Africa essay Essay
Sub-Saharan Africa: Change and Continuity Essay Summaries Period 3
1 600-1450: Trade Routes and Their Impacts by Stephanie Lin
2 100-1450: Politics by Rebecca Lee-McFadden
3 1450-1750: Politics and Economics by Emma Loh
4 Sub-Saharan Africa’s Relationship to Global Trade Patterns – 1750 to the Present by Douglas Chee 5 1450-Present: Religion by LJ Cabutaje
6 1914-Present: Formation of National Identities by George Kitsios a using evidence from specific countries
Sub-Saharan Africa 600 -1450 Trade Routes and Their Impacts
Before the 600s, trade routes in Africa weren’t used nearly as much as they are today After 600s, long distance trade increased and increased social and cultural diffusion At the end of the 600s, the world saw the decline of the classical period The fall of the classical empires such as the Gupta and Han Empires and Rome allowed various religions to spread Before 600 CE, connections existed between Sub-Saharan Africa and civilized societies, but were limited Cultural diffusion before the 600s included Africanity and diffusion of Bantu languages As trade routes intensified, Arab traders could spread to previously unreachable areas using camels and caravans One of the key changes that occurred during this period was the influence and spread of Islamic religion and culture and the connection of West Africa with the Muslim World Trade also increased economic prosperity, such as in the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai Gold-salt trade between Ghana and Arab desert traders and the Mediterranean prospered considerably as Ghana had gold but no salt and the Mediterranean had salt but no gold Ghana’s king converted to Islam, led to better relations with the Islamic world Indian Ocean trade led to increased development of city-states such as Mogadishu and Sofala Slave trading increased
Much continuity accompanied these changes
Syncretic conversion, which is they kept some of their own beliefs while converting to a new religion such as intertwining Islam with animism and ancient folklore Many people were still devoted to Christianity
Nomads were still the “middlemen” between the east and west Same basic routes were still used for trade during this period Africans retained their sense of originality and culture
Evaluate the political changes and continuities over time in Sub Saharan Africa from years 100 to 1450. Thesis: Sub Saharan Africa went from being made up of small individual tribes to large, organized empires. The arrival of new religions also affected the laws and codes Sub Saharan Africans had to follow. Throughout these changes, one continuity was that religious beliefs still played an important part in the political structures.
-Smaller and decentralized tribes became larger, more organized empires.
During 100 CE and earlier, there did not exist organized governments. Most societies were clans and tribes ruled by a tribal leader. Some societies were hunter-gatherer ones. Unification really could not occur due to arid environments and culturally diverse regions.
Larger empires and kingdoms were able to rise because of an increase in interaction and trade between tribes. An increased production of crops and iron tools and artisan goods led to more trading. As tribes traded, some grew wealthier and more powerful. These tribes conquered others and took control of regional trade routes becoming more powerful. They then became larger kingdoms and societies.
Ghana and Great Zimbabwe were two examples of this. Their rise to power was due to the wealth earned from trading and controlling trade routes. Eastern City States like Zanzibar, Mombasa, and Sofala rose to power because of trading in the Indian Ocean Trading Route. -Religions like Islam and Christianity affected law codes
Most of Sub-Saharan Africans followed animism. With the arrival of monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam, law codes were altered. Mali, for example, was an Islamic state. The people under the Mali empire
had to follow Islamic law, shari’a and the Qur’an. The Kingdom of Aksum converted to Christianity under the king, Ezana. Ezana ruled his people under the beliefs and teachings of Christianity. Continuities:
– Religious beliefs continued to play a role in political structures and law codes
Whether the dominating religion was Islam, Christianity, or animism, it still affected how the particular society ran and the laws the people had to follow. Animism also affected tribes politically. Kings and tribal leaders were believed to be decedents of their gods. Religion was all people knew and was so heavily integrated in their lives,. Political structures and law codes were not an exception to this.
Prompt: The period of 1450 to 1750 witnessed important transformations in Africa. Trace significant changes and continuities in two of the following areas: social, economic, and political. Economics
Change: emergence and eventual domination of the transatlantic slave trade first interactions with Europeans
Portuguese and some African tribes created trade relations that were beneficial to both sides in gold, world markets. WHY
European production growth, e.g. Portugal’s sugar plantations profits went to Africa, most slaves were POWs
Continuity: the profitable trade of raw materials
15th C: gold, copper, cotton textiles, leather works
17th C: gold, ivory, timber
political alliances with European foreigners
1500s: some African kings were open to European religions (Christianity) allowed access to European firearms and association with advanced societies few were actually committed to Christianity due to dominant Muslim culture. 17th Century: kings profited from the slave trade, cooperative with
Europeans some kings lost power to the slave trade
15th C: some normal Africans started to be kidnapped for the slave trade Continuity: monarchies as the dominant governments which maintained power throughout Africa. forced Europeans to adhere to African trading customs.
collected expensive rents from European merchants.
prevented Europeans from claiming African territory
were not heavily influenced by Europeans.
** not all kings participated in European trade, and a majority of them did not.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s Relationship to Global Trade Patterns – 1750 to the Present
Sub-Saharan Africa is rich with raw materials – precious metals, animal products, plant oils. 1750s:
Independent African kingdoms exported gold, copper, ivory, vegetable oils, and animal pelts to various Western powers, in exchange for machine-made products. Lack of industrialization. Huge slave trade from 1750-1867, despite Great Britains attempted abolishment in 1808. Slaves utilized in Western colonies and plantations. Constant European presence and tight relationship in trade.
Scramble for Africa:
End of slave trade led to economic weakness, leaving African states vulnerable to the European imperialists. Peak of European’s constant influence.
New exports included diamonds and rubber.
Africa continued to be a global source for raw materials, due to their continued lack of industrialization. Post WWII:
Nationalistic movements brought independence from European powers, but left political/economic issues for the now decolonized states. Dependency on the delicate trade of cash crops, in addition to the lack of industrialization
and help for the now expelled European powers had led to economic backwardness in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Religious Changes and Continuities in Sub-Saharan Africa: 1450-Present:
Thesis: From 1450 to the present, Sub-Saharan Africa’s religious atmosphere has experienced many changes due to the exponential growth of such global religions as Christianity and Islam in the region, while it has also maintained religious continuities in its traditional and established beliefs and practices, by the usage of syncretism
Changes and Analysis:
There was a large growth in the spread of Islam throughout the region. Because of the way that cultural diffusion occurred throughout various trade routes, Islam easily spread throughout the region and integrated into the cultures of local tribes, without the need for conquest from the leaders. From 1900 to the present, it grew exponentially, from a few million to more than 300 million, comprising 15% of the world’s Islamic population. Christianity was the other global religion that grew exponentially during this time period. It was first introduced in the 15th century by Portuguese Catholic missionaries who wanted to convert the natives to their faith. Similarly to Islam, in the 20th century, the Christian population in Sub-Saharan Africa rose up, eventually totaling over 470 million, effectively making up more than 20% of the world’s Christian population. This occurred due to the heavy anti-slavery sentiment and the scramble for Africa which occurred in this time period.
Continuities and Analysis:
Despite the changes, the people of this region were still able to adhere to their long-time and ancient beliefs and traditions. Many still practice animism, or the belief in the spirits of nature, and practice rituals such as voodoo. They were able to continue because of the tolerance of the major
global religions and also because of their practice of syncretism, in which they incorporated the local religions with these global religions. One last continuity was Christianity in Ethiopia, where the religion was indigenous and was there from the 4th Century CE.
-Pre WWII, Sub Saharan Africa witnesses significant changes in the identities of its nations. Largely fueled as a reaction to separatist movements from European Colonial structures, and a recent surge in nationalism -Many strive towards self governed rule with dreams of liberation influenced by fighting in the name of freedom in the 2nd World War Changes:
-Gold Coast was hot bed of nationalism after WWII, desire for British to allow self rule -Took first step through African representation in council, but not enough -Many had aspirations for Ghana to become the African United States -Ambitious Goal expanded in 1947, Kwame Nkrumah starts series of boycotts, strikes, etc -By 1957, Gold Coast receives full independence, renamed Ghana -Nkrumah 1st president, creates proactive reforms
-Also governed from a far by the British
-Large amounts of free land in Northern Highlands believed by the Native kenyans their own land with their own rights; not some prize for Britain. -Movement for Kenyan Independence begins, seeded in nationalism, by Joma Kenyatta, who like others, believed “Africa can only advance to a higher level if he is free to express himself…”, meaning free from external rule -Formation of Mau Mau Guerilla group, more violent approach toward Kenyan national identity, killing 10,000 Africans and 100 settlers in the process -Eventually, Kenya gains independence in 1963
-One of largest things that stayed the same was the pattern of violence and oppression experienced in inter and intercommunication of African native groups/future nations -Nigeria
-Key example, newborn nation that adopts a federal system
-Borders did not pay attention to the cultural tensions it put in place among the civilians, would provoke a large amount of controversy -Ultimately leads to a full out civil war breaking loose, amongst a number of ethnic groups forced to live together with no prior notice -Horrible level of instability within the government, provoking martial law on some areas. -Outcome of a movement intended to liberate resulted in unimaginable violence, and the replacement of one oppressive, ignorant government, with a more familiar one
-Obtains partial independence from Great Britain by 1931, allowing for self government (sorta) -White supremacy ends up taking over the reigns immediately however policies of apartheid run rampant for the next couple of decades -Formation and barring of the African National Congress (ANC)
-Misrepresentation in laws/distribution of land
-South Africans are 75% of population, but only allowed on 13% of land (slum land too!) -ANC and other pro South African Native movements decide to go with a more violent route, yet many end up killed, beaten, or jailed in the 70s and 80s, especially after demonstrations in 1977. -Struggle for accurate democracy at hand, no room for reform, and realization of equality not realized until later on (Nelson Mandela) -Black citizens grossly mistreated in their own homeland, reign of violence and terror overstays its welcome