there. In the millenium history I spoke of the Crusades taking Arab wealth, I think you can now see that part of that wealth had to be considered African.
But whilst Arabs looted and enslaved they did not significantly destroy the cultures. It was up to the white man to do that. As European society developed so the merchants sought goods further and further afield, significant was trips to China where they appropriated gunpowder. It was this gunpowder which fuelled the muskets of the Spanish that decimated Mayan and Aztec culture in order to fill the coffers of the Queen of Spain. But once the British had gained this loot as the spoils of their war with Spain, that money was invested in sailing ships that set for the shores of Africa, but with one purpose – slavery. What is rarely described is that Africans were skilled farmers, and this knowledge was needed in the plantations that were being established in the Caribbean. Once established tobacco and other crops were returned to England where profits from their sales funded the next ships that went to Africa – the famed slave triangle. And why didn’t the Africans prevent this? Gunpowder. The British butchered the Africans in much the same way as the Spanish had butchered the Mayans and Aztecs. The process of destruction of Africa by the Europeans was described in Walter Rodney’s book “How Europe underdeveloped Africa”, and the Spanish connection is discussed in Eduardo Galeano’s book “Open Veins of Latin America”.
Whilst Walter Rodney attributes the death of African civilisation to the Europeans, I believe that is not the total truth. A British colony was also significant in the destruction. Once the US had established independence from the British, the ex-British began their internal expansion and appropriation of land from the indigenous peoples. Once they had the land they needed workers to develop the land. Their British cousins in the Caribbean knew the value of the African farmer, and soon the US South were sending slave ships over to Africa, aptly covered in the US TV series “Roots”. But what was not discussed greatly was the destruction of African civilisations, civilisations that had started in advance of their white counterparts, but by the time the lifeblood of youth had been drained out of them there was little left.
Then enters guilt. Europeans and Americans considered themselves civilised, it would not be right to enslave equals. Slowly over these centuries 17th -19th there grew the myth of the inferiority of the black man, until eventually little could be gained from further enslavement as slave revolts were costing too much to suppress. Abolition movements in the US and the UK were allowed to develop to salve the respective consciences – after the damage had been done.
Whilst slavery had been abolished and the civilisations destroyed, the job was not complete. Towards the end of the 19th century mineral wealth was discovered in many African countries – particularly of the South. As with the Crusades a religious masquerade hid the real intent, and a missionary movement was at the forefront of the exploitation of sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa gold and diamonds needed a workforce, and the virtual enslavement by the Aparthied regime had the superiority of the white man at its core. Throughout the rest of sub-Saharan Africa European colonies gave way to divide-and-rule puppet governments that survived beyond independence struggles. And then as described in Millenium history, the Second World War was manipulated to leave a global US neo-colonial hegemony.
And the process was complete. The advanced civilisations of Egypt, Nubia, Meroe and Kush had become Arab colonies, and become cash-crop land that feeds western children before the starving of their own countries. A.D. white appropriated from black.