The Cradle of Humans where the first humans evolved is also one of the most exploited continents in the world. Second only to Asia in size, this land of origin, beauty and resources was exploited by the Western Imperial Powers since the 15th century. Not only the land itself was carved among themselves the colonial powers took it to dehumanize its inhabitants and carry them across the world as commodities. The continent was split and named according the fancies of the colonists to bear the stigma of colonialism as long as they could control this vast area of 11,677,239 square miles.
It took as late as the second half of the 19th century for the colonial protectorates to become free to manage their own affairs.
Belgian Congo- Republic of Congo, established in 1908 as colony of Belgium, it became Republic of the Congo in 1960.
Botswana- Bechuanaland, a British protectorate became independent in 1966 as Republic of Botswana.
Djibouti- French Somaliland, the French colony was renamed to the French Territory of Afars and Issas (1967 – 1977), the territory became independent in 1977, known today as Djibouti
Gold Coast and the Togoland British trust territory became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa was the first to gain independence as Ghana in 1957.
Lesotho- Basutoland, a British protectorate became independent in 1966 as the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Nyasaland- Malawi, a British protectorate became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964.
Rhodesia, Northern- Zambia was administered by the South Africa Company from 1891 until takeover by the British in 1923. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964.
Rhodesia, Southern – Zimbabwe, acquired by [British] South Africa Company in 1923, gained independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980.
Sudan, French- Mali, a part of the Federation of French West Africa, in 1959, became Sudanese Republic and Senegal and gained independence as Federation of Mali becoming in 1960.
Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964.
Union of South Africa- Republic of South Africa was formed on 31 May 1910 as a parliamentary union of the four self-governing British colonies: the Cape of Good Hope Province, Natal Province, Orange River Colony and the Transvaal Province. The Union came to an end in 1961with a new constitution and became the “Republic of South Africa”.
The Colony of Southern Rhodesia was a self-governing British Crown colony in southern Africa from 1923 to 1980, equivalent in territorial terms to modern Zimbabwe. Following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965 it existed as the self-declared, unrecognized state of Rhodesia until 1979, when it reconstituted itself under majority rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia, which also failed to win overseas recognition. After a period of interim British control following the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979, the country achieved internationally recognised independence as Zimbabwe in April 1980.
Robert Mugabe rose to prominence in the 1960s as the leader of the Zimbabwe African National. As current President of Zimbabwe he has served since 22 December 1987. As one of the leaders of the rebel groups in opposition to white minority rule, he was elected Prime Minister in 1980, serving in that office as head of the government, until 1987, when he became the country’s first executive head of state. As of August 2016, he is the world’s oldest and one of the longest serving Head of State. His 36-year rule has been characterised by gross human rights violations, resulting in him joining the world list of dictators.
Abyssinia rulers take their origin from King Solomon. Menelik I, also known as Ebna la-Hakim (“Son of the Wise”[) ) was the first SolomonicEmperor of Ethiopia, who is traditionally believed to be the son of Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, the ancient Queen of Sheba. Menelik is believed to have ruled around 950 BC, and tradition credits him with bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia, following a visit to Jerusalem to meet his father.
King Solomon intended to send one son of each of his nobles, and one son of each temple priests with Menelik on his return to his mother’s kingdom. Menelik is supposed to have made a replica of the Ark to take with him on his mission. Upon the death of Queen Makeda, Menelik assumed the throne with the new title of Emperor and King of Kings of Ethiopia. The Solomonic dynasty ruled Ethiopia through 225 generations, except for a few interruptions, for three thousand years.
The Abyssinian Emperor Menelik II (1844 – 1913) was baptized as Sahle Maryam, his birth name being Negus of Shewa (1866–89). He was later raised to the status of Nəgusä Nägäst (King of Kings) from 1889 to his death. Earlier at the zenith of his rule in 1898 Menelik had expanded his territory and created a modern empire, thus restoring the ancient Ethiopia to its past glory of Axumite Empire which was one of the four most powerful kingdoms of the ancient world.
Menelik’s victory over the Italian invaders at Adwa in 1896 earned him great fame. Colonial Italy was defeated resoundingly by Ethiopia in one of the greatest battles in the history of Africa. This victory over Italy at the Battle of Adwa came at a time when almost all of Africa was colonized by European powers. Emperor Menelik is credited with rallying his fellow Ethiopians behind him to fight back fiercely enough so as to deliver an unimaginable victory against the so called powerful and mighty forces of a European army.
In 1889 Menelik proclaimed that the territories north of the Merab Melash (modern Eritrea) did not belong to his rule as the land was not peopled by Abyssinians, but by other tribes such as Adals, Bejas, and Tigres. This is probably the reason he ceded Eritrea to the Italians.
Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922 with a grandiose intent to create a new Roman Empire and was on a predatory watch over the world including Africa. His target was Abyssinia (Ethiopia), sandwiched between two small Italian colonies Eritrea and Somalia
Abyssinia at this time, ruled by Haile Selassie, was a member of the League of Nations, created after World War I to maintain peace by solving international disputes without resorting to war. Britain, France, and Italy were members of the League. If a member was attacked by another country, the League was supposed to come to its aid, but in fact the League lacked the strength needed to back this mandate.
Throughout the summer of 1935, Mussolini amassed troops on the Abyssinian border, and in October 1935 he launched a full invasion’ Selassie appealed to the League for help but the League’s intervention was too slow and weak. Mussolini conquered Abyssinia, creating the Italian East African Empire.
The ruler Haile Selassie was born in 1892 as Tefari Makonnen and became governor of Harar, a city in Ethiopia in 1911. In 1928 he was crowned king and ruler of Ethiopia. On November 3 1930 Selassie appeared on the cover of Time magazine as “Man of the year” and one of the Top 25 Political Icons in history. Writing about Haile Selassie, TIME stated, the King of Kings, Conquering Lion of Judah, Elect of God. (All were used to describe Haile Selassie) ruled as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930.
An year later in 1931 he introduced the first constitution of Ethiopia. In 1935 when Italy invaded Ethiopia after a gruesome battle for 5 years Selassie went into exile.
Finally before the fall of Italy in 1941 during the Second World War Allied East African Forces forces retook Ethiopia. On January 18, 1941 Haile Selassie marched in the East African Campaign against Mussolini’s occupation.
In 1955, in an attempt to modernize the country, Selassie granted a new constitution with more rights for his citizens. In 1963, he presided over the first meeting of the Organization of African Unity In 1972. Selassie was ultimately deposed in a organized military coup by people who were discontented with his regime. However Selassie’s contribution to African solidarity earned him fame as one of the reformists in emerging African political scene.
Jean-Bedel Bokassa (1921-1996) distinguished himself in the war in Indochina and became a war hero. In 1966, Bokassa used his position and declared him-self president of Central African Republic. He then began a reign of terror and corruption, taking all important government posts for himself. He personally supervised judicial beatings and introduced a rule that thieves would have an ear cut off for the first two offenses and a hand for the third. In 1977, in emulation of his hero Napoleon, he crowned himself emperor of the Central African Empire in a ceremony costing $20 million, practically bankrupting the country. His diamond-encrusted crown alone cost $5 million. In 1979 he had hundreds of schoolchildren arrested for refusing to buy uniforms from a company owned by one of his wives. Bokassa was reported to have personally supervised the massacre of 100 of the schoolchildren by his Imperial Guard.
On 20 September 1979, French paratroopers deposed him and re-installed Dacko as president. Bokassa went into exile in France where he had a chateau and other property bought with the money he had embezzled. After his overthrow in 1979, Central Africa reverted to its former name and status as the Central African Republic. In his absence, he was tried and sentenced to death. He returned to the Central African Republic in 1986 and was put on trial for treason and murder. In 1987, he was cleared of charges of cannibalism, but found guilty of the murder of schoolchildren and other crimes. The death sentence was later commuted to life in solitary confinement, but just six years later, in 1993, he was freed. He lived a private life in his former capital, Bangui, and died in November 1996 at the age of 75 years.
The French colony of Ubangi-Chari (Oubangui-Chari in French), part of French Equatorial Africa, had become a semi-autonomous territory of the French Community in 1958 and then an independent nation as the Central African Republic on 13 August 1960.
The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo to the south and Cameroon to the west.
Africa, The Cradle of Human Race: Where it All Began
Humanoid species is traced back to this continent as far as 5 million years ago. Homo Habilis is the first humanoid form to learn to make and use implements in order to improve its survival. His remains were first discovered in Tanzania in 1959.
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A million or two years passed by and he was able to stand (Homo Erectus) thus initiating the ‘Out of Africa’ phenomenon dispersing him all over the world.
About 100,000 years ago man began to show his intelligence (Homo Habilis) as his cortical characters of Ego and Totem set in. For the rest of the 100 thousand years he developed social characters, formed tribes and advanced his life with art, music, dance and culture. The Nok culture – named from the village in Nigeria- has revealed the finest of terracotta figures dating back to 500 BC to 400 AD. African man as early as 12th century developed the art of wax casting and started producing fine bronzes and other metallic figures as seen in Ife, Nigeria.
The African Bliss ended with the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century. Most of all slavery disrupted the tribes and societies, and displaced the oldest human species across the globe making them homeles. Portuguese were the first to start slavery in 1441 followed by the Spanish. Other European countries soon followed. The immense resources of Africa from gold to diamonds resulted in various European Colonialists carving the continent among themselves. The worst case of exploitation was Belgian Congo where King Leopold II managed and skimmed the country like his private estate. The remnants of colonialism in Africa is seen today in the coins of rulers from almost every country in Europe except for few one of them being Russia.
The Mahdist War (1881–99) was a British colonial war of the late 19th century, which was fought between the Mahdist Sudanese of the religious leader Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (The Mahdi), who had proclaimed himself the “Mahdi” of Islam (the “Guided One”), and the forces of the Khedivate of Egypt, initially, and later the forces of Britain. From 18 years of colonial war resulted the joint-rule state of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899–1956), a condominium of the British Empire and the Kingdom of Egypt until 1956.
The British participation in the colonial war is called the Sudan Campaign, which is vividly described in The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899) by Winston Churchill, a participant in the war; other names for this colonial war are the “Madhist Revolt,” the “Anglo–Sudan War,” and the “Sudanese Mahdist Revolt.”
Muhammad Ahmad ibn as Sayyid Abd Allah (otherwise known as The Mahdi or Mohammed Ahmed) (1844 – June 22, 1885) was a Muslim religious leader and a Sufi teacher, in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. He declared a jihad and raised an army after declaring himself the Mahdi, a Messianic figure in Islamic thought, in 1881, and led a successful war of liberation from the Ottoman-Egyptian military occupation. He also achieved a remarkable victory over the British, who were the de facto rulers of Egypt.
Briefly, he led an independent Islamic state. He died of typhus soon after his liberation of Khartoum, where he defeated the British general, Charles George Gordon (1833-1885), who was killed in the battle. This made a British reprisal inevitable, which came in form of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who later led the British during World War I. The state Ahmad founded fell to the British in 1899.
Emperor Menelik II (1844 – 1913) One of the greatest battles in the history of Africa (Battle of Adwa) in 1896. Colonial Italy was defeated resoundingly by Ethiopia at a time when almost all of Africa was colonised by various European powers. Emperor Menelik is credited with rallying his fellow Ethiopians behind him to fight back fiercely enough so as to deliver an unimaginable victory against the so called powerful and mighty forces of a European army.