CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION
Africa, the “cradle of civilization,” houses the second largest continent with 1.3 billion people in fifty-four countries. There are well over a thousand ethnic groups who speak more than three thousand languages and linguistic variations living in land rich with 30% of the planet’s mineral resources. Africa, with two and half million years of African consciousness that researchers reference as the birthplace of humanity. Its pre colonial empires, kingdoms, civilizations, dynasties of the Nok, Badarians, Egyptian, Nubian, Kush, Ethiopia, Songhai, Oyo, Nri, Ashanti, Kongo, and Zulu nations were regarded as “creators of African culture.”
These African nations and people provided immense cultural, social and iron age technological development to the whole world. Ancient Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia “stand near the head of African culture” (Asante & Asante 1985, Davidson 1961,1970,1980) for the development in the fields of math, science, architecture, medicine, law, religion, and the arts have been the foundation of our modern advancement.
The world has enjoyed an advancement in many aspects of daily life that stemmed from fields of study from our African ancestors. Africa today is thriving despite the devastating remnants of the Atlantic slave trade, inner turmoil, group divisiveness, structural and economic challenges caused by colonization and post colonization. Many countries within the continent are advancing like other countries- in its infrastructure, businesses, research, technology, education and most notably in the field of music and film entertainment. It clearly faces many political, social, and economic challenges and this can be said about other countries to varying degrees.
The Atlantic Slave Trade
The voyage of 1492 by Christopher Columbus, other conquistadors and Black African ladinos to the Caribbean known as the West Indies was a voyage of territorial expansion and economic opportunism in which the Spanish and Portuguese started the brutal Atlantic slave trade. The Blacks that accompanied the voyage were Hispanized Africans who were catholic and spoke Spanish. They were referred to as ladinos and were preferred over Africans straight from Africa. Those that were not hispanized were called bozales. The conquistadors established sugar, cotton, tobacco plantations and continued the gold and silver mines success that they encountered in West Africa. The European encounter with the native Ciboney, Tainos, Caribs and native Amerindians throughout Caribbean and Latin Americas forced them to near extinction and marked a turning point for the forced labor enterprise. The native inhabitants were forced to work on these plantations under harsh and ruthless conditions and with the exposure to new epidemic diseases from the European such as typhus fever, smallpox. Influenza and measles, the native population was in essence crippled and decimated. Since the native inhabitants were weak, crippled and near annihilation from excessive work and merciless treatments, the Europeans had to look for a solution to continue production of tobacco, sugar, cotton, gold and silver mining. In early 1500, plantation owners shipped white indentured servants and African ladino slaves from Europe to work the land in Spanish America. As white indentured servants’ migrations to the Americas declined, Europeans set their sights and plans for the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Portuguese, Spanish, French, English, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Bradenburger and North American, who had great maritime powers, were leaders of the slave trade. Several African high chiefs collaborated with the European merchants. The brutal trade was a cruel human cargo business for rich merchants, kings, chiefs and traders. Researchers estimate these maritime powers bought, robbed, shipped, and traded 12.5 million Africans for forced labor in the Americas but perhaps 10.7 million were estimated to have survived the middle passage- the transatlantic voyage. They were taken from eight regions in coastal west and east Africa- Senegambia 6% of forced African migration, Sierra Leone 3.1%, Windward coast 2.7%, Gold coast 9.7 %, Bight of Benin 16%, Bight of Biafra 12.7%, West Central Africa 45.5%, and Southeast Africa 4.3%. The regions span the African west coastal countries of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Mozambique. These coastal countries housed the embarkation ports for the trade slave ships, but the captured slaves were not only from these coastal countries. The Atlantic slaves were brought from various countries in the interior as well- Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic. Of the 12,521,000 Africans that were shipped to the Americas, 57% of the enslaved Africans were sent to Spanish and Portuguese speaking Latin America. The Afro-Latinos are latinos of African descent and this website tells their (hi)stories.