Africans made it before Columbus
By Kudakwashe Mabasha 14-10-2011
The study of African history is, in academic circles, a relatively new field, only really starting with the grudging – and perhaps still partial – acceptance of Africans as human beings like everyone else.
Right to this day much of what we know about Africa's past has been written by Europeans and it tends to neglect the achievements Africans made before slavery and colonialism.
Hence, mainstream media and history books will not tell you that by the time Christopher Columbus 'discovered 'America, Africans had centuries before established their presence in that part of the world.
This was made possible by the distance of less than 3 000 miles between the two continents and the availability of two ocean currents, namely the Guinea and Canary currents.
These currents are 'strong enough to pull ships off course and move them from one side of the ocean to the other' and it would be difficult to get off this current without the use of a motor.
With the sea being less of a barrier to human adventure when compared to land, it is possible that African people used these currents to sail to and from America.
Researcher Runoko Rashidi says ancient Africans travelled to the 'New World' and there they established the earliest civilizations in that geographical location.
'The oldest civilization known in the Americas was the Olmec, and it was of black Africoid origin and flourished over a 5 000-year period,' says Rashidi.
He further states that: 'The most pronounced and widely acknowledged Africoid sculptural representations to appear in the ancient 'NewWorld' were produced by the Olmecs.
'At least 15 colossal stone heads, weighing 10 ten to 40 tonnes, have been unearthed in Olmec sites along the Mexican Gulf Coast.
'One of the first European-American scientists to comment on the 'Olmec heads', archaeologist Matthew Stirling, described their facial features as 'amazingly Negroid'.'
To Floyd Hayes the gigantic stone heads 'exhibited an unmistakably African physiognomy'. Hayes goes on to cite J Melgar's 1896 published account after seeing one such enormous head.
'This cabeza colossal, as the Mexicans called it, was half buried, but enough of it was visible for an occasional observant traveler to notice its 'Ethiopian features' and the presence of a headdress resembling a football helmet,' said Melgar.
Mexican historian, Riva-Palacio, contends that there is abundant evidence of African presence in ancient America that is indisputable.
'It is indisputable that in very ancient times the Negro race occupied our territory (Mexico).
'The Mexicans recall a negro god, Ixtilton, which means black face,' said Riva-Palacio.
Clyde Winters managed to decipher the inscription and writings on some of the ancient monuments and showed that the language used was similar to that of the Mende speaking peoples of West Africa.
If there was no African presence in ancient America, how would the inhabitants of that time carve out such big stones which resemble Africans that they had never had sight of?
Other proof of African presence in ancient America is the existence of black tribes.
Paul Barton gives four such tribes that existed before Columbus and these are the Washitawa, Black Caribs or Garifunas, Afro-Darienite, and Black Califonians.
The Washitawa tribe has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the many indigenous peoples of America.
'These blacks were Africans that the Spanish first saw during their exploration of the narrow strip of land between Columbia and Central America and who were described as 'slaves of our lord' since the Spaniard and Europeans had the intention of enslaving all blacks they found in the new discovered lands.
'The above mentioned blacks of pre-Columbian origins are not blacks who mixed with the Mongoloid population as occurred during the time of slavery.
'They were blacks who were in some cases on their lands before the southward migrations of the Mongoloid Native Americans thousands of years ago,' said Barton.
Christopher Columbus himself is recorded in his journal of the second voyage as having been told by native Americans of the presence of Africans.
His son, Ferdinand, also mentioned that his father told him of seeing blacks in America during his voyages.
Vasco Nunez de Bilbao, an explorer, wrote of seeing Africans on the shores of America.
'For instance, it is recorded in his Journal of the Second Voyage, and quoted in many places, that when he was in Haiti, the Native Americans had told him that black-skinned people had come from the south and south-east in boats trading in gold tipped spears made of a metal alloy called guanine,' said the historian Ivan van Sertima, author of 'They Came Before Columbus' and 'Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern'.
Leo Weiner, an early 20th century Harvard professor further corroborates Sertima's assertion by stating: 'The presence of Negroes with their trading masters in America before Columbus is proved by the representation of Negroes in American sculpture and design, by the occurrence of a black nation at Darien early in the 16th century, but more specifically by Columbus' emphatic reference to Negro traders from Guinea, who trafficked in a gold alloy, guanin, of precisely the same composition and bearing the same name, as frequently referred to by early writers in Africa.'
Brent Campbell quotes a personal friend of Columbus, La Casa, who travelled with the explorer.
'Certain principal inhabitants of the island of Santiago came to see them and they say that to the southwest of the Island of Huego (Fogo, or Fuego) which is one of the Cape Verdes distant 12 leagues from this, may be seen an island, and that the King Don Juan (Dom Joao II of Portugal) was greatly inclined to send to make discoveries to the southwest, and that canoes had been found which start from the coast of Guinea and navigate to the west with merchandise.'
Ibni Fadi Al Umari, a 14th century Arabic writer, recounted that there were two voyages commissioned by Malian king, Mansa Abubakari, to discover if there was land across the Atlantic Ocean.
Umari wrote that the Mansa sent a large expedition team on a mission to explore whether there was land on the other side and when the captain of the first voyage returned without an answer, the Mansa abdicated his throne and assembled 2 000 ships for the journey to the west.
Mansa Abubakari's successor Musa told the writer of the two expeditions to the west.
Various scholars cite the old maps of the Mexican region that were drawn up by European explorers showing the Malians renamed places in the region with names such as Mandinga Port, Mandinga Bay and Sierre de Mali as proof of the voyage.
According to Youssef Mroueh; 'Anthropologists have proven that the Mandinkos under Mansa Musa's instructions explored many parts of North America via the Mississippi and other rivers systems. 'At Four Corners, Arizona, writings show that they even brought elephants from Africa to the area.' Thus the African presence in pre-Columbian America has been a victim of deliberate misinterpretations and half-truths by the Europeans through their media in order to deny that Africans also contributed to the history of human civilization.
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