Black African History Restored

Portrait of Gertrude Caton Thompson

Gertrude Caton Thompson

This documentary describes the power of racism – a very dangerous but addictive myth – that together with ‘literalist’ religion, has conspired to usurp, hide, obscure and even destroy the facts of material history. When modern (White) Europeans arrived in Africa prior to, during and after the Industrial Revolution, they ascribed their technological advantage to a god-concept ‘blessing’ the White race (rather than acknowledging human intellect and human labour, the real driving forces of the Industrial Revolution). Africa was (falsely) depicted as being ’empty’ of history, and a continent peopled by backward primitives. Any archaeology that contradicted this racist view (and there are many), were either suppressed, or interpreted as the product of ancient White settlers who had travelled to Africa hundreds or thousands of years ago. This quite frankly ‘weird’ take on African culture was further compounded by the stupidity of assuming that ancient Africa was somehow physically linked to Old Testament stories – again more imagination.  Apparently, Europe had traded with Africa prior to the Industrial Revolution (often with Arab merchants as middlemen), and much of the gold and ivory that fuelled the European Renaissance is now thought to have originated in and around Zimbabwe. Europeans have been lied to by their ancestors, and modern Europeans must throw-off these out-dated and out-moded (racist) interpretations of history, and psychologically and physically start studies anew. Early White colonialists even created the lie that Blacks and Whites had arrived in Southern Africa ‘together’, and that prior to this, there was no Black-African presence. The residing Black-Africans must have thought the violent and ignorant White settlers to be truly insane. On the other hand, the British Feminist – Gertrude Caton Thompson (1888-1985) – one of the first female archaeologists in the UK, led an all-woman team on behalf of the British Academy in 1928, on a quest to objectively study the ‘true’ or ‘real’ origins of Zimbabwe. Thompson rejected the racist ‘White’ interpretation, and the Old Testament gloss, and proceeded from the study of objective facts. Thompson uncovered vast (and ‘new’) archaeological finds in and around ancient Zimbabwe, proving that there were many and numerous different types of ancient African cultures – all apparently feudal in nature – but able to build large rock buildings and structures of religious and political significance. This was augmented by stratified social strictures, military formations, voluntary labour (people work 7 days a month free of charge to honour the king), and there was much sophisticated metal work, jewellery making, and stone-caving. Of course, African people already knew this, and did not require a European woman to tell then their own history, but for ‘White’ Europeans, the work of Thompson has been essential as a ‘corrective’ to otherwise highly ridiculous and racist interpretations. All African gold was owned by the African kings, and only used (together with ivory) strictly in trading with civilisations outside of Africa (which included Europe, the Middle East and China). The internal currency appears to have been the exchange of cattle – with those owning the most cattle being considered the most influential and successful. At one-time (during the 15th century CE), the Africans (Swahili) also sent a giraffe to China – causing great surprise and admiration at the imperial court. As Africa boomed, impressive town and cities developed all-over the continent – including East Africa (prior to Arab domination of the area).  Following African people converting to Islam, it was assumed that ‘Arabs’ had built the beautiful and ornate mosques (and other structures), but recent archaeological discoveries (made by the British academic Mark Horton) suggests this is wrong and just as ‘racist’ in nature as the ‘White’ imaginings. According to Mark Horton, it was Swahili Africans that conceived, built, maintained and prayed in the great mosques of East Africa – that only much later were taken over by Arabs. Eventually, of course, despite the greatness of African culture, a time came when this culture started to decline. This decline was almost complete by the 15th century CE – just prior to the arrival of the first Europeans.

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