Africa 1500-1800
Rush Hogan and Rebecca Czajkowski


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A map of the "Slave Coast" in Africa. Many slaves that were imported to the Americas came from this area, made available by the tribes that dominated in the region.


Economic Backdrop

Between 1450 and 1700 Europe did much trade with Africa yet they set up very few colonies there. What africa is most well known for is the great slave trade of the 16th century. This idea of enslaving people emerged in 1441 when the first few slaves were taken out of Africa and brought to Spain. The majority of slaves were for countries of Europe who had set up colonies in the Americas and needed slaves to do harsh backbreaking labor in horrible conditions.The life expectancy was extremely low and there was a constant need for more slaves. This trade made some people extremely rich, but the majority remained impoverished. Approximately one third of the population of Northern and Western africa in 1588 was enslaved.1 The majority of the unslaved people were woman who still had to work tirelessly in the fields and keep a house. Slavery in Ethiopia and Eritrea was different than the common conception of slaves. They were treated as second class citizens and were clothed and fead by there masters and had a much higher life expectancy. The English had supplied a charter called the Royal African Company which had a large monopoly over Africa Only a few colonies excised along the coast such as Algeria witch was owed by the French, the Cape Colony of Great Britain and Angola witch was Portuguese land.2 The slave trade ended in the early 1800’s, the main trading goods were manufactured goods from Europe for gold, ivory, and some type of olive oil. During the late 1700's there was a loss in interest in the mining industry and mines were understaffed. This sent the price of gold sky rocketing during this time. In the early 1900’s the majority of Africa was completely colonized.The colonies and towns that were on the coast grew rich quickly due to the huge profits of the slave trade. In the Berlin conference in 1884 they carved the borders of each colony into the map so that all of africa was colonized by 1900. 3This came with much resistance by native tribes in the southern most tip of africa and the norther part as well. They resisted change and wanted to keep old rituals alive. An example of this was the Zulu tribe headed by Shaka who turned the tribe in to a warrior elite tribe. Remnance of the Zulu tribe can still be seen today.

Footnotes:
1) Brown, Lloyd W. Women Writers in Black Africa. Contributions in Women's Studies No. 2 Greenwood, 1981.
2) Stearns, Peter N., Michael Adas, and Stuart B. Schwartz. World Civilizations: The Global Experience. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
3) lbid.

Bibliography:
Arkhurst, Joyce Cooper. The Adventures Of Spider: West African Folk Tales. Boston, Little, Brown, 1964. [COCC Library: PZ7.A75 A4 1964]

Asante, Molefi Kete, and Abu S. Abarry, ed. African Intellectual Heritage: A Book of Sources. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.
Brown, Lloyd W. Women Writers in Black Africa. Contributions in Women's Studies No. 2 Greenwood, 1981.
Bruner, Charlotte H., ed. The Heinemann Book of African Women’s Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1993.
Stearns, Peter N., Michael Adas, and Stuart B. Schwartz. World Civilizations: The Global Experience. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Political Backdrop

At this point in Africa's history, the region was fragmented and controlling by warring tribes such as the Asante and Benin.

Benin:
Benin had a sole ruler, the Oba, who controlled all of society and was aided by his ministers who controlled trade and art.1 At Benin's height, it was one of the most powerful nations in West Africa. it was highly coveted for it's art, culture, trading, and diplomacy. Because of it's booming slave trade it even had an ambassador to Europe. The Oba and his ministers would organize raids armed by firearms that they received from the Europeans in the slave trade. The defeated people would become subjects to the Benin or traded to the Europeans as slaves.2 This trade drove Benin's political system and economy.

Asante:
The Asante empire began in 1689, founded upon the slave trade and gold. It was ruled by an "Asantehene", the sole ruler of the various clans that joined together to create one of the oct powerful tribes in West Africa.1 Through it's prosperity in the slave trade, the Asante were able to have an elaborate culture including it's golden arts. The Asante grew similarly to the Benin, through raids with firearms traded by the Europeans.2

Tribes such as the Benin and Asante would conduct raids to attain sales and land to trade with the Europeans. This fueled both their economy and politics by making the rulers like the Oba of Benin and Asantehene of the Asante more powerful on the Slave Coast of Africa.

Footnotes:
1) Hanson-Harding, Alexandra. "Kingdom of brass & slaves." Junior Scholastic. 02 Nov. 1998: 22. eLibrary. Web. 03 Nov. 2012.
2) Ibid.
3) Peters, Jacquelin. "The Golden Stool: Symbol of Ghana's Largest Ethnic Group." World & I. 01 Feb. 1996: 214. eLibrary. Web. 03 Nov. 2012.
4) Ibid.

Bibiography:
Alexandra Hanson-Harding, ed. Kingdom of the Brass and the Slaves. Volume 101 of Junior Scholastic. 1998.
Peters, Jacquelin. "The Golden Stool: Symbol of Ghana's LargestEthnic Group." World & I. 01 Feb. 1996: 214. eLibrary. Web. 03 Nov. 2012.



Timeline

Timetoast allows you to create a timeline and then embed it.

Aspects of Culture

Social Backdrop
In each tribe that lived in Africa there existed and King or Queen like figure that had complete rule over the tribe. They were also considered the warlords of the tribes, for they conducted the raids to attain both land and slaves. Next in the social-hierarchy came the merchants.1 These merchants controlled the slave trade, and essentially the economy, of Africa. Underneath the merchants came the artisans who created the art-centered culture shared by the tribes and then the other city and rural dwellers. The population of Africa suffered greatly because of the slave trade.2 Many were traded to the Europeans in exchange for goods or killed in the raids. Because of this, the rural aspect of the social backdrop of Africa suffered. After a raid, there was no longer a sufficient amount of workers to tend to the fields and the once backbone of Africa, agriculture, faltered.3 Luckily, the introduction of the carb-loaded vegetation from the America's prevented much starvation, but the class that had once grew the food for Africa thinned, giving way to the growth within the warrior class.4 The introduction of the slave trade took wealth away from the rural lands in Africa and instead emphasized the massive port cities that supported trade with the Europeans.5
1) Robert Tignor et al., Worlds Together Worlds Apart (New York W.W. Norton & Company, 2011), 499.
2) Ibid, 500.
3) Ibid.
4) Ibid.
5) Ibid.
Bibliography:
Robert Tignor, Jeremy Adelman, Stephan Aron, Stephen Kotkin, Suzanne Marchand, Gyan Prakish, and Micheal Tsin. Worlds Together Worlds Apart. Volume 3. New York: W.W> Norton & Company, 2011.

Education

Education varied tribally depending on oral traditions, games, festivals, songs, dance, and drawing. Boys and girls were taught separately to help distinguish the different roles they will be having to play in there society. Usually everyone was educated in the tribe to some point, but the rich families were able to send there children out of country to places like Europe and Spain to be educated by scholars. There were schools but they were not like the schools we know of today, these schools relied on every member of the society to contribute. Every adult would be responsible for a certain group of children and to teach them a certain trade or ability. Woman would usually be taught to sew, weave, cook, how to tend a house, healing rituals, the arts, and medicine. Men would be taught to hunt, kill, fight, play sports, dance, song, harvest crops, govern, languages, how to host a caravan, war fare strategies and tribal affairs. The point that all of the children worked toward was the ritual passage ceremony from childhood to adulthood. The type of ritual varied depending on the tribe, some would have long dancing rituals others would consist of large violent sporting events some were even large meditative groups. Kanuri, was the most widely accepted language among the tribes and nations.1 school.jpg
Each individual tribe would usually have a tribal language of there ancestors but Kanuri was usually taught as well to the children. The Nilo-Saharan language was also necessary to know because if you were to try to communicate with people on the trans-saharan trade routs this was the most commonly known language. This language convergence allowed for the rapid spread of ideas and technology throughout different sections of African.2

Footnotes:
1) Conneau, Théophile. Captain Canot, An African Slaver [Written out and edited from the captain's journals, memoranda, and conversations, by Brantz Mayer.] New York : Arno Press, 1968. [COCC Library: HT1322 .C58 1968]
2) Fredrickson, George M. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995.

Bibliography:
Conneau, Théophile. Captain Canot, An African Slaver [Written out and edited from the captain's journals, memoranda, and conversations, by Brantz Mayer.] New York : Arno Press, 1968. [COCC Library: HT1322 .C58 1968]
Fredrickson, George M. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995.
Gititi, Gitahi. "African Theory and Criticism." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Eds. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. 5-9.




Artistic Innovation

Because of the slave trade, many tribes in Africa became wealthy from the exploitation of their own people. With this new wealth, the Africans began to indulge in the arts and culture, flourishing in woodcarving, weaving, and metal working.1 The art from the time period reflected both the achievement and power of the rules and the spiritual aspect of the African culture.2
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Photo by Akan: 1977 in Ghana

The Asante, the most dominant and wealthy tribe in Africa at the time, used it accessibility to gold to create stools for it's royalty. These stool were a symbol of authority in the Asante tribe and the most ornate stool was only to be used by the head of the Asante federation.3 Pictured above, a man in present-day Ghana carries a golden stool that would have been made by the Asante.

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Mmeeda, "something that has not happened before"Ghanaian

This example of the Royal Kente cloth of the Asante tribe falls into the category of the weaving aspect of African Art. This fabric was reserved solely for the head of the Asante federation and featured brilliant colors and various patterns using shapes. This clothing made the connection between the head of the Asante Federation and the gods.4

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Unknown, Oyo Empire
This is an example of the bronze heads of Ife produced by the Oyo Tribe. THese masks were made of bronze because it was a readily available metal in Africa. The Ife heads mark the, "high point of Yoruba (the capitol) craft and artistic tradition that dates back to the first millennium CE."5



Head Nigerian Museum.




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Pendant Mask; Iyoba
16th Century
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Head of an Oba
1550


This is an example of bronze work from the Benin. Not only was Benin known for their domination on the Slave Coast, but also for their artwork such as this bronze head.6


Footnotes:
1) Robert Tignor et al., Worlds Together Worlds Apart (New York W.W. Norton & Company, 2011), 549.
2) Ibid.
3) Ibid.
4) Ibid.
5) Ibid.
6) Ibid.

Bibliography:
Robert Tignor, Jeremy Adelman, Stephan Aron, Stephen Kotkin, Suzanne Marchand, Gyan Prakish, and Micheal Tsin. Worlds Together Worlds Apart. Volume 3. New York: W.W> Norton & Company, 2011.



Be sure to caption your pictures with the title, artist and location of the object.


Classic literary texts

Large texts were very uncommon in the years 1500-1700 in Africa. This was because most of the stories and mythes were passed down through generations by means of oral recitation of ancient myths and legends. There was not an abundance of paper and printing material available to record the stories and many unfortunately were lost through tribal warfare or forgetfulness. One example of stories that were maintained was the folklore of the Bushman there are hundreds of thrilling stories about creation and religion. Some stories were simply meant to entertain while others were intended to show a type of moral. Here is a link that will bring you to some unique Folktales.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/sbf/index.htm


Another famous african text is the Myths and Legends of The Bantu. This consists of twenty chapters of ancient text that describe in detail the occurrences of the Bantu tribe and there beliefs. http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/mlb/mlb12.htm
The majority of the stories that were written and organized into books originated though stories and myths and they may have been changed and altered from the original story but in any sense it is the only window we have into the past life of the Africans.


Footnotes:
1)http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/sbf/index.htm
2)http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/mlb/mlb12.htm

Bibliography:
Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith [1924]

http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/jas/index.htm
Specimens of Bushman Folklore by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd [1911]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/sbf/index.htm
The Religious System of the Amazulu, by Henry Callaway; Springvale, Natal [1870]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/rsa/index.htm [CW]
Folk Stories From Southern Nigeria, West Africa by Elphinstone Dayrell [1910]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/fssn/index.htm
Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort (French Congo). by Richard Edward Dennett [1898]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/fjort/index.htm
At the Back of the Black Man's Mind by R. E. Dennett [1906]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/mind/index.htm
The Negro, by W.E.B. Du Bois, New York: Henry Holt and Company [1915]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/dbn/index.htm
Yoruba-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa by A. B. Ellis [1894]
ttp://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/yor/index.htm
Drums and Shadows; Survival Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negroes; Savannah Unit, Georgia Writer's Project; Work Projects Administration; Mary Granger, District Supervisor; University of Georgia Press [1940, copyright not renewed]
ttp://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/das/index.htm
South-African Folk-Tales by James A. Hone
[1910]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/saft/index.htm
Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, Book I., by Drusilla Dunjee Houston; The Universal Publishing Company, Oklahoma City, OK [1926, copyright not renewed]
ttp://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/we/index.htm
Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James; New York: Philosophical Library [1954]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/stle/index.htm
Religion and Myth, by James Macdonald; London: D. Nutt; New York: Scribner [1883]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/ram/index.htm
The Promised Key, by G.G. Maragh (Leonard Percival Howell) [1935?]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/tpk/index.htm
Fetichism in West Africa, Forty Years' Observation of Native Customs and Superstitions by Robert Hamill Nassau [1904]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/fiwa/index.htm
Yoruba Legends, by M.I. Ogumefu, London [1929]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/yl/index.htm [SM]
The Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy, by Fitz Balintine Pettersburg [1926?]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/rps/index.htm
The Holy Piby, by Robert Athlyi Rogers; Newark, New Jersey [1924-8, no renewal]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/piby/index.htm
Hausa Folk-Lore by Maalam Shaihu, translated by R. Sutherland Rattray [1913]
ttp://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/hausa/index.htm
Woman's Mysteries of a Primitive People by D. Amaury Talbot, London [1915]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/wmp/index.htm
Kaffir {Xhosa} Folk-lore: A Selection from the Traditional Tales by George McCall Theal [1886]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/xft/index.htm
Myths and Legends of the Bantu by Alice Werner [1933]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/mlb/index.ht
Voodoos and Obeahs, by Joseph J. Williams, S.J. New York [1932]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/vao/index.htm
Psychic Phenomena of Jamaica, by Joseph J. Williams, S.J. New York [1934]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/ppj/index.htm
Myths of Ífè, by John Wyndham. London [1921]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/ife/index.htm [CW]


Religion
The people of Africa believed that the universe "was suffused with spiritual beings."1 THis was a wide spread belief that many Africans believed, as well as the belief that their leader was in some way connected with god. African artwork was heavily influenced by this belief, and many pieces such as the Asante golden stools had religious connotation as well.2 Not only did metal work such as the stools have a religious connection, but the Kente cloth the leaders wore as well. This weaving indicated a higher being, such as a god or a ruler.



1) Robert Tignor et al., Worlds Together Worlds Apart (New York W.W. Norton & Company, 2011), 549.
2) Ibid.


Architecture


The city of Benin was another great architectural feet that took place around the 1500-1700 time period. The architecture drew on indigenous traditions witch included the large use of wood. It was a complex of many homes surrounded by mud, the roofs had shingles and palm leaves. There was a palace that consisted of very contemporary art for the time period with bras carvings and tapestries and large extravagant dining halls. The walls of Benin City is considered the largest man made structure, they extend 16,000 kilometers in all, it covers 500 interconnected settlement boundaries.1 They cover 6500 square kilometers and were all dug by the Edo people. In all they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China. It took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct. A true archaeological phenomenon. 2 benin.jpg

A more modern construction there have been many fortresses and castles that scatter the landscape of Ethiopia that were created during the arival of the Portuguese Jesuit Mercenaries. Build readily during the reign of Sarsa Dengal around the Lake Tana region, these castles were influenced greatly by European Culture and reflected some simular ideas and designs of the time.3 Gonder.jpg

Footnotes:
1)James, George G.M. Stolen Legacy (Benin). New York: Philosophical Library, 1954.
2) lbid.
3)Khorana, Meena. Africa in Literature for Children and Young Adults. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Bibliography:
Graig, Gene. [Professor of Near Eastern Languages, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago] "Etymology and Electronics: The Afroasiatic Index" (1996; rev. 1998): n. pag. Online. The Afroasiatic Index. The Oriental Institute. University of Chicago. Rpt. The Oriental Institute News and Notes, 149 (Spring 1996). Internet. Available: http://www-oi.uchicago.edu/OI/PROJ/CUS/NN_Spr96/NN_Spr96.html [last accessed Jan. 2000].
James, George G.M. Stolen Legacy. New York: Philosophical Library, 1954.
JanMohamed, Abdul R. Manichean Aesthetics : The Politics Of Literature In Colonial Africa Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1983. [COCC Library: PR9344 .J36 1983]
Khorana, Meena. Africa in Literature for Children and Young Adults. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Observations about what we have learned.

Through our research we have learned about both the devastating and beneficial effects of the slave trade on Africa. Though classes such as the warlords, merchants, and artisans benefited from the trade, many such as the rural workers did not. The population was drastically thinned by the raids and enslavement of many Africans. We have also observed that once the economy of Africa grew more wealthy, the first development in Africa was cultural. A lot of the wealth generated went into the arts and the creation of artwork such as the Ife heads and Benin masks. It is interesting how this was one of the first aspects of society to grow.


Resources to try:

Hayden Library Portal You can also find this link by going to Podium and finding the Hayden Library Link on the right side of the page. ARTSTOR - a GIANT repository of examples of art: searchable by time, location, and type. Note that most of them have descriptions which are helpful for composing summaries. It is found in the DATABASES tab.
360 virtual tours This link takes you to the Ottoman Empire. By searching for 360 tour and the name of a specific site you can often find an online tour. Some can be embedded.
Saudi Aramco World a great source for cultural resources for the Islamic World and parts of Africa.
Internet Source Books At the top there is a directory that will move you to other regions. Helpful for finding primary source accounts. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at the Met Provides samples, essays that explain the periods and production techniques. Note the thematic categories in the bottom right of the introductory page.
British Museum World History Timeline Set to open in Asia, you can move about the globe.
British Museum Cultures Gives an overview. The top right of each page gives a selection of items from the museum.
British Library contains descriptions of and digitized images of cultural artifacts and texts.
Louvre - in English
Asia for Educators Great for East Asia resources
Search of PBS.org will also yield a number of resources on Japan, India, etc.
You can also use Google Books, Google Scholar, and Advanced Search to get the specific information you need. DO NOT perform a general search....