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    Posted: 20-May-2009 at 17:33

First time on this site, and after a couple of hours of reading the various threads, I must say that I am disappointed by a few constant, yet unrealized opinions that keep coming up

 

1. Sub-Saharan Africa apparently contributed nothing to world civilization, and their later civilizations/states were simply copies of North African/non-black societies and peoples. To me, that statement itself is not so bad until one somehow implies that this is not simply the track of the vast majority of human history. Humans interact, share ideas, migrate, trade, etc; it's how we've dominated the planet. The lands we now call England, France, etc were filled with much the same level of social development as the vast majority of their "sub-African" counterparts when they first met real civilization through the Romans, who were also nothing before the Greeks, who were also nothing before.....It goes on, and on, and on. We share, we grow, we develop, we move on. Let's not lose ourselves too much in the present state of things; history is fluid, and 10 thousand years from now, most of the discussions here will be frikkin irrelevant. Humans adapt to their bloody environment. Why would anyone expect a marble/stone building in the jungles of Nigeria a thousand year ago unless the person is an absolute nitwit?

 

2. Over and over again I read people being dismissed for attempting to link Egypt, Aksum, etc, --the northern African societies of the past-- to the rest of Africa. At the same time, posters from Estonia, US, Britain, Australia, etc seem to think they share in a piece of the glory of ancient Rome or Greece or whatever ancient civilization existed in anywhere in the continually expanding definition of Europe, when viewed historically. Europe, or rather some mythical caucasian race seems to extend as far east as Mongolia! To me that makes absolutely no sense. An ancient Roman would vomit in disgust if his British contemporary attempted to link themselves to the former’s glory, as would an Afghan. And on and on an on....from Asia, to Europe, to Africa, it's the same nonsense.

 

European domination of the world brought with it, European cohesion after millennia of fighting for a relatively small piece of real estate. European domination brought with it, an increase in his sense of superiority-- the European, relative to the other cultures. He then took history and shaped it to fit his worldview, because anything that contradicted this vision of superiority was undesirable to say the least. Over time, minor kingdoms became behemoths, minor kings became emperors, and all good things started from Greece, because after all, they could somehow identify with them? Funny how Asia and its accomplishments are so often dismissed when it seems from the moderate perspective, the world's "greatest" civilization probably existed in China and India! Great cultures have existed everywhere. Some are lost in the jungles of Indonesia and elsewhere. Let's not mistake our ignorance for absence. The track of human history is long, full, and everyone has a place.

 

Either way, keep the conversation going, but don't be crass or get so caught up in the times and a defeatist ideology that seemingly permeates everything, and NEEDS to die because it inevitably slows true progress. And by the way, I am of African descent, in case the name was not a big giveaway. I was born and raised mostly in a village in Ghana, until my early teens-- for those who care when they really shouldn't. Peace.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 17:39

So, what's the point?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:14
Its not that people deny sub saharan Africa has been an equally valid example of human experience, its just that we don't believe it is or should be considered amongst the pinnacles of human achievement.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:29
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Its not that people deny sub saharan Africa has been an equally valid example of human experience, its just that we don't believe it is or should be considered amongst the pinnacles of human achievement.


Who are 'we'? Is there a collective conscious on AllEmpires that I haven't tuned into? Plus, taking the example of sub Saharan Africa and saying that it shouldn't be considered amongst the pinnacles of human achievement is a little arrogant and presumptuous in my view. Who are you, or me, or anyone, to decide what the pinnacles of human achievement are? Is Western history more 'glorious' than African? Do you believe the Occident is superior to the Orient?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:34

It depends on how do you measure "superiority". Of course people knows there are no reason to believe in genetical superiority anymore. At least not after the tragical events of WW II.

However, if you measure the developments in science and technology, field by field, and compare Subsaharan Africa with Europe, of course the comparison would be a disaster for Subsaharan Africa. The simply fact is that European culture developed a lot more and invented a lot more things than Subsaharan Africa. That's simply the truth. In inventions alone Subsaharan Africa can compare with Australia and New Guinea, but hardly with the Pacific Cultures, Southeast Asia or the Americas, and of course it can't compare at all with China, India, the Muslim world or Europe.

 
 


Edited by pinguin - 20-May-2009 at 19:38
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:47
Originally posted by Kwame Kwame wrote:

 

European domination of the world brought with it, European cohesion after millennia of fighting for a relatively small piece of real estate. European domination brought with it, an increase in his sense of superiority-- the European, relative to the other cultures. He then took history and shaped it to fit his worldview, because anything that contradicted this vision of superiority was undesirable to say the least. Over time, minor kingdoms became behemoths, minor kings became emperors, and all good things started from Greece, because after all, they could somehow identify with them? Funny how Asia and its accomplishments are so often dismissed when it seems from the moderate perspective, the world's "greatest" civilization probably existed in China and India! Great cultures have existed everywhere. Some are lost in the jungles of Indonesia and elsewhere. Let's not mistake our ignorance for absence. The track of human history is long, full, and everyone has a place.

 

Either way, keep the conversation going, but don't be crass or get so caught up in the times and a defeatist ideology that seemingly permeates everything, and NEEDS to die because it inevitably slows true progress. And by the way, I am of African descent, in case the name was not a big giveaway. I was born and raised mostly in a village in Ghana, until my early teens-- for those who care when they really shouldn't. Peace.



Hi Kwame,

The question of western thought with regard to the Orient (in terms of how Said defined it) has recently been of interest to me due to college studies, and I must say the course has opened up my eyes a little. I had an exam on postcolonialism today in fact! Are you aware of the field? Not that I know a lot, but the likes of Achebe, Thiong'o, and Homi Bhabha add an interesting insight into things, especially Achebe. His critical theory is a little weak, but his storytelling is brilliant, and not sugar-coated either. I could go on all day about it, but I need to study for tomorrow.

Anyways, you should stick about, you can make a better point when you're here than when you're not! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kwame Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:51
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

However, if you measure the developments in science and technology, field by field, and compare Subsaharan Africa with Europe, of course the comparison would be a disaster for Subsaharan Africa. The simply fact is that European culture developed a lot more and invented a lot more things than Subsaharan Africa. That's simply the truth. In inventions alone Subsaharan Africa can compare with Australia and New Guinea, but hardly with the Pacific Cultures, Southeast Asia or the Americas, and of course it can't compare at all with China, India, the Muslim world or Europe.
  
 
To me, that's presumptive (euphemism). Afterall, if we are to believe the progression of human evolution, then precisely what ranks higher: the invention of pottery or refrigeration? Secondly, who gets the credit for an invention when the development of knowledge is not as simplistic as too many here seem to want to think? How much credit does one give to the Islamic civilizations who built on the work of the eastern roman empire? How much credit does one give to the inventions of the europeans who took from what the muslims had built unpon? How do you classify an European civilization? And when you say subsharan Africa do you take into account how recent some areas became fully inhabited? How relevant a statement is it to say that southern Africa hasn't achieved much when in reality the middle east has known settled humans for much, much longer? How big is the American continent for you too group so easily?
 
It's these kinds of broad generalizations that makes the threads on here so irritating to me, especially when posts are made with such arrogance. No, you are wrong to suggest that your simplistic and utterly subjective ranking of "inventions" supercedes anything.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kwame Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 19:57
Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:

Originally posted by Kwame Kwame wrote:

 

European domination of the world brought with it, European cohesion after millennia of fighting for a relatively small piece of real estate. European domination brought with it, an increase in his sense of superiority-- the European, relative to the other cultures. He then took history and shaped it to fit his worldview, because anything that contradicted this vision of superiority was undesirable to say the least. Over time, minor kingdoms became behemoths, minor kings became emperors, and all good things started from Greece, because after all, they could somehow identify with them? Funny how Asia and its accomplishments are so often dismissed when it seems from the moderate perspective, the world's "greatest" civilization probably existed in China and India! Great cultures have existed everywhere. Some are lost in the jungles of Indonesia and elsewhere. Let's not mistake our ignorance for absence. The track of human history is long, full, and everyone has a place.

 

Either way, keep the conversation going, but don't be crass or get so caught up in the times and a defeatist ideology that seemingly permeates everything, and NEEDS to die because it inevitably slows true progress. And by the way, I am of African descent, in case the name was not a big giveaway. I was born and raised mostly in a village in Ghana, until my early teens-- for those who care when they really shouldn't. Peace.



Hi Kwame,

The question of western thought with regard to the Orient (in terms of how Said defined it) has recently been of interest to me due to college studies, and I must say the course has opened up my eyes a little. I had an exam on postcolonialism today in fact! Are you aware of the field? Not that I know a lot, but the likes of Achebe, Thiong'o, and Homi Bhabha add an interesting insight into things, especially Achebe. His critical theory is a little weak, but his storytelling is brilliant, and not sugar-coated either. I could go on all day about it, but I need to study for tomorrow.

Anyways, you should stick about, you can make a better point when you're here than when you're not! 
I wasn't aware that it was an actually intellectual field, but I have some knowledge of post european coloniasm fo africa-- we are afterall living it, but as with anything, it can always grow. Glad you are enjoying your studies; to me, there's nothing more interesting that the study of human cultures....
 
Achebe and his like worked with a very limited set of knowledge and from a very defensive standpoint, so that inevitably flawed his/their theories and made them highly repulsive to the very same people who probably needed to read his/their message. I saw we take the good from him/them, and not criticize them/him too much, and ignore the bad. We"ll see about sticking around. At least for the day, I'm here. Thanks for your welcome.
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Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

It depends on how do you measure "superiority". Of course people knows there are no reason to believe in genetical superiority anymore. At least not after the tragical events of WW II.

However, if you measure the developments in science and technology, field by field, and compare Subsaharan Africa with Europe, of course the comparison would be a disaster for Subsaharan Africa. The simply fact is that European culture developed a lot more and invented a lot more things than Subsaharan Africa. That's simply the truth. In inventions alone Subsaharan Africa can compare with Australia and New Guinea, but hardly with the Pacific Cultures, Southeast Asia or the Americas, and of course it can't compare at all with China, India, the Muslim world or Europe.

 
 


Once again you have surpassed yourself Pinguin. I really can't be getting into this tonight I have an exam in the morning, but let me say this much. How do you define 'development'? What does 'development' actually mean? Can you say assuredly that the changes made in the society, industry, economy etc of the China, India, Europe are 'better' than that of Sub Saharan Africa? What objective tool are you using to measure that?

It's the same old story, Africa 'just didn't develop' like everywhere else. It's a 'fact'. They are 'more primitive'. This sort of discourse has been spouted for hundreds of years. The truth of the matter is that development is necessarily construed according to the prevailing ideology of the construer, and for you that is of a dominant western-orientated viewpoint. You see development one way, and judge all other areas according to that. Why not just accept that 'development' cannot be a word thrown around without qualification, as even now it is used by western nations to justify imperialist action against weaker nations, all under the veil of helping those who can't help themselves, and saving those who believe they can. If you think a country, or area, or continent is 'superior' according to the amount of inventions it produces, then you live in a very conscribed world and have a weak view of the human condition. If all we have to offer each other is inventions, then by God, you'd be right, Sub Saharan Africa has nothing to offer any of us. But you can't prove that either. European culture did, of course, develop a lot more. But you can't show me how. So instead of bandying the same old cultural superiority complexes about under the guise of objective and quantifiable reality, just come straight out next time and say what you mean, because at the minute it makes you look a little bit silly.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 20:32
Look Dolphin, I recognise everyone as genetically equal to each other, and that there are no inferior or superior races or anything like that. And I recognise the equal importance of all peoples and the equal importance of their history. But if I'm talking about the way in which my world has been shaped (And you're right, it is a western world) then the art of Michaelangelo, the thought of John Locke and the Second World War are all of superior importance to the development of the western world and of the human mind in general. But I should say that when I say 'importance' I really mean that as a very relative term, obviously I view 'the triumph of the west' as of more importance than a Ghanian figure painting. 
 
To be blunt, liberal democracy and all which that entails did not emerge from the African savannah.
 
 


Edited by Parnell - 20-May-2009 at 20:38
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 20:35
Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:

Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Its not that people deny sub saharan Africa has been an equally valid example of human experience, its just that we don't believe it is or should be considered amongst the pinnacles of human achievement.


Who are 'we'? Is there a collective conscious on AllEmpires that I haven't tuned into? Plus, taking the example of sub Saharan Africa and saying that it shouldn't be considered amongst the pinnacles of human achievement is a little arrogant and presumptuous in my view. Who are you, or me, or anyone, to decide what the pinnacles of human achievement are? Is Western history more 'glorious' than African? Do you believe the Occident is superior to the Orient?


 
I don't believe that west is superior to east (I read much of 'Orientalism' earlier in the year, Said bored the hell out of me to absolutely frank. Maybe I should keep away from postcolonial threads such as this...)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2009 at 20:47
Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:

Once again you have surpassed yourself Pinguin. I really can't be getting into this tonight I have an exam in the morning, but let me say this much. How do you define 'development'? What does 'development' actually mean? Can you say assuredly that the changes made in the society, industry, economy etc of the China, India, Europe are 'better' than that of Sub Saharan Africa? What objective tool are you using to measure that?
 
I defined my terms very clearly. I was talking about science and technology, or science and engineering if you preffer. How you measure it? Simple, by the number of inventions, and the impact of them in the development of science and technology.
 
Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:


 If all we have to offer each other is inventions, then by God, you'd be right, Sub Saharan Africa has nothing to offer any of us.
 
That was the point.
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Originally posted by Kwame Kwame wrote:

... 
To me, that's presumptive (euphemism). Afterall, if we are to believe the progression of human evolution, then precisely what ranks higher: the invention of pottery or refrigeration? Secondly, who gets the credit for an invention when the development of knowledge is not as simplistic as too many here seem to want to think? How much credit does one give to the Islamic civilizations who built on the work of the eastern roman empire? How much credit does one give to the inventions of the europeans who took from what the muslims had built unpon? How do you classify an European civilization? And when you say subsharan Africa do you take into account how recent some areas became fully inhabited? How relevant a statement is it to say that southern Africa hasn't achieved much when in reality the middle east has known settled humans for much, much longer? How big is the American continent for you too group so easily?
 
I don't believe in the progress of human evolution. Social evolution has few things to do with genetics at all. There are societies more advanced than others in technology and science, and that has nothing to do with genes. In other terms, that a region has developed less inventions than other doesn't assure that will continue to be the same in the future at all.
 
Originally posted by Kwame Kwame wrote:

... 
It's these kinds of broad generalizations that makes the threads on here so irritating to me, especially when posts are made with such arrogance. No, you are wrong to suggest that your simplistic and utterly subjective ranking of "inventions" supercedes anything.
 
I am right in saying that the number of invention is a way to measure the relative advancement of civilizations; not people. After all, the West invented the art of fugue, Calculus, Mathematical Physics, Chemistry, the steam machine, airplanes, telecommunications, and most of the material things of the modern world. That's a fact. We shouldn't deny that to accomodate agendas or to fight for social justice.
 
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Inventions and technological development is also a matter of time. At different times the initiative of important inventions was in different parts of the world.

There was a time when sub saharan Africa invented very important things and concepts that lay the ground for further development and inventions. For example advanced, bifacial points was invented in Africa, the earliest examples of rock art (shaping of cliffs in caves) was from Africa. The earliest bone points, bone knives and harpoons are from Africa. The earliest known forms of necklases and similar adornment are found in Africa.  And, together with East Asia, Africa also have the earliest ceramics. Many of these invetions are crucial for later development and later technological advances in other parts of the world.
 
And one can also find that the earliest signs of advanced religion comes from Africa, a factor that would become extremely important for the future of mankind.
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Obviously, everything invented up to 60.000 years ago was done in Africa.
I don't think, so, that's what it meant the guy that opened this thread.
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Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:

Once again you have surpassed yourself Pinguin. I really can't be getting into this tonight I have an exam in the morning, but let me say this much. How do you define 'development'? What does 'development' actually mean? Can you say assuredly that the changes made in the society, industry, economy etc of the China, India, Europe are 'better' than that of Sub Saharan Africa? What objective tool are you using to measure that?
 
I defined my terms very clearly. I was talking about science and technology, or science and engineering if you preffer. How you measure it? Simple, by the number of inventions, and the impact of them in the development of science and technology.
 
Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:


 If all we have to offer each other is inventions, then by God, you'd be right, Sub Saharan Africa has nothing to offer any of us.
 
That was the point.

And a point well made Pinguin. I must concede you have won this one! I surely have seen the error of my inferior judgement. Well done and have a nice day SmileTongueWinkBig smileSmile
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It seems like someone obviously has no bloody idea of how a steam engine works or of what relative little importance John Locke's (not unique, not the first) thoughts are actually are, or from whence a lot of the knowledge written down by the ancient Greeks came from; then again, this forum serves a specific purpose for a specific group of people. Go ahead, stoke your egos all you want.
 
Always realize that human societies, until very recently, behaved like the human being: unchainging until otherwise forced. As such, I'm pretty sure that if the ancient Greeks were isolated in the jungles of Nigeria, they'd have ended up pretty much where the Nigerians were hundreds of years ago.
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That's true. Eurasia developed because it was a network of civilizations tied together by roads, like the famous Silk road. The Greek developed because they were at the center of a web of commerce that spead from Iberia to India and beyond.

With respect to the steam machine it is well known the first prototypes of turbines were made in Greece. However, it is less known that Jeronimo Ayanz, Spanish, invented the first steam machine to take out water from mines, a century earlier than Newcomen.

What is the world indebt to relative recent Subsaharan Africa? Probably iron. Another thing it may be the binary system, and the earliest fractals. I put a post in the section on Africa about African Mathematics where I explained that.

(With respect to egos, I am a lot more interested in the Americas than in Eurasia, Africa or the Pacific. After all, I am from the New World, so my ego goes with Ancient local civilizations, like Aztecs, Mayas, Moches, Incas, and all the other.)





Edited by pinguin - 21-May-2009 at 01:51
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Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Obviously, everything invented up to 60.000 years ago was done in Africa.
I don't think, so, that's what it meant the guy that opened this thread.
 
The earliest ceramics in west Africa correponds well in time with East Asian ceramics, round 11000 - 13000 BP. What kind of influence those ceramic traditions had on other parts of the world is not fully understood yet though.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2009 at 16:30
Originally posted by Kwame Kwame wrote:

It seems like someone obviously has no bloody idea of how a steam engine works or of what relative little importance John Locke's (not unique, not the first) thoughts are actually are, or from whence a lot of the knowledge written down by the ancient Greeks came from; then again, this forum serves a specific purpose for a specific group of people. Go ahead, stoke your egos all you want.
 
Always realize that human societies, until very recently, behaved like the human being: unchainging until otherwise forced. As such, I'm pretty sure that if the ancient Greeks were isolated in the jungles of Nigeria, they'd have ended up pretty much where the Nigerians were hundreds of years ago.


You see, your throwing the racial thing about. I never said about Africans, all I'm saying is that the area's of interest to a historian are naturally focused towards Europe because that is where our modern world has been shaped.

I agree with you that geographical and climatic conditions are ultimately what decides the progress of a people; Great idea's and political development cannot sprout forth when the soil doesn't grow anything. But just because I focus on 'these ancient Greeks' as you like to call them, doesn't mean its for racial reasons. I'm not denying that a colony of black people in the Mediterranean in the Classical era could have potentially ahcieved just as much as a colony of white people, so please leave that sort of thinking at the door.
"Neither apathy nor antipathy can ever bring out the truth of history" Eoin Mac Neill.
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