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The subjugation of Egypt by Sudan

nok-ind:

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Image 1. Nubians storming egypt After capturing city after city along the Nile River in 730 B.C., troops commanded by King Piye of Nubia storm the great walled capital of Memphis with flaming arrows (Art by Gregory Manchess). (Source Draper 2008)

The time is 721 BC just before the 25th dynasty; Egypt (or as the ancients called it Kemet) has just been subjugated by conquerors from the southern Sahara. The defeated fall to their knees begging the king responsible for their defeat “Be gracious! I cannot see your face in the days of shame; I cannot stand before your flame, I dread your grandeur.” (Draper 2008)

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Image 2.Kushite King A Triumphant Kushiste King, a triumphant Kushite King accepting the homage of vanquished princes in Egypt in 724 BCE. (Art By James Gurney) Source: Madame Pickwick 2009

In exchange for their lives, the vanquished urged Piye to worship at their temples, pocket their finest jewels, and claim their best horses. He obliged them. And then, with his vassals trembling before him, the newly anointed Lord of the Two Lands did something extraordinary: He loaded up his army and his war booty, and sailed southward to his home in Nubia, never to return to Egypt again.

A pity, then, that the great Nubian who accomplished these feats is literally faceless to us. Images of Piye on the elaborate granite slabs, or stelae, memorialising his conquest of Egypt have long since been chiselled away. On a relief in the temple at the Nubian capital of Napata, only Piye’s legs remain. We are left with a single physical detail of the man—namely, that his skin was dark (Draper 2008).

Who were these people obscured in traditional history until very recent times (1990’s), they were the Nubians from Kush.

The Kingdom of Kush

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Image 3. The Kingdoms of kush and Egypt

Kush was situated at the nexus of important trade routes between central Africa and Egypt. The kingdom—which extended from what is today southern Egypt to northern Sudan—had a long and tangled history with ancient Egypt, a history that see-sawed between periods of warfare and occupation, and peace and prosperity. Civilisation sprang up in Kush before the time of a unified Egypt.

Archaeologists have found evidence of several early cultures in Nubia beginning about 3500 B.C. Central African products found in Egypt suggest to scholars that these early kingdoms traded with one another and that Nubia provided a connection along the Nile between central Africa and Egypt.

“When the Egyptians initially started exploring Nubia, which at that point consisted of many different tribes, the people of northern Sudan were very friendly with the Egyptians, and the rulers had good relations with the Egyptian pharaoh,” said Kendall. “But that didn’t last.”

The Egyptians, feeling threatened, invaded and conquered Kush. Infact it is even suggested that the gold used to make the Ark of the Covenant was originally from Nubia. As Nubia was the most common source of gold used in ancient Egypt at this time in history which was derived from its trading association with Nubia. The very name Nubia means gold. (Shapiro 2011)



The Nubian Kings

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Image 4. Statues of Nubian kings up to ten feet high were found buried at the Nubian capital of Kerma, in Sudan. Smashed during Egyptian King Psamtek II’s incursion south around 593 B.C., they were recently reassembled. (pictures by Kenneth Garrett, Kerma Museum, National Corporation for Antiquities and museums. Sudan) Source: Draper 2008

Piye represented the first of the so-called black pharaohs—a series of Nubian kings who ruled over all of Egypt for three-quarters of a century as that country’s 25th dynasty. Through inscriptions carved on stelae by both the Nubians and their enemies, it is possible to map out these rulers’ vast footprint on the continent. The black pharaohs reunified a tattered Egypt and filled its landscape with glorious monuments, causing a cultural renaissance which brought Egypt back to a golden age, creating an empire of that stretched from the southern border at present-day Khartoum all the way north to the Mediterranean Sea. They stood up to the bloodthirsty Assyrians, perhaps saving Jerusalem in the process.

Until recently, theirs was a chapter of history that largely went untold. Only in the past four decades have archaeologists resurrected their story—and come to recognize that the black pharaohs didn’t appear out of nowhere. They sprang from a robust African civilization that had flourished on the southern banks of the Nile for 2,500 years, going back at least as far as the first Egyptian dynasty.


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Image 5. The Pyramids of Meroe. Centuries after Nubia lost control of Egypt, it continued to follow its neighbor’s tradition of marking royal tombs with pyramids, like these restored at Meroë. Today Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt. Photographs by Kenneth Garrett. (Source: Draper 2008)

Today Sudan’s pyramids—greater in number than all of Egypt’s—are haunting spectacles in the Nubian Desert. It is possible to wander among them unharassed, even alone, a world away from Sudan’s genocide and refugee crisis in Darfur or the aftermath of civil war in the south. While hundreds of miles north, at Cairo or Luxor, curiosity seekers arrive by the busload to jostle and crane for views of the Egyptian wonders, Sudan’s seldom-visited pyramids at El Kurru, Nuri, and Meroë stand serenely amid an arid landscape that scarcely hints of the thriving culture of ancient Nubia.

Racism is a modern disease

The ancient world was devoid of racism. At the time of Piye’s historic conquest, the fact that his skin was dark was irrelevant. Artwork from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome shows a clear awareness of racial features and skin tone, but there is little evidence that darker skin was seen as a sign of inferiority. Only after the European powers colonized Africa in the 19th century did Western scholars pay attention to the color of the Nubians’ skin, to uncharitable effect.

So why have they only been acknowledged in history in the last 20 years

Explorers who arrived at the central stretch of the Nile River excitedly reported the discovery of elegant temples and pyramids—the ruins of an ancient civilization called Kush. Some, like the Italian doctor Giuseppe Ferlini—who lopped off the top of at least one Nubian pyramid, inspiring others to do the same—hoped to find treasure beneath. The Prussian archaeologist Richard Lepsius had more studious intentions, but he ended up doing damage of his own by concluding that the Kushites surely “belonged to the Caucasian race.”

Even famed Harvard Egyptologist George Reisner—whose discoveries between 1916 and 1919 offered the first archaeological evidence of Nubian kings who ruled over Egypt—besmirched his own findings by insisting that black Africans could not possibly have constructed the monuments he was excavating. He believed that Nubia’s leaders, including Piye, were light-skinned Egypto-Libyans who ruled over the primitive Africans. That their moment of greatness was so fleeting, he suggested, must be a consequence of the same leaders intermarrying with the “negroid elements.”

For decades, many historians flip-flopped: Either the Kushite pharaohs were actually “white,” or they were bumblers, their civilization a derivative offshoot of true Egyptian culture. In their 1942 history, When Egypt Ruled the East, highly regarded Egyptologists Keith Seele and George Steindorff summarized the Nubian pharaonic dynasty and Piye’s triumphs in all of three sentences—the last one reading: “But his dominion was not for long.”

The neglect of Nubian history reflected not only the bigoted worldview of the times, but also a cult-like fascination with Egypt’s achievements—and a complete ignorance of Africa’s past. “The first time I came to Sudan,” recalls Swiss archaeologist Charles Bonnet, “people said: ‘You’re mad! There’s no history there! It’s all in
Egypt!’ ”

World history has been tainted by bigoted worldview of the times.

The truth of the situation

The Egyptians didn’t like having such a powerful neighbour to the south, especially since they depended on Nubia’s gold mines to bankroll their dominance of western Asia. So the pharaohs of the 18th dynasty (1539-1292 B.C.) sent armies to conquer Nubia and built garrisons along the Nile. They installed Nubian chiefs as administrators and schooled the children of favoured Nubians at Thebes. Subjugated, the elite Nubians began to embrace the cultural and spiritual customs of Egypt—venerating Egyptian gods, particularly Amun, using the Egyptian language, adopting Egyptian burial styles and, later, pyramid building. The Nubians were arguably the first people to be struck by “Egyptomania.”

Under Nubian rule, Egypt became Egypt again. When Piye died in 715 B.C., his brother Shabaka solidified the 25th dynasty by taking up residence in the Egyptian capital of Memphis. Like his brother, Shabaka wed himself to the old pharaonic ways, adopting the throne name of the 6th-dynasty ruler Pepi II, just as Piye had claimed the old throne name of Thutmose III. Rather than execute his foes, Shabaka put them to work building dikes to seal off Egyptian villages from Nile floods.

Shabaka lavished Thebes and the Temple of Luxor with building projects. At Karnak he erected a pink granite statue depicting himself wearing the Kushite crown of the double uraeus—the two cobras signifying his legitimacy as Lord of the Two Lands. Through architecture as well as military might, Shabaka signaled to Egypt that the Nubians were here to stay.

The expedition that saved Israel

To the east, the Assyrians were fast building their own empire. In 701 B.C., when they marched into Judah in present-day Israel, the Nubians decided to act. At the city of Eltekeh, the two armies met. And although the Assyrian emperor, Sennacherib, would brag lustily that he “inflicted defeat upon them,” a young Nubian prince, perhaps 20, son of the great pharaoh Piye, managed to survive. That the Assyrians, whose tastes ran to wholesale slaughter, failed to kill the prince suggests their victory was anything but total.

In any event, when the Assyrians left town and massed against the gates of Jerusalem, that city’s embattled leader, Hezekiah, hoped his Egyptian allies would come to the rescue. The Assyrians issued a taunting reply, immortalized in the Old Testament’s Book of II Kings: “Thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed [of] Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: So is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.”

Then, according to the Scriptures and other accounts, a miracle occurred: The Assyrian army retreated. Were they struck by a plague? Or, as Henry Aubin’s provocative book, The Rescue of Jerusalem, suggests, was it actually the alarming news that the aforementioned Nubian prince was advancing on Jerusalem? All we know for sure is that Sennacherib abandoned the siege and galloped back in disgrace to his kingdom, where he was murdered 18 years later, apparently by his own sons.

The deliverance of Jerusalem is not just another of ancient history’s sidelights, Aubin asserts, but one of its pivotal events. It allowed Hebrew society and Judaism to strengthen for another crucial century—by which time the Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar could banish the Hebrew people but not obliterate them or their faith. From Judaism, of course, would spring Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem would come to be recast, in all three major monotheistic religions, as a city of a godly significance.

It has been easy to overlook, amid these towering historical events, the dark-skinned figure at the edge of the landscape—the survivor of Eltekeh, the hard-charging prince later referred to by the Assyrians as “the one accursed by all the great gods”: Piye’s sonTaharqa.

Taharqa son of Piye

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Image 6. Taharqa was the greatest of Egypt’s Nubian kings (Art by Gregory Manchess) Source: Draper 2008

So sweeping was Taharqa’s influence on Egypt that even his enemies could not eradicate his imprint. During his rule, to travel down the Nile from Napata to Thebes was to navigate a panorama of architectural wonderment. All over Egypt, he built monuments with busts, statues, and cartouches bearing his image or name, many of which now sit in museums around the world. He is depicted as a supplicant to gods, or in the protective presence of the ram deity Amun, or as a sphinx himself, or in a warrior’s posture. Most statues were defaced by his rivals. His nose is often broken off, to foreclose him returning from the dead. Shattered as well is the uraeus on his forehead, to repudiate his claim as Lord of the Two Lands. But in each remaining image, the serene self-certainty in his eyes remains for all to see.

His father, Piye, had returned the true pharaonic customs to Egypt. His uncle Shabaka had established a Nubian presence in Memphis and Thebes. But their ambitions paled before those of the 31-year-old military commander who received the crown in Memphis in 690 B.C. and presided over the combined empires of Egypt and Nubia for the next 26 years.

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Image 7. King Taharqa leads his queens through a crowd during a festival (Art by Gregory Manchess) Source Draper 2008

Taharqa had ascended at a favourable moment for the 25th dynasty. The delta warlords had been laid low. The Assyrians, after failing to best him at Jerusalem, wanted no part of the Nubian ruler. Egypt was his and his alone. The gods granted him prosperity to go with the peace. During his sixth year on the throne, the Nile swelled from rains, inundating the valleys and yielding a spectacular harvest of grain without sweeping away any villages. As Taharqa would record in four separate stelae, the high waters even exterminated all rats and snakes. Clearly the revered Amun was smiling on his chosen one.

His success was his downfall

Around the 15th year of his rule, amid the grandiosity of his empire-building, a touch of hubris was perhaps overtaking the Nubian ruler. “Taharqa had a very strong army and was one of the main international powers of this period,” says Charles Bonnet. “I think he thought he was the king of the world. He became a bit of a megalomaniac.”

The timber merchants along the coast of Lebanon had been feeding Taharqa’s architectural appetite with a steady supply of juniper and cedar. When the Assyrian king Esarhaddon sought to clamp down on this trade artery, Taharqa sent troops to the southern Levant to support a revolt against the Assyrian. Esarhaddon quashed the move and retaliated by crossing into Egypt in 674 B.C. But Taharqa’s army beat back its foes.

The victory clearly went to the Nubian’s head. Rebel states along the Mediterranean shared his giddiness and entered into an alliance against Esarhaddon. In 671 B.C. the Assyrians marched with their camels into the Sinai desert to quell the rebellion. Success was instant; now it was Esarhaddon who brimmed with bloodlust. He directed his troops toward the Nile Delta.

Taharqa and his army squared off against the Assyrians. For 15 days they fought pitched battles—“very bloody,” by Esarhaddon’s grudging admission. But the Nubians were pushed back all the way to Memphis. Wounded five times, Taharqa escaped with his life and abandoned Memphis. In typical Assyrian fashion, Esarhaddon slaughtered the villagers and “erected piles of their heads.” Then, as the Assyrian would later write, “His queen, his harem, Ushankhuru his heir, and the rest of his sons and daughters, his property and his goods, his horses, his cattle, his sheep, in countless numbers, I carried off to Assyria. The root of Kush I tore up out of Egypt.” To commemorate Taharqa’s humiliation, Esarhaddon commissioned a stela showing Taharqa’s son, Ushankhuru, kneeling before the Assyrian with a rope tied around his neck.

As it happened, Taharqa outlasted the victor. In 669 B.C. Esarhaddon died en route to Egypt, after learning that the Nubian had managed to retake Memphis. Under a new king, the Assyrians once again assaulted the city, this time with an army swollen with captured rebel troops. Taharqa stood no chance. He fled south to Napata and never saw Egypt again.

Image 8. The Kiosk of Taharqa, first courtyard at the Karnak Temple. Added to the temple which is one of ancient Egypt’s most sacred sites.

A measure of Taharqa’s status in Nubia is that he remained in power after being routed twice from Memphis. How he spent his final years is a mystery—with the exception of one final innovative act. Like his father, Piye, Taharqa chose to be buried in a pyramid. But he eschewed the royal cemetery at El Kurru, where all previous Kushite pharaohs had been laid to rest. Instead, he chose a site at Nuri, on the opposite bank of the Nile. Perhaps, as archaeologist Timothy Kendall has theorized, Taharqa selected the location because, from the vista of Jebel Barkal, his pyramid precisely aligns with the sunrise on ancient Egypt’s New Year’s Day, linking him in perpetuity with the Egyptian concept of rebirth.



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Image 8. Taharqa - Pharaoh of Nubia and Egypt 7th Century BC

In conclusion we come from a different source, Culturally ethnically and religiously. A strong capable source where there was light & enlightenment which can be seen in numerous accounts throughout Africa. So what does that mean about everything we are and everything we can be?

We are so much more than what we have been portrayed as!! You can be so much more than you are now irrespective of race or background.

References:

Draper, R. (2008) The Black Pharaohs. (National Geographic) [online] available from: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/02/black-pharaohs/robert-draper-text.html

Jarus, O. (2010) Massive statue of Pharaoh Taharqa discovered deep in Sudan. (independent) [Online] available from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/massive-statue-of-pharaoh-taharqa-discovered-deep-in-sudan-1862007.html

Madame Pickwick (2009) Themes from shaft. (Madame Pickwick art blog) [Online]available from: http://madamepickwickartblog.com/blazing-saddles/

Mayell, H. (2003) Rare Nubian King Statues Uncovered in Sudan (National geographic) [Online] Available from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0227_030227_sudankings.html

Shapiro, G, N (2011) Was the great African nation of Nubia the source of the Gold used in the “Ark of the Covenant”? (artsales) [online] available from: http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/ark_covenant/Nubia_the_source_of_the_Gold_For_The_Ark_of_the_Covenant.htm

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grand-bazaar
dynamicafrica:


1930s Ghana: A young King Otumfuo Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, King of Asante, 1931- 1970
In 1931 he was installed as Kumasihene. In that same year he imme­diately began to work vigorously for the restoration of Asante Confederacy which was eventually accomplished in 1935. Accordingly his status was raised from that of Kumasihene to Asantehene. This was one of his greatest achievements.
Other Achievements During his reign he managed to get large parts of Asante lands, which had been taken over by the British, restored to the Golden Stool. He also established friendly relations between Asante and the other states in Ghana .
In 1937 he was honoured by His Majesty the King of England with the insignia of Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire . In August 1965, he was decorated with the personal gold medal of His Holiness, Pope John. President Tubman of Liberia also decorated him with the Humane Order of African Redemption in 1968.
During his reign many schools and colleges were constructed; and he also gave a large tract of land for the construction of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
(read more)

(image via grand-bazaar)

dynamicafrica:

1930s Ghana: A young King Otumfuo Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, King of Asante, 1931- 1970

In 1931 he was installed as Kumasihene. In that same year he imme­diately began to work vigorously for the restoration of Asante Confederacy which was eventually accomplished in 1935. Accordingly his status was raised from that of Kumasihene to Asantehene. This was one of his greatest achievements.

Other Achievements During his reign he managed to get large parts of Asante lands, which had been taken over by the British, restored to the Golden Stool. He also established friendly relations between Asante and the other states in Ghana .

In 1937 he was honoured by His Majesty the King of England with the insignia of Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire . In August 1965, he was decorated with the personal gold medal of His Holiness, Pope John. President Tubman of Liberia also decorated him with the Humane Order of African Redemption in 1968.

During his reign many schools and colleges were constructed; and he also gave a large tract of land for the construction of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

(read more)

(image via grand-bazaar)

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collective-history

Jackie Robinson addressing students from Kenya and East Africa that were brought to the United States to study by the African American Students Foundation.
Robinson, who headed the fundraising campaign for the 1959 airlift, was a baseball star, civil rights activist and the first African-American Major League Baseball player. Most likely this photo is from 1960.
Photo courtesy of Cora Weiss via collective-history

Jackie Robinson addressing students from Kenya and East Africa that were brought to the United States to study by the African American Students Foundation.

Robinson, who headed the fundraising campaign for the 1959 airlift, was a baseball star, civil rights activist and the first African-American Major League Baseball player. Most likely this photo is from 1960.

Photo courtesy of Cora Weiss via collective-history

(via diasporicroots)

dynamicafrica

dynamicafrica:

The Mahdist War (also called the Mahdist Revolt) was a colonial war of the late 19th century.

It was fought between the Mahdist Sudanese and the Egyptian and later British forces. It has also been called the Anglo-Sudan War or the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt.

Following the invasion by Muhammed Ali in 1819, Sudan was governed by an Egyptian administration. This colonial system was resented by the Sudanese people, because of the heavy taxes it imposed and because of the bloody start of the Turkish-Egyptian rule in Sudan.

Throughout the period of Turco-Egyptian rule, many segments of the Sudanese population suffered extreme hardship due to the system of taxation imposed by the central government. Under this system, a flat tax was imposed on farmers and small traders and collected by government-appointed tax collectors from the Sha’iqiyya tribe of northern Sudan. In bad years, and especially during times of drought and famine, farmers were unable to pay the high taxes.

Fearing the brutal and unjust methods of the Sha’iqiyya, many farmers fled their villages in the fertile Nile Valley to the remote areas of Kordofan and Darfur. These migrants, known as black “Jallaba” after their loose-fitting style of dress, began to function as small traders and middlemen for the foreign trading companies that had established themselves in the cities and towns of central Sudan.

By the middle 19th century the Ottoman Imperial subject administration in Egypt was in the hands of Khedive Ismail. Although not a competent or devoted leader, Khedive Ismail had grandiose schemes about Egypt. His spending had put Egypt into huge debt and when his financing of the Suez Canal started to crumble, Great Britain stepped in and repaid his loans in return for controlling shares in the canal.

As the most direct route to the jewel in the British Crown, India, control over the Suez Canal was of paramount strategic importance, so that British interests dictated the need to seize or otherwise control it. Thus an ever increasing role in Egyptian affairs was mandated for the British Empire.

With Khedive Ismail’s spending and corruption causing instability, in 1873 the British government supported a program where an Anglo-French debt commission assumed responsibility for managing Egypt’s fiscal affairs. This commission eventually forced Khedive Ismail to abdicate in favor of his son Tawfiq in 1877, leading to a period of political turmoil.

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diasporicroots

On This Day in Black History: September 30

fyeahblackhistory:

  • 1750 Crispus Attucks escaped from his slavemaster in Framingham, Massachussets.
  • 1960 Fifteen African nations were admitted to the United Nations.
  • 1962 U.S. Marshals escorted James Meredith into the University of Mississippi, sparking riots on the Oxford campus that left two people dead.
  • 1966 Botswana (previously known as Bechuanaland) achieved independence from Britain.
  • 1986 Edward Perkins was appointed as U.S. ambassador to South Africa, becoming the first African-American to hold that position.

Source: http://blackhistorypages.net/index.php

theeducatedfieldnegro
dynamicafrica:

Prince Nicolau, Kingdom of Kongo
Dom Nicolau, prince of Kongo (c. 1830-1860) is perhaps the earliest African leader who wrote publicly to protest colonial influences.

Nicolau,  or  Nicolas,  protested  against  Portuguese  commercial  and political  activity  and military  expansion  by  publishing  a letter  in  a Portuguese newspaper in  Lisbon.  
His  written  protest,  as  far  as  I know,  is  the first  case  of  Angolan  written  assertion  against  modern  colonial  influence  and, therefore,  represents  an  antecedent  to  later  Angolan  nationalism.

Read more about the life of Prince Nicolau.

dynamicafrica:

Prince Nicolau, Kingdom of Kongo

Dom Nicolau, prince of Kongo (c. 1830-1860) is perhaps the earliest African leader who wrote publicly to protest colonial influences.

Nicolau,  or  Nicolas,  protested  against  Portuguese  commercial  and political  activity  and military  expansion  by  publishing  a letter  in  a Portuguese newspaper in  Lisbon. 

His  written  protest,  as  far  as  I know,  is  the first  case  of  Angolan  written  assertion  against  modern  colonial  influence  and, therefore,  represents  an  antecedent  to  later  Angolan  nationalism.

Read more about the life of Prince Nicolau.

(via diasporicroots)

kwekudee-tripdownthememorylane.blogspot.co.uk
fyeahblackhistory:

LADY BONETTA FORBES DAVIES:An African Princess in Victorian England. (Sarah Forbes Bonetta as “The Dahomian Captive”)Sarah Forbes Bonetta was brought to England from West Africa in 1850 where she was presented to Queen Victoria who financed her education and became godmother to her daughter Victoria, born 1863. Married to West African merchant, she died in 1880.Her daughter married a Scotland-qualified doctor, the African John Randle. Living in London in the 1900s Mrs Victoria Davies Randle provided a Nigerian theme to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor who arranged it and published it (Boston, MA: Ditson, 1905).Before Sarah Bonetta’s fame she posed for this water colour by Octavius Oakley, who was known as a painter of gypsies and personalities including Joseph Paxton. The painting went on sale in London in March 2000 priced at £7,500 when the catalogue subtitled it “the Dahoman Captive”. READ MORE ON HER WITH HISTORICAL PHOTOS HERE

fyeahblackhistory:

LADY BONETTA FORBES DAVIES:An African Princess in Victorian England. (Sarah Forbes Bonetta as “The Dahomian Captive”)

Sarah Forbes Bonetta was brought to England from West Africa in 1850 where she was presented to Queen Victoria who financed her education and became godmother to her daughter Victoria, born 1863. Married to West African merchant, she died in 1880.
Her daughter married a Scotland-qualified doctor, the African John Randle. Living in London in the 1900s Mrs Victoria Davies Randle provided a Nigerian theme to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor who arranged it and published it (Boston, MA: Ditson, 1905).
Before Sarah Bonetta’s fame she posed for this water colour by Octavius Oakley, who was known as a painter of gypsies and personalities including Joseph Paxton. The painting went on sale in London in March 2000 priced at £7,500 when the catalogue subtitled it “the Dahoman Captive”.
READ MORE ON HER WITH HISTORICAL PHOTOS HERE

(via diasporicroots)

collective-history
collective-history:

An Ethiopian fresco of the Queen of Sheba travelling to Solomon.
An ancient compilation of Ethiopian legends, Kebra Negast (‘the Glory of Kings’), is dated to seven hundred years ago and relates a history of Makeda and her descendants. In this account King Solomon is said to have seduced the Queen of Sheba and sired her son, Menelik I, who would become the first Emperor of Ethiopia.
The narrative given in the Kebra Negast - which has no parallel in the Hebrew Biblical story - is that King Solomon invited the Queen of Sheba to a banquet, serving spicy food to induce her thirst, and inviting her to stay in his palace overnight. The Queen asked him to swear that he would not take her by force. He accepted upon the condition that she, in turn, would not take anything from his house by force. The Queen assured that she would not, slightly offended by the implication that she, a rich and powerful monarch, would engage in stealing. However, as she woke up in the middle of the night, she was very thirsty. Just as she reached for a jar of water placed close to her bed, King Solomon appeared, warning her that she was breaking her oath, water being the most valuable of all material possessions. Thus, while quenching her thirst, she set the king free from his promise and they spent the night together.
Other Ethiopian accounts make her the daughter of a king named Agabo or Agabos, in some legends said to have become king after slaying the mythological serpent Arwe; in others, to have been the 28th ruler of the Agazyan tribe. In either event, he is said to have extended his Empire to both sides of the Red Sea.
The tradition that the Biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem, in ancient Israel, is supported by the first century CE. Roman (of Jewish origin) historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a “Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia”.

collective-history:

An Ethiopian fresco of the Queen of Sheba travelling to Solomon.

An ancient compilation of Ethiopian legends, Kebra Negast (‘the Glory of Kings’), is dated to seven hundred years ago and relates a history of Makeda and her descendants. In this account King Solomon is said to have seduced the Queen of Sheba and sired her son, Menelik I, who would become the first Emperor of Ethiopia.

The narrative given in the Kebra Negast - which has no parallel in the Hebrew Biblical story - is that King Solomon invited the Queen of Sheba to a banquet, serving spicy food to induce her thirst, and inviting her to stay in his palace overnight. The Queen asked him to swear that he would not take her by force. He accepted upon the condition that she, in turn, would not take anything from his house by force. The Queen assured that she would not, slightly offended by the implication that she, a rich and powerful monarch, would engage in stealing. However, as she woke up in the middle of the night, she was very thirsty. Just as she reached for a jar of water placed close to her bed, King Solomon appeared, warning her that she was breaking her oath, water being the most valuable of all material possessions. Thus, while quenching her thirst, she set the king free from his promise and they spent the night together.

Other Ethiopian accounts make her the daughter of a king named Agabo or Agabos, in some legends said to have become king after slaying the mythological serpent Arwe; in others, to have been the 28th ruler of the Agazyan tribe. In either event, he is said to have extended his Empire to both sides of the Red Sea.

The tradition that the Biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem, in ancient Israel, is supported by the first century CE. Roman (of Jewish origin) historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a “Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia”.

(via diasporicroots)

crankyskirt

Dahomey’s Women Warriors [Past Imperfect]

It is noon on a humid Saturday in the fall of 1861, and a missionary by the name of Francesco Borghero has been summoned to a parade ground in Abomey, the capital of the small West African state of Dahomey. He is seated on one side of a huge, open square right in the center of the town–Dahomey is renowned as a “Black Sparta,” a fiercely militaristic society bent on conquest, whose soldiers strike fear into their enemies all along what is still known as the Slave Coast. The maneuvers begin in the face of a looming downpour, but King Glele is eager to show off the finest unit in his army to his European guest.

As Father Borghero fans himself, 3,000 heavily armed soldiers march into the square and begin a mock assault on a series of defenses designed to represent an enemy capital. The Dahomean troops are a fearsome sight, barefoot and bristling with clubs and knives. A few, known as Reapers, are armed with gleaming three-foot-long straight razors, each wielded two-handed and capable, the priest is told, of slicing a man clean in two.

The soldiers advance in silence, reconnoitering. Their first obstacle is a wall—huge piles of acacia branches bristling with needle-sharp thorns, forming a barricade that stretches nearly 440 yards. The troops rush it furiously, ignoring the wounds that the two-inch-long thorns inflict. After scrambling to the top, they mime hand-to-hand combat with imaginary defenders, fall back, scale the thorn wall a second time, then storm a group of huts and drag a group of cringing “prisoners” to where Glele stands, assessing their performance. The bravest are presented with belts made from acacia thorns. Proud to show themselves impervious to pain, the warriors strap their trophies around their waists.

The general who led the assault appears and gives a lengthy speech, comparing the valor of Dahomey’s warrior elite to that of European troops and suggesting that such equally brave peoples should never be enemies. Borghero listens, but his mind is wandering. He finds the general captivating: “slender but shapely, proud of bearing, but without affectation.” Not too tall, perhaps, nor excessively muscular. But then, of course, the general is a woman, as are all 3,000 of her troops. Father Borghero has been watching the King of Dahomey’s famed corps of “amazons,” as contemporary writers termed them—the only female soldiers in the world who then routinely served as combat troops.

Dahomey–renamed Benin in 1975–showing its location in West Africa. Map: CIA World Factbook.

When, or indeed why, Dahomey recruited its first female soldiers is not certain. Stanley Alpern, author of the only full-length Engish-language study of them, suggests it may have been in the 17th century, not long after the kingdom was founded by Dako, a leader of the Fon tribe, around 1625. One theory traces their origins to teams of female hunters known as gbeto, and certainly Dahomey was noted for its women hunters; a French naval surgeon named Repin reported in the 1850s that a group of 20 gbeto had attacked a herd of 40 elephants, killing three at the cost of several hunters gored and trampled. A Dahomean tradition relates that when King Gezo (1818-58) praised their courage, the gbeto cockily replied that “a nice manhunt would suit them even better,” so he drafted them drafted into his army. But Alpern cautions that there is no proof that such an incident occurred, and he prefers an alternate theory that suggests the women warriors came into existence as a palace guard in the 1720s.

Women had the advantage of being permitted in the palace precincts after dark (Dahomean men were not), and a bodyguard may have been formed, Alpern says, from among the king’s “third class” wives–those considered insufficiently beautiful to share his bed and who had not borne children. Contrary to 19th century gossip that portrayed the female soldiers as sexually voracious, Dahomey’s female soldiers were formally married to the king—and since he never actually had relations with any of them, marriage rendered them celibate.

Dahomey’s female hunters, the gbeto, attack a herd of elephants.

At least one bit of evidence hints that Alpern is right to date the formation of the female corps to  the early 18th century: a French slaver named Jean-Pierre Thibault, who called at the Dahomean port of Ouidah in 1725, described seeing groups of third-rank wives armed with long poles and acting as police. And when, four years later, Dahomey’s women warriors made their first appearance in written history, they were helping to recapture the same port after it fell to a surprise attack by the Yoruba–a much more numerous tribe from the east who would henceforth be the Dahomeans’ chief enemies.

Dahomey’s female troops were not the only martial women of their time. There were at least a few contemporary examples of successful warrior queens, the best-known of whom was probably Nzinga of Matamba, one of the most important figures in 17th-century Angola—a ruler who fought the Portuguese, quaffed the blood of sacrificial victims, and kept a harem of 60 male concubines, whom she dressed in women’s clothes. Nor were female guards unknown; in the mid-19th century, King Mongkut of Siam (the same monarch memorably portrayed in quite a different light by Yul Brynner in The King and I) employed a bodyguard of 400 women. But Mongkut’s guards performed a ceremonial function, and the king could never bear to send them off to war. What made Dahomey’s women warriors unique was that they fought, and frequently died, for king and country. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that, in the course of just four major campaigns in the latter half of the 19th century, they lost at least 6,000 dead, and perhaps as many as 15,000. In their very last battles, against French troops equipped with vastly superior weaponry, about 1,500 women took the field, and only about 50 remained fit for active duty by the end.

King Gezo, who expanded the female corps from around 600 women to as many as 6,000. Picture: Wikicommons.

None of this, of course, explains why this female corps arose only in Dahomey. Historian Robin Law, of the University of Stirling, who has made a study of the subject, dismisses the idea that the Fon viewed men and women as equals in any meaningful sense; women fully trained as warriors, he points out, were thought to “become” men, usually at the moment they disemboweled their first enemy. Perhaps the most persuasive possibility is that the Fon were so badly outnumbered by the enemies who encircled them that Dahomey’s kings were forced to conscript women. The Yoruba alone were about ten times as numerous as the Fon.

Backing for this hypothesis can be found in the writings of Commodore Arthur Eardley Wilmot, a British naval officer who called at Dahomey in 1862 and observed that women heavily outnumbered men in its towns—a phenomenon that he attributed to a combination of military losses and the effects of the slave trade. Around the same time Western visitors to Abomey noticed a sharp jump in the number of female soldiers. Records suggest that there were about 600 women in the Dahomean army from the 1760s until the 1840s—at which point King Gezo expanded the corps to as many as 6,000.

No Dahomean records survive to explain Gezo’s expansion, but it was probably connected to a defeat he suffered at the hands of the Yoruba in 1844. Oral traditions suggest that, angered by Dahomean raids on their villages, an army from a tribal grouping known as the Egba mounted a surprise attack that that came close to capturing Gezo and did seize much of his royal regalia, including the king’s valuable umbrella and his sacred stool. “It has been said that only two amazon ‘companies’ existed before Gezo and that he created six new ones,” Alpern notes. “If so, it probably happened at this time.”

Women warriors parade outside the gates of a Dahomean town, with the severed heads of their defeated foes adorning the walls.

Recruiting women into the Dahomean army was not especially difficult, despite the requirement to climb thorn hedges and risk life and limb in battle. Most West African women lived lives of forced drudgery. Gezo’s female troops lived in his compound and were kept well supplied with tobacco, alcohol and slaves–as many as 50 to each warrior, according to the noted traveler Sir Richard Burton, who visited Dahomey in the 1860s. And “when amazons walked out of the palace,” notes Alpern, “they were preceded by a slave girl carrying a bell. The sound told every male to get out of their path, retire a certain distance, and look the other way.” To even touch these women meant death.

“Insensitivity training”: female recruits look on as Dahomean troops hurl bound prisoners of war to a mob below.

While Gezo plotted his revenge against the Egba, his new female recruits were put through extensive training. The scaling of vicious thorn hedges was intended to foster the stoical acceptance of pain, and the women also wrestled one another and undertook survival training, being sent into the forest for up to nine days with minimal rations.

The aspect of Dahomean military custom that attracted most attention from European visitors, however, was “insensitivity training”—exposing unblooded troops to death. At one annual ceremony, new recruits of both sexes were required to mount a platform 16 feet high, pick up baskets containing bound and gagged prisoners of war, and hurl them over the parapet to a baying mob below. There are also accounts of female soldiers being ordered to carry out executions. Jean Bayol, a French naval officer who visited Abomey in December 1889, watched as a teenage recruit, a girl named Nanisca “who had not yet killed anyone,” was tested. Brought before a young prisoner who sat bound in a basket, she:

walked jauntily up to [him], swung her sword three times with both hands, then calmly cut the last flesh that attached the head to the trunk… She then squeezed the blood off her weapon and swallowed it.

It was this fierceness that most unnerved Western observers, and indeed Dahomey’s  African enemies. Not everyone agreed on the quality of the Dahomeans’ military preparedness—European observers were disdainful of the way in which the women handled their ancient flintlock muskets, most firing from the hip rather than aiming from the shoulder, but even the French agreed that they “excelled at hand-to-hand combat” and “handled [knives] admirably.”

For the most part, too, the enlarged female corps enjoyed considerable success in Gezo’s endless wars, specializing in pre-dawn attacks on unsuspecting enemy villages. It was only when they were thrown against the Egba capital, Abeokuta, that they tasted defeat. Two furious assaults on the town, in 1851 and 1864, failed dismally, partially because of Dahomean overconfidence, but mostly because Abeokuta was a formidable target—a huge town ringed with mud-brick walls and harboring a population of 50,000.

Béhanzin, the last king of an independent Dahomey.

By the late 1870s Dahomey had begun to temper its military ambitions. Most foreign observers suggest that the women’s corps was reduced to 1,500 soldiers at about this time, but attacks on the Yoruba continued. And the corps still existed 20 years later, when the kingdom at last found itself caught up in the “scramble for Africa,” which saw various European powers competing to absorb slices of the continent into their empires. Dahomey fell within the French sphere of influence, and there was already a small French colony at Porto-Novo when, in about 1889, female troops were involved in an incident that resulted in a full-scale war. According to local oral histories, the spark came when the Dahomeans attacked a village under French suzerainty whose chief tried to avert panic by assuring the inhabitants that the tricolor would protect them. “So you like this flag?” the Dahomean general asked when the settlement had been overrun. “Eh bien, it will serve you.” At the general’s signal, one of the women warriors beheaded the chief with one blow of her cutlass and carried his head back to her new king, Béhanzin, wrapped in the French standard.

The First Franco-Dahomean War, which ensued in 1890, resulted in two major battles, one of which took place in heavy rain at dawn outside Cotonou, on the Bight of Benin. Béhanzin’s army, which included female units, assaulted a French stockade but was driven back in hand-to-hand fighting. No quarter was given on either side, and Jean Bayol saw his chief gunner decapitated by a fighter he recognized as Nanisca, the young woman he had met three months earlier in Abomey as she executed a prisoner. Only the sheer firepower of their modern rifles won the day for the French, and in the battle’s aftermath Bayol found Nanisca lying dead. “The cleaver, with its curved blade, engraved with fetish symbols, was attached to her left wrist by a small cord,” he wrote, “and her right hand was clenched around the barrel of her carbine covered with cowries.”

In the uneasy peace that followed, Béhanzin did his best to equip his army with more modern weapons, but the Dahomeans were still no match for the large French force that was assembled to complete the conquest two years later. That seven-week war was fought even more fiercely than the first. There were 23 separate battles, and once again female troops were in the vanguard of Béhanzin’s forces. The women were the last to surrender, and even then—at least according to a rumor common in the French army of occupation—the survivors took their revenge on the French by covertly substituting themselves for Dahomean women who were taken into the enemy stockade. Each allowed herself to be seduced by French officer, waited for him to fall asleep, and then cut his throat with his own bayonet.

A group of women warriors in traditional dress. Picture: Wikicommons.

Their last enemies were full of praise for their courage. A French Foreign Legionnaire named Bern lauded them as “warrioresses… [who] fight with extreme valor, always ahead of the other troops. They are outstandingly brave … well trained for combat and very disciplined.” A French Marine, Henri Morienval, thought them “remarkable for their courage and their ferocity… [they] flung themselves on our bayonets with prodigious bravery.”

Most sources suggest that the last of Dahomey’s women warriors died in the 1940s, but Stanley Alpern disputes this. Pointing out that “a woman who had fought the French in her teens would have been no older than 69 in 1943,” he suggests, more pleasingly, that it is likely one or more survived long enough to see her country regain its independence in 1960. As late as 1978, a Beninese historian encountered an extremely old woman in the village of Kinta who convincingly claimed to have fought against the French in 1892. Her name was Nawi, and she died, aged well over 100, in November 1979. Probably she was the last.

What were they like, these scattered survivors of a storied regiment? Some proud but impoverished, it seems; others married; a few tough and argumentative, well capable, Alpern says, of “beating up men who dared to affront them.” And at least one of them still traumatized by her service, a reminder that some military experiences are universal. A Dahomean who grew up in Cotonou in the 1930s recalled that he regularly tormented an elderly woman he and his friends saw shuffling along the road, bent double by tiredness and age. He confided to the French writer Hélène Almeida-Topor that

one day, one of us throws a stone that hits another stone. The noise resounds, a spark flies. We suddenly see the old woman straighten up. Her face is transfigured. She begins to march proudly… Reaching a wall, she lies down on her belly and crawls on her elbows to get round it. She thinks she is holding a rifle because abruptly she shoulders and fires, then reloads her imaginary arm and fires again, imitating the sound of a salvo. Then she leaps, pounces on an imaginary enemy, rolls on the ground in furious hand-t0-hand combat, flattens the foe. With one hand she seems to pin him to the ground, and with the other stabs him repeatedly. Her cries betray her effort. She makes the gesture of cutting to the quick and stands up brandishing her trophy….

Female officers pictured in 1851, wearing symbolic horns of office on their heads.

She intones a song of victory and dances:

The blood flows,

You are dead.

The blood flows,

We have won.

The blood flows, it flows, it flows.

The blood flows,

The enemy is no more.

But suddenly she stops, dazed. Her body bends, hunches, How old she seems, older than before! She walks away with a hesitant step.

She is a former warrior, an adult explains…. The battles ended years ago, but she continues the war in her head.

blackpast.org

fyeahblackhistory:

Abram Petrovich Hannibal (1696-1782)

  • Believed to be born in Born in either Senegal or Eritrea, he was brought to Peter the Great as a gift.
  • Abram studied math and languages in Paris, fought in the French military and returned home to become commanding general of the Russian army.
  • He was the maternal great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, one of the most revered figure in Russian culture.

Sold into Turkish slavery, Abram Petrovich Hannibal was brought as a black servant to Czar Peter I, known as Peter the Great. He became one of the royal favorites, a general-in-chief and one of the best educated men in Russia. His great-grandson was Alexander Pushkin, the famous Russian writer who later glorified the deeds of his black ancestor in his book, The Negro of Peter the Great.

It is believed that Hannibal was born on an unknown date around 1696 in the principality of Logon in present day Cameroon or South west Eritrea. Abducted by a rival tribe, Hannibal was sold to Turkish slave traders who brought him to Constantinople in 1703. As an eight-year-old boy he came to the court of Peter the Great who adopted him immediately. Being the Czar’s godson, Hannibal assumed his name, Petrovich, and became his valet on Peter’s various military campaigns and journeys. When the Czar visited France in 1716, Hannibal was left behind in Paris to study engineering and mathematics at a military school. Two years later, he joined the French army and fought in the war against Spain. In January 1723, Hannibal finally returned to Russia.

To Hannibal’s misery, his protector Peter the Great died in 1725, leaving the black artillery lieutenant in the dependence of the royal advisor Prince Menshikov, who–due to his dislike for Hannibal–assigned him to Siberia and later to the Chinese border where his task was to measure the Great Wall.

Hannibal’s fortunes changed in 1741, when Empress Elisabeth took the throne and Hannibal was allowed to officially return from his exile although in fact he had done so clandestinely in 1731. Five years after his illegal return, he married his second wife Christina Regina von Schöberg, the daughter of a Swedish army captain, who bore him eleven children. One of his sons named Osip was the grandfather of the poet Alexander Pushkin.

Although it had been his wish to retire, Empress Elisabeth did not want to abandon Hannibal and his engineering skills. He was made commander of the city of Reval between 1743 and 1751 and by 1760 had been promoted to the rank of a full general. During his military career he oversaw various projects such as the construction of the Ladoga Canal and Russian fortresses. Abram Petrovich Hannibal died on April 20, 1781, as one of the leading pioneers of his country and probably the first outstanding engineer in Russian history.

Sources:
Hugh Barnes, Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg (London: Profile Books, 2005); Allison Blakely, Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1986); N. K. Teletova, “A.P. Gannibal: On the Occasion of the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Alexander Pushkin’s Great-Grandfather,” Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness, Ed. Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, and Ludmilla A. Trigos (Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 2006).

here are some excerpts from the Economist’s review of Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg (published in America as The Stolen Prince)

Click here for more.

(via diasporicroots)