America isn’t home
America isn’t home. It’s more of a comfortable and secure living than Eritrea, which admittedly is why my parents moved here, but it also comes at a substantial price.
Distance from relatives, material loss of culture, trying to bridge the “African” and “Black” identities, though seemingly similar, have many contextual differences and while never really having a significant connection to both, needing to vehemently justify labelling yourself “black” to people who’ve never heard and can’t comprehend the purpose for such a descriptor, while trying to retain your African identity in a nation that unfairly generalizes and brutally exploits the livelihoods of your people, being in constant worry that your family isn’t financially afloat, dealing with U.S. occupation of your homeland and subconsciously being aware that you, while tring to survive, undoubtedly exist within the imperialist machine.
Even little tangential things like making up excuses for why you can’t attend so-and-so’s sleepover or birthday party, feeling embarrassment and subsequent guilt for said embarrassment whenever your parents dress up in traditional clothing or speak in thick accents, shouting over substitute teachers before they butcher your last name and humiliate you in front of your peers, stating something, anything about America that you find less than amazing and promptly being told to “go back where you came from” as if everyone’s ancestors didn’t migrate here and thus realizing that you never get to proclaim yourself American. That title is conditional and contingent upon your ignorant adherence to “the American way”, which obviously is equivalent to never thinking, never questioning and never disbelieving.
But in Eritrea, there’s none of that. I’ve lived here my entire life and always felt a weird distance from the average American. Everything from what they find interesting topics to discuss to the things they worry about are strikingly foreign to me, which in hindsight, I consider incredibly sad. In Eritrea, I never had to worry about tediously justifying who I am, where I come from, why I was there. It was my country and I belonged.
I really miss that feeling.
- Culture: Mangbetu
- Provenience: Zaire; Kasai District; Belgian Congo
- Section: African
- Medium: iron, copper and wood
Iron blades with long rectangular necks and elongated blades; wooden handles with hilts wrapped with a piece of fine copper wire.
Fabric shopping in Ghana’s busy and bustling Makola Market
One of my favourite market-related activities in Côte d’Ivoire, after people watching and trying not to alarm small children with my epic pastiness.
Smoke break XI…
A rebel fighter on the Ivory Coast with a Chinese Type-56 II. These were the side-folding bakelite stock models that were also exported and sold to the U.S civilian market. Very coveted and collectable, the stocks alone can cost upwards of $400 to $600 if all the parts are there.
Africa’s Oldest Known Boat8000 years ago, in the region now known as Nigeria. ”Africa’s oldest known boat” the Dufuna Canoe was discovered near the region of the River Yobe. The Canoe was discovered by a Fulani herdsman in May 1987, in Dufuna Village while digging a well. The canoe’s “almost black wood”, said to be African mahogany, as “entirely an organic material”. Various Radio-Carbon tests conducted in laboratories of reputable Universities in Europe and America indicate that the Canoe is over 8000 years old, thus making it the oldest in Africa and 3rd oldest in the World. Little is known of the period to which the boat belongs, in archaeological terms it is described as an early phase of the Later Stone Age, which began rather more than 12,000 years ago and ended with the appearance of pottery.The lab results redefined the pre-history of African water transport, ranking the Dufuna canoe as the world’s third oldest known dugout. Older than it are the dugouts from Pesse, Netherlands, and Noyen-sur-Seine, France. But evidence of an 8,000-year-old tradition of boat building in Africa throws cold water on the assumption that maritime transport developed much later there in comparison with Europe. Peter Breunig of the University of Frankfurt, Germany, an archaeologist involved in the project, says the canoe’s age “forces a reconsideration of Africa’s role in the history of water transport”. It shows, he adds, “that the cultural history of Africa was not determined by Near Eastern and European influences but took its own, in many cases parallel, course”. Breunig, adding that it even outranks in style European finds of similar age. According to him, “The bow and stern are both carefully worked to points, giving the boat a notably more elegant form”, compared to “the dugout made of conifer wood from Pesse in the Netherlands, whose blunt ends and thick sides seem crude”. To go by its stylistic sophistication, he reasons, “It is highly probable that the Dufuna boat does not represent the beginning of a tradition, but had already undergone a long development, and that the origins of water transport in Africa lie even further back in time.”Egypt’s oldest known boat is 5000 years old.P. Breunig, The 8000-year-old dugout canoe from Dufuna (NE Nigeria), G. Pwiti and R. Soper (eds.), Aspects of African Archaeology. Papers from the 10th Congress of the PanAfrican Association for Prehistory and related Studies. University of Zimbabwe Publications (Harare 1996) 461-468.ISBN: 0908307551
Oh, so what you’re saying is… they finally realized we’re not their racist stereotype of primitive and fecund nativity? Clap.
Let me add some more deliciousness to this knowledge soup by discussing Mansa (King) Abubakari II of Africa’s ancient Mali empire.
Citing the book written by the famous Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadi Al-Umari in 1342, there were two large voyages across the Atlantic Ocean preceding that of Columbus. Both expeditions were pioneered by one man, Abubakari or to give him his rightful name, Mansa (King) Abubakari II.
In the time of the Malian Empire, the general conception was that on the other end of the Atlantic lied the end of the world. This delusion took its roots from then primitive Europe. Abubakari on the other hand was far from convinced. If the Niger had its beginning and its end, then the Atlantic Ocean must have its end with people living on its shores. He also felt this could be a sea root to Mecca (The kings of the Mali Empire had already converted to Islam).
With the quest for knowledge burning in him, Abubakari sent out 200 ships. Their duty was to sail across the Atlantic, with the aim of finding out what lied beyond. It was recorded that only one of the ships returned. Its captain claimed to have turned around when he saw the other ships disappear into the wild ocean.
Abubakari was not convinced by the captain’s testimony. This further increased his thirst to discover what lied on the other end of the Ocean.
13th century Mali was a center of excellence in Abubakari’s time, though reaching its peak after his era with Timbuktu having the second oldest University at that time with students numbering more than that of New York University. Courses such as mathematics, geography, history, astronomy, chemistry as well as Islamic studies flourished in Timbuktu. Mali was a center for trade, the exact spot to meet all who made the world spin. With the aid of the ship builders from Egypt and Mali, Abubakari built ships off the coast of Senegambia. His ships were 2000 in number. With this, he was to use to discover the end of the ocean. Abubakari was no coward. He insisted on accompanying the ships across the ocean.
In the year 1311, Abubakari abdicated his thrown to Mansa Musa. Not a son of his (contrary to contemporary literature). Abubakari equipped 1000 of his ships with the finest men, sorcerers, physicians, sailors and navigators. Every ship had supply ship attached to it. The number of ships totaled 2000. The other 1000 ships were loaded with foodstuffs, drugs, fruits and drinks to last his team for 2yrs. It was believed that Abubakari arrived on the other end of the Atlantic in the year 1312. Proof of the Malian expedition can be noted in the names given to places in Haiti as the Malians renamed places after themselves. Examples of such are Mandinga Port, Mandinga Bay and Sierre de Mali.
Lots of other proof abound and many more keep unfolding. There is also a Malian folktale which gives reference to this great expedition.
How could this be possible in Abubakari’s time? From a scientific point of view, the Atlantic is governed by 2 currents, which usually remain the same irrespective of month or season. These are the Guinea Current and the Canary Current. Both possess currents powerful enough to pull a ship form the coast of West Africa to the Americas. It is at end of these currents that you see the signs of negroid presence in the Americas.
It would therefore be suspected that Columbus employed similar knowledge of the currents of the Atlantic to sail across to the Americas. Such could only have been possible through the help of someone familiar with the rout. Hence the speculation that Columbus was accompanied by an African, Pedro Alonso Nino, who helped him navigate the Atlantic, appears more credible. It must be made clear that Columbus recorded seeing blacks in America. He also recorded seeing a building which looked like a mosque. The Malians were Muslims and hence there is a possibility that the mosque could have been erected by Malians. Columbus also recorded seeing a ship, filled with goods just departing the coast of Guinea and heading in the direction of America.
In addition to the above, another proof of this voyage comes from words of Mansa Musa, the successor to the thrown. Upon his arrival in Egypt, it was obvious the Egyptians were expecting to see Abubakari for the Hajj. On arriving in Egypt, Mansa Musa was quoted as explaining how ascended the thrown of Mali. Once again citing the manner King Abubakari had given up his thrown to contribute to global knowledge.
The presence of the Malians on American soil may thus be the reason for the presence of African crops such as Banana Plants and mango to mention a few.
My professor also said that some of the gold in the Americas has been traced back to Mali.
And to reiterate, Columbus reported the presence of Negroesin the “New World” on his third voyage. Even after the very first voyage, Columbus knew that Africans had already “discovered” America because he received a present of “guanines” from the Native Americans he encountered.
“…and he (Columbus) wanted to find out what the Indians of Hispaniola had told him, that there had come to it from the south and southeast Negro people, who brought those spear points made of metal which they call guanin, of which he had sent to the king and queen for assaying, and which was found to have in thirty-two parts, eighteen of gold, six of silver, and eight of copper”
"People in the Third World are viewed as having too many children because they are ignorant and irrational; they exercise no control over their sexuality, and “breed out of control.” However, in many Third World societies, having a large family is a completely rational strategy for survival. Children’s labor is a vital part of the family economy… quite early in life, children’s labor makes them an asset rather than a drain on family income. Also, because the vast majority of people in Third World countries do not have access to insurance, pension plans, and social security, having a large number of children insures that there will be someone to take care of or provide for the family, especially aging parents… As long as the vast majority of people in the Third World countries remain impoverished, uneducated, and unhealthy, the large family will provide the only real source of social security. Birth control programs will fail to reduce fertility rates, as they have in the past, when there is no motivation on the part of poor families to limit their size, unless coercive methods of population control are used."
“On August 14, 1791, a fearless Afrikan warrior queen named Cecille called together all the field slaves of the French sugar plantation island of Haiti (originally spelled ‘Ayiti ), to convene the launching of the most successful of all slave revolts…They performed the proper rituals in the ways of our ancestors, led by the vodun priest Boukman himself, forged the united front and agreed to commence hostilities in 8 days for what we must all celebrate and appreciate! The Haitian… ‘Ayitian…Revolution!…Long live the Ancestors of the Ayitian Revolution!”
‘PEOPLE OF AFRICA, STRANGLE THE COLONIZER!’