A Biography of the Continent Africa, written by John Reader is an extensive chronological and topical study of Africa. Support reveals the earliest corroboration of the existence of human antecedents was discovered in east Africa at locations scattered north and south of the equator. The discovery shows fossilized bones, stone tools, and the most significant of all, a trail of footprints in the preserved mud pan surface. The trail shows they walked across the pan more than three million years ago toward what is now called the Serengeti plains.
These human ancestors made their living from and among the animals with whom they shared the landscape. They were neither diminutive, large nor numerous- who existed nowhere else on earth for over four millions years. The modern human species, Homo sapiens, with large brain and a talent for innovation, evolved from ancestral stock towards the end of that period. ” (p. 1) Africa, also know as the “dark continent” encompasses the second biggest landmass but it has only twenty-two percent of the earth’s land surface. The United States could fit within the Sahara desert alone). About a 100,000 years ago family groups left the continent for the first time and progressively colonized the rest of the world hence ” the cradle of civilization” term for Africa.
The Reader states that it was estimated that “about 1 million people inhabited African when the emigrants left the continent 100,000 years agoand by A. D. 200 numbers are said to have risen to 20 million- of whom more than half lived in North Africa and the Nile valley. ” (p. ) Book Organization Overall composition The book contains eight parts, which have several chapters each that outline the istory of Africa from the first knowledge of the continent to the “Dreams and Nightmares” (p. 663) along with a large number of references, notes, appendixes, preface, and prologue. The book is a fine documented copulation of fact and information that any Reader from the novice of the general public to the serious history student would find as a great tool for their enlightenment and study. (Part 1) Starts with the known beginning history of the continent as well as the first recognized history of humankind.
Africa is the Earth’s most ancient and permanent landmass. Ninety seven percent of the continent has been in its position and enduring for more than 300 million years. Africa has had more of its land surface covered with tropical foliage for a greater extended period of time than any other site on earth. (Part 2) Reveals the study of fossilized artifacts of human development in Africa has been distinctive, incomplete and wide-ranging. It also tantalizes many science scholars. The vital stages are still a matter of conjecture. The text continues with the evidence, of the early history of Africa and human development.
Fossils, genetics and linguistics relate convincingly to the supposition that every person alive today is descended from anatomically human nomads that existed only in Africa. (Part 3) A continuation of growth and civilization in Africa, from speech communication, population growth with early farming and food production too hunting, stone tools, domestic live stock and the discovery of iron smelting. (Part 4) Adds to the history of African civilizations, early trade with Roman and Egypt with the sub-Saharan region in the first century.
Ethiopia was the first indigenous state of the sub-Saharan, and traded over the Red Sea. Aksum was the first prominent city-state. The traffic of gold began by Arabs on the East African coast set up a troublesome dynamic to the region. For most of the continent disease and sickness spreads quickly and has been a chief reason for the lack of major urbanization in Africa. In the early years, farming in Africa had a substantial demand; the labor burden was greater, than the number of people that can be fed with the food that was harvested.
In what is now Nigeria, the ancient settlement at Igbo-Ukwu was an outpost of West African long-distance trade routes. The first commodity used in trading was Salt. The inroads of the gold trade stimulated the establishment of centralized states however limitations of environment predicated their failure. Of Africa there is the wide spread idea that generations enjoyed congenial lives in integrated, societies smoothly functioning prior to the era of European exploitation and it is very incorrect belief.
Of this we know few communities had adequate labor to meet with their needs, in addition their existence was arduous and erratic. Slavery was common and this practice continues today within various countries. Bananas and Plantains introduced to Africa from Asia 2,000 years ago continues to produce high yields with minimal labor and are a main staple food especially in Uganda where coincident to this introduction is the value for cattle, and that they are symbols of status and prosperity.
Part 5) Begins with “Foreign Influence” Mostly the exploitation of the inhabits adults and children enslaved to Europe in 1441 as well as animal export as early as 1415 by the Chinese of a giraffe to Beijing. While the Portuguese continued to be major exploiters of slaves and gold from Africa throughout this period of history as well as building settlements for this purpose, where by they harnessed Africa to Europe. The foreign demand for slaves became relentless, more than 9,000,000 slaves were shipped across the Atlantic during the years of 1451-1870 and were the principal exchange for the European taste for sugar.
Part 6) “Settlers” The Dutch made a permanent colony at the Cape in 1605 which produced a clash in land-use strategies with the indigenous people this and other conflicts between whites and blacks of Africa continue today. The conflicts are not just of race between the whites and blacks. The great Zulu (Shaka) tribes and their “black on black” violence, brought a major depopulation of the interior regions. This “black on black” violence was the image that suited the white minority separatists and the ideologies of South African very well.
This grew to what we now call “Apartheid” and was enforced by the Afrikaners (Dutch-German) and Anglo-Saxon elitist’s who claimed to have brought civilization to the interior of Africa. A New era of Africa’s history brought by the discovery of Diamonds in 1880’s awakened imperial dreams increased labor requirement and polarized racist attitudes for these elite white Afrikaners. (Part 7) Europe’s nations scrambled to claim territory in Africa, started after Leopold II of Belgium claimed Sovereignty over the Congo where rubber brought immense wealth to Leopold and Belgium.
There is no question, that black leaders (tribal-Kings) of Africa, shared the European aptitude for diplomatic nullity where appropriate, however, some did manage to reach a deal with the Europeans that gained for the blacks of Africa or themselves no more than scrap of benefit. Since their rise of power grew no stronger, they held no significant World leadership role in Africa until well in to the Twentieth Century.
When Colonial boundaries for Africa were drawn up in Europe with no input or consideration for (at least 177 ethnic Black) cultural areas and having separate pre-existing financial, social units, and with this redesign they (Europeans) altered the development of whole regions. Black oppression and uprisings were long held in check by the small groups of White elite, with their police and military, which was fortified by the invention of the machinegun. Civil unrest and rebellion in South Africa and other areas within the continent has had a long history and lingers today.
The continuation of disease, drought, and plague has been and remains very influential on internal politics, policy, and growth. (Part 8) Education abroad for those blacks who could afford it as well as exposure to political activist brought to the continent “The First Dance of Freedom”. (p. 623) Although their numbers were small, the gulf that education opened, between the elite and the preponderance of Africans (Blacks) was very large, and with time continued it growth and change.
After the Independence of most states with in Africa, the dreams of becoming a continent of peaceful democratic countries evaporated. “More than seventy coups occurred in the first thirty years of independence. By the 1990’s few states preserved even the vestiges of democracy. “(p. 663) Reader analysis Breakdown of information The information provided by the author in the book gives the Reader the facts related to Africa the continent from the first known accounts. The flow information gives a description of the first vestiges of humanity from (Homo sapiens) to Modern man).
Africa’s and the worlds progress toward civilization throughout the book. Even with this interesting concept the book posses two questions for this reader. (1. ) Would a Black African write this history in the same way as a “White Anglo-Saxon Male” even if he were the son of a taxi-driver? (2. ) Does this difference somehow hold a cure or key to the racist problems in Africa and maybe the world? However subjective this history, the key facts seem to be supported by the evidence.
It remains a useful reference for African history and the world’s saga Research documentation The research used by the biographer as noted in the references, bibliography, maps, charts, as well as the scope and detail found in the documentation employed by the creator is superb. Since John Reader is also a photojournalist many of the photos used are his own visual aid. . Bibliography The far-reaching list contains a wealth of sources, from a wide range of scientific data from this community, including historians, geologists, paleontologists and anthropologists.
As well as the reference records from around the world. Representative countries The regions, of the continent have been uniformly represented by the text. There is however, missing information on a few of today’s countries in the book, this might be the result of the Copyright or the change in the status and control of these countries, as a consequence of internal struggling for power and Sovereignty. To date there are thirty- three different countries including the Canary Island within the continent.