10 African Civilizations More Amazing Than Ancient Egypt
….But the enlightened sons of Africa in distant lands, are called to a far higher work than even this; a work which as much transcends mere civilization as the abiding interests of eternity outvie the transient concerns of time. To wrest a continent from ruin; to bless and animate millions of torpid and benighted souls; to destroy the power of the devil in his strongholds, and to usher therein light, knowledge, blessedness, inspiring hope, holy faith, and abiding glory, is, without doubt, a work which not only commands the powers of the noblest men, but is worthy the presence and the zeal of angels. It is just this work which now claims and calls for the interest and the activity of the sons of Africa. Its plainest statement and its simplest aspect, are sufficient, it seems to me, to move these men in every quarter of the world to profound sensibility, to deep resolve, to burning ardor. Such a grand and awful necessity, covering a vast continent, touching the best hopes, and the endless destiny of millions of men, ought, I think, to stir the souls of many a self-sacrificing spirit, and quicken him to lofty purposes and noble deeds. And when one considers that never before in human history has such a grand and noble work
been laid out in the Divine Providence, before the negro race, and that it rises up before them in its full magnitude now, at the very time when they are best fitted for its needs and requirements, it seems difficult to doubt that many a generous and godly soul will hasten to find his proper place in this great work of God and man, whether it be by the personal and painful endeavors of a laborer in the field of duty, or by the generous benefactions and the cheering incitements which serve to sustain and stimulate distant and tried workers in their toils and trials….
 “outvie”: to strive in competition, be a rival.
SOURCE: The Rev. Alex. Crummell, The Relations And Duties Of Free Colored Men In America To Africa. A Letter to Charles B. Dunbar, M.D., ESQ., Of New York City. Hartford: Press of Case, Lockwood And Company, 1861, pp. 53-54.
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Historical Race and Ethnography Series Part 3: In These Narcissistic Afrophobic Times
In 1911 the United States Immigration Commission published its fifth volume, a report titled “Dictionary of Races or Peoples.” The committee included United States congressmen and senators who were charged with the task of facilitating a better understanding of the immigrant population. They relied on the foremost racial, anthropological, demographic, geographic, and ethnographic studies of the time.
In examining the immigration status of racial and ethnic groups in the United States after 1899, the United States Immigration Commission was not terribly interested in delineating the ethnic, geographic and linguistic diversity of people of African descent. Note the following entries:
- AFRICAN (black). (See Negro.)
- AUSTAFRICAN. (See Negro.)
- CAUCASIAN, CAUCASIC, EUROPEAN, EURAFRICAN, or WHITE race. (See xanthochroi and melanochroi races, p. 31.)
- ETHIOPIAN. A word used in different senses to designate: (1) the entire Negro race (see), (2) a language spoken by a Semitic people of Abyssinia, and (3) the East African Hamites. (See Semitic-Hamitic.)
- ETTRAFRICAN. Same as Caucasian (see).
- …“It must be remembered that the Hamites are not Negritic or true African, although there may be some traces of an infusion of African blood in this stock in certain communities of Sicily and Sardinia, as well as in northern Africa.“…
- NEGRILLO. (See Negro.)
- NEGRITO. A Philippine tribe. (See Malay, East Indian, and Filipino.)
- …”Immigration statistics count as Negro, or “African (black)” “aliens whose appearance indicates an admixture of Negro blood,” “whether coming from Cuba or other islands of the West Indies, North or South America, Europe, or Africa.”…
- … “The Sardinian, of all the Italians, is the purest representative of the “Mediterranean ” race in head form and color of hair and eyes. He is the, most dwarfish in stature of European peoples, the average being several inches shorter than the Teutonic average of northern Europe. The facial features often betray an infusion of African blood.”…
- Regarding “Negro, Negroid, African, Black, Ethiopian, Or Austafrican.” “In a simple classification for immigration purposes it is preferable to include all the above under the term “Negroes.” They are alike in inhabiting hot countries and in belonging to the lowest division of mankind from an evolutionary standpoint. While the Australians do not have the kinky hair of the African Negroes, they are still lower in civilization.”
SOURCE: Excerpts are from Reports of the Immigration Commission, Dictionary of Races or Peoples, 61st Congress, 3d Session, Senate Document No. 662, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1911, pp. 13, 30, 57, 82, 100, 101, and 119.
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On the continent of Africa, Ethiopia possesses one of the most distinguished histories in the world. This vast and complex history includes: the earliest hominids, the ancient empire of Aksum, the thirteenth century text, the Kebra Negast (“The Book of the Glory of Kings”), the legacy of Tewodros II (Kassa Hailu), the Meneliks (I and II) and the Solomonic lineage of Kings, and the rule of Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie). There was a time when Ethiopia, also known as Abyssinia, was the touchstone for blacks the world over. In ancient times Blacks were collectively referred to as “Ethiopians” or “Abyssinians” by the Greeks. The often quoted biblical passage, “Princes (or ambassadors/envoys) shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia will soon stretch out her hands to God” (Psalms 68:31) was considered a prophecy which confirmed black radiance and deliverance from the struggles against racism, colonization and imperialism. As the only black nation not under European colonization, Ethiopia fueled the rise of the modern-day African diaspora. In 1896 the Ethiopians defeated the Italian Fascists in their unrelenting attempts to colonize the entire country. The struggle between Ethiopia and Italy over the terms and true meaning of their political and diplomatic relationship culminated in The Battle of Adwa and saw the defeat of a European power with nearly 20,000 troops with 14,500 rifles and 60 cannons. The Ethiopians possessed much larger troops guided by regional leaders united, representing all parts of the country. With more than 70,000 rifles and the tactic of bombardment of fire, the Italians relented quickly. The Battle of Adwa ultimately forced the colonizers to view Ethiopia as an independent and sovereign nation. After generations of conflict over the sovereign monarch, in 1930 Haile Selassie became emperor of Ethiopia and this event was widely noted by Africans in the diaspora. Notably, Jamaicans in the West Indies saw his coronation as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy (note another interpretation of Psalms 68:31—“Kings would come out of Africa”). This reaction began a new religious expression among people—The Ras Tafarians. However, in 1935 the Italians launched another strategic attempt to conquer Ethiopia in the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-1936). They brought in massive troops and advanced weapons technology, including poisonous (mustard) gas. In many ways they were avenging their bitter defeat at the Battle of Adwa, in addition to the overarching assertion of “civilizing” the nation of Ethiopia. Africans on the continent and in the diaspora publically deplored the extension of imperialism and were particularly protective of Ethiopia and its ancestral legacy. The president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, and the President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah both fighting for the independence of their own countries, and for a unified Africa, rallied around Ethiopia in the face of Italian military aggression. In the United States African Americans held informational meetings, protested the war, raised funds for the relief of the people—and through the NAACP called on the League of Nations to act more forcefully in defense of Ethiopia against Italian invasion. The League of Nations condemned Italy in the fall of 1935. It could be argued that World War II in effect began with Italy’s assault on Ethiopia. An aim of one American umbrella organization empowered to support Ethiopia stated that their mission was to impart “…a keen sense of the ties which bind them to their blood-brothers in Ethiopia.” Rooted in the World War II anti-imperialist struggles, the black diaspora united in support of Ethiopia, because “…colored peoples of African descent must shoulder their own responsibilities and fight their battles… In this case, it can be done by helping the last independent colored empire.” However, the long history of Ethiopia cannot be told without appreciating the 30 year struggle with Eritrea, and which is well-established in European colonization efforts. The coastal country of Eritrea, with its critical access to the Mediterranean through the Red Sea, was an Italian colonial holding in 1890 (“New Rome”), ultimately used as a base to invade Ethiopia in 1935. By the end of 1950 Ethiopia’s claims to Eritrea supported an autonomous federated union sustained under United Nations Resolution 390A. This was despite Eritrean calls for independence and reports that their autonomy was disregarded by Ethiopia. Eritrea ultimately gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1992. Yet the convoluted and celebrated history of Ethiopia does give us a legacy of human determination and dignity in the face of oppression; and one of global solidarity among people of African descent.—Dr. Katherine Bankole-Medina
 SOURCES: James H. Meriwether, Proudly we can be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935-1961. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002; United Aid for Ethiopia (booklet), New York: United Aid for Ethiopia, 1936; William Leo Hansberry, Pillars in Ethiopian History. Washington: Howard University Press, 1974; Miriam Ma’at Ka Re Monges, Kush The Jewel of Nubia, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1997; Ethiopian National Archives and Library Agency, http://www.nala.gov.et/
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A History of Africa That Made History
UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa
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