Glimpse of Africa
By Justin Green
The Kush and Axum Kingdoms
The Kush Kingdom was located in the Nubian Desert along the Upper Nile River Valley. The Kushites had a written language based on Egyptian hieroglyphics. They farmed the Nile River valley and mined minerals and high quality stones. They also introduced metallurgy to the region. The Kushites were the middlemen in the trade game. They traded with tribes from the south and then traded those to the Egyptians to the north.
The Axum Kingdom at one time was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. This empire was located in the highlands of northern Ethiopia. This empire lasted from the 1st to the 8th century. The Axum Kingdom lied at a crossroads of three continents: Africa, Arabia, and the Greco-Roman World. Their ships controlled most of the trade in the Red Sea. In the 4th century Christianity was introduced to the region which lead to the building of churches, such as Saint Mary of Zion.
Between the 9th and 11th centuries Ghana was one of the richest empires in the world. Their kings were amongst the wealthiest men in the world. Their land was on an abundance of gold which created years of prosperous trading for Ghana. Most of the accounts of this medieval empire were by Arab travelers. At the height of the empire Ghana was trading gold, ivory, and slaves for salt, horses, and books from the Arabs. Trading was the main reason Ghana became such an enormous empire.
The word Ghana means "warrior king." This name was very fitting because Ghana had a very powerful and advanced military. Their system of taxes helped fund their army which thrived until the 1200s. In this time Muslim extremists raided ares across Ghana's territory. The empire fought the Muslims for almost 30 years until the empire fell apart due to a massive drought and the different provinces began to break apart into their own kingdoms.
Imperialism is when a nation takes over other areas to build its empire. In the 19th century European nations began the process of imperialism in Africa. Germany was among the many European nations to colonize Africa in the 19th century. In 1884 and 1885 Germany took over and controlled modern day Cameroon, Togo, Tanzania, and Namibia. One reason for this was the advantage of having access to the natural resources in these African countries.
The Germans made a rule by Bismarck which meant soldiers and officers were to colonize land in Africa and create laws and rule over the area. There were many obstacles to the German's rule in Africa. Other European nations were competing to get land in Africa which lead to fights over different areas. Germany also faced resistance from the Herero and Yao people in East Africa but the Germans defeated them.
Slave Trade 1650-1730
The Slave Trade took place between the 15th and 19th century and reached its peak between 1650 and 1730. Sailors from Europe would take natives from their homes in Africa and transport them to the New World. On this voyage many slaves died from disease, starvation, or thirst. The slaves that survived the voyage were then sold to the highest bidder to work on agricultural plantations. This was called the Atlantic slave trade.
Masks make up a huge spectrum of African art. They are an important part of African culture. Masks are generally worn during ceremonies and can represent ancestors or good and evil spirits. The idea behind this is that the spirits then posses the person wearing the mask, enhancing the atmosphere of the occasion.
Rwanda Since the Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide happened nearly 20 years ago. Members of the Hutu killed about 800,000 Tutsi people in the span of about 100 days. The genocide began after a helicopter carrying president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down of Kigali, soldiers and militia began executing important Tutsi leaders. The Rwandan Patriotic Front quickly took control over northern Rwanda and worked its way to Kigali in mid-July when the fighting ended.
Paul Kagame became the president in the aftermath. Under Kagame economic growth has greatly risen. Another effect of the genocide is the gender equality. Rwanda is leading the world with the highest percentage of women in parliament. After the genocide the remaining Hutu extremists fled to the Congo. The extremists have made raids across the Rwandan boarder and pose as a legitimate threat to the Rwandan government. Today there are over 40 active armed groups operating within the Congo.