In this post, I will try my best to restrain myself. Frequent visitors of this blog will understand and see where these restrains are sett and properly fastened, and for what purpose. Others will simply enjoy this post for what it is - A dismantling and utter destruction of African history or the term known African history. For starters this expression is nothing less than an oxymoron, because well, we do not know a whole lot about the Southern parts of Africa before the Europeans arrived in the 15th century. Depending on your source material of course, you will leave yourself utterly confused if you are well versed in ancient history, because much of it cannot be and never was true to begging with. Many of the well known names of the ancient antique, Biblical places such as Kaperhanum (Cape Town) and Jerusalem, have changed and moved. Some cities have (in some magical way) even gone as far as having ended up on another continent. How? Well People, its real simple - its all about land and food. Which again means power and money...
If you consider these: where can you grow the best food? Where can you find the best soil (mineral content)? Where is the greatest bio-diversity? Where is the Promised Land, filled with grassy hills, and flowing with milk and honey? You will find the answer to all of the above is the southern parts of Africa. Its riddled with minerals and nutrients...
However, academics and commentators seem to agree on what we call known course of history. The stories passed down through our fathers and their fathers again is what the people will tell you all about. Suspiciously as this unison agreement is, seen as academics never agree on anything, here there seems to be common ground. Historical editors are pretty much unison and very much in agreement, that ancient Southern Africa seems to have belonged to the San people for who knows how many years, then the KhoiKhoi and San mingled. If you google early history of South Africa, you will find a mere page that is meant to sum up between 150,000 to 300,000 years of history, just like that. Not to much to say. You see, these `underachieving people`, not able to progress or develop at all in these hundreds of thousands of years - they were just cavemen and bushmen, pastoralists wandering about. Now Europeans (and I am one by birth so I can say whatever I want about my people) created all you see now from the years 2,000.... From papyrus rolls to the iPhone, in a few hundred years. No problem. But those `poor` and `helpless` Africans could not come up with anything of meaning or make any real progress in 150,000 or even 300,000 years. Really? THE Cradle of Civilisation not being able to progress or come up with sustainable or even efficient ways of living in all that time? What a red flag.... An ignorant person will base his opinion on these kinds of `nothing to see here` arguments. In fact, there is plenty to see and so many questions need to be raised.
South African early history is, if you study read the wikipedia piece on `Early history of South Africa`, basically a short story about peoples that came and went, made war and had petty disagreements, you know... tribal stuff. And thats pretty much it. Bantu Kingdoms then developed in the 1100s and so on, then the Europeans came and everything changed. For the better of course.... How anyone can be satisfied with a serving of such simplistic drivel is beyond me. History teaches again and again that things are always much more complex than first imagined. And South Africa is no different.
Now, anyone with a shred of historical interest should research the ancient old stone settlements which riddles the land and the stories of the natives (and articles on this site). Trying to see things without preconditions and modern events in the long course of history, will paint a very different picture. Time and sound arguments, while going back to the only good sources, will unravel these magnificent agricultural areas for what they are and have always been - The Promised Land. The Land flowing with Milk and Honey.
Anyways, let us now begin this journey in the field of agriculture, an area of pure exploitation in Africa - with a history in its own right !
However if your read books such as by the likes of Basil Davidson (1914-2010), he makes mentions of a certain kind of exploitation (slavery):
"Developing new uses in new situation (the justification for enslaving African people, when it was no longer permissible to enslave white people."
Now, this particular weapon of exploitation has a history of its own, and it has certainly mutated into new forms in modern society. This is very true and many of us know or remember or even now may still experience this kind of exploitation (yes I talk about slavery). But this is now history, nonetheless, which began to come to an end in the middle and later years of the twentieth century. Although, you can certainly touch and feel the terrible deeds that went on under Apartheid area in South Africa, now especially today. Something which officially came to an end in 1994 - not too long ago you see. The people now living there, children of the people behind some of the atrocious deeds done against a fellow human being - now bear the fruits of these deeds in their eyes and demeanor. Such are the rules in the game of life. Your fathers bad habits will follow your offspring and so on. Some call this genes or bad genes... In the old days they called this the `sins of the fathers` (Exodus 20,5 ; 34,7).
So then, the people that did these bad things in South Africa (has the bad genes) are not hard to find. If then doers of terrible deeds during apartheid (Boers and the English, although the Brits did take a stance against Apartheid) do not reconcile, repent and in some way try to make amends, uncertain times are clouding in the near future of South Africa. If the result is war and land-grabbing, South Africa will change. For better or for worse, is very difficult to say. Is the time set on liberation and peace? Or is there something else brewin... Zimbabwe's fate should be a blueprint on how not to do things. But that my friends, is a bedtime story for another time.
Because in this post, we are dealing with that aspect of South African history whereby it has been asserted over several years that Southern Africa and certain parts of Africa indeed has no history. Which is a dim way of thinking, because well, its history is comprehensive and very very old. And as we assert on this blog- we are talking Bible old... Jacob, Job and Isaac. They all walked this piece of earth, they where made from it.
The British historian Davidson informs us thusly:
"There are many anthologies of African exploration. They are anthologies of the European discovery of Africa, conceived as companion books to a study of Africa which has regarded that subject as no more than an extension to the study of Europe or the New World. Their attitude is therefore strictly European in standpoint, and their value lies less in any light they may throw on African Life, than in the movement they reveal of European penetration and conquest."
Thus, the best modern anthology of the exploration of West Africa or even Africas Southernmost parts, begins as with much of the white exploration and chronicling, in the years close to 1600. Africa as a continent was introduced to all of Europe under titles such as `The Opening Of West Africa`. Problem is, much of Africa (West and South) had been "opened" to the outside world, and a significant part of it for many hundreds even thousands of years earlier.
So, therefore at some point (or likely; several instances) there must have been a kind of suppression or forgetting of history. Nevertheless a great schism took place that left all aspiring historians (from an outset) unable to make out the full picture of history, left only with a few muddled pieces (European, Muhammadan, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian or Asian for that matter) AND the impossible task of then recreating the whole puzzle. Thereby forcing them to make sense when starting from that wrong outset, European or earlier Muhammadan (Greek, Babylonian or Egyptian - who cares) It was always doomed to come out wrong. My point is, people and humans lie and history truly is muddled... We don't even know half the things that went down in the ancient world. Now we are left with; some peoples moved or killed, while others again chose to stay in the land of their forefathers. But names and places certainly has changed, many times. Example is the latest edition of Boer (Dutch and English) city and rural names in South-Africa. Such as Pretoria (Tswana) or the Transvaal, places not always known by those names. The Great Kei River, which back in the day was known by everyone in the ancient world as the Great River Jordan. Ah, well, who now is left to tell of these names and places?
To make these point, is not to belittle editors or any historians for that matter, they did their best with what they was told was so. But you know your Mark Twain:
`It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble. It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So`.
And we are indeed in trouble. Now, from the European historical outset (which is the standard today, that again draws on the `best sources` available), they became increasingly more concerned with producing an anthology which reflecting the colonial situation and not to mention set in meeting its peculiar requirements...
One of these requirements was that no serious consideration of Africa could properly start, or ever had been anything, before the beginning of European exploration (especially English, French, Portuguese and Dutch). From this outset, enter classicism (racism). Which is another wrong outset and breads a very dangerous mindset. And a very dim one at that. I am better that you because you have brown eyes or the other way around, I am better than you because I have brown eyes. It goes both ways. Anyway, this is racism in its purest form.
Take this one, for instance, a prominent historian working under the British Empire Sir Reginald Coupland (1884-1952), mentioned by Davidson as he affirmed that Africa, indeed had no history, being sunk in utter barbarism (like the curses in Deuteronomy 28 manifest):
"The late Sir Reginald Coupland, writing some sixty years years ago of British penetration into the Zambezi valley, put the point quite clearly when he affirmed that up to the middle of the nineteenth century "the main body of the Africans" had no history, but had "stayed, for untold centuries, sunk in barbarism ... [so that] the heart of Africa was scarcely beating."
Here is an important point, that Davidson makes numerous mentions of, the fact that African history is not a fit subject for scholarly investigation because no such history or good overview of African history exists. Therefore this lead to every coming anthology beginning with the arrival of Europe on the scene...
"Now, this approach has been overtaken by a wider understanding. The last thirty or forty years have promoted an entirely different attitude to the Africa past. They have displaced what may be called the "colonial stereotype"-that all in Africa was social chaos or stagnation before the time of the European conquest-by a view of the subject altogether to the contrary."
Luckily, later years have raised the study of African history from a mere act of eccentricity, with the ever growing Africanism and Afro-centric. Called by all names under the sun such as perverse, foolish even harmful. But now these endeavours and undertakings has now becoming scholarly disciplines pursued by various institutes in many non-African as well as African countries. A growing number of academics of several nations have accepted that the study of Africa's complex past is not only possible, it both can, should and must be done. It is useful. And I for one, would go much further in saying it is indispensable to any understanding of the general condition of humanity, whether in Africa, America, Australia, Asia or Europe. The people though, seemingly least willing to learn or think about the things of the past, might very well turn out to be the original people themselves. Perhaps they are not in a state wanting to think or learn, strive to remember the hurts and pains from the long distant past. Remembering hurts, for sure.
That could very well be the case. Considering this, what anthropologist Melville Jean Herskovits (1895-1963) called the `myth of the "negro" past` in his pioneering work. Here Herskovits belief that the African man is `a man without a past`- continued to hold sway, rationalising `discrimination in everyday contact between White and Negroes`.
And as Herskovits wrote, and `influencing the shaping of policy where "Negroes" are concerned.` In this way, in not researching your own history, you are taught that you do not enter or fit even, in the grand circuit of world development and progress, because well you are somehow less worth or at the other end of some scale... If you have no history, you manifest as the children that never grew up, thereby forfeiting any claim to be equally treated as a grown up by other men. Being little children, or indeed by making the statement that you are children, means you must be lead by the hand of grownups (superior people) and be shown the way while someone holds their hand. Again, enter racism/classism, it's all the same. We are over here, and you are over there... Only Christ has removed these imaginary lines and borders we have created, other still uphold such ways of thinking. I know, I could not resist that one could I. Christ obliterates these borders and reveals faint silhouettes of the how things will be in the world to come.
But for now, many are thankfully coming around to a different way of thinking, and the African past is being put in a much more intelligent view. In the bright light of human change and progress. People are coming around to the fact that perhaps these changes cannot not be viewed in a linear way. Like we have developed from the stone age, kinda way of thinking, but more like history and all human achievements and reigns of vast kingdoms moves in waves, with peaks and valleys.
What has been, will be again... (Ecclesiastes 1,9).
The Stone Age, is the term that actually puts us a position of being near neanderthals in the past... I would argue on the contrary, and a devolution has taken place, and the human species now find themselves at the opposite end of the so-called evolution. Whatever theory you subscribe to, consider the argument that people in the future will find mass graves. Several burial mounds, filled with lead bullets and perhaps a wide array radioactive substances, what will the archeologists of this future think? Will they think, these people were destructive warmongers... Will they think like we tend to think about the people of the so-called stone ages or ancient ages? And what now is the current view of Babylonians or ancient Egyptians or the agriculturally oriented Hebrews (Bantus) of Israel?
Although, the argument above should be viewed from another standpoint. Lets say that what we think we know, that just aint so... And in that line of reasoning lets go back to agriculture, because it gives a glimpse through the window of time into the ancient past. It reveals to us how the earths produce was and is meant to be harvested, not like today, where it is not being allow to rest and restructure nutrients in the soil. But rather it is being depleted. Likewise the people of the earth are being depleted of nutrients in their bodies... Things of the soil such as selenium and iodine, are very important elements that a human being needs. And in the event of lack (of either) or an unbalance, sickness will be rife because of it. Which is important to remember, because the Bible is very specific about agriculture. How the land is not suppose to be harvested at all times, and it too needs rest to recuperate (Leviticus 25). The rest was, just the like Sabbath, in accordance with nature and a six years cycle, then it should rest in the seventh year. Tell me who among the big commercial farms do this days? I doubt there are any.
Now the origins of cultivation has for too long been touted by European authors, from a purely European standpoints, like they somehow originated the method of tilling and harvesting the land. You see, according to them, it all started in the Near East, or the desert tiles of Mesopotamia. And Africans didnt do much more than what images like these depicts, wage war and then some. Now since WWII much light has been shed on the crop inventions of North and South-America, early developments of agriculture in the tropical parts of Asia, and not to fail the important mention of African contributions of the worlds agriculture. The worlds most important breadbasket in terms of nutrient rich and quality foods. Believe it or not, the Russian agronomist Nicolai I. Vavilov (1887-1943) did very early on in these researches, point out the existence in Africa of agricultural centres where cultivated plants could have originated. One of Vavilovs assistants, A. I. Kuptsov (1900-86) later went on to demonstrate that such cradles of agriculture had in fact existed. In the end though, information such as this is somehow largely overlooked and one can easily argue that colonial prejudice prevented these well founded ideas to gain credence or acceptance.
The origin and development of agricultural techniques (and of the cultivated plants themselves) are every single time directly related tot he natural conditions which are present (prevailing) in a particular region. Thinking of things such as the soil, climate, vegetation and water sources. Agriculture and husbandry also depend on factors that make up cultures and the different kinds of people in a civilisation. In this their practises may vary considerably, even though their environment might be identical. Population movements are very important when you begin this tracing of behaviour pattens and unknown (or died out) techniques. So when Europe was barely emerging from the so-called Palaeolithic agriculture and stocks of cows and sheep was flourishing in The Near East and Africa. Something the Europeans later took great advantage of in the Neolithic revolution.
Cultivated Plants and African Origins
Agronomist Vavilov identified eight regions where cultivated plants first emerged, and only one of these regions (Abyssinian centre) was situated on the African landmass, with two extensions West and East-African centres
Now, the origin of the name Abyssinia, is what makes the historical haze so much more clear. The Ethiopians are thought of as African being exclusively African peoples, and yet it seems the ancient ways of thinking along these lines was completely different.
Sir E. A. Wallis Budge (1857-1934), gives insights in his writings saying:
"It seems certain that classical historians and geographers called the whole region from India to Egypt, both countries inclusive, by the name of Ethiopia, and in consequence they regarded all the dark-skinned and Black(African) peoples who inhabited it as Ethiopians. Mention is made of Eastern and Western Ethiopians, and it is probable that the Easterners were Asiatics and the Westerners Africans. I am not making an attempt to describe the history of that large portion of the earth's surface which the Greeks called Ethiopia, but only that comparatively small section of it which is today named, both by large numbers of Orientals and by Europeans generally, Abyssinia, and also the country of Kush, which is also known as Nubia. ... The identification of Kush and Abyssinia under the name of Ethiopia made by the translators of the Ethiopic version of the bible in the 5th (or 6th) century, has for many centuries been accepted by the Abyssinians. And to this day, the Abyssinian, in reciting Psalm LXVIII (V. 31), says "Ethiopia shall make her hands reach unto God." In dealing with this subject, I have concluded that the Ethiopians, whose manners and customs have been so fully described by Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo, Pliny and others, were not Abyssinians at all, but natives of the Upper Nubia and the Island of Meroe, and it was the African people who inhabited the hot, moist lands which extended from southern Abyssinia to the Equator (..)
The hieroglyphic inscriptions of the VI, XII and XVIII Dynasties prove that caravans travelled from Egypt to the countries round about the Blue Nile, and to regions much further to the south, but there is no mention in them of any country which can be identified with Abyssinia proper. In fact, the Egyptians inscriptions do not yield any information about the 'real' Abyssinia, or its peoples, and even the Nubia and Meroitic inscriptions throw very little light upon the history of the period in which they were written. From the cuneiform inscriptions we an also find no information about Abyssinia, though both the Assyrians and Hebrews knew of the existence of the country of Kush, and that it lay to the south of Egypt."
That should be a very interesting for anyone historically inclined. Asians are actually from Southern Africa.
Not too far fetched, just look at the eyes of the San and KhoiKhoi, plenty of truth there. Are the peoples today called Asians mentioned in the Bible? Of course they are, just as allot of the other of so-called native or remains of native peoples (Indians, South-Americans, Asians, etc) can be found around the world. That being said, if we go back to agriculture again, instead of focusing on people and trying to pinpoint their origin (which eventually becomes an inevitable exercise in futility). Let us have a closer look at the meat and marrow in this post - Mzantsis oldest agricultural terraces.
Terraces of South Africa
These terraces were not talked about and kept strictly secret under the Rule of Apartheid, but the Boers and their partners in crime. Kinda the same these days, although accessible, few people talk about them.
There is one guy, called Michael Tellinger, who says:
"It was reported by summers in the '70s and others before him, that the ancient agricultural terraces in the then Rhodesia(Zimbabwe, today), cover about 190,000 square kilometeters. This may at first sounds a little outrageous, but when you start to explore the ruins across the border in South Africa, you realize that the ancient terraces continue in this part of the world, covering many more thousands of square kilometers"
Now these creations are quite impressive and meticulous in their making, lined with rock walls, they are quite a magnificent creation. Millions of large and small stones were used to construct terraces of various sizes. Many are built on steep mountain slopes with some of the terraces exceeding 3-5 meters in height. They are all strategically placed around a water source somewheres on the mountain.
In this image you can see remnants from stones structures (not perhaps visible for the untrained eye) that roll down the mountainside. These could arguably be viewed as natural stone formations, however the land is riddled with these.
Once you start looking for these terraces, like these hillsides, they become much more clear and you will start seeing them everywhere.
Image credit: Tellinger. A View of the Ancient Terraces and the complexity of their structure.
Another image showing remains of advanced cattle and grazing development. These modern day terraces, fully developed and well watered, show how it could have looked at one point in time. These methods have been used for ages as they are very efficient ways of watering you garden as gravity does most of the watering for you, resulting in more crops. The common knowledge of the people, at the time, would have been at another level than what is prevalent today. These ways of growing food (as food is very necessary and gives power in terms of commodity) was known in the ancient times. Especially in Jerusalem.
Now, some of these gullies show scattered rock, in an area around a stream (which indicate the remains of a dam used for water storage. Many of these terraces are sloped in such a way that would allow water to move where it needs (using gravity), from one level and down onwards to the next. AS the images above reveal there are no certain special kind of terrace, they all come in different shapes and sizes, depending on what was being grown and harvested there without a doubt. Some was for grazing and cultivating cattle and other domesticated animals (milk) and others again for cultivating crops (honey). If you read the book Time Detectives: How Archeologists used Technology to Recapture the Past (1996) by Brian Fagan, it does a good job in describing how Botany-archaeologists (archeo-botanist) excavated terraces just like these in Peru and Egypt. These discoveries show that the earliest crops in Egypt could have been planted as far back as 18,000 years ago, with South America not much farther behind.
What is beyond sad is South Africas failing to do any such in depth research on their ancient terraces, though initial analysis gives indications of them being at least more than 5,000 years old. If this is the birthplace of humanity, going back to Moses, Jacob, Isak and the first man in Adam (Ntu) and woman Eve. Then it should not come as a surprise that these people had a given knowledge of all the concepts of what we now call art and survival, this includes the art of cultivation - long before the rest of the world. Now the share size of this Lost Civilisation, which was the ancient land of Israel - Kanaan - suggest that these are in fact the oldest and first agricultural terraces in the world. If you then take into fact the ancient ruins (more visible) in the mountains of South America, you see that there was ancient civilisations all across the world, and they were connected at some point. They knew about one another. So in this recreation of ancient history, no small task, there is only one thing we can do right - let`s just start over. Admit that we do not know how and what went down in the past. Basically we are clueless.
To get a better, fuller and more comprehensive picture of the past we need to ask the locals, combine agricultural, botanical, archeological and historical research, taking into account: cultures, customs, traditions, sacred rites (different practices), oral traditions, history, music, dance, traditional garb and food and the biggest one which is language. We must start including all of these when re-creating an account of history. Only then will the unbiased truth start to reveal itself. Add Scripture, and we get the missing dimension, lost Israel found.