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May 25 2016 4 25 /05 /May /2016 01:29
Jonathan Musere: "Africa the Dark Continent According to Foreigners"

Though the phrase, concept, or application "Dark Continent" has existed for at least four centuries, increasingly over time it came to be more significantly bestowed on Africa, more prevalently on "black" or sub-Saharan Africa. Over the recent past centuries, the region was increasingly inundated by foreign prospectors, adventurers, explorers, missionaries, biologists, geographers, and others.

Africa and Africans were as mysterious and strange to much of the rest of the world, just as the foreigners and their ways were mysterious to the Africans. The foreign presence in Africa accelerated during the Slave Trade and the Scramble for Africa.

Europeans, starting from the coast of west Africa, gradually ventured deeper and deeper into the interior of the continent. Many of them wrote down what they perceived and what their opinions were regarding the culture, religion, appearance, habitations, community, modes of living and survival, and other characteristics of the Africans and their environment. Africans were compared and contrasted to Europeans, to other Africans, and to other people. Some of these accounts were debasing, exaggerations, fabrications, illogical, and without merit. Some of the accounts were corroborative and displayed commonalities among black Africans. Veneration of and sacrifices to ancestors, superstitiousness, as well as operation of witchcraft and blood rituals were common. Women prevalently carried out the domestic work, men were warriors and hunters, and polygamy was widespread.

The renowned foreign chroniclers of Africa included, among many others, David Livingstone, Mungo Park, Hugh Clapperton, Robert Moffat, Henry M. Stanley, Samuel W. Baker, and Paul B. Du Chaillu. The extracts in this book offer a mosaic of the Africa as the Dark Continent in their eyes and descriptions. The writings on Africa and Africans sometimes took a positive, unbiased or neutral tone; they were not always negative.

Though these wandering and inconsistent writings refer to numerous African niches of eras of a distant past that prevalently involved the slave trade and colonialism, the writings are regularly quoted and also applied by mostly conservative and anti-black circles to the contemporary context of and to discredit the black person. The numerous quotations in this book are heavily referenced, and they display the writings of many prominent adventurers, travelers, explorers, missionaries, academics, anthropologists, biologists, slave-traders, slavery abolitionists, and colonialists who ventured into Africa. The writing depicts an Africa that was destabilized by the slave trade and other forms of heightened commercialism during which the African became a cheap commercial commodity who became quite vulnerable to coercion into becoming an instrument of combat and raiding, of being captured and sold domestically or internationally, of becoming sacrificed or otherwise executed even for minor infringements or pleasure. Polygamy was rife in a male-dominated Africa where women's rights were significantly limited and where women were given away as prizes or sold into marriage by those in power. In case of a crime, restitution could be in the form of giving a female child to the offended. Locals could also present their daughters to the king to be his wives; the daughters would be raised at the king's palace by older co-wives until they became of age. Men mostly served as heads of households, as hunters, and as warriors; whereas the women took care of the household and domestic chores. Still, there are instances of women serving as warriors in central and western Africa.

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  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Ariko Pubns (April 30, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964596954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964596955
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
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