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History of Africa

The Birthplace of humanity All people are most likely to be descendents of beings who lived in Africa millions of years ago. Fossils and genetic evidence suggest that both humans and the forest dwelling great apes descended from a common ape like ancestor who lived in Africa 5 to ten million years ago. The earliest known hominids to which humans belong were the australopithecines, which emerged about four million years ago. Recently scientists have found Homo habilis fossils in the Caucasus region of southern Europe. A more advanced human, Homo erectus, spread even farther from Africa.

According to a multiregional model, model human evolved throughout Africa. Africa provides a comprehensive and contiguous time line of human development going back at least 7 million years. Africa gave humanity the use of fire a million and half to two million years ago. It is the home of the first tools, astronomy, jewelry, fishing, mathematics, crops, art, use of pigments, cutting and other pointed instruments and animal domestication. In short Africa gave the world human civilization. This is 1st importance to me because you must know where you originated from before anything else.

It is important to understand that African Americans were all born in Africa before they were forced to move from their homeland. The slave trade in Africa While some slaves shipped to Europe and America had previously been African slaves, many enslaved had been innocent bystanders. It was not uncommon for the Europeans to hide and wait for an African to come along, and then kidnap him. The retrieval of slaves was also obtained through Africans convicted of a crime. It was also likely for Africans of a tribe to be captured by an enemy tribe as a prisoner of war and then exchanged for goods.

This lasted from the 15th to the 19th century, devastating the lives of at least ten to twenty million Africans. All forced into foreign enslavement, exported in exchange for imported goods. This is known as the slave trade. During their voyage slaves were governed by a system of fear, torture, and brutalization. This type of system was enforced by the crew in order to contain the slaves who were desperate, afraid, and would usurp any opportunity to regain their freedom by overthrowing the crew in order to obtain control of the ship.

In Africa, before they were forced aboard the slavers, once they were captured, the slaves were tied together to prevent escape. After the right amounts of slaves were kidnapped, they would then be taken to slave factories in which their state and quality of health would be examined. The measure of their strength and well-being analyzed. If the slave happened to fail this examination, he would be set free and would not have to endure the horror aboard the slavers. The horror of hundreds upon hundreds of slaves packed tightly together.

The torridness of the climate enclosed within a hold in which one slave crowded upon another could barely move resulting in an unyielding amount of perspiration amongst the slaves. The air becoming unsuitable, for breathing, from a number of abhorrent odors, causing the death of many. The slave trade is the 2nd most important because here we learned how the Africans were captured from their homeland and forced to become slaves. The Middle Passage The first slave ship was built in Massachusetts, 1637.

In which the ships, also known as slavers, would sail from America to West Africa in exchange for goods. The Europeans also took a great part in the transportation of African slaves across the Atlantic and once the adequate number of slaves were acquired aboard a slaver they would set out for sail anywhere from five weeks to three months, heading back to America or Europe where many slaves would be sold at a slave auction to the highest bidder. This process is recognized as the Middle Passage.

Slaves had to endure many injustices, such as; suffocation, brutalization, fear, rape, and hopelessness among others. There was also disease: smallpox, scurvy, dysentery, and more. These diseases often spreading from slaves to the crew, killing a myriad of people. Along this journey many slaves found themselves in a state of fixed-melancholy. As they saw there was no longer a reason to live. At this point some slaves would jump off the ship and remain under water, until they killed themselves. Others would starve themselves to death.

This causing the captain to resort to drastic measures, for fear of losing his valuable cargo. The slaves who chose to starve themselves would be force-fed or tortured, if not both. Africans would often be forced to eat with what is called a speculum orum, a device which held the mouth open. They could not even escape enslavement through death. The Africans that remained healthy were put on display at public auctions and examined in a ridiculous and humiliating manner. A buyer might lick the African’s chin to determine the ge of the slave, or taste his sweat to decipher if he was healthy. Once they were purchased, who was to say they would receive a kind owner. If Americans and Europeans had used such a harsh manner to obtain slaves, it was probably nearly impossible for slaves to believe that once they were in America or Europe that there would be an improvement. The Middle passage to me is the 3rd important because we learned how Africans were treated and their living conditions during the transportation to be sold as slaves.

Plantation Slavery Seasoning When African Slaves reached the Americas, the slave ship crews prepared them for sale by washing, shaving all their body hair, and rubbing them with palm oil to disguise sores and wounds caused by conditions on board. They were trained not to resist having all parts of their bodies examined—especially their reproductive organs, and sometimes were allotted a little rum to liven their spirits. The Slaves’ New World “Ordeal”—called Seasoning—was for the purpose of increasing their sale price.

Once Slaves had gone through the Seasoning process this meant that, among other things, they had survived the first attack of New World diseases and were molded into productive Slaves by means of having been hardened to a strange climate; to the immunities of diseases, and to the indescribable severity of toil as plantation Slaves. Seasoning was similar to a prolonged and inhumane way of “breaking” horses. The Seasoning process began on the auction block—a terribly frightening process.

Once sold, despite having been branded with the traders mark in Africa, the new owner branded them with his mark. Then the Slaves were taken to the worse of locations as, for example, to plantations at rivers’ edges where there were swarms of mosquitoes, parasites, and other new environmental challenges. Seasoning consisted of brutal methods of physical and psychological conditioning—so brutal, in fact, that 7% to 50% of the Slaves are estimated to have died within their one to seven years of the Seasoning period.

Actually, the average life expectancy for an imported Slave was only seven years. Many died in the first few weeks or months from dysentery, malnutrition, several types of worm infections, change of diet and climate, and the White man’s diseases. One reason is that the Slaves were terribly weakened by the trauma of the Middle Passage voyage and the addition of exposure to diseases, inadequate nutrition, bad water, work exhaustion from being unaccustomed to the “sunrise-to-sunset gang labor,” and cruelty were simply overwhelming.

Immediately, new owners and their overseers obliterated the identities of their newly acquired Slaves by breaking their wills and by severing any bonds with their African past. Such occurred while the Slaves were being forced to adapt to new and horrendous working and living conditions; to learn a new language; and to adopt new customs. The 4th important aspects of slavery I believe was “seasoning” where Africans were brainwashed to forgetting where they came from Africans were forced to except the new life that was ahead of them. As seen in “Roots”) Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence is a famous document for many reasons. It declared the colonies independence from Great Britain. It stated basic rights and liberties for Americans. The French used the ideals behind the Declaration as a model for their own revolution in 1789. As time went by, the ideals behind “all men are created equal” grew in importance. Northern states used them to free slaves in their states. Abraham Lincoln used equal rights to justify the war against slavery. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. tood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C… In his famous speech he repeated the ideals of the Declaration “that all men are created equal. ” The Declaration failed to address slaves. While it was the culture of the time for men (and ONLY men) to be involved in politics, slavery was a different issue. Jefferson and the founding fathers left slavery out because they knew they needed the support of the South. While the North didn’t really care (at this point, they were not morally against it, but not for it either) Southern life was based on the institution of slavery.

So to avoid the drama of slavery (which we saw what happened in 1861) they left out slavery. It’s not right, but it allowed all 13 colonies to support the Declaration, and this was tremendously important because the colonies needed to put up a united front against Britain. Last but not least was the declaration of Independence that created every man equal this was the trick that most African Americans fell for they thought that this applied to them but it didn’t because African Americans were not considered equal to whites so they remained slaves.

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